All posts by lizziekburns

The Conflict of Media Dependency

Upon much focus and examination of the media and its effects on today’s society, I think it’s safe to say that I regard the media from a standpoint similar to many people. There is, without a doubt, a large number of issues that accompany the rapid spread of technology and the ways in which they impact society. However, I spend a great deal of time consuming media material, and am heavily reliant on it in some aspects. As media has become more predominant in our culture, there are innumerable negative consequences of media consumption and dependence that are brought about. I know I, personally, contemplate media’s effects, and whether the good outweigh the bad. Additionally, in our exposure to the media, we are often exposed to criticisms of the media. As technology has become a widespread and often unregulated tool for people around the world, the media projects criticisms of what it is in itself. It is safe to say that I face a challenge that is conflicting for many people of this day and age: I can clearly see issues with media’s dominance over our world, and have formed many of my own opinions on the matter. At the same time, I am plagued by my own reliance on the media, and the effect that taking action to change this dependence could be very impactful on my voice in society and my relations with other people.

      The nature of the issue lies within the fact that the news has considerably changed and improved society in certain ways. I am grateful for the media because it offers citizens an opportunity at voicing whatever they choose to, which was not always so easy. Mediums like blogs give citizens a medium to distribute information and an opportunity for response. I appreciate how closely the media ties us together, the degree to which it allows citizens to understand current events, and the quickness of communication it allows.

      The issue I have with media is broad, and is brought about for similar reasons that I appreciate the media. I believe that the true problem is not technology, but the dependence that our society has on the media. The media has changed so rapidly and become such an integral part of our lives that it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish the good and the bad. While technology connects us, a lack of technology disconnects us from one another. In a world so reliant on technology, many things become nearly impossible without this sort of communication. Overuse of technology is also very common and takes away from the time we spend living our lives. I believe that media is of vital importance, but the reliance we have on it today makes it hard for us to function without it.

      The prospect of media domination is a scary one, given the amount of change we, as a society, have experienced firsthand. In my life, I have seen media follow an upward trend, and expect it to continue on that path. People are so consumed by media and technology that there is a constant hunger for new growth, and a constant competition to produce material that surpasses what is already available. It is also clear to me, first hand, how much of an improbability a decrease in media usage would be. Today, I see a society full of people who need technology and news media to make it through their day. My peers, as well as myself, are in constant need of media in order to carry out responsibilities like our schoolwork. Children are learning to use  technology and interpret news media, as it has been integrated into the classroom environment, among many other mediums. In the future, I see a society that is even more reliant on technology. Children will come from a background where they see and use media constantly. It becomes a part of the world they live in, and becomes hard to regulate. My peers and I have received our education in a media dominated educational system, and media will, therefore, be vital to our careers.

      The New York Times released an article earlier this year entitled, Peering Into the Future of Media. The article reinforces the ideas and concerns that I predict will be problematic in our future. The article exaggerates many of these issues, but reaches the same conclusion: learning to live, function, and work in a media dominated society will lead us into a world that is hard to live, function, or work in without media. This progression is both a blessing and a curse, and my hope is that the upward media trend will not lead to a downward spiral in society’s ability to live without it.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/15/business/media/peering-into-the-future-of-media.html?_r=0

The Portrayal of Women in the Media: Refuting of Reinforcing Stereotupes?

Today, “feminism” is considered, by many, a relatively extinct term. Given the rise of post-feminism, much argument and protest regarding the rights and expectations of women has diminished. Post-feminism, though loosely defined, essentially argues that the dispute for equality between genders exists, and the idea is widely accepted. Despite reasonable opposition, the decline of the feminist movement is inherently noticeable all around. Women do, indeed, have many more rights than they once did, yet are portrayed stereotypically in the media constantly. The question that arises for many is one of controversial nature. Is the personification of women in the media really representative of equality?

Examples of feminine stereotypes are evident on nearly all social mediums. These ideals are more evident in some mediums than another, but still incredibly present. For as long as I can remember, I’ve found some of the most blatant stereotypes of women recur yearly during the Super Bowl. These commercials consistently personify and objectify women in an obvious, almost overstated way. Most advertisements reflect an idea that women make for an effective marketing strategy. Along with that comes that women’s attractiveness needs to be validated by men. The pictured women are usually “conventionally” beautiful, and put women in a tough position. The women are, of course, reflective of the media’s regard for women-or lack thereof. However, such high expectations can have an immeasurable impact on women watching. This particular 2013 ad pictures Kate Upton in a car commercial. Rather than actually try and sell the car, the commercial rather sells he model, who really has no significant role to the car or to the company whatsoever. Yet, similar commercials have run for years and must be accepted by some. Should women look and act the way they are personified on Super Bowl commercials? And if they do, do men reserve the right to objectify them?

