LZ411 – Critical Media Theory

LZ411 – CRITICAL MEDIA
THEORY

Aims today …
1.
2.

Introducing the module
Looking at transm...
Outline of the module
1. Introducing the module and the media
– Lectures and seminars
– What are the media? (their charact...
Media contexts: An example

Hugh Grant on BBC news 6.7.11
BBC News 6.7.11
(from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14052690)

3
Asking questions of the media
What questions might this example raise about the media?
Questions about readers?
(audience)...
What are the media (of media
studies)?
• ‘One thing between two others…’

Newsroom

Reader

Newspaper

5
What are the media (of media
studies)?
• ‘One thing between two others…’
• Technologies, industries and form

6
Media technologies

Digital technologies

Printing
press

Photography
Telegraphy
Telephony

Radio

Video
convergence

Sate...
What are the media (of media
studies)?
• One thing between two others…
• Technologies, industries and form

Film industry:...
What are the media (of media
studies)?
• One thing between two others…
• Technologies, industries and form

Graphic Novels...
What are the media (of media
studies)?
• One thing between two others…
• Technology, industry and form
• Mass media

10
What are the media (of media
studies)?
• One thing between two others…
• Technology, industry and form
• Mass media

• A r...
Who and what is involved?

Media
producers/industries

Media content (‘texts’):
genre, narrative,
representation

Media au...
Example to consider

13
‘A cultural approach to
communication’ – This week’s
reading

Two ways to see communication

1. Sending and receiving info...
Electronic Communication

Telegraph Machine mid 19th Century

15
Conceptualising Communication
• A transmission model of communication

Sender

Message

Receiver

16
Communication as transmission

Newsroom ‘sender’

Reader ‘receiver’

Mirror Newspaper
‘message’
17
Communication as transmission
 This view sees communication as:
 Sending, transmitting, giving information.
 Metaphors ...
Communication as ritual

Communication as
“the representation of shared beliefs”
(Carey 1989:18)

19
Communication as ritual
 This view sees communication as:


Sharing, community/society building



Maintaining society ...
Example to consider

21
Police
efficiency

How could
they …?

Professional
incompetence

How
professionals
work?

State of the
nation?

Good and b...
Summary
 Dividing up our area of study: producers, messages,
audiences
 We employ cultural and social theory to examine
...
Seminar tasks
• Read the first reading (see module handbook
and seminar reader). I’ve posted some guide
questions for each...
Reading guide
Read from middle page 12 "Two alternative conceptions of
communication ..." to top of page 13.
• Write in yo...
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1. lz411 introduction

