Swinging the blame for Immaculate Connotations regarding Moral Panic over the concentration of Media Ownership throughout the Mediated Public Sphere, and hopefully hitting the Undiluted Cordial itself. Do you even title?

I never would have thought that six lectures and six tutorials would have such an effect.

Before Uni was a staunch believer that Rupert Murdoch was all powerful and had influenced Australia’s last federal election to the point of automatic victory for the Liberal-National Coalition.

But then, we were taught about the Media Effects model – And asked to think about whether the media was being blamed for something and whether it was justified. Easy, I’ll talk about the media’s control of elections and blame NewsCorp for it.

Somehow my views were changed by that lecture, and I managed to deflect blame away from Murdoch. I actually came to the conclusion that he just recognized a swing in the electorate, and ran with it. I couldn’t believe that one lecture could open my eyes to such a possibility, but it did. Sometimes, the media aren’t to blame for EVERYTHING! *SHOCK HORROR*

Week Two. Semiotics. What the hell are semiotics? Connotations? Denotations? Well, I can tell you now. Just read this!

You know the chorus of that brilliant Hunters and Collectors song, Do You See What I See? (LiberationMusicAus 2010) – Never has it been more relevant!

Asking somebody to look at text and take something from it, before comparing it to your own ideas. People will always see things differently. The Antonio Federici campaign piece I discussed in that blog post was controversial, and the comments proved the theory correct.

 

antonio-federici-immaculately-conceived

 

Everyone had their immaculate connotations and looked at the text differently. The way the point was made was striking, and it illustrated a power in the way we present images. A power the media holds. But I question this – If the media has a lot of control, but people take its messages in a different way – does that mean it’s power is diluted?

Speaking of dilution. . .
Undiluted Cordial. This week’s topic threw us headlong into Australia’s media ownership web. After untangling myself, I decided to press into the issue. What is wrong with undiluted ownership? I settled on the idea that too much of one thing is bad – And drew a line from drinking undiluted cordial to consuming slightly unhealthy news and opinion made by the undiluted ownership of Australian media.

I learnt through writing this that Australia’s media ownership web left it weaker as a democracy – In a true democracy the thoughts and opinions of a small group of people wouldn’t influence the thoughts and opinion of others so heavily.

The negatives of concentrated media ownership lead nicely into the next section of the BCM110 program – The Mediated Public Sphere. The place where we all come together to discuss issues within our society – Mediated by somebody so that things don’t get out of control. Right? Maybe not.

A gatekeeper’s job is to withhold information from a piece so that it is ready for publication. Editing. We were asked to look for texts which generate debate, and I decided to go with the Letters to the Editor section of a typical Newspaper as that text – A debate provoking mediated public sphere.

Two birds, one stone.

I thought about this medium, and it became clear to me that despite this being one of the most pure forms of collective expression in our society, it couldn’t be the best. It still had a gatekeeper.

84yab

And then we got to Moral Panic.
Holy Moly.
Everyone was in stitches. But don’t let that fool you, this is a very serious issue. Moral Panic. The idea that society is freaked out by something if it’s talked about as a problem for long enough.

Surely if something was worth panicking about, the entire public would have discussed it through a Mediated Public Sphere and decided on a course of action together through elected representatives?

No, sorry, I confused my concepts. That’s democracy.

This lecture taught us the true power of mass media – It can send us into panic. Coverage is the most important ingredient. Reach. If people can hear you, they’ll inevitably listen to you, eventually.

The media are to blame. But at the same time, they aren’t.

References:

Comic Book Resources, 2011, jk-simmons-jameson, image, Comic Book Resources, viewed 14 April 2014, <http://spinoff.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/jk-simmons-jameson.jpg>.Liberation Music Aus, 2010, Hunters and Collectors – Do You See What I See?, online video, 30 March 2010, Youtube, viewed 20 April 2014, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp-ZGFd5o5A>.Antonio Federici 2010, Immaculately Conceived Advertisement, image, The Inspiration Room, viewed 23 March 2014, <http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/print/2010/9/antonio-federici-immaculately-conceived.jpg>

Dear Editor…

Every day, letters roll into the offices of Fairfax Media intended for publication in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Letters to the Editor. And every week, a controller of some sort, decides what will make the cut into one of Australia’s most recognised Mediated Public Spheres (MPSs). The SMH’s Letters to the Editor is a great example not only of a mediated public sphere, but of a contemporary text which has the capacity to cause debate within itself.

