Swaying the Public

The media directs much of how we live our life and how we feel about issues prevalent in our society, in saying this, whomever controls the media dictates much of the public’s awareness and feelings about certain issues. Simple statements can sway arguments and can move people to their feet and cause great movements in our history.

A relatively recent example of the power of media was displayed through social media with the “Kony 2012” movement. The idea behind the “Kony 2012” movement was for production company¬†Invisible Children Inc. to try and raise awareness of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistence Army in Uganda, and hopefully bring him before the International Criminal Court. The film quickly went viral the world over thanks to social media streams such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter and caused people to instantly become aware of this issue and want to take part in helping bring Joseph Kony to justice. The film caused movement in parliaments around the world to try and assist in any way possible to bring Joseph Kony before the ICC and was a rousing success. Unfortunately, the power of media works both ways and the film’s creative lead, Jason Russell, was filmed on March 15, 2012, in the midst of the movement’s most popular moments, during a public breakdown which ended in his arrest by San Diego police. This was a killer blow to the movement in many ways as the media began talking about how the director and leader of the project was having severe psychiatric issues and much of the movement’s momentum was killed off. The controller of the original media was largely to blame for the downfall of this movement in the end after Jason Russell’s psychiatric episode, despite the movements positive messages and righteous goal.

The control of the media in Australia has been a hotly contested issue in recent times. In 2007, John Howard’s government introduced media laws known as the “two out of three” rule. This is in its most basic form a way to stop a monopolisation of the media in Australia by restricting broadcasters to controlling only two of television, radio and print. These media laws are being looked into closely at the moment by Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull who is looking to update these laws to bring them in line with a more online and media driven era. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald from the 13th of March, 2015 (http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/malcolm-turnbull-moves-to-scrap-key-media-ownership-restrictions-20150313-143leg.html) discusses Mr. Turnbull’s plans to bring the laws into the digital age. The side effect of Mr. Tunrbull’s plans would mean that subscription based Foxtel would have less opportunity to bid for large sporting events. The thing that I found most interesting in this was that the Sydney Morning Herald is owned by Fairfax Media, the main rival to News Corp to media in Australia and the CEO of News Corp is Rupert Murdoch who had his own response to Malcolm Turnbull’s plans that he posted to Twitter three days after the article was published.

To me this illustrates perfectly the flow of information from the media as articles from the News Corp world like from The Australian (http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/murdoch-attacks-malcolm-turnbulls-media-ownership-reforms/story-e6frg996-1227264493067) show a bias against reforms while articles like the Sydney Morning Herald article from earlier show support for Malcolm Turnbull, this is entirely based on who controls the media and sways those who read these articles to their line of thinking.

Four Inches of Glass

Four inches of glass is exactly what people seem to think are running their lives, the anxiety that media dictates to us how we should live our lives and what we should find outrageous is a fairly common fear and one that is not totally justifiable. Most modern media can be safely assumed to be consumed through our smartphones or tablets, I know that my morning ritual begins with a peruse of Facebook to see what I’ve missed the night before and then skimming the headlines on the ABC News app. Ask most people nowadays and they will agree that the newspaper has become less prominent and been replaced by apps on their phones. The problem with this is now things are shorter and punchier than ever before, there is so much media that everything needs a big headline to get you to even consider clicking it because there may be something better on the horizon.

With that understanding of media, we can understand the evolution into what is called “click-bait” and the attitude of fear-mongering in modern journalism. Having tailed a reporter for a week a few years ago, I was taught that it’s less about the story and more about getting people to look at it and follow you personally. The reporter I worked with would tell me that he didn’t necessarily believe what he was writing but so long as it got views and activity on the website he would be seen in a positive light. This attitude means that a lot of the media that we soak up when we read about different stories has been put out simply to garner attention and it’s not about the truth. In saying this, I don’t mean to cast shade upon the entire world of journalism, but simply ensure people understand the anonymity of the internet does not stop even on global websites dedicated to news.

The people behind the media and the motivations of the media nowadays are major effects to our anxiety of the effects of the media on peoples lives. However, this is not something that means that we are run by our four inches of glass in front of us, instead what it means is exactly what it is, the media is designed for monetary gain not solely for information. The effects model of the media on our lives has been looked into in depth by numerous case studies, but these studies rely on one fact above all else: “a certain proportion of the public feel that the media may cause other people to engage in antisocial behaviour, almost no-one ever says they have been affected in that way themselves.” (Ten Things Wrong With the “effects model” – David Gauntlett –¬†http://www.theory.org.uk/effects.htm) The issue with this is that people assume some form of superiority in themselves but ignore this when it comes to the case study. The idea that they’ve never committed murder despite absorbing similar graphic material, however others have so that must be proof of the effect of media is a fallacy and one that can get dangerous if we allow people to shift blame onto the media rather than them accepting their misdoings.

Four inches of glass does not run your life, the media on it does not run your life. Your life is yours.