Group Presentation – Another Reflection… [BCM110]

As a mature age student the task of a group assignment was extremely daunting, yet highly exciting. Having worked in both team and individual environments for the last four years, I knew that I would have the confidence to work productively with my team members. For our topic, we collectively decided to address the issue of Bikie gangs and their perception in the media. We thought that due to the current climate surrounding their activity that we would have endless amounts of information for our case studies to support our ideology. When exploring their perception we concentrated on both mainstream and citizen journalism. Using references from news and current affairs programs, fictitious and real life crime dramas and interviews with the general public. Our goal was to cast a “wide net” over the topic to reflect on their perception as a whole.
Through the power of convergent media (Facebook, Twitter) the task of collating and organizing individual ideas was dramatically simplified. A Facebook group was established and everyone contributed his or her thoughts on the direction the presentation should take. Being able to instantly notify the group members of news reports, YouTube clips and on-going construction of the Prezi presentation was an excellent advantage. Not only was it cost effective, it proved a stroke of genius when organizing face-to-face consultation times also.
As a group I thought we worked tremendously well. After having my reservations at the start of the assignment (based on nightmare high school group activities) I warmed to the task of working together with my group. Each member showed maturity well above their age and everyone’s opinions were treated with respect and were given great attention. As we were a group of five, we decided to split the tasks equally. Each team member was given three minutes and either the introduction, a case study or the conclusion. I nominated myself for one of the television case studies focusing primarily on fictitious crime dramas (Sons of Anarchy, Bikie Wars: Brothers In Arms) and also documentary style programs. Having a graphic design background, I also nominated myself to create the Prezi presentation for the group. I found the construction of the Prezi the most exciting aspect of the assignment, as it was a new medium that allowed us to create a presentation that was concise and still engaging for our audience. Having the ability to use videos and moving images and sound were great ideas put forward by the group and I believe they worked really well in delivering our presentation.
If we were given the opportunity to present our presentation again, I would like to have made the conclusion considerably briefer. I thought that we covered our position very well through the introduction case studies and just added far too much information for a conclusion. Perhaps we could have rehearsed our presentation a few more times to keep the summary of points and include our statement and opinion without going into extra details at the end.
Because of my strong interest in the content that my case study focused on I found understanding the task to be considerably easier and too my advantage. When watching the content I always try to keep a critical opinion on what issues and tasks are being discussed throughout the shows. Issues of racial tension, drugs and street violence are intertwined with heart-felt emotions of love, trust and honour.

I would like to congratulate my group on our level of communication throughout the project. The most influential aspect to the preparation of our presentation was our use of social networking. Without a cheap and social platform to express our ideas on, this project wouldn’t have run as smoothly. Due to our different geographical locations, having a ‘meeting spot’ online was a great advantage. As daunting as group work may seem, once you have your communication structure in place, the task becomes far less concerning. Each team member knew their role, formulated their ideas and then brought their content to the presentation. I look forward to numerous group work assignments throughout my university studies and have a new found respect for those team members involved in presenting, Bikies and their perception in the media.


Cross Section Reflection [BCM110]

Over the last 12 weeks I have tried to introduce you all to the issue of Media Ownership in Australia. To be honest, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it could have been. Since the start of the semester we have covered various techniques and sources that have looked at the numerous ways in which the hot button issue of Media ownership is represented in the media. Throughout the semester both traditional media and citizen journalism have been a ‘buzz’ with articles in relation to the introduction of Australia’s first News Media Council. A brand new or rebadged regulatory body proposed to set journalistic standards for print, television, film and online news content. This review also sparked another enquiry (The Convergence Report) looking at the framework that is applied to converged media and the ever-growing popularity of citizen journalism.
It has to be said that this issue of monitoring journalistic standards would possibly never have come into discussion in the mediated public sphere without the scandal of Rupert Murdoch’s now defunct, News of the World newspaper. After the washout and scandal had subsided, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard believed that current traditional media in Australia had “questions to answer” The Australian (17th March 2012). Since the collapse, the Australian government has been proactive in discussing the future of media in Australia and the impact that the technological age has had across all mediums.
With the advent of digital technology into the media spectrum the ownership of media becomes even murkier. Companies buy out companies and merge their media whilst other companies diverge into new areas. So how can we possibly control all of this? As we all continue to shift into a participatory culture do we all need a regulatory body to keep us accountable for our actions? The answer remains unclear.
It is no secret that the role of convergence has dramatically changed the game of journalism. We now have an abundance of user generated content that continues to promote the vacancy in opinion that traditional media has simply forgotten. When researching and collecting articles based on the issue, it was extremely challenging to decide which information was a valued opinion piece, or a slab of text ‘towing the company line’. The question we are left facing is. Does a high concentration of media ownership limit our ability to formulate our own ideologies? Given that the two battling gatekeepers in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation & John Fairfax’s Fairfax Holdings lay claim to owning 11 of the 12 newspapers in Australia’s capital cities, how can the news we read remain objective when each corporation continues to push their own ideologies upon us? The report also outlined a proposal to implement a ‘minimum number of owners’ rule, which would ensure that monopolies of media ownership could not be formed to prevent news from being falsely balanced and remain objective.
Throughout the twelve weeks articles from both media giants have been formulating a sense of moral panic, highlighting the cost of censorship and the intrusive impact and threat to free speech that will emerge if the proposed legislation is to be introduced. It is clear that neither party wants these recommendations instituted and have been voicing their opinions strongly, advising the government that an Industry controlled body would be far more beneficial in regulating news content rather than a government controlled association such as ACMA (Australian Communication & Media Authority).
In my last blog, I proposed the question “do we really care” about media ownership and the possibility of an industry lead media council? At first I wasn’t convinced that the issue was a prominent fixture in the public sphere, however I have since been assured. Just do a quick search for ‘convergence review’ in any civic media or social networking platform and you will be pleasingly surprised. The issue is being discussed and has provided me with a new level of insight surrounding the issue. What remains unclear about the role of citizen journalism is the level of censorship. The recommendations by the Convergence report disregard the regulation of bloggers, tweeters, etc. that receives a small amount of Internet traffic with the onus on the individual to self regulate their content and maintain acceptable journalistic standards.

