Category Archives: Media

19th Century European Broadcasting

HISTORY

19th Century European Broadcasting

The centre of the birth of European radio in the late 19th Century was Ireland. Although this was not realised at the time history would soon make it an absolute fact. Ireland was perfectly located on the north Atlantic of north-west Europe which gave it a great advantage for transatlantic communications at the birth of what was to become the communications revolution of the early 20th century. Ireland would remain very much in the dark about these advantages until the arrival of Italian-Irishman, “the father of radio” Guglielmo Marconi built his first Irish station at Crookhaven, County Cork in 1902.

As far back as February 1893 an article headed “Electric Messages without Wires” the Irish public were alerted to a new reality, “the promise of electrical communication between two points without the agency of an intervening wire.” The article explains, “Today electricians are easily transmitting electric messages across a Wireless distance of three miles, without any sign of approaching the limits of the electric function in this direction.”[1] If there were any public enthusiasm for the revelation it was not obvious for another three years.

In December 1896 Irish readers saw reports of an amazing scientific development. Newspapers explain, “A young Italian scientist named Marconi appears to have perfected a system of electrical communication by which vibrations set up in one apparatus are communicated to a nearby receiver without wires. The secret being that the receiver must respond to the vibrations of the sender.”[2] While Wireless Telegraphy may have been a new idea to Irish readers these developments were the latest in a long series of experiments dating back to 1844.

In that year Samuel Morse, aged 53, would send the first four words ever dispatched; “What hath God wrought?” flashed over an electric Telegraph wire in ‘Morse Code’ on a line from Washington to Baltimore. Essential to Morse’s idea was signals would be sent by the opening and closing of an electrical circuit, that the receiving apparatus would, by electromagnetic, record signals as dots and dashes on paper, and that there would be a code whereby the dots and dashes would be translated into numbers and letters.[3]

By increasing battery power Samuel Morse was able to send messages one third of a mile on electrical wire around a large lecture hall. He then devised a system of electromagnetic relays, this being the key element; it meant no limit to the distance a message could be sent. Morse went on to working out a system for transmitting the alphabet in dots and dashes, in what was to be known as ‘Morse Code’. Morse’s invention was quickly established as a means of communication in America but, importantly to him, also in his beloved Europe, in the heart of Paris.

In 1839, after a series of long legal wrangles with the English Government in relation to the Patent of his invention he sailed for Paris where he met with expansive recognition as a genius. It was said of Morse’s invention that, “it transcends all yet made known and clearly another revolution is at hand.”[4] For financial reasons Morse was forced to return to America and four years later in 1844 he opened a Telegraph line, built with congressional appropriation, between Washington and Baltimore, a distance of 34 miles.

Morse’s experiments were so successful that when the contentious 1844 Democratic National Convention at Baltimore became deadlocked; hundreds gathered in Washington for updates. Martin Van Buren tied for the nomination with Lewis Cass. On the eighth ballot, the convention chose compromise candidate, James Polk. The rapid transmission of information was reported as, “the utter annihilation of space.” Morse’s invention became America’s only means of communication. By 1867 so indispensable had Telegraphy become that 50,000 miles of Western Union wire carried more than two million news dispatches annually.[5]

Seven years later in 1874 in Bologna, Italy the second son of Giuseppe Marconi and his Irish wife, Annie Jameson from County Wexford was born and christened Guglielmo. By his late teens he developed an insatiable desire to communicate from point to point without wires. The idea was not inconceivable to other inventors but it was Marconi who dedicated himself exclusively to taking it from idea to reality. He saw its seaworthy potential and wanted to exploit it as a means of generating handsome profits. Marconi was not only a communications wizard but also a businessman seeking fame and fortune.

Marconi was strategically placed during his early years to be later referred to as, ‘the true father of radio’, because of his interest in science and electricity. He was fascinated by the work of Heinrich Hertz, who, in 1888, demonstrated that one could produce and detect electromagnetic radiation or Hertzian Waves, now known as radio waves. After Hertz’s death in 1894 Marconi assisted a neighbour and friend, University of Bologna physicist Augusto Righi, in researching Hertz’s work and thus birth was given to Marconi’s lifelong obsession with the airwaves.[6]

But Marconi’s vision for the uses of Wireless communication was restricted as being a means by which one could communicate a message to another. The concept of one communicating to an audience was not familiar to him at this stage in his career. The prospect of sending communications for more than one person was a frightening one to the journalists of Marconi’s age; “with Wireless Telegraphy what is to become of the small boy who views the ball games from the tops of the Telegraph poles?”[7]

The early radio experimentations gave little confidence for its future; ‘Experiments in Wireless Telegraphy are completed; long distance Telegraphy by this means is far from established’.[8] Lord Kelvin, British mathematician, physicist and president of the British Royal Society, stated ‘Radio has no future’.[9] Perhaps the future was not in radio but in broadcasting which came following a succession of inventions including electric Telegraph, Wireless Telegraph and Wireless telephony or radio which would broadcast music and speech.

The story of Irish broadcasting began in a remote windy landscape in Connemara in 1901 as a series of ‘Buzzing sounds’ are heard heralding in an age of communication which suffered because of political division. Marconi once stated, ‘I made the discovery by accident’[10] often fell victim to this divide and became so infuriated by it that he wrote; ‘Have I done the world well, or have I added a menace?’[11]

This public and corporate divide was identified by Bertolt Brecht who stressed the idea of telecommunications as an artistic medium. Brecht advocated ‘two-way communication’ for radio to give the public power of representation and to pull it away from the control of corporate media.[12] Today, Brecht’s vision still seems idealistic. But, the fact remains that Radio has had a tremendous global impact. The revolutionary medium prepared the ground for television and the internet by loosening the strictures on global public discourse.

With Wireless Telegraphy came the search for its purpose. In 1897, the Irish Times gives an optimistic account of Marconi’s experiments; “In addition to the possibility of exploding gunpowder magazines on board ships from long distances off Marconi foresees that he will be able to set all the watches in the pockets of a town’s inhabitants.”[13] Such possibilities were true to Marconi but the use of Wireless Telegraphy as a weapon was the truest of all and he was willing to sell these weapons to the highest bidder.

Very soon Irish Newspapers reported on the ‘warfare possibilities’ of Marconi’s invention and state that he was travelling across Europe exploiting Wireless Telegraphy’s possibilities. The most startling of all the suggestions for Marconi’s invention is that it may be possible to fire the magazine of any battleship by simply passing an electric current of sufficient degree of intensity through the water on which the ship was riding.[14] Wireless Telegraphy had the power to kill people from afar and Marconi was ready to profit on the demand for his product.

Marconi’s propaganda machine was quick to swing into action. By September 1897 interest in Wireless Telegraphy was growing as reports about covert experiments appeared on a frequent basis and in greater detail. The Irish Times tells readers that tests in Wireless Telegraphy are being arranged at Dover and are ‘unusually important’ and will last for some time; “In recent operations between ships the Italian Navy and the coast have developed the latest practical phase of the system.”[15] The article declares that there may be military uses for the invention.

The public were developing an appetite for all things ‘Wireless’ and the academia responded. One public lecture held in Birr, County Offaly, “involved practical demonstrations of recent discoveries including a new phonograph by Edison and, the main feature, which appeared to awaken the largest measure of interest was the demonstration of Wireless Telegraphy. The instrument demonstrated was an induction coil made capable of sending Telegraphic signals for a distance of nearly 6 miles passing through all obstacles varying in density from a stone building to a mountain.”[16]

What blossomed to be “a romance between Marconi and the Irish” began in January 1898 when Newspapers announce, “Marconi’s mother is Irish and related to John Jameson of whiskey fame. She was musically talented and attended the Conservatoire of Bologna where she met and married Marconi’s father. When her son launched his invention he came to London to his cousin, Henry Davis and the Wireless Telegraph Company was established.”[17] The Irish public had great affection for the inventor and when other nations criticised him, the Irish strengthened their support.

One of the first public lectures in Wireless broadcasting occurred in March 1898 with a talk given by Msgr Gerald Molloy at the Theatre of the Royal Dublin Society. Molloy lectures on “Principals of Electric Signalling without Wires.” He explains Marconi’s Wireless signals are transmitted through space using electromagnetic waves.[18] Molloy’s lecture was so popular that the general public demands a return visit for those who could not attend the first time round.”[19]

The public appetite by the late 1890s for new information in relation to Wireless Telegraphy was voracious. Lectures were given countrywide and were always attended by large crowds eager to learn about the “most marvellous discovery of the century.”[20] Most of these lectures were attended by the working press who, immediately after the lecture, filed reports on the latest updates. The numerous articles which appeared in the newspaper in relation to Wireless Telegraphy clearly suggests that the interest in Marconi was not just in Dublin but nationwide.

On Wednesday, May 11th 1898 the first Irish installation of Marconi’s system was made at Clara in Offaly. The transmitter was placed in the office of Clara Flour Mills and a receiver, one mile away, at Goodbody’s Jute Works. Messages were sent and say Newspapers, “This is the first attempt at Telegraphing without wires across a town in Ireland. The signals were so good that the messages were read by the sound emitted by Marconi’s Tapper and Decoherer, and the ordinary Morse instrument was dispensed with altogether.”[21]

While these transmissions were taking place further experiments were successfully going on in other parts of Ireland. Marconi was being congratulated by the President of the Board Of Trade, Lord John Hay [Admiral of the Fleet], Lord Charles Beresford and others on the success attending a demonstration he gave them. Several naval officers sailed on the admiralty yacht to the Needles, where is situated the permanent station of Marconi’s new Telegraphy system, and for two hours sent messages and received replies between the Needles and Bournemouth, about sixteen miles.[22]

Some days later there are reports that a rival to Marconi has turned up in Nikola Tesla, “an American of course” who claims to have invented a new machine, “More powerful than any ever before.” With it he expects “to send messages without wires for very long distances.” He has offered the invention as a free gift to his Government in the hope it proves useful for the transmission of signals by the Army and Navy during the troubles with Spain.”[23]

However, Marconi was more preoccupied with other events. At Dublin’s Kingstown’s Regatta, “A novel feature was the successful reporting of the sailing match carried out with the aid of Marconi himself. In the morning the gentlemen of the press embarked on board the steam tug Flying Huntress, and followed the yachts engaged in the race. Marconi used his transmitter and receiver to contact the shore sending messages from the tug while in rapid motion following the yachts and when received on shore the messages were telephoned to newspaper offices.”[24]

The world’s first text messages were sent in 1898 by Marconi between the Queen’s residence at Isle of Wight and the Royal Yacht ‘Osborne’ moored at East Cowes. The distance between the stations was a mile and each station was hidden from view of the other by hills. The electric waves easily passed over the hills; “The Prince was keenly interested in the experiments and conducted prolonged conversations with Marconi on the intricate workings of the apparatus.”[25] To impress English royalty would soon be a major coup for Marconi.

By April 1899 faith in the future of the invention began to dwindle. Prof Silvanus Thompson, a prominent electrician, tells Irish media the success of Marconi’s experiments was the natural result of the development of well-established principles by Hertz and Oliver Lodge. The implication being Marconi was manipulating the research of others to generate profits. Thomson states, “There is no such thing as Wireless Telegraphy. One can send signals for a distance of yards without wires; but in the recent successful attempts to telegraph across space wires are used.”[26]

But Prof JA Fleming, of University College, London disagrees and says the time has arrived for a little more generous appreciation by his scientific contemporaries of the fact that “Marconi’s work is no small achievement. His apparatus is ridiculously simple and not costly. With the exception of the Flagstaff and 150 feet of vertical wire at each end, he can place on a small kitchen table the appliances, costing not more than £100 in all, for communicating across 30 or even 100 miles of land or water.”[27]

In a letter to the London Times another of Marconi’s supporters speaks out, “much of the future depends on Government action; it is to be hoped the Post Office will not claim this Wireless Telegraphy is included in the monopoly they possess of Telegraphy. Marconi has modest confidence in the future. I trust that those who are interested in the subject will accord him all the aid and support that his inventiveness deserves, and that he may live to see his effort is crowned with complete success.”[28]

Days later Irish Newspapers report intense interest in Marconi’s system; “Marconi’s experiments have been closely followed with a view to placing lightships and lighthouses in communication with the shore. The importance of this was recently demonstrated when in foggy weather a vessel got into difficulties while at sea. The men of the East Goodwin lightship, who had been given elementary instruction in Marconi’s system, transmitted messages to the shore resulting in lifeboats losing no time in getting to the scene; the Crew owe their lives to Wireless Telegraphy.”[29]

Politicians began to pay attention to Marconi’s invention. Penrose Fitzgerald, at the House of Lords demands to know “Is it time to adopt the Wireless system?”[30] The admiration being bestowed on Marconi by the upper echelons of English politics was good for business. Marconi is offered a lucrative contract to establish transatlantic communication, “Marconi has been approached by representative of a syndicate wishing to acquire sole rights to establish communication between England and America.”[31]

But the word from America was not positive. Some experiments had been carried out in Chicago showing that ‘land obstacles’ remain to be overcome, “It has been discovered the system is impractical in cities studded with “sky-scraping” buildings, and is too slow for commercial use.”[32] But these reports take nothing from Marconi’s confidence that the connection of England and America by Wireless Telegraphy is no dream; he believes although there are difficulties to be surmounted, they are not as great as those that have been overcome.

One such difficulty is the height of the poles necessary to erect on either side of the Atlantic. They would have to be 1500 feet high but technical improvements will, Marconi believes, diminish these requirements.[33] Inventor WH Preece did not share Marconi’s optimism, “Two years after the practicability of Wireless Telegraphy was affirmed, and not a single independent commercial circuit exists. Marconi’s operations are more concentrated on the stock exchange than on establishing useful circuits.”[34]

Preece’s comments had little effect on Marconi, or anyone else involved in the science including French electrical savant, Dr Lee Bon, who was exploring Wireless technology in modern warfare. The result is an apparatus which would be able to project a current capable of annihilating a fleet of ships, “An explosion would be followed by a shower of sparks resulting from the contact between the projected current and electric wires on board ship, which would be so intense it would ignite powder and shells on board.”[35]

The value of Wireless Telegraphy in warfare seemed limitless with reports that Royal Engineers have been testing for the purpose of dropping explosive charges. By means of balloons and an elaboration of Marconi’s systems large quantities of explosives such as dynamite could be released from a balloon 3 miles away and made to explode inside any fortified work, killing the garrison and dislodging the guns, “The Hague Conference condemns such methods, but, possibly, an enemy sore pressed in real war, would scarcely hesitate to break through such restrictions.”[36]

But the march of progress was relentless. In new experiments in ship to shore communications greater distances are being achieved. By now messages were being transmitted over forty miles. The increased distances do not have the slightest effect upon the current and messages are being received with unvarying distinctiveness, “An interesting feature of current experiments is the facility with which Marconi’s latest development for ‘cutting out’ stations was applied. Messages are being sent without other stations interrupting them. The results of these experiments are successful.”[37]

Meanwhile, trials of military balloons and Marconi’s systems are being made in Vienna. This first attempt to make use of Wireless Telegraphy from a balloon was made by three Austrian officers, who ascended in the military balloon Eagle.[38] “The balloon was provided with receiving apparatus and successfully interpreted messages dispatched from the ground. It will probably be demonstrated that Wireless Telegraphy has its part to play in the warfare of the future.”[39]

The investigations into Military applications for Wireless Telegraphy were becoming a daily occurrence and Marconi is invariably present to clench any lucrative deal. At Bangor Bay near Belfast a number of battleships and cruisers are anchored and experimenting with Marconi’s system. The cruiser Juno and the flagship Alexandra are fitted with Wireless equipment and Marconi is on board testing the usefulness of the invention in naval warfare.”[40] The newspaper later reports Wireless Telegraphy is fast going ahead, and now the War Office is adopting it by sea and land.

The Admiralty are also impressed with further experiments going on between stations at Epsom and Aldershot. The tests proved it possible to maintain continuous correspondence from station to station, and that messages cannot be intercepted. Expert officers have made special reports to the War Office, and the effect of the report will be the inauguration of the Marconi system as a means of conveying intelligence. Many ships will shortly be “circuited” and should all go satisfactorily, the system would become universal, as far as the United Kingdom was concerned.[41]

The possible military applications for Wireless Telegraphy are beginning to scare the general public. The Daily News reports “Grim Possibilities of Wireless War” with the announcement that a Patent in the name of John Munro has been brought to their attention. The Munro Patent’s most obvious application is the making of explosions in the atmosphere in order to influence the weather, “But it is easy to see that it can also be utilised in dropping explosives on the country, fortresses, or camps of an enemy underneath.”[42]

Dr Peter Stiens has invented an apparatus by which people could ‘Wirelessly’ telephone over long distances.[43] Stiens claims the device will allow persons in London and New York to distinctively communicate.[44] The possibility of “mobile phones” had come to light. There are also reports of experiments conducted at Newbury in which a building containing explosives was blown up without direct contact.”[45]

Scientists are impressed by a practical demonstration of Marconi’s invention during the annual general meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science arranged in conjunction with the corresponding French Association holding its conference at Boulogne, “Marconi’s system allowed for messages to be sent to France from an apparatus located at Dover Town Hall. One of the messages sent by Telegraph without wires cross-channel was a greeting from the president of the British Association to the president of the French Scientific Association who responded to the salutation.”[46]

Thus, on the eve of the 20th century Wireless Telegraphy was an invention that still sought purpose. There were many people laying claim to it but it was not the invention of any one person but the culmination of many minds brought to perfection by Marconi. As the 20th century unfolded engineers and inventors were focused on the Maritime and international news exchange possibilities for the invention. But there were also visionaries who sought purposes in such fields as medicine, telephony and public service. Few of these visionaries had considered the possibility of communication not as exclusively one-to-one but one-to-many.

In the late 19th Century the facts about Wireless broadcasting emerged after Hertz’s 1887 discovery; ‘The contrast between these beginnings and the present uses of radio is tremendous’.[47] Marconi’s accomplishments in radio were equally as important. In 1892 Tesla wrote; ‘Ere long intelligence, transmitted without wires, will throb through the earth like a pulse through a living organism’.[48] It would take Marconi to fulfil Tesla’s prophecy.

Marconi had noble notions for his invention; “In the new era, thought itself will be transmitted by radio.”[49] The potential of his invention created global excitement even in the upper echelons of the Catholic Church; “Radio is a new demonstration of the harmony between science and religion. Those who speak of the incompatibility of science and religion either make science say that which it never said or make religion say that which it never thought.”[50]

Radio had critics especially those who feared freedom of expression. Broadcasting from the beginning was closed to private enterprise; ‘Such control is ascribed to radio’s technical complexity and military functions. Many democracies have outrun technical and military imperatives in their zeal to control the airwaves’.[51] But Radio never lost its importance as documented by the Irish Times in 1897; “Nothing is of more importance to science than Wireless Telegraphy.”[52]

Most public interest radio formats permit criticism of the state but the balance of political opinion is invariably tilted in the Government favour. The establishment of Irish radio fixed the state’s relationship to broadcasting. This may be partly due to the fact that Ireland’s first Postmaster General (Communications Minister) J.J. Walsh, was an anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi sympathiser.[53] His legacy remains detrimental to Irish freedom of expression.

Marconi’s inventor status was persistently challenged but his genius was never questioned, “Marconi has large ideas but to what extent these ideas will be realised none can tell.”[54] American Newspapers remained cynical about Marconi; “Edison and Tesla would smile at the promises made in Marconi’s name.”[55] However, the power of Marconi’s invention was obvious and the birth of Irish radio was a war declaration between conservative rulers and liberal advocates of free expression.

As the 20th century unfolded each year brought developments demonstrating how the ‘Air Wars’ were fought. In these pages is a century long account of events leading to Irish radio broadcasting as it is today. It is the story of a nation in fear of technology that became determined to suppress freedoms to receive and give information, expression and speech. These important three F’s are the pivot of human development, essential if we are to share, analyse, understand, and move forward; ‘yet these three F’s are continually under attack’.[56]

Although Marconi noted; ‘This form of communication could have some utility’[57] such ‘utility’ remained under the scrutiny of political pioneers in the pre-Independence era; ‘Britain’s Irish dominance was underpinned by control of Irish communications systems’.[58] Arthur Griffith complained about this; ‘There is a ‘paper wall’ around Ireland’.[59]

Griffith was always at heart a journalist and advocate of freedom of expression. He was a lucid writer with a vivid turn of phrase but as the century progressed, Griffith’s observation faded into oblivion, but the reality remains unchanged. Radio has come through a century of development that has brought about the medium as we know it today. The exploration of these events in the course of the 20th century reflects Marconi’s contention that; ‘Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time’.[60]

Early Irish radio is often considered by Historians as a foil for television. Historians link the transformation of Irish society in the 20th century to television but dismiss radio as an agent of repression rather than social development. In post WW2 Irish Radio became interactive and consequently achieved Bertolt Brecht’s ideal of serving as a ‘system of communication’[61] based on audience response rather than being a unidirectional distribution system.[62]

Until the 1960’s the primary source of information available to the world was radio and it influenced people. Common national culture was shaped more by radio than television or newsprint. By 1960 most European families owned a radio and it occupied prime space in the home.[63] The arrival of battery transistor radio in the 1960’s increased mobility but contributed to radio’s new lowly status as an aural medium in a visual age. Young people drifted to television but for older people radio retained its charms.

What follows is an exploration of a century of European broadcasting documenting the most significant events in the age of global communication. It is a relentless story that began with the words of Guglielmo Marconi when he sent the first message across the Bristol Channel in 1897 stating, “Let it be so.” It is a story full of twists and turns, of a series of unfailing political regimes in fear of freedom. At the dawn of the digital age, these fears persist and it is as if history will repeat itself unless the lessons of the radio ages are learned.

[1] Weekly IrishTimes,1893 ElectricMessageswithoutWires. Weekly Irish Times, 04thFebruary,p.1.

[2] Lady, A,.1896. TalkoftheTown. Weekly IrishTimes,26thDecember, p.4.

[3] McCullough,D,.2011 Samuel Morse’sReversalof Fortune.SmithsonianMagazine,VolumeSeptember,2011.

[4] Ellsworth, H,.2011 SamuelMorse’sReversalofFortune Smithsonian Magazine,VolumeSeptember,2011.

[5] McCullough,D,.2011 Samuel Morse’sReversalof Fortune SmithsonianMagazine,VolumeSeptember,2011.

[6] McHenry, R,.1993. Guglielmo Marconi. In:Encyclopedia Britannica. London:Encyclopedia Britannica.

[7] WashingtonPost 1897 Article 26 [NoTitle] TheWashington Post,9th August,p. 6.

[8] IrishTimes 1897. NewsfromAll PartsIrishTimes,20th November, p.5.

[9] Kelvin,L,.1897.Permanent.com[Online]Available at: http://www.permanent.com/infamous-quotes.html [Accessed 21st June 2012]

[10] Marconi 1897 SendsMessages Without Wires.Chicago Daily Tribune,2ndAugust,p. 2.

[11] Baker,D. C,.1998. WirelessTelegraphyduring the Anglo-Boerwarof1899-1902  MilitaryHistory Journal 11[2]

[12] Brecht, B,.1932. TheRadioas an Apparatus ofCommunication [Online]Available at:http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/source-text/8/ [Accessed03 September 2012]

[13] IrishTimes,1897 SignorMarconi’s Invention.Irish Times,18th August,p.6.

[14] IrishTimes,1897 What Next?Irish Times, 29thJuly, p. 5.

[15] IrishTimes,1897 WirelessTelegraphy. IrishTimes,08th September, p.6A.

[16] Freemans Journal,1897. WirelessTelegraphy atBirr. FreemansJournal,12th October, p.11.

[17] Freemans Journal,1898. KingstownRegatta.FreemansJournal,21stJuly, p. 12.

[18] Freemans Journal,1898. Marconi ComesToDublin. FreemansJournal,22nd August,p.12.

[19] Molloy,G,1898.Marconi’sWireless Telegraphy[Letters].The FreemansJournal, 12th April, p.10.

[20] Anglo Celt,1898. FromDayto Day.Anglo Celt,14thMay, p.3.

[21] Freemans Journal,1898. System of WirelessTelegraphy. FreemansJournal, 22nd April, p.8.

[22] Anglo Celt,1898. Nikola Tesla.Anglo Celt,21stMay,p. 3.

[23] AngloCelt,1898. WirelessTelegraphy: The MostMarvelousDiscoveryof the CenturyExplained. Anglo Celt,16thApril, p. 4.

[24] Freemans Journal,1898. WirelessLecture.FreemansJournal,09thMarch, p. 11.

[25] Freemans Journal,1898. WirelessTelegraphy.FreemansJournal,12th April, p. 8.

[26] IrishTimes,1899. SocialMovements. Irish Times,17th April,p. 6.

[27] Fleming,P. J, 1899. OnWirelessTelegraphy.IrishTimes,04th April, p.5.

[28] Page, S. F,1899. LondonTimesLetter. IrishTimes,04th April, p.5.

[29] IrishTimes,1899. Intense Interest. Weekly IrishTimes,08th April, p.8.

[30] Fitzgerald, R. P,1899. London Correspondence.Irish Times,12th April, p.7.

[31] Weekly IrishTimes,1899. LatestWirelessTelegraphyTrials.WeeklyIrish Times,24thJune, p.6.

[32] Westminster Gazette, 1899. Criticism of Wireless Wiring. Weekly Irish Times, 29th April, p. 6.

[33] Westminster Gazette, 1899. Criticism of Wireless Wiring. Weekly Irish Times, 29th April, p. 6.

[34] Preece,W,1899. AethericTelegraphy.IrishTimes,04thMay, p. 6.

[35] Bon,D. L,1899. WirelessTelegraphy inWar.IrishTimes,27thMay, p. 4.

[36] DailyTelegraph,1899. Wireless at War.IrishTimes,15th June, p.4

[37] Weekly IrishTimes,1899. LucrativeContractforMarconi. Weekly Irish Times, 15th April, p.7.

[38] Weekly IrishTimes,1899.WirelessAerialTelegraphy.Weekly Irish Times,22nd July, p.4.

[39] IrishTimes,1899.MarconiSystemandWarBalloons.IrishTimes,17th July, p. 5.

[40] Irish Times, 1899. Naval Maneuvers. Irish Times, 24th July, p. 4.

[41] IrishTimes,1899. NavalManeuvers.Irish Times,24th July, p. 4.

[42] IrishTimes,1899.GrimPossibilitiesof WirelessWar. IrishTimes,05th August,p. 4.

[43] IrishTimes,1899.WirelessTelephone.IrishTimes,25th July,p. 4.

[44] IrishTimes,1899. Fraternising with theFrench.Irish Times,14th September, p. 6.

[45] IrishTimes,1899.WarOfficeWirelessTelegraphy[London Correspondence]. Irish Times,31stJuly, p. 5.

[46] IrishTimes,1899.WirelessTelegraphyExplosion.Irish Times,27th July,p. 5.

[47] Whittemore,L. E,1929. The DevelopmentofRadio. Annals of the American Academy ofPolitical &Social science, Issue March 1929, p.1.

[48] Tesla, N,1892. ElectricalEngineer.ElectricalEngineer,Issue 609, p. 11.

[49] Marconi, G,1934.Quotation Marks. NewYorkTimes,11th October, p.2.

[50] Pope PiusXI,1931.Opening of the Vatican CityRadio Station. Rome: s.n.

[51] Kasza, G. J,1986.Democracy and the Foundingof JapanesePublicRadio. The Journal of AsianStudies,45[4], p. 745.

[52] IrishTimes,1897.WirelessTelegraphy.IrishTimes,15th August,p. 6.

[53] Dwyer,T. R,1988.Strained Relations: Ireland atPeace and theUSAat War,1941-45.1 ed.Dublin: Gill&MacMillanLtd. DXArchive,1996.DXARCHIVE (Online)Available at:http://www.dxarchive.com/ireland_dublin_radio_dublin_pre75.html[Accessed20 052012].

[54] Molloy,G,1898.WirelessTelegraphy.FreemansJournal, 15th March, p. 9.

[55] San Francisco Chronicle, 1897.Marconi BoomHas An Object. San Francisco Chronicle, 5thSeptember, p.13.

[56] D’Arcy,M,1990. PlayingWith theAirwaves. MITPress,p.179.

[57] Marconi, G,1897.Guglielmo Marconi Quotes (Online]Available at:http://refspace.com/quotes/Guglielmo_Marconi[Accessed21stJune2012].

[58] Fisher, D,1978. CaseStudies on BroadcastingSystems: Broadcasting In Ireland.1 ed.London: Routledge& Kegan Paul Ltd.

[59] Oireachtas, 1952. Parliamentary Debates: Dáil Éireann – Volume 129 – 12 March, 1952[Online] Available at: http://historical‑debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0129/D.0129.195203 120066.html [Accessed 06 06 2012].

[60] Marconi, G,1899.Guglielmo Marconi Quotes (Online]Available at:http://refspace.com/quotes/Guglielmo_Marconi[Accessed21stJune2012].

[61] Brecht, B,1932. Brecht onTheatre. NewYork:Hill & Wang.

[62] Morgan,E,2001.QuestionTime: RadioandtheLiberalistationof IrishPublic Discourse afterWW2.History Ireland,9[4],p. 39.

[63] Judt, T, 2006.Postwar: A History ofEuropesince1945.1sted. London:Penguin Books.

Advertisements

19th Century European Radio

Marconi Room on the Olympic.

Rising Radio Revolution

The centre of the birth of European radio in the late 19th Century was Ireland. Although this was not realised at the time history would soon make it an absolute fact. Ireland was perfectly located on the north Atlantic of north-west Europe which gave it a great advantage for transatlantic communications at the birth of what was to become the communications revolution of the early 20th century. Ireland would remain very much in the dark about these advantages until the arrival of Italian-Irishman, “the father of radio” Guglielmo Marconi built his first Irish station at Crookhaven, County Cork in 1902.

As far back as February 1893 an article headed “Electric Messages without Wires” the Irish public were alerted to a new reality, “the promise of electrical communication between two points without the agency of an intervening wire.” The article explains, “Today electricians are easily transmitting electric messages across a Wireless distance of three miles, without any sign of approaching the limits of the electric function in this direction.”[1] If there were any public enthusiasm for the revelation it was not obvious for another three years.

In December 1896 Irish readers saw reports of an amazing scientific development. Newspapers explain, “A young Italian scientist named Marconi appears to have perfected a system of electrical communication by which vibrations set up in one apparatus are communicated to a nearby receiver without wires. The secret being that the receiver must respond to the vibrations of the sender.”[2] While Wireless Telegraphy may have been a new idea to Irish readers these developments were the latest in a long series of experiments dating back to 1844.

In that year Samuel Morse, aged 53, would send the first four words ever dispatched; “What hath God wrought?” flashed over an electric Telegraph wire in ‘Morse Code’ on a line from Washington to Baltimore. Essential to Morse’s idea was signals would be sent by the opening and closing of an electrical circuit, that the receiving apparatus would, by electromagnetic, record signals as dots and dashes on paper, and that there would be a code whereby the dots and dashes would be translated into numbers and letters.[3]

By increasing battery power Samuel Morse was able to send messages one third of a mile on electrical wire around a large lecture hall. He then devised a system of electromagnetic relays, this being the key element; it meant no limit to the distance a message could be sent. Morse went on to working out a system for transmitting the alphabet in dots and dashes, in what was to be known as ‘Morse Code’. Morse’s invention was quickly established as a means of communication in America but, importantly to him, also in his beloved Europe, in the heart of Paris.

In 1839, after a series of long legal wrangles with the English Government in relation to the Patent of his invention he sailed for Paris where he met with expansive recognition as a genius. It was said of Morse’s invention that, “it transcends all yet made known and clearly another revolution is at hand.”[4] For financial reasons Morse was forced to return to America and four years later in 1844 he opened a Telegraph line, built with congressional appropriation, between Washington and Baltimore, a distance of 34 miles.

Morse’s experiments were so successful that when the contentious 1844 Democratic National Convention at Baltimore became deadlocked; hundreds gathered in Washington for updates. Martin Van Buren tied for the nomination with Lewis Cass. On the eighth ballot, the convention chose compromise candidate, James Polk. The rapid transmission of information was reported as, “the utter annihilation of space.” Morse’s invention became America’s only means of communication. By 1867 so indispensable had Telegraphy become that 50,000 miles of Western Union wire carried more than two million news dispatches annually.[5]

Seven years later in 1874 in Bologna, Italy the second son of Giuseppe Marconi and his Irish wife, Annie Jameson from County Wexford was born and christened Guglielmo. By his late teens he developed an insatiable desire to communicate from point to point without wires. The idea was not inconceivable to other inventors but it was Marconi who dedicated himself exclusively to taking it from idea to reality. He saw its seaworthy potential and wanted to exploit it as a means of generating handsome profits. Marconi was not only a communications wizard but also a businessman seeking fame and fortune.

Marconi was strategically placed during his early years to be later referred to as, ‘the true father of radio’, because of his interest in science and electricity. He was fascinated by the work of Heinrich Hertz, who, in 1888, demonstrated that one could produce and detect electromagnetic radiation or Hertzian Waves, now known as radio waves. After Hertz’s death in 1894 Marconi assisted a neighbour and friend, University of Bologna physicist Augusto Righi, in researching Hertz’s work and thus birth was given to Marconi’s lifelong obsession with the airwaves.[6]

But Marconi’s vision for the uses of Wireless communication was restricted as being a means by which one could communicate a message to another. The concept of one communicating to an audience was not familiar to him at this stage in his career. The prospect of sending communications for more than one person was a frightening one to the journalists of Marconi’s age; “with Wireless Telegraphy what is to become of the small boy who views the ball games from the tops of the Telegraph poles?”[7]

The early radio experimentations gave little confidence for its future; ‘Experiments in Wireless Telegraphy are completed; long distance Telegraphy by this means is far from established’.[8] Lord Kelvin, British mathematician, physicist and president of the British Royal Society, stated ‘Radio has no future’.[9] Perhaps the future was not in radio but in broadcasting which came following a succession of inventions including electric Telegraph, Wireless Telegraph and Wireless telephony or radio which would broadcast music and speech.

The story of Irish broadcasting began in a remote windy landscape in Connemara in 1901 as a series of ‘Buzzing sounds’ are heard heralding in an age of communication which suffered because of political division. Marconi once stated, ‘I made the discovery by accident’[10] often fell victim to this divide and became so infuriated by it that he wrote; ‘Have I done the world well, or have I added a menace?’[11]

This public and corporate divide was identified by Bertolt Brecht who stressed the idea of telecommunications as an artistic medium. Brecht advocated ‘two-way communication’ for radio to give the public power of representation and to pull it away from the control of corporate media.[12] Today, Brecht’s vision still seems idealistic. But, the fact remains that Radio has had a tremendous global impact. The revolutionary medium prepared the ground for television and the internet by loosening the strictures on global public discourse.

With Wireless Telegraphy came the search for its purpose. In 1897, the Irish Times gives an optimistic account of Marconi’s experiments; “In addition to the possibility of exploding gunpowder magazines on board ships from long distances off Marconi foresees that he will be able to set all the watches in the pockets of a town’s inhabitants.”[13] Such possibilities were true to Marconi but the use of Wireless Telegraphy as a weapon was the truest of all and he was willing to sell these weapons to the highest bidder.

Very soon Irish Newspapers reported on the ‘warfare possibilities’ of Marconi’s invention and state that he was travelling across Europe exploiting Wireless Telegraphy’s possibilities. The most startling of all the suggestions for Marconi’s invention is that it may be possible to fire the magazine of any battleship by simply passing an electric current of sufficient degree of intensity through the water on which the ship was riding.[14] Wireless Telegraphy had the power to kill people from afar and Marconi was ready to profit on the demand for his product.

Marconi’s propaganda machine was quick to swing into action. By September 1897 interest in Wireless Telegraphy was growing as reports about covert experiments appeared on a frequent basis and in greater detail. The Irish Times tells readers that tests in Wireless Telegraphy are being arranged at Dover and are ‘unusually important’ and will last for some time; “In recent operations between ships the Italian Navy and the coast have developed the latest practical phase of the system.”[15] The article declares that there may be military uses for the invention.

The public were developing an appetite for all things ‘Wireless’ and the academia responded. One public lecture held in Birr, County Offaly, “involved practical demonstrations of recent discoveries including a new phonograph by Edison and, the main feature, which appeared to awaken the largest measure of interest was the demonstration of Wireless Telegraphy. The instrument demonstrated was an induction coil made capable of sending Telegraphic signals for a distance of nearly 6 miles passing through all obstacles varying in density from a stone building to a mountain.”[16]

What blossomed to be “a romance between Marconi and the Irish” began in January 1898 when Newspapers announce, “Marconi’s mother is Irish and related to John Jameson of whiskey fame. She was musically talented and attended the Conservatoire of Bologna where she met and married Marconi’s father. When her son launched his invention he came to London to his cousin, Henry Davis and the Wireless Telegraph Company was established.”[17] The Irish public had great affection for the inventor and when other nations criticised him, the Irish strengthened their support.

One of the first public lectures in Wireless broadcasting occurred in March 1898 with a talk given by Msgr Gerald Molloy at the Theatre of the Royal Dublin Society. Molloy lectures on “Principals of Electric Signalling without Wires.” He explains Marconi’s Wireless signals are transmitted through space using electromagnetic waves.[18] Molloy’s lecture was so popular that the general public demands a return visit for those who could not attend the first time round.”[19]

The public appetite by the late 1890s for new information in relation to Wireless Telegraphy was voracious. Lectures were given countrywide and were always attended by large crowds eager to learn about the “most marvellous discovery of the century.”[20] Most of these lectures were attended by the working press who, immediately after the lecture, filed reports on the latest updates. The numerous articles which appeared in the newspaper in relation to Wireless Telegraphy clearly suggests that the interest in Marconi was not just in Dublin but nationwide.

On Wednesday, May 11th 1898 the first Irish installation of Marconi’s system was made at Clara in Offaly. The transmitter was placed in the office of Clara Flour Mills and a receiver, one mile away, at Goodbody’s Jute Works. Messages were sent and say Newspapers, “This is the first attempt at Telegraphing without wires across a town in Ireland. The signals were so good that the messages were read by the sound emitted by Marconi’s Tapper and Decoherer, and the ordinary Morse instrument was dispensed with altogether.”[21]

While these transmissions were taking place further experiments were successfully going on in other parts of Ireland. Marconi was being congratulated by the President of the Board Of Trade, Lord John Hay [Admiral of the Fleet], Lord Charles Beresford and others on the success attending a demonstration he gave them. Several naval officers sailed on the admiralty yacht to the Needles, where is situated the permanent station of Marconi’s new Telegraphy system, and for two hours sent messages and received replies between the Needles and Bournemouth, about sixteen miles.[22]

Some days later there are reports that a rival to Marconi has turned up in Nikola Tesla, “an American of course” who claims to have invented a new machine, “More powerful than any ever before.” With it he expects “to send messages without wires for very long distances.” He has offered the invention as a free gift to his Government in the hope it proves useful for the transmission of signals by the Army and Navy during the troubles with Spain.”[23]

However, Marconi was more preoccupied with other events. At Dublin’s Kingstown’s Regatta, “A novel feature was the successful reporting of the sailing match carried out with the aid of Marconi himself. In the morning the gentlemen of the press embarked on board the steam tug Flying Huntress, and followed the yachts engaged in the race. Marconi used his transmitter and receiver to contact the shore sending messages from the tug while in rapid motion following the yachts and when received on shore the messages were telephoned to newspaper offices.”[24]

The world’s first text messages were sent in 1898 by Marconi between the Queen’s residence at Isle of Wight and the Royal Yacht ‘Osborne’ moored at East Cowes. The distance between the stations was a mile and each station was hidden from view of the other by hills. The electric waves easily passed over the hills; “The Prince was keenly interested in the experiments and conducted prolonged conversations with Marconi on the intricate workings of the apparatus.”[25] To impress English royalty would soon be a major coup for Marconi.

