Category Archives: Journalism & Society 2

Journalism and Society 2 Portfolio

* This portfolio will keep updating.

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Student Name: Liping Luo

Student Number: LUO13401194

Unit Title: Journalism & Society 2

Unit Leader: Mr. Ian Hoare

Unit Tutor: Ms. Maria Constantino

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This portfolio includes:

Term-1:

• Culturalism: Media Representation (WEEK 2)

• Post-colonialism (WEEK 7)

 The Cold War, McCarthyism and the press (WEEK 5)

• The political economy of the media: radical versus liberal theories of the press. (WEEK 4)

• Globalisation and the media (WEEK 6)

• Structuralism and after (WEEK 3)

Term-2:

• The impact of internet for journalism (WEEK 8, Term-2)

• Social media and journalism (WEEK 9, Term-2)

**NB**: 

ALL THE CONTENTS ABOVE ARE AVAILABLE HERE:

Journalism & Society 2 Section

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The impact of internet for journalism (WEEK 8, Term-2)

19 March 2015

Essay Question:

Evaluate the impact of the internet on the status and practice of journalism.

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link several billion devices worldwide. It is a network of networks (1989). Internet has been used intensively for only six decades since 1957 when it was born and it’s still changing the way we communicate. This essay will mainly discuss how internet impacts journalism from the aspects of news publisher and readers/audiences. My discussion covers multiple channels including paper press, radio, television and internet itself.

It took 40 years for the internet to be developed into a public service. There was no even any proper ‘modern’ technology for journalists at the end of 1980s – no mobile phones, no computers, and no commercial internet either. Paper press, radio and television were the main mediums which uses limited space or time to tell people what happened at those days. If breaking news happened, it would take longer and cost more for news companies to spread them out. After the internet became domestically applied, there was no doubt that it brought much more convenience.

Back to the first online breaking news, which was the Oklahoma City bombing on 19th April 1995. At that day, people started to seek for information online as never before. The online media also acts quickly – within an hour the website was filled with information, images, maps and discussions. Marshall McLuhan says that “medium is the message”, and internet has becoming one of the most vital mediums to record news since then.

* IT’S LIKE A HUGE BOARD WHICH CAN BE PUT WHATEVER, AT WHENEVER AND BY WHOEVER.

First of all, internet starts new ways of storytelling: it can provide a variety of media. The internet is one of the medium through which words stories, images, audios and videos are showed simultaneously in one platform. The integration of multimedia brings more fresh and options to online news users.

Secondly, internet means unlimited space and can be used to store and connect all types of information. For instance, hypertext links create a branching structure that direct to the related information. Clicking ‘read more’ to load another relevant page, which enables people to ‘dig’ into attractive stories and topics. Hence, if traditional media (e.g. paper press/radio/television) goes online and creates its own news websites, the unlimited internet space will makes it not limited in the actual paper or time space anymore.

Thirdly, faster speed of production is the most common impact of internet for news companies. Newspapers have to wait for the next day, or even two days later if it is a late-breaking story, before being able to publish it. Throughout the development of the event, journalists are able to feed online sources the information keeping readers up-to-date in mere seconds. “Broadcast is no longer the only medium for breaking news. We don’t have to stop a press to replate… we can and did break and update and expand a story on a moments’ notice – numerous times in a single hour.” Bruce Siceoff, the editor of NandO.net, website of the News and Observer in Ralegh, South California – launched it in 1994.

Fourthly, internet creates ‘citizen journalism’. New communication technology, including accessible online publishing software and evolving mobile device technology, means that citizens have the potential to observe and report more quickly than traditional media outlets. Courtney C. Radsch defines citizen journalism “as an alternative and activist form of news gathering and reporting that functions outside mainstream media institutions, often as a response to shortcomings in the professional journalistic field, that uses similar journalistic practices but is driven by different objectives and ideals and relies on alternative sources of legitimacy than traditional or mainstream journalism.” (2013) Whoever could post on the internet indicates that all the citizen could write news report independent with mainstream media, either for breaking news or normal news.

