Who Owns Your Media? – Why It’s Important to Know

Personally, I don’t have a source where I consistently get my news from. When I do happen to come across a news article online, I’ll usually look at what other articles have said about the topic, to determine credibility – because I’m skeptical like that.

If I’m going to hear something in my day to day life without actively looking for it, it’ll be from my local radio station – Campbelltown’s C91.3 – but chances are I’m going to miss more than I’m going to hear.

Regardless, it is important to know who owns and has the power to control your news sources. C91.3, for example, is owned by the WIN Corporation, which in turn is owned by Bruce Gordon. But, why is it important to know this?


Since he owns the radio station, Mr. Gordon has the executive power to control, block, or censor any and all of the radio’s content. If he chose to, Mr. Gordon could promote his interests – political ideologies or otherwise – by pushing the station to broadcast items that align with his views, or simply block any items that oppose his views.

Why does this matter? If your main media source only broadcasts in favour of one ideological viewpoint, why should you ever disagree? If your media is saturated with a singular ideology, you may never see any opposing views, never be aware of any criticisms against that view, and thus never even think to disagree.

Therefore, one must always consider the ideologies of those that own your news sources, and develop a critical eye for what is presented, what isn’t presented, what is omitted, and how it is presented.

Personally, I don’t know what Mr. Gordon’s viewpoints are. I don’t know how much direct or indirect input he has on C91.3’s presented items, or if he just leaves the station be and receives the profits. Either way, it is important to be critical of it.


To ensure a more complete understanding of any piece of news, it is essential to check multiple sources. Consider what information is consistent between them, and consider their sources; Are they credible? Looking at a range of sources allows you to get a more complete range of viewpoints about the item, thus allowing you to have a more complete understanding of that piece of news.

media-interest-snapshot
ACMA’s ‘Media Interests Snapshot

To better understand who owns your news sources in Australia, I recommend the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s (ACMA) ‘Media Interests Snapshot‘.


More information on this topic can be found here, and here.

Readings of Bree Newsome’s Removal of the Confederate Flag

June 27th, 2015: Activist Brittany “Bree” Newsome climbed the flag pole outside the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, and removed the Confederate flag. Newsome was subsequently arrested and charged with defacing state property.

My question is, how did people read this act, and the associated photograph below?

bree newsome
Bree Newsome removing the Confederate flag

 

The denotion of this image is simple: Bree Newsome removing a flag from a flag pole.

However, what is signified and the connotations of this image varies depending on the viewer; their experiences and ideologies. For any piece of text, there exists three potential readings:

  • Dominant reading – main reading, what the author intended to convey
  • Oppositional readingrejects the dominant reading
  • Negotiated reading somewhere between the first two

I will be exploring these three readings regarding the photograph above.


Dominant

During the American Civil War, the Confederate flag was used as a symbol by the pro-slave South. Thus, the flag became a strong symbol to many Americans, and even some non-Americans, for slavery, hatred, and white supremacy.

This symbolic connection caused many to view this act of removing the flag , and thus this photograph, as a positive act of heroism, and a powerful non-violent statement against  racism. This sentiment is especially intensified as Newsome herself is African-American.

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People‘s North Carolina unit compared Newsome’s actions to that of Rosa Parks.


Oppositional

To some citizens of the Southern United States, the flag is not a symbol of hate or slavery, but a symbol of Southern culture, ancestry, heritage, and a symbolic memorial for ancestor’s who died during the Civil War.

To this audience, this photograph and Newsome’s actions are not to be celebrated, but are criminal (she was charged with defacement of state property), deeply disrespectful, and a rejection of their history, families, and very identities. To this group, this is a personal affront.


Negotiated

Of course, to someone without strong feelings for or against the Confederate flag, this act and photo hold no special meaning.

One may see the removal of this flag, or any flag as disrespectful on principle, and only view this as a minor criminal offence with no underlying meaning.
Another individual with anti-establishment ideologies could view this flag removal approvingly, again, simply by principle.
Yet another person may simply not care, and give it no second thought.


Conclusion

All these potential readings of this photograph are based on an individual’s experiences and ideologies. While very different, each viewpoint is completely valid, and it is always important to consider how different people may differ in their views of any item of media.


More information can be found here, here, and here.

Don’t Blame Your Mobile Phone for Your Problems

Mobile phones. We millennials have always got our eyes glued to them right? We’re addicted! I mean all these smart features are a distraction and we should dial back to simpler phones!


As technology advances and mobile phone capabilities increase, consumers are spending more and more time on their phones than ever before – especially when they shouldn’t be. Students are playing games in class, friends checking social media rather than talking to each other, watching YouTube videos late into the night rather than sleeping, etcetera, etcetera, you get the idea. Mobile phones and the media access they provide are the source of all first-world evils.

Now, I’m going to propose something radical; what if we held the people choosing to use their phones when they shouldn’t be, responsible for their actions, rather than blaming the inanimate blocks of circuitry they own? Inconceivable, I know.

The fact is that technology and forms of media simply do not hold that much power over us. The media can influence our opinions and emotions to a certain degree, I will not disregard that. However, the power to choose how we spend our time and live our lives rests solely in ourselves. Human action is the result of human decisions, not the technology we use.

This blaming of the media for the actions of its audience is nothing new. Media audiences have always been seen as easily influenced by the media they consume. Well known events such as the audience’s panic during the first showing of the Lumière brother’s film “Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat” in 1895, and the invasion hysteria that gripped the U.S. during the airing of Orson Welles radio adaptation of “War of the Worlds” in 1938, have cemented this view of the easily influenced audience in the minds of many.
In reality, the former is an urban myth with little proof, and the latter has been discredited as being vastly over-reported by newspapers of the time, especially since the show didn’t have that many listeners to begin with.

It is events such as these myths that have caused the public and researchers alike to see the media as having more power over us than it does. It is us who are choosing to play games on our mobiles when we are in class. It is us who are choosing to spend our time on social media rather than speaking with those around us. It is us who are choosing to prioritise mobile use over sleep. Despite what many may believe or report, these are the results of human decisions, and not to be blamed on the media.