Is mediation of the public sphere good or bad?

Whether we want to believe it or not, our input as an audience and viewers is highly subjected to mediation. In other words some of our opinions won’t be heard within the public sphere. Cultural theorist Jürgen Habermas defines a ‘public sphere’ as a ‘virtual imaginary community,’ these can be opinions or thoughts about certain topics which ‘affirm or challenge’ issues explored in the public sphere. According to Christopher Neal, ‘The public sphere and the new media’, the old theory created by Habermas is ‘endangered by the power mass of the media’ through the way in which it is constantly creating new content, as a platform for opinions and ideas to be heard.

Isn’t the whole idea of a public sphere to allow people to have opinions and add to the discussion, whereas mediation seems to go against the public sphere? Yet we could also say that by having consumer control of mediation to a certain extent allows us to be a part of a new public sphere, e.g. Reporting content on Facebook. Even then however content ‘reported’ is filtered, with a team working through all reports made and deciphering which content is bad enough to be taken off and which content can stay on.

Basically, the media allows us to debate about certain ideas and issues however choose which of those can be heard. QandA, a popular ABC TV show explores this particular mediation, yes, the audience does have an input and can debate about certain issues however their questions must first be approved before it can be asked and aired, the program only selects what they want to discuss, thus mediating and controlling the debate.

According to last week’s lecture two main views were discussed, ‘The public sphere is degraded by the forces of consumer capitalism’ or the ‘Public sphere is enhanced by the emergence of different public’s, and public spaces’ but who is secluded from the public sphere, could we potential say that the media is the public sphere and we are all secluded as mass consumers, through not truly being heard?

Now there isn’t just one sphere but many. The culture reader states ‘The private and public spheres have mixed with each other, social and political organizations are now invading each other. Thus, according to Habermas, a new feudalization of the public sphere is brought about.’

This specific quote reflects and highlights the way in which the convergence of media has exceeded expectations, with users becoming more self-content driven, as well as content creation and individual expression.

It is safe to say, that the convergence of media and the consumers input has greatly affected the public sphere from what it used to be. ‘Cafe setting’ according to Habermas. We are constantly creating new spheres which allow us as consumers to engage with, debate about and be heard, in multiple ways. True, we are highly subjected to mediation, and mediation plays a key role in the power disposition between media and audience, but our individual expressions are now magnified within society.

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You got owned!

Shareholders and owners of media, rejoice. You have sucked yet another person into narrow headed propaganda. You have in some cases taken away their right to think and have an opinion on the media content you are releasing and better yet, some don’t even know you are doing this, well done I say.

 Experiencing this on the receiving end however, creates awareness that some media owners as well as the content being released can be misleading and extremely opinionated. Through this awareness we are able to take into consideration different meanings and messages from what we are consuming, having our own ideas and opinions instead of mirroring the opinions of what has been given via media ownership.

 Ricardo Goncalves states that media has taken major moves in ownership, for more information take a look at the video and article here. Described as a ‘Tangled media web,’ we see that some ownership stretches into different share holds thus becoming complicated as to who actually owns what. Without the credibility of not knowing that what you are consuming is owned, we are left following and believing someone else’s opinions, No one wants to feel voiceless, everyone wants to be heard.

 It’s a scary world knowing that you are told to voice your own opinion but suppressed by the media to do so, thus being brainwashed into what the media is producing.

Australia has one of the most highly concentrated media ownership in the world. Rupert Murdoch seeks only to expand and further concentrate his ‘media empire’. This specific article tackles the overarching question; the ownership of particular media doesn’t matter. It is through the ‘perceptions’ of the audience, the crucial semiotics of the content and what the content is saying in order for us to determine our opinions. For those who didn’t even know about ownership of the media, following and believing everything given to them, is creating a very dense society. But for those with awareness of what the major owners and shareholders are doing with our media content, we see a new society, clear and definitive of opinions on topics expressed through the media in order to form our own understandings.

Yes the media influences opinions, but that is the Medias job and we must clearly decipher whether the ownership of the content being expressed to us is guiding and influencing our opinions or telling us how to think. That is the underlying message.

We weren’t created to follow others opinions, we need to form our own. Subduing to the influential content, is only declining societies knowledge on the core topics and issues that are being overlooking within many major media platforms and channels today. You could say; hey, but isn’t reading this post about controlling media content and not following someone else’s opinion. No, there are things to branch off and reflect on within this post in order to make your own personal opinion on what I am saying . Ask yourself, is this influencing my opinion or trying to control it? This is the question you must ask yourself with every bit of media given to you in order to understand the way in which the ‘owner’ controls the media and its content.

