The spotters guide to PR.

This week I would like to talk about PR. So, what is PR? Well in its simplest form PR means Public Relations and manifest itself as a team or an individual that dedicates their time to influencing the public’s opinion on something. It can be a company or a politician the concept remains the same. PR seeps its way into almost every part of our lives in this short piece I hope to be your guide, to show you the differences between PR and real objective journalism in the hope that you may learn to spot it wherever you consume media.

So, we will start with PR. what is its purpose? How is it different to journalism? The most common example for the application of PR is in politics, politicians are filtered by PR. this is called spin, when a political party or politician uses PR to create a different, preferable image to win votes. As you can imagine this has an adverse effect on objectivity. This mediation between the client and the audience is achieved through dissemination and restriction of information. By feeding us the public snippets of information that create a custom narrative. McNair (2011) argues that politicians use free media and PR because the word of a journalist is more sacred than that of a politician, meaning that the effect is still the same but because it is presented in a new format it is more likely to be believed.

This leaves journalism caught red handed, working for political narrative rather than objectivity. However, that isn’t always the case. Yes, journalism can be manipulated and spun but at its core journalism is simply the communication of information to the public. As an example, I will look at an article posted on The Sun website. The Sun (2017) argues that Brexit should be accelerated using terms like “every wasted week” and “let’s get on with it”. The article encourages people to accept Brexit but other than that there is little information, what is there are snippets that create a narrative that makes people want Brexit to happen faster. This is PR restriction and dissemination.

So what can real journalism bring to the table? Through informed debate and objectivity, a journalist can inform the public properly. Giving them the truth and all the information they need to make a separated decision. As an example, I will now look at another article on Brexit from a more objective source. I chose an article released just under 2 weeks after the one above published by The Independent. In the article, Merrick (2017) lays down much more information, informing us that there will be no free trade deals. The article is much more objective looking at both sides of the story and is a genuine attempt to inform the public about Brexit.

So, in a 500-word nutshell that is the difference betwixt journalism and PR, when you read the paper or look at a news article on Facebook examine the content. Only believe it if can be backed up. The best way to counter PR is through education.

 

 

Bibliography.

McNair, B (2011) An Introduction To Political Communication: Routledge (118- 120)

Merrick, R. (2017) “EU Parliament vows UK won’t get free trade deal in the next two years – hours after Philip Hammond declares optimism”, The Independent, 29th march. Accessed: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/eu-parliament-uk-no-free-trade-deal-two-years-brexit-talks-philip-hammond-optimism-theresa-may-city-a7655686.html

(2017) “So that’s it… Brexit is law, signed off by the Queen – so let’s get on with it”, The Sun, 17th March. Accessed: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3111446/so-thats-it-brexit-is-law-signed-off-by-the-queen-so-lets-get-on-with-it/

 

 

Is this the end of the line?

New media. Unless you’ve been living under a rock since the since the 90’s you’ve probably heard this term before. It basically refers to any media that’s existence is a result of the world-Wide Web. Since the 80’s ordinary people have had access to the technology needed to produce media, with the rise of handheld cameras and home computers and with the invention of the World-Wide Web came an explosion of self-produced media content. Mandiberg, M. (2012). Madiberg explains that self-generated content is now the purpose of existence for many large media companies. This concept is known as media convergence; the coming together of information to the point where most people absorb media from a single source. Jenkins, H. (2008) argued that convergence allows the same pieces of information to reach viewers through many different forms of media thus allowing for extreme alteration by the time an audience receives said information.

So with so many people using social media and almost everyone and their dog blogging. What does this mean for you the audience? If you look at this rather fancy looking diagram I made you can see two models about the way media works. If you go home watch the news and take it as gospel, then you are receiving information from one source in a unidirectional manner; the arrows represent information. Now with the emergence of new media this means that the public, that’s you and I, can share information with one another meaning the days of unidirectional information are numbered.

fancy table

So you might be thinking new media sounds great: what a ground breaking, mind freeing, hegemony obliterating age we live in! Unfortunately, that isn’t the absolute truth. McNair (2012) informs us that political actors use new media to push their political views. This very concept is a wrecking ball to the wall of objectivity.

In a world where new media is corner stone of public life, where we spend more time on our phones than any other device. Where does that leave journalism? You could argue that new media spells the end of journalism; that news as we know it is a dried up as the LA river. Not necessarily, journalism doesn’t have to go quietly into the night. The Darwinian nature of media is a constant, journalism must adapt; it must evolve to survive. With new technology journalism, can be reborn, for example the use of 360 video is an interesting technological frontier.

This is a video from the Houses of Parliament after the events of Wednesday the 22nd of March.

Scene of London attack in Westminster (360 video), RT Documentary. (2017), Youtube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NU1SyNPfbvY

As you can see this form of video allows you to look around 360 degrees at a moving image. Imagine of you went online to watch the news like this. Instead of just having a small frame with a reporter talking at you; you could look around like you were there. To look around and see the information first hand. Journalism as we know it is dead. Yes. However, we still need objective journalism now more than ever and with new technology it could be right around the bend.

