Interview: Politically incorrect cartoons on politicians

Blog post 5:

Short interview

For assignment two my group and I are researching the topic of hard vs soft media in relation to political influence. We brainstormed the idea that political caricatures relating to creative media could be one example of a tool that could influence public opinion. I decided in order to better my understanding of the influence these have on different people I would conduct a short interview on a person from one of the youngest age groups that could have their opinion potentially swayed. Year 11 student Emma Lauren is in her final year of not having to vote, this is the interview I conducted with her.

**Start: How do you feel about having to vote next year?

It’s something everyone around you seems to push. Teachers, parents, friends all emphasise the excitement of finally having a say in politics. I feel like it’s pretty exciting, like a right of passage type moment however I’m not very politically engaged so I may need to brush up on my knowledge before actually voting.

You say you aren’t ‘very politically engaged’, do you come across political cartoons often?

My dad knows heaps about what’s going on in politics so he finds the cartoons funny. As I said I’m not too great with politics but he likes to explain them to me. I find them quite crude at times and they are particularly ‘funny’ to me.

You’ll be voting next year, how do you think they’ve effected your opinion?

More than anything I think they’ve educated me. I get to understand the big mistakes that any one  politician has made because he keeps these politicians on their feet. So I think it would influence my opinion on an individual. For people my age that aren’t interested in what politicians have to say these cartoons make up for lost information. For example, we know when Tony Abbot stuffs up because he appears in the cartoon with his ears to body ratio drawn like crazy.


To wrap up this interview my final question is whether or not the cartoons will effect your decision on the day you vote?

I don’t think so, I’m not that interested in politics but I believe my parents would have more influence on my opinion on politics more than the cartoons. The cartoons help with my understanding of different political individuals but I wouldn’t ever solely rely on this information .End**

I found this interview valuable to our research as I was able to gain a knowledge about the influence of political cartoons on a young person. It’s understandable that as a year 11 student Emma isn’t overly engaged with politics which was even more of a reason that the cartoons could have an influence on swaying her opinion. However, it was interesting to me that she believes the cartoons won’t have an overall opinion on her vote, rather they educate her on what’s happening in politics. This will be useful throughout the group assignment as we will be able to understand the relationship a young person has with political cartoons. This is effective in the way we can compare this with different age groups and determine whether or not it could be inexperience with politics that influences this. 

Throughout the interviewing process I learnt that in order to have a comfortable environment to interview in it was crucial to establish a good relationship with your interviewee. It was clear that having written down questions was less effective as it was easier to have dot points and keep the questions conversational. Overall, I found this interviewing process very valuable in learning how to conduct yourself in different situations. I completed this by making sure I was thinking about what media research actually involves and the ethics important to the research process.



Cartoon our politicians into fools

Blog post 4:

Critique or analyse a text

Infamous political caricatures became popular in the 19th century and still are today. Bringing humour to the op-ed pages of our newspapers as we get to see our usually serious politicians in the most extravagant ways possible. However, how far is too far between political satire and freedom of speech?

The idea that a political cartoons function in political debate could be one of the main reasons why Australian’s find the satirical nature of them so amusing.


Manning and Phiddian (2004) researched this idea in three methods:

an analysis of political cartooning as an established and understood element of free speech in Australia;

a provisional taxonomy of the types of political cartoon, judged by the effects they are liable to have on readers;

and some empirically based scepticism about the capacity of cartoons to directly influence public opinion.

Topic and position:

Manning and Phiddian’s (2004, pg 26) motivation was to ‘define what constitutes ‘the political cartoon’ and to discuss how cartoons function in political debate’. Their position on the idea was the ‘right of cartoonists to be freely provocative as a sign of health in a liberal democratic polity like Australia.’ (Manning and Phiddian 2004, pg 26) This may clash with other opinions as people could take the cartoons in an offensive manner. An example of this was Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten’s cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist with a bomb in 2005. 


The headline, “Muhammeds ansigt”, means “The face of Muhammad”, published in September 2005 by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten



Turning it onto Australia, when we see this image how funny do we find it and who are the people that find it funny?

The concept is evident to myself as an Australian, I understand the cartoonist is attempting to achieve a hypercritical tone on Tony Abbott’s bid to ban burqas in the Parliament House. Similarly, Manning and Phiddian (2004 p27) argue that ‘they may make us laugh, but we are responding to humour rather than satire’.


