An interview on the use of social media and animal abuse

This interview was conducted in relation to the second assessment. Tessa and I have chosen to research how animal abuse is portrayed and policed on social media specifically Facebook. To start off I would like to show you some images of a disgusting human being called Kendall Jones.

KendalJones

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This 19 year old has a hobby hunting our beautiful wildlife. This cheerleader who has proudly shared snaps of her posing with dead exotic animals in Africa after hunting them and killing has put them all over Facebook bragging about how great she is. Before sharing with you the interview conducted, I did an experiment of my own. I have reported a video that has come up on my newsfeed on Facebook countless times of a man kicking a cat along a street to the Facebook community standards. Only to receive the same message every time… “This does not breach our community standards”. This made my blood boil. I tried to find a phone number to call someone who works at Facebook; surprise there is absolutely no way to talk to a real person. There are emails and operators but no one single person could help me. To test this again I then reported a girl who posted a photo of herself in her bra onto Facebook, within 3 hours Facebook had got back to me letting me know they had taken it down because it showed nudity. What kind of world is this if people are more offended to see girls’ breasts than someone physically abusing an animal? One that I do NOT want to be a part of.

Showing these images and giving background information I then started the interview.

How do these images make you feel?
Absolutely disgusted. Is that even legal? Its horrible that the amount of likes she gets to show support are in the millions, people laughing at it and calling her “hot”. I have no words for her, she makes me sick.

Do you think Facebook should be doing more about this?
Yes I do. The fact that there is nobody to call or talk to, it is like they are hiding. I feel like Facebook is just laughing, controlling everything but never listening. I see at least one video a week with some sort of animal abuse in it and I bet there are millions that I just scroll past.

What do you think these videos are showing people, especially the younger generations?
I think it shows them that animal abuse is funny. It shows that if you upload a video like this you will get thousands of likes and comments and become Facebook famous. It shows that Facebook doesn’t care that these videos are being shared and uploaded and it just says that this is okay.

What could we do to stop this?
Well we could campaign, share posts and videos from the RSPCA, contact newspapers or start a petition to get Facebook to take down these videos and pictures. If everybody reported them then maybe Facebook would change their community standards.

Analysing an RSPCA campaign

Animal abuse and neglect is an ongoing, documented problem for society. Cases of animal harm stream in and out of news reports and public discussion. With changes in technology, mass communication has become more than a convenient outlet for publicising stories about animal harm. Not-for-profit organisations look to mass communication as a way to gain support from the public. Animal welfare organisations use mass communication to benefit their causes and reach multiple groups through their use of fundraising campaigns.

Animal welfare organizations were created to address the problem of abuse and harm. But, as not-for-profit organizations, they rely heavily on donations and voluntary support from the public. In order to achieve their mission, the RSPCA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), is one of the most popular animal welfare organisations, relying heavily on mass communication fundraising campaigns.

This video, called Voices, is an English campaign to help spread awareness on animal abuse made by RSPCA UK. The audience intended for this campaign is everyone around the world. RSPCA want everyone to know what is happening to animals every day, and with the facts in the video…”Every year we take in over 135, 000 animals in need” and “Every year we secure over 2000 convictions for cruelty and neglect” along with the heart breaking images of neglected animals anyone who’s ever owned a pet or loved animals this ad really gets you thinking “what more can I do to help?”.

The objective of this campaign is clear and concise. Showing the viewer uncomfortable images or animal abuse is not something they would see everyday nor would like to see. Exposing the realities in the hope people will wake up and start doing something about it.

The text has been ordered in single sentences on facts about animal abuse. This is extremely effective as it allows the viewer to watch the videos of the animals and read the horrific facts on cruelty and neglect without being overwhelmed with information. The RSPCA have used human voices to communicate to you what the animals might be saying. This technique is very useful as it gives the impression that the animals are people to and do have a voice if we listened. It portrays the animals as helpless as we, as humans have the power to care for them and give them love but instead some chose to abuse them.

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The key values and assumptions that the RSPCA want to share with their viewers is that animal abuse is REAL. It is a prominent problem in society and we CAN fix it. Not just with donations, but with volunteering and adopting a pet to give them a new lease on life. There are many organisations like the RSPCA who do the same thing and are spreading the same message. If we had stronger laws against animal cruelty then it might not be as prominent as it is now. If you would believe in better lives for our animals sign this petition to help enforce stronger laws. Or if you would like to donate or volunteer at the RSPCA click this link.

Why are ethics important in research?

First of all what are research ethics? As explained in Niranjala Weerakkody’s book, Research Ethics in Media and Communications, “ethical research ensures the researcher is ‘doing the right thing’ by the project, its participants and society at large”. This can mean very different things for different people because everyone has a separate idea on what is right or wrong and acceptable or unacceptable, but, there are formal ethical guidelines that are established by organisations and governments which ethics and standards (pg.74) are based on.

Ethics is an important part of any research, especially within journalism. Being truthful when reporting or gathering information is a major part of any research. When thinking about ethics, knowledge, truth and avoidance of error come to mind. Fabricating, falsifying or misrepresenting research are examples of disobeying ethics. Ethics are ‘moral principles’ and in every profession there is a Code Of Ethics which outline what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in your chosen line of work. For example the The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance’s (MEAA) code of ethics require that you use fair and honest means to obtain material. Avoid misrepresentation and use of concealed equipment or surveillance devices. These are just two of the many points outlined within their code of ethics.