The issues surrounding this ideal are clear. Much like many other media outlets, Super Bowl commercials send a message to women that they must look a certain way to attract men, and reinforces the idea that sex sells to men. The ideology is flawed on both ends, and its potential for influence is hard to determine. The real inequality lies within the fact that men are taking nothing but pleasure from these representations, while women are treated as inferior and expected to look a certain way. It is problematic for women to see themselves, as a gender, portrayed in such a way. It can skew their views on their own worth, beauty, and their stance on the role of men. Because of these obvious issues, many actions have been taken to dispute these views, which have become so engrained in society. However, the direct confrontation of some of these issues can lead to reinforcing those very stereotypes.

Different organizations, like Dove, have made an effort to take a stand against this movement. Dove believes that all women should embrace their natural beauty, and that there are different things that make every individual woman beautiful. The issue with the execution is the expectation that women naturally are insecure, or feel inadequate. But by stressing the need to feel “beautiful” and comparing it to the standard set by media like Super Bowl commercials, they are, in some ways, validating exactly what they are trying to fight against.

At the end of the day, it is hard to say what the “right” or “wrong” way to portray women would be. The presence of post-feminism and rising level of equality has changed times for the better. Women and men are, on many counts, fairly equal. But with negative stereotypes and expectation dominating our media and society, women are forced to question whether they should take a stand. Despite the apparent reasons to do so, many attempts, like Dove’s commercial, in fact, reinforce those stereotypes. No matter how you put it, the portrayal of women in the media is flawed, but refuting it doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. I believe that men and women are not represented completely equally in the media, nor do I agree with certain ways in which women are illustrated. However, I also acknowledge that many of these representations simply exist in our society, and attempts to try and change them, though understandable, don’t always help the case.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postfeminism

Wikipedia, Wikinews, and Gatewatching

Journalism has been and remains one of the most important societal elements of America. Journalism connects people: it spreads its influence internationally, it determines what is most “important”, what research should be continued, and what stories contain. All of these concepts were, historically, implemented through the practice of gatekeeping. As a journalist, one has the power to distribute, receive, and comment upon information, and until recently, professional journalists were largely relied upon to deliver this information. However, with the rise of citizen journalism, the practice of “gatewatching” has grown all the more prevalent. Gatewatching is essentially the opposite of gatekeeping. Rather than controlling what is considered news and distributing it as they please, gatewatchers serve as produsers. They produce news, they access other news mediums, and decide and share what material is relevant to other users.

With the level of involvement that the people have, namely through social media, gatekeeping is becoming increasingly more difficult to uphold. Though it is still entirely present on many news networks, the social media has paved the way for citizen journalists to produce and discuss information at their own will. The power of gatewatchers is immeasurable: Citizen journalism is phenomenal in the sense that it has completely transformed the way in which we receive information and the credibility we place in the media. Axel Bruns explains the dynamic between gatekeeping and gatewatching with this chart.Image

One of the most prevalent and dynamic examples of gatewatching today is Wikipedia and WikiNews. A prime example of citizen journalism, Wikipedia users have access to a collaborative platform. Unlike sites like facebook and Twitter, the information does not necessary flow in a forum or entirely based upon opinion. Wikipedia is not, however, a gatewatching medium either. It is a medium that is accessible and collaborative. It gives citizens power over what is distributed, but also maintains a generally “neutral” policy. Forums are also present on Wikipedia, further allowing grounds for media to be covered, that wasn’t necessarily acknowledged by the press.

Wikinews, a citizen-journalism platform, is an element of Wikipedia. Though they work from a similar journalistic perspective, the articles are written more as a news article than an encyclopedia excerpt. Wikinews is free and composed of the insights and information of many people. Much information is gained from mainstream media, but through constant reinterpretation and public contribution, the articles synthesize relatively neutral information gathered from both citizen and professional journalists. Sites like Wikinews provide a platform where many sources of information are collectively available, free of any gatekeeping practices or bias. Though some argue that Wikipedia and Wikinews are not reputable news sources due to their lack of professional editing, the collaborative efforts of the people and the press usually come together well. With the amount of constant editing that goes into these articles, they are usually kept up-to-date, and accurate due to a variety of perspectives. Despite some doubt, Wikipedia still remains one of the most used news sources in our society.

