Up? More like Down(loading that is)

Okay so I went to see the new Disney/Pixar film Up yesterday. It was an excellent film and I highly recommend it to everyone, but this isn’t what this post is about. Up was officially released in the UK on 9th October, but its US release date was way back on the 29th May! Further research would show that its being released on DVD to our friends over the pond in a mere few weeks, on November the 10th! It’ll still be in the cinema here at that time! So the question I’m going to pose is this, if production companies are choosing to have such long periods of time between US and UK/European cinematic release dates, is it any suprise that more and more people are turning to illegal downloading to watch these films and do the companies realise this when they’re off complaining about how they’re losing money from filesharing.

Before I carry on, I’ll admit fully that I have downloaded something “illegally” before, I imagine most people reading this are lying to themselves if they haven’t. Whether it be that one song you heard on the radio or that film that you just happened to miss in the cinema, most people have done it. Personally I’m beginning to think things are probably beginning to improve – spotify has quenched most peoples music needs, offering almost all the music you could think of for free if you don’t mind listen to a few silly advertisements every so often (although you can’t download from spotify, so people looking for tracks for their mp3 players are still a problem), and there is a far smaller gap between film release dates in the UK and US now, with them either coming out at the same time or within one or two weeks of each other. We even sometimes get things first! Going onto an American Transformers board having seen Revenge of the Fallen before them? Now that was a good day.

But with Up, I do feel (and please excuse the terrible pun) that Disney/Pixar are taking the mickey. Here we have one of if not the biggest children’s (and adults, since we all love Disney) entertainment company allied with the leading team in CGI filmaking who can seemingly do no wrong in most people’s eyes leaving a whopping 5 months between release in two of the biggest markets. Personally I could wait, since I don’t think a dodgy camcorder copy is a substitute for the cinema experience (especially now in glorious 3D) but it would be interesting just to see how many people DID download Up because they felt they couldn’t wait that long.

Internet providers have recently been debating methods to deter the amount of file sharers on the internet, given how they can’t just simply shut down bittorrent or other torrent programs as file sharing itself isn’t illegal (only the file sharing of licensed material), some even suggesting banning people from the internet itself (for more info see here). But here’s me offering a different method, one that I’m directing at the companies making the things they don’t like us illegally downloading – give us LESS reason to illegally download, and maybe, just maybe you’ll end up making a difference.

This is unacceptable Disney, I don’t expect to have to wait this long for Toy Story 3.

(but thanks for all the wonderful films, especially the Lion King)

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Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 7:29 pm  Comments (6)  
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Would you like source with your news sir?

So I was reading through an study called “The Passive Journalist” by Deirdre O’Neill and Catherine O’Connor (which can be found here), and it got me thinking about things. Don’t worry, it was reading material for university, I don’t just randomly pick up studies for a bit of bedtime reading (or do I?). Basically to cut a long story short the study looks at how newspapers are becoming increasingly reliant on the use of sources, and that on top of this the use of just ONE source rather than a wide variety for a single story.

The research looked at four different local newspapers – the Huddersfield Daily Examiner, the Bradford Telegraph & Argus, the Yorkshire Evening Post and the Halifax Courier. These newspapers are owned by three major newsgroups – Trinity Mirror, Newsquest Media Group and Johnston Press (the latter owning the last two of the listed papers). Using these they identified and recorded whenever primary news or secondary news sources were sourced in a story. This was restricted to only editorial content. They say “the aim was to establish whether readers were receiving alternative, contrasting or validating perspectives from relevant multiple sources within a single report or whether relevant voices or views were, as a matter of routine, not being consulted or recorded.” They found that all four news papers were making use of just a single source around 70% of the time. As they correctly state, “there is little evidence of “original journalism”.” However I should note that they do take an objective stance during throughout their findings, noting how they may suggest how they may reflect a lack of time and resources on the journalist’s part.

My thoughts? Well putting aside the notion that this could all just be down to lack of time and resources for a moment, in reality there’s a lot of ways for journalists to find news (I should know, in our “Writing for Newspapers” lecture this week we had to come up with 50 different sources of news in about 15 minutes, which is a lot harder than it sounds believe me). With journalists all over the country becoming reliant on the same old sources it’s no wonder we have terms like “churnalism” and “mcdonalization” being thrown around. Like a giant Ikea of world affairs, news is far too pre-packaged these days. Whatever happened to the thrill of the chase? Did Clark Kent sit as his desk all day waiting to hear from a reliable source about a Superman related story for the Daily Planet? Did Peter Parker wait for someone else to find him pictures of Spider-Man? Wait…no, those are pretty bad examples. My point remains the same though, surely there’s more satisfaction to be got out of going and looking for and finding your own unique story rather than using the same sources as everyone else. These results certainly show that there is an issue of journalists just passively passing on the information they’ve been given to readers, with little or no thought put into how they could expand upon this information by following other leads or injecting a little bit of life into it.

To quote the poster for the film Anchorman – “They bring you the news, so you don’t have to get it yourself.” While I suppose this is still true in a sense, a little bit of effort goes a long long way folks.

Published in: on October 16, 2009 at 2:09 pm  Comments (3)  
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