By April 1899 faith in the future of the invention began to dwindle. Prof Silvanus Thompson, a prominent electrician, tells Irish media the success of Marconi’s experiments was the natural result of the development of well-established principles by Hertz and Oliver Lodge. The implication being Marconi was manipulating the research of others to generate profits. Thomson states, “There is no such thing as Wireless Telegraphy. One can send signals for a distance of yards without wires; but in the recent successful attempts to telegraph across space wires are used.”[26]

But Prof JA Fleming, of University College, London disagrees and says the time has arrived for a little more generous appreciation by his scientific contemporaries of the fact that “Marconi’s work is no small achievement. His apparatus is ridiculously simple and not costly. With the exception of the Flagstaff and 150 feet of vertical wire at each end, he can place on a small kitchen table the appliances, costing not more than £100 in all, for communicating across 30 or even 100 miles of land or water.”[27]

In a letter to the London Times another of Marconi’s supporters speaks out, “much of the future depends on Government action; it is to be hoped the Post Office will not claim this Wireless Telegraphy is included in the monopoly they possess of Telegraphy. Marconi has modest confidence in the future. I trust that those who are interested in the subject will accord him all the aid and support that his inventiveness deserves, and that he may live to see his effort is crowned with complete success.”[28]

Days later Irish Newspapers report intense interest in Marconi’s system; “Marconi’s experiments have been closely followed with a view to placing lightships and lighthouses in communication with the shore. The importance of this was recently demonstrated when in foggy weather a vessel got into difficulties while at sea. The men of the East Goodwin lightship, who had been given elementary instruction in Marconi’s system, transmitted messages to the shore resulting in lifeboats losing no time in getting to the scene; the Crew owe their lives to Wireless Telegraphy.”[29]

Politicians began to pay attention to Marconi’s invention. Penrose Fitzgerald, at the House of Lords demands to know “Is it time to adopt the Wireless system?”[30] The admiration being bestowed on Marconi by the upper echelons of English politics was good for business. Marconi is offered a lucrative contract to establish transatlantic communication, “Marconi has been approached by representative of a syndicate wishing to acquire sole rights to establish communication between England and America.”[31]

But the word from America was not positive. Some experiments had been carried out in Chicago showing that ‘land obstacles’ remain to be overcome, “It has been discovered the system is impractical in cities studded with “sky-scraping” buildings, and is too slow for commercial use.”[32] But these reports take nothing from Marconi’s confidence that the connection of England and America by Wireless Telegraphy is no dream; he believes although there are difficulties to be surmounted, they are not as great as those that have been overcome.

One such difficulty is the height of the poles necessary to erect on either side of the Atlantic. They would have to be 1500 feet high but technical improvements will, Marconi believes, diminish these requirements.[33] Inventor WH Preece did not share Marconi’s optimism, “Two years after the practicability of Wireless Telegraphy was affirmed, and not a single independent commercial circuit exists. Marconi’s operations are more concentrated on the stock exchange than on establishing useful circuits.”[34]

Preece’s comments had little effect on Marconi, or anyone else involved in the science including French electrical savant, Dr Lee Bon, who was exploring Wireless technology in modern warfare. The result is an apparatus which would be able to project a current capable of annihilating a fleet of ships, “An explosion would be followed by a shower of sparks resulting from the contact between the projected current and electric wires on board ship, which would be so intense it would ignite powder and shells on board.”[35]

The value of Wireless Telegraphy in warfare seemed limitless with reports that Royal Engineers have been testing for the purpose of dropping explosive charges. By means of balloons and an elaboration of Marconi’s systems large quantities of explosives such as dynamite could be released from a balloon 3 miles away and made to explode inside any fortified work, killing the garrison and dislodging the guns, “The Hague Conference condemns such methods, but, possibly, an enemy sore pressed in real war, would scarcely hesitate to break through such restrictions.”[36]

But the march of progress was relentless. In new experiments in ship to shore communications greater distances are being achieved. By now messages were being transmitted over forty miles. The increased distances do not have the slightest effect upon the current and messages are being received with unvarying distinctiveness, “An interesting feature of current experiments is the facility with which Marconi’s latest development for ‘cutting out’ stations was applied. Messages are being sent without other stations interrupting them. The results of these experiments are successful.”[37]

Meanwhile, trials of military balloons and Marconi’s systems are being made in Vienna. This first attempt to make use of Wireless Telegraphy from a balloon was made by three Austrian officers, who ascended in the military balloon Eagle.[38] “The balloon was provided with receiving apparatus and successfully interpreted messages dispatched from the ground. It will probably be demonstrated that Wireless Telegraphy has its part to play in the warfare of the future.”[39]

The investigations into Military applications for Wireless Telegraphy were becoming a daily occurrence and Marconi is invariably present to clench any lucrative deal. At Bangor Bay near Belfast a number of battleships and cruisers are anchored and experimenting with Marconi’s system. The cruiser Juno and the flagship Alexandra are fitted with Wireless equipment and Marconi is on board testing the usefulness of the invention in naval warfare.”[40] The newspaper later reports Wireless Telegraphy is fast going ahead, and now the War Office is adopting it by sea and land.

The Admiralty are also impressed with further experiments going on between stations at Epsom and Aldershot. The tests proved it possible to maintain continuous correspondence from station to station, and that messages cannot be intercepted. Expert officers have made special reports to the War Office, and the effect of the report will be the inauguration of the Marconi system as a means of conveying intelligence. Many ships will shortly be “circuited” and should all go satisfactorily, the system would become universal, as far as the United Kingdom was concerned.[41]

The possible military applications for Wireless Telegraphy are beginning to scare the general public. The Daily News reports “Grim Possibilities of Wireless War” with the announcement that a Patent in the name of John Munro has been brought to their attention. The Munro Patent’s most obvious application is the making of explosions in the atmosphere in order to influence the weather, “But it is easy to see that it can also be utilised in dropping explosives on the country, fortresses, or camps of an enemy underneath.”[42]

Dr Peter Stiens has invented an apparatus by which people could ‘Wirelessly’ telephone over long distances.[43] Stiens claims the device will allow persons in London and New York to distinctively communicate.[44] The possibility of “mobile phones” had come to light. There are also reports of experiments conducted at Newbury in which a building containing explosives was blown up without direct contact.”[45]

Scientists are impressed by a practical demonstration of Marconi’s invention during the annual general meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science arranged in conjunction with the corresponding French Association holding its conference at Boulogne, “Marconi’s system allowed for messages to be sent to France from an apparatus located at Dover Town Hall. One of the messages sent by Telegraph without wires cross-channel was a greeting from the president of the British Association to the president of the French Scientific Association who responded to the salutation.”[46]

Thus, on the eve of the 20th century Wireless Telegraphy was an invention that still sought purpose. There were many people laying claim to it but it was not the invention of any one person but the culmination of many minds brought to perfection by Marconi. As the 20th century unfolded engineers and inventors were focused on the Maritime and international news exchange possibilities for the invention. But there were also visionaries who sought purposes in such fields as medicine, telephony and public service. Few of these visionaries had considered the possibility of communication not as exclusively one-to-one but one-to-many.

In the late 19th Century the facts about Wireless broadcasting emerged after Hertz’s 1887 discovery; ‘The contrast between these beginnings and the present uses of radio is tremendous’.[47] Marconi’s accomplishments in radio were equally as important. In 1892 Tesla wrote; ‘Ere long intelligence, transmitted without wires, will throb through the earth like a pulse through a living organism’.[48] It would take Marconi to fulfil Tesla’s prophecy.

Marconi had noble notions for his invention; “In the new era, thought itself will be transmitted by radio.”[49] The potential of his invention created global excitement even in the upper echelons of the Catholic Church; “Radio is a new demonstration of the harmony between science and religion. Those who speak of the incompatibility of science and religion either make science say that which it never said or make religion say that which it never thought.”[50]

Radio had critics especially those who feared freedom of expression. Broadcasting from the beginning was closed to private enterprise; ‘Such control is ascribed to radio’s technical complexity and military functions. Many democracies have outrun technical and military imperatives in their zeal to control the airwaves’.[51] But Radio never lost its importance as documented by the Irish Times in 1897; “Nothing is of more importance to science than Wireless Telegraphy.”[52]

Most public interest radio formats permit criticism of the state but the balance of political opinion is invariably tilted in the Government favour. The establishment of Irish radio fixed the state’s relationship to broadcasting. This may be partly due to the fact that Ireland’s first Postmaster General (Communications Minister) J.J. Walsh, was an anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi sympathiser.[53] His legacy remains detrimental to Irish freedom of expression.

Marconi’s inventor status was persistently challenged but his genius was never questioned, “Marconi has large ideas but to what extent these ideas will be realised none can tell.”[54] American Newspapers remained cynical about Marconi; “Edison and Tesla would smile at the promises made in Marconi’s name.”[55] However, the power of Marconi’s invention was obvious and the birth of Irish radio was a war declaration between conservative rulers and liberal advocates of free expression.

As the 20th century unfolded each year brought developments demonstrating how the ‘Air Wars’ were fought. In these pages is a century long account of events leading to Irish radio broadcasting as it is today. It is the story of a nation in fear of technology that became determined to suppress freedoms to receive and give information, expression and speech. These important three F’s are the pivot of human development, essential if we are to share, analyse, understand, and move forward; ‘yet these three F’s are continually under attack’.[56]

Although Marconi noted; ‘This form of communication could have some utility’[57] such ‘utility’ remained under the scrutiny of political pioneers in the pre-Independence era; ‘Britain’s Irish dominance was underpinned by control of Irish communications systems’.[58] Arthur Griffith complained about this; ‘There is a ‘paper wall’ around Ireland’.[59]

Griffith was always at heart a journalist and advocate of freedom of expression. He was a lucid writer with a vivid turn of phrase but as the century progressed, Griffith’s observation faded into oblivion, but the reality remains unchanged. Radio has come through a century of development that has brought about the medium as we know it today. The exploration of these events in the course of the 20th century reflects Marconi’s contention that; ‘Every day sees humanity more victorious in the struggle with space and time’.[60]

Early Irish radio is often considered by Historians as a foil for television. Historians link the transformation of Irish society in the 20th century to television but dismiss radio as an agent of repression rather than social development. In post WW2 Irish Radio became interactive and consequently achieved Bertolt Brecht’s ideal of serving as a ‘system of communication’[61] based on audience response rather than being a unidirectional distribution system.[62]

Until the 1960’s the primary source of information available to the world was radio and it influenced people. Common national culture was shaped more by radio than television or newsprint. By 1960 most European families owned a radio and it occupied prime space in the home.[63] The arrival of battery transistor radio in the 1960’s increased mobility but contributed to radio’s new lowly status as an aural medium in a visual age. Young people drifted to television but for older people radio retained its charms.

What follows is an exploration of a century of European broadcasting documenting the most significant events in the age of global communication. It is a relentless story that began with the words of Guglielmo Marconi when he sent the first message across the Bristol Channel in 1897 stating, “Let it be so.” It is a story full of twists and turns, of a series of unfailing political regimes in fear of freedom. At the dawn of the digital age, these fears persist and it is as if history will repeat itself unless the lessons of the radio ages are learned.

 

[1] Weekly IrishTimes,1893 ElectricMessageswithoutWires. Weekly Irish Times, 04thFebruary,p.1.

[2] Lady, A,.1896. TalkoftheTown. Weekly IrishTimes,26thDecember, p.4.

[3] McCullough,D,.2011 Samuel Morse’sReversalof Fortune.SmithsonianMagazine,VolumeSeptember,2011.

[4] Ellsworth, H,.2011 SamuelMorse’sReversalofFortune Smithsonian Magazine,VolumeSeptember,2011.

[5] McCullough,D,.2011 Samuel Morse’sReversalof Fortune SmithsonianMagazine,VolumeSeptember,2011.

[6] McHenry, R,.1993. Guglielmo Marconi. In:Encyclopedia Britannica. London:Encyclopedia Britannica.

[7] WashingtonPost 1897 Article 26 [NoTitle] TheWashington Post,9th August,p. 6.

[8] IrishTimes 1897. NewsfromAll PartsIrishTimes,20th November, p.5.

[9] Kelvin,L,.1897.Permanent.com[Online]Available at: http://www.permanent.com/infamous-quotes.html [Accessed 21st June 2012]

[10] Marconi 1897 SendsMessages Without Wires.Chicago Daily Tribune,2ndAugust,p. 2.

[11] Baker,D. C,.1998. WirelessTelegraphyduring the Anglo-Boerwarof1899-1902  MilitaryHistory Journal 11[2]

[12] Brecht, B,.1932. TheRadioas an Apparatus ofCommunication [Online]Available at:http://www.medienkunstnetz.de/source-text/8/ [Accessed03 September 2012]

[13] IrishTimes,1897 SignorMarconi’s Invention.Irish Times,18th August,p.6.

[14] IrishTimes,1897 What Next?Irish Times, 29thJuly, p. 5.

[15] IrishTimes,1897 WirelessTelegraphy. IrishTimes,08th September, p.6A.

[16] Freemans Journal,1897. WirelessTelegraphy atBirr. FreemansJournal,12th October, p.11.

[17] Freemans Journal,1898. KingstownRegatta.FreemansJournal,21stJuly, p. 12.

[18] Freemans Journal,1898. Marconi ComesToDublin. FreemansJournal,22nd August,p.12.

[19] Molloy,G,1898.Marconi’sWireless Telegraphy[Letters].The FreemansJournal, 12th April, p.10.

[20] Anglo Celt,1898. FromDayto Day.Anglo Celt,14thMay, p.3.

[21] Freemans Journal,1898. System of WirelessTelegraphy. FreemansJournal, 22nd April, p.8.

[22] Anglo Celt,1898. Nikola Tesla.Anglo Celt,21stMay,p. 3.

[23] AngloCelt,1898. WirelessTelegraphy: The MostMarvelousDiscoveryof the CenturyExplained. Anglo Celt,16thApril, p. 4.

[24] Freemans Journal,1898. WirelessLecture.FreemansJournal,09thMarch, p. 11.

[25] Freemans Journal,1898. WirelessTelegraphy.FreemansJournal,12th April, p. 8.

[26] IrishTimes,1899. SocialMovements. Irish Times,17th April,p. 6.

[27] Fleming,P. J, 1899. OnWirelessTelegraphy.IrishTimes,04th April, p.5.

[28] Page, S. F,1899. LondonTimesLetter. IrishTimes,04th April, p.5.

[29] IrishTimes,1899. Intense Interest. Weekly IrishTimes,08th April, p.8.

[30] Fitzgerald, R. P,1899. London Correspondence.Irish Times,12th April, p.7.

[31] Weekly IrishTimes,1899. LatestWirelessTelegraphyTrials.WeeklyIrish Times,24thJune, p.6.

[32] Westminster Gazette, 1899. Criticism of Wireless Wiring. Weekly Irish Times, 29th April, p. 6.

[33] Westminster Gazette, 1899. Criticism of Wireless Wiring. Weekly Irish Times, 29th April, p. 6.

[34] Preece,W,1899. AethericTelegraphy.IrishTimes,04thMay, p. 6.

[35] Bon,D. L,1899. WirelessTelegraphy inWar.IrishTimes,27thMay, p. 4.

[36] DailyTelegraph,1899. Wireless at War.IrishTimes,15th June, p.4

[37] Weekly IrishTimes,1899. LucrativeContractforMarconi. Weekly Irish Times, 15th April, p.7.

[38] Weekly IrishTimes,1899.WirelessAerialTelegraphy.Weekly Irish Times,22nd July, p.4.

[39] IrishTimes,1899.MarconiSystemandWarBalloons.IrishTimes,17th July, p. 5.

[40] Irish Times, 1899. Naval Maneuvers. Irish Times, 24th July, p. 4.

[41] IrishTimes,1899. NavalManeuvers.Irish Times,24th July, p. 4.

[42] IrishTimes,1899.GrimPossibilitiesof WirelessWar. IrishTimes,05th August,p. 4.

[43] IrishTimes,1899.WirelessTelephone.IrishTimes,25th July,p. 4.

[44] IrishTimes,1899. Fraternising with theFrench.Irish Times,14th September, p. 6.

[45] IrishTimes,1899.WarOfficeWirelessTelegraphy[London Correspondence]. Irish Times,31stJuly, p. 5.

[46] IrishTimes,1899.WirelessTelegraphyExplosion.Irish Times,27th July,p. 5.

[47] Whittemore,L. E,1929. The DevelopmentofRadio. Annals of the American Academy ofPolitical &Social science, Issue March 1929, p.1.

[48] Tesla, N,1892. ElectricalEngineer.ElectricalEngineer,Issue 609, p. 11.

[49] Marconi, G,1934.Quotation Marks. NewYorkTimes,11th October, p.2.

[50] Pope PiusXI,1931.Opening of the Vatican CityRadio Station. Rome: s.n.

[51] Kasza, G. J,1986.Democracy and the Foundingof JapanesePublicRadio. The Journal of AsianStudies,45[4], p. 745.

[52] IrishTimes,1897.WirelessTelegraphy.IrishTimes,15th August,p. 6.

[53] Dwyer,T. R,1988.Strained Relations: Ireland atPeace and theUSAat War,1941-45.1 ed.Dublin: Gill&MacMillanLtd. DXArchive,1996.DXARCHIVE (Online)Available at:http://www.dxarchive.com/ireland_dublin_radio_dublin_pre75.html[Accessed20 052012].

[54] Molloy,G,1898.WirelessTelegraphy.FreemansJournal, 15th March, p. 9.

[55] San Francisco Chronicle, 1897.Marconi BoomHas An Object. San Francisco Chronicle, 5thSeptember, p.13.

[56] D’Arcy,M,1990. PlayingWith theAirwaves. MITPress,p.179.

[57] Marconi, G,1897.Guglielmo Marconi Quotes (Online]Available at:http://refspace.com/quotes/Guglielmo_Marconi[Accessed21stJune2012].

[58] Fisher, D,1978. CaseStudies on BroadcastingSystems: Broadcasting In Ireland.1 ed.London: Routledge& Kegan Paul Ltd.

[59] Oireachtas, 1952. Parliamentary Debates: Dáil Éireann – Volume 129 – 12 March, 1952[Online] Available at: http://historical‑debates.oireachtas.ie/D/0129/D.0129.195203 120066.html [Accessed 06 06 2012].

[60] Marconi, G,1899.Guglielmo Marconi Quotes (Online]Available at:http://refspace.com/quotes/Guglielmo_Marconi[Accessed21stJune2012].

[61] Brecht, B,1932. Brecht onTheatre. NewYork:Hill & Wang.

[62] Morgan,E,2001.QuestionTime: RadioandtheLiberalistationof IrishPublic Discourse afterWW2.History Ireland,9[4],p. 39.

[63] Judt, T, 2006.Postwar: A History ofEuropesince1945.1sted. London:Penguin Books.

Marconi And The Titanic

MARCONI AND THE TITANIC

By

Gerard J. Hannan

Marconi Room on the Olympic.

‘CQD CQD SOS Titanic Position 41.44 N 50.24 W. Require immediate assistance.

Come at once.We struck an iceberg. Sinking’

(12.17am 15.April.1912)

(Titanic, 1912)

From the very second the first SOS signal was sent from Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912 when that high-pitched musical tone travelled for hundreds of miles across the North Atlantic in a desperate plea for help it not only marked the beginning of the greatest maritime tragedy in recorded history but also was to have a long term resonation for Irish broadcasting. The Titanic sent the signal using her 1.5 kW Marconi installation to signal her death knell. The 1.5 kW set was the absolute latest piece of modern technology, for the time, and as such optimal performance was not only an absolute demand but also a natural expectation. Titanic’s Wireless set had a nominal working range of 250 nautical miles and signalling more distant stations was also possible, especially at night when ranges of up to 2000 miles were attained using similar sets. The location of the Wireless suite on Titanic was given secondary importance to valuable windows for use by First Class passengers.

The equipment was housed in a series of interconnecting rooms; the soundproof ‘Silent Room’ in which noisy transmitting equipment was located, the Marconi Room, an office in which contained the operators’ workstations, manipulation keys, and receiving equipment; and the bedroom, which contained the operators’ berthing. The Wireless set was operators and cared for by Marconi’s employees, who were by routine assigned to Titanic for the duration of one voyage and, therefore, not considered part of the normal crew. Their time was spent within the Marconi suite except at mealtime when they were allowed to adjourn to the dining saloon (Stevenson, 2002).

The alleged last audible message from Titanic came at around 2;05 AM when, as the New York Times revealed on April 21, 1912 based on testimony given by Harold Bride, there was an exchange between Capt Smith and Jack Phillips and Harold Bride who were the operators in charge of the Marconi suite. The Captain visits the Wireless room for the last time and says “Men, you have done your full duty. You can do no more. Abandon your post. Now it’s every man for himself” the captain’s comments shock the operators. Capt Smith then told them; “You look out for yourselves. I release you” There is then another pause and Capt Smith adds “that’s the way of it at this kind of time… Every man for himself” the Captain then leaves the Wireless room. The operators then make a final call to all ships as water is flooding the room and Phillips says to Bride “come on, let’s clear out”… then Titanic’s signals end very abruptly as if power suddenly switched off (Titanic Radio, 2012).

Harold Bride survived the sinking of the ship, but Jack Phillips, died of exposure. However, The New York Herald, the New York Times biggest rival challenged the account and questioned how the newspaper got exclusive access to Harold Bride’s personal account of the events. The Herald publishes the shocking revelation that American Marconi officials sent telegrams to the Marconi operators, instructing them to withhold information about the disaster so that reports could be sold. According to later testimony by Guglielmo Marconi, the New York Times paid a negotiated $500 for the exclusive rights to Brides story.

Furthermore, it was later revealed that there were complaints that Marconi operators aboard the Patio had ignored other Navy vessels, demanding information as to the situation on board Titanic. The real question being asked by the international media was did Guglielmo Marconi see the disaster as no more than an opportunity to yield high profits and, distort the flow of information to such a point that lives were lost in the name of business practice? The following 24 hours after the first fatal message was sent the flow of information was dangerously distorted, contaminated and highly inaccurate and the primary source of this information was Marconi’s Wireless apparatus. The international media could not access accurate information without first dealing with Marconi and his officials. Consequently, international newspapers opted to fill space for their news hungry readers with speculation, convolution and misinformation. Marconi’s punishment would be severe.

On Tuesday April 16th the Central News Agency releases some information about an ‘incident’ at sea. “Wireless messages received at Halifax early this afternoon state that the condition of the Titanic is dangerous, and that the lives of those who still remain aboard are in some peril. In a maze of Wireless messages from various steamers it is difficult to get any connected story. The Government tug Lady Laurier is going from London to render assistance. The news of the disaster to the Titanic reached New York in the small hours of this morning by way of Montreal, whither it had been transmitted by Wireless Telegraphy from the Allan liner Virginian, Eastward bound.

The Virginian herself, in common with other liners, had picked up in the night the Wireless signals for assistance broadcast by the maimed liner, and at the same moment that she was passing them on to the shore was steaming her fastest to the rescue” (Central News Agency, 1912). The report states that “New York was preparing to give the Titanic a big welcome on the same lines as that extended last year to her sister ship, the Olympic, and among her passengers it was known that there were many distinguished American citizens, concerning whose fate the carrier messages said nothing. Most of these, after fulfilling business and other engagements in Europe, had waited in order to enjoy the thrill of making the homeward journey in the world’s greatest liner, the ‘millionaires’ ship, on board which they might almost be pardoned for considering themselves as safe as in their hotels on shore. Among them may be mentioned the following;-Mr Benjamin Guggenheim, a member of the famous Guggenheim family of capitalists, associates of Mr Pierpont Morgan, and world famous in connection with Alaskan development and copper production; Mr C Clarence Jones, a New York Stock Broker, who has been visiting the European capitals in connection with the purchase of American Embassy sites; Mr Washington Roebling , head of the great wire cable firm, and son of the builder of Brooklyn Bridge; Mr Washington Dodge, member of the well known banking firm of Phelps, Dodge and Company; Col. John Weir, mining engineer; Mr Henry B Harris, theatrical producer and manager, and son of the gentleman of the same name who owns many of New York’s theatres; Mr Jacques Futrelle , one of the best known of American authors; Mr Frank D. Millet, American painter, who resided a long time in London (Central News Agency, 1912). In Ireland, the Irish Independent reports on ‘update’ on the story; ‘The publication of the Montreal message sent scores of anxious folks to the White Star offices in quest of further information, but there was nothing to tell them for several long hours. The officials were emphatic in their declarations that the huge hull of the Titanic, divided into several water-tight sections, each as big as a good sized ship, was in no danger of sinking, and even when the Wireless at Cape Race announced that the liner was down by the head and that preparations were being made to take the passengers off, they repeated their assurances, which in the light of later news seem to have been well founded. The cheering announcement was forthcoming that besides the Virginian, which at midnight was 170 miles from the scene of the disaster, the White Star liners ‘Olympic’ and ‘Baltic’, the Cunard liner Mauretania, and three or four German and French liners were all hurrying in the same direction (Irish Independent, 1912).

The story of the disaster is briefly, yet graphically, told in a Wireless message received from the Cunard liner which runs in the companies Mediterranean service and picked up the Titanic’s signals when four days out on her voyage from New York to Gibraltar. The Titanic struck the iceberg at 10.25pm last night(American time). She was then running at reduced speed, presumably from the knowledge of the proximity of ice. Most of the passengers had retired to bed, and were awakened and terrified by a thunderous impact, which crushed and twisted the towering bows of the liner and broke them in like an eggshell. The behaviour of the crew is stated to have been exemplary and they were assisted by many of the male passengers, who also succeeded in calming the women and children. The Wireless was immediately set going, and, as a precaution, the majority of the passengers were placed in the liner’s boats, which were swung out and ready to be lowered. The sea was calm, and though the sea was pouring into the vessel forward, her machinery had not been disabled and when it was found that, with the pumps working and the watertight bulkheads holding well, there was a good chance of the liner making port, the captain set about proceeding cautiously in the direction of Halifax (Central News Agency, 1912).

Reuters Cablegrams had less information to offer about the disaster. All they could report is that the Titanic was sinking off Newfoundland Banks, as the result of a collision with an iceberg; that several ships were in Wireless communication with, and that the women were being taken off in lifeboats (Reuters Cablegrams, 1912). The liner Baltic sent a Wireless message to New York at 3;50 AM and was within 200 miles of the Titanic. The last signals from the Titanic came at 12;25 AM. It reports that the messages were blurred and ended abruptly. A later telegram from Cape Race says the Wireless operator on board the Titanic reported the weather calm and clear. The position of the liner being 41 46 N, 50 14 W, the Virginian liner also reported at midnight that it was 170 miles West of the Titanic, and was expected to reach her 10;00 AM. The Olympic at midnight was in 40.32 North latitude, 61.18 West longitude. She’s also in direct communication with the Titanic, and is hastening to her. The dispatch also states that all the passengers of the Titanic had left the ship by 3;30 AM this morning. Reports were coming into New York by 4;30 AM stating that most of the passengers from the Titanic had been put in lifeboats, and the sea was calm. The Montréal Star newspaper confirms that the Titanic is still afloat and making her way slowly to Halifax.

In Boston, there were reports stating that the Titanic is slowly struggling in the direction of Cape Race. In Montréal they receive an “unsigned telegram” stating that the Titanic is steaming to Halifax and she hopes to make port (Reuters Telegrams, 1912). The Freemans Journal reports that ocean voyaging still has its perils. Two thousand, two hundred and fifty three people were drawn into danger of death at the one swoop when the Titanic crashed into the ice. A few years ago, had it been possible then for such a population to be aboard one vessels, the iceberg might well have caused a great disaster, a death list terrible enough to keep land fork from sea for a long time. It was not certain at first that the Titanic would not sink, it is not even quite certain, at the moment of writing, that it will be brought the whole way into port. Should it go under yet, the village full of people aboard may thank the Wireless Telegraph for their lives. The cry of distress sent raying over the ocean by the great liner brought help that else must have passed, within helping distance, quite without knowledge of the need. At 3;30 AM, the dead hour of the night to human beings, every one of the 1350 passengers had been transferred to other vessels, leaving 903 members of the crew and service to make Halifax on the ship if it is to reach port. Of course, this second large population, of 900, will be safe, unless a last disaster should happen suddenly, a thing not to be anticipated. But for the Wireless installation, and the confidence it gives of help almost certain, there must surely have been a deadly panic on the Titanic when the great ship drove into the iceberg which crippled it. No doubt the now facts bring a new mind; passengers have already acquired what one is tempted to call the “Wireless mind” the feeling that the ocean is no longer lonely space cut off from all human life. The instinct of old was to throw oneself overboard at the first terrible moment of a collision, or of the cry of fire; people that read yesterday’s news in mid ocean and knew the price of shares in Dublin or of coal in London do not feel so utterly abandoned; the sea has become a continuation of the land life, and, no doubt at all, every passenger at the moment of the shock uttered the one word, “Wireless”; everyone thought at once that the Titanic was on a known track within easy hail of friends, who would turn on their paths within five minutes and bring help.

The same system has proved itself useful also in warnings of danger, the question will arise at once whether the Titanic might not have avoided this awful peril by the ice warning that had already been sent out by other ships. The Virginian, which has been helping the giant in distress, had already sent out word that three days out of Halifax it had encountered “ice fields 100 miles in extent, with enormous bergs” It will be asked whether this danger signal had not reached the Titanic; if not, why not? And, if it did reach the Titanic, why the Titanic could not avoid the whole bristling ground? The biggest ship afloat has had an unhappy first trip, and it will be remembered that the Olympic, also one of the giants, made and in ill-omened start. But there is no certain connection between the size of these monsters and the misfortunes which have fallen about them. The Titanic is believed to be not merely the fastest ship that man has put on the waters in all the history of the world, but to be the safest also. It was even famous for its “collision bulkhead”, and collision it has had to meet on its first going forth. It remains to be seen whether there will be any effort now to maintain that the size of these ships is, after all, a danger; whether in any way bulk increases peril when there may be need of hasty stopping, backing, or wheeling about. The enquiry into the causes of the Titanic’s mishap will certainly consider this question. And there will be an anxious desire for information as to the reason the Titanic took the course which was known to be made terrible for the moment by that vast floating country of ice, “100 miles in extent, with enormous bergs” (Freeman’s Journal, 1912).

The Irish Independent states “sailors, who are proverbially superstitious, may be pardoned if they think there is something unlucky about the two largest steamers afloat, the Olympic and Titanic, of the White Star Line. Six months ago the Olympic collided with the cruiser Hawke in an apparently unaccountable way, and on a subsequent occasion lost one of her propeller blades in mid-ocean. The sister ship, the Titanic, when starting on her maiden voyage across the Atlantic last week, narrowly avoided a collision in Southampton water. On Sunday night she appears to have collided with a huge iceberg, and sustain such damage that the first accounts received by Wireless represented the huge vessel as sinking and the passengers and crew, upwards of 2000 souls, as being in great danger. There were Irish passengers on board the Titanic, and the alarm caused in Ireland yesterday by the news of the disaster was consequently great. Fortunately, however, later Wireless messages represent the accident as not so serious; passengers are said to be safe on board other vessels summoned by Wireless to the assistance of the great liner, and the steamer, though apparently badly damaged, is making her way to Halifax, the nearest port. During the past few days many vessels have encountered huge icebergs and ice fields off the coast of Newfoundland, and this source of danger threatens alike the largest and the smallest shipping. That the collision of the Titanic with an iceberg did not result in heavy loss of life may be partly attributed to the splendid construction of the vessel and the system of collision bulkheads and electrically worked watertight doors with which the vessel is provided, but mainly to the prompt assistance which the Wireless messages summoned from all sides within a radius of 200 miles. This is a new triumph for Marconi, and if the lesson is taken to heart by ship-owners one may soon hope to see every oceangoing steamer equipped with his marvellous invention (Irish Independent, 1912).

The flow of early misinformation in relation to the sinking of the Titanic seemed to continue as April 16th’s late editions hit the newsstands. A Reuters “all classes” cablegram from New York claims the Titanic sank at 2;20 AM this morning. No lives were lost. An hour later Reuters issued another telegram stating; “the following statement has been given out by the White Star officials. Capt Haddock, of the Olympic, sends a Wireless message that the Titanic sank at 2;20 AM on Monday, after the passengers and crew had been lowered into the lifeboat and transferred to the Virginian. The steamer Carpathia, with several hundred of the passengers from the Titanic, is now on her way to New York” A late edition of the Irish Independent states “White Star have given assurances that the passengers were safe. Vice President, Mr Franklin, has expressed the belief that the vessel was also safe, however severely damaged, being practically unsinkable. All news has been coming in aggravating fragments in the form of Wireless messages from various vessels at the scene of the wreck or hastening thither, nothing has been received direct from the Titanic herself” (Irish Independent, 1912).

A later Reuters telegram seemed to contradict all previous messages in relation to the Titanic. The statement issued in New York at 8 AM declares “up to this hour the officials of the White Star line have not received a word regarding the reported accident to the Titanic. 12 hours have passed since the collision of the Titanic is reported to have taken place. We have heard nothing of an accident. It is very strange to the Titanic sister ship Olympic, which has a Wireless installation of sufficient strength has not communicated with us” (Reuters Telegram, 1912).

However, the Irish media did not believe a word of this official statement. “Disaster has marked the maiden voyage of the gigantic White Star liner Titanic, for while steaming through the night, some 270 miles South-East of Newfoundland, she struck an iceberg, and is now crawling towards Halifax in imminent danger of sinking. Happily so far as can be at present ascertained, no lives have been lost, and with plenty of help from other liners standing by the passengers should be landed safely tonight or tomorrow. The first notification of disaster came from the Wireless station at Cape Race, which picked up the Titanic’s message for help. Shortly afterwards came another Wireless message from the Virginian, stating that she also had picked up the Titanic’s message, and was hastening to the relief. The next message received by the Cape Race Wireless station was even more alarming, for the Titanic’s operator reported that the ship was sinking by the head, and that the women and children were being put into lifeboats. Then came a long pause and at 12;27 AM the Virginian operator said that the last signals received from the Titanic were blurred and indistinct, and that the message had been broken after suddenly. By this time no fewer than 11 great liners had picked up the despairing SOS signals, and were heading full speed to the rescue. The Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, which was herself in collision only a short time ago; was about 300 miles away on her way from New York to Southampton, and while passing the message on she announced that she was racing to the rescue. Another boat, comparatively near, was the White Star liner, Baltic, and some other vessels including Amerika and Cincinnati, the Parisian, the Carpathia, the North German Prinz Friedrich Willhelm and Prinz Adalbert; and a French liner, La Provence, all of which sent Wireless messages of encouragement and the news that they were hurrying to the rescue (Irish Independent, 1912).

However the flow of misinformation persisted. Another Reuters cablegram claims to have received a message from the ship Minin, off Cape Race, stating that steamers are now towing the Titanic, and endeavouring to get her into shoal waters near Cape Race, for the purpose of beaching her. A further message from Halifax states that the Government Marine Agency has received a Wireless message to the effect that the Titanic is sinking. A telegram from Montréal states that White Star has denied the report that the Titanic had sunk. He believed that with so many vessels around her it would be unnecessary for the Virginia to return to Halifax with her. Traffic officials of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, have been notified that the passengers of the Titanic will be landed at Halifax, Nova Scotia. About 600 would require transportation to New York by sleeping cars, and 800 by ordinary coaches. White Star also confirm that the Virginia, Parisian and Carpathia were now standing by the Titanic. The Company claims to have definite information that all the passengers had been transferred successfully from the Titanic; they also confirm that they had received nothing indicating the extent of the damage sustained by the Titanic” (White Star Liners, 1912).

Although the news of the disaster to the Titanic came as tremendous shock and the gravity of the position was fully recognised, the shipping community of Liverpool resolutely took a sanguine view throughout that the ship would be brought to a place of safety. The intelligence that the Titanic is in tow of the Virginia has been communicated to the owners, who finding it a confirmation of their expectations that the giant ship, damaged though she may be, has, through the medium of her collision bulkhead and watertight compartments, sufficient buoyancy to enable her to reach a port of safety. The chief feature discussed was the splendid demonstration the disaster affords of the practical utility of Wireless Telegraphy. In marine insurance circles it seems to be generally believed that the vessel is covered to the amount of £1m, half of which will be carried, not by the White Star line itself, but by the White Star and all the companies with which it works in combination. This combination is known to possess a very large insurance fund. Of the million at risk in the open in insurance market, it is believed a quarter is taken by Liverpool companies, the remaining three quarters being distributed amongst London offices, Hamburg probably coming in aid (Irish Independent, 1912).

However, it would be at lEast 24 hours more before the true facts of the disaster began to emerge to a shocked world. But interestingly, somebody somewhere had to account for the flow of misinformation that had caused so much confusion in the preceding 24 hours. The finger of blame was pointed at “airwave Pirates” who had interrupted professional transmissions using amateur Wireless apparatus; “These operators are making it difficult to communicate with legitimate sources” (Reuters Cablegram, 1912).

Numerous articles began to appear in Irish newspapers which included the names of some of the survivors of the Titanic disaster. However, the true horror of the tragedy was beginning to unfold. Headlines in most newspapers announced that Titanic had sunk long before any help arrived. White Star claim to have received positive news that the number of survivors is 868. There is reason to believe that the death toll reaches the awful number of 1490. There are many notable persons among the missing and there were no survivors of the disaster on board either the Virginian or Parisian. The King and Queen, Queen Alexandra, and the Kaiser have sent messages expressing deep sympathy with the relatives of the Titanic victims to the White Star Directors.

The messages received up to about 2;30 AM yesterday regarding the fate of the vessel were very conflicting, and it was not until that hour that a definite message was received stating that the liner had sunk. For this reason practically all the newspapers that commented on the disaster did so on the assumption that the Titanic had been merely damaged by the collision, and that no lives had been lost. Irish passengers, representing every part of this country, joined the Titanic at Queenstown. The majority travelled steerage. The latest information from Cape Race indicates that only the 675 survivors on board the Carpathia have escaped from the wreck. Heartrending scenes were witnessed at the White Star Company’s offices at New York, Liverpool, London, and Southampton when the news of the disaster was made known. At the official luncheon on board the Titanic before she sailed one of the tables collapsed, and the incident was much commented upon. Today’s news has shed an entirely new light upon the disaster which overtook the Titanic during the night of Sunday. It is now, unhappily, only too clear that the magnificent vessel, the pride of her builders, owners, and all whom gloried in Britain’s shipbuilding supremacy, is lying on the bed of the North Atlantic at some depth of some 1700 fathoms, and that her last constitutes the most appalling catastrophe in the maritime history of the world. It can only be assumed that the erroneous reports so widely circulated, which raised false hopes in the hearts of thousands, were the result of the confusion which must necessarily have arisen at a time when Wireless messages were being transmitted from dozens of vessels and relayed from as many more. It is known that the Titanic disappeared before the help summoned by her Wireless operators could reach her, and that those of her Company who were saved were picked up from her boats by the Carpathia, which was the first ship to arrive on the scene.

The most terrible news is that the number taken aboard the Carpathia is only about 800. Hopes that other survivors might be on board other ships were disappointed by Cablegrams which set forth that these liners were too late to render help, and it is, therefore, practically certain that over 1500 lives were lost when the Titanic went down. The Carpathia is likely to take a considerable time in reaching New York, in as much as she herself is forced to steam slowly owing to the presence of huge ice fields in her track.

Many persons whose names are known throughout the world are among those who are believed to have perished. It appears clear that all the survivors of the Titanic disaster, to the number of about 800, says a “Central News” New York message, are on board the Carpathia, which is on her way to New York. White Star officials in New York hoped to be in a position to give out something in the nature of a full statement later today. No word has been received direct from any of the Titanic’s passengers (Irish Independent, 1912).

In Ireland the accuracy of the information coming from America was under question. Newspapers report that American journalists are unprincipled in their methods; “As an indication of the unscrupulous methods of some American journalists several of the morning newspapers in New York yesterday published a telegram from St John’s, Newfoundland, giving a graphic account of the collision, which was credited as having come by Wireless Telegraphy from the British steamer Bruce, and is having been picked up from various steamers in the vicinity of the wreck of the Titanic. A Reuter’s cablegram of yesterday afternoon stated that these messages were now stated to be without foundation, as the only news of the wreck received by the Bruce was a bulletin from Cape Race (Irish Independent, 1912).

