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Photojournalism. (Week 12)

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Journalism has evolved overtime. It no longer only involves words but ‘contemporary journalism is filled with images – still photographs, graphics, televised and cable video, and even interactive visual sequences on the Internet.’ (Allan, 2005, p. 167) In the past, photojournalism was used to record the realism of war and strife because it arose amidst the 19th century where it had witnessed the World Wars. Due to the impact of political influence, photojournalism had become a threat to government authorities. Here, I will discuss about the truth of news photographs, ethical values of photojournalism and how can a photo be unethical.

Have you ever questioned how truthful the photos you saw in the news? It is apparent that in this information age, we can no longer trust any photos due to the technologies available. This is why ethics of photojournalism must be taken into account in order to prevent or avoid deception and misinterpretation of readers by the photographers or journalists. The job of a photojournalist is to show the truthful of reality. ‘Images help journalists do a better job of being journalists, and journalists readily rely on images to help substantiate the stories they are responsible for telling.’ (Allan, 2005, p. 171) However, is there really truth from the moment a photo is captured? What is shown in a photograph is based on the view point of the photographer, thus, the photo is not real, but real enough to represent the reality. ‘Images matter as a reflection of the world at large.’ (Allan, 2005, p. 170) Come to think of it, there is no absolute truth, just subjective view points.

There are acceptable conventions in editing a photo for news. Such conventions are minor adjustment of color contrast, burning in of important details, cropping and adding a caption, usually serves to inform the place, subject and the author of the photograph. However, a photo becomes unethical when a particular photo is being edited extensively by electronic ‘wizardry’ that may change the reality of the particular story. This may create unnecessary political riot. It is also unethical for not informing the readers that the photo is being edited because this may cause misinterpretation and deception.

A photo below is an example of a photo illustration which is unethical if shown in the news without informing the readers that it was being edited. This simply because it does not represent reality. It only illustrates the point of the author by altering the original photos of the subjects shown.

 

In conclusion, photojournalism is basically about telling stories through a camera’s eye. Ethics in photojournalism is fundamental in order to maintain the information quality shown in  a photograph. Despite the fact that photojournalism is on the edge due to the improvement of technology, it is worth to preserve it because news photographs ‘can carry a distinctive kind of evidence, and they can put us into a closer relationship with their subject-matter than any other kind of still pictures.’ (Kieran, 1998, p. 134)

References:

1. Allan, S. (2005). Journalism: Critical Issues. Berkshire, GBR: McGraw-Hill Education.

2. Belsey, A. & Chadwick, R. (1994). Ethical Issues in Journalism and The Media. London and New York: Routledge.

3. Kieran, M. (1998). Media Ethics. London, GBR: Routledge.

Written by Zarrifa

November 3, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Be seen to be remembered. (Week 11)

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Our brain naturally cannot store everything we have seen in reality. So how can we effectively remember the information we have gained? Instead of memorizing, we can create an information graphic or infographic. ‘A chart, map, graph or other illustration meant to provide information is an infographic.’ (Rich, 2009, p. 46) In other words, an infographic is a representation of the combination of texts and visual elements. It uses pictures and different colors to attract as well as to hold on to readers. In this post, I will show some examples of infographics in different types of media and talk about the rules and ethical values of graph-making.

‘Information graphics provide the reader with a rapid and easily grasped overall view of a message and are therefore highly suitable as an introduction to and summary of a subject.’ (Pettersson, 1993, p. 173) They involve simple messages that are easy to understand and, thus, easy to remember. Infographers used to produce infographics by hand. Nowadays, they are produced by current technologies such as desktop computers and laptops. Not only do they appear in printed media such as books, newspapers and magazines but they can also appear in a media such as television. Below are examples of infographics in printed media and television respectively.

