1. Summarise the main points in the readings noting your agreement and disagreement with the ideas and opinions of the author/speaker.
Blogs of war: weblogs as news.
Melissa Wall begins the reading articulating what news is. Wall describes news as “what is on society’s mind.” (M. Stephens, 1988, cited in Wall, 2005, 154). She goes on to say that news began as a collection of information that was distributed to consumers. But by the end of the 20th Century, news belonged to big media companies who controlled what was distributed in the name of money. Also, entertainment has increased rapidly in the last few years, to overshadow regular news, so that people are getting a blend of news and entertainment.
Technology has also bought about some crucial changes to journalism, Wall notes. The role of a reporter and the way the news themselves are being distributed are of some concern. Technology has given people the opportunity to express themselves through blogging. Wall explains that this can be another source of online journalism, and goes about describing what a blog is and what one can expect of a blog for example, “Content may be about world affairs or what the blogger ate for breakfast that morning as blogs blur the lines between private and public.” (Wall, 2005, 156).
It is with this in mind that Wall continues to describe how blogs have become a form of “black market journalism” (Wall, 2005,157) where bloggers work outside the rules of journalism to bring a new perspective on news, this participatory culture affording everyday people more say on what is going on around them at a particular point in time. Wall admits that blogs carry a certain postmodernity about them and that in a negative light they are nothing more than reworked ideas and copies of other people’s concept, however, in a more positive note, blogs can be described as a new and old ideas meshing to form something new and exciting.
By Googling ‘warblogs’, Wall was able to gather information for a case study on blogs devoting time to the Iraq war. Blog types consisted of:
- “individual blogs started by nonjournalists;
- group blogs with multiple non-journalist participants;
- blogs started by professional journalists independent of any news organization;
- and blogs run by both individual and groups of professional journalists and hosted by mainstream media organizations.” (Wall, 2005, 159)
Writers of the blogs included academics, military personnel, an Iraqi citizen and some were pro war, while others were against the war. Wall found that like most blogs, the tone was personal and quite biased. Unless a journalist was writing the blog, they tended to be open and allowed people to participate and leave comments. Traditional journalists seemed to follow a certain structure which did not allow participation and were often impartial and relied on proper sources for credibility as opposed to links to other websites for credibility. Although some private blogs scorned big media corporations, they still relied on them for actual news and would post links to their websites for more information on a report.
The warblogs that Wall studied were highly personalised, intelligent and intimate, allowing readers to get to know the author through their posts, whether their opinions were positive or negative. The bloggers wrote for free; for the love of it. Readers are encouraged to take part in the blog by either leaving a comment or donating money. What is notably different, Wall adds is that the bloggers will, most often than not, reply to comments and appreciate the participation. “In this way, blogs are not a closed text with their intended meaning already fully inscribed but instead come into being through this performance between the blogger and the audience.” (Wall, 2005, 166).
Wall concludes that “blogs may ultimately pull more people into public conversations and perhaps provide opportunities for collective problem-solving.” (Wall, 2005, 167). And I tend to agree. Now that I have discovered blogging, I realise that there is a community in cyberspace I can belong to, and if I have something to say, there is someone out there that is willing to listen and give me feedback.
Melissa Wall, (2005). Blogs of war: weblogs as news. Journalism 6 (2), 153-72.
The mobile phone and the public sphere: mobile phone usage in three critical situations.
Janey Gordon’s article about the mobile phone being used as a means of journalism begins with a description of how everyday people can achieve the status of “citizen journalists” (Gordon, 2007, 308) by utilising their mobile phone cameras to take photos and video; as well use the mobile phone to text or call with the news as they occur. Gordon uses three different situations as case studies to explain how a mobile phone is operated to gather information that would other wise be unavailable. As well as the reaction from different governing bodies to the use of the mobile phone.
In China, during the outbreak of SARS in 2003, the government failed to acquire correct information about the disease and then failed to warn people about the intensity of the outbreak. People began relying on friends and relatives to pass on information via SMS and phone calls, the process rendering them citizen journalists. However, for reasons of their own, the Chinese government began moderating the use of new technology such as mobile phones and internet through a “censorship policy known as the Golden Shield.” (Gordon, 2007, 311). With the number of SMS sent in 2003 increased dramatically since 2002, it is clear to Gordon that mobile phone usage opened debate in a more public domain and allowed people a say in an otherwise restricted environment.
The Sumatra-Andaman tsunami that occurred in 2004, took place on Christmas Day and Boxing Day over several time zones. Because modern communications were at their weakest, no advance warning came through in time to evacuate people. However, despite this mobile phone usage allowed the event to be highly reported. People used their mobile phones to capture images and video footage as well as call or text to find missing loved ones. What was good to read, was the fact that some service providers sent SMS to people thought to be missing, with a number to call for assistance. Other providers did not charge their customers for phone calls made to loved ones in the affected areas. In this case mobile phones were used mainly send text messages because they used less bandwidth, particularly in poorer areas or where the tsunami took full effect.
For the London bombings in 2005, mobiles phones took on a similar role, providing the general public with an idea of what it would have been like to be at the bombing through captured photos and video footage. Those close enough and many survivors were able to take a great deal of photos, later used as evidence by the police. This is of course a great benefit. Again, mobile phones were used by survivors to let loved ones know of their safety, by texting or phoning them. What I found interesting is that mobile phones usage increased so dramatically in those few hours that police had to restrict the service providers in order for their emergency lines to continue functioning, as lines were getting clogged.
