Reading Blog Week 8

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 8

Title: Researching the Media and Cultural Industries

 

This week we observed the importance of researching the media and cultural studies, and looked at some ways to conduct research.

 

Firstly, the definitely of a ‘culture industry’ is “one which has as its main function the production or distribution of art, entertainment or information.”

 

Most of the research conducted around cultural industries is by the companies themselves as a way to advance themselves. Also, company’s conduction annual reports about their accounts every year, as well as research their own and their competitors market positions. This is called administrative research.

 

An interesting point brought up is that media have ‘power without responsibility’. This is the idea that press have the similar power to political institutions (Curran and Seaton, 1991).

 

Moving on to how to begin conducting research, the first thing to do is decide an object of study and narrow your study area as much as possible. The method you decide to use will depend on how you operationalize your object of analysis.

 

An important aspect to keep in mind is how much access you are going to be able to have. Access to media industry can be difficult to get, but research is still possible.

 

Two kinds of research are:

  • Documentary evidence: Archive research
  • People: Interview, participant observation, and oral history

 

Each of these research methods has it’s own processes which are as follows:

  • Archive research: This method involves accessing original documents. It is important to understand that most projects will involve aspects this.
  • Interview: This enables you to find out about people’s ideas, opinions and attitudes. You will need to interview several people to ensure that your sample is representative. Interviews can be conducted face to face, via email, telephone, letter, or survey.
  • Participant observation: This involves you participating in the routines you are researching and gives you a first hand perspective into your object of study.
  • Oral history: For this method you need to interview people about past experiences and memories.

 

Keep in mind that it is possible to combine the methods to get a richer understanding of your object of study.

 

In conclusion, a possible research question relating to this information can be “What are the advantages and disadvantages of (insert research method)?” To conduct study I would have to pick a research method and look at some studies that were conducted using that method, observing if there are any repeating advantages and disadvantages.

 

Bibliography:

 

Reading Blog Week 7

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 7

Title: Political Economy of the Media

 

Political economy can be defined as “the study of the … power relations, that mutually constitute the production, distribution, and consumption of resources, including communication resources.”  (Vincent Mosco (1995)

 

The set reading starts by explaining how the decline in audiences in the face of online competition has lead people to predict a collapse of the existing news environment. They note that younger audiences are opting for the immediate and interactive nature of online news, and that advertisers prefer the ability to more accurately target audiences online.

 

Furthermore, there is a marked decrease of national newspaper readership in the UK. There has been a 19% fall in the number of British adults reading a national daily paper between 1992 and 2006 (House of Lords (HoL) 2008a: 11). There has also been a significant decrease in the number of hours national news is watched on the main UK television channels.

 

One of the main reasons media organizations have seen a loss of readers and viewers is because of an incredible increase in number of news outlets.

 

There are two ways in which news organizations are responding to the crisis:

  • Cost cutting: organizations try to save money by cutting costs and increasing productivity. However this solution creates a new problem- journalists have to work with more deadlines which leads to ‘churnalism’, this is the ‘rapid repackaging of largely unchecked second hand material’ (Davies, 2008:60).
  • Diversifying: Diversify operations to expand both audience and revenue streams. Through this method organizations are trying to carry out joint ventures to distribute ‘branded content’ more widely.

 

Nevertheless, despite most content being available for free online, there is some specialist information that online news organizations are able to charge for. Herbert and Thurman (2007: 223) found that online newspapers ‘are more likely to charge for content that is closely identified with the newspaper brand’.

 

Another essential point brought up was that news organizations run the risk of self-destructing by focusing on online classified sites and ignoring the print classifieds.

 

It is also important to understand that there is no definite evidence that things are going to go downhill for news organizations. There is no reason to believe that the industry can’t evolve to meet the changing needs. It all depends on the imagination and independence of journalists, and investment.

 

A possible research question that stems from this information is “How has (insert news organization) dealt with the changing political economy?” I would conduct ethnography to answer this question.

