Women. Where even are they?

Last year, the Women’s Media Center released its annual Status of Women in U.S. Media Report, which tracks how many women are being hired, seen, and heard in American journalism and entertainment. They found that women are holding steady at not being hired, seen, or heard very much. While some sectors of the media—like entertainment television shows and radio newsrooms—have significantly bolstered their ranks of women in the past few years (though not to the point of parity), most metrics show that the representation of women in the media has barely budged across the past five to 15 years.

According to the report, women made up 36.3 percent of newsroom staffers at American newspapers in 2013, a figure that’s decreased slightly since the American Society of Newspaper Editors Newsroom Census started its gender count in 1999. They made up just 27 percent of opinion columnists in the major U.S. newspapers and content syndication services last year. Male sources are quoted three times as frequently as female ones in front-page stories in the New York Times. In the 100 most profitable films released in 2012, only 28.4 percent of speaking characters were women, the lowest percentage registered in the five years that the USC Annenberg School has been counting them up. (Women were also disproportionately portrayed as children and teenagers compared to men.) And behind the scenes, women’s representation hasn’t increased in 15 years—they made up 16 percent of writers, directors, editors, and producers in the 250 top domestic-grossing films in 2013, compared to 17 percent in 1998. From 1998 to 2013, the percentage of female film writers dropped from 13 percent to 10; the percentage of female directors dropped from 9 to 6.

When we talk about gender equality, we sometimes believe that women will naturally march toward progress until, one day, they finally reach equity. We look back on the state of women 50 years ago and see that they’ve made incredible strides in the workforce and in media representation since then, and assume that the trend will hold. But when we dial the clock back a little closer to the present—say, to 15 years ago—it’s clear that progress has stalled, and that simply waiting for the world to change isn’t a viable solution to the problem.

The Women’s Media Center’s figures are dismal across the board and I am sure they would be similar in Australia. But look closer at the institutions that make up the figures, and you’ll find a few specific leaders in the field who are working hard to change the numbers. In 2013, 50 percent of the narrative films in competition at the Sundance Film Festival were directed by women, up from 22 percent in 2002. Jill Soloway’s Afternoon Delight won the directing award for narrative drama that year. (Sundance launched its Women Filmmakers Initiative, which funds research into the underrepresentation of women in independent film and created fellowships for female directors and producers, in 2012.) White men, who make up 34 percent of the U.S. population, are vastly overrepresented on Sunday news talk shows: Last year, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CBS’s shows combined featured 64 percent white male guests, while CNN featured 54 percent white male guests. But one show—Melissa Harris-Perry’s—brought MSNBC’s numbers in line with the population, featuring 34 percent white male guests. (Harris-Perry’s MSNBC colleague Chris Hayes has also helped to dilute the white male commentator pool by instituting a quota system for his bookers, requiring that at least two of his four show guests be female.) And in the world of sports journalism—which is 90 percent male and 90 percent white—two outlets, ESPN and The Sporting News, are solely responsible for increasing the ranks of minority and female sports journalists. Of the 35 female columnists counted in the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports’ 2012 report card, 23 worked for ESPN. That suggests that while we’re waiting on society at large to shift, real change can come from the top.

Here is an incredible woman doing incredible things for women in the industry:

http://hellogiggles.com/rose-byrne-production-company/

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I can’t look i’m going to cry (looks and doesn’t cry)

When walking down the street it is not hard to see human suffering, one distinct image I remember was seeing a homeless man and his dog panhandling for money, in the freezing cold. I felt guilty as I tossed $3 of silver in his hat as it was the only change I had on me. I remember looking around, and the majority of people were just walking by, looking at them for a second or two then carrying on with their lives.

They go unseen everyday, this we know. But perhaps people’s most perplexing moment of disregard occurs when homeless people ask them for help. Requests like “Spare change?” “Got a dollar? and “Please help” overwhelmingly fall on deaf ears and diverted eyes.

