Bias in the Media

Bias is prevalent in the media, especially the Australian Media. With media ownership split just about right down the middle, we get one side spouting nonsense, and the other side spouting opposing but just as ridiculous nonsense. As journalists, is it our duty to be impartial? Is it even possible to be completely impartial?

An article on this very subject, pertaining to Iranian journalists, was published online by khabarnegaran.info. In the article, the author (who will go unfortunately unnamed since alas, I cannot read Arabic) speaks about the conflicting schools of thought between those who believe impartiality should be central and those who believe it does not exist in the real world.

Yiannis Baboulias, a Greek journalist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, discusses the pressure put on journalists and the media under oppressive regimes. It’s very difficult to be un-bias when threatened with death or imprisonment after all.

David Brewer from Media helping Media, outlines the difference between opinion and fact, and the importance of keeping a firm line between the two. When strong emotions are involved, it’s easy for the author to present there strongly-held beliefs as fact. This is perfectly acceptable, if, of course, they can back it up with sources of hard evidence.

For those of us who need an example of what not to do, The Economist comments on the state of America’s Fox News, and delves into the history of Impartiality in Journalism. You may be surprised to find that Impartiality has not always been the golden rule of Journalism, but rather one adopted by editors after a deal struck with advertising agencies to promote a wider audience. This rather cynical and capitalist history is almost in direct opposition to the bastion of morality Impartiality in Journalism has come to symbolise these days.

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Thumbs to Joysticks, Pens to Paper

Jayden Perry is turning twenty on December 27, he started uni a year later than his other first year counterparts, but not without good reason! He spent 2013 reading, writing, embarking on the beginnings of his gamer-press career, and visiting Hobbiton in New Zealand.

Jayden spends most of his time at Uni, or making his way to Uni, but in his spare time he’s an avid gamer, writing for the online-magazine of OXCGN. When asked where he wants to go with his career, his answer is immediate and enthusiastic. “Writing for a website like Polygon or IGN, or running my own media outlet to do with pop culture. I’d also love to design and write stories for games, especially for Ubisoft!”

Jayden is drawn to games because of the beautiful worlds created within them and the endless possibilities that they represent. In a world where much of the mystery is gone, games and books give us the chance to investigate and explore concepts that may never exist.. or may exist in the far future.

He’s also a writer, attending the Writers festival in Sydney. He began writing at the end of the HSC when he found time  to explore his passions. He spoke to a few companies including another online site, Real Otaku Gamer, and wrote some small pieces which led him to gaming journalism. Through writing pro bono for OXCGN he’s gotten a real feel for the industry, developing contacts and giving him some hands-on experience in the field.

“I always knew I wanted to go into games. Originally I was going to jump into 3D animation and game design, and I really enjoyed that but it’s so expensive to do the course. I found myself looking at games from all sorts of angles, the creation side, the review side, and with the writing I’ve been doing, the more I wrote about it, the further into the industry I got and I decided that this was something I could definitely see myself doing.”

He worries about the competitiveness in the field, and has serious reservations about the sexism and misogyny present in the industry. “Sexism seems to permeate media and society, it has a huge effect on the face of journalism. We need to see a mass change in society where these attitudes are really unacceptable instead of being tolerated or ignored.”

When he finds his mind too cluttered, Jayden swears by taking a simple walk. He says that getting out and walking clears the mind and allows room for new ideas, or solutions to your problems. He says he finds creative freedom in walking, in being able to let his mind wander.

When asked who inspires him, Jayden replies;

“I find myself looking up to people in the entertainment industry that are just really great role models. From people like Rae Johnston (pop culture journo), Ken Levine and Manveer Heir to an aussie writer Matthew Reilly, I feel like there are a lot of amazing people in the industry I love that either create things I wish I was a part of or are doing huge things as individuals to change the way society is, these are people I look up to!” 

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Social Media on the Rise; What does it mean for us?

From one of the first newspapers published in England, Journalism and the media has come a long way.