The SMH is supposedly one of Australia’s last remaining publications attempting to present truly unbiased, balanced and fair coverage of news and opinion to it’s readership. Based on that, one would assume that as MPSs go, this would be one of the best. It should be published the way the rest of the SMH is meant to be – balanced, fair, unbiased and “Independent. Always”.

 

SMH Masthead

 

But, can something which is guarded by a gatekeeper ever be truly balanced? That’s the debate this text, as a MPS, provokes.
Letters to the Editor are meant to reflect the varied and differing opinions of the public, who are the readers of the SMH. But, gate keepers are meant to withhold certain information and make things fit the way they want, or need them to.

Further, MPSs like the SMH’s Letters to the Editor a merely a product of the readership. If the readership slants left or right, would it be unreasonable to expect that the Letter’s also lean left or right?

I trust Fairfax to present the balanced thoughts of their readership. The point is merely to recognise that this is still not the cleanest version of a MPS we can get. Even when it is from the organisation widely regarded to be one of the most balanced publishers in Australia, I think we still need to look for better.

 

References:

Fairfax Media, 2014, SMH Masthead, image, Screenshot, viewed 8 April 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/>.

 

Undiluted Cordial.

Has anyone ever been faced with this situation?

You’re thirsty. VERY THIRSTY. And you’ll drink whatever is available. The plumbing is shot, so there’s no chance of water. 

You go to the fridge, there’s no water. No juice. Nothing. Hmmm. The pantry? Nothing. Oh, wait. Well, there’s some cordial. Undiluted though. You could drink it. You probably shouldn’t. But, you really need something to drink! Ugh. You take a look at it. On the bottle it says “Highly Concentrated”. It’s supposed to be diluted, but THE PLUMBING IS SHOT! ARGH. 

Dilemma. 

Do you drink it? No. 

Is there any other option? No. 

Do you drink it? Yes.

Well, Australia’s plumbing isn’t quite shot. And there’s some water, chilled in the fridge in two bottles – One labelled ABC, and the other labelled SBS. There’s cordial. Lot’s of cordial. 7 bottles of it! Various colours, all appetising to look at! These are labelled Seven West Media, Fairfax Media, News Corp Australia, Nine Entertainment Co., Southern Cross Media Group, Win Corporation and Network Ten. 

So, two basic options. Water and Cordial. 

We know the water is better for us. Preservative free. Additive free. All nat-u-raleeeeeee. And we know the cordial isn’t great for us. But man, those colours. . . . 

Most Australian’s end up drinking too much cordial, and with that, they ingest lots of additives. These take the form of ideas, values & opinion. All valuable nutrients, when part of a balanced diet, WHICH INCLUDES BORING, PLAIN, UN-FLAVOURED WATER. 

Okay, enough of the symbolism and metaphorical language. 

Most of Australia’s media is controlled by just 7 corporations! Highly Concentrated (just like undiluted cordial (; LAST ONE FOR A WHILE I PROMISE)

Now, that is an interesting situation. But what does it mean?

Well, the Media is trusted to be a reliable source of information – It serves a specific purpose within a democratic society, which is to facilitate the decision making of the constituency through information communication which is efficient, accurate and reliable – Most importantly, it must do all of this free of bias.

When Media ownership is concentrated like it is in Australia, interests begin to compete against each other. So much to the point that journalistic standards drop, and bias is apparent and perceived by the audience – Evident through the 2013 Election Bias Scandal. As a result of this some publications can leverage the poor journalistic standards and perceived bias of their opposition as a competitive advantage. A prime example is The Sydney Morning Herald through it’s masthead statement “Independent. Always.”

SMH Masthead

A clear strike at The Daily Telegraph and it’s 2013 Election coverage. Hmmmm.

I think this means I’m getting close to an answer. Who owns The Tele? News Corp Australia. Who owns News Corp Australia? News Corp. Who/What is News Corp? Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch. (James Bond reference, anyone?)
If you were to only read The Tele for your daily news digestion, you’d be exposed to only the school of thought that Murdoch’s company chooses to press through that particular publication. Many are of the opinion that if this were the case, you’d vote, 1. Liberal.

