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The Mongrel Election September 30, 2007

Posted by shell in RESEARCH.
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Another Age article about election campaigns using fear mongering to sway votes…



Fear is a great weapon in politics, mainly because it works. Jason Koutsoukis reports on the advertising dogfight about to break out.

THE one thing all political strategists agree on when it comes to negative advertising is that it works. “If it is rooted in the truth then it is probably the most compelling form of persuasion there is,” says former federal Liberal MP Ross Cameron.

He was the target of intense personal attacks on his character during the 2004 election campaign, having confessed to an extramarital affair in Fairfax’s Good Weekend magazine just before the campaign started.

But he says it’s not the negative messages in politics that upset him.

“What sickens me is the extent to which the electorate tut-tuts about it, then rewards everyone who practises it absolutely ruthlessly and systematically. It’s pure humbug.”

With what is tipped to be the most vitriolic election campaign in over a decade on the way, voters have weeks of malevolence to look forward to.

Health Minister Tony Abbott said last week that this campaign “will be about policies, it will be about people’s character and capacity to govern, nothing else”.

But with so many accusations flying about dirt files, dirt sheets and dirt units, voters could be forgiven for thinking they were already knee-deep in mud.

Even a bit of sex too, with one newspaper report last week suggesting the Federal Government had a closet gay in its ranks.

Seasoned pollster and campaign watcher Gary Morgan says that, as the incumbent, the Coalition’s best weapon will always be fear.

“Why do you think political parties spend the most money in their last week? Because they know it can tweak the vote. It’s very effective,” says Morgan.

“Bash away with fear, create the doubt in people’s minds. Years of experience tells you that is what works.”

From the pre-campaign shadow boxing we already know what those messages will be: fear of unions, fear of wall-to-wall Labor governments, and fear of Labor’s inexperience in government.

For Labor, the negative messages are equally well defined. Fear of John Howard’s hated WorkChoices laws, neglect on climate change, and forbidding portents of a Costello prime ministership.

Ross Cameron sees negative advertising as a simple reflection of people’s wish to feel above someone else.

“I think one of the flaws of the human condition is this incredibly persistent, deep-seated desire to feel that some other bastard is worse than you are,” says Cameron.

“And people prop up their sense of vulnerability by drawing a circle around themselves and saying, ‘I am one of the good guys and everyone outside are the bad guys’.

“That’s the instinct that the negative campaign and the personal attack appeal to. It’s almost a reflexive satisfaction because that other person or party is morally worse than I am.”

Negative advertising will backfire if the basis is not true, he says, because voters can see through it.

“Take some of Labor’s negative campaigns, like the schools funding debate last time around. It couldn’t mobilise the old feelings of class warfare because I don’t think they exist much any more.”

Cameron says the ultimate testimony to the power of negative advertising is the last messages that parties put to the voters as they walk into the polling booth.

‘It is always negative,” says Cameron. “It’s ‘Don’t trust Labor’, or ‘Don’t sell Telstra’, or ‘A vote for Howard is a vote for Costello’. It’s never ‘Join our vision to take Australia into the sunlit uplands’.

The reason negative ads work in politics, says Cameron, goes to the heart of the science of persuasion.

“The most persuasive element of any pitch, or any bid for a tender, is the part when you present an incontrovertible fact. Something that is proven, not debatable.

“But in politics, when you’re talking about the future, there is nothing about your future vision that can be based on an incontrovertible fact. It’s only the past that gives you these messages, and when you focus on someone’s past the only option is to criticise.”

Cameron also sees a parallel between negative advertising and the sorts of stories covered by the tabloid media in particular.

“The instinct they are appealing to is the capacity to make people feel better about their shitty lives, by feeling like ‘I am better than that trailer trash’.

“There is no doubt that if you give someone the opportunity to feel that they are better than someone else, it works. My only complaint is that I wish people were more honest about what changes their minds.”

What can we really expect from both sides in the run-up to this year’s election, widely tipped to be held on either November 10 or November 17?

Veteran advertising executive Greg Daniel, who has worked on several major political campaigns, says that with the economy strong and the Government perceived as competent, Labor is the more exposed side.

“The real ground Labor has chosen to fight on is Rudd. That’s their message,” says Daniel.

“Lots of stuff about the Government having run out of ideas and having been in power too long, but essentially Rudd is their key point of difference. Undermine Rudd, and Labor’s campaign starts to falter badly.”

Daniel also compares this campaign with the one in 1996, the last time the Government changed hands.

“The Coalition didn’t have to worry about selling Howard, because they had Paul Keating front and centre,” he says.

Nearly 12 years later and the Coalition’s 1996 advertising campaign is still fresh in the minds of many political pundits.

One ad featured Keating repeating his line about the ‘recession we had to have’; another showed him telling a protester to ‘get a job’; and who could forget the ad seen to epitomise the Keating government’s arrogance: a slow motion shot of then foreign minister Gareth Evans staggering around the dance floor celebrating Labor’s 1993 election victory.

The Coalition’s advertising campaigns have lost none of their potency since then.

The 2001 campaign will be remembered for the Tampa-inspired tagline — “We decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” — and 2004 for its devastating L-plate spelling of then Labor leader Mark Latham’s surname.

In his Flinders Lane office this week, the Coalition’s creative advertising genius, Ted Horton, will no doubt be putting the final touches on a new round of ads aimed at Kevin Rudd.

The ALP has sharpened its act since the last election, when critics said its campaign failed to make an impact.

With a team led by Neil Lawrence and Luke Dunkerley — the creative leaders of former Labor adman John Singleton’s STW Village — Labor has aired several ads throughout the year.