At the Dublin Stock Exchange Marconi Ordinary shares make a bad start but as the day goes on the shares start to recover (Irish Independent, 1912). According to the Freemans Journal, “conjecture will long be busy, and not unprofitably, on the causes of the disaster to the Titanic and on the measures that must be taken to reduce the danger of such terrible events in the future. Very soon, of course, we shall be in possession of some authentic accounts of what actually happened, and almost certainly there will prove to be among the rescued some able to give the expert account from which understanding and future prevention may come. It has already been suggested that the Titanic did not carry a lifeboat and raft service adequate to the needs of its great population in time of danger. The outsider may be wrongly impressed by this suggestion. It is not for him to say whether this thing is even possible, perhaps a vessel that was all safety could not carry passengers with any freedom of movement, with any adequate speed, possibly even a ship bristling with safety devices would be the most dangerous in time of hurry. Only a practical shipbuilder can answer fully on such points, and the amateur even when he was right in principle would generally be wrong in his method of arriving at this theory. It does not appear likely that the builders and buyers of the Titanic, the last word of the craft, would ignore the entirely obvious. The vessel that had installed a Turkish bath on board would not probably forget or neglect it’s reasonably adequate supply of life-saving apparatus. It is said that under the Titanic specification there were lifeboats enough for the accommodation of nearly 2000 people, if this were actually so, the ground of complaint is shifted. The number of lifeboats would be adequate, and the mistake would be in their placing, or possibly even in their number itself. The charge would partly be against the very bigness of the ship. An officer of wide experience remarks on this point that the difficulty is to bring the life-saving appliances into use. “In the case of the Titanic,” he said, “you have to consider the great height of the boats above the water and where the collapsible boats and the rafts are stored. The accident to the Titanic happened in the dark, and apparently when the boats were needed the ship was deep down forward. If there were a list to either side it would make matters still worse and some of the boats might be altogether useless” it is obvious that at the terrible moment of such a crash as that which destroyed the Titanic, in the dark, there cannot be the order of the school picnic entertainment. You have 32 lifeboats each good for 60 passengers, but no one can guarantee that each will be neatly ready for the water at its exact spot and its 60 passengers drawn neatly up to step with decorum into it. The article also states, “as for the Wireless apparatus, much has been expected obvious, but just at present, after the full change of tidings from the first cheerful belief to the final despair, there is a tendency to forget all that it has done. At lEast 800 people unquestionably owe their lives to the Wireless, the 800 on the Carpathian must have gone down with the others but for the signal SOS that brought them at lEast their rescue. 800 is a vast ship full saved and, although it is a lesser matter, something must be credited to the Wireless in letting the world know what happened. Two years ago we should have been waiting days and days after the Titanic was due, and collected agony of those on land watching for the missing ship would be a terrible increase to the total of the tragedy. This disaster will give an immediate impulse to the study of the ways and signs of floating ice. It is admitted that this vastly important matter has not yet been adequately studied and recorded. Old Mariners differ more strangely about the signs by which the fatal presence may be known, some speak of chill in the air, others of chill in the water, to be recognised at safe and sufficient distance by common perception; others deny that there are any such warnings, but allow that delicate instruments may give the word; there is also, it appears, an instrument, not yet largely used, which foreshows the presence of more solid mass in the water. Some commanders said that there are recognisable reflections from the ice in the sky overhead “iceberg blink”, others deride this alleged lore. Some believe in keeping the sirens blowing in suspected areas in the faith that the bergs will give back a significant echo. The danger, it may be noted, however, is more from sunken ice then from the visible berg. The ghastly suggestion is made in the case of the Titanic that it may have dashed into what is called an iceberg cave, being cut and hacked by the ice underneath until it was entirely caught in the mass, when the very impact would bring the berg smashing down like a hammer upon it” (Freemans Journal, 1912).

News also comes to light that Captain Smith had grave concerns, some weeks prior to the disaster, and spoke of the life preserving equipment of the Titanic, which was then under construction. He told his colleague, Glenne Marston, “if the ship should strike a submerged derelict or iceberg, that would cut through into several of the watertight compartments we have not enough boats or rafts aboard to take care of more than one third of the passengers. The Titanic should carry at lEast double the number of boats and rafts that she does to afford any real protection to passengers. Besides, there is the danger of some of the boats becoming damaged or being swept away before they can be manned” (Irish Independent, April).

The flow of misinformation that had occurred on April 16th could not be dismissed, at lEast by the general public, as a result of the interference of so-called “airwave Pirates”. During this 24 hour period much of the credit for saving the lives of all of the passengers of Titanic was given to Marconi and his “wonderful apparatus”. The Marconi Company clearly basked in the glory and praise showered on them by the international media. In fact, as time would tell, and new facts came to light soon after the disaster, the Marconi Company itself were major contributors to the propaganda that would ultimately have far reaching social, political and financial consequences for the Company that were perceived as exploiting a major disaster for financial gain. Marconi’s Dublin shareholders were the first to anticipate the looming disaster for the Company and at the first opportunity on April 17th 1912 to surrender their interests in the Company; “Marconi shares experienced a reaction in price and as the day progressed Marconi issues collapsed into comparative quietude. It is understood that the shares of the American Wireless Company will be introduced to the market in the next few days” (Financial Correspondent, 1912). This clearly suggests that shareholders remained interested in Wireless technologies but were beginning to lose interest in Marconi. It is arguably more than a coincidence that the loss of interest in Marconi and the sinking of the Titanic were unrelated events. Had the romance between Ireland and Marconi come to an abrupt end and if so, what would be the consequences of this for Irish radio?

Meanwhile the international media were reporting that there is little hope that the disaster would not prove to have been the most awful in the history of the sea. In view of the receipt early this morning from the Carpathia of the partial list of those saved, it is anticipated that the vessel will soon be within Wireless zone, and would be able to send details of the disaster. The list of the save is mainly composed of women, though several men’s names appear upon it, including that of Mr Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line; “throughout last night and even early this morning crowds thronged the offices of the White Star, many of the enquirers came out in tears, and some became hysterical when they were unable to hear tidings of their friends and relatives. Company officials hold out no hope that any passengers had been saved other than those on board the Carpathia (Press Association, 1912).

According to the New York Correspondent of the “Evening News” a crowd of anxious relatives and friends of the passengers on the lost Titanic was massed all night in front of The White Star Line offices in Broadway. The friends of the wealthy men unaccounted for are in a state of great anxiety. After a sleepless night, men worked thousands of pounds were rushing down at 5 and 6 o’clock to the business distract to hear the latest reports. It is a certainty that, at the time of writing, most of the notable men on board have gone down. The rule of the sea prevailed, “women and children first”. The women and children in the steerage would be taken off before the first and second class mail passengers. It is now known that the Carpathia picked up the passengers eight hours after the sinking of the Titanic. The Virginian was to give up her search after daylight and proceed with her voyage, as being a mail boat, she is forced to make the utmost haste to her destination. On learning of the disaster shortly before midnight, a well-dressed man on the arm of the friend fell fainting on the pavement outside the New York Times office” (London Evening News, 1912). The news of the probable heavy loss of life had only a limited circulation. Crowds had gathered at the White Star offices, and women in tears and men in frantic search of reassuring news were met with the frank admission that little was known of the fate of the passengers who were not travelling first or second class (Freemans Journal, 1912).

Any news now in relation to the disaster is based on second hand information and limited telegrams, some confused and contradicting previous news information. It is clearly a ‘waiting game’ to get first hand information and the hours were ticking by. Until the Carpathia reaches New York with the survivors it will be impossible to form a definite opinion of how the disaster occurred. Commanded by one of the ablest and most experienced seamen in the service of any of the great shipping companies, the mammoth liner was fitted with every device that science has invented to secure safety at sea, and yet within four hours after striking an iceberg she sank. Captain Smith had been warned several days before by a French vessel that floating ice had been encountered far South of where it is usually expected at this time of year. The presumption is, therefore, that the Titanic was being navigated with special care in order to avoid danger. How, then, did it happen that the precautions adopted proved unavailing? (Irish Independent, 1912).

Questions can not be answered, and, as captain Smith is believed to have gone down with his ship, it is possible that the truth will never be known. It is incredible that any culpable want of foresight or inexplicable loss of nerve on the part of any of the officers contributed to the fearful calamity. The gallant commander of the Titanic had been dogged by what is commonly called ill-luck since he took command of her sister ship, the Olympic, which collided with the Hawke in the Solent in 1911. In a deep and touching Editorial the Irish Independent states; “Only last week, owing to the suction caused by her enormous bulk, the Titanic came near colliding with the American liner New York. But nobody, whether seaman or landsman, could have believed that the magnificent vessel would have met with disaster practically in mid-ocean; the horror of the scene in dead of night when the Titanic met with the dread foe which nature had loosed for her destruction palsies the imagination. Now we must brace ourselves to confront one of those terrible events in the order of Providence which baffle the most careful foresight, which appals the imagination, and make us realise the inadequacy of words to do justice as to how we feel. With pride in the nobler instincts of our humanity our hearts must thrill at the story of willing sacrifice epitomised in the fact that the lifeboats were filled with women and children. The first chance of safety was given to those who were lEast able to help themselves. The deliberate and disciplined heroism which must have been displayed will be blazoned on the mariners’ book of fame, and in that record will be inscribed many an Irish name. In truth both the pity and the glory of this unprecedented disaster come right home to our minds. The Titanic was planned by Irish brains and built by Irish hands. A considerable number of her passengers were Irish. By the loss of many persons of worldwide reputation or of enormous wealth who were on board the doomed vessel, many families in England and America will be plunged into mourning. To the bereaved, both rich and poor, the sympathy of every heart which can feel a pang of sorrow at distress will go out in this time of agony. It is enough to move a stoic to tears to read of the frenzied inquiries at the White Star Offices of parents and relatives for news of their children or other loved ones who were aboard the ill-fated ship. In due course all that can ever be known of the circumstances attending the loss of the Titanic will be revealed at the Board Of Trade enquiry. But it is not of expert evidence and official findings that the civilised world is now thinking. It is of the awful death toll and what it involves of poignant sorrow to all the bereaved and of acute distress amongst those who have lost their breadwinners. The misery of the latter will not, we know full well, go unrelieved. In the confusion of Wireless messages from many vessels and stations there was at first left room for hope that there had been no loss of life. But we can now no longer doubt that, measured by the death toll, the calamity is the most terrible in the history of the world’s mercantile marine.

The loss of 1,020 lives through the burning of the excursion steamer General Slocum in Long Island in 1904 is the one recorded shipping disaster that comes near rivalling the Titanic catastrophe in the number of its victims. In the awe inspiring circumstances of her disappearance beneath the waves; however, the disaster to the White Star leviathan is without a parallel” (Irish Independent (Editorial), 1912). Hopes for more survivors are further dashed with the news reported on April 18th 1912. White Star Liners confirm that reports of 250 survivors on board Baltic were not accurate. Furthermore, Wireless messages claiming many fishing boats responded to the SOS are also untrue. The Dominion Government has ordered lighthouse keepers and patrol boats to keep a sharp look out for bodies of the victims as a number of ships were now heading to the scene of the wreck in the hopes of collecting the dead. A gruesome feature of these preparations is that these boats are carrying hundreds of coffins and many undertakers and embalmers (Irish Independent, 1912).  

The task of investigating the Titanic wreck began in the American Senate on Friday, April 19th, 1912. The Commerce Committee had appointed a subcommittee of 7 to take testimony. The sub-committee left for New York to gather witnesses to give evidence. Subpoenas are issued to compel officials and members of the crew of the Titanic to give evidence regarding all that occurred in connection with the disaster. The Chairman of the subcommittee, Mr William Alden Smith, Senator for Michigan, is demanding that it is absolutely imperative that the investigation begins immediately and claims “I have been informed that the surviving officers and members of the crew of the Titanic all of whom are British subjects, plan to transfer to the Cedric upon their arrival in New York and return immediately to England. This would take them beyond the jurisdiction of the committee, if, indeed, the committee has any jurisdiction to summon British subjects in such circumstances. I propose to urge upon Mr Ismay the advisability of his cooperation as a British subject with this Government to get at the true facts of this horrible disaster, and I shall tell him that, while we have no jurisdiction over British subjects, we have jurisdiction in American ports, and to avoid any trouble the Company and its officers should help us in the enquiry”. Mr Smith added that the committee wished particularly to find out the reasons for the great loss of life. These, he believed, Mr Ismay and the Titanic surviving officers were especially competent to give (Reuters Telegram, 1912).

In Washington there is a new proposed resolution to consider uniformed laws and regulations for merchant vessels at sea. The subjects specified for discussion to include regulations in regard to the efficiency of crews, construction of vessels, equipment of lifeboats, Wireless apparatus, searchlights, submarine bells, and life-saving and fire extinguishing equipment. While the Titanic never entered an American port the investigation is expected to show the extent to which other great liners meet Americans safety regulations. However, many members of Congress are openly opposed to the idea of holding an investigation into the disaster. Meanwhile, the continued silence of Carpathia as it approaches American waters is giving cause for alarm to the American public and European citizens anxious for news about the disaster. Although there have been attempts to maintain Wireless contact with the ship there has been absolutely no information concerning the disaster. “This veil of secrecy which enshrouds the liner has naturally given rise to all sorts of wild and horrifying conjectures. The American public is quite convinced that the absolute silence which has been maintained by the Carpathia means a ghastly tale will be unfolded when the survivors are landed. Certain it is that many of these survivors must be nearly crazed with grief and weak from exhaustion and exposure, and a horrible fear is growing that insanity is rife among the survivors. The preparations that have been made for the reception tend to confirm this belief, for a large number of doctors, nurses, and ambulances are in readiness on the pier. All outsiders are barred from the dock, and no phototographer will be permitted to snap shot the arrival. Some of these precautions are, of course, necessary and wise for the protection of the distressed passengers and crew, but the opinion is general that the secrecy is being carried to too great an extreme. The correction of the number of rescued from 868 to 705 has given rise to all sorts of conjectures. A ghastly explanation put forward in some quarters is that the 163 who have been taken from the original official total were really rescued but died on board the Carpathia as a result of the exposure or injuries received in the disaster. There is, of course, no confirmation of such a suggestion, but it is characteristic of the theories which are being put forward and represents fairly accurately the state of mind to which people have been brought by the disaster and the lack of information (Irish Independent, 1912).

According to a message, which is at present unconfirmed, 200 of the Titanic’s crew were asleep in their bunks when the crash came, and our quarters being in the four-part of the vessel, there were crushed to death. However, so many of these messages have been received that they must be accepted with reservation. When the Carpathia finally slowed down on the last lap of the sad journey, preparatory to treading the path through the long and narrow channel which leads into New York harbour some hours distant in the early hours of a rainy and dismal day where it was would be met on the pier by a big crowd of “privileged people”, mostly relatives and friends. Nearby was a long line of carriages and ambulances. Out on the channel it was still dark and “very raw and cheerless”. The lights on the steerage deck showed silent, pathetic groups, chiefly of women, who had come up from their cabins to obtain a glimpse of the distant glare reflected in the sky, indicating the myriad illuminations of New York City. The steerage passengers of the Titanic in muddled and cowed groups stared out vaguely into the night towards the city of New York. They were more easily distinguishable than the first and second class passengers, partly because they occupied the lower deck and kept rather rigidly to themselves, and also because the latter were generally on the upper deck and mixed with the Carpathia’s regular passengers. “Slowly and with her speed continually decreasing as New York came near the Carpathia advanced to port. Many of the survivors were in an hysterical state from being bereft of their husbands or other loved ones, and were constantly under the care of the ships surgeons, some delirious, while others had not recovered from the rigours of eight hours in the lifeboats on a cold and foggy sea. Cases of pneumonia are mentioned, and children lying almost at deaths door” (Irish Independent, 1912).

A Reuters telegram issued at 7;30 PM confirms the arrival of the Carpathia at the Quarantine Station, New York. The first of the survivors left the vessel at 9;35 o’clock. There was an immense and anxious crowd at the pier and details of the tragedy were eagerly sought by journalists and others. Definite particulars of the appalling occurrence are coming to hand but slowly, and it will still probably take a day or two before a full and consecutive narrative of the disaster can be given to the public. Survivors relate stories of husbands and wives refusing to part-Company with each other and opted instead to go down with Titanic. One survivor tells journalists that as the Titanic went down about 2;30 AM the ships band lined up on deck and played the him, “Nearer my God to Thee”. There are also stories of many rescued people who later died and were buried at sea. A steward states that the Carpathia, only 62 miles away when the Wireless call was received, took over four hours in covering the distance, as to the Captain feared running down the lifeboats in the darkness. Harold Bride, the surviving Wireless operator on board the Titanic, states that Phillips, the chief operator, worked heroically during the last 15 minutes. Bride strapped a lifebelt around Phillips. A man tried to take off the lifebelt but Bride knocked him down and left him in the Wireless cabin. Bride afterwards, though on crutches, took over the Wireless work on the Carpathia. There were other heroic stories including that of Col Astor who died heroically refusing to go into a lifeboat. His last act was to lift a child into the last boat. Captain Smith also refused to leave, and was last seen on the bridge. Four of the crew manning the lifeboats were frozen to death. There appears to be no truce in the statement the passengers were kept back at revolver point and that two well-known men were shot. All the passengers acclaimed British seamen’s heroic conduct. The men sang sea songs while lowering the boats and many male passengers behaved most courageously, helping to get the boats out (Irish Times, 1912).

The true story of the awful catastrophe of the Titanic sinking is now coming to light as numerous survivors relate their experiences “which show that the circumstances were, perhaps, the most harrowing in the world’s history”. One of the most dramatic stories is that as told by Harold Bride, the assistant Wireless operator, who was standing by his ill-fated colleague, Mr Phillips, as he was sending out his distress signals over the ocean while the great vessel was sinking. Mr Bride said there was no panic, though the decks were full of excited men and women. The Wireless instruments were growing more and more indistinct, and as the water was close up by the boats deck the captain entered the instrument telling the men to leave immediately. Although this account was widely reported there were some people who challenged, not its authenticity nor its source but the mysterious manner in which the story surfaced. Other survivors confirmed that the lifeboats were lowered as fast as they were filled, and many passengers, in a frantic state, flung themselves into the sea. As the liner disappeared beneath the water, the survivors who were adrift in the boats heard two explosions, and in a moment the Titanic had gone down. Several survivors assert that the Titanic was steaming at 23 knots an hour when she struck the iceberg. Three Italians were shot in the struggle for the boats. Many survivors said that the behaviour of the second and third class passengers was heroic, but that some of the first class passengers fought like madmen for the boats. One of the most realistic narratives of the disaster was given by Mr Beasley, of London, who states that at about 10;30 PM on Sunday night there was a slight jar. Persons were playing cards in the smoke room at the time. None of them had any idea that the boat had been pierced by an iceberg. There was a total absence of any panic. After all the ladies had been got into the boards one of the crew said to him, “then you had better jump,” and he jumped to the bottom of boat. Many passengers of the Titanic issued a signed statement in which they paid warm tribute to the officers and crew of the Carpathia. They drew attention to the insufficiency of the lifeboat accommodation of the Titanic, and point out that the number saved was about 80% of the maximum capacity of the boats (Irish Independent, 1912).

The Donegal News are glowing in their praise for the role of Marconi’s “ wonderful instruments” and reports the story of the Titanic and it signals of distress received and answered by Wireless Telegraphy adds one more chapter to the romance of the Marconi system, which has already been the means of saving many noble vessels and thousands of lives. It was as recently as 1898 that the new arrival of Wireless transmission became generally acclaimed, when the Prince of Wales, in the Royal yacht Osborne, was kept in uninterrupted communication with Osborne house, a distance of nearly 2 miles. But by December 1901 Marconi had at St John’s, Newfoundland, received signals from Poldhu, Cornwall, a distance of 1800 miles across the Atlantic. That was a triumph of signs which begin a new era in the history of navigation. Now all the great liners of the world carry Wireless and already a fascinating book might be written recording the rescue is made possible by Wireless and adventurers at sea stranger than Annie dreamt of by writers of fiction. The story of the Republic disaster in 1909, when, Jack Binns, the Marconi operator, became a popular hero, in spite of his modesty, deserves to be recalled as a famous example. From the details of that shipwreck one may imagine more clearly and vividly the scenes that have been taking place in the Titanic and ships that have raced to her rescue (Donegal News, 1912).

The world media did not share the same sense of enthusiasm for Marconi or his officials are any of his Wireless operators whom journalists would later describe as equally as corrupt. In the days following the disaster the international media, pressurised by the Titanic Disaster Investigating Committee in New York and also by their infuriated readers, had to account for the misinformation published in the 100 or so hour period immediately after the disaster. They turned their attention to the activities of the primary source of news, Marconi and laid the blame, justifiably or not, squarely at his feet. The New York Herald on April 21st, 1912 published the headline; “Keep Your Mouth Shut; Big Money for You, Was Message to Hide News’ The article stated that Marconi operators on Titanic and other nearby Marconi operated ships, were told by Marconi telegram to hold the story “Four figures for you”.

The article contends that while the world was waiting three days for information concerning the fate of the Titanic, for part of the time at lEast, details concerning the disaster were being withheld by the Wireless operator of the steamship Carpathia under specific orders from T.W. Sammis, chief engineer of them Marconi Wireless Company of America, who had arranged the sale of the story. This was admitted by Mr Sammis, who defended his action. He said he was justified for getting for the Wireless operators the largest amount he could for the details of the sinking of the ship, the rescue of the passengers and the other information the world had waited for. The first information concerning the loss of the Titanic came Monday evening, and it was known at that time the survivors were on board the Carpathia. About midnight the first of the list of survivors begin to come by Wireless, and from that time until Thursday night, when the rescue ship arrived in port, the world waited and waited in vain for the details of how the “unsinkable ship” had gone down. Three messages were sent to the Carpathia telling the operator to send out no news concerning the disaster. Two of these were unsigned, and the last one had the signature of Mr Sammis. The article further alleges that the first message was unsigned, and it said it was sent as a list of names of survivors was being forwarded. The message read “Keep your mouth shut. Hold story. Big money for you” The messages from the Carpathia to the Marconi office concerning this matter were not available, but there was evidently some communication, for the second unsigned message followed after an interval. This message read; “If you are wise, hold story. The Marconi Company will take care of you” The third and last message was addressed to “Marconi officer, the Carpathia and the Titanic,” and signed by Sammis which read “Stop. Say nothing. Hold your story for dollars in four figures. Mr Marconi agreeing. Will meet you at dock” Sammis was questioned at a hearing before the subcommittee of the United States Senate and he was asked about the message and did he actually send it. He admitted to sending the message but also stated that the matter was nobody’s business. He was told that it was interesting to know that when the world was horror stricken over the disaster and waiting for the news, that there were persons preparing to capitalise on the suspense and had arranged for ‘four figures’. Sammis explained that he felt justified for getting the highest price and was defiant in his contention that the matter was nobody’s business but his own (New York Herald, 1912).

The article further states that it is not unlikely that the sending of these messages with the no apparent result that no details of the disaster came from the relief ship will form part of the enquiry that is being made by a subcommittee of the Senate. Part of this enquiry has been directed as to why a message from President Taft asking for information about Maj Archibald W. Butt was unanswered, and it is not likely that in view of the message from Sammis that this will be taken up again. While these messages were intercepted by more than one Wireless receiving station, there is one place where the Senate committee could undoubtedly get copies of them. The New York Navy Yard has a powerful receiving station, and has what is known as an “intercepted message” book. These messages are considered confidential and are never given out, but the book would undoubtedly be at the disposal of the investigating committee. Sen. Smith claims that the authorities in Washington knew on Thursday long before the Carpathia arrived, that the White Star line was contemplating the return of part of the Titanic crew to England by the steamship Cedric, and this information undoubtedly came from a Government station. John W Griggs, onetime Attorney General of the United States and Gov of New Jersey, is President of the Marconi Wireless Company of America claimed to be unaware that the chief engineer of the Company was marketing the information of the disaster. The following day the Marconi Company challenged the New York Herald and claimed that their article was a grave injustice to the Marconi Company that called for immediate correction. They said that false and injurious impression had been created. They claim that the messages were sent on Thursday as the Carpathia was coming up the bay, and not as intimated on any of the early days following the Titanic disaster. Furthermore, if the operators having fully discharged their duties to the public, to the Carpathia and to the Marconi Company, desired to sell to a newspaper narratives of their personal experiences, this was attained they had a complete right to do, for these narratives were the own personal property. Who will begrudge these unfortunate and hard-working men the remuneration they thus received, or because of it charge them with previous neglect of duty? While the New York Herald reported Marconi’s dissatisfaction they remained adamant that their version of events was not without substance. In an article headed “Told to Keep Out Navy Man Charges” they contend that the Carpathia had not only refused to give the United States Scout cruiser Chester information concerning the Titanic, but had told her Wireless men to “keep out”. This information came to light when Frank Gaffney, chief operator of the Chester, informed the Herald. The refusal to answer, Gaffney stated, was after the Carpathia had been informed that Pres Taft was anxious to learn the fate of Major Butt and other prominent persons. Cmdr Decker, who was in charge of the cruiser, said the statements made by Harold Bride, that the navy operators were “wretched” was absurd. The Chester, it is said, continued to flash questions to the Carpathia onto the operators aboard the latter were compelled to answer because the high power of the Navy’s apparatus made the reading of messages to other points impossible. Gaffney also declared that he and his colleagues aboard the Chester probably would be witnesses before the Senate committee. He also confirmed that the operators on board the Carpathia left him under the impression that all had been saved. He said that at one time they did answer when enquiries were made for Major Butt by saying “He is not here” One of the officers on board the Chester claims that the operators of the Carpathia ignored everything that Gaffney and Blackstock sent or asked. Gaffney has been a Wireless operator for more than six years, while Blackstock has been one for about three or four years. The former is capable of sending about 45 words a minute and to say they are slow and wretched is absurd (New York Herald, 1912).

The United States inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic would last a total of 18 days. Surviving passengers and crew, and those who had aided the rescue efforts were questioned and more than 80 witnesses gave testimony are deposited sworn affidavits. The primary subjects covered by the enquiry included the ice warnings received, the inadequate number of lifeboats, the handling of the ship and its speed, Titanic’s distress calls, and the handling of the evacuation of the ship. As the enquiry progressed more and more ‘new facts’ began to come to light; the Wireless operator on Carpathia, Mr Cottain, appeared before the committee and told them that after picking up the Titanic’s boats the Carpathia at first made for Halifax, but afterwards changed her course for New York. He denied having sent any messages stating that all passengers were safe, or that the Titanic was in tow. Owing to the constant dispatch of messages he had less than ten hours sleep in three days.

The subcommittee’s report was presented to the United States Senate on 28 May 1912. Its recommendations, along with doors of the British enquiry that concluded a few months later, led to changes in safety practices following the disaster. The report was 19 pages long and summarised 1,145 pages of testimony and affidavits and amongst its key findings were; a lack of emergency preparations had left Titanic’s passengers and crew in a state of absolute unpreparedness, and the evacuation had been chaotic. The ship safety and life-saving equipment had not been properly tested, Capt Edward Smith had shown an indifference to danger that was one of the direct and contributing causes of the disaster, the lack of lifeboats was the fault of the British Board of Trade, the SS Californian had been much nearer to the Titanic than the captain is willing to admit and the British Government should take drastic action against him for his actions, Bruce Ismay had not ordered captain Smith to put on extra speed, but Ismay’s presence on board may have contributed to the Captain’s decision to do so and finally, third class passengers had not been prevented from reaching the lifeboats, but had in many cases not realised until it was too late that the ship was sinking. The report was strongly critical of established seafaring practices and the roles that Titanic’s builders, owners, officers and crew had played in contributing to the disaster. It highlighted the arrogance and complacency that had been prevalent aboard ship but it did not find the White Star Line negligent under existing maritime laws, as they had merely followed standard practice, and the disaster could only be categorised as “an act of God” (Barczewski, 2011).

Guglielmo Marconi was one of the first people to give testimony to the United States Senate enquiry and was called upon on day one to give evidence. He described himself as an Electrical Engineer and chairman of the British Marconi Company. He also confirms that it was his Wireless operators that worked on board both Carpathia and the Titanic and that day alone are responsible for the commercial work, accounting for messages and degenerative conduction of commercial Telegraphic service and were accountable to the Captain according to the exigencies of the service. However, he also confirms that there are numerous instructions which are general rules and regulations for expediting the traffic and for preventing interference with other ships. There are, in the main, the same rules and regulations as are enacted by the International Convention on Wireless Telegraphy otherwise known as the Berlin Treaty to which Great Britain is a party but the United States was not. The regulations of the international convention are the basis of regulations and instructions to men operating Wireless apparatus. It was also established that in the case of a large ship like Titanic, Olympic, Mauritania, or the Lusitania they always carried two operators, but the smaller ships of the class size of the Carpathia carry one. Size is normally dictated by the average number of passengers carried. Marconi tells Smith that the Carpathia is provided with equipment which should call a short distance; it is an apparatus which can transmit messages under favourable circumstances, up to about 180 to 200 miles and on average would send a distance of about 100 miles depending on numerous circumstances including state of space, weather and the skill of the operator. The Titanic was also equipped by Marconi’s Company with ‘fairly powerful sets’, capable of communicating for 500 miles during the daytime and much further during the night-time. This, according to Marconi, was the latest and best Wireless apparatus for the purpose. Marconi also confirms that he is aware that one of the two operators on the Titanic was drowned and the other was picked up, got on a raft, on a collapsible boat, and he was rescued by the Carpathia, having been wounded in his ankles or his legs. Sen Smith then asks whether Marconi or his offices in New York were in communication with the Titanic on Sunday night? Marconi stated that he could not answer that but he was aware there were a great number of messages had come true from the Carpathia but “I sent no messages to the Carpathia, nor did I receive any”.

Marconi is then asked whether there was any general interference from the time of the collision on the part of experimental rival services to the detriment of this service. He states that, to the best of his knowledge, there was no interference. After a lot of technical questioning Marconi is then asked were any orders given by the Marconi Company to the operators or the operator on the Carpathia, with reference to the receipts and answer of messages? Marconi replies “None whatever, there was no disposition to censor or control the operator of the Carpathia and further, “I was very much surprised at things that were stated in the press, that replies had been refused or had not been transmitted. But I have been ensured by the operators on the Carpathia that he never dreamed of refusing any replies” (Titanic Inquiry Project., 1999).

On day six of the enquiry Marconi is recalled. He has asked by Sen Smith to elaborate with what he has to do with the equipment of Wireless apparatus on ocean vessels or shore stations, and what has he to do with the selection of operators in that work? He tells the Smith “I am consulted with regard to all technical details concerning the apparatus installed in ships generally, though I am not consulted with regard to the equipment of each particular ship” He further states that, “concerning the business arrangements made with ship owners, I am usually not in thorough touch with what is going on, for the reason that I’m usually occupied with technical work. I travel about the world a great deal in order to carry on experiments and to inspect plants in various countries. For the business details and for the general management of the Company there is a managing Director or general manager, who attends to all the work of engaging operators and of negotiating with ship owners and others for the use of Wireless Telegraphy” Marconi is then questioned as to the identity of this man to which replies Mr Godfrey C. Isaacs who resides in London and had just left New York prior to the Titanic accident.

Marconi is then questioned as to his relationship with the British Government and he tells Smith that he has no official relationship with the British Government, except that he is called upon by them to advise them on matters of Wireless Telegraphy generally, and also is responsible for the design of the long distance stations which they are erecting in various parts of the British Empire, in which his Company have an interest for a period of at lEast 18 years. Sen Smith then asks Marconi to state to the committee, in general terms, the scope of that contract and whether that contract requires him to install his apparatus and supervises operation and management, or whether he received compensation by an agreement which permits the management to fall under the control of the British officials? Marconi states that the contract provides that within a certain period of time, two years, “we shall direct these stations for the Government of England in Cyprus, Egypt, India, South Africa, Singapore, and other places where the Government may decide to erect them. We are paid a certain lump sum per station for the expense of erection, and the station, before being accepted by the Government, has to satisfy certain requirements in regard to speed of transmission, effectiveness, and reliability”

Sen Smith then wants to know if a contract of a similar character existed between Marconi and the German Government or if he had any dealings with the Government of the German Empire. Marconi confirms that he had some dealings with the Government of Germany and is fitting German ships with Wireless apparatus on a profit-sharing basis but he also had similar contracts with Italy; “in consideration of not being charged for Patent rights in regard to the use of the system they undertake to equip their shore stations and their colonies with my apparatus and use it exclusively for commercial purposes, being free for war and navy purposes to use anything they like” Marconi is then asked a series of questions in relation to what Wireless apparatus was in operation in a number of different ships from a number of different countries. He seems very knowledgeable on such questions and confirms that the Cape Race station would be the best and most likely station, given the whereabouts of the Titanic at the time of the tragedy, to pick up the communications from the ship. Mr Marconi is then questioned on the positions of certain members of his staff in America but most notably an officer named Mr Sammis who is chief engineer of the American Marconi Co., Who, says Marconi, “Is very intimately in touch with everything concerning the equipment of the ships and the operators, and the operation of the system” Marconi is then invited to give a full background as to how he became involved in Wireless Telegraphy and he avails of this opportunity and further elaborates on how he set up his own Company and brought it, under his supervision, to an international organisation.

After some hours Sen Smith enquires as to whether Marconi himself had any communication or had ordered any communication with the Carpathia on Sunday night or Monday? Marconi denies having any such communication. He is then asked did you have any communication with the Carpathia directly or through a ship coast station, on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday up to the time of the arrival of the Carpathia in New York. He confirms he had no direct communication with Carpathia. Following a series of questions in relation to whether Marconi himself had been in direct contact with the Titanic or the Carpathia he emphatically states that he had no communication whatsoever with either ship at any time immediately after the disaster or during any of the following days. Marconi does confirm that he went to the Carpathia on the evening of its arrival and went on board to meet the Wireless operator, Mr Bride, and congratulated him on what he had heard he had done and then enquired after his senior operator, Phillips. Marconi also tells of his instructions to the Wireless operator to give every account he could to reporters and to disclose and discuss anything he knew about the disaster when and if he were asked. However, Marconi does admit that it is an offence, punishable by imprisonment to disclose the contents of messages. “On an occasion like this, of course some latitude would have been given. I mean, I think that on an occasion like this it would have been a good thing if some report had been sent. But this was a matter that depended on the discretion of the operator, and he used his discretion in such a way that he did not send any messages”. Marconi further admits that Carpathia’s operator, Mr Cottam, had left the ship but later made contact to inform him that journalists wanted the story of the disaster, and that he(Cottam) was going to be paid something for the story; “he did not tell me how much. He asked if he could give the story, and I said yes. But, in regard to this question, of operators, that there is a rule in these companies that operators must not act as reporters. They must accept messages from everyone in the order in which they are presented and there are bound to transmit them. But it is not encouraged that they should send stories of their own; at lEast, they would be dismissed if they did it” Sen Smith then asks Marconi if he sent a Wireless to the operators on the Carpathia and ask them to meet him at a later date and telling them to keep their mouths shut. Marconi denies any knowledge of any such message. Sen Smith then produces a document and tells Marconi he’s going to read the document and then ask whether Marconi new and eating about any fact or circumstance connected with the document. “On the evening of the steamship Carpathia’s arrival in New York, the four following radiograms were intercepted by the chief operator, JR Simpson, chief electrician, United States Navy. They appear to me to be significant enough to be brought to the attention of the Department;

Seagate to Carpathia; “Say, old man, Marconi Company, taking good care of you. Keep your mouth shut, and hold your story. It is fixed for you so you will get big money. Now, please do your best to clear”

That was at 8.12 PM, and then follows this one;

“To Marconi officer, Carpathia and Titanic; 8;30 PM; arranged for your exclusive story for dollars in four figures, Mr Marconi agreeing. Say nothing until you see me. Where are you now?(JM Sammis).

Followed by;

From Seagate to Carpathia operator; go to Strand Hotel. 502 W. 14th Street to meet Mr Marconi.; 9;33 PM;

And finally this;

From Seagate to Carpathia; A personal to operator Carpathia. “Meet Mr Marconi and Sammis at Strand Hotel, 502 W. 14th Street. Keep your mouth shut; Signed Mr Marconi.

Marconi claims that he does not know anything whatever about any of these messages; “They are not in the phraseology which I would have approved of if I had passed them. I should, however said that I told Mr Sammis or Mr Bottomley, I do not remember which, that I, as an officer of the British Company, would not prohibit or prevent these operators from making anything which they reasonably could make out of selling their story of the wreck. I was anxious that, if possible, they might make some small amount of money out of the information they had” Sen Smith confirms that it is a habit of the Marconi Company that Wireless operators are allowed to make personal profit, with Marconi’s consent and approval, from their personal experiences; “Mr Marconi let me ask you this with the right to exact compensation for an exclusive story detailing the horrors of the greatest sea disaster that ever was recorded in the history of the world, do you mean that an operator under your Company’s direction shall have the right to prevent the public from knowing of that calamity? Marconi replies, “I gave no instructions in regard to withholding any information, and I gave no advice or instructions in regard to an exclusive story to anybody. The only thing I did say or did authorise was that if he was offered payment for the story of the disaster, he was permitted, so far as the English Company went, to take that money” (Took & Donnelly, 1998). Later in his questioning of Marconi Sen Smith asks “regarding this arrangement with Mr Bride, you simply expressed willingness that he should make some money out of a narration of his experiences? Marconi replies; “Yes, sir, my feeling, expressed quite frankly, is that these operators are paid a very small amount; that certainly we would have compensated them to some degree; but if it were possible for them to make some money out of the story that they had, I do not say that they had exclusive information, but through permitting themselves to be interviewed, I was very glad that they should make this small amount. That was my sole feeling in the matter”

Through a series of such questions and answers the Inquiry Committee ascertain that Marconi had no intention that any information should be withheld in any way. Furthermore, that in a time of crisis the Captain is absolute chief and head and ruler of everything concerning the Wireless, and all the commercial rules which hold in ordinary times are suspended at the discretion of the captain. But in such cases the captain would not know actually whether his orders were being followed and if messages had been sent, he must rely on the statement of the operator. Before he leaves the stand Marconi makes the point that in his organisation a copy is kept of every message received and sent on board a ship. Therefore, this register of messages may be of some use to the committee but could not guarantee access to any of the messages on Carpathia which were taken to the Mediterranean. The Captain would not land them; “we endeavour to get them, but captain would not give them out”

Later the same day Marconi is recalled to be asked one question by Sen Smith; “In my examination this morning I failed to ask you specifically whether between the date of the collision, Sunday evening, April 14, and the present time, any officer, Director, or employee of the White Star Line, or of the International Mercantile Marine Co., had requested you or anyone associated with you, to your knowledge, to delay any message, or send any silence message, or message enjoining silence on the part of the Titanic’s operator, Bride, or the Carpathia’s operator, Cottam, with reference to the time and manner in which and to which the Titanic accident was in any way related? Marconi replies that; I am absolutely certain that I have received no such request. Smith then asks, “Or any officer or employee of your Company, without our knowledge? Marconi replies, “Yes, you may add those as part of my answer” (Titanic Inquiry Project., 1999).

