Sunday, December 2, 2007

Article Critique #3

Brent Reykdal

3rd Scholarly Critique

November 15th 2007

1-Research topic and Researchers

Feminist sexualities, race and the internet: an investigation of suicidegirls.com” by Shoshana Magnet. New Media & Society, August 2007, Vol. 9, Issue 4, pp. 577-602. Retrieved November 13th 2007 from SAGE communication journals.

2- Rationale of the study

This study was aimed at analyzing the website Suicide Girls. The article talked about how the site is changing the contemporary photographic practice which in turn is changing the male gaze. It also talks about how the feminist potential of this site remains constrained by the inclusion of women of colour. The article also talks about the sites marketing strategy and whether the site is out to make money or make a feminist site.

The analysis was attempting to see how feminist representations of sexuality occur on the website suicide girls and the understanding of these representations by the members of this online community.

3- Literature Review

This study performed some prior research in the areas of cyberfeminist approaches to cybersex. When it comes to the positive aspects of cybersex the study talked about how you cannot receive any diseases from cybersex. The study also found that cyberfeminist argues that women are freed from the rigid norms that traditionally restrict female sexuality. Such as how they mentioned in the virtual world the female body is intelligent and polymorphously sexual

The study also focused on the cybertopian perspective on the fluidity of gender and sexual orientation online. When women are online they are able to experiment with sexual orientation more readily. A woman being able to do this online provides a safe place for queer women to come out. The cyberspace also provides a place for the shy woman to come out and make comments about other woman or life.

The study did some research on how marketing to different communities would affect that community. In the research they did they found that if you market to the gay community that this would lead to an un-healthy functioning economy. Marketing to this niche market could potentially reduce an inclusive queer community to a monolithic, white male affluent customer.

Another study the looked into was the multiculturalism in the area of Barbie dolls. When Mattel was asked why they didn’t remake the Barbie doll to look more like an African American they said that it would be more expensive and people would buy it. So they ended up dyeing the Barbie doll a different color and they called this the African American Barbie doll. This only reinforced the norm and didn’t help change it.

4- Research Methods

The research methods this study did were a content analysis. They did this by analyzing the suicide girl’s website very carefully. They looked into the different comments people made and they also looked at the blogs the different models would write. They also did some previous research to gather a greater knowledge on this topic.

5-Subjects of the study

The subjects of the study were many different people. They focused some time on the creators of the website and the mission the creators set forth. They also focused on the models from suicide girls. They also spent some time looking at the members of suicide girls. These members I’m guessing are from all over the world. I know they mentioned sometimes that there is a model from Canada. The study didn’t say how long they researched the suicide girl’s website.

6-Research findings

Some of the findings that they found were along the lines of racism on the internet. One really interesting thing that I have never thought of or noticed is when you enter your information onto a website the default ethnicity is set to white. They mention that they don’t classify gender though, meaning when you go to click on gender it says click one and when you go to ethnicity it already says white. This means when they are programming this site they don’t even think about other races.

Another interesting point they brought up is when they were talking about cybersex. The study spoke to that when you are in a chat very seldom do you mention your race. Then when a person mentions something about how they are licking the creamy back of a person. Now the person on the other side has to stop and interrupt the spontaneous sexual flow by coming out as a colour woman or cybersex as a white women. They continued on to mention how this is racism. They said that more often than not if they come out they will receive some sort of backlash for this. The person on the other side will become upset and frustrated. So what was once a pleasurable cybersex has now become a living hell for the person of colour.

I would like to quote this next section because I think it so powerful! “For the global consumer who is depicted as white, the internet serves as a glass window from which ‘users can consume the sights of travel as if they were tourists’ (Nakamura, 2000: 19). The queer user may enjoy the ‘anonymity of the closet’ while remaining ‘connected to the sociality of public spaces’ (Woodland, 2000: 417). Yet, for users of colour, there are few such spaces. The window in their closet serves primarily as a one-way mirror: although persons of colour may be able to see out, they are stuffed relentlessly into a space that makes them invisible – that is until ‘commerce and discourse come into play’, at which point the racialized body is mercilessly outed (Nakamura, 2002: 329)” (Magnet, 2007: 590).

