Knights of The Round Table [BCM110]

In two days time, members from the Australian Journalists Association are about to convene to discuss the formation of Australia’s first press council. What is this new Council you may ask?

As Neil Mitchell (Melbourne radio & Newspaper journalist), qualifies in his latest opinion piece “Media’s best defense is self-policing in the SMH (27th March 2012), The Australian public are fed up with mainstream media, and even more so, “confidence in newspapers is at an all time ebb these days”.
Citizen journalism is detecting “real and imagined faults in our ethics and performance” and it being reflected through poor newspaper sales.
It’s an interesting read, as Mr. Mitchell doesn’t try to ‘play down’ or ignore the issues that are perhaps seeing the full demise of print journalism in this country. He believes that the press is “capable of improvement” and that the focus has shifted, with journalists “devoting 80 percent of news space” to content that involves “surprise, conflict or scandal”.

This is something that I would have to agree on. These days, you cannot pick up a newspaper without reading a salacious headline. Even more concerning for myself is the fact that I don’t know any different.
I belong to a generation that is deeply entrenched in social media and day-by-day, looking for alternatives to the mainstream. Why? Because I am tired of being constantly bombarded with untruths and what essentially to me is gossip.
As Australian’s, we deserve the right to a fair and even-handed view of the news and Mr. Mitchell agrees.
Having a professional body to give its readers a voice and “test the performance” of the media is a must. His major fear is without regulation we may one day see the day that “surveillance is forced upon us by government”. I have to agree.

The future of Australian media is at stake, it now has the power to implement change and look to a brighter future. I just hope that it is not to late.

How do you get your news? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 🙂

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It’s Up to You! [BCM112]

Does everyone remember the story of Geoff Goldblum ‘death‘?

Started by reputable Today Show entertainment host, Richard Wilkins, the sad news of his ‘passing’ quickly spread like wildfire amongst the social networking world with tributes from across the globe, even sparking US entertainment show Entertainment Tonight to report on his death.
This incident clearly demonstrates the power of today’s media users.
A story started on mainstream media taken full circle through the power of engaged users.

”Nobody knows everything, everyone knows something” (1999) A statement by Pierre Levy giving us a key insight into the mind of todays prosumer. These days we are simply not satisfied with passively consuming content, and a result, we are seeing a level of creativity that could only be imagined years ago.
General everyday citizens are broadcasting their own opinions on an international scale, creating vast networks of like-minded people. As Clay Shirky reiterates to us in his talk (How social media can make history), “In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap” gone are the days of the one to many media structure with amateurs continuing to ‘blur’ the line for professionals.
Media platforms such as SoundCloud are dominated by ‘amateurs’. The monologic days where you had to be signed to record labels to get your music heard are well an truly past. SoundCloud has no gatekeeper (for your own sounds, for more information on copyright).

You’re free to create and share content no matter how ambiguous the sound (shameless self promotion here) may be. Giving users the ability to comment and interact with other users at a negligent cost of both access and production, not to mention, the immediacy of getting ‘real time’ feedback on a specific track your working on is invaluable to today’s prosumer.
In an age where possibilities are limitless, it is now up to us ‘the people formally known as the audience’ to help shape the future.
We have been given a voice by social media platforms and now we must use it. The question is. As ‘amateurs’, do we really understand just how powerful and dynamic this social media revolution really is, and do we have the discipline to prevent its demise?

Levy, P 1997, Collective Intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. Plenum Trade: New York

Blog edited on: Tues 27th March 2012, 11:40am

Let’s Make App Happen! [BCM112]

“Create, record and share the sounds you create anywhere to friends, family and the world with SoundCloud, the world’s largest community of sound creators.”
This is the ideology of SoundCloud by the creators Alex Ljung and Eric Wahlforss. Developed originally as a platform for artists to share and receive feedback on content they were working on, SoundCloud soon developed into much more.

