Thursday, 13 December 2012

’It Is Not The Strongest That Survive But Those Most Responsive To Change.’ How And Why Do Media Institutions Continue To Change?

’It is not the strongest that survive but those most responsive to change.’
How and why do media institutions continue to change?

Media institutions adapt to change because they need to in order to continue operating, if they continue to use outdated methods of publicity and distribution they will likely fall out of popularity.

More recently the film industry has been adapting to online marketing to reach a larger audience, horror movies were once intended very much for a niche audience but online marketing of horror movies is utilising more conventional marketing techniques in an effort to widen the audience for this genre. When Paranormal Activity 4 was launched it had a Twitter feed that not only advised fans of various methods to watch the movie but also retweeted the tweets of people who said positive things about the movie. This has two functions, number one, it reinforces the existing fanbase because people will appreciate their tweet being retweeted by the makers of a movie that they enjoyed, and number two, it helps create more fans because of the subtext of the whole procedure, a person may read these positive tweets and be encouraged to see the movie because this person genuinely enjoyed the movie, it was their own personal opinion which can be more encouraging than an actual trailer which has been created by a team of people that may not even like the movie and are only producing the trailer because it is their job.

Viral marketing is effective because of it's interactive element. The official trailer for Silent Hill: Revelation 3D has nearly 4 million views proving how popular these online trailer can be. What draws a person to an online trailer are the interactive codes and conventions of video sharing websites such as YouTube, you can comment on an online video, expressing your opinion is something that the internet is synonymous with and people like to put forth their opinions and get into debates about whether the movie looks any good, what aspects of the trailer were good etc. Also an online trailer can be shared, YouTube has a share function where you can link a YouTube video from Facebook, Twitter or GooglePlus in a few seconds. This feature inspires people to share the link so that they can debate about the trailer with other people and it is cost effective marketing for the movie producers because they are spreading news about their product without having to spend any money.

The trailer for horror movies themselves are also changing, previously horror movies were about as much gore and horrific scenes you could fit into a time slot, nowadays they are much more focused on building tension and then dissipating all of that tension with one big climactic death scene before going back to building the tension, the trailer mirrors this aesthetic very well. We are shown a lot of wide angle shots that show the main characters whole body in order to make the main character look lost and confused in the expansive set, the mise-en-scene is drab and dull using plenty of grey for exterior shots to capture the emotionless feeling of the town that the movie is set in, lots of dark red shades are used for the interior shots to signify that these are the more violent scenes of the movie which indeed they are as the interior shots are the only time we see any monsters attempt to hurt the main character. The interior shots are usually the shots that have a 'narrow' feeling to the mise-en-scene, the full body shots are still used to give that feeling of exposure but the all of the rooms for the interior shots are narrow corridors where the main character has only one direct path ,thereby being forced to continue toward her enemies and increasing the tension for the viewers as they know it's only a matter of time before the main character encounters more grotesque spirits attempting to destroy her.

The music industry is a prime example of how institutions adapt to fit the best interests of their customers. Both major record labels and independent labels have begun to realise that the internet is the future for music distribution. With the success of the Vevo channels on YouTube showing music videos, the huge popularity of sites such as iTunes, Pandora and and the fact that well established print institutions such as NME and Village Voice now have websites where they show all of the content that they feature in their magazines on the website it is clear that people enjoy listening to and finding out about music online, and why wouldn't they? The service of downloading an audio file is so simple and not nearly as time consuming as going to a record store and hunting down the particular records that you're looking for. 

The record companies aren't the only people involved who benefit. The marketing power of the internet means that it is now easier than ever before for a band to market themselves rather than rely on record companies. If a band, or any other kind of performer for that matter, wants to make themselves known, there are a number of websites on the internet that can assist them. Creating Facebook and Twitter pages can build a fan base easily so you can give people constant updates on the band members and their activities, not to mention making an account on one of these websites is completely free so it is undoubtedly the most cost effective form of promotion that someone can utilise. A band can sell their music on iTunes without the hassle of actually paying someone to make CD's which is just another drain on one's resources, or the band can make their own website and sell the music for free if they are so inclined.