Suicide girls was found to be a place where whiteness was made to be a normative. They spoke on how when a woman of colour is profiled, her body becomes a signifier of exotic. When an Asian Canadian posted photos on the website comments were made on how this person loves Asians, and how this Asian was so small and cute.

The part that stunned me the most was when the researcher spoke to how Suicide girls and its community won’t speak out when someone is racist. When rude comments are made nobody will speak up and say anything. When a person asked how a model was accepted into suicide girls nobody made any comments afterwards.

They also found that while suicide girls says they value diversity they fall back on the common marketing practices of the gendered and racialized body. This results in the commodification of women of colour in order to diversify their product offerings in order to maximize their profits. It wouldn’t be any more expensive to diversify their bodies on the website. But they still haven’t done it, only solidifying the fact that racism is present on suicide girls.

The final example they used I think really sums up this site. They found a model who blogs very commonly about racist things and homophobic comments. Even when suicide girls discourages this type of chatter. This model although is very popular and many members follow this model. To this date suicide girls hasn’t put a stop to this model and hasn’t deleted her account. They are just solidifying the comment that suicide girls is racist.

7- Reflection

This article did well in the area of bringing up a subject not many people would like to talk about or even look into. For one main reason in my mind because there is nudity involved. They did bring up some good ideas that I will think about in the future but I think my next paragraph sums up my opinion of the article.

This article was very hard to follow. There were times when I was on dictionary.com just to look up the meaning of the word they were using. I read this article three different times and I still feel I missed something. I didn’t like how they didn’t elaborate on their method of research. I just don’t think this was that great of a research article.

This was an interesting topic they looked into. I thought this website would be very open and accepting of others. While after reading the article it was the opposite. I would be interested in looking into other sites that help promote feminism; if these sites are constrained by the inclusion of only a limited number of women of colour.

Article Critique #1

Brent Reykdal

Article Critique

October 4, 2007

1) Research topic and researchers:

Mapping the blogosphere: Professional and citizen-based media in the global news arena, by Stephen D. Reese, Lou Rutigliano, Kideuk Hyun, and Jaekwan Keong, in Journalism, 8 (3) 2007, pp. 235-261. Retrieved from Communication Studies; A SAGE production on October 4, 2007.

2) Rationale of the study:

This study was to analyze weblogs in the new weblog are, particularly in the area of news and political debate. The study examined the relationship between citizens based and more traditional based journalists. They focused their attention to high trafficked blogs. The study traced the sites these blogs linked to, such as other blogs or more traditional news sources. The study was also interested in the international and ideological pattern of linking. They also focused on if blogs crossed the political lines.

3) Literature Review:

It has become evident that people are looking for news and information beyond the traditional sources. Such as people looking online, the internet has increased the speed, reach and comprehensiveness of journalism available to the public. The blogs have allowed people to become journalists at a much lower cost. This has also broken down the geographic limitations people prior had encountered. Some people feel that the internet has the potential to foster more engaged and active citizenship around the world. People are now organizing themselves around personal views as opposed to geographic locations.

Journalism is thought to be the driving force that helps encourage and amplify the conversation of the public. Thus prior to blogs the news was always verified by the news gatekeepers who limited what we the people were viewing. Now with blogs this has allowed citizens to have conversations about what they believe and others can view that. Prior to this the news was reflecting what they thought the public was feeling; now it is in the hands of the bloggers. This is changing how traditional news is formed.

We understand that technology has allowed us to do some amazing things (such as how a computer crashes and I loose this paper two different times), but more directly journalism has been disrupted and interlinked more fluidly with citizen communication. In the end blogospheres provide citizens the ability to different views, opinions and perspectives respectively bringing forth different conversations.

When we look at professional journalism vs. citizen media we must understand one of the barriers to people being able to view professional journalism is how it is normally a pay for service. This enables them to have greater control over the online content with less reader submitted content. Now news providers which might have blocked their information are making more summaries and blogs that point to it. They also now have sections where people can respond in close to real time; thus allowing for high interactivity while working online.

While blogospheres are often cast as a competitor to the traditional news media it can now be views as complimentary. Connecting news from the professional journalist to the more citizen based journalist. We also must remember the ease of connecting online which would allow a broader audience. Also the ease of use of weblogs, low barriers for creation and maintenance, the dynamic quality, easy interactivity and potential for wide distribution distinguish weblogs from other online citizen based media such as traditional media.