Wikipedia and Wikinews both conflict with and reinforce gatekeeping vs. gatewatching practices. To a point, Wikipedia reinforces gatekeeping. Articles contain mainstream news information, and though it is often edited, the information isn’t necessarily based upon opinion. At the same time, bridging the gap between what is revealed by mainstream media and the stories in their entirety threaten the practice of gatekeeping. Wikipedia is widespread enough that most angles of a situation are covered, whereas mainstream mediums gain much power from controlling specific aspects. Wikipedia is free and provides the whole story, and professional journalists gain power from controlling certain aspects of the story. The widespread knowledge distributed on Wikipedia as well as its widely regarded reliability threaten journalists.

Wikipedia has been both widely and publicly criticized. Being objective as it is, Wikipedia actually has an encyclopedia article entitled Criticism of Wikipedia comprising widespread criticisms for the site. Many people cite concerns about how anyone can edit articles and reliability of sources. Other users are bothered by the rules, active editors, and administrative power that go into the articles to ensure their legitimacy. From a journalistic perspective, Librarian Philip Bradley told The Guardian, “The main problem is the lack of authority. With printed publications, the publishers have to ensure that their data is reliable, as their livelihood depends on it. But with something like this, all that goes out the window.” The debate style of Wikipedia has also been widely criticized and studied, due to concern of debate degenerating into “counterproductive squabbling”.

Wikipedia is a hugely important and hugely criticized example of gatewatching. Its collaborative power is massive, but also questioned by many. Many people, professors, and news professionals oppose Wikipedia, while many citizens are reliant on it. It has quite a lot of positives and drawbacks, but is exemplary of how influential citizen journalism has become.

 

Sources:

http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Wikipedia

http://thenextweb.com/media/2011/08/27/11-websites-citizen-journalists-should-know-about/#!vExmS

http://heatherwortes.wordpress.com/2012/05/05/gatekeepers-v-gatewatchers/

http://jclass.umd.edu/classes/jour698m/domingo.pdf

 

Film Regulation and the Issue of Morality

The question of “morality” is one that is discussed often from a sociological perspective. When it comes to the media, there are two core aspects that blur the lines of what is “moral” and cause much controversy. The issue that often comes about involves our nation’s promise of freedom of speech and press. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press…”. Yes, one of our country’s main principles is to the freedom of the people, but the nation is also obligated to the protection of the people. How can we balance the two? If the press, and the views of the people projected through media, is free, then our youth can easily be exposed to corrupting material. But when the government regulates the media, isn’t that robbing us of our First Amendment rights? There is no easy answer to the question, and what is moral varies greatly among people.

Personally, I believe it is absolutely necessary that the media, particularly the entertainment industry is regulated. With that said, I don’t agree with every regulation and the degree of censorship on certain mediums, but I do acknowledge its purpose. Like many kids, I grew up exposed only to a narrow range of films and television programs. My mother believed that it was only appropriate for me to watch programs that were intended for my age. Like many parents, she both relied on and didn’t entirely trust film and TV regulations-she used ratings as a guide, but didn’t trust that I had the capacity to make the right decisions when I was in control. I hated the notion at the time, but I can’t imagine how I would have been affected viewing any of the material that I can now.

These are the very reasons that organizations like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPPA). Without regulations, there is no way to guarantee that films and television programs are being viewed by an appropriate audience. However, given that these corporations have power over ratings and regulations and the film and television companies do not, it’s hard to say who is in the right. It is difficult to consensually decide what is “moral” in a nation of people who think so differently from one another.