Why don’t we give when asked? Do we fell guilty seeing them suffering? I believe one of the obvious reasons people react differently to panhandlers is their varying perceptions of homeless people. Paul Toro, a psychology professor at Wayne State University has found is his research hat compared to other countries, people who live in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom that have more capitalistic economies and offer fewer social services, are more likely to believe personal failings are the primary cause of homelessness and feel less compassion for homeless people. Meanwhile, these countries have higher rates of homelessness than, for example, Germany, where there is a guaranteed minimum income, more generous unemployment benefits and more rigorous tenants’ rights.

Compassion fatigue seems to be playing a role in the increasing inaction of peoples’ helpfulness in regards to those suffering. This comes from the media’s over-saturation of images and stories of plights such as homelessness or famine.

As for viewing homeless people in the street, I think the closer that poverty is to the face of people that aren’t in poverty, the uglier it is and the unfortunate part is that often gets manifested as the person is ugly — not the poverty is ugly. And poverty is ugly. It’s unpleasant. It doesn’t smell good. I think it is bringing something that people want in private (homeless people) but it is out in public, for all to see.

We have demonized homeless people so much that passersby don’t think they can ever end up on the street because they’re not crazy, they’re not drug addicted, they’re not alcoholics and they’re not stupid. But, in saying that- maybe- passersby do think they could end up on the street, some people know that if it weren’t for circumstance, they could be on the streets, too.

So regrading looking at homeless people suffering on the streets I think it comes down to this; we grow up with deficits in self-esteem; we grow up with, more or less, profound doubts about our self-worth.…so when we encounter a person that kind of culturally represents shame or failure, by definition, then that is likely to activate our own deficits in the area of self-esteem.  At the point of encounter, I don’t think we know what to do with these feelings.

How do you cope with looking at people suffering?

I share therefore I am

It is immediately clear that when you scroll through one of the many social media feeds you have that the selfie and snapping your life has become quite a full-time career- rather all consuming. One of my posting addicted friends made me think how bad it has gotten for some when I was asking her about her Instagram feed she remarked ‘most days I wish I’d never started on Instagram’ sounding like a junkie rueing her first hit. ‘The stress of taking the right images at the right time, with the right filters, with the right people, in the right clothes has become all consuming’.

Carefully constructing and editing social-media content to present a deceptively positive picture of your life has become a thing. Many of us indulge in it more than we realise, whether by untagging unflattering photos of ourselves, or by making free with the #blessed #lovemylife hashtags. Facebook-bragging was bad enough; Instagram has upped the ante to a whole new level, adding weight to the theory that a ‘picture is worth a thousand words’.

Hanna Krasnova, professor of information management at Humboldt University of Berlin recently told Slate Magazine (2013), ‘You get more explicit and implicit cues from being happy, rich, and successful, from a photo than from a status update’. And now some 70 million  images are being posted on Instagram every day, with most of us eager to represent, or misrepresent, ourselves through a wide range of filters and artful curation to be leading to the kind of life that wouldn’t look out of place in Vogue.

Initially, this didn’t seem like a big problem. Sure, our sunsets were suddenly doomsday pink and our waists the size of Giselle’s leg, but everyone was having fun right? Wrong. I’ve noticed some of my friends feel the pressure to live two very different lives. Some admit they force themselves to undertake particular activities and attend certain events they deem worthy of posting, and others admit to scheduling their days around whether or not they think particular activities would impress their followers and garner likes.

Scoff all you like, but even if you are just a passive observer, things don’t appear to be any great shakes for you either. People seem to be spending a lot of their time suffering from FOMO, my friend sighs ‘I sometimes spend the whole not scrolling, wondering and obsessing over what I might be missing out on’.

There are many takeaways you might derive from that (maybe we have become bats%$t crazy?!), but although leading a double life online might sound all kinds of messed up, I believe it’s simply an extension of the kinds of story telling humans have been doing since the dawn of time. I think every single one of us has a tendency to to exaggerate, but a platform such as Instagram allows us to do it at a much larger level. I think it is more about ‘enhancing’ what you already have rather than ‘faking’ it. We’re all simply narrating the story the story of how people see us online with the clever use of a few pictures and then leaving it to our followers to join the dots and form their own conclusions.

