Street Violence – Reflection

An issue which I found to be significant in the media is violence, and in particular, street violence. All kinds of mediascapes contribute to street violence in one way or another. This includes the influence from certain television programs, films, music etc. Not only is violence represented throughout the media, but violent related behaviour as a result of drug and alcohol abuse is common, sending an important yet persuasive message to audiences. Images and music film clips especially tend to present violence semiotically, particularly through the use of gender ideologies; such as men being portrayed as mysterious and dangerous.

In relation to street violence some popular topics I found the media liked to exaggerate were schoolies, riots, protests and nightlife. When the media focuses on these issues they tend to  single out certain vicinities as well, often producing a poor reputation for that area. An example would be the Cronulla riots in 2005 where the media played a significant role by influencing locals on which side to take in an discriminating manner. The series of incidents known as the Cronulla riots have echoed throughout the town and surrounding areas to this day. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas via radio and print media, flaring tension between locals. The media used this sense of community to connect with locals on a personal level,  and even encouraged violent behaviour.

Ageism is also a factor, especially when the media talks about schoolies violence. The ideology of teenagers is highly pressured within the media. For example it is easy to represent a group of teens as ‘out of control’ rather than, say, a group of elderly people. Violence is an easy topic for the media to nudge on the emotions of readers. Language if often in a negative tone which can make the reader feel uncomfortable, concerned, and scared. The way information is presented is just as important as the content itself, as emphasis is placed on particular words and phrases, audiences are more likely to be convinced.

 Violence portrayed in the media through television, films, video games and music has been known to increase the likelihood of aggressive and violent behaviour. This material is harmful especially to the young, prompting immediate and long-term effects. Representations of violence in the media directly provides a child with  particular ideas and experiences which shape their attitudes and influence their behaviours. It is important to consider these mediums as elements in a controlled societal media among children especially. This is because certain characteristics, environments and media content can affect the degree of media violence.

Many people don’t actually realise how powerful the media is. It’s power derives from accessibility and the fact that it is all around us, everywhere we go. Following initial presentations of media violence, other forms of media are then used to perpetuate and emphasise outcomes. This is common within traditional news media such as TV broadcasting, radio, magazines, newspapers and other forms of print media. The media achieves this by blasting biased perspectives on violence related issues, in hopes to mould the minds of viewers to their own attitudes. Language, tone, lighting and sound all add to this effect of influential media.

BUT something I find to be more significant is that…

As violence is continuously targeted and now this new era of social media is evolving, now criticism of violence is also in the hands of the audience – of what is known as the outbreak of citizen journalism. There are new, different, instant types of distribution which are hard to keep up with, proving difficulty when trying to regulate user content. Within the public sphere, sites such as Facebook and YouTube are used to discuss and propel violent behaviour. Violence can often be fuelled or expanded by nasty comments, videos or images online through these platforms. Online video streaming has become an explosive medium, and YouTube has presented a dominance in this area. Whilst this user generated content may be used for research and entertainment, it has also been treated as as a medium for expression or documentation regarding violent behaviour. These videos uploaded by users which incorporate violence are often in public places such as schools, parks and just on the streets.

It’s issues like these which fuel moral panic about the media, as we are told to trust and believe what they say; however the outcome is not always favourable. As citizen journalists, the role of the media is ever-changing in a free and open public sphere. The representation of violence within the media is already being altered as a result of online prosumers.

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Street violence – Schoolies

The media likes to blow up or exaggerate Schoolies violence. It is a hot topic in society because 1- A high per cent of the population have children or are people who attend schoolies 2- Teenagers are an easy target when acting out (they represent our future generations) 3- Considering the amount of people in one vicinity for schoolies, violence does occur, yet it’s not as ruthless as the media makes it out to be.

An example would be A Current Affair’s (ACA) report on Schoolies in Bali (many Australian high school graduates travel here and is a popular tourist destination). ACA uses a very biased review on this issue aiming for the audience to ‘take their side’ by not showing the full story making it difficult for viewers to form another opinion. This is created by presenting only one perspective of the issue. They have achieved this by using snippets of chaotic and violent behaviour indicating that’s all that happens at schoolies. This is further amplified through the use of evocative language when describing incidents which have occurred such as ‘alarming temptations’ the title of the story, ‘Berserk in Bali’ and the repetition of stating there is ‘no rules’ due to the corrupt environment.

Other popular Schoolies destinations for Australian high school leavers are QLD’s Gold coast and Byron Bay where destructive and violent behaviour also occurs. Yet Schoolies in Bali is more relentlessly targeted in a very negative way by the media. Alcohol and drug related violence occurs everywhere, especially places which embrace tourism (such as the Gold Coast). It also needs to be taken into consideration that there is a high possibility of increased violence and crime in peak seasons when certain areas are overpopulated. The portrayal the media places on Schoolies tends to shock and concern viewers, especially parents with teenagers yet to travel to Schoolies destinations.