Friday, April 22, 2011

The influence of blogs

Blogs have become very influential on the tone and editorial direction of news reporting. In a blog you get to set the topic of the conversation which gives a person the power to focus on a certain event or idea. If enough people write about a certain topic than their opinions have a direct impact on how people view the subject.
Blogs inform the public about bias in media,  they play a watchdog role of the media. They raise money for causes or candidates, they form rallies, and push people to vote. Another benefit is that you get news much faster from a blog than mainstream media. You also get to the view the story from different angles.
You can see the power of blogs and other new media sources such as twitter and facebook in the Egyptian uprisings. The government saw these social media channels as a big threat which resulted in the internet being shutdown across the nation. There has been a great change in how knowledge is shared today. It is important to see that the voices of these new social media channels have power, they have to power to create change.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Evil Blimps!!!

Ad’s are more negative and attacking in their messages these days. Negative ads by nature capture more attention among viewers and it suppresses voting for the opposing candidate. It is even more effective if the message is built upon a pre-existing negative image of the candidate and is repeated in the media.
Here is an example of an vicious ad for the 2010 senate race. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina depicted Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) as an evil blimp that destroys the U.S. capitol and then floats in the sky threatening Californians.
Here is another ad where Rep. Joe Sestak used an image of Sen. Arlen Specter that made him look deathly and ill. The picture that the Sestak campaign used was one that was taken while Specter was receiving chemotherapy treatment. This is another age old trick that is used in campaign politics to make the opponent look weak and unable to serve properly, dating back to the Nixon-Kennedy debate. That debate changed the outcome of the election, those who watched the Nixon-Kennedy debate favored Kennedy because they put empasis on integrity rather than leadership skills. Evaluating integrity has non-verbal components to it and when Nixon looked pale and sickly, it was translated to him posessing insecurity. Opposing this was those who listened to the debate on the radio and favored Nixon instead. Conclusion: A candidate’s image matters in the media today.
(play close attention to the picture on the screen comparing Specter and Sestak)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A powerful message without words

Images and videos used by the media can send powerful messages to the viewing public. I think they are essential in capturing reality that truly can’t be described in words. Take for example this picture which has been made into a statue in Washington D.C.

Raising The Flag On Iwo Jima

It can be a very powerful tool in evoking a certain emotion. The question is to what extent do photographs evoke a change in public opinion? Should certain images be withheld from the public? 
The Times article “The Pentagon and Pictures of Soilders Coffin’s” talks about the ban (which has been lifted) that the Pentagon had issued on media images of solder’s cofins as they returned from Iraq or Afganistan. The author claims that “pictures don’t makeup our minds for us. They don’t tell us the answers and we don’t expect them to. What they tell us is why the questions are important”. 
Pictures themselves may not change public opinon but the context in which they are presented can. Images are used to convey a certain message and this can be used to affirm or discredit certain views and arguments. 
I think images taken of war is important and should be shown but it is also the media’s responsibility of discussing the issue throughly. The media today focuses on details of a story but does not discuss the whole picture. The media does not do it’s watchdog role; it doesn’t ask the tough questions.
It is very crucial to understand the different sides of an issue and how the images are being interpreted. It also goes without saying that it is also equally important to verify the  veracity of an image. Here is a site that highlights a few examples of images that had been altered. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Gaddafi Supposedly ordered Lockerbie Bombing

After stepping down from his position, Libya’s ex-justice minister (Abdel-Jalil) last week claimed that Gaddafi personally ordered the Lockerbie bombing. The Lockerbie Bombing occurred in 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland killing all passengers on board and 11 on the ground. Abdel-Jalil stated that Gaddafi personally gave the order for the attack to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the only man convicted in the bombing. Though Gaddafi paid reparations to the families of the victims, he has not taken personal responsibility for the attack.
Al-Megrahi, who is still alive today, was released from Scottish prison in 2009 because he was suffering from prostate cancer and would not live much longer.
Gaddafi who is known for his oppressive and violent regime, had renounced terrorism and has been trying to get Libya to be part of the international community. It is also known that Gaddafi’s regime have been tied to international terrorism in the past. What will be the repercussions if the allegations can be proven true? It will also be interesting to see the media coverage on this issue. 
Also, how can the scottish government let a convicted man, one of those responsible for killing over 250 people walk free, even if he is suffering from a fatal illness? I wonder if the same leniency would have been granted if it was an American. Eventhough there are those that believe that al-Megrahi was not involved and it was really an Iranian backed terrorist organization responsible for the bombing, the scottish government should not have let al-Megrahi walk free.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

China trying to hide something?

Partisan Media is old news but it's relevance in today's media is overlooked, not only within our own country but also internationally.

The uprisings in the Middle East has had it's effects on China. Since the uprisings Chinese communist officials have been on the defense to keep order. Today Chinese police and security have shown force in quelling a protest with a water truck at People's Square. China is an expert at using the media as a weapon to persuade public opinion by restricting what the chinese public views in the country. Chinese officials have used state-run media to deny any claims that their regime resembles those of the Middle East. They have also restricted internet searches relating to the uprising in Egypt, Tunsia. They even have warned foreign journalists about reporting any restricted news, it is also reported that they were physically attacked by Chinese authorities at the expected gathering and their camera's were confiscated.

The uprising was supposedly started by an unknown group overseas using a Chinese-language based website to get their message of starting protests against the government called the "jasmine rallies", on consecutive Sunday afternoons in cities across China.

This event is just one of many showing us how powerful the media can be but one must recognize that it is a double edged sword. It can be used to start uprisings but also used by the government to sway and control public opinion. Today majority of the people believe what they are told by the media.