It’s the End, but not Goodbye!

My ‘Emerging Issues in Media and Communication’ of BCM310 class has definitely taught be a lot. This year when I signed up for this class, I expected it to be like almost every other research subject; rather dull and boring. I do not mean to offend anyone but anyone who knows me would know that I am not the research kind of person. I mean I am quite good in researching but it is just not my cup of tea. I like more exciting and vibrant things, things that allow me to move about and talk a lot. Well unexpectedly, this class was unlike any other research classes I have ever signed up for!

It was fun even from the beginning, since I found out that Miss Rohayu was going to be my lecturer. She had taught me last semester for a public relations subject and I have grown rather fond of her funny, bubbly and kind personality. She is more than a lecturer to us, she will normally o things with us and guide us, which is not something most lecturers would do. She is more like a mother figure than a lecturer as well because she actually cares about it, not just does her duty. We are very fortunate to have her as a lecturer that is for sure!

Besides our awesome lecturer, we have had much fun throughout our time in this class, what with the Toastmaster competition and the class tutorials which are always hilarious because with Miss Rohayu, we can always be ourselves and share jokes like the jokes we can share with our friends. The class ambiance feels comfortable, but more importantly, we actually learn something. It is fun to experience these kind of classes, where we learn that we can actually gain knowledge while having a little fun along the way. It is a satisfying feeling. Last but not least, I would like to say although it is the end of the semester and this class, I am looking forward to another class with Miss Rohayu next semester AND I hope to keep in touch with my fellow graduating classmates! ūüôā Also, a big thank you to my classmates and Miss Rohayu for this wonderful experience.

This is not a goodbye note..So, till next time!

 

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Hidden Cost of Media Usage

When we buy a new phone or a new laptop or anything technological as a matter of fact, we never stop to think what happens to our old phone, laptop and etcetera, right? Well, something still has to become of our old toys or shall I say, e-waste, whether we think about it or not. “According to environmentalists, the toxic materials found in computer equipment include lead, cadmium, chromium, mercury, barium etc, warning that – older the computer, the higher the level of toxic elements” (Farid 2012). These are highly hazardous chemicals which need to be disposed of carefully, not just dumped into a waste site. So, where do you think it all goes? Well, I can help you there by giving you some insight into this issue.

Most of the time, “about 80 percent of that material, very quickly, finds itself on a container ship going to a country like China, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, Pakistan” (NPR 2010). Instead of being disposed of in a considerate or correct manner, this is what eventually become of the e-waste. If that is not the case, ¬†“these discarded electronics often end up in landfills or are incinerated, which can cause major environmental problems, as they are made up of extremely hazardous materials such as lead, mercury and cadmium” (Davis 2013). These landfills may not be in our backyard so we might not care about it at all, however, it may be in someone else’s backyard and imagine the sight that poor person has to wake up to every morning?

Now that you know the issue of what becomes of these materials, do you not feel like selfish? We are being selfish by not finding responsible ways of disposing of the materials and allowing it to affect people and communities in other countries, as long as it is not happening to us.¬†There are a few ways we can deal with this however, one of it is “using one of the e-Stewards, certified recyclers that do not ship their electronic waste to be disposed of in different countries” (Castillo 2011). This is one of the few ways that we can utilize in order to dispose of e-waste responsibly. It is our responsibility to society and mother earth to not let the environment and people in different countries suffer. So the next time you would like to dispose of your old technological appliances, think twice and be wise about how you go about it.

References

Castillo, M 2011, ‚ÄėElectronic Waste: Where Does It Go and What Happens To It?‚Äô, Techland Time, viewed 30 May 2013, http://techland.time.com/2011/01/14/electronic-waste-where-does-it-go-and-what-happens-to-it/

Davis, S 2013, ‚ÄėE-Waste: What happens with your outdated or broken gadgets‚Äô, CBSNews, viewed 30 May 2013, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57580445/e-waste-what-happens-with-your-outdated-or-broken-gadgets/

Farid, T 2012, ‚ÄėBeware of E-waste as great health risk‚Äô, Daily Times, viewed 30 May 2013, http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2012%5C01%5C02%5Cstory_2-1-2012_pg7_18

