AJE – Three letters making a difference

Since the rise of the internet media outlets have expanded globally creating several political, legal and economic restraints on journalists and the media in general. Technological adaptions have enabled individuals and organisations to broadcast local events across the world while having the ability to learn and witness international affairs (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 63).

Al-Jazeera English (AJE) was created in 2006 in order to establish a voice for those who are often voiceless. It is the first English based news channel formed within the Middle East. Its purpose and identity within journalism stands above the typical missions of journalists and revolves around producing integral material (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 62). Figenschou (2010, p. 85) highlights that AJE is continually known for “challenging major western international news channels and an alternative contra-flow in global news”. Journalism has now become an information war with a variety of outlets producing several objective and subjective pieces based on global conflict. But major media organisations still remain dictated by political propaganda, where the wealthiest often control how media is consumed (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 64).

This has led to skepticism towards whether the audience is being informed by the news or rather the news is reinforcing the preceding attitudes and opinions that are dictating society (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 64). Journalism is run on spectacles that create an emotional connection with the audience therefore the media is more inclined to produce pieces revolving around war rather than peace and heroism because of the tedious debates and lack of drama involved (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, pp. 64-65).

It is evident that media broadcasters are now targeting certain segments of the population, which was made clear during the build-up to the 2003 war in Iraq, where western civilisation relied on national security to reinforce the reasons behind the invasion, as opposed to the Arab media which focused on western domination and expansion (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 65).

‘Conciliatory media’ is now a prominent concept that is used to meet a certain criteria based on social importance. This media excludes itself from the typical style of broadcasting war. It has been proven that society relies on the media to gain information on global events, and by enforcing conciliatory media it breaks down stereotypes found within broadcasting and inspires the audience to have an open mind (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 69). Al-Jazeera English is based on this concept. AJE is the first news channel to be highly-funded and accessible, focusing on providing balance within international media (Figenschou 2010, p. 86). They gather stories that are often overlooked producing a thorough analysis of the story while challenging and debating current views, instead of focusing on the areas that are most entertaining for the public (el-Nawawy & Powers 2010, p. 72).

Clearly the way media is produced and consumed needs to be monitored in order to establish a diverse range of public opinion. AJE is slowly breaking down these barriers and presenting an alternative from stereotypical news which often revolves around wealthy influence. By AJE providing a voice to the voiceless they have informed society about areas across the globe that are often neglected or belittled by international media, breaking down the barriers that have frequently dictated mainstream broadcasting.

References:

el-Nawawy, M & Powers, S 2010, ‘A conciliatory medium in a conflict-driven environment?’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 1, pp. 61-84.

Figenschou, T 2010, ‘A voice for the voiceless? A quantitative content analysis of Al-Jazeera English’s flagship news’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, pp. 85-107.

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Globally Tainted

Climate change is becoming a severe problem that is continually debated within the media sphere. Currently Tony Abbott has maintained a strong stand that climate change isn’t occurring which is often disputed by activists and opposing politicians.

It is a journalists responsibility to avoid the issues of ‘False balance’ and ‘Superficial balance’ when reporting climate change. Providing too much time to one individual can be seen as favoritism while recognising both parties can lead to informational bias. Western journalists have moved away from opinion based knowledge on climate change and are now forming their assumptions through the influence of leading scientists (Ward 2009, p. 14). It has been recognised that a large percentage of the general public is able to understand and evaluate climate change issues without scientific stimulus enabling journalists to portray both opinion based and scientific aspects more thoroughly (Lyytimäki 2009, p. 31).

Currently climate change is affecting several of the smaller islands that encircle Australia. Kiribati has become one of the islands severely impacted by climate change, with much of the island being inundated by water. There has been discussions in relation to moving the islands population to Australia, however this has caused controversy towards their status as individuals, often being labelled as potential immigrants (Dreher 2014). What is occurring to their homes is uncontrollable and eventually they will have no choice but to vacate the island, but is it fair to label them immigrants when they don’t have a choice, their homes are being destroyed.

