Diaspora: The Juggle of Football and Dahl

When kicking back to Bend it Like Beckham, it became apparent that more was on the agenda for today’s tutorial then casually playing out the end of session. We were looking at the concept of diaspora represented in film.

Diaspora is the result of worldwide migration and consists of fragmented transnational communities that are located in multiple countries around the globe. Such movements of people have lead to increased diversity, rising multicultural societies and have made cross-cultural interaction inevitable (Chacko 2010). Members of the diaspora remain connected though culture, ethnicity, religion or language.

In the media, diasporic communities are often misrepresented or unheard of due to lack of involvement in content production (Georgiou 2003). However, we are beginning to see popular culture incorporating disasporic communities into television and film around the globe, benefiting both minority and majority groups.

The film Bend it Like Beckham engages with the South Asian diaspora in Britain. The protagonist of the film Jessminda, or Jess, is the youngest daughter of an Indian family living in Britain. She has a love, talent and drive for playing footbal, with high hopes of making a career out of it, which appalls her family as she rebels against their traditional cultural values.

dahlThroughout the film, Jess is living the life and struggles of any regular teenage girl in Britain, dealing with issues like dating and escaping parental control. Additionally, preconceived assumptions and expectations about Jess’ culture become evident, as the audience begins to see the baggage that comes along with being part of a minority group within Britain. Representing the diasporic community in the film helps to explore both the light and dark sides of diaspora (Chacko 2010).

This inclusion of the Indian diaspora is beneficial to the multicultural society in Britain. On one hand, it creates a sense of belonging for hybrid communities, including them in discussion within the public sphere. On the other hand, it provides majority groups with an insight into the ethnic minorities within the country, with the intent on breaking down existing stereotypes and barriers for engagement.

References:

Chacko, M 2010, ‘Bend it Like Beckham: Dribbling the Self Through a Cross-Cultural Space’, Multicultural Perspectives, vol.12, no.2, pp.81-86.

Georgiou, M 2003, ‘Mapping Diasporic Media across the EU: Addressing Cultural Exclusion’, Key Deliverable: The European Media and Technology in Everyday Life Network, 2000-2003, viewed 20 May 2014.

Advertisements

Social Media Policies: The Fads and the Far-Fetched

 

A bit of lighthearted entertainment to brighten a long shift in an underground mine in Western Australia saw the 15 men featured in this Harlem Shake video fired by Barminco, their employer. Barminco considered the stunt a safety violation, and the men lost their six-figure salaries accordingly (Clarke 2013). The case definitely wasn’t the first Internet fad that resulted in the axing of employees, and it wont be the last. Can you recall the planking phenomenon?

plank1

This guy was fired from Woolworths and many other perpetrators were on the road to joblessness after their employers caught wind of their planking behaviour on social media.

plank2

And as for these guys? Yep, also sacked.

Undoubtedly, balancing on story-high smoke stacks raises concerns for safety and is obvious grounds for dismissal, but what about when things are much less sinister? With tough workplace social media policies on the increase, a simple rant on Facebook about your place of work, or even voicing a broad opinion about the company itself, could see you packing up your desk and queuing up at the Centrelink office the following week.

Most large companies now have social media policies in place to ensure that their workers aren’t misbehaving online and causing damage to the company and it’s reputation. Fair enough, I say. But when do these policies go to far?

The Commonwealth Bank implemented a new social media policy in 2011, with terms so strict that breaches of its rules were inevitable. According to Finance Sector Union official Wendy Streets, conversation online about the colour of the teacups in the banks’ offices would actually constitute a breach of the policy as it was worded, and could be cause for employment termination (Hannan 2011). The policy also threatened employees with disciplinary action if they did not report any criticism they read about the company on social media channels. A little far fetched, perhaps?

As with workplace policies, social media policies have dual roles. Firstly, they provide guidance to employees so that their social media use doesn’t get them into trouble, and secondly, they provide a firm basis for employer disciplinary action. However, when social media policies are inhibiting freedom of expression, such as in the Commonwealth case, perhaps the companies need to head back to the policy drawing board, or even take a leaf or two out of CISCO’s well-executed social media policy.

