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Archive for the ‘arts1090’ Category

Macken-Horarik, M 2003, ‘The children overboard affair’, Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Feb. pp. 1-16.


Tim Randall




Hi guys this week I will be talking about the text “A telling symbiosis in the field of hatred” by Mary Macken-Horarik. The text is concerned with news reports that make use of multiple mediums to create meaning such as picture and written word. The author argues that while seeming unbiased media outlets use discourse to promote an agenda. The text explains that grammar, which is tools for analysing such texts has not been developed. Newspaper reports concerned with the “children overboard” controversy in 2001 are used as an example. The author uses this example to argue that while seeming unbiased media discourse is used to portray asylum seekers as an immoral faceless other while their accusers are portrayed positively.


The text firstly gives background of the event. In short reports of asylum seekers throwing their children overboard were on the front pages of many newspapers during the 2001 election when the Liberal party was re-elected. When the government heard of the story from an unreliable source they made it known to the public aiding their re-election by justifying their conservative policies. I personally find it more troubling that Australian prejudice was the deciding factor of the election regardless of the flawed information; this however is not really relevant in a discussion on media discourse.


The author also analyses how media discourse can promote an agenda, it is argued this is done in three ways. Firstly people in both mediums of the report are portrayed in either a general or specific fashion. The asylum seekers are portrayed in a general fashion by being referred to by their group such as “boat people” and their accusers are referred to individually. The author argues this contributes to asylum seekers being portrayed as a faceless other. Furthermore the author suggests the category the groups are put into in the report contributes to this bias. The accusers are defined by what role in Australian society they have for example PM John Howard which is described as a functionalist categorisation. However the asylum seekers are simply defined as boat people, an essentialist categorisation. This further contributes to a sense of otherness. Finally the role the groups are playing is argued to contribute to this bias. When active agents the asylum seekers throw children overboard when accusers are active they rescue them and provide food and shelter.


Overall I find this very interesting and was not aware how perhaps my opinions perhaps are shaped by subtle bias. It made me aware there is a further level of media literacy that most people do not possess including myself which could be taken advantage of.


Schirato & Yell, “Signs and Meaning”, in Communication and Cultural Literacy, Allen and Unwin, pp. 18-33.


Tim Randall




Hi this week I will be talking about the text “Communication and Cultural Literacy” by Schirato and Yell. The text is discussing the theory of semiology, the discipline of studying signs. The author while admiring the theories of Saussure is proposing some improvements.


The text firstly explains that communication is not controlled by the sender, and that it is interpreted according to context such as the receiver’s perspective on certain issues. It outlines Saussure’s theory of semiology that explains that there is no inherent meaning to a sign, it differs. There are three aspects of signs.

1. Signifier, the written or spoken form e.g. Tree.

2. Signified, what concept is invoked e.g. Concept of Tree, is green has leaves, etc.

3. Sign, the combination of Signifier and Signified.


He believes there is no reason or system between the signifier and what it signifies (it is arbitrary), as such there is no basis for argument to change what a signifier signifies. Therefore Saussure argues that there is an underlaying unchanging system of signs that people use everyday. Moreover these signs do not represent the world rather change the way we look at it as we often consider the signified concept when looking, for instance at a tree.


The author points out numerous problems with this theory. Firstly that a signifier simply signifies another signifier for instance a tree simply signifies the concept of a tree not the essence. I had never considered this and it makes me question where may of my signified concepts come from. Furthermore the belief that all signs are intentional communication is question as, for example you could wear your last clean T shirt not knowing that the print on the front is communicating something to someone. Finally the word may be arbitrary yet it may be aspiring to invoke/promote a certain concept.


The belief of Marxist Linguist Volosinov that any symbols meaning is the result of an ideological struggle is raised. The concept that is invoked from the signifier “woman” is used as an example of this. Concepts could be signified of either domestic housewife or adult female with a different role in society. Another example is given, a newspaper article on British colonisation in Australia emphasising a certain signified concept for the word “violence”. These examples raise the important question of where the meaning of symbols is derived from in the majority society, who has this power. Overall I feel the author’s argument is logically consistent and can be witnessed empirically such as the struggle to have derogatory signifiers of social groups lose their power. It is also very relevant for those that study media as it makes us aware that if we communicate to large audiences our words will be interpreted in different ways.

Couldry, N. 2005, ‘The Extended Audience: Scanning the horizon’, in G. Marie (ed.), Media Audiences, Open University Press, Berkshire, pp. 184-220.


