The Media
[ Issue 19 ]

The Media holds a lot of interest for Emily Bronto

Permit Bikwil to acquaint you with the fascination of the Media

The Media

Issue 19's Web Line consists of a short digest by Tony Rogers on Media Web sites, including media influence, abuse and control.

There's plenty of stuff on the media as a subject for study, with many such Web sites emanating from academic institutions, where media courses are becoming more popular

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Web Line — Tony Rogers


Not so long ago, Australians were treated to what became known as the “Cash for Comment” affair. At its centre was an inquiry by the Australian Broadcasting Authority into undisclosed contracts with various sponsors secured by prominent Sydney talkback radio hosts in return for making positive comments about those sponsors.

The great publicity the issue attracted led me to wonder what the Net has to offer on media influence, media abuse and the legislative, independent-watchdog- and self- control thereof. Today’s column presents a short digest of what I found when I went browsing.

Not surprisingly, there’s plenty of stuff on the media as a subject for study, with many such Web sites emanating from academic institutions, where media courses are becoming more popular. For instance, a well-known media commentator at Macquarie University in Sydney, McKenzie Wark, has made available on the Internet in his Warchive a selection of his essays on media, culture, technology and education, notably the sections Australian Media Politics, American Media Politics and Global Media Issues.

Over in Wales, the Uni at Aberystwyth site includes the Media and Communication Studies Site run by Dr Daniel Chandler, a lecturer in media theory. While concerned mainly with curriculum matters, he does give useful summaries of all his courses, plus copious reading lists.

Prominent in Canada, at the University of Oregon, is the Media Literacy Online Project. The aim here is “to provide a support service for teachers . . . concerned with the influence of media in the lives of children and youth”. By Media Literacy is meant “informed and critical understanding of the nature of the mass media, the techniques used by them, and the impact of these techniques”. Among its many features is a comprehensive collection of articles on media literacy and education topics, plus links to other on-line information.

South of the Canadian border there is no shortage of material to be had. Let’s start with Media Watchdog, maintained by Michael Ernest at the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science. This is a collection of online media watch resources with a special emphasis on articles that critically analyse the inaccuracies and biases of the mainstream media. In addition, many organizations are listed which regularly offer media criticism, including some in Europe.

Newseum is the product of The Freedom Forum. Chiefly devoted to preserving the USA First Amendment, Newseum boasts an advisory committee that includes veteran reporters Walter Cronkite and Robert MacNeil. Many provocative articles on the media’s effect on society are readily available. One appealing regular feature is their Outrage of the Week.

The Poynter Institute, a school for journalists, has a site called Poynter Online. It appears to be updated weekly, and apart from its unhidden self-advertising intentions, contains a number of commentaries on the ethical and other challenges confronting the journalist of tomorrow.

For consumers rather than professionals is the Center for Media and Public Affairs’ NewsWatch, a daily media criticism Web Site. Formed in 1985, the Center’s goal is “to provide an empirical basis for ongoing debates over media fairness and impact”, claiming that what sets it apart from other media watchdog groups is its scientific approach. As with other sites I mention here, NewsWatch can be had in a fuller printed version via subscription.

Incidentally, Media Watch — the Aussie TV show where the “Cash for Comment” matter was first made public — has its own Web presence. It resides at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s site, and transcripts of recent programmes are obtainable there.

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