2014 March

Why do women love Dexter?

Posted by | Television | No Comments

The area of interest is crime drama. Specifically looking at the American Showtime series “Dexter” and its female demographic aged between 18 and 30. Dexter is a critically acclaimed series about a blood-spatter expert with the Miami police force who moonlights as a serial killer. Dexter operates by a code given to him by his foster father and only kills other serial killers.

A relevant text is “TV Drama in Transition” by Robin Nelson. Nelson (1997, pp 156) suggests the very best TV drama makes you think. It stops viewers in their tracks and draws them away from the newspaper and the distractions of domesticity. If a drama is framed just off-centre it demands viewers to see something afresh and challenges their accounts of the world (Nelson, 1997, pp.156). Nelson believes characters that draw people in display “the complexity of a characters’ motivation; the sense conveyed between mind and body, decision and action.” Nelson values matters of ethics. Ethical issues must be acknowledged as well as the pleasures generated from TV Drama. This is relevant to Dexter because the show makes viewers question their own ethics. Dexter is a likeable character but how does it make the audience feel when he kills other people.  The fact that he has a code and only kills serial killers presents a real ethical dilemma.  Nelson (1997, pp 230) places greater value on TV drama’s that “set criteria of critical reflection on human life and its values in general.” These dramas tend to engage viewers and open up new ways of seeing. Nelson does not suggest some TV Dramas are better than others but simply some shows have more to offer.

Graeme Burton’s Talking Television (2000) explores the television audience. Burton (2000, pp. 215) believes the audience uses television to gratify inner needs to do with the social aself and with self-image. He highlights the need for identity and reveals how people use television, in particular personalities and enacted roles in order to check out our sense of self and our social behaviours. This could be tied to the audience’s viewing of Dexter.  They would view Dexter’s acts in order to check their own moral boundaries. Burton also looks at the effects of violent television. He describes effects such as catharsis in that violent television can get rid of violent feelings. Violent material can arouse people before the mood disappears. Other effects include imitation and desensitisation. The effects he discusses may provide some information on the appeal of a show like Dexter.  Why do people watch a show about a serial killer?  Burton suggests violence in real television can be more disturbing than violence in factual television. He also believes television may help in the understanding of violence in society. Burton suggests personal experience and context may have an effect on how the viewer perceives the narrative. He believes voice over work is used to naturalise the discourse. Dexter does use voice-overs by the main character to describe how he is feeling.

Patrick Barwise & Andrew Ehrenberg “Television and its Audience” is another appropriate text. Barwise & Ehrenberg (1998, pp. 25) highlights the fact that different programs are mostly watched by different people. Barwise & Ehrenberg (1998, pp. 26) suggest women spend more time watching television generally. Although the audience sizes for different programs can vary greatly, the make-up of these audiences tends to be broadly similar. There can however be exceptions for individual programs. Narrative programs, which have a continuing storyline benefit from developing plots, establishing characters over time and building audience appeal. This is an important point for Dexter.  The first season of Dexter told 1 story about an “ice truck serial killer” over 13 episodes. Barwise & Ehrenberg (1998, pp. 25) state that some programs take longer to build an audience.  Dexter more than doubled its audience from the pilot to the season finale. Barwise & Ehrenberg believe ongoing storylines or serials build a more loyal and habitual audience. They also assert that studies of audience appreciation show a strong link between how often people watch a given program and how much they like it. They also highlight a relationship between how much a program makes us think and how great an impact a show makes.  Dexter is a high impact show, which leaves viewers talking.

Another relevant text to the general topic is “Women Viewing Violence” by Schlesinger, Dobash & Weaver. Schlesinger (1992, pp. 2) highlights the often-held concern that violent fictional representations bring about a deadening of public sensibilities.  Schlesinger argues that factors such as age, sex, class background, and area of residence are all connected to the perceptions that audience members bring to bear upon their reading of crime and violence on television. Schelsinger (1992, pp. 9) suggests that for some members of the audience reactions to television violence involve an interaction with their experience of violence. Schelsinger (1992, pp. 164) also understands that for some women viewing televised violence may be seen as a depiction of a relatively abstract and distant act. Schelsinger determines that the viewing audience therefore becomes several viewing audiences. He points out that women are more afraid of violence, which distinguishes them from men. Excuses for the violence play a part, as well as the character and situations in which the violence occurs.  This is a key point in the violence depicted in Dexter. Although he is a serial killer he has a strict moral code and does not harm innocent people. This may affect women’s viewing or attraction to the program.

Barrie Gunter “Television and the Fear of Crime” also deals with crime on television.  Gunter (1997, pp. 1) asserts that the influence of television on public perceptions and fears of crime is not strong. Gunter also suggests people’s experience of crime effects how they view crime on television. He intimates that television drama can teach lessons about who wins and loses in conflicts and it may reveal an insight into the power structure of the world. Television can provide a symbolic environment to present a system of beliefs and values. Gunter (1997, pp. 8) believes television can change the outlook people have on the world. He also determines that violent crimes such as murder are actually over represented in US television. Typically crime shows tend to portray criminals as especially heinous. He concludes that crime drama shows are the most popular on television therefore mass audiences are regularly exposed to crime themes.  The way Dexter is portrayed is different to most violent criminals. He is in fact shown in a sympathetic light, which perhaps sets the show apart from many crime dramas. Gunter reveals how viewers perceive and interpret programmes is very important. Viewers do not always read the same meanings into television content.

