Features of News Stories and Values that Dictate News Selection

Stories, or news items, that are to be published and made available to the public go through a series of journalistic selections and procedures rather than objective standards (Khorana 2014b). As a result of this the news is no longer transparent as it has not been presented in its purest form. The journalistic selections and procedures that stories are subjected to before publication are the news values that are upheld by the editors of the news organisation they’re released from. But before that, it is important to note that news stories are characterised by significant features which include: transience, pseudo-events, narrativisation, and visual imperatives (Khorana 2014b).

Khorana (2014a; 2014b) says that transience refers to the ephemeral nature of news, meaning that “what is making news today probably won’t in ten days.” Pseudo-events refers to the news outlets becoming increasingly reliant on the public relations groups in organisations or governments for sources of news which has been organised for the convenience of the mass media, for example, the audience cheering for the toppling of the Saddam Hussein statue was later revealed to have been paid to be there rather than it being an expression of public rejoice (Khorana 2014a; 2014b). Narrativisation refers to how news items are packaged as a narrative, they are constructed by utilising the basic story structure of beginning, middle, and end with a point of conflict and resolution (Khorana 2014a; 2014b). Khorana (2014a; 2014b) says that visual imperatives are especially important in television and that this refers to the use of stories with strong images, using the example of Angelina Jolie’s story of breast cancer being used instead of another woman’s because she is a celebrity and high profile whilst the other woman is common and ordinary.

The news values upheld by news editors mentioned earlier which are the journalistic selections and procedures applied to stories before publication include (Khorana 2014a; 2014b):

  • Cultural Proximity
  • Relevance
  • Rarity
  • Continuity
  • Elite References
  • Negativity
  • Composition
  • Personalisation

A story synonymous of these elements would include the “38 Australian citizens and residents” who “were lost in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17” (ABC 2014). This story was culturally similar and relatable thus making it newsworthy and an example of cultural proximity. This story was relevant to Australians because Australian people were involved in the crash. Airplane crashes do not happen every day thus making this a rare event. The story was followed in the media continually for a time as it became more political. Politicians and other experts were talking about the event and elements relating to it thus giving the story elite references. This was a negative news piece which made it easier to package, although negative stories are usually unambiguous because there is little room for interpretation, there is confusion over who was actually responsible for the crash. In terms of composition they couldn’t broadcast this negative news 24/7 so news stations broke up the news with positive pieces to give more balance. And lastly events are, wherever possible, seen as the actions of people as individuals, in this case it may be Vladimir Putin who is rumoured to be supporting the pro-Russian Ukraine rebels who downed MH17.

This news story is an effective example of showing how stories are selected for publication and these selections and procedures are especially true for global media stories like the MH17 downing.

References:

ABC 2014, Malaysia Airlines MH17: The Australian Victims, ABC, viewed 30 September 2014, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-18/malaysia-airlines-mh17-australian-victims/5607188

Getty Images 2014, The Remains of Flight MH17, image, Telegraph, viewed 30 September 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10993585/First-victim-of-MH17-crash-identified.html

Khorana, S 2014a, ‘Who Counts in Global Media? News Values’ Echo360, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 30 September 2014.

Khorana, S 2014b, ‘Who Counts in Global Media? News Values’ PowerPoint slides, BCM111, University of Wollongong, viewed 30 September 2014.

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TV in Translation Part 2: Drama and Performance

Television serials usually have interesting characters that make up the interest of the series. These characters are usually interesting and are somewhat relatable or endearing to the audiences. The translation of television does not solely rely upon cultural translation but also the performance of characters. What I mean by this is how the character is actually portrayed. To look at performance we will look at two examples from within the genre of drama.

Although looking at comedy, I still think that the following Medhurst quote used by Turnbull applies to drama series. Turnbull (2008) quotes Medhurst, saying meaning in performance “reside[s] in inflection, timing, nuance, gesture, the balance of sound and silence, the unexpected pronunciation of key words, the raising of eyebrows or the flipping of wrists” (p. 112). What they are effectively getting at is that performance plays a key part in how actors/actresses portray their characters and how the audience receives them is influenced by this performance.

The first example we will look at is the character of Sherlock Holmes in both the US Elementary and the UK Sherlock. Asher-Perrin (2014) says that both shows try to depict a similar man but that Holmes – in Elementary – is forever being “called out for his personal failings, to be scolded and never allowed an inch of superiority no matter how hard he grasps for it” by the various people in his life whereas the Holmes from Sherlock has no problem stepping over and steamrolling those around him because he is the resident genius. Both versions of Holmes are portrayed as intelligent beings who feel superior to those around them because of their intelligence and this appeals to both UK and US audiences because their performance portrays them as witty and sarcastic beings.

