Thursday, 5 March 2009

Media Anaysis, Media Production and Irate Users

What motivates us to analyse the media? By Dean Hardman.

As analysts of the mass media in general or of media discourse in particular, why do we do it? It’s likely that reasons can vary from person to person and that we all have our own. Chief of these, I suspect, is an innate curiosity and fascination with culture – a particular personal interest in film or television and their effects on people’s lives, for example. In my case, there are two main motivations. The first is outrage that I’ve often felt at ideologically loaded and biased reporting that I’ve seen in newspapers and television, the control or hold they seem to think they have (and do have) and a feeling that by pointing these out in a scholarly fashion, that the world will be, somehow, better. This is almost certainly very na├»ve.

The second is just mere fascination, and it is that fascination that has led me recently to dip my toe into the water of media production and to actually have a go at participating in the media. One relatively recent phenomenon in electronic mass media is 'user generated content' and 'interactivity'. Many media professionals – the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, for example – rage about the inane nature of user contributions, yet it seems to be the latest fad, with all national newspaper websites enabling readers to leave their thoughts in blogs (not unlike this one). Such user generated content is encouraged (or at least allowable) on the football website 'Football 365'. Here - and here - are two examples of my own contributions to the site, along with 'user comments'. These range from interesting thoughts on the issues raised in the pieces, to inane observations written by people who don’t appear to have even read the articles in question. Best of all, are the foul-mouthed aggressive responses, railing against the inanity of the articles themselves. Any thoughts about why people are motivated to abuse 'journalists' or bloggers are welcome in the comments section at the end of this blog.

My final excursion into the media production game comes in the form of a short sitcom script I entered into a competition called the Sitcom Trials. The play, 'From Riga to Rotherham' deals with issues of immigration and displacement, although suggesting that it is in any way more cerebral than that would be stretching things considerably. If you’re around the Leicester Square Theatre on Wednesday the 4th March, do pop in – although perhaps leave the 'interactivity' until after the show.
(Picture source: ario j's photostream)

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