Class notes – important tips

Notes from Class – 5/4/07

We examined two sample responses – One high-scoring and one mid-scoring response.
Aspects we discussed about the two responses were:
They both address the form – they are speeches and contain features of that text. They both contained clears thesis statements (arguments) – each kept returning to the argument that was set up in the first paragraph.
Think about this in light of your assessment which requires you to examine “One person’s truth is another person’s …” in relation to a idea that is explored through Frontline and your related text.

The higher band response was considerably longer (40%) and used more sophisticated language. The composer used examples and then showed how they supported their argument. They explore how the ideas are presented. One aspect to consider: How does language present the ideas? For example, Mike Moore uses overly sophisticated language in informal situations. His attempts to appear sophisticated reveal how socially inept he is.
Another example is the constant use of reductionism (the oversimplification of complex ideas or data) in the text. Complex ideas and situations are reduced to a single “grab”. Every story is reduced to a rhyming couplet, a clichéd headline, a few sensationalised words,
MOST IMPORTANT TIP: Be analytical not descriptive. Focus on the HOW and WHY, technique-effect .
An effective technique used in the high scoring response was emotive verbs.
Eg. From the high scoring response:“[In Frontline] truth is a subjective commodity (something we can buy or sell), capable of being sensationalised, manipulated, sacrificed or fabricated.”

Explore the rest of the statement:
One person’s truth is another’s persons … lie/manipulation of image/excuse to make money/totalitarian regime/propaganda/ etc.

Techniques

Irony – The term is used to refer simply to a surprising or contradictory series of events, but used more precisely in literary criticism the term refers to the difference between what is said and what is meant – the difference between what is explicitly stated and the implied meaning.
Exagerration – To emphasize a point, something is made to seem larger or more important, or better or worse than it really is.
Caricature – A representation (visual or verbal) of someone that makes part of their appearance or character more noticable than it really is.
Stereotype – A generalisation that assures that the characteristics of a particular type of person or thing are shared by all people and things of that type.
Anti Climax – A sudden descent from something serious and important to something trivial or silly
Ridicule – Words or actions designed to make someone foolish or deserving to be laughed at
Parody – A humorous imitation of the form style of another text.
Juxtaposition – Close positioning of words or images to increase awareness of stark contrast.
Understatement – A statement of description of something that diminishes its significance.

‘Playing the Ego Card’

  1. Mike is keen to do a big overseas story. Why? Mike warns Brian not to “underestimate our viewers”, but they have very different views of the show’s audience. According to Brian what is the essential ingredient in any story? Why does Brian think Mike’s Bougainville story is a dud? Explain his views and the implications they have for the selection and presentation of stories on Frontline.
  2. Brian adroitly completes a remarkable back flip and manipulates the situation after he discovers the station’s eagerness to see Brooke behind the desk. Why does the station want Brooke to trial as host? How does Brian defend the need for a reporter on the ground in Mike’s story? What does this tell us about the journalist’s ability to influence events or become part of the story, as in The Siege?
  3. Why does Mike want to travel to Bougainville? Why do Marty and Emma assume Mike is being sent to New Guinea? Consider the near paranoia that develops in the mind of Mike from the fear Marty plants regarding Brooke’s stint as host. Describe the general atmosphere that is present within the workplace. How is it affected by excessive egotism, disloyalty, insincerity and manipulation?
  4. What is the story that eventually saves the trip to Bougainville and who takes credit for it? What do Brian’s obsequious platitudes at the end of the show tell us about him and how excessive ego affects the ability of people to tell the truth? What is the final truth?
  5. Marty shows at times that he has a principled view of his profession and offers Mike some advice. Mike, however, misses the point, and the significance of Marty’s Walkley Award (a highly respected award for journalism). What was the point that Marty was attempting to communicate to Mike? What are the writers of Frontline saying about current affairs shows such as Frontline?
  6. Consider the individual characters and their manipulation of the truth. Select Brian, Mike or Brooke and discuss the ways that they lie or manipulate the truth during this episode.

