Week 5 – Tute Notes

All the while the class rolls on I try to think of my story portfolio. Local news is so hard! It’s so unimportant and feels so meaningless, such petty little emptiness. Vocal trainers think that iPads are probably bad for developing children. The local football team is looking forward to winning games or maybe not expecting to!

I can’t even be sure I can do local impact of global stories. A videogame, Saints Row IV, is in the middle of an interesting controversy that brings up discussions of Australian censorship standards, but unless I can tie it to some schmuck in the Illawarra who doesn’t likely know their A from their E, I’m left unsure if I can even discuss that. The Bubbles Ball? The swell of businesses blossoming in Piccadilly? I’m not a part of the local community as news cares.

Okay, on to intro classwork.

We’re going to read and review here. The classwork explicitly wants something direct. Let’s see what I can do with this source material: Aiming at binge drinking, the Racing and Gaming Comission NSW has banned advertising of a variety of drinking promotions in Inner City Sydney. To flip that around, Bans on advertising drinking promotions is the latest attempt by the Racing and Gaming Comission NSW to curb binge drinking.

Next lead? Here we go: A Major Music Festival is coming in November to the Jonesville Showground. These topics are hard to grapple with, though, because they’re so basic and you can’t just spray the whole story in the opening sentence.

Local reactions to national news – that’s fantastic. Find an Iraq war veteran or people subjected to disaporia. I wonder if the local Macedonian mens’ group. The local games’ businesses talking about the censorship around Saints Row IV.

Week 5 – Lecture Notes

Special guest lecturer, with experience interviewing – Siobhon McHugh.

Interviewing is exhausting work, if it’s being done correctly. You are applying rapt attention to what is going on around you. You have to be able to multitask, listening with your ears on stalks to convey that attention, which makes people want to open up to you, but also to process what you’re hearing so you can discern misinformation, any errors or interesting things worthy of expansion. Your functioning on these two levels.

On to the basics: What is an interview?

Is an interview a conversation? Nope. It’s easier if it’s a conversation, but a conversation involves two people exchanging ideas. The teacher narrows it – it’s a dialogue. Some interviews have elements of a conversation, but it’s not an actual conversation. A conversation is a random exchange; there’s no set text for discussion. An interview is a structured dialogue, always with a focus.

You seek quotes. Quotes are essential to add colour. They also have impact. It’s one thing to say that James Magnussen failed to win a medal, but it’s less complete of a story without some grab from Magnussen himself. Putting the subject of the story in the piece, giving his take on it, makes it memorable. You always want more than the bare facts.

You need to create a narrative because bald facts are easily discarded.

Siobhon seems to suggest that natural human curiosity is worth pursuing; that you shouldn’t focus on an agenda for the interview.

Some of this is usefully standardised; things like avoiding language you can’t properly use. The application of Closed questions vs Open questions. Closed questions can be very useful for connecting responsibility and cause-and-effect, while open questions are useful for drawing out human elements in a story.

If you can cultivate curiosity, you can give so many opportunities for people to tell you things. Ah, the Groucho line – ‘If you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made.’

The truth resists simplicity.

I feel a bit bad that the final point is Accuracy. The slides have the rest of the information, of course.

Week 5 – Tutorial Notes

We begin today with a presentation about Media capitals. I’m jotting down thoughts as they come, but I suspect, given the nature of the subject, I suspect it’s going to cover things that I already accepted as basic truths. As a young man who’s been pursuing international media since I was in my teenage years, the idea of major national companies producing media is not unheard of to me.

What’s really strange is that TV media is used for this despite the fact that to the videogame using public, Videogames Come From Japan, specifically Kyoto, and that stranglehold diminished due to the invasion of the market by Sony, and subsequently that incentivised the US market’s explosion on the heels of Microsoft entering the market.

There have been other major media capitals in Asia. Not just Hong Kong, but Beijing, but there’s also Singapore and Tokyo.

And now we get a question: Late 1950s Chicago Lost Its Media Capital Status to Hollywood. What were two reasons this happened?

First, media capitals do not typically have the means to destroy or erode other media capitals through direct means. Economic matters are far more potent an influence. In the case of Chicago to Hollywood, Chicago’s increasing economic growth drove up costs – which led to the Chicago studios investing in Hollywood to make movies cheaply. Hollywood didn’t attack Chicago – Chicago created its successor.