They included the largely positive ad selling Rudd himself, but they have been replaced with wholly negative ones attacking the Government and its personnel.

Up and down the east coast, Labor has been running a “Perfect One Day, Nuclear the Next” campaign, and a few weeks ago it released an ad showing John Howard sleeping through the climate change alarm bells at Kirribilli House.

Within 24 hours of Howard declaring that he would hand over to Costello if he won the election, Labor put to air a catty ad warning of the perils of letting this Treasurer turn prime minister.

“Both the creative teams working for the major parties are very experienced and very good, so I think we’ll see some excellent work on both sides. The major new factor is in the online area. I think that’s where we’ll see some real innovations compared with the previous campaigns,” says Greg Daniel.

Even more important, he says, is the use of the final 24 hours.

“I think it’s now around 10 per cent of people who make up their minds at that moment.

“So whether it’s through text messaging, multimedia messaging, these last-minute efforts to touch voters and plant the seed of doubt on the day itself are going to be critical.”

Already feeling overwhelmed and a touch soiled by the thought of what’s to come?

A final word from Gary Morgan, who cautions politicians not to get too carried away with the negative.

“Policies actually matter, you know. People are concerned about how much tax they pay. They want a good health system. They want to know that their children will be able to get a good education,” Morgan says.

“So fear works, we know that, but you have to make sure your policies stand up to scrutiny.”

Positive or negative, you’re going to hear a lot of it, from both sides.

Rumour has it that the Coalition has amassed a war chest of about $25 million to fund its campaign, while Labor and union allies are said to have even more.

With direct spending during the campaign last time around estimated to have reached only $20 million for both sides together, that gives some idea of the avalanche set to fall upon us.


Around the world in 8000 channels September 30, 2007

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Hi guys, found this article in the Age the day before we handed in our proposal.

Was too late to include it in the lit review, but i thought I would post it anyways as it has some really good stats about the media in several countries.


Correspondents from every corner of the globe find out what’s on telly.

Lucy Beaumont

BE IT BORDER SECURITY, SEA PATROL or Surf Patrol – Australia’s TV viewing preferences befit our island nation status and hint at our fears. Then there’s our love of fish-out-of-water scenarios, foxy ladies and men with balls.

Providing a sticky beak into others’ lives and luggage, customs documentary series Border Security is among the most watched regular shows with about 1.8 million viewers. Thank God You’re Here is also a hit, with a similar audience. Dancing with the Stars was an imported success that followed more straightforward talent quests such as Australian Idol. We love to see someone pushed to their creative, emotional or physical limits on screen – perhaps in preference to pushing ourselves off the couch.

In the ’80s, animated character Norm was created as the typical beer-bellied Australian TV viewer. Today, our average time spent in front of the box (three hours and seven minutes a day; pay TV viewers spend 26 minutes more) suggests he is still the norm. Now he has several flat screens to choose from, downloads the latest US shows and increasingly regards pay TV as a necessity – but it’s still sport that has him glued.

A list of the most watched programs since 2001 is topped by the 2005 Lleyton Hewitt and Marat Safin Australian Open tennis final (4.04 million viewers), 2003 World Cup final (4.01 million) and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony (3.56 million).

The Chaser’s war on – among other things – APEC security has proved extraordinarily popular, with an average 2.3 million viewers on Wednesdays, making it the fifth most popular show this year. It is the second-highest rating ABC program since the introduction of the people-meter rating system, with top place going to the final episode of Seachange in 2000.

More than 99 per cent of Australian houses have a TV – 67 per cent have two or more and 28 per cent have three or more. A 10-year average indicates ratings for the commercial networks are evenly split (Channel Nine has 31.2 per cent of viewers, Channel Seven 28.4 per cent and Channel Ten 21.3 per cent) with the ABC capturing about 15 per cent of the national audience and SBS 4 per cent. But free-to-air networks are losing their stranglehold. About a quarter of houses subscribe to pay TV and more than a third of Australian broadband internet users regularly download episodes, usually pirated.

And though it often seems that our screens are awash with American programs, ratings tell a different story. Australians celebrated 50 years of their own images last year. Cue the exploding Number 96 apartment building and clips of Graham “The King” Kennedy, roll out Bert Newton. Play the 1987 Neighbours wedding of Scott and Charlene, drool over David Wenham in SeaChange and cringe at Kath & Kim. The foxy ladies’ recent season premiere attracted 2,521,335 viewers nationally, the highest first-episode figures for any program, according to Seven.

Big Brother, Australian Idol and The Block round out the most watched shows in recent years but some suspect our love affair with reality television may be waning. ACNielsen reports that four out of five Australians say there is too much reality on our screens. But then those customs beagles sniff something suspect and we’re hooked again.

Randeep Ramesh

INDIAN TELEVISION’S DEFINING moment arrived in July 1990 when a serial version of the epic Hindu poem The Mahabharata finished. It had entranced 300 million viewers every Sunday for 20 months on the country’s only TV station – the state-owned broadcaster Doordarshan.

No program has matched that – partly because there are now 160 channels – and today’s viewers prefer pop idols to ones found in temples: 30 million tuned in to Indian Idol when it launched a couple years ago.

In a country of more than 1 billion people, just over 110 million Indian homes have TVs – more than half are connected by cable and about 7 million have satellite.

The most popular shows are soap operas, especially those that revolve around the tensions between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law.

Ed Pilkington

FOR A NATION SPOILT WITH hundreds of channels, it’s amazing that Americans still have so much in common in their viewing habits. They just can’t get enough of reality TV. Of the top 10 places for most popular shows, as rated by Nielsen Media Research, six are occupied by American Idol and Dancing with the Stars, with up to 30 million people watching them live or recorded that day.