NPR STAFF 2010, ‚ÄėAfter Dump, What Happens To Electronic Waste?‚Äô, NPR¬ł viewed 30 May 2013, http://www.npr.org/2010/12/21/132204954/after-dump-what-happens-to-electronic-waste

 

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Moderating the Conversation Online

In present times, nearly everyone has access to the Internet and can go online. “The introduction of internet relay chat (IRC) has provided a way for interpersonal discussion between geographically spread individuals” (Hardy & Scheufele 2005).¬†With this power, people have the freedom of speech to say whatever they please because there is just too much to keep track of online that it is difficult to control people and what they say or do. However, to what extent can this ‘freedom of speech’ be peaceful and not harmful? I mean, people are given every right to voice out their opinions nowadays and make it known to the public. There are not only blogs which allow people to document their rantings, but also the existence of websites such as Facebook and YouTube, which allow people to post comments on videos or statuses posted by others. There is no rules telling you that you cannot post something mean or that you have to say something nice.Due to the fact that everyone can hide behind a screen nowadays, it makes people feel more powerful and gives them the guts to say mean and hurtful things that they probably would not have the guts to say in the person’s face.

Take for example, Amanda Todd. “Ever since her daughter Amanda committed suicide after being sexually¬† exploited and bullied online, Carol Todd has been seeking meetings with anyone¬† empowered to put an end to cyberbullying” (Cooper 2013). Amanda Todd was a victim of suicide after having suffered years of torment and bullying which all started online. She had made friends with a man online who asked her to strip for him and being a child at that point in time, she made the wrong choice of doing so. From then on, after he posted her naked pictured on the Internet, she fell into a state of depression and the cyberbullying never ceased, even up till her suicide. However, now when she is gone, everyone seems to be showing their support to her family. Why now? Why not then? Does she deserve empathy more now that she’s dead? Prevention is better than cure, no?

“The morality of free speech is back at the top of the agenda in public, political¬†and academic debate” (Binderup 2007). People are demanding to have more freedom of speech than what has already been given, without considering facts such as cyberbullying and a whole lot more, which is the cause of too much freedom of speech. In conclusion, I perconally feel that freedom of speech is important yes, so personal opinions can be made public, however, with great power comes great responsibility. With great freedom of speech comes the responsibility to be greatly cautious when writing or posting something online. This is because it will reach a lot more people in the Internet than it would if it were to be written in a diary and we never know how our opinions will affect others, which is why we should think before we type. We should lend a hand in moderating the conversation online, because it takes compromise and efforts on both ends.

References

Binderup, L. (2007) ‚ÄėGlobal freedom of speech‚Äô, Trames, Vol.11 (4), p.403

Cooper, S 2013, ‚ÄėAmanda Todd‚Äôs mom among those to meet with Harper about ways to crack down on cyberbullying‚Äô, The Province, viewed 30 May 2013, http://www.theprovince.com/news/Amanda+Todd+among+those+meet+with+Harper+about+ways+crack+down/8372632/story.html

Hardy, BW & Scheufele, DA 2005, ‚ÄėExamining Differential Gains From Internet Use: Comparing the Moderating Role of Talk and Online Interactions‚Äô,¬†Journal of Communication, vol.55, no.1, pp71-84.

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What is ‘White Bread Media’?

White bread refers to “being, typical of, or having qualities (as blandness) associated with the white middle class” (Merriam-Webster 2013). Hence, white bread media refers to media which focuses on white people or their qualities. White bread media is very ethnocentric because it contains an abundance of stereotypes on other races. This is very prominent in Australia, for example one of the occurrences that have possibly encouraged this is “the Cronulla riot in 2005” where “many media comentators, community leaders and politicians argued that talkback radio in particular had whipped up anger against Lebanese and Muslim communities in south-western Sydney and encouraged a nationalist fervour directed at ‘claiming back the beach’ for Anglo-Australians (Dreher forthcoming 2014).

The fact that these kind of stereotypes of other ethnicities in Australia exist creates an unhealthy ‘multicultural’ environment for the society. These are stereotypes because even though a handful of Muslims were involved in the Cronulla riot, Australians had stereotyped the whole Muslim population as bad people. This in turn would be very unfair to a Muslim individual who is born and bred in Australia but is treated like an outsider because of these stereotypes. Moreover, this does not only affect the Muslim population in Australia, but also the Aborigines, who are the indigenous people of the land down under (Australia).