How The Media Is Making Us Stupid

The latest YouTube layout has been designed in such a way that your homepage on the site is now nearly devoid of videos by the people that you actually subscribe to having been replaced with videos that have been "reccomended for you because you watched ...". The institution has a very low opinion of the users of the YouTube, apparently assuming that we are all inept at finding good content by ourselves and instead need to be spoon-fed the same bland non-entertainment from more popular channels such as 'PewDiePie' and 'The Yogscast'. The layout is more of an inconvenience as it prevents poeple from easily viewing the content that they actually want to watch.

YouTuber's themselves are starting to employ more conventional marketing techniques making themselves appeal less to a niche audience in order to gain more fans. Most YouTuber's often fill their videos with annotations and links to their Facebook and Twitter pages, links to their blog, KickStarter account, second channel, friend's channels etc. People are perfectly acceptable of finding these outlets themselves but the YouTuber's feel the need to turn themselves into a recognisable institution with branding to ensure a large and consistent fanbase. The media landscape of YouTube becomes incredibly stale as more people conform to the idea that you have to fill your videos with these links and annotations and content begins to feel the same, for example, there are now countless "Let's Play" channels on YouTube because people noted the popularity of people such as 'TotalBiscuit' and 'The Yogscast' and imitated them to gain popularity.

The music industry has recently been genre stereotyping to the degree of Grunge in the 1990's or Glam Rock in the 1980's. Heavy Metal bands and their music videos are becoming increasingly conformist. The mise-en-scene for these music videos is always the same, the band is performing in some decrepit looking building, there is usually scenes of love story with shots of the band broken up with a very stereotypical unhappy love story of two people growing apart and being "reborn", the codes and conventions of these videos is that black is the prevailing colour, everything is in black from the clothes that the band wear to the room itself, the clothes of the band members is basically the same clothes that Motley Crue or Posion wore in the 80's but with a Goth/Scene Kid overtone with tight black jeans, vests and straight, long hair dyed jet black, often with the hair covering one eye.

There is also a laughable attempt at trying to sexualise the band members as they are often shot with specific camera angles, shooting them from the waist up and focusing on their makeup and skinny, exposed arms. The intention of these framing techniques is to bring in a larger female audience which is admirable but it is done in a very derogatory way where the institutions assume that women are interested in the bands appearance than their music.

This genre stereotyping effectively funnels people into different subgenres, people begin to identify with a recognisable look and will buy music from bands that look similar. People will blindly accept whatever music is given to them as long as they have a particular appearance, genre stereotyping prevents people from discovering music on their own and instructs people to listen to music based on fashion and looks rather than originality, melody, rhythm, musical abilities etc.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Why And With What Success Are Traditional Media Institutions Adapting To The Challenge Posed By New/Digital Media?

The film industry has recently begun to utilise new and digital media in order to promote its movies with varying degrees of success.

Most films have Twitter feeds and Facebook pages up and running before the films are released in theatres and are now essential codes and conventions in the advertsing world, an example of this is the movie Paranormal Activity 4 which has a popular Twitter feed where positive messages from fans praising the movie are 'retweeted', this increases brand loyalty by making the audience feel like the producers of the film care for their fan base and value their participation, it also encourages people to see the film who haven't already seen it as they appreciate the good nature of the films producers 'retweeting' fan messages.

One aspect of new and digital media that has definitely impacted horror movies in a negative way is the advent and popularity of online film review websites such as Rotten Tomatoes, iMDB and the IGN film review series, these websites are notoriously highly critical of repetitive franchises such as the Paranormal Activity series and bland horror movies such as Silent Hill: Revelation 3D that do not bring anything new to the genre. Rotten Tomatoes recently called Silent Hill: Revelation 3D as "Featuring weak characters, an incomprehensible plot, and a decided shortage of scares, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D is a mediocre effort even by the standards of video game adaptations". These review websites are incredibly popular and recognised as trustable and respectable institutions and as a result many fans will defintely be discouraged from seeing a movie if their favourite review website gives a film a poor review.