‘We Ain’t Got Dames’

  1. The primary focus for this episode is the drive to win a greater female audience. Explain the motives behind this. How does Brian justify it? What does this tell us about the primary aim of the show? How does it influence the presentation of items on the show and, hence, the representation of the ‘truth’? Consider both the selection and the focus of news items.
  2. The team is offered suggestions from the market research. What are some of the stereotyped “female” items that the team are encouraged to follow? Mike finds the push to “dumb down” items as sexist but blithely asks the inane questions to an increasingly frustrated Cheryl Kernot. How does Cheryl Kernot respond to his questioning? What is the view of women viewers presented in this episode?
  3. Mike is continually shown to be inept and naïve and those around him constantly manipulate him. Mike’s persistent efforts to get his “sweatshop” story are part of an overall effort on his part to be taken seriously. His participation in the ABC World Series Debate is a clear example of his desire to be popular and improve his image. Circumstances conspire against him and he must suffer a humiliating embarrassment. His desire to be rid of Elliot Rhodes, as the “Friday Night Funny Man”, proves to be something of a testing ground, yet in the end he is again undermined by those around him, primarily Brian. What is added to our understanding of the character of Mike Moore in this episode?
  4. How is the perspective of Mike’s “sweathouse” story changed? What impact does it have on the meaning, or the truth that is finally presented?
  5. There are many examples of individuals in this episode failing, or at least faltering, in “telling the truth”. Consider the various ways that the truth can be hidden, altered, coloured or omitted. In this light discuss Mike outwardly laughing at Elliot Rhodes, Emma not telling the truth to Elliot, and other examples of not telling the truth you can find.
  6. Consider the new ‘promo’ that is filmed to portray Mike in a softer light. What prompted the new promotional video? How does it distort the truth? How successful do you think it would be? Explain your answer.

Frontline – The Siege

1. What is Brian’s reaction to news of the siege? How does he view the siege?

2. Brian asks Kate to arrange an interview with a psychologist specialising in siege-related trauma. What motives does Brian have for inviting a specialist like this onto the show? How might it affect what is presented and how it is shown and received? Kate is unable to find a specialist but convinces Brian to use a psychology student. Discuss the reasons for Brian’s decision and his aims to further increase the authority of the guest?

3. Mrs Forbes signs an exclusivity clause before Brooke interviews her, “some other current affairs programs can be very unscrupulous”, but gives a rather misleading explanation, “more to protect you”. What are the motives of the show in using this agreement? How might it affect the representation of the truth?

4. Brooke is patronising and insensitive to Mrs Forbes. Her attitude and the farcical situation with the dead battery illuminate the relative priorities of the Frontline team quite well. Comment on what is shown here about the aims and techniques of the team.

5. Marty is sent to the “firing line”, which turns out to be five kilometres from the hostages. This does not stop both Marty and Mike creating the impression that there is a real immediate danger. Explain the various ways they sensationalise the hostage situation. What do you think is their purpose in doing this?

6. There are many ethical issues raised in this episode. Ignoring police requests, breaching the exclusion zone and endangering the hostages are three criticisms levelled at the show. Do you think that the Frontline team conducted themselves in a socially responsible fashion? Discuss at least three areas where their behaviour may be questioned. What judgement of the show is the director hoping to communicate?

7. What responsibilities or obligations does the media have to the public? What restrictions, if any, do you think should be placed on the media? The Australian Journalists Association (AJA) has produced its own Code of Ethics Selecting this link will take you to an external site.. You will find the code in the Hot Topics section. Discuss the episode in light of these guidelines. Which of these codes did the Frontline team breach during this episode?

8. Frontline is a clever and sharp satire on TV current affairs and because it is based around the making of a TV current affairs show it is doubly insightful in exploring the processes of “Telling the Truth”. When examining each episode we are able to consider how the current affair show ‘Frontline’ constructs and presents truth, as well as how the television series Frontline presents their own satirical message, their their truth. Discuss the various ways that Frontline is able to so effectively communicate ideas.

9. ‘The Siege’ was inspired by an incident on A Current Affair when presenter Mike Willesee talked to a gunman. What effect does this contribute to the meaning presented in this episode? Does it in some way become a kind of truth?