In Wendy Dennis’ article “The thinking woman’s killer” she details how attractive Dexter is to females. She points out that he is a serial killer who kills other serial killers and he is a great listener, so what’s not to love? She highlights how both men and women are captivated by Dexter but women seem to have a special affection for the character.  Dennis reveals that half the show’s audience is in fact women. Dennis (2007, pp. 51) suggests Dexter is the thinking women’s serial killer who is kind to his co-workers; sweet to his girlfriend, great with her kids and supportive of his sister. Dennis emphasises that like all heroes Dexter lives by a code. He only targets the most violent criminals who slip through the judicial system. Other appealing characteristics for women are that he is very bright, he does very difficult work, and he is protective and a religious man. Dennis believes that for certain women serial killers have held a hypnotic fascination. Dennis (2007, pp. 52) believes most women don’t have it in themselves to kill so liking Dexter gives them license to go there. The fact that many people find themselves rooting for Dexter and hoping he doesn’t get caught is the appeal of the show. The fact that he kills such abhorrent people from pedophiles to those who dispose of immigrants allows the viewers to cut him some slack.

Great television drama presents ethical dilemmas. Television involving violence can have an impact on an audience and its own values and beliefs. Dexter manages to do this while appealing to a strong female demographic. My research question is what are females in the 18-30 age range fascination with Dexter and why are they watching the show?

 

References

Barwise, P. and A.Ehrenberg. 1988. Television and its Audience. London, California, New Delhi: Sage Publications

Burton, G. 2000. Talking Television. London: Arnold

Dennis, W. 2007. The Thinking Woman’s Killer. Maclean’s Vol. 120 Iss. 10. (March) :51-2

Gunter, B. 1987. Television and the Fear of Crime. London: John Libbey & Company.

Nelson, R. 1997. TV Drama in Transition: Forms, Values and Cultural Change. London, New York: Macmillan Press

Schlesinger, P., R.Dobash, R.E. Dobash and C. Weaver. 1992 Women Viewing Violence. London: BFI.

Does the Internet offer more legitimate forms of public access than old ‘alternative’ media?

Posted by | New Media | No Comments

The Internet is continually gaining wider reach.  More and more people can gain access to the Internet through personal computers, televisions, mobile phones and game consoles. The public’s access to the Internet in various forms will only increase over time.

Goldman (1995) highlights the Internets mix of immediacy, interactivity and accessibility.  Those flexible characteristics are a reason for its growing appeal.  The use of web-based platforms is a means for cheap and open access to discussion and debate.  Mainstream press is largely one-way traffic and the old alternative media is limited in its ability to respond.  Goldman (1995) believes the public discourse once carried out in places like Hyde Park is now carried out on the Internet, PC’s and laptops have taken the place of soapboxes and podiums.  Old media focus on profit.  Alternative media outlets instead place more importance on the message rather than the market.  The Internet has provided alternative media with a wonderful tool to disseminate information.

The anti-capitalist movements use of Internet communications is an example of how the new media offer new spaces and mechanisms for radical political organization (Kellner, 2001).  Bronstein believes radical political activism is reaching a global stage largely due communication technologies and the electronic transfer of information. Bronstein (2005) suggests that the prominence of independent websites and alternative media formats may mean traditional media is now obsolete for social movements.

Nick Couldry (2005) offers a view of an active and diverse global media landscape, where alternative media can challenge the mainstream by taking media production resources into their own hands. As the mainstream media failed to represent movement grievances it was left to activists to foster visibility.  This in turn led to the pioneering use of communication technology including the creation of independent Websites that bring their view of globalization to the world.  The Internet has been used to aid mobilization efforts.  Greenpeace and unions are using the Internet to sway public opinion (Wim van de Donk, 2004).

Houston (2000) describes the Internet as being built as a delivery system.  Non-profit and non-governmental agencies now offer comprehensive web sites and people can now access a wide variety of approaches to news on the Internet.  Houston (2000) believes the Internet gives voice, training and exposure to people and communities who are otherwise not visible.  Public access has given the opportunity for people whom have something to say to say it to anyone who cares to watch and listen.  Couldry  (2005) claims the Internet has enabled people in remote corners of the world to participate as global citizens.  The audience has been a passive voice in old media (Bronstein, 2005).  New communication technology has seen the advent of a fragmentation of the media. This has given the audience unaccustomed power over the communication process.   The audience now has editorial control and unparalleled access.  The Internet empowers sender and receiver and people now see themselves as in charge or setting the agenda (Hirst & Harrison, 2007).

Are information and communication technologies reaching all levels of society? Hirst & Harrison (2007) argues that the necessary infrastructure is still not available to some social groups and that it is now an insurmountable problem.  Hirst (2007) mentions the slow uptake of the Internet amongst regional, female, indigenous, migrant and older sections in Australia.  Martin Lister also argues that access to cyberspace remains a scarce resource, which is determined by economic and social power.

Lister believes that non-universal access is a feature of the Internet and that it will never be as powerful as the Television.  With television we all shared the same kind of technology more or less, as opposed to the Internet.  Advancements in software and computers create uneven access conditions.  Those with the better communication technologies will have faster access to the Internet.  The need to upgrade constantly leaves users with unequal levels of access.  Lister believes the disparities to Internet access is based on economic inequalities.  The digital divide reproduces the exact inequalities that are already prevalent in society.  Barber (2006) suggests that those who might most benefit from the nets information potential are least likely to access to it.  They do not have the tools to gain access and if they do, they don’t have the educational background to take advantage of them.  Barber (2006) considers those with access tend to already be empowered in the system by education, income and literacy. Hirst (2007) suggests the demographic of the Internet using public is dominated by middle to upper class males.  This creates a socio-cultural divide in access to new media technologies.

The Internet has changed landscape of the media.  Online big city newspapers are competing with alternative web sites.  Blogs have remained popular with the younger audience as they allow readers to post comments and directly participate.  Computer bulletin boards are also another great tool on the Internet to facilitate discussion.  Knowledge of media production and the ability to produce media and disseminate it to the public via the Internet is increasing.  The consumer can become the producer via online journals, podcasts, vodcasts and personal home pages.  Those who have been silenced or marginalized now have a greater ability to be heard when they speak.  A good deal of civic discussion takes place on the Internet through public forums, online journalism and activist organizations (Dahlgren, 2004). We now have a single global economy, which has increased the reach of organizations (Lister, 2002).  McChesney (1998) argues the Internet will not launch viable commercial competitors. He believes good journalism requires resources and institutional support.  McChesney (1998) highlights the importance of a healthy non-profit and non-commercial media sector, independent of big business and government. Can the Internet provide this?