Think before you type employees… You’re being watched.

watched

References:

Clarke, T 2013, ‘Miners’ underground Harlem Shake dance harmless, says lawyer’, Perth Now, 7 March, viewed 10 May, http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/miners-underground-harlem-shake-dance-harmless-says-lawyer/story-e6frg12l-1226592723513

1fastnigel, 2013, Underground Harlem Shake, YouTube video, viewed 10 May, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPSzE_smfug

Hannan, E 2011, ‘Bank’s Facebook sacking threat’, The Australian, 5 February.

Let Us Enjoy Our ‘Reverse Racist’ Comedy!

In this day and age, racism is one thing that many can agree is an unacceptable facet of society. It’s something that doesn’t belong in our streets, in our homes, and definitely not on our television screens. But what happens when a little light-hearted comedy becomes the fire of a racism debate? Where do we draw the line between what is racist and what is a stroke of comic genius?

Here in the land down under, we seem to have a vaguely different idea to other nations around the world of what actually constitutes as racism. Back in 2009, this disparity became quite apparent. Many of us would remember “that skit” on the popular primetime television show Hey Hey It’s Saturday that left American guest host, Harry Connick Jnr, absolutely mortified. A group of esteemed surgeons took to the stage to perform a tribute to the Jackson 5, with their faces painted black, and one painted white.

blackface

Hey Hey It’s Saturday’s production team approved the skit before it aired, clearly being unaware of the impact of ‘blackface’ humour and underestimating the uproar that would occur in Australia and around the world. ‘Blackface’ humour, in which a white person paints their face black and pretends to be black, holds very negative connotations around the globe, especially in America (Mahony 2009).  This dates back to as early as the 19th century, when theatre performers would dress like black people, by blackening their faces with shoe polish, exaggerating the size of their lips, wearing torn clothes and depicting themselves as thieves, baffoons, pathological liars and devils (Mahony 2009). It begins to become apparent why the Jackson 5 performance caused such an outcry. However, this wasn’t the performers’ intention at all. Comedy was. They were simply ‘dressing up’ to fit their character’s role.

‘Black face’ wasn’t the first time the issue of ‘racism’ as a form of comedy has been a cause for concern and moral panic, and it certainly wont be the last. Late last year, Australia was divided over the SBS series Legally Brown, a show that features Muslim comedian Nazeem Hussain. He plays on the typical stereotypes associated with his minority culture in order to confront Australian audiences (Aly 2013). Many have accused the show of racism and ‘reverse racism’, due to Hussain poking fun at whites, when it is politically incorrect for whites to poke fun at them.

Well, haters, you have it all wrong. For actual racism to occur, there needs to exist a power dynamic in order for it to work. Since people of colour hold little sway in defining the terms of white existence, it’s clear that racial jokes and slurs directed at whites are no more than that: jokes and slurs. They carry little weight, because there is no actual power behind them (Cheney-Rice 2014).

RACISM (def): Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior

It’s not racism, or even reverse racism for that matter. It’s comedy, Australia. Let us enjoy it.

References:

Aly, W 2013, ‘Legally brown: Muslim comedian finds the funny in radical, be it jihadists or bogans’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 September, viewed 7 May 2014.

Cheney-Rice, Z 2014, ‘This Comedian Brilliantly Destroys the Myth of “Reverse Racism” in Less Than 3 Minutes’, PolicyMic, 14 February, viewed 7 May 2014.

Mahoney, M 2009, ‘What’s all the fuss about ‘blackface’’, Crikey, 8 October, viewed 7 May 2014.

 

 

The True Tools of the Arab Spring

The role of social media in the Arab Spring has been surrounded by amassed conversation over recent years. Is social media the backbone to the political uprising in the Middle East? Does the power lie in the brave activists themselves? Or perhaps social media isn’t where the revolt clearly begins, or ends? The majority of arguments surround similar cyber-utopian, cyber-realist, and conspiratorial views.

According to Morosov (2012), many accounts of the Arab Spring and the Internet’s contribution share a common theme – ‘Tweets were sent. Dictators were toppled. Internet = Democracy.’ Gracing these events as Twitter and Facebook “revolutions” just might not be the appropriate term, in fact, Wolfsfeld, Segev and Sheafer (2013) suggest that it is unlikely that social media played a major role in these times at all. They believe that the significant increase in the use of social media is much more likely to follow protest than to lead the protest itself. However, I’m not sure if I entirely agree.

