Tagged: media

web 1.5: the web is not getting flatter

As media became truly massive in the middle of the 20th century, many theorists discussed the degree to which individuals are powerless -e.g., McLuhan’s famous “the medium is the message.” In the last decades, the pendulum of dystopian versus utopian thinking about technology has swung far into the other direction. Now, we hear much about the power of the individual, how “information wants to be free” and, opposed to powerful media structures, how the world has become “flat.” The story...

Public Sociology vs the Anger Industry (or Why Lying Makes Michael Savage Richer)

by pj.rey Cast deep in recession and with unprecedented political polarization inside the halls of government, it’s no shock that the American public is angry.  Perhaps, this frustration is merely a byproduct of legislative and discursive gridlock.  Perhaps, however, this anger is better understood as the cause of such gridlock.  But if this anger is the cause and not merely a reaction to the current political situation, we must ask: Where has all this anger come from?  Has this recession...

Stigma and the Associations between Mental Illness and Violence in the Media

On February 12th, Amy Bishop walked into a meeting of the Biology department at The University of Alabama, where she had recently been denied tenure, and murdered three colleagues. On February 18th, Joseph Stack flew a stolen plane into a building that housed, among other workplaces, a number of FBI offices in Austin, Texas.  He, too, killed several people. Both are tragic events. Both were acts committed by clearly violent individuals and are possibly related to emotional or psychological problems. While Bishop had a history of violence, most...

A Times B Times C

Toyota Motor Corporation announced a safety recall of several million vehicles that have problems with sticking gas pedals causing acceleration. Until recently, corporate executives argued that consumer complaints about sudden acceleration were related to floor mats which were recalled in 2007. However, corporate executives were aware of problems with sticking gas pedals three years ago – according to a filing with federal regulators. United States Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood contends that corporate executives stopped selling and producing their vehicles with...

Wikipedia’s ‘increasing focus on quality and referencing’

Many lecturers and teachers will recognise the feeling of disheartenment when confronted by an undergraduate essay containing multiple references to Wikipedia. Despite regular exhortations for students to resist its charms, its appeal seems almost overwhelming. Although the site is loved by many, its major selling point of completely open access (i.e. ‘anyone can contribute to or edit’ its entries) is precisely why academics shake their heads in frustration. However, in a recent interview with Emma Barnett of The Telegraph, Jimmy...

Taking Advantage of "Breaking News"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jUq_HBtydA] by NickieWild Who determines what “news” is? Can we define news as “that which gets talked about,” as Katz and Lazarsfeld wrote about in Personal Influence in 1955? Or are there more strict criteria that are (or should be) observed in the modern media environment? Last year, I wrote about “Martin Eisenstadt,” a fake member of a fake think tank who managed to convince the mainstream media that Sarah Palin did not know that Africa was a continent, and...

The BNP meets the BBC

by paulabowles For the past few weeks the British media and public have hotly been debating the rights and wrongs of allowing the controversial British National Party [BNP] leader to appear on the BBC’s ‘flagship’ politics programme Question Time. Despite attempts to halt Nick Griffin’s appearance, the programme finally aired on Thursday 22 October 2009, with record viewing figures of 8 million. Since the broadcast, media analysis has been at fever pitch in an attempt to make sense of the...

Fake-Booking, Astroturfing, and Other Social Movement Hazards

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpM5e6lFzkY ] by NickieWild What makes social movement activity “authentic”? Recently in American politics, there has been a lot of discussion about “astroturfing”: protests at and disruptions of town hall meetings held by members of Congress that appear to be grassroots activity, but which are sponsored and organized by corporations and PACs (Political Action Committees). Two of the recent major players in this controversy are FreedomWorks, conservative anti-taxation PAC chaired by former U.S. Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey, and...

Who Controls the Media?

by smteixeirapoit This week, the Venezuelan government removed thirty-four radio stations from the air for failing to submit registration papers promptly. Venezuelan citizens argue that eliminating these radio stations hinders freedom of speech. Additionally, Antonio Ledezma, the opposition mayor of Caracas, contends that removing these radio stations demonstrates the government is “scared of freedom of expression”. This raises several questions: Who controls the media? Why do they control access to certain sources of information? Perhaps, the government controls the media...

Mainstream media outlets prove once again that they're not interested in cultural analysis

By Rachael Liberman When high-end retailer Barneys New York decided to remove their controversial window display on July 22nd, media outlets were literally handed a story that involved high fashion, violence against women, corporate marketing, and artistic integrity. Instead, many outlets, including the LA Times and the Chicago Tribune, abandoned a cultural critique and ran what the AP wire distributed. As a consequence, what could have been a discussion and inquiry into the social condition of gender and violence was...

Racist Language in the U.S.: Alive, But Not Well

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giS0382sFjw] by NickieWild Is racist language still acceptable in the United States? As with most things in social science, the answer depends on the situation and people involved. Recently, the television program on the CBS network “Big Brother” self-censored an episode where two contestants used a derogatory term to describe fellow contestants who were of Mexican descent, as well as making anti-gay remarks. Compare this incident with former Georgia Senator and Governor Zell Miller’s statement that President Obama should be...

Who Dreamed a Dream?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lp0IWv8QZY&feature=related] by linanne10 A recent youtube video of one of the performances in the largest British competition show, “Britain’s Got Talent,” have received incalculable viewing frequencies, and the number is still rising. Susan Boyle is the focus of this incident. Her mundane (and to some point, ludicrous) appearance, with her resonant and rich voice made her the new “instant celebrity” (according to a recent New York Times article). Drawing from Alexander’s idea on social performance, a successful performance needs to...

Welcome to the Real "Earth"

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-T6APT6_w7I] linanne Mass media and technological advancement have created webs of images of reality, which often serve as resources for audiences and social actors to refer to while interpreting and understanding the world around them. Sociologist and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard understood such mass production, imitations and constant reproduction of images and goods as “second order” simulation. This second order simulation, according to Baudrillard, disturbs and blurs the line between the “real” and the “copy,” threatening to detach social actors...

Super-Anomie? U.S. Shooting Incidents in the Last 30 Days

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J22mLsZd2C8] by NickieWild As of today, according to msnbc.com, 43 people have died in the last 30 days in mass-shooting incidents across the U.S. There are several sociological theories that could potentially explain this. Messner and Rosenfeld’s “American Dream” structural strain theory posits that when there is a gap between what one wants to achieve and what seems possible, violence increases. For the immigrant who shot 13 people and himself in Binghamton, NY last week, there is evidence that points...

Mediated Domestic Violence: Is the New Visibility Short Lived?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Mr4kXW6mOU] by NickieWild The media in the United States, especially television, re-discovers the severity of violence against women when a highly visible image or story occurs. The latest incident, involving singers Chris Brown and Rihanna, has been extensively covered on local, national, and cable news, and talk shows like Oprah and Dr. Phil. However, as academic writers on the subject have noted, the media continually “rediscover” this problem in response to a specific incident that is either particularly horrific (such...