In the end bloggers aren’t destroying the professionals but they are redeploying it to a broader area. This allows mainstream news to be challenged and not only by the professionals. Citizens can blog about whatever they want, questioning ones beliefs or reaffirming their beliefs.

Blogs have also allowed people to view only what they want to view. Such as a blogroll which is a set of links to recommended sites for a person to view. This allows a citizen who is blogging to say for more like stories go here. Such as how Iraq bloggers 40 percent of the time linked to other Iraq bloggers. This is allowing people to view things with like beliefs.

We understand that the internet is the World Wide Web. Thus allowing someone to be able to not be bound by there geographic location. We must understand that blogs can be viewed by anybody and this would allow worldly people to log on at any time.

4) Research method:

I would say that this was a case study.

5) Subject of the study:

The subjects were 6 well known and high trafficked bloggers in the area of news and politics. There were 3 conservative bloggers and 3 liberal bloggers. These blogs were only associated with individual or small groups rather than a group of community blog.

They identified the content from the first full week of February 6 to the 13th 2005 for coding. They selected this week because it was roughly comparable from one blog to another.

6) Research findings:

Let me first explain the questions they were trying to answer. The first question was “To what extent to blogs make reference to the traditional news media, and how are those references characterized?”

Question 2 “How is political affiliation of blogs related to their reference to traditional news media?”

They found a total of 410 posts across the six bloggers. The blogs had a significant number of links to other sites with 38% of them having two or more links. This supported their statement that blogs were a gateway to larger cybernetworks. Much of the links were in the form of for more information go here. There was also the thought that most of these blogs aren’t true information. Most of the blogs either assemble material from elsewhere with only general comments 38.5 percent or conduct some analysis on the material which was 60.5%, there were only a handful of times when it was on the scene reporting.

The study found that 33.5% of blogs are referenced to other blogs and that 47.6% are referenced to professional news media; with most of them going to news and editorial sites which was 38.6% of them. They found that political affiliation did not affect the amount of linking. While they did find that conservatives did link to other blogs more than liberal blogs.

They also found that contrary to popular belief traditional news media and professional journalist play an important role within the network of blogs. This is because of the amount of times they are linked in their blogs. With 28.8% of blogs linking directly to news stories.

They also focused on how these blogs linked to other sites. The main style was to simply reference the link. Such as making a statement and then following it up with a cut clip from that news story. This was found in 84% of the cases. This was found across all six blogs and in another case they would blatantly point out to the reader to not miss this important information. So they found that professional news is often referenced and it is taken at face value to make a larger point.

They next focused on who is speaking within the sites. Such as how some professionals have their own blogs. They found that almost half are citizens and the other half are connected with some sort of professional news media.

Question 3 “How is political affiliation of blogs related to the affiliation of their linking choices?”

Question 4 “How is political affiliation of blogs related to their linking to international sites and authors.

They wanted to see if blogs open up the space between political boundaries along with geographical boundaries. They found that liberal blogs tend to link to liberal sites; while conservative blogs tend to link to conservative voices. Although they classified almost half of the sites led to non-partisan (non political) sources.

The final thought was whether the blogs open up the geographic boundaries. They found that 92.9% of the sites linked to US sites. They found the similar pattern when they were looking at the authors of these blogs. They believed that liberals would link to offshore sites and conservatives here in the US but they found no correlation. They pointed out that one conservative site had the least amount of links to the US and the same was with the authors not being from the US.

7) My position on this scholarly article:

I found this article very interesting. I knew that most blogs were personal opinion I thought most blogs would be bashing the news sources and political sources. To my surprise they were found to be more supportive and opened people’s eyes to the professional media.

I would be curious to see a study on smaller blogs. Blogs that are so high trafficked because I would think that you would find stronger view points there and people outright bashing what the professional media is saying.

All in all this article was interesting to read and puts a new spin on how I view online blogs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Discussion Panel

I just attended a discussion on the Media and the upcoming elections. The original plan was to ask questions about the Medias role in the election which I feel they accomplished but there were some very insightful questions that came from the audience also.