On day 10 of the inquiry Marconi returns to give further testimony. Sen Smith begins his questioning by asking Marconi, “When you were last on the stand, I asked you whether you had sent any messages to the Carpathia during her voyage from the scene of the catastrophe to New York, and I recall your reply. Would you like to correct it? Marconi explains that he had said that he did not send any messages to the Carpathia but “on my return to New York, after having testified, I found that I had sent one message to the Carpathia” Marconi then reads this message to the inquiry; “Wire News dispatch immediately to ‘Siasconset’ or to navy boats. If this is impossible, ask captain give reason why no news is allowed to be transmitted. Signed, Guglielmo Marconi” The Siasconset sent to my office in New York return of what it actually transmitted to the Carpathia. This is the message; “Wire news dispatches immediately to navy boats. If this impossible ask captain give reason why no news is allowed to be transmitted” Marconi says he received no reply to the message which he sent at about 1;00 AM. He is then further questioned on issues relating to difficulties in international communication codes, American systems compared to European systems and then asked did he desire the committee to understand that these two telegrams that he had just read were the only messages he communicated to the Carpathia on the day of arrival in New York? Marconi denies all knowledge of the telegrams sent on the 18th, allegedly signed by him at 9;33 PM and says that it was absolutely unauthorised; “no matter who signed it, and I stated I did not send it or authorise it to be sent” He further states that he disapproves of both the language of these Wireless messages and the unauthorised use of his name and adds, “I should also ask you to allow me to say that the message which I sent to the Carpathia, to which you have already referred, proves, I think, quite conclusively that I had no intention of preventing the United States Navy boats from receiving any information from the Carpathia. I was exceedingly surprised, as everybody else was at the time, that no news was coming through, and I was very much worried about it, and that day I did suggest this message should be sent, and it was sent” Sen Smith then asks, “I want to ask you a straight, square question; whether you infer that the failure of your operators to communicate with the Salem or the Chester or with your office, or to give this news of the trip of the Carpathia to New York to the public, was influenced in any manner by the hope of reward from the sale of exclusive information in the possession of the Wireless operators?” Marconi replies, “my opinion is that it was not influenced in any way, because I do not see that they had any reason to believe or to hope or to think that they were going to sell their story to anybody”

Sen Smith then refers back to the case of the ship Republic, also owned by a sister Company of the White Star line, which in the early morning of 23 January 1909, while sailing from New York to Gibraltar and Mediterranean ports with 742 passengers and crew and captain in command, entered a thick fog off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Out of the fog, the Lloyd Italiano liner SS Florida appeared and hit Republic at a right angle after which the ship listed and began to flood. Republic was equipped with the new Marconi Wireless Telegraph system, and became the first ship in history to issue a CQD distress signal, sent by Jack R. Binns. Florida came about to rescue Republic’s passengers, and the US Coast Guard cutter Gershwin responded to the distress signal as well. Passengers were distributed between the two ships, with Florida taking the bulk of them, but with 900 Italian immigrants already on board, this left the ship dangerously overloaded. The white star liner Baltic, commanded by Capt Ranson, also responded to the CQD call, but due to the persistent fog, it was not until the evening that Baltic was able to locate the drifting Republic. Once on scene, the rescued passengers were transferred from the Gresham and Florida to Baltic. Because of the damage to Florida, that ships immigrant passengers were also transferred to Baltic, after which the Republic ship sank. After the tragedy, Jack R. Binns, hailed by international media as a hero was handsomely paid for his story. Sen Smith felt that it was possible that the fact that Binns received money for his story of that disaster would influence Wireless operators somewhat in their course. Marconi explains that Binns had received a great deal of notoriety, and has benefited himself by the fact of his having been on board the Republic and on duty on that occasion. “I might say that he is still implied in writing newspaper articles and magazine articles about operators, and the sea, and ships, and things of that kind, which have absolutely nothing to do with the actual facts of the loss of the Republic. It seems to me that the public interest or the newspaper interest, becomes so great when an individual finds himself placed in the position of these men, that whatever they say that has public interest is paid for by these enterprising American journalist” Marconi is then asked by Smith, “you, being the leading and most active figure in the field of Wireless Telegraphy, probably the most prominent man in the world in that work, and your offices being in every part of the world and on most of the ships of the sea, I ask you whether from the developments of this enquiry you do not feel that it is incumbent upon you to discourage that practice; indeed, to prevent it all together, so far as you are able? Marconi agrees, “I am entirely in favour of discouraging the practice, and I naturally give very great weight to Annie opinion expressed by the chairman of this committee” Marconi is then asked to read further telegrams sent by his Company, all of which are demanding news (Titanic Inquiry Project., 1999).

Following the inquiries, United States Government passed the Radio Act of 1912. This act, along with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, stated that radio communications on passenger ships would be operated 24 hours along with a secondary power supply, so as not to miss distress calls. Also, the Radio Act of 1912 required ships to maintain contact with vessels in their vicinity as well as coastal onshore radio stations (Minichiello, P.E., Ray, 2008).

The Titanic tragedy had shown the public the usefulness of Wireless communications. Although 700 passengers were saved, the press argued that more could have been saved if there was a stronger Wireless regulation in effect. The press would argue that there was a lack of standards regarding the proper use of this Wireless technology on ships in particular, but also there needed to be regulation to protect citizens in general. The Radio Act proposed that Government would be given a specific wavelength, power level and operational hours to counter the Marconi Company’s monopoly of the spectrum. The feeling at the time was that long wavelengths of 250 m and over provided the best means for communications. Amateurs were therefore given those wavelengths of 200 m and below, what we know and call today the AM band. Sen Smith felt that over time the amateurs would lose interest and funding and all the wavelengths would revert to the Government. The Radio Act of 1912 reduced the amateur stations from 10,000 to just over 1,200 by the end of 1912. The Act mandated that all radio stations be licensed by the Government, as well as mandating that seagoing vessels continuously monitor distress frequencies.

The act set a precedent for international legislation of Wireless communications. Along with the Titanic disaster another factor to be considered was to combat the issue with amateur radio operators, the act provided for a system of licensing all radio stations, including amateur radio operators. Furthermore, it prohibited those amateurs from transmitting over the main commercial and military wavelengths. Amateurs were limited to transmitting signals that were below a certain wavelength in addition to being limited by wavelengths, amateurs were also limited to location and operating hours. The act would also allow Government to close down any or all radio stations and also empowers Government to impose fines and to revoke licences of those radio operators who violated the restrictions laid down by the act. Furthermore, the Government could seize the equipment of the offending station, as well as suspending the radio licences of the operators (Keith, 2007).

The Titanic tragedy has a connection to another Wireless story that has almost been forgotten; the dawn of modern radio licence regulation. Historical narratives vary on this subject. Even without the Titanic disaster, Government would have eventually asserted entirety over Wireless frequencies. But the Titanic tragedy accelerated the process and gave it a reference point in the public mind. Within weeks of the tragedy Wireless radio operators had to be licensed. During the Titanic disaster Marconi stations across the Atlantic Rim had become scenes of chaos, and they blamed it on amateur operators. Embarrassed newspaper editors joined the blame game and furious editorials against amateurs appeared in global newspapers. The American Radio Act of 1912 functioned as a template for global Government. Does the Titanic really deserve some credit or blame for this condition? It’s a point of disagreement among historians.

The tragedy is “often cited inaccurately as the reason for drawing the Radio Act of 1912,” writes broadcast regulation scholar Marvin R. Bensman. “The subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee had actually completed its work on this bill and the bill had been reported out prior to the Titanic disaster” (Lasar, 2011). That’s exactly right, but the footnote to this assertion comes from Captain Linwood S. Howeth’s 1963 statement, “The Titanic disaster has often been given as the compelling reason behind the enactment of this legislation. This is not correct. The subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee had completed its masterful work of bringing the opposing views into proper focus and the bill had been reported out prior to the disaster. It did, however, awaken congressional eyes to its wisdom and necessity and ensured its final enactment” (Howeth, 1963)

By April 30th the Irish newspapers were publishing their last ‘detailed’ witness accounts of the Titanic disaster and their editorials reflected the mood of angry readers who had been misled by early accounts and, in the light of evidence given in New York and Washington, clearly desired to move forward; “In the midst of her rejoicing over the near approach of the realisation of her national aspirations, Ireland has been plunged with dreadful suddenness and unexpectedness into consternation and gloom. The imagination is terrified by the wreck of the Titanic, the sacrifice of human life, the human bodies, many of them those of Ireland’s sons and daughters, cut off in the flower of youth and when filled with the hope of a livelihood and a foreign country, grinding against the ice and washed about the ocean. The agonies of those hours of horror can never be figured in the human mind. Within a few square yards of sea upon that awful night there was played such a tragedy of fear and grief and pain as no human mind can even remotely conceive. The passengers on board the Titanic went to sleep after a normal day, with its petty chatter and its little pleasures and follies. The Wireless operators sent desperate messages across the ocean; but think of the tortured minds flashing messages all over the world and beyond the world. The thought of it is terrible. The hope would be that the end was swift to all that were to perish. An earthquake at lEast has that good side to it, and, it is said, those found dead in the lava of Pompeii show in the normal line of their features that they had no terror, but were caught by death before they knew that their tomorrow was not to be like their yesterday. The grim story of the Titanic is still only little-known. The half information of the moment leaves all people black in doubt. Especially there will be doubts; as to those giant vessels that have been the pride of our new century. The Olympic began badly; the Titanic will enter into a sad fame as the cause of the most awful sea tragedy of all record. It was the “unsinkable” and it is sunk; and sunk four short hours after the collision. Within a few days of its proud first taking to the high seas, it is at the bottom, its passengers are washing over the sea, and their intimates will be haunted for years by the thought of their fate” (Southern Star, 1912).

But the matter was not quite closed yet as the House of Commons announce a public enquiry into the loss of the Titanic which would open within a few days (Irish Independent, 1912). Charles Buxton informed the House of Commons that the scope of the Titanic enquiry would be wide enough to allow the courts to receive evidence bearing on the advisability of changing the present regulations of the Board of Trade as to the safety of human life on the steamers. He further stated that the Court of Inquiry would be open to the press, and the proceedings would be fully reported. In addition, he proposed to supply some copies of the official print of the proceedings, from day-to-day to the libraries of both Houses. He also confirmed that the interests of the general public would be represented by the Law Officers of the Crown; “Other persons might, by leave of the Judge, appear by counsel, and the court had full power to provide for the costs of the inquiry. The arrangements for Wireless Telegraphy under Titanic and other vessels to which she sent, or from which she received messages would be considered by the Court of Inquiry” (Buxton, 1912).

The Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith, is asked if he would propose a resolution to appoint a committee of that House to investigate the circumstances connected with the loss of the Titanic and sending Wireless messages in connection therewith, instead of having the Board of Trade investigation in view of the fact that the Board of Trade must necessarily be itself on trial in any such investigation. The Prime Minister told the House that the Government were of the opinion that the court of inquiry, presided over by Lord Mersey, would afford the best means of arriving at a conclusion with regard to all the circumstances connected with the loss of the Titanic, and all questions of responsibility involved. The Court was an independent tribunal with full power to mould the inquiry according to its own discretion. He further denies that the Board of Trade had some representatives on the tribunal.

In reply to further questions Asquith says the Board of Trade had absolutely no power to direct the course of the inquiry. He is further challenged and informed that under the merchant shipping act, the court must report to the Board of Trade itself. How is that possible if they may find that the Board of Trade has been culpable? Asquith insists, there is no difficulty at all, “They send their report formally to the board of trade and are perfectly entitled to find the board of trade culpable” (Asquith, 1912).

The court of enquiry into the circumstances of the disaster to the Titanic was opened in the Scottish Hall, Buckingham Gate, West Minister, the Hall of the headquarters of the London Scottish Territorials, and there were over 1000 persons present including members of the general public. Lord Mersey, the Wreck Commissioner with five colleagues who were acting as assessors, took their places on a rostrum at the top of the room. In front of the commissioners were an unusually large number of counsel representing the numerous parties interested. Chief among these were; Board of Trade, the White Star Line and builders, underwriters, surviving passengers and officers, and other big shipping companies. Behind counsel were the numerous professional witnesses to be called including the builders, underwriters, surviving passengers and officers and representatives of other big shipping companies. Beside the platform was a big model of the Titanic that had been used by Harland & Wolff for the construction of the mammoth liner. Alongside was an enormous route chart of the North Atlantic, and to the left of the platform were other plans of the vessel. Over 300 witnesses had been subpoenaed and the  inquiry is predicted to  ‘necessarily’ last many weeks.

When Lord Mersey took his seat at 11;10 the seats are set apart for the public were by no means filled up. Capt Bigham, Secretary to the Commission, opened the proceedings by stating “the enquiry will now be opened into the Titanic” Sir Rufus Isaacs then said, “Before this inquiry proceeds, I desire, on behalf of his Majesty’s Government, to express our deepest sympathy with all those who mourn the loss of relatives and friends among the passengers, the officers, or the crew of this ill-fated vessel. This terrible disaster in mid ocean, both because in mere magnitude it exceeds any calamity in the history of the Mercantile Marine, and also because of the many harrowing incidents, which has in a profound and marked degree touched the hearts of the nation, and while not desiring in any way to anticipate the result of this inquiry, I cannot refrain from paying tribute of warm admiration of those whose manful devotion to duty and heroic sacrifices for the safety of others have maintained the best traditions of the sea. Before proceeding further I do not know if my learned friend has anything to add” (Isaacs, 1912). Sir Robert Finlay added “I desire to associate myself, on behalf of the owners of the Titanic, with the expressions which the Attorney General used. No words can express the sympathy which everyone must feel with those who have suffered. There is only one thing which gives some consolation, and to that the Attorney General has alluded, that the disaster has given an opportunity for a display of discipline and of heroism that is worthy of all the best traditions of the Marine of this country. I can say no more, for the sympathy which we feel on this occasion with those who have suffered is really beyond expression in words” (Finlay, 1912).

Isaacs then states that it was the earnest desire of the administration that a searching and thorough enquiry should be made with the object of ascertaining as fully and precisely as possible the circumstances surrounding the casualty, and of abducting lessons and conclusions that might help hereafter to promote the safety of vessels and life at sea; “it is the wish of the President of the Board of Trade, and the law officers of the Crown were equally desiring, that in the public interest every possible source of information and all available evidence would be placed before the inquiry”. It was proposed to call surviving members of the crew, and afterwards witnesses as to the construction and equipment of the vessel and a series of 26 questions framed by the Board of Trade would be asked. This would include questions such as the number of persons employed in any capacity on board, and the total number of passengers, discriminating between sex, adults, and children. Did the Titanic comply with the requirements of the Merchant Shipping Acts rules and regulations? Were any special provisions made in actual design and construction of the Titanic for the safety of those on board in the case of casualty? How was the Titanic officered and manned?; The number of boats, arrangements for manning and launching of them, and their capacity and had there been boat drill during the voyage?; Enquiries into Wireless installation and regulations for operators?; Were instructions as to navigation given to the master, and, if so, what were they?; Was the route taken usual and was it safe at this time of year?; Had the master discretion as to the route?; There will also be many questions related to what happened before warning was sent by Wireless to the Titanic and whether, after leaving Queenstown, information had not reached the Titanic by Wireless signals as to the existence of ice in certain latitudes, and was her course altered? (Freemans Journal, 1912).

There were a total of 36 days of official investigation. Lord Mersey and the various counsels, assessors and experts in marine law and shipping architecture, questioned White Star Line officials, Government officials, surviving passengers and crew, and those who had aided the rescue efforts. Organisations represented by legal counsels included shipping unions and Government organisations. Nearly 100 witnesses testified, answering more than 25,000 questions. The questioning resulted in a report that contained a detailed description of the ship, an account of the ship’s journey, a description of the damage caused by the iceberg, and an account of the evacuation and rescue. The final report was published on 30 July 1912. Its recommendations, along with those of the earlier United States Senate inquiry that had taken place in the month after the sinking, led to changes in safety practices following the disaster. The lines of questioning at the inquiry had resulted in a detailed description of the ship, an account of the ship’s journey, a description of the damage caused by the iceberg, an account of the evacuation and rescue. There was also a special section devoted to the circumstances of the Californian (Titanic Inquiry Project, 1912).

The report found that Titanic’s sinking was solely the result of colliding with the iceberg, not due to any inherent flaws with the ship, and that the collision had been brought about by a dangerously fast speed in icy waters; “The Court, having carefully inquired into the circumstances of the above mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons appearing in the annex hereto, that the loss of the said ship was due to collision with an iceberg, brought about by the excessive speed at which the ship was being navigated” (Titanic Inquiry Project, 1912). It also found that the lookout being kept was inadequate given the navigational hazards Titanic faced, and that the ship’s officers had been complacent. There were too few lifeboats available and they had not been properly filled or manned with trained seamen, though they had been lowered correctly. The inquiry concluded that the Californian “could have pushed through the ice to the open water without any serious risk and so have come to the assistance of the Titanic. Had she done so she might have saved many if not all of the lives that were lost” (Butler, 1998).

The Board of Trade’s representative suggested to Lord Mersey that a formal inquiry should be held into Captain Lord’s “competency to continue as Master of a British ship” but no action was taken against him due to legal technicalities. The Board of Trade was criticised for its inadequate regulations, notably the failure to ensure that enough lifeboats were provided and that crews were given proper training in their use. The Duff Gordons were cleared of wrongdoing but it was made clear that they should have acted more tactfully (Butler, 1998)

In contrast to the American inquiry, the Mersey report did not condemn the failures of the Board of Trade, the White Star Line or Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith. The report found that although Smith was at fault for not changing course or slowing down, he had not been negligent because he had followed long-standing practice which had not previously been shown to be unsafe (Lynch, 1998) The inquiry noted that British ships alone had carried 3.5 million passengers over the previous decade with the loss of just 10 lives (Eaton & Haas, 1994) it concluded that Smith had merely done “only that which other skilled men would have done in the same position” However, the practice itself was faulty and “it is to be hoped that the last has been heard of this practice. What was a mistake in the case of the Titanic would without doubt be negligence in any similar case in the future” (Lynch, 1998)

The report’s recommendations, along with those of the earlier United States Senate inquiry that had taken place in the month after the sinking, led to changes in safety practices following the disaster. The report was well received by the British press. The Daily Telegraph commented that although “technically speaking, the report is not the last word, but in practice it would probably be treated as if it were” (Eaton & Haas, 1994) The Daily Mail suggested that it was “difficult to suppose that any court which had to inquire into the responsibility of the owners of the ship would disregard the expression of opinion of Lord Mersey and those who sat with him … The report having, in effect, acquitted them of all blame, it is not likely that any attempt will be made hereafter to establish the contrary” (Barczewski, 2011).

Others were more critical. In his memoirs, Charles Lightoller pointed out the inquiry’s conflict of interest; “A washing of dirty linen would help no one. The Board of Trade had passed that ship as in all respects fit for the sea … Now the Board of Trade was holding an inquiry into the loss of that ship – hence the whitewash brush” (Barczewski, 2011) Titanic historian Donald Lynch notes the consequences; “Apart from protecting itself, the [Board of Trade] had no interest in seeing the White Star Line found negligent. Any damage to White Star’s reputation or balance sheet would be bad for British shipping – and there was considerable potential for both. Negligence on the part of the shipping Company might pave the way for millions of dollars in damage claims and lawsuits that would tie up the courts for years, possibly break the White Star Line, and result in the loss of much of Britain’s lucrative shipping traffic to the Germans and the French” (Lynch, 1998).

Stephanie Barczewski notes the contrast between the approaches taken by the American and British inquiries. The British inquiry was much more technical, “the more learned and erudite of the two”, while the American inquiry’s report was a reflection of a comparatively poorly managed inquiry that had frequently allowed itself to get sidetracked. However, the American report took a much more robust stance on the failures that had led to the disaster. As Barczewski puts it, it “bristles with criticisms of established seafaring traditions and of the conduct of the Titanic’s builders, owners, officers and crew”, and conveys “righteous indignation” and a “passion to right the wrongs” done to the victims of the disaster and to prevent any recurrence. The authors of the two reports took markedly different interpretations of how the disaster had come about. The American report castigated the arrogance and complacency that had led to the disaster and held Captain Smith, the shipping industry and the Board of Trade culpable for their failures. The British report emphasized that “the importance of this Enquiry has to do with the future. No Enquiry can repair the past” (Barczewski, 2011)

“Signor Marconi whose name is world famed as the inventor of the Wireless system, yesterday began an important extension of the Wireless. Messages by Wireless may now be sent through any Telegraph office in the United Kingdom at a cheap rate to the United States or Canada”

(Ulster Herald, 1912)

In early May 1912 the financial pages are reporting that the Wireless market, as compared with some weeks ago, has developed remarkable weakness. “At one time yesterday Marconi ordinary shares fell under the previous day’s closing price and the panicky feeling endured for the remainder of the day” (Freemans Journal, 1912). The Irish Independent reports “Business in Marconi shares fell away to very meagre proportions at the Stock Exchange. Sellers of the various Wireless Telegraph issues came prominently forward, and, in the absence of adequate support, prices dropped all round” (Irish Independent, 1912).

The time was right for an exercise in damage limitation. As Marconi’s shares began to plummet the Irish media’s immediately started on rebuilding both his reputation and the reputation of his Company and began to publish articles in praise of the man they described as an “absolute genius”. The part which Wireless played in the tragedy of the Titanic suggests a note or two on the inventor of Wireless, Guglielmo Marconi, says the Southern Star newspaper; “To begin, anyone more unlike the typical Italian as we know him, dark, olive skinned, and given to gesticulation, than the propounder of the above gigantic scheme, it would be difficult to imagine. If anything Marconi is on the fair side; his wonderful eyes are of a greyish blue, and in manner he is the essence of quietness. But, then, he is only half an Italian, for his mother was Irish and from Enniscorthy, a member of a well-known family, and although born in Italy, Marconi was educated for a time in England at a private school at Bedford. Inventors are often poor, but Marconi’s father was a wealthy landed proprietor. At school he particularly objected to be made to learn things by heart, and to the methods of teaching handwriting, and to this day he condemns the latter, schoolboys being taught to write in a way they will never use in afterlife. Anyway, both at Bedford and at other schools in Italy, Marconi refused to study except in his own way and at his pet subjects. What were his early tastes? Music held foremost place; but his scientific tastes were also strong, and in his own way he studied chemistry and electricity at an age when most boys are mainly occupied with games. He was only 13 when he installed electric light in his father’s house, an achievement which made something of a sensation locally, electricity being little understood, in those days. He went to Bologna University and quite probably he would eventually have settled down as a country gentleman, as his father wished him to do, but for the discovery of “Hertzian Waves” in 1888. Prof Hertz’s demonstration, that a disruptive electrical discharge causes electromagnetic waves to radiate through the ‘Ether’(the air) with the velocity of light set Marconi thinking. In the end he conceived the idea of Wireless Telegraphy by means of “Hertzian Waves,” and spent several years quietly experimenting at his home until in 1896, he Patented his famous system. The same year, that is, 1896, Marconi went to London and astonished it and General Post Office officials by successfully Telegraphing without wire between St Martin’-Le-Grand and the Embankment. Like every inventor, Marconi met with great opposition and disbelief at first, but to date his work is widely embraced as the work of an absolute genius” (Ulster Herald, 1912). At the same time the Irish independent gave prominent position to another praising editorial regarding the “wonderful Wireless”; the time is fast approaching when Mr Marconi’s wonderful invention will be extensively used in the everyday transactions of big commercial undertakings. Already, of course, many business messages are transmitted by Marconi, and a great extension of its use in connection with the Telegraph may soon be expected. Arrangements have been made by which telegrams handed in at any Telegraph office in the United Kingdom can be transmitted by Wireless across the Atlantic instead of by cable. With the increased popularity and efficiency of the Marconi system and comparatively cheap rates the operators at Clifden may anticipate a busy time” (Irish Independent, 1912).

The Southern Star newspaper had something to add as well; “with all its gruesome details and its conflicting accounts, the fatal day on which the sad news of the sinking of the great ship Titanic was flashed to the world by the Wireless, will still be firmly implanted in the minds of many whose dear ones are no more. Mrs Jermyn of Ballydehob, is one of those who is not likely soon to forget the disaster, even though, happily for her, she is not to be reckoned amongst the big list of the afflicted. Her daughter, Annie, it is true, was amongst the Titanic’s passengers on the dreadful April night when the White Star leviathan struck the fatal iceberg and Mrs Jermyn was for many anxious hours naturally grief-stricken at the thought that she might be amongst the lost. On the Titanic, too, were Bridget Driscoll and Mary Kelly, also of Ballydehob, whose rescue we were glad to report last week. But, unhappily, Andy Keane, also Ballydehob was lost. But to return to Mrs Jermyn, on the day after the first tidings of the loss of the Titanic were received, it having been erroneously reported that Miss Jermyn had been a victim of disaster, Mrs Jermyn became almost delirious with grief. The neighbours collected around her house to offer her words of consolation and hope. The hours went on, but not a reassuring message arrived. To their amazement, in the evening, Mrs Jermyn announced to friends that she had seen her child, that she was in the yard, and out into the yard she went in ecstasy of joy. Presently she returned and declared a voice had told her “your daughter is saved” This cam to Mrs Jermyn considerably, and early on the next day she got a telegram which put the question of her daughter’s safety beyond all doubt. The extraordinary presentiment, coupled with the mysterious voice, has been the subject of general gossip in Ballydehob ever since” (Southern Star, 1912).

The Irish Independent had even more good news to report; “Wireless Telegraphy is now at the disposal of everybody in every Telegraph office of the United Kingdom at rates considerably below the cable standard. Four Marconi operators have been added to the staff of the Dublin Telegraph Department to deal with messages for dispatch to Clifden, which is the transmitting station from Glace Bay. During commercial hours in the day it has been decided to keep a clear through wire to Clifden from Dublin, and at night there is through communication between Clifden and London. The Post Office authorities already report a large increase in the number of American and Canadian telegrams handed in for dispatch. Mr Webb, of the firm of Goodbody and Webb, stockbrokers, Dame Street, said they have been using the Marconi system since April 23 last year with great advantage. The Marconi Company had lately been able to increase to speed of transmission, with the result that they had been gradually diminishing the number of their “cables” and adopting “Wireless” almost exclusively; “On one occasion they communicated with a client at sea in the Mediterranean, and the only delay was in finding him among the rest of the passengers” (Irish Independent, 1912).

The following day the Sunday independent reports; “One outcome of the Titanic disaster must be the advancement of Wireless Telegraphy, for human progress is too often based on our misadventures – indeed, trouble appears to be the motive power of progressive action. America is the first to wake up. Uncle Sam intends to make more use than ever before of the powers of the air to safeguard the interests of his people on land and sea. At his office in Washington he will soon be able to receive instant warning information concerning anything that goes on in all sections of the Atlantic Ocean, from the North Pole to the Equator, and even beyond – all this to be accomplished through the powers of the air, or, in order words, the Wireless Telegraph and some gigantic Towers near Washington. Through his Navy Department at Washington, it is reported by Mr William L Altdorfer, to whom we are indebted for the information, he has decided to build three gigantic Towers, one of them is to be 600 feet high and the other two 450 foot each. Towers of this great height, situated on the highest point near Washington, Uncle Sam will be able to direct the movements of his Wireless war vessels anywhere on the Atlantic Ocean within 3000 miles of Washington, and perhaps further, if the possibilities of the towers come up to expectations. Not only will he be able to issue instructions direct to his watchdogs of the deep by means of this powerful station, but he also plans to have sent ships scattered all over the Atlantic – from coast-to-coast and from as far North as the icebergs will permit, to as far South as the electric waves of the Wireless may be for forced to penetrate” (Sunday Independent, 1912).

“The lecture on Wireless Telegraphy which is to be given tonight by Fr Gill, SJ., At Belvedere College, promises to be of unusual interest, both on account of the circumstances which have occasioned it and because of the interest attaching to all connected with the name of Marconi at the present time”

(Freemans Journal, 1912)

Reports are now arriving in Ireland that Mr Melville Stone, General Manager of the Associated Press, has given evidence before the Senate committee and questioned about the dispatches received by the Associated Press on Monday, April 15, the day of the Titanic disaster. He gave a full history of each dispatch received and of its source, Mr Stone testified that a dispatch was recovered from the “Montréal Star” to the effect that passengers had been transferred and were en route to Halifax. Later this same Montréal message having been cabled to London was given out there by the Exchange Telegraph Company, and the Associated Press, London, repeated it back to New York, giving credit for the message to the Exchange Company. Mr Stone further stated that the “Montréal Star” primarily and the Exchange Telegraph Company’s secondary were responsible as the sources of the dispatch in question. The London office of the Associated Press was wholly free from criticism. During the inquiry Mr Stone had been asked a number of questions. What part of the Titanic story had he handled personally and he replied he had general supervision of the entire work. He was then asked how you obtained such information as you sent out on Monday. And what was the exact source of each message? Mr Stone replied the “Montréal Star” received the message to the effect that passengers had all been transferred and were being brought to Halifax. This message we sent to Mr Franklin’s office. He issued a reassuring bulletin saying that there was no cause for alarm. At 10;10 AM(3.10 PM London time) we received a dispatch from the London repeating practically the “Montréal Star’s” story. Later from all parts the same dispatch began to be reported. We received some news automatically through our general system of newsgathering and some in response to personal enquiries. From the Marconi Wireless station at Cape Race we received two messages on Sunday evening, and early on Monday. They came from the Virginian, and stated that she was 170 miles from the Titanic and expected to come along side at 10.00am on Monday morning. Mr Stone read these messages and then stated; “From midnight Sunday we had no trustworthy telegrams until 11;23 AM(4;25 PM London time). Then a dispatch was given out from the White Star offices by Mr Franklin to the effect that the Virginian had reported the transfer of the passengers, was underway, 20 boatloads being aboard the Carpathia. Mr Franklin, who gave out the telegram declined to give the full text” He was then asked was he aware of any attempt to suppress news. He replied I have no knowledge of any such thing. Do you approve of the Wireless operator selling their news to the newspapers? He replied no. He then added at 12;07 AM on Monday afternoon the Canadian press sent out the following telegram; “Norton Davidson, one of the Titanic’s passengers, has sent to the local office of his firm here stating all passengers are safe. The Titanic is now in tow of the Virginian” That was the last of the conspicuous fakes (Reuters Telegram, 1912).

As a result of the coverage now being given in New York and Washington to the “Big Money” telegrams the Irish media continue to support Marconi with favourable editorials; “Wireless Telegraphy fell under some undeserved disgrace and the first shock of the Titanic disaster. There was some confused idea, apparently, that it was ‘maid of all work’, when the great ship went down with all those lives, people scarcely remembered that of the hundreds saved all owed their rescue from the icy sea to the Carpathia, brought on the rescue by the Marconi message. This aspect of the case was brought into vigorous relief by Fr Henry Gill’s lecture last night in Dublin at the Belvedere College. There was a true touch in the reflection that but for the Wireless mystery the fate of the Titanic, with all its population, might have been a mystery, too, for all time. A few years ago there could have been no word of explanation; all might have been drowned and the great ship need not have left a trace; a couple of days might have wiped away the last vestige of the boats that put off from the wreck, the icebergs would have shifted away on their own journey and the wonder would have remained how the vessel could have disappeared on a quiet night. The anguish of the long waiting for news, with the doubts still lingering in many minds long after hope had lost all ground; this, too, must be counted in, and very seriously to the credit of the wonderful invention of our time which all but annihilates space as far as communication is concerned, raying information, warning, alarm, and need over thousand miles. At present it is mentioned with some enthusiasm that certain Government have made the Wireless installation compulsory on passenger vessels; the time will not be long in coming when the Wireless will be installed on every ship. The age before the Wireless was seen to ourselves as strangely ill-equipped and handicapped as the age before the railroad. It may well be that the change in the world’s ways to be brought about by means of this wonder of today would be greater than those produced by the railroad itself. As the lecturer of yesterday observed, this knowledge is as yet only on the threshold of the cave in which it lay hidden; it has scarcely taken the air; a few years and will be active in ways we no more foresee than our fathers foresaw the immeasurable work in front of the steam engine, the vast novelties and materials that would come into human life from that humble beginning, mocked by the thoughtless and by the old-fashioned. We at lEast, in our age of many inventions, have learned not to be scornful of the new, scarcely even to be surprised that any promise, even though now and then we have been deceived. Often enough inventions are announced that do not appear, but often on the other hand there springs up suddenly wonder unannounced and works swift miracles over the face of the Earth. We of this age therefore take all these announcements without emotion, with a grain of salt and also with a large grain of expectation, as belonging to a generation accustomed to the new thing. At the rate at which we go now, we may feel sure that the world of our grandchildren will bear little resemblance to which we see. There will be the sky above us and the soil beneath us, and Tulips was still flower proudly in May; but in nearly everything else of the environing things, we should be at a loss in the world of our great-grandchildren. For thousands of years little altered except in the realm of ideas and in the fashion of clothes. Suddenly in one century there came the railroad train and the electric Telegraph and Telephone, monstrous and delicate machinery, great ships, the vast trade and the worldwide communication, almost instantaneous; hosts of discoveries and devices with results that have made Peking practically near and far more important to Dublin than once Paris was. To our heirs we, so well satisfied with ourselves, shall seem to have lived the strangest dull lives among quaint old makeshifts; we will amuse them when they think of us with our queer pride in childish beginnings and ways so cramped by unconquered nature. It will be well for us if our amused grandchildren can find, as an offset to all our simplicity in matters of practical science, that we had at lEast, like the ancients of our thought, some nobleness of the mind and soul to save us from appearing imbecile and ridiculous in a world full of the working of astonishing powers (Freemans Journal, 1912).

The events of the recent past would severely tarnish the reputation of Marconi and his Company and he would do all in his power to limit the damage he was interviewed by a ‘Daily News’ representative on the subject of the Titanic disaster and its relation to Wireless Telegraphy. “The system of Wireless control in America is undoubtedly currently bad, he said. At present any one can put up a station for sending or receiving, and these amateurs, I find, receive all sorts of messages, which they misconstrue owing to the fact that they have not had a proper knowledge of the Morse system, and because their systems are imperfect. That is undoubtedly what took place in the present instance, and the Press, being extremely anxious to get news, did not take sufficient pains to verify the early messages” Asked if any developments were contemplated in connection with Wireless Telegraphy which could be used in similar circumstances in future, Mr Marconi said, “the only practical thing to do at the present moment was to have two operators on every ship. After all, even a Wireless man must have some sleep. There is absolutely no reliable way at present of arousing a sleeping operator by apparatus. Nor has any recording instrument yet been discovered that will give a faithful record of a message while the operator is absent. “I am working hard upon the subject, however, and have every hope that I shall be able to perfect an apparatus that will automatically give warning on the receipt of a message, and draw attention by means of a bell or other device” Asked if he would give evidence at the British Inquiry he replied, “I have not yet been asked to do so, but I am quite prepared to go before the court and tell them all I know. Then I think the truth will come out, and that is what I want” (Marconi, 1912). Mr Marconi is full of confidence as to the outcome of his great schemes for encircling the globe with a great system of Wireless. “We are proposing to erect very soon big stations for communicating direct between England and America, or rather between the vicinity of London and the vicinity of New York. I hope this service will be in operation within 12 months” He continued, “the messages will go through within a very few minutes, practically instantaneously. Time is at present occupied in transmitting messages to Clifden and repeating them on the other side from Glace Bay to New York by our arrangement with the Western Union on the other side the messages will be delivered as quickly as any cablegram” (Marconi, 1912)

It seemed almost as if shares in Marconi could not be excited as trade was “severely depressed” although trade in general was tolerably brisk on the Dublin Stock Exchange but an unsatisfactory tone pervaded the markets. The Wireless market was not so busy with shares starting badly and continuing to slump as the day progressed. In London, the “Financial Times” publishes a report of a meeting of the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America, in which the authorised capital stock of the Company was increased and the value of the shares was dramatically reduced. Arrangements are also made for entering actively into the business of transatlantic Wireless service between the United States and Great Britain, and the Company is about to erect high power stations in New York City. It was also confirmed at the meeting that the Marconi Company are proceeding against a firm of members of the London Stock Exchange for libel in respect of statements contained in a recent weekly report. The Company also explains that the Boston circuit court of appeals is now preventing the sale of the United Wireless Telegraph Company’s assets, but merely requires the trustees in bankruptcy of that Company to defer for the present the actual transfer of title. This would not in the lEast affect the sale to, nor the position of, the American Marconi Company, who were not parties to this motion. The report complained of allegations that the Marconi Company did not send their messages across the Atlantic by their own system, but by cable and debited the loss created by the difference in price to ‘advertisement account’. Mr Isaacs’s, Managing Director of the Marconi Company stated to an interviewer that the Company’s business continues in every way highly satisfactory, and “nothing has happened of an unfavourable nature, but rather the reverse, since our last communication to the shareholders” (Irish Independent, 1912).

New problems are starting to develop for Wireless operators, legitimate and otherwise, in the United States of America. Giving false alarms by Wireless Telegraphy is the neWest form of the practical chalk in the USA. Government aid was dispatched to a supposed shipwreck as the consequence of the “Wireless joke” The result of these “jokes” is that a Bill has been brought before the Senate insisting upon the licensing of all Wireless installations and their operators. By this means interference is controlled and secrecy insured for the Government’s stations in time of crisis. The installation and use of a private Wireless station in Britain is not possible without its detection by the controlling authorities. The moment and new Wireless station of any power comes into operation either the Post Office are one of the Marconi stations receives the signal. Steps are immediately taken to ascertain its whereabouts (Leitrim Observer, 1912). Other Irish newspapers were more focused on the new reality of “Wireless telephone”; if the report from Rome that messages sent by Wireless telephone have been distinctly heard at a distance of 160 miles are correct, a new development in the use of “Wireless” may be expected. 160 miles is but a little short the distance between Dublin and Cork, so that one can realise what a saving in the working of the telephone system in remote districts could be affected by the use of Wireless. It was, of course, known for some years past that Wireless telephone messages could be heard at distances of 20 or 30 miles, and a couple of years ago two French battleships were able to keep up communication by this means when 70 miles apart. But that conversation can be carried on at more than double that distance is something new and very exciting” (Irish Independent, 1912).

On May 20th 1912 the Postmaster General, Herbert Samuel, in his annual statement on the work of his Department outlines new proposals for reforms for extensions in the future; but the Irish Times is not very happy of a Government profiteering at the expense of controlling communications and make no attempt to conceal this fact in their Editorial. “The answer to the question whether Mr Samuel’s statement can be regarded as satisfactory depends entirely upon the standpoint from which the work of this particular department of state is considered. We may adopt the argument of Sir George Doughty, who expressed his belief that a Department of this character should not be run with the object of making a profit. The revenue, he believed, should be applied to the purpose of promoting the efficiency of the service. We do not think that this position is tenable. The Post Office is one of the few Government departments in which the ideal of a “business Government” is capable of application, and, at the same time, desirable. To turn it into a kind of bureau of National philanthropy is to defeat its best purposes. We have no doubt that the adoption of such a system would prove a useful vote-catching measure for the Government, and on that ground, if no other, we applaud Mr Samuel’s refusal to accept it. He spends the public money upon improving the service under his control, and looks for another dramatic rise in custom which will maintain the Department as a paying concern. It is a policy which has so far been justified by its success. In the year which Mr Samuel reviewed yesterday the increase in expenditure has been very considerable. This is partly explained by the normal growth of the service, which must necessarily expand from year to year, but it is mainly due to the transfer of the telephone system to the state. It is now possible to form a fair estimate of the value of the charges levelled against the telephone service at the beginning of the year. The truth probably is that the same grievances, such as they were, existed under the old regime, but the public, apparently, looked for a miraculous change when the Post Office took over the business. Any change must, of necessity, have been temporarily for the worse, and we have to thank the Postmaster General that this vast transaction which was completed with so little discomfort to the public. Mr Samuel hints at a rate reduction as soon as the Royal Commission has fixed transfer price. We note that the “farmers’ telephones” system is gaining in popularity. This is a proposition which Irish farmers would be well advised to consider in a favourable light. Another reform which will prove welcome is the proposal that telephone subscribers should be allowed to use the numbers as telegraphic addresses. Mr Samuel is doing his best to facilitate telegraphic communication abroad as well as at home. We’re promised reduced charges to the continent when the laying of the landlines is completed, and, possibly, a further reduction of cable rates to the Colonies. To the progress of the automatic telephone experiments we have already referred, as also to the progress of the Imperial Wireless scheme. Wireless, naturally, bulks largely in Mr Samuel’s statement. The important question of continuous communication between ships at sea, a matter whose urgency has been emphasised by the evidence at the Titanic enquiry, will be considered next month by an international conference. Mr Samuel’s statement, as a whole, is a worthy record of a hard and businesslike endeavour” (Irish Times, 1912). But the Imperial Wireless Scheme, as proposed by Samuel’s, would mean greater profits for Marconi as reported in the London times on the following day. “The Imperial Wireless Scheme of Communication is continuing to make progress. Six stations have been arranged for, one in England, two between England and India, one in India, one at Singapore, and one in South Africa. The Marconi Company guarantee apparatus capable of covering intervals of 2000 miles, and even more. The cost, in round figures, is £60,000 per station without sites and buildings. These stations, to be supplemented later by others, will do something to keep the remotest parts of the Empire in close touch with the Imperial capital, though we cannot regard the Wireless system proposed as a satisfactory substitute for a much greater reduction of ordinary cable rates that has yet been achieved. The details of this great scheme will in due course come before the House of Commons, but in bare outline it makes a powerful appeal to the imagination” (London Times, 1912). In addition to all of this by the end of May 1912 the only American Marconi Company announced that they are about to equip stations at New Orleans, that’s one island in the Caribbean Sea, and at Santa marked the, Colombia, providing direct Wireless communication between the two American continents (Irish Times, 1912). It seemed as if prosperous times were ahead again for Marconi.