In the three instances, the governing bodies, may have failed the people in some form or other, for example, Gordon explains that “repression in China, inadequate communications in the countries hit by the tsunami and, to a certain degree, a lack of coordinated communications in London”,(Gordon, 2007, 315), all benefited from the use of mobile phones. However, the downside to relying on the mobile phone is that in China, people sending SMS with non approved information are heavily prosecuted; in Asian countries at risk of tsunami activity are afraid of crying wolf and do not wish to endanger residents should they experience such an event. Gordon explains that some people tended to stay and capture a tsunami on video rather than evacuate the area. In London, the phones lines would need an upgrade to allow for better communication in case of emergencies.
Gordon concludes that while some mobile phone images found on personal blogs might be offensive due to their nature, most images have been helpful and insightful. The use of mobile phones have been advantageous and further study would illustrate “the mobile phone may be challenging conventional and official sources of information, that the use of mobile phone technology in critical situations would be beneficial to the public sphere and that mobile phone usage might influence the primary definitions of news, news agendas and news gatekeepers.” (Gordon, 2007, 316).
This article is something I can relate to because at the beginning of this unit I asked my self if perhaps mobile phones were the ‘new media’ I was starting to study. I posted the following thread on Blackboard and received two replies:
“Good Evening everyone
I was just thinking… Can I propose that everything that came before the mobile phone is old media and the mobile phone that exists today Is the new media?
If I went and bought a state of the art mobile phone, what do I get? A device that can make phone calls, while seeing the person I’m speaking with; take a photo/movie; have a flashlight; have internet, where I can check emails, online banking, social network, even as of this month make claims on health insurance (NIB), play games…
In certain types of phones I can access applications that can do almost anything I wish.
In others yet, I can access Satellite Navigation Systems that can tell me where to go while on foot.
Just think, an all encompassing device, kinda reminds me of a Swiss army knife. What do you think mobiles can do in the future? Can it do a Jetsons-Style transformation into a car and vice versa? I hope so, that could solve a lot of parking problems!
Thanks, Evelyn” (March 7, 2011)
“Glad you raised mobile technology (and let’s not forget tablet computing and the iPad, e-readers etc). The emphasis here seems to be on technology–and yet, I see a lot of ‘old’ media in the new–print hasn’t gone away, it’s taken on new formats and turned into something that’s not quite on paper, likewise film and television.
So, what’s so ‘new’ about ‘new media’? Simply the medium? Or the genres, formats, other things that have changed? Perhaps let’s think about what’s so different about new media, beyond the actual medium (not to downplay the importance of the latter).” (Elaine, March 10, 2011)
“Hi Evelyn & Elaine,
Yes, I see what you mean… we think of our old medium of tv, radio and newspapers as new because they are now in a digital and mobile format.
I guess there are dramatic changes in the ownership and production of this new media, the production of content can now be amature footage and commentary. This has seen a platform like Youtube move from an entertainment catagory to a genuine source for news footage of world events as they happen.
Jacqui” (March 12, 2011)
I suppose this is what I was getting at. Mobile phones changing the way we distribute news, for example. And using the photos and videos taken to upload on blogs or Facebook to let others what is happening right now, whether it’s news or entertainment.
Gordon, J. (2007). The mobile phone and the public sphere: mobile phone usage in three critical situations. Convergence 13(3), 307-319.
What is Wikipedia?
“A free licensed encyclopedia written by thousands of volunteers in many languages.” (Wales, 2005).
- Anyone can join Wikipedia and edit,
- Is managed by virtually all volunteer staff,
- It has over 600,000 articles in English
- 2 million articles across many different languages
- Top 50 website, more popular than New York Times
- Has only one paid employee
- Has 90 servers in three locations
- 1.4 billion page views per month
- Spends $5000 in costs
How does Wikipedia manage quality control?
- Social politics
- Wikipedia’s neutral point of view policy (Wikipedia itself does not take a stand on an issue, only report it)
- Real time peer review
- editing by anonymous users (that consist of about 600 to 1000 people who are in constant communication)
- Vote for Deletion page (a dialog that exists to determine whether something should be on Wikipedia, if it does not pass the Google test, then if probably doesn’t exist)
How is Wikipedia governed?
The Wikipedia governance model is a very confusing, but workable consensus that includes democracy, anarchy and monarchy. “Wikipedia is flexible about the social methodology, because ultimately the passion of the community is for the quality of the work, not necessarily for the process that they use to generate it.” (Wales, 2005).
TED talk – Jimmy Wales on the creation of Wikipedia
2. Make note of the blogs you visit and the features of this blogs that attract you
I must admit that I never really read blogs until quite recently. I saw on Today, the morning show on channel nine, some time ago, a website about children getting into mischief while parents aren’t looking and since I could relate to it, I found my self checking every couple of months. This is the link: http://www.shitmykidsruined.com/. It is a very funny blog and I recommend it to all parents! It has photos of things that kids have ruined and links to things that pets and spouses have ruined. Very entertaining!
Then when I started Uni, I started reading the blogs belonging to my fellow class mates, Jos, Karl, Jen, Laura and Mel. We are in a group together and often give each other feedback.
I enjoy reading Jos’s blog (http://www.jospoika2010.iitdesigns.com.au/med104/) because she is funny. Laura (http://loulounillysthenextstep.wordpress.com/) has beautiful photos. Jen (http://qdesigns.wordpress.com/) has a different point of view, which I admire. Mel’s blog (http://www.ozimel.com/wordpress/) is comprehensive and something I aspire to be. Karl’s blog (http://18songs.weebly.com/med104.html) is just plain cool.
After reading the blogs written on the wordpress.com website, I was inspired to write my portfolio as a blog and I signed up right away. I’m still learning about blogging and about wordpress.com, but it is easy to follow and I’m enjoying the experience.