Fox News: Out with the old – in with the old familiar.

The resignation yesterday of Roger Ailes, Chairman and Chief Executive of Fox News in the US, sent shock waves through an American media system currently struggling, like everyone else, to make sense of Donald Trump’s performance at the Republican Party convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

Events began on to take shape on July 6th when Gretchen Carlson, a former Fox newscaster, filed a lawsuit accusing Ailes of sexual harassment. This triggered an internal investigation by Fox News which has now led to the downfall of its CEO. The particulars of the departure are still a little obscure but the New York Times   reports that Ailes departs with around a $40 million settlement agreement.

Though relatively unknown in the UK, the 76 year old Ailes has for decades enjoyed a position of some influence in US cultural and political life. As a former advisor to Presidents Nixon and George H.W. Bush, this was a man, according to Richard Wolffe  who had the power to make or break presidential campaigns. He is credited with building Fox News into the most watched cable news channel with unquantifiable benefits for Republican politics. So his resignation, resulting from accusations of sexual harassment of female colleagues going back 25 years, is hugely significant.

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A remote control being used in front of a tv

Why we must study the media

Posted by Dr John Jewell

From time to time various Tory politicians, journalists and ill informed misanthropes rise from their bunkers to exclaim: ‘Do you know that in redbrick polyversity they study that Beckham fellow? How standards have dropped!’

With the imminent A-level results, we can expect the routine trashing media studies and related subjects.

It’s not a new criticism of course, those of us involved in teaching or researching the media are met almost daily with the accusation that we are wasting our time and ‘their’ money on Mickey Mouse degrees which have little intellectual value and even less currency in the ‘real world’ (whatever the hell that is).

Utter rubbish. But let’s stop and think about the importance of the media.

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A few words on Graduation day 2016…..

At around 3.00 pm on the 14th July, after champagne, strawberries, congratulations and awards, the latest bunch of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies BA graduates began to make their way away from departmental buildings back into Cardiff.

And what a graduation day it’s been! Inspirational speeches at the ceremony  from Pro Vice Chancellor Pat Price and  Honorary Fellow, Nigel Owens  emphasised the importance of education and the duty we all have, as those fortunate enough to be educated to a high level, to carry our knowledge and education out into the wider world.

We hope that a student’s university experience at JOMEC is ultimately an intellectual and character developing experience. I read some years ago that in theory, a university degree should, irrespective of the subject, ‘hone a person’s critical analysis skills while teaching them the value of acquiring expert knowledge in a particular area’.

We hope that our graduates have attained the ability to research, write and critique according to highest academic standards. That they have the skills to work both independently and in groups. That they recognise the importance of intellectual objectivity, preparation, meeting deadlines –  and most importantly , that they leave us as citizens better prepared for a life in a media dominated world. These are the added values of a degree, beyond the classification, that a student takes into the world of work.

But today was not about such things – it was about celebration and recognition of achievement and I can assure everyone that staff members enjoy the day very much.

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Will the Labour membership say goodbye to Jeremy Corbyn?

Who can solve Labour’s leadership problem?

Posted by Professor Justin Lewis
Photo by 70023venus2009 / CC BY

It would be an understatement to say that, in recent weeks, the Parliamentary Labour Party (PNP) has been guilty of oversharing. While the Conservatives do much of their backstabbing in private, the Labour Party prefer to do it on the BBC Today programme.

Right or wrong, those in the PLP who regard Jeremy Corbyn as unelectable have – by attacking him so publicly – made their judgment a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So what does Labour do now? For those who would like to see a strong opposition the current scenario looks grim.

The problem is a fairly simple one: after years of Blair and Brown, most of the leading figures in the Labour Party who might be strong candidates – David Miliband being the most obvious example – are too Blairite/Brownite to appeal to a membership that backed Jeremy Corbyn in such overwhelming numbers. Continue reading

Journalism and the road to war in 2003. The Daily Mirror stood out.

When, in October 2015, Tony Blair apologised for the use of “wrong” intelligence in the run up to the 2003 Iraq war, his contrition was qualified. Speaking to Fareed Zakaria on CNN, the former prime minister also said:

I also apologise for some of the mistakes in planning and, certainly, our mistake in our understanding of what would happen once you removed the regime.

Blair’s belated regret for how events transpired cut little ice with the British press. Writing in The Guardian, Roy Greenslade expertly discussed editorial responses which ranged from the scathing: “Blair’s weasel words insult Iraq war dead” in the Daily Mail – to the rather more considered. The Independent, which had offered qualified support for the invasion of Iraq, stated that the apology represented progress in coming to some sort of understanding about that ill-starred adventure and its longer-term consequences.

In The Sun, meanwhile, Trevor Kavanagh wrote that Blair had taken the country to war on a false prospectus. He was now a globe-trotting, perma-tanned ex-PM who, until now, had rejected any blame for the greatest geopolitical catastrophe this century. With his weasel words, Blair’s reputation was in tatters, opined Kavanagh. This one-time political colossus now had to settle for life as a very rich but grubby pariah, despised and unwelcome in his own land.

Clearly, the same newspapers which had (by and large) so staunchly and unquestioningly supported the Iraq war were now condemning Blair for his duplicity. It’s a fair bet that, with the imminent publication of the Chilcot report, these titles will be highlighting Blair’s culpability without examining their own role in the progress towards war.

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Reporting the battle of the Somme – 100 years on.

