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News & Events
#BreakingTheBinary: Guns or Mental Illness? PDF Print

19 September 2019

Country: United States

by: Anna Lekas Miller

Screen_Shot_2019-09-18_at_3.40.01_PMEvery time a mass shooting occurs, a familiar narrative plays out across the US media. We need gun control—now! There is a mental health crisis—guns don’t kill people, people kill people. We need more funding for mental healthcare. He is a troubled youth—a sociopath with no friends, and strange habits.

Racial justice advocates point out that if the shooter were Muslim, he would immediately be called a terrorist—but as a white man he is a “lone wolf” or “loose canon.”

But what about this “loose canon” narrative?

“Every time there is an incident of mass gun violence, one of the fastest ways to avoid addressing relevant social issues is to pivot to mental illness,” Center for American Progress Disability Rights Researcher Azza Al-Tiraifi told Media Diversity Institute.

How Do You Draw the Lines of Cultural Appropriation When Everyone “Is A Little Bit Black” PDF Print

19 September 2019

Country: Brazil

by: Sofia Ferreira Santos

Screen_Shot_2019-09-18_at_1.28.14_PMBrazilian singer Anitta sparked an international debate when she released a music video for her song Vai Malandra in late 2017. Some praised the singer for showcasing Afro-Brazilian and favela (historically black, often poor and underserved neighbourhoods) culture to the wider international public, as she sported a dark tan and long braids while wearing a bikini made out of black-tape, a style commonly used by favela residents to sunbathe on the roof tops. However, many were offended by her use of these symbols to lucratively promote her song and image--even though she grew up in a favela, herself.

Anitta hit back at the 373 million viewers, claiming that cultural appropriation doesn’t exist in a country where “everyone is a little bit black.” It was not the first time a white or mixed Brazilian celebrity was accused of appropriating Afro-Brazilian culture for Instagram shots or video aesthetic. But, unlike in the West, where the boundary appears clearer, in a mixed-race country like Brazil where everyone really is “a little bit black,” it is difficult to establish clear boundaries around race or agree on a singular narrative when it comes to cultural appropriation.

The Tide Has Turned for the RNLI—But Britain’s Xenophobic Media Remains the Same PDF Print

17 September 2019

Country: United Kingdom

by: Anna Lekas Miller

Screen_Shot_2019-09-17_at_4.09.24_PMEarlier this week, Britain’s anti-immigrant rightwing readership had a field day when the Sunday Times and Mail Online “revealed” that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) spends £3.3 million pounds on overseas projects, while 95 British jobs are on the line.

“The fact that the RNLI are cutting staff in the UK but boosting spending on these international projects begs the question of what the priority of the organization is,” the paper quoted Tory MP Nigel Evans as saying.

“I would say that 99 percent of the British public giving money to them haven’t the faintest idea that its being diverted to projects overseas.”


Have Young Brits and American Stopped Reading the Papers? And, Why? PDF Print

Earlier this year, the Reuters Institute for Study of Journalism at Oxford University published a report titled “How Young People Consume News.” Are its finding as apocalyptic as all the hype in the conventional media leads us to believe? The report confirms that established news outlets had failed to stay relevant. Young people’s needs and patterns of consumption have changed. But, news have not. Still, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Reuters report used an innovative three-pronged approach to analyse the behaviour of young people (18-35 year olds) in the UK and the US.

First, twenty people were selected to have their “smartphone behaviour” tracked over a period of twenty days.

Second, sixteen of these individuals were asked to keep a news diary over the period of three days. “Using an online app, they captured information about the news they consumed offline, on laptops, tablets and phones as it happened.” This was followed by tailored interviews with each participant. Half of the interviewees were then joined by 2 friends for an informal focus group.

Finally, news content itself was analysed “semiotically to ascertain what is at play within different formats, content and tones.”

Based on this research, the report concludes “that young people are less likely to go directly to news apps and websites, and spend much of their time online with social media and entertainment services. Against this background, it has proved hard to attract attention to traditional news content – which is often seen as a chore – or to news brands that often feel irrelevant to their personal lives.”

