Yvonne’s Weblog


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the media category.

Soldier Online

Blogs are kept by all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. They are usually used as an online diary, for sharing thoughts on mundane everyday things with friends. However, some can be seen to document important events. Recently there has been a trend of soldier blogs, in which individual soldiers keep a track of their feelings whilst at war. As Time points out, “if Vietnam was the first war to be televised, Iraq is the first to be blogged- and YouTubed”. As news reporters cannot safely capture footage of war, soldiers have taken it upon themselves to video and photograph the events that are happening around them, in the hopes that people back home can understand what they are having to go through. While the media has been accused of downplaying events in Iraq, the soldiers who are stationed there tell it exactly how it is, adding a more human element to the images we are seeing.

Soldiers’ blogs are reffered to as milblogs, and most serve as an online outlet for soldiers at war or who have been discharged from the armed forces to keep a journal. These tell a very different story of the war than the one we are used to hearing from the mass media, they include all the gory details of actually being at war, as this passage from http://www.soldierslife.com shows:

“images of smashing a door down and seeing the utter terror on peoples faces. The one Marine interpreter and the look on his face with an entry wound to the cheek and this massive exit wound to the back of head. That look haunts me. The night an Iraqi snuck up on an OP and was shot to shit. His intestines hanging out and the mumbling of words that I will never know what they meant” (American Soldier, posted 1.11.07)

It is hard to comprehend what these soldiers are going through, the things that they have to do and see is something that the media tries to keep quiet. The soldiers who keep the blogs are allowing the reader an opportunity to understand how it feels to experience witnessing these terrible images. It is the heartfelt nature of these blogs that makes the war seem more real to the reader, something that a newspaper reported could not achieve. Zachary Scott-Singley, a soldier blogger from Florida describes the loneliness of war, adding a personal element to his blog, http://www.misoldierthoughts.blogspot.com:

“Alone, it becomes easier with time to be that way. You can’t let others know the things you have done because they would never understand and it would only serve to make us even more alone.” (posted 27.10.05)

By sharing these thoughts online, he is enabling those around him to understand exactly what he faces in Iraq, his complete honesty about his feelings makes his blog seem more authentic.

Part of the war experience is death, and on 4th January, Andrew Olmsted, an active blogger whose site was about to get shut down because of his controversial postings, was killed in action. He had prepared for such an eventuality, and had arranged for a friend to post a final blog on his site should he be killed.

“This is an entry I would have preferred not to have published, but there are limits to what we can control in life, and apparently I have passed one of those limits. And so, like G’Kar, I must say here what I would much prefer to say in person. I want to thank hilzoy for putting it up for me. It’s not easy asking anyone to do something for you in the event of your death, and it is a testament to her quality that she didn’t hesitate to accept the charge. As with many bloggers, I have a disgustingly large ego, and so I just couldn’t bear the thought of not being able to have the last word if the need arose. Perhaps I take that further than most, I don’t know.”

(http://andrewolmsted.com/archives/2008/01/final_post.html- posted 4.1.08)

Such a dedication to his blog shows how important the site had become to Andrew Olmsted. It is possible that the blogs also help the soldiers to keep a sense of humanity themselves, this contact with the outside world helps them to make sense of the situation they are in, while allowing them contact with their friends back home.

Soldiers also post photgraphs that they have taken while in action on their blogs, again allowing the outside world to see what they are witnessing every day. These imagse have all been taken by soldiers in action:

iraqpicturesblogspotcom.jpg

(taken from iraqpictures.blogspot.com)

kurilla_shot_shooting_back_sm.jpg

(taken from http://www.michaelyon-online.com)

images.jpg

(taken from http://blog-ah.typepad.com/blogah/strykers/index.html)

3rt38u5402.jpg

(taken from http://www.themidnightsun.org/?cat=59)

These pictures show images that professional journalists never could, and show the public images of Iraq from a different point of view than those that we are used to- they add the personal element that news reperters could never capture. These pictures on soldiers’ blogs capture the real element of citizen journalism; they show peoples’ experiences while the blogs add a personal touch to them.

