Poverty Porn or Powerful?

After viewing SBS’s difficult to watch documentary, Struggle Street, I thought about the ethics of broadcasting others in their worst moments.

Struggle Street highlights the difficulty of day to day life for Australian families in public housing. The show, after its debut in early 2015, sparked outrage amongst the Mt.Druitt community. The area has very high rates of unemployment and is significantly disadvantaged. “The subjects of the television program say they were told the show would look at both the positives and negatives in their lives, including the challenges many faced and how some had overcome them.

The mayor of the council representing Mr Druitt says the program only exposes their worst moments on national television.” (ABC, 2015). Many Mt. Druitt community leaders were hurt by the provocative promo. Stephen Bali called for SBS to immediately pull the series from the air so it can be viewed by the people depicted in it, and contacted [former] Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to intervene. The call came after Mr Turnbull alerted the broadcaster’s managing director to comments on Twitter from then-SBS journalist Scott McIntyre. Mr McIntyre was later sacked (SMH, 2015).

The shows finale especially, as shown in the YouTube clip above, sparked debate, evoked emotion and resonated with the community long after the filming had ended. Media coverage of the resident, Billy Jo, who was filmed doing drugs while in her last trimester of labour, carried on much longer than Billy Jo and her family would have liked.



(Credit: Mamamia)

Sue Sontag explores the topic of the suffering of others, stating that “the gruesome invites us to be either spectators or cowards, unable to look”. Some say that if you are neutral when viewing someone or something, then you are on the side of what has harmed them, to which Sue says, “So far as we feel sympathy, we feel we are not accomplices to what caused the suffering. Our sympathy proclaims our innocence as well as our impotence.”


What do you think about the use of media to highlight these issues?

Do they evoke a particular response from the viewer?

What was SBS trying to provoke with the airing of this controversial and highly debated documentary?


The show provides an unfiltered glimpse into a world that most of Australia isn’t exposed to and humanises a community that is often not heard or understood by others. As Sydney Morning Herald puts it “No one chooses to be born into disadvantage, yet Australians who’ve been kicked in the arse by a rainbow because of the privilege of their upbringing are only too happy to judge, condemn or simply ignore those not as fortunate. Struggle Street makes us take notice. It is a living, breathing study in how the flapping butterfly wings of government policy become hurricanes in the lives of the neediest Australians; how drug laws and legislation to trim pensions or change eligibility for health and disability services can tip people off the edge of society’s map. Once you’re off, it’s very hard to find your way back.”

I’m sure this SBS documentary put many people’s lives into perspectives, and made them feel grateful for what they were born into, how great their upbringing was and what they have now. But are these people just contributing to the suffering by only spectating and not doing anything to help these communities of Australia?


My Digital Storytelling Project Reflection

The locative nature of checking in on social media platforms and what this signals about someone is what is at stake in my digital storytelling project. I decided to discuss Location Based Media (LBM), which are “digital media applied to real places and thus triggering real social interactions.” Place and locative media demonstrates an “intense focus on mobility as a crucial element of intense investment being given to spatial positioning, and location technologies” (Crawford and Goggin, 2009). I have attempted to present this concept in my YouTube video story that features my family friend Nicole Lennon, who has over 700 check ins at places and spaces on Facebook.

“Location became a feature [on Facebook], not a focus.” (Tech Crunch, 2013) For many of us, check ins are just another feature such as tagging a friend in a photo or status, but for more and more social media platform users it is a way to connect with others and show where you are and start a conversation about that space. “the use of technology in everyday navigation of the world can both deepen understanding of place and reduce place to commodity. The direction of this is a function of the mood of the user, rather than the technology itself.” (Evans, 2015)