But the delightful communion of veging out in front of the TV knowing that millions are doing the same is fading as greater choice – not least YouTube – fragments the audience. The top four networks recently recorded plummeting ratings, with 2.5 million fewer people watching their shows at prime time than last year.

You can see the drift over time. For instance, the most watched show of 1983 (a MASH special) had 60 per cent of the US TV audience – that’s 50 million homes. The show-stopper this year was the Super Bowl, which had 48 million viewers but attracted only 43 per cent of America’s by now much larger audience of 111 million TV homes.

The three main networks, CBS, ABC and NBC, are important players in that order but the big change was the growing threat of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox that as the provider of American Idol broadcasts the most popular show in US television and whose average audience has overtaken the ailing NBC.

The appalling frequency of advertisements in US TV drives people to TiVo and gloriously ad-free pay television and notably HBO, which had the water-cooler moment of the year – the final episode of The Sopranos.

Jo Tuckman

MEXICAN TELEVISION IS DOMINATED by two private networks – Televisa and TV Azteca – although there is growing pressure for competition.

Some 10 per cent of viewers watch the two state-owned educational channels; cable and satellite services are too expensive for most, while digital competition (and developments) are limited by lack of internet access in most houses. Traditional timeslot TV is the main entertainment and news for most Mexicans, despite frequent complaints about quality.

The prime-time backbone is the telenovela. Classic formats involve largely white and one-dimensional villains and heroes, accompanied by loyal, dark-skinned servants.

More complex plots are creeping in. One of these – the Mexican version of Ugly Betty, screened last year – was phenomenally successful, with the finale garnering the country’s third-biggest audience ever (after an international football final involving Mexico, and a celebrity wedding).

Also last year, presidential elections triggered a popular and unprecedented political satire on Televisa, The Privilege of Governing. This year, the same network has launched a line in home-grown series modelled on US successes such as Desperate Housewives.

Jonathan Watts

WHEN IT COMES TO THE WORLD’S biggest TV ratings phenomena, you can forget Big Brother and The Apprentice. The World Cup final, the Olympics and the Super Bowl may briefly blip into the global consciousness but they have no staying power.

Coronation Street has longevity but its numbers don’t compare. No, the real ratings champion of global television is surely the 7.30pm weather forecast on China Central Television’s (CCTV) channel one: rain or shine, the show claims an average daily audience of 300 million – equal to America’s population.

That is the boast of CCTV, the state-run broadcaster that, in terms of market share and political clout, dominates the world’s most populous nation. CCTV is a propaganda arm of the ruling Communist Party.

The weather follows the 7pm news, which is compulsorily relayed by every provincial station because it sets the national agenda. Most broadcasts start with the activities of senior Communist officials – the order of their appearance strictly determined by their rank in the party.

But while that aspect of TV in China still fits the old-fashioned stereotype of communism, there are developments in viewing habits that better reflect this changing nation.

The hottest program in 2005 was Super Girl Voice, in which viewers were able to vote for their favourite performers via text messaging. This was a revelation in a nation where people do not have the chance to choose their political leaders.

In the early ’80s, just 20 per cent of houses had TV – so families would gather in one place to watch popular shows. By 2005, there were 30 per cent more sets than families, so such shared viewing is a thing of the past.

Content is heavily censored but network bosses are under commercial pressure to be bolder because information is more freely available in other forms of media. Since 1997, the number of TV viewers has remained flat, despite an increase of tens of millions in the population. Internet penetration has surged to more than 150 million.

Giles Tremlett

FOR MOROCCANS, THE PAN-ARAB Super Star talent show was, if not this year’s water-cooler moment, then at least the hottest thing to discuss over a glass of green tea. It was already a hit in Morocco before a tearful Iraqi, Shada Hassoun, won in March. Moroccans eagerly watch not just the finals but also the regional preliminary competitions. This year they are sending three finalists, led by Saad Al Mjarad, to the show produced in Beirut.

Although Morocco has two state-controlled channels, TVM and 2M, it is satellite TV that has revolutionised viewing habits. Be they free-to-air Arab channels such as Al Jazeera and Saudi Arabia’s Iqra, or Spanish channels decoded by pirated cards, satellite is increasingly watched at home or at the open-air cafes where men gather to smoke and chat.

Spanish football, Egyptian soaps and TV preachers and Lebanese game shows are part of the regular Moroccan viewing diet. Al Jazeera’s 10pm Maghreb news show – refreshingly free of saturation coverage of Morocco’s King Mohammed VI – has knocked the rankings of local royal-kowtowing news shows.

Ian Traynor

MANTAS WAS THE TV SENSATION OF the year in Lithuania. The pop singer won Lithuania Dancing Ten, the Baltic version of Celebrity Come Dancing, and then morphed into the country’s heart-throb.

The post-communist country of 3.5 million has one to two TV sets in each of its 1.5 million houses. Satellite dishes are sprouting from the sides of the Soviet housing blocks and the lovely Hanseatic apartments of the capital, Vilnius.

Cable packages are also popular. So, as everywhere in Europe, viewing is more fractured than it used to be as people watch non-terrestrial Russian or Scandinavian channels and BBC World, CNN and Discovery.

The dancing spectacular was a triumph for the national public broadcaster, which has two channels competing fiercely with three commercial channels.

The reality TV epidemic and Big Brother copycats attract most viewers, as does the local Pop Idol. But for the one-off TV event the Eurovision Song Contest is supreme.