There are many examples where social media is seen to give voice to the voiceless and coordinate movements which otherwise would not have developed into such fundamental proceedings. Sure, Facebook and Twitter alone do not have the ability to topple governments, but brave people with access to others do. Newsom and Legel’s article takes on a similar cyber-utopian approach, recognising online activism as empowering marginalised voices, providing opportunity for cross-boundary dialogue, and offering a drive for social change (Newsom & Lengel 2012, p.33).

Take 26-year-old Asmaa Mahfouz for example, an Arab woman who made a vlog calling on others to demand their human rights and disapprove the current political regime. This was undeniably a precarious move for any woman in an Arab nation. The video went viral on YouTube and social media, sparking mass protest in Cairo and making her a symbol of the Arab Spring.

Image

In Arab cultures, women’s voices are often silenced, so women like Mahfouz are increasingly harnessing the power of social media and taking to these platforms in order to be heard. Newsom and Lengel (2012) suggest that their voices resonate as very powerful in the online environment because of this.

With a global reach, no filter and no cost to participate, the power of social networks in these situations is undoubtedly clear. Twitter and Facebook can be effectively used to voice opinions and organise protest, while YouTube has the ability to capture, share and expose.

Social media are indisputably tools contributing to social change, however, behind the keyboards and screen names also lay brave activists and many scrupulous long-term efforts to engage with political institutions (Morosov 2012). Cohesively, these are ultimately the driving and essential elements behind the Arab Spring’s political revolutions.

References:

Morosov, E 2011, ‘Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go’, The Guardian, 8 March, viewed 11 October 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/07/facebook-twitter-revolutionaries-cyber-utopians

Newsom, V & Lengel, L 2012, ‘Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyse gender and online activism’, Journal of International Women’s Studies, vol.13, no.9, pp.31-45, http://vc.bridgew.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1004&context=jiws

Wolfsfeld, G, Segev, E & Sheafer, T 2013, ‘Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First’, The International Journal of Press/Politics, vol.18, no.2, pp.115-137, http://www.arifyildirim.com/ilt508/gadi.wolfsfeld.pdf

Women in Sport: Where are They?

Marcotte (2013) believes that the theory of gender in the media is simple. Women make up 51% of the population and therefore their presence in the media should be comparable. Where it isn’t, it’s likely that discrimination is at play.

Let’s take a look at the women’s sport scene in Australia. When was the last time you heard some breaking news about one of our female sporting stars? And I’m not talking half-nude photo shoots or scandals. Does anything sports related come to mind? Nope? Mine neither.

women in sport

Sure, female sports participation rates and female interest in sport are indeed lower than that of males, but the inadequacies in media coverage far overcompensate for these issues. A tiny nine percent of Australia’s sports reporting focuses on women (Obst 2012).

Looking back at the Beijing Olympic Games, we can see that Australia took home a total of 46 medals. Our female sport stars trumped the men, bringing home 24 medals to their 22. But did the media in Australia reflect this? Certainly not. Statistics from the Australian Sports Commission showed that male sport received 41% of coverage, compared to just 34% for women (Obst 2012).

“Journalists are more focused on ratings and selling papers than the messages they are sending out to the nation and to the future generation” Amanda Obst (2012)

So what do these inequalities in media coverage mean for women in Australian sport? A high media profile is necessary in order to attract financial support, spectators, and sponsorships (NSW Sport and Recreation 2014). Without that, it can be assumed that women’s sporting culture will continue to be on the decline. Instead of attributing this fall to ‘lack of interest in sport’, perhaps the media landscape needs to look at rectifying these inadequacies first.

References:

Marcotte, M 2013, Gender Inequality in Public Media Newsrooms, MVM Consulting, viewed 29 April.

NSW Sport and Recreation 2014, Media Coverage of Women in Sport, NSW Government, viewed 29 April.

Obst, A 2012, ‘Media fail to give female athletes a podium finish’, Roar, 4 May, viewed 29 April.

Optimism about Journalism

You hear them all the time, public sneers about the journalistic future; ‘Journalism is on its way out’, ‘journalism’s dead’ and ‘citizen journalism is where the future lies’. As a media and communications student, the same opinions echo through the voices of influencers around me, with comments like ‘oh you’re doing journalism subjects, why is that?’ and ‘media and communications hey? You’re not majoring in journalism are you?’ The truth is, I’m not. In fact, those influential voices the widely discussed declining statistics of mainstream media succeeded to turn me off even contemplating it as a major of study.