 

Bibliography:

 

Reading Blog Week 5

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 5

Title: Political communication and political news management

 

This week we discussed the way in which politics interacts with citizens and the techniques such as spin doctoring that are used to ensure that the information conveyed is to the politician’s advantage.

 

Political communication can be defined as the strategic use of communication to influence public opinion (Swanson & Nimmo, 1990). There are several channels of political communication:

  • Political speeches
  • Political writings (letters, articles, etc)
  • Party election campaigns
  • Lobbying
  • Dress, make up, hairstyles
  • Logos
  • Music

 

The set reading shows us what researchers thought of the role the Internet was going to play in politics when it first started becoming relevant.

 

It starts by defining a functioning public sphere as “a constellation of communication spaces in society that permit the circulation of information, ideas, debates-ideally in an unfettered manner-and also the formation of political will.” The development of the Internet created more public spheres that had ever been present, giving people with all kinds of views somewhere to express themselves.

 

The researcher has noted that the discussion about the poor state of democracy increased around the same time that the Internet started a media revolution. This was the first sign of the power of the Internet.

 

However, at this point the impact of the Internet was considered “modest”. Though there were discussions starting on this platform, it hadn’t lead to any change as of yet. Furthermore, the opinions expressed online were not of a high quality, meaning that they were sometimes irrational and opinions were not supported by arguments.

 

Nevertheless a clear advantage was seen because people who would otherwise not be able to express their political views were given the chance to do so because of anonymity online. This was also when journalists started to find stories online because people were able to spread their knowledge over the Net.

 

As more people began engaging in global politics, getting the right message across became even more important, making techniques like spin doctoring increasingly relevant. Spin doctoring involves doing things like:

  • Staying on message by giving predetermined answers to questions
  • Trying to set the news agenda and driving it ahead by giving certain journalists the stories you want out there
  • ‘Firebreaking’ is leading the journalist to a different story to cover up an embarrassing situation
  • ‘Kite-flying’ is using the media to float out proposals to test reactions before putting them into play

These are just a few examples of spin doctoring.

 

A research question that could follow this information is “How did (insert successful political campaign) use spin doctoring to achieve their positive outcome?” I would use content analysis to carry out this research.

 

Bibliography:

 

  • Peter Dahlgren (2005) ‘The Internet, Public Spheres, and Political Communication Political Communication 22:147–162
  • Gaber, I.G. 2000. Government by spin: an analysis of the process. Media, Culture & Society. [Online] Volume 22. Pages 507-518. [Accessed 28 February 2014] Available from: http://mcs.sagepub.com/content/22/4/507.short

Reading Blog Week 4

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 4

Title: Journalism, PR, and Promotional Culture

 

Promotional culture can be defined as “A condition in which public communication, including interactions between citizens and major social institutions, is largely characterised by a deliberate and systematic intent to influence people’s perception and disposition.” (Ayo Oyeleye, 2005)

 

This phenomenon has been on the rise since the turn of the 20th century and we can attribute this to public opinion increasing in importance during this time.

 

One of the first people to make a profession out of promotional culture, Edward Bernays, called it the ‘conscious and intelligent manipulation’ of the beliefs and behaviour of the public.

 

So leading from that train of thought, one of the most important sectors for PR is the world of politics. In politics promotional culture is largely used for image control and perception.

 

Furthermore, because governments, businesses and pressure groups have so many resources at their disposal, they are more likely to compete for media attention and use promotional techniques to do so; and as PR becomes more sought after, and their fees rise, only the top tier clients (government etc) can afford them. For example, the top 150 PR consultancies earned £765 million in fees in 2007, a number which rose from £440 million in 1995 (PR Week 2008; Miller and Dinan 2000: 11)

 

Another factor that influences who gets coverage in the media is the values held by different kinds of journalists. Because of this it is possible for ‘cuddly charities’ (animals, children, health) to get coverage in tabloid or television despite lack of resources.

 

However, it has been seen that promotional culture can fast turn into propaganda. A prime example of this is Iraq. During the time there was propaganda campaign in which media was reporting that the Iraqi regiment posed a threat to the West. The information provided created enough reason for those in favour of war to put their policy into action (Miller 2004).

