Congratulations- You are now an Informed Citizen!

Engaging one’s brain after an 18 month vacation seems like yet another hill to climb in the vast landscape of university. This assignment provided me with both a solid grounding in my media studies as well as a comprehensive lesson in conquering the ‘how to’s’ of a successful media student. How to research, write, edit, blog and even tweet!

As with any task, it is amazing to see the full circle one takes on their journey to understanding. Previously intangible notions surrounding the media were given substance through the exploration of examples in lectures, tutorials and my own investigations. A journey from being ignorant to informed, you could say. A number of key concepts struck a chord with me. I was astounded by how the media has become a scapegoat for incongruous human actions such as the Colorado Cinema Massacre, the media effects model refusing to accept that human nature may be at fault. Furthermore, a heightened awareness of the concentration of media ownership in Australia and the lines of bias each organisation follows, as displayed for example in Outfoxed, has caused me to scrutinise the media I digest in terms of its hidden agendas. My morning dose of Sunrise is now ingested with a pinch of salt- what have the editors chosen to include and why?

Finding your own path

Finding your own path to success

Aside from research, I have thoroughly enjoyed the writing process and devising catchy hooks to appeal to a potentially global audience. Additionally, compacting an argument into 300 words encouraged concise thought.

Finally, a broader perspective on the weekly topics was gained through engaging with the posts of fellow peers. It was fascinating to see how each student uniquely interpreted the same issue. This individuality shows that there are many ways to approach this subject, and no one path is more correct than another.

There is no defined ‘how to’ list for media students. It is only by developing a unique style and forging your own path that you will find your own success in this subject.

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Thirsty? Try Some Concentrated Media Ownership!

By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator

Habitual breakfast connoisseurs generally greet a new day with a bowl of cereal, a coffee and a good newspaper to read. A metal spoon poised to enter the bowl of enticing cornflakes and a metaphorical spoon prepared to mentally ingest the daily bulletins.

Our taste in media, just like our taste in culinary delights, is subjective. In relation to the daily news, we engage with and ‘digest’ the edition whose perspective resonates most closely with our own. We are all aware that different news outlets can present alternative views on the same story. Certain media follow certain lines of bias in order to meet their political, social, or personal agendas.

This diversity of views is essential within a democratic society for consumers to make informed judgements on content. And this is why it matters who controls the media, or more pertinently- HOW MANY control it. As Elizabeth Hart outlined in her article Media Ownership “Whoever owns the media owns the message”. Increasingly it seems media ownership is becoming more concentrated. In Australia 11 out of 12 capital city daily papers are owned by either Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation of John Fairfax’s Holdings (E. Hart, 2008). The critical issue with this bottleneck trend of ownership is the limited perspective presented to consumers as the underlying message conveyed through media of the same owner is often the same.

The ‘bottleneck’ trend of media ownership in Australia

However an interesting platform has recently developed to combat the bias of this global phenomenon. The American website Allsides places stories from alternative newspapers side by side in order to expose bias and provide a “well-rounded view of complex stories.” This website cleverly alerts consumers to the issue of concentrated media ownership in news outlets by revealing their underlying agendas in a comparative environment.

Clearly in order to maintain a healthy democratic media environment, it is important to retain diversity of media ownership, to ensure a range of perspectives and a choice of opinions. I mean who wants to be eating cornflakes every day?

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