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  • The role of lectures – what I am doing. What you should be doing.The role of seminars – what we do in seminars. What you should do as preparation for seminars.What’s in the seminar pack, purpose of the readings. Procedures towards the end of the semester. Revision tutorials and the exam
  • One of the events that can help us think about how contexts figure highly on a macro level is the recent phone hacking story at News International. Obviously we’re only looking at one example here, but it is one of the biggest media related stories in recent history. It resulted in the closure of a 168 year old weekly newspaper, arrest and bail for high profile news international and political figures, the withdrawal of a take over bid for BskyB by the parent company News Corp, the resignation of the commissioner of the metropolitan police Paul Stephenson and assistant commissioner John Yates, the resignation of the PCC chair Baroness Buscombe.This example might help us to think about issues of media power and their role in society. Of course this is a specific type of media i.e. news media, but it is an important one to help us think about media power in general.What media related issues does this raise?Do you think this episode (ongoing) will fundamentally change the network of relationships that surround the media, i.e. political, economic, cultural contexts. What would need to change to stop this type of abuse of power happening again?Do you think this episode will have an impact on how people view news media? (i.e. issues of trust)
  • From Long and Wall (2009: 2onward)One of the most commonsense notions of the media (as the word comes from the plural of medium) is of a means of communication between two people. And in a modern sense, it indicates the modern means of electronic communication. It seems obvious or common sense that we are going to study say television, film, newspapers and the internet as experienced in the day to day lives of billions of people around the globe. However putting it that way tends to elide or omit the complexities of studying such human phenomena. Because that is what we are studying: something which at heart is cultural not natural. In other words the result of human endeavour, creativity and labour. The term media is normally used to refer to particular industries and forms e.g. the television industry, or fiction film. So we might talk of technological developments which have resulted in particular industries growing up around them. Next slide …
  • From Long and Wall (2009: 2onward)It’s important we distinguish between technologies industries and forms. The first refers to the apparatus involved in the production and reception of media content or messages.e.g. we can talk about particular moments in history where for example the film camera and projector were developed allowing still images (frames) to be recorded and played at a sufficient rate to give the impression of movement.
  • (O’Shaughnessy and Stadler 2008: 4) – We can talk about historical moments of media technological development: in the late 15th century Gutenburg invented a moveable type system which allowed the mechanical printing of books. Previously books had been handwritten. This early system spawned the so-called print age, whereby mechnical reproduction of books facilitated the greater reach of the printed word within and across societies. The mechnical printing of pamphlets, newsletters and newspapers followed.The industrial revolution whilst not introducing new media technologies, did importantly introduce new mechanisation of printing alongside developments in communications, i.e. road, rail and water transport allowing the faster and greater distribution of the printed word.The next great innovations were in the area of chemical, electrical and electronic technologies. These introduced photography and film, that is the mechanical and electrical mass reproduction of image, then electrical transmission of data (telegraph), through to the electrical reproduction, recording and tranmsission of sound (radio) finally television.Since the 1980s (although initiating earlier from the mid 20th century is the development of computer technologies altering again the relationship between users, and the speed and range of communication amongst multiple users (interactivity). Computer technology also facilitates media convergence that is the bringing together into one platform, sound, still image, moving image, print etc.
  • From Long and Wall (2009: 2onward)It’s important we distinguish between technologies industries and forms. The first refers to the apparatus involved in the production and reception of media content or messages.e.g. we can talk about particular moments in history where for example the film camera and projector were developed allowing still images (frames) to be recorded and played at a sufficient rate to give the impression of movement.As technologies are developed, human enterprise and labour coalesce around them and industries develop. This is where technologies are exploited for profit (although sometimes technologies are also used for public service).
  • From Long and Wall (2009: 2 onward)As opposed to apparatus of production and reception (technologies), or the economic and business entities that surround such production (industries), media forms are particular cultural developments that have relative stability in an era. They are the programmes, websites, films and print forms that are the cultural output of the media industries. Of course we can also divide forms up into particular genre.So at times in this module and in future modules we will be focussing on particular media forms (or texts if you like). For example in the second semester this year we will be focussing exclusively on factual television forms (genre), for example reality game shows, chat shows etc. and in this module we will be spending some weeks exclusively on for example print media advertising, considering adverts as meaning making systems
  • Continued from Long and Wall (2009: 2onward)We can of course use the term for a slip of paper passed from one person to another in the sense that the paper is acting as a medium of communication between two people. However that is not (usually) the media of media studies. Media studies is interested in the mass media, traditionally within the idea of a single source (say a television production company) to a mass anonymous audience. This idea is breaking down however with internet based technologies where the once separated producer and audience of a message are now sometimes indistinguishableSome types of mass media are excluded from media studies because of other disciplines which historically studied them. For example novels, popular fiction etc. Some graphic novels do find their way into media studies, as do of course literary adaptations into TV, film, gaming and music.