While some traditional news outlets are reacting with fear and uncertainty, many are adopting open publishing features to their own online versions. The Guardian and other mainstream media outlets have added blogs to their sites. The BBC’s web site posts reader’s photos, and other sites solicit and use reader-contributed content. Mainstream news outlets are increasingly scanning blogs and other online sources for leads on news items, and some are hiring journalists from the blogging ranks. Journalists are blogging live from courtrooms, from Baghdad, and elsewhere, allowing them to post frequent updates in near real-time.

Fifthly, the impacts of internet for journalism also related to the online news readers. Digital journalism allows connections and discussions at levels that print can not offer – people can comment and discuss news stories. Before the internet, spontaneous discussion between readers who had never met was hardly possible. People’s active participation is a big portion of digital journalism. Internet gives all audiences an opportunity to be part of the conversation and sometimes even shape the content of news sites. In a sense, the Internet has made news media more democratic.

* DISADVANTAGES / BAD EFFECTS

All of these advantages and impacts of internet above save space, money and time either for journalism companies or readers; however, everything has two sides. There are also several disadvantages of internet. Firstly, Internet is a symbol of technology, and the technology is challenging the whole journalism – in the future, robots will write news. Here comes the robot reporters: minutes after Apple released its record-breaking quarterly earnings this week, the Associated Press published (by way of CNBC, Yahoo and others) “Apple tops Street 1Q forecasts.” It’s a story without a byline, or rather, without a human byline — a financial story written and published by an automated system well-versed in the AP Style Guide. The AP implemented the system six months ago and now publishes 3,000 such stories every quarter — and that number is poised to grow. (2015)

Secondly, internet is changing people’s news gathering habits because of its huge amount of diverse information, which forces the traditional media either join the internet or die – less and less people will spend their money for getting news on a actual newspaper, or spend their time on waiting for television/radio news show . On one hand, it saves money; on the other hand, developing new platforms is rather costly.

However, these two disadvantages for journalism above are the inevitable outcome of the development of the technology and society.

In this paragraph I am going to talk about the bad effects that internet brings to journalism which we could avoid: taking production speed as an example – the speed in which a story can be posted can affect the accuracy of the reporting in a way that doesn’t usually happen in print journalism. From this perspective, traditional media (such as paper press/radio/television) acts better than online journalism as the names and sources are actually there. Before the emergence of digital journalism the printing process took much more time, allowing for the discovery and correction of errors.

Now we are living in a digital world where information accumulates exponentially. It is cheap and quick to get news information online, but it is also easy to get wrong information – online information is not always genuine. Due to easy circulation and reprint, fake news and rumours appear more frequently online. Misleading information, which is before any professional edit by journalists, also flourish on internet.

Online news is usually harder to trace back to source or to verify the reporter who wrote the story, therefore dispelling a news rumour online is not easy. People always have the tendency to believe some objective opinions, but have less interested in facts, and even doubt the facticity of dispelling. Breaking a cup need only one second, but the repairing time is much more than that one second. In the same way, buzzing is much easier than dispelling on the internet.

* ANY SOLUTIONS?

For those bad effects of internet for journalism, are there any solutions? What shall we do as journalists? Some problems may have no solutions because they are the result of the development in technologic era. But there some have solutions. News consumers must become Web literate and use critical thinking to evaluate the credibility of sources. Because it is possible for anyone to write articles and post them on the Internet, the definition of journalism is changing. Because it is becoming increasingly simple for anyone to have an impact on the news world through tools like blogs and even comments on news stories on reputable news websites, it becomes increasingly difficult to sift through the massive amount of information coming in from the digital area of journalism.

