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Framing vs. Transversality

Stepping Outside The Frame & Thinking Transversally – Are Industries & Professions such as the Music Industry and Journalism ‘Dying’ in the Digital Age? How has their Transformation kept them very much ‘Alive’?

The field of “new media studies” has a shifting nature, whereby continuous changes and transformations in the the development, appropriation and actual use of new media technologies, along with the way they impact industries, means that producer and consumer practices continue to change (Murphie, 2006).

As such, a defining feature of the “field” is transversality. Essentially,

“…a transversal is a line that cuts across other lines, perhaps across entire fields – bringing the fields together in a new way, recreating fields as something else”. (Murphie, 2006)

The media issue this post will explore is how we step outside the frame and think transversally.

Framing vs. Agenda Setting

When media scholars talk about the process of ‘Framing‘, what they are referring to is how the media ‘frames’ both what and how we think, feel and do. The media creates limitations and foundations through which we “we come to think what’s true, what’s useful information, what we know, [what we] first perceive, feel, sense [in] the world – and how all these might come together” (Murphie, 2012). In terms of news media and journalism, framing defines how news media coverage shape mass opinion (Wikimedia, 2012).

So how does differ from what’s known as agenda setting,  in which the media doesn’t tell us what to think, but tells us what to think about? Are they different processes, or are they the same?

Scheufele & Tewksbury (2007) argue that framing and agenda setting differ in terms of accessbility and applicability effects. Framing evokes the notion that how an issue is characterised in news reports influences how it is understood (applicability effects) as opposed to just making the issues prominent and salient (accessibility effects) (Scheufele & Tewksbury 2007; Wikimedia 2012).

On the other hand, McCombs (1992) argues that “the news not only tells us what to think about; it also tells us how to think about it”. As such, framing is seen as “second-level agenda setting”, in which “first-level agenda setting determines issue importance, while second level agenda setting draws on repeated discussion of specific issue attributes” (McCombs 1997; 2004; Wikimedia, 2012).

Framing vs. (or, “and”) Transversality

“If framing is the attempt to build a zoo, transversality is when the animals are set free …” (Murphie, 2012).

Essentially,transversality is “what moves/connects dynamically across/through frames” (et al. 2012). For example, when events occur, the process of framing can only partially capture what takes place. Events themselves are more dynamic, not static, unpredictable, and thus reflect the creation of transversals.

The way in which media and industries continue to transform, and altering “typical” practices  can be examined through framing and transversality. Two particular areas that will be briefly examined are the music industry and journalism.

The Music Industry

The music industry, since the advent of digital technology and the internet, two key issues have emerged (Murphie, 2012):

  1. “capitalist exploiters/creative supporters” VS.  “pirates/sharers in a new world of collaboration”
  2. “business models that work” VS “no one makes money”, with both sides claiming to be better for “creativity” etc

iTunes has changed not only how people can legally purchase music - in terms of digital vs physical copies - but has altered the whole music production process, in which iTunes itself receives 20-30% of the income from sales through only serving as a platform to sell music.
Artists now get 61% of the sales income, but they are still being set back by more expenses they look after.

Is iTunes a platform that can counter musical piracy? Or should musical piracy and file-sharing be capitalised upon? Here are two contrasting views on musical piracy by successful musicians Jack Black and Dave Grohl:

“I would rather have a venue filled with people singing every word to every one of our songs than making sure that everyone of them bought the record to do so” – (Dave Grohl 2012).

News Journalism

News organisations and the media exemplify multiple frameworks in the way in which news is conveyed. Firstly, news is framed though the presentation and/or layout of newspapers, websites, digital platforms or broadcast packages.

News websites such as The Daily Telegraph website frame what and how to think about news stories through the way they are positioned and placed on the webpage layout.

The following Charlie Brooker video presents a satirical representation of how broadcast news reports follow the same production presentation, almost like a musical “refrain” if you will, that is repeated every time because it has become standardised practice:

But journalism and news is transformed when it is experienced transversally, for example, when people interact with the news organisations via their Twitter or Facebook platforms for instance, and decide what they choose to read. Furthermore, Twitter trends and the abundance of info will also influence what is consumed.

Another avenue we can explore are issues such as Traditional Journalism vs. Non-Traditional Journalism. Professional journalists are concerned about getting the accurate facts, getting valid sources of information, and providing a balance article. In comparison, non-professionals aren’t the same. There is the debate as to whether digital journalism is “killing” traditional journalism, or rather creating more opportunities for journalism.