Bibliography

Jenkins, H. (2008) Convergence culture: where old and new media collide: New York; London: New York University Press,  (3-10)

Mandiberg, M. (2012) The Social Media Reader: New-York University Press. (1-4)

McNair, b. (2011) An Introduction To Political Communication: Routledge (10-11)

Scene of London attack in Westminster (360 video), RT Documentary. (2017), Youtube.d

Globalisation, from cheese to arms dealing.

We live in an age of global communication, never in human history has the space betwixt us been broken down in such a way that an individual or a corporation can organise globally. With enough power one individual can theoretically control a global market. For example, Unilever are an international company you many have seen the logo on the back of many food products. Unilever can and do sell food internationally meaning that when you buy food a large amount of the food you buy profits Unilever instead of local companies and farmers. This is globalisation, the forging of international markets.

uileverts

Europa Press (2017) Unilever logo. [New Article ] available: http://www.lainformacion.com/tabaquismo/Unilever-reduce-colesterol-empleados-Espana_0_1007900076.html  . [25th march].

Ruddick, G. (2017) “UK government should help companies targeted by foreign bids, says Unilever”, The Guardian, 15th March.

There are 3 key theses surrounding globalisation. The first is known as the Hyper-globalist thesis, this states that the denationalisation of economies gives rise to a global civilisation and global governance. Simply put as Ohmae j (1995) argues, as a nation opens to world markets and economy new forms of social operation will emerge surpassing nations as the economic and political centres of civilisation.

The second thesis is the Sceptical thesis, it states that governments have most control over internationalism targeting lesser economically developed nations with economic marginalisation. Stating governments act to control globalisation leading to increased fundamentalism and aggressive nationalism as people are forced apart into civilisation blocks and cultural and ethnic enclaves.

Last but not least we have the Transformationalist thesis, that simply states that globalisation drives rapid changes in our society though social, economic and political changes. This means that the people who control globalisation effect the society’s you and I call home. this is supporter by Matell, L. ( 2010) who informs us that globalisation fuels Neo-Liberalism.

No matter which of these theory’s you agree with they all point in the same direction. Globalisation is powerful, it is the wind and rain that erodes and forms of political landscape the way we view the world and the public sphere. One man who understood this more than anyone is Giddens, A (1990) he theorised that there are 4 dimensions of Globalisation.

World military order meaning that the globalisation of war and arms dealing, along with the joining of nations though things like NATO, effect the world we live in and the way we see other nations.

The second dimension is the division of labour through regional specialisations for example companies like Primark divide their labour across poorer nations so it cost less thus people in these places work in sweat shops instead of other local work.

the third is nation states, as leader’s actions and decisions when it comes to preserving culture and creating relations with other nation states can affect the global picture.

Finally, the world capitalist economy is a force of globalisation effecting the value of everything worldwide.

When a market expands to global scale all the effect it has on its workers and consumers transfer top global scale too. In this world where almost everything we buy and consume is provided by large conglomerates and corporations, we inadvertently effect the world around us. So, support smaller business; yes, you are a consumer that’s concrete but that doesn’t mean you can chose what you consume.

bibliography.

Europa Press (2017) Unilever logo. [New Article ] available: http://www.lainformacion.com/tabaquismo/Unilever-reduce-colesterol-empleados-Espana_0_1007900076.html  . [25th march].

Giddens, Anthony (1991): The Consequences of Modernity. Polity Press. Cambridge. (70-78)

Matell, L (2010)  The Sociology of Globalisation: Polity

Ohmae, Kenichi (1995) The End of the Nation State, The Rise of Regional Economies: Harper Collins Publishers. (80-85)

Ruddick, G. (2017) “UK government should help companies targeted by foreign bids, says Unilever”, The Guardian, 15th March.

A crash course in discourse.

The media is information. So what happens if that information is wrong or even worse manipulated to make a more convenient truth. The word truth is very powerful which brings me on to the focus of this week’s blog. Discourse. Simply put discourse is the arranging of information so that a certain set of ideas and ideals appear as truth, by constructing beliefs that many people hold in common. Hall (1995) informed us that the most common form of this cancerous form of media is against groups which the powerful have deemed disruptive. This process is called othering and is often coupled with scapegoating. An example of this is the media representation of the New Age Traveller movement. In the late 70s and early 80s inflation rose over 20% in the UK meaning thousands of people became homeless, masses took to the roads in mobile homes.

 

So how does one conduct a discourse? The first key thing in a discourse is the use of language, words can be a powerful tool with the ability to make people believe what ever read in a paper. The New Age Traveller movement saw much being slandered by papers as a hippy convoy of unclean drug addicts. One event where you can clearly see the effects of discourse is the Battle of the Beanfield. On the first of June 1985 police clashed with a commune of travellers in the area surrounding Stone Henge. The of language around this event is questionable firstly calling it a battle is ridiculous. There is a lot media based confusion about this day so allow me to enlighten you with some real footage.

ITN TV News Report & Unedited ITN footage

As you can see these people where defence less as their home where destroyed and their family and friends beaten by police. The fact that this footage was not released until 1991 is an example of discourse created by misinformation. These people were made to look like common criminals because as common criminals the public wouldn’t care about their plight. If you watch the start of this video you can hear the news reporter at the time using phraises like “in defiance of the law” and “hippies”.