For journalists, they should take more responsible for the truth of the information, which means carefully check the sources of news before reprinting to their own websites. Confirming accuracy is vital on journalism field. Mark Thompson, the former director-general of the BBC, said “We would rather be right than first.” when Chinese journalist Jin Chai interviewed him.

Internet news usage spikes significantly when large news stories are happening such as the Iraq War, the 9-11 attacks and the 2000 Election. In 1996 that just 4 percent of Americans had gone online for campaign news in the election, yet in the year 2000 the percentage had already increased to 20 percent. The number of Internet users has grown dramatically since then.

In 2000 United State President Campaign, George W. Bush versus Albert Gore, Jr. Many of media organizations include CNN, in order to attract people or release information in the first time, they speculated the final result, but the consequence was that they kept changing their news for three times within six hours, reprinted papers and kept correcting the reports. BBC waited until the last minute when the result officially released.

Another story, happened in 1988, an airplane exploded on the ground in Scotland, in a small town called Lockerbie, 270 people were killed. The incident was known as Lockerbie bombings. After the airline is crashed, everyone thought that was a vital news, many journalists pressed it in a hurry, but BBC decided to wait for 30 more minutes when they got the news. Mark said: “I thought it was wrong to go on air and saying an airline is crashed without saying which airline, because the panic you caused people, means if you got a family member on any airline, anywhere, you might be afraid they were in this tragedy. So that’s the example, is accepted that we will going to break the news a few minutes after our rivals, but we will do it be absolutely certain what happened, which airline was involved.”

Those two historical examples above show one of the vital principles: We would rather be right than first. “Speed is very important, but we should put speed second to be right.” Said by Thompson.

In conclusion, internet is changing the way we communicate to the world significantly. It provides unlimited space, integration of multimedia, new ways of storytelling, more immediacy and more citizen involvement – which traditional media hardly or could not provide us. There are also some bad effects such as easily get untrue news online etc.  Internet could effects journalism but cannot change the basic principles of journalism: accuracy. Learning to use the advantages and avoid the disadvantages is another step for a further civilization.

(Total words: 2256)

References:

・RFC 1122, Requirements for Internet Hosts — Communication Layers, 1.1.2 Architectural Assumptions, 1989

The Internet’s Impact on News Media

(Centre for Communication & Civic Engagement: https://depts.washington.edu/ccce/digitalMedia/newsimpact.html)

・Radsch, Courtney C. The Revolutions will be Blogged: Cyberactivism and the 4th Estate in Egypt. Doctoral Dissertation, American University, 2013

AP’s ‘robot journalists’ are writing their own stories now (published on 05.03.2015)

   (http://www.thesenpai.com/aps-robot-journalists-are-writing-their-own-stories-now)

・Jin Chai (2012) The Contemplation of UK. (Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H13yzAh2yco)

Structuralism and after (WEEK 3)

In what ways can post-structuralist theory inform the practice of the contemporary journalist? Discuss with reference to the work of at least one key thinker.

Poststructuralism is the name for a movement in philosophy that began in the 1960s. One of the main theories of poststructuralism is that post-structuralism rejects the idea of a literary text having a single purpose, a single meaning, or one singular existence. Instead, every individual reader creates a new and individual purpose, meaning, and existence for a given text.

On the lecture, Andrew told us the representation – which may represent an original which did not, in fact, exist – precedes, and therefore determines, our understanding of the real.

A major theory associated with Structuralism was binary opposition. This theory proposed that there are certain theoretical and conceptual opposites, often arranged in a hierarchy, which human logic has given to text. Such binary pairs could include Enlightenment/Romantic, male/female, speech/writing, rational/emotional, signifier/signified, symbolic/imaginary. Substituting these two theories into contemporary journalism, that firstly, no news have a single meaning for everyone. Secondly, news should always as neutral as possible, and there’s no right or wrong, true of false on the news stories, there are only facts. To be honest I only understand its definition but don’t know how it relates to journalism too much, that is what all I came up with.