Manning and Phiddian (2004) section their evidence into subheadings including the descriptive cartoon, the laughing satirical cartoon, the destructive satirical cartoon and cartoons displaying savage indignation. Referring back to Tony Abbott’s cartoon I believe this would come under the the laughing satirical cartoon category. Manning and Phiddian (2004 p28) say ‘many cartoonists draw their way into the debates of the day, calling knaves and fools to account so that society might work better.’ Meaning, society is aware of Abbott’s controversial plan to ban burqas in the Parliament House and may not agree, however the cartoon’s intention is not a political target, rather criticising individual politicians with humour.

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Because these cartoons aren’t harmful compared to the destructive satirical cartoon or cartoons displaying savage indignation they have become an integral part of our society. Beginning with ‘the prime minister or president down to those of us who read the op-ed pages of newspapers’ (Manning and Phiddian 2004 p30) the laughing satirical cartoons are purely for amusement purposes.

Manning and Phiddian’s conclusion:

Manning and Phiddian admit they are unable to conclude whether or not cartoons influence their reader’s political positions. However, I believe they are successful in stating that ’as readers and citizens, it is our responsibility to judge whether particular cartoons express healthy scepticism or lapse into cheap cynicism’ (Manning and Phiddian 2004 p40). These cartoons keep politicians on their toes whilst at the same time keeping them down to earth alongside ‘commoners’ who read the op-ed pages of their newspapers each day.

Manning, Haydon, and Robert Phiddian. ‘In Defence Of The Political Cartoonist’s License To Mock’. Australian Review of Public Affairs 5.1 (2004): 25-42.

Some journalists have a heart- ethics

Blog post 3:

Why are ethics important in research?

The nature of research in today’s global media is criticised due to the easy access of information. Similarly, today’s news is compared in this way. As a journalist, as much as some audiences may disagree, it is important to implement ethical practices in your work. But what are ethics in research and why do we need them?

Referred to by Weerakkody (2008, p.75) the ethical issues involved in a research process include ‘the process of conducting research, reporting of findings, analysis (of data) and publication’. Therefore, when beginning your research process as a journalist it is important to consider the ethics involved with filming, photographing, interviewing and presenting. These along with the idea addressed by Tinkler(2013) that ‘ethics are widely agreed moral principles about what is right and wrong’ will comply with the MEAA’s code of ethics which states:

‘Alliance members engaged in journalism commit themselves to

• Honesty

• Fairness

• Independence

Respect for the rights of others’

When comparing this to my research hypothesis ‘how critical audiences are of news representation in 2015 by comparing data findings with this text’ it is important to look at both the participant and data as the main ethical areas as these areas are the most crucial to harming those involved. The harm may be in a way that is mental, physical or emotional. These areas must be closely monitored and if they appear to be in danger the process must automatically stop.

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Source: Weerakkody, Niranjala Damayanthi 2008, ‘Research ethics in media and communication’, in Research methods for media and communications, Oxford University Press Australia and New Zealand, South Melbourne, Vic., pp. 73-91

Firstly, focusing on the participant it is understood that the participant has a right to be protected by the researcher. This is the responsibility of the journalist to be aware of ‘anonymity and confidentiality, informed consent and concealment and deception’ Weerakkody (2008, p.79). An example of this as a journalist would include making sure the participant was willing to participate in the research process, was aware of the research and its intentions and had a clear idea of all the information that was going into the process. An example of a breach of this ethic identified by Media Watch  in 2014 was Victorian premier Ted Baillieu had thought he was having an off-the-record conversation—with the state Political Editor of The Sunday Age, Farrah Tomazin—but without telling him, she had recorded it. This ethical consideration is important to implement in the process as the participant’s have a right and there will be regulations in place. 

Secondly, there is a greater focus than just on the collection of findings it is also important to focus on the ethics of the analysis of data and the presentation. As a journalist it is important to focus on ‘objectivity and ideology, dominant paradigms, honesty and integrity and lastly the protection of the study participant’ Weerakkody (2008, p.79). An example of this in journalism would include writing without bias or prejudice, staying true to what data and information was found or said without manipulation and lastly making sure the participant approves the information being released with their name attached.

It is evident that we need ethics in research as it is a process that involves other participants, people that have the right to be protected by the researcher in order to prevent any harm that it may cause. Ethics serve a purpose in the structure of research and are important to researchers to implement as they exercise the power and should therefore be held responsible. 

Tinkler, Penny 2013, ‘Ethical issues and legalities’, in Using photographs in social and historical research, SAGE, London, pp. 195-208

Weerakkody, N.D 2008, ‘Research ethics in media and communication’, Research methods and communication, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, Victoria.

