The internet as a public sphere – an analysis of YouTube.

Habermas defines the public sphere as a ‘realm of our social life in which something approaching public opinion can be formed [and where] access is guaranteed to all citizens’ (Habermas, 1989, p. 102). This study seeks to apply this definition of the public sphere to YouTube, particularly in the light of calls for some content to be removed from YouTube. In so doing it not only builds upon an existing body of secondary literature relating to ‘the public sphere’ but also garners new primary data by interviewing 50 users of YouTube. So that quantitative comparisons can be made in the primary data collected all of the users are second year undergraduates at the University of Zimbabwe.

Suggested initial topic reading:

Antony, M.G. and Thomas, R.J. (2010). ”This is citizen journalism at its finest’: YouTube and the public sphere in the Oscar Grant shooting incident’, New Media and Society, Vol. 12(8), pp. 1280-1296.

Douai, A. and Nofal, H.K. (2012). ‘Commenting in the online Arab public sphere: Debating the Swiss minaret ban and the “Ground Zero Mosque” online’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 17, pp. 266-282.

Van Zoonen, L., Vis, F. and Mihelj, S. (2011). ‘YouTube interactions between agonism, antagonism and dialogue: Video responses to the anti-Islam film Fitna’, Vol. 13(8), pp. 1283-1300.

Internet commentary and blogging: Lacking the credibility of validity to conform to Habermas’ public sphere?

In comparison to traditional media outlets such as The Herald internet commentators and bloggers who ‘respond to’ or ‘report’ news produce copy in a world of anonymity in which the ability to separate one’s true identity to the point being proffered is straightforward. Accordingly it can be argued that the validity and credibility of authorship that accompanies named articles within the traditional printed press are missing from the realm of blogging and news commentary. Given this, this dissertation questions the extent to which such internet activity can be defined as part of ‘the public sphere’ in the conceptualisation of the idea as furthered by Habermas, for an essential component of ‘the public sphere’ is the integrity of the argument advanced – which is surely, of itself, negated through anonymity.

Suggested initial topic reading:

Dreyfus, H.L. (2004).Kierkegaard on the Internet: Anonymity versus commitment in the present age. Berkeley: University of California.

Pérez-Peña. R. (2011). ‘News sites rethink anonymous online comments’, New York Times, 11th April 2011.

Poor, N.L. (2005). ‘Mechanisms of an online public sphere: The website Slashdot’, Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 10(2), DOI: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2005.tb00241.x.

The changing demands of web advertising: A dynamic medium of opportunity.

The web, unlike printed media, enables the target audience of the advertiser, if the media campaign is so constructed, to interact with the product in focus. This dissertation seeks to evaluate the effects that this change has on the ways that products are sold and how advertising agencies use the Internet (in a different way to how they use the printed press) as a medium through which to sell. A dissertation which places itself at the cutting edge of the advertising media revolution, this study will be primarily engaged with establishing the views of experienced professionals within the field as well as with consumers.

Suggested initial topic reading:

Calder, B.J. (ed.) (2012). Kellogg: On advertising and media. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Rosenkrans, G. (2009). ‘The creativeness and effectiveness of online interactive rich media advertising’, Journal of Interactive Advertising, Vol. 9(2), pp. 18-31.

Wang, K., Wang, E.T.G. and Farn, C-K. (2009). ‘Influence of web advertising strategies, consumer goal-directedness, and consumer involvement on web advertising effectiveness’, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Vol. 13(4), pp. 67-96.

Passports for online use: The need to protect chat room users.

The growing role of chat rooms and social media sites is unquestionable. However, news stories of the vulnerable being exploited signify the dangers that may lurk ‘online’ for those who are uninitiated. Noting the need for security within the online banking sector and the use of passports, driving licences, and ‘proof of age’ cards as mechanisms through which real identities can readily be checked in everyday life, this dissertation poses a single question: whether or not it is time to introduce a form of virtual e-passport to enable safe and secure communication and interaction through the medium of the internet, as well as accurate identification of users. This is a dissertation that has the potential to combines issues ranging from the safe use of the internet as a form of media and communication, to issues of freedom of speech, aspects of public sphere theory and human rights, depending on the individual strengths of the writer.

Suggested initial topic reading:

Allen, K. (2011). ‘The identity of ID’, Engineering and Technology, Vol. 6(3), pp. 84-87.

Livingstone, S., ólafsson, K. and Staksrud, E. (2011). ‘Social networking, age and privacy’, EU Kids Online, April, 2011, pp. 1-13.

Phair, N. (2008), ‘What is trust online?’. In, Michael, K. and Michael, M.G. (eds), Australia and the new technologies: Evidence based policy in public administration. Wollongong, NSW: University of Wollongong and the Research Network for a Secure Australia, pp. 241-246.

Fair trials and media reporting: A need to rebalance demands?

Recent media reporting into some high profile cases raises a number of interesting points. In case, it can be suggested that ‘the accused’ has, in effect already been ‘tried’ by the media and that consequently his ability to get a free and fair trial, devoid of inbuilt prejudices, and a central tenet of the E justice system, may have been compromised. This dissertation asks whether the balance between ‘the public interest’ and ‘due process’ is indeed the focus of the media, and whether there is a case to be made that there should be no public reporting of allegations or aspects of the life of people ‘accused’ until the case against them has been legally proven. This is an interesting dissertation that combines contemporary media stories with issues pertaining to self-regulation, freedom of the press and the needs of justice.

Suggested initial topic reading:

Battaglia, N. (2010). ‘Comment: The Casey Anthony trial and wrongful exonerations: How “trial by media” cases diminish public confidence in the criminal justice system’, Albany Law Review, 75, 1579.

Machado, H. and Santos, F. (2009). ‘The disappearance of Madeleine McCann: Public drama and trial by media in the Portuguese press’, Crime, Media, Culture, Vol. 5(2), pp. 146-167.

Surette, R. (2007). Media, crime and criminal justice: Images, realities and policies. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Media psychology: An evaluation of the effects of advertising to children on the gift giving intentions of parents.

This dissertation follows, from August to December, the lives of ten families living in Harare. The parents of the families are, in accordance with the processes that they have deployed over a number of years, asked to note down the gifts that they intend to purchase for their children. As autumn develops and the nature and tone of advertising to children alters (on television and in leaflet distribution to houses) they are subsequently asked to review their purchase intentions and to note how they have changed. Post-Christmas, interviews are held with the families to determine the nature of the media psychology forces that they faced and the extent to which they succumbed to them.

Suggested initial topic reading:

Giles, D. (2003). Media psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

O’Cass, A. and Clarke, P. (2002). ‘Dear Santa, do you have my brand? A study of the brand requests, awareness and request styles at Christmas time’, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, 2(1), pp. 37-53.

Palmer, E.L. and Young, B.M. (eds) (2008). The faces of televisual media: Teaching, violence, selling to children. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Traditional forms of communication Vs social networking: Which one is more persuasive?

Topic Description: For comparing persuasiveness of social networking and traditional form of networking, a researcher can conduct a survey for this media dissertation topic. In this survey, focus needs to be given more on collection of primary data. This can moreover, include conduction of survey for the consumers as well as interview process for managers of organizations making more use of social networking. On the contrast, there are several websites where effectiveness of both these types of networking is described. For this, use of secondary data can also be beneficial for the researcher to conclude more importance of social networking in today’s technological and innovative world.