There are rules and guides to make a graph. Infographers need ‘to have skills in writing comprehensible, clear and consistent texts, in creating clear illustrations, and in creating a clear, transparent typography and layout that aids understanding and learning.’ (Pettersson, 2002, p. 20) Colors, pictures, icons or shapes should be used to represent variables in order to give a hard-hitting impact to readers. There should always be a legend to explain symbols. Infographers have to use distinct colors, however, not too distinct, in order to show the point or messages of the graphs created.

Infographers have to carefully select which graphs suit best for a particular information. The process of selecting which graphs also depends on the objectives of the infographers. If the objective is to show trends and changes overtime, then line graphs might be the best choice. If the objective is to easily compare and contrast data, bar graphs might be the perfect choice. However, there are limitations of different types of graphs. For examples, it is easy to distort data in line graphs and bar graphs are unable to show trends clearly.

When some informations are missing or the original information are changed in certain graphs, therefore, the graphs are considered unethical. Ethics in graph-making are fundamental. If the graphs are unethical when they are being compared due to different scales, arrangements and so forth, there will be misinterpretation of the graphs. In other words, when graphs are visually misrepresented or inaccurate, the messages given will be misleading. Therefore, it is important for the infographers to be extra careful when creating an information graphic.

In conclusion, information graphics are one of the significant and efficient visual tools in different types of media today. They are easier for us to read, understand and remember. However, infographers have to be cautious in order to avoid creating unethical graphs because the messages will not be valid due to the inaccuracy and misinterpretation of the graphs by readers.

References:

1. Pettersson, R. (2002). Information Design. An Introduction. United States of America: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

2. Pettersson, R. (1993). Visual Information. United States of America: Educational Technology.

3. Rich, C. (2009). Writing and Reporting News: A Coaching Method. United States of America: Cengage Learning.

Written by Zarrifa

October 31, 2010 at 7:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Are we human or are we cyborgs? (Week 10)

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We are currently living in the information age where technology improves overtime. We can no longer live without technology because it is a part of us and thus we are no longer natural. We are actually a cyborgian in nature. We use cars as an extension of our feet. We use glasses to see clearly. We use slippers or shoes to protect our feet. We will only be called natural if we live like monkeys in the jungle. In this week’s post, I will talk about cyberspace and virtual reality as well as their connection with the world we live in.

‘Cyberspace is, according to the guruesque William Gibson, a consensual hallucination.’ (Kennedy & Bell, 2000, p. 77) It is imagined as a place where there is unlimited freedom, no restrictions and barriers. ‘Virtual reality is, or is imagined as, a combination of the objectivity of the physical world with the unlimitedness and the uncensored content normally associated with dreams or imagination.’ (Kennedy & Bell, 2000, p. 81) ‘Virtual reality and cyberspace are commonly imagined in terms of reaction against, or opposition to, the real world.’ (Kennedy & Bell, 2000, p. 86) In other words, they are closely related since both of them allow us to play god. It is another different world that is designed with accordance to our pleasure and desire.

When there is a virtual reality, there must be a virtual community. Most of us, if not all, are part of the virtual community. For example, we are familiar with the social network say, facebook, and most of us are the members of that social network. In other words, we are part of the online communities. We uploaded pictures to show our friends who we really are. Nevertheless, what we have shown were merely a representation of ourselves. Those pictures are avatars and this shows that we communicate with other those who are in the online community through avatars. The truth can be questioned because we do not know whether the online character we have been contacting is being truthful or not. We can easily be who we want to be in virtual reality regardless a female or male, nobody will ever know. This shows that with the existing technology, self-identity can be changed.

Myth War Online Game

Cyberlife can be connected to our real life in terms of social interaction as well as their environment. For example, an online game such as the above picture is created based on real-life environment such as chaos, problems, conflicts and so forth. Those who love to play online games ‘must learn to join communities, make friends, deal with other players, and cultivate a socially acceptable virtual character’. (Silver & Massanari, 2006, p. 134) They can communicate with each other through online chatting and they may also meet each other in real life such as at the cybercafe to discuss regarding about their virtual life and strategies to survive in it. Apparently, a game is hardly just a game to them, it is the reality they prefer.