For those feeling anxious about portraying the perfect life, it’s often about remembering you are in control of your social media, not the other way around. This way of life is certainly not going away, so adapting to it in a way that fits in with your world view is key. Perhaps it’s about paring things back and only posting what is authentic, or moving to another platform. But I think anyone who enrages in social media needs to remember the famous quote by Mae West: ‘Keep a diary, and someday it will keep you.’

How do you say no to double-life syndrome? Are you sharing authentically? Do you experience feelings of loneliness when scrolling through peoples’ feeds?

 

Peeking over the Walled Garden

As an internet user – something you obviously are – are you aware of the walled garden you maybe ‘playing’ in? I use the term ‘playing’ very loosely, think of playing at school, at recess time when it was restricted with not much movement and a tonne of rules (no freedom to do what you want). This is similar to being apart of the walled garden on certain platforms.

Technically, a walled garden is defined as ‘a limited set set of technology or media information…provided to users with the intention of creating a monopoly or secure information systems’ (Mittew 2015) think Facebook, think Twitter. It also applies to mobile phone platforms and applications that can be accessed on a wireless network (think Apple’s iOS and iTunes) For open systems (i.e. not walled gardens) think Android, think Linux).

To further illustrate this definition imagine yourself as setting up an account on a social networking site or iTunes, before the account is set up, you, the unauthenticated user is given limited access to the site, but once you are signed up you can roam the garden and are most likely never allowed to leave.

 

The issue I raise here is; should we be worried about the increasing amount of walled gardens on the internet (considering the internet was set up to be a free for all flowing platform, where control was with the end user- not the gardener!) or is this a good thing for users as it helps protect us from things such as malware, and helps us to navigate the tonnes of content on the web… in other words is it just easier and more convenient this way?

I feel we have been lulled in to the state where we must provide more and more information to our gardeners to get the services they provide. In some cases, the companies that create walled gardens have in fact become actual Data States, which hold all our data and are arguably more influential than most nation sates.  These most definitely threaten the democratic nature of the internet- something I see as a major problem.

Another problem with the walled garden is the decision on what you can and cannot do, can or cannot access, is not yours, it’s the closed system maker’s decision. If you don’t agree, tough. If there are things you want to do, and think it’s OK to do, but the maker disagrees, tough.

 

And the rules that define what is acceptable and not in a walled garden are subject to change. Gardeners can unilaterally change their rules (including legal!) at any time, and take away functionality or access you used to have. Which leads to uncertainty.

And then there is platform lock-in. If you buy all your books at Amazon on Kindle, you cannot transfer them to other services. If you spend a lot of money on iOS apps, you’re less likely to change platforms. I concede that with content, this is starting to change with the removal of DRM on iTunes music.

HOWEVER, in saying this, of course I am a user of walled gardens, as it is difficult to survive in today’s technological inclined world.  It would be bias of me to only present the cons of  walled gardens. For one thing, there are fewer, if any, viruses, malware, trojan horses and secret key-logging systems in walled garden platforms (or none yet on the tougher ones like iOS). Whereas most people live in fear in the more open systems of getting hijacked and spend fortunes on protective tools that really don’t work, people in walled gardens feel safer.

The maker of the closed system controls the experience, which, theoretically keeps the crapware out. The carrier, retailer, or other third parties don’t get to install their own stuff in walled garden systems, leading to a better user experience.

Walled garden systems are easier to use and learn because you don’t need special skills to get in. They are targeted at regular people. They are made into comfortable and safe environments, where the limits are known and it’s easy to see and understand what is going on.

And walled gardens are a business and businesses exist to grow and make money. Walled garden systems are profitable, popular and create jobs. Profitable walled garden systems are a better long term investment as you know they’ll be around and supported in the future.

Still, I think as users we should not become use to and nonchalant about giving our details and information to these companies, rather we should be aware of the consequences of letting them control our internet experience.  Can we trust the curators of walled gardens?

Ask yourself, why do I use walled gardens? What do they bring to my internet experience? I would love to hear your answers in the comments below.

