The Interview; How do YOU get your media content?

Our Subject:
This afternoon I sat down with a good friend of mine, Jack. A 22 year old Caucasian male who lives on the South Coast of NSW, Australia. Jack works casually and, like a lot of us, is living at home and saving while he decides what to do with his future. The interview was done in the privacy of his living room with just the two of us in attendance.

Our Topic:
I wanted to ask Jack a few questions regarding how he accesses his media, particularly Television shows and movies. An avid pop culture fan, Jack is my go-to guy when it comes to recommendations on new shows to binge watch. The questions I asked Jack are similar to the draft survey questions I’ll be doing for a University assessment and because Jack is of a similar demographic, I thought his responses would be helpful in shaping my survey moving forward. My questions and dialogue is in bold.

Thanks for joining me. I just want to get a brief glimpse into your habits regarding finding and watching media, mostly TV shows and movies, does that sound okay?

J: Yep, no problems. Happy to.

Alright! So, how do you usually find TV shows and movies to watch?

J: Uh…online mainly. Pretty much always online.

Do you watch any free to air television?

J: No, actually none at all. Sometimes for motorsports and stuff like that but no, no *laughs*.

How do you access your content online? You don’t need to be specific if you don’t feel comfortable, but is it through a streaming service or downloads or other avenues?

J: No that’s okay! I actually just got Netflix and it’s really cool. In the past I’ve downloaded stuff, hasn’t everyone?

Well, yea, a lot of young people for sure. So you don’t mind paying for Netflix?

J: Not really, because the content is actually good and worth it. You’re paying for convenience too, absolutely. I will admit though, I’m only on my free trial still, so we’ll see what happens next month *laughter*.

True, true. Do you think you’ll keep it?

J: Do you know what? Yea, absolutely. So far I’m loving it.

What worked?
The interview was a lot more informal then I anticipated but I think this helped make the process flow more naturally and allowed Jack to feel comfortable answering honestly. The subject matter is a ‘hot topic’ at the moment in the media (see here, here and here) and because of this the interview was interesting and engaging – Jack and I continued to discuss the topic well after the interview concluded.

What didn’t?
I think my questions, particularly once they are moved into a survey format, need to be less generalized and more investigative – the draft questions were quite open to interpretation and there were some awkward pauses throughout the interview. Additionally, my actually topic may be too broad and I should look at focusing on one particular area of the piracy/online media content issue.

It may also have been beneficial to speak with somebody from a completely different demographic, perhaps someone older, in order to gain perspective about the subject matter.

References:
Israel S 2012, 9 Tips on Conducting Great Interviews, Forbes, 14/4/12. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/shelisrael/2012/04/14/8-tips-on-conducting-great-interviews/> Accessed: 16/04/15

McCutcheon, M. 2015 ‘Lecture 6 – Interviews. Focus Groups’ Powerpoint slides and Lecture, Research Practices in Media and Communication BCM210, University of Wollongong, viewed 26/04/15.

Text Analysis on a ‘Research Snapshot’

SUPPLY & DEMAND: CATCH UP TV LEADS AUSTRALIANS’ ONLINE VIDEO USE
By The Research and Analysis Section of the ACMA

So, what purpose does this text serve?
This text details the ACMA’s investigation into the media consumption habits of Australians, particularly our increasing use of Online Video Content (OVC). This market ‘snapshot’ excludes user-generated content, such as YouTube, instead focusing on long-form, professionally created video that is found on subscription IPTV services, over-the-top (OTT) services, and catch-up television and film services (Figure 1).

Author & Audience
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is apart of the Australian Government Statutory Authority within the Communications portfolio that is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, the internet, radio communications and telecommunications in Australia. The ACMA is a professionally, long established authority on the media industry and has the resources and knowledge to conduct this kind of investigation.

This research snapshot, while easy enough for the general public to decipher and gain information from, was most likely created for people and organizations in the media industry – perhaps new businesses attempting to enter the OVC market or academics (such as uni students!) undertaking media research.

Topics & Position
The use of both secondary and primary research sources provide evidence for every conclusion that is made (e.g. “ACMA research shows that almost eight million Australians had watched OVC in the last six months” [figure 6]) and ensures the text appears reliable and trustworthy. Although it always needs to be remembered that this research facility is a sector of the Australian Government, this particular text is unbiased and objective in it’s findings and uses data that is relevant and up-to-date. The diverse range of sources – surveys, qualitative data and secondary research from credible agencies like Nielsen and Ray Morgan – also adds credence to the conclusions drawn.