Chicago also lost its cultural and political importance; the city stopped growing, and as its surroundings grew more urban and less rural, Chicago became no longer a centerpoint between rural and urban environments, less between Anglos and the Others. Part of this was that the ethnic diversity became the norm.

The teacher also argues that the ‘talent’ and movie stars were in Hollywood, so the creation of Television led to the movement of people to Hollywood. That’s interesting.

 

Week 5 – Lecture Notes

I’m positively embarassed that I didn’t see the direct connection between media capitals an cultural essentialism. That is to say, the idea that people have fundamental traits based on their cultures, which means that media centres can produce for them. While modern media capitals are reinforcing that outlook, the fact that media capitals exist shows the outlook to be erronous.

The Avaaz video was very nice, if, um, a bit simplistic. Polls about who does and does not want a particular thing will often tell you more about what people want to say they want.

TV material does not belong to any one location; formats and structures are global, but the influences and content are often local. This is basically glocalisation for less-cool topics.

The interesting effect is that the media capitals’ private businesses drive the transmission of information, not the nations. They effectively are independent of the nation state; they do not work or behave in service to that nation-state. They are driven by markets, which are also driven by things like ethnoscapes, technoscapes and migration.

Once again, asked to speak to the people next to me. Once again, I’ve sat on my own like a total dork. Can’t help it, need to be in front for my ears and eyes. :S

Surely, and I say this before the Hong Kong documentary has finished, the massive population called upon services to drive that population. With the growing population of China – and indeed, the exportability of Hong Kong’s media to related but non-Chinese markets – gave it that opportunity to become a media capital. Hong Kong also had Imperial contact through Britain.

Post-documentary, it seems that the core was the increase in consumer culture. Which would be included by an increase in economic growth and population growth, more or less fitting with what I said.

The dual nature of Hong Kong as its Western influences and Chinese influences make it marginal to both pure cultures. Culture can flow one way or the other – the use of the English words in Cantopop, for example, or the spread of WuXia in western cinema (to the point where whole camera styles are seen as ‘kung fu’).

“Is the reaction of the west…” probably racist? Well, we’re good at that. Neo-orientalism sounds like the notion of othering people who simply aren’t Imperial West. The modern depiction of the Asiatic and Middle East nations are orientalist, because they try to break large, complicated groups of people with varied histories internal and external, as simple, large blocks. Just look at how the removal of Saddam Hussein brought Iraq to Civil War, and how surprised the media were on that matter.

Similar, another example is the influence of Indian news; Indian culture is being perceived through a bowlderised view of ‘being Indian,’ like unto Bollywood. Basically, we’re being racist to other cultures, and some of that racism is largely institutional and reactionary.

Neo-orientalism is a movement growing out of an old media narrative about the Enemy being the Other. It used to be Russians, but then, Russians also used to be Communists, and Communists were Atheists, and Atheists were Nihilists. You can see how this broad brush painted people from Russia to Cambodia and Korea.

Now, on to the Edward Said lecture.

What’s strange is these discussions seem to suggest that culture wasn’t a huge part of how economies and ideologies form and behave. If your culture espouses selfishness and war, it will reflect in your economy lacking supports and infrastructure, and your ideology being prone to invade or spend on military operations.

Said does note the way in which there is an easy outlook upon Islam as a culture. I mean, there are over a billion people in the world that could be included in that. Doesn’t acting as if a billion people in over a hundred country’s are going to behave uniformly indicate a culturally myopic perspective?

Note to self: Look into the Edward Said talk.

Week 5 – Reading: Media Capitals

It’s fascinating to me how the explosion of Media and the erasure of conventional boundaries is impacting culture. For a start, it’s easier to find examples of bad parts of culture – racist jokes are more obvious because they reach a wider audience. The use of the term ‘fractal’ almost bothers me – a fractal has infinite edges, limited boundaries. That description becomes more apt when you realise this means that every single audience, when you scale downwards, gets more and moer specific until you wind up with people who’d rather if the newsreader was wearing paler colours today.

What’s weird is that despite the way media is flowing from place to place and creating a large, chaotic mass of indistinct spectra, so often, Media is about teasing out a simple, black-and-white narrative, which create oppositional black-and-white narrative. In the increasingly procorporate US Media, this gives us things like horse-race elections and all-or-nothing Zimmerman trials.