Adding further to Marconi’s business restoration is news from Washington in the form of an announcement by Senator Smith delivering his speech on the report of the Sub-Committee which investigated the wreck of the Titanic. Smith states, “We absolutely recommend that all ships should have a continuous equipment of Wireless telegraphy and this is a reform upon which public opinion is already agreed” (Irish Times, 1912). But what Smith gives in one hand to Marconi he takes with the other and condemns the Company as agents of prostitution of talents or offices or services for reward. As if it was not enough for Smith to simply advocate the installation of Wireless telegraphy itself but to also suggest that such work should not be done by Marconi’s Company. In a well crafted speech he states, “By the aid of the Marconi genius, a gentleman sitting in his office in the capital of the Argentina Republic Road as in an open book a Wireless message direct from the coast of Ireland. When the world weeps together over a common glass, when nature moves in the same direction in all spheres, why should not the nations clear the sea of its conflicting idioms, and wisely regulate this new servant of humanity. To that end wages must be increased in proportion to the responsibility assumed; and the service to be useful must be made continuous night and day, while this new profession must rid itself of the spirit of venality to which, in my opinion, the world is in deficit for the systematic reign of silence concerning the details of this disaster” (Irish Times, 1912). As far as the American’s were now concerned Marconi’s Company was entirely responsible for the failure of adequate news supply in the days after the sinking of the Titanic. His Company are depicted as profiteers, at all costs, even in the time of enormous tragedy. Fortunately Marconi had a some influential friends in London who were about to change the course of history for the Italian inventor. One of these, a middle aged conservative politician was infuriated by the American senator’s comments and during what became known as the ‘Marconi Scandal’ Winston Churchill used a speech to mount an impassioned defence of Marconi and two embattled ministers David Lloyd George and Rufus Isaacs, asserting that there was “no stain of any kind” upon their characters.

“The committee does not believe that the Wireless operator of the Carpathia was duly vigilant in handling messages after the accident, and declares that the practice of allowing Wireless operators to sell their stories should be stopped.”

(Titanic Disaster American Inquiry Report, 1912)

BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR THIS ARTICLE IS ONLY AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

Resurrection (A Film Treatment)

ress

RESURRECTION

(Treatment)

by

Gerard J. Hannan

Act I

The sun falls on a small group of people standing around a grotto praying the Rosary and led by FR SIDD (45). Five noisy teenagers, four boys and girl, are playing with a football nearby. The priest interrupts the prayers and insists that the teenagers move away. The tomboy girl SARAH HARPER (15) sarcastically apologises and demands that the boys move away and they do. As the prayers continue the adults ignore the teenagers as they move up the country road toward a road level old stone railway bridge. The teenagers are soon at the bridge and still noisily playing.

The railway hand signal drops down. The teenagers fail to notice an old man walking with a large German shepherd dog approaching from nearby. The sound of the nearby train is deafening. Three of the boys jump on the bridge announcing that the air blowing up from beneath is ‘amazing’. SARAH with fingers in her ears laughingly jumps back from the wall. BOB MORIARTY (15) hugs Sarah and she jokingly jeers him for not standing on the bridge. The man with the dog is closer now and the boys remain standing on the bridge as the high-speed train passes underneath.

The old man and dog arrive on the bridge at the same moment as the train passes underneath the bridge. The dog, startled by the sound of the train, barks loudly and scares Sarah who leaps back from the angry barking dog. In her haste she loses footing and tumbles forward against DANNY MORIARTY (15) who then loses his balance and falls forward and down into the path of the high-speed train. The teenagers look on in absolute horror as Danny’s sudden scream abruptly ends. The dog continues barking loudly and the sound of the train fades into the distance.

Twenty five years later an Irish Catholic priest, Fr BOB MORIARTY (40) is alone in a barely furnished living room. By the side of the door there are a couple of small suitcases. On his table is an American travel book; beside it is a plane ticket. The radio is playing and he hears the presenter talking about abuse in the Catholic Church. He stands up and walks to the radio and abruptly switches it off. He starts to make himself some coffee and stares at a crucifix on the wall and whispers; ‘You may forgive them but I don’t’.

Suddenly the telephone rings and he answers it. The caller is SARAH HARPER (40). She tells him she urgently needs to see him and pleads with him to come visit her in Glen Oisin. Bob is hesitant to return to the village of his childhood. She insists it is urgent and he must come. Reluctantly he agrees to a fast visit that evening and explains he must come back to catch a flight. She thanks him and promises him she won’t keep him too long and they hang up. He pours himself coffee and stares out the window in silence.

A battered sign welcomes visitors to the village of Glen Oisin as Bob drives by. Bob parks his car and steps onto the empty street surveying the unchanged landscape of his childhood. He walks past the Grotto toward the Railway Bridge and stops for a moment to watch a train passing below. Suddenly he is a child again and he sees his Brother Danny looking over his shoulder and laughing then suddenly helplessly falling. A man’s voice wakes Bob from the momentary trance. ‘Hello Bob’, it is GARY MORIARTY (45), his older brother. He greets his brother and they hug.

The winter wind is howling around them as they approach a forsaken grave. Bob removes the creeping ivy to reveal the inscription DANIEL MORIARTY. He solemnly stares at the grave as Gary stands behind. They talk about Danny and reveal to each other that they both believe if Sarah had not overreacted to the dog the boy would still be alive. Gary reveals he never could forgive her for that. He tells Bob that Sarah was once his girlfriend but he finished it after a few dates because when he saw her all he could do was think of Danny.

As they walk towards the graveyard gates Bob tells Gary his reasons for returning to the village. Bob asks about his estranged father and Gary tells him that he has become worse since the death of their mother and he is now living in Cork. Gary asks his brother if he intends to take a break from the priesthood and Bob confirms that he just needs some time to reconsider his position and was going to spend a few months in America. Bob sits into his car and promises to meet Gary later at the local bar then drives off.

Bob arrives at Sarah’s home and knocks on the door. After a moment the door opens and Dr HENRY SMITH (60) greets Bob. They stand outside the door to speak and Dr. Smith informs Bob that Sarah has Cancer and is dying and it is only a matter of hours as she is heavily tranquilised on Morphine. He explains that she is distressed because her estranged son, BILLY HARPER (20), who departed for college two years earlier, has never once returned following ‘personal problems’. Sarah is hoping that Bob’s intervention could appease Billy and bring him to his mother’s deathbed.

Now indoors Bob, without hesitation, refuses to accept the futile mission based on past similar experiences that were unfruitful. He explains it would raise false hopes. The Doctor explains ‘you and I know that’ but asks the priest to be kinder to her and allow her to believe there is some hope. Bob agrees but explains that he would, when Sarah asks, agree to try but assures the Doctor that it would be futile as Billy, clearly knowing his mother is ill and not visiting, could not be influenced to act against his own will. Bob walks up the stairs.

Sarah is drowsy when Bob enters. She talks about her angry son Billy and weeps as she explains she has never revealed the father’s identity to Billy’s and this angered him. The pregnancy resulted from a shameful drunken night with a stranger. She tells Bob she loved his brother Danny and they had a teenage romance that still impacted on her life. Bob promises he will try locate Billy but needs a photograph. She produces one from under her pillow. He stares at it in shock. The boy is identical to Danny. Sarah has drifted back into a deep sleep.

ACT II

Bob arrives at a small empty bar and orders a drink. As he sips it, an intoxicated and dishevelled man BARRY HARPER (42) enters and approaches Bob. The BARMAN (60) shuns Barry but relents at Bob’s behest. Barry tells Bob he met Gary who told him he was in town. Barry states his life is pointless and how he crumbled at the news of his sister Sarah’s terminal cancer. Barry recalls Danny’s death and his remorse at not being there to catch Danny as he fell and now he could not be there for his sister ‘as she falls’ too.

Both men move to a table in the corner to talk. Bob tries to convince Barry that he is not responsible for Danny’s death. Barry refuses to accept this. Barry admits dark depressions and cannot rid himself of the image of Danny falling from the bridge. He tells Bob he believes that he will carry vivid memories, remorse and guilt with him to his grave. No words from Bob can convince Barry who remains tortured as he departs the bar. The BARMAN tells Bob that Barry is forever angry and depressed and finding fault at life and is best ignored.

Gary enters the bar and joins Bob at the table. Bob tells him about Barry but he dismisses it as typical behaviour. They discuss Bob’s reasons for leaving the priesthood. Bob explains it is not at all the lifestyle he believed it would be. He states that he now believes that he misinterpreted a dream for the holy calling to the priesthood. He explains that all he seems to be doing is dealing with death in all of its manifestations. Bob finishes his drink and tells Gary he would be staying overnight at a nearby Seminary then leaves the bar.

Bob enters the church through a side door and walks to the altar. Standing alone at the foot of the altar in silent prayer Bob fails to notice an old priest FR SIDD (75) silently sitting behind him. Fr Sidd asks him why he is so troubled. Bob, at first shocked at the old priest’s presence, sits with him and explains that he was considering giving up the priesthood. The old man seems unsurprised by the revelation and explains that the problem was the lack of spiritual enlightenment but God would respond to a heartfelt appeal to provide this nourishment.

Both men begin to walk down the aisle. Bob then tells Fr Sidd of the task that lay ahead and how best to encourage Billy Harper to return home. The old priest has little advice. Fr Sidd tells him that truth will reveal itself when necessary and not a moment sooner but to try convince the boy to return to his mother using ‘whatever words God puts into your mouth.’ The old priest reaches into his pocket and produces a small statue of the Holy Mother holding a baby. He hands the statue to Bob and says ‘give Billy this’.

The next morning Gary is sitting alone in his office reading through some papers. Bob enters and bids him good morning. Gary comments that Bob does not look well and Bob admits that he spent the night awake and was too tired to drive to Dublin but wanted Gary to travel with him to meet Billy Harper. Bob takes the photograph from his pocket to show Gary. Gary casually looks at the picture and hands it back saying ‘I don’t need that, I know what he looks like’. Bob is surprised that Gary makes no further comment and they depart.

On the road to Dublin Bob tells Gary that that striking resemblance of Billy to Danny suggested Danny may be the father. Gary becomes somewhat suspicious and recalls the fact that Sarah never openly admitted to anyone who was the father of her child. He dismisses the possibility that Danny fathered the child because he died five years prior to Billy’s birth. Gary suggests perhaps Billy could be older than they knew. Bob is confused as to why Gary seemed oblivious to the possibility that he was the father. Bob challenges Gary on this but he denies any such possibility.

At Trinity College Bob and Gary make their way to the Dean of Arts Office. Gary produces his badge and the receptionist cooperates. She calls the Dean and within moments he hastily emerges from his office. He invites the brothers into his office. The men enter and take a seat as the Dean dials a number and asks to have Billy Harper sent to his office immediately. The Dean hangs up and offers coffee to the men while they wait. Bob explains to the Dean that Billy’s mother is dying and has requested to see her son one final time.

There is a gentle knock on the door and the Dean quickly opens it. BILLY HARPER (22) enters the room and he is a good-looking, well groomed, intelligent bohemian looking man that looks beyond his years. On seeing the three men he seems surprised but immediately recognises Gary and shakes hands with him. Gary introduces him to Bob as the Dean excuses himself from the room. Billy takes a seat and sits upright, arms folded, firm expression and asks has she died? Bob replies that she is still alive and explains the situation while Gary stands silently in the background.

Billy tells Bob that he has no desire to see his mother dead or alive. He explains that he left Glen Oisin behind him and is making his own life in Dublin and while he has forgiven his mother for past crimes he has not forgotten them. Bob tells Billy that he knows the source of his anger but if he really wants to find out who his father is then maybe now was the time to do it because this may be the last chance. Billy laugh’s loudly and asks do you really think this is about my father?’

Billy states that there is more to this than identifying an incidental stranger. He explains to Bob that his mother’s crimes are much more than just that. He explains that he gave his mother his full forgiveness for withholding his father’s identity from him but he now has no desire whatsoever to reunite with his mother. Gary interjects and asks Billy would he reveal the reason why this seemingly irreparable rift has come about. Billy rises from his chair in anger and announces he is Gay and had been rejected by his mother who totally refused to accept his sexuality.

Bob and Gary are driving home. Gary tells Bob that during his brief relationship with Sarah they were never intimate. Bob is angered by Gary’s denials and demands he stops lying. Gary becomes irate and verbally attacks Bob for running away clearly unable to cope with his brother’s death, his mother’s death and his father’s alcoholism. Gary blames Bob for leaving him to deal alone with these all these tragic problems. In the heat of the row neither brother notices that the car has drifted to the wrong side of the road and it suddenly impacts with an oncoming car.

When Bob wakes he finds he is upside down and face-to-face with his brother. Bob reaches forward to touch his brother’s face. Gary’s eyes are half open but Bob realises that his brother is dying. Gary apologises for losing his temper and tells Bob he trusts him more than anybody else in the world. In his final confession he insists he is not Billy’s father. Bob hears the sound of an oncoming ambulance and begins to give his brother’s last rites. After a few seconds of prayer Bob’s voice begins to fade and he slips into a state of unconsciousness.

In the dark of night the railway signal drops to warn of a forthcoming train. From beyond the old Stone Bridge the lights of the train appear in the horizon. A man steps up onto the wall on the bridge and hands outstretched in cruciform he awaits the train. The beams of light from the train shine on the face of the man and it is Barry Hanlon. Just as the front of the train approaches the bridge Barry closes his eyes, smiles and whispers Amen. Hands still outstretched he silently drops himself down into the path of the train.

Bob wakes up on a hospital bed and sitting beside him is Fr Sidd. The old priest asks him how he feels. Bob asks the priest what happened and Fr Sidd tells him that he had an accident with Gary who did not survive. Bob rises to get out the bed but the old priest tries to stop him. Bob insists that he is feeling okay and needs to get on his feet. Fr Sidd reluctantly relents and allows Bob to sit on the edge of the bed. Bob begins to weep and the old priest tries to comfort him.

Sarah Harper is alone, erratically breathing, on her bed as Dr. Smith enters the room. He stands beside her and leans forward to listen to her heart with his stethoscope. He notices a tear rolling down her face. She struggles to speak and asks him where is Billy? He tells her that her son is on the way. She smiles and asks should he lie to a dying mother. The Doctor smiles and tells her about his Hippocratic Oath and could not lie even if he really wanted to. He then injects her and tells her to try to sleep.

In the hospital Bob tells Fr Sidd that he must go to Sarah to inform her of events. As Bob dresses Fr Sidd offers him coffee and Bob accepts. Fr Sidd leaves the room. Moments later a Doctor enters the room and asks Bob to sit on the bed. The doctor sympathises with Bob on the death of his brother and informs him of the suicide of Barry Hanlon. Bob immediately falls apart and has to get away. He dashes to the main entrance. When outside he hails a taxi and instructs the driver to take him to Sarah’s house.

The taxi is outside Sarah’s home and Bob jumps out. He dashes to the door and knocks on it. A Nurse opens the door and Bob rushes in. She tells him that Sarah is dying and the Doctor is with her. He follows the Nurse upstairs and they enter Sarah’s bedroom. Dr Smith is sitting by the side of the bed. Bob sits on the edge of the bed and asks if she can hear him to gently squeeze his hand which she does. He tells her that he found Billy but he would not return. Sarah opens her eyes.

The room is empty with only Billy sitting on the edge of the bed holding Sarah’s hand. Her tears are flowing as she tells him she loves him and is sorry for hurting him. She stares at him and tells him he has Danny’s face and eyes. He kisses her on the forehead and tells her that he loves her too. He tells her that she is a perfect mother and to go now for her reward from God and to be with Danny, the true love of her life. She closes her eyes for a moment and reopens them.

Sarah whispers the word ‘absolution’ to Bob. He begins to pray and Sarah’s hand slips from his. Bob looks at her peaceful face. He finishes praying and stands up as the nurse lifts the white sheet over Sarah’s face. Dr Smith whispers she is at peace now as Bob silently walks out of the room. Downstairs he opens the door and steps outside. The sun is rising behind nearby trees and soft beams of light pour onto his face. He raises his hand and gently removes the collar from around his neck as he walks dejected toward the garden gates.

Act Three

Inside the small country church the congregation are starting to depart to the sound of lone bell. At the foot of the altar there are three coffins. Bob, wearing a grey suit, white shirt and black tie, is standing there staring at them. Soon the church is empty and a group of men dressed in black, the undertakers, approach Bob and tell him that the time has come to bring the coffins outside. Bob asks for a few minutes alone and the undertakers walk away. Bob raises his head to see Fr Sidd standing on the steps of the altar.

Fr Sidd observes ‘I see from your attire that you have made your choice’ Bob hangs his head and remains silent. Fr Sidd tells him he is not listening to God. He explains that death is God’s way of speaking to mankind. When God takes a sibling he takes the past, when he takes a parent he takes the present, when he takes a child he takes the future. God has taken all three from Bob and left him with nothing. Fr Sidd explains that now Bob has been brought by divine forces back to a state of childlike grace.

Bob remains standing in silence. Slowly he raises his head to answer but Fr Sidd has left the altar. Bob turns, walks down the aisle to the church doors, he opens them and the blinding enters. He steps back away from the blinding light into the shadows. He watches the undertakers re-enter and begin to roll the three coffins down the aisle. From behind the sacristy door comes three priests in full vestments as they follow the coffins. The coffins are rolled outside and turned in three separate directions with each followed by one priest and small groups of mourners.

Nearby Sarah’s open grave Billy steps out from behind a large headstone. Behind him emerges an old man (MR. MORIARTY 80). Billy looks around and recognises him but tells him to go away. The old man listens as Billy speaks, ‘your real son needs you more than I do don’t abandon him like you did me’. Mr Moriarty tells Billy that he was conceived during Sarah’s relationship with Gary. He explains he loved Sarah but the romance was doomed because she shunned it and made him promise not to reveal himself and she would keep the secret from his wife.

Billy walks to the grave and places a flower on it. He makes his way to a nearby parked car. He sees Bob sitting alone outside the church. He approaches and calmly reveals that he always knew who his father was. He tells Bob he believes he is a true priest and that God had called him to Glen Oisin because he was needed. He tells him he is convinced that there is some higher power and that Bob had succeeded in showing him that his mother loved and protected him and others by keeping his father’s identity a secret.

Both men begin to walk to Billy’s car. Billy tells Bob that he had spoken to his father, many years earlier, and now, as he always did, he would continue to respect his mother’s wishes. As Billy sits into his car he tells Bob that ‘you are a messenger of God’ and to never doubt it. Bob puts his hand in his pocket and takes out the miniature Mother and Child statue that Fr Sidd had given him and places it into Billy’s hand whispering this is a gift from your mother. Billy looks at it, thanks him and departs.

Bob walks towards the church where Fr Sidd is standing at the door. Fr Sidd tells Bob he will soon retire. He tells him ‘it’s not a bad parish and the parishioners need a good priest’ and here would be the best place for Bob to continue his priesthood. Bob steps through the doors of the church and tells Fr Sidd there is nothing he would like more. Fr Sidd tells Bob that he has a christening in an hour and maybe he would like to do it. Bob smiles and agrees. The old priest closes the big church doors.

BLACKOUT

 

The Myth of Irish Food

FOOD

This paper begins by assessing Roland Barthes theory of ‘Mythologies’ and its primary elements and uses these tools to analyse recent Irish media texts successfully advocating the consumption of Irish foods. However, while the ‘Buy Irish’ campaign has been successful in creating demand the Irish economy has failed in delivering Irish product to demanding consumers by ignoring the confusion as to ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’ Irish product. Using the examples of ‘Siucra’ Irish sugar and ‘Lyons Tea’, both publicly perceived as Irish but, in fact, imported goods and how each of these are marketed and promoted Barthes theory of Mythologies can demonstrate how myth can be exploited for commercial gain.

Roland Barthes classic ‘Mythologies’ (1984) while not explicitly focused on media has contributed a way of looking at language, images, signs and symbols that have helped media analysts to consider the ways in which our responses to media texts are framed by our reading of a symbolic language that is entirely cultural and based on oppositions and relations between significations. In other words, it is the difference between things, not the properties of individual things, that constructs meaning and Barthes’ ‘myth’ can be used to decode a single sign. (McDougall, 2012)

According to Roland Barthes his notion of Mythologies stems from his feeling of impatience at the sight of the ‘naturalness’ with which newspapers, art and common sense constantly dress up a reality which, even though it is the one we live in, is undoubtedly determined by history. Thus, he argues, nature and history are confused by ideological abuse. The notion of myth, he contends, seems to explain examples of the falsely obvious.

Myth, for Barthes, was a mode of representation characterised above all by its self evident truth, its naturalness. The origin of Mythologies lay in Barthes’ rejection of the way in which newspapers, magazines, films and exhibitions represented social constructions – the outcome of historical and political struggles – is simply natural or common sense. (Masterman, 1984) For Barthes’s, the production of myths is conditional upon two, linked repressions of history and of politics. The transformation of history into nature was, for Barthes, “the very principle of myth” (Masterman, 1984).

Language is a corpus of prescriptions and habits pervading the signifier’s expression without endowing it with form or content: “language is an abstract circle of truths” (Barthes, 1953) Barthes further states that ‘mythology’ is a language surrounding social phenomena in contemporary society. (Barthes, 1991) Myth, then, is a type of speech, a system of communication, a message. It is a mode of signification. Everything can be defined as a myth because there is no law forbidding discourse on any subject or matter. “A tree is a tree” but it is no longer a tree when it becomes the subject of the Romantic poets. It is a tree which is decorated, adapted for consumption and laden with literary self-indulgence. Some, but not all, objects created in mythical language become permanently mythological. Myth is a type of speech chosen by history and cannot possibly evolve from the ‘nature’ of things.

The media has served as a support to this mythical language. The images we are exposed to are given for specific purposes of signification. (Barthes, 1991) Pictures and words are predetermined texts distorted by mythology and decipherable by semiology. Such texts are no longer concerned with facts except inasmuch as they are endowed with significance. Semiology studies signification and is not a science that is necessary but sufficient in the deconstruction of these texts. Semiology postulates a relationship between signifier and signified but takes little account of the sign itself. There are functional implications to this distinction which are of capital importance for the study of myth as semiological schema.

Semiology is restricted because it knows only one operation: reading, or deciphering. (Barthes, 1991) This concept is best understood by looking at any text used for the purpose of public consumption. For example, the image of Mickey Mouse standing outside Disneyland in a wizards outfit waving a wand with magical stars flying all around him is an image constructed to signify that a holiday in Disney World will be magical. However, to each individual the signification is a mythological interpretation influenced by nature and history. The meaning of the myth has its own value; it belongs to a history which postulates a kind of knowledge, past, a memory, and a comparative order of facts, ideas, and decisions. It is this confusion between meaning and form which defines myth. The signifier, personified by Mickey Mouse, is the accomplice of the artificial concept. In relation to the signified, now motivated by a seemingly unambiguous text, is caused to unconditionally accept and utter the perpetrated myth. A whole new history is implanted into the myth and the signified becomes the signifier and this repetition of the concept through different forms is precious to the mythologist determined to decipher the myth. Myths are organic in that they grow, change and alter as history progresses and thus the deciphering of myths requires neologism to identify concepts that are not arbitrary. The association of signifier and signified and the relationship between the two can be defined as the signification. This signification is the myth itself and it too has characteristic modes of correlation of the mythical concept and the mythical form. The function of myth is to distort and deform but not obliterate or abolish the meaning. The mythical signifier is formless and based on historicity and as such is flexible.

Deciphering a myth is not a challenging process. “Disneyworld is magical” is a signified myth produced by the symbol of Mickey Mouse. The myth is perpetuated by the Media seeking a form for it. The creation of such form distorts the meaning and an ambiguous signification is transmitted. Myth transforms history into nature but to understand clearly how this process works a more appropriate and Irish example is needed.

One of Ireland’s most pervasive consumer myths in relation to food is ‘if it looks Irish, it is Irish’ and by patriotically consuming these products local and national economies will prosper, jobs will be created and ultimately an autonomous society can better endure the assault of globalisation. This successful myth, created by Media texts, propounds the virtues of Irish foods, shopping local and buying Irish. Consumers responded and market research suggests the demand for Irish products is escalating. However, the global economy has, perhaps deliberately, retaliated by filling market shelves with counterfeit Irish foodstuffs that are near impossible to differentiate from national produce.

A cursory search of any Irish newspaper reveals editorial, advertorials, advertising and reports on success stories of the Irish food industries luminary manufacturers reaping rewards of national and international recognition. “The strength of Ireland’s food industry is evident in the latest directory of the Top 100 food and drink manufacturers in Britain and Ireland” (ISSUU, 2011) According to the publication; “There are three Irish companies in the top 10”. (Irish Times, 2012). Such glowing accolades for the industry have perpetrated a myth to Irish consumers regarding the alleged superior quality of Irish food, endorsed by superior forces, which consequently enrich the demand for Irish home-produced foods. The campaign is successful in that the demand has increased.

Irish supermarket chain Dunnes Stores highlight their Irishness with the epitaph “The difference is we are Irish” while International Supermarket chains such as Tesco, Lidl, and Aldi are going to strains to create a mythological Irishness to consumers. The media is saturated in News articles reporting the latest of the innumerable ‘Irish’ food awards being presented to these international chains and their ‘local’ suppliers.  Blatant headlines such as; “Aldi’s Suppliers Success At National Irish Food Awards” (Nenagh Guardian, 2012), and “Great Times For Irish Cheese Makers” (Digby, 2012), are highlighting awards for Irish food companies such as Knockdrinna Gold, Killeen, Burren Gold and Dingle Peninsula Cheese. Such reports maintain an impression that Irish food is freely and readily available but this impression is not entirely accurate.

In an Irish Times report Manchan Magan challenged himself to “eating only Irish food” to determine is it possible to survive on Irish-made produce alone. “I turned to the supermarkets for Irish food and realised how complicated this was going to be.” (Magan, 2012) In his article he reveals that Boyne Valley Honey is not Irish, Donegal Catch fish is Chilean, Siucra Irish Sugar is British, Guinness’ main ingredients are Australian and Chips, as in Supermacs, an Irish fast-food chain which claims in their logo to be “100% Irish”, actually import Belgian potatoes. Magan concludes “If Irish goods were not so difficult to find, I’d never buy an imported product again.”

An estimated 45% of branded grocery food products sold in 2011/2012 was imported according to research which found that Ireland’s total grocery market was worth €7.1 billion with branded products making up 47% of that.  However, 45%, of the branded products sold in Ireland in 2011/2012 were actually imported (Kantar Worldpanel, 2012). Irish research has also uncovered “considerable confusion” (Love Irish Food, 2012) about well-known Irish brands. 80% of those surveyed believed imported ‘Siucra’ was produced in Ireland. Some 77% believed Lyons Tea was produced in Ireland and 71% thought the HB ice-cream brand was Irish. (Healy, 2012)

These results prove confusion over the origin of Irish foods. Imported brands with Irish-sounding names are confusing people. These foodstuffs might best be referred to as ‘mythical Irish’. There is also confusion about brands that might have been manufactured in Ireland previously but have moved their manufacturing facilities abroad. “These results give indication as to the confusion which exists” (Love Irish Food, 2012). The market for mythical-Irish foods is vibrant due to the demand for genuine Irish food. Research by Bord Bia found 85% of shoppers were loyal towards Irish brands. (Bord Bia, 2011) However, this research found half of branded products purchased as Irish were, in fact, imported. International manufacturers are clearly aware of the demand for genuine Irish food and have responded with branding foreign products with an artificial Irish identity.

This difficulty in finding Irish produce on supermarket shelves was highlighted by the Irish Food Writers’ Guild at its 18th Annual Awards. Myrtle Allen, “one of the pioneers of the movement to promote locally produced Irish food” (Irish Foodwriters Guild, 2010) claimed Irish farmers and growers produced some of the highest quality food in the world and yet it was often a challenge to find something as simple as an Irish apple in Irish shops. (Healy, 2012)

From this example we can understand clearly how the myth reader is led to rationalise the signified by means of the signifier; namely Irish consumers seeking Irish goods (the signified) and believing that they are buying genuine Irish goods presented to them by international companies, endorsed by Media texts (signifiers).  Large print Newspaper headlines such as “Retaining Loyalty to Irish Brands” and   “Irish consumers spending an estimated €1.5bn on imported food brands” imply that there is urgency for government, always presented by the press as the essence of efficacy, to legislate to protect the Irish economy.  The signification of the myth follows clearly from this: genuine Irish foodstuffs are suffering because the government is allowing fake Irish foodstuffs to be readily available to consumers. The myth is imperfectible and unquestionable; time or knowledge will not make it better and worse. (Barthes, 1991) Also, because the signifier and the signified have a natural relationship, the consumer takes the signification as factual. The availability of fake Irish foodstuffs is either due to the demand for cheaper home produced food or governments alleged choice not to protect the Irish food industry. In either case the government is accountable.

In any everyday situation we are likely to be confronted by thousands of signifying systems and instances of signifying output. We call these signs. These signifying systems include the language we use to communicate with, the signs that direct us to destinations, to the myriad of media texts that are presented to us or merge into the background of our everyday lives. (Long & Wall, 2009) We are relentlessly exposed throughout a normal day to these signs that plaster our environment and compete for our attention.

The Siucra and Lyons Tea advertisements are two such media text that might appear on a billboard or perhaps in a glossy magazine we might buy intentionally or browse to pass the time while waiting at the doctor’s surgery or hairdressing salon. We might pay them some close attention in a magazine or newspaper or glimpse them as we drive by or opt to ignore them if they appear as a pop-up as we surf the web. In all cases we rarely have to stop to pick up meaning and so all of the factors in these text works together in their impact.

Any analysis must begin with the text and what we make of it. The logic here is that for textual meaning to work we already know what it means; the object is to understand how it means what it does and how meaning is marshalled, organised and anchored in order to make each text effective. The meaning of the Siucra branding is clear, obvious and incontrovertible; by virtue of its name alone this product is Irish. Lyons Tea, previously manufactured in Ireland but capitalising on its historicity, in its ongoing campaign focuses on the idea that ‘talk’ is the secret ingredient in its tea; “It’s no secret that Irish people are both big talkers and big tea drinkers. The secret is we, at Lyons, have been adding talk to the tea” (Hurley, 2010). The encoded message is in the ‘we’ as one of ‘us’ Irish. Ireland’s king of talk radio Joe Duffy spearheads the campaign to reinforce the message. In both cases the images and words shown in the text is a combination of complex signs that are designed to sell more product but he subtext is ‘we are Irish’. Neither advertisement spells out anything directly or plainly for a reader but both remain loaded with significance. The ads have been constructed to have a certain affect. They both elevate brand recognition and urge us to buy the ‘Irish’ product. Closer examination of these subjectively constructed adverts demonstrates allegiance to the convention that the logo is clearly obvious thus suggesting Irish pride. Here then, at the level of mythology, nature is invoked in excess, but clearly not spoken about in an obvious way (‘Siucra is a natural Irish product and Lyons Tea enhances one’s communication abilities because ‘good Irish talkers’ drink ‘good Irish Lyons’ tea). The products are presented not as manufactured, artificial goods but as ‘natural’ and more desirable. The ‘Irish’ images become pawns of economic exchange. The products are not only desirable but also are accessible for all who can afford them. For the consumers who are the intended audience for these adverts, they are asked to recognise the images as natural Irish and therefore more desirable. Furthermore, we should not forget the alibi here that the denotative meanings confer upon the connotative aspects of the signs. These are, after all, just adverts and images, without hidden meanings, asking us to buy these products that will naturally enhance our lives but, in both cases, not only can we achieve these enhancements but also demonstrate patriotism and loyalty to our national identity.

In Roland Barthes essay on his concept of mythology ‘Myth Today’ (Barthes, 1991) he considers media images in his reading and his aim is to make a point about the nature of texts and the ideas they present, how they are all around us in everyday life and he saw media messages as never-ending rather than reducible to any one instance. At the level of connotation we can appreciate that such images, as demonstrated by Siucra and Lyons, present us with an association of patriotism by supporting Irish brands and, by such, there is already a symbolic aspect to the signs. However, if we consider the nature of myth the literalness of the images offers what Barthes calls an ‘alibi’ for any further interpretation or accusation that these are something more than innocent adverts; “it is again this duplicity of the signifier which determines the characters of the signification…myth is a type of speech defined by its intention…much more than by its literal sense…and in spite of this, its intension is somehow frozen, purified, eternalised, made absent by this literal sense. This constituent ambiguity of mythical speech has two consequences for the signification, which henceforth appears both like a notification and like a statement of fact” (Barthes, 1991).

Such mythological moments are part of a chain of signification in a culture (in this case Ireland of the 2000’s) and not an isolated case but part of a whole social context in which such meanings have value. It is an example of what Barthes calls a ‘type of speech’ in which ‘culture’ is turned into nature.

 

Bibliography

 

Barthes, R., 1953. Writing Degree Zero. 3rd ed. London: Cape Editions.

Barthes, R., 1991. Mythologies. 25th ed. Paris: Noonday Press & Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

Bord Bia, 2011. Retaining Loyalty to Irish Brands – Brand Forum Presentation. Dublin, Bord Bia.

Digby, M., 2012. Cheese Wheeze. Irish Times, 29th September, p. 28.

Healy, A., 2012. Food for thought as writers champion Irish produce. Irish Times, 08th March, p. 3.

Healy, A., 2012. Imports account for 45% of branded food. Irish Times, 21st November, p. 9.

Hurley, L., 2010. Lyons Tea launches ad campaign. [Online]
Available at: http://www.businessandleadership.com/marketing/item/19762-lyons-tea-launches-ad-campa
[Accessed 1st December 2012].

Irish Foodwriters Guild, 2010. Irish Foodwriters Guild. [Online]
Available at: http://www.irishfoodwritersguild.ie/
[Accessed 27th November 2012].

Irish Times, 2012. Three Irish food firms in Britain and Ireland top 10. Irish Times, 29th June, p. 3.

ISSUU, 2011. Top 100 Consumer Food Manufacturers. [Online]
Available at: http://issuu.com/reportlinker/docs/top100consumerfoodmanufacturersglobal
[Accessed 27th November 2012].

Kantar Worldpanel, 2012. Grocery Market Share Ireland – Grocery Market Returns To Growth For First Time Since April. [Online]
Available at: http://www.kantarworldpanel.com/en/Press-Releases/Grocery-Market-Share-Ireland—Grocery-Market-Returns-To-Growth-For-First-Time-Since-April
[Accessed 27th November 2012].

Long, P. & Wall, T., 2009. Media Studies: Texts, Production & Context. 1st ed. Essex: Pearson, Longman.

Love Irish Food, 2012. Irish consumers spending an estimated €1.5bn on imported food brands. [Online]
Available at: http://www.loveirishfood.ie/news/irish-consumers-spending-an-estimated-e1-5bn-on-imported-food-brands/
[Accessed 27th November 2012].

Magan, M., 2012. Made In Ireland? Probably Not. Irish Times, 01 September, p. 8.

Masterman, L., 1984. Television Mythologies. 3rd ed. London: Routledge.

McDougall, J., 2012. Media Studies. 1st ed. Abingdon, Oxon/New York: Routledge.

Nenagh Guardian, 2012. Aldi’s Tipp suppliers success at National Irish Food Awards. Nenagh Guardian, 27th October, p. 18.

 

 

 

 

The Screenplay: A New Paradigm

 

The Screenplay: A New Paradigm

By

Gerard J. Hannan

Screenplays are visual. Dialogue is at a minimum. Words are not all that is required to explain the story. Pictures should do all the work. Movies, by definition, are moving pictures. Pictures that move. (Keane, 1998) Writing a treatment accomplishes many goals. Treatments reflect the intricacies of plot and subtext, conflict and resolution as well as character dynamics. They also present the tone of the story; whether ironic, wry humorous, melodramatic, romantic, mysterious, or eerie. (Halperin, 2002)

Treatments are the prose form of a screenplay and usually written in the present tense and, like the screenplay, represent the here and now regardless of the historical context of the piece. Treatments are not written in stone and must allow for the dynamic nature of writing; every project is unique. No hard and fast rules exist in treatment or story development and its development is an exercise in creative discipline.

A Treatment provides one of the best means for creating meaningful characters. The first step is to create a brief character biography containing sufficient information to explain why the characters acts and reacts the way they do. The biography tells us something about the professional, personal, and private life of the character. The biography should be one page long and not go beyond the moment where the story begins. Treatments, like biographies, are blueprints containing the necessary elements of the story but they are also fluid to allow for the creative process.

Creating the story begins with writing a brief outline which gives the story its structure. The classic structure suggests that most stories break down into three parts, three set pieces, or acts. In Act I, the protagonists are called to action; in Act II, protagonists take action (conflicts with antagonists); in Act III, the protagonists overcome adversaries and solve the conflict.

Structure is best defined as a rising line of dramatic action; “a linear development of related dramatic incidents resulting in dramatic resolution. Or, a sequence of accidents, each following inevitably on the heels of the preceding one. Call it a plot.” (Flinn, 1999). In linear art form, there is always a start, middle, finish, and Syd Field’s paradigm (there are others) as the map of how the audience gets from start to end is the structure.

Some stories change direction for no apparent or relevant reason and thus lack structure. Using Field’s paradigm helps avoid such an occurrence and focuses the story. The story must be introduced from the very beginning of the screenplay. The audience has to be grabbed very quickly. The audience must know what the story is about and whom the story is about. The first scenes, the exposition, set up everything that follows. “This entire unit of dramatic action serves to establish three things: who the main character is, what the story is about, and what the dramatic situation is, the circumstances surrounding the action.” (Field, 2005)

Once the basic direction of the story is clear the next step is the development of an outline called ‘beats’ which are defining moments in the story. These beats are also ‘megascenes’ or large blocks of action linking together smaller moments in the story in order to pull the whole structure together. (Halperin, 2002) 

Beats provide a grand overview of the whole story indicating direction as well as important plot points. Megascenes become the first stop on the road to screenplay development. Whether a plot point is dramatised, told to the audience in narrative, takes place off screen, or is not in its rightful chronological order, don’t leave it out altogether. (Flinn, 1999)

When the writer is outlining the story, the steps are in the order in which they would progress in reality. A story seems more natural if one event grows out of another and characters are not believable unless their actions are properly motivated. Plot points are the stepping-stones that will carry the writer from start to end and these plot points must be believable in order to make the screenplay convincing. The driving force that makes the reader or viewer jump, along with the writer, from stepping-stone to stepping-stone is suspense.

The identity of a character cannot be revealed unless he or she reacts to a particular incident; the nature of the drama is to show the universal connection between all humans, regardless of race, colour, gender, or cultural differences. (Field, 2005) The first incident in the journey is called the ‘inciting incident’ because it sets the story in motion; it is the first big revelation and will draw the protagonist into the story. This incident serves two important functions: it starts the story and it grabs the attention of the audience. The ‘inciting incident’ is clearly distinct from the ‘key incident’; the latter affects both the internal and external aspects of the character and story.

Every good story has a problem that the protagonist must solve. In Act I the problem presents itself (Plot Point I); “the incident, episode or event that hooks into the action and spins it around in another direction” (Field, 2005) and the protagonist decides to deal or not deal with it.

Act II raises the excitement, or conflict or confrontation resulting from the protagonist’s decision; the hero faces enemies and by the middle of Act II the hero, reviews the problem and all seems lost (Plot Point II).

In Act III, the solution is discovered and the conflict is resolved. The most critical conflict is the ‘man against himself’, the villain within. (Keane, 1998)

Suspense is present in every successful script. Inevitability and predictability must never be confused. Suspense is created by inevitability being unpredictable. The audience must be surprised by the outcome of each event but must also be convinced that when it does happen it had to; “Inevitable but not predictable”; and in those four words lie the hardest thing to achieve in a plot, and easily the most important. (Flinn, 1999)

“Knowledge and mastery of the plot point is an essential requirement of writing a screenplay. They are the signposts, the goals, the objectives, the destination points of each act – forged links in the chain of dramatic action.” (Field, 2005)

A predictable outcome to any ‘what if’ scenario, facing the protagonist, does not make for an interesting story. Taking the predicted left turn may be the easy route but it is also the most boring. What if the character, accidentally or otherwise, takes an unpredicted right turn; what happens then? The story goes off in a different direction, which makes it even more interesting because new elements have been introduced. These ‘what ifs’ are plot points and they fill in the spaces between the beats or megascenes.