You can say that “specialty” journalism styles are being lost to the online, digital world, such as thorough, in-depth investigative journalism. But, on the other hand, you could say that the transformation in the way in which news is accessed (such as through various platforms) and the increase in multiplatform journalism means that new specialties can develop.

References

McCombs, M. 1992 “Explorers and Surveyors: Expanding strategies for agenda-setting research”. Journalism Quarterly 69 (4): 813–824.

 McCombs, M. E.; Shaw, D. L., Weaver, D. H. (1997). Communication and democracy: Exploring the intellectual frontiers in agenda-setting theory. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

 McCombs, M (2004). Setting the Agenda: The mass media and public opinion. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing Inc. ISBN 9780745623139.

Murphie, Andrew (2006) ‘Editorial’, [on transversality], the Fibreculture Journal, 9 <http://nine.fibreculturejournal.org/>

Murphie, A. 2012 ‘Lecture Seven/Eight Slides – Framing and Transversality’, for the ARTS3091 Advanced Media Issues course as part of the University of NSW B Media (Communications & Journalism) degree.

Scheufele, D. A., & Tewksbury, D. 2007. Framing, agenda setting, and priming: The evolution of three media effects models. Journal of Communication, 57(1), 9-20

Wikimedia 2012, ‘Framing (Social Sciences’, Wikipedia, last modified 10 April 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Framing_(social_sciences)>

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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Week 7 Tutorial 6

 

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Data and Media – An Unrequited Love?

What Types Of Journalism Have Emerged From The Continuous Publishing Of Increasing Data? How Do These Digital Assemblages Function?

Much like news develops and is disseminated continuously on a 24-hour cycle through multiplatform journalism, data is continuously produced, collected, and disseminated via invisible flows made visible by various platforms such as traditional graphs or dynamic visualisations. In a contemporary media scape where web platforms such as Twitter and media forms such as iPhones and ‘Smart Phones’ afford producers and consumers with instantaneous sharing of information, to say that the relationship between data and media is “an unrequited love” is a misconception.

Data and media have always had close-knit relationship. In fact, news media is data. While modern tools such as Twitter have heavily exemplified how flows of data are integral to contemporary journalism, data gathering and publishing has always been an intergral to the practice. The journalist conducts interviews and researches through different pools of data in order to provide a balanced, truthful and factual report. Feature writing involves a more ethnographical experience as the journalist obtains more experiential data through ethnographic research. Investigative journalism combines both ethnographic and statisitcal data research in which journalists sift through lots of data to expose misconduct.

Yet, what we are seeing in the contemporary mediascape is that new-media platforms are accentuating this relationship and making it more transparent and prominent in different ways because data availability has risen exponentially since the beginning of the digital age .

Data Journalism

According to Tim Berner-Lee, the founder of the internet, analysing data is the future of journalism:

“Journalists need to be data-savvy… [it’s] going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what’s interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what’s going on in the country” (Arthur, 2010).

Data-driven Journalism is based on analysing and filtering large sets of data in order to find a story. It deals with freely available, open data and is analysed using open source tools. The primary goal is to transform the data into journalistic news stories (Lorenz 2010; Wikimedia 2012).

The process of data-driven journalism involves finding data, filtering through it, representing it through visualisations, and then using the data to make a news story (Lorenz 2010, Wikimedia 2012)

Coincidently, the process of data-driven journalism can be described through an ‘inverted pyramid’ understanding, similar to how the structure of a news report is described as being an inverted pyramid structure. Bradshaw’s (2011) model is summarised as follows:

  • Find: Searching for data on the web
  • Clean: Process to filter and transform data, preparation for visualization
  • Visualize: Displaying the pattern, either as a static or animated visual
  • Publish: Integrating the visuals, attaching data to stories
  • Distribute: Enabling access on a variety of devices, such as the web, tablets and mobile
  • Measure: Tracking usage of data stories over time and across the spectrum of uses (Wikimedia, 2012)

Simon Rogers of The Guardian provides a 10-point guide to data-journalism in the blog ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?‘:

