Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Singer believes that freedom of expression is essential to any democracy and therefore should not be limited. On the other hand, Szilagyi believes that more focus should be placed on social responsibility.

In the context of Singapore's multi-racial society, where there is cultural and religious pluralism, which author’s view do you think should be adopted?

Write a response of at least 300 words and 2 content paragraphs, and include materials from both articles as well as your own knowledge and experience.

In Singapore, there are several existing cultures and religious that are very different from each other. Such difference will naturally lead to higher possibilities of conflicts due to issues like freedom of speech and censorships in the society. However, I agree with Szilagyi that the freedom of expression is vital to any democratic society but the main focus should be placed on social responsibility.

People depend very much on mutual communication hence people should not be restricted from expressing their thoughts and emotions. True enough, this is also one of the main factors contributing to the racial conflicts that surface since forever. The press often report news that people of a certain race often splurge harsh comments that will stir negative emotions within intolerant people of a different race, resulting in tensions between the two parties and hence a communal conflict. Thus majority of the public will generalize and pointedly claim that freedom of expression is the sole cause of the frequent outbreaks of racial riots. In Singapore, communal tensions are often high, even as of today. Will things change? I personally agree with Szilagyi that freedom of expressions can be adopted only if social responsibility exists. If the press is mindful of and take precise note of what they are saying, there will not be a situation whereby the opposite party can blame you for saying anything offensive. Hence it is evident that people in our society should be accountable for what thoughts or emotions they want to express and publicize.

According to the article, Szilagyi mentioned that ‘Freedom of speech has never been a static value, and the responsibilities of the press evolve with every new social and political development around the world – requiring the limits of media output to be subjected to constant review. The press needs to serve the ever-evolving public interest, and it needs to do so by focusing on responsibility, and not solely on freedom.’

I cannot agree anymore with Szilagyi. Indeed, the press can adopt a freedom of expression so that they have a wider scope of news to report to the public. However, they should be mindful and make a conceited effort to make morally sound comments in their news reports and articles, and practice more social responsibility so that outbreaks of communal riots will never every occur in the multi-racial Singapore.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Censorship can never be justified. Do you agree? (group blogging)

In this media-intensive age, where we are bombarded with magazines, newspapers, periodicals, television and radio programmes, advertisements, and what-not, the issue of censorship inevitably comes into play. Censorship, has been practiced by governments and the press since the beginning of time. Yet, is censorship ever justified? Can it ever be justified?

Importance of a free media in civil society
The information role of a free press is disseminating knowledge and allowing critical scrutiny. A free press provides us with the news. Information and warnings we need to make informed decisions. They gather and pass on information we would unlikely or unable to make on our own. They also inform us about conditions or happenings that they determine could threaten our day-to-day existence. The media balances perspective and give voice to the neglected and disadvantaged, thus providing greater human security- but a compromised news media cannot serve its function to enlighten the public, so citizens can intelligently exercise their responsibilities in a democratic society.

When censorship leads to propaganda
Propaganda can serve to rally people behind a cause, but often at the cost of exaggerating, misrepresenting, or even lying about the issues in order to gain that support. Those who promote the negative image of the “enemy” may often reinforce it with rhetoric about the righteousness of themselves. Often, the principles used to demonise the other is not used to judge the self, leading to accusations of double standards and hypocrisy.
The threat of censorship is never greater than in wartime when governments exploit the pull of patriotism to suppress unwelcoming news. The military often manipulates the mainstream media, by restricting or managing what information is presented and hence what the public are told. This has happened throughout the 20th century. Over time then, the way that the media covers conflicts degrades in quality, critique and objectiveness. The military throughout most recent conflicts then have tried hard to control media in subtle ways, either through organizing media sessions and daily press briefings, or through providing managed access to war zones and so forth.

Problematics of implementation
There are also practical reasons as to why censorship doesn’t work. It is difficult for people to agree on what should be censored and to define it in terms that are clear enough to put publishers and distributors on notice of what is banned. Compounding the difficulties of censorship are the inherent contradictions of a secular democratic society that recognizes no one group above the other. For example, those who think that media violence is bad for kids acknowledge that they don’t mean to include televisioned versions of Shakespeare or Saving Private Ryan. In some countries, it is a bare male torso that crosses the line, while in others, any depiction of public hair, whereas still others permit any activity between consenting adults. For example, when it comes to hard-core pornography, much of what’s illegal here in Germany is legal and normal in Scandinavia.