In conclusion, we as cyborgs are not fantasies because we are living in the real world. Imagination and material reality are blurred due to the technologies that have been created. We can be someone who we cannot be in real life in the cyberspace and virtual reality. What we have seen in the television programmes and the cinema  such as news, documentaries and movies are only the realities of the mind.

References:

1. Kennedy, B. M. & Bell, D. (2000). The Cybercultures Reader. United States of America and Canada: Routledge.

2. Silver, D. & Massanari, A. (2006). Critical Cyberculture Studies. New York and United States of America: NYU Press.

Written by Zarrifa

October 22, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Cinema and Television. (Week 9)

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Cinema and television are the two common media in our lives nowadays. This week post is concerned about the importance of these two media which will bring me to point out their uses. Most of us never actually think about their uses because normally we watch movies in the cinema or programmes in the television in order to seek entertainment, to fill our free times or perhaps to spend our quality time with beloved ones. There will be, of course, other different reasons why people want to watch a particular movie or a television programme depending on their own tastes and interests. Now the real question is, what are the cinema and television studied for?

There are many types of film genre shown in the cinema. Such genres are action-thriller, horror, romantic, animated-romantic, documentary and so forth. There are actually many purposes of these films beside for entertainment. For example, above is a Fahrenheit 9/11 trailer, a film documentary of Michael Moore, which shows the audience the truth behind the 9/11 tragedy. The documentary, also known as Cinéma vérité, is merely a representation of reality, showing different perspectives of the creator. This film is one the most controversial films which have given an impact to the people of the United States of America.

An example of a television programme, on the other hand, is the reality television show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. This reality program shows the audience their luxurious and glamorous life of the American elite and celebrities. In other words, the show is the representation of the elite and celebrity life. Below is the preview of the Keeping Up With The Kardashians first season. The episodes give the viewers ideas of how the rich and famous live which may influence how the viewers live their life as well.

We study films and television programmes in order for us to understand and improve how things mean as well as to gain knowledge of cultural life. In other words, we study them for cultural literacy. There are four components in cultural literacy, that include familiarity in which the greater the familiarity the greater the cultural literacy, an ability to negotiate rules and culture, the determining factor and a nuanced understanding of language to perform within discourses and ideologies.

Cultural literacy relies on the time and space. In other words, it depends on the context. This is important for the creators of films or television programmes in order to achieve their expectation on the audience. The context determines a person’s cultural literacy can or cannot be usable. The audience has to understand the representation being shown in the films or television programmes or otherwise, the point will be lost. Now the questions are have you ever wondered why the films and television programmes are shown the way they are shown? Does what is shown really happen in reality? These questions are actually the politics of representation. In other words, they are the struggle over truth-making of the reality.

In conclusion, cinema and television are part of our lives. We study them in order to enhance our cultural understanding and how things mean. We also study them because they can shape the viewers’ identities and perception. They have fundamental impacts to the audience since they are the two types of rhetorical media that can persuade us visually.

References:

1. Hartley, J. (1999). Uses of Television. London and New York: Routledge.

2. Nowlan, B. (2001). Introduction to the Art and Politics of Representation in Film. Retrieved October, 21, 2010, from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Website: http://www.uwec.edu/ranowlan/art_politics.htm

3. Ryan, K. & Cooper, J. M. (2008). Those Who Can, Teach. (pp. 155-156) United States of America: Cengage Learning.

Written by Zarrifa

October 21, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Photography. (Week 8)

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Have you ever asked yourself why exactly do you want to take pictures for? Personally, my reason will be it is because by taking pictures of that specific moment is the closest way to feel how I felt during the moments were captured. In other words, photography has the ability to capture the past and present in which creates nostalgia and  envisions a sanitized and romanticized past. Photography is more than just freezing the time and space. It has several functions that actually play a role in our lives. Nowadays, we can see that photography is pretty much everywhere. Therefore, here, I will talk about its functions and how it can be considered as cultural critique.