The Internet remains as an incomparable communicative civic space (Dahlgren, 2004).  Dahlgren (2004) suggests it helps promote alternative public spheres that offer an empowering sense of what it means to be a citizen.

The old alternative media was unable to cover the current news of the day and they were only able to reach a small audience.  The Internet has amazing speed and immediacy and empowers those who can use it to reach a mass audience quickly.  The global communication and mobilization required using old media would be extremely costly and time consuming.  The Internet is convenient and efficient.  It can mobilize citizens, build new communities, increase political discourse, and public activism (Rosenkrands, 2004).  While some social groups still do not have sufficient access to the Internet it still offers more legitimate forms of public access than old alternative media.

 

References

Barber, Benjamin R. “Pangloss, Pandora or Jefferson? Three scenarios for the future of technology and strong democracy.” In “The New Media Theory Reader” Open University Press: New York (2006)

Bronstein, Carolyn. “Journalism & Mass Communication Educator,” Columbia: Winter 2005. Vol.59, Iss. 4;  pg. 427, 3 pgs

Couldry, Nick & Curran, James  “Contesting Media Power” In “Journalism & Mass Communication Educator,” Columbia: Winter 2005

Dahlgren, Peter “Forward” In “Cyberprotest: New media, citizens and social movements” Routledge: London, New York (2004)

Donk, Wim Van De, Loader, Brian D., Nixion, Paul G. & Rucht, Dieter “Introduction:social movements and ICTs” In “The New Media Theory Reader” Open University Press: New York (2006)

Hirst, Martin & Harrison, John “Communication and New Media” Oxford University Pres: Melbourne (2007)

Goldman, Debra. Adweek. (Eastern edition). New York: Sep 18, 1995. Vol.36, Iss. 38;  pg. SS4, 5 pgs

Houston, Frank “Columbia Journalism Review” New York: Jul/Aug 2000. Vol.39, Iss. 2;  pg. 22, 4 pgs

Kellner, Douglas “Techno-politics, new technologies, and the new public spheres,” in Illuminations, January (2001)

Lister, Martin “New media : a critical introduction” Routledge: London, New York (2002)

McChesney, Robert W., Wood, Ellen Meiksins & Foster, John Bellamy “Capitalism and the information age : the political economy of the global communication revolution” Monthly Review Press: New York (1998)

Rosenkrands, Jacob “Politizining Homo economicus: analysis of anti-corporate websites” In “Cyberprotest: New media, citizens and social movements” Routledge: London, New York (2004)

The Science of Life

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The Science of Life

Ayurveda is an ancient medical science from India, which is now growing in popularity around the world Tim Price writes

Stillness, quiet, nature, the laughter of a child, can all lead to a discovery of truth within oneself. Death, emotional upset, relationship pressures and the stresses of work and family however can unbalance many people. Life is a delicate balance and as many people struggle to adjust to added pressures they are turning to new practices. One such practice is a 5, 000 year old tradition which has been used to rebalance the mind and body in a holistic way. Ayurveda, “the science of life” is growing in popularity and many are discovering its healing benefits across the globe. In Ayurveda all aspects of a persons health are addressed be it physical, spiritual or mental.

Alternative medicine has risen sharply around the world in recent years and Ayurveda is leading the charge. Many foreign scholars have visited India to pursue Ayurveda study.
Some have suggested Ayurveda was influential in the foundation of the science of modern European medicine. In ancient times Ayurveda was found to induce “kayakalpa.” Kayakalpa is the transformation of a diseased body to a young and vigorous one. Ayurveda was thought to help in maintaining youthful health. Today’s polluted environment and people’s inability to stick to a healthy regime has seen many drawn to its benefits. Its popularity is also garnered by its risk-free approach. Unlike many ill-advised approaches to holistic health Ayurveda does not generate any dangerous side effects. Ayurvedic colleges and research centers have opened across the US. Ayurveda medicinal remedies are now being housed in many of Australia’s health shops. Ayurvedic spas are also opening up around the country. Ayurvedic courses are proving popular. Ayurveda is now truly a global phenomenon.

Food, the Ayurvedic approach

An Ayurvedic approach to cooking is said to restore your body’s health levels. Ayurvedic cooking is traditionally vegetarian but can also be applied to meat. One of the main principles is to prepare, cook and eat your meal in a loving way. Organically grown foods are often used. Following Ayurveda’s way of thinking may also assist in weight loss and weight maintenance. Your approach however may differ to others depending on your “dosha”.

A dosha is a mind/body type, which we all inherit. There are 3 mind/body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All three exist within a person, but one will dominate and therefore determine your eating strategy. Foods relevant to each dosha are then eaten to prevent illness and promote health. Weight loss recommendations are made based on individuals doshas. The philosophy suggests any health imbalances, can be restored by maintaining a healthy diet, eating a variety of herbs and making lifestyle changes.

“A big part of Ayurveda is about eating what is right for your body type,” says Martha Harkey, Ph.D. Harkey is a certified Ayurvedic practitioner and consultant.

Amrit Devgun ND, practices both naturopathic and Ayurvedic medicine at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Woodwind Natural Care. She believes Ayurvedic medicine can benefit those struggling with obesity. “Two people struggling with their weight could have two totally different recommendations based on Ayurveda,” says Devgun. “According to a person’s body type (dosha), that determines what type of exercise they should do and what time of day they should exercise.”

