Friday, 2 November 2012

Should the media in Britain be biased?

As a British broadcaster I was brought up to believe impartiality is the guarantor of trust. And when there were just a few broadcasters with a virtual monopoly on the airwaves there was a big responsibility on us to serve everyone. But with the advent of more TV channels, blogs, vlogs, apps and newspapers getting into audio and video the landscape has changed dramatically. Influential figures like the former BBC DG Mark Thompson have argued for deregulation and opinionated media here too. It was all sounding quite persuasive. And despite the crisis of trust in newspapers prompted by the hacking scandal broadcast media has remained reasonably trusted up until the Savile scandal broke. So I went to America (before Savile) to look at the impact of talk radio with a fairly open mind.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Private Eye: 50 years of famous front covers

Private Eye's front cover has been making fun of royals, politicians and celebrities for 50 years. In the age of the viral video and the mirthful meme, why is a defiantly old fashioned design still so popular?

Monday, 15 October 2012

Guido Fawkes Blog

Plots, rumours and conspiracies!

Old Media More Influential Than Twitter

An example of a company that should have taken a harder look before it leapt into the deep end of the social media pool was Waitrose, whose #Waitrosereasons Twitter campaign began on 17 September.

Unfortunately for the grocery giant, instead of listing reasons why they loved Waitrose, Twitter users took the opportunity to poke fun.

BBC reporting scrutinised after accusations of liberal bias

The BBC's news coverage of religion, immigration and Europe is to be scrutinised in an independent review following accusations of liberal bias.

Lord Patten, the BBC Trust chairman, said the review was an acknowledgment of "real and interesting" concerns from some quarters about the impartiality of the BBC's news coverage.
The corporation has long faced accusations of liberal and leftwing bias from politicians and other sections of the media.

The BBC's coverage of controversial topics including immigration, religion and the European Union will come under the spotlight in the review, which is expected to be published in early 2013. It may also include coverage of Islamophobia.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

George Orwell - The Sporting Spirit

Orwell's essay "The Sporting Spirit" examines the effect nationalism plays on sport, where Orwell argues that various sporting events trigger violence between groups for the very reason of competition.

School competitive team sports move unveiled

Friday, 15 June 2012

Martin Amis: UK 'obsessed with trivialities'

Our culture is obsessed with "vulgarities and trivialities", author Martin Amis has told the Today programme.

There is an "insane interest in people who are famous for no other reason than they're famous," he said in an interview with James Naughtie.

Reflecting on the aging process, the Lionel Asbo author said that "your youth evaporates in your mid-40s" but when you turn 60 "you think, now this can't turn out well".

"Life begins to look as precious again as it did when you were a child."

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

London riots: Chaos features on front pages worldwide

How different newspapers reported "the news":

9/11: Newspaper front pages the day after September 11

The San Francisco Examiner sparked criticism with an emotional headline defended by its editor as "an attempt to get at the visceral emotion so many Americans were feeling."

Several newspapers, including The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The New York Post, USA Today, The Mirror and The Daily Express declared the attacks to be an "act" or "declaration" of war.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Journalism: The Importance of Sources

Washington Post Guidelines:

The Washington Post places a premium on original reporting, and the credibility of Post journalism is the bedrock of our entire enterprise. While timeliness is crucial, the overriding concern for accuracy should always prompt us to consider whether additional reporting should be undertaken before publishing and how information should be presented and, in some cases, qualified. In a major news event, readers may soon forget who first broke a story, but they are less likely to forget a devastating inaccuracy.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Thinking outside of the Screen: Beyond Facebook: For Intellectualism

Will Self says we should embrace the intellectual challenge of "difficult" books and art, and value works which are more taxing than our increasingly low-brow popular culture. "The most disturbing result of this retreat from the difficult is to be found in arts and humanities education, where the traditional set texts are now chopped up into boneless nuggets of McKnowledge, and students are encouraged to do their research - such as it is - on the web."

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Rhetorical functions in academic writing: Comparison and contrast

The Rise and Fall of The TV News Journalist


Spleen and Modernity: Baudelaire and ‘alternative’ consumption

In his Le Spleen de Paris, Baudelaire encapsulates the attitude of the practitioner of “spleen” in his ‘The Dog and the Vial’, where the dog rejects the vial of perfume in favour of faeces, to which Baudelaire likens it to ‘the public’ who are worth of only carefully chosen dung for their sensibilities would be exasperated if present with beauty or genial and vital experience of senses; only ‘shit’ will do. Baudelaire’s relationship with his readership, the ‘general public’, therefore marks his the function of spleen: it is evidence of melancholy without real cause, direct and projected onto everything that passes over its gaze, dismantling it in all its pretensions and ridiculing it for all its worth. It seeks to take all authority as merely phenomenal, fleeting and ‘mere opinion’, to which it gives us, and him, a leftover – suffering and despair. Baudelaire’s work is a testament to such cold hearted sentiments and desires:

For I have from each thing extracted its quintessence,
You have given me mud and I have made of it gold.