“Many reports reveal evidence of stereotyping, invisibility, sensationalism and racist representations in soaps, advertising and news and current affairs, with particular focus on Indigenous Australians ” (Dreher forthcoming 2014). This is the reason people in Australia start stereotyping the Aborigines based on such perceptions developed by the media, because they learn of other cultures based on what they see on the media. That is the only way to know of other cultures if one does not communicate with the people to learn more about them.¬†“Take the case last month of an Aboriginal student in Queensland who was given rocks and leaves to learn maths instead of a calculator like his classmates” (Hudson 2010). This is because of the stereotypes possibly learnt through representations in movies and such that caused the student to be treated in such a manner.

These stereotypes could also lead to moral panic, which is “an extreme social response to the belief that the moral condition of society is deteriorating at a rapid pace” (Crossman 2013). The fact that these stereotypes exist, people would tend to think that there are riots or problems caused in the country by these specific races, when in reality, it could be anyone who contributes to these disruptions in society. Hence, stereotypes and the white bread media poses unfairness to the non-Anglo Australians, which refer to the non-white Australians such as the Aborigines and the Muslims.

References

Crossman, A 2013, Sociology:Moral panic, About.com, viewed 16 May 2013, http://sociology.about.com/od/M_Index/g/Moral-Panic.htm

Dreher, T (forthcoming 2014) ‚ÄúWhite Bread Media‚ÄĚ in The Media and Communications in Australia eds. S Cunningham and S Turnbull, Allen and Unwin Feb 2013 9.

Hudson, S 2010, ‚ÄėAborigines hurt by the stereotype of suffering‚Äô,¬†The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 16 May 2013, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/aborigines-hurt-by-the-stereotype-of-suffering-20100511-uu5x.html

Merriam-Webster 2013, definition of white bread, viewed 15 May 2013, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/white-bread

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Digital Inclusion for the Disabled

According to the Persons with Disability Act 2008 (Act 685), “disability results from the interaction between persons with ¬†disabilities and attitudinal and environmental barriers that hinders their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with persons without disabilities.” This refers to any disability, whether it is a mental or physical or learning disability, all this would classify as a ‘disability’. The rise of the digital age which we are living in right at this moment has seen the development and advancement of a variety of technologies which we would not have imagined possible. However, there are issues which have not been considered and most had not foreseen, which is the inclusion of the disabled into the digital age. The thought of digital inclusion for the disabled most probably only came about when people started realizing the fact that “the introduction of¬†new technologies often creates new forms of exclusion for¬†people with disabilities” (Goggin & Newell 2007). It is a shame that the disabled were not thought of during the birth of new technologies, nevertheless that is the harsh truth.

The term ‘digital inclusion for the disabled’ here refers to technology developments, such as the ever-growing softwares, smartphones and etcetera, which should be user friendly to members of the community who are disabled in some way or another;in other words, disabled access friendly. The image above displays¬†symbols which “are intended to help you advertise your access services to customers, audiences, staff and other targeted publics” (Signs & Symbols 2011), as it would make the product or service more favourable.¬†However, that is not the main point or aim of being disabled access friendly. The main aim is that there should be more consideration towards the disabled and to do so, software can contain larger print to assist those with sight disability, and audio descriptions for those who completely cannot see, and¬†for those who have hearing disabilities, visual aid would be required for videos which require listening.

Nevertheless, there are actually some companies or organizations that actually take this into consideration when developing software or new technologies.¬†Take for example the Windows 7 software, where there is the ‘Ease of Access Center’ which “provides¬†a convenient, centralized place to locate accessibility settings and programs to make your computer easier to use” (Miscrosoft 2013). This not only makes it more convenient for users, but it is also disabled access friendly. The Ease of Access Center contains tools such as a magnifier ¬†to enlarge icons on the screen wherever the mouse hovers for those who have sight disabilities, an on-screen keyboard probably for those who have physical disabilities, a narrator that speaks out words which the mouse hovers upon for those who have hearing disabilities and a few other tools. These tools are an outcome of a very considerate Microsoft Corporation team, who thought of the disabled when developing their software. There is only a handful of digital technologies that are actually ¬†disabled access friendly.¬†As Goggin and Newell (2007) mentioned, “we were disappointed, though not really surprised,¬†that their understanding of the power relations of¬†technology did not incorporate disability and accessibility.” Lastly – Personally, I feel that we should learn from mistakes and that it is very important to make any new technology disabled access friendly because the disabled are part of our society.

