Who owns the media?

Who ‘owns’ and ‘controls’ the media you use to access your ‘news’?
Why does this matter?

As alarming as this may sound, for the 6 weeks that I have been living in college, I have found myself rather disconnected from the current happenings in the world and therefore have not had readily available access to my usual sources of news. However, these platforms usually consisted of Channel Ten’s ‘The Project’ and ‘Prime 7 News’, but these days are limited to whatever appears on my Facebook feed.

So who really controls the output of information that I am subjected to through these mediums?

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Australian Media and Communication Authority, (2017), ‘Media Interests’ snapshot [ONLINE]. Available at: http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/media-interesrs-snapshot [Accessed 28 March 2017].
According to this snapshot of Media Interests (taken from the Australian Media and Communication Authority website), Channel Ten is owned in part by several different prominent media personalities including James Packer, Gina Rinehart, Lachlan Murdoch and Bruce Gordon, however Channel 7 is owned solely by Kerry Stokes and Seven Group Holdings Ltd. As goes for Facebook, God knows where that news comes from…

The main question here though, is why does this ownership matter and does it affect what we view through our television screen?

What I would like to know but can only speculate, is if this multi-ownership of Channel Ten in comparison to the dual ownership of Channel 7, then allows for less deception and subjectivity when it comes to the broadcasting of news and eliminates the potential for excessive bias? I do know however, that objective information is exceedingly difficult to locate these days and is present to some degree in nearly all aspects of media communication.

How do I know this?

Well, I feel as though the measures that are currently being undertaken to reduce excessive media ownership i.e. the release of new pieces of legislation, is enough evidence in itself to prove that domination of a media platform by a singular party can result in the output of partial or bias knowledge. An article by Tim Dwyer supports this idea, stating that “the government’s Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016 proposes cutting a rule that stops commercial TV networks from broadcasting to more than 75% of Australians”, as “Australia’s level of media ownership concentration is already one of the highest in the world.”

So the answer is yes. Media ownership has the overwhelming power to sculpt and craft our views on numerous subject matters through their output of material, and the fact that this subjectivity is almost impossible to avoid, is a rather scary and daunting thought, forcing us to question what we really know.

Current issues involving people and their use of the media

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There are numerous prevailing issues which involve the media and its audiences, and how these audiences actually use the media can arguably shape their persona and lead to consequent behaviours. One such issue that I will be targeting specifically is the affect of some forms of media for entertainment on the minds of young individuals.

So, let’s explore this concept further.

We, as 21st century beings, now have a much broader spectrum of choice when it comes to immersing ourselves in the world of media. Currently, there are concerns revolving the indirect influence of the media on its audiences e.g. exposure of adolescents (particularly males) to violent imagery and coarse language in popular TV series such as Game of Thrones, video games such as Call of Duty and audio i.e. song lyrics (take Eminem for instance). It is possible that witnessing acts of violence through these mediums can contribute to changing attitudes as argued by Marie Evans Schmidt, a scientist from the CMCH (Center on Media and Child Health) in Boston, who states that “aggressive portrayals on TV provide models of impulsive restless behaviour, and that through observational learning, children can incorporate this style into their own behaviour.”

Think back to the murder of Jamie Bulger in 1993, and how the media was somewhat ‘blamed’ for this.

Such graphic forms of entertainment were not always readily available to us for viewing, and hence, this improvement of ‘choice’ has resulted in this, so to say, ‘hindering’ of personality. However having said this, this type of viewing may induce little to no effect depending other factors i.e. family circumstances and maturity levels of the adolescent.

Alternatively, teenagers who develop an interest for watching the news for example, are more likely to be more ‘in touch with reality’, which can assist with the development of their global awareness and perhaps encourage involvement in community action. I feel as though the news in the modern era is a medium more commonly viewed by choice on television than in the past, as having a much more limited selection of programs in the early days may have seen audiences watching it simply for the sake of watching it.

So in summary, the media can influence actions of individuals both positively and negatively, depending on the nature of the individual and the way in which they utilise the mediums available to them.

Complex Imagery

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Tyler Shields, (2011), Heather Morris [Online]. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/09/08/q-amp-a-tyler-shields-talks-about-those-heather-morris-images_n_7405924.html [Accessed 5 March 2017].
Former ‘Glee’ star Heather Morris appears to be starring in some form of feministic photoshoot. When we really examine this image closely, it becomes apparent that the intended message here has the potential for misconception.

The denotations portray the star dressed in a black and white polka dot dress (perhaps representative of the stay at home mum or even a maid) with her hands tied together by a piece of black fabric to arouse the idea that she has been objectified. Her teeth are tightly clenching an electrical cord from an iron which appears to be being pulled across her by another individual (supposedly a male) which is perhaps symbolic of a leash. The prominent bruised area around her eye suggests that she has been beaten or abused by her male counterpart, yet interestingly, she does not appear to be in a state of discomfort (insinuated by the smile and mischievous gaze of the eyes).

Could these connotations suggest that she is unfazed by her situation? Could this actually be an attempt by the photographer to glorify the concept of domestic abuse? Or are the signifiers that suggest this simply too subtle to draw a conclusion?

Alternatively  

Could the real message behind this image be less violent than we think? Photographed by an extremist? It’s possible.

The iron itself as a household item commonly associated with women could conceivably be representative of the TV star being consumed by her roles and responsibilities as a woman. Maybe the underlying message is that perhaps it is time for men to adopt these practices in a time where the female demographic is rapidly becoming increasingly involved in the workforce? To completely flip this concept on its head, could Heather Morris actually be resisting this change? The male (representative of society?) could be attempting to strip her of her womanly connotations. She fights back, gritting her teeth and drawing away from the force with a smirk on her lips to show determination and control. Is this a representation of how the female demographic, when confronted by the opposite sex, can exhibit strength and willpower? There are many questions here to consider.

I feel as though the real answer is not entirely clear, and the more I studied this image, the more possible interpretations flooded to mind. Perhaps it is simple, and I have dug too deep. However, if I have learned anything from attempting to make sense of this image, it is that the nature in which images and stories are portrayed in the media can be susceptible to misinterpretation, allowing the possibility for controversy to arise.