Outfoxed

When examining the role of media in society as well as media bias, we focused on the news. A 2005 documentary titled Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism takes a look at the man behind the media. Outfoxed tells the story of the rise of Rupert Murdoch as a media mogul. Once at the top, his power and influence is questions by the creators of the documentary. This blog will analysis both the content of the documentary and the documentary itself.

Focusing primarily on Murdoch’s Fox News, the documentary notes the use of this “Fair and Balanced” slogan often used by Fox News. However, critics in the documentary argue that this slogan is irrelevant. There is an “appearance of being balanced” when in fact, the report has an agenda.

The documentary gives numerous examples of how the news organisation conducts itself. A daily memo is distributed internally with this “message of the day”. This message will be the agenda for all those in the organisation. Who writes these memos and their intention or agenda is biased, and therefore the media outlet could consequently produce biased news products. If Murdoch himself controls the message of the day, then we should question the news stories we consume.

Often reporters take liberties to insert opinions yet portraying them as facts. “Some people say” is a broad statement that allows the reporter to voice their own opinions on an issue or story. Using this generalised term suggests the reporter is bringing the public’s discussions into the report.

The documentary itself is clearly taking a stance against Murdochs business practices, in particular how Fox News conducts itself as a news organisation. While alluding to media ownership, the documentary paints a negative picture of Fox News. While it may be presenting facts, it is encoded in such a way that the audience will see a negative side to the news organisation. This bias is somewhat hypocritical and doesn’t allow for a well-rounded perspective.

 

References

Outfoxed • Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism • FULL – YouTube

http://uk.businessinsider.com/trump-immigration-ban-fox-news-memo-2017-1?r=US&IR=T

 

Newsworthiness

In today’s media landscape, there seems to be a debate about what is newsworthy and what is just filler on our screens. For a story to be newsworthy, it should be of interest or importance to the public. Spencer-Thomas uses the concept of news values when establishing if a story is newsworthy. This news value is used by journalists to decide how much attention to give a story, whereas newsworthiness depends on both the type of media mediating the content and the type of person receiving the content.

When looking at a piece of text, it is important to consider Gaultung and Ruge (1996) list of news values.

  1. Extrodinaries: is this story out of the ordinary?
  2. Threshold: is this story large, in both content and potential audience size?
  3. Unambiguity: is this story palatable to the audience?
  4. Reference to an elite person: is this story involving a well know individual?
  5. Reference to an elite nation: is this story involving a country with considered importance to the audience?
  6. Personalisation: is this story made clear to the audience by giving a human face to each side of the story?
  7. Frequency: is this story immediate with subsequent follow ups?
  8. Narrative: is this story presenting a story itself?
  9. Negative:  is this story considered bad news?
  10. Fear Based: is this story offering fear as an incentive to watch?

When we look at news stories, we must take into account 5 key considerations as to why we are being presented with these stories. I will analysis the following text under these 5 points as well as note the stories news value.

Who created the message?

RTÉ news, the national broadcaster, reports the effects of storm Desmond as it tackles the West of Ireland. The message is both informative, as it tells the facts of the storms path, and cautious as it warns viewers of the dangers of traveling in the storm.

What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

The reporter, Teresa Mannion, presence in the ‘eye of the storm’ is creative in its ability to convey realism. Instead in studio report, or a series of graphics recorded pre-broadcast, RTÉ chose to show a Mannion live in the areas affected by the storm. The message takes on a sense of dramatics when we hear the Mannion’s tone of voice.

How might different people understand this message differently than me?

Some viewers may have decoded the message as informative and cautious, this is how I first understood the message. However, as a result of this report, a series of remixes and memes appeared online. This is to say, that some people saw past the report and found humor in Mannion’s delivery of the report.

What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented in or omitted from this message?

The mention of how Mass services have been canceled shows that importance given to religion. However, the report failed to mention if schools would be operating. This priority given to church over school may be reflective of what RTÉ deemed newsworthy.

