Media Studies Friday

Media Studies Friday 13 – The Contortionist

Just think of the series of linguistic manoeuvres you have to go through to try to come up with this level of misrepresentation. All done of course, in order to get a “Scotland/SNP bad” type headline.

Media Studies Friday

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Media Studies Friday 12 – Look There, Look There, Don’t Look Here!

CfgLuhIWsAAuhSoAfter the announcement of the leak, but before Cameron owned up to some dealings in the Panama Papers scandal, the BBC rushed out a little documentary on it.

It seems to have been put together very quickly. You might almost think that some of it was already prepared before the scandal broke.

In any case, the interesting thing about it is that, having examined some of the papers, the BBC seem to conclude the following…

  1. North Korea is very very bad
  2. Syria is very very bad
  3. Mubarak’s son was very very bad
  4. The British Government may or may not be slightly bad, but they couldn’t confirm it either way for us. But if they were bad, it was only because they dealt with the very very bad people mentioned above
  5. Banks and companies have the ability to be bad, but they have their own ethical policies, so we’re probably alright

I thought it a slightly unusual take on the story. Give it a listen and see what you think.

Media Studies Friday 10 – An Enlightening Irrelevance

Let me say right away that this is not an important story, far from it. It is also a story that illustrates a problem that you are probably already aware of. However, it is such a perfect example of that problem that I feel it is worth mentioning.

Formula One driver Fernando Alonso went to Baku in Azerbaijan and apparently had this to say…

“It’s a real honor for me to be the first F1 driver to visit this magnificent city. The welcome I have received from everyone since my arrival has been wonderful. I have been really impressed with everything I have seen today. I feel absolutely confident in saying that Baku City Circuit is going to be the most memorable circuit on the F1 calendar this year. Much like this beautiful city, it successfully manages to showcase its modernity with a lovely nod to the past. Indeed, the way the track stretches along the Old Town walls with the magnificent Flame Towers in the background is a clear example of this! On a technical level, I am excited to test my skills on such a challenging circuit, in particular along those tight, winding corners. I really can’t wait to race here this summer,” he said.

Now I am prepared to stick my neck out here. There is no way on earth those were the exact words of Fernando Alonso. The English in it is almost impossibly good for someone who is not a native speaker (Jozef Conrad excepted).

Don’t get me wrong,  Alonso’s English is actually very good, but he wouldn’t in a million years produce sentences like “Much like this beautiful city, it successfully manages to showcase its modernity with a lovely nod to the past” . Non-native speakers of English don’t speak like that and, as you’ll have noticed, most native English speakers don’t talk that way either, unless they are writing a brochure.

It’s a press release, and I’m sure you all gathered that the second you read the quote.

Now it may be that Alonso said something similar and then someone tidied it up. It could also be that someone else wrote it and then Alonso, or someone in his employ, approved it. Or it could be that the F1 publicity people do this all the time, it is all part of the contract and he never even noticed it.

From wherever it was produced, it was then copied, translated and broadcast around the world with a thousand miniscule variations. Just google “Fernando Alonso Baku” or “Fernando Alonso Azerbaijan” to see them.

Why is any of this important? Well, apart from the facts about Azerbaijan and its record on human rights (described here) being hidden under a sport story, which is something that unfortunately happens all the time, it is a fact that this is now the modus operandi for most of the media.

Specifically, press releases are produced by government departments or large companies that can afford to have public relations departments and press liaison officers and so on. Those press releases are then copied and pasted and entered into articles. Sometimes the content produced by the press departments passes without comment, sometimes there may be some analysis of the rights and wrongs of the opinions within the press release, but usually no more than this.

Journalism courses now actually include rewriting press releases as a core skill.

The standard defence of this practice is that there have been cutbacks and journalists are under pressure to produce more content with less resources and therefore have to resort to this kind of behaviour.

So your Media Studies Friday question is this… Is it possible to reconcile what is written above, with the quote below?

120919-george-orwell

 

 

Media Studies Friday 8 – It Ain’t What You Say, It’s The Way That You Say It

In a recent BBC World Service Programme called “The Bin Laden Tapes“, the BBC got round to mentioning something that probably a lot of you felt might have been discussed more in recent years.

Specifically, in passing they mentioned that the US government had been funding Bin Laden and the Mujahideen in times gone past. The story goes that this was because his group was being used against the Russians in Afghanistan. None of this is secret anymore.

One thing that struck me as odd about the way the BBC handled the matter in this programme however, is that they described it as “awkward” for one of the sides involved, but not the other.

Skip on to about 9 mins 15 and you can hear it for yourself.

Now why would they describe it in those terms?