Whammies, high impact moments in the screenplay, are a concept designed for action films, but now applies across all genres. As many of these moments as can be fitted in are desirable. The more the merrier. Each must be larger and more spectacular than the last. (Flinn, 1999)

Plot points arise out of quandaries in which the protagonist finds himself or herself. They strengthen the character of the protagonist. New revelations late in the script are ‘cop outs’ and everything must be interrelated. New revelations can disorientate an audience; they must not be out of place and must resonate with the viewer and be within the context of the story.

Foreshadowing is a critical part of screenplay writing and accomplishes the feat of bringing in new revelations that will resonate. An early clue to a later revelation makes that revelation relevant. A new twist should create surprise but will only do so based on foreknowledge. Nothing satisfies the quality of unpredictability better than a turn in the plot that the audience does not expect. (Flinn, 1999)

Subtext, the unsaid, the underlying theme of the story, moves through the story with quiet determinism (Halperin, 2002) and only becomes apparent in the last part of the third act, which makes the film more satisfying. Screenplays are about something. That ‘something’ is the theme. The theme invokes a conclusion from the audience without lecturing them. The story, not the dialogue, should invoke the theme. “Keep in mind what you are trying to say.” (Flinn, 1999)

The scene is the most important element in the screenplay. It is where something specific happens; it is a specific cell of dramatic action – the place in which you tell the story. (Field, 2005) The purpose of the scene is twofold in that it moves the story forward or it reveals something new about the character. If the scene does not satisfy one or both of these requirements then it does not belong in the screenplay. A scene can be as long or as short as is necessary to relay the required information to advance the story.

Mega scenes and beats develop the intricacies of the story and lay down the foundation to expand the mise-en-scene, attitude of characters and subtext of the story. The treatment is an overview of these essential elements and a total comprehension of this fact makes for a perfect screenplay.

Treatments help to resolve enigmas that can be the downfall of any script. The story demands intricate plot and subtext to give the screenplay texture and substance. A good Treatment presents conflict and resolution as well as the interior and exterior workings of the characters, which becomes the guide through the complexity of creativity.

There is no formula for success but the use of the three-act-structure remains paramount in the development of the story. It is a set of rules that are worth learning. Setup, confrontation, and resolution, developing beats, plot points, and subtext are the primary elements that turn good screenwriting into excellent screenwriting. The treatment is the form that brings all these elements together as a cohesive unit.

Treatments are a most effective tool in the creative process; they provide a map across the creative landscape and are the first major step toward the creation of a screenplay; “the treatment becomes the searchlight cutting through the darkness and highlighting moments of drama and comedy necessary to illuminate the imagination.” (Halperin, 2002)

A screenplay is a story told with pictures, in dialogue and description, and placed within the context of dramatic structure. That is what it is; that is its nature. It is the art of visual storytelling. (Field, 2005)  A screenplay has three acts, which are setup, confrontation, and resolution. This elementary paradigm brings the basic idea into existence.

A good screenplay is evident from page one, word one. The style and layout, the way the story is set up, the grasp of dramatic situation, the introduction of the main character, the basic premise, or problem of the screenplay must be all set up in the first few pages of the script. Most film studios demand a definite three-act structure that is no longer than 120 minutes, there are exceptions, and the general rule of thumb is one minute of screen time to one page of script.

The hardest thing about writing a script is knowing what to write but knowing how to do it is a simple straightforward process. It must be remembered that a screenplay is a guide, a sequence strung together with dialogue and description; it is the landscape of the dream. (Field, 2005)

The main character is the one the story is about; In a novel the action takes place inside the character’s head but the nature of the screenplay deals in pictures and is a story told with pictures, dialogue and description, and placed within the context of dramatic structure.

Structure in relation to screenplay is the relationship between the parts of the script and the whole of the script. A good script consists of the combined elements creating a whole script. The relationship between these parts and the whole determines the quality of the final script. Structure is the glue that holds the story in place; it is the skeleton of the piece. It is the paradigm of dramatic structure.

Act I, the beginning or set up, consisting usually of the first thirty pages of the script, the writer sets up the story, establishes character, launches the dramatic premise, illustrates the situation, and creates the relationships between the main character and the other characters that inhabit the landscape of his or her world. The first ten pages of dramatic action is the most important part of the screenplay. The dramatic premise established in these pages is what the screenplay is about; it provides the dramatic thrust that drives the story to its conclusion.

Act II, usually about sixty pages in a standard screenplay, and is held together with the dramatic context known as Confrontation. The main character meets obstacle after obstacle that prevents the ultimate accomplishment of the his or her main goal which is defined as what the character wants to win, gain, get, or achieve during the course of the screenplay. (Field, 2005) Conflict is the main ingredient of drama. All drama is conflict, without conflict there can be no action; without action, there is no character and no character means no story and thus no screenplay.

Act III, twenty to thirty pages long, is held together with the dramatic context known as Resolution. Resolution, in this context, means solution. Act III resolves the story.

Beginning, middle and end, setup, confrontation and resolution are the elements that make up the whole. It is the relationship between these parts that determine the whole. However, a further element comes into play to carry the viewer comfortably from Act I to Act II and on into Act III and the way in which this is done by is by the use of two primary plot points.

A plot point is defined as any incident, episode, or event that hooks the action and spins it around in another direction. The first plot point in a screenplay appears in the latter end of Act I, the second plot point appears in the latter end of Act II, and thus, each plot point carries the viewer naturally into the next act. Plot points do not have to be big, dynamic scenes or sequences; they can be significant moments of dialogue that will move the story forward towards the conclusion.

This paradigm is a form, not a formula for guaranteed screenplay success; it establishes the structure, which is what holds the story together. The quality of the story is dependent on the writer and the idea. Story determines structure but structure does not determine story. (Field, 2005) This paradigm works. It is the foundation of every good screenplay, the foundation of dramatic structure.

Every screenplay starts with an idea and a subject to embody and dramatise that idea. The subject is an action and a character; the action being what the story is about and the character is the one the story is about; it is essential to isolate the generalised idea into a specific dramatic premise, which becomes the starting point of the screenplay. Knowing what you are writing about is essential as you develop action and characters. If you do not know what you are, writing about then you cannot expect others to know. When an idea can be expressed concisely in terms of action and character then the preparation for the screenplay has truly begun.

Developing the idea is accomplished through research. The more you know, the more you can communicate. Once the idea can be expressed in a line or two then the research can begin. The dramatic structure is determined by the character’s dramatic need – what the character needs to win, gain, or achieve. The characters dramatic needs are sacred because it is this that holds the story together. Research gives ideas and when you begin with your subject, you must think action and character. There are two kinds of action and these are emotional and physical. The story is dictated by the type of action one decides is the nature of the story.

All drama is conflict and once the need of the character is created then various obstacles preventing the fulfilment of that need can be created. Keeping the viewer interested using conflict, struggle, and obstacles is the role of the screenwriter. These obstacles must always move the story forward, towards its resolution. Without conflict, there is no action. Without action, there is no character. Action is character. What a person does is what he is, not what he says. (Field, 2005)

A plot is the character in action. Four types of characters generally populate movies; the hero, the villain, the friend and the lover. The hero should be human with strengths and frailties, common imperfections that an audience can identify with. “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself” (Field, 2005)

The best villains make the audience happy that nothing like this is happening to them. The villain is all-powerful and controls the story until the protagonist regains control. This means that the villain has control for two thirds of the screenplay, he engineers the plot and his desires conflict with those of the hero and this is the central conflict of the story. Characters, good and evil, should be the cause of everything and plot should be the effect, the characters should be in charge; they are the engines running the story. (Keane, 1998) Good characters are the core of good drama. The incidents one creates for the characters are the best way to illuminate who they are. To reveal their true nature can be accomplished only by action and not by words; their essential character. How the character responds to a particular incident or event, how they act and react, what they say and do is what really defines the essence of their character.

The friend is a reflection character and is actually the thought’s of the protagonist. The friend shares the hopes and dreams of the protagonist and allows the audience to know what the hero is thinking if and when necessary.

The romantic interest tugs at the protagonist’s heart and helps to demonstrate the human side of the hero or antihero. Their primary purpose, if not a main character, is to drive the hero forward and act as a “prime motivating force in the creation of believable characters.” (Keane, 1998)

To understand the characters, major or minor, it is necessary and helpful to create a brief biography for each one. Each section of the biography can be dedicated to a decade in the life of the character. The biography should bring the life story of the character from birth to now and use these ‘past lives’ to give substance to the dialogue the character uses in the screenplay. It helps the writer to know the character when it comes to dialogue or dilemma and how the character speaks or reacts to any given situation.

The biography builds the interior life of the character, the emotional life which allows the character to move and evolve in a definite ‘character arc’ through the story. The character will change as the story moves on; thoughts and feelings will have been altered. Creating the interior aspect of the character (what is going on inside) then the exterior portion of his or her story can be developed. This exterior aspect occurs during the actual time of the screenplay from fade-in to fade-out; regardless of the characters life span in-between. To develop the exterior in this way makes the character more real, believable, and multi-dimensional.

The best way to add realism to a character is to separate their lives into three different components – their professional, personal and private life. These areas of their private lives can be dramatised over the course of the screenplay. When composing the biography taking professional, personal, and private life into account it is best to do so without commonality with your own life. You are not your character. The character should remain active throughout the screenplay, he or she should be doing things and your character is what he or she does but, most important of all; know your character.

There are four main things, four essential qualities that go into the making of good characters and these are; dramatic need; point of view; attitude and transformation. The dramatic need drives the character through the storyline; it is their purpose or mission. This dramatic need may change through the course of the story and such changes usually occur at plot point one, the true beginning of the story. The dramatic need is the engine that powers the character through the story line. The main characters drive is the spine of the story. He or she is willing to do absolutely anything to accomplish his or her mission; break the law, kill, find new depths of courage and be willing to go to any lengths until they get what they want. That is the story. (Keane, 1998)

The second element of good character is point of view or the way a person sees, or views the world. This is the characters belief system. All human being’s, even fictional ones, have a point of view and that point of view is acquired through personal experience. The character believes in God or does not believe in God but either way it is his or her point of view. Knowing the characters point of view is a good way to generate conflict. Nothing progresses in a story except through conflict. (Keane, 1998)

The character’s attitude is their manner or opinion and is a way of acting or feeling that reveals a person’s personal opinion. Point of view is separate from attitude. When the basic core of the character is created but the distinction is academic; it does not really matter because the parts and the whole are really the same thing. It is only necessary to separate the concept in one’s own mind as they write the screenplay.

The element of change or transformation in a character is defined in terms of what is commonly referred to as the character arc. This is an articulation of a change in the nature of the character as a result of the events within the script. This transformation seems to be an essential aspect and adds another dimension to the character.

The writing of a screenplay is an adventure; one never really knows what will come out. As the screenplay develops so do the characters and the writer needs to trust his or her own ability to exercise the choice of action and direction during the ‘words on paper’ stage. (Field, 2005)

The dialogue the character uses is a function of the character’s depth as created in the biography. Writing dialogue is difficult and it serves two main purposes; it moves the story forward or it reveals information about the main character. If it fails in any of these functions then it is irrelevant. The result of preparation will be characters who are authentic and believable, real people in real situations.

The war between protagonist and antagonist is a major part of the story. The protagonist (the hero) is the centrepiece of the screenplay. They usually have some good qualities, some bad and usually the audience sees the events from his or her point of view. The audience should empathise not sympathise with the protagonist. The hero will always have helpers who are useful to the writer when the hero wants to express some inner thoughts.

The antagonist can come in all shapes and sizes and is normally, but not always, the binary opposite of the protagonist in every conceivable way. The antagonist helps move the story forward as much the protagonist does. The antagonist must get the same attention to detail as the protagonist. If the antagonist is an institution then it must be personified with an agent of that institution. (Keane, 1998)

In modern film, the device of a character having a single overwhelming characteristic is extremely popular and this is often because there is hardly time to develop a more detailed character. (Flinn, 1999) 

Other popular traits include rebels, misfits, fanatics and those with a hidden agenda where the reason remains concealed until the climax. In the protagonist there should be something, buried deep inside that can and will motivate him or her. The character trait makes the character interesting and this trait can be expressed in dialogue.

A character that does not need something is going to be a very boring character. The tragic flaw that is a fundamental part of the protagonists character will give him or her two main conflicts to face. Firstly they must get to the point of revelation and the action of resolution. Both are difficult and painful journeys. The hero’s imperfections make them more human.  (Keane, 1998)

The fundamental elements of storytelling are very simple. The events of the story take place at a crucial time in the protagonist’s life. He or she wants to reach their objective, by any means, as quickly and as painlessly as possible. This is the essence of a good story; how a character faces and deals with obstacles and whether or not these obstacles can be overcome.

The antagonists are those who oppose the protagonist’s success and are the creators of the obstacles using physical or emotional conflict. The protagonist must beat back the inner or outer demons otherwise; the story is not worth telling. (Keane, 1998) Originality and familiarity are essential ingredients in good stories; filmmakers are seeking original stories about real situations.

Screenplays are painful to read and nobody reads them for fun. Reading a bad screenplay can be excruciating but nobody really does it; they just get so far and then stop. The reader is usually a moviemaker who loves to make movies and not sit around all day reading scripts, especially bad ones. A screenplay is a blueprint for a film; no more, no less.

Selecting a title for the screenplay is a simple task. There are no good or bad titles. If the script is good, the title will be easily remembered. If the script is bad, the title will be quickly forgotten.

There is a finite number of stories and an infinite number of ways of telling them; “It is not what you write about but how you write about it” (Flinn, 1999).

Drama is conflict and conflict is drama. The screenwriter searches for ways to generate tension in the material. The writer always operates from the position of choice and responsibility. It is imperative to remember that the subject of the screenplay is an action and a character. Building the character, creating context and content, searching for a story are all part of the process. Create a character and a story will emerge.

Before one starts on the start of the story one needs to have an end. This may seem illogical but, in fact, it is perfectly true. Know the ending and work towards it. It may not be the final ending but it must be an ending. A new and perhaps better ending may come during the writing process, but at least have a basic ending before the writing process begins. If the writer is in doubt about how the story ends it is best to think of a positive ending. The purpose of art is to entertain; that does not mean everybody should live happily ever after but that the audience walk away feeling spiritually uplifted, fulfilled and satisfied. Resolve the story any way necessary but it is best to be positive and uplifting.

If the plot points in the story have a power then this power must escalate with each plot point. The drama must build up to the final climax, which must be the most dramatic point of all. His escalation can be anything from drama to character development. Not all endings are happy but all endings should have heart. If at the end of the piece, the viewer or reader is emotionally rewarded or affected then the story instantly becomes most attractive. Executives know that a film has a better chance of success if the story ends happily and the audience walks out of the theatre feeling good. An ending does not have to make you feel good, it just has to make you feel. (Flinn, 1999)

Many screenplays do not start quickly enough. It is very rare for more than ten pages to go by without the reader having a firm idea about the nature of the film. Ten pages are ten minutes and if the story has not started by fifteen minutes, it is already getting too late. (Flinn, 1999)

The first ten pages, also known as the exposition, defined as the information needed to move the story forward (Field, 2005). It is the setting forth of meaning or intent (the part of the play that introduces the theme and chief characters) and consists of delineation of the chief characters traits that are key to his or her motivation, the traits that will drive the character forward in the quest.

The exposition also sets out the theme or moral of the story but not reveal it. Exposition is associated with believability, probably the most important issue in the public acceptance of a movie, and final payoff. It is at this point that subtle seeds are sown. For something to be believable later in the script, it is imperative to sow the seeds of it as quickly as possible and the exposition stage is the best place to sow these seeds. By revealing facts at the early stage about the character or situation when it seems unimportant and using these facts later in the resolution gives more credibility to the plot than revealing facts in Act III for the first time. A simple rule; reveal up front, accept at end. Professional writing is distinguished by how something is disguised at this early stage in the screenplay. (Flinn, 1999) Finally, the exposition should demonstrate the style of the screenplay, no jokes if it is not a comedy.

The best way to open a screenplay is to know the ending. For the screenwriter the ending and the beginning are two sides of the same coin. (Field, 2005) When the writer is starting out he or she should know the resolution of the screenplay. Everybody dies, nobody dies, the bad person gets away, the bad person does not get away; the story moves forward; it follows a path, a direction; the line of development. The screenplay is the story of how the character gets there. The resolution must be clear in the writer’s mind; it is context, it holds the ending in place. To write a strong opening, the ending must be known. The story is a journey to a specific destination.

Most screenwriters have problems with endings. How to make it work effectively, so it is satisfying and fulfilling, so it makes an emotional impact; it does not seem contrived or predictable, so it is real and believable, not forced or fabricated; an ending that resolves all the main story points; an ending that works.

Nothing should be left unresolved unless there is good reason for doing so. In short, endings must satisfy beginnings (Flinn, 1999) and all conflicts introduced in the script must be fully resolved with the story fitting together. The final statement must satisfy the premise, the characters must drive the plot, the plot must be realistic for the characters, and above all coincidences must not be used to get out of a convoluted plot because believability is imperative. (Flinn, 1999)

Keeping this in mind the next question to ponder is what is the opening of the screenplay? How does it begin? What is the opening scene or sequence? The audience must be grabbed by the action very quickly; by page 10 of the screenplay is the general rule of thumb. This event is referred to as the inciting incident, which sets up the rest of the story.

The opening sequence must illustrate the nature of the story. The writer must know four things as he or she starts out; the ending, the beginning, Plot Point 1 and Plot Point 2, and in that order. These four events are the foundation stones of the screenplay. The reader must know three things within the first sequence the character; the premise and the situation or circumstances. The ending comes out of the beginning. Someone or something initiates an action and how that action is resolved becomes the storyline of the film.

 

Bibliography

Field, S. (2005). Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting. New York: Delta/Bantam Dell.

Flinn, D. M. (1999). How Not To Write A Screenplay. California: Lone Eagle Publishing Company.

Halperin, M. (2002). Writing The Killer Treatment. California: Michael Wiese Productions.

Keane, C. (1998). How To Write A Selling Screenplay. New York: Broadway Books.

 

 

 

 

Syd Fields Three Act Structure Paradigm

 

“Structure is the prime element of film.” (Miller, 1984) “Screenplays are structure; that’s all they are. They are structure.” (Goldman, 1981) But, while the importance of structure is clear, interpretation is often less so. Syd Field’s ‘three-act-structure’ model is a perfectly natural device; not one that can be avoided by screenwriters. It is no more than a variation on the ‘start, middle and end’ model of all narratives. Using two films, Network (Lumet, 1976) and Magnolia (Anderson, 1999)it can be demonstrated that Field’s three-act structure; set-up, confrontation and resolution, is unavoidable and inevitable regardless of screenwriting and filmmaking techniques.

 

Network and the vast majority of Hollywood output are films with a classic linear story structure; send hero to battle, fire missiles at him, get him home dead or alive; it is a simple model, logical, chronological and embraced by the majority of film makers. The beginning, middle and end is the trusted template which defines American cinema. However, “a distinctly nonlinear structure has crept into Hollywood’s cinematic repertoire.” (Smith, 1999/2000) The emergence of films such as Pulp Fiction, Lone Star, English Patient and Magnolia do not use linear structure. But the question remains can the three-act formula be avoided?

 

Screenwriting expert Professor Robert McKee once described a story as a human being living a life that is more or less in balance; then comes the “inciting incident. The protagonist reacts, his life falls out of balance, and he now has had aroused in him a conscious or unconscious desire for whatever it is that will restore balance; “launching him on a quest for his object of desire against the forces of antagonism.” (Parker, 2003) McKee nailed the concept of the three-act structure that was the basis of debate initiated by Syd Field, an American writer and popular screenwriting guru.

 

Syd Field argues “The nature of the screenplay is as it has always been; a story told with pictures, dialogue and description, and placed within the context of dramatic structure” (Field, 2005). Field’s popular paradigm of three-act structure consists of set up, confrontation and resolution. Act 1, set up, we are introduced to the situation and characters and guided through ‘rising action’ into the main conflict of the story. Act 2, confrontation, is the continued rising action or conflict leading to the act conclusion or second plot point flagging the beginning of the falling action of Act 3, the resolution.

 

The three-act structure provides a framework to promote the story. Syd Field articulates, if you know the three-act paradigm, “you can simply pour your story into it.” (Field, 1982) Two narrated films demonstrating the paradigm are the linear plot of Network and the non-linear plot of Magnolia.  In Network the sole-protagonist, a suicidal manic depressive desires to depose his network and is assassinated as he preaches the insignificance of individuality (Network, 1976). In Magnolia, a montage of several interrelated protagonists with ‘paternal issues’ are in search of happiness (Magnolia, 1999). Both films, with multifaceted plots, are ‘poured’ into Field’s model.

 

In Network Field’s paradigm functions logically; Act 1’s inciting incident is Beale’s dismissal and threatened on-air suicide resulting in increased ratings. Beale’s reinstatement by exploitative employers is plot point one. In Act 2’s confrontation, individual vs. establishment, rising action remains evident as Beale’s sanity deteriorates. He denounces television and encourages viewers against it; “…I’m not going to take this anymore!” (Chayefsky, 1976) Plot point 2 is Beale’s discovery of UBS’s acquisition whereupon he demands public intervention. Act 3, resolution, falling action, Beale is manipulated into believing in business not individuality. He broadcasts this ‘propaganda’ and is assassinated as a traitor.

 

Magnolia, a non-linear mixed-genre melodrama using multiple characters, camouflages variations on Field’s model. The fragmented narrative leaps through characters subverting structure expectation. Eight troubled characters have similar goals (restoration of happiness) and occupy the space of the protagonist; “The plot poses questions; what to do and what is outcome?” (Dancyger & Russ, 2007) In Act 1 each character is haunted by their past; “We may be through with the past but the past isn’t through with us” (Magnolia, 1999) the first plot point is a montage of conflict scenarios brought to conclusion in plot point two leading to final resolution.

 

In both films conflict is an inherent incompatibility between objectives of protagonists and antagonists; “Conflict creates tension by adding doubt about outcome.” (Roberts & Jacobs, 2010) Both films appear opposites which is not the case. Environment’s destructiveness is the target of both films; protagonists are guides through complex antagonistic situations. In Network the antagonist wins and in Magnolia the protagonist(s) win, as with all stories; “One side wins in the end, but the film’s closure reconciles the two” (McBride, 1996). The structures of both narratives are almost indistinguishable and outcomes are inverted. Field’s model works equally well in each scenario.

 

The elements of Field’s model are evident in both films. The films are bookended with prologue and epilogue. The prologue sets tone, introduces concepts and pulls the audience into the story. True to Field’s model Act 1, in both films, establishing ‘main tension’ sets up characters, dramatic premise and situation. The first plot-point; “anchor of the story line” (Field, 2005), moves narrative forward; in Network when Beale is reinstated his journey begins. All the major plot-points in Magnolia revolve around parents; the first plot-point is a montage of events beginning a series of complex emotional obstacles which characters must overcome.

 

A classical narrative is structured around scenes; “In a tightly structured script, each scene has a mini goal or plot-point that leads the audience into the next scene” (Garrand, 1997). Although we don’t always know what is going to happen; “the structural patternings set us up for how it is going to happen” (Blumenberg, 1990). The plot-points yield tension and maintain interest in the story. They take place in major or minor form throughout the story with “reversals tending to be major plot-points opening up the story and providing a broader spectrum of options for characters.” (Dancyger & Russ, 2007).

 

The context of Act two is confrontation; “what the character wants to win, gain, get, or achieve during the course of the screenplay” (Field, 1982). In Network there is relentless confrontation as Beale becomes “the mad prophet of the airwaves” at odds with himself, his audience and ultimately with his superiors; “You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and you will atone!” (Chayefsky, 1976). In Magnolia conflict occurs as the protagonists attempt to silence their inner demons. Deviating from Field’s model a resolution is achieved in Magnolia in Act 2 climax, the second plot-point, and creates new conflicts.

 

In Act three paces pick up and no new elements are exposed.  Resolution is achieved by story twists. In Network Beale commits suicide but does not pull the trigger. The narrator reappears to explain; “This was the story of Howard Beale…killed because he had lousy ratings.” (Chayefsky, 1976) In Magnolia the protagonists witness and casually accept a ‘frog rainfall’ with one protagonist observing ‘these things happen’. The prologue, a pastiche of ‘chance-events’ makes sense. Happiness is achieved through coincidence and chance. The narrator explains; “In the humble opinion of this narrator these strange things happen all the time….” (Magnolia, 1999).

 

There are other tensions in both movies. The subplots have tensions that can be mapped in three-act formula and beats; “pauses in dialogue altering how the protagonist pursues a goal” (Decker, 1998) which predict outcome. In Network most beats are unhappy; “I’m going to blow my brains out…on the air…in the middle of the seven o’clock news.” (Chayefsky, 1976) In Magnolia there are happy beats as when one protagonist announces; “I gotta clean my brain of all the shit I’ve done that I shouldn’t have done” (Magnolia, 1999). Within the beats are clues as to the outcome of the goal.

 

Both films have a complex plots. They interweave characters to demonstrate the strangeness and inexplicableness of life. Events, as depicted, may be strange but they can and do happen; “the events of the plot have to be not only plausible, they also have to echo real life events” (Dancyger & Russ, 2007). In 1974 an American television news reporter, Christine Chubbuck committed suicide during a live television broadcast (New York Times, 1974). Science has offered tornadic explanations for the phenomenon of frog rainfalls. (New York Times, 1901) The implausible becomes plausible by the conceptual scheme of the three act structure.

 

Both movies remain true to Field’s model; the main tensions are posed in the set-up, embellished in confrontation, and resolved in resolution using appropriate plot-points throughout the journey. The foreground and background stories are fully resolved there are clear winners. In Network victory goes to the antagonist and in Magnolia it belongs to protagonists. To sum up, the two films differ considerably. Network is a plot intensive story and never veers from the three-act structure while Magnolia uses background story over plot, creates believable characters and explores difficult emotional issues using a more complex, less obvious but parallel three-act structure.

 

Bibliography

 

Blumenberg, R. M., 1990. Cohesion And Fragmentation In Narrative Screenwriting. Journal Of Film And Video, 42(3), p. 61.

Chayefsky, P., 1976. Screenplays For You. [Online]
Available at: http://www.sty.ru/?script=network
[Accessed 10th October 2012].

Dancyger, K. & Russ, J., 2007. Alternative Script Writing: Successfully Breaking The Rules. 4th ed. Boston: Elsevier/Focal Press.

Decker, D., 1998. Anatomy Of A Screenplay. 1st ed. New York: Dan Decker Books.

Field, S., 1982. The Foundations of Screenwriting. New York: Delacorte Press.

Field, S., 2005. Screenplay: The Foundations Of Screenwriting. E-Book (9) ed. New York: Delta Books.

Garrand, T., 1997. Scripting Narrative For Interactive Multimedia. Journal Of Film And Video, 49(Spring/Summer), p. 68.

Goldman, W., 1981. Word Into Image: Portraits of American Screenwriters. Santa Monica, California: American Film Institute.

Magnolia. 1999. [Film] Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. USA: Ghoulardi Film Company/New Line Cinema/Magnolia Project.

McBride, S., 1996. A Twist In The Tale. Circa, 77(Autumn), p. 7.

Miller, W., 1984. The Matter Of Screenplay Structure. Journal Of Film And Video, 36(3), p. 35.

Network. 1976. [Film] Directed by Sydney Lumet. USA: Metro Goldwyn Mayer/United Artists.

New York Times, 1901. Rain of Frogs in Village Street.. New York Times, 20th July, p. 2.

New York Times, 1974. Talk Show Hostess Dies After Shooting Self On TV. New York Times, 16th July, p. 23.

Parker, I., 2003. The Real McKee. The New Yorker, 20th October, p. 5.

Roberts, E. V. & Jacobs, H. E., 2010. Literature: An Introduction To Reading And Writing. New York: Longman/Prentice-Hall.

Smith, E., 1999/2000. Thread Structure: Rewriting The Hollywood Formula. Journal of Film And Video, 51(3/4), p. 88.

 

 

 

Hitchcock: Reluctant Auteur.

Hitchcock: The Reluctant Auteur

Lisa:

‘Jeff, do you think a murderer would let you see all that?

That he shouldn’t keep his shades down and hide behind them?’

Jeff:

‘That’s where he’s being clever.

…..Acting…..nonchalant’.

(Hayes 1953)

This paper will consider two Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) films; Rear Window (1954) and Vertigo (1958) to explain how ‘acting nonchalant’ the ‘Catholic guilt ridden’ (Richie 2012), Hitchcock who grew up in a strict Roman Catholic family, manipulated audiences into recognizing their own moral dilemmas and forcing them to acknowledge a dark side which, Hitchcock implies in most post ‘Rebecca’ (1940) films, exists within all human beings. ‘Though his films were controlled environments, the subject of a Hitchcock picture was typically loss of control, tossing of a more or less innocent person into the vortex of guilt and intrigue’ (Corliss 1999).

’Hitchcockian themes of voyeurism, rescue and disability are most evident in both films’ (Cohen 1995) and exploration of writings of leading auteur theorists we find that the ‘relutant auteur’ Hitchcock’s motives were not alone self-serving but unintentional master classes in auteur cinema. Hitchcock’s films, where he himself made a cameo, are autobiographical and confessional but also quintessential ‘self-created’ examples of auteur cinema. The two films; Rear Window and Vertigo are Hitchcock’s loudest ‘auteuristic’ confessions; ‘Modern art is often seen as the product of impulse and compulsion, of the divine creative whim that reveals the turbulent depths of its creator’s spirit’. (Corliss 1999)

Both films are consistent with his theme of the characters inability to escape the past and the haunting power that the dead have over the living these ‘psychological ingredients’ Hitchcock once admitted began in 1940 with Rebecca (Adair 2002). Rather than being about active male heroes using their gazes to control passive, ‘to-be-looked-at’ women, Vertigo and Rear Window, show ambivalent, less-than-powerful heroes struggling to resist patriarchy, struggling to wrest control of the gaze from the world around them.’ (Manlove 2007).

Gaze Theory is a psychoanalytical term brought into popular usage by Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) who contends that the scopic drive (the eyes and the gaze) relate to human desire; ‘If the drives are closely related to desire, they are the partial aspects in which desire is realized—desire is one (with the gaze) and undividable,’ (Doyle 2001). Since the early 1990s, something akin to ‘gaze theory’ has coalesced, in large part, because of the wide influence of Feminist theorist Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.’ in which she uses the gaze to examine male pleasure in narrative cinema; ‘Rather than being about active male heroes using their gazes to control passive, ‘to-be-looked-at’ women, Vertigo and Rear Window show ambivalent, less-than-powerful heroes struggling to resist patriarchy, struggling to wrest control of the gaze from the world around them’ (Mulvey 1975).

In Lifeboat (1944), Rope (1948) and Dial M For Murder (1954) Hitchcock worked on a single set and for Rear Window he revisits this challenge again. As the film unfolds we witness a variety of ‘mini dramas’, ‘behind’ glass walls, that entertain the protagonist and the audience he represents. Hitchcock used what he described as the ‘subjective technique’, (Adair 2002) a method of filming that creates the protagonists point of view by intercutting shots of what he sees and how he reacts. The audience are thus compelled to identify with the protagonist and to experience and share feelings of suspicion, curiosity and fear. Underneath the simplistic plot lie some serious concerns.

A romance between Jefferies (James Stewart) and Lisa (Grace Kelly) is clearly meaningless to Jefferies who is too focused on his ‘peeping tom’ activities where he prefers to look at other people’s lives than to put his own in order. The murder he ‘witnesses’ mirrors his love life. Jeffries readily identifies with the murderer as he assumes that the salesman wants rid of his irritating wife; ‘Can you see me rushing home to a hot apartment every night to listen to the automatic laundry, the electric dishwasher, the garbage disposal and a nagging wife?’ (Hayes 1953). It is established from the opening scenes that Jeffries is anti-marriage and cynical towards women and the love they proffer to ensnare him. Once again, this plot device of ‘doubles’ between Hero and Villain is not new to Hitchcock as he used it before in Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) and Strangers On A Train (1951).

According to Dan Auiler’s book about the making of Vertigo, Hitchcock produced a masterpiece through his professionalism and aura as an auteur (Auiler 1998). In ‘Vertigo’ the main protagonist is a man haunted by his own human frailty: his vertigo. Viewers identify with this vulnerability and instinctively sympathize because of their own restrictive flaws. (Berman 2000) It is such weakness that gives Hitchcock his power over his audience as they suffer while witnessing the consequential chaos of human frailty. The spiral descent of the protagonist as a consequence of his own desire to regain control of his life, robbed by his vertigo, this motive becomes distorted as he makes the fatal mistake of becoming emotionally entangled with the object of his rescue and ultimately his demise.

As the story unfolds the audience will learn that the ‘brave hero’ is flawed as he displays cowardice, emotional trauma and seems beyond rescue as he enters the abyss of insanity. In a mentally frail condition Scottie starts to hunt down the source of his insanity and lands upon a new target for the restoration of his delusional mind. It is here that Hitchcock pulls a cruel trick on his audience by allowing them into the secret of truth that eludes the protagonist. We learn that Scottie has been manipulated to witness the suicide of his old friend’s wife. And so, we abandon the protagonist and dismiss him as naïve, delusional and beyond redemption.

As he proceeds in a Pygmalion fashion, parallel with the ‘Frankenstein’ theme of creating a monster that ultimately destroys its creator, to transform the object of his obsession into the object of his desire we start to feel empathy with Judy (Madeline), played by Kim Novak, a former Grace Kelly stand-in (Hitchcock allegedly obsessed over Kelly in the same way as Scottie obsesses over and transforms Judy and used the actress to ‘punish’ Kelly for deserting him) who clearly loves Scottie for himself but he refuses to accept her beyond what he wants her to be.

She ultimately relents and makes the fatal mistake of going a step too far by wearing a necklace which betrays her and, in a moment of clarity, he arrives to a new reality in which he becomes the killer rather than the Saviour. Beauty and the Beast switch roles. However, having been forced to return to the scene of the crime she too falls to her doom to reveal to the audience in the final seconds that it was not the ‘fear of heights’ that was the cause of Scottie’s self annihilation but his own sexual fetishes and an erotic obsession disguised as Vertigo.

The camera in Vertigo, as with Rear Window, is voyeuristic. In fact, the protagonist is a passive character moving within a world in which he has no control. He rejects ordinary love for the love of a dead person; ‘Scottie rejects existential reality in order to live within mythic non-reality’ (Berman 2000). Scotties ‘contempt’ for women demonstrated by his need for omnipotent control of the love object in order to deal with the terror of the object loss is related to Hitchcock’s own ‘lifelong struggles with dependency, women and sadism’ (Gabbard 1998).

A key question concerns Hitchcock’s attitude toward women. Do films such as Vertigo, Rear Window, Psycho (1960) and Frenzy (1972) which depicts shocking acts of violence against women reveal a man with a hatred of the opposite sex?; ‘but on closer analysis in all cases we find that an alliance with a stronger risk-taking woman helps save the hero’s skin.’ (Adair 2002).

Auteur theory became prominent in the 1950s in France and most notably articulated by Francois Truffaut; “Hitchcock’s reputation from popular entertainer to distinguished auteur over the years is usually attributed to the efforts of some admiring European film figures” (Kapsis 1989). When Truffaut was writing critical essays on auteurs like Hitchcock he had already hatched the project for his single most sustained piece of critical writing, the conversations with Alfred Hitchcock. (Anzalone 1998) Auteur theory describes the mark of a film director in terms of theme, style, aesthetic, technique and control.

The films of the Director are ‘stamped’ with the personality of the creator as is the case with Alfred Hitchcock; ‘In 1954, Truffaut wrote an article called A Certain Trend of French Cinema (New Wave Film 2012) which resulted in a storm of controversy. Truffaut later devised the auteur theory, which stated that the director was the ‘author’ of his work; that great directors such as Jean Renoir (1874-1979) or Hitchcock has distinct styles and themes that permeate all of their films.’ (Rovi 2012). Truffaut says Hitchcock  is  one  of  those  rare film-makers who  is  able  to  please  everyone; “I  am  convinced that  his  procedure  is  applicable  to  all  films,  or to be precise, to those which are made coldly.  I believe that Vertigo is not made interesting to the general public through concession or compromise, but rather through supplementary discipline”. (Ronde and Truffaut 1963).

Alfred Hitchcock, himself a European with Germanic influences is therefore acknowledged as the perfect example of auteur cinema as his name evokes immediate expectations in terms of themes and techniques; ‘the European influence on Hitchcock came as a result of the German Expressionists, and he admired their ability to express ideas in purely visual terms’ (Spoto 1991).

Hitchcock’s films are intricate in cinematic technique, camera viewpoints, editing and suspense construction by music. His vision of his world is reflected in his films and each one offers an analysis of life’s cruel jokes from wrongful accusation, imprisonment and mistaken identity. He visually expressed his themes using staircases, sinister houses, chasms, mothers and the ‘McGuffin’; “Hitchcock’s narrative gimmick that motivates the characters’ behaviour (a search for a secret formula, an impending assassination) but is of secondary interest to the audience.” (Nixon 2012) Hitchcock further elaborates on his technique with his ‘Bomb Theory’ a phrase which he coined to explain his method of creating suspenseful rather than surprise cinema. Simply put he suggests that if the audience does not know there is a bomb under the table then this is a fifteen second ‘surprise’ when it goes off, if they do know we can provide them with fifteen minutes of ‘suspense’. The conclusion is that whenever possible the public must be informed” (Hitchcock. 1970).

Spoto writes that the Hitchcock’s touch was evident in all his films: “structure, screenplay, plot, theme, images, cast, setting; lighting, mood, audience manipulation, wit, pacing and rhythm; “Hitchcock was able to transcend artistic constraints and make highly personalised films that bear the stamp of his artistic personality.” (Spoto 1991).

And Hitchcock is certainly known for his highly personal style, as described by François Truffaut in the introduction to his famous conversation with Hitchcock: “Because he exercises such complete control over all the elements of his films he is one of the few filmmakers whose screen signature can be identified as soon as the picture begins”. It was Truffaut’s publication in 1967 of his interviews with Hitchcock that established Hitchcock as the `quintessential auteur’ (Spoto 1991).

However, Hitchcock was a ‘reluctant auteur’ judging from his contradictory comments in relation to collaborative scriptwriting in which he indicates that his artistic vision was not his alone and was often reshaped by writing. Discussing the Hitchcock-Hayes collaboration on ‘Rear Window’ the Director said; ‘People embrace the auteur theory, but it’s difficult to know what someone means by it. Very often the director is no better than his script.’ (Burnett 2001) However, Hitchcock did little to dispute his own cinematic mastery when interviewed by Truffaut; he downplayed the role of Hayes labelling him ‘a radio writer who wrote the dialogue.’ (Telegraph 2008)

Hitchcock’s career as a film maker can be best understood by his desire for a good story, good actors and creative contributions from his crew. The consummate perfectionist planned every shot and guided the film development from start to finish. This is the primary reason why all his films had his stamp. He was justifiably motivated by ‘control’ and arrogance based on his expertise and belief that he alone, beyond all others, understood his audience.

What really distinguished Hitchcock as an auteur are his cameo appearances to promote his own image as the sole creator of the piece. He is justified, as is any other artist, to ‘sign’ his own masterpieces. While the contributions of his crew are important they are as insignificant to the final product as the canvass, paints, brushes or materials used in the creation of any work of art.

Bibliography

Adair, Gene. Alfred Hitchcock: Filming Our Fears. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Anzalone, John. “Heroes and Villains, or Truffaut and the Literary Pre/Text.” The French Review (American Association Of Teachers Of French), 10 1998: pp. 48-57.

Auiler, Dan. The Making of a Hitchcock Classic. New York: St. Martins Press, 1998.