In an interview with David Carr from The New York Times discussing the future of journalism, he suggests that journalism ‘back in the day’ really wasn’t that great and that the changes that we are seeing due to technology today are all a part of a natural evolution (Boston University 2014). In the same interview, Andy Lack from Bloomberg media suggests that the changes that are occurring due to the rise of digital media should be expected, enjoyed, used and discovered instead of being feared. He even goes as far to say that we are in the ‘golden age of journalism’ due to these advances (Boston University 2014).

So is the future of journalism really looking as bleak as many assume? People are now consuming news their way. We can see by looking at the platform Twitter that keeping up with such behavioural preferences if often at the core of developing successful business plans. Twitter was designed for individuals to send out tweets in a one-way form. However, its users wanted more. They wanted to talk, they wanted to reply to other tweeters and they began using the @ handle to direct their conversation. Twitter incorporated this concept of two-way communication using the @ handle into the very core of its offering and, as a result, it is now one of the most successful social media sites on the planet.

Tom Rosenstiel, Director of the American Press Institute, in a recent TED Talk spoke of new media and user-generated content challenges when stating that ‘what disrupted us will now begin to save us’ (TEDx 2013). He suggests that the notion that people are turning away from the news is simply not true, even though statistics around the decline of traditional media suggest this. News is on demand, but the audiences are now simply online and consuming news very differently.

The journalism landscape is evolving, just as it has done in the past. If journalists can offer news to audiences how they want it, where they want it and when they want it, then success is undoubtedly warranted. People place value in reliable information and trustworthy sources. In the vast sea of information available, if audiences were offered news ‘their way’ from both a novice writer and a respected journalist, then it would be almost certainly assumed that they would choose the journalist. It’s all about keeping up and I believe that we are going to begin to see the most adaptive media corporations begin to prosper once again.

References:

Boston University 2014, NYT’s David Carr on the Future of Journalism, online video, 6 March, Boston University, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPlazqH0TdA

TEDx Talks 2013, The Future of Journalism: Tom Rosenstiel at TEDxAtlanta, online video, 28 May, TEDx, viewed 17 March 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuBE_dP900Y

BYO Device or Everyone Will Suffer

The Internet is impacting on all aspects of people’s lives; how we communicate, how we learn, and how we access information is increasingly being transformed by the technologies provided to us (DCITA 2005). There exists little doubt that the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in education can effectively strengthen practices and engagement. Devices that were once banned in classrooms are now becoming an integral part of student learning.

Kevin Rudd had big plans for the use of ICT in schools in 2007. The ‘Digital Education Revolution’ program was announced, which would provide students from years 9-12 with laptops and continual funding to keep them ‘cutting edge’ (Taylor 2013). Instead, the nation saw a slow start to the scheme, followed closely by its axing in 2013 due to lack of funding. The uncertainty surrounding the plans for the campaign left school teachers unsettled and also concerned about equity issues that would arise if the cost of laptops was shifted to the parents (Wright 2013).

byod hands

This year, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies have begun rolling out in NSW secondary public schools. Public high schools students that missed out on the government laptops are now required to bring their own laptops or devices to school in order to aid learning skills and foster digital literacy (Smith 2014, DET 2013). Again, concerns arose about the digital divide that would be created between those families who could afford the technologies, and those that couldn’t and would suffer as a result (Smith 2014).

NSW Secondary Principal’s Council President, Lila Mularczyk, suggests that this equity isn’t an issue, as school communities have always helped families in need, and that this isn’t an exception (Smith 2014). There are also many other issues that come into play when considering BYOD programs in schools, such as distraction, privacy issues, security, storage and so on. I don’t believe that equity should be one of them.

With the prices of tablets reaching all time lows, devices can be purchased for under $150. Additionally, the costs of many traditional education requirements such as reading and writing materials are eliminated and school communities are generally willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. So why should everyone suffer?

In the digital age, it is essential that young people are skilled in the use of ICT. Being empowered technologically and participating in the knowledge-based economy from an early age will ensure effective use of ICT in all facets of life. These positives of ICT in education will far outweigh any modest inequalities that have been anticipated.