Poststructuralism is a restructure of all categories in the society, for instance, it questioned why gender constitutes a major factor in a social order. It questioned something that human beings think it is just normal and from what people’s words and social activities to explain why human beings are like this. Post-strucutrue focuses on the decomposition of the use of languages.

(Total words: 285)

Globalisation and the media (WEEK 6)

Assess the extent to which globalisation is changing the media for better or worse.

Globalisation is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas and other aspects of culture. It is keep changing the media for both better sides and worse sides. This short article will mainly attempt to analysis both two sides.

The first point which globalization makes media better is because more information available for the public, in terms of quantity and broadness. The second point is the shares of media technology and ideology are more ways of making media products, which are better platforms for industrial innovation. Thirdly, globalisation raises the international concern on those regions without freedom of press or low spread of efficient media. Fourthly, freer movement of services makes the news more convenience to deliver or spread out.

However, there are also some worse part of globalisation that changes the media. Although globalisation is probably helping to create more wealth for media, in 2005, a study by Peer Fiss and Paul Hirsch found a large increase in articles negative towards globalization in the years prior. For the worse part, firstly, since there are too much information which leads to more noise; for instance, how much of the massive information is valuable? Secondly, is it globalisation or westernisation? In my perspective, press and ideology are dominated by the mainstream media, and a big proportion of these mainstream media are western media. Thirdly, does every media need an international concern? All of those question above are the worse part that globalisation changes the media. 

(Total words: 265)

Social media and journalism (WEEK 9, Term-2)

How have social media changed the relationship between audiences and news, and what problems do these changes present for the traditional media?

Firstly, the social media allows connections and discussions at levels that print can not offer – people can leave comments and start discussions for news stories. Before the social media, spontaneous discussion between readers who had never met was hardly possible. People’s active participation is a big portion of digital journalism. Opinions and contents are the birth of a democratic movement that only internet and social networks can provide – It is a social media revolution. Internet communication technologies and social networking software enable people to communicate across locations and geographical boundaries.

Secondly, the news are no longer a monopolized by some authorities and everyone can put the news on the social media. In the traditional world, newspapers, businesses, governments, or other types of leading organizations published information and people would consume it. However, nowadays public is not satisfied and enough for only those information – they expect to choose what they want to know and  what they want to digest. The voices from above organizations are not the only voices of news anymore, every single person could produce news.

Since the speed of spreading out information on social media is much quicker than the traditional media, which makes news are more easily spread out; however, if there were news rumours which is harder to correct on the social media since normal people have lacked the ability to judge without proper investigation. The lack of control on the internet would usually causes many attack languages(so call internet violent), which increases the workload of journalists.

(Total words: 273)

The political economy of the media: radical versus liberal theories of the press. (WEEK 4)

How persuasive is Chomsky and Herman’s radical analysis of the media and their presentation of the ‘propaganda model’?

The propaganda theorist Edward Bernays says propaganda is that “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organised habits and options of the masses” (1928). In a broad term, the idea Chomsky and Herman came forward is they argue the American media serves a propagandise on behalf of powerful interest in American society. The theory of ‘propaganda model’ uses the structural economic principles to explain the reason that some media reports are inevitable biased. The propaganda model assumes that the products of media are the readers/audiences instead of the news, and media sells them to advertisers. The news have to go through five filters before presenting to the world.

The first filter is the owner of mass-media firms. Mainstream media usually is/belongs to a big corporation. Because the corporation which also has other business, so if some news may affects the benefits of other business, which would be filtered.

The second filter is what Herman and Chomsky call ‘advertising license to do business’. Advertising as the primary income source of the mass media, the benefits of advertisers are more important than the news reports.

The third filter advanced is the way the mass media sources news.The reliance of the media on information provided by government, business and ‘experts’ funded are approved by these primary sources and agents of power. Because the news media needs a lot of news information to cover daily reports, media will avoid damaging the interests of the source of the news.