References

Goggin, G & Newell, C 2007, ‘The Business of Digital Disability’,¬†The Information Society: An International Journal, vol.23, no.3, pp 159-168.

Microsoft 2013, Microsoft Accessibility in Windows 7, accessed 9/5/2013, http://www.microsoft.com/enable/products/windows7/default.aspx

Persons With Disabilities Act 2008 (Act 685), accessed 9/5/2013, http://rehabmalaysia.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/PwD-Act-2008.pdf

Signs & Symbols 2011, ‘Disability Access Sign Symbols for Download’, weblog post,¬†WordPress, accessed 9/5/2013,¬†http://signsanddisplays.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/disability-access-sign-symbols-for-download/

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Internet Feudalism

Feudalism is “the dominant social system in medieval Europe, in which the nobility held lands from the Crown in exchange for military service, and vassals were in turn tenants of the nobles, while the peasants (villeins or serfs) were obliged to live on their lord‚Äôs land and give him homage, labour, and a share of the produce, notionally in exchange for military protection” (Oxford Dictionaries 2013). This means the essential meaning of feudalism is the dominance of certain classes of people with certain levels of control over other classes based on hierarchy. Basically, whatever the people in power want done, is done by those in their power if not, those in power will take away necessities of those in their power, because they can.

Feudalism; taken from: http://12160.info/photo/feudalism

Feudalism; taken from: http://12160.info/photo/feudalism

However, in the modern day context, there is the presence of the infamous term, ‘feudalisation of the Internet’. This term ¬†in this context could mean a metaphor for ¬†‘control of the Internet’. This is because feudalisation of the Internet refers to the increasing amount of control the powerful have over the Internet. A very good example of this are the Internet laws that are brought about by governments to control what their citizens hear, read or see. Under the Chinese government, “Chinese regulators have used their extensive control over ISPs‚Äô¬†routing of data packets to steer users away from undesirable Web sites by simply causing the Web pages to fail to load in the course of normal surÔ¨Āng” (Zittrain 2008). Another example of Internet laws created by the government is such as what is happening in¬†America, where we can hearof the SOPA and PIPA, which are Internet laws that Americans are protesting against.

Here in Malaysia our “mainstream media, particularly the vernacular Malay and English presses as well as the¬†electronic medium, are controlled by either the government via the free-to-air televisions channels¬†operated by the Ministry of Information, or the private channels operated by companies with strong¬†links to the ruling coalition” (Suffian 2009). However, we have yet to experience such control over the Internet being exercised here in Malaysia, as compared to China. This is why we still have much more ¬†freedom of expression on the Internet compared to other countries and we can voice out our opinions through the Internet. An example to prove my point is the fact that the opposition party in Malaysia, PKR which used a lot of the Internet as a medium to spread their purpose had done better in the 2008 elections that it has ever done.

Another example of the feudalisation of the Internet that is not related to the government is walled garden services such as Amazon. Walled garden in context of Amazon is where “the content industry decides how you are to use the data” (Mitew 2013). Amazon is sort of an online shop which focuses on book sales and one can access content through Amazon but most of it is through some form of payment. This is a good example because in the Internet, where information flow is boundless and free, these kind of actions have to be taken to ensure survival of companies in the digital age.

References

Mitew, T, (2013), ‚ÄėThe feudalisation of the internet: Life is fun in the iManor‚Äô,¬†Lecture slide, 28/4/2013, accessed via eLearning

Oxford Dictionaries 2013, Oxford University Press, accessed 30/4/2013, http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/feudalism

Suffian, I 2009, ‘Reflections of the 2008 Malaysian General Election: Role of the Internet in Political
communications’, accessed 1/5/2013, ¬†http://www2.lse.ac.uk/IDEAS/publications/reports/pdf/SR005/Msia_Suffian.pdf

Zittrain, J 2008, ‘The Future of the Internet¬†and How to Stop It’, Chapter 5:¬†Tethered appliances, Software as Service, and Perfect Enforcement,¬†Yale University Press, New Haven, pp. 101-126, accessed on 1/5/2013,¬†http://futureoftheinternet.org/static/ZittrainTheFutureoftheInternet.pdf

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Tertiary Education in the Digital Age: Yay or Nay?