Taking it back to the 2000s: media consumption analysis

Blog post 2: 

Critique or analyse a text

In order to analyse a text I decided to find something that not only related to my research hypothesis for assignment three but was to an extent interesting. The text written by Thomas E. Patterson is called ‘Doing Well and Doing Good’. It identifies the main issue of the fall in American news consumption in 2000 to be ‘soft news vs hard news’. It corresponds with my question as I am looking to research how critical audiences are of news representation in 2015 by comparing data findings with this text.

Patterson’s topic and position

Patterson is a Bradlee Professor of Government and the Press Shorenstein Center. His main area of research is the media. So there is no surprise that his article is based on the comparison of soft and hard news and their effectiveness on audiences. Patterson’s text is highly objective and based on findings from research methodologies and data. He found that soft news has ‘become more personal and familiar in its form of presentation and less distant and institutional.’ and hard news to be ‘the daily unfolding of a people’s history’. It is clear throughout the article that data and evidence are what support Patterson’s hypothesis of whether news consumption is effected by ‘soft or hard news’.


Audience: who’s interested?

It would be understood that Patterson’s article was mainly directed at academics or students interested in gaining knowledge about news consumption.

Method: proof and evidence in the findings

The main method of proof that Patterson used to support his work is graphing. He identifies trends in concepts such as ‘the increasing frequency of soft news stories’. He also uses data findings from questionnaires such as percentages and quotes.

Comparison to other texts

In terms of purpose, topic, audience and method this text was one of the first to address the idea that soft news was the result of an attempt to save news consumption in the year 2000.


Patterson’s key assumption is that in 2000 the diminishing news audience in America resulted in more soft news and critical reporting. He emphasises the importance of clarity when reporting on public affairs. His position is that soft news ‘distorts public perception’ and is therefore the reason behind the lack of news consumption. This idea is relatable to my research hypothesis as it reflects similar topics that are relevant to today’s news. 


Mastering media research

Blog post 1

Research is a journey, an adventure, following a trail in order to further interrogate the topic of interest. Personally, I have always thought the idea of investigative journalism to be the most interesting and compelling career a girl like myself could ever have. The idea of observing a topic that lacks something in research that you take it upon yourself to investigate its boundaries, is a ideal concept to me.

So what is media research?

In the most simple sense Berger(2014) defines research as ‘looking for information about something’. Whereas media is a concept known today as a mass communication tool. We know it in the form of television, radio, newspaper and as we expand in the modern world we are seeing more use of social media.

When you connect the two terms together ‘media research’ simply means looking to further inform about the media. As referred to by Berger(2014) different research methods are carried out in order to achieve this. Including ‘qualitative and interpretive’ or ‘quantitative such as content analysis’. However, research methods aren’t always the generic methods used in our society. In fact, every day, every human takes research into their own hands subconsciously, in the most simplest forms. For example, if we hear about a certain vacuum that we wish to buy we begin to immerse ourselves into a subliminal research process. Asking friends whether they’ve used it before, researching online, taking note of its ratings. Therefore, the research process is driven by the wish to engage in a topic that requires further information. Our daily research compares to media research in the way that we intend to reach an objective concerning the topic. However, media research is also different to our daily research as it is important to consider whether it is engaging enough to the audience. 

What aspect of the media would you like to research?

Before accepting the topic that instantly comes to mind there are certain steps that need to be considered. The topic I believe I would most like to research regarding the media would be the relationship between the media and the audience and whether, as the audience are we critical enough? Before this there are two questions that Berger(2014) identifies the first ‘is the problem important enough to bother with?’. Personally, I believe this topic is important enough to address in today’s society as we adapt to social media and our reliance on it to gain information in a research format without realising.

The second question noted by Berger(2014) is ‘is your hypothesis reasonable and testable?’. I believe it is a topic that many people would want to engage in as the media and honest media research concerns everyone.

Berger, Arthur A. 2014, ‘What is research?’, in Media and communication research methods : an introduction to qualitative and quantitative approaches, 3rd ed., SAGE, Los Angeles, pp. 13-32

Touching base with blogging

Back to the accommodating thought expressing service we’ve all come to know and love as WordPress. I intended on maintaining a blog over the UNI break but that slipped through on my list of one million and one things to do whilst trying to take a break over three months. However, blogging and I are back with a vengeance.

I’ll be seeing you.