 

Propaganda such as that uses six practices to work effectively:

  1. Lying: The deliberate construction and circulation of false information.
  2. Withholding of information: A systemic policy of censorship.
  3. Strategic selectivity: The omission from an account of important information that works against opposing viewpoints being promoted.
  4. Exaggeration: Distorting the truth in either a positive or negative way that benefits the propaganda.
  5. Explicit or covert affective appeals to desire or to fear: Playing on people’s emotions, this can be done using audio-visual materials.
  6. Use of a rhetoric of visual display and/or linguistic structure

 

So, leading from this information, an interesting research question could be “To what extent can promotional culture used by the government be classed as propaganda?” To carry out this research I would use rhetorical analysis.

 

Bibliography:

 

  • Miller, D.M. 2010. The Media: An Introduction. 3rd edition. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
  • Corner, J.C. 2007. Mediated politics, promotional culture and the idea of ‘propaganda’ Media, Culture & Society. [Online] Volume 29(4). Page 669-677. [Accessed 22 February 2014] Available from: http://ocs.vre.upei.ca/public/conferences/1/schedConfs/18/program.pdf

Reading Blog Week 3

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 3

Title: New Media and the Transformation of Journalism and PR

 

This week we discussed the way that technological advances and new ways of viewing media have transformed the way journalists and PR professional’s work.

 

People are now viewing and interacting with media in a completely different and advanced way, and this has lead to a change in how media texts are produced, distributed, and used.

 

Castells et al argue in that while many people view these changes negatively, this “does not represent a crisis of journalism, but rather, an explosion of it.”

 

It could be argued that media as an industry is in trouble because of news being available for free, but journalism as a profession is not. Furthermore, we must view journalism’s primary goal as “the production of reliable information and analysis needed for the adequate performance of a democratic society” (Castells et al.) rather than profitability.

 

We must also understand that technology allows people to customize what news they see and keep in touch with communities that matter to them even if they are on the other side of the world. This is an unarguable advantage.

 

So, keeping that in mind, it is essential that journalists understand and carry out the new tools and practices needed to survive in this changing industry. Here are some of them:

 

  • Networked journalism: This is important because the sheer volume of information available makes it impossible for a journalist to work independently anymore, which means that they need to be able to work as part of a network that functions to collect, process, and distribute information (Beckett & Mansell, 2008; Jarvis, 2006).
  • Crowdsourcing and user-generated content: Both of these practices involve using content provided by the public to gather information.
  • Data mining, analysis, visualization and mapping: Often journalists get help from programmers and hackers to uncover digital information and convert it to a format from which they can put together a story.
  • Point of view journalism: Social networks allow us to view a story from thousands of points of views so journalists should be able to compare different stories and provide an overall picture. However we must keep the credibility of the source in mind.

 

Castells et al. conclude that as technology advances a lot of daily news will be automated and journalists will instead focus on “interpretation, analysis, and storytelling of the slower and more fundamental changes in society.”

 

Finally, a research question stemming from this could be “What method of viewing the news (digital or print/broadcast) do people prefer, and why?” I would conduct focus group interviews to ask questions and hopefully start a debate to hear and understand opposing views.

 

Bibliography:

 

Reading Blog Week 2

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 2

Title: Journalism, PR and Power: Contests over public opinion formation (The influence of sources on news culture)

 

Power can be defined as “the ability to determine the actions of others, as well as out ability to determine our own actions.” We looked at power dynamic specific to the relationship between PR and Journalism.

 

The most important issue that comes into play when looking at the power struggle between PR and Journalism is truth and trustworthiness.

 

Fergal Keane, BBC Journalist, 1997, said “The art of the reporter should more than anything else be a celebration of the truth…The reason millions of people watch and listen is because we place the interest of truth above everything else. Trust is our byword. That is the unalterable principle.” PR professionals potentially threaten this art because their material is made keeping the clients benefits in mind rather than the truth.

 

A study was conducted by Justin Lewis, Andrew Williams, and Bob Franklin to determine if activities of PR professionals influence news content and if they do, to what extent.