Varying Perceptions

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‘Dolce and Gabbana- The one’ Advertising campaign.

The use of images and signs are completely layered into all aspects of our lives. These images and signs are open to different interpretations through what words and images mean and how we understand and perceive them. Two images, which are the same, could have completely different meanings.

Everyone seems to have a different understanding of the meaning of an advertisement, this could change depending on what someone knows about the product, personal experiences with the product or the ‘face’ of the brand and the information they know about him or her.

Gisele Bündchen was one of the highest paid models in 2004, she is known as a model, actress and producer. From dating Leonardo DiCaprio to marrying Tom Brady, she is known for getting what she wants. Constantly in the public eye and referred ‘The return of the sexy model” by Vogue in 1999. She has had a long and eventful career. ‘Dolce and Gabbana’ is known as one of the most exclusive and highly recognized Italian brands in the world, with ‘arguably the most powerful and influential designers of our time,’ The overall connation is the feeling of desire, with the use of a glamorous shot, using black, gold and silver. The denotation seems only to layer the desired effect, using a model of such high stature automatically suggests that the product is of high stature also, this ties in well with the slogan ‘The one’ suggesting it’s the only perfume you need and the only perfume you should want. Gisele although new to the scene was quickly well known for her natural looks and kick started modeling career therefore, everyone seemed to want her and to date her adding to the desired effect of the perfume being advertised. The lights, which seem to flash and sparkle in the background give the feeling of paparazzi and diamonds, creating a sense of glamor at a red carpet event.

This however is my interpretation. Many people would have a completely different interpretation based on what they know about the model, or product, however once hearing someone else’s interpretation we are subjected and influenced through the way in which we perceive the image/sign.

What we perceive the message might be could be completely different for someone else. In this example it is clear that different people have the same connotations but denotations can vary significantly between the producer and receiver.

'Gucci Guilty' Advertisement campaign
‘Gucci Guilty’ Advertisement campaign

In this case, there were a few denotations I didn’t pick up on such as the necklace, which adds to the masculinity of this particular advertisement, but there’s one denotation I picked up on which ‘Journo.’ By Harley Saunders did not. Chris Evans, who is the male model in this campaign, was known for being a ‘Playboy’ with recent articles suggesting he was hanging around ‘Hugh Hefner and sons’, and was likely to cheat on his girlfriend, Minka Kelly. This particular article also stated that he was found ‘hanging with a hot blonde’ is this coincidence that the female model, Evan Rachael Wood, a natural blonde, was used in this particular campaign to add to the ‘guilty’ slogan. Through this particular example it is clear to see that information of what you know when ‘signifying’ can significantly manipulate the way in which you ‘signified’ the message.

Is missing life down to technology?

Yes, technology has many bonuses to the world we live in today and the way in which we can communicate and share our ideas, technology is both the largest growing source of information and entertainment in the world. When should it be brought to our attention that technology also has detrimental effects on our well-being.

Do you find yourself constantly checking your phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Do you find that lately your phone battery hits 10% and its only 11am so you are constantly lugging around chargers for your device. Im not going to lie, I’m a person who’s battery will be at 10% by 9am. A person who lives through the phone, as well as constantly being anxious when someone holds your phone, even though you have nothing to hide. A girl who has argued on many occasions when the phone is taken off me for the night as punishment.

But what are we missing? Thats the real question. We seem to have a bigger social life on the internet than we do in reality. We seem to shy away from confrontation, and revert back to our mobile phones as if they are comfort blankets, instead of talking and experiencing everything through more than just a screen. What happened to experiencing everything for ourselves? Simply googling images of ‘Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles’ instead of walking up that damn hill yourself and being hit with the overpowering view? Yes, I was complaining all the way up the hill, and had to be dragged a good half of the way, but i will never forget that experience. Those are the experiences you with never get through a phone.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles. By Jade Hall

How many of you have seen younger kids, more equipped with the functionality of technology than you have ever been? 5 year olds tuned out, tapping furiously on iPads, or other devices. Technology is being blamed for many drastic things within society today, with a substantial increase in behavioural disorders, for example ADHD. A article named ‘A nation of kids with gadgets and ADHD’ by Margaret Rock. Looks at the way in which a rise in ADHD ran almost parallel to the rise in mobile devices. Behavioural psychiatrists have analysed research which indicate that a child’s brain works differently when on devices than when working at school. Through these, characteristics of hyperactivity are shown, their ‘brains work harder to focus on one activity alone while controlling their impulses’ and once put in a school situation, fail to focus on tasks thus stereotyped ‘hyperactive’.

Can technology really be blamed more for the negative effects on an individuals wellbeing than for the usefulness and resourcefulness which continues to grow around the world?