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Proposal September 21, 2007

Posted by truthmanipulation in PROPOSAL.
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RESEARCH PROPOSAL TITLE

Truth Manipulation; News. Media & Censorship.

KEY RESEARCH QUESTIONS

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?

ABSTRACT

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.

BACKGROUND

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.

AIMS & OBJECTIVES

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.

PURPOSE, NEED & SIGNIFICANCE

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.

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