From one of the first newspapers published in England, Journalism and the media has come a long way.

A recent poll by statisticbrain.com indicated that 1.4 Billion people use Facebook world wide. A similar poll by the same website declared that the total number of unique visitors to Twitter each month exceeds 190 Million. Those numbers are staggering. But what does it mean for your everyday person, and more specifically, what does it mean for aspiring journalists?

Claudia Comacchio, a current journalism student aspiring to a career at National Geographic, expressed her concerns with the sheer amount of information currently being shared online.

I think that because we are bombarded with information, its hard to single out what is true and accurate, and what is worth reading. I find when I go online or open a newspaper there are so many stories, and so much is going on that I only bother opening articles that really interest me.” 

She goes on to express her concern that important stories such as the disappearance of the Malaysian plane over the Indian Ocean are followed for a time, but quickly fall below the radar as new stories emerge. She fears that with the fast pace of the world and social media, we are losing sight of the stories that are important.

Angus Collocott, an aspiring Film Critic, echoes her sentiments. In addition, he fears for the future of journalism as a craft,”The less seriously we take journalism the less serious it will be produced. There will be more a focus on sensationalism and getting a story out there before it has been properly researched. “

Indeed, their opinions are not isolated ones. Sam Johnson, who wishes to become a screenwriter/director, also has concerns for the integrity of journalism. “Anyone with a laptop can be a writer so distinguishing reputable news from an uneducated opinion is hard these days.” She says, “I don’t think people are educated on issues before they give their opinions, they follow the mob and whatever they hear from the media becomes their opinion.”

Many share this fear of media effects, that what society sees, hears and watches online shapes and changes their opinion. This fact is largely undisputed, only the degree to which the media effects society being under question.

The changes are by no means all bad however, as Jayden Perry believes. Aspiring to a career in online game critic, this new type of journalism presents a unique opportunity for him. He worries, however, that those still defending the old ways are hindering progress in new areas.

“New media means that traditional media practices are changing, but not everyone is embracing them so there can be a bit of a mish-mash situation arising. It also means exciting new areas such as comic journalism are greatly hindered by more traditional people blocking it from mainstream media.”

The plethora of citizen-journalists, unedited and published without being fact checked, are influencing what we believe and how we see the world. Often, this simply means we receive news and information first hand, from those actually experiencing the events. Other times, what is portrayed as truth is hearsay, incorrect and potentially damaging to the people involved. This is not a one-sided issue, and as journalism and the media continues to change an evolve, we will all have to adjust with it.

 

 

The Story in the Telling

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Infographic courtesy of ABCcopywriting.com

The ABC is no stranger to storytelling, and with their article “What really makes a good story?“, Tom Albrighton is here to share their long experience with you.

Let’s break it down shall we?

Drama

Make them laugh, make them cry, make them wonder what on Earth that character was thinking. Make them sweat, make them groan, make them crave to turn the page to find out what happens next! Or, as Rachael Scheller from Writer’s Digest says, Tighten the Tension!

Relatability 

Reese Floyd-Thompson has four ways to make your story more relatable, and she shares them here at Make a Living Writing.

Immersion 

Closely related to relatability (see what I did there?), Immersion is one of the most important aspects of a good story. If you feel like you’re there, standing next to the character, experiencing what they experience, feeling what they feel.. you will remember that story. Kristen Lamb shares her experiences with editing in her blog post.

Simplicity

All the strength is in simplicity. All the weakness is in complexity.

— Dave Trott

Katya Andreson has some more tips on keeping it simple and writing a persuasive story in her LinkedIn post.

Agency

Or the art of showing, not telling, and letting the reader work it out for themselves. Mary Jaksch helps us out here

Familiarity 

Unfortunately, Familiarity between the reader and the author is not something you can engineer. But it is something you can build. Social media is a great tool to make readers feel you’re just another person like them, someone relatable who they can talk to and understand. Use it! Lara Quinn has something to say about increasing your social media fanbase.