Hello Again!

 

Well I’m back again, and for the beginning of this 5 part blog series in my Research Practices in Media and Communication Course, we’ve been asked to look at Media Research in general and the concept of research itself. We as everyday citizens and University students are exposed to and ourselves undertake in research almost everyday. This is due to the fact that the basis of all research is simply asking a question. When reflecting on my usual day at Uni, there will be several instances where research is necessary to complete a certain task. For example, after a very long summer break over the Christmas holidays I had naturally forgotten where most of the buildings at UOW were (embarrassing, I know) so in order to find out where the buildings where for my lectures and tutorials I simply opened the Lost on Campus application on my phone, looked up the building numbers and found where they were on the campus map. This may seem like an over simplified version of what research is but it’s a good example of how we as students are researching and finding out new information everyday. This research can range from small-scale topics such as my example mentioned to scholarly research through the UOW Library’s databases such as Summon to find journal articles for assignments. This type of research however, is highly systematic and objective with less emphasis on statistical data that can be associated with quantitative research.

So return to the original question “what is media research” it is important to distinguish between the two types of research methods in media and communications research: quantitative and qualitative.

When referring to quantitative research, this is the type that involves the “numbers, magnitude and measurement.”(Berger,2014) of media research. Quantitative research counts data, processes that data collected and describes and derives a theory form the evidence in order to analyse it. An example of quantitative research in the modern media landscape is the role of the media research company Neilson who released a report/review on the Australian online landscape, which provided a detailed analysis of statistical data collected by the company from the month of August in 2014.

Looking at qualitative research we can see that the word “quality” hides in it’s name, suggesting that this type of research will involve evaluation of a certain text in the media, judging the text’s distinguishing characteristics and degree of excellence.(Berger, 2014)

Theory aside, now its time for me to tell you which aspects of the media that I would like to research during this course in order to further my understanding of the media research topic itself.

As a conscious member of this vast online media landscape, and as a result of the influence of other media subjects I’ve studied at UOW, I have developed a growing interest in the ethics of reporting human suffering, and ethics in reporting in general. A particular case that has interested me is that of the media coverage of the execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIS. This may be the inner budding journalist in me talking but I’m the opinions of others on the crude and disrespectful manner that several newspapers both online and print publicised the pictures and close-ups of Foley’s execution on their publications for the world to see. Not to go too in depth into this topic but I would be very interested to research A. Differing opinions/reactions to this topic and B. the ethics involved in publishing these pictures against the wishes of James Foley’s grieving family. Of course there are other interesting aspects of reporting in an ethical manner.

That’s just a taste of what’s to come. Thanks for reading 🙂

 

 

 

NB: all sources used have been hyperlinked throughout the post.

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G’day Mate! The Australian Film Industry on the downfall.

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There’s no hiding the fact that when Australian films are released in Australian cinemas, they are very rarely popular or successful – films such as Australia and Happy Feet are some exceptions, yet there is an underlying cringe factor when watching an Australian film with Australian actors with ridiculous over the top accents which make the Australian audience uncomfortable. I for one am not the biggest fan of Australian films, particularly those which stereotype and over-exaggerate Australian culture (Hint: Wolf Creek).

So with these factors considered, its no wonder the our film industry is suffering. If you take a look at any successful Aussie actor, they’re either living in America, starring in American films and/or putting on American accents in the films they’re in. Australians love their home grown tv shows like the popular Offspring and Master Chef Australia and our Music industry is also increasingly popular given the number of festivals held in Australia each year. So why then, do we avoid going to watch Australian films? CEO of Screen Australia, Graeme Mason, has said that “Australians are clearly wanting to watch Australian content because they are watching it on television, and people offshore are celebrating our films and filmmakers, but there’s a disconnect getting them to the audience. It’s baffling to all of us.”

The statistic’s for Australia’s share of the box office show that in 2013, Australian films only shared 3.5% of the total Australian Box Office. As well as this, in 2013 Australia only released 23 films in comparison to America’s 183 released. It’s no surprise that the Australian Film Industry is struggling and without the support of local Australian’s consuming and viewing future films, it may see the industry in great struggle for future years.

