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Media briefs

May 22, 2014

Media briefs: trigger beat-up ... online news ... police apology ...

Beware trigger warnings, the lamest right-wing beat-up of our time. Plus other media tidbits.


Trigger warning on media beat-up. And the prize for lamest right-wing beat up goes to … trigger warnings (trigger warning: trigger warnings). For those out of the loop, trigger warnings are a thing from the world of sexuality/gender/sex work/sexual violence discussions online, where participants warn that their posts may trigger flashbacks, trauma, etc, in those with past experience of such. They may or may not be a good or bad thing, but they’re now pretty common. Groups at various American colleges have now suggested that trigger warnings apply to classic works of literature being studied, from Oedipus Rex (incest) to Mrs Dalloway (stream of consciousness) to Titus Andronicus (everything). Teh Rightz is up in arms about this new outbreak of political correctness, and the liberal-left has scrambled to define it as a potentially fatal shot to freedom.

But who exactly is pulling on trigger warnings? Numerous stories cite ultra-liberal Oberlin College (alma mater of both Lena Dunham and her characters in Girls, so y’know …) — but the link they suggest simply feeds back to a generic “office of social equity” website. One student at UC Santa Barbara, inevitably named Bailey Loverin, started a move in the student senate to have teachers give warnings before traumatic comment — but the example she cited was a film depicting rape, not warning: crocheting in Pride and Prejudice. Widely circulated suggestions that The Great Gatsby etc would get a trigger warning (TW: Baz Luhrmann film) came from one student newspaper article, at Rutgers. The Australian hauled itself onto the bandwagon with a Wall Street Journal reprint grateful for the distraction.

The whole thing is 90% beat-up, the idea itself silly, and part of a puritan/power jag that student sexuality politics occasionally gets into. But really, it’s a roll over from the commercial world — and from bullying by the US Christian Right, which have made every movie ad and trailer one long spoiler alert (contains: murder, violence, strong language, medical procedures, mild sex scene … OK, now I don’t need to see the movie). The major studios rolled over for this, including Fox (prop: R. Murdoch) without a word of protest. But of course that was business. What the hell do movies have to do with free speech? — Guy Rundle

The evolution of newspapers online. How much has the media changed over the last decade? The Newspaper Association of America has produced a compelling infographic (click through for the full version) tracking the changes. Among the facts: mobile-exclusive users increased the overall newspaper online audience by 27% in 2012 — and 77% of Americans now access news via social media …

Correction of the day. A picture may be worth 1000 words, but it took only a few hundred for The Australian to apologise for a photograph that confused a police officer for a man who had been charged with stalking and indecently assaulting women …

Australian apology

Video of the day. It was the wink heard round the world, with a Channel Four news presenter explaining to host Jon Snow (no relation to “you know nothing, Jon Snow”) that Abbott had said he had merely been signalling to Jon Faine, “… and we believe him, don’t we, Jon?”


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