In society today, we can clearly observe that many people own either a smartphone, laptop, desktop, tablet OR all of the above. It is not uncommon anymore to see even children with smartphones or even just a handphone, hence having the Internet at your fingertips does not seem  far-fetched anymore. This leads to the question of whether it is better to utilize technology completely in our tertiary education today or stay traditional by using books and face-to-face learning to garner information?

First off, I will like to start with the advantages of having technology adapted into our tertiary education. It would be very convenient to be able to gain information efficiently by using technology and the Internet. It is convenient for students and lecturers both because it makes the exchange of information simpler. Take for example our very own INTI-UOW¬†(University of Wollongong)¬†SOLS system, which links us students of UOW (University of Wollongong) here in Malaysia, to our Blackboard Learning System where lecturers can upload notes, readings, results and other important information, whilst we can send mail to our lecturers for any¬†inquiries¬†we might have. In addition to that, “a¬†meta-analysis of 50 studies performed in 2010 by the U.S. Department of Education found that university students and adult learners taking on-line courses performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (Dyens 2013). This could be due to the fact that there are no distractions around a person when they are watching a lecture from home isolated in their room, but¬†people could turn out to be isolated or socially awkward with all the distance studying.

However, like everything else there are advantages and disadvantages to the use of Internet or technology in our tertiary education. The disadvantage of Internet use in our tertiary education include the fact “right now, anyone of modest intelligence and ambition can make his or her thoughts available via the Internet to a global audience instantaneously and at virtually no cost” (Miller 2010). This will mislead students who are doing research hoping to find legitimate information which can be used in their research, not to mention it also leaves publishers and authors of those works penniless for their hard work.¬†With this said, in the Internet there are websites that do charge a fair amount for people to buy intellectual property such as journals and research papers to credit the authors. Nevertheless, even these sort of websites can mean trouble. Take for example Elsevier, which is a publishing company which now has a open access publishing website that charges. The problem¬†with “Elsevier’s business practices: their journal prices are too high; their bundle sales system is a profit device that sells unwanted journals; and historically, Elsevier has supported legislation such as the Research Works Act (RWA)¬†that would hinder researchers’ and universities’ ability to support open access.” (Neylon 2012). This portrays a hidden agenda of exploiting these works and it defeats the purpose of fairly charging people only so the authors of these works can be credited.

From this we can see that there are quite a number of disadvantages and advantages, hence this is a very subjective issue. There is no absolute answer to this and my opinion would be to maintain the use of books combined with the use of technology,as it is the wise thing to do. Too much of one thing is never good, and a balance of both is just nice. I would like to end this blog post with a quote from Dyens (2013);¬†“Education is too complex and complicated to be perfected by a single phenomenon. Technology is not its miracle solution, but rather the creation of endless new possibilities for passing on and accessing knowledge”

References

Miller, RE 2010, ‘The Coming Apocalypse’, Pedagogy Winter 2010, Duke University Press,¬†vol.10, no.1, pp 143-151.

Neylon, T 2012, ‘ Life after Elsevier: making open access to scientific knowledge a reality’, The Guardian, 24 April, accessed 23/4/2013,¬†http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/blog/2012/apr/24/life-elsevier-open-access-scientific-knowledge#_

Dyens, O 2013, ¬†‘Opinion: Technology in Higher Education: Threat or Opportunity’, Concordia University, 4 April, accessed 24/4/2013,¬†http://www.concordia.ca/now/campus-beat/blogs/20130404/opinion-technology-in-higher-education-threat-or-opportunity.php

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Journalism In The Future

Traditional journalism many years ago involved mainly print media, for example newspapers. It also had a very structured flow, because for any one organization which the newspapers came from, it was easy for editors and gatekeepers to monitor what material to be included and excluded from the newspaper. This means there is control of news or journalistic flow. That was in the past, whereas now with the development of technology, especially the Internet and Web 2.0, there is a new or modern form of journalism, known as citizen journalism.