In order to tackle these climate issues plaguing islands such as Kiribati, an activist group called the Pacific Calling Partnership (logo below) has become a representative on these individuals. The group has successfully created awareness towards this crisis, their accomplishments include passing a bill to control emissions as well as preparing and teaching employees about these crisis’. It is known that the PCP provides a voice to those who are unheard, ensuring they gain as much coverage and awareness towards climate change and the places that have been severely effected (Dreher 2014). PCP are now lobbying for a Climate Justice approach stating it will “amplify the voices of those people who have done least to cause climate change, but who affected most severely by it” (Dreher 2014).

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Climate change is a continuing issue that plagues society and as a country Australia must recognise the suffering of these islands surrounding the coastline before it is too late and they have no choice but to inhabit Australia and be seen as immigrants rather than climate change victims.

References:

Dreher, T 2014, ‘Global crises, Global news: Pacific Calling Partnership’, lecture, BCM111, University of Wollongong, delivered 8 October.

Lyytimäki, J 2009, ‘Mulling over the Climate Debate: Media Education on Climate Change’, Journal of Sustainable Development, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 29-33.

Ward, B 2009, ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty’, Ethics in science and environmental politics, vol. 9, pp. 13-15.

What we see vs. What we get

The news has become a capitalised business where media organisations have become infatuated with making a profit rather than producing truthful stories. The constant technological changes have placed a burden on journalists, through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and other social media devices anyone can easily create or capture pivotal stories with a swipe of a finger.

It has become a concern that the diversity within mass media is dwindling and creating a serious problem towards traditional media outlets. Journalists continue to face competition from external sources as well as foreign news outlets. Foreign news is providing Lee-Wright (2010, p. 1) states “a welcome distraction from discomforts at home, but also exposes stresses and strains within news organisations on both sides of the Atlantic”. As a society our attention spans are becoming smaller, therefore resulting in media outlets needing to produce engaging, relevant and truthful stories that encapsulate a variety of emotive responses to ensure an impact. The repetition of images within broadcast news has little substance anymore (Lee-Wright 2010, p. 1).

The Arab Spring has become a generated topic amongst news sources, in 2011 when the issue was in its prime it created hysteria across the globe, Lee-Wright (2010, p. 3) recognises it as “a global youth revolt”. There is an inconsistency in coverage, often news sources now rely on well-known correspondents to create hype towards the piece (Lee-Wright 2010, p. 4).

Favoritism has become a prominent issue within the media, often news sources invest in a certain side when it comes to protests, manipulating the audience to favour those individuals rather than recognising the other party. “Studies have shown that how the media portray protesters influences not only how the public will perceive the protesters and their claims, but also whether the public will support the protesters” (Harlow & Johnson 2011, p. 2).

The media has created this concept called “frames” by initiating frames the media prohibits that audience for thinking for themselves, instead manipulating them to think a certain way about topic or issue (Harlow & Johnson 2011, p. 3) .

Protests have become an important topic within the news where frames are frequently placed within the stories. The media often portrays the darker side to protests emphasising on the violence between police and the protestors even if the protest is peaceful. This constant bias depiction has led to several individuals moving away from once credible sources like the New York Times to blogs created by independent parties where the news produced is often objective. “A third of the online audience has read someone else’s blog” (Harlow & Johnson 2011, p. 4). Although most audiences are still skeptical with blogs because the level of professionalism isn’t always present. With the current technological changes occurring, however, individuals have more accessibility to a variety of news sources allowing them to make an informed decision through critically evaluating the sources available creating a more knowledgeable and open minded society.

Harlow, S & Thomas Johnson, J 2011, ‘The Arab Spring| Overthrowing the Protest Paradigm? How The New York Times, Global Voices and Twitter Covered the Egyptian Revolution’, International Journal of Communication, vol. 5, pp. 1379-1354.

Lee-Wright, P 2011, ‘News Values: An Assessment of News Priorities Through a Comparative Analysis of Arab Spring Anniversary Coverage’, Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, vol. 1, pp. 186-205.