Charlie Brooker's How to Report the News - Newswipe - BBC Four

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Marshall McLuhan's 'Global Village'

Media obsessed with sex and lotteries, report says

Who reads 'The Sun'?

Here is a website that illustrates the readership of ‘The Sun’ and the demographic key below:

As you will be able to see, 90% of ‘The Sun’ readers are in categories CDE or ‘blue collar’ jobs, whilst only 10% are in the ‘knowledge professions’ (AB).

Also, have a look at the difference in age, gender and region.

National Readership Survey (NRS) demographic categories

Social Grade
Social Status
upper middle class
higher managerial, administrative or professional
middle class
intermediate managerial, administrative or professional
lower middle class
supervisory or clerical, junior managerial, administrative or professional
skilled working class
skilled manual workers
working class
semi and unskilled manual workers
those at lowest level of subsistence
state pensioners or widows (no other earner), casual or lowest grade workers

Classic Front Pages - 'The Sun'

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Language and Gender

  • How language reveals, embodies and sustains attitudes to gender.
  • How language users speak or write in (different and distinctive) ways that reflect their sex.

The first of these is partly historic and bound up with the study of the position of men and women in society. It includes such things as the claim that language is used to control, dominate or patronize. This may be an objective study insofar as it measures or records what happens. But it may also be subjective in that such things as patronizing are determined by the feelings of the supposed victim of such behaviour. Your patronizing me needs me to feel that I am patronized.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Structure of English Language

We can study the structure of language in a variety of ways. For example, we can study

  • classes of words (parts of speech),
  • meanings of words (semantics), with or without considering changes of meaning,
  • how words are organised in relation to each other (syntax),
  • how words are formed (morphology),
  • the sounds of words (phonology) and
  • how written forms represent these (lexicography).

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Will English no longer be spoken in space?

What about English elsewhere in space? The plaque on the Moon from the Apollo missions reads (in English): “Here Men From The Planet Earth First Set Foot Upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We Came in Peace For All Mankind.” (Read more about how Pluto’s fourth moon got its name.)


Monday, 3 October 2011

IB Language Policy - Linguistic Imperialism in Action?

English is the organization's internal working language, in which most operational and development activities take place. It is also the language of its governance, management and academic committees.

Who bankrolls the IB?

Tragedy of modern day Romeo and Juliet: The lovers driven to suicide by Iranian regime that threw them in jail for being friends with a human rights activist

Nahal Sahabi and Behnam Ganji were until recently a carefree young Iranian couple, a kindergarten teacher and a student, very much in love and with high hopes for the future. Today both are dead.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

It's a man's world - Watch Kiera Knightley Pout!!

Watch Keira Knightley jump on a motorbike, seduce a photographer and drive off into the sunset in Chanel's stylish new mini-movie for their Coco Mademoiselle fragrance.

Are women seen as emotion-led and brain-dead?

Are adverts for men clever and sophisticated whilst adverts for women are far too simple and stereotypical?

Martha talks to advertising director, Jane Cunningham, who says the industry targets women in completely the wrong way and that ads for women should be much more like ads for men. She also talks to Sean Pillot de Chenecy, a trends analyst, who believes that bad advertising is certainly not unique to adverts aimed at women.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Gender, Identity, and Language Use in Teenage Blogs

Spaghettification and the problem of scientific jargon

Scientists use language to give authority to their work, but if the words become jargon, they can end up alienating the audience instead of convincing them.

The tragedy of dying languages

The death of the last speaker of an ancient language in India's Andaman Islands highlights the fact that half of the world's 7,000 languages are in danger of disappearing. Linguist K David Harrison argues that we still have much to learn from vanishing languages.

“OMG,” “LOL” and the symbol for “heart” have all been added to the Oxford English Dictionary Online

So what do OMG and LOL mean to the OED? In the electronic realm, they’re merely shorthand for surprise and mirth. In the real-world space — according to the OED’s blog post — “The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.”

Standard English in decline among teenagers

Many GCSE English students did not realise that phrases such as "get off of" and "she was stood" were grammatically incorrect.

