Colloquial language tends to confuse the term, “media”. Many of us will robotically add the suffix, The (media), causing misuse as a singular noun and often immediate thoughts of negativity follow. Media refers to numbers of different ways of physically reproducing and carrying messages. (Cary Bazalgette) Media is not only expressed through newspapers, film, television and radio but the Internet, digital media and other developing mediums.
It is important to note that ‘Media Studies’ is the art of analysing these texts to uncover their effect on society. It is an infinitely evolving field, thus one fragment of its controversial nature, yet most overtly; media studies is so immensely important to study as it is practically impossible to live in the twenty first century without encountering some form of media. A media studies course will output students as consumers with a greater awareness in making sense of the political, economic and cultural meaning of everyday life. As one student recapitulates, ‘It gives you the power of choice, the power to question.’
Re-capping a typical day; I am rudely awoken by a shrieking radio commercial demanding I take advantage of the managers craaazy insane bargain prices. My vulnerable semi consciousness already affected by crude advertising before hand and eye are coordinated to slam the snooze button. The Saturday Age greets me in a less intrusive, although still attention-grabbing manner. The bold headlines demand consideration, striking photos tantalize the imagination and advertisements entice by sophistication, among other ploys. T.V Hits hums in the background while I sift through the paper, now too expansive to be rolled into one single cylinder. Just a regular Saturday morning and the media inundation I am embraced with is taken for granted before even stepping out of the comfort of my pyjamas. How is this bombardment of media affecting my everyday life?
As I flick through the sections it is clear that political issues submerge the cultural, economic and general sections of the newspaper. Particularly as terrorist hazards loom whilst contradicting theories of the P.M and the leading party divide the nation in critical pre-election hysteria. Despite claims to objectivity, most mainstream media groups are politically aligned, either to political parties, governments or to some broad ideological position, around which they fashion their journalistic approach. This is very common not only in developing countries, also in Western liberal democracies. (Steven Ratuva)
We are fortunate that we as Australians are privy to well-rounded journalism. Within the one newspaper I can hear an array of voices, teaching me how to think rather than what to think. The media has a fundamental role in intellectual reproduction in society. In other words, it helps to shape, pass on and facilitate ideas and views among people in a trans-cultural and sometimes trans-political way. But increasingly, this has been undermined by the media monopolies, which control television channels, newspapers and even radio stations. This has a number of effects.
Firstly, it effectively diminishes people’s choices in terms of what they receive; secondly, it leads to intellectual hegemony, where the media selectively determines what we should know and what we shouldn’t know; thirdly, it helps to reinforce dominance of a particular political viewpoint representing political hegemony, especially in a world increasingly dominated by the US and its few allies.
Members of ‘The Frankfurt School’ including (Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer in the first generation, followed by Herbert Marcuse and Walter Benjamin, amongst others) were highly significant as they were the first to set forth a critique of the rise of the mass media (in their day, cinema and radio were the ‘new’ media). Thus defined one important direction for Marxist criticism ever since.
‘This is the ideological critique of the media- the idea that the media taken together form an institution within capitalism which serves to reconcile the exploited class to its fate.’ (John Sinclair, 2002) The question remains relevant today; Do wealthy media industries (eg. the Murdoch empire) aim to separate the working class from the wealthier classes to ensure sustainability of its power of the media, (and hence the world)?
Referring to Murdochs most dramatic and controversial proprietor-driven bias in Australia in recent years Rodd Tiffen (2002) remarked, ‘It is far from certain that there will be market punishment for proprietorial bias.’ Murdochs newspapers and news shows suffered in public popularity because of his crude interventions. We must remember that the media is not an autonomous, objective and innocent entity with a ‘god’s eye view’ of the world. They do not always have the interest of humanity at heart.