Category Archives: The media

The power of the press?

This article – Did the Mail and Sun help swing the UK towards Brexit? – by the media editor at the Guardian, Jane Martinson, questions whether the tabloid press influences or reflects the views of its readers. It looks at how the Sun and the Daily Mail played on people’s fears during the Referendum campaign.

Interestingly, “Surveys show that the British people trust the papers less than their European counterparts. As recently as September one showed that 73% of people in the UK “do not tend to trust” the printed press – the highest figure among all EU member states and a staggering 23% higher than the EU average.”

Yet, as she points out, there is evidence that the press still sets the agenda. As we have now all too sadly seen.

(“It’s the Sun wot won it!” refers to the Sun’s 1992 front page headline the day after the unexpected Conservative party victory in the general election. In the run-up to polling day they had launched an attack on Neil Kinnock, the Labour Party leader.)

You’ll find much more about “Brexit – what next?” under “Louise’s Teaching Tips” on the Münchner Kommunaler Bildungsserver für Medienpädagogik website from Monday 27th June. 

The changing face of the media


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Alan Rusbridger stepped down as editor of the Guardian newspaper at the end of May this year and wrote a very interesting and insightful “farewell” editorial.

In its entirety, it is probably too long and too detailed for use in the classroom. He does, however, provide an overview of how newspapers have changed over the past 20 years and how this is effecting what major newspapers do. Instead of starting at the beginning of the article, I’d give a short introduction: “When Rusbridger took over as editor of the Guardian in 1995, newspapers were quite different from what we know today.” Then start reading from the paragraph “Stories were told in words” and continue until the end of the paragraph before the “Breaking news” heading. (You could also continue with WikiLeaks and Snowden but this would involve more background knowledge or research on the part of the students.) This extract gives a concise overview of many of the changes that we have seen over the years. The students could collate the information either in a timeline or in table, then decide how best to present it with visuals to show the changing face of the media.

The following video of Rusbridger talking about open journalism “Journalists are not the only experts in the world” would also tie in well (even though it is from 2012) as it highlights another important shift in recent years: citizen journalists.

Nobody saw it coming!

After the surprising events of the last twenty-four hours, the UK is still reeling: the Conservatives won outright despite the polls saying that they were neck and neck with Labour, the hung Parliament we had been led to believe was a foregone conclusion never materialised, the Liberal Democrats have been crushed, Labour has suffered a terrible defeat and the SNP have enjoyed a landslide victory in Scotland …

The bbc website and the major newspapers have all had live feeds and given extensive coverage. The Guardian’s coverage proved particularly good. Of course from a teaching point of view, Cameron’s first speech after the Conservative victory provides a lot of interesting discussion material, and a comparison of the resignation speeches by Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage (all on the same webpage as Cameron’s first speech) could also be fruitful.

In addition, The Guardian posted an interesting selection of front pages from British daily newspapers this morning. It not only provides a clear overview of where the individual papers stand politically (such as The Daily Mirror “Five more damn years”, The Daily Mail “Hallelujah! Britain votes for sanity” and The Daily Telegraph “Cameron triumphs on shock election night”) but also an interesting insight into the different types of newspapers and reporting styles on offer.

Once the dust has settled, let’s see how things start shaping up.

The US President stars in an advert with a difference

In this tongue-in-cheek video “Things everybody does but doesn’t talk about” President Obama is waiting for an interviewer to arrive. The video shows the interviewer and the President preparing for the interview (in similar ways but different places). To pass the time, the President gets out a selfie stick, plays air basketball, makes doodles of his wife, practises delivering his pitch in which he tells people to sign up for his health care plan and even uses current slang at the end, saying “Yolo” (you only live once) …

The video was created by BuzzFeed, the American Internet news media company. It was conceived as a way of connecting with millennials and getting them to sign up for the President’s health care plan (there is a link to the website at the end). As interviews using traditional media, such as newspapers would probably not have reached this target group, the President took to social media. The video was posted on Facebook on 12 February 2015, and within an hour of being online, it had been viewed over 1.5 million times.

It is not the first time that President Obama has embraced different media as a way of reaching out to people, especially young people. JFK is often said to be the first president who really understood television, Obama is the first social media president: he was the first US presidential candidate to effectively use social media (Facebook and Twitter) as a major campaign strategy way back in 2008, fine-tuned this strategy for his run in 2012, was interviewed by three young YouTube stars after his State of the Union, and was also the first president to appear on a late-night comedy show while in office.

Critics have claimed that the video is disrespectful to the office of president and that such tongue-in-cheek behaviour is unpresidential. The cartoonist Michael Ramirez commented in this cartoon and Mark W. Davis, a White House speechwriter for President George Bush, wrote, “The same face that mugs in the mirror and sticks out a tongue may have to go on television to announce the beginning of a war. The same hand that holds a selfie stick will certainly have to sign condolence letters.”

To joke around or not to joke around – what do your students think?


The selfie craze

The media dubbed 2013 the Year of the Selfie and it was Oxford Dictionaries’ Word of the Year too. The trend continued in 2014, with politicians, celebrities, footballers and even astronauts posting selfies on social media. And then came the selfie stick – an expandable stick on which you put your mobile phone to take a selfie. It was one of the most popular holiday gifts in the US and the UK in 2014. However, the craze now seems to have got a little out of hand and museums in the US, the UK and other countries are banning them (have a look at the cartoon in the Australian Herald Sun). This article on the bbc website includes a two-minute embedded video, which discusses selfie sticks and why they are being banned by some museums but are tolerated by others.

Discussion topics could include whether:

  • selfies are a sign of narcissism,
  • the taking of selfies (with or without selfie sticks) should be banned in certain places,
  • it is acceptable to edit or even photoshop a selfie before it’s posted,
  • people who post too many selfies on social media risk damaging their real-life relationships
  • selfies will continue to be big in 2015 or are people beginning to tire of them?

Digital tattoos are forever

This fascinating six-minute talk – Your online life permanent as a tattoo – is given by the futurist Juan Enriquez. In this video, he talks about how the information we post online can be compared to a digital tattoo. It provides a great and less patronizing starting point for a discussion in Years 11 and 12 on what we post online. Before the students watch, you might like to ask them to think about what their online presence and a tattoo have in common.

There’s a transcript of the talk, too.