Tim Randall




Hi this week I will be talking about the text The Extended audience by Nick Couldry. The author is primarily discussing how there is a different type of media audience than in the past in today’s media world. This is the result of new technologies that have led to different mediums and different locations of use. The author mentions the view of Abercrombe and Longhurst that there is now a “diffused” media audience which is always around some type of media. Furthermore Abercrombe and Longhurst argue that technology has lead to the power relationship of the media producer over the audience as being no longer relevant. While the author acknowledges that there has been a proliferation of the mediums and locations of media use he argues these power relationships remain. Therefore he proposes that we rename this period of audience activity that of “extended” audiences. While I agree with the author’s argument I feel to some extent the power of traditional media producers is slightly less in today’s media climate.


The author uses evidence to support the assertion. Firstly he uses a statement by the philosopher Foucault to support his argument that states that those that hold power in society do so by it being supported by the activities of everyday people. He argues this is how media institutions keep their position of power over today’s extended audience. I found this to be a very good point but it raises the issue of did the public give the media the power first or has the media convinced the public to support it. Furthermore the author argues that even today the media institutions still decide on what is considered news. I notice the same news across a vast number of different outlets so I agree that in this era that power remains. Moreover it is outlined that currently audiences make trips to film sites. The author argues this is because they enjoy the unusual experience of being at a place that they usually view from a distance, an example of an audience/producer distinction remaining. The author also discusses web cam technology and argues that even when using it the distinctions of celebrity producer and everyday audience member remain. While I find both of these points interesting I feel that further evidence is necessary to convince the reader of the thesis. Overall however I find the thesis logical and believable.

Castells, M 2005, The Network Society: A Cross Cultural perspective, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham UK.


Hi guys this week I will be talking about the Castells reading. The author is addressing the labelling of today’s society as belonging to the “information age”, exploring the horizontal or vertical organisation of society and the effect that communication technologies are having on society.


The author argues that we now live in a network society meaning our social structure consists of people communicating with technology. These networks consist of nodes, the things communicating such as a computer, and flows, the information travelling between the nodes. Previously people lived in a society based on vertical top down communication due to technological limitations. For example getting a message to someone hundreds of kilometres away would have been done by a runner, therefore it would have been practically beneficial to organise from a higher positioned centre. However when more advanced communication technology exists horizontal, network communication is the most efficient way of organising society as the changing of nodes as little effect on the network as a whole. The existence of these technologies in today’s society has the effect of the decentralisation for power. I have even witnessed this in my life time with the declining popularity of broadcast media as a result of the creation of technologies such as YouTube. Moreover I believe this raises questions of political implications.


The author explains that these networks influence geographical area as it now is defined by its role in the network. An example of this would be an American call centre in India. However the author argues that a networked society would not lead to a “multicultural melting pot”, explaining that people that belong to a certain group use this as their sense of identity and fight to emphasise their uniqueness despite belonging to the same network as others. I feel that this has negative consequences, for example an immigrant may come to Australia to be better positioned in the network and find themselves being discriminated against.


The author presents the main thesis towards the end of the text, which is that the overall culture of a networked society should consist of protocols of communication between these different groups within the network, as throughout history people have benefitted from communication with others. Furthermore it is explained that when people occupy the same social space that can not communicate with each other negative events arise. While I feel that the author argued the thesis quite convincingly I do not completely agree with it. I tend to lean more towards the melting pot theory of a networked society. This is because by emphasising differences the author’s communication aspirations could be difficult to achieve. Overall the fact that we are moving a horizontal network type of organisation never occurred to me and it is something that I find exciting.

H Jenkins 2006, Buying into American Idol, NYU Press, New York,.


Hi this week I will be talking about the text “Buying into American Idol”. The text begins by explaining that reality TV is the first major use of media convergence, which is when a group of previously separate media outlets are used for a common purpose. The American Idol series is used as an example of this as it contains albums, books, live events and internet material. Moreover material such as news reports keeps people interested when the show is not airing. This is described as being based around a theory of “affective economics”. This theory acknowledges the importance of fan communities that are attached to a certain product and attempts to profit off it, in American Idols case by shifting this attachment on to its sponsors. The text explains past model of audience engagement are outdated due to the proliferation of media distribution outlets that has divided viewers into small chunks rather than a singular viewing mass. I have noticed this manifested in the area of music where you see acts with niche followings such as heavy metal or country acts reaching the top of the charts. It outlines evidence that suggests that these fan communities are more likely participate in expression which is to pay attention to the program and its advertisements and inform others about it. I frequently find myself in conversations that I can not join into. I therefore later watch the program so I can.