The art of fan fiction

Sherlock Holmes; an ironic name, person, story and idea that has been re-adapted and reinterpreted numerous times reflecting each culture and decade. Holmes was originally portrayed as an Englishman which is evident in the cultural knowledge and background present in the books. This has often been followed through in the television adaptions until ‘Elementary’ was produced. The show was created by CBS and has its own unique twist on the iconic character. It breaks down gender barriers by portraying Watson as a female of colour. Unlike its British counterpart Watson is seen with the utmost respect by Sherlock, who often belittles Watson in the English version (Asher-Perrin 2014). Elementary is also set in an entirely different country, America, specifically New York City. Unlike previous predecessors CBS presents Holmes as a dark character, with severe drug problems, although this is recognised in the original it isn’t as sinister, furthermore in Elementary Holmes is also a sex addict, something that hasn’t been explored before. Below depicts a YouTube video which portrays the trailer for Elementary recognising Holmes as a character like no other.

Due to the popularity of Sherlock Holmes fan fiction has become an integrated part of the show particularly the UK version known as ‘Sherlock’. Sherlock creates a sense of familiarity through the exploration of universal themes including class, gender, nationality and ethnicity making the audience more inclined to invest into the series (Krasher 1997, p. 424).
The latest episodes have now become “blog-aware”, Guardian critic Mark Lawson recognises “a running gag in the script the wild and sometimes lurid online speculation in the real world about the circumstances in which the detective had apparently been able to fake his death in a rooftop fall” (Penny 2014). Fan fiction is far from new, but due to the availability of the internet it has become a more prominent factor as communication and the ability to share knowledge and values has become an important element within society. Below depicts one of many Sherlock fan fiction creations, indicating the influence the show has.

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Often Sherlock fan fiction comments on the underlying chemistry between Sherlock and Watson which is never properly explored within the show.
Fan fiction is dominating the web, flowing through several genres including movies, television shows and books. Even some devoted fans have extended these stories by establishing their own ideas, sometimes gaining acclaim for their work. For example “Sherlock Holmes is now in the public domain…any writer may use the characters of Holmes and Dr John Watson in whatever way they see fit” (Penny 2014). This leaves open the ability to recreate the story into various forms without copyright infringement.

Fan fiction engages the audience, it brings fellow followers together, but it can also distress the author, as they feel like the characters are being taken away from them and transformed into people that are completely opposite to what they imagined. Penny (2014) recognises that Time critic Caitlin Moran asked the actors of Sherlock; Benedict Cumberbath and Martin Freeman to read out some sexualised fan fiction that was discovered online to amuse the crowd, however the writer of Sherlock became deeply offended stating that Moran was “humiliating me, taking my writing out of context without permission, belittling it and using it to embarrass actors who I deeply admire” (Penny 2014). Fan fiction has become widespread and transformed itself into a web based prodigy. It is up the writers and actors of these popular forms of art to embrace the fans adaptions of their work, because without them they wouldn’t be successful.

References:

Asher-Perrin, E 2014 ‘Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock, and Building the Better Adaptation’ Tor.com, 24 February, viewed 23 September, <http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/02/battling-super-sleuths-the-awkward-case-of-elementary-sherlock-and-building-the-better-adaptation&gt;.

Krasher, J 1997, ‘Watson Falls Asleep: Narrative Frustration and Sherlock Holmes, English Literature in Transition, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 424-436.

Penny, L 2014, ‘Sherlock and the Adventure of the Overzealous Fanbase’, NewStatesman, 12 January, viewed 23 September, <http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/2014/01/sherlock-and-adventure-overzealous-fanbase&gt;.

Translating transnational shows

We often believe that America influences our entertainment consumption due to the amount of productions that originate from Hollywood. However, this isn’t always the case. Many countries including Australia are renowned for producing their own entertainment series that represent the countries cultural humour and integrity. ‘Kath and Kim’, for example, first graced Australian television screens in May 2002, with its infectious slang, outrageous clothing and typical bogan suburbia living. Australia could not help but fall in love with the two horn-bags that reflect Australian culture. But why is this? Essentially Turnbull (2008, p. 112) acknowledges that comedy “is a cultural and social practice that is both shaped by and contributes to historical conjunctures”. But that hasn’t stopped America in reinterpreting these iconic shows.  In 2008 the American version of Kath and Kim aired on NBC, although the first episode gained a satisfactory amount of ratings, it soon plummeted and the show was cancelled.

There were noticeable changes between the original and adapted version, including the disregard of Sharon, Kim’s unlucky yet loveable best friend. But the most undeniable difference was the loss of irony. These women referred to each other as horn-bags, but yet they were typical glamourous Americans. Kim being a petite figure, with no trace of muffin top in sight. While Kath was slightly more relatable her personality and appeal was similar to the classic middle-class American. The show lost its wit and and turned into a moronic reincarnation about a glitzy family with a mundane lifestyle.  Below depicts two YouTube videos that clearly indicate the difference between the original and American version, reiterating the lack or humour and irony.

Original (Aus version)

U.S. Version

Although several American television adaptions have failed in the past, there have been the odd couple that have gone on to immense success, including the adorable ‘Ugly Betty’. ‘Ugly Betty’ originated from Columbia known as Betty la Fea (Miller 2010, p. 198) as seen in the picture below.

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Over 70 countries adapted the telenovela, Miller (2010, p. 200) recognises that “Telenovelas are limited run enterprises. Only 75–150 episodes are usually produced, and these episodes are shown over the course of 3–6 months by airing 5–6 nights a week in a single timeslot”. Evidently America’s version which ran on NBC was most successful lasting four seasons, the fourth being the final.

Unlike Kath and Kim ‘Ugly Betty’ could easily be adapted as it produced a universal plot that could be integrated into any culture. Universal themes and plots are easily translatable across nationalities, however comedy is often a depiction of its culture and when recreating these comedic shows such as Kath and Kim they must be adapted to the countries humour. However, instead the American version of Kath and Kim practically copied the original in its entity but produced dry, unrelatable humour that failed to depict American culture in a comical fashion.

References:

Miller, JL 2010, ‘Ugly Betty goes global: Global networks of localized content in the telenovela industry’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 198-217.

Turnbull S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, vol. 1, no. 159, pp. 110-15.

 

Beyond Typical Western Civilisation

Long are the days where Americanisation dictated what countries consumed on a regular basis. Countries are now beginning to claim their own media identity, producing movies, news and television shows that reflect their cultural values rather than the manufactured Hollywood entertainment industry which is designed to be translatable across all medium’s.

There is no doubt that Asian cultures draw from western civilisation. Whether it’s the emergence of chained restaurants or high-end fashion Asia has become a direct influence of Americanised culture. Hong Kong especially has established its own cultural identity gathering influences from western and other Asian cultures which have led to the development of its own entertainment industry. Cantopop originated from the 1970s and was based on the Rock music of Hong Kong known as ‘Cantorock’ . Cantopop reflects international styles of music including western pop, jazz, blues and rock. The songs are sang in Cantonese targeting several Asian demographics. Below depicts a YouTube video from the famous Roman Tam, a legendary artist of Cantopop, known as the “Godfather”.

Hong Kong has created an identity that reflects both western and Asian cultures while still remaining unique and original to its own country. Hong Kong’s entertainment industry is created and distributed across several countries including Beijing, Amsterdam and Vancouver (Curtin 2003, p. 203). The increase in political, economic and media participation within Asia and surrounding countries especially Hong Kong and India has led to a term called ‘Neo-orientalism’ which is a development caused by New Media capitals. In 2009 India’s media was transformed by the racist assaults that were occurring on Indian students within Australia. This established a void between Australian and Indian relations, Khorana (2012, p. 39) states that it resulted in “diplomatic visits from Australia to try an calm fears about the safety of Indian students”.

