Thursday, 7 June 2012

Can New Media Enrich Democracy?

New Media has given a platform for people to enrich democracy through sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and Blogs. It allows a new kind of public sphere as people are now 'expected' to have a say. There is now a plurality of voices and new media is now communicated from various platforms and people, making our media 'many-to-many' as opposed to 'one-to-many'. There are many theorists such as Michael Wesch, Henry Jenkins and David Gauntlett who provide a utopian view that believe new media has in fact enriched democracy. But has it really given us so called 'normal' citizens a more democratic set of tools?

Habermas believes that democracy depends on a public which is informed, aware and which issues the debates of today. He doesn't think that new media has enriched democracy as he believes that the mass media and globalisation has reduced the effectiveness of the public sphere and there is now a reduction in plurality of voices due to this.

However, some say democracy is stronger today. The arrival of Web 2.0 has strengthened the public sphere.  Before sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube which were formed around 2005, the public sphere was said to be weaker, this was because of the mass media such as newspapers, radio and TV, who were the "Media-Gods" according to David Gauntlett. The so called "Media-Gods" used to feed us their information which we often took without realising some news corporations may be biased. We were only hearing 'one' voice which created a lack of plurality. we weren't aware of debating to such extent as we do today as we were distracted and trained as consumers so we wouldn't question what we were seeing. Also, in the past the "Media-Gods" would only select a few topics to inform the world about and set a news agenda usually reinforcing hegemonic values. It is only recently that we have been provided with the 'bigger' picture.

Nowadays, things are different. Citizen journalism - a collection of news and analysis by the public in the forms of mobile phones, blogs etc. - has become an alternative source of gaining knowledge and news. It is easier to load your Twitter feed than to access the BBC site through your mobile. An example of this is 'My Tram Experience' - an amateur shot video by a woman on the tram secretly filming a middle aged white woman being racist towards other passengers of different ethnicity while she held her young child in her lap. This video was shot on a mobile phone by a passenger who happened to be travelling on a tram for the first time. She uploaded the video onto YouTube and within hours the video had been viewed and shared onto Facebook and Twitter thousands of times. The question is would we have been able to witness the racist woman on public transport had there not been YouTube and a convergent device? No, because of the rise of Web 2.0, we are now providing the news through new media as it allows us to post what and when we want. John Hartley now describes media as 'many-to-many' as opposed to 'one-to-many'. We are now promoting democracy through new media as we can now have a say and provide real debate with easy access. The woman from the video was arrested and charged for her actions. This would not have been possible in the past as an amateur video would not have been able to gain such publicity. It is now evident that the online world is now 'part' of the world and has a 'role'. However, although it can be argued that we are now providing the news, it has to be mentioned that the power of mass media is still there as news corporations such as The Sun posted the video onto their website which gained the attention of readers who could not access Twitter and Facebook.

New media has certainly enabled democracy as many campaigns and petitions are being held online. This shows how new media has enriched democracy as this wouldn't have been able to have happened before, as people would have to go round with a clipboard asking people to physically sign their petition which would only ever work on a small scale. New media allows us to petition worldwide through the click of a button. A recent video names 'Kony 2012' is cyber activism at its finest. 'Kony 2012' has received over 90 million views on YouTube in the space of just over a week. The video is about Joseph Kony's army in Uganda which is abducting and raping children and the video shows how we can actively help to 'Stop Kony'. The is evident of new media enriching democracy as the petition has now reached millions of signatures with the ease of clicking a button. However, is our democracy really there? It can be argued that one click on our mouse won't do anything to help the situation. The campaign has been referred to as 'slacktivism' by dystopian Morozov. The word is a combination of 'slacker' and 'activism' which describes how people feel like they have been helping by sharing the video when in reality they haven't done much. So is our democracy really there? Clay Shirky certainly seemed to think so as he publicly tweeted at the time saying 'I'm just going to put this here, so it's time-stamped: I bet they catch Kony in the next three months. Will follow up either way.'. So who's view is the correct one, Morozov's dystopian view or Shirky's utopian view? However, since the release of the video there has been a numerous amount of articles claiming that the charity organisation who produced 'Kony 2012' aren't in fact as amazing as they make out to be. The video is said to miss out key points and some argue that the video is a sign of propaganda. This shows that although we do have the option to post and debate whatever we want, the quality of information may be poor as we aren't verified news corporations.

It is certainly evident that New media has enriched democracy as before there was no such thing as citizen journalism and YouTube. Also, new relationships have been formed between new media and mainstream media which show that the mainstream media still have the major power, but utopian thinkers may argue that it is slowly coming down to us. It is obvious that new media has become more democratic as web 3.0, which Morozov describes as 'nastier than its predecessors'  is said to be bringing about surveillance as governments may see the rise of democracy as a threat.

Monday, 21 May 2012

"For media audiences, the internet has changed everything." Discuss

"For media audiences, the internet has changed everything." Discuss

Media has changed the industry vastly. It is now a global network in which new information and media texts can be shared, emailed, 'liked' on facebook and followed on twitter. It is a powerful tool, but is this change necessarily a good thing?