Furthermore the text analyses the effects of such emotional investment that fans have. It explains Kevin Roberts’s theory of “lovemarks”, which is the love and respect one has for a brand. People with such feelings make far more purchases. I agree with this as I often see people with types of product that the brand is not associated with e.g. Harley Davidson T shirts. Loyalty gives this fan group a degree of power as the company must please this profitable group. In addition the text explains the different types of television viewers: zappers: people that scan through the channels until they find something that they like, casuals: those that watch specific programs although irregularly and loyals: the fans described above. American Idol has devised numerous means to turn zappers and fans into loyals such as explaining what happened in previous programs so people can easily catch up. I have personally been drawn into American Idol mid-season so I am aware that this works.

Thanks for reading.


Tim Randall



Week 4 Reading: Moores Shaun, 2004 “The Doubling of Place: Electronic Media, Time-Space Arrangements and Social Relationships” in Couldry, N & McCarthy, A (Eds) MediaSpace: Place, Scale and Culture in a Media Age, London pp. 135-142.


Tim Randall





This week I will be talking about the text “The doubling of space” by Shaun Moores. While reading the text I was left with the impression of the overall thesis being that time and place become pluralised through the electronic media. This is because an event occurs in the real location and again in the location that it is being broadcast to. This argues against a thinker mentioned, Meyowitz, who asserts that media is replacing geographic space during socialisation. Moores is arguing electronic media creates a second place of socialisation rather than replacing one place with another. Furthermore he asserts as a result people in contemporary society do not necessarily have social relationships within a geographic location. I tend to agree with Moores as I find the idea of media replacing physical socialisation as conflicting with my idea of what is natural human nature.


He gives examples of situations where these plural social spaces affect each other. The first being Princess Diana’s funeral. It is described as an example of how the broadcast Medias programming contributes to our daily routine and when this routine is disrupted by an event in the media social world, the real social world is disrupted, as people stayed home to watch the funeral. Many viewers simultaneously watching the same event therefore becomes another event. While in believe that broadcasting media due to its declining popularity contributes less to making daily routine I acknowledge that similar media events will continue to occur in a society so long as the media creates a community from people that are sporadically dispersed. Secondly internet chat rooms which are often described as occupying a separate social world are argued to be a reflection of the real world of the participants. This assertion is supported by the evidence that social structures such as male dominance are reflected in the online environment and the fake persona people use online are influenced by their lives in the real world. While I agree that one social world is affecting another I believe that the fake personas, etc. in chat rooms contribute to creating a social environment that has little resemblance to the real social world that influences it. Finally an example is given of a young woman who is having a private argument on her mobile phone to her boyfriend in a train carriage, a public place. Despite this occurring in public the other passengers consider it rude to appear to be listening. This is used as an example of how those in society have developed etiquette involving the plural spaces in which we socialise. I find this interesting as I was not aware that society, including myself had developed such etiquette subconsciously in relation to communication technology.



This week I will be discussing the text “Dailiness”. This text’s primary thesis, drastically summarised is that the media’s primary intention is to present to people something that they “care” about. Care is defined as something that we respond to and therefore use to create meaning about the world around us. The author explains that there are two factors that influence how the audience interprets a program. Firstly previous knowledge we have shapes our opinions, and furthermore what possible opinions can be derived from the text. I find this to be true as even while reading this text the opinions I already have influenced my perception of it and thus what appears in this blog.


The text looks into how broadcast media creates a sense of community among those geographically separate. The author argues that there are two worlds, one that we live in and one that is beyond our horizons that we are connected to through politics, the media, etc. The author argues that in contemporary society the world we live in offers us little we care about, while the world beyond us shown to us through the media does. This struck me personally as my lack of interest in high school led me to withdraw into a world of television and music. Moreover examples of how the media create a sense of community are given such as the Kings Christmas day address to England which contributes to a sense of national community and identity.


The text also analyses broadcast media’s effects on the perception of time. It is argued that broadcast media have contributed to a greater emphasis on days in society. While I believe that society in general does this (7 day week etc.), I acknowledge the author’s point that news broadcasts make each day seem full of events and important. Critics of the media have argued that it has contributed to a society in which the present is emphasised over the past and future. The author argues that this is untrue as the programs are being created in the past for the future. While I agree with this, from the audiences perspective there does seem to be an emphasis on the “now”.


In summary I feel that since the text was published (1996), or perhaps as part of a gradual process, broadcast media increasingly does not create something people “care” about. This could be the cause of the proliferation of media outlets such as cable TV and Youtube that offer more choice.

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  • trandall6: Thanks alot for that comment. I had never even considered the potental loss of data which could occur under such a model. Like you said, differnet per
  • indie69: Excellent part 3. You make some great points and bring up ideas that I hadn't thought of before. Different perspectives. The one thing I'd point o
  • indie69: Thanks for the comment on my blog. You've challenged some of my ideas, too. But really I just agree with you on the subscription model with the only r