25 July 2011

Norway

Norway has just held its minute’s silence for the victims of last week’s shootung. The hearing is being held behind closed doors at the moment. News outlets – internet, tv, radio, papers – are covering the events live.Later, someone will need to analyse this coverage. Perhaps analyse the “explanations” given for this killing spree compared to others in which the gunman was not western European, white, Christian. I have not heard such expressly evaluative language in the news for a long time. Not simply evaluative of the horendous deed – that part of the reporting is similar to that during 9/11, Beslan or 7/7. But evaluative of the gunman (who I am not going to name, because he has enough media presence already).

As the days pass, it seems to me that the explanation of his actions has shifted from his right-wing beliefs/ideology to his mental capacities. Today’s news has expounded at large on how mentally instable he is. Mad, crazy, not right in the head. Is this his defence lawyer’s work? To get a more lenient sentence? Or is it connected to the often repeated discursive mechanism that “they” are led to kill because of their beliefs, families, environment, socialisation, whereas “we” are led to kill because of mental delusions?

This distinct way of reporting compounds the sadness for me. Why is it apparently so easy to understand why some people have bombed civilians, yet so difficult to understand why others have?

 

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10 July 2011

Diversity of Journalisms

New book, with 28 original papers on a broad range of aspects of Diversity of Journalisms. Includes papers on wikileaks, narratology, ipad journalism, convergence, balance as a source of misinformation, twitter, news agencies, community and audience participation.

Download the eBook (8.25 MB)

Diversity of Journalisms. Proceedings of the ECREA Journalism Studies Section and 26th International Conference of Communication (CICOM) at University of Navarra, Pamplona, 4-5 July 2011, edited by Ramón Salaverría, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
8 July 2011

Big Loss for Big Media

Another success for Free Press in the US – and for the individuals who took action to save public media!

We won!

Today, in a sweeping victory for communities across the country, a federal appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to weaken media ownership rules.

Had these rules gone into effect, it would have unleashed a new wave of media consolidation across the country.

In 2007, the FCC ignored letters and calls from millions of Americans and tried to rewrite its media ownership rules to let companies own both newspapers and TV or radio stations in the same town. This change would have opened the floodgates to new media mergers, leading to even more layoffs in newsrooms while thinning out diverse perspectives from local news.

We sued the FCC for ignoring the public outcry. Today, we won. The court tossed out the FCC’s flawed rules, but also upheld all other media consolidation restrictions and told the FCC it needed to do better to support and foster diverse voices in the media – all crucial decisions for our fight to build better media.

This isn’t just our victory – it’s your victory, too.

The court pointed to public comments from people like you as deciding factor in overturning the FCC’s attempt to change its rules. Today it’s clear: Your voice and actions make a huge difference.

This court decision should send a wake-up call to the FCC: It must listen to the public and stand up against media consolidation in all its forms.

But the fight doesn’t end here. Right now around the country, local stations are using loopholes and backroom deals to get around media ownership rules and consolidate their coverage of local news. This court case makes clear that the FCC needs to strengthen their rules and address this growing epidemic as well. Click here to tell the FCC to stop this covert media consolidation.

Today’s victory is a big moment for the movement to build better media. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Onward,

Craig Aaron
President & CEO
Free Press

2 July 2011

Assange and Zizek live

Live today on Democracy Now! A podium discussion between Julian Assange and Slavoj Žižek, chaired by Amy Goodman. With Berlin based discoursologists in the audience.

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2 July 2011

Jon Stewert a discoursologist

On yesterday’s Daily Show (Thurs 30. June 2011), Jon Stewart commented on one story: “I used to think reality shapes politics, now it’s clear: politics shapes reality.” Dynamic critical journalism meets discourse theory.

9 June 2011

Positive Discourse Analysis

Just finished writing a dictionary entry for “positive discourse analysis” and came across this book, which has a whole chapter on “Critical Discourse Analysis and Positive Discourse Analysis”:

Laura Alba-Juez (2009) Perspectives on Discourse Analysis: Theory and Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press.

Including interesting online links to, e.g. critical discussion on whether positive discourse analysis is just a blase celebration of the status quo, and a recent paper from Jim Martin on the issues.

6 June 2011

Trademark on “radical media”

A corporate media group has apparently genuinely trade-marked the phrase “radical media”. The oh-so-radical media group has forced Peace news, New Internationalist, Red Pepper and others organising a conference to change the name of their conference (now: rebelliousmedia, London, 8-9 October 2011).

What is “radical media” and should there be restrictions on who is allowed to use that term? It seems fantastical that those actively involved in radical media, from UK indymedia to North African revolutionaries might be prevented from using an adjective to describe what they do, but this is exactly what a global media group is trying to do.

In September 2010 I was approached by the editors of Peace News with a proposal to mark the 75th anniversary of the newspaper with a conference. Anyone who works in print-media, no matter how main-stream the publication or how large its circulation, is exercised over what the future may hold. The rise of free, online news outlets challenges the public’s willingness to pay for a newspaper and as ever more people get their news stories from blogs, and social networking sites, newspapers have been left behind the curve, struggling to devise ways to turn a profit, or even cover their costs in the online world. This new media landscape is a challenge for Peace News as it is for Australian media barons. The conference, which will take place in London on the weekend of 8-9th October 2011 will be a chance to address these challenges and bring together a fragmented radical media community to learn from one another. It seems common sense that any media which reports on radical politics – setting out to serve that constituency – might naturally be referred to as “radical media” so, back in the autumn a small band of volunteers began working to assemble “The Radical media Conference”.

