Where is the Truth?

It is well know that the owners of, or the people who control, the media are able to influence what you read or hear and, more importantly, what you don’t. This bias is especially prevalent in political news. They can wield large amounts of power by influencing the thoughts and beliefs of their audience by praising the work of one political part to the detriment of the others. Of course, if you are aware of this and can look past the bias the damage can me mitigated or at the very least minimised. Unfortunately, many cannot.

I have been somewhat aware of this bias for a number of years and I had never really been one to read the popular print press, watch the evening news or any of the current affairs shows. Most of my news either comes from either online forums like reddit or 4chan or from conversations with a close group of friends from high school. The bias shown by both reddit and 4chan can be more extreme when compared to the more subtle implications of the more mainstream news providers. Despite this, these online forums continue to be my main sources of broad information on big events that are occurring all around the world but because of this heavy bias I rarely use these forums as a source for the finer details. The source of this extreme bias is that these sites get smashed with hundreds or even thousands of personal comments and opinions after any significant event which makes it very hard to establish what is ‘accurate’ and what is just speculation based on personal opinion.

My friends from high school are responsible for the majority of the news I receive and partially for the way I see it, even though we are not as active as we were while attending high school. We still regularly communicate in smaller groups whether via text, Facebook, Snapchat, occasionally playing games online or even meeting in person (I made that sound like it was a strange or unusual thing to do, didn’t I?). Although quite a few of our conversations consist of idle chat or silly banter, many are very passionate debates about topical issues, the news and any major events happening around the world at the time. The views are wide in range from extreme far right to far left (nothing really past socialism though) and cover everything in between. Although many of these discussions deteriorate very, very quickly, it is interesting to hear such a wide range of views about a single subject, all of which are relatively well informed although still do contain their own opinions and prejudices.

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“Cheat on Your Girlfriend, Not Your Workout”

A complex image is any image that is made up of two components; signifiers/denotations (what is represented) and the signified/connotations (what the image might mean, or how we interpret it). Complex images are all around us in day-to-day life and they are especially easy to identify and analyse when in the form of advertising. Many brands will release advertisements in papers or on billboards with an image that has multiple meanings or can be interpreted in different ways due to implied information. Although there are negative, positive and neutral connotations, the negative are the most obvious. They usually spark controversy because of the way they portray a sex, race, religion, gender, etc.. Many of these advertisements come under scrutiny for their questionable nature and are taken out of circulation almost immediately after being released.

An individual’s opinion on the implied meaning of these advertisements defines whether they are considered as having negative or positive connotations. This makes it harder for advertising companies to know where to draw the line when it comes to what is acceptable, even as a silly joke, and what is completely out of line or offensive.

I see what you did there

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In terms of what we can actually see, this image can be considered relatively simple. There is some white text and a black fur/hair background with a person’s two fingers extended over the top. But it is the way these components are put together that gives it meaning. The implication is to show a woman’s lower half. Although it doesn’t tell us exactly what it means, the implication is something many people would understand and therefore is just as, if not more effective, than explaining everything. Although it is cool that some advertisements do this, there can also be cases where people read into something too much, creating meaning in their own minds where nothing exists.

Somebody was paid to make this???

Of course, some advertisements lack subtlety altogether. They don’t seem to be aware of where to draw the line on what is socially acceptable and what isn’t.

Cheat on your Girlfriend

This is one example of advertising that takes things too far and crosses the line into the unacceptable. That being said they say any publicity is good publicity and although I don’t remember the incident I’m sure many people were talking about it at the time.

Welcoming the Newest Journalist to the Team: Everyone

The introduction of the Internet can easily be described as one of the greatest human advances in the past 50 years. Although it is an incredible resource, it also has many downsides. In the past, consumers needed to buy a newspaper, listen to the radio, or tune into the TV in order to get their news and even though this news could sometimes be biased, it had a certain level of validity with sources to back up what was said or printed. On the Internet, however, there are no restrictions on who can create articles or content and who can’t, all it takes is someone with access to a device and the internet to create a webpage or an article on the internet to give their own personal views on something and potentially affect the way many people think.

This doesn’t sound like a bad thing at first, it is a method for people to put across their own point of view, to be able to express how they feel and the way they see events within our society. The real issue is when the reader confuses these personal opinions with factual information. People can easily make up sources and quotes to fit their own point of view and post something on the Internet, which is false or based on speculation, and make it look like hard fact. The people who do this are not only taking away from the integrity of the news companies but they can also be spreading a lack of understanding about a topic.

Of equal concern, is the targeting of material to people who, based on their social media profile, has views consistent with the media being published. This can limit informed analysis and debate about important topics. Although similar criticisms can be made about the traditional print media, it is not, in my opinion, so pronounced or targeted.

However, the blame does not entirely lie with the people who post this opinionated non-factual ‘crap’. The people who read this material and refuse to cross-reference or check sources must take some of the blame.

With the introduction of the Internet and the freedom people have to write anything they want and publish it either as their opinion or ‘fact’ is something that everybody who uses the Internet should be recognise as having been potentially targeted to them and may not be factual.