Nicole discusses in the video how location services can be used to keep in contact with people on Facebook in a fun way while still staying professional online. I tried to explore this concept in my project and found a myriad of supporting evidence, “the most interesting kind of proximity is the digital proximity that allows people to keep in touch virtually without having to be co-located most of the time. Location is a feature of friendship, communication is the focus.” (Tech Crunch, 2013). The article I have quoted discusses proximity in a virtual world and supports the idea that “place has become less about our origins and more about forming connections with the many sites in our lives” (McCullough, 2006)

I chose to create a video with audio and images that Nicole has shared with a location tag, as her images support what she thinks these updates signal about her, and how media practices are spatial in nature. “in late modernity, we are oriented to understand the world (and those things in that “world,” which would of course include places) as a realm of resources to be used in the achieving of human aims.” (Crawford and Goggin, 2009). These resources are becoming increasingly more convenient for all age groups, and can serve a multitude of purposes. What do you think sharing your location online signals about you? The physical implementation of location media is not tied down to the same place that the content refers to. (Pie, 2010)

Does sharing your location often mean that you are always out and on the go? Does sharing less make you less connected to people you communicate with already? Or does it mean you only share the positive and social moments? Nicole explores these questions in the video, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what is conveyed through location based media.

Working in tandem with another person on this level for the project was a fairly new experience, but using collaborative ethnography proved to be a smooth process. I played with the idea of “the death of the author” and decided not to include myself asking questions in the interview, as I am not the only voice and my intention for the video does not matter. The aim of this piece is to have the audience question themselves and what location based media creates in relation to physical and virtual space.

Crawford, A. & Goggin, G. 2009, “Geomobile web: Locative technologies and mobile media”, Australian Journal of Communication,vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 97-109.

Evans, L., 2015. Locative Social Media: Place in the Digital Age, Palgrave Macmillan.

Lomas, N. (2013). Stop Trying To Make Proximity-Based Social Networking Happen. [online] TechCrunch. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2013/07/23/location-vs-communication/

McCullough, M. (2006). On the Urbanism of Locative Media [Media and the City]. Places, [online] 18(2). Available at: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/84x6m3nf

Pie, (2010). Location based Media. [online] Available at: https://pieonedotzero.wordpress.com/location-based-media

Locative Social Media

For my final Digital Research Project and reflective report, I will be focusing on the topic of locative Social Media and sharing location with locative Social Media. This project will focus on how checking in “affects users’ experience of place” and demonstrate “a deep understanding of place as a meaningful existential locale.” (Evans, 2015)

I am going to attempt to interview someone who regularly updates their location status or “checks in” on Facebook. I am still uncertain on which platform to display my project on, these choices include Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Which platform do you think I should use for my digital story?
Below are some links I found useful to this topic.

1. Tech Crunch- Stop trying to make proximity- based social networking happen
2. CRN- 8 Cool location- based social networks
3. On the Urbanism of allocative Media
4. Geomobile web: Locative tech and mobile media
6. The convergence of locative media and online participatory culture
7. Locative Social Media by Leighton Evans


Does ‘The Notebook’ have unrealistic expectations of love?


For my second text analysis, I will be critiquing The Notebook and whether the movie’s expectations of love and whether they are actually realistic. I mean, who writes a letter to someone everyday for a year? That’s crazy. First thing is how the characters Allie and Noah met, Noah walks up to Allie and says that he is drawn to her. Weird.

I'm drawn to you

To me the movie is not unrealistic but very optimistic about the genre of love and finding your soul mate on the street. Hollywood has power over the Australian Film Industry and about 98% of our movies are sourced from the US because of this. Hollywood has this power that can influence us immensely with films such as The Notebook, Dear John, The Last Song etc. This influence can alter young teen and adult’s views on relationships and love in general, and often this can be very detrimental. The concept of ‘soul mates,’ that is only one person especially made for you sets the audience up for a lot of disappointment and heartache. The impact romantic comedies have on society is heart-crushing, especially for young women, and adds to the want for a fairy-tale husband and love story of your own. There is even an article by POPSUGAR on how much The Notebook creates a standard for relationships that leads to disappointment.