Today is July 1st 2016 and it marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. The most brutal encounter of the Great War is characterised by loss of life and attrition warfare, where the British and French allied forces fought German opposition over a 15 mile front.

When the battle ended on November 18th, just four and a half months after it had begun, the British forces had advanced just seven miles and had not succeeded in breeching German defences. In just 141 days though, they had suffered in the region of 420,000 casualties.

On the first day of combat 19,240 British men lost their lives  and an already tragic war sank into an abyss deeper than anyone could have possibly predicted. But how were the events of that tragic day reported in the newspapers back home? How did the journalists on the front line communicate the horror? The answer is that events were hardly referred to at all and the deaths of so many heralded as part of a ‘day going well for Britain and France’. 

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The Sun, ‘buyer’s remorse’ and perpetual prejudice.

Providing perhaps a little schadenfreude related light relief amidst the seemingly endless EU referendum coverage was the news yesterday that Sun columnist and former editor, Kelvin Mackenzie, was suffering from Brexit ‘buyer remorse’. Through the platform of his weekly column, he told his many readers that four days after he felt the power of democracy he now doesn’t feel quite the same and that there is a sense of be careful of what you wish for. Which is a great pity for both Mackenzie and Remain supporters – for just last week he was using his column to list ten reasons why we must vote Brexit. Notable among his reasons for leaving the EU was the fact that it would lead to an Australian points system of immigration control which would prevent the UK’s population growing by 250,000 a year. That, said Mackenzie, was the equivalent of a new city the size of Wolverhampton.

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Re-Imagining Challenging History conference

Posted by Dr Jenny Kidd

Challenginf History written as text

  • 29 June – Cardiff University University, Glamorgan Building
  • 30 June – Amgueddfa Cymru / National Museum Wales
  • Follow conference discussions and activities on #challhist
  • Register or find out more Re-Imagining Challenging History

Since 2009 the Challenging History network has been working with and alongside cultural  institutions in order to support their work with difficult and sensitive subject matters.

The work of the network arises from a very real – and justifiable – anguish on the part of museum workers and visitors about how best to navigate this difficult terrain.  This anxiety has been a recurrent finding of the network over the years, even as the volume of work in this arena carried out by museums has grown staggeringly.

Some heritages are understood as challenging by virtue of their content; they might make visible such themes as war and conflict, genocide, human rights violations, struggles for meaning and for representation. They are heritages that – not least within the museum context itself – have complex legacies and links to politics and memory.  They raise serious questions: If heritage is a construction, who has constructed it? Whose voices are heard? And whose are consigned to silence? Continue reading

How the UK press woke up to Brexit with that morning-after feeling

Posted by Professor Justin Lewis

As Britain – and indeed, the rest of the world – reels from the ramifications of the Brexit vote in the UK, we are already hearing many explanations about the motives of those who disregarded so much expert testimony and voted to leave. Watching the television as the news sank in, I heard countless descriptions of the Brexit vote – from journalists and campaigners on both sides – as a kind of anti-establishment insurgency.

Yet, in many ways, that was precisely what it wasn’t. What 52% of voters did on Thursday was very much in line with reported conventional wisdom. Research carried out by Loughborough University during the campaign showed a clear bias towards Leave in the newspapers most people read.

Across the UK national press, Leave articles outnumbered those on the Remain side by 59% to 41%. When weightings for circulation are factored in, this ratio becomes an overwhelming “18% pro-IN and 82% pro-OUT”. While the broadcast media tried hard to remain balanced, the overall media climate clearly favoured Leave. If there was anyone resisting what they were being told to do, it was many of the 48% on the Remain side.

It was the Sun wot got it wrong.
The Sun

But even so there was an air of shocked surprise in even some of the papers that had favoured Brexit. The Sun, for example, rushed out with a front page almost as soon as polls closed, quoting Nigel Farage’s rather strange apparent – and certainly well premature – concession. The steadily eurosceptic Daily Mail, meanwhile, mixed triumphalism with caution: giving its right-wing columnist Katie Hopkins free rein to gloat while at the same time cautioning of financial turmoil to come. Somewhat late, it warned its middle England readership that their savings and investments might be in for a bumpy ride.

On the openly Remain side, The Guardian had an air of shock about it. Polly Toynbee mourned for a Britain that has broken in two, thanks to the way eurosceptic media and politicians had “injected poison into the nation’s bloodstream”. Continue reading

10 things every new media graduate should be doing now

Posted by Dr Caitriona Noonan

Congratulations class of 2016.  You’re nearly there.  Graduation and your next adventure are just around the corner. 

Four light bulbs with the caption next step

We hope you’ll look back on your time in university with fondness (perhaps when the stress of final exams dissipates) and that you’ll feel better equipped to enter the job market.  Undoubtedly, it is a competitive market at the moment but you should remain optimistic.   It’s an exciting time for the media sector with new jobs emerging and digital savvy graduates like you are well placed to fill those roles.

However, before you embark on the next phase of your career we wanted to offer you some advice for life post-university.

(1) Create an impression

There is lots of advice circulating that workers need to present themselves as a ‘brand’ and sell themselves to employers. That’s fine for some but I don’t feel entirely comfortable with that vision as it converts workers into commodities.

I much prefer the idea that one of the things you should cultivate is an impression – whether it’s a first impression or one which grows over time.  Be remembered by people as someone who is a creative professional in their demeanor and someone who people want to work with. Continue reading