Of course our own political standpoint and opinions come into the equation, but the media is certainly powerful. When we let the media get too concentrated, we lose diversity of ideas. When a convergence of ideas saturates the society, it isn’t difficult to envisage the end result – A lack of personalisation in the way we think. A set ideology. Australia is a multicultural, diverse nation – One set of ideas is not supposed to define us. We are by definition, diverse.

So, we have Seven. Seven commercial broadcasters pushing their values. Is that healthy? Yes and No. Australia’s public broadcasters – the ABC and SBS – have tremendous engagement. But do they balance out the equation? To some extent.

There are positives to the current setup – Production values can be quite high, and we certainly get some quality entertainment from our seven media corporations.

But, news is the important thing here. The delivery of information. In a democratic society, the delivery of factual, accurate and unbiased news is a must. But competing commercial interests brought about through cross media ownership as concentrated as undiluted cordial doesn’t allow this to always eventuate. Defeating the purpose of a democracy. 

Cordial is great. As part of a balanced diet. 

So it’s probably time to get some of that chilled water out of the fridge.

Oh, and to save ourselves from having to drink undiluted cordial in the future, let’s dilute it while we still can.

 

References:

Fairfax Media, 2014, SMH Masthead, image, Screenshot, viewed 28 March 2014, <http://www.smh.com.au/>.

 

 

Immaculate Connotations

In 2010, this advertising piece (Antonio Federici) was banned in the United Kingdom.

antonio-federici-immaculately-conceived

Reason?

The United Kingdom’s Advertising custodian, the “Advertising Standards Authority” deemed the image “was likely to be seen as a distortion and mockery of the beliefs of Roman Catholics” (Advertising Standards Agency 2010). Based on that, the ad was banned. “The ad must not appear again in its current form.” (Advertising Standards Agency 2010) – Clearly, some thought it was offensive.

This blog isn’t here to discuss the appropriateness or political (in)correctness of this image.
This blog is here to discuss the different denotations & connotations associated with the image and images in general.

It’s denotations are a heavily pregnant nun centrally placed, within a church surrounding, with a spoon in one hand and the Antonio Federici Ice Cream product in the other. In addition to this, the text “Immaculately Conceived” & “Ice Cream Is Our Religion” feature.

What are the connotations of this image? What do we feel or think when we view it? Well. . . .

The BCM110 Lecture in Week 3 exposed to myself the idea that people interpret messages differently based on their ideological position.

Based on that, I would say the connotations for myself (non-religious) are that this is a fairly humorous image. It clearly satirises the Catholic faith, however it does so playfully. The tagline “Immaculately Conceived” can be deemed in poor taste, however I believe it is offset by the name of the campaign “Ice Cream Is Our Religion”.

My immediate reading is that the intention is for the image to be taken light heartedly – the Ice Cream is supposedly “Immaculately Conceived”, and that is communicated to the responder through the use of the text and a link to the Catholic dogma of Immaculate Conception by the portrayal of a nun heavily pregnant within a church – although this seems to be a misunderstanding on the behalf of the ad agency, or Antonio Federici themselves, as Immaculate Conception has nothing to do with Celibacy or the virginal conception of Jesus Christ. Either that, or it is a clever play on words to describe the ice cream as immaculate – presumably it would be a word the company is happy for their product to be associated with – Ice Cream so good, it’s: IMMACULATE! . . . That’s the kind of Ice Cream I want to eat!

It would be fairly safe to assume with regards to this image, that those ten who complained were Catholics. Placing myself in their shoes I would presume they read the image as offensive because they believed their religion was being unfairly tormented and ridiculed – This advertisement could be to them just as much about damaging the Catholic religion as it is about creating buzz around the Ice Cream brand for the purpose of higher sales and optimum brand recall. It clearly could be read as offensive if you view the image from the point of view of a person who practices Catholicism, because it portrays a Nun (who is supposed to be Celibate) as pregnant, within the confines of a place of significance to her religion – a Catholic Church.

It’s true, images do have Immaculate Connotations.


Thanks for taking the time to read this one guys! 

What do you think? Is this ad offensive? How does it make you feel? WHAT ARE YOUR IMMACULATE CONNOTATIONS REGARDING THIS IMAGE?!
Leave some comments down below, my fellow BCMers!

References:

Antonio Federici 2010, Immaculately Conceived Advertisement, image, The Inspiration Room, viewed 23 March 2014, <http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/print/2010/9/antonio-federici-immaculately-conceived.jpg>

Advertising Standards Agency 2010, 
ASA Adjudication on Antonio Federici, Advertising Standards Agency, viewed 23 March 2014, <http://www.asa.org.uk/Rulings/Adjudications/2010/9/Antonio-Federici/TF_ADJ_49041.aspx>

Does the media swing, or get swung?