So, is it worth the read?
Although heavily loaded with primary research, the use of visual aids (graphs and tables), alongside text paragraphs that summarize the findings and are split into helpful subheadings make it an easy, straight-forward text to read. The overarching conclusion – that the use of OVC is increasing among Australian consumers –  is not much of a  surprise but when it is placed in context it is very interesting because the research was undertaken during the first half of last year, before the introduction of such large-scale streaming services like Stan and Netflix, so the results that would be found today would arguably be very different. This demonstrates the compelling nature of media research, that it is constantly evolving and changing.

References:
ACMA, 2014, ‘Supply & demand: Catch-up TV leads Australians’ online video use‘, ACMA,  <http://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/engage-blogs/engage-blogs/Research-snapshots/Supply-and-demand-Catch-up-TV-leads-Australians-use-of-catch-up> Accessed: 14/04/15

Writing@CSU 2015, Analyzing a Written Text – Thomas, Colorado State University, <http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co301aman/pop7b3.cfm> Accessed: 14/04/15

A Lack of Ethics in Research creates a Monster (Study).

No matter what type of research you undertake, it is imperative you follow the code of ethics relevant to the particular field you are researching. ‘Doing the right thing’ by the project, those participating and society as a whole is of the utmost importance and apart of a researcher’s ethical obligation (Weerakkody 2008, p.73) . Each profession has codes put in place to ensure ethical behavior from their research tasks and although somebody in the medical field might have a different code of ethics to those researching the media, the basics will almost always be the same: A participant needs to always knowingly consent to what is happening, they must feel respected, be able to trust any confidentiality agreements put in place and need to be made aware of any negative impacts the research might have on themselves or their grouping of people (Weerakkody 2008, p.78). Participants of any research task also need to know that the data is being collected properly and accurately.

A good way to demonstrate the importance of ethics in research is to highlight a case where those ethical codes were not adequately served and the negative impact that it had on everybody involved. One high-profile case, now grimly refereed to as the ‘Monster Study’, was an experiment which began in 1939 by Dr. Wendell Johnson and graduate student Mary Tudor of The University of Iowa. It was a stuttering experiment on 22 children from a Veteran’s Orphanage in Iowa (Collins 2003) and the actual tests were pretty straight forward; Tudor met the children once a month and, depending on which control group they were apart of, either praised their annunciation or aggressively criticized their speech, implying to some children that they were beginning to stutter.

From the outset the research was condemned by Johnson’s peers – it has actually never been published or peer-reviewed because of the negative connotations experimenting on orphan children understandably carries. Franklin Silverman, a professor of speech pathology who studied under Dr. Johnson in the 1960s, described the mistreatment of the subjects, stating that “they used that orphanage as a laboratory rat colony” (Dyer 2001). Even Tudor seemed to regret her active participation, returning to the orphanage to volunteer after the experiment was complete and expressing regret in a 2001 interview with Jim Dyer.

“I got them to trust me and then I did this horrible thing to them”

The most important and damaging outcome of this experiment however was the profound impact it had on the children involved. Already in a vulnerable life position, the children were not told what they were about to endure and were verbally tormented into stuttering. One of the children, Mary Korlaske, wrote in a letter to Tudor, seventy years later, that the experiment had destroyed her entire life (Reynolds 2003).

The ‘Monster Study’ is a jarring example of just how greatly research needs ethical codes to guide it. Without such markers, participants whether willing or unwilling, can be exposed to terrible experiments and situations that can effect them for the rest of their lives.

References:
Collins, D 2003, ‘Monster Study’ Still Stings’, CBS NEWS, August 6 2003. Web: <http://www.cbsnews.com/news/monster-study-still-stings/> Accessed: 11/04/15

Dyer, J 2001, ‘Ethics And Orphans: The `Monster Study”. San Jose Mercury News 2001. Web: <http://www-psych.stanford.edu/~bigopp/stutter2.html> Accessed: 11/04/15.

Reynolds, G 2003, ‘The Stuttering Doctor’s ‘Monster Study”. The New York Times. Web: <http://www.nytimes.com/2003/03/16/magazine/the-stuttering-doctor-s-monster-study.html?pagewanted=3> Accessed: 11/04/15

Weerakkody, N D 2008, ‘Research ethics in media and communication’, in Research methods for media and communications, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, South Melbourne, Vic., pp. 73-91

Critical Text Analysis of an Issue Brief.

CENTRE FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT ISSUE BRIEF:
Media Ownership and Regulation in Australia
By Rob Harding-Smith, CPD Researcher.

So, what purpose does this text serve?
This text is an Issue Brief attempting to address the subjects of media regulation and media ownership in Australia. An Issue brief, defined, is a document that serves to explain an issue being considered and then recommends what relevant action should be taken, so that is the main purpose of the text – to offer a recommendation about what should be done about the Australian media’s increasingly centralised ownership. A good issue brief also needs to provide adequate supporting information relevant to both the issue and recommendation and this text includes more than enough evidence to meet this requirement.

