Lecture 2: Representing Reality? Introduction to Media Analysis
Media create reality
Think that media shows us reality, like a mirror or window
Media only shows us one side of story (bias), oversimplifies an issue
For example, rise of citizen journalism; transformation in who can create news for a
o Used to be done by professionals
o If you believe you find something newsworthy, you can take a picture of it or
write about it, and have it seen/read by millions of people
Citizen journalists seek to find the unbiased truth and help to progress a legitimate
new-media news outlet
Conventions: technological (shutter speed), aesthetic (colour), social (framing)
Context: social and historical
o Juxtaposition of the text?
o In a blog or a book?
o On a TV news story or a museum?
o Would you interpret it in the same way as someone from another country?
POINT: celebration of citizen journalism is important, and a transformation in what
constitutes journalism and what is newsworthy; and when people get excited about
media developments and how it brings us closer to reality, we’re making the same
accidents of omission that we’ve done with every media practice/technology, e.g.
the style of realism in painting, introduction of photography/film, when TV entered
the home, and reality TV
o “Now we have access to the truth.”
o But really, we’re finding different versions of reality, not a more accurate
The use of language and images to create meaning about the world around us
We use words and images to understand, describe, and define the world as we see it
Language as a system of representation
The word “podium” or an image of a podium; you understand the meaning of that
Do we construct the world and its meaning?
Still life painting: motivated by desire to reflect material objects as they appear in
the world, rather than trying to represent them (give a version of reality)
Is it a mirror of real objects painted for the sake of showing what is there?
The painting is telling a story; elements telling us something
o Eggs and bread: not luxurious food; connote a rustic, peasant lifestyle
o Get a sense of the kind of person living there without actually seeing them
o Food is half-eaten, which tells us an activity
o Food and drink can be heavily symbolic (eggs = fertility, wine/bread =
Not a mirror of real life, but representation of real life that carries specific means
We construct the meaning of things through the process of representing them Photography: construction of reality, but think of it as providing us with the truth
Seen as a real representation of the world
Don’t ask whether or not a photo is manipulated
Throughout history, photography has been associated with realism
History of newspapers: before photography, newspapers, in order to illustrate news,
would use drawings or prints of engravings
Photography is seen as m