In order to attempt to draw some information and answers as to why Australian films are not popular amongst Australians it is important to devise a qualitative form of research from the public. When thinking about the different types of research methods that would be appropriate, the most relevant possible approach I came up with was to create project that focuses on Australian audience of 18-25 year olds, analysing their approach to Australian films through a survey based on past information on the popularity of Australian films. By analysing this information and current trends of Australian cinema attendance of people in this age group, this information can be used to create a Website with the information readily available and promote up and coming Australian films and other information in order to boost involvement and support. This website could also be used for potential crowd-sourced funding, as research shows that people are still consuming these Australian films, whether or not they actually go to the cinema to watch them, there are still being watched.

References:

News.com.au. 2014. Local audiences snub Australian filmmakers yet Hollywood loves them. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/movies/local-audiences-snub-australian-filmmakers-yet-hollywood-loves-them/story-fnk853hr-1227057559133. [Accessed 23 September 14].

Screen Australia. 2014. Australian Content: Box Office. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/australianshare.aspx. [Accessed 25 September 14].

Another social anxiety; Mobile phones in classrooms.

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It’s no secret that media usage has become increasingly popular amongst younger generations of people in Australia, particularly that of school students who undoubtedly own a personal mobile device be it a mobile, laptop or tablet. There’s no doubt that students are somewhat encouraged not to use said devices, particularly mobile phones, during class and this was certainly the case during my time at high school. The rules were that all mobile phones were to be either left at home, or in your locker, yet many of us (myself included) tried to defy these rules by texting under desks, in pencil cases and behind large library books but to no avail. Laptops were still allowed to be used during class, however, which made me wonder why then if they can access social media sites, are they still allowed?

It’s rare to find a student without a mobile nowadays and especially one that doesn’t have access to social media sites. Why then, are there so many rules and regulations around having a mobile device at school if everyone has one? This leads me to reiterate my argument from last week’s blog post about multitasking, in which I discovered that studies have suggested if you’re doing more than two things at once, and then you’re unable to complete these tasks at full capacity.This stands as one possible argument for the prohibition of mobile phones in class, and was perhaps one of the reasons for my particular high school to have a strict zero tolerance policy during class or school assemblies.

In terms of controlling the usage of mobiles in class at my high school, a first warning was given, then the phone was confiscated if it was found to be used again, then the final step would be probation and possible lunchtime detention. My younger brother who attends my old high school has said that whilst these rules still exist, they are much looser on the immediate discipline and students are coming up with more devious ways of avoiding being caught on Facebook or texting during class.

In contrast to these regulations, students were allowed to use the devices during breaks, study periods and roll call times, which highlights the fact that the rules were completely subject to the space in which the mobile devices were used. Nowadays its hard for teachers and professors to have the expectation that their class of 25 or lecture room of 50 to have full attention on who is speaking for the complete duration of the time spent in class, without checking their phone or laptop for text messages or social media updates; it’s just becoming more and more unrealistic.

In terms of social anxieties and moral concerns which are presenting themselves as a result of the use of mobile phones during class, many teachers and parents in particular are concerned that these students will create poor concentration habits, resulting in a lack of fully comprehending information, a lack of engagement in tasks and assignments of the like and an overall disengagement and separation from the world outside of their mobile phones.

Looking to the future, perhaps classrooms will see the inclusions of mobile phones for the use of educational purposes strictly and to be monitored by teachers in order to create a positive classroom environment where learning enhancement is central.

 

Multitasking – is it really that bad?

 

With the ever-expanding technological world and the rise of smartphones, its no doubt that we as the users are becoming more and more disengaged with everyday life. To find a plethora of laptops, tablets and smartphones then look no further than the average University classroom. These devices have led us to be using them whilst completing other tasks or even operating multiple devices at once, with a 2013 study showing that 71% of Australians are multitasking whilst watching the television; this leads us to question just how long will this trend last, and how will it evolve? Just how does this affect our ability to communicate face to face without the help of a device?

There are several existing arguments both for and against the ability to multitask in the workplace, at University and at home. On one hand there are suggestions that it can be distracting and limits full concentration on set tasks whereas other arguments state that multitasking can enhance productivity in the workplace as well as completing more than one task at a time.