Censorship is the control of the information and ideas circulated within a society. Censorship can be achieved through the examination of books, television and radio programs, news reports, and other forms of communication for the purpose of altering or suppressing ideas found to be objectionable or offensive. The rationales for censorship have varied, with some censors targeting material deemed to be indecent; heretical; or treasonous. Unjustified means that it is not right or proper"

Example of censorship being unjustified is the incident which happened on 4 Feb 2005
King Gyanendra has sacked the government, declared a state of emergency and imposed media censorship saying it had failed to tackle the Maoist rebel uprising.This results in Media having to promise not to pose a "threat" to the security situation. Their correspondent says that, with phone lines cut for a lot of the time and media censorship, there has been almost no flow of information.
Being citizen of Nepal, they should be kept aware of all the happenings in Nepal. By censoring facts, people will not be able to have a full picture of the incident and will have a biased view and in times to come for decision making, they might not make the wise choice. Making the wrong choice might affect many other people, not only one self.
Censorship doesn't conclusively resolve the problems it claims to
Advocates of censorship claim that censorship will reduce violence and other social ills. But how true is this? Despite research showing that the average child sees about 8000 television murders by the time he is 21, the link between entertainment and behaviour is as complex as the human mind. In investigating the effects of television on children, Wilbur Schramm, a professor of communication, concluded that under some conditions, violent programmes could effect some children. But most of the time, most television is neither helpful nor harmful to most kids under most circumstances. Since this conclusion is quite vague, how can one say that censorship will reduce violence and other social ills? As such, censorship is not the panacea to these problems; it is not justified. Blaming media is merely the simplest, most convenient way to explain what cannot be explained.

Moreover, censorship tends to create the forbidden fruit effect. It creates taboos that make the forbidden material more attractive. Banning a film, therefore, increases people's desire to see it. If violent films are removed from mainstream cinema, audience demand might be met by an unregulated "underground" industry. Curious youngsters will defy the ban - making their way into R-rated movies, de-programming Internet filters, sneaking looks at Playboy orFHM. Censorship in the media is more about sending people a message of social disapproval than about actually preventing them from reading or viewing everything that might be thought age-inappropriate or psychologically damaging.

Lastly, censorship strategies also create the false impression that the problem has been solved. For example: the use of parental discretion warnings and advisories: it presumes the presence of a parent to catch the warnings and to switch the channel, and ignores the fact the millions of children of working parents watch television unsupervised. Hence, censorship is not a solution to other significant cuss of violence, such as drugs, inadequate parenting, availability of weapons and unemployment. The solution has to take into consideration a large number of factors. It is going to take a lot more than rating, advisories, and cleaning up the TV schedule to deal and prevent the problem of violence. Thus, censorship is not justified, as such problems will only get worse because people are under the impression that something has been done already.

In conclusion, censorship can never be justified. The media should be a technology by which we are entertained and informed, although it is necessary to discern what one considers appropriate. Personal accountability and responsibility are the cornerstones to healthy media viewing habits, not potentially violating free speech. As Henry Steele Commager said, "The fact is that censorship always defeats for its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion."

Some may argue that there’s a need for censorship so as to protect public morals. For example, if the freedom of speech conflicts with another individual’s right to privacy, quality of life or even life itself, censorship is not only justified but a duty of any society. However, by censoring what people claim to be “inappropriate” material, it only causes the public to have stronger desire to get hold of these explicit materials. With today’s technology, is it possible for the government to censor anything not in their favour? Who is to decide what appropriate or inappropriate materials are? What defines good and bad information? Public should have their own freedom to choose what they want to read or hear news that they want to hear. They have to read and gain information from more sources in order to make a judgment. It should not be controlled by the government with intentions to “maintain stability” within the country.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The problem with the modern media is they do not have a sense of social justice. Do you agree?

Yes I agree to a large extent that modern media do not have a sense of social justice. It is conspicuous that the press today produces ‘juicy’ news mercilessly regardless of the feelings of the people they are reporting on. They are simply concerned with slandering the reputations of others to gain their own monetary wants. This is morally incorrect and is in the expense of others. Hence is it flagrant that modern media certainly do not have a sense of social justice and morality.


Indeed, enough is enough for media slander. This webpage shows how people agree that media today no longer hold their moral values.