The back-and-forth flow of information brings to mind information disparity. I remember footage of people holding their hands high and chanting in a CNN news report during the Kosovo crisis in my teenage years. What I didn’t know until years later was that triumphant chanting – which featured the word ‘CNN’ in it – was actually a common, deliberately controversial Serbian curse: “Da bog da ti kuca bila na CNN-U,” or “I hope I see your house on CNN,” or, more crudely, “I hope NATO bombs your house.” Without the context of what was being said, the image was of Serbians chanting what almost seemed like support, full of energy. When you recognise what that chant means – not just literally but idiomatically – it transforms the scene into an ugly reminder of conflict.

It’s strange to watch in action, but we might genuinely be moving to a point where news is not pro-government or anti-government but is generally pro-corporate. Right now, movies and media already depict a few key cities (New York, Hong Kong, Singapore) as being vibrant and informed, and the rest of the world as … not. Is the limit of infrastructure enough to prevent this? Should it be prevented? Is it just the same old bosses? Latin America is a blossoming economy and an important player on the consumption markets of the global stage – but the natural image in most non-Latin media is of vast fields of rolling green and dirty streets with dancers and street performers. You could find the same things in the United States, but that image does not define that nation. Is it just that the Latin Americas don’t have one of these ‘Media Cities’ to yell on their behalf? Is it inevitable that a region representing almost a billion consumers with two common languages develops a Media capital? Or is it there already, and just too quiet to be heard over the shouting of its economically-massive American neighbours?

All in all, it seems audiences build audiences. Much as with economic growth, these systems feed themselves, blossom and grow, exploding over time. It takes a lot to kill a media capital – even disarray in Hong Kong hasn’t stopped it. A competitor has to replace it… and therefore, the Media flow between Taipei and Singapore is a fascinating dance to watch.

There are too many ideas here to pin to one blog post. What I can say for now is:

  • Media capital status can be won and lost
  • Media capitals are transnational,
  • Media capitals are influenced by economic factors more than raw population
  • Media capitals can subsequently create pools of creative potential.

Week 4 – Homework

The homeless youth of the Illawarra will benefit from a targeted increase in financial support to a host of sexual assault support groups. The Minister for Youth Affairs, Ernest Young, will announce today steps to help counsel these disadvantaged young people through these existing support networks.
Sexual abuse is a serious concern amongst the homeless of the area, with studies indicating potentially as much as eighty percent of homeless youths have been subjected to some form of sexual assault. The organisations include Mission of St James and St John to West Wollongong, The Salvation Army, Illawarra Youth and Family Services, the Wolongong Rape Crisis Centre, and Illawarra Sexual Assault Centre.
“Often young people may have trusting relationships with an adult who can support them. If they disclose the sexual assault, then they need immediate access to a counseling service,” Mr Young said.

First Draft:

The homeless youth of the Illawarra are the subject of a targeted increase in financial support to a host of sexual assault support groups. The Minister for Youth Affairs, Ernest Young, will announce today steps to help counsel these disadvantaged young people through these existing support networks.
Sexual abuse is a serious concern amongst the homeless of the area, with studies indicating potentially as much as eighty percent of homeless youths have been subjected to some form of sexual assault. The organisations include Mission of St James and St John to West Wollongong, The Salvation Army, Illawarra Youth and Family Services, the Wolongong Rape Crisis Centre, and Illawarra Sexual Assault Centre.
“Often young people may have trusting relationships with an adult who can support them. If they disclose the sexual assault, then they need immediate access to a counseling service,” Mr Young said.

Week 4 – Tutorial Notes

Today, we did short, 15-minute surveying interviews to get a feel for gathering information, and sifting that out into some sort of useful narrative. With our question set we deliberately biased not towards the specifics of the election, but rather to whether or not people felt that the election itself even mattered.

What we found – reflected in our lead – was that even young voters that considered themselves comfortable and confident in the system weren’t aware of how the basics worked. Our lead was “With an election looming, Australian youths are demonstrating a disturbing trend of ignorance and uncertainty regarding national politics.”

We moved on from that to an exercise in constructing articles out of their composed sentences. This was basically just seeing how to sort things through the funnel. Good lead, then prioritising things so that obvious connected comments were adjacent.

Next up: An exercise in writing a six-sentence paragraph based on a (rather awful) press release.