Sources used:

Time Magazine, December 25 2006- January 1 2007 issue. Time Person Of The Year. You.

http://www.soldierlife.com/page/2/- accessed 9.1.08

http://www.misoldierthoughts.blogspot.com/2005_10_01_archive.html- accessed 8.1.08

http://www.andrewolmsted.com/archives/2008/01/final_post.html- accessed 8.1.08

http://www.themidnightsun.org/?cat=59- accessed 8.1.08

http://www.blog-ah.typepad.com/blogah/strykers/index.html- accessed 10.1.08

http://www.michaelyon-online.com- accessed 9.1.08

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It’s written all over your Facebook

Facebook was launched in February 2004 as ‘The Facebook’, a social networking site exclusive to Harvard University. It was created by Mark Zuckerberg, who later joined forces with the creator of Napster music sharing site, Sean Parker. Together they gradually made Facebook a global success, first as a site for university students worldwide. This soon spread again, and now it seems everybody has a facebook account. According to Time.com, 150,000 people join Facebook everyday, and crunchbase.com reports that over the autumn of 2007, “Over 1 million new users signed up every week, 200,000 daily, totaling over 50 million active users. Facebook received 40 billion page views a month.” (http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook)

This graph highlights the growth in Facebook users since its creation, showing in particular the rapid growth in user numbers since February 2007:

facebook-stats.jpg

(taken from http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook)

The site allows users to create their own profile and upload their photographs to share with their friends. The site only allows people to view the profiles of people who have confirmed them as a friend, therefore allowing more privacy than its top rival, Myspace. The description of the site from their ‘About Facebook’ page is:

“Facebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet.” (www.facebook.com/about.php).

Facebook has become the new way of communicating for younger generations. According to Crunchbase.com, “Facebook users’ passion, or addiction, to the site is unparalleled: more than half use the product every single day and users spend an average of 19 minutes a day on Facebook.” Checking your Facebook account has become a daily exercise; seeing who has left a message and what events you’ve been invited to on facebook has replaced checking your voicemails or emails.

Facebook’s appeal lies in the fact that the user becomes the creator, each person makes their own page to their own specifications and can choose who can view it. Every person uses it differently, some people check their account 10 times a day, updating their status and leaving messages for their friends, quite literally living their social life online. Others may check once a month just to catch up on what their friends are doing. Audience consumption of the site varies greatly.

According to Time.com, “Facebook’s fastest-growing demographic consists of people 35 or older”, 11% of users are over 35. This new audience to the site proves that Facebook really is becoming the new way of communicating; what started as a site for a single university to keep in touch with each other has now become the most subscribed to social networking site for all ages.

Sources used:

http://www.facebook.com (accessed 7.1.08)

http://www.crunchbase.com/company/facebook (accessed 6.1.08)

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1655722,00.html (accessed 7.1.08)

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640380,00.html (accessed 7.1.08)

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2005/nov/24/elearning.innovations (accessed 8.1.08)


The Wonder of Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNQXAC9IVRw

 Ok, so it’s a video of a guy at the zoo, which is pretty odd.  But this video is in fact the first video ever uploaded onto youtube, the guy at the zoo is one of the creators of the video sharing site, Jawed Karim.  Along with Steve Chen and Chad Hurley, Karim started the site in 2004, intending it as ‘a useful tool for people to share their travel videos’ (Time.com).  Instead the site was inundated with people adding videos of literally anything, from drunken chatter into their webcam to funny videos of their pets.  What was intended as a small video sharing site was bought from Karim, Chen and Hurley by Google for 1.65 billion dollars.  According to Time.com, ” YouTube now airs 100 million videos—and its users add 70,000 more—every day.”