It offers three specific recommendations to help traditional news players regain relevance:

1. “The experiences of news should feel as easy and accessible as Facebook,” both in terms of content and access.

2. “News brands need to tell stories in ways that fit the expectations of young people, and the moments when they are open to news.” This means more flexibility and greater variety of outputs, such as visual content and on-demand podcasts;

3. “The ways the news media covers stories may need to change.”

The last point is crucial. The report found that young people were tired of overly-negative bombast. This is not to say that they “want media to shy away from serious issues”—it is to say that this market also wants to hear stories that affirm the possibility of positive change and provide a path to action.

Likewise, young people are tired of extremely partisan news coverage. At the same time, they reject principles of balance for balance’s sake. As respondents explain:

“Too many extreme opinions [are] given equal voice, often in the name of being balanced or impartial.”

For example, think back to the BBC’s decision to invite a climate-change denier to a panel on climate change, despite overwhelming scientific evidence. Instead of such fake ‘impartiality’, young people want to hear diverse voices of real people on the ground, who have their own lived perspective to contribute to a discussion the issues at stake.

I couldn’t help noticing some structural issues with this report. The report suggests that established media brands must try “to fully tailor news ‘pipeline’” to the individual user, But the report fails to consider the young readers’ intersectional characteristics such as gender, socio-economic class and religion.

The report’s gender-blindness made the report a frustrating read. For example, page 15 of the report suggests that young people consume news to meet three “progress-related needs”: status; identity; and, learning. For status and identity, the report provides answers by two men in evidence. For learning, it cites a woman. Does this mean that women read news to learn while men do it to cement their status and identity? As the report rests on stereotypes instead of incorporating gender differences into its analysis, we never get to find out whether young men and women have different news-related needs from each other.

In addition, the names of the young people interviewed suggest that the ethnic, cultural and religious background of research participants is somewhat homogeneous. If young people increasingly think big-brand media is irrelevant to their needs, can research that is blind to the true diversity of our societies actually help to make media more relevant?

Read the full report, here.

Journalism or Nationalism? PDF Print

16 September 2019

Country: US, Global

by: Jean-Paul Marthoz

JPMarticlegraphicWhen I wrote Objectif Bastogne, a history of US war correspondents in the Battle of the Bulge (December-January 1944) I had no doubt about what side my journalistic heroes, from Walter Cronkite to Martha Gellhorn, were on. It was a total war, a clash of civilizations between totalitarianism and liberal democracy—even if said Allies were imperfect democracies and included Joseph Stalin.

At the time of the so-called “Good War,” there was almost no tension between journalism and patriotism. Journalists grumbled when censors were incompetent or adjusted their prose but accepted the “blue lines” when a general would tell them that their right to report was curtailed so that the “boys” would not be endangered and the enemy would not be comforted.

In fact, in times of total war, patriotism and journalism tended to be good fellow travelers. Back in the day, most journalists rallied around the flag and took the utmost precautions not to expose their army or weaken their country. If they did criticize the army, it was because they thought that decisions had been made that compromised the security of the “boys” or the success of a military offensive.

Framing Solidarity as Terrorism: Greek Media and Refugee Squat Evictions in Athens PDF Print

13 September 2019

Country: Greece

by: Marianna Karakoulaki

downloadIn the early hours of 26 August 2019 Greek police officers stormed four buildings in the centre of Athens. Greek media outlets aligned with the recently-elected Neo Demokratia ruling party claimed that the squats were home to drug traffickers, and other hardened criminals. However, journalists’ photos of refugee families and children being forced out of their accommodations and taken to police stations tell a different story.

Squats are common in many European cities, including Athens. Historically, they have been home to artists, anarchists and leftists. However, since the beginning of the refugee crisis—and later, the EU-Turkey deal with trapped thousands of refugees bound for Germany in Greece for the indefinite future— these squats became life-saving alternative housing for refugees and migrants unable to access or afford other accommodation.


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