Words related to citizen journalism, taken from: http://taliawhyte.com/

Words related to citizen journalism, taken from: http://taliawhyte.com/

Citizen journalism is “mirrors¬†journalistic production processes, with citizens responsible for creating individual¬†articles, photos, videos or audio content with the intent for it to be used by the public in¬†the same way it uses the mainstream media” (Jack 2011). Many people feel that citizen journalism might just be the future of journalism and will soon replace traditional professional journalism causing it to rot and die. People feel that there is no need for professional journalism when there is faster and more transparent news being provided by citizen journalists. However, this view is very questionable since the matter of journalism is indeed too subjective to predict the exact outcome for the future of journalism.

Personally, I do not see traditional journalism dying and us, solely relying on citizen journalists. The first reason is because citizen journalists do not do the tasks of a professional journalist and are not even half of what professional journalists are. They do not have the right training nor skills to do what a professional does. Traditional journalists have a lot of training and are passionate enough, having the initiative to expand their sources, travel and learn more about the world, conducting background research and of course, re-writing over and over to make it an impactful piece. Hence, “the reason professional journalists need to be paid is not because money somehow magically makes them better at their job, but because real journalism¬†is¬†their job” (Carr 2013). Unlike citizen journalists who update people on the latest news or gossip they’ve heard on their blogs, twitter or facebook accounts and such, most without proper researching their information first.

Description for traditional journalists, taken from: http://blog.customcontentcouncil.com/?p=1898

Description for traditional journalists, taken from: http://blog.customcontentcouncil.com/?p=1898

However, this is not to say that citizen journalism is redundant, because citizen journalism also plays an important role in society. Not only does it provide us with specific news which are important but taken for granted cause not many people know about it, but also timely news because citizen journalists report occurences as it happens. Besides this, there is transparency and ¬†since there are no set of ethics or rules citizen journalists must follow, we can see the variety of individuals’ honest thoughts and ideas included in the news delivery when we take all the different points by citizen journalists and put it together. This can be related to the long tail effect and in this context, “the notion of the long tail is based on the assumption that a multitude of sites with minimal impact and focus might form a relevant force in public opinion when added up, equal to the mass audience of relatively few sites with large traffic” (Quandt 2011).

Hence, this is why it is important to maintain both traditional journalism and citizen journalism. The benefits of both forms of journalism coming together can complement each other very well. Take for example an online publication Malaysiakini, which practices a similar concept through a project known as Malaysiakini’s citizen journalism project¬†started up in “October 2008 to train citizens to become journalists” (Kabilan 2009). The reason citizen journalism is necessary and very much an advantage is because¬†“the content produced by its citizen journalists allows the website to provide its readers with what they seek- more news stories and relevant issues, especially local issues” and not to mention,¬†“The credibility and verification of the work they produce is offered by the Malaysiakini brand name, which is recognised as a serious online news website.” (Kabilan 2009). Therefore, in my opinion it is a very wise first step for Malaysiakini to combine both traditional and citizen journalism and other publications should in fact emulate this move.

References

Jack, M 2011, ‘Gordon Sinclair Award Essay: The Social Evolution of Citizen Journalism’,¬†Canadian Journal of Media Studies,¬†vol.6, no.1, pp95-158, accessed 17/4/2012,¬†http://www.scribd.com/doc/60833072/Jack

Quandt, T 2011, ‘Understanding a new phenomenon: the significance of participatory journalism’, in JB Singer, A Hermida, D Domingo, A Heinonen, S Paulussen, T Quandt, Z Reich & M Vujnovic (eds.),¬†ParticipatoryJournalism in Online Newspapers: Guarding Open Gates at Online Newspapers, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester, West Sussex,pp155-176,accessed 17/4/2013,http://ereadings.uow.edu.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/quandtt1.pdf

Carr, P 2013, ‘The future of journalism: It’s time to pick a side’,¬†Pandodaily, 6 March, accessed 17/4/2013,http://pandodaily.com/2013/03/06/the-future-of-journalism-its-time-to-pick-a-side/

Kabilan, K 2009, ‘New Media, Citizen’s Journalism and Democracy: The Malaysiakini Project’,¬†Media Asia,¬†vol.36, no.3, pp156-158, accessed 17/4/2013,¬†http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/211509383

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‘Pinkwashing’: Cause or Con?