 Youtube’s appeal is that, although it was started by Karim, Chen and Hurley, it is run by its users.  There are rules outlined on the site in its community guidelines page, but the overall message is:

“Remember that this is your community! Each and every user of YouTube makes the site what it is, so don’t be afraid to dig in and get involved!” http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines”>www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines)

Youtube hereby waives responsibility for content of videos posted on the site, a view it reiterates in its ‘terms of use’ page:

“You further understand and acknowledge that you may be exposed to User Submissions that are inaccurate, offensive, indecent, or objectionable, and you agree to waive, and hereby do waive, any legal or equitable rights or remedies you have or may have against YouTube with respect thereto” (www.youtube.com/t/terms)

Essentially, this site is policed by its users.  There is the option to report videos which break the rules of the site, but youtube leaves it up to its users to weed these videos out.  Time.com names youtube as it’s ‘Invention of the Year for 2006’, and points out that although it is owned by Google, it is in fact created by its audience, the people who contribute videos, add user comments and are left to report wrongdoers. 

Youtube has come under criticism in mass media for this way of running the site- for instance the phenomenon of ‘happy slapping’ became highly popular amongst teenagers partially because it was freely available to view and therefore grow on youtube.  There have also been concerns that copyrights are being infringed as clips of television programmes, films and music videos are uploaded onto the site, something which youtube has recently had a crackdown on, banning such material from being posted on the site.  However, even though it is banned, they still rely on the users to report these posts.

The site has also caused political frenzies, such as when Virginia Senator George Allen was famously videoed by Shekar Ramanuja Sidarth, who was working for his opposition, when he racially abused Sidarth, calling him ‘Macaca’.  The video was posted on youtube (see below) and Allen lost the campaign for senate because of it.

Youtube has developed since it was created by Karim, Chen and Hurley into a household name, simply because it allows the audience to become the creator.  It allows people their own arena to express their feelings and thoughts, as well as sharing videos of their trips to the zoo.  In the age of the blog, youtube is the video equivalent, everyone is given their little piece of internet fame.  “The way blogs made regular folks into journalists, YouTube makes them into celebrities” (www.time.com)

Sources used:

http://www.youtube.com (accessed 6.1.08)

http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2007/10/google-unveils-.html (accessed 7.1.08)

http://www.time.com/time/2006/techguide/bestinventions/inventions/youtube2.html (accessed 7.1.08)

http://www.techcrunch.com/2005/08/08/profile-youtube/ (accessed 7.1.08)

Time Magazine, December 25 2006- January 1 2007 issue. Time Person Of The Year. You.


A world without media…

“The media and everyday life have become so closely interwoven that they are almost inseperable” (Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998).

 We participate in media every day, whether we listen to the radio as we eat our cereal, read a newspaper at lunchtime or watch Eastenders at teatime.  Don’t forget checking your Facebook account while you’re supposed to be doing work.  The media shapes our day and whether we realise it or not, we are a constant audience for the media.  The internet provides us with access to anything we could need, from news to chat rooms and online shopping, everything is accessible online now.  This theory was tested to it’s limits when Mitch Maddox decided to become DotComGuy in 2000, electing to spend a year of his life without leaving the house, instead relying on the internet for everything he needed.  He quit his job and cut himself off from the outside world, except for communicating through his webcam and online messaging services, and spent a whole year at his computer.  As DotComGuy says himself, “E-commerce can provide anything you could ask for, and you’d never have to leave the house” (DotComGuy.com, 2000).   His experiment worked and he managed to prove that “a lifestyle that corresponded to a new way of consuming” was possible (Andrejevic 2004). 

 This idea of a life centred solely around media got me wondering if it would be possible to reverse DotComGuy’s experiment and instead live for a set amount of time without any access to media.  Obviously I don’t have a year to kill, but instead have challenged myself (and roped my flatmate in too) to go for 3 days without media.  No television, no text messaging, no Heat magazine and definitely no internet.  The only loophole is that we are allowing ourselves to read textbooks, but that is all.  I expect that we will find it difficult at first, with absolutely no access to media, but I think that I can prove that, on the small scale at least, we can go against the tide and refuse to be part of the audience for a few days.

Sources used:

Andrejevic, M. (2004) cited in Cauldry, N. (2005) ‘The extended Audience: Scanning The Horizon’ in M. Gillespie (ed) Media Audiences: Open University.