Chris McGreal

THE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT WOULD prefer that the tens of millions who crowd in front of televisions to watch the fourth-largest network in the world every evening were drawing cultural lessons from the official programs about the common values of Africa’s most populous but divided nation.

But, as in much of the continent, Nigerians rely on a diet of football, religion and soap operas for most of their entertainment – although the order of preference is determined by geography.

Saucy soap operas are kept off many of the local stations in the overwhelmingly Muslim north, where religious broadcasts from the Koran and preachers acceptable to the Government are a staple. In the mostly Christian south, the tangled pursuit of sex, money and power in the soaps – local and Latin American – sits comfortably alongside the praising of God.

Television in the south is packed with Pentecostal services and preachers promising to cure the sick or make the poor rich. Three years ago the Government banned religious broadcasters from showing miracles that are not “provable and believable”. Religious broadcasting is popular also with the local stations that rely on its income.

Football unifies where other popular programs divide. The vicissitudes of Nigeria’s football team provide sporadic hope in a country where it is often in short supply. But it is the English Premiership league that has many on the edge of their seats each week.

Mark Lawson

WHEN I MADE A DOCUMENTARY looking at British television from the ’60s, greying witnesses recalled eerie evening silences on city streets, occasionally broken by the footsteps of a last tardy commuter rushing home to be in front of the set in time for The Prisoner, The Morecambe and Wise Show or The Wednesday Play.

Time romanticises memories but that vision of viewing holds some truth. With two channels and no video recorders, watching TV was a shared experience. Now, the reception of even a hit show is fragmented and elongated.

You won’t see workers dashing through empty streets to catch Little Britain because a section of the audience has recorded it, another is waiting for the DVD box set and a third may be watching it on a notebook PC or mobile phone.

A useful symbol of how consumption has changed is the relationship between the TV industry and the pub. Forty years ago, a standard expression of a show’s success was that it emptied the bars.

Now, a big England football or rugby game is more likely to fill the bars, as games migrate to non-terrestrial channels, forcing old-technology viewers against all historical instinct to leave the house when there’s something good on TV.

Jon Henley

THE ODD THING ABOUT FRENCH TV is that it is so awful. Inane game shows, insipid documentaries, unincisive interviews, irrelevant dramas, incredibly lame cop series that the French have known since (literally) 1976, unbelievably dreadful Saturday night song-and-dance spectaculars presented by a bloke called Arthur and composed of cringe-worthy covers of Gallic hits of the ’70s – c’est un vrai festival.

The problem is that the medium is not considered suitable for serious endeavour. It’s a historical thing: TV was a state monopoly and often its mouthpiece until the mid-’80s. And in France the talent has always headed for the cinema. Once every couple of years there’s a halfway decent drama but the French would never dare, for example, take on a docudrama about contemporary political figures and events.

Last year’s top show was France versus Italy in the World Cup final, which drew 22.2 million. Outside football, the most-watched shows last year were films (headed by ’70s cult French comedy classics Les Bronzes and Les Bronzes Font du Ski, Pirates of the Caribbean, Les Choristes and Asterix), each pulling about 12 million.


The boardgame September 24, 2007

Posted by Disti in THOUGHTS.
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Just to follow up on the monopoly idea before i forget. is any of you are familiar with Robert T Kiyosaki? one of his most famous books are “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. anyway, he’s devised a game thats sposedly teaches you to get ‘out of the rat race’. its called cashflow 101.

iv never played it but some of my friends have they said its pretty good.
its available on an electronic and boardgame version.
so it can be actually used and is not just some gimmick.

Proposal September 21, 2007

Posted by truthmanipulation in PROPOSAL.
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Truth Manipulation; News. Media & Censorship.


How does the current media affect and sway public perception of news, local and world issues?

How can we as communication designers create awareness of this issue and begin to change its effects?


Freedom of expression and the right to hold opinions, to seek and receive information is one of the fundamental values as stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Restriction upon this has been frowned upon and often been perceived as valid only within third world countries. Australia already has one of the highest concentrations of media ownership in the western world with two families, the Murdochs and Packers, controlling the majority of the country’s newspaper and television markets. The government’s new media laws lifted a 20 year old ban on cross-ownership and now allows each corporation to operate in two out of three media sectors – print, television, or radio. This creates less diversity in media coverage and brings new threats to press freedom here in Australia. As a result it has become increasingly difficult for the public to separate fact from fabricated fiction and false, misleading information. Media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch employ ‘spin doctors’ disguised as editors and journalists to manipulate stories to advance his own right wing, Republican viewpoints and corporate agendas.

Our initial investigation into the topic of truth manipulation began by conducting a ‘cultural probe’, followed by an extensive literature review from various sources. Further primary methods such as surveys, questionnaires and focus groups may be used to further enhance our learning and knowledge. User testing will be used during the design development stage to determine if the target market is receptive to any developed outcomes.

Our aim is to equip the public with knowledge as to the ways and means the media uses to influence their opinions. This will open up the option for our target market to form their own opinions on issues, rather that taking the political or social standpoint that the media wishes to instill upon its audience.

Australia is often dubbed as ‘the lucky country’. It has been known as a free country with cultural and social diversity. It is a society built upon the foundation of democratic principals. The way the current media landscape is heading, Australia may become the 51st state of America if the public does not take back control.


Following on from last semesters group discussions, we commenced by discussing and looking into issues concerning our views and perceptions of communication. Self-promotion and publishing, via the forming of new media outlets such as YouTube, Myspace, Facebook and weblogs has recently provided an alternative to the traditional way of receiving news information. The idea of creating and selecting the kind of information we wish to enrich ourselves with has steadily become more attractive as of late. With such a dynamic flow of information happening around the globe, North Korea somehow stands out in its seclusion. Strict government control in all aspects of life has this country isolated and the city landscapes sterile from any traces of media.