The first three layers of filtration are considered the most important. The Fourth filter is ‘flak’ as a means of discipling the media. Also, the final filter would be different ideology at different time; for instance, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ‘anticommunism’ has became a national religion and control mechanism.

(Total words: 314)

The Cold War, McCarthyism and the press (WEEK 5)

Evaluate the behaviour of the US press during the McCarthy era.

On the book International History of the Twentieth Century and Beyond, Antony Best et al gave a definition of McCarthyism, which is “General term for the practice in the United States of making accusations of pro-communist activity, in many instances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful or irrelevant evidence. The term is derived from its most notorious practitioner, Republican Senator Joseph R. McCarthy of Wisconsin (1909-1957)”

Now this term is usually to be used for a description of unprovoked attack, a blame without factual basis, and some agitators use patriotism to confuse ordinary people’s mind so that they could use these words to attack and get their ends.

Between 1950 to 1956, media was one of the targets of McCarthy. However, some of them were not shocked by him. In a way, the final defeat that American media gave him was a powerful blow. 

American journalist Drew Pearson was very famous for exposing the American politicians and public figures of the scandal. He had his own personal newspaper column “Washington Merry-Go-Round” and own a radio show hosted. Although the way he did was not always good, sometimes even coined suspect; but he was the man who criticises McCarthy in his columns and radio programmes when McCarthy was at the most crazy time. Pearson and McCarthy once even had physical conflict, but fortunately was mediated by President Richard Nixon.

In 1951, the New York Post editor James A. Wechsler published 17 series articles, mercilessly criticized McCarthy’s actions. This series of articles related to McCarthy’s personal tax problems, but also related to his hypocrisy.

These two behaviours above were the examples that US press gave him during the McCarthy era.

In conclusion, McCarthyism causes a very broad influences in American society and culture, it reached many different social levels, and had became one of the sources of the big American conflict and debate.

(Total words: 319)

Post-colonialism (WEEK 7)

Essay Question:

Critically assess the contribution of postcolonial theorists to our understanding of the way the media report cultural difference. Refer to specific journalistic examples.

Postcolonialism is an era left over by history. This essay attempts to assess the contribution of postcolonial theorists and relevant philosophers (Frantz Fanon, Michel Foucault, Stuart Hall) to our understanding of the way the media report cultural difference, specifically focus on the language and marriage issues in Hong Kong and Africa.

Colonialism means the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country or region, occupying it with settlers and exploiting it economically. After the end of colonial rule, intellectual discourses the analysis, explanation and response on the cultural legacies of colonialism. Postcolonialism discusses the relationship between suzerain and colony, it’s definition varied according to different historical eras and geographical areas rather than a rigid theory. Another name of postcolonialism is called ‘postcolonial criticism’. In fact, this is a aggregation of theoretical criticism, in which all the discourse are based on historical facts including the phenomenon of European colonialism and all sorts of consequences it caused.

* Language

Frantz Fanon as a vital postcolonial theorist, was a Martinque-born Afro-French who be treated by his French comrades with prejudiced like other Afro-French people confronted. His encounter with racism embittered him throughout his life. The book Black Skin, White Masks (1952) is an autobiographical account of his encounter.

Language issue is a key point that Fanon argues in the chapter one ‘The Negro and Language’. He ascribes a basic importance to the phenomenon of language:

In France one says, ‘He talks like a book.’ In Martinque, ‘He talks like a white man.’ The Negro arriving in France will react against the myth of the R-eating man from Martinique. He will become aware of it, and he will really go to war against it. He will practise not only rolling his R but embroidering it. … Recently an acquaintance told me a story. A Martinque Negro landed at Le Havre and went into a bar. With the utmost self-confidence he called, “Waiterrr! Bing me a beeya.” Here is a genuine intoxication. Resolved not to fit the myth of the nigger-who-eats-his- Rs, he had acquired a fine supply of them but allocated it badly. (Fanon, p.21)

Martinique people dislike other non-French Negro from Africa. However, as coloured people, they feel self-contemptuous when face to white people. For them, speaking French is a symbol of becoming white, or closer to the white. Colonial people admit the superiority of white people from subconscious. The value concepts of white are also be applied and embedded to themselves.

