Diversity in the digital age

How the digital media age is changing; who controls own news and where it is coming from?

(Featured Image: AP/Josh Reynolds)

How does media ownership concentration affect the way we get our news? Will new online landscapes end up facing these same ownership issues? As we move into the new digital age, a new media landscape is developing; creating opportunities and potential for diversity in the Australian media industry. This is due to a decreasing concentration of media ownership and an increase in differing media platforms.

Government-owned media such as the ABC aim to provide journalism grounded in objectivity. In contrast, privately owned media corporations such as Fairfax and News Corp generally feature opinion based articles, often propagating bias towards the key stakeholder’s views.

‘Brexit’ coverage, BBC vs. the Daily Mail.

However,  journalism that is targeted towards pleasing stakeholders becomes particularly problematic when the same agenda is pushed across multiple platforms of mainstream publications. For example, in Australia News Corp and Fairfax dominate the ownership of media publications. The problem with this is that this doesn’t leave much room for coverage from a differing perspective.

‘Reach over 7 million Australians every day’ 

News Corp’s online home page

The Future of print, radio and televised networks is uncertain due to the rise of social media. Recent studies suggest that ‘more than 90% of consumers access the internet at least once a day and 61% use a smartphone or tablet to access online news’ (Fisher C. and Watkins J. 2016). Furthermore, ‘over half of Australians (52%) reported using online and social media as a source of news’ (Fisher C. and Watkins J. 2016)

Daily Mail Australia and the Guardian Australia, two UK owned entities are two examples of the market stepping up their online campaigns in recent years. The Guardian Australia increased its unique audience from 888 000 in 2012 to 2 685 000 in 2017 (Nielsen Digital Ratings, 2017). This increase of over 200% has led them to overtake media competitors such as The Australian and Yahoo news, who have failed to fully capitalise on social media and online trends. The Guardian and Daily Mail aren’t the only media outlets to successfully infiltrate Australia’s shores; online-centric outlets such as Vice, Buzz Feed and The Huffington Post have invested heavily into the new online industry.

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(Nielsen Digital Ratings 2017)

Although new players in the Australian media market have generated large followings in recent time, Fairfax Media and News Corp continue to hold significant proportions of the online media market. Their two biggest online news outlets, news.com.au (News Corp) and smh.com.au (Fairfax) have almost 10 Million unique viewers between them (Nielsen Digital Ratings 2017).

Therefore, although the Australian media heavyweights will undoubtingly look towards expanding their online audiences over the coming years. The nature of the online world and the success of smaller media competitors in recent years suggests Australians will have access to a vibrant and diverse range of media, unlike anything we have ever had access to before. Whether or not this unregulated media machine will provide accurate and unbiased information is another question altogether.

 

 

Bibliography

APO, (2016). Viewed 30 Mar. 2017 <http://apo.org.au/files/Resource/media-reform-overview_0.pdf>

APH (2016). Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Media Reform) Bill 2016 – Parliament of Australia. Viewed 30 Mar. 2017 <http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd1516a/16bd111#_ftn35>

 Fisher, C. and Watkins, J. (2016). Australia. Digital News Report. Viewed 30 Mar. 2017 <http://www.digitalnewsreport.org/survey/2016/australia-2016/>

The vulture and the little girl

Interpreting Kevin Cater’s Pulitzer Prize winning image

Kevin Cater’s photo of a collapsed Sudanese girl while a vulture looks on. A photo which gained both universal praise and condemnation from critics and viewers alike when it was first published in the NY Times (Lehigh.edu, 1999) and again after winning the Pulitzer Prize. Over ten years on, the photo today is still used as one of the defining images of the Sudanese Famine and a starting point for discussions on the ethical dilemmas of photographing the human condition during times of suffering.

 Featured Image: (Kevin Carter/Corbis Sygma, 1993)

Kevin Cater’s image is compelling an image can be. A vulture staring down the emaciated frame of a young naked child collapsed on the ground. Immediately a photo like this draws an emotional response, trying to make sense of the situation depicted in the photo. Questions and connotations are formed within us while trying to develop a possible backstory to the image.

  • Why is the child collapsed?
  • Is the vulture stalking the child?
  • What happened to the child following the photograph?

The caption attached places further emphasis on the grim outlook of the situation portrayed, stating, ‘A little girl weakened from hunger, collapsed recently along the trail to a feeding centre in Ayod. Nearby, a vulture waited’ (Donatella Lorch, 1993)

Interview of Kevin Cater and his view on the moralities and representation of the image.

(The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club, 2004)

Regardless of the facts and realities behind this image, immediately you start to form your opinion and possible stories. The two most striking elements that form our opinions and thoughts on the image are the collapsed child and the vulture.

The child, generally seen as a universally innocent character in life. One vulnerable, in need of nurturing and care stalked by an on looking vulture, a scavenger bird representing death. These two components of the image work together to form a distressing narrative in our minds.

A third element present that is not normally as discussed when dissecting an image was the human behind the camera. Was It ethical to document such suffering without intervening?

The powerful narrative this photo portrayed consequently led to the NY Times facing public backlash and queries into the fate of the young child resulting in the release of an editor’s note; ‘Many readers have asked about the fate of the girl. The photographer reports that she recovered enough to resume her trek after the vulture was chased away. It is not known whether she reached the centre (NY Times, 1993).’

While the idea of whether the imagine was ethically and morally acceptable is still ongoing today, the fact that the conversation about it has lasted over a decade highlights the impact it had on society and the individuals who viewed it.

Kevin Cater was a South African photojournalist who focused on the social issues and violence surrounding Apartheid South Africa. He committed suicide three months after winning the prestigious Pulitzer Prize at age 33 (McCabe, 1994).

 

 

Bibliography: 

Donatella Lorch, (1993). Sudan Is Described as Trying to Placate the West. Nytimes.com. Viewed 9 Mar. 2017 <http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/26/world/sudan-is-described-as-trying-to-placate-the-west.html?pagewanted=all>

Geurts, M. (2015). The Atrocity of Representing Atrocity – Watching Kevin Carter’s ‘Struggling Girl’. Viewed 9 Mar. 2017 . <http://www.aestheticinvestigations.eu/index.php/journal/article/view/50>

Kevin Carter / Corbis Sygma, (1993). Viewed 9 Mar. 2017 <https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/30/kevin-carter-photojournalist-obituary-archive-1994>

Lehigh.edu. (1999). THROUGH A GLASS DARKLYViewed 9 Mar. 2017 <http://www.lehigh.edu/~jl0d/J246-06/THROUGH%20A%20GLASS%20DARKLY%20(full%20text).htm>

McCabe, E. (1994). Photojournalist Kevin Carter dies – obituary: from the archive, 30 July 1994. the Guardian. Viewed 9 Mar. 2017 <https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/30/kevin-carter-photojournalist-obituary-archive-1994>

Nytimes.com. (1993). Editors’ NoteViewed 9 Mar. 2017 <http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/30/nyregion/editors-note-513893.html>

Pulitzer.org. Winners Kevin-Carter. Viewed 9 Mar. 2017 <http://www.pulitzer.org/winners/kevin-carter>

The Death of Kevin Carter: Casualty of the Bang Bang Club. (2004). Motion Picture. USA. directed by Dan Krauss.