Why is this message being sent?

The storm would have happened with or without this report. However, the message may be of national interest as it gives a full account of the effect of the storm. This is informative as many in the country may be in areas that have not been impacted yet and may want to prepare. It could be seen as a warning to all viewers by highlighting the severity.

When looking at the news values of the story, we look once again at the list.

  1. Extrodinaries: This story of a storm would be a rare occasion so it could be considered out of the ordinary.
  2. Threshold: This is a large story as it affects the country.
  3. Unambiguity: An easy to digest story with real world examples and images.
  4. Reference to an elite person: No
  5. Reference to an elite nation: Yes
  6. Personalisation: Yes, the Teresa Mannion herself and her presence in the storm gives a human face to the story and its effects.
  7. Frequency: it is mentioned that the story is developing live so yes there could be follow-ups.
  8. Narrative: A story is constructed as a result of the events.
  9. Negative:  This can be considered a bad news story as we hear of flooding, power failure, and property damage.
  10. Fear Based: Yes as viewers are assured, more than once, to remain indoors and if they do have to leave the home to proceed with caution.

Circuit of Culture CA1

http://www.rte.ie/news/2016/0206/765872-hotel-shooting/

In February 2016, a shooting took place at the Regency Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. The following is an analysis of the news report that took place 24hours after the fact. While there is a substantial amount of content in this 4 minutes 14-second piece of text, I will be analysing it in relation to the circuit of culture.

Representation

The report is introduced by a reporter at RTE. It begins in the studio and then a package is mediated to the audience detailing the events of the previous 24 hours narrated by reporter Paul Reynolds. The report then cuts back to the studio where the reporter once again takes us to the scene at the regency hotel, however, this time Paul Reynolds reports live. Throughout the report, this is no music. A somber tone is created through the tone of voice of both reporters and those interviewed. A number of visual texts appear on the screen such as photographs and videos. The videos contain no sound as the narration continues. The only audio is that of the voices of the reporters, the assistant commissioners and the Archbishop of Dublin.

The presence of the Archbishop of Dublin in the report is an interesting point of this examination. In the introduction of the piece, the reporter states that the Archbishop has “called on people to stand up to the despicable inhumanities of the recent killings”. Later in the report, the Archbishop is seen and heard in a pre-recorded interview where he says “Just imagine the effects yesterday’s events has on children”. Weight is seemingly given to the Archbishop’s opinions on not only this attack but his opinion of all “recent killings”.

The use of the plural “inhumanities” and “Killings” suggests more than one person has been killed. However, the report is only telling the audience about one killing. It is possible that the Archbishop is referring to the culture at the time of this report where a number of shootings had occurred involving gang members. The language used in his statement creates this tone of fear in response to the shooting.

An example of the presence of discourse is the use of the words “well known to the Gardai”. The connotation associated with these words is reliant on your cultural background. Someone in Ireland may understand the message as it was intended, however someone from the UK who understands that the Gardai are the police force in Ireland may not understand the message. Using “well known to the Gardai” when introducing the victim in the text is giving the audience the idea that this man may have been a criminal before the facts later confirm this. It is important to state that the report omits who the identity of the other two victims. While it does mention that they were hospitalised with one victim already checked out, it does not tell us if these individuals were also “well known to the Gardai”.
Identity
This is an RTE News report. RTE being the national broadcaster of Ireland, funded and owned by the public, it is a public service broadcaster. We have two RTE Reporters, one female sitting in the studio and one male who is the consistent voice of the story throughout.

Inserts of clips are used to show the response from others. We have a possible press conference where three different assistant commissioners speak.
Jack Nolan – Dublin Region
John O’Mahony – Crime and Security
Derek Byrne – Garda National support services

Hearing from individuals of their status suggests that the information they are giving is trusted and worthy of audiences attention.
Production

The use of video inserts in the package is important in the process of communication. In one video, We see men emerge from a car holding folders. This event is innocuous on its own, however, the narration by the reporter Paul Reynolds tells us that “over 100 officers are on the case”. This changes the meaning of the event. The producers of the content may have linked these two pieces of media to create a coherent narrative. When the audience decodes this information it can be understood that these men emerging from the car are some of the officers put on the case.

