Issues to think about

Now doing background research on issues facing the Melbourne independent music scene. I’ve been looking at articles from the news, looking at the history and reading about overall perceptions on the music scene in Melbourne, and generally talking to friends who are independent musicians to gain some perspective of the music scene in Melbourne.

The live music scene in Melbourne is world-renown and is what makes Melbourne unique from the other famous cities in Australia. There’s an abundance of venues in and around Melbourne that host gigs frequently, many of them supporting new and inexperienced independent musicians, which I think is rather important as some of the musicians I know have mentioned that landing the first gig is always the hardest. Some have also mentioned issues such as getting support from local audiences, getting exposure (for newcomers), and landing decent gigs, but I think these issues would apply to a smaller number of people from the community, especially newcomers. Furthermore, I’d have to think twice about focusing on one of these issues as these are the issues facing the people I’ve talked to, which may not represent the whole music community here in Melbourne, and hence doing my documentary on these issues might be unsuitable.

However, I think the majority of the independent music community, and not just the people I’ve talked to so far, would agree that one of the major issues affecting them at the moment would be the problem going on with music venues and the new liquor licensing laws. Some were talking about the Tote closing down, and how that has driven a lot of local musicians to protest against the law. The Tote has been a huge part of the independent music community in terms of providing the venue for hundreds of gigs.

The Age recently wrote an article on how Victoria’s new liquor licensing laws are threatening Melbourne’s live music scene. According to the article, many small music venues have closed down because they cannot afford to continue operating due to the new licensing laws. There’s even a SLAM (Save Live Australian Music) rally going on in protest of the new laws. This is definitely a huge deal in the community right now, and would fit perfectly as a form of external conflict in the documentary.

I guess I know what I’ll be doing my documentary on at the moment, but my plan now will have to include interviewing more people from the scene, especially the people who are actively protesting against the ban. I think this wouldn’t be too hard, though, as I can easily talk to representatives from SLAM and find out more.

One of the only other problem is that this topic might be outdated by the time I start working on the documentary itself, that is if the government doesn’t do anything about the protest and the music community stops being active. But then again, this is highly unlikely considering how this will continue affecting the community unless the law changes. It would be great, though, if the government were to take the SLAM protest seriously and decide to amend the law so that it would be fair to smaller businesses. If so, perhaps my documentary could include the timeline of events happening…. that is, if the changes to the licensing law takes place while I’m making the documentary.

And now, to start planning further and think of answers to all the questions in the learning contract!!!!

A lightbulb moment

I just had the best idea ever! And I’m pretty sure that this time, I’m on the right track.

I realized that I am “connected” to the independent music scene right here in Melbourne. I can definitely write up something about the independent music community and their struggle with getting local support and exposure, or something along those lines.

Of course, I will have to think of a specific issue to focus on, but right now I have a few issues off the top of my head that I know will make an interesting documentary. And I definitely will have more than enough sources to interview, and will be able to do a video documentary, which would have been difficult if I’d gone with my previous option, journalism :\

As for now, I am feeling delighted. I will blog more about this once I have settled on a specific issue!

Articles to read later on to aid in my research:
The Sydney Morning Herald on “Net Neutrality”
Wikipedia on Independent Musicians
LiveWireStyle on an independent musician’s use of online radio

TO DO

for the documentary, define:

  1. the community
  2. the issue
  3. the conflict
  4. the social theory/theories that are relevant
  5. the mode of documentary

A focus?

It’s easy to think about what communities are, but funnily enough, I’m finding it hard to think about what communities I belong to that I can specifically do a documentary about. What’s more, I need it to be interesting and engaging, and it needs to have some form of conflict in it. It would be harder to think about conflicts occuring in communities that I myself don’t belong to, but I guess I will have to resort to that if I can’t think of anything. Or maybe my brain is just too tired from all the assignments and readings that I have been doing in the past week :(

So far, I can think of some communities such as:

  • international students
  • Malaysians in Melbourne
  • blogging community
  • journalist community

For the first two communities, I can’t think of any conflicts that might be worth documenting on.

But for the journalist community, I was thinking about an internal conflict between citizen journalists and professional journalists. If you haven’t heard of the term before, it can be explained by the following paragraph (from Wikipedia):

Citizen journalism (also known as “public”, “participatory”, “democratic”[1] or “street journalism”[2]) is the concept of members of the public “playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information,” according to the seminal 2003 report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information.[3] Authors Bowman and Willis say: “The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires.”

Since the emergence of the blogosphere, audiences have started taking news into their own hands. Some argue that citizen journalism does not depict real news, while others argue that citizen journalism adds some objectivity to issues that may be biased in mainstream news (due to media conglomeration, government policies, etc.)