  1. Data is “Trendy, but not new”: essentially, data has always been published, but now it can be published in various digital and online platforms.
  2. Open-data means Open-data journalism: data is available for anyone to take and make a story out of. There is a diversity of sources.
  3. Curation: Data is sometimes curated as journalists have to sift through large amounts of data, which is a lengthy process.
  4. Bigger Datasets, Smaller Things: large amounts of data available about small things.
  5.  Data journalism is 80% perspiration, 10% great idea, 10% output
  6.  Long and Short-Form: new short-form data journalism emerging where only the key points are extrapolated from research and readers are guided by it while it is still in the news.
  7. Anyone Can Do It: there is a wide range of data collecting and publishing tools available across the internet for people to search and present findings of research.
  8. Looks Can Be Everything: the way data is visualised and presented is important. Clarity and good design makes data more appealing and easy to understand
  9. You Don’t Have To Be A Programmer: Think about data like a journalist, not an analyst.
  10. It’s All About The Story/Stories: Data-journalism is not about graphics and visualisations, but the storytelling, and how the story is told. (Rogers 2011)
What enhances data journalism is when the data presented is interactive – allowing audiences to interact and immerse themselves in the story that the data conveys.

Open Journalism

In my previous posts I’ve spoken about the premise of open journalism, and The Guardian’s Open Journalism initiative. Essential to the concept of open journalism is the of encouraging an active audience who get out there and obtain primary data and raw footage from events in order to convey the most accurate, factual and rich news reports, and to encourage public debate.

The practice of journalism allows journalists the opportunity to decrease their data searching and sifting workload by letting the public get involved. Furthermore, with the advent of Twitter and use of multimedia, various perspectives on events can be conveyed, which can be then used to find out what is spin and what is truth.

Not only does data increase, but the avenues from which we obtain data expand. This actants in this assemblage are the news organisations, the journalists, the public, and the various media used in order to collect, analyse, distribute, and visualise data (just to highlight a few). This ecology reflects both notions of technological determinism and cultural imperialism, as technology affords the people the ability to convey information and data in a certain way, and at the same time, it is the way in which we use these media that determines how data is produced and consumed.

References

Arthur, C 2010, ‘Analsying data is the future for journalists, says Tim Berners-Lee’, The Guardian, 22 November, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/nov/22/data-analysis-tim-berners-lee>

Bradshaw, P 2011, ‘The Inverted Pyramid of Data Journalism’, Online Journalism Blog, posted 11 July,  <http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2011/07/07/the-inverted-pyramid-of-data-journalism/>

Charalambous, L. 2011, ‘Assembling Publishing Publics: What is the Relationship Between Different Publishing Tools & Techniques & The Social In “Publishing Assemblages”?’, Transitioning Publics & Publishing – ARTS2090, March 20, <http://publishingintransition.wordpress.com/tag/actor-network-theory/>

The Guardian 2012, ‘Guardian Open Journalism – Three Little Pigs Advert’, Youtube, published 29 Feb 2012, <http://youtu.be/vDGrfhJH1P4>

Hughes, N. 2011, ‘Data Journalism: The Story So Far’, Data Mining UK, Blog, May 3, <https://datamineruk.wordpress.com/2011/05/03/data-journalism-the-story-so-far/>

Rogers, S. 2011,  ‘Data journalism at the Guardian: what is it and how do we do it?’, The Guardian, Datablog, July 28, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jul/28/data-journalism>

Quilty-Harper, C. 2010, ’10 ways data is changing how we live’, The Telegraph, August 25, <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/7963311/10-ways-data-is-changing-how-we-live.html>

Wikimedia 2012, ‘Data-Driven Journalism’,Wikipedia, last updated 29 March 2012, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_driven_journalism#Inverted_pyramid_of_data_journalism>

 

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“Ecologies”—Media Ecologies/Other “Ecologies”

Media Ecologies, Social Ecologies, Other “Ecologies”—What are “media”, “communications”, “interaction”, etc? How do our various concepts of these match up with what really happens?

The study of Media Ecologies, which Strate (1999) defines as “the study of media environments, the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs“, is not without it’s differences in how it is approached.