Bob Steele is the Nelson Poynter Scholar for Journalism Values. He advises journalists and media leaders across the country on ethical dilemmas and leadership challenges. Steele led ethics and values sessions for nearly one hundred news organisations across the country. He has also led sessions for over 100 news organisations across the country including television stations, newspapers and broadcast and newspaper groups.

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There has been hundreds of thousands of unethical research, surveys and questionnaires created over the years and an example of a very famous experiment conducted by psychologist Philip Zimbardo, call The Stanford Prison Experiment. Dr Zimbardo led this experiment to examine that behavior of individuals when placed into roles of either prisoner or guard and the norms these individuals were expected to display. “Prisoners were put into a situation purposely meant to cause disorientation, degradation, and depersonalization. Guards were not given any specific directions or training on how to carry out their roles. Though at first, the students were unsure of how to carry out their roles, eventually they had no problem.” By the end of the experiment, both prisoners and guards forgot this was just an experiment and could pull out at anytime. The prisoners became depressed and the guards became power hungry. Dr Zimbardo ended the experiment after 5 days as he realised just how real the prison had become to the subjects.

Unethical research is still conducted on a daily basis but people like Bob Steele have changed the attitudes towards it and hopefully one day it will be a thing of the past.

 

A brief analysis of my favourite book

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (Beatrice Sparks)

I first read this book about 6 years ago and it really stuck with me, maybe because I was the same age as her and going through a similar teenage turmoil or it just interested me to read about someone else’s experiences. I’ve read it 3 times now and still love it.

Go Ask Alice is about a 15 year old girl who discovers drugs. It is based on a actual diary of a 15 year old drug user. The book is set in the 1960’s and it begins as any other teenage girls life would. With parents who don’t understand and insecurities about sex and her appearance. What makes her different from all the rest is her diary. Longing to have someone who understands her and accepts her, but forever being failed, she finds herself immersed in a drug culture she just can’t quite escape from. The strong feelings of love and connections she makes with people on her journey is only through the haze of the drugs often ending up deceived and victimised by the people she thought were her friends, who turned out to be junkies or people who just wanted to take advantage of her.

Her diary is her safe place, throughout the novel she writes to it in a conversational style as if it was a friend she was speaking to, for example, “Oh Diary, I’m so happy I could cry! It did happen! Jill called…” Her diary is the only thing that steadily stays with her throughout her journey, from her first entries of living at home to her traumatic descriptions in the State Mental Hospital. Knowing only herself reads the diary she writes everything down in her head without being judged or rejected.

Alice starts the diary because she feels she doesn’t have anyone to talk too. As she comes across the drug culture she searches for someone who understands her but the drugs only create a temporary illusion that she has found what she’s been searching for. Alice is a gifted writer, and poetically composes her outlook on her depressing view of the world. ” I don’t know what the hell hour or day or even ear it is, or even what town. I guess I’ve had a blackout or they’ve been passing bad pills. The girl on the grass beside me is white faced and Mona Lisa like and she’s preggers.”

Alice’s problems are just as relevant now as they were in the 1960’s. Her experiments with drugs soon turn into her entire world, as her ambitions, language and appearance change dramatically as the diary goes on, its in insight how how much drugs can effect you. For Alice drugs were a way for her to connect with others, offering a powerful escape from the boring life her parents gave her. Blurring the line between whats real and whats not, even though she went back to live with her parents in the end, she died. After testing her fate more than a few times Alice died in the hands of drugs. This book was so powerful to me as it made me want to run away and experience this scary unknown lifestyle Alice created, but also made me feel so lucky for having family and friends around me who I could talk to and share my feelings with.

Media Research

As explained in the BCM210 lecture and in this weeks reading “What Is Research?” by Arthur Berger, research is something we do every day. Berger explains, “If we look at research as an attempt to find out about things and people and the complexities of communication, research becomes fascinating. Because of the way the human mind works, we are, in a sense,  always doing research- but not always doing scientific and scholarly research”. Media research is used within the media whenever there is a story or news told, it is impossible to write or tell the news without conducting a background search, whether its qualitative or quantitative or a bit of both. There isn’t a position in mass media that does not conduct research.

There are many aspects of the media, one of these that interests me the most would be television. Upon doing some quantitative research I came across some statistics from the Australian Communications and Media Authority that interest me… according to their research, in total, there are about 18.7 million working television sets in private dwellings in Australia—an average of 2.2 per household. I have 5 in my house, only two of those get used and its only for about an hour a night watching the news, but on average according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian adults spend an average of 13 hours a week watching TV, thats a whopping ONE month a year sitting in front of the big screen. Majority of this is probably Keeping up with the Kardashians or Gossip Girl, but part of this would be news channels, whether 7, 9, 10 or sbs. With hundreds of stories being told a week, there is countless amounts of hours conducting media research and background information before airing any of the reports.

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As news media is now crossing between citizen and professional journalism with the many new media platforms, this new mixed news media requires a new  mixed media guidelines and ethics that need to apply to both  amateur and professional whether they blog, Tweet, broadcast or write for newspapers. Information is becoming a lot more easier to access but this does not mean it’s all reliable. Nonetheless, according to the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) the television set remains the main device on which Australians watch video content.

I research every day, if it’s looking up animals to buy, proving a statement my boyfriend made is wrong or why my arm has sharp pains, which is never a good idea because it always leads to “I might be dying”. It might not always be scholarly research but I am forever learning new things by reading up on information I am interested about. Media research is extremely useful and covers such a broad subject. From documentaries on wildlife to the lives of wives living with mob husbands. The topics are very diverse, media research, which is defined by Berger as being scholarly “generally speaking, more systematic, more objective, more careful and more concerned with correctness than everyday research.”