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Monday, 30 April 2012

Henry Jenkins

1. What are Henry Jenkins’ ideas about how the media landscape is changing?
Jenkins states that there is definitely a transition where an old media system is dying and a new media system is being born. An era where spectatorial culture is giving way to participatory culture. Where a society based on a small number of companies controlling the story telling apparatus giving way to a much more complex media scape where average citizens have the ability to seize control of the media system

2. What is ‘convergence culture’?

3. How are Jenkins’ ideas similar to those of David Gauntlett and Michael Wesch?

4. How might we disagree with Jenkins’ utopian ideas about the media?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Online Age

1. According to this video, what was the music industry like in the 90s and how has it changed more recently?
Mass drivers such as music channels (MTV) and radio were powerful and more and more artists were being signed. Now there are more and more artists coming up, however it does mean that independent labels can't compete with the mainstream labels. There is now a bigger connection across music. It enables artists to do their own thing as they don't necessarily have to follow what everyone wants to hear as there is such a vast amount of artists out there. However it is often that only the artists who are signed to the big labels will get mass publicity. 

2. What are curators (such as Pitchfork and Hypemachine)? What is their role? Why are they important?
Curators such as Pitchfork and Hypemachine are music reviewing tools for customers for them to differentiate between the so called 'good' and 'bad' music. It also gives music and artist news with commentaries too. Pitchfork Media particularly focusses on independent and underground music, mainly from the indie-rock genre. The Hype Machine is an MP3 blog aggregator which allows people to listen and find music that their friends are listening to and more importantly people who aren't their friends so they get a wider spectrum of what to listen to. 

3. How can you link what this video says about creativity (in video-making, in particular) to David Gauntlett's ideas and to the theory of the long tail?
Due to the rise in technology, artists are now able to create more original and creative products which could lead to a new type of audience which isn't the mainstream. Although these fan bases may not be of a large scale, these small fan bases show that due to the increase in music production it is now evident that niche audiences can be formed due to this.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Audience 1B

The project which I am going to be referring to my advanced portfolio where my group and I created a music video for the song 'I'm 17 - Rizzle Kicks', a digipak and a magazine advert. After researching our artist, we found that 'Rizzle Kicks' appealed to a number of teens varying from the ages between 15-19. As our artist was quite unheard of during our course, our audience consisted of fans, mainly who were in further education with an urban background. However, as the instrumental of the song 'I'm 17' was the same as Arctic Monkey's song 'Old Yellow Bricks' we had another type of audience which was fans of the indie and rock genre with a larger age range from 14-25. Due to this we were able to experiment and vary what we could feature in the video because our audience was somewhat diverse.

Our research consisted of looking into similar products to our artist. As our artist was a hybrid between pop/indie and rap it was difficult to find many artists who were similar. The closest artist we could find to ours was The Streets, Ed Sheeran and Wretch 32. All of these artists had elements of rap and singing in their songs much like Rizzle Kicks. As Ed Sheeran and Wretch 32 are also fairly new to the mainstream side of music, it was helpful to look for similar products as both of those artists had just been releasing their first studio albums. This meant that we could watch videos of their upcoming singles to gain knowledge of what their fans like. It was also convenient for us that both artists were also promoting the release of their album through newspapers.

According to Andrew Goodwin's theory, music videos should represent a connection between the lyrics and the visuals. This was evident in Wretch 32's video 'Don't Go' - a song about a girl leaving her boyfriend - as the girl is walking away from her boyfriend. We decided to think of certain scenarios which replicated our lyrics to fit in with Goodwin's theory. Also, from watching Wretch 32's 'Don't Go' we found that another feature that many artists include in their videos is themselves performing into the camera be it via rap, singing or dancing.

The Uses and Gratification approach can be applied to our media product as we feel that our audience was an active one as our audience may take an active role in interpreting and integrating media into their own lives. In reference to our music video, our audience will be able to relate to our video 'I'm 17' where our artist is taking part in activities you'd stereotypically associate with a 17 year old or anyone around that age. Our audience may watch the video and replicate some of the things that they have come across in the video rather than being passive. McQuail would see this as a 'personal identity' being created from our video as it portrays our artist and his fans in this way.

However, as our video may not necessarily portray positive scenes to our audience, we decided to add in humour and make the so called negative into a positive. Our target audience were happy with what was shown and weren't shocked by the under age drinking that was included as nearly everyone in our audience can relate to it. Older audiences may be disturbed claiming that it may encourage under age drinking isn't an issue as we believe that as we have shown things in a humoured way which emphasises how it isn't real.

Our final media product was aimed at 15-19 year olds who were in or going into further education. We feel that we have portrayed our artist in a comedic and light hearted way to boost his music career as it is our artist's breakthrough single. We also feel that we have shown stereotypes of our audience age range precisely to some extent as our general feedback was positive.