Marshall McLuhan’s understanding of media ecologies reflects his technological determinist view, in that “technology is the agent of social change” (Murphie & Potts, 2003) and that “the medium is the message”. It creates the views that:

  • Media infuse every act and action in society.
  • Media fix our perceptions and organize our experiences.
  • Media tie the world togehter.
  • ‘Ecologies’ refer to the enivironments, the social systems affected by media. (Wikimedia, 2012)

Media certainly ties the world together, and instigates social and cultural change in society, especially if we look at history in terms of the three inventions that transformed the world – the alphabet, the printing press, and the telegraph. We can see when observing history through categorical eras such as the Tribal, Literary, Print, Electronic, and now Digital ages, social and cultural practices were transformed immensely by the affordances the inventions created.

Yet, there is also the need to reflect the Cultural Materialism viewpoint, which expresses that (as I wrote in my previous post) Technology, on its own, cannot enact social or cultural change, and that social characteristics such as economics, politics, elites in power, and culture play a heavy role in how these new forms of media are implemented, adapted, and if at all used.

 As such, Neil Postman’s understanding of Media Ecologies, adapted from McLuhan’s work, provides a view that acknowledges the impact society has on media technologies, and thus, media ecologies.

“Media ecology looks into the matter of how media of communication affects human perception, understanding, feeling, and value, as well as how our interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. The word ecology implies the study of environments: their structure, content, and impact on people” (Postman 1970)

As such, an understanding of ecologies as a society, a network, a connection of and between people and the environment, and different political, cultural and social ideologies, Postman’s understanding reflects a more interactive connection between the impacts media have on society and cultural change, and vice versa.

Journalism As A Media Ecosystem

It is through Postman’s understanding of Media Ecologies, where the media itself is not just an instrument, but an environment, that Journalism can be understood as a media ecosystem.Transformations in media in the last several decades have altered the current news-media landscape into one characterised by a multi-directional network of flows to and from producers and consumers, and one where media organisations begin to target a more active audience as opposed to a passive audience.

Journalist, author, and lecturer of Communications and Media Studies at the University of Western Sydney Milissa Deitz’s explains the Journalism as a media ecology:

“[Is] a phenomenon in which journalism is a joint project between journalists, non-journalists, accidental journalists, bloggers, politicians, celebrities, and the general public” (Deitz, 2010)

The Guardian’s most recent advertisement for their Open-Journalism explores how the story of the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf would be understood and reported in modern society. It highlights how journalism is a joint project between the organisations and the public through multimedia use and interactivity. What it explores is an important issue in Journalism (and how the media ecology operates) – truth and accuracy in what is reported.

Journalism has transformed into a practice and medium that is no longer primarily built on journalists and news organisations disseminating information and setting the agenda, but one that is more open, interactive and convergent (in terms of multimedia use). Essentially, it is not just the medium that influences changes, but society and individuals decide how media technology evokes change. As Deitz (2010 suggests:

“…the contemporary media landscape is questioning and continuing to question the conventional frameworks for analysing and reporting on culture, politics and society” (Deitz, 2010)

The media ecology that is Journalism is one where not only those affected by the media constitute the ecology, or the environment, but the media is the environment as well. The video shows people not just accepting newspaper headlines such as ‘Big Bad Wolf Boiled Alive’, or broadcast reports entitled ‘Three Little Pigs Arrested for Wolf Murder’ which presents one perspective, but audiences are interacting via Twitter, questioning whether killing an intruder is ever justified, and revealing information such as the wolf having Asthma. This demonstrates the multi-directional relationship being achieved in the Digital Age, and how journalism is evolving as a media ecology that focuses on the revelation of truth in news reporting. It’s an assemblage that functions both socially and mechanically.

References

Deitz, Milissa (2010) ‘The New Media Ecology’, On Line Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11410&page=1>

The Guardian 2012, ‘Guardian Open Journalism – Three Little Pigs Advert’, Youtube, published 29 Feb 2012, <http://youtu.be/vDGrfhJH1P4>

Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology?’, last accessed 10 March 2012’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

–  Postman,N, 1970, “The Reformed English Curriculum.” in A.C. Eurich, ed., High School 1980: The Shape of the Future in American Secondary   Education, as posted on Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology?’, last accessed 10 March 2012’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

– Strate, L, “Understanding MEA,” In Medias Res 1 (1), Fall 1999, as posted on Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology?’, last accessed 10 March 2012’ <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

Thussu, D K, 2006, ‘Contraflow in Global Media’ in International Communication: Continuity and Change (2nd Edition), London, Hodder Education, pgs 167-193

Wikimedia 2012,  ‘Media Ecology’, Wikipedia last updated 5 March 2012, last accessed 10 March 2012  <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_ecology>

 

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Media Change/Cultural and Social Change – Foundations, Thinkers, Ideas

What Is The Catalyst For Changes & Transformation In Media, Culture & Society? Is It Socio-Cultural Factors, Or New Technology?