The second example we will be looking at is the Japanese anime Sword Art Online (SAO). SAO is about a VMMORPG (virtual massive multiplayer online role playing game) entitled ‘Sword Art Online’ which around 10,000 players begin to play. Shortly into the game the players discover that they cannot log out and this is when the games creator appears, telling all the players that to escape the virtual reality they must clear all 100 floors and that if they died in-game they would also die in real life via the helmet allowing them to play ‘Sword Art Online’ frying their brains.

The above video demonstrates that performance in anime is in some ways the same and different to conventional acting. The ways in which they are the same is through facial expression, strong emotive feeling expressed though voice, and emotive actions such as hugging and crying. The ways in which they are different is that they are not real people. Despite not being real, I feel that the characters Kirito and Asuna from SAO effectively express their love and devotion for each other in the above clip through their expressions, voices, and actions. The performance of these characters makes them endearing to the audience because they are enraptured by the love between them. In terms of translation of performance consider the two following videos.

Although both videos are in different languages and their performances are different, they each effectively express Kirito’s grief over Asuna’s death through the emotion in his voice when he reaches out into thin air, reaching for his precious loved one who sacrificed herself to save him. These videos effectively express how performance across cultures is important because the common emotions of love, grief, and loss are expressed clearly through performance for both Japanese and English audiences.

References:

Asher-Perrin, E 2014, Battling Super Sleuths: The Awkward Case of Elementary, Sherlock, and Building the Better Adaption, TOR, viewed 28 September 2014, http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/02/battling-super-sleuths-the-awkward-case-of-elementary-sherlock-and-building-the-better-adaptation

MehHorsei 2014, SAO-Asuna and Kirito Final Moment English Dub, online video, 2 June, YouTube, viewed 28 September 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiDVxNfUuqQ

PixelNinja 2014, Sword Art Online – Asuna’s Death, online video, 14 July, YouTube, viewed 28 September 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsG5koRA9wU

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, No. 159, pp. 110-115.

Warren, A 2014, SAO Asuna Death [English Dub, Cropped, HD], online video, 4 June, YouTube, viewed 28 September 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFrqilyKEgs

TV in Translation Part 1: Comedy and Cultural Translation

Some television series are culturally translated for the audiences of other countries as sometimes cultural meaning is not understood by members of a foreign audience, and sometimes, television series are broadcast in their original form with voice overs in other languages or with the addition of subtitles. In accordance to cultural translation, we must consider the genre of the cultural product as it can be important in the translation of a series. In this blog we will look at the genre of comedy in line with cultural translation.

An example of culturally translated television – and not translated well at that – includes the American version of Kath and Kim, re-versioned from the Australian original. Turnbull (2008) proposes that “what has been lost in translation’ is the role and place of irony” (p. 115). What she (Turnbull 2008) means by irony in terms of Kath and Kim is that there is a “gap between how a character imagines him/herself to be and how they appear to the audience” (p. 115). Turnbull (2008) follows this with a comparison of AU Kim vs US Kim, saying AU Kim imagines herself to be a ‘hornbag’ while her performance reveals her to be “self-deluded and simply ridiculous” (p. 115), while US Kim is attractive enough to be a tabloid queen. The irony is lost because AU Kim pretends to be something she is not, and this is funny, whereas US Kim pretends to be something she already is, and this is not funny.

Following on with comedy I would like to look at the Japanese anime Ouran High School Host Club (Ouran High). Ouran High is a harem type romantic comedy that involves an ambiguous looking girl who breaks a vase worth $80,000 and has to repay her debt by bringing in money by working as a host in the all-male host club by entertaining female students. The comedy in this series translates much better because the comedy used is not culturally specific as you will see in the video below.

The comedy used in this clip is essentially comedy that borders in the realm of stupidity such as the idea of cross-dressing to make the club a more feminine place for the protagonist and the quick shots of monkeys eating bananas followed by characters slipping over. Although Bryce et al (2010) are in opposition to Iwabuchi, I agree, in some cases, when he says “that the features of the characters in manga and anime, and the contexts in which they appear, usually do not clearly indicate that the narrative occurs in any specific culture or location.” Ouran High definitely fits this criteria as there is nothing inherently Japanese about the architecture or in the appearances of the characters as most look somewhat Caucasian. I think Ouran High translates from Japanese television to Australian well because it uses comedy that is not culturally specific and because it is not heavy, culturally, with Japanese elements, making it easy to understand.