One good example of media slanders to cook up stories enticing to readers is the rumours they make up regarding famous celebrities. Most of the rumours are not even true to any extent! (http://perezhilton.com/topics/anna_nicole_smith/headline_of_the_week_weak_20070414.php) The above website is an ideal example elucidating my point. Media coming in the form of internet forums and web pages flood the cyber world with ruthless rumours and slanders of celebrities and their own personal life, just so that the creators of such websites earn enough money from their readers. There are several kinds of rumours regarding pop stars that are rife in the internet. Does this not show how modern media has lost their sense of social justice?

Another example of modern media not having a sense of social justice is how they play a major role in creating a society with stereotype generalizations of what beauty is. Advertisements for beauty saloons and centers portray beautiful women as slim and slender, flawless and fair. Is that the real definition of beauty? No! It is the media’s own portrayal and definition of beauty! Thus is it evident that media today simply do not have social justice as they create today’s stereotypical society.

The media is corrupting our society. Do you agree?

Yes, I agree to a very large extent that media today is indeed corrupting our society. It is clear that media is dominating our world in this modern era. Everyone is reliant on the media to obtain news from other countries or even news from their own country. Thus it is evident media today plays a great role in shaping up our society. What media feeds us is most like what we turn out to be as our generation is rapidly stepping into an era of visual culture where media dominates.

Media manipulation is one of the many factors that cause corruption of our society. Media in the form of magazines portraying voluptuous women half naked at the front page as ‘hot’ and ‘sexy’ girls often appeal to young teenage girls, causing them to have the urge to be like these scantily-clad models. This in turn corrupts their minds in an extremely adverse manner. Such media also corrupts the minds of young male teens due to these WRONG sex appeals.

Media has also corrupted our society in that it has gradually, over the years, made more and more people interested in ‘juicy’ news that are at the expense of another’s reputation. A good example would be nefarious rumours about celebrities, made up by the media to attract readers. (http://perezhilton.com/topics/anna_nicole_smith/headline_of_the_week_weak_20070414.php) An example of such sources of media would be the above website. Hence is it not clear that our society is gradually corrupted by media and their underhand means to obtain monetary gains by ruthlessly producing nefarious news to attract readers?


The above website is also a legitimate source as it supports my stand of our media today is corrupting our society. Media in the form of television is a sever cause of corruption as it makes teens today too overly-engaged in watching television and end up corrupting their minds with fantasies and non-realities showed in re-runs in televisions all the time!

Hence it is obvious that the harm done by media in its various forms is far more undesirable than one can ever imagine! It has gradually corrupted our society as time passed.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Will the Virginia Tech massacre result in racial discrimination surfacing once again?

The Virginia Tech massacre has shattered the hearts of many, especially those whose family members were lost during the heart-wrenching tragedy. However, as time passes, the melancholy may just transform like a fitful monster into fiery hatred and violence. The victims who have suffered emotionally may end up pushing all the blames for their losses to a single race which Cho has irresponsibly stained with his irrational acts.

Indeed, racial discrimination is one major issue we all fear will result after the Virginia Tech massacre. Cho, a Chinese Korean had recently shot down 32 students in Virginia. I believe this will cause a huge conflict and dislike for the Chinese in the near future. Caucasians will have a warped view of all Chinese as their rivals and hence such generalizations will evidently lead to racial discriminations and conflicts.

For the past few years, racial discrimination has finally subsided dramatically ever since World War II whereby the Japanese were hated by many. In the past, Chinese immigrating to western countries were often called the ‘Yellow skins’ as they resembled the Japanese, whom the westerners despised previously. Verbal and physical abuses were often hurled at Chinese foreigners living in western countries. Unfortunately, this peace will be broken once again all because of Cho’s selfish and merciless acts. In the near future, the vicious cycle may just continue and result in racial discriminations and the possible conflicts which may follow.

Nonetheless, we pray hard for the incident to be remembered as a lesson taught and not an incident of hatred and violence. From this massacre, parents should learn to understand their children more and not allow history to repeat itself, like how due to negligence, Cho’s mental state deteriorated as time passed. Cho’s mental state was severely unstable, yet he was not well taken care of and treated. This led to the outburst of his emotions which he had contained within himself all his life. Hence from this incident I hope the public will learn something instead of feel hatred for the Chinese.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Nowadays, the mass media do not report the news; they make the news.

Indeed, mass media today often manipulate facts they gather to produce articles without credibility at all. The press often fabricates stories, self-proclaiming their writings as words of sacred truth, but in actual fact, only bits and pieces are facts, hardly sufficient to prove their integrity at all.