We, as a western society, on the other hand are exposed to various kinds of information on a daily basis. Up to 3000 advertising messages per day to be precise. We cannot walk around a block without being lured to buy a certain product, use a form of service, or have a particular view. There is an absolute abundance of options. But are we really free to choose? Who is it to say that our source of information does not choose our information for us? Are we, despite having freedom of choice, not at all that different from the sheltered North Koreans?

This idea formed the basis of our selected topic of research and led to the exploration of truth manipulation in the current media landscape.


Firstly to create awareness amongst the public about techniques employed by media conglomerates to spin truths and push their political and social agendas and opinions upon society. Then to equip the audience with necessary means in order to defend themselves against truth manipulation in the current media landscape. The objective is not to dictate views or opinions but to encourage a critical perspective when listening to, reading and taking in news and current affairs information. We would like to encourage the audience to think for themselves, form their own opinions and draw logical conclusions from the media they absorb.


As a consumer driven society, the public are often naive to the variety of methods employed by media giants in order to sway opinions to align with their own agendas. Many of these conglomerates have continuously dishonoured their obligation to serve public interest and raise unbiased awareness of news and current issues.

As time progresses, and sophistication in technology becomes more and more advanced, consumers are becoming more vulnerable to truth manipulation as they do not have the ability to keep up with media movements. This provides the media giants with the opportunity to leverage their opinions and as a result the unsuspecting public become more susceptible to the success of the medias endeavours. This is a daunting factor in today’s society, as society puts a certain amount of trust into the media and hope that what they are delivering is authentic and unaltered information rather than issues that have been fabricated to benefit secondary needs. This is where the public are being mislead.

What is needed to overcome these troubling issues is a raise in public awareness. Propaganda and truth manipulation must be exposed so the public are able to see that the information they receive is not necessary the whole truth. Once this occurs, we as a society will be better equipped to form our own opinions, and perhaps even regain some power over media giants. Grassroots is where this movement must begin and it is our aim to assist such a cause.

Research Methods September 21, 2007

Posted by shell in PROPOSAL.
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This project centers around research and investigation. In order to absorb and analyze as much information as possible on the chosen topic of truth manipulation, we have decided to employ several vastly different research methods.

Initial investigation began by conducting a ‘cultural probe’. This method is a first-hand data gathering endeavor. The exercise involved using ten people to participate in a series of news, media and communication related activities. The aim of this method was more about gathering inspiration than information. The outcomes and results of this method are outlined below in the section entitled ‘Cultural Probe Results’.

Secondary research took the form of a literature review, as included on the following pages. Each group member selected or was assigned a series of literature and information sources to investigate and report. Sources included documentaries, films, publications, journals, articles, case studies and electronic resources. Both global and local issues were explored. This form of research aided a better understanding of our topic, and helped us form individual and collective opinions of the issues arising. The outcome is the following argumentative essay.

At the point of writing this research proposal, third and fourth methods of investigation are being discussed. Further primary methods such as surveys, questionnaires and focus groups may be used to further enhance our learning and knowledge. User testing will be used during the design development stage to determine if the target market are receptive to any developed outcomes.

Literature Review September 21, 2007



How does the current media affect and sway public perception of news, local and world issues?

Major media conglomerates use their power and media outlets to portray an often hidden political or social agenda. To do so they spin and manipulate truths, molding information to suit their cause. Authenticity of information is lost owing to this trend, and it has become increasingly difficult for the public to separate fact from fabricated fiction and false, misleading information.

The media has a role to portray true and relevant information and so serve public interest. This notion is seemingly lost on many media giants who are more focused on profit and swaying opinion than delivering a realistic and reasonable account of current affairs and issues. This goes against the journalistic promise to honour societies right to true and honest information. If the media pushes a certain stance or viewpoint upon its audience, public opinion is effected as people receive a biased point of view.

In the 1999 Michael Moore television series ‘The Awful Truth’, Moore raises the point that in this day and age media and corporations have more power over the world than politicians and their governments. This is a serious concern as it causes consumerism to rise, and a certain ‘brainwashing’ of public opinion to occur.

During 2006 documentary ‘America, Living in Spin’ actor Aaron Eckhart says, “You never know what to believe anymore because it’s all spin really. Everything these days is damage control”. The director, David Kofchner states, “We live in a world filled with political correctness, because there is no more honesty, and so spin has taken over”. Media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch employ ‘spin doctors’ disguised as editors and journalists to manipulate stories. In the 2006 movie ‘Thank You For Smoking’ (carrying the tag line ‘Don’t hide the truth, just filer it’), Nick Naylor, a tobacco activist states, “I’m a lobbyist, it requires a moral flexibility that goes beyond most people”. This effectively sums up the role many journalists are now forced to play. ‘OutFoxed’ a documentary focusing on ‘Rupert Murdoch’s war on journalism’ features several ex-Fox News Channel reporters who tell of the lengths this mogul will go to in order to push his right wing, Republican political agenda. The Adbusters Media Foundation, in their article ‘The Resistible Rise of Rupert Murdoch’, confirms this troubling trend. The author Granville Williams writes, “Murdoch continues to exploit his power to exert political influence… [he] is known as an extremely hands-on proprietor, choosing editors who follow his orders and political dictates”. With media tycoons such as Murdoch controlling up to 40 percent of the national press in the UK, US and Australia, how are the public to receive information untainted by personal and corporate agendas?