 

Their sample was the domestic news content of UK national “quality” newspapers and radio television news reports. They used 2207 items from the Guardian, The Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph and the mid-market Daily Mail, and 402 broadcast items from BBC Radio 1, BBC News, ITV News and SkyNews.

 

The overall statistic showed that 41% of press articles and 52% of broadcast news items use PR material. The researches also clarify that this doesn’t mean the remaining percentage don’t use PR material, just that there was no obvious evidence in these cases.

 

This statistic, among others, sends the message that PR is holding power and carrying out an agenda-setting role,

 

The researchers also found that 87% of the stories they analysed were based on a single primary source, and little to no effort was made to contextualise or verify the information provided. This data leads to the conclusion that there is almost no independent journalist activity happening in the sample. Once again, this places the power in the hands of PR professionals.

 

However, an article by Aeron Davis defends the intentions of PR professionals. He says that while people like to look at PR as an effective mind control over the masses, a lot of corporate PR is purposed to gain an advantage over rivals, not necessarily to control the public.

 

In conclusion, a research question for further study could be, “How does PR content affect news agenda at the Guardian?” I would conduct ethnography to observe this practice at its source.

 

Bibliography:

 

  • Paul Long, Tim Wall, Vian Bakir and Andrew McStay. 2012. Media Studies- Texts, Production, Context. 2nd Edition. Essex: Pearson Education Limited.
  • Justin Lewis, Andrew Williams, Bob Franklin. 2008. A COMPROMISED FOURTH ESTATE?, Journalism Studies, 9:1, 1-20.
  • Davis, A.D. 2000. Public relations, business news and the reproduction of corporate elite power. [Online] [Accessed 6 February 2014] Available from: http://jou.sagepub.com/content/1/3/282.short

Reading Blog Week 1

Name: Sanika Karnik

Student ID: 13170787

Task: Reading Diary Week 1

Title: The Relationship Between Journalism and PR

 

This week we observed the differences and similarities in journalism and public relations, how they work together, and the consequences of their relationship.

 

We should start by making a distinction can be made between “soft” and “hard” versions of both. “Soft” journalism and PR is mostly related to entertainment news that is about providing publicity, and “hard” journalism and PR is factually accurate and carefully analysed information relating to public concern. It is “hard” journalism and PR with real world consequences that are important to observe.

 

The relationship between PR and journalism, though it has the potential of being symbiotic, has led to a decline of how reliable journalists and their news reporting skills are. This is because journalists have often stopped fact checking the information that PR professionals supply them with. In turn this has given PR the ability to take advantage of the journalists who can’t find stories or are pressed for time.

 

This begs the question of whether or not we can trust the news. The set reading states, “ When honest copy and fair scrutiny are delivered, this is the news media as the fourth estate. It is worth of citizens’ trust and respect.”

 

However these standards were perhaps not being met because there is a noted loss of trust in British newspapers since the 1960s. In fact according to the Edelman global trust barometer (cited Greenslade, 2009) it has fallen to just 19%.

 

The growing PR industry is a threat to journalists and there are two main phenomenon that have emerged as the industry grows. The first is PR-isation. Moloney (2010) defines PR-isation as “the professional state when PR attitudes are incorporated into journalism’s mind-set, and where PR-biased material is published without sourcing”.  The other is ‘churnalism’. Churnalism is when material provided by PR professionals is “churned out” but journalists without sourcing or fact checking.

 

Sourcing can sometimes be a problem for journalists because they have to keep confidentiality in mind, and this can lead to a lack of transparency. If journalists were able to source openly then the readers could decide for themselves if the information they are receiving is trustworthy.

 

Trustworthiness in the media has become an increasing worrying issue. O’Neill states, “The power of the media in the twenty-first century is a danger to society because it destroys the trust that must exist if institutions are to work.”

 

Finally, in terms research that could be conducted, an interesting question would be “To what extent does PR material influence journalistic outputs such as print and broadcast?” I would use content analysis to look at samples of work from newspapers and TV/radio shows.

 

Bibliography: