News and Current Affairs

News and Current Affairs

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     Since the television was invented in 1924, news and current affairs programs have surly become one of our main media sources. With this in mind, reporters and stations alike are able to manipulate their audiences through a variety of techniques, to make them believe a representation of reality as opposed to the true fact. This is evident in the current affairs story “Video Game Violence” and the standard news story “Music Video Ban”. These similar stories both originated from Channel Nine and represent violence in society’s youth today, stating children are at risk if exposed to such material. Through a selection of techniques, the audience is lured into supporting the told story and agreeing with the general attitudes promoted.

     Parents are the desired target audience of these stories which is evident through the mentioning of “children” and “youth”. Both news reports state that the media available to children today has proven to be devastating on the way they portray everyday life events. “Music Video Ban” is about a graphically violent music video produced by Perth band Beaverloop, creating outrage in society. “Video Game Violence” is a story about the effect of both suitable and non-suitable video games on children, supported by interviews and a psychiatric case study. In “Music Video Ban” to heighten the seriousness of this situation, the Columbine massacre is randomly mentioned and images of victims’ families are shown. This is to ‘help’ the viewer in understanding the attitude given, and reveals the possibilities of what can happen when access to violent media is too broad. In the “Video Game Violence” story, images of a devastated family from an incident involving a copy-cat murder are displayed. The ideas were taken from an R-rated Australian film known as “Bad Boy Bubby” and were used on Perth girl Natasha in her sleep by her 17 year old boyfriend. This is evidence enough that even the most unexpected can be influenced by meaningless entertainment media. The stories are shown to be warnings for parents around Australia to keep careful watch over what their children are exposed to and through graphic examples, express that failure is not an option.

     The lead in on a report is very important for its ability to give first (and often last) impressions. This consists of the first few sentences (often containing connative terms) spoken to introduce the story, giving a general overview of what the report will be about.

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The lead in for the news story “Music Video Ban” is spoken:
      “But first, the graphic music video by a Perth band showing a policeman and a      teacher being shot. It’s caused outrage and landed music giant Sony in hot water      with censorship authorities.”
The viewer’s attention is immediately drawn to the story when “Perth” is mentioned due to the phrase triggering a ‘close to home’ effect. Policemen and teachers are seen to be contributors to society, and to have them told to be ‘shot’ is quite alarming. “Video Game Violence” uses similar phrases in the lead in such as “in the name of entertainment”, “unseen damage” and “fear”. Upon hearing these terms, the viewer becomes interested to see how the story folds out. If a story is introduced using standard, generic vocabulary the viewer would not become interested and therefore the story would seem meaningless. The sole purpose of a lead in is to grab the viewer’s attention, which is achieved through the use of connative expressions to develop a relationship between the event and the viewer.

     

     Interviewees are key involvements in portraying the story’s desired attitudes, for the viewers are able to respond to the statements given. People in places of power are often chosen to support the attitude given by the story, as the viewers are more likely to trust a professional opinion rather than a random quote. In “Video Game Violence” there are two professionals interviewed – Barbara Biggins, President of Young Media Australia and Brent Watters, a child psychiatrist that hosts a case study later on in the story. A great deal of the time Barbara is seen in close up camera positioning, presenting an angle of importance and heightening the dramatic impact of her interview. Barbara is seen to be of a mature age, dressed appropriately, uses sophisticated language and generally comes across to the viewers as a trustworthy source of information. This is supported through her obvious yet relevant use of factual evidence:
     “Children learn much better by doing rather than seeing.”
Barbara’s point of view is challenged by the creators of South Park, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, but in the end only strengthens her attitudes. Matt and Trey are viewed at the same time through a mid-shot camera angle, and are portrayed as being ‘scruffy’ and sloppy due to their casual appearance and disrespect for one-another. Only given a few seconds, the duo is only given a short amount of time to stick up for their violent cartoon:
     “So they copied something they saw, if they didn’t they would have copied      something else!”
The statement comes across as careless, and in return is unappreciated by the audience, only leaving Barbara’s attitude to be reinforced even further. Interviewees are manipulated by the media to present the viewers with the desired viewpoint or attitude, often using sneaky tactics to place the agreeing experts in a greater position of power over those against it.

     The above statement is also evident in “Music Video Ban” where expert Chris Baker, Joondalup MLA, is interviewed. Close up angles are taken of Barker to represent his importance, where he is seen dressed in a business suit in front of his office. Barker’s stern speech proves he is very supportive towards the story attitude, and therefore he is given a great deal of power to present his opinions. he use of expressions such as “damaging scenes” and “nothing but garbage” truly prove Barker’s point of presence on the whole incident, placing him in direct agreement with the story attitude. This makes the viewer feel that he is legitimate and professional, using sophisticated language where needed:
     “We’re about to witness the commercialization of violence”.
This sentence alone is connative for its effect of proving the seriousness to the viewer in the small scale used. Beaverloop, the artists behind the Splatterpunk music video, deny all accusations of their video clip being destructive and inappropriate, saying they are all:
     “Anti-guns, anti-violence and pro-environment”
Clearly this is exaggerated when clippings of the video show a policeman being shot and skateboarders skating in prohibited areas local to Perth and Fremantle. Given no interview at all, the viewers must trust what the news has told them about the punk-rock band, which is achieved without questioning at all, due to the material shown. Once again it is evident of the media’s power to turn interviewees against their own values, making Beaverloop seem ridiculously out of line by having the professional, Chris Barker, tower over them with sophistication and societal support.
     
     Viewers rely on physical imagery to assist in the telling of a story, but in reality what is shown has been carefully selected by the media to support their desired attitude. In “Video Game Violence” the two most important visuals are the footage of the children’s behavior before and after playing violent video games, a case study performed by child psychiatrist Brent Watters. Before, the viewers see the children playing G-rated adventure video games, where they are civilized and quiet. Through this, the viewer is able to see the original innocence of a child, before the influence of external entities (such as video games). Immediately after, the footage is varied to the next day where the children are introduced to M15+ rated video games containing extreme graphic violence, and the reaction is completely different. The children are no longer quiet, yet instead they are loud and “feral”, and are seen to be running around performing acts of witnessed violent activity on each other. The immediate switch in footage creates a before and after effect, and portrays to the viewer the influence violent video games can have on children. What’s even more alarming are the children’s responses after playing these games, when asked why they liked them:
     “I reckon violence is better because it is a challenge – you get to see blood go      everywhere!”
This shocks the viewer into agreeing with the story attitude that video game violence is corrupting our youth – and therefore the story goal is successful. Through the manipulated visuals of the children’s behavior, the viewers are able to see for themselves the devastating effects that video game violence can have, further-more reinforcing the story attitudes.

     Without visuals in the “Music Video Ban” story, it would not have the dramatic affect on the viewer required to make the report credible. The opening visual of the story is a clip taken from the Splatterpunk music video, showing a policeman having his gun taken and used against him by youths. This ‘rebellious’ act is seen as shocking by the audience, and shows exactly why there was an outrage over the video. The footage is continued to be showed while Mark McGill, the reporter, speaks over the video with a voiceover. Only certain parts of the video clip are shown, those being the most supportive of the story, and therefore the most violent scenes. Clips of the band are shown skating in public areas, with large ‘skating prohibited’ signs plastered on the walls. This shows the viewers that the general attitudes of the band do not exceed those of a common society nuisance, and from here are looked down upon. This is heightened when the scenes are noticed to be local, returning back to the ‘close to home’ effect. The story is concluded with the same starting visuals – the policeman’s authority being challenged. Is this done because the story has run out of footage? No. This is done because it is the most alarming visual in the video clip, and the media have played it again to reshow the graphic entertainment available to today’s youth, reinstating the story attitude.

     Through a variety of techniques, News and Current Affairs programs often present viewers with a biased version of the true fact. Bias in the news is usually unseen by society, for viewers have grown to trust what their evening media source has to say. This is done to achieve the enforcing of a particular attitude or opinion to make viewers aware and convince them that their station is more informative and ‘better’ to watch. In Video Ban” and “Video Game Violence” this is evident, using techniques such as interviews, visuals and selection of detail (particularly vocabulary) to present two stories that appeal to the audience. Violence in youths is always going to be an issue in society so both stories will be equally considered and valued by the audience. The media are successful in portraying and enforcing their attitudes towards these stories, and win society’s respect and attention through their manipulative techniques.
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