Regardless of controversy, I support the majority of the regulation enforced by the MPPA. The MPPA is best known for their institution of film ratings. These ratings are a basic value system intended to give people an idea of what they are watching. They also give parents the power to know the general basis of what their children are watching and regulate it as they please. On the MPPA’s website, the first question on their “Guide to Ratings” is “What is the purpose of the rating system?” They answer with, “Movie ratings provide parents with advance information about the content of movies to help them determine what movies are appropriate for their children at any age. After all, parents are best suited to knowing each of their children’s individual sensitivities and sensibilities to pick movies for them. Ratings are assigned by a board of parents who consider factors such as violence, sex, language and drug use, then assign a rating they believe the majority of American parents would give a movie.” Their answer is very specific and caters to a concern that is common to many parents. Because parents contribute to these rating decisions, parents can feel assured that the ratings are based upon values similar to their own. The MPPA is clear in that their aim is not to censor what America views, but rather to warn and prepare us of the nature of what we view. The guidelines that dictate these ratings are brief, and a whole new set of issues are presented past the issue of what children are watching. It is impossible to say that a film “should” be PG-13 or R, R or NC-17, etc. Like the MPAA stated regarding children, parents are the only people who truly know their children’s specific sensibilities and what is appropriate. As people, we all have our own sensibilities, and our ideas on what is “moral” are dependent on those sensibilities. Ratings do not always match up perfectly, but rather give us some guidelines. In my opinion, it’s better to have a rating that is slightly off than none at all. Maybe a G rated movie has principles a parent thinks should be PG, but the consequences would be much more grave if their child watched a movie with more inappropriate material and even less guidance.

At the end of the day, I can see why there is controversy: parents don’t always see eye to eye, people don’t see eye to eye, and filmmakers may be deterred from certain audiences due to differences in opinion. However, I think it is vitally important that we have some regulation of morality. I don’t agree with every idea of the MPPA, but I am glad that I didn’t grow up entirely exposed to the media as I am today.

Sources:

http://www.mpaa.org

Sony Corporation

Sony Corporation

 Sony Corporation, founded in 1960, is a conglomerate centered in Tokyo, Japan. Sony distributes of an expansive variety of businesses, their most successful being in the electronic field. Sony is one of the world’s principal electronic producers, ranked 87th on the Fortune Global 500 list in 2012. Sony is also included in the Worldwide Top 20 Semiconductor Sales Leaders as well as being the third –largest television provider worldwide. Its main emphases are in electronics, fincancial services, and game entertainment. Sony is an incredibly powerful corporation with many holdings in a diverse list of companies.

 

Sony’s Major Holdings: 

Music:

Columbia/ Epic Label Group

RCA/Jive Label Group

Sony Music Commercial Music Group

Sony Music Latin

Sony Music Nashville

Sony/ATV Music Publishing

SYCO (Partnership)

VEVO (Partnership)

 

Film:

Columbia Pictures

Sony Pictures Animation

Sony Pictures Studio

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Sony Pictures Technologies

Sony Pictures International

Sony Pictures Imageworks Interactive

Screen Gems

Sony Pictures Classics

 

TV:

Crackle

SAB

AXN

AXN Mistery

Channel 8

FEARnet

Cinemax (Latin America)

HBO (Latin America)

Premium Movie Partnership (Australia)

TV1 (Australia)

 

Other:

Sony Card Marketing and Services Company

Gracenote

Sony Electronics

Sony Entertainment Distribution

Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications

Qrinocity

Sony Pictures Consumer Products

 

(A complete list of Sony Corporation’s Holdings can be found at http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=sony)

 

            Quite a lot of vertical integration was evident in my findings. In 2002, Sony was reported to be moving towards a vertical strategy by Sony Corporation of Americas CFO and VP, Rob Weisenthal. Unlike other major conglomerates, Sony has historically been more interested in diversifying their operations, rather than taking control of entire industries. As a result, Sony has saved around $125 million through vertical integration. In the past, Sony has shown signs of horizontal integration as well, like merging with Zenith. However, the majority of their major holdings are either within the conglomerate itself as well as several partnerships.

           

I found it interesting to research a company with so much power that primarily practices vertical integration. Many of the world’s most successful corporations gained their success through buying out other companies and taking control of entire industries. AT and T, for instance, has control over the vast majority of telephone communications. Though Sony, too, is very powerful, it is also quite diverse and surprisingly independent. The company has managed to have a major role in several industries, including, but not limited to, Music, Film, TV, and Electronics. Sony continues to bring in revenue from all fields, without buying out specific industries or being overly dependent on many other corporations. Sony also has a lot of international success and standing. Though I did find some instances of horizontal integration, I enjoyed seeing a company that is primarily independent, unlike many other conglomerates. I also was interested to see the wide range of companies they possess, like RCA and Columbia pictures.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sony

http://www.studymode.com/essays/Vertical-Integration-At-Sony-162799.html

http://www.cjr.org/resources/?c=sony