As Evan Williams said in his talk about the creation of Twitter, most of the technological advances surrounding Twitter were created by the users themselves. Much in the way that #hash-tagging is second nature to twitter, SoundCloud’s social advancements were also derived from the users. Being able to share content across different media platforms was not the intended use for the platform, but through the creativity of its user base, has been crucial to the successful progression of the platform and continues to be a strong point of interest for future developments.

Although SoundCloud is essentially a closed platform (only allows changes from the developers) and only allows users to upload content, their approach to the future of sharing sounds is quite unique. Some could argue that it is a hybrid system. Their broad range of applications for mobiles and tablets are available for free and produced for any hardware manufacturer just in the same way as the generative Android platform.

Given that the way we use and interact with the internet these days and the amount of people accessing content on their mobile phones, the importance of access permissions and ideological choices in digital media couldn’t be more important. Essentially, in my opinion, SoundCloud have it spot on. Their business model (of which I will expand on in future posts) allows the right amount of control without restricting creativity and increasing our awareness of social behaviors.
This could only be a good thing for the future. Right? 🙂

Everyone Wants A Say! [BCM110]

After recent findings of “phone hacking” in one of the UK’s leading newspapers and the recently defunct (News of the World), The Australian government has been quick to hand down a report outlining Australia’s media ownership regulations.
The battle lines have been drawn, after which Mr Ray Finkelstein QC (Queens Council) stressed the establishment of the News Media Council was ”not about increasing the power of government or about imposing some form of censorship”.
Given that the introduction of the NMC (News Media Council) would be responsible for the regulation of radio, print, television and online news media organisations, it is no wonder that according to Margaret Simons of Crikey (An Australian based private media publisher) that “you will find it difficult to get an idea of what the Finkelstein report on news media regulation actually says, or why it has reached its controversial conclusions, from reading the mainstream media”.
One outrageous front page headline titled “Labour plan to control the media” from The Australian Financial Review (March 3, 2012), claimed nothing of the sought. In fact the article written by Laura Tingle & Andrew White was “fair and balanced” and highlighted the need for the NMC to be able to force news organisations to publish corrections or apologies.

In an opinion piece by the same newspaper (AFN) – “Media review gets unjustified bad press” (March 19, 2012) by Rodney Tiffen, an emeritus professor in government and international relations at the University of Sydney, who worked on the Finkelstein Report slammed the headline claiming that “The headline was palpably and irresponsibly inaccurate”.

Whatever the findings (I am still trying to decipher the 88 page report), It is clear that print media have serious issues with introduction of the council.
Has their constant refusal to conform or self regulate bought this upon themselves? What will be the next steps for the NMC?

Thoughts? 🙂

Copy This! [BCM112]

In a discussion delivered by Larry Lessig “How creativity is being strangled by the law” he explains to us that the Internet has had a direct effect on the way that society now encourages creativity.
Creativity, in the sense that we have now have the power to share content in way we thought were unimaginable many years ago. This shift has continued to raise debate in the way that society now views and understands copyright.
Everyone knows that piracy and issues of copyright are nothing new. People have been recording, sharing and “pirating” copyright material for years. With a significant amount of content being uploaded to the internet every second, aggregators such as SoundCloud are forcing the “Big 4″ distributors to change their entire business models or be left behind in the digital age.
However, they (“The Big 4″) are not giving up without a fight. Acts such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act seek to prevent copyright material controlling the rights to content and how it is distributed. As a prime example of this control, I tried to upload a set to SoundCloud and was met with an email outlining that I had copyright material within the file and that I had the right to dispute the content if I saw fit.
Should I have tried to claim the right to upload the content under “fair use”?
In my opinion, I believe that I have done nothing wrong. As an advocate of the Creative Commons initiative, It should be the artist themselves who decide how their content can be used by others. Having such strict legislation of the internet is breeding this “us” versus “them” mentality in which there can only be one winner.

