24 October 2007

Media Studies

In the 1970's there was a unit of Birmingham University (UK) which made a specialism of monitoring TV broadcasts and newspaper coverage of the politically charged events of the time. It reported on media bias, angles of presentation, and dodgy interviews which posed questions of the kind "When did you stop beating your wife?" to hapless union leaders.

The results of their analyses were easy enough to predict. The establishment - BBC, ITV, and newspaper owners - presented their news in a way which assumed that strikers were in the 'wrong' or were 'causing trouble'; interviewers patronised working people; and camera positions emphasised the threat to the State (that is, the Police) not the other way round. Does all this sound familiar now?

I'm not so sure anything has changed a great deal since then, and in the wake of all the media fakery - image manipulation, corrupt phone-ins, political briefings accepted as facts - it might be time for Birmingham Media Studies Unit or someplace else, to re-open its doors and give some informed media analyses.

A critique of media is more pressing since the developments of the last few years have thrown up so many new phenomena - conglomeration (who owns whom?) blogging (citizen journalism) independent web sites, and instant news via Youtube and MySpace postings. The Blogosphere is abuzz with this stuff, so let's have a re-evaluation of all media values. Why not?

1 comment:

skipper said...

I think you mean Glasgow University's Media Studies Unit under Greg Philo; Birmingham don't have such a section as far as I know. The various books produced- Bad news, More Bad News etc- made some goodish points but were rather taken apart over time, especially by Martin Harrison's critique. I've heard Philo at a seminar and was not convinced by his neo-Marxism.