Susan George has always been interested in her own health and wellness so when her life became imbalanced, she turned to Ayurveda. George is now an Ayurvedic practitioner. “Knowledge means power in terms of our own health,” says George. “Many lack the knowledge of how to take care of themselves.” George conducts a two-hour consultation with clients to determine their health history and practices. She uses aromatherapy, color, herbs and massage oils in her Ayurvedic therapy.

Commercialisation of Ayurveda

Despite the widespread success of Ayurveda some have been using the holistic approach for disreputable monetary gain. Ayurveda’s mainstream success has resulted in the proliferation of many Ayurvedic centers offering Ayurvedic massages and therapies. Concerns have been raised about the dilution of treatments in an attempt to profit off the phenomenon.
“Even though this shows the growing popularity of Ayurveda, the attempt to dilute the system for purely commercial interests will do great harm to this stream of medicine,” says Dr U Indulal, Deputy Director, Arya Vaidya Pharmacy, Coimbatore.

Other Ayurveda specialists have suggested many centers do not have the required doctors, facilities, medicinal oils and qualified therapists. Some centers in India have even been raided for immoral activities.

Although Ayurveda’s success has resulted in some problems, its widespread acceptance has benefited many. Its comprehensive approach to health has put it at the forefront of alternative medicine. Looking at an individual’s entire life has assisted Ayurvedic medicine in positively affecting both physical and mental health.

Alternative medicine still remains strong around the world. Ayurveda is now a universal therapy. The ancient Indian healing system, has been around for 5, 000 years and its recent popularity suggests it will be used for thousands more.

Ayurveda & Digestion

Ayurveda has a straightforward answer for those suffering from indigestion. The food we eat is digested by Agni or body fire within ourselves. The three doshas; Vata, Pitta & Kapha help to digest the food we eat. When all the doshas are balanced an optimum environment is created for digestion. The belief is that if the agni digests all the food properly the body will be suitably nourished. This will lead to longevity, good health, vitality and a strong mind. If the agni does not properly digest the food it will cause a weakness in the body.
Agni can be imbalanced because of a number of factors. These include consuming spicy foods, milk products, smoking, drinking alcohol and taking medications such as antibiotics. Parasites, liver diseases and anxiety and stress can also unbalance your agni.
There are however remedies to increase agni. These include drinking warm water every 2 hours, eating boiled vegetables, and drinking lemon juice and ginger mixed with water. Abdominal massages can also be helpful. Following Ayurvedic principles will result in you consuming well-balanced food. This in itself will lead to well-balanced agni and a healthy body. The ayurvedic approach is a simple yet practical way to maintain good digestion.

MySpace Addiction

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The Space for Addiction
Timothy Price

MySpace is the digital crack of the 21st century. As it’s popularity rises, so does its number of addicts. Huddling against the warm neon glows of their computers they update their profiles. Sending messages back and forth with online friends is their fix. Hours upon hours are spent adding friends, writing bulletins, sending messages, making comments and uploading photos. Is this a disturbing trend or a healthy new way for people to interact?

MySpace has captured a generation with its melding of technologies and ease of use. MySpace has over 65 million monthly views. It is one of the most popular web sites on the net. There are over a 100 million MySpace users around the world.

Joining the online social networking world has never been so easy. You can have a MySpace page up in minutes. You don’t have need to be a web wiz, or programming expert. Simply fill out information about yourself and your interests and you will be set up with a default profile. It’s quick and easy to upload your pictures. Transferring photos from a digital camera or mobile phone from your computer to MySpace takes mere seconds. Once a default picture has been set you can begin adding friends.

You will find past friends and old acquaintances on MySpace. Many browse users’ profiles according to their own set of preferences, from location to age, sex and relationship status. You can personalise your MySpace profile with a variety of layouts. Your friends can leave comments on your profile. As its popularity grows MySpace comments are quickly replacing texts and phone calls.

It’s a strange world, MySpace. Promotion is the game, and many are quick to jump on board. Artists now get their big break on MySpace. Gym Class Heroes MySpace success with “Cupid’s Chokehold,” led to a record deal, radio spins and a top ten hit. They even wrote a song about MySpace on their subsequent album titled “New Friend Request.” It details lead singers Travis’ exploits after falling in love with a fellow MySpace user.

A lot of celebrities use MySpace. Actor and comedienne Jamie Kennedy runs his own MySpace profile. It has generated million’s of views and he now has over 200000 friends. Fans now have greater access to their pop culture heroes.

It’s a competitive space. Users rush to increase their friend account. People want to be on each others top friends list. A non-appearance can quickly lead to rifts. Beautiful models replace long time friends. It’s a dog eat dog world of self-aggrandising. Who is watching and how they are perceived quickly takes precedence over a friend’s rejection.

What was once personal has now become very public. Personal blogs reign supreme and people post bulletins (viewable by all of their friends) answering surveys with fifty personal questions. Who knew so many people were interested in whether you put butter on your bread before peanut butter? Many meet MySpace buddies in real life referring to each other with their online pseudonyms.

There’s a lot to do on MySpace, and people are finding plenty of time to do it. MySpace addiction is on the rise. There are websites devoted to helping you with your MySpace cravings. Levels of addiction are tested by answering questions such as “if you need to tell your friend something, would you rather leave them a comment than call them?” and “You know more people on MySpace than you do in real life.” Other symptoms include checking MySpace more than a dozens of times a day, and posting multiple bulletins in an hour

A video on YouTube entitled “MySpace Junkie” has received over 2.7 million views. In the video a MySpace “junkie” desperately wants to use his friend’s computer to log on to MySpace. He hasn’t checked the site in days and needs to accept friends’ requests and invites. The MySpace fiend offers to put his friend in his top eight as compensation for access. He wants to know the bulletin of the day and the featured MySpace music. Many have left comments on this video relating their own addiction. This comedic observation perhaps reveals a greater truth.

Another YouTube video, PeeDeeFlos “Kings of MySpace” has received over 1.5 million views. In the parody “Pdflow” and “trafik” rap about the benefits of MySpace and how they use it to get dates. They say, “It’s addicting like how a crack head feels.” The theme of drug use and MySpace has been linked many times; people are having a hard time curtailing their use.