References:

Anime Plushies 2012, Ouran High School Host Club Funny Moment, online video, 23 September, YouTube, viewed 28 September 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p625GyM7nKo

Bryce, M, Barber, C, Kelly, J, Kunwar, S, Plumb, A 2010, ‘Manga and Anime: Fluidity and Hybridity in Global Imagery’, Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, vol. 10, no. 1, viewed 27 September 2014, http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/articles/2010/Bryce.html

Turnbull, S 2008, ‘It’s Like They Threw a Panther in the Air and Caught It in Embroidery’: Television Comedy in Translation, Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, No. 159, pp. 110-115.

Media Capitals and K-Pop Seoul

Globalisation today in the postcolonial world has resulted in the formation of what we call ‘media capitals.’ Media capitals are cities which engage in the finance, production, and distribution of media content and are also cities that sit at the intersection of multiple economic, social, and cultural flows (Curtin 2003 pp. 203-204). According to Curtin (2003), media capitals are not the end point of these flows but rather a switching point (p. 204). Such a media capital would include Seoul, the capital city of Korea, where a proliferation of recording companies operate and where the K-Pop revolution started.
K-Pop is South Korean pop music and has become extremely popular not just throughout Asian countries but in Europe, America, and the Middle East as well (Lie 2012 p. 340). According to Lie (2012), Korean music has been strongly influenced by Japanese and American influences from the time that it was occupied during the colonial period (pp. 342-343). It has been influenced by Japanese cultural production and musical education, and by American music genres such as jazz, blues, pop, and rock, engaged with through modern communication technologies during the 1950’s-60’s (Lie 2012 pp. 342-343). An example of the result of this influence would include K-Pop girl group, Girls Generation, with their song “I Got a Boy.”

This music video demonstrates influences from Japanese and American media capitals on the K-Pop industry. Lie (2012) says “K-pop is uniformly diatonic, lyrics peppered with English phrases, the singing style is resolutely syllabic of “western” pop, and dance is an integral element of the performance.” (p. 260). In this clip you can see that the song does contain these elements and other components that establish this song and music video as a hybrid production which include: the mix of Korean and English linguistics, the western looking costumes the girls wear like a batman jacket, and the sets used which seem to be inspired by and resemble the wild west and the American flag.

K-Pop is an industry in Seoul which is influenced heavily by thrifty business choices. K-Pop groups are the main exports of South Korea because artists are cheaper to train as groups rather than solo acts. Groups are also prized because if members are ill or injured the groups can perform without them and the different members can also be deployed to different areas of entertainment such as TV dramas, radio shows etc. (Lie 2012 pp. 357-358). The K-Pop industry also thinks on a global scale when forming their groups for example: Girls Generation has nine members, each member proficient in either English, Japanese, or Chinese allowing other members to take the leading role on non-Korean stages (Lie 2012 p. 358).

But is K-Pop Korean? The answer is no as Lie (2012) tells us that K-Pop does not contain any traditional Korean culture and is therefore not Korean (p. 360). Despite this the South Korean government endorses K-Pop because it’s a significant export boon and a source of South Korea’s soft power (Lie 2012 p. 340).

References:

Curtin, M 2003, Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 202-228.

LG Electronics 2010, SNSD Cooky Phone, Image, Wikipedia Commons, viewed 10 September 2014, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SNSD_Cooky_Phone.jpg

Lie, J 2012, What is the K in K-Pop? South Korean Popular Music, the Culture Industry, and National Identity, Korean Observer, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 339-363.

SMTOWN 2012, Girls’ Generation 소녀시대_I GOT A BOY_Music Video, Online Video, 31 December, YouTube, viewed 10 September 2014, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq7ftOZBy0E

Cultural Appropriation of the Japanese Geisha

Cultural appropriation – or co-optation – has become an issue in the global film industry today. The globalisation of the film industry has led to a system of broadcasting the cultures and histories of various countries on an international stage. However, film industries such as Hollywood are becoming interested in the cultures of others and are engaging in what is called cultural appropriation. Initially, film industries set out to engage in cultural hybridity to “…combine local with global cultural formations in a bid to subvert potentially homogenising forces associated with cultural imperialism” (Schaefer & Karan 2010 pg. 309), when instead they are engaging in cultural appropriation which Young (2005) describes as a process where the members of one culture take something produced by members of another culture (pg. 136).