While this is an example of footage gathered in the aftermath of the shooting, we also see archived footage used to give context to the story. Footage of a reported crime scene in Spain from the previous year. This use of archived footage gives backstory to the current narrative that the report is establishing.

Images of the gunmen are reported with relation to recent terrorist attacks in Europe. These images further emphasise the reality of the event as threatening and almost surreal at the same time. The images of the gunmen back up the story told by the reporter that gunmen entered the building in masks and helmets. Now that the gunmen can be seen, it creates a more vivid picture of the event itself for those who did not witness it first hand. However, out of context, these images look like they could be a behind the scenes look at an action movie. It is the combination of audio and visual that gives structure to the story.

Consumption

This video is being analysised over a year after it was first broadcast. The story itself has not changed. The content of the report has not changed. However the urgency and somewhat fearful tone could be lost in translation. If consumed live, the notion that “the number of Gardai on patrol in the city has increased” could suggest that further attacks are imminent and the Gardai are preparing for these possible attacks. A year later, when I am consuming this report, I know what happened afterward. It is in the past and therefore I do not interpret the content in the same way as someone who watched it live on Feb 7th, 2016.

Regulations

No graphic images were used in the report suggesting that this could have been broadcast pre-watershed, perhaps the six one news.

Alternative realities

33-year-old man killed in attack
If this had been a murder without gangland associations, it is possible the focus could have been on the victim rather than the attackers. Friends or neighbors of the victim, in this case, David Byrne, may have been interviewed. We could have seen tributes left at the scene such as flowers. Perhaps some more about his personality rather than his associations with crime.

Lack of Garda protection lead to violent shooting
It could have been reported as a failure of the Gardai to prevent this attack in the first place. Throughout the report, it is said that Gardai have increased their numbers in response to this attack. In contrast, it is not reported if Gardai were present at the event itself. At one point, Assistant commissioner – Derek Byrne notes that there were increased amounts of Gardai in the city for sporting events. It is possible he is referring to Dublin vs Mayo in Croke Park, however, the Regency hotel was to host a boxing match the night after the attack. The attack took place during a pre-match event. So is the Assistant Commissioner suggesting that only some sports events are policed or that the pre-events are not policed as heavily?

In conclusion, a broader analysis could be done to fully understand the encoding process involved in the production of this new broadcast. For now, I feel that analysing the report using the circuit of culture structure has allowed me to understand the piece from a media analysis point of view.

 

#1: Flowers

Today was yet another reminder that my understanding of myself remains in its infancy.

Walking through Dublin City Centre, I blended in with all the others. Men and Women busying themselves, walking to work, just as I was. No one looked at each other, we remained occupants of our own minds while sharing a physical space for a period of time. I spotted a man selling flowers, just across from The Spire. It was in this moment that I remembered it was my mother’s birthday the following day.

After work, I returned to cluttered streets to buy flowers. My mother’s favourite flowers are Lillies, so I bought lilies. While my knowledge of floral varieties and arrangements is as small as my number of purchases of flowers over the years, I do know this; my mother’s favourite flowers are lilies. Now the fact that these flowers are lilies or that they are my mother’s favourite are irrelevant, what is noteworthy is the inexplicit feeling holding these flowers instilled in me.

Now meandering my way through a not dissimilar crowd as the morning, I received many a look from the passing strangers. Suddenly I was no longer the Kevin I had been up until this point, now I was a reinvention. A man walking through the metropolis with a bouquet in hand suggests a great deal of scenarios none of which I will ever be apart of. I became a man who was treating his girlfriend. I became a man who was buying a gift for his girlfriends birthday. I became a man who fucked up and was apologising to his girlfriend. I say, girlfriend because my age still gives some realism to my true character and it would be highly improbable that a man my age would have a wife or fiance in 2017 Ireland. Now it is entirely possible that a number of other scenarios entered the minds of the passing strangers in their 0.01-second analysis of me, such as the flowers were in fact for my mother or sister or female relative. However, I hypothesise that these notions would only follow the girlfriend scenarios in our cultural thinking.