Twelve weeks later and the issue and debate still drags on. What is clear though is how the media uses its power to promote their ideologies to the general public. We live in an exciting and empowering period in time. As prosumers we must continue to evaluate and remain objective when consuming or producing content. The dark clouds are lifting on the horizon of Australia’s media landscape; it is now time to put away the umbrellas and embrace convergence and the role of new media.

Couldn’t finish the post without adding my favourite clip from all the BCM110 lectures.

  Three Little Pigs – The Guardian

So You Want to Own Everything? [BCM110]

Since the release of the governments Convergence Review in the later part of April, News networks have been a buzz with their own opinions on the report and what impact they think it will have on Australia’s media landscape.
An article by The Australian “Analysts say no merger frenzy is expected as a result of freer media ownership” (7th May 2012) by Michael Bodey & Simon Canning highlights the positive impact of the new legislation and the benefits of this revolutionary change. “It doesn’t matter like it would have five to 10 years ago, the media barons aren’t active like they once were.” This is the opinion of one of analysts interviewed for this article. I tend to agree with him. In a society where content is now considered global, social, ubiquitous and cheap, why is there a moral panic that greater media expansion will lead to a loss of our rights to free speech?
The article concludes on the topic of censorship with “Glen Boreham, the chair of the Convergence Review, strongly attacked suggestions that the CR proposal for a single-platform neutral news regulator would harm free speech”. The question I am beginning to ask is do we really care? In an interesting piece of civic journalism one citizen Bob Bobbings (an alias? Perhaps?) Claims “No-one reads them anyway. What’s worth preserving? (As an aside: this isn’t truly the fault of Murdoch or any other media owner. The real issue is Australia’s lazy, anti-thought, consumerist, ‘she’ll be right’ culture, one in which informed debate about anything other than shopping has no place. Blame the populace, not media proprietors)”. I whole-heartedly agree. We have lost an abundance of trust and therefore interest in media that we now just don’t see any importance in discussing the issue.

Do you care about the Convergence Review? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below. 🙂

A Hint of Sabotage? [BCM110]

How many of you have Pay TV?
Further more, how many of you have noticed that little plastic card that sticks out of the control unit?

A report in the Australian Financial Review “Pay TV piracy hits News” (28th March, 2012) claims that News Corporation faces fresh accusations of hacking after reports claimed that an affiliate of the media conglomerate had hacked into pay-television rivals to undermine their operations.

To give you a short rundown of how the system works, the card inside your control unit contains specific codes and information from your pay television service to allow you to view the content.

A report by the AFR claims that a subsidiary and secret unit of New Limited the NDS Group facilitated piracy by using hackers to sabotaged business rivals, fabricated legal actions and obtained telephone records illegally.
The allegations against NDS are nothing new for the company which has been under scrutiny since its creation in 1988 .
The 4 year investigation into the deception by News Corp and NDS by the AFR, highlights just how much of an financial impact the ill-practices have had on Australia’s pay per view services, with affected companies losing up to 50 million dollars a year.
However, in an article in The Australian “Pay-TV bosses rubbish News Corp ‘piracy” (April 3, 2012), the AFR is coming under increasing pressure to provide evidence of criminal activity, and to pass that evidence to the Australian Federal Police, which said it is not investigating any of the claims.
So who do you believe?
The ABC’s Media Watch program is not ‘’fully convinced’’ that one of the email examples highlighted by the AFR in its series on News Corp subsidiary NDS proves claims of widespread pay TV piracy.

Perhaps its best to leave the final words from the man (or at least his twitter manager) himself.

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! 🙂

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? 🙂

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?