To finish, I believe the argument over walled gardens is presented as one between choice and safety, between freedom and central control. In all honesty I think the average person enjoys walled gardens  because they cannot program or fix issues or understand technology. Walled gardens provide a safe, comfortable environment in which they can be just as productive as us geeks. They can write or compose or draw or browse without worrying about or understanding their systems. Just like we drive without understanding how internal combustion engines work. Not only do walled gardens work for them, just look around you, they work very well. Look at the popularity and profitability of walled garden systems like iOS and Facebook and Kindle. To regular people, walled gardens are safe and good.

++

Mittew, T 2015, ‘Feudalisation of the internet’, slides, BCM310, University of Wollongong, viewed 13th April 2015.

The Best I Ever Had

A pleasant retail experience, I am finding, is harder to come by these days. As technology infiltrates stores at even the most basic level and people’s workloads become heavier, fast-paced and more stressful, I find it is difficult to have a genuine, helpful human experience with retail employees. However, it is not all robotic salespeople and ignorance out there as I found a glimmer of hope, at Dymocks a year or so ago.

The best retail experience I have encountered was around a year ago  at Christmas time- the busiest time. I was looking for a book for my little sister (an absolute bookworm) at Dymocks, it was a book she requested so I was on a mission to find it. When I couldn’t see the book any where in the store, I felt defeated and must have looked it too, as the sales lady asked me what I was looking for. I told her that I had searched the store for the book and couldn’t find it.

image via dymocksfranchising.wordpress.com

After she did a quick search around the store, the woman looked in the computer inventory to see if they had requested the book. It showed there were some in stock, still packed. she went and looked through the packed books (meanwhile the store was extremely busy!) and couldn’t find any evidence of it.

She talked to a manager and found that the next shipment for the book was due indefinitely next week. The woman then called the competing store (ABC Shop) and asked them to see if they had the book in store- they did! She told me to go to the ABC Shop and the book will be waiting for me on the counter.

This was a rare occasion where a retail employee went up and beyond what i expected of her and the store. I feel this service really paid off as keeping me as a customer as when I want to buy a book, Dymocks is always my first port of call (even though online sites are so tempting) and I am still talking about the experience after a year. Safe to say, thanks to that woman, my sister had a much more enjoyable Christmas day with her head buried in that ‘must-have’ book!

The Loneliness Epidemic #lookedup

I happen to quite like technology.

I love that, a few years ago, I could sit in my apartment in New York and see my dad’s face from his home in Australia, and now I can sit in my apartment in Australia and see his face from a hole in the wall in Kansas. I love that I can keep in contact with friends I made in Germany, Thailand, Italy and America. I love social media, blogs and personal websites as mean of self-expression, community-building and information-sharing.

But when I see two people sitting next to each other on a park bench silently hunched over their phones or the man in the car next to me texting at a stop sign or the people in the line for their morning coffee with their heads buried in their phones, I feel something kind of like heartbreak.

We’ve talked for decades about the fear of robots taking over; I think when we imagined it, we thought of a forceful takeover—a violent battle in which we all fight bravely for our freedom.

Looking around, though, it seems pretty apparent that we are simply handing that freedom over.

There aren’t sinister machines growing legs and turning against us, and we certainly aren’t running for our lives.

And here’s the part that makes all this as upsetting as it is: People today are more connected to one another than ever before in human history, thanks to Internet-based social networking sites and text messaging. But they’re also more lonely and distant from one another in their unplugged lives, says Sherry Turkle, PhD (2012). This is not only changing the way we interact online, it’s straining our personal relationships and the way we interact in public space as well.

Technology itself is innocent, and can so frequently be an asset, but when we sink into hypnotism, we give away our power. Our compulsions, addictions, and distractions are never anything more than an honest and childlike longing for fullness and joy.

As Louis C.K. (2013) illustrates so clearly, “we need to build an ability to just be ourselves and not be doing something.” This is a natural human state, but it can be scary as hell. It allows for the bottomless cesspool of our inner world to have a voice for a moment.