First off, I would like to explain cause marketing. Cause marketing ‚Äúrefers to a commercial activity in which companies and nonprofit organizations form alliances to market an image, product or service for mutual benefit‚ÄĚ (Verrghese 2013). Susan G. Komen‚Äôs Foundation for the Cure is supposedly a form of cause marketing, as the foundation works with big organizations to raise funds for breast cancer research, however over the years it has developed into something different, something contradictory, something ugly and questionable.

Pinkwashing is a term describing¬†‚ÄĚthe activities of¬†companies and groups that position themselves as leaders¬†in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging¬†in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the¬†disease‚ÄĚ (Lubitow & Davis 2011).¬†An example of pinkwashing is the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure raising funds in order to contribute to finding a cure for breast cancer working together with organizations such as KFC (Bellesouth 2012). Sales of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) to contribute to finding a cure for breast cancer? Really? ¬†Unhealthy food such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) which possibly contributes to the disease should not be allowed to help raise funds for breast cancer research, and the Susan G. Komen Foundation should not partner up with KFC vice versa, because its simply unethical! The message being conveyed is pretty much like, hey have some of this, and if you get breast cancer someday, no worries cause we‚Äôve contributed to finding a cure!

Take a look at this video to further understand what I mean:

According to Lubitow and Davis (2011), pinkwashing is a form of social injustice directed at women in the United States because the practice:


a) Provides a vehicle for corporations to control the public experience of breast cancer

Due to corporations being a huge part of the funding for breast cancer research through foundations such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure, they have the power to control exactly what the money goes into. For example, if their focus is finding a cure, then other parts of cancer research which could help, such as what can be done to prevent breast cancer, would be neglected.

b) Increases profits while potentially contributing to the rising rate of the disease

As I mentioned above, the KFC example is a good one because unhealthy food could possibly be a contributor of the disease. However, because it is a well known organization which can bring in a lot of funding, the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure agreed to work with them in the ‚ÄúBuckets for the Cure‚ÄĚ campaign (Bellesouth 2012), where pink coloured buckets of fried chicken was the product sold to raise funds.

c) Obscures an environmental health discourse that recognizes the environmental causes of breast cancer

Instead of finding the causes of breast cancer in order to prevent women from getting the disease in the first place, ‚Äúpinkwashing frames the scientific effort related to breast¬†cancer in terms of pharmaceutical interventions or treatments¬†that will, one day, cure women with the disease‚ÄĚ (Lubitow & Davis 2011). Finding the cause is important too because cancer is not just a hereditary¬†disease.

d) Co-opts or redirects women’s experiences of the disease by narrowly defining what is possible 

Pinkwashing has formed a single perception for women to believe in, which is that ‚ÄúSomeone¬†you love has breast cancer? Then buy pink, and walk with¬†others who are in the same boat, fighting cancer together. What¬†else can you do?‚ÄĚ (Lubitow & Davis 2011). This does not open up the minds of women to other possibilities, such as the fact that they can in fact do something! They can help donate to research efforts that try finding the causes of cancer as well, and not to pinkwashers who have little care to the prevention of cancer. They can look after their own well-being and be sure not to be exposed too much or carcinogens. As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure.

Besides all that, Susan G. Komen’s Foundation is not only unethical for those reasons but also unethical because it fails to uphold proper transparency between the foundation and their publics. Transparency is important in cause marketing because “in order to meet consumers‚Äô transparency needs labelling¬†of the donation amount is needed” (Langen, Grebitus & Hartmann 2010). I’m sure you are wondering why I say¬†the foundation is not transparent even though they are not secretive of ¬†where they donate and how much money they gain from fundraising. Well, I say this because the foundation “has cut by nearly half the proportion of fund-raising dollars it spends on grants to scientists working to understand the causes and develop effective new treatments for the disease” without being transparent on why they did so (Begley & Roberts 2011). From this we¬†can clearly see that the Susan G. Komen Foundation for the Cure is considered unethical cause marketing and that is exactly why it is known as pinkwashing.