Even computer use experts have likened the use of internet to drug addiction. According to James Katz, the director of the Center for Mobile Computing at Rutgers University, “such communication has vital meaning to users, even though most of the data is essentially unimportant.” Some experts say using this new technology has become ritualistic, giving people a sense of belonging in an increasingly disconnected community. It’s the digital version of lighting up a cigarette

Addicts carry laptops with them everywhere they go, just so they can log onto MySpace. If someone doesn’t reply to a friend request they get upset. Why is this addiction reaching such levels? Some theorise that the interaction can give a feeling of validation and desirability. The world’s vanity may be the key to MySpace’s success. It also explains why so many people are getting hooked.

Kel Spencer, a rising hip-hop artist who has worked with everyone from Will Smith to MC Lyte, is a confessed MySpace addict. He is featured on DJ Jazzy Jeff’s new album on a track called “The Definition.” In the track he rhymes, “taste my diction, from Spence, as intense as my MySpace addiction.”

DJ Jazzy Jeff is another MySpace user who has likened MySpace to crack. Kel Spencer agrees, “He’s got a point.” The reason he finds it so addictive? “It’s the interaction without having to interact.” Kel even thinks about MySpace while he’s not using it. Pondering if someone has replied to a comment. Kel spends up to an hour a day on MySpace and posts five or six bulletins a day. His bulletins range from promotion, to personal stories and weekly contemplations.

Natalia Madrid has taken her addiction to another level. She is on MySpace for two hours in the morning and three hours at night. She says she spends her time “talking to my friends, reading private messages, goofing around and promotions.” Natalia says she has had many people get pissed at her because of her top eight. She does like it when she appears in other’s top friends, “It feels good to see me in my friends’ space.” She also thinks about MySpace when she is not using it, “Yeah, certain people… I often times wonder… if I have a new MySpace message, especially if I’m waiting on a private message back.”

Wendy Macdonald is a reformed MySpace addict. She explains: “I got creeped out by how addicting it can be. I mean it is about pimping thyself and who doesn’t like to big themselves up?”
She got involved in MySpace forums and groups, adding many friends, regularly updating and checking her profile. Then she came to the realisation, “At the end, it was a giant waste of my time.” Her heavy use resulted in a change of heart, “It got redundant. Then it just seemed so pointless. Then I clicked cancel account.”

At the end of the day, however long you spend on MySpace, the question remains, was it time well spent? For most of the MySpace addicts out there, the answer is probably yes.

My Voyage into MySpace

I have a love/hate relationship with MySpace. It can be a wonderful tool as well as an extremely annoying distraction. Is it Internet landfill or digital delight?
I’ve found long lost friends scattered all across the world on MySpace. Catching up with these friends that have been lost in the shuffle of life has been a wonderful experience.
I’ve also been confronted by endless spam and friend requests from enough untalented bands to fill the MCG.
There seems to be an endless supply of fake people on MySpace. It’s a vacuum for the self interested, self important, self righteous, fake friend growing masses. Emos, models, and fake lesbians rule the landscape. Traversing the ugly terrain can be a gruesome exercise.
It does however offer real benefits. It is a great way to keep in touch with real friends. It’s easy to keep abreast with friends that you are not in constant communication with. Simply, visit their profile. It is also a great way to network. It provides an excellent way to increase your contacts within your industry.
MySpace can be an eyesore. Some people just shouldn’t be let out on the Internet. There are profiles littered with enough digital waste to make a hundred graphic designers cringe. Oodles of rubbish from rotating photographs to multiple videos are added to profiles. It can take minutes to load.
I’ve also met some great people on MySpace who share the same interests as myself. Discovered lots of great music too.
I’ll never be an addict, but unfortunately I can’t quite click delete profile.
MySpace I love you, I also hate you.

How is Journalism as a profession being challenged by new media?

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The emergence of new media has changed the current media landscape for journalists. Online journalism such as blogging has become an important tool on the World Wide Web. Citizen journalism is on the rise. The Internet has provided a wealth of information and competition for old media forms. How will new media affect the future of journalism?

New media has had an impact on current day journalism. New media can be defined by its technology (interactivity, digitalization, convergence) services (delivery of information, entertainment, political participation, education, commerce) and textual forms (genre hybridity, hypertextuality, multimedia) (Livingstone, 2002). There is great uncertainty regarding the changing media environment (Livingstone, 2002, pp 21). Many argue that new media will supplement rather than replace old media (Livingstone, 2002). As the diversity of media increases audiences become more fragmented. Audiences are less predictable. As the information and communication technology advances new forms of media content will arise. Globalization has been fueled by the technology. Will old media respond by producing more locally driven content or present a more global identity? The sudden changes brought about by the Internet and new media has left many old media organizations behind. They did not see the power of emerging new media and were slow to respond.

Pressure has been put to bear on old media by the changing media landscape. This leads to fewer editorial resources, lower budgets, and news space being carved back (Beecher, 2005, pp10). Serious journalism becomes increasingly marginalized due to its lack of profitability. Journalism is becoming less about news and more about entertainment. The greatest example of this is Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News channel. Highly opinionated hosts are more worried about producing entertainment and high ratings than responsible reporting. If entertainment is more profitable what is there to stop this from continuing? Competition for opinion and entertainment news has increased (McNair, 2006). The media is now highly commercialized so the chances for serious journalism are decreasing. Could the financial adjustments in old media lead to a greater importance placed on Internet journalism?

The Internets wide reach means the public knows more than it ever did (McNair, 2006). Online journalism now ranges from amateur works to established professionalism. McNair (2006) argues online journalism relies less on the objectivity and reliability of established journalism and more on the immediacy and independence or objection of old media. The struggle between old journalism and new journalism has helped drive the evolution of the Internet and online news. Originally established names such as the BBC dominated online journalism. As the blogosphere emerged in 2002 and 2003 amateurs gained a greater voice in the online world.