Media consolidation is a growing concern in countries such as Canada and here in Australia. Quoting Adbusters, “Australia has one of the highest concentrations of media ownership in the western world with two families, the Murdochs and Packers, controlling the country’s newspaper and television markets”. It is little wonder that our citizens are subject to biased and narrow-minded views. This problem was further enhanced “when Australia’s conservative government passed a series of media reform laws last year that removed some of the final barriers to complete media convergence. [When this happened] the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was nowhere to be seen”. Currently “Australia’s already heavily consolidated media has a strong bias toward John Howard’s conservative government at the expense of any opposition”. It is unfair to not only Australia’s citizens, but also its opposition parties that the media uses its control to promote certain Liberal ideologies over any alternative points of view.

Marshal McLuhan once stated, “The coverage is the War. If there were no coverage… there would be no war”. In other words, without media and journalists to report facts, wars and other such human generated outbreaks would go unnoticed. It is therefore imperative that media outlets inform their audiences of any arising conflicts in order for citizens to form their own opinions and standpoints. In their book ‘Propaganda and Persuasion’ Garth Jowett and Victoria O’Donell claim “War propaganda is that branch of public relations devoted to manipulating people’s attitude toward a war, rather than engaging in open dialogue. It includes both pro-war propaganda by governments and anti-war propaganda by pacifists. What makes it propaganda is not the sincerity or insincerity of its originators but its methods of media manipulation, going beyond lies to misdirection, loaded vocabulary, and staged events”. The Adbusters Media Foundation supports this view, “The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have shown that media conglomerates limit the diversity of views, subvert democracy and stymie journalistic integrity”. The media employ many propaganda techniques to do so.

Censorship is a common technique the media uses to control and manipulate the truth. A recent example of a broadcaster censoring an opinion that conflicted with their own views was seen during the broadcast of the 2007 Emmy Awards. During her acceptance speech, actress Sally Field stated, “If mothers ruled the world, there wouldn’t be any god-damned wars in the first place”. This statement was ‘bleeped out’ by broadcaster Fox in the US. This just goes to show that the media can, and do, put a very tight hold on individual opinions and that even entertainment programs cannot escape political censorship. It should be noted that Australia’s channel Ten did air the comment, proving that Australians are slightly more likely to receive alternative opinions. However, the way the current media landscape is heading, Australia may become an ‘unofficial 51st state of America’ if the public does not take back control.

A recent outbreak of documentaries such as Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’, Morgan Spurlock’s ‘Supersize Me’ and Mark Achbar, Jennifer Abbott and Joel Bakan’s ‘The Corporation’ marks a positive step in the right direction. Each of these films aims to expose truths that corporations and the media have been concealing for decades. Self professed ‘The ex-next President of the United States’ Al Gore, speaks of scientists being forced to conceal the truth about global warming, “Scientists have an obligation to present the truth as they currently see it… [but they are] being forced to write false testimonies, prosecuted, ridiculed, deprived of jobs and income, being silenced, simply because the facts that they have discovered led them to an inconvenient truth that they are insistent upon telling.” Michael Moore, world famous author and director, uses his 2004 documentary ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ to expose the Bush administrations corruption and hidden links to Al-Qaeda and the Bin Laden family. In his documentary ‘Supersize Me’ Morgan Spurlock puts himself through a thirty day McDonalds diet to prove the harmful effects that the companies food has on ones body. If more activists, creatives and independent media outlets begin using their skills to continue on the path set by Gore, Moore and Spurlock, the public will have access to a greater diversity of views and will be greatly benefited.

In conclusion, it is well known that consumers determine how successful a product will be in the marketplace. In much the same way, the public is able to determine how successful media outlets are in getting their messages across. By equipping the public with knowledge as to the ways and means the media use to influence their opinions, and arm citizens with information about the truth manipulation and agendas of their news sources, we can give the power back to the people. Once people are aware of hidden messages, they will have the option to form their own opinions about issues, rather than taking the political or social standpoint that the media wishes to instill upon its audience.

The article ‘Taming the Watchdogs of Media Concentration’ by Sean Condon shares our goals. “With Major issues like the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and climate change still on the horizon, the public today, more than ever, needs a diverse media that can allow them to make informed decisions. But if a handful of corporations control the flow of information, they control the debate: blinded by short-term profits and bound by powerful lobbyists, they are content to leave the majority of people in the dark. A diverse media is crucial to a healthy and just society… It is time for people to speak out against consolidation and demand their media watchdogs be strengthened”.

In closing we refer to Keri Smith, an American artist who writes the following in the introduction to her ‘Guerilla Art Kit’, “The recent political climate has left many individuals feeling like they have no say, powerless to a system that seems to be dominated by corruption and money. Growing mistrust in corporate media has created a need for alternatives. Consequently, independent media such as weblogs, indie news, public art and street art have become a rapidly growing trend, a way for people to take power back”. This very much aligns with our aim to equip the public with necessary means in order to defend themselves against truth manipulation in the current media landscape. As Benjamin Franklin once said “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”. We wish to encourage people to, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world” and start creating a fair, unbiased and democratic media for all.

Target Market September 21, 2007

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35-45 year old males and females, mid-socioeconomic, working class.

Simon and Jane work 9 to 5 jobs in the city and live in a town house. When they get home after walking the dog they watch the 6:00 o’clock news on either channel 7, 9, or 10. This is their routine five days a week Monday to Friday. On weekends their interaction with news is the Herald Sun newspaper. Some of the headlines they may receive include ‘Britney Spears life crisis’, ‘ Asia stocks jump after Wall Street surge’ and’Who watches US security firms in Iraq?’ Simon and Jane only receive headlines that are from the mainstream media. They are not exposed to Newspapers such as The Age, Australian or Financial Review or world news from sources from government funded broadcasters such as SBS or ABC.