I do believe that The Notebook is a beautiful movie, and yes I did bawl my eyes out, as anyone would. This movie and romantic genre definitely leads to a longing for the perfect guy, perfect house, the perfect love story. Let’s get real, Ryan Gosling isn’t going to kiss us in the rain and the hope that he (or someone similar) is, can be very detrimental for viewers and especially the target market of young teens.


How Much Do You Love The Notebook Test | POPSUGAR Entertainment. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.popsugar.com/entertainment/How-Much-Do-You-Love-Notebook-Test-35077729. [Accessed 19 April 2015].

12 times The Notebook gave us completely unrealistic expectations about dating | Metro News. [ONLINE] Available at: http://metro.co.uk/2014/06/25/12-times-the-notebook-gave-us-completely-unrealistic-expectations-of-dating-4774112/. [Accessed 19 April 2015].

Image: Book analysis or book report? | The Notebook. [ONLINE] Available at: https://kajaemilie.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/book-analysis-or-book-report/. [Accessed 19 April 2015].

Why bother with Ethics?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say whatever we like, as students, without any repercussions? Well no matter how much we complain, we can’t. It’s subjective for what is right and wrong in the media but there are some strong guidelines that are very important.

Many areas of social science need to be approached with sensitivity, as seen in the readings Editorial Expression of Concern: Experimental evidence of massive scale emotional contagion through social networks and Facebook puts ethics of research by private companies in spotlight both of these articles are in regard to Facebook research on how the Newsfeed can control user’s emotions.

These adopted ethical guidelines and standards can vary and include a mix of discipline, research content, time in history, political and legal systems, religious and social systems and the setting/ institution. It is morally appropriate to follow these guidelines and unethical behaviour and research can lead to severe consequences.

As seen in this video, many people think that advertisers should have strong guideline to the information and products they present to children through television. User friendly interaction is definitely important in regards to advertising and especially for leading a good example for children who watch programs with these advertisements.

In conclusion, Media ethics no matter how big or small but especially in Mass Media is incredibly important. Following and adapting to the changing guidelines and standards is incredibly important to avoid the consequences and detrimental effects on research and research participants.


Real People Discuss Media Ethics – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HUl2ooMBk4. [Accessed 18 April 2015].

Facebook reveals news feed experiment to control emotions | Technology | The Guardian. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/jun/29/facebook-users-emotions-news-feeds. [Accessed 18 April 2015].

McCutcheon, M. 2015. Research Ethics, BCM210 Lecture notes. Accessed 18/4/15

Save Tuvalu to save yourselves

Anticipation rose in 2009 that over 10 islands such as the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu would be gradually submerged in water and become inhabitable. “At the time the government looked at options in India and Sri Lanka.” Says that Guardian’s Laurence Caramel. Now Kiribati has taken action. “Kiribati is just the first on a list which could get longer as time passes,” says Ronald Jumeau, Seychelles ambassador at the United Nations, who took part in the international negotiations on climate change in Bonn last month. (Caramel, 2014.)

In 2010 Tong said Kiribati, a former British colony with a population of about 100,000, must prepare for all possible eventualities as climate change threatens the nation, “one of which may be the need to relocate our people”. (Redsky, 2010.)

President Anote Tong has recently (July, 2014.) finalised the purchase of 20 sq km on Vanua Levu, one of the Fiji islands, about 2,000km away. In the most vulnerable places, islanders have few options. The government of the Marshall islands has decided to follow Kiribati’s example. Other islands, such as Tuvalu, refuse to entertain the idea of leaving their land to migrate elsewhere. In either case, the radical decision by President Tong highlights their dilemma. (Caramel, 2014.)

“Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga of Tuvalu says that every single one of his government’s policies will be considered through the prism of climate change. There are ways to deal with this challenge but it is up to most of the rest of the world to step up and pay up, he says… ‘We are not beggars, but the world has to pay for the damage it has caused,’ he says. ‘You save us to save yourselves.'” (Romann, 2014.)