Author & Audience
The sole author of this text is Rob Harding-Smith, a Government and International Relations Honours graduate who is currently completing his masters at the University of Sydney. Harding-Smith is an employee of the Centre for Policy Development (CPD) and they are the independent and non-partisan research institute that commissioned the Issue Brief. It is noted in the text that it was the subject of an ‘informal review process’ – completed by CPD fellows Wendy Bacon, Tim Dwyer and David McKnight. The author and the ‘think-tank’ the text was created by appears, with further inquiry, to be a reputable and dependable source.

The audience for this text appears to be, primarily, the Australian Public, with the brief expressing that it is an “opportunity to help inform public debate on media ownership, regulation, and self-regulation” (Introduction).

Topics & Position
Harding-Smith’s position is consistent and unbiased throughout the text. The author expresses multiple times that only “evidence-based judgements” are being made and that all conclusions that are drawn are supported by evidence and its analysis. The Issue Brief appears critical of the Australian media ecosystem and suggests that, although Australians have easier access than ever to alternative media outlets through the internet, we are still obtaining our news from traditionally owned outlets (Table 1). It also draws attention to the increasing trend towards centralised ownership (Table 2) and subsequent self–regulation, which is making it increasingly difficult for consumer to be properly addressed (Section Two). Evidence is then supplied to demonstrate the negative impacts of this trend, particularly regarding Australian politics -“the extent to which it can empower media owners to influence media regulation in their own favour” and consumer feeling towards media outlets.

So, is it worth the read?
Multiple sources have been used and correctly referenced, as have any quotes, graphs or tables present throughout the text. The Issue Brief has been broken up into two main sections, excluding an introduction and conclusion, and has both a contents and reference section. It is an extremely easy to read, professional piece that successfully highlights prospective problems that the Australian media landscape is facing. Although the conclusion does not offer any solution, it is acknowledged that more resources and further analysis could solve this.

References:
Writing@CSU 2015, Analyzing a Written Text – Thomas, Colorado State University, <http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/teaching/co301aman/pop7b3.cfm> Accessed: 29/03/15

Harding-Smith R 2011, CENTRE FOR POLICY DEVELOPMENT ISSUE BRIEF: Media Ownership and Regulation in Australia, Centre for Policy Development, August 2011. <https://cpd.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Centre_for_Policy_Development_Issue_Brief.pdf&gt; Accessed: 29/03/15

I can’t think of a snappy title, this post is about research.

When I found out I have to do a whole subject on research a shiver ran down my spine. I imagined mountains of columns and numbers and data that I’d have to cluelessly sift through. On top of that, we have to do media research, I don’t even know what that is! I felt in over my head – what did I know about research? Isn’t that for scientists and PHD students and people I (perhaps sillily) deem as smarter than me?

In reality, we all, including dim ol’ Emma, do research every day of our lives. If we want a new phone we Google the different models, quiz the people at Telstra, and ask our friends about their phones. We do our research, albeit casually. So media research should be pretty similar, right? Well…sort of.

I’m sorry, I hate memes too.

So, what is media research?

Media research is a form of scholarly research so it tends to be more systematic and thought out then its casual research cousin. It is more interested in being fearlessly, factually correct. Despite this, we can rarely get certainty from our research (Berger, 2014) because, as the famous Friedrich Nietzsche tells us, “All things are subject to interpretation”. To help draw conclusions media researchers use both quantitative and qualitative research.

Wait, what?

According to Berger, quantitative research – the use of numbers, statistics and measurements, is used alongside qualitative research – the assessment of a text’s properties and distinguishing characteristics, to form the ‘whole’ picture. If one just uses quantitative research the results can become very narrow and things that can’t be counted can be neglected and if only qualitative data is used then important statistical information can be ignored (Berger, 2014). Pairing the two together allows media researchers to make fully informed comparisons and complete more comprehensive studies.

So, what should I research?

As is often the case, my ideas have run away from me, become grand, ridiculous and intimidating. It’s a vicious cycle, really. The first issue I’d like to research, inspired by my work in other classes and morbid curiosity, would be the impact and influence of the way violence is portrayed in the media – particularly in television, video games and other media that is easily accessible to young people. The other issue interesting to me is the way Australian politics is portrayed in the media and just how much of our current ‘news’ programs are actually Press Release and PR sponsored. These are obviously two very different ideas and it’s a work in progress, so maybe I’ll research them both, hey?

References:

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

McCutcheon, M. 2015 ‘What is media research?’ Powerpoint slides and Lecture, Research Practices in Media and Communication BCM210, University of Wollongong, viewed 15/03/15.