As Larry Lessig said.
“You can’t kill the instinct for creativity, you can only criminalise it.
You can’t stop it; it will only be driven underground.
You can’t make us be passive, we will just become pirates.”

By enforcing these backwards pieces of legislation, you strangle creativity and our inherent right to learn and participate in a society where possibilities are only restricted by our imagination.

Your thoughts? 🙂


The Billion Dollar Woman [BCM110]

As the battle for media ownership in Australia intensifies, one person has now made a push to battle for a say about the Australian economy and its direction.

This current major investment by mining magnate, Gina Rinehart is set to throw the debate about Australia’s economy into overdrive.

For those of you who don’t know about Gina, she is daughter of the late mining magnate Lang Hancock and has an estimated worth, recently announced by Forbes magazine of 18.1 billion dollars.

A very successful business woman in her own right, Gina has recently increased her share in Fairfax Media (The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age) to over 14%  to make her the group’s largest non-institutional investor.

This decision to no surprise, has brought about intense media scrutiny, with both print, screen and citizen journalism discussing what this could possibly mean for the future of Australian broadcasting.

Evidently, Fairfax Media’s main rival New Limited (Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun) have been circulating news stories to discredit Ms Rinehart since her push to gain political clout in the pages of Australia’s leading newspaper.

With an active voice, could Ms Reinhart’s latest 300 million dollar investment be more about political power than we think?

Will Fairfax journalists be forced to write in the interest of Ms Reinhart’s opinions?

Former host of the ABC’s Media Watch program and renowned journalist, Paul Barry believes that “I would think that she’s most unlikely to be able to sway the editorial policies of the newspaper and to slant it in a different direction. I don’t think she’ll have that many friends inside the boardroom anyway, and I think there’s always been a huge tradition of independence at Fairfax newspapers, and any board is gonna find it difficult to tell the editor and the staff what to do. And I don’t think it’s gonna be united board behind Gina, frankly”

Even so. With media ownership on the Governments radar, a public interest test for future transactions is being considered.

What are your thoughts on this latest investment? Is the future of the Australian media in good hands?

Footy’s Back in the headlines! [BCM110]

I know what your all thinking and no, for once it’s not a race or gender issue. Its media ownership.

The biggest issue at the moment facing the NRL (Rugby League) and the AFL (Australian Rules Football) is the current court battle in which the two are combining forces and legal expertise to exercise their power over internet distribution rights.

For those not following the deep legal battle, the main focus of the campaign is to prevent Optus (leading telecommunications company) releasing their “TV Now” service, which allows Optus mobile customers to record and watch free-to-air television on their smart-phones, tablets and laptops with a 90 second delay from real time.

What’s the problem with this you might ask? Well, Telstra (Australia’s largest telecommunications company) owns the exclusive rights to broadcast both the NRL & AFL and are claiming that the decision handed down by Justice Rares, of the Federal Court in NSW is in breach of its exclusive internet rights with Telstra.

The whole issue stems from the Sports who have been lobbying to the government to close an exemption to the Copyright Act that permits the “TV Now” service.

This decision has been highlighted in a number of different media platforms no more so than in the newspapers.

So how could something like “TV Now” fail to be in breach of Copyright? After all it is essentially just replaying what Telstra have paid hundred of millions for the rights to broadcast.

If we consider Telstra to be a “gatekeeper” (essentially meaning that they are the creator of the content). Once that content is broadcasted and released into the public domain, who is to say that Optus and their “TV Now” service have no right to “copy” it and use it as their own content?

No wonder the NRL & AFL are fighting “tooth and nail” to see through this injunction. If Optus is allowed to implement this service, It devalues the content and therefore leads to a loss of millions of dollars when the next battle begins of TV/internet rights later this year.
What does this mean for all sporting clubs involved? Less money = less clubs.
The sad hard truth of sporting clubs is they are a business and without strong revenue, they go bust.
How would you feel if your team was removed from the competition? Something to think about. 🙂