An example where cultural appropriation takes place is in the movie Memoirs of a Geisha. Memoirs of a Geisha was originally a book by American Arthur Goldman from 1997 which was later adapted and released in 2005 by American director Rob Marshall. This film adaption is an example of cultural appropriation because the themes explored cause profound offense which Young (2005 pg. 135) describes as “an offense to one’s moral sensibilities” and that “such an offense strikes at a person’s core values or sense of self.” An offense raised was that of a Japanese rite of passage where wealthy patrons bid for an apprentice geisha’s ‘mizuage’ – virginity – so that she can become a full geisha. New York Times writer Sims (2001) says the novel has the geisha community concerned that it will “tarnish the industry’s reputation and bolster Western notions that geishas are little more than highly cultured prostitutes.” Other examples of this movie being culturally appropriated include: the main female leads being of Chinese descent rather than Japanese, Hollywood’s predisposition to have these Asian characters speak in stereotypical “stilted syntax and awkward enunciations” (Lims 2005), and that almost all of the scenes were shot on Californian sound stages according to an article by CBC News.

Cultural appropriation is an important issue that needs to be clamped down on as you can see. Hollywood is appropriating elements from other cultures and as a result are effectively misrepresenting cultures such as in the case of the misrepresentation of Japanese geisha as high class prostitutes when they are in fact artisans who perform music and traditional dance among other arts.

References:

Fuuu 2005, Gallery_05, image, Flickr, viewed 28 August 2014, https://www.flickr.com/photos/steature/74685465/in/set-1602816/

Lim, D 2005, ‘Girls Gone Wild: Garish Geisha in Marshall’s Disastrous Pageant of Dragon-Lady Catfights’, The Village Voice, 7-13 December, viewed 28 August 2014,

Schaefer, D, Kavita, K 2010, Problematizing Chindia: Hybridity and Bollywoodisation of Popular Indian Cinema in Global Film Flows, Global Media and Communication, vol. 6, no. 3, pp. 309-316.

Sims, C 2001, ‘ARTS ABROAD; A Geisha, a Successful Novel and a Lawsuit’, New York Times, 19 June, viewed 28 August 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/06/19/books/arts-abroad-a-geisha-a-successful-novel-and-a-lawsuit.html

Young, J 2005, Profound Offense and Cultural Appropriation, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 63, no. 2, pp. 135-146.

Bureaucratic Myopia and Self-Formation

The internationalisation of education has become a lucrative business transaction for Australia as the globalisation of education continues to march forward. Higher level international education today currently involves “…twinning arrangements between universities from different countries, foreign university branch campuses, e-learning programs for students located in other countries, study abroad components and student exchange across national borders” (Sidhu & Dall’Alba 2012 p. 413). Australia has made higher level international education into an industry for profit, not only in money, but also in “…sourcing skilled workforce through its immigration policy, especially through the international students, who are undertaking study in Australia relevant to Australia’s long-term skill shortages” (Shams & Gide 2011 pg. 92). To keep up with the issues generated by this sourcing of skilled workforce, the government occasionally changes its legislation regarding the international education industry (IEI) and the immigration policy, which has resulted in the formation of a bureaucratic myopia (Shams & Gide 2011 pg. 92). This bureaucratic myopia is emphasised by the government who, with their racialist tendencies, pick and choose who has access to international education “…according to their countries of origin, ethnicities, and religious and linguistic backgrounds” (Sidhu & Dall’Alba 2012). On top of this, potential international students who are thinking of staying on in their host country after they complete their PhD have to wait a total of four years before they can attain Permanent Residency, and because of this, Australia is steadily losing international students to other countries such as Canada whose Permanent Residency requirements are much more easily attained (Shams & Gide 2011 pp. 93-94).

Another part of the bureaucratic myopia that affects international students is that because international education has become an industry, the intercultural experience of living in a country different to their own is depleted. The challenges international students face outside of the IEI is the adjustment to another countries culture, it is here however that international students flourish as they engage in a process of self-formation. Marginson says that students engage in cross-cultural experiences to start the process of self-formation, they engage in strategies of multiplicity and hybridity to combine identity resources from their own country and the ones they find here with differing cultural and relational elements, mixing them together to create cultural personas which allow them to better understand and interact with the host countries culture (Marginson 2012 pp. 6-8). These cultural personas are not fixed, they improve and grow with each experience and thanks to hybridity, do so without threat of fragmentation or contradiction to the students identity (Marginson 2012 pg.8). International students prove that they have the capacity to live in this country by being able to acclimatise with our culture by creating persona that allow them to engage with the surrounding society, in terms of the IEI, it is all up to the international student. Because of “…the failure of setting a direction for international education” and the fact that “Australia depends on the IEI seriously in terms of revenues from export earnings,” it does not look likely that the situation international students are facing now will improve shortly, a better option for international students may be to study in Canada where the promise of Permanent Residency is real (Shams & Gide 2012 pp. 92-93).