  • The point about a reflection:If we ask, What are the media? Can we answer that by simply saying, they are a reflection, a record if you like of who we are. Say tomorrow a virus swept the planet and killed all human beings, but left everything else behind. If an alien civilsation then dropped down to earth and could access all our forms of media, would it fair to say that they had a good idea of who ‘we’ are? Our like, dislikes, our values, our collective character?Continued from Long and Wall (2009: 4 onward).The final point to make here is the context of media communication. It makes no sense to consider media messages without a considering the context of their production and reception. What does this mean? It means considering the setting for this media communication. What are the historical, social, cultural and political arenas within which media communication is taking place? But more than that…What is the interplay between contexts and the media? How do the media impact on social, cultural and political matters? How do the social, cultural and political matters impact on the media?And it’s not as if either of these are static – the media are under constant change due to technological, political and creative forces as much society and culture are under constant change through political, technological, social and cultural forces.
  • Producers – why might this story have appeared?Texts – how is the text structured? What is foregrounded?Audiences – what might be a different range of responses to the article?
  • James Carey (communication historian) identifies the development of the electronic telegraph during the mid 19th century as the point at which the message became separated from the messenger. Prior to this of course, physical transportation of the message was necessary. With the advent of electronic communication , the message is separated from the messenger.But what are the implications of this. Carey argues that seeing communication as transmission implies the increased co-ordination and control of industrial society. Being able for example to coordinate commodity markets across time zones means that local pricing starts to disappear. Instead traders can speculate on ‘futures trading’ i.e. what will happen to prices across time (rather than across space). Everyone is effectively in the same place. When a population can rely on synchronous communication i.e. everyone receiving the information at the same time then certain aspects of life can be structured around communication events, e.g. news bulletins etc.
  • If we look at the models so far what is being expressed in all of them is the idea of movement of information, of transmissionIn this module, My argument is that the overriding concern with the study of the media can be organised around having a better idea of what we mean by ‘communication’ and so we need to look at this in more detail. James Carey in 1989 wrote about seeing communication in different ways. This is one of the first readings in your pack. In it he argued that we should consider communication in two ways: as transmission and as ‘ritual’. The transmission meaning of communication he argues has been the dominant one but we should consider communication as ritual to have a richer understanding of how communication systems work.A sense of movement – of information flowing from one area to another. In face to face communication the information flow is unmediated. However when dealing with the media, we need to consider the fact that communication is mediated, by film, by print, by telephone, by cameras etc. This view sees communication as the process of sending information from A to B. What is being sent is some representation of a source. The source can be reality, in which case the representation could be a news story, a magazine article, a TV documentary etc. But the source could also be an imagined world, in which case we get various representations such as fiction film, prose, poetry etc. Refer here to an example.
  • Inter personal two people, couple etc.Intra group – e.g. familyInter-group – local communityInstitutional – political system or company etcSociety wide – mass communication – one to many , many to many - Note how mass communication is also now becoming more like interpersonal in some ways - large scale distribution and reception:one directional flowasymmetrical relationimpersonal and anonymouscalculative or market relationshipstandardised manufacture of symbolic content (message)
  • Note that this doesn’t imply that we always act directly as a group in communication but rather it is the representations that are shared. The representations act as in invitation to share or participate in some kind of ‘bonding’QUOTE FROM ANDREWS ET AL ON THE week 1 UEL COURSE: “what has followed from the ‘cultural turn’ is a recognition that the forms in which experience is encoded, accounted for and represented, help constitute that experience” p8
  • communication | commonness | commonality | communion | communityMetaphors of community and ceremony A way of creating and maintaining an “ordered, meaningful, cultural world”The role of communion, being part of a common faithWhat binds cultures and communities together? Dance, plays, architecture, news stories, speech, clothes, the media???!! i.e. communication
  • What concensus is being built here?Is there any part of the story that isn’t built around concensus?How is what happened made to appear meaningful? How are we led to understand what happened here? What other ways could it have been made meaningful?
  • What drama, fears, discourses, does the story tap into? What forces are depicted as being at work here?
  • Summary statement, what we are doing (for me) when we are doing media studies.
  • Start at the bottom of page 14.  Read through the two views on communication.  Can you now explain those two views?p.20 - Carey states that you can view reading a newspaper in two ways: 1) as “sending or gaining information” or 2) “more as attending a mass, a situation in which nothing new is learned but in which a particular view of the world is portrayed and confirmed”.  How much do you agree with his analysis?  Give concrete examples from the news and/or other factual media (e.g. magazine features/stories) to illustrate your answer.Pp. 27-29 – Carey discusses maps. Why? What is the connection with communication?pp. 29 – What is the difference between representation ‘of’ and representation ‘for’?Put into your own words the following: “ communication is a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed... “, (p. 23). What does Carey mean by that? 
  • 1. lz411 introduction