This primary target group will find it difficult to face evidence of manipulation from news media. They may find it surprising that their so called ‘reliable’ source of information are dishonouring their obligation to serve public interest and awareness.


20-30 year old males and females, tertiary educated.

Elise and Brad have both come from several years spent at uni and are now keen, business savvy people excited to face the corporate world. They are however not so well informed in world news but are open to alternative sources of information and points of view. They are yet to develop well-informed opinions on political and social issues.

This secondary target group are more receptive to news media. This market will react with outrage to evidence of manipulation of news media and will therefore address the situation with an open mind and will wish to challenge the status quo.

Three Possible Concepts September 21, 2007

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CONCEPT 1.0_ SPIN DOCTOR, How To Spin The Truth

Main Design Consideration
Utilizing sarcasm and humour, in order to penetrate necessary information to the target audience. The content is methods of how to spin the truth. The idea is by giving the audience this knowledge; it is also giving back power to them. Therefore enabling them to select and received vital information that maybe beneficial for them instead of being taken advantage of by the corporations’ own agenda.

Research & Justification
To use the enemy’s weapon in order to win battles are one of Sun Tzu’s strategy in the Art of War. Corporate leaders had also used this principle for decades. They used this tactic for mergers and acquisitions, marketing advances and mostly, damage control. We have also found, through research, that the traditional role of journalists and that of entertainer have shifted and considerably reversed in recent decades. More and more hard facts news and public opinions are being delivered more effectively by variety of creative channels, such as comedians and documentaries. The issue will become more relevant as the audience’s attitude is more receptive towards this method or approach. As it is usually seen as being delivered by ‘one of the people’, therefore is not patronizing and more trustworthy. This can be seen clearly through current movie trends, e.g. Hotel Rwanda, An Inconvenient Truth and Michael Moore’s various works.

Promotion & Advertising Ideas
Using guerrilla’s tactics to send the message more clearly that this effort is going against the mainstream media. Distribution will take place via word of mouth and personal hand-outs through a variety of channels.

The visual could reminisce a self-help book, small publication that can be easily distributed and carried. Possible titles include ‘How to spin the truth’ or ‘How to create propoganda’. The content will be self-explanatory, with fun addition such as moral flexibility tests. People can read it while they are on the train/tram/bus. This could be accompanied by small scale print campaign, such as paste-up posters and other non-traditional methods. The outcome will create awareness amongst the target market of techniques the media use to push their own, often hidden, agendas.

CONCEPT 2.0_MRW (Media Review Weekly)

Main Design Consideration
Creating awareness of the monopoly of the media outlets and how this effects society and our political landscape. This can be achieved by providing them with collected facts and data about the power and the control of media conglomerates and moguls.

Research & Justification
Research has shown that currently, individual media giants yield more power than many government institutions or political leaders. This presents a problem in itself, as the main purpose of a business is capital gain, therefore they will use any means to sway public opinions to suit their own agenda. Their methods are often more effective than others as they hold most of communication channels that are able to access private levels. Bombarding the audience with news that supports their means. The companies are also suppressed by strict codes and regulations that takes the liberty out of their workers personal opinions and creative pursuits. This is clearly evidenced through case studies such as News Corp of Rupert Murdoch and The Packer’s Channel 9. News Corp’s reputation has been raided by controversial headlines, such as its deliberate exposure of mostly Republican viewpoints. Their staff are dominantly right wing loyalists. In the past employees who have refused to work along with the Fox Limited point of view had been deprived from jobs, income and even had to pay retribution. Therefore by providing them with vital facts, our audience can make informative decisions based on their own understanding.

Promotion, Ideas & Implementation
A magazine publication that mimics economy/business magazines such as BRW. The idea being that a top ten list of media moguls / giants is created with review of each. These profiles would include the person’s vital statistics, companies owned, political / social agendas, method of truth manipulation and so on. By arming the audience with these facts, they will become more aware of the sources and hidden agenda’s behind the news that they receive. This concept can be further advanced through an interactive website that may contain a blog, forum and even games.


Main Design Consideration
Using elements of shock in order to create controversy and build up conspiracy theories around the chosen subject. It should make the audience think and re-analyse their thoughts. It also should be able to encourage the audience to be more selective and persistent in the process of justifying received information.

Research & Justification
As our probe analysis concluded, the older generation are in some ways are more vulnerable than the younger ones, as they are somewhat less technologically savvy. They are more receptive of information that is given to them, and less likely question its credibility. This concept will challenge their perception and beliefs. It will also provide a variety of viewpoints, more so than what the mainstream media portrays.

Promotion, Ideas & Implementation
A take off a newspaper containing current affairs that are presented in a different way than what it is now in the mainstream media. Accompanied by a series of posters with unretouched photographs with limited text. Copy should include questions, leaving it open ended therefore enticing the audience to form their own opinions about the issue. An alternative to this concept would be to create a magazine entitled ‘No Idea’, a spin on the tabloid and gossip magazine the ‘New Idea’. Our version would contain realistic, unedited, non-fabricated news and issues, a complete contrast to the often fabricated and spun articles contained in glossy magazines.