In order to derive some explanation as to whether multitasking is detrimental and may become a thing of the past, its important to focus on a specific media central domain, such as University. Studies have suggested that if you’re doing more than two things at once, then you’re unable to complete these tasks at full capacity. This can be extremely detrimental to the average Uni student, who is trying to finish several assignments on time whilst simultaneously checking social media, texting their friends or answering emails. Clifford Nass is a cognitive scientist at Stanford University who specialises in interface design and who studied the multitasking habits of students and the results were as he put it, “a damning indictment”. The findings showed that the multitasking students struggled to filter relevant information from irrelevant information, the students who were classed as “high multi-taskers” poor mental organisation skills and experienced difficulty differentiating between tasks they were presented with and overall multi-taskers had poor social skills due to their lack of attention to details in personal conversations it was suggested.

These findings accompany several other opinions that on the whole, multitasking can be extremely detrimental to a student’s overall concentration and ability to complete tasks to their full potential. But when will we ever take the time to complete tasks one at a time, devoting our full attention to them? With the ever-popular social media rise and new and improved personal devices it’s difficult to predict what lies ahead.

References:

Brandon Keim. 2012. Is multitasking bad for us?. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/is-multitasking-bad.html. [Accessed 13 September 14].

Deloitte. 2013. Multi-device consumption has come of age: Australians are digital omnivores. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_au/au/e4cd62fc7673f310VgnVCM2000003356f70aRCRD.htm. [Accessed 13 September 14].

 

Antisocial social expectations.

You don’t have to look hard to find the vast majority of the public accessing mobile devices. As mobile phone technologies are becoming more advanced and innovated, the use of these devices is definitely on the rise. With the majority of these devices used for social media access, users can stay connected anywhere, anytime over multiple platforms. This allows for users to access these platforms regularly when in public, offering a sense of security and belonging for their user. From University, to bus stops, to restaurants, to libraries; mobile phones are being profusely checked by their users as a means of filling time in between daily activities.

When I sat down during my break between tutorials last Wednesday at Uni, I decided to observe the mobile device usage in the area next to Rush and Boost Juice. After ordering my latte I sat down at one of the smaller tables, opened my laptop and watched for a good hour. The lunchtime rush was in full swing at around 1:00pm and when I looked at the lines at both outlets, almost every person was accessing their smartphone or tablet. Even in groups of friends there were 1 or 2 people looking at screens. The assumption for most was that they were accessing social media, which is the predominate use amongst the Uni population of students. I also noticed many of these people would carry on their conversations whilst simultaneously checking their mobiles.

These observations lead me to raise some questions regarding mobile usage amongst peers when in social groups. Just what are the social expectations of mobile phone/device usage? Is it acceptable to be regularly checking your mobile during conversations? At the dinner table? During lectures? For the majority of people whom I observed at Uni, they are completely acceptable in social situations and conversations, or so it would seem. Perhaps people of the technological age have become accustomed to having mobiles and tablets present in everyday social situations; they’ve become a part of daily lives, particularly with the rise of social media popularity. Most of us are guilty of being glued to our mobiles for prolonged periods, scrolling few news feeds and posting selfies on Instagram. But are these trends affecting our social interactions with our friends?

This again brings me back to Sherry Turkle’s concept of being “alone together” when it comes to personal relationships and mobile devices. We continue to live our lives surrounded by personal devices, checking our interactions and popularity but forgetting the importance of personal, face-to-face conversations with our friends and family. This is a vital aspect of our lives that is severely lacking and is depleting due to the rise of mobile technology and will continue to do so, so long as its accepted in our society and considered a social norm.

The future of cinemas, is it that bright?

Some of my fondest childhoods memories are trips to the local cinema with my friends, the smell of popcorn and the freezing air con that was always turned up too high was always a treat. From memory the first movie I ever saw in a cinema was “Shrek” which would’ve been when I was in year 1 and it was a part of my best friend’s birthday party. What a novelty it was going to the movies out night only to fill up on red frogs and Malteesers before dinner at Mc Donald’s. During high-school, going to the movies became more of a social outing in the Southern Highlands; it was one of the few “cool” activities left to do and that’s if you were even invited out (awkward). I remember being outraged when they moved the ticket prices up from $9 to $10 for a concession ticket at the local Empire Cinema in Bowral. Oh the horror!