Berman, Emanuel. “Psychoanalysis And Film.” Edited by Glen O. Gabbard and Paul Williams. International Journal Of Psychoanalysis (Key Papers Series), 2000: 43.

Burnett, Allison. “Writing with Hitchcock: A Collaboration of Alfred Hitchcock and John Michael Hayes.” variety, 06 01, 2001.

Cohen, P. M. Alfred Hitchcock: The Legacy Of Victorianism. Lexington: University Press, Kentucky., 1995.

Corliss, Mary. “Alfred Hitchcock: Behind the Silhouette.” MoMA (The Museum Of Modern Art) 2, no. 5 (1999).

Doyle, Laura. “Matrixial Gaze and Screen: Other than Phallic and Beyond the Late Lacan.” Bodies of Resistance. (Northwestern University Press.), 2001.

Gabbard, G. O. “Vertigo: Female Objectification, Male Desire And Object Loss.” Psychoanalysis Inquirer, 1998: 161-7.

Hayes, John Michael. Rear Window (Final Draft). 12 1, 1953. http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Rear-Window.html (accessed 04 03, 2012).

Hitchcock., Alfred, interview by AFI. Alfred Hitchcock On Mastering Cinematic Tension YOUTUBE. 1970.

Kapsis, Robert E. “Reputation Building and the Film Art World: The Case of Alfred Hitchcock.” The Sociological Quarterly (Blackwell Publishing & Midwest Sociological Society) Vol. 30, no. No. 1. (Spring 1989): pp. 15-35.

Manlove, Clifford T. “Visual “Drive” and Cinematic Narrative: Reading Gaze Theory in Lacan, Hitchcock, and Mulvey.” Cinema Journal Vol. 46, no. No. 3 (Spring 2007): 84.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Screen (Vol. 16 – Iss 3) , 1975: 6-18.

New Wave Film. New Wave Film. 2012. http://www.newwavefilm.com/french-new-wave-encyclopedia/francois-truffaut.shtml (accessed 04 04, 2012).

Nixon, Rob. Notorious – TCM. 2012. http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/85282/Notorious/articles.html#06 (accessed 04 04, 2012).

Richie, Matthew. The Coast. 03 01, 2012. http://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/hitchcock-revisited/Content?oid=2992841 (accessed 04 02, 2012).

Ronde, Paul , and François Truffaut. “François Truffaut: An Interview.” Film Quarterly (University of California Press), 1963: pp. 3-13.

Rovi. All Movie. 2012. http://www.allmovie.com/artist/franois-truffaut-p114620 (accessed 04 04, 2012).

Spoto, Donald. The Art Of Alfred Hitchcock. New York: Anchor Books (Random House), 1991.

Telegraph, The. “John Michael Hayes (Obituary).” The Telegraph (The Telgraph), 12 2008.

Mickey Mouse And Globalisation.

Mickey Mouse Is Out To Get You.

 

Globalisation is the transformation of our experiences in our local lives influenced by global forces. In our local lives we are influenced by international news, foreign music, foreign films, food, greater communications and Internet interaction. We are now connected with every other small community in the world and as such we are part of the great global community.

For example, the Americanisation of local society manifests itself in TV shows, movies and fast food. Walt Disney and Coca Cola are as much part of Irish society as they are American society. It can be said we are becoming at one with Americans. One Irish Euro sceptic Irish politician recently stated,  ”We have more in common with Boston here In Ireland than we do with Berlin.” Thus, maybe the Americanisation of Irish Society is almost complete.

The question is, can this Globalisation be perceived as an attempt at American Imperialism? Deregulation has cleared the way for international trading and movement of people and products from one culture to another. Consequently, Irish culture has been so saturated by American culture that the nations true cultural identity is under threat.

There is little or no real effort to slow down this cultural exchange process. For example, in Muslim countries there is a form of protectionism, a recent ban on TV satellite systems, is a clear attempt at cultural protection.

Multiple culturalism is a feature of all modern states and restriction of any form is often regarded as tyranny or anti-capitalism dictatorship. Is this really true? Is there some authenticity to the attempt to protect ones own culture?

Procedures of rarefaction as a means of regulating discourse from within is an attack on freedom of expression but can also be seen as an attempt to protect the culture cherished by elected representatives who act on behalf of the people and only do so in the interest of a perceived common good.

American Imperialism, the domination of lesser countries by American culture, is easily perceived as the advocating of the idea that American culture is superior to any other. The mass media are the selling agents of this process of Americanisation of foreign cultures. The idea that the Big Mac is the best burger, Coca Cola is the best soft drink, Mickey Mouse is the best childrens icon, Fried Chicken is the best kind of chicken, may be no more than capitalistic promotion but, if so, it’s by-product is Americanisation.

Transnational capitalism regulates cultures. What is being globalised is capitalism as the ideal philosophy. But globalisation causes destruction of traditional cultures in the name of capitalism (consumerism). Buy the burger and support the philosophy and at the same time abandon local fare. Irish culture is sacrificed with every Euro exported to America and the process is moved a little further ahead with every Euro spent on American product.

Americanisation aims at a future of Big Macs, Coca Cola and Mickey Mouse. A global Disneyland. Is this really for our good? Should it be stopped? Should Irish society be protected from Alien influences on it’s culture?

Protectionism is a means of caretaking culture from cultural assault and spreading of American propaganda that the great American dream is the only way forward for the world and is the only true formula for a successful society.

East versus West and the reverse also applies. Islamic ideals do not get much airtime on Western television. We hear about Islamic terrorism from Hollywood and American News networks but hear very little about American terrorism on Islamic soil. Hollywood versus Bollywood and the former is winning the propaganda war. Some people have openly admitted to being nervous when they see a Muslim going in the same flight. Do Muslims feel the same way when they see a Catholic in the seat on front of them. There are Catholic terrorists too. Why are people not afraid of them?

The Americanisation of global culture is achieved at a price. Coca Cola and Big Macs are sold according to local Market forces and the same can be said for American movies and TV shows or stations. Price altering per country for American films means it is cheaper to show a movie than to make one. This is a direct assault on, for example, Irish cinema and filmmaking, where TV broadcasters are happy to import product rather than finance creation of home produced product.

Western, better described as American, culture is the most predominant one. The advance of American culture can be seen in ne Blockbuster Movie outselling the last one or when we see CNN or FOX as the primary news source superimposed over local logos in TV news bulletins.

New data shows that local TV attracts the biggest audiences while imported American shows a now being screened at less significant times during the day. For example, Britains ‘Coronation Street’ is more local to Irish society than Australias ‘Home And Away’ and will command a bigger audience and is given Prime Time. However, Irelands FAIR CITY is more attractive to Irish audiences but even more attractive to the people of Dublin, where it is based, than to the people of Cork or Limerick.

A key issue to be considered here is how American culture is influenced by other cultures. For example, Hip Hop music is a mix of Carribean music and Black Blues but is marketed as American Music. On TV we see more and more remakes of British TV shows like X Factor, Weakest Link and Pop Idol but marketed as American product.

Film Studies.

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane and The Maltese Falcon.

  1. 1.        Jump Cut: A jump cut in film editing is when two sequential shots of the same subject are taken from camera positions that vary only slightly. For example, In the Maltese Falcon we see two characters walking down the street, water walking in the same direction and the use of the jump cut allows plot continuity. This type of edit causes the subject of the shots to appear to jump position in a discontinuous way. The camera is following or tracking characters and why it music stitches the images together the jump cut allows the passing of time to appear seamless.
  2. 2.        Dissolve: A dissolve is a gradual transition from one image to another. The terms fade out and fade in are often used to describe a transition to and from a blank image this is in contrast to a cause worker is no transition. A dissolve overlaps two shots for the duration of the effect, usually at the end of one scene and the beginning of the next, but may be used in montage sequences as well.
  3. 3.        Fade to black; if it is a gradual increase or decrease of the intensity of life and term refers to gradually changing the lighting level from complete darkness to a predetermined lighting level.
  4. 4.        A straight cut is a basic one when one shot abruptly ends and another begins.
  5. 5.        Continuity editing is a style of film editing what the purpose of smoothing over the inherent discontinuity of the editing process and to establish a logical coherence between shots.

Maltese Falcon

  1. 6.        In the Maltese Falcon in certain sequences we hear wavering music which creates uncertainty and implies sinister consequences to what we are watching on screen.
  2. 7.        A number of different so-called wipes are also used and these include; the straight cut, the wipe, dissolve and fade to black.
  3. 8.        In The Maltese Falcon which is primarily a mystery movie each sequence delivers enough information so as the viewer knows exactly where they are in the story and we mostly see things to Sam’s eyes. From the opening sequence when we see the bridge of San Francisco and on to Sam’s office the viewer is clear as to where the action is taking place. However, in Citizen Kane we are not quite sure from the opening sequence as to where we are. The first words we read off the screen are No Trespassing which implies that the viewer is allowed access to a place or time where they should not be. This suggests that the viewer is being left in on a secret. When we get a tight close-up on Orson Welles slips as he mumbles his last words Rosebud the secret is revealed. The viewer is drawn into the significance of the word and the entire movie is based on its meaning as the viewer searches for its significance. In the opening sequence the viewer is presented with a series of questions; who lives in this house, what type of person, what is the significance of the final words, and why this lack of concrete information. The clever use of mirrors as a visual device in the movie implies depth of character. This is a common device and one in which audiences are previously trained to interpret as suggesting depth of character. In Citizen Kane there is no clear protagonist as is the case in Maltese Falcon with Sam Spade. From the outset of Citizen Kane the main character is dead and so we can only learn about him from the words of others who perceive him in many different ways. By the end of the film we have many different impressions of the hero of the piece but these impressions are entirely based on hearsay.
  4. 9.        Both films are shot in Black & White and the use of shadows, depth and angles are necessary (in the absence of colour) to make numerous suggestions or observations about the characters or the scenes. Techniques include mirrors, deep focus and shadow casting to suggest eeriness, strange behaviour or eccentricity.
  5. 10.     Deep focus is a photographic and cinematographic technique using a large depth of field. Depth of field is the front-to-back range of focus in an image — that is, how much of it appears sharp and clear. Consequently, in deep focus the foreground, middle-ground and background are all in focus. This can be achieved through use of the hyper focal distance of the camera lens. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Welles gained international prominence on the basis of only one film, Citizen Kane (1941). The film is full of technical innovations, including crane shots, overlapping dialogue, multiple audio tracks, purposely grainy film stock, and low-angle photography. It explores themes that Welles would revisit throughout his career: the corruption of power and wealth, the fine line between desire and obsession, the precariousness of knowledge, and the limits of ego and ambition. Welles’s use of deep focus, long takes, and chiaroscuro lighting, which located meaning in Mise-en-scène rather than editing, influenced a generation of filmmakers working in the post-war film noir and realist styles.

The Searchers

The Searchers And The Western Genre.

  1. 11.     Westerns primarily tell stories set in the latter half of the 19th century in the American old West, hence the name Western. This genre of film often portrays how desolate and horrid life was for American families. These characters are faced with change, conflict, aggression and, in many cases, the forthcoming Industrial Revolution.
  2. 12.     There are many ways of reading the Western genre and these include; American Indians as savages, Cowboys, for the most part, hard working and progressive, and subservient [with few exceptions] domesticated women doing all in their power to keep household and family together in the face of all adversity.
  3. 13.     The Searchers (1956) relates the story of a middle-aged Civil War veteran searching for his abducted niece. John Wayne (Actor ) and John Ford (Director) worked together in numerous Westerns before and after The Searchers and both men, along with a familiar Western genre cast, gave the film many iconic images and motifs.
  4. 14.     The visual composition of the opening sequence deals with many Western themes; expanse of the American West, the domestic female, the stark contrast of colors, the frame in frame shot at the doorway creating the illusion of depth and the approach of the main character entering a domain to which he does not belong.
  5. 15.     There is a circular structure to the film which is a common characteristic of Westerns and the film has the classic beginning, middle and end storyline with relevant plot points to carry the viewer through the sequence of events. The arrival to the homestead, the attack on the homestead, the search, the finding of the lost girl and the conclusion all combine to complete the story.
  6. 16.     The film is ‘racist’ in that Indians are the bad guys (shot in the head to stop their spirits from roaming free), Hero’s nephew is half-cast and treated with contempt, Indians are depicted as terrorists and murderers and ultimately defeated by the ‘good guy’ and all ends very happily for everybody as the hero departs to re-enter his own domain.
  7. 17.     The themes of western include the conquest of wilderness, the subordination of nature, the elimination of savagery and the preservation of social order in the absence of structured law.
  8. 18.     In the Western the main characters are usually cowboys, gunslingers, bounty hunters who uses revolvers to achieve their objectives by force as they ride their horses from one part of the old west to another and conquering adversity along the way.
  9. 19.     Western films often depict conflicts with Native Americans. While early Westerns frequently portray the Injuns as dishonourable villains, the later and more culturally neutral Westerns (notably those directed by John Ford) gave Native Americans a more sympathetic treatment.
  10. 20.     Other recurring themes of Westerns include Western treks or perilous journeys (e.g. Stagecoach) or groups of bandits terrorising small towns such as in The Magnificent Seven. In the 1930s and 1940s, John Ford became the genre’s leading practitioner. His films reveal the gradual transformation of the western toward ever more benign (if still inaccurate) portrayals of Native Americans, such as in Cheyenne Autumn (1964). In Ford’s The Searchers (1956), the protagonist is as morally flawed and complex as his film noir contemporaries.

Double Indemnity

 Film Noir & Double Indemnity.

Film Noir is a series of films of the 1940s and 1950s exploring the darker aspects of modernity and usually set in the criminal world or exploring the fallouts of a criminal act.

  1. 22.     It is unlikely that the film makers of this era were intentionally making Film Noir movies but merely appealing to a growing demand for subversive dramas depicting the fragility of the human experience.
  2. 23.     Love, lust and greed destroying lives are the main component of the Film Noir plot but such films were already in abundance in the 1930s.
  3. 24.     World War II had a deep influence on the creation of new more modern style gangster films and the emergence of European Directors such as Fritz Lang and Alfred Hitchcock brought with them a new darker style and sense of ominousness to American filmmaking.
  4. 25.     Film Noir flourished to more than just gangster films and in the 1940s some psychological dramas were also classed as legitimate adherents to the rules of the Genre.
  5. 26.     In Film Noir the dialogue is often colourful because they were adapted from novels by established writers. The protagonist is often hard nosed and sexist while the femme fatale is evil, cunning and manipulating to achieve their own ends using sex, love and physical attraction to get their way.
  6. 27.     The meanings of the subtext are rarely obvious as the female suggests (as in Double Indemnity) that if you want me then you must first of all do something for me. The hero (led by animal instincts) falls for the ploy and usually ends up in trouble or dead.
  7. 28.     In the 1940s and 1950s, gangster films became much darker, adopting a film noir style that was defined by low-key lighting, a claustrophobic urban setting, a morally compromised protagonist, and seductive, deceptive female characters known as femme fatales. In these psychologically complex films, such as Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat (1953), the line between criminality and law and order is blurred beyond distinction.
  8. 29.     Hollywood played host to an influx of German expatriates in the Twenties and Thirties, and these filmmakers and technicians had, for the most part, integrated themselves into the American film establishment. Hollywood never experienced the Germanization some civic-minded natives feared, and there is a danger of over-emphasizing the German influence in Hollywood.
  9. 30.     The actors and setting are often given equal lighting emphasis. An actor is often hidden in the realistic tableau of the city at night, and, more obviously, his face is often blacked out by shadow as he speaks. These shadow effects are unlike the famous Warner Brothers lighting of the Thirties in which the central character was accentuated by a heavy shadow; in film noir, the central character is likely to be standing in the shadow. When the environment is given an equal or greater weight than the actor, it, of course, creates a fatalistic, hopeless mood. There is nothing the protagonist can do; the city will outlast and negate even his best efforts.

Imitation Of Life

Melodrama.

1.In Film Theory ‘Melodrama’ can be loosely defined as a film that embellishes plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. Douglas Sirk directed comedy, western, and war films, he was most distinguished for his convoluted melodramas that exposed unpleasant emotional turmoil lurking beneath the smokescreen of American upper-middle-class life.

  1. 32.     Imitation of Life’s true theme is captured in its final scene when Sara Jane cries over her mother’s coffin. The image is the characteristic melodramatic depiction of Sirk’s women constricted and alienated in terms of gender and race.
  2. 33.     Plot: In the quintessential melodrama ‘Imitation of Life’, we witness the lives of four women and their attempts to make their existence more than mere imitations of life. Two unmarried mothers of young girls, one Negro, one White, befriend each other and together they struggle to live in 1950’s New York City; a realm over which they have no control.
  3. 34.     This melodramatic woman’s film was aimed mostly at female audiences; it presents a significant formula for female happiness to its viewers. It suggests that happiness for women is only found in more natural domestic roles as mother and wife; To women who rebel against the limitations placed on them because of sex or race, it recommends the path of least resistance, acceptance of society’s view of women (and women of colour) as different and inferior.
  4. 35.     The film’s colour design submits an attempt to create a complete iconography with which the emotional patterns of the characters are imitated. The use of wide-angle lenses create space between characters who are emotionally separated; The depth of space created by Sirk’s use of wide angle lenses also establishes a sense of receding boundaries in the world the characters inhabit
  5. 36.     All of Sirk’s melodramas involve the destruction of cosmopolitan women living in ultra-modern, upper-class, and wealthy but tortured lives. This setting in a multi-coloured pastiche of life suggests to the female viewer that money does not solve all problems; it is a vivid example of Sirk’s turning towards a heraldic mode of signification.
  6. 37.     Imitation of Life is unquestionably a pronounced example of melodramatic mise-en-scene as every detail of the film is extreme. The colours brashly indicate the emotional state of the characters, the music is appropriately majestic to clearly direct the emotional response required from the audience and; the themes of love, death, social status, loose morals and despair are all principles of the genre.
  7. 38.     Throughout the film, as with all of Sirk’s melodramatic work, the characters actions and identity can be established from the mise-en-scene. Sirk’s films are disturbing because the characters are real people besieged in life’s perplexities and the characters in ‘Imitation of Life’ are no exception.
  8. 39.     Most interestingly in Sirk’s work is how forces of repression are signalled through his imagery. His mise en scène is as crucial to his films as narrative form, his often baroque visual style points to the ways in which human ambition is largely determined by the mood of its environment. Homes are havens that turn to prisons, loved ones become emotional enemies, and Objects that are meant to be comforts become onerous. Character’s traumas become the rational consequences of the uncontrollable world around them.
  9. 40.     Key Characteristics of melodrama are: Legibility: everyone can read it; Expressiveness: given to exaggeration: everything brought into the open; Simplification of roles: good and evil clearly delineated; Strong identification: emotions alive w/high suffering; Devaluation of language: language less important than mise-en-scene.

Metropolis

Expressionism And Cinema In 1920s Germany: Metropolis.

German Expressionism refers to a number of design and performance cultures in 1920’s Germany, such as art, architecture and dance. German Expressionist Cinema was part of this movement in the 1920’s in Germany through to the 1930’s, although only a short period of cinematic history, it has left its mark on history and inspired many filmmakers that followed.

  1. 42.     Key Characteristics of German Expressionist Cinema: German Expressionist movies were created during the silent movie period, meaning the movies feature music and sound effect instead of dialogue; traditionally films were played alongside live music, such as piano.
  2. 43.     German Expressionist cinema created a theatrical look to its films. Using dramatic, painted scenery and exaggerated make-up, as used in theatre, this was an inexpensive way of making films, but created very iconic results. Examples of this can be seen in many of the German Expressionist movies, most famously The Cabinet of Dr.Caligari (1920) and Nosferatu (1922).
  3. 44.     The design of German Expressionist sets, or the mise en scene, mirrored the changes in German art of the time, therefore created using geometric shapes, painted on objects and high contrast between black and white, creating the effect of exaggerated shadow and light.
  4. 45.     The movement used symbolism and icons to create meaning, often focusing on gothic themes such as the supernatural, insanity and betrayal. This was a refreshing change to the usual linear story telling of action movies and romance movies.
  5. 46.     Although early German Expressionist films were working on a very low budget due to the economic climate of the time, some of the movies later in the period worked on a higher budget, although still fitting in with the look of German Expressionism.
  6. 47.     Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is a key example of a German Expressionist movie on a high budget, and is one of the most iconic films of the decade, as well as one of the first ever science fiction movies. It was the most expensive silent movie ever made!
  7. 48.     Although the German Expressionist movement was short lived, it had a massive impact on film makers and movements that followed.
  8. 49.     The film noir movement took inspiration from the German Expressionist films, using real lighting to create contrast between shadow and light, as opposed to the expressionist’s use of lighting through painted sets.
  9. 50.      Inspiration from German Expressionism can be seen in the work of modern day film maker Tim Burton, in many of his films. Most recognisably, Edward Scissorhands is inspired by the character of Cesare in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, his make-up and characteristics are taken directly from the German Expressionist movement. The German Expressionist movement also influenced the whole development of the horror genre and iconic film makers such as Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles and Billy Wilder.

French New Wave Cinema

French New Wave Cinema And Auteur Theory

 

  1. 51.  The origins of the Auteur Theory lie in the critical output of the Cahiers du Cinema, an influential French film magazine co-founded by Andre Bazin. In particular, Francois Truffaut’s seminal article “A Certain Tendency of the French Cinema” established a wary and denunciatory distance from the French film establishment (the “Tradition of Quality”, as he addresses it).
  2. 52.  This movement, initially championed by postwar critics working for the French film journal Cahiers du Cinéma, was introduced to America by Andrew Sarris.
  3. 53.  Auteurism considers the film director not merely a mechanical recorder of reality but rather a legitimate artist whose personal vision battles the institutional limitations imposed by industrial modes of film production.
  4. 54.  Influenced by romantic notions of the artist and by canonization studies in the other arts, auteurist critics hailed previously neglected Hollywood directors, such as Nicholas Ray and Samuel Fuller, as exemplary artists whose personal experiences, convictions, and obsessions imbue each of their films with an idiosyncratic style.
  5. 55.  In film criticism, auteur theory holds that a director’s film reflects the director’s personal creative vision, as if they were the primary “auteur” (the French word for “author”). In spite of—and sometimes even because of—the production of the film as part of an industrial process, the auteur’s creative voice is distinct enough to shine through all kinds of studio interference and through the collective process.
  6. 56.  In law, the film is treated as a work of art, and the auteur, as the creator of the film, is the original copyright holder. Under European Union law, the film director is considered the author or one of the authors of a film, largely as a result of the influence of auteur theory.
  7. 57.  Auteur theory has influenced film criticism since 1954, when it was advocated by film director and critic François Truffaut. This method of film analysis was originally associated with the French New Wave and the film critics who wrote for the French film review periodical Cahiers du Cinéma. Auteur theory was developed a few years later in America through the writings of The Village Voice critic Andrew Sarris. Sarris used auteur theory as a way to further the analysis of what defines serious work through the study of respected directors and their films.
  8. 58.  The auteur theory was used by the directors of the nouvelle vague (New Wave) movement of French cinema in the 1960s (many of whom were also critics at the Cahiers du Cinéma) as justification for their intensely personal and idiosyncratic films. One of the ironies of the Auteur theory is that, at the very moment Truffaut was writing, the break-up of the Hollywood studio system during the 1950s was ushering in a period of uncertainty and conservatism in American cinema, with the result that fewer of the sort of films Truffaut admired were actually being made.
  9. 59.  The “auteur” approach was adopted in English-language film criticism in the 1960s. In the UK, Movie adopted Auteurism, while in the U.S., Andrew Sarris introduced it in the essay, “Notes on the Auteur Theory in 1962”. This essay is where the term, “Auteur theory”, originated. To be classified as an “auteur”, according to Sarris, a director must accomplish technical competence in their technique, personal style in terms of how the movie looks and feels, and interior meaning (although many of Sarris’s auterist criteria were left vague. Later in the decade, Sarris published The American Cinema: Directors and Directions, 1929–1968, which quickly became the unofficial bible of auteurism.
  10. 60.  The auteurist critics—Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Éric Rohmer—wrote mostly about directors, although they also produced some shrewd appreciations of actors.

Alfred Hitchcock

Hitchcock & Vertigo.

 

  1. 61.  One of Vertigo’s main themes—the attempt to create the ideal woman—has roots in the Roman myth of Pygmalion and Galatea in which the sculptor Pygmalion uses his art to create an ivory statue of the perfect woman and then tragically falls in love with it. But the film has roots in reality as well. There are parallels between the Vertigo protagonist’s quest for the ideal woman and Hitchcock’s relationship with Grace Kelly, an actress who appeared in three of his films. Hitchcock felt that Kelly’s blond beauty and distinct acting style made her the standard by which all other actresses should be judged. Her departure from the film world in the mid-1950s to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco led Hitchcock to attempt to mold other actresses in her image. Kim Novak, the blonde co-star of Vertigo, was one of these Grace Kelly stand-ins.
  2. 62.  Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. In Vertigo these include Power and freedom which are held up as privileges men had in the past, but presumably do not have in the present. Tunnels and corridors repeatedly represent the passage to death. In one scene, Scottie follows Madeleine to a flower shop, where she purchases a small nosegay. Its fragile perfection is an ideal representation of Madeleine herself. Spirals evoke the literal and figurative feelings of vertigo that hound Scottie and Madeleine/Judy.
  3. 63.  Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts: The color green appears frequently throughout the film, typically in association with eerie or uncanny images.
  4. 64.  Perhaps the most obvious mythological influence on the film is the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, in which the musician Orpheus loses his wife, Eurydice, to death and ventures into the underworld to rescue her, only to lose her again.
  5. 65.  Alfred Hitchcock was known for his deep involvement in the screenplay-writing process, a fact that accounts in part for the distinctly recognizable quality of all his films. Viewers are treated to a visual reminder of Hitchcock’s presence in each film when they spot the director in one of his famous cameo appearances.
  6. 66.   Major conflict: Scottie cannot accept the death of Madeleine and struggles to re-create her in another woman who, unbeknownst to him, was behind Madeleine’s death.
  7. 67.   Rising action: Scottie gradually descends into madness as he falls in love with Madeleine, loses her to an apparent suicide, and then attempts to recreate her in Judy.
  8. 68.   Climax: The world of illusion Scottie has created for himself is permanently shattered when he discovers that Judy had duped him by playing the role of Madeleine and faking a suicide as part of a plot to murder the real Madeleine Elster.
  9. 69.   Falling action: In an effort to free himself from the acrophobia and romantic delusions that led him to this point, Scottie drags Judy/Madeleine to the scene of the crime at the top of the bell tower; Judy confesses to the crime and falls to her death when she is startled by the shadowy figure of a nun.
  10. 70.   Themes: Death as both attractive and frightening; the impenetrable nature of appearances; the folly of romantic delusion. Motifs are Power and freedom; tunnels and corridors; bouquets of flowers, spirals. Symbols include Sequoia trees; the colour green. Foreshadowing: in the opening credits, the mysterious woman’s face drenched in red is a foreshadowing of the murderous role a mysterious woman will play in the film. When Scottie faints in Midge’s arms while attempting to conquer his acrophobia on a step stool, it prefigures his more significant incapacitation when his acrophobia prevents him from stopping Madeleine’s suicide. A close-up shot of Madeleine’s tightly wound hair—a spiral—hints at the chaos into which she will lead Scottie.

Understanding Semiotics.

 

Understanding Semiotics.

 

How we communicate with each other, from passing each other on the street, to the more complex forms of communication is the essence of what we will understand by the study of media and communications. When there is a breakdown in communications within any relationship the penalties can be disastrous. More significantly this breakdown in communications, when it occurs in the media can often have disastrous consequences.

In the media there is always a message and successful communications is most important. To understand communications we must study the works of the theorists. Theories are constructed to establish the quality of a specific model of communications. Some theories are, in the modern age, considered out-dated but still retain significance because they help us to understand how we got to today’s thinking.

This article on media and communications will focus on both the communicator and the recipient. The study of this co-relationship between both elements of the communicative process is necessary because the former needs to understand the needs of the latter and vice versa. To understand this relationship we need a number of tools. Once these tools are applied any form of media can be analysed regardless of it being audio, video or print.

As communicators we need to understand the essential elements of the science of communications and the ‘texts’ it uses. The concept of text is not necessarily about wordage but the message the sign is sending us. We need to fully comprehend not only what is being said but also what is not being said. We must keep in mind that the media has an agenda that is constructed and we need to know what this agenda is and why it is constructed in a particular fashion. Nothing is as it seems and there is always something else going on. It is our task to explore these questions.

If we are successful in our understanding we begin to ask questions about what media messages are telling us about ourselves and others. We get our opinions from the media and as such we must evaluate them in the context of their source. We get our knowledge from the media and we are saturated by it. We are constantly subjected to media forces. As a result of this we have to approach it with an open mind. These messages we are receiving are delivered to us with numerous constraints and this inevitably means these messages may be, in some way, contaminated. We are continuously exposed to media in all its forms. We need to explore how the media will package its message in a saturated environment. Media professionals working in the media industry and producing professional products are doing so in specific ways and for specific reasons.

Semiotics is a radical way of thinking about what we see and hear going on around us. It is an analysis of the generation of meaning in all forms of communication. Semiotics focuses on the signs that flash by us as we move through our daily lives. It is also the study of the codes which can be deconstructed, using various tools, to help us ascertain in which codes are organised. Signs and codes are at work all around us all the time. We hear new terms all the time as the media becomes more complex a new language is required. In semiotics we look at signs, signifiers, signification, denotation, connotation, icon, index and symbol.

The main theorists in Semiotics are Ferdinand de Sassure who focused on the language and linguistics of signs, Charles Pierce who studied images and non-verbal signs and Roland Barthes who focused on Contemporary Media. The word ‘Semiotics’ is from the Greek word ‘semeion’, meaning sign. It is a study of signs with society. It can be applied to a wide variety of media texts. It investigates the complexity of media messages and can be understood (partially) by a theory of signs. Semiotics can assist us as Media Students in many ways. The process of signing is closely tied up with questions of textual power. It shows how meaning is made or produced and it further shows how all our knowledge, values and beliefs are social rather than individual. Semiotics gets us thinking about representation, how texts (messages or signs) can be examined, not just for obvious content but for what these ‘texts’ have to say.

Saussure was a Swiss Linguist who was interested in the language of signs and the complexity of sentence construction and how signs relate to each other. He argues that the arbitrary nature of the sign is at the heart of human language. One of the things that characterises verbal language, in comparison to pictures, is that the relationship between signifiers and signified is an accident or arbitrary. This actually means there is no direct relationship between the signifier and the signified; the relationship is determined by convention, rule or agreement among the users.

Signs are organised into codes. The notion of code is very important when it comes to semiotics because it is connected to cultural communities that share conventions. Culture is a community of codes and a code, in this context, is a convention that associates a signifier with a certain signified or meaning. An example of this would be if you visit another country you may become lost in terms of dress, manners and greetings and so on.

When the credits go up on the screen we know the film is over. We just know that, as cinema goers we are used of these conventions, they are predictable and convey meaning to us. If we go to see a horror movie then convention dictates that we will become ‘scared’ and this is often indicated by the posters outside the door, the name of the movie, a certain cast member perhaps or any other messages ‘encoded’ from to the signified (you) by the signifier (the movie maker). The codes built into the advertising, for example, a bloody hand, a chainsaw with blood dripping from it, a dark graveyard or a man with a baseball mask on holding a pickaxe are the codes sent to the signified by the signifier that the movie promises to deliver terror. In watching the movie the codes are at work again as tension is piled onto the signified using the language of signs such as headless carriages, flying bats, bloody crucifixes and neck bites to imply that this movie is a horror about Vampires. These ‘codes’ are built into the Vampire genre and if they do not emerge in one way or another then we can feel cheated or we may have misread the signs. If it is a ‘comedy’ about vampirism but we misread the signs and expected a horror then the coded language may have broken down in your case because you may be the only one in the cinema expecting to scream while others are laughing.

The male and female signs on toilet doors do not really resemble men and women but we recognise them as conventional signs, not restricted by wordage or language, and we know what goes on beyond the door. These types of signsare often referred to as ‘motivated signs’ and they give us hints and motivate us toward the intended meaning. Come this way if you are a Lady and need to use the toilet and go that if you are a gentleman and need to use the toilet is easily stated by symbols of Male and Female forms. This clearly demonstrate that the relationship between signifier and signified can be not only motivated but also based on conventional standards within a specific society.

The notion of ‘Difference’ is crucial to semiotics. The sign acquires its meaning through its relations with other signs. For example, we understand the ‘light’ because it is not dark, we know it is morning because it is not night. This concept of ‘difference’ works as an organising ‘principle’ in social life and extends all the way from letters and words to questions of cultural difference. Everything exists is terms of opposites, it is not hot so it must be cold.

Difference is organised along two dimensions and these are Syntagms and paradigm. A syntagm is the same as a sentence, it is linear (moves horizontally), one word follows another to the end of a sentence, where we arrive at a meaning. This can also be extended to the linear dimensions of a text. The point is it provides a wide variety of possibilities when constructing sentences. The syntagm is the sentence designed to move us in a specific way, to react in a specific way or to behave in a specific way. The paradigms are the categories from which we make choices. Language, clothes, food, characters are examples of ‘paradigms’. These paradigms may be violated by the wrong selection of styntagms.

The concept can be simplified in the following way. In poetry there are two simple principles and these are ‘verse’ and ‘poem’. The poet uses his poem to communicate a message to his reader. With the verse, there are lines and within the lines there are words and within the words there are syllables and within the syllables there are letters. In this example then we see a selection of syntagms (pronounced sin-ta-jims) within the paradigm (pronounced par-a-dime) of poetry.

Producers select from various paradigms in order to put together a meaningful whole (Syntagm). For example, if I want to write a poem about poverty, there are endless options that I can take as the signifier, if I want the signified to get a particular meaning I will have to be very selective and choose from particular paradigms in order that the syntagm/the final product or poem will be as I intended. The concept of syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations is central to Sausseurs idea of language as a form of communication.

In fact, this is the key to what a text means at a deep level. Think of Soap Operas on TV and the choices that have been made in relation to the paradigm or characters – the choice of characters chosen are crucial to the theme. In most soaps the producers have chosen a variety of age groups, youths, middle agedmen and women and the elderly. Many of the elderly characters are involved in jobs and we have to ask what is this saying? Does it tell us something about the elderly in our society? Here we can see syntagms and paradigms at work.

Roland Barthes was a French literary scholar and cultural critic and a follower of Saussure. He extended semiotics to the life of signs in society, applied to visual images. He simplied his thinking as ‘Denotation vs. Connotation. This distinction is important because the ‘signified’ are fluid (a variable). His thinking was simple in that he suggests that connotative meanings are regulated by codes or conventions that link the signifier to the signified.

We see a sign, we think about it and we link or associate it with something in reality. So, from this we see there are two steps involved, although they happen simultaneously. We see a chair, it sends us a sign – the sign says ‘I am a chair’, so we automatically sit down. This is called ‘denotation’. It can be said then that ‘denotation is the first and direct meaning. Connotation is the indirect meaning or, what the chair implies or what thoughts or feelings it conjures within any individual. A stool in a bar may denotes numerous things like a soft seat, good company, a drink and so on while a chair in a classroom denotes study, teaching, long winded concepts and so on and so forth. Our denotation of the chair is influenced, for example, by its location. By bringing signs and connotations together, myth is in the making. The illusion is created by the combination of signs and connotations.

We see a sign, think about it – link or associate it with something in reality. So, there are two steps involved although they do happen simultaneously (together).

Barthes work brings us closer to semiotic analysis of the media. The distinction between denotation and connotation developed because the meanings (signified) of signs change with time and place. They are not fixed. The same signifier (sign) can mean different things to different people at different times in different locations.

For example, in the 1970’s platform shoes were ‘cool. The American eagle denotes a bird but connotes pride/power and a willingness to use violence if necessary to feed and defend itself. At first semiotic level it is a motivated sign for a particular kind of bird, it denotes the kind of bird we know as an eagle. At second semiotic level the figure of the eagle connotes pride and power. In this way it can be used as an arbitrary symbol for the United States of America.

 

 

 

Wireless Technology.

Prof. Brian Winston

The radio is a clear example of a machine in existence ‘invented’ but not recognised as such. It developed over time, step by step, in laboratories that began between 1886 and 1888 with a ‘spark’ transferred from a crude form of transmitter to an aerial and despite the crudeness of the apparatus it was demonstrated that these ‘radiations’ did have wave like properties and could, for instance, be reflected or refracted. Prior to this the microphone had already been in place and combined with the ‘spark’ device the age of radio dawned.

Nobody really thought about using ‘radiation’ phenomena for signalling or any other purpose. Radio was without social necessity and thus inconceivable. Thus the technology was invented but useful only in a laboratory environment. Over the next decade more complex devices based on the prototypes’ started to emerge and it was soon discovered that effective transmission of the radio wave depended on ‘tuning’. If both were on the same frequency (syntonised) they could communicate. Still, radio remained without an identified need and nobody had, at least in public, suggested their usefulness as signalling machines. It was not until 1892 that the idea of radio was articulated. It was envisaged as telegraphy without wires, posts, cables or any other costly appliances. It was seen as a person-to-person system and no more than that. Still nothing happened for another two years; the ideas were in place but the necessity had not yet come into focus.

It was not until the scientist Marconi garnished the benefits of previous research and development when he experimentally demonstrated that ‘radio transmission’ was possible. His crucial contribution was not the ‘invention’ of radio as is conventionally understood but rather the discovery that the taller the transmission mast, the further the signal would travel. His greatest accomplishment is that he discovered a supervening necessity for broadcasting.

Necessity, Diffusion And Suppression:

Ironclads And Telegrams: Marconi saw the value of the device for the Shipping industry and decided to patent his advances in 1896. Just as the telegraph became the solution to railway’s communication problems, so the wireless telegraph began as a solution to shipping communication problems. Without the wireless a ships usefulness in battle would be very curtailed. As Marconi continued his work in Britain his contemporary A.V. Popov was doing the same in Russia. Wireless communication became an integral part of shipping on many levels. The transmission of distress signals, communication with shore, communication with other ships and by 1912 when the Titanic issued its SOS it was received by nearby ships and in New York and passed on to the White House. Radio proved to be without competition because no other long distance signalling system was possible at sea. However, in view of the fact that radio was prone to atmospheric conditions and this added to the fact that broadcasts were open and not private was deemed risky at best. Sending distress signals or private communications to all hearers was perceived as a dangerous act. Interestingly, In Ireland in 1916 from the roof of the GPO in Dublin those who proclaimed the state as independent were heard and declared revolutionaries.

Invention: From Wireless Telegraphy To Invention:

Edison’s light bulb experimentation yielded results passing electric currents through filaments and this development moved radio wave detection and manipulation research rapidly forward. This development led to the use of tubes to amplify weak radio signals and enable longer distances. In 1906, using these tubes (valves) the first radio broadcast of music was made from Massachusetts. However in 1907 speech was transmitted over long distances and radio was ‘invented’ but, with the exception of those sailors out at sea, nobody was listening.

Ideation And Necessity:

The Idea Of Broadcasting: Nobody really knew the potential of ‘non point to point’ communication and the main issue was that nobody knew where signals would be received and heard. The fault was ‘anybody could listen’ but for some this was not a fault but an advantage. David Sarnoff was very interested in radio and its possibilities. He saw it as a ‘music box’ for every home and was aware that music was listened to collectively and radio would have to allow for that if it were to become a mass medium. He set about achieving this and it was not long before Corporate America saw the possibilities and financed the development of the medium. Soon after, 1922, radio arrived into the living rooms and became the centrepiece of home entertainment.

Suppression And Diffusion:

Valves, Tubes, And FM And Cartels: The radio system that swept the world in the early 1920s was not flawless. A radio system with less interference and noise needed to be created. By 1933 a new system of absolute (by standards back then) clarity was launched. The idea was to amplify frequency rather than modulation (AM and FM) and thus the FM band was created. FM was not just an invention but a revolution.

Living With Radio:

Radio had used recorded sound from the very beginning. The relationship between records and radio is complex but radio quickly became a major patron of music and musicians and even financed Orchestras to produce it. The film industry, not really bothered with radio other than to see seats in cinemas, still achieved a mutually beneficial accommodation with the radio industry in that they held valuable assets on the programming side of the radio game.