Recent events are events that have taken place not too long ago, and are still valid as evidence for my stand of mass media creating news, instead of reporting them.

One recent event elucidating media manipulation is the conflict between Iran and UK. Apparently, the sale of stories partially falsified by Iran captives has been banned. Such atrocity leaves us with no bearing but to criticize the media for its negative purposes. Is this not a flagrant form of mass media creating news? Furthermore, these news earn them profits which they completely do not deserve at all! Such an incident is indeed a shame to the journalists who appreciate the positive uses of media. An elaboration of the whole article can be found here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/6538921.stm

Another recent event in year 2005 that has appalled me is that USA Today 's top foreign reporter, Jack Kelley, was discovered to have fabricated stories from around the world and invented interviews and witnesses from Cuba to Jerusalem. As such, I can now form my own conclusion as to how mass media, mainly comprising of the press and journalists create news to earn money and not report news for the general public to understand current situations. The media’s main aim of ‘reporting’ news is indeed to earn a living and extra profits. Hence they resort to using underhand methods to achieve their goals of having as many readers as possible and thus trying all sorts of ways to make their news juicier by adding bits and pieces of them storylines fabricated by themselves, with completely no concrete evidence at all! This article can be found in: http://observer.guardian.co.uk/focus/story/0,6903,1418539,00.html

Another reason as to why media creates story is so as to propagate a particular concept. As such, a recent event to illustrate my point is when the Bush administration rejected an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, and
said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them. Comptroller General David M. Walker wrote that such stories violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A35010-2005Mar14.html ) Hence form here, it is evident that my deduction

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

“YouTube has no ethics, it's been created for the sole purpose of entertainment and money.” Do you agree?

Firstly, I would like to define what is meant by ‘ethics’. The term ‘ethics’ is commonly referred to as a system of moral principles, or simply a set of principles of right conduct. Is it then true that YouTube has absolutely no ethics? For me, my answer would be no! YouTube is a communication network whereby people connect with each other or the general public through videos. Since we’re now in the media age where visual culture is dominating, its is flagrant that we communicate in a much better way through videos! Some people videotape themselves so that they can express their thoughts and emotions via actions or simply talking to the audience. YouTube also runs in such a way whereby viewers can post comments regarding any of the video clips posted. This is evidently another source of communication,

Some may argue that YouTube has been created for the sole purpose of entertainment and money. This is only partially true, as opposed by my first argument. Any website is a form of business whereby one of its aims is definitely to earn money. Is google not a website that earns mony? What about Yahoo!? All these websites are out to earn money as they are formed as a type of trade and business. But the creation YouTube is not simply just to earn money, it is also a great source of entertainment for many people. Many of the video clips uploaded in YouTube are simply music videos, movies, television drama series and other entertainment news clips. How much harm can such videos do? They are common sources of entertainment today! People need such entertainments for relaxing and pleasure during leisure times.

Hence, it is evident that YouTube is not unethical, neither is it a money-swallowing system. It is a popular source of entertainment and communication today. Without YouTube, people will lose an essential network for global communication.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

'The teenage years are the best years of one's life.' Would you agree with this view?

I feel that teenage years are indeed the best years of one’s life. As a teenager, money is usually not an issue for daily life. (This assumption is based on the life of an average teen.) Teenagers do not have to set foot into the real world and competitive society to work and strive for a living! Their only responsibility is to study and score reasonably well results so as to pave a brighter road for their own future. This is considerably simple a task compared to the adults who have to cope with their jobs and family matters. Furthermore, majority of the youths these days do not have to work part-time jobs to earn school fees unlike the olden times. Most of the working teens are actually just trying to earn extra allowance to buy materialistic merchandises!

However to some other ‘emo’ teenagers, life may seem much bleaker and duller, and they might just need a knife by their side at all times to slash off a part of their flesh in an attempt to show the world how miserable they are. Honestly, I do not understand why, but I suppose this is just a phase they go through, and I believe everyone must have undergone the ‘emo’ phase before, just of different extents. But overall, I do stay firm on my stand that life as a teenager is the best because we have our parents to rely on no matter what, and we do not have to take up heavy responsibilities as a youth. Anyway, even if one was ‘emo’ before, do be glad that he or she got over it and learnt something new in their teenage days!
Hence, I still feel that, ‘emo’ or not, life as a teenager is always great because we learn the most , be it academically or simply values of life, and we do eventually understand that taking things in our stride despite the adversities of life will make us a better person in future!

330 words