The Homeless Youth Team

If you were to google ‘youth homelessness’ upwards of 21 million results would be found in under a second. If you were to then limit your search to just ‘news’ in order to get a small idea of media coverage you’d have over 200,000 stories covering the issue at your fingertips. Just the first page of news results hits the international scale. This is not just a national issue, but a global one. However the issue hits closer to home than we might realise. Many have spoken out about the issue, however Ed Sheeran provides a shining example that comes to mind for many.

Ed Sheeran – The A-team

The song above, arguably launched Ed’s rise to fame. The song won him numerous awards and essentially, established him as an artist. The fact that this song had such a crucial role in his early success demonstrates it’s importance itself. The song created it’s own audience in those who could sympathise with the issues presented. Primarily issues of homelessness and drug abuse. The songs inspiration, as told by Ed surrounds his own experience spending time at a temporary hostel for homeless youth. He met a young woman there and her story really struck a cord with him (no pun intended). The song in it’s essence a campaign to bring awareness about the dangers of youth homelessness and the lifestyles they potentially could lead.

Ed was once quoted as saying “I’ve made a song about a homeless prostitute who has been able to get on A-list radio“. This clearly demonstrates the songs reach and the ways in which it has impacted the global community. In sharing his song worldwide, Sheeran has continued the debate surrounding this issue. He has also made it publicly known there was times he too was homeless. With such a global celebrity highlighting this issue it can not be ignored. Without any direct attempts, he has stimulated international debate and conversation on how to correct this issue.

The video demonstrates the lifestyle lead by homeless youth and evokes emotion from its viewers. By evoking emotion and putting it in simple black and white (again, no pun intended) how dangerous living this way can be it can be assumed Ed wants to make major changes. Whilst ed makes no formal debate arguments through his video, his intentions are clear.

The issue remains in the forefront of many political agendas. International examples of the debate more formally within the various public sphere settings can be found below.

Australia (Podcast) – ABC Ending Youth Homelessness in Australia

U.S.A – Youth Quake Teens Debate Youth Homelessness

Canada – Hiring Homeless Youth

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Context is (the) Key.

Screen Shot 2017-03-21 at 11.28.08 pm

This image struck me. It evoked emotions of shock and horror yet also deep sadness and helplessness. Whether you are aware of the context or not, this picture is powerful. However it is the images context that makes it complex. This image has been placed in a gallery as one of the images that define 2016 yet again, if you are unaware of exactly what is going on you’ll struggle to understand why. Context is key.
An almost apocalyptic scene. A child in front of a burning city, an ash black sky. There are few signifiers to place the image in a specific place or time. At first sight my eyes were drawn immediately to the red bike. I was struck by the fact a child would be in what appeared to be such a dangerous situation. When you look closer you can see his lack of shoes and filthy feet. The still burning city leaves so many questions unanswered. His face doesn’t give a lot a way, yet still resides with me. All in all, the image to me suggested a child living in a war torn country confused where to turn next. Rather than explain semiotics to be the study of signs and symbols, I’m going to put it into practice for you.
 
The image has been titled ‘A child in war-torn Mosul’. Immediately placing the image and explaining the fire. What the image can’t tell us but the context can, is that the facial expression on the child is actually one of pain and fear. During the Mosul Offensive retreating ISIS fighters had set the pictured oil field and near by sulfur plants on fire creating toxic black smoke that was painful to breathe. Possibly up to 1000 people were hospitalised because of those thick dark clouds. The image was taken at noon yet the sun is nowhere to be seen. It has been spread internationally perhaps to showcase and humanise the effects of an ongoing war. The child’s face against the smouldering background is not one you are likely to forget.
Like I mentioned earlier, when reading this image it’s context is key. One’s own context also comes into play. They way I read this image as opposed to someone who supports ISIS would be very vastly different. We would both see a child in front of burning oil fields but have extraordinarily different reactions.  Reactions I would rather not delve into. Without context, you could imagine so many different scenarios, so many different wars, so many different countries. The denotations of the image do not offer much without it’s connotations based in fact. The connotations of this image almost act like a code or key to a map in the way that you need to apply them to understand and properly read this image.
Sources:
Nydailynews.com. (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/powerful-photos-defined-2016-gallery-1.2917821?pmSlide=1.2917801 [Accessed 21 Mar. 2017].