As old media brought their newspapers online they began to have a global reach. Australian newspapers are read around the world, and the world can read Australian newspapers. These days there are few newspapers without an online presence. BBC News and Guardian Unlimited have taken the cyber versions of their publications more seriously. They were the first to start providing web only content for free. Unfortunately most web sites are still losing money. Organizations are involved in an urgent search to make online journalism not just an integral part of a media business but a profitable one (McNair, 2006, pp 127). Many organizations that charge users for content find it difficulty to persuade them to pay (McNair, 2006).

It could be said that new media has been able to challenge the establishment because of the depressing state newspaper journalism has been in. Professional journalism has entered a period of declining rule (McNair, 2006). By the late 1990s many journalists had established their own websites to act as shopping windows to their work, and to invite dialogue with their readers (McNair, 2006). Margo Kingston who ran “webdiary” Australia’s first mainstream blog believes new media has had a liberating effect on journalists. Kingston (2005, pp 78) suggests the “the traditional way of writing news had become redundant as newsmakers got to know and exploit our news judgment and our deadlines to mould news reporting to fit into their propaganda machines.”

Australian writer Eric Beecher argues that technological trends are conspiring to threaten mainstream quality media in a serious way. He suggests there are simply too many negative pressures for journalism to survive in its current form. The Internet is rewriting the rules of modern communication. Could the technological revolution further entrench the power of the big media owners?

Beecher (2005, pp7) argues that if the technological trends continue there could be very little journalism of excellence left after a decade. The public now has a deep distrust of the media. Young people are drawn away from old media and towards new media. As more and more people lose interest in current affairs, what matters to serious journalists conflicts with what matters to the public. The media is now beginning to dumb down its content to appeal to the largest possible audience. This in turn drives away the audience that is after quality journalism (Beecher, 2005). New media is challenging the funding sources of old media. This leaves many newspapers with less financial resources. Financing serious journalism then becomes a major problem. The Internet is rapidly replacing old media as the world’s most dominant source of information, analysis and commentary. More and more journalism is moving online. How is this content financed if it is given away for free? Beecher (2005) is another writer that suggests no one has found a viable financial business model to finance the high costs of quality editorial content.

Although new media is challenging journalism it can also be used to aid journalists. The Internet has allowed journalism content to be produced by millions of people at little or no cost (Pablik, 2001). Pavlik (2001) suggests the quality of the content varies widely. The Internet has emerged as a very useful resource for professional journalists. Information gathered from the web can be used as sources and leads for stories. Mailing lists, bulletin boards and web sites all house valuable information that otherwise may not be available. Pavlik (2001) believes reporting on every story can be enriched by the use of online research. Information that would previously take a lot of time to track down and recover is now quickly accessible. Companies now publish many documents online, and databases are very useful resources for journalists. Fleming (2000, pp 178) asserts that technological advances open areas that were previously restricted for investigative journalists.

Journalists are always working under constraints. Journalists of the 20th century increasingly faced political, economical and professional restrictions. The Internet has allowed some journalists to be freed from the constraints of traditional publishing. Time spent finding people and information has been reduced. The computer can be used to aid journalists not replace them (Fleming, 2000). Instead of having to travel to a particular location to do research or file a story, journalists can now use e-mail. Instead of relying on public officials or press releases the online world has opened up other avenues of information. Independent expert opinion is quickly produced online and can be used to provide additional meat to a story. The Internet is freely accessible. With many new sources of information, investigative journalism may now have a brighter future (Fleming, 2000). Fleming (2000) believes the Internet will make it easier for journalists to release information that would otherwise be too sensitive. No longer will they be forced to deal with the political restrictions and censorship of traditional outlets.

Now there is level playing field in the online world of journalism. Journalists have no privilege over citizens (Fleming, 2000, pp 179). Although there is so much more information and resources provided by the Internet this could be counterintuitive. Journalists may spend hours wading through vast amount of information to find the relevant material. Suddenly the skill of filtering information in a crowded domain takes on added importance. As information transfers quickly on the Internet it can be very easy for disinformation to be spread. Breaking news stories are now produced online. If information is incorrect there are not enough checks and balances to stop the flow of this misinformed news. It is a large competitive space and being first with the story may override publications standards of accuracy. The technology allows greater scrutiny of the powerful but this could be a double-edged sword. Journalists could find themselves on the receiving end of the same technology. It could be used to track down journalists and for information to be stifled (Fleming, 2000).

Blogs have taken an increasingly prominent role in the world of online journalism. Blogs are an interactive form of communication. Old media has been unable to provide this. Have newspapers lost their connection with readers? Blogs have taken advantage of a lack of communication between writer and reader. Voices that have previously been subdued by old media now have an outlet for their views. Journalists can utilize their readers to pull together expertise and get information on a story (Kingston, 2005). They must however maintain standards of reliability and accuracy. The proliferation of blogs has led to lower standards but the popular blogs are of high quality. Bloggers can broaden coverage of an issue and provide a fresh perspective. They are now competing against established journalists for the same readers. This is challenging journalists to maintain their readers and still appeal to a younger audience.

The Internet and the power of blogs were able to allow Margo Kingston to publish full transcripts of interviews. No longer did the newspaper editors and their own agendas control her articles. Kingston (2005, pp 80) believes interactive journalism or participatory journalism can save the profession. Through the use of blogs, journalists can now fully interact with their readers. The readers are now empowered to ask questions and comment on articles.

Bloggers gained more freedom by avoiding defamation and libel laws that print media is subjected to (McNair, 2006). Furthermore now bloggers are free of professional obligations it allows them to be more opinionated in their writing. The blogosphere is free of editing. This can be attractive to journalists but may be detrimental in some cases.