What are the Media being blamed for today and is this justified?

Today, the Media is being blamed for directly influencing the outcome of elections by allegedly favouring certain ideologies and parties across various publications. In particular, one specific Australian media outlet came under particular scrutiny during the 2013 Election. Questions remain as to whether its actions were too direct, and influenced the election result via its unabashed support of one Australian political party, coupled with its relentless smearing of their opposition.

“But whether the Tele swung votes or not, there’s

no question it was trying.

The final tally of the paper’s coverage in the

election campaign stacks up like this:

Out of a total of 293 political stories we scored only

six as pro Labor. While 43 were pro coalition. On

the negative side there were just five articles which

we judged to be anti Coalition. While a remarkable

134 were anti Labor. The rest we scored as

neutral”

(Media Watch 2014)

 

News Corp Australia, is almost unparalleled in its broadcasting ability within the Australian media landscape, and this awesome power was demonstrated during the Australian Federal election in 2013. Front page news was replaced with opinion pieces and these dominated News Corp’s capital city tabloids The Courier Mail and The Daily Telegraph leading into the election, saturating society with Liberal-National Coalition support every day, while conversely ,they actively opposed the Labor Party, who were in direct competition with the Coalition in Australia’s two party preferred government system. The images below (The Daily Telegraph 2013) are perfect demonstrations of this practice.

328237-front-page-arta1d3f23e-ffa7-11e2-82b3-338937740ac4_tele2--400x570

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overall, the election was a landslide. The LNP took a massive 90 seats, an entire 17 more than the previous election, while the ALP slumped from 72 to 55. It can be suggested that this result can be at least partially attributed to News Corp Australia’s publications during and before the election period. Some say such a relentless campaign can not be ignored.

The question about whether the media should be blamed for this still remains. Were the actions taken by News Corp a deliberate ploy to sway the votes of the everyday Australians through an unrelenting barrage of bias – Or, was this an innocent and completely understandable business decision? Were News Corp just providing their audience with the sort of opinion and news they actually desired, so as to sell as many copies of their publications as possible? Or was there another motive behind their editorial decisions?

The only certain answer as to the media’s culpability depends on your individual perspective. Some will see News Corp’s editorials as purely a calculated commercial decision, designed to aid the bottom line and take advantage of a common swing against Labor amongst the electorate, as the election went on.

Others, will view their actions as the catalyst for the change in government and a key factor in the landslide LNP victory. Not all the blame can be attributed to News and other media outlets until their controlling stake holders admit to any sort of purposeful bias and designs to alter the outcome of an election; I used to hold the belief that News Corp Australia were purposefully trying to influence the election result.

But the further I look into this situation, considering News Corp Australia’s past, I can’t help but come to the conclusion that this was a calculated commercial decision. Maybe News would have preferred a Coalition victory simply because it would sell more papers – If they were to publish the type of editorials and “News” the electorate was favouring, they’d inevitably experience an increase in the sales of their publications during the election period.

They openly supported Labor in the 2007 Election, as some may recall – The Daily Telegraph even referenced this in it’s infamous editorial-cover-piece “Finally, you now have the chance to… KICK THIS MOB OUT”:

“In 2007, The Daily Telegraph supported the

election of a Labor government led by Kevin

Rudd.” (Daily Telegraph 2013)

Based on that, was 2013 just 2007 with blue neck ties instead of red?

The same arguments can be applied to 2007 – A swing for change, and the media of the nation simply responding by creating a product it’s customers desired – a pro Labor product.

Perspective. Where you stand will decide what you feel about this. The more I think about it, the more I can believe that this was just a business making a smart business decision.

Certainly, it is just as plausible that News Corp Australia “went with the flow” as it is to suggest that the landslide victory was influenced heavily by their publications – They aren’t the only media publishers in Australia.

Based on that, I cannot blame the media for influencing election results directly – It’s not justified.

References:

 

The Daily Telegraph, August 08, 2013, Thommo’s Heroes, image, The Daily Telegraph, viewed 12 March 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/albo-loves-to-have-a-beer-with-thommo-and-rudd-is-clueless/story-fni0cx12-1226693151434