Where does our media really come from?

People have a tendency to speak about ‘the media’ as something out of their control, beyond their grasp, almost non-human and now, it is.  Software  has been created to mimic and manipulate their own work in order to satisfy the ever increasing demand for news. Yet it is still creeping under  the skin of journalists’ and members of the public alike.

This new technology is being presented in a positive light. Business’ are implementing the ‘robot journalists’ in order to “free journalists to do more journalism”(Lee, 2014). Surely this is questionable, people are spending time creating software to manipulate the media, in order to spend more time creating media which will in turn be manipulated and churned through software to be re-printed? The demand now for news is greater than ever as it is so easily accessible across so many platforms, people consume media content rapidly. The robot journalists in this sense are greatly assisting the mass consumption people are demanding. An example of this can be found through the aforementioned business which was producing 300 corporate earning stories before implementing the new software and is now printing 4400 “4,100 of these would not exist”(Lee, 2014) without the robot journalist software.  In my eyes, it’s a double edged sword. The software is a great step forward in the sense that it is assisting greatly in trying to meet the constant demand and is an innovative new way for people to use and manipulate the media. However it can not be denied that this software will eventually be used to replace human beings, it will no longer be assisting and learning from them but taking over their jobs.

Humans are curious creatures when it comes to their use and understanding of the media. For example, John C Dvorak has written an entire piece on ‘the myth of the robot journalist’ the title itself denying the existence of the centrepiece of his own article! It can not be forgotten that journalists make up part of the robot journalism audience too and they certainly have a lot to say. Comments like “what a crock”(Dvorak, 2017) and calling their work simply “regurgitation”(Oakley, 2017) make the overall feeling of journalist blatantly obvious. Research into the opinions of the general public shows they are more concerned with the credibility of the work more so than who wrote it. This is demonstrated through research which states “the public gave higher scores to the algorithm’s work when it was notified as the real author, but they gave lower scores to the algorithm’s work when the author was notified as a journalist”(Jung et al., 2017).

Robot journalists have arisen recently and are currently being perceived in both positive and negative light in terms of the ways in which they are used and the content they are creating. Current media audience research surrounding this software appears inconclusive.

Reference List:

Dvorak, J. (2017). The Myth of the Robot Writer. PC Magazine, [online] pp.138 – 139. Available at: http://eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?vid=1&sid=0bcc3b32-4b39-4123-ba94-c798d094b274%40sessionmgr4009&hid=4102&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#AN=121501645&db=f6h [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Jung, J., Song, H., Kim, Y., Im, H. and Oh, S. (2017). Intrusion of software robots into journalism: The public’s and journalists’ perceptions of news written by algorithms and human journalists. Computers in Human Behavior, [online] 71, pp.291-298. Available at: https://www.scopus.com/record/display.uri?eid=2-s2.0-85012096207&origin=inward&txGid=B68A2CF730512557620551DC5B2CFD6D.wsnAw8kcdt7IPYLO0V48gA%3a1 [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Lee, M. (2014). Delayed Gratification – Rise of the robot journalist. [online] Slow-journalism.com. Available at: http://www.slow-journalism.com/rise-of-the-robot-journalist [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].

Rise of robot writers?. (2017). Micro Mart, [online] 26(1307), pp.26-28. Available at: http://eds.b.ebscohost.com/eds/detail/detail?sid=ab645960-fd36-4d4a-b9b3-b9b0411908e3%40sessionmgr120&vid=0&hid=122&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#AN=95649784&db=f6h [Accessed 15 Mar. 2017].