It comes amid fears that the use of social networking websites and mobile phone text messaging is undermining children's literacy skills.

Post-colonial reading

Post-colonialism (postcolonial theory, post-colonial theory) is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism. Postcolonialism comprises a set of theories found amongst anthropology, architecture, philosophy, film, political science, human geography, sociology, feminism, religious and theological studies, and literature.

Language and Power: Rhetorical Speeches

One obvious feature of how language operates in social interactions is its relationship with power, both influential and instrumental. Neither rule nor law, neither discipline nor hierarchy sanctions influential power. It inclines us or makes us want to behave in certain ways or adopt opinions or attitudes, without obvious force. It operates in such social phenomena as advertising, culture and the media. (Strictly, we are not coerced into buying what the advertiser shows us, nor will we suffer any penalty for our "sales resistance".) Instrumental power is explicit power of the sort imposed by the state, by its laws and conventions or by the organizations for which we work. It operates in business, education and various kinds of management. (In many, but not all cases, if we resist instrumental power, we will be subject to some penalty or in trouble.)

The socio-linguistics of SMS

Since the late 1990’s the use of short messaging system (SMS) or “texting” has seen phenomenal growth. Statistics show that on average there are more than 280 000 SMS messages sent every hour in Norway, that is more than 6.7 million per day and this in a country with only 4 million inhabitants (Sandvin, Dagfinrud and Sæther 2002).

2b or not 2b?

Despite doom-laden prophecies, texting has not been the disaster for language many feared, argues linguistics professor David Crystal. On the contrary, it improves children's writing and spelling.

CNN effect

The CNN effect is a theory in political science and media studies that postulates that the development of the popular 24-hour international television news channel known as Cable News Network, or CNN, had a major impact on the conduct of states' foreign policy in the late Cold War period and that CNN and its subsequent industry competitors have had a similar impact in the post-Cold War era.

Is Technology Altering the Construction of News?

We are interested in event-driven news, defined as coverage of activities that are, at least at their initial occurrence, spontaneous and unmanaged by officials within institutional settings. Most news most of the time has its origins in official proceedings and pronouncements. That may be changing. We want to know if event-driven news stories, facilitated by technological advancements such as the videophone, are becoming more numerous, and if they are changing the reliance of journalists on officials in selecting and cueing their political content. In particular, we are interested in coverage of international events as an interesting test of whether technological changes are liberating journalists to report far flung world developments with more emphasis on live feeds and less emphasis on officials in highly managed institutional settings providing the framing. An alternative hypothesis suggests that even if live event coverage is on the rise, journalists may quickly bring officials into the news frame, continuing the familiar gatekeeping practice of “officiating” (news management and cueing) those live events. We find that event-driven news stories are indeed more common, but that officials seem to be as much a part of the news as ever. When an unpredicted, nonscripted, spontaneous event is covered in the news, the one predictable component of coverage remains official sources.

Steven Pinker on Noam Chomsky's theory of Linguistics & Politics

Monty Python - Language Lab

Routes of English - Melvyn Bragg

Language and Class

Stephen Fry's idiosyncratic meander along the byways of English takes him into dangerous territory: Language and Class. Is it still the contentious issue it used to be?

Local Language Link - BBC

Word 4 Word was a new programme about language - local language. It was part of the BBC's Voices season which ran through 2005.

China bans English words in media

China has banned newspapers, publishers and website-owners from using foreign words - particularly English ones.

China's state press and publishing body said such words were sullying the purity of the Chinese language.

It said standardised Chinese should be the norm: the press should avoid foreign abbreviations and acronyms, as well as "Chinglish" - which is a mix of English and Chinese.

Monday, 26 September 2011

How to Read a Painting

Press myths - Asylum Seekers

According to opinion polls, asylum continues to be one of the most important issues for the British public. It is rarely out of the newspapers and is the subject of intense political and public debate.
Reporting and commentary about asylum seekers and refugees is often hostile, unbalanced and factually incorrect. Just look at the contrast between the headlines and the facts:

Covers aimed at the chick lit market

Novelist Polly Courtney has dropped her publisher HarperCollins for giving her books "condescending and fluffy" covers aimed at the chick lit market.

Salman Rushdie's Twitter debut

"Why are you pretending to be me? Release this username. You are a phoney. All followers please note."

Social Networking Stories

See the Guardian link for the latest stories concerning social media:

BBC News - Coverage or Construction?

Viewers' opinions on the coverage of events by BBC News, addressed by the editors and decision makers in charge. Each week the programme looks at how the BBC is covering major stories and puts viewers' criticisms to the powers behind the presenters.