Due to the advances in communication India has faced a revolution in relation to print and television. They have established various channels within their media industry enabling them to communicate domestically and internationally to a wide range of audiences.  India has had access to over 450 channels since 2010, with news channels being the main source of marketing and advertising within the country as opposed to the entertainment industry dictating the market within western cultures (Khorana 2012, p. 41). However, in order for India to gain superior advantage within the international market they must create productions that are predominantly based on the English language (Moran 2009, p. 75).

News channels have established a voice for the middle-class in India. But this has led to a degree of ‘Bollywoodisation’ (Khorana 2012, p. 45).  When the attacks occurred in Australia this caused an uproar within the middle-class as they believed India was a growing, powerful nation which shouldn’t be targeted. India covered these attacks in a melodramatic form for entertainment purposes instead of recognising the issues seriously facing these students such as lack of funds (Khorana 2012, p. 45).

It is evident that India is clearly influenced by Bollywood, but when it starts to effect the news it covers and the way certain countries are depicted this results in voids between nations that can often lead to negative publicity or repercussions. India needs to draw a fine line between their entertainment and news industries, instead of being dictated by ratings and profit, they should generate news that is integral both domestically and internationally.

Curtin M, 2003, ‘Media capital Towards the study of spatial flows’, International Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 203-228.

Khorana, S 2012, ‘ORIENTALISING THE EMERGING MEDIA CAPITALS: THE AGE ON INDIAN TV’S ‘HYSTERIA’, Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy, vol. 145, no. 145, pp. 39-49.

Moran, A 2009, News Flows in Global TV, Intellect Books, Chicago, USA.

Western civilisation and its impact on the global film industry

The global film industry is moving beyond Hollywood and recognising the capabilities of different cultures and industries. Hollywood and westernised culture have become a leading influence in society contributing to several international industries including Bollywood, Nollywood and the recent Chinese film industry. It is predicted that the Indian and Chinese film industry will soon establish dominance over westernised entertainment due to factors such as the internet and cable television enabling them to produce hybrid shows that reflect universal themes (Karan & Schaefar 2010, p. 309).

However western influences are slowly impacting on several cultures including India where Bollywood has become a core element in their cultural identity. Khurana agrees, “That’s the saddest thing in our country,” she says as her sister’s face is transformed into Bollywood glamor. “Looks, color of skin — we should ignore such things.” (Basu 2013).

Bollywood is becoming a negative concept within India creating this ideal that fair is beautiful rather than dark coloured girls, often influencing their chances of being wed to a suitable partner, “but when it comes down to finding a bride for a beloved son, Davaluri, despite her stunning looks, would be too dark to make the cut.” (Basu 2013).

On the contrary Nollywood presents the exact opposite depiction of its cultural identity, it aims to highlight the core of its heritage through its street life culture. Okome (2007, p.3 ) recognises that “It has invested in its playful narratives of the social and cultural life of the Nigerian postcolony a nuanced essence of parody”.

Unlike Bollywood, Nollywood isn’t as widely publicised, rather enabling the majority of the population to easily access the movies through DVDS and VCDS, Okome (2007, p. 7) reiterates  “The video parlour is a simple location where members of community congregate for the sole purpose of consuming video narratives”. Nollywood would rather sustain its community spirit by enabling people from all walks of life to watch and enjoy their movies together, rather than creating a false perception of how an individual should look or act within their country of birth.

The global film industry is constantly evolving and although Bollywood and Nollywood are continuing to dominate alongside Hollywood, the Chinese film industry is slowly making its mark while remaining true to its cultural identity. Huiquin (2010, p. 323) highlights that “Confucian culture has exerted a great influence on Chinese people in many ways, on modes of thinking, behavior patterns and the national mentality.”

It is evident that the Chinese film industry can now sustain a reasonable profit without Hollywood’s help, through incorporating other nationalities such as Taiwan they are able to develop as a global industry and continue to produce films that represent their culture. Huiqun (2010, p. 326) states that “From the statistics, we can see that although Hollywood movies have a big impact on Asian countries’ markets, they do not have a monopoly. Asian countries can maintain their domestic markets and seek new opportunities.”