‘Photography has been used to record all aspects of human life and activity.’ (Wright, 1999, p. 1) In other words, photos can be evidence or documents to show proof that something or someone exists in that particular moments. Photography is a modern way to visually record and see things. Not only we can capture our experience but through photography we can actually experience something that we have never experienced before. Photography also acts as an extension to memory. Our memory cannot handle too much information that we tend to forget things we see. We cannot remember everything we have seen. Moreover, we also tend to ignore little things that do not capture our attention. In other words, our memory only captures things that are emotionally significant for us.

However, since technology is not static and it improves over time, the truth of photos captured by cameras these days can be questioned. We can no longer know which photos are real due to multiple productions and imitations of the photos. Such example is photos of Shakespeare paintings shown below.

Photographs can also be a powerful tool to critique culture. Certain professional photographers take photos not only because photography is their passion or to show people the reflecting world but also to make a conscious effort to produce photos that will create a better world. These photos may involve politics of modernization, politics of religious freedom and so forth. Below is a photo I took in a Brunei Muslim wedding ceremony recently. We can see that the subject of the photo is a man with a long hair, wearing the ‘Cara Melayu’, a male’s dress code of a religious ceremony in Brunei. This photo is a critique of  the ideology of ‘Melayu Islam Beraja’. Muslim men in Brunei are not encouraged to have long hair and moreover, a ‘songkok’, a traditional cap which is a part of Muslim dress code when attending religious ceremony, was not worn by the subject. This clearly shows that the ideology does not stay and practiced by all of the Brunei people.

In conclusion, photography is a modern mean of communication where people use it for their personal and professional satisfactions. People use photography as documents as well as a method for recalling what they have forgotten or what they have ignored. Some photos may produce critique that gives an impact towards the society.

References:

1. Wright, T. (1999). Photography Handbook. London and New York: Routledge.

2. Batchen, G. (2004). Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.

Written by Zarrifa

October 3, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Visual Narrative and The Media. (Week 7)

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Would life be interesting if there is no involvement of stories? I could not imagine if we do not have stories to tell. We are definitely familiar with the term story-telling or narrative because we tell stories in our daily lives. To whom the stories are told depends on what the stories are all about and who are the story-tellers. Moreover, there are various ways of how stories are being told. We can tell stories orally or by writing. In fact, we can tell stories through different types of media such as the radio, in film, television, novels and so forth. Here, I am going to focus on the visual narrative. Nowadays, we do not only use narrative in speaking and writing but it can also be shown visually.

According to Aristotle, a narrative usually has a beginning, middle and end. In other words, ‘narrative imposes structures: it connects as well as records.’ (Nash, 1994, p. 131) According to structuralists, narrative is explained in terms of social and binary systems such as good or bad and right or wrong. In order to create a narrative, there must be components. Such components are paradigm which is a framework and discourses, syntagm which includes storyline and plot, focalization, which basically means point of focus, and temporality and duration, which involves the sequence and length of time and steadiness of speed. These components are tools to tell and analyze a story.

Movies are examples of visual narrative. Below is a poster of an animated fairy tale movie, Cinderella, in which its narrative design is structuralist. It follows the most typical narrative structure which includes the exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution. The genres of this movie is animated romantic musical-fantasy which involve plenty of discourses such as discourse of love, magic, dream, jealousy and so forth. Its point of focus is through the main character, Cinderella. In other words, the movie is based on Cinderella’s perspective. The story is presented in a way that the structuralists called memesis where the exact words of characters are being shown to the audience. Memesis is in contrast with diegesis where it refers to the speech of characters that are being told by the creator directly. The movie also follows the chronological order which is shown through the visual elements created such as day, night, clock and so on. In other words, there is a coherency in the movie.