References

Begley, S & Roberts, J ¬†2012, ‘Insight: Komen charity under microscope for funding, science, Reuters, 8 February, accessed 10/4/2006, Reuters.

Bellesouth 2006, Bellesouth Blogs Weblog, weblog, accessed 10/4/2013, http://bellesouthblogs.com/boycottkomen/#comments

Breastcanceraction 2011, Raise A Stink! About Pinkwashing, accessed 10/4/2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=25eQp0mZ-qA

Langen, N, Grebitus, C & Hartmann, M 2010, ‘Is there Need for more Transparency and Efficiency in Cause-related Marketing?’,¬†International Journal on Food System Dynamics, vol.4, pp366‚Äź381.

Lubitow, A & Davis, M 2011, ‘Pastel Injustice: The Corporate Use of Pinkwashing for Profit’, Environmental
Justice, vol.4, no.2, pp139-144.

Verrghese, AK 2013, ‘Partnerships and Cause Related Marketing: Building brands for the future’, accessed 10/4/2013,¬†http://www.brandchannel.com/papers_review.asp?sp_id=583

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The Importance of Co-Regulation

Self-regulation occurs often in our daily lives. When you socialize and meet new people, certain things you wish to say to someone you dislike or someone who is emotional; you have to self-regulate in order to prevent any ill feelings, hence I‚Äôm sure most of us know how to self-regulate.¬†However,¬† the term self-regulation whch will be discussed here means “that the industry or profession rather than the government is doing the regulation” (Campbell 1999). Nevertheless, in either context, self-regulation is a very subjective term. One person‚Äôs idea of what should and should not be said or done will definitely vary from another person‚Äôs perspective of what should and should not be said or done.

Now lets take a look at the bigger¬†picture .”The term “self regulation” would best reflect to the ways media organizations perform practices by involving legislation stage by developing a code of practice but the government may mandate that an industry adopt and enforce a code of self regulation and even monitor or guide them to impose those regulations”¬†(Alsagoff, Adullah & Hassan 2011). This is rather contradictory, is it not? The fact of the matter here in Malaysia is that, in order to have a little more press or media freedom, media organizations are asked to self-regulate, but what is the point if by the end of it, whatever that¬†has been¬†self-regulated is monitored and also regulated by the government? This just shows that the power of media regulation is back in the hands of the government, and that the¬†term self-regulation here in Malaysia is very contradictory.

There are many reasons for media regulation, for example, to avoid the issue of children being a part of the media, and especially in this era, the new media or cyberspace as we call it. It is no longer uncommon to see a child on the Internet and the dangers of the Internet are most applicable to children because of their fresh young minds. Besides that, there is also the issue of religion and cultural diversity in Malaysia, which means the media here needs to be culturally sensitive.  The new media has made this very challenging because there is only so much one can do in cyberspace, but at the end of the day doing something is better than doing nothing.  It is very important to have media policies and laws to maintain harmony in Malaysian society.This is exactly why law regarding self-regulation is necessary, especially in the media!

However, as I mentioned earlier, even with such laws media organizations are not guaranteed control over self-regulation of¬†media content. Another reason is because the media regulation laws are also¬†mostly written in such a vague manner, in a way people can easily misuse and misinterpret certain laws and disregard the actual purpose of the laws. For example, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 states that there is “Power of the Minister to exclude certain persons, geographical areas” (Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, ss. page 21). This is a vague statement because what needs to be included and excluded in the media cannot be determined solely by one person. It is unjust and contradicts the term¬†‘media freedom’.

Therefore, my opinion is that, it is necessary to have self-regulation laws that are not contradictory, nor biased because media organizations should have more power to self-regulate. Co-regulation, which is the use of both media policies and self-regulation hand in hand, will only be able to occur when this is achieved.

References

Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588) (View here: http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=228709)

Alsagoff, SA, Abdullah, Z & Hassan, MS 2011, ‚ÄėThe growth and development of the Malaysian media landscape in shaping media regulation‚Äô, Global Media Journal ‚Äď Malaysian Edition, vol.1, no.1, pp32-55.

Campbell, AJ 1999, ‘Self-Regulation and the Media’, Federal Communications Law Journal, Vol. 51,¬†no.3, p712-772, acessed 3/4/2013, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Self-regulation+and+the+media.-a054746958

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