Taking these aspects into account, and the fact that I’m a complete stinge when it comes to spending money on anything that isn’t food I was faced with many a challenge when it came to organizing a movie date with my boyfriend. So in relation to Torsten Hagerstrand’s social constraint theory, here’s how my movie date organisation panned out:

  • Capability: Firstly, both my boyfriend and I work during the week and weekend, so actually planning a “Day” was impossible, so we had to settle for a night during the week. Planning this around Uni assignment’s and my horse riding lessons we settled on a Wednesday night (I had a riding competition early Saturday morning.) This was a night that suited both of us and it was agreed upon. The only session times for Wednesday night to see (much to my dismay) The Expendables 3, were 12pm and 6:55pm so we settled on the later time as I suited us both.
  • Coupling: Since my boyfriend lives in Bowral and live 15 minutes away in Berrima he decided that in order for me to get there on time that he would come early and pick me up and drive us both there. Timing wasn’t a real issue in the organization process as Thursday night was free and the cinema is only 15 minutes away.
  • Authority: As both of our schedules were open for that night, we didn’t have anywhere else to be that took priority so it’s safe to say we were more than entitled to be there.

As for during the movie itself, the cinema wasn’t exactly packed to the brim, there were around 15-20 people there. The audience was made up predominately male viewers (shock) and they were mostly around the 20-30 year old mark from what I observed. During the movie (which I may have fallen asleep in for about 20 minutes, woops) the audience was mostly quiet and respectful, occasionally someone would converse with their friends which was a bit annoying during the quieter parts of the movie. There was a lot of packet crunching and drink slurping, which is to be expected in a cinema full of men (sorry guys). We ended up sitting in middle section of the smallish cinema as I’m a little short sighted and so is my boyfriend and this made it easier on our eyes. On the whole, the movie was… alright, I’m not that into action movies with a lot of violence and guns and what not but it had it’s funny moments and my boyfriend enjoyed it a lot!

With the ever popular rise of online movie streaming, its debatable what will eventuate in the popularity of going to the cinema to see the latest box office releases. Coupled with new technologies like Apple TV and Foxtel box office, there are less excuses to leave the comfort of your own lounge room to pay around $40 for two people to see a movie in a cold, public space. The social aspect of going to the movies will forever stand, in my opinion, it’s always going to be a novelty for couples, groups of friends, young families and the elderly to go to their local cinema and see the latest movies as a means of and excuse to leave the house. But without this support from local residents, I feel that local cinemas will suffer and face becoming redundant in the next 5-10 years, but I certainly hope this isn’t the case.

JOUR206 Emotional History Audio Report – Reflection

 

 

 

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Approaching this task with sensitivity and empathy was the main focus for me when actually interviewing my talent. When I was first presented with the task I struggled to come up with a person who had interesting enough story to tell which expressed the required emotions and this was probably one of the hardest parts of the task for me personally. I had a good long think about whom would be the most suitable person for me to interview who would feel comfortable with me asking them personal questions and that’s why I chose the person that I did as he’s quite close to me but we’ve never really discussed this topic in such an intense and isolated environment.

 

I really wanted to make him feel as comfortable as possible as this would allow me to get the most out of our interview. For me it was all about interviewing with sensitivity and no judgment. I tried to remember back to the interview’s we were shown with Geoff Thomson who stressed the need to remain separate from your talent’s experiences no matter how traumatic or heartbreaking they may be because its their experience, not yours. I think this was a really important tool for me to consciously remind myself throughout the interview even though I did find myself become a bit choked up when my talent was describing his anguish and hurt that he has towards his mother. I found at the start of the interview he was a little hesitant to answer my questions in great detail but once he was relaxed and acknowledged that it was a non-judgmental, trusting environment he gave some really in-depth descriptions in the retelling of the events that occurred and that was something that made me gain such respect and pride in him.

 

When it came to editing this interview into a 1-2 minute audio report I was faced with the tough decision of cutting chunks of material, which I knew were valuable but didn’t fit the narrative that I wanted to tell. So I sat down and constructing a story-board-type plan which outlined the different events in the experience of my talent decided that in order for me to convey how emotional the story is for my talent that I would include mainly his retelling, along with sound effects such as slamming doors and solemn piano music underneath the interview.

 

Reflecting on my audio report I feel that with better planning and less rushing I could have thought of some more original sounds to add to the piece but time and imagination were constraints for me. I was a little flustered when it came to editing and then uploading my audio to Soundcloud as this is a platform that I’ve never used before and this was a little daunting for me. On the whole I feel that I’ve created a piece which is both sensitive and insightful and best conveys the emotions felt by my talent from their personal experience.