However, not all movies nowadays follow the typical narrative structure. According to post-structuralists, how is done now differs with how is done back then. There will be the same structures in a movie but it does not necessarily follow the typical order. Some movies’ narrative design are post-structuralist. These movies break the traditional rule of classic movies. They are also against the traditional ideology of certain discourses. Below is an poster of a parody movie, Vampire Suck. I think this movie is post structuralist because some parts in the movie did not really show a point. In other words, the meaning is not coherent enough to make any sense. There is also the part in the movie where a man is putting on a make up which is definitely a counter-ideology. Although the man is playing a straight role in the movie, that act is actually quite feminine.

In conclusion, structuralists argue that narrative cannot be arbitrarily constructed since it must have coherence and fidelity. However, post structuralists disagree because there is no universal method or idea that is constant. Visual narratives may not always follow the usual narrative structure. The structure may be present in the movies that have post structuralist narrative but it may not follow the typical chronological order of the structure. Moreover, some visual narratives, nowadays, tend to break certain traditional conventions.

References:

1. Woo, C. W. H. (2010). Analyzing Visual Communication. Brunei Darussalam: Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

2. Nash, C. (1994). Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy and Literature. United Kingdom: Routledge.

3. Fulton, H. (2005). Narrative and Media. United States of America: Cambridge University Press.

4. Bordwell, D. & Thompson, K. (1993). Film Art: An Introduction. Retrieved October 1st, 2010 from Film Studies Glossary Web site: http://www.willamette.edu/~rloftus/jfilm/filmgloss.html

Written by Zarrifa

September 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

How can we be persuaded visually? (Week 6)

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It is common for us to be persuaded by listening to what is being said or written. We can also be persuaded by what we see. ‘Images can be used to persuade and to perpetuate ideas that words alone cannot.’ (Lester, 2006, p. 65) This refers to the term visual rhetoric where it describes the study of visual imagery within the art of persuasion. Now the question is, how can we be persuaded visually? For instance, the purpose of an advertisement of a product is to persuade us to buy the product. How exactly is that advertisement try to achieve that purpose? This involves the relationship between rhetoric, argument and persuasion.

Visual rhetoric is a mixture of both words and images that involve persuasive arguments in which may change a person’s belief system. Arguments are essential because they ‘supply us with reasons for accepting a point of view.’ (Hill & Helmers, 2004, p. 44) They are usually associated with either written or oral form due to their usage of propositions that are mainly ‘expressed by a sentence that has a truth value.’ (Hill & Helmers, 2004, p. 44) There are three characteristics for an image to be visual rhetoric. ‘The image must be symbolic, involve human intervention and be presented to an audience for the purpose of communicating with that audience.’ (Smith, 2005, p. 144)

Take an image above as an example. The image is an advertisement of a woman foot-wear where it provides an argument that tries to persuade people to agree that the shoes will make a person to lose weight or stay healthy by saying ‘ Take The Gym With You’. It basically says that there is no need to go to the gym if you have that pair of sport shoes. The advertisement also shows a happy woman in sport attires who seems to warming up for an exercise in a bright day. The blue and white background which is the sky gives the reader a comfortable and relaxed feelings. However, the feelings can change if the style of the advertisement changes despite the fact that the content is still the same.

The video above is an advertisement of the same content of the first advertisement. However, the style or the visual genre of advertising the shoes is different which creates different emotional response. When I watch this video, it feels more dramatic because of the visual elements in the video such as the black and white color. Therefore, we can see that the style is more important than the content for marketing strategy.

In conclusion, we can be persuaded visually by the presence of both visual elements and written or spoken words in images or films. This visual rhetoric plays an important role in advertising of a product because it is a way to change people’s belief systems or to make the people agree to their argument provided in their advertisements in accordance to their targeted audience.

References:

1. Woo, C. W. H. (2010). Analyzing Visual Communication. Brunei Darussalam: Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

2. Lester, P. M. (2006). Visual Communication: Images with Messages. United States of America: Cengage Learning.

3. Hill, C. A & Helmers, M. H. (2004). Defining Visual Rhetoric. United States of America: Routledge.

4. Smith, K. L (2005). Handbook of Visual Communication: Theory, Methods and Media. United States of America: Routledge.

Written by Zarrifa

September 8, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized