ESSA

ESSA

Economics of media


Nigel Pereira

By

August 9th, 2020


Join Nigel as he delves into the psychoanalysis of what media truly is.


The media’s selective coverage of stories everyday indirectly allows them to shape the future; by monopolising what is presented news’ firms weave a hierarchy of importance into events. Through the public’s uninhibited consumption of their reported material, the audience subconsciously adopts a perspective in closer agreement to theirs. Have you considered that what you’re reading isn’t solely informative but rather an attempt to dictatorially manipulate your worldview? Media is comprised of relaying personal emotions from stories to the general public, but in doing so, they elicit morally ambiguous strategies that allow them to puppeteer the everyday consumer.

An unspoken ranking system is cast over all daily articles. News’ firms shepherd uninformed consumers into a misrepresentation of reality. Generally, what global consumers want and what they need are distinctions that are kept separate. We want to meet our friends and show them unrelated memes that we found, but we need to make sure to eat and drink to be able to do these fun things with our friends. Wanting incorporates elements of desire, whereas needing is associated with necessity. However, media firms produce works that blur this distinction, as they transition from informative storytelling to entertaining their audience. For example, Hong Kong—when was the last time you read an article about Hong Kong? Yesterday? Last week? A month ago? Recently, the increasing Chinese presence in Hong Kong means freedom is on a downward spiral and that the “one country, two systems” may come to an end sooner than the anticipated date set by the British agreement.[i] However, Hong Kong has had continuous rioting since November of last year, maybe even beyond this, but it seems to drift in and out of the news, episodically. This episodic control may look minor yet isn’t it what we digest and are constantly exposed to which seeps into our mind? Spaced repetition is a memorisation technique which describes the art of spacing a concept over time, to increase the effectiveness of retention. Media firms use similar techniques where they utilise the absence of a certain topic, as they prioritise what they believe will elicit a higher consumption rate. Their ‘business’s expeditions’ are the framework for our contemporary knowledge.

Expectations affect behaviour which then affects our reality before continuing back into its endless cycle. A utility curve is a curve that indicates people’s preferences, working on the aforementioned statement as a given. Through inclusion or omission of selective stories, media firms have the power to communicate directly to our demand curve, and as a result the concave demand curve and the supply curve are both monopolized by a singular institution. For example, COVID-19 has been in the news every day for the past couple of months, but go back to that late March morning when the Tokyo Olympics was cancelled. This announcement stood out amongst the clutter of other COVID-19 news making it feel like an unexpected decision. By increasing our exposure to certain topics, can institutions brainwash the consumer and control our tendencies. As Tokyo took Australia by surprise and this is because the media had narrowed our sight focusing on death tolls, allowing us to momentarily forget about events around the globe. This manipulative selection is reiterated with Trump’s enforced policies on US-China trade also starring on cover pages briefly eradicating the focus from COVID-19. Thus, to truly be informed we must constantly readjust our focus on what we want to know, rather than solely rely on what is presented.

Beyond this, good news is a commonly under pronounced statement in media. The lack of good news seems to make the term oxymoronic as it usurps a mythical existence. News stories have more impact when they elicit emotion, but after hours on hours of highly emotionally stimulating stories, we find an invisible lens that covers our eyes to help us normalise any sensation we feel from such stories. Why should we expose ourselves to pain, when what we wanted to pursue was knowledge? In Thailand, residents spotted an endangered tiger species which has not been seen there in over 4 years, this discovery created a stronger and even more passionate community. Uplifting and inspirational articles are underrated. They convey hope, they communicate passion and more importantly they fulfil their purpose; to educate and inform. If the public wants to digest information about COVID-19, then give them the volition to do so, but do not remove the goodness and hope in the world. Instead trust us with the autonomy to make an informed decision.

Written and taped forms, alike, are interweaved with personal bias however, when you inject company and stakeholder’s opinion into articles, boundaries have been crossed and truth distorted Everyone’s voice is intricately connected with their unique perception of the world. This innate bias is the article’s framework directly connected with the message the facts present. Diction and syntax enunciate a deeper off-screen meaning, these linguistic devices that are central to every medium in media. Just as these language features cannot be extrapolated from the news, likewise, is the scenario with biases and factual reporting. However, when media conglomerates such as the Herald Sun embraces a reputation of being right winged then how do we know what is written and what has been edited to be read. So, we are entitled to free speech, yet not entitled to read free speech? Moreover, USA recently denounced Huawei for its data-mining role, yet days after the UK seemingly championed a new contract with the telecommunications giant encouraging that the 5G would raise quality of life. But a week later, like many I read an article that was titled ‘The UK follows the USA and subcontracts 5G to local businesses.’ Media directs and influence expectations which impact reality. Now Huawei seeks refuge in emerging economies but unlike Huawei, global citizens cannot immediately reformulate their entire worldview.

To look forward, we must first look back. The constant evolution of news will continually seek to rise to increasing heights and gain power in an increasingly globalised world. Relevancy is important to the competitive industry that media belongs to, and as a result tactics such as deceptive representation and emotional manipulation is common. To combat this, the reader must constantly stay self-aware to challenge factual reportings from any media outlet. Only through embarking on a search for truth, will readers be able to receive clarity and ascribe true meaning to the world around them. Hence, when news circulates in various mediums, they must remember that the article is a story and must be distinguished from a revelation of absolute truth. Nobody can ever know the whole truth, as human existence contradicts what objectivity is and hence, we must settle for our subjective and personal understanding of the world. An unexamined life is unworthy of ‘the good life’ and to live it, would be to lead a brainwashed existence. A mere husk of what it is to be human. Thus, to break out of the prelapsarian world constructed by the media, readers must act upon humanity’s hubris and shape their reality with their own hands.

[i] https://www.ft.com/content/64b1ba45-7454-4251-9a23-157209227025

The views expressed within this article are those of the author and do not represent the views of the ESSA Committee or the Society's sponsors. Use of any content from this article should clearly attribute the work to the author and not to ESSA or its sponsors.

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