Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Thoughts on Lecture 10

Yesterday's lecture was on media agenda. Bruce explained there were three other agenda's: corporate agenda, public agenda and political agenda. All of these agenda are obviously interrelated, but can also manipulate each other. For instance, the corporate agenda may influence the political agenda to sway the public agenda. Like how big fossil fuel companies allegedly influence senators and congressman in the American government so as to convince their constituents that America's energy independence is more important than green sustainable energy. The same can also be said for green-energy companies who allegedly do the same but for the reverse affect. In both of these examples, the corporate agenda can therefore be summed up to profits and the political agenda can be the financial incentive of allying themselves with these corporations.

Now agenda sounds like a bad thing, but you can agree with an agenda. Like how I agree with the same-sex marriage agenda. In the US their are pro-gay lobby groups who try to influence politicians using the same unethical methods used anti-gay lobby groups such as making large campaign contributions. There are many portions of the public who have an agenda, so the support lobby groups who influence politics.

This is where the media comes in because the corporations, politicians and the public need it to spread their agenda further. The national discourse of Australia can be swayed by the media quite dramatically. Such as how live-export wasn't that much of an issue before Four Corners made an exposé on the poor treatments of  livestock when sent to other countries. If Four Corners never did that, the corporations (livestock traders and animal groups), the politicians and the public would never have a prominent discussion on this issue.

Thoughts on Lecture 9

News values was the topic for last weeks lecture and it was the most interesting of the course so far. It's difficult to articulate what makes a story newsworthy, but many people have tried to dissect pasts trends in news stories so they can clarify what 'newsworthiness' is. This was explained to us by Bruce, who showed us some 'criteria' for newsworthiness from different scholars in the field of media. Criterion such as timeliness, proximity and impact where a common factor among these lists of criteria.

Almost all news stories don't even need to be critically evaluated in order to determine whether or not it is newsworthy. Good editors and producers of media outlets - the people in charge of which stories are covered - have an intuitive eye for newsworthiness. Major events such as 9/11 and Invasion of Iraq are the pinnacle of newsworthiness, since there very nature affects everyone in America, and the western world for that matter.

It also depends on the audience of the media outlet. Gossip magazines have a different criteria of newsworthiness than late-night political television programming. The former heavily focuses on celebrities, seeing sex scandals, weddings and break-ups as being the most publishable while the latter sees wars, diplomatic affairs and national issues as the most newsworthy and therefore 'air-able'.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Thoughts on Lecture 8

The 8th lecture in this course was media ethics, and a guest lecturer came in to apply media ethics to real-life ethical conundrums that you face as a journalist. She first explained that in Australia, the ethicalness of a journalist's actions is based upon the rules set by the Media Alliance Code of Ethics. The three basic principles of this code of ethics is honesty, fairness and independence, which are all, in my opinion, nonnegotiable tenets. The news is only as reliable as the journalist who presents it, so those three principles are paramount to keeping the idea of 'news' alive.

She told us the story of how she was able to get an interview with the mother who suffered an unimaginable loss. The mother had recently lost her three children, all of whom died from rafting in a lake and being exposed to a live electrical wire. The guest lecturer referred type of interview as a 'death knock' because she  had to visit the home of the grieving mother and father uninvited and try and land the interview then and there.  This style of interview seems very invasive to me, but the mother consented to the interview, so I guess it was ethical.

One point she told us that really grabbed my attention was that she doesn't over-think the more depressing aspects of her career. She elaborated that coldness is the best remedy for not being overwhelmed by tragedy and despair, which makes me have a little bit more sympathy for journalists.