Blogs have ensured a wealth of space for dialogue. This communication was previously relegated to a very small section of newspapers. The audience gets to decide what is important and write about it. Although much has been made of the thousands of amateur blogs, some blogs are unmistakable journalism (McNair, 2006). Blogs have risen from a curiosity to being an integral part of mainstream media. The Internet has been viewed in the past as a growing fad. It now demands to be acknowledged as an important aspect of everyday lives.

Mainstream media no longer control the news flow. They were previously gatekeepers of news. Although the Internet is full of hundreds of thousands of blogs, the most successful blogs rise to the top by keeping high standards of journalism. Objectivity remains a crucial value for journalists and the best bloggers know this (McNair, 2006, pp132). New media isn’t forcing journalism to die, but simply adapt. We know more and have access to more information than ever before. The web provides journalists with great competition, but also great resources. The journalists of tomorrow may be born out of the Internet and emergence of online and citizen journalism. Those journalists may then adopt new roles amongst old media organizations adapting to a changing media environment.

Citizen journalism has risen in the changing media environment. An increase in personally owned media has been brought about by a reduction in the price of media goods (Livingstone, 2003). This has facilitated the emergence of citizen journalism. Mark Poster (1995, pp 27) believes those who can afford the computer equipment are now their own producers, agents, editors and audiences.

Is new media a modern force that is uncontrollable? Mark Poster (1995, pp 18) believes that previously the broadcast model of having few producers and many consumers was the only way of receiving media. As media had decentralized users now have direct control of when, what, and with whom they exchange information (Poster, 1995). The Internet has allowed people to personalize the news they want and have it delivered to them. Old media is no longer in control of what people read and how they read it. As citizen journalism spreads stories are now told to different audiences in different and interesting ways. Poster (1995, pp27) believes “desktop broadcasting” or widespread citizen reporting is transgressing the constraints of broadcast oligopolies. Those with a computer and an Internet connection can tell stories to a mass worldwide audience. This has shifted the power away from old media.

As old media declines, citizen journalism increases. They must change to keep up to date with the current technology and changing landscape. People are beginning to bypass mainstream sources. Burgeoning Internet publications and resources such as “indymedia” have now surfaced. Independently produced journalism can find a greater presence on the net than ever before. It can genuinely compete for an audience online amongst the larger corporations. There are now thousands of independent sites and news blogs. In fact bloggers can filter and fact check articles from established journalists. The use of the Internet to provide audio and video and hypertext links with stories only enhances their impact.

Pavlik (2005, pp 245) believes new media has transformed the world of journalism fundamentally. The technological change presents both a great opportunity and challenge for journalism. The change has affected how journalists do their work and how they gather and edit news. In February 18th, 2004 the New York Times ran its first front page news photograph taken with a mobile phone. This is a sign of things to come. As technology continues to advance so will the ability for the general public to cover breaking news stories. The recent shooting at a college campus in America was another example. In just hours video of the incident was taken on a mobile phone and then distributed online and via news bulletins. New ethical problems arise from such behavior. What is acceptable to be filmed by a citizen acting as a journalist? What journalistic responsibilities will people abide by when obtaining or taking footage of such incidents? Reporters will also be using digital technology more in the future. This could also lead to a growing number of journalists working as freelancers (Pavlik, 2005).

The technology now allows journalists to cover stories even if they are in different continents. Digital storage technologies are now powerful and inexpensive. Such devices are easily linked to the Internet and articles can be uploaded or e-mailed across the globe quite easily. Video and audio can also be saved and uploaded. Internet stories are increasingly becoming visually driven utilizing the interactivity of the web page. News can now be packaged and repackaged for different audiences (Pavlik, 2006). News stories can now be updated throughout the day, especially in regards to breaking news. Online newspapers are able to constantly update their articles and correct misinformation. This is a clear advantage over old media, which must publish by a deadline. Online news is immediate. Geographic boundaries are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

If there is a breaking story in another country such as 9/11 new reports can be accessed as soon as it is published online. All these changes will lead to the news media having to transform their business model and utilize e-commerce (Pavlik, 2006). Pavlik (2006) predicts future journalists will have to adhere to high ethical standards. The future of journalism could see more offshore production to reduce costs. Audience input will be more highly valued and reporters will be able to spend more time in the field using the latest technology to report back to the newsroom. News could have various distribution models utilizing mobile phones, web sites, newspapers and broadcasting. The viewing experience is changing and the user has more control than ever before. Interactive media such as blogs have changed the way media organizations present news.

There is now an unprecedented level of competition in electronic information (Pavlik, 2006). Jim Willis (1994) does not believe electronic media will wipe out print media in the future. He does warn that turning over editing control to the public will result in less responsibility for the stories and informing citizens appropriately. He foresees more and more power and control transferring to the public and suggests new media will create immediate environments, where the emphasis is on speed.

Digital distribution of content is diminishing the role of newspapers. Beecher (2005, pp 24) contends, “The internet and digital technology are rewriting the rules of modern communications.” This leads to great uncertainty among many about how journalism of the future will pan out. New Media has challenged journalism to reinvent itself. Is it equipped to do so? The younger generation now accepts many resources as free, including the news. News organizations have struggled to convince people to buy news articles online. In fact the spread of content online has left many journalists struggling to fight plagiarism and the stealing of content.

New media has challenged journalism as a profession. New media has changed the media environment. Old media has not declined but rather been forced to adapt. Online journalism has taken on greater importance. Blogs have freed many journalists from old media constraints. The Internet has also become a fantastic resource that can aid journalists in research and filing of reports. New media has aided journalists with improved technology. There is still great uncertainty about the future of journalism. New media will undoubtedly play a part in its future form, whatever that may be.