Readings:

Aspire Education 2013, 5 Students Sitting on Grass Sharing a Joke Over Academic Text Books, Aspire Education, viewed 24 August 2014, http://aspirebig.blogspot.com.au/

Marginson, S 2012, Morphing a Profit-Making Business into an Intercultural Experience: International Education as Self-Formation, University of Melbourne, Melbourne.

Shams, S M R, Gide, E 2011, ‘Contemporary Challenge of the Australian International Education Industry: Analysis of a Bureaucratic Myopia’, International Journal of Research Studies in Education, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 91-98

Sidhu, R K, Dall’Alba, G 2012, ‘International Education and (Dis)embodied Cosmopolitanisms’, Educational Philosophy and Theory, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 413-431

Are Globalisation and Cultural Imperialism Destroying Traditional Culture?

Globalisation is a driving force in today’s international society that is being pushed forward by the innovations and advancements in technology. But what is Globalisation? According to O’Shaughnessy and Stadler (2012 p. 458) “Globalisation refers to an international community influenced by technological development and economic, political, and military interests,” and that it “…could lead to the homogenisation of world cultures, or to hybridisation and multiculturalism.” Some people fear that globalisation has an insidious nature and see it as a force that will allow certain cultures to dominate others, this is what we call cultural imperialism.

A form of cultural imperialism that is quite popular could include the culture of online gaming. Online gaming allows players to engage in a characteristic of globalisation called interconnectedness, the “…communication and the formation of communities and relationships across geographic, racial, religious, and cultural barriers” (O’Shaughnessy & Stadler 2012 p. 459). Curran et al. (2005 p. 623) talks about gaming consoles like the Xbox and how players are now more sociable than ever with the use of headsets which allow them to carry out conversation “…easily between team mates in squad- based wa[r] games like ‘SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals’.”

Online gaming allows players from around the world to engage with each other, but, this gaming culture could be viewed as an aid to cultural imperialism as it might distract youths and adults from engaging and learning about their traditional culture, thus, eliminating it. Through Appadurai’s five dimensions of global cultural flows, we can hypothesise that a downward spiral of cultural imperialism could be causing the erosion of traditional cultures. Appadurai’s five scapes are the: technoscape, financescape, ethnoscape, mediascape, and ideoscape, and do not “…look the same from every angle of vision but, rather, that they are deeply perspectival constructs…” (Appadurai 1996 p. 33).

  • Technoscape: gaming technology is distributed and made available globally
  • Financescape: companies profit from disseminating games to the public and use their acquired monies to make better games
  • Ethnoscape: a wide variety of ethnic people play these games and sacrifice their time which they could be spending engaging with their traditional culture
  • Mediascape and Ideoscape: people engage in playing these games, engaging with games that may or may not promote violence through the act of playing violent games.

These five scapes help to illustrate the downward spiral of cultural imperialism that could be eating away at traditional cultures. Despite this hypothesis, there does not seem to be any real need for concern as O’Shaughnessy and Stadler find that cultural imperialism is undermined by a number of things. One such thing is that globalisation has not lead to dominance of traditional cultures or global harmony but has rather created a “…complex process of adaption, appropriation, hybridisation, and mutual incorporation of different cultural texts and traditions as the media spread knowledge of different cultures around the globe” (2012 p. 468). In relation to gaming, people are not likely to be playing games 24/7 and probably engage in a type of hybridisation that is more common in today’s society.

References:

Appadurai, A 1996, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimension of Globalisation, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.

Curran, K, Canning, P, Laughlin, M, McGowan, C, Carlin, R 2005, ‘Online Gaming’, American Journal of Applied Sciences, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 622-625

O’Shaughnessy, M, Stadler, J 2012, Media and Society, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Pattberg, T 2012, a picture of black and white text in English and a language of Asian descent, image, The East-West Dichotomy, viewed 18/08/2014, <http://www.east-west-dichotomy.com/what-is-language-imperialism/>