The fact of the matter is, is that for a brief moment of time I felt normal.

The fleeting opinions of strangers and the innate understanding that men buy women flowers as a romantic gesture lead me to walk confidently through the streets of Dublin as a supposed heterosexual man. This raises a number of issues.

Men do not receive flowers. I have grown up with the typical gift in a marriage being alcohol or flowers. I would graciously and gleefully accept the former but in all honesty, I don’t know what I would do if I was given the latter.  It is not that I would feel emasculated, I would simply be at a loss having no precedent upon which to base my reaction. To the best of my knowledge, my father has never received flowers, although he has never complained about their presence in the home. In fact, he admires their smell as have I, yet neither one of us would ever think of buying flowers for ourselves or each other. Men do not receive flowers is a side effect of the male’s role in society which is a much larger issue and would require more than this blog post.

Men do not buy their boyfriends flowers. This follows on from the typical ‘who pays for dinner debate’. When society adapted to homosexual relationships and the customs associated with dating, it could be argued that the role of the man shifted. Now, who was to pay for dinner? The male’s role is to buy flowers, open the car door, pay for the meal and a kiss goodnight. In a nutshell, this is the procedure of dating, however as we know this is outdated. Yet the exchange of flowers was left in the past.

My argument is not that men should be drowned in roses and daffodils. My argument is that for a brief moment in time, I lived the normalities of a heterosexual male and judging by the looks from those around me, I was more attractive. Not in appearance, although the speckled babies breath in the bouquet did highlight my cheekbones, from my interpretation I was approved by society. I was, ironically, more masculine for carrying the flowers. What is perhaps more startling for me, is that I felt more comfortable in public than I would have if I had been holding another man’s hand. With that, the battle to discover the masculine homosexual continues.

-K

Reality

In a society where content is constantly mediate to us, it can be difficult to separate the real from the fabricated. To understand how we got to this point it is important to look at the role of the media in society.

Using the metaphor of a mirror, we can discuss the purpose of the media in society. Ideally, the media is to mirror our society, as it is seen through our own perspective. A certain amount of trust is placed on news media in particular. We enter into an agreement that the news will mediate the facts as they are so that we can receive these facts as if we witnessed the story with our own eyes.  However, this is not the case. There can be confusion as to what is truly reality and what is presented as reality. Reality is what one sees with their own eyes. Yet the media packages content and “re-presents” this content as if it is reality. It is important to distinguish between what is the real and what is mediated as the real.

The media constructs reality by the mediating events. However, when we look at what occurs in society, it can be broken down into three events. Bourstein (1961) described the role of these events in the construction of reality.

Genuine Events are occurring regardless of media presence. An example of this is a Natural Disaster. In 2005 Hurricane Katrina still, would have occurred even if a camera wasn’t present to report on it. Events such as this will happen, and the media will report the event as it occurs.

Media Events are similar in that they are events that still would have occurred without media presence, yet the media packages the event for audiences to watch. This can alter the audiences decoding of the event. An example could be Sky News coverage of Micheal Jackson’s death in 2009. His death and subsequent fan reaction would have still occurred. However, the presence of cameras and Sky News’s constant updates from the hospital created a sensationalised version of events.

Pseudo-Events are events that only occur due to the media’s presence. An interview with a politician or celebrity can be hyped up in the lead up to the event to draw in an audience. The event itself may be presented as live or spontaneous, however, the questions would have been agreed upon, answers may have been prepared and graphics or inserts would have been ready to go. A fabricated reality is constructed and re-presented as reality.

The medias construction of reality is important to be concious of in society. The ability to question and analysis what is real can allow audiences to either accept or reject the content mediated.