Fan websites such as TheFinalDestinationWiki provide a lot of fan service with all the codes and conventions of typical fan websites such as character bios and polls for users of the website to vote on, the film industry reognises these websites as essential marketing tools as these websites comply with the uses and gratifications theory, if people want to find out more about The Final Destination franchise and its characters, producers, settings etc, this website is the most obvious choice as it has by far the most information of The Final Destination out of all of the fan made websites.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Link To

I think this illustrates how even big time magazines and other print based organisations are feeling pressured to go online nowadays since that's where people are going for their news nowadays.

Also the website has a lot of user interactivity since they do a lot of polls like '50 Best Record Producers', 'Best Songs Of 2012' etc. Also people post comments on articles.

Link to The O' Reiliy Factor

A link to a recent episode of The O' Reiliy Factor. Displays plenty of iconography and examples of codes and conventions of Fox News and displays some of Fox News right wing bias.

New And Digital Media Erodes The Dividing Line Between Reporters And Reported, Between Active Producers And Passive Audiences: People Are Enabled To Speak For Themselves.’Have Such Developments Made The Media More Democratic, With More Equal Participation By More People?

Developments in new and digital media have undoubtedly increased user interactivity and helped break down the barriers between content provider and audience. With the advent of social networking websites such as Facebook and Twitter, the average person can now make their opinion heard much easier than in previous years. These sites allow for fan pages to be created and allow people to voice their critiques both positive and negative in a much more open and democratic fashion, media institutions will often create these fan pages as they are now standard codes and conventions of marketing and they are convenient for the fans because they are easy and enjoyable to use because they allow you to discuss subjects much more easily. However the free and open nature of these fan pages on Facebook and Twitter means that discussions can easily turn into fights and 'flame wars' where peoples opinions are suppressed and one argument can dominate a debate. The same is true of comment sections on websites such as YouTube, a well known case of this 'flaming' would be the case of Amanda Todd, the girl who committed suicide after being abused for a lengthy period of time, on YouTube many commenter's actually criticised Amanda, saying that she was foolish and deserved what she got.

Recently the free and open nature of the internet has caused the internet itself to come under threat from various governments, the SOPA bill was introduced by US politicians to prevent illegal downloading of media products such as movies and music, a similar bill known as PIPA is still trying to be passed right now. Sometimes too much freedom on the internet actually has the opposite effect of its intentions, because people have the freedom to do what they want they will often push the boundaries of what they can do on the internet which includes illegal acts such as the illegal downloading of movies and music, in this way the internet still has a lot of limitations since the government will intervene when they feel their presence is necessary, Egypt and more recently Syria have completely disabled all internet access in their countries as a media blackout to prevent news of violent revolutions occurring, clearly some governments do not believe in a more democratic control of the internet as free speech and independent thinking isn't necessarily the best option for their regimes.

Google actually monitors all of the sites that their users search for to make sure that illegal material such as child pornography or pirated media is not being viewed, a perfect example of how surveillance is most prevalent on the internet, much like in real life there are always limitations to what you can legally do, during the 2012 Olympics a teenager was arrested for sending abusive tweets to Olympic diver Tom Daley. To some this would not seem democratic at all as online messages are rarely ever taken so seriously, this story was a shock to most people as arrests for abusive messages are still somewhat of a rarity, and if someone can be arrested for simply criticising someone on the internet perhaps this signifies that we are entering a period of increased censorship where the government in taking more control of the internet and imposing harsher rules and regulations.

YouTube is the one of the best examples of interactivity and and equal participation in new and digital media. YouTube allows people to post all manner of videos from simple vlogs made by one person in their home such as the hugely successful JennaMarbles to expansive networks such as TheGameStation. YouTube gets between 2 and 3 billion hits a day proving that there is a huge demand for original content on a website that covers everything from music and videogaming to comedy and sports. YouTube encourages expression and original content and the comments section with its functionality that allows users to 'thumbs up' or 'thumbs down' a comment signifies YouTube's emphasis on building a democratic community and although 'trolls' are still an occurrence on the website most users have learned to simply ignore them, perhaps much more than any other website. The channels themselves on YouTube often have grass-roots fan bases and channels are often operated by one person or a small group of people, much of YouTube's popularity comes from the fact that most content is not overblown and flashy with 'Hollywood' level production values, it has a certain earthy quality where individuals produce content and comment on peoples videos fairly and treat each other as equals purely for the joy of finding enjoyable content and interacting with each other.