The most dramatic change that technology offers is our ability to be “elsewhere” at any point in time, to sidestep what is difficult, what is hard in a personal interaction and go to another place where it does not have to be dealt with. So, it can be as simple as waiting at the bus stop and going on your phone to fill the loneliness or avoid talking to the person next to you. ‘Cause shit! What if things get awkward? It is, however, very important that everyone develop these social skills and have real life connections- not just ones on screens. If people looked up from their phones more often they might see something they would have missed out on entirely.  These days, however, when a difficult or uncomfortable or lonely moment comes, a lot of people retreat onto Facebook. Whether or not they physically leave the place they are, they have “left.”

Walking through the grounds of university, we are together, but each of us in our own bubble, furiously connected to keyboards and touchscreen, ignoring everything and everyone around them.  To get to know why people do this, and myself included, I posted a survey to the University Facebook page and asked students to fill it out. The results were very saddening, as to why people avoided real life human interactions and always resorted to their screens.

When I asked people through a survey if they prefer talking or texting, I was shocked.  52% told me that they’d rather text than talk, they are expressing another aspect of the new psychological affordances of the new technology — the possibility of our hiding from each other. They say a phone call reveals too much, that actual conversations don’t give them enough control over what they want to say.

96% of students said they had felt lonely at university at one point or another in their studies. 56% of students said that they avoided talking to people because they didn’t really know how to start or sustain a conversation and 74%of students said they look at their phone whilst waiting for something because they don’t want to appear lonely and friendless to other people. Another 88% of students attributed their incessant phone use to the fact that they just couldn’t be bothered to talking to new people or looking up and noticing what is going on around them as they found that what was going on, on their screen to be far more interesting.

During the research conducted, subjects when being alone in public without their mobile devices expressed these feelings of being alone and anxious, they noted:

“I felt I was missing something.”

“ I felt lost without my phone, something was missing.”

“I felt nervous, confronted, intimidated and fidgety.”

“I experienced feelings of being bored and self-conscious at times.”

A similar response from another surveyed individual who answered yes to ever using their phone whilst waiting:

“I feel like I’m more subconsciously fixated on checking social media and not being able to just sit and do nothing at all without feeling restless and uncomfortable.”

“Yes, I felt-lost- I couldn’t be contacted by anyone or contact anyone, I couldn’t check social media and felt out of touch and unsafe.”

Here were some other responses:

“I became so used to checking my phone so often that it’s weird when I don’t have it.”

“I didn’t know where to look without having my phone to look at.”

My survey is not the only one showing these results. It seems to be a ubiquitous issue: the paradox of loneliness in crowded places. A recent survey British telecom regulator Ofcom (2013)  revealed that, 81% of smartphone users have it on all day, every day. Almost half of smartphone users, upon being woken up by a phone call or text or misplaced alarm at night, end up using the phone instead of shutting it off and going back to sleep. Over half of adults and two-thirds of teens regularly use their phones while socializing with others in person (there’s nothing like a tableful of people staring at their phones in unison, is there?). About a quarter of adults use their phone during dinner. A third of teens can say the same. 47% of teens use their phones on the toilet, while just over a fifth of adults do the same. However, more than a quarter of Londoners say they feel lonely often or all of the time, according to a poll commissioned by BBC London (2013). Nearly 60% of those aged between 18 to 34 questioned spoke of feeling lonely often or sometimes, compared to 35% of those aged over 55The same proportion said there was little or no sense of community where they live and a third said they felt they did not know their neighbours. In a report by Mental Health UK (2010), found technology can isolate but is also an unrivalled means of connecting people.

These statistics call for us to realise that the smartphone and the screens we have are making us lonelier and unhappy in public spaces.  As we become more reliant and addicted to our screens to fill the void, we lose the ability to create new human relationships or appreciate the smell of the place where you get your morning coffee, or catching the smile of a passer-by.

Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we short-change ourselves. Worse, as my survey found, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.

As Shirley Turkle (2012) puts it; ‘We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.’

WE expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship. Always-on/always-on-you devices provide three powerful fantasies: that we will always be heard; that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be; and that we never have to be alone. Indeed our new devices have turned being alone into a problem that can be solved.

When people are alone, even for a few moments, they fidget and reach for a device. Here smartphone connection works like a painkiller, not a cure, and our constant, reflexive impulse to connect shapes a new way of being.