Annotated Bibliography

Eric Beecher, “The Decline of the Quality Press” in Robert Manne (ed) Do Not Disturb: is the media failing Australia? (Melbourne: Black Inc Books, 2005), pp7-27

Australian writer Eric Beecher argues that technological trends are conspiring to threaten mainstream quality media in a serious way. He predicts that in a decade there will be very little journalism of excellence left and it would be a tragedy for journalists and the Australian democracy. Beecher argues that it is to the detriment of journalism that the Internet has rapidly replaced the printing press as the world’s most dominant source of information. While in theory it should lead to more good journalism Beecher contends no one has found a viable financial business model to finance the high costs of quality editorial content. Beecher predicts journalism will not survive in its current form. Beecher suggests the Internet is rewriting the rules of modern communication. Beecher maintains the technological revolution could further entrench the power of the big media owners.

Carole Fleming, “Journalism and New Technology” In Investigative Journalism Context and Practice Edited by Hugo de Burgh (London and New York: Routledge, 2000) pp. 177-197

Fleming believes the Internet and computer technology can aid journalists. Fleming suggests the Internet will free journalists from the political, economic and professional constraints of 20th century journalism. Fleming declares that the Internet will reduce time and space and make it easier for journalists to track down and access people. Fleming believes the Internet will make it easier for journalists to release information that would otherwise be too sensitive for traditional outlets with their political restrictions and censorship. Fleming also highlights the negative aspects of technology in that it can be used to track down and keep track of journalists. Fleming is concerned that this could cause information to be stifled rather than liberated.

Margot Kingston, “The Future of Fair Dinkum Journalism” in Barons to Bloggers: Confronting Media Power, The Alfred Deakin Debate, series editor Jonathan Mills, (Melbourne: The Miegunyah Press, 2005), pp. 76-88

Margo Kingston ran “webdiary” which became Australia’s first mainstream media blog. Kingston is a great supporter of blogs. Kingston contends that newspapers have lost the connection to the readers they serve and that the future lies in collaboration between journalists and their readers. Instead of journalists telling readers what happened and why Kingston would like to see them involved in a discussion with readers. Kingston states that people no longer send a letter to the editor instead they go online and read a blog. Kingston believes bloggers broaden coverage and allow fresh perspectives. She does not believe that blogs will kill journalism but instead will restore journalism’s reputation with readers.

Sonia Livingstone, Young People and New Media (London: Sage Publications, 2002)

Livingstone attempts to avoid the hype surrounding new media and presents a number of distinct features of the form. These include the multiplication of personally owned media that encourages the privatisation of media. The diversification of media and media content which leads to a wider trend towards individualization. Livingstone also highlights the convergence of traditionally distinct media that results in a blurring of distinct social boundaries. Livingstone believes the expansion of interactive forms of media will transform what once was a mass audience into engaged and participatory users of information and communication technologies. Livignstone theorises that the Web will supplement traditional media rather than replace it.

Brian McNair, “Mapping the global public sphere II: online journalism and the blogosphere”, chapter 8, in McNair, Cultural Chaos: journalism, news, power in a globalised world, (London and New York: Routledge, 2006), pp. 118-134.

McNair claims that the emergence of the Internet now means the public knows more than it ever did. McNair describes the dichotomy of online journalism from established professionalism to amateur works. McNair asserts online journalism relies less on the objectivity and reliability of established journalism and more on the immediacy and independence or objection of old media. McNair describes how the new voices and the struggle between old journalism and new journalism has helped drive the evolution of the Internet and online news. Mcnair explains that originally professional sites such as the BBC dominated online journalism but the birth of the blogosphere has changed the landscape. McNair believes news media transformed their publications from national to global reach with the introduction of online sites. McNair stresses that broadcast and print media are governed by defamation and libel laws whilst the blogosphere is clearly not.

John V Pavlik, “A Reporter’s Guide to the Internet”, in Journalism and New Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), pp. 61-8

Pavlik reveals that the Internet has allowed journalism content to be produced by millions of people, at no cost, but believes that the quality of that content varies widely. Pavlik suggests the Internet can be a very good source of information on stories, sources and leads. Pavlik cites the Internet as a useful resource for the professional development and continued education of journalists from mailing lists, bulletin boards and web sites on journalism. He advises that reporting for every story can be enriched by online research. He also details the ease of gaining information that traditionally could only be accessed on-site.

John V Pavlik, “Running the Technological Gauntlet: Journalism and new media” in Hugo de Burgh (ed) Making Journalists (London and New York: Routledge, 2005), pp. 245-262.

Pavlik believes new media is transforming the world of journalism fundamentally. He believes that there is now a sea change in the world of news. He cites online media as having huge growth and maintains the technological changes will have a huge impact on how journalists do their work. Pavlik predicts the erosion of the quality of journalism if an economic world doesn’t appear in the online world. Pavlik calls for ethical standards to be maintained and the development of a suitable business model for online journalism.

Mark Poster, The Second Media Age (Cambridge, Polity Press, 1995)

Mark Poster argues that cyberspace has led to stories being told in different forms to diverse audiences in different ways. The Internet can offer simultaneous transfer of sound, text and video. Poster states that the ease of use of new technology and the Internet has created a phenomenon of desktop broadcasting and citizen reporting, that is transgressing the constraints of broadcast oligopolies. He raises the question of the narrative structure of second media age communications and whether they will promote a proliferation of little narratives or develop an authoritarian technocracy. He highlights the appeal to tell one’s story to a mass audience with the only requirement being a computer and an Internet connection.

Jim Willis, The Age of Multimedia and Turbo News (Westport, Connecticut & London, Praeger Publishers, 1994)

Jim Willis predicted a merging of print and electronic media. He does not believe electronic media will wipe out print media in the future. He perceives the allure of new media being the mixing of video and text. He does warn that turning over editing control to the public will result in less responsibility for the stories and informing citizens appropriately. He foresees more and more power and control transferring to the public and suggests new media will create immediate environments, where the emphasis is on speed. He declared that the 1990s would witness more changes in media forms and their effect on journalism than any decade since the founding of the printing press.

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