Also, the relationship between language and ethnicity would not only stay in speaking proper French or not, it is also reflected in the specific context when the white talk to their colonized black people. Euphemistically, kindly, politely speak to the them — in fact, that behavior is a sort of discrimination, as in stark contrast to the conversation between two white people talk unceremoniously and directly. The reason why black and white are treated as different ways is that white people think the unequal status between white and black, and in the eyes of white, black people like children who need cares, who need to be talked euphemistically, kindly and politely.

In Fanon’s point of view, speaking a different language is to consciously accept a different world and a different culture. According to him, accepting French language is the acceptance of western culture for black people, it is also means the acceptance of colonial structure. This is why black people would express admiration and envy to those black compatriot who can speak French properly.

Those ideas above of language colonialism may apply to the situation in Hong Kong. As a colony of the British Empire after the First Opium War (1839-1842), Hong Kong had experienced more than 150 years of colonial era until 1997 when it was handed over to China. The combination of British and Chinese culture during the colonial epoch shaped the current culture of Hong Kong. Despite that period had been finished, however, the affects are still lasting till today. Two main phenomenons about languages directly show the colonial influences in Hong Kong:

– Popular Oxford English accent;
– Official languages of Hong Kong.

Language is a tool of communication, accent only shows mother tongue habits rather than a way of showing the height of social status. However, Oxford English accent is regarded as an elegant English accent in Hong Kong. People imitate Oxford accent, and Hong Kong media are keen on reporting it.

Apple Daily, a famed newspaper in Hong Kong, has reported a piece of news about criticizing people have Cantonese accent in speaking English which is not professional. Retired justice Sir T L Yang, artist Josephine and many other celebrities will join a nine-month “Speak Better English” Campaign, which is held by Oxford University Press, to encourage Hong Kong people to get rid of Cantonese accent and speak English well. (Apple Daily, 04/11/2003)

Another piece of news from Apple Daily published in 2010 has showed the Hong Kong media, subconsciously, considers Oxford accent as the perfectest English accent. Here I translate a part as one of examples:

Chinglish, means Chinese English, is the way of putting Chinese language habits into using English. For example, if you ask someone: Have you eaten your rice? Even though each word pronunciation is Oxford accent, even though there is no grammar mistake at all, ‘Have you eaten your rice’ is still a sentence of non-proper English. (Apple Daily, 06/08/2010)

These sort of news are not alone. Both these two journalistic examples above shows how Hong Kong media reacts to cultural difference, and the way they report affects the attitudes, understandings and opinions of the audiences/readers — us.

Hong Kong people learn Oxford accent to pursue ‘standard English’ pronunciation, is similar to the phenomenon that Fanon describes in his book that Martique people try hard to learn ‘proper French’.

Another direct impact in language is that English and Chinese languages are both declared to be the official languages of Hong Kong. To language extent, Hong Kong is a standard bilingual region. The popularizing rate of English is very high that Chinese and English are mainly accompanied by each other at the same time.

One of the main characteristics of postcolonialism is also related to the language colonialism issue: language and power.

Postcolonialism relies heavily upon a thesis of the relationship between discourse and power, said by French philosopher Michel Foucault. According to Foucault, any ‘knowledge’ in the world is a contest of discourse and power. One of the expressions of power is that knowledge could be said though a mouth, because this means you have the ‘power’ to show how or why this knowledge is thought as knowledge. In other words, to some extent, knowledge is equal to truth, whoever hold the authority has the power to claim truth. Foucault believes that ‘truth’ (actually is things be used as ‘truth’ in a certain historical environment) is the consequence of using power.