This new way of being spills out into the public spaces we find ourselves in. For example eating lunch in the park is now always accompanied by a smartphone or tablet. The public space use to be a place where people can socialise and meet others whilst getting out of their private sphere. Now they have become extended private spheres. Most people chose their smartphones over meeting new people.

This results in a sea of people looking at their phones instead of experiencing the world and the people around them. I’d love it if public spaces were reconstructed in a way that would make people feel comfortable enough that they could interact with one another without their smartphones.

“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” was the headline on a substantial article in US magazine The Atlantic in 2012. In a New York Times article headlined “How Not to Be Alone” and published in June 2013, American writer Jonathan Safran Foer homed in on the essence of the issue. “Technology celebrates connectedness, but encourages retreat,” he wrote. “Each step ‘forward’ has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.”

You may have 600 friends on Facebook, but how many of them provide a meaningful connection? How often have you tapped at your phone or clicked the “refresh” button on your email, longing for someone to message you? How often have you had your head down over your smartphone when you might have lifted it to see and connect with a warm, living, breathing human being?

We use phones to avoid being human. I suspect that the next generation is going to be entirely skilled with these things and entirely unequipped for real human beings.

Smartphones are proving to be dehumanising, through the rituals and routines that we are using this technology. We are easily tempted by their potential to connect to a wider social network, which inhibits our value in trying to connect with the person or place right in front of us (Kruszelnicki 2013).

I’m writing this now in my apartment, on the computer that connects me to Facebook and Twitter and any number of other online distractions. It’s deathly quiet. Silence is good for writing. But silence tells its own story. Silence opens up the space for those insidious slivers of doubt about success and failure, meaning and worth. Silence emphasises the stark reality of the small part we each play in this whole big thing.

Loneliness can make you feel as though there’s not enough of you, the Canadian writer Emily White said on radio (2011). Herbert Bowers (2007), in his cold public-housing flat, makes a similar remark: “It’s the tyranny of being tiny: you have all these people around you but you’re so tiny they don’t take notice of you. And it’s not that you want to be noticed in a big way. It’s just a nod of the head, ‘How are you?’ As simple as that.”

I myself am as guilty as anyone, I rarely ride the bus without my smartphone, listening to music, closed off from others. However, for one week I decided I would refrain from this and started the #lookedup movement. For one week I set myself a goal to not bury my head in my phone when I was in a new situation, alone, waiting or in transport. I sat through the feeling and #lookedup. Some the things I would have missed if my head was buried were pretty cool. I asked my Instagram followers to take part and the response was overwhelming. People from all over the world #lookedup from their phones and some amazing things happened.

I hope people are learning to place boundaries around their use of smartphones and the need for constant connection and that they are beginning to develop the “ability to recognize what technology is causing distractions and addictive behaviour”.   As we become more aware of the ways that technology is disrupting our relationships, and the richness and fullness of our life we can make a change.

We can choose to turn off our smartphones and consciously enter into the shared public space in which we inhabit with others.  Once we become aware of the presence of others, we can begin to pay attention to each other and choose to enter into meaningful dialogues.

As we continue to pay attention to where we place our attention, we begin to notice that technology is only pulling on our attention because we allow it to. “Technology is not out of control because it is a real power, but because we cannot control what is suppose to control it; namely, ourselves.”

What if we acknowledged that emptiness is natural and allowed, and that sadness is inevitable? I think the payoff is worthwhile; indeed, there is more to living than just feeling “kinda satisfied with our products” (Louis C.K 2013)

So I’ve made a pact—want to join me? Let’s band together and agree to find some bravery; let’s sit with our sadness and allow our loneliness and boredom and angst and nihilism to exist AND lets look up from our screen and live. Don’t shuffle along, oblivious to the world around you, eyes and attention trained on that screen, missing everything that is important in life.

Reference List

BBC UK 2012, ‘Lonely London: Poll suggests a quarter feel alone’, BBC UK London,  20 November 2012, viewed 28th October 2014, <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-20324373&gt;.