Cauldry, N. (2005) ‘The Extended Audience: Scanning The Horizon’ in M. Gillespie (ed) Media Audiences: Open University.

 http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2001/01/40940 accessed 3.1.08.


Big Brother’s Watching You…

Since it’s first series in 2000, Big Brother has been incredibly popular with audiences because of it’s presentation of ‘real’ people in an unreal situation.  As the new series, Big Brother: Celebrity Hijack begins, the hype surrounding the programme has yet again started, with people everywhere already discussing who they want to win and who they hate.  What makes the show so popular is the fact that it allows the audience to watch the housemates’ every move, night and day, as no area of the house is left uncovered with a camera.  The programme also allows audience participation, as the viewer can vote to evict their least favourite housemate and even apply to be on the following year’s edition.  

 After the success of the first series, the second series became even more interactive, with a constant live stream on e4, allowing the audience to sit and watch the housemates all day.  Internet forums were set up, text messaging services meant that you would be notified immediately if anything happened inside the house.  As Couldry (2005) demonstrates, “audiences of reality tv…do more than just watch a programme… They may read articles about the participants in celebrity magazines, visit the programme website, email contestants, join online chat groups about the programme or receive SMS messages”.  Schroder also points out that “the modern audience experience… is becoming increasingly multi dimensional” (Schroder et al, 2003: in Couldry 2005).  This new way of experiencing television puts the audience even more in control of the programme; giving them the means to contact other fans of the show ensures that the hype surrounding the show continues. 

 With the appeal of Big Brother lying in the fact that the audience are in control of the programme, it has to be asked; who controls the audience?  It’s true that the audience votes the contestants out and can discuss with other fans who to target next, but it is the producers of the show who present the contestants through editing to the audience, and it is mass media that spreads the message of who everyone wants evicted from the house.  The contestants are selected through a long process of auditions all around the country to go onto the show, so surely it is the people who choose the contestants in the first place who control the programme.  It has to be said that the ‘normal’ people who appear on the show aren’t like the people we see every day, those people are surely chosen because they stand out.  The producers choose contestants who will get the audience talking, as it is the interaction of the audience that keeps the programme successful. 

Katz (1980) presented a theory of “an oscillation between the two dominant views of the audience…the liberal-pluralist view of selective audiences and limited effects, and the critical view of manipulated audiences and strong effects” (Couldry 2005) in which he stated that two factors influenced the balance between these two views: Selectivity, in which he questioned not what the media does to people, but what people choose to do with the media that they are presented with: and Interpersonal relations, when people discuss their opinions with others.  This theory can be used to explain reality television’s grip over its audience; the audience can choose to become more involved with the media, as Big Brother allows them to do by letting them express their opinions and vote out their least favourite housemates, and in turn they will discuss their views with others, generating more interest in the programme.   However, if it is true that the producers are actually in control of the audience, who in turn are in control of the programme, then the concept of Big Brother would appear to support the critical view of the manipulated audience.  As the producers choose the contestants and edit the programme, then mass media spreads popular views of the contestants, it would appear to me that this is the case.  However, as long as the audience don’t realise this, they will still believe that they are in control and the programme will continue to increase in popularity.

Sources used:

Couldry, N. (2005) ‘The Extended Audience: Scanning The Horizon’ in M. Gillespie (ed) Media Audiences: Open University.

Katz, E. (1980) cited in Livingstone, S. (2005) ‘Media Audiences, Interpreters and Users’ in M. Gillespie (ed) Media Audiences: Open University.


A blog about blogs…

Within the last decade, the blog has completely transformed the way that society communicates, giving every person their own window through which to watch, comment on and ultimately shape the world around them.  Blogs are used for many different purposes, some to for political commentary and others for discussing celebrities, but each allows it’s creator the chance to express their feelings to the world, as Tremayne (2007) puts it, “individuals who had ideas but no convenient platform to reach a wider audience now have the opportunity and are taking advantage of it by the millions”.

 Some people create blogs to discuss current events and politics, and their work is considered by some to be a form of journalism, as Tremayne (2007) discusses.  He refers to the Online Journalism Review, a site which promotes news blogs, and as Robert Niles, a contributor for the site has commented on newspaper websites, saying; “If you do not have a breaking news blog ready to go on your website, get started on building one. Today. The blog is the ideal format to deliver information in a breaking news situation.” (accessed 20.12.07). It appears that newspapers and television news have become a thing of the past, reading the news a day after it happens is not good enough for today’s society who would rather read the news on a blog as it happens than wait for the 6 o’clock news to start.  As professional newspaper bloggers type the latest happenings, other bloggers pick up on the news and discuss it on their own personal blog site, each presenting their own viewpoint to the world.  As this happens, the public becomes more engaged in the news stories, each presenting their own interpretation of current events and becoming amateur journalists in their own right.

 Tremayne (2007) points out that very few blogs are actually dedicated to news.  Most are actually used as a personal journal commenting on the day to day lives of their creators, as demonstrated by the McCanns in their search for their daughter Madeleine, as Gerry McCann keeps a blog about the ongoing search.  His comments range from heartfelt pleas for his daughter’s safe return to general observations that are unrelated to the search:

“Christmas 2007 will be an incredibly difficult time for us if Madeleine is not found before then. We plan to have a very quiet, private Christmas with family in the UK. Celebrating is the last thing we feel like doing” posted 7.12.07 (accessed 20.12.07)

“Sean and Amelie were very vocal, demonstrating how much they know about Christmas and ‘baby Jesus’ which brought a smile to everyone’s face! The little presents and chocolates they were given certainly made them very happy!” Posted 5.12.07 (accessed 20.12.07)

 Although this blog was set up on their website, www.findmadeleine.com, and was intended to aid the search for Madeleine, Gerry McCann makes it more personal by adding little anecdotes about his everyday life.  His blog has become a major tool in the investigation into the disappearance of his daughter, keeping the case at the forefront of people’s minds.  The singer Lily Allen is also famous for keeping a blog, her page on the site myspace is how she originally got famous.  Her blog, www.myspace.com/lilymusic has 463, 458 friends, proving itself to be incredibly popular (especially compared to my 43 friends!).  She uses her site to make herself more accessible to her audience, promote new singers and comment on people she doesn’t like:

 “I know I’ve said bad things about people in the past , though the majority of them have been blown wayyyy out of proportion , but this i mean
Cheryl if you’re reading this , I may not be as pretty as you but at least I write and SING my own songs without the aid of autotune . I must say taking your clothes off , doing sexy dancing and marrying a rich footballer must be very gratifying , your mother must be so proud” Posted 14.5.07 (accessed 19.12.07) 

By keeping a diary online, Lily makes herself more accessible to her fans, in the same way that Gerry McCann raises public awareness of his daughter.  These celebrity blogs have thousands of subscribers reading.  However, most people like me will only have the select few readers of their myspace and livejournal pages, which poses the question: who are bloggers writing for? As people write their online diary, who do they expect to read it, apart from the people who they already know? People can use their pages to make friends with similar interests, but the reality appears to be that although blogs allow the writer to communicate with the world, most of the world are too busy writing their own blogs to take any notice.

Sources used:

Tremayne, M. (2007) ‘Harnessing the active audience: Synthesising Blog Research and Lessons for the Future of Media’ in M. Tremayne (ed.) Blogging, Citizenship and the Future of the Media Routledge p. 261-272

www.findmadeleine.com (accessed 20.12.07)

www.myspace.com/lilymusic (accessed 19.12.07)

www.ojr.org (accessed 20.12.07)


the txt gener8ion

Since its invention in 1992, txt msgin has bcum the nu way of communic8ion 4 the younger gener8ion, wiv reports of 1.2 billion txts bin sent evry wk, which is the same amount as were sent in the whole of 1999*.  Altho initially invented as an accompaniment 4 fonecalls & aimed at businessmen, it has been adopted by the younger gener8ion as a cheaper means of communic8ion.  Most people now receiv and send more txt msgs than fonecalls on their mobile, makin it highly influential on 2days society & the way we interact wiv each otha.  The following quote suggests reasons 4 its increasing popularity:  

 “rapid growth of SMS text messaging was due to the cheap access to the networks, the decreasing prices of mobile phones and the popularity it had with the youth market as the latest ‘must-have’ accessory. With the maximum number of characters in a message being 160, people have learned ways of shortening words so that they can say more in one message.” (taken from bbc.co.uk- accessed 14.11.07)

 Its influence can b seen thru the nu language tht txt msging has cre8ed, where words r shortened & lettas replaced in orda 2 save space.  This has bcum the nu language for the younger gener8ion, leading 2 investg8ions in2 reprts of illiteracy as the correct spellin of words appears 2 b irrelevant now.  This is a huge impact for 1 form of media 2 cre8 on society, it has changed not only the way we communic8, but has affected the language we use 2 do so. 

 Txting has bcum 1 of the most used mediums bcoz it is a lot more accessible than email or calling sum1. Ur mobile is always wiv u, hence the name ‘mobile’, & the person u r contacting will always receive ur msg, unlike calling sum1 on the fone, when they mite not answer.  It also adds a certain facelessness to msgs, meaning tht ppl mite say things in txt msgs tht they wudnt say face 2 face or ova the fone.  As a n8ion, the British r an unemotive society, hiding feeling & sentiment & generally bein v self aware.  The txt msg caters 4 this society as it gives the user a mode of communic8ion that dulls emotions and expression in the physical sense.          

 * figures taken from bbc news aired on 5th november 2007.


Citizen Journalism

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQyRbqJswgY

The events of 11th September 2001 have been broadcast around the world in hundreds of different images, most of which have become infamous in subsequent years for the way they captured the moment.   Some of the images which have been used were captured by professional photographers and journalists, but some were filmed by tourists who happened to be present at the time.  This use of citizen journalism in such a major news broadcast highlights the new era of journalism which has taken over, in which the public capture their own perspective of the news and share it with others.  This has been made possible by recent technological advances which have produced digital video cameras and mobile phones with cameras, so that the budding journalist has their camera in their pocket wherever they go.  In cases like 11th September, amateur videos and professional ones were combined to produce the news reports, as there was no way that a journalist could have been ready with their camera poised to capture an image of the first plane crash.  Instead, an amateur video was released, filmed by a tourist who happened to have their camera in their hand just as the first plane hit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbuyCYDJw0M

Similarly, the events of 7th July 2005 have been recorded in images captured by people who survived the bombings. Professional journalists couldn’t get photographs of the blown up trains on the underground, but the victims took photographs on their mobile phones which have since been published to document what happened that day.

pcaa0s9a0cabn05gycawegc0ucaaqare6cagoijr3ca8j0hd1carpm7u5ca2i4dtlcajnskaucazdgy6ucanq8ayrca5cdpmecagn2ye6cakj5b97cah5fj5ccatzcwgocaja1dn0cai2nw1h.jpg

(taken from http://www.softvote.com/…/07/coordinated_lon.html. accessed 21.10.07)

london_bombing_subway_stacey.jpg

(taken from http://www.timporter.com/firstdraft/archives/000468.html. accessed 21.10.07)

london-bombing.jpg

(taken from sionphoto.blogs.com. accessed 21.10.07)

These pictures have been used by newspapers and television news to document the London underground bombings as no professional could have taken them. nationalgeographic.com points out that people caught up in the bombings “used camera phones to take images that were relayed across the world, providing hundreds of eyewitness pictures. It was a first for such a major breaking news story.”

Most mobile phones are now equipped with a camera, meaning that it isn’t just professional photographers who carry a camera at all times. By capturing these eyewitness images of events such as September 11th and the London bombings, the victims are allowing the rest of the world an exclusive view that no journalist could capture.

Sources used:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5181396.stm (accessed 19.10.07)

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/07/0711_050711_londoncell.html (accessed 21.10.07)

http://www.youtube.com (accessed 21.10.07)