References:

Department of Communication Technology and the Arts (DCITA) 2005, The Role of ICT in Building Communities and Social Capital: A Discussion Paper, DCITA, Canberra, viewed 11 April, http://www.archive.dbcde.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/23737/The_Role_of_ICT_in_Building_Communities_and_Social_Capital.pdf

Department of Education (DET) 2013, Student Bring Your Own Device Policy, NSW Government: Education and Communities, viewed 11 April, https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/technology/computers/mobile-device/PD20130458.shtml

Smith, A 2014, ‘It’s BYO laptop now as schools end free program’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February, p.2.

Taylor, J 2013, ‘Australian government quietly ends laptops in schools program’, ZDNet, 21 May, viewed 11 April, http://www.zdnet.com/au/australian-government-quietly-ends-laptops-in-schools-program-7000015650/

Wright, J 2005, ‘Computer cash in lap of chaos’, The Sun-Herald, 3 February, p.11.

 

Graffiti as Aesthetic Journalism

Art comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, and forms. From film, to dance, print, architecture and paint, these all constitute unique forms of artistic and aesthetic expression in society. Many art forms are often created with the intent of reaching beyond sole aesthetic, and act in order to communicate a viewpoint by investigating social, cultural and political circumstances.  This is what Alfredo Cramerotti (2009) refers to as ‘aesthetic journalism’, the intertwining between journalism and art forms. Just as journalism uses mainstream media to present audiences with global issues, artists can do so too by demonstrating their artistic expression in the public arena.

Street art, or graffiti, can be a recognised form of art, and there is one artist well known for creating infamous guerilla street art in urban landscapes around the globe. He goes by the name of ‘Banksy’, yet his true identity is unknown. It remains withheld, likely due to the fact that the nature of his artwork constitutes vandalism, a criminal offence in most countries.

With cans of spray paint as his weapon of choice, he creates highly visible art on buildings in global cities and does so as a form of social commentary. Banksy’s works are instantly recognisable and have the ability to refresh monotonous news issues. This illustrates aesthetic journalism at its finest.

A-new-Banksy-piece-near-t-001

The anonymous street artist prides his instalments on evoking thought in the eye of the beholder, ultimately leaving the audience to create their own interpretations (Northover 2010). This what Cramerotti (2011) acknowledges as aesthetic journalism’s powerful ability to ‘inform without informing’.

It is this powerful blending of art and journalism that not only results in an evolving media landscape, but also one that contributes to a society encouraged to think critically and engage in conversation about the political, social and cultural agendas that they are surrounded with.

References:

Cramerotti, A 2009, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect Ltd, Bristol.

Northover, ‘Banksy’s First Australian Interview’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 May, viewed 10 April 2014.

Participatory Journalism: News as Communication at Last

Participatory journalism – citizen journalism – grassroots journalism – call it what you will. These are all terms used to describe the integration of user-generated content into traditional journalistic models and practice. Dominigo et al. (2008) suggest that these new forms are solid competitors for traditional news, and forms that are challenging news journalism’s role and function in society.

Citizen produced content has the ability to deliver new layers to everyday news. Personal anecdotes and moments captured by individuals give us an ‘on the ground’ perspective of news and events and have the ability to engage the network of Internet users fuelled by participatory features and vernacular involvement.

soapbox

When citizen journalism first began to gain momentum in the online arena, it was seen to be a main contender for the demise of news media, as internet users went online to find their news in non-institutional locations, free from political agenda and bias. Instead, we have begun to see the opposite occurring. Over the last few years we have witnessed a gradual transformation of the news that we consume, one that which is redefining news journalism as we know it.

Media institutions are now capitalizing on the user-generated phenomenon and altering their business models and plans accordingly in order to include it. CNN has brought us iReport, a site where any individual can upload photographs, videos, opinion posts and other content in order to share their story and contribute to institutional news. The New York Times has followed suit, having a dedicated section on their online site, as well as a blog and large portion of their Sunday paper dedicated to publishing user-generated opinion pieces (Hall 2013).

What we are seeing is a focus of ‘news as communication’, rather than ‘news as a lecture’ (Domingo et al. 2008), which is a pretty exciting thing for the empowerment of individuals and the enhancement of our news media content.

References: 

Domingo, D, Quandt, T, Heinonen, A, Paulussen, S, Singer, J & Vujnovic, M 2008, ‘Participatory Journalism Practices in the Media and Beyond’, Journalism Practice, vol.2, no.3, pp.326-342.

Hall, T 2013, Op-Ed and You, The New York Times, viewed 2 May 2014.