This is similar to Stuart Hall’s theory about Media Representation. One of Hall’s arguments is that ideology and power fix meaning, or attempt to lock meaning down, to impose one meaning on an event or an image. However, not all the meanings are equal. Hall believes that putting meanings into circulation and letting them become familiar to everyone is depends on who hold the power in society – whoever is in authority controls the meaning that actually begin to circulate.

Language is a basic but vital medium of communication, it relates to Foucault and Hall’s thesis. Back to centuries ago, reviewing all the different sort of colonialism, the most direct impact is language colonialism. Languages and power are inseparable, this is how it influents the colonies.

* Marriage

When Portuguese started to export the slaves from western Africa in 1441, the Atlantic slave trade had been began. In 1913, the only two independent countries in Africa were Republic of Liberia and Ethiopian Empire. Apart from these two countries, all others were controlled and colonized by western European countries.

Marriage seems a good way to change the fate of the colonial context and one’s own social status, in Fanon’s point of view. When a black woman married to a white man, it means this black woman is no longer a ‘black’ but ‘white’, as through the relationship of marriage, she actually links to the whites, and becomes relatively to the social status that white people have. If there is such a fate owned by a black woman, she will get many envy and jealousy from black females. Furthermore, this phenomenon would become an enduring news in their community, according to Fanon, in 1952.

Even if not marry to a white man, it is better and luckier to be married a half-breed man than a completely black man. The brown skin color of the half-breed is between blacks and whites, and it is closer to whites compare to blacks. Therefore, mestizo means closer to whites, higher social status and more superiority than the blacks.

So my mother, then, was a mixture? I should have guessed it when I looked at her light color. I found her prettier than ever, and cleverer, and more refined. If she had married a white man, do you suppose I should have been completely white? … And life might not have been so hard for me?


In a word, the race must be whitened; every woman in Martinique knows this, says it, repeats it. Whiten the race, save the race. (Fanon, p.47)

If a black woman got lucky with her white husband, then an expression of love to a black woman by a white man seems more incredible. There is a significance to that black woman. Because after then, she will get into a closed group and be recognized by this group of people. The psychological inferiority has completely disappeared. She is no longer the person who wanted to

be a white, she is white and she has entered the white world.

However, this is only what Fanon or other black woman thinks. But what is the reality? Sadly, 60 years after Fanon published the book, one of the famous Africa’s news websites Mail & Guardian (http://mg.co.za) has reported a news article in 2012 as the headline is “Colour bar still exists in relationships”:

When the National Party rose to power in 1948, one of the first pieces of apartheid legislation it passed was the Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (No 55) of 1949, which outlawed marriages between white people and people of other races.

In her findings Mojapelo-Batka reported that the six mixed-race couples she investigated in her study “initially experienced negative family and social reactions or disapproval, which resulted in the loss of valuable relationships and other disadvantages or challenges”. This was more than 30 years after the repeal of the Mixed Marriages Act.

The news article has reported an example about a black woman named Williams-Pretorius who has married to her white husband for nine years, but she is still not welcomed by her husband’s mother. Even the church counsellor told her that black and white people do not belong together and everyone thinks so.

“My husband is white and I am coloured,” she said. “It was extremely difficult for his mom, in particular, to come to terms with her son’s choice. She has done a lot to break up the relationship. My husband has been very supportive. It couldn’t have been easy for him, being in a position where he has no contact with his mom. It really is sad, but that is how it is. We have been together for 15 years and in March we will have been married for nine years. We have a five-year-old son who does not know that he has a grandmother.”

Desperate for support, Williams-Pretorius initially turned to a church counsellor. “When I started to tell my story, she said: ‘Yes, but black and white people do not belong together and everybody thinks so.’ I was dumbstruck. I left the counselling room that day in more pain than I was in when I arrived.”

Fanon, represents most of black people, believes that a good marriage would end the unequal relationships between black and white, but the media tells us that the reality seems very hard to make it come true. This journalistic example is entirely opposite to the contribution that Fanon made.