Proposal Bibliography September 21, 2007

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Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2007, Media Watch, viewed 14 September 2007, http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/

Farouky, J, 2007, A new campaign for Madeline McCann, view 15 September, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1662459,00.html

Hilton, P, 2007, Censorship Sucks!, viewed 18 September 2007, http://perezhilton.com/?p=5623

Indonesia Matters, 2007, Soeharto vs. Time Case, viewed 12 September 2007, http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1392/suharto-time/”%20http://www.indonesiamatters.com/1392/suharto-time

Infohost, 2007, Missing Madeline, viewed 9 September 2007, http://www.findmadeleine.com/

Mayer, C, Smith, A, 2007, McCanns return home as Suspects, viewed 16 September, http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1660098,00.html?iid=sphere-inline-bottom

Moore, F, 2007, Emmys go round as Fox goes heavy on the silence, viewed 18 September 2007, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2007/09/16/entertainment/e210806D05.DTL

Wikimedia Foundation Inc, 2007, Propaganda, viewed 16 September 2007, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Propaganda


Adbusters Media Foundation, 2007, Adbusters # 72 (Journal of the Mental Environment), Volume 15 Number 4, July / August 2007, Adbusters Media Foundation, USA.

Adbusters Media Foundation, 2007, Adbusters # 73 (Journal of the Mental Environment), Volume 15 Number 5, September / October 2007, Adbusters Media Foundation, USA.


Altheide, D, 2007, Discourse & Communication, Sage Publications, Australia.

Carcon, D, McLuhan, M, 2003, The Book of Probes, Gingko Press, USA.

Jowett, G, O’Donell, V, 2004, Propaganda and Persuasion, Sage Publications, USA.

Smith, K, 2007, The Guerilla Art Kit, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.

We are what we do, 2005, Change the world for ten bucks, Pilotlight Australia, Vistoria.


Abbot, J, Achbar, M, Bakan, J, 2006, The Corporation [videorecording], Big Picture Media Corporation, Canada.

Gore, A, Guggenheim, D, 2006, An Inconvenient Truth [videorecording], Paramount Classics, USA.

Greenwald, R, 2004, OutFoxed, Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism [videorecording], DV1, USA.

Moore, M, 2004, Fahrenheit 9/11 [videorecording], Lion Gate Films, USA. Moore, M, 1999, The Awful Truth, The Complete First Season [videorecording], Bravo, USA.

Reitman, J, 2006, Thank You for Smoking [videorecording], Fox Searchlight Pictures, USA.

Spurlock, M, 2004, Supersize Me [videorecording], Showtime, USA.


Hammerer, L. Prina, F. Noorlander, P. & Simons, D, 2007, A Survey Of Access To Information In Abkhazia & Its Impact On People’s Lives, Article XIX Global Campaign for Free Expression, London, United Kingdom.

Hammerer, L. Prina, F. Noorlander, P. & Simons, D, 2007, Right To Access Information: A Fundamental And Enabling Human Right, Article XIX Global Campaign for Free Expression, London, United Kingdom.

Fahrenheit 9/11- Michael Moore September 18, 2007

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Fahrenheit 9/11
Michael Moore

Fahrenheit 9/11 is a controversial, documentary film by American filmmaker Michael Moore which presents a critical look at the presidency of George W. Bush, the War on Terrorism, and its coverage in the American news media.
In the film, Moore contends that American corporate media were “cheerleaders” for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and did not provide an accurate and objective analysis of the rationale for the war or the resulting casualties there. The film’s harsh attack on the Bush Administration generated much controversy around the time of its release, including disputes over its accuracy.

Bush administration’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia and the bin Laden family in FAHRENHEIT 9/11, a well researched, fast-paced, highly controversial, and important documentary portrayed many faucets of the truth. Using actual footage and declassified documents, Moore takes a detailed look into political events both before and after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, beginning with the Supreme Court decision that ultimately gave the state of Florida and the 2000 election to George W. Bush. Moore reveals how the U.S. government helped the bin Laden family return to Saudi Arabia immediately after September 11, when all other flights were still grounded; and examines military recruiting techniques in such poor areas as his own hometown of Flint, Michigan. He even attempts to get congressmen to enlist their own sons and daughters into the military. The writer-director also visits with the troops, including at a VA hospital where soldiers are having second thoughts about America’s involvement in Iraq, and spends time with a family whose eldest son is fighting in Iraq.


Michael Moore: [Calling out] Governer Bush, it’s Michael Moore.
George W. Bush: Behave yourself, will ya? Go find real work.

George W. Bush: There’s an old saying in Tennessee. I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee, that says: “Fool me once…”

Michael Moore: As the attack took place, Mr. Bush was on his way to an elementary school in Florida. When informed of the first plane hitting the world trade center, where terrorists had struck just eight years prior, Mr. Bush decided to go ahead with his photo opportunity.
[Bush enters the classroom]
Michael Moore: When the second plane hit the tower, his chief of staff entered the classroom and told Mr. Bush the nation is under attack.
[Bush picks up a children’s book]
Michael Moore: Not knowing what to do, with no one telling him what to do, and with no secret service rushing in to take him to safety, Mr. Bush just sat there, and continued to read “My Pet Goat” with the children.
[the time is measured on a clock in the corner of the screen]
Michael Moore: Nearly seven minutes passed with nobody doing anything.

Youssef Sheimi: Once that oil starts flowing, it’s gonna be lots of money. Whatever it costs, the government will pay you.

George W. Bush: I’m a war President!

Narrator: Not a single member of Congress wanted to sacrifice their child for the war in Iraq. And who could blame them? Who would want to give up their child? Would you?

Narrator: Would he? I’ve always been amazed that the very people forced to live in the worst parts of town, go to the worst schools, and who have it the hardest are always the first to step up, to defend us. They serve so that we don’t have to. They offer to give up their lives so that we can be free. It is remarkably their gift to us. And all they ask for in return is that we never send them into harm’s way unless it is absolutely necessary. Will they ever trust us again?