Evidently Hollywood and western civilisation is slowly infiltrating other cultures, although Nollywood and the Chinese film industry still remain true to their heritage it is only a matter of time until outside influences start effecting the way the countries present themselves and their ideals.

References:

Basu, M 2013, ‘White is beautiful:’ Why India needs its own Oprah Winfrey’, CNN, 26 September, viewed 24 August, <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/25/world/asia/indian-ideal-of-beauty/&gt;.

Huiqun, L 2010, ‘Opportunities and challenges of globalization for the Chinese film industry’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no.3, pp. 323-328.

Karan, K & J. Schaefer, D 2010, ‘Problematizing Chindia:Hybridity and Bollywoodization of popular Indian cinema in global film flows’, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 309-316.

Okome, O 2007, ‘Nollywood: Spectatorship, Audience and the Sites of Consumption’, Postcolonial Text, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 3-7.

Internationalising education: Exploitation or Opportunity?

Australia is a diverse nation which openly accepts multiculturalism. Although our understanding of different cultures and their perceptions of Australia is lacking resulting in a sense of alienation between our nation and other cultures.

When entering a new environment it can be a daunting experience, especially when the individual is not accustom to the norms, language or ideals of the place. Kell and Vogl (2007, p. 5) states “students found it hard as they felt that Australian students knew little about their culture and countries of origin”. With little knowledge comes uncertainty and often Australian’s who haven’t experienced other cultures avoid interaction.

Several international students are provided with an array of opportunities in Australia, although exploitation and false advertising within certain countries such as India and its poorer areas, as seen in the picture below, suggests that students will be given many opportunities to thrive including university education, but this is often not the case. The Documentary ‘Convenient Education’ recognises the hardship faced by several Indian students when they relocate to Australia. Often their families have sold properties or used majority of their savings to send them to Australia or other financially dependable countries. However their treatment is often poor, provided with little shelter and financially stable jobs, they are often forced to learn simple trades in order to accommodate the decreasing industries (Elliot-Jones 2012).

large.edf4c880c3dc23f04196bcf05a1b2c191a201b88Source

It is evident there needs to be a shift in how we see and treat international students. Regulations need to be put in place to ensure equality amongst all nationalities and each individual is provided with the opportunities they were guaranteed. Marginson (2004, p. 219) states that Indian students “wanting to belong heightened the importance of peer groups and collective consumption, but they also desired`independence'”.
International students have become a profit base for many countries, Marginson (2012, p. 1) states “80 per cent of our students are from Asia, which is becoming the gravitational centre of the world. This large scale encounter with people from Asia has much to offer”.

We are starting to see international students as an integrated part of our society, however in 2009 a series of attacks in Melbourne and Sydney on Indian students sparked debate towards how tolerant our country is, leading to the show ‘Dumb, Drunk and Racist’ which aired in 2010 on the ABC post these attacks. Marginson (2012, p. 1) argues “Much research suggests the pathway to improvement lies in lifting the interactions between international students and local persons, especially students”.

Conclusively there needs to be more awareness within Australian communities, and education towards international students, whether it’s through peer to peer groups or a much wider initiative, support needs to be a priority for both international and local students to ensure both parties are able to communicate with one another, and to minimize racial discrimination through violence and exploitation of vulnerable nationalities.

References:

Butcher, M 2004, ‘Universal Processes of Cultural Change: Reflecting on the Identity Strategies of Indian and Australian Youth’. Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3. pp. 215- 231.

Elliot-Jones, D 2012, Convenient Education, image, Walking Fish Productions, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://walkingfishproductions.com.au/Convenient-Education&gt;.

Elliot-Jones, D 2012, Convenient Education, online video, 13 November, SBS, viewed 17 August 2014, <http://www.sbs.com.au/ondemand/video/11877443934/Convenient-Education-trailer&gt;.

Kell, P & Vogl, G 2007, ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference, pp. 1-10.

Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, International education as self-formation, pp. 1-11.