In conclusion, The main postcolonial theorist Frantz Fanon has given us two various angles in this essay — language and marriage. Through some journalistic examples of Hong Kong and Africa to understand the media report cultural difference. Post-colonialism is not a time point; in contrast, it will last for a very long time. However, for my perspective, it will disappear as time goes by. Future generations may not have the same experience or feeling their colonized ancestor had. So, prejudice or discrimination, don’t worry, time would help.

(Total words: 2273)

Reference:

• Fanon, F. (1967) Black Skin, White Masks (Trans. Charles Lam Markmann) New York: Grove Press.

• Hall, S. (1997) Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices.

• Foucault, M. Power/Knowledge New York: Pantheon Books.

http://uwf.edu/dearle/foucault.pdf

Mail & Guardian — Colour bar still exists in relationship

http://mg.co.za/article/2012-02-17-colour-bar-still-exists-in-relationships

Apple Daily

http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/supplement/columnist/art/20100806/14315309

http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/news/art/20031114/3663162

Culturalism: Media Representation (WEEK 2)

Stuart Hall suggests that there is a gap between the media representation of an event and the truth of that event, and Stan Cohen and the Glasgow Media group would agree. If this is a problem, how might we try to solve it?

On week-2 seminar, we have discussed Stuart Hall’s theories about Media Representation with Andrea. Here are three key points of his theories: 1. Multiplicity of meanings; 2. Power ideology; 3. Apply 1&2 above to the practice of stereotyping.

The first key point he argues is that no image, no sort of event has a single fixed meaning – in other words, no information would be understood in exactly the same way by every individual or every group of people. So a single image could have a wide range of meanings to be understood differently depending on the person’s background, the historical moment occurred etc. This argument reminds us a similar argument made by E. H. Carr: true objectivities is virtually impossible, no historian or journalist can ever completely separate him/herself from the historical moment which they are living. The social economic background, the gender, the race…would always affect historian interpretation of past event, same as journalist. This is a similarity of the theories between Carr’s and Hall’s.

The second part of Hall’s argument is that ideology and power fix meaning, or attempt to lock meaning down, to impose one meaning on a event or a image. But are all the meanings equal? Hall says no. He believes that putting meanings into circulation and letting them become familiar to everyone is depends on who hold the power in society – whoever is in authority controls the meaning that actually begin to circulate.

The third argument: he applies the theory of multiplicity of meanings and power ideology to the practice of stereotyping, and specifically stereotyping in the media. Stereotyping is an attempt to fix meanings that applies to certain groups. The stereotyping function is that every time an image of a person from a particular group is shown to people, they have a certain and usually very limited set of characteristic to be applied to that person; for instance, racial stereotyping. Black people often associating with violence and criminality, that is the way how stereotyping works –  conditioned to make those assumptions about a person. Hall argues racial stereotypes has become inscribe in media coverage. They are not even recognized as something manufactured or created by someone, people start to think that is just how things are and how reality is. This phenomenon becomes naturalized, which is how an image becomes fixed or a meaning gets down to be one thing, it’s deeply embedded in the world around us.

However, it is not difficult to realize that stereotyping could be a biased thinking. Can we change this kind of ‘fixed meaning’ (in another word – ‘stereotyping’)? In the seminar, we have discussed this question and came up with two ideas: education and constantly media affection, to try to solve the gap between the representation and truth. Firstly, education makes us learn to think critically in subconsciousness. Secondly, we couldn’t deny that media has affected the world intensively, when media reports news about a certain group of people, they should try to avoid implanting any idea to the audiences. In another way, reporting from various of aspects to tell audience not everyone is like that. Thirdly, journalists – people who write the news, should enrich themselves, because as journalists they will get in touch many different areas, like medicine, economics, politics, laws etc, knowing certain knowledge helps them to write a good piece of news.

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