New Age Travellers Vs The Media (Stonehenge 1985)
DaisyPumpkin23

These people where villainised and harassed because they were a threat to the status quo. They’d decided to leave their homes and live their lives on the road, meeting people, raising family’s; just like you and I only on the move. This however created a problem in that suddenly thousands of people where no longer paying taxes or going to work for large companies. It was an example of how people can live outside the system designed to make the rich wealthier and have a good life as well. When you see othering question it. Is the othering hiding something? If so what? learn the whole truth and decide, don’t let you news paper tell you who to hate.

bibliography.

Hall, S (1995) THE WEST AND THE REST: DISCOURSE AND POWER: Polity Press in association with the Open University.

ITN TV News Report & Unedited ITN footage (1990)
Roddy Melville (youtube) Accessed: https://youtu.be/6LHizyCtakw

Rodgers, S. (2013) How Britain changed under Margaret Thatcher. In 15 charts: The Guardian.

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/datablog/2013/apr/08/britain-changed-margaret-thatcher-charts

New Age Travellers Vs The Media (Stonehenge 1985)
DaisyPumpkin23 (you tube) accessed: https://youtu.be/yKVn1C3qc9w

 

Ownership-wrecked.

Who owns the media? Today media is a huge part of our lives, sculpting our views on politics, science and even each other. Naturally a global media network doesn’t come cheap so it’s the wealth elite who own a sizeable portion of the media.  Those who own the means of production influence the culture to misinform and distract the masses.

This brings me on to the idea of Superstructure, a Marxist media theory about how the elite influence your life and culture. Allow me to break it down. everything you consume be it  a news article or a TV advert it has to be produced. those who own the means of production control the nature of this content, content that in-force’s a cultural narrative on everyhting from religion to family to politics. By giving us such information they keep us avid consumers, going to work to get money to buy cars and pay mortgages. in doing this we legitimise their world, a world where we sustain their wealth through consumerism. This Ouroboros is superstructure, it basically states we live our lives to in service to system that makes the wealthy wealthier.

Image result for superstructure

Havyn (2017) Marx superstructure. [Presentation] available: http://www.slideserve.com/havyn/marxist-theory-of-power  . [15th march].

An excellent theory but what does that look like in practise? well to see you need only look at one of the most active of these media barons, Rupert Murdoch. Owner of News Corp he owns many media outlets like: Fox News, The Sun, Sky and even National Geographic. So how can a man like this effect a culture let me show you an example. A 2013 survey from the Union of Concerned Scientists found 72 % of Fox News content on climate change that year had been misleading and understated.

Fox News Channel Coverage of Climate Science“We found that Fox News hosts and guests were the mostly likely to understate the reality and effects of climate change as well as the most likely to disparage climate science and scientists.”

 

So why would Mr. Murdoch not want people to know about the effects of fossil fuels and climate change? Well Murdoch is part of a New- Jersey firm called Genie Energy in which he owns a 5.5% stake. In 2013 Genie was given drilling rights to one of the largest oil reserves ever found in Golan Heights, the land in question is recognised by the UN as Syrian territory but is under Israeli military occupation. So as Murdoch makes money of fossil fuels it’s unlikely he would be honest about their effect on our planet. This is a prime example of Superstructure manipulation because Murdoch is creating a cultural narrative where by his audience know less about the effect of fossil fuels so are likely to go out and fill up their car thus ecnomicaly legitimising Murdoch’s base for means of production..    .

Private media ownership should be a good thing, the free market means theoretically anyone can produce media and influence the public but we are constantly bombarded with misinformation and distraction. Fox news is one of the largest US cable, networks millions of people get home every night tune in to watch the news. as you can see they are Greeted with fear and misinformation.

Judge Jeanine – BOMB ISIS and Keep Bombing Them, Bomb Them Again & Again!
,61ys and Fox News. (2014), Youtube.

Just because the elite publish this information and label it a news we shouldn’t see it as gospel. Weather you pick up The Sun, The Guardian or listen to BBC Radio 3. Read, listen but it must be done with an air of scepticism. Research and analyse; learn the facts forge an understanding of the reality of an event and be careful of the word truth.

bibliography 

Engdahl, W.F. (2015) Genies and genocide: Syria, Israel, Russia and much oil | new eastern outlook. accessed from: http://journal-neo.org/2015/10/26/genies-and-genocide-syria-israel-russia-and-much-oil-2/ [cited on the 10th of march].

Havyn (2017) Marx superstructure. [Presentation] available: http://www.slideserve.com/havyn/marxist-theory-of-power  . [15th march].

Judge Jeanine – BOMB ISIS and Keep Bombing Them, Bomb Them Again & Again!
,61ys and Fox News. (2014), Youtube.

Union of Concerned Scientists (Cited in Science or Spin? Assessing the Accuracy of Cable News Coverage of Climate Science) April 2014.   accessed from: http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/solutions/fight-misinformation/cable-news-coverage-climate-change-science.html cited on the 9th of march.