C.K, L & Obrien, C 2013, The Conan Obrien Show, online video, 20 September 2013, Gawker, viewed 28th October 2014, <http://gawker.com/louis-c-k-s-explanation-of-why-he-hates-smartphones-is-1354954625&gt;.

Foer Safran J 2013, ‘How not to be alone’, The New York Times Sunday Review, 8 June 2013, viewed 28th October, <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/how-not-to-be-alone.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0&gt;.

Hutcheon J, 2013, One Plus One: Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, online video, One Plus One, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 29 October 2014, < http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-11-22/one-plus-one-dr-karl-kruszelnicki/5110910&gt;.

Loneliness: breaking the taboo, 12 November 2011 1:00pm, radio program, ABC Radio, accessed 29th October 2014, <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/09/opinion/sunday/how-not-to-be-alone.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0&gt;.

Lost and Found- Episode 14, 2007, television program, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Australia, viewed online 29th October 2014, <http://www.abc.net.au/tv/canwehelp/txt/s1926215.htm&gt;.

Marchie S, ‘Is Facebook Making Us Lonely’, The Atlantic, 2 April 2012, viewed 28th October 2014, <http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/05/is-facebook-making-us-lonely/308930&gt;.

The Mental Health Foundation, ‘The Lonely Society’, The Mental Health Foundation, 2010, viewed 29th October 2014, <http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/content/assets/PDF/publications/the_lonely_society_report.pdf&gt;.

Robinson, Anthony, B. “How did phones take over our lives?”Crosscut: News of the Great Nearby . Accessed September 13, 2013.

Przybyiski, Andrew K., and Netta Weinstein. “Can You Connect with Me Now? How the Presence of Mobile Communication Technology Influences Face-to-Face Conversation Quality.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 30, no. 3 (July 19, 2012): 237-46. Accessed September 13, 2013. doi:10.1177/0265407512453827.

Turkle, S 2012, Connected, but alone?, online video, 2 February, TED Talks, viewed 11 October 2014, <http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together?language=en&gt;.

Prezi

http://prezi.com/embed/jrzoyzqaqpn8/?bgcolor=ffffff&lock_to_path=0&autoplay=0&autohide_ctrls=0&features=undefined&token=undefined&disabled_features=undefined

All images used in Prezi Presentation are licensed attribution free from  Creative Commons/ Creative Commons Flickr  or are my own.

 

 

NOT ALL SIDES OF THE STORY DESERVE A FAIR GO

What do we want from the news? We want something balanced and unbiased. Something that presents the facts as they are and alerts us to important issues.

So when we look at something like this, we think it looks legitimate. Something that gives both sides a fair go.

However, The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change asserts that while 95% of climate scientists believe global warming is happening, only HALF of the general public believe that scientists are in this much agreement.

So really, shows like I Can Change Your Mind About Climate don’t present the reality of the climate change ‘debate’. In reality, the TV show presents both sides as equal, with 50/50 representation. And that is the problem with a lot of the media in front of us today: it suffers from problems of balance and bias.

Ward, in Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty, investigates whether journalists have an ethical responsibility to report only that which is supported by the majority of scientific study or whether they should report and amplify the ‘unheard voices’  of climate skeptics. Ward outlines that journalists ‘should be honest, fair and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information’ (Ward, 2009). The general public put a lot of trust and faith in journalists that they are abiding by these outlines, however, being ‘fair’ doesn’t always mean being fair towards the issue.

At-a-glance: The immunisation debate is an SBS report that again analyses both sides of the debate. It has arguments both for and against. However, even though the report admits that most scientists and parents agree that vaccination’s benefits far outweigh any risks, the report is presented as though both sides of the story have equal standing.

This today tonight report does a similar thing: presenting the debate as something that has two equal sides.

So what have we learnt? Just because you present both sides of the argument in equal proportion does not mean that they are actually fairly represented. As in the cases of the Climate Change debate and the Immunisation debate, both sides ARE NOT equal, and should not be represented as such.

It is only when the media presents controversy in a way that is proportional to the extent of the controversy that the general public will be able to make up their minds using facts. Different opinions are essential to a democracy, but they should always be presented proportionally.