It wasn’t until six months in that the conference organising group received a threatening legal letter from the media corporation @Radical Media LLC, objecting to unlicensed use of the term “Radical Media”.

Our collective jaws dropped, how could anyone own an adjective? Yet in the closed-source world where intellectual property is hard currency, it appears that virtually anything may be trade-marked. We didn’t know whether to rant or cry. Our instincts told us that anyone with a radical bone in their body should fight this corporate usurpation of language, but the prospect of facing legal costs in line with house prices tempered this instinct. Even if we won such a battle we could only expect to recover 75 percent of these costs, leaving us tens of thousands of pounds down, money which – even if we had it – should be spent on more useful, more radical things than legal fees.

As a result, organisers of the newly renamed “rebellious media Conference” are calling for support to retain the URL www.radicalmediaconference.org and we would love to see anyone who supports our fight not only attend the conference but also get involved in truly radical media by blogging, tweeting, forwarding and linking to this story. Please tweet the hashtag #radicalmediafail, follow us on twitter and Join the Facebook group. We need to tell @Radical Media LLC that we are taking back “Radical Media” for free use by us all, why not email the CEO or corporate president? Groups working in open-source, non-hierarchical and other genuinely radical media projects must have the right to use the term “radical media” to describe what they do. See @Radical Media’s own website for more board members who you might like to get in touch with.

28 May 2011

Niggemeier. Spiegel. Sex. CDA.

Once again, Stefan Niggemeier presents a fast, enertaining, thoroughly critical discourse analysis, including metaphor analysis, chronological analogies, three-part lists, etc. This time of a Spiegel article on Strauss-Kahn: Spiegel. Sex. Power. Bullshit.

24 May 2011

Journalism and the Political

New book announcement:
Macgilchrist, Felicitas (2011): Journalism and the Political: Discursive tensions in news coverage of Russia. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, Vol. 40) (full price; slightly less expensive)

Summary: Journalism is often thought of as the ‘fourth estate’ of democracy. This book suggests that journalism plays a more radical role in politics, and explores new ways of thinking about news media discourse. It develops an approach to investigating both hegemonic discourse and discursive fissures, inconsistencies and tensions. By analysing international news coverage of post-Soviet Russia, including the Beslan hostage-taking, Gazprom, Litvinenko and human rights issues, it demonstrates the (re)production of the ‘common-sense’ social order in which one particular area of the world is more developed, civilized and democratic than other areas. However, drawing on Laclau, Mouffe and other post-foundational thinkers, it also suggests that journalism is precisely the site where the instability of this global social order becomes visible. The book should be of interest to scholars of discourse analysis, journalism and communication studies, cultural studies and political science, and to anyone interested in ‘positive’ discourse analysis and practical counter-discursive strategies.

The thing is, critical discourse analysis has done a huge amount to draw attention to the role of language, and other forms of semiosis, in shaping what counts as politics, as acceptable, as thinkable and “normal”, i.e in what becomes (however temporarily ad precariously) hegemonic. But, how do we now respond to for instance Latour’s call to re-arm? Using very military metaphors, he worries that the critical spirit, now ensnared in deconstruction, may no longer be aligned to the right target.

To remain in the metaphorical atmosphere of the time, military experts constantly revise their strategic doctrines, their contingency plans, the size, direction, technology of their projectiles, of their smart bombs, of their missiles: I wonder why we, we alone, would be saved from those sort of revisions. It does not seem to me that we have been as quick, in academe, to prepare ourselves for new threats, new dangers, new tasks, new targets. Are we not like those mechanical toys that endlessly continue to do the same gesture when everything else has changed around them? Would it not be rather terrible if we were still training young kids–yes, young recruits, young cadets–for wars that cannot be thought, for fighting enemies long gone, for conquering territories that no longer exist and leaving them ill-equipped in the face of threats we have not anticipated, for which we are so thoroughly disarmed? (Latour, Bruno. 2004. “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern.” Critical Inquiry 30(2): 225-48.)

Journalism and the Political is one attempt to retool. It uses a pinch of deconstruction, a splash of CDA and a dash of (other) post-foundational political/cultural theories to explore the fissures and gaps in what seems to be hegemonic discourse. Perhaps a critical spirit, which forces these fissures into the foreground, can widen the gaps, target new threats, and broaden new possibilities?

30 April 2011

Translocal Underground: Anglophone Poetry and Globalization

Alistair Noon’s inspiring essay, drawing on postcolonial theory, anthropology and globalisation theories, Translocal Underground: Anglophone Poetry and Globalization by Alistair Noon, is now available online.

The last few years have seen an increased number of Anglophone poets living, writing and publishing outside of English-speaking countries. Bordercrossing Berlin’s poetry editor Alistair Noon argues that the categories of national literature fail in many ways to apply to them, and that a new word is needed to describe the poetry they write: translocal.