The code of journalistic ethics presents challenges in the coverage of global climate change. The simple fact is that journalists, like all of us, have a direct personal interest in a healthy environment and climate critical to sustaining their society’s and their own health and economic well-being. (Ward, 2009.)

US reporters have practiced for many years ’false balance’, balancing opinions about science when in fact they might better have been evaluating and reporting evidence based on the science. Accuracy can trump balance in such a case, so that one perspective gets 90%… and another perhaps 5 or 10%,or maybe none at all. (Ward, 2009)


Ward, B. 2009. ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty’, in Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics. Vol. 9, pp. 13-15

2010. Global Warming And The Bible | Redskynews.com » News Headline » Kiribati Residents Consider Moving. [ONLINE] Available at: http://redskynews.com/?p=6433. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

2014. Besieged by the rising tides of climate change, Kiribati buys land in Fiji | Environment | Guardian Weekly . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/01/kiribati-climate-change-fiji-vanua-levu. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

2014. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change . [ONLINE] Available at: http://unfccc.int/2860.php. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

2014. Facing up to the climate change threat – Asia Weekly – China Daily Asia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.chinadailyasia.com/asiaweekly/2014-05/09/content_15134289.html. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

Image: 2014. Encyclopédie Larousse en ligne – Kiribati – Samoa – Tonga – Tuvalu . [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.larousse.fr/encyclopedie/cartes/Kiribati_-_Samoa_-_Tonga_-_Tuvalu/1306087. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

News travels fast- but bad news is faster!

Print, TV, Radio, and Online- What makes news? What is news?

News is newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events.

News is a product of journalism that has routines and standardised procedures of what makes it in and what doesn’t. There is a series of selections before stories make it through. These choices are made by News Organisations and their conventions aren’t applied to objective standards.

The rarity of events makes them better to cover, as it is not the regular, institutionalised continuous and common news stories that attract little attention.

The relevance of a situation or news event may vary depending on your location, or not at all. Events can affect you no matter where you are, for example missing Malaysian airline flight MH370.

MH370 sand sculpture

The continuity of an event will carry on after it has “been defined as “news”, it will then continue to be defined as news for some time even if the amplitude is reduced.”

Negativity in news is more easily defined as a negative event and it is often placed higher than stories of positivity. Negative news is normally more unexpected than positive, and positive is normally an ongoing event of justice. According to Paul Wood “People who are in the news business, as well as hacks-turned-flacks like yours truly, understand this unfortunate aspect of consumer cravings. People who just watch, read or listen to the news hate this.

The ironic thing is, according to this telling study by Outbrain, it’s all their fault. In short, negative headlines get more attention — much more — than positive headlines.


All these elements and more contribute to the appeal of a broadcasting a news story. Many journalists fight against the internet to reveal the top and most recent events globally, as print journalism is arguably in competition with the 24 hour news cycle of the internet.


Khorana, S. 2014. Who counts in Global Media? News Values. BCM111 Lecture notes, accessed 14/10/14

Image: 2014. Millennials: “News Junkies”? | Millennial Marketing. [ONLINE] Available at: http://millennialmarketing.com/2010/04/millennials-the-new-news-junkies/. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

Image: 2014. MH370 sand sculpture – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-13/sand-sculpture-malaysian-airliner-mh370-india/5317852. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

Image: 2014. Bad News: Negative Headlines Get Much More Attention – PRNewser. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mediabistro.com/prnewser/bad-news-negative-headlines-get-much-more-attention_b85912. [Accessed 14 October 2014].

2014. Headlines: When the Best Brings the Worst and the Worst Brings the Best | Outbrain. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.outbrain.com/blog/2013/07/headlines-when-the-best-brings-the-worst-and-the-worst-brings-the-best.html?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=BrainpowerWeekly-2014-2February19%28Non-LT%29%20%281%29&utm_content=. [Accessed 14 October 2014].