The first thing that really captured my attention and thought was when the comment was made that the US election times are like sports. We only like to follow who is up or who is down. We don’t like to get to know the players, or what plays they plan on running we like to know who is ahead in the polls. The gentlemen from channel 5 mentioned that he read an article the other day in the newspaper talking about the significant others of the candidates running. He asked why do I need to know this? It talked about how one significant other is 20 years younger and has her tongue pierced. Can we say irrelevant?


One question that was asked pertained to does the media have power to sway votes. Susan Albright responded to this question and she brought an interesting point up. She said that most of the time she feels the media (Print media) just adds to the discussion. That the print media couldn’t sway votes one way or another. This was until she went to the polls and saw people walking in with a cut out from the newspaper. The cut out part they were carrying was the people that news paper endorsed. So she concluded with saying that she doesn’t feel the media has power to sway votes on the big level, but she said on the small elections such as city council or park and rec boards they do have power. This was interesting to me because I know my dad dropped one of the papers when they endorsed a different candidate than who he would be voting for. I know he did this because he felt if they were going to endorse a candidate that all of their stories would be biased. I know that many other people feel that the newspaper shouldn’t endorse candidates they should just tell us about the candidates. So I would like to ask the newspapers why endorse if it doesn’t do you any good?


Another thing that really interested me was when they asked the gentleman who is now the Senate Majority Leader communications consultant; they asked him what he tells the senators to say to the media. He said that he teaches them how to use words that won’t be deemed as fighting words. This is because if they say the “fighting” words that then stories are published about them. Although if they say it with a different word then its not a fighting word. This was so interesting to me because as I gear up for my practice interview tomorrow when I learn how to interview better I only see that as more coaching. Its interesting to me that we can’t just say who we are, we can’t say certain things because the media in this case will use it against you.

Another good question was asked on what are the consequences for media that lies. The answer somewhat shocked me but then I thought about it more. The answer is that the news media does have to answer to truth laws. While they aren’t held to the same standard as advertising for example but they are held to these standards. I then thought well how come I don’t know about anytime when a news station lied and was punished for it. Then it dawned on me, why would they run a story on something bad for them, why would they come out and tell us that at one time they lied. Well it just makes me wonder are there more times out there where the media lied and nobody found out?


The final point I would like to leave you with came form the gentleman from www.Minnpost.com. The question was something about how now media is owned by major conglomerates and they are for profit. The response was great, he told about how when the Star Tribune was owned by a local wealthy family they made some money off the Star Tribune but that the main goal of the newspaper was to report. Now the Star Tribune is owned by a major equity firm and the main goal there is to make large profits. Not to tell the news, these people live in paradise and don’t care about what we report they only care about what is going to make them their next buck. Susan Albright also mentioned that back in the day journalists were very disconnected from the owners. There were very few conversations about what the journalists were writing about. Now they are very connected, pulling the strings of the journalists. I don’t even know what to say about this, this seems so messed up I would like to leave it to you. Thanks and enjoy the hopefully soon to be falling snow! :)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Turn it on

So have you ever thought about how radio stations pick the music they play? How does VH1 decide what artist "You ought to know". Well I just watched a movie on the music industry. It's a great movie, I recommend it, available at your local library (well for sure at Bush Memorial Library). It explains everything, radio stations are owned by media conglomerates, that control everything. That means they decide what music is going to be played all around the country. They decide what we should hear. How do they decide you might ask? Well they get paid by the artists manager/recording studio to get their music heard. So next time you hear a song on the radio (especially cities 97 part of Clear Channel) ask how much they were paid to play that song. Thats my thought.. maybe more to come.. especially because I found out today that news is owned by for profit companies. How can that be?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Media in my opinion

It is my perception from what I learned today in class that if you own a news channel/media source you have the ability to control what is published. I think this is amazing! Let's say I own Chop Chow, who knows what they make but I own it right. Well along with owning Chop Chow I also own WCCO or Star Tribune. So you got that, well just yesterday Chop Chow dumped over 3,000 gallons of "toxins" into the river, prairie or forest. Well since I own a news channel/media source I decide that this story is going to go unheard. I have decided that I'm not going to broadcast it on TV, better yet I'm going to run a story on how Environmentally friendly Chop Chow is! So that is my thought of the day... Think about it... Reflect and get back to me!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Test everything!

Here I am today and ready to blog... so lets see how this goes!