Citizen journalists may be activists within the communities they write about. This has drawn some criticism from traditional media institutions such as The New York Times, which have accused proponents of public journalism of abandoning the traditional goal of ‘objectivity’. Many traditional journalists view citizen journalism with some skepticism, believing that only trained journalists can understand the exactitude and ethics involved in reporting news.

I’m wondering now if this issue would be applicable to the assignment. I’m guessing I can use ‘citizen journalists’ as a community, and talk about the ‘external conflict’ being pressure from professional journalists and also news readers regarding the credibility of news written by citizen journalists.

I read an article on c.net regarding this issue. The writer talks about insiders vs. outsiders, and as blogs being merely a tool for citizen journalists. Citizen journalists have perspective, and they engage actively with their audience and source their information from mainstream news media (mainstream news media, too, often refer back to citizen journalists to portray a more ‘objective’ stance on issues).

I also read up an article on the conflict amongst journalists who, when covering news on violence, encounter a conflict in interest:

Covering violent conflict, when the journalist is a member of one of the parties in conflict, invokes a special inner-professional contradiction. In fact, journalists are members of two communities simultaneously: the professional community and the national one. On the one hand, the professional community calls upon the journalist to tell a story that will be, or will have the appearance of, a factual, objective and balanced story…. On the other hand, the national community calls the journalist to take part in the conflict, to be its representative in the battle of images and sound bites, to be a weapon – to tell only the facts that are in favor of his nation, to tell an unbalanced, unobjective story…. The article explores how in such events, journalists, as an “interpretive community”, as representatives of the grief and confusion of their national community, turn to the patriotic point of view.

Somehow, I think I’m making things more complicated for myself. I’m not in this community myself, and have too little sources to interview for this documentary, should I choose to go along with it. Furthermore, I’m not too sure if what I’ve addressed above constitutes a conflict at all…. I only thought about it because I’ve studied this issue in my previous course, and it would be an interesting and engaging documentary if I put enough thought into it.

I will have to think about this some more…. and soon!!!

Community

When the word “community” comes to mind, I think about people who form groups based on similar interests, activities, background, socio-economic class, or geography. But that’s just on the surface. In order to understand and efficiently utilize the word in the context of media studies, one has to look deeper and really comprehend the history and theories surrounding the word “community”.

The word “community” originates from the Old French word “communité” and Latin word “communitatem” from “communis”, meaning “common, public, general, shared by all or many” (from the Online Etymology Dictionary).

Why do people form communities?

Coming from an undergraduate psychology background, my perspective is that people form communities in order to develop a sense of community, i.e. to belong to a group, to survive better. Among teenagers, especially, a sense of belonging is important, particularly when one is growing up and making friends in school, where the pressure to fit in is constantly there, and where deviants are subject to bullying. If you think of this in terms of cavemen, groups that stick together have higher chances of survival – groups are faster and more efficient, they benefit from groupwork, they can defend themselves from animal attacks.

People today, then, form communities so that they don’t get victimized, so that they can get benefits from having a ‘voice’ of their own, so that they can “survive”. For example, communities such as the minorities in any given country may find that their opinion is taken more seriously (e.g. against state or government policies) as opposed to if one person had objected. In other words, there’s strength in numbers.

Of course, there are many types of communities such as virtual communities (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs), cultural communities (based on ethnic background, race, etc.), geographical communities (town communities, countries, etc.), and identity-based communities (based on similar interests, activities, etc.).

Week 1’s reading, ‘Community and society–myths of modernity’, Gerard Delanty talks about the idea of community as an alternative to society, and he bases his article on modern perceptions of sociology and antrhopology. He argues that modernity produces tradition, and even invents new ones, but still bases itself on old traditions. Hence, modern society still reflects the traits of old tradition. In arguing the concept of community vs society, Delanty suggests that both concepts are not opposed; rather, they are “mutual forms of sociability” (p. 30), because community is not only based on traditions, but also on symbolic social relationships.

I think the view proposed by Turner (p. 46) that community is symbolic in nature has some truth to it. Turner proposes that communities create powerful links between its members, where these powerful links are “symbolic construction[s] of boundaries” (p. 46), and that people form symbolic and ideological references based on how they are individually socially oriented into a community. In this sense, then, people in the same community will have different experiences and construct different meanings from one another. This further suggests that communities are not entirely based on uniformity; hence, communities are able to fluctuate, and are open to change. Although Delanty points out some flaws to Turner’s perspective of a symbolic form of community, I think Turner’s idea is useful as it is helps us understand how and why people fit themselves into certain communities and not others. I understand it as their own construction of their self and their identity that creates this symbolic boundary, so that each individual identifies with communities that they themselves can relate to.