When people ask the questions, “Why is print media dying?” or,  “Why do people prefer to read their newspaper through an iPad app?”, the common answer is: “Because everything is online”. But the real questions we should be asking are: “Why Is Everything Online”? and “Who or What Determined That Print Must Die, and Digital Must Reign”?

The same thoughts can be applied to the use of Twitter, which has now become a present day journalists ‘must-need’ tool. “Why must we communicate in 140 characters or less?” Is it because the development of the technology has determined that everyone should communicate in short form, using a mix of hyperlinks, mentions and hashtags? Is it because society needed a tool to successfully communicate in 140 characters or less?

Questions such as these have been asked and analysed by many theorists about media and cultural changes throughout the last few centuries. While the answers to questions like this can be complex, there are two ways we can aim to develop an understanding and our own critical thought.

Technological Determinism

Technological Determinism advances the argument that “technology is the agent of social change” (Murphie & Potts, 2003). The theory is built on the notion that “a successful technical innovation, if implemented on a sufficiently wide scale, will generate a new type of society” through its own power and autonomy (Murphie & Potts, 2003).

Marshall McLuhan further extends this understanding through his proposal that ‘the medium is the message’. As Murphie and Potts (2003) explain, “McLuhan argues that the cultural significance of media lies not in their content, but in the way they alter our perception of the world”.

To use my own example, the introduction of digital and online media such as websites, apps and Twitter has transformed 21st century society into one dependant on instantaneous information. As such, print journalism begins to become redundant as newspaper websites can update information almost instantaneously, and this goes with television and radio broadcasts, whilst print news only becomes available once the paper is printed and distributed. Newspapers are now seen as primary for ‘analysis’ of news stories as a result.

The introduction of journalists has transformed the profession into one that requires one to apt in most, if not all cross-media forms. A “convergent” journalist must be able to film video, take photos, interview, produce audio content, and write for print, online & broadcast. As such,Twitter has transformed the industry and the expectations of journalists as they must now know how to tweet all their information to get the story out first.

Cultural Materialism

In the book Tragedy of Technology, Stephen Hill wrote that:

“Technological Change…is not, by itself, productive of social change. Instead, the direction of change is a product of the particular alignment between the technological possibilities and the society and culture that exists”.

The notion of Cultural Materialism expresses that Technology, on its own, cannot enact social or cultural change, and that social characteristics such as economics, politics, elites in power, and culture play a heavy role in how these new forms of media are implemented, adapted, and if at all used.

For example, Media Ownership gives elites the power to disseminate their political views and opinions through their programming and print media. Rupert Murdoch’s decision to implement paywalls in front of his online newspaper content challenges the widespread notion of the sharing content online, and now impacts the way digital media must work and develop to meet this need.

Essentially, technologies come about because there is a cultural or social need for them.

Summary & Thoughts

In understanding how changes in media, culture and society arise, a multi-directional ‘Cause & Effect’ relationship emerges, as media impacts society and culture, and vice versa.

It is from within the needs and wants of the social and the cultural that new media technologies emerge. While these new media forms are imperative in how they change cultural and social media practices and how they evolve the media industry, be it in the print, digital, broadcast, public relations and other sectors, the impact and effect of a new media form remains heavily dependant on how we use these technologies.

People do not solely follow the Hypodermic Model/Media Effects where they consume everything, but they are active, choose what they use media for (hence, Uses & Gratifications theory).

If media forms are used by people in different  or additional ways to what they were initially made for, technologies are not neutral,  transformable; adaptable to social and cultural desires. Simultaneously, while being subject to change, they themselves are agents of change.

References

Bauwens, Michel (2009) ‘The Internet as Playground and Factory’ <http://vimeo.com/7919113>

Jeffries, Stuart (2011) ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the machine’, The Guardian, December 28, <http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/28/friedrich-kittler-rise-of-the-machine>

Miller, W, (2008) ‘Non Sequitur’ <http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2008/05/09/>

Murphie, A & Potts, J (2003) ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology London: Palgrave Macmillan: 11-38

 

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