    1. 1. LZ411 – Critical Media Theory LZ411 – CRITICAL MEDIA THEORY Aims today … 1. 2. Introducing the module Looking at transmission and ritual models of communication 1
    2. 2. Outline of the module 1. Introducing the module and the media – Lectures and seminars – What are the media? (their characteristics) – Exploring media contexts 2. Transmission and ritual approaches to communication 2
    3. 3. Media contexts: An example Hugh Grant on BBC news 6.7.11 BBC News 6.7.11 (from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14052690) 3
    4. 4. Asking questions of the media What questions might this example raise about the media? Questions about readers? (audience) Questions about producers? (writers, editors, publishers) Questions about ‘the text’? (representation, narrative, genre) Heat Magazine 13.3.10 (Bauer Media Group) Questions about ‘context’? (culture, society, politics) 4
    5. 5. What are the media (of media studies)? • ‘One thing between two others…’ Newsroom Reader Newspaper 5
    6. 6. What are the media (of media studies)? • ‘One thing between two others…’ • Technologies, industries and form 6
    7. 7. Media technologies Digital technologies Printing press Photography Telegraphy Telephony Radio Video convergence Satellite Television Mobile technologies Film Internet C 16th C 19th C 20th C 21st 7
    8. 8. What are the media (of media studies)? • One thing between two others… • Technologies, industries and form Film industry: USA Newspaper industry: UK (NI and Guardian) Television industry: BBC and C4 HQs 8
    9. 9. What are the media (of media studies)? • One thing between two others… • Technologies, industries and form Graphic Novels Magazines Television 9
    10. 10. What are the media (of media studies)? • One thing between two others… • Technology, industry and form • Mass media 10
    11. 11. What are the media (of media studies)? • One thing between two others… • Technology, industry and form • Mass media • A reflection of who ‘we’ are??? 11
    12. 12. Who and what is involved? Media producers/industries Media content (‘texts’): genre, narrative, representation Media audiences: impact, power and use 12
    13. 13. Example to consider 13
    14. 14. ‘A cultural approach to communication’ – This week’s reading Two ways to see communication 1. Sending and receiving information – Carey calls this the transmission view (this is the idea of communication that people usually have) 2. Sharing culture – Carey calls this the ritual view (this is not such a common view) 14
    15. 15. Electronic Communication Telegraph Machine mid 19th Century 15
    16. 16. Conceptualising Communication • A transmission model of communication Sender Message Receiver 16
    17. 17. Communication as transmission Newsroom ‘sender’ Reader ‘receiver’ Mirror Newspaper ‘message’ 17
    18. 18. Communication as transmission  This view sees communication as:  Sending, transmitting, giving information.  Metaphors of geography and transportation.  A process where messages are transmitted and distributed in space for the control of distance and people  Communication as a process and it has an effect  News as information See Carey (1989) 18
    19. 19. Communication as ritual Communication as “the representation of shared beliefs” (Carey 1989:18) 19
    20. 20. Communication as ritual  This view sees communication as:  Sharing, community/society building  Maintaining society over time  Creating meaning, creating culture  An expression of ‘who we are’  News as drama See Carey (1989) 20
    21. 21. Example to consider 21
    22. 22. Police efficiency How could they …? Professional incompetence How professionals work? State of the nation? Good and bad parenting 22
    23. 23. Summary  Dividing up our area of study: producers, messages, audiences  We employ cultural and social theory to examine contexts of media.  It’s a complex area to study - Simple answers are not readily available…  The overall task therefore is to understand, analyse and explain the media in their contexts in all of their complexity. 23
    24. 24. Seminar tasks • Read the first reading (see module handbook and seminar reader). I’ve posted some guide questions for each reading on studentcentral. Take a look at those questions before you come to your seminar. • Bring seminar reader to your seminar. We’ll be discussing Carey’s ideas and applying them to the print media. • You’ll set up your wordpress blog and start your journal. 24
    25. 25. Reading guide Read from middle page 12 "Two alternative conceptions of communication ..." to top of page 13. • Write in your own words what ‘transmission’ means. • What does he mean by ‘purpose of control’ (p.12)? Then read page 15 "The ritual view of communication ... " for three paragraphs only. • Write in your own words what ‘ritual’ means. • What does he mean by ‘fellowship and commonality’? Then finally from page 16 "If one examines a newspaper ..." to end of page 17. • Write in your own words the difference between ‘information’ and ‘drama’. • When you read a newspaper can you sense this difference between transmission and ritual that he is talking about? 25

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