Newspapers continuously fought to suppress the journalistic aspects of radio. News was ‘immediate’ and deadlines were twenty-four-seven. Newspapers gave up the fight very quickly and just bought up the stations. However, newspaper owners failed to realise that radio and newspapers could continue to co-exist; people who heard radio news still bought newspapers and secondly newspaper owners and radio owners (often one and the same) were divided amongst themselves. However, these problems aside, radio progressed and by the 1930s it had successfully become a mass home medium over all the developed world. The first ever mass medium.

Quantitative Research.

Prof. Barrie Gunther.

The following is an overview of basic concepts within quantitative research, including hypothesis testing and sampling, reviews of survey research, quantitative content analyses, and experimental studies of media with analytical examples. It also offers a comparison of surveys and experiments, their strengths and weaknesses and a presentation of quantitative data analysis, including examples of statistical procedures.

Media and Communication research has a variety of different research techniques. These methodologies are the subject of much debate on which research perspective offers the most meaningful insights into the role and influence in society. Hypothetico-deductive approaches are concerned with proving or disproving a hypothesis and the establishment of theoretical explanations of relationships between individuals and media. These phenomena are explained in quantitative terms to demonstrate measurement of links between them.

Basic Concepts In Quantitative Research:

The first concept to be considered is that of the ‘variable’. This is an empirical representation of a concept or construct. A ‘concept’ represents an abstract idea that embodies the nature of observable phenomena. Constructs are a combination of concepts.

Variables With Attributes:

In the case of gender there are two attributes – male and female. Variables can be defined further in terms of their relationship to each other. Independent and dependent variables the former can be manipulated and the latter cannot. Researchers provide evidence that independent variables have a casual relationship with a particular dependent variable. Take for example the placement of a news story in a TV news bulletin and its effect on audience recall. In this scenario the placement of the news story (start, middle, or end of bulletin) will affect the recall of its content for the viewer. In this case the hypothesis is ‘Placement of a news story in a bulletin will dictate the recall of the viewer’ – the Independent variable is the positioning of the story and the dependent variable is the viewers recall.

Hypothesis Testing:

Quantitative research is concerned with cause-effect relationships. The hypothesis is the proposition to be tested. The hypothesis tests the co-relationship between independent and dependent variables. The researcher then sets out to discover if that prediction holds true. The outcome is a contribution to the growth of knowledge.

Reliability and Validity:

Reliability concerns the dependability and consistency of the relationship between the two variables at more than one point in time. Validity indicates whether a measure properly captures the meaning of the concept or construct it represents.

Validity Assessment:

This is done in several ways. For example in a literacy survey of a group of people the outcomes can be validated as follows:

a) Face validity i.e.; testing literacy and giving the subject something to read;

b) Predictive validity, which the reader can read to a predicted level;

c) Concurrent validity: subject can read to a previously determined standard;

d) Construct validity; reader is shown to be related to a variety of other established and previously verified measures.

Internal and External Validity:

Internal validity proves that the experiment has successfully measures what it set out to measure; external validity tests whether the results can be generalised to other situations or groups of people.

Levels Of Measurement:

There are four types of measurement in quantitative research and these are nominal, ordinal, interval, and ratio.

A) Nominal: any ‘object’, which is placed in this category, is deemed to be equivalent to any other.

B) Ordinal is a categorisation on a scale, for example, is the respondent lower class, middle class or upper class.

C) Interval: As with the temperature scale it rises in degrees with each degree equivalent in distance to any other.

D) Time, distance, and speed are examples of ratio scale. An object moving at ten miles an hour is moving twice as fast as one moving at five miles an hour.

Media Research and Quantitative Techniques:

These basic techniques are applied in quantitative research to measure media audiences, media content, and cause-effect relationships.

Searching For Media Effect Associations:

Survey Research:

Surveys are a major part of quantitative research that does not involve any manipulation of participants or their circumstances in advance. (i.e. Census) Surveys collect data after the fact. Surveys explore relationships between variables. Now every survey is a census and smaller surveys will seek the participation of samples of population.

Purposes of a Survey:

Descriptive; attempts to document current conditions, analytical; collects and examines data for relationships amongst variables in order to test a hypothesis.

Forms of Administration:

Surveys collect data through questionnaires or interviews.

The Issue of Sampling:

Participation in a survey should be representative of the total population from which they are drawn. Samples may be constructed on a probability or non-probability basis.

Non-Probability Sampling:

People are selected for study on the grounds that they are available, convenient to access and prepared to participate. The researcher has little control over who comes forward and consequently such samples are likely to be biased in their demography and psychological characteristics as compared to the population in general. Purposive sample is one, which respondents are selected according to a specific criterion and a ‘quota’ sample is where a selected amount of similar people are sampled.

Probability Sampling:

There are four kinds as follows: random sampling; whereby all population is represented by random selection; systematic random sampling whereby a criterion is fixed to select every nth person from a population; stratified random sampling; restrictions are placed upon the selection process although the fundamental element of randomness is retained; cluster sampling; involves a special case of stratification.

Time Span:

Surveys can be either ‘one off’ or ‘cross-sectional’ to obtain either opinions ‘today’ or opinions ‘today’ and at future dates.

Longitudinal Research:

Used for examining long-term relationships between selected variables and demands a collection of responses over time. There are three types of longitudinal research:

1. Trend studies; samples are selected and question and re-questioned over time to measure trends;

2. Cohort studies; focuses on the same subset of a population although samples may be different (for example, a survey questioning 10 year olds in an area about the introduction of TV and asking them 5 years later how it went);

3. Panel Studies; The collection of data over time from the same respondents.

Surveying Media Output:

‘Content Analysis’ was taken up by social scientists to monitor general social and economic trends. It can be used, for example, to measure public reaction to news content and is a research technique for the objective, systematic, and quantitative description of the manifest content of communication. Five main purposes of content analysis are;

1. Describing Patterns Or Trends In Media Portrayals.

2. Testing hypotheses about the policies or aims of media producers.

3. Comparing media content with real world indicators.

4. Assessing the representation of certain groups in society.

5. Drawing inferences about media effects.

Testing Causality Directly:

Experimental Research:

Experiments are also used in research. An experiment begins with a hypothesis about a likely outcome following an event that can be controlled or manipulated by the researcher. Participants are exposed to a particular media stimulus and then questioned. Participants are allocated to one of two groups – experimental group or control group. The former are exposed to the manipulated independent variable while the latter are not. The main advantage of experimental research is that it enables research to test for evidence of cause-effect relationships between variables.

Experimental Designs:

Classic experimental design; uses two groups and participants are randomly allocated and then tested.

Pre-experimental Designs:

A test is conducted without prior test to ascertain the knowledge of the participant in relation to the subject of the test;

Quasi-Experimental Designs:

Participants are randomly allocated to experimental and control groups but are tested only after the experimental manipulation has been implemented.

Factorial Designs:

Two or more independent variables are manipulated.

Repeated Measures Design:

A repeated measures design refers to studies in which the same outcomes are measured at two or more distinct times for each subject. For instance, repeated measures are collected in a longitudinal study in which change over time is assessed. Other studies compare the same measure under two or more different conditions. For instance, to test the effects of caffeine on cognitive function, a subject’s math ability might be tested once after they consume caffeine and another time when they consume a placebo.

Problems With Laboratory Research:

An important shortcoming with experiments stems from the conditions they create for examining links. Laboratory outcomes are not, nor will ever be, real life outcomes.

Surveys Or Experiments And How Do They Compare?:

Surveys and experiments are two forms of quantitative research concerned with aspects of media. The weaknesses of experiments are;

1. Their use of non-representative samples.

2. The degree of artificial control.

3. Their contrived nature.

4. Control difficulties.

The weaknesses of surveys are;

1. Their dependence on post – hoc.

2. Their use of verbal measures.

3. Their reporting only of degrees of association.

Handling Quantitative Data:

Surveys and experiments produce data, which needs to be analysed and interpreted. Data will accept or reject the hypothesis of the survey or experiment.

Describing Data:

Data is extracted from paper formats and entered into databases and tested. Errors in data transference can result in invalid results. Data can produce a ‘central tendency’ which can be defined in three ways; mode, median and mean. In mode sequence the surveyor which score (from one to 10 choices most people ticked 6) then the mode is ‘6’. The median score is the midpoint (from 1 to 10 choices most the middle is 5) then the ‘median’ is 5; The ‘mean’ score is the average of the total range of scores; (if the total scores are 1 to 5 then the total is 1+2+3+4+5 = 15 / 5 (5 being the total range) = 3 then the mean score is 3.

Testing Hypothesis:

The researcher is interested in whether two or more variables are associated in an unambiguous or significant way. The starting point is known as the ‘null hypotheses. There are two ways of testing the hypothesis and these are parametric and non-parametric tests. A statistical hypothesis test is a method of making decisions using data, whether from a controlled experiment or an observational study (not controlled). In statistics, a result is called statistically significant if it is unlikely to have occurred by chance alone, according to a pre-determined threshold probability, the significance level. The phrase “test of significance” was coined by Ronald Fisher: “Critical tests of this kind may be called tests of significance, and when such tests are available we may discover whether a second sample is or is not significantly different from the first.”

Confirmatory Data Analysis:

Hypothesis testing is sometimes called confirmatory data analysis, in contrast to exploratory data analysis. In frequency probability, these decisions are almost always made using null-hypothesis tests (i.e., tests that answer the question Assuming that the null hypothesis is true, what is the probability of observing a value for the test statistic that is at least as extreme as the value that was actually observed?) One use of hypothesis testing is deciding whether experimental results contain enough information to cast doubt on conventional wisdom. A result that was found to be statistically significant is also called a positive result; conversely, a result that is not unlikely under the null hypothesis is called a negative result or a null result. Statistical hypothesis testing is a key technique of frequentist statistical inference. The Bayesian approach to hypothesis testing is to base rejection of the hypothesis on the posterior probability. Other approaches to reaching a decision based on data are available via decision theory and optimal decisions. The critical region of a hypothesis test is the set of all outcomes, which cause the null hypothesis to be rejected in favour of the alternative hypothesis. The critical region is usually denoted by the letter C.

Conclusion:

These methodologies are used to study media audiences and content and they do this by examining variables or cause-effect relationships. This is achieved by applying the hypothetico-deductive approach (hypothetical situations are proposed and then accepted or rejected through the collection and analysis of data.) Phenomena is reduced to numerical codes which in turn can categorise and rank phenomena and be used to measure relationships among phenomena and to establish casual relationships. Quantitative research aims to enhance knowledge by demonstrating links between phenomena and the universality of such relations. However, quantitative studies (as with all research) should be carefully scrutinised for their methodological limitations and the quality of their data before any weight or credibility is given to the findings.

Primary Source

Prof. Barrie Gunther.

Media Research Techniques

Click On Image To Learn More.

Practise Of Everyday Life.

The Practice of Everyday Life.

 

The Practice of Everyday Life is a book by Michel de Certeau which examines the ways in which people individualise mass culture, altering things, from utilitarian objects to street plans to rituals, laws and language, in order to make them their own. It was originally published in French as L’invention du quotidien. Vol. 1, Arts de faire’ (1980).

The 1984 English translation is by Steven Rendall. The book is one of the key texts in the study of everyday life. The Practice of Everyday Life re-examines related fragments and theories from Kant and Wittgenstein to Bourdieu, Foucault and Détienne, in the light of a proposed theoretical model.

Some consider it as being enormously influential in pushing cultural studies away from producer/product to the consumer. The Practice of Everyday Life begins by pointing out that while social science possesses the ability to study the traditions, language, symbols, art, and articles of exchange that make up a culture, it lacks a formal means by which to examine the ways in which people re-appropriate them in everyday situations.

This is a dangerous omission, Certeau argues, because in the activity of re-use lies an abundance of opportunities for ordinary people to subvert the rituals and representations that institutions seek to impose upon them. With no clear understanding of such activity, social science is bound to create nothing other than a picture of people who are non-artists (meaning non-creators and non-producers), passive, and heavily subject to received culture. Indeed, such a misinterpretation is borne out in the term “consumer.” In the book, the word “user” is offered instead; the concept of “consumption” is expanded in the phrase “procedures of consumption” which then further transforms to “tactics of consumption.”

Public Sphere.

Jurgen Habermas

Jürgen Habermas was born June 18, 1929 and is a German sociologist, geographer and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of ‘communicative rationality’ and the ‘public sphere’. His work focuses on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics, particularly German politics. Habermas’s theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation, and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests. Habermas is known for his work on the concept of modernity, particularly with respect to the discussions of “rationalization” originally set forth by Max Weber. While influenced by American pragmatism, action theory, and even poststructuralism, many of the central tenets of Habermas’ thought remain broadly Marxist in nature. Global polls identified him as one of the leading intellectuals of the present.

The public sphere is a realm in which public opinion can be formed. Access is guaranteed to all and examples of this occur wherever two or more people assemble to form a public body. Citizens behave as a public body when they confer in an unrestricted fashion with the guarantee of freedom of assembly and association and the freedom of expression about matters of general interest. Today newspapers and magazines, radio and television are the media of the public sphere. The public sphere has the freedoms fought for in the past and since that time has made democracy possible.

There is no evidence that European society possessed a public sphere as a unique realm until after the late Middle Ages. Feudal lords represented themselves as agents of higher powers. The feudal authorities (church, prince, and nobility) started to disintegrate by the end of the 18th century and a division of public and private spheres. The church (since the reformation) became a separate entity to either public or private spheres. Most contemporary conceptualizations of the public sphere are based on the ideas expressed in Jürgen Habermas’ book The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere – An Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society.

The German term Öffentlichkeit (Public Sphere) encompasses a variety of meanings and it implies a spatial concept, the social sites or arenas where meanings are articulated, distributed, and negotiated, as well as the collective body constituted by, and in this process, “the public.” The work is still considered the foundation of contemporary public sphere theories, and most theorists cite it when discussing their own theories.

The bourgeois public sphere may be conceived above all as the sphere of private people come together as a public; they soon claimed the public sphere regulated from above against the public authorities themselves, to engage them in a debate over the general rules governing relations in the basically privatized but publicly relevant sphere of commodity exchange and social labor. Through this work, he gave a historical-sociological account of the creation, brief flourishing, and demise of a “bourgeois” public sphere based on rational-critical debate and discussion. Habermas stipulates that, due to specific historical circumstances, a new civic society emerged in the eighteenth century.

Driven by a need for open commercial arenas where news and matters of common concern could be freely exchanged and discussed – accompanied by growing rates of literacy, accessibility to literature, and a new kind of critical journalism – a separate domain from ruling authorities started to evolve across Europe. “In its clash with the arcane and bureaucratic practices of the absolutist state, the emergent bourgeoisie gradually replaced a public sphere in which the ruler’s power was merely represented before the people with a sphere in which state authority was publicly monitored through informed and critical discourse by the people.” In his historical analysis, Habermas points out three so-called “institutional criteria” as preconditions for the emergence of the new public sphere. The discursive arenas, such as Britain’s coffee houses, France’s salons and Germany’s Tischgesellschaften “may have differed in the size and compositions of their publics, the style of their proceedings, the climate of their debates, and their topical orientations”, but “they all organized discussion among people that tended to be on-going; hence they had a number of institutional criteria in common”:

  1. Disregard of status: Preservation of “a kind of social intercourse that, far from presupposing the equality of status, disregarded status altogether. Not that this idea of the public was actually realized in earnest in the coffee houses, salons, and the societies; but as an idea it had become institutionalized and thereby stated as an objective claim. If not realized, it was at least consequential.”
  2. Domain of common concern: “… discussion within such a public presupposed the problematization of areas that until then had not been questioned. The domain of ‘common concern’, which was the object of public critical attention, remained a preserve in which church and state authorities had the monopoly of interpretation. The private people for whom the cultural product became available as a commodity profaned it inasmuch as they had to determine its meaning on their own (by way of rational communication with one another), verbalize it, and thus state explicitly what precisely in its implicitness for so long could assert its authority.”
  3. Inclusivity: However exclusive the public might be in any given instance, it could never close itself off entirely and become consolidated as a clique; for it always understood and found itself immersed within a more inclusive public of all private people, persons who – insofar as they were propertied and educated – as readers, listeners, and spectators could avail themselves via the market of the objects that were subject to discussion. The issues discussed became ‘general’ not merely in their significance, but also in their accessibility: everyone had to be able to participate. Wherever the public established itself institutionally as a stable group of discussants, it did not equate itself with the public but at most claimed to act as its mouthpiece, in its name, perhaps even as its educator – the new form of bourgeois representation”.

Habermas argued that the Bourgeois society cultivated and upheld these criteria. The public sphere was well established in various locations including coffee shops and salons, areas of society where various people could gather and discuss matters that concerned them. The coffee houses in London society at this time became the centres of art and literary criticism, which gradually widened to include even the economic and the political disputes as matters of discussion. In French salons, as Habermas says, “opinion became emancipated from the bonds of economic dependence.” Any new work, or a book or a musical composition had to get its legitimacy in these places. It not only paved a forum for self-expression, but in fact had become a platform for airing one’s opinions and agendas for public discussion.

Parliamentary Action under Charles VII Of France: The emergence of bourgeois public sphere was particularly supported by the 18th century Liberal democracy making resources available to this new political class to establish a network of institutions like publishing enterprises, newspapers and discussion forums, and the democratic press was a main tool to execute this. The key feature of this public sphere was its separation from the power of both the church and the government due to its access to a variety of resources, both economic and social. This collapse was due to the consumerist drive that infiltrated society, so they became more concerned about consumption than political actions, and the capitalistic drive of the mass media. Suddenly the media became a tool of political forces, and a medium for advertisement rather than the medium from which the public got their information on political matters. As Habermas argues, in due course, this sphere of rational and universalistic politics, free from both the economy and the State, was destroyed by the same forces that initially established it.

The growth of capitalistic economy led to an uneven distribution of wealth, thus widening the economic polarity. This resulted in limiting access to the public sphere and the political control of the public sphere was inevitable for the modern capitalistic forces to operate and thrive in the competitive economy. Therewith emerged a new sort of influence, i.e., media power, which, used for purposes of manipulation, once and for all took care of the innocence of the principle of publicity. The public sphere, simultaneously pre-structured and dominated by the mass media, developed into an arena infiltrated by power in which, by means of topic selection and topical contributions, a battle is fought not only over influence but over the control of communication flows that affect behaviour while their strategic intentions are kept hidden as much as possible.

Medium As Message.

Herbert Marshall McLuhan

Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980) was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar—a professor of English literature, a literary critic, a rhetorician, and a communication theorist. McLuhan’s work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory, as well as having practical applications in the advertising and television industries.McLuhan is known for coining the expressions “the medium is the message” and “the global village” and predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented.

Although he was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, his influence started to wane in the early seventies.In the years after his death, he would continue to be a controversial figure in academic circles.With the arrival of the internet, however, there was renewed interest in his work and  perspective.

The personal and social consequences of any medium result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs or by any new technology. For example, automation eliminates jobs but it also creates roles for people so it can be said that it is not the machine but one did with the machine that is the message. The electric light, for example, is pure information. It is a medium without a message so that the content of any medium is always another medium.

The content of writing is speech; written word is content of print and print the content of telegraph. So then, the message of any medium is the change it introduces into human affairs. In the Industrial Revolution the train itself was not the message but, in fact, the change it brought about in the lives of the people from that age to this. The ‘light bulb’, regardless of how it is used, is the medium and how it is used is its message. These facts underline the point that the medium is the message because it shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action. The products of technological invention are by no means the cause of sins but how they are applied.

It was the printed word that homogenised the French nation. Frenchmen were the same type of people all over France so it can be argued that while the peasants held the guns it was the literati and lawyers who were the true revolutionists.

Even the most perfect reproduction is flawed in that it did not exist in the place where it happened to be (todays reproduced Greek Urn was never in Ancient Greece). The presence of the original is important in authenticity. The whole sphere of authenticity is therefore outside technical reproduction. The reason is twofold; mechanical reproduction relies on the original; technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations, which would be out of reach for the original. Seeing ‘Mona Lisa’ on a TV screen inevitably depreciates it’s and is by no means as good as being in the presence of it. Reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition.

The manner in which human perception comprehends art can be defined as the ‘aura’ in which that piece of art can influence the viewer. This aura is determined by the historical circumstance and the nature of the piece. The original has a unique aura that cannot be recreated. Mechanical reproduction of art emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual.

 

Dominant Paradigm.

This is a reanalysis of ‘Personal Influence’ by Lazarsfeld et. al. a study on the effects of media content and its conclusion that media are not important. ‘Personal Influence’ is also known as the Multistep Flow Model is a theory based on a 1940’s study on social influence that states that media effects are indirectly established through the personal influence of opinion leaders. The majority of people receive much of their information and are influenced by the media second hand, through the personal influence of opinion leaders.

The ‘Multistep Flow Model says that most people form their opinions based on opinion leaders that influence the media. Opinion leaders are those initially exposed to specific media content, interpret based on their own opinion and then begin to infiltrate these opinions through the general public who then become “opinion followers.” These “opinion leaders” gain their influence through more elite media as opposed to mainstream mass media. In this process, social influence is created and adjusted by the ideals and opinions of each specific “elite media” group and by these media group’s opposing ideals and opinions and in combination with popular mass media sources. Therefore, the leading influence in these opinions is primarily a social persuasion.

The two-step flow of communication model hypothesizes that ideas flow from mass media to opinion leaders and from them to a wider population. It was first introduced by sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld et al. in 1944 and elaborated by Elihu Katz and Lazarsfeld in 1955 and subsequent publications. Lowery and DeFleur argue the book was much more than a simple research report: it was an effort to interpret the authors’ research within a framework of conceptual schemes, theoretical issues, and research findings drawn broadly from the scientific study of small groups. Unlike the hypodermic needle model, which considers mass media effects to be direct, the two-step flow model stresses human agency. According to Lazarsfeld and Katz, mass media information is channelled to the “masses” through opinion leadership. The people with most access to media, and having a more literate understanding of media content, explain and diffuse the content to others. Based on the two-step flow hypothesis, the term “personal influence” came to illustrate the process intervening between the media’s direct message and the audience’s reaction to that message. Opinion leaders tend to be similar to those they influence—based on personality, interests, demographics, or socio-economic factors. These leaders tend to influence others to change their attitudes and behaviours. The two-step theory refined the ability to predict how media messages influence audience behaviour and explains why certain media campaigns do not alter audiences’ attitudes. This hypothesis provided a basis for the multi-step flow theory of mass communication.

Paul Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz are considered to be the founders of functional theory and their book Personal Influence (1955) is considered to be the handbook to the theory. One of the first to embark on Communications research was the first to introduce the difference between ‘administrative research’ and ‘critical research’ in regards to the media. Critical research he believed, criticizes the media institutions themselves for the perspective ways they serve dominant social groups. Critical research favours interperspective and inductive methods of inquiry. Lazarsfeld’s study of the 1940 presidential election was published as The People’s Choice (1944). During the research revealed information about the psychological and social processes that influence voting decisions. The study also uncovered an influence process that Lazarsfeld called “opinion leadership.” He concluded that there is a multistep flow of information from the mass media to persons who serve as opinion leaders, which then is passed on to the general public. He called this communication process the “two-step flow of communication.” Elihu Katz isa  professor in the School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania collaborated in 1955 with Lazarsfeld, in research to observe the flow of influence at the intersections of mass and interpersonal communication and wrote their book Personal Influence. Katz pursued Lazarfeld’s research in a study of the flow of information. This is the basis of Personal Influence. Katz and Lazarsfeld concluded that: … the traditional image of the mass persuasion process must make room for ‘people’ as intervening factors between the stimuli of the media and resultant opinions, decisions, and actions.”

The presidential election 1940 questioned as to whether President Franklin Roosevelt would seek his third term in office. Funded by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Life magazine, and the pollster Elmo Roper, Columbia’s Office of Radio Research conducted a new kind of study of voting. It was based on a panel study of 2,400 voters in Erie County, Ohio. Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet supervised 15 interviewers, who from May-October interviewed the strategically selected 2,400 members of the community several different times in order to document their decision making process during the campaign. They focused on what factors would influence their decisions as the campaign progressed. The People’s Choice, a book based on this study presented the theory of “the two-step flow of communications,” which later came to be associated with the so-called “limited effects model” of mass media: the idea that ideas often flow from radio and print to local “opinion leaders” who in turn pass them on to those with more limited political knowledge “opinion followers.” The conclusion of the research explained that sometimes person-to-person communication can be more effective than traditional media mediums such as newspaper, TV, radio etc. This idea developed further in the book Personal Influence.

In 1944, Paul Lazarsfeld contacted McFadden Publications in regards to his first book, The People’s Choice. The two collaborated forming a mutually beneficial partnership in which McFadden saw a way to financially profit from advertising to the female population and Lazarsfeld saw a way to gain more information on social influence . Out of this came the study conducted by the Bureau of Applied Social Research in which 800 female residents of Decatur, Illinois, where interviewed through panel interviews to discover what and who primarily influenced their decision making. Lazarsfeld worked with Robert Merton and thus hired C. Wright Mills to head the study. Another part of the research team, Thelma Ehrlich Anderson, trained local Decatur women to administer surveys to targeted women in town. By 1955. the Decatur study was published as part of Elihu Katz and Lazarsfeld’s book Personal Influence. The book concluded that ultimately, face-to-face interaction is more influential than traditional media influence and thus confirmed the two-step flow model of communication.

The two-step flow of communication hypothesis was first introduced by Paul Lazarsfeld, Bernard Berelson, and Hazel Gaudet in The People’s Choice, a 1944 study focused on the process of decision-making during a Presidential election campaign. These researchers expected to find empirical support for the direct influence of media messages on voting intentions. They were surprised to discover, however, that informal, personal contacts were mentioned far more frequently than exposure to radio or newspaper as sources of influence on voting behaviour. Armed with this data, Katz and Lazarsfeld developed the two-step flow theory of mass communication. This theory asserts that information from the media moves in two distinct stages. First, individuals (opinion leaders) who pay close attention to the mass media and its messages receive the information. Opinion leaders pass on their own interpretations in addition to the actual media content. The term ‘personal influence’ was coined to refer to the process intervening between the media’s direct message and the audience’s ultimate reaction to that message. Opinion leaders are quite influential in getting people to change their attitudes and behaviours and are quite similar to those they influence. The two-step flow theory has improved our understanding of how the mass media influence decision-making. The theory refined the ability to predict the influence of media messages on audience behaviour, and it helped explain why certain media campaigns may have failed to alter audience attitudes an behaviour. The two-step flow theory gave way to the multi-step flow theory of mass communication or diffusion of innovation theory.

The original two-step flow hypothesis—that ideas flow from the media to opinion leaders and then to less active sections of the population—has been criticized and negated by myriad consequent studies. Findings from Deutschmann and Danielson assert, “we would urge that the Katz-Lazarsfeld two-stage flow hypothesis, as a description of the initial information process, be applied to mass communication with caution”. They find substantial evidence that initial mass media information flows directly to people on the whole and is not relayed by opinion leaders. Furthermore, the two-step hypothesis does not adequately describe the flow of learning. Everett Rogers’ “Diffusion of Innovations” cites one study in which two-thirds of respondents accredited their awareness to the mass media rather than face-to-face communication. Similarly, critics argue that most of Lazarsfeld’s findings pertain to learning factors involved with general media habits rather than the learning of particular information. Both findings suggest a greater prevalence of a one-step flow of communication.

However, Lazarsfeld’s two-step hypothesis is an adequate description to understand the media’s influence on belief and behaviour. Troldahl finds that media exposure is a first step to introduce discussion, at which point opinion leaders initiate the second-step flow. These findings also realize opinion leader’s decisive role in the balance theory, which suggests that people are motivated to keep consistency among their current beliefs and opinions. If a person is exposed to new observations that are inconsistent with present beliefs, he or she is thrown into imbalance. This person will then seek advice from their opinion leader, to provide them with additional cognitions to bring them back into balance.

In recent times sociological study of the media has been dominated by the theme of the relative powerlessness of the broadcasters. This strange conjunction of events is logical. Sociologists have failed to ask the critical questions that behind the idea of unimportance of mass media there is a faulty concept of ‘importance’ similar to the faulty concept of ‘power’. The dominant sociology of mass communication has been unable to grasp certain fundamental features of its subject and by doing so it has had the effect of justifying mass media ownership, control, and purpose.

The ‘Dominant Paradigm’  has been called the ‘received knowledge’ of ‘personal influence’ and has taken attention from the power of the media to perform its role as mediator between two conflicting sources. Media sociology has highlighted the recalcitrant audience and their resistance to media messages and not their dependency. It has studied media effects so narrowly that the results are flimsy. It defines short-term effects as important only because these effects are measurable and thus deflected more significant meanings of mass media production. Hard data is sought to satisfy anyone and no one when it would be better to seek hard questions. By studying only measurable effects experimentally or in surveys it has put the methodological cart before the theoretical horse. Thus, many years of research on ‘effects’ of mass media has produced little theory and few findings.

The field of ‘mass media research’ has been certifying as ‘normal’ what it should have been investigating as ‘problematic’, namely the vast reach and scope of the instruments of mass broadcasting, especially television. By emphasising effects on ‘attitudes’ and loosely defined ‘behaviour’ it has ignored the reality that mass broadcasting exists in corporate housing under state supervision. The important questions are ‘who wants media?’ and ‘for what purpose’? Has ‘mass broadcasting’ created institutional configurations and has existing institutions such as schools, politics, family or sport been altered in structure, goals or social meaning and how have these institutions used the media to shape its products? Further questions should be; has the prevalence of broadcasting changed the conduct of politics, how does it effect social structure? How does the wide reach of TV into millions of living rooms affect social structure? These questions have been skirted, by accepting the existing institutional order; the field has inadvertently avoided the question of valuation: does TV fulfil or frustrate social interest? By ignoring such questions the field has made itself useful to the obvious beneficiaries of mass media broadcasting.

In reference to The Dominant Paradigm and Its Defects Lazarsfeld’s contention that the effects of media are not important in the formation of public opinion which he demonstrates by the ‘two step flow of communications’ (the idea that messages reach people not directly but indirectly as ‘media messages’ are interpreted by leaders for audiences.) This paradigm pays close attention to the variables (especially ‘relations’) between signifier and signified. The audience are defined as interrelated individuals rather than isolated targets in a mass society. Effects are measured as changes over time. Lazarsfeld developed a methodology or paradigm but in what sense does is this methodology or paradigm dominant? A dominant paradigm should have three major tendencies of thought a) identifies important areas of investigation in a field; b) exploits certain methodology; c) produces results. The two-step-flow of communication, the idea that opinion leaders mediate between mass media and audience. The paradigm is worthy of closer re-examination. The paradigm implies that structural (institutional) impact is lost in the process and subsequently the media impact is reinterpreted by ‘leaders’ who then distribute their impressions.

The course of mass media theory has to be understood as a historical process. All theories have three metatheoretical condition; the nature of the theory, the normal worldview and actual social, political, and technological conditions. The dominant paradigm has to be understood as an intersection of all these factors.

The Hypodermic Theory is a theory of society and the mass media within it. In the hypodermic model mass communicators ‘inject’ ideas into vulnerable individuals.  The “hypodermic needle theory” implied mass media had a direct, immediate, and powerful effect on its audiences. The mass media in the 1940s and 1950s were perceived as a powerful influence on behaviour change. Several factors contributed to this “strong effects” theory of communication, including: the fast rise and popularization of radio and television, the emergence of the persuasion industries, such as advertising and propaganda, the Payne Fund studies of the 1930s, which focused on the impact of motion pictures on children, and Hitler’s monopolization of the mass media during WWII to unify the German public behind the Nazi party The theory suggests that the mass media could influence a very large group of people directly and uniformly by ‘shooting’ or ‘injecting’ them with appropriate messages designed to trigger a desired response. Both images used to express this theory (a bullet and a needle) suggest a powerful and direct flow of information from the sender to the receiver. The bullet theory graphically suggests that the message is a bullet, fired from the “media gun” into the viewer’s “head.” With similarly emotive imagery the hypodermic needle model suggests that media messages are injected straight into a passive audience, which is immediately influenced by the message. They express the view that the media is a dangerous means of communicating an idea because the receiver or audience is powerless to resist the impact of the message. There is no escape from the effect of the message in these models. The population is seen as a sitting duck. People are seen as passive and are seen as having a lot media material “shot” at them. People end up thinking what they are told because there is no other source of information.

New assessments that the Magic Bullet Theory was not accurate came out of election studies in “The People’s Choice,” (Lazarsfeld, Berelson and Gaudet, 1944/1968). The project was conducted during the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940 to determine voting patterns and the relationship between the media and political behaviour. The majority of people remained untouched by the propaganda; interpersonal outlets brought more influence than the media. The effects of the campaign were not all-powerful to where they persuaded helpless audiences uniformly and directly, which is the very definition of what the magic bullet theory does. As focus group testing, questionnaires, and other methods of marketing effectiveness testing came into widespread use; and as more interactive forms of media (e.g.: internet, radio call-in shows, etc.) became available, the magic bullet theory was replaced by a variety of other, more instrumental models, like the two step of flow theory and diffusion of innovations theory.

Magic bullet theory model (Source: Katz & Lazarsfeld (1955)) Scope and Application: Mass media: The classic example of the application of the Magic Bullet Theory was illustrated on October 30, 1938 when Orson Welles and the newly formed Mercury Theatre group broadcasted their radio edition of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds.” On the eve of Halloween, radio programming was interrupted with a “news bulletin” for the first time. What the audience heard was that Martians had begun an invasion of Earth in a place called Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. It became known as the “Panic Broadcast” and changed broadcast history, social psychology, civil defence and set a standard for provocative entertainment. Approximately 12 million people in the United States heard the broadcast and about one million of those actually believed that a serious alien invasion was underway. A wave of mass hysteria disrupted households, interrupted religious services, caused traffic jams, and clogged communication systems. People fled their city homes to seek shelter in more rural areas, raided grocery stores and began to ration food. The nation was in a state of chaos, and this broadcast was the cause of it. Media theorists have classified the “War of the Worlds” broadcast as the archetypal example of the Magic Bullet Theory. This is exactly how the theory worked, by injecting the message directly into the “bloodstream” of the public, attempting to create a uniform thinking. The effects of the broadcast suggested that the media could manipulate a passive and gullible public, leading theorists to believe this was one of the primary ways media authors shaped audience perception.

It is important to remember that ‘effects’ of mass media, according to media theorists, are arguably short lived and so any findings in their research have little long term consequences. These effects are fourfold; immediate, short term, long term and institutional. The method of ‘personal influence’ study (two step flow and hypodermic) demands their own critique beginning with their ‘taken for granted assumptions’:

(1) the exercise of power through mass media is presumed to be comparable to the exercise of power in face-to-face situations. The assumption can be challenged in that audiences may be influenced by mass media but it is reciprocal. Media too can be influenced by audience. Media are part of the ‘great chain of being’ in which everyone, indeed everything, is in its duly and divinely appointed place.

(2) Power is to be assessed in case studies of discrete incidents. The occasion of influence was the face-to-face encounter in which individual A commended attitude A to individual B thus A is an opinion leader. Power may be a free flowing marketplace commodity.

(3) The unit of influence is short term, which can be attributed to media intervention.

(4) Attitude change: If the respondent had ‘changed mind’ as a result of influence then it is necessary to ascertain was it a fresh change or a return to an old attitude? Reinforcement of opinion is as crucial as change or introduction to a specific ideology but these can only occur where there is an opinion to reinforce or oppose. It cannot occur in the absence of opinion. The media appear to be extremely effective in creating opinions.

(5) Followers as opinion leaders. (Opinion leading is, in itself) an act of following (one follows an opinion).

We now need to confront the specific theory of ‘personal influence’ and how it fails its intended purpose. The general theoretical conclusion that ‘ideas often flow from radio and print to opinion leaders and from them to the less active sections of the population’ is seen to be more wrong than right. Not every opinion will change and many of the changes (not the changers) were made without any personal contact and thus dependent on mass media.

The findings of ‘personal influence’ are distorted in that they were applicable prior to the arrival of television. It says nothing about the force of television in the domain of political consciousness and political conduct. A larger question arises here too; the confusion of synchronic and diachronic dimensions. The snapshot taken in 1945 was assumed to be general and valid across boundaries of time. This transposition is not justifiable. The theory of mass media can only be studied in terms of ‘full exposure’ and not ‘more’ or ‘less’ exposure between individuals. The long-term purpose of such research is fruitless when considered outside of the historical context. Today’s mass media is different to the past and thus, in terms of relevance, the past no longer applies.

In linguistics, a synchronic analysis is one that views linguistic phenomena only at one point in time, usually the present, though a synchronic analysis of a historical language form is also possible. This may be distinguished from diachronic, which regards a phenomenon in terms of developments through time. Diachronic analysis is the main concern of historical linguistics; most other branches of linguistics are concerned with some form of synchronic analysis.

Synchronic and diachronic approaches can reach quite different conclusions. For example, a Germanic strong verb like English sing-sang-sung is irregular when viewed synchronically: the native speaker’s brain processes these as learned forms, whereas the derived forms of regular verbs are processed quite differently, by the application of productive rules (for example, walk-walked). This is an insight of psycholinguistics, relevant also for language didactics, both of which are synchronic disciplines. However a diachronic analysis will show that the strong verb is the remnant of a fully regular system of internal vowel changes; historical linguistics seldom uses the category “irregular verb.”

Personal Influence started by assuming that mass media influence is comparable to face-to-face influence and that power exists as discrete occasions of short-term attitude changes or behavioural choice? To answer such questions as this one we need to investigate and understand a number of ideological predispositions and orientations; administrative point of view, marketing orientation and social democratic ideology.

Questions are posed from high administrative positions within institutions. The sociologists will explore the problems associated with such powers and their control over audiences. The search is always on for predictive research and from the administrators viewpoint this is the most favourable premise of any inquiry. Lazarsfeld, himself with a long-term background in Administration, recognised the problem of relationship between media and academics when he once stated; “At what point will the commercial partners find some necessary conclusion too hard to take and at what point will they shut us off from the indispensable sources of funds and data?” Lazarsfeld clearly acknowledges his indebtedness to the media and sacrifices his independence. The administrative point of view is clearly considered.

Mass communications research developed very largely in response to market requirements. In the 1930s when Lazarsfeld arrived in America most national brands were multiplying and resorting to national advertising campaigns. They needed to know what to say, how often, over which channels and to whom. The consumer society was exploding and by 1945 it was in full swing. As radio progressed on popularity audience research (on the marketing of commodities) would be equally as important as hardware research (on the production of commodities). For this they needed demographical figures, audience figures, and research data and Lazarsfeld was in the right place at the right time to cater to this need. However, regardless of background and location Lazarsfeld and his equals operating under the command of those who needed such research had to create satisfactory techniques were inevitably conditioned by the practicality of their financers’ interests. Can such condition create unquestionable tactics? Much of the work of marketing orientation remains undone and has become media sociology.

Theorists do not live by theory alone. Facts do not stand by themselves; they have to be justified by an ideological position. Such a position can be conscious or unconscious and, if the former, more or less public. Social democracy and the work of Lazarsfeld are linked by biographically and theoretically. The marketing orientation and at least one important variant of European social democracy share a common conception of ‘the people’ and it is at first appearance paradoxical; they are both sovereign and passive. High consumption capitalism justifies itself in terms of mass satisfaction, and insists that the market is the true measure of democratic expression. The people are consumers and choose from the possibilities available and when they choose they confirm the legitimacy of the supplier. Put another way, social democracy requires marketing orientation, a rigorous procedure for giving people what they want. However, as is the case with young students seeking career guidance advice, it is not only expected but appreciated when guidance is proffered.

Over the course of the 20th century capitalism would work to present consumer sovereignty as the equivalent of freedom, in the common view and the common parlance. (If you don’t like one thing, choose another). The assumption that choice among the givens amounts to freedom becomes the root of the worldwide rationale of the global corporations (the global shopping centre). A society develops and continues to develop by freedom of choice but such choices are manipulative and promise much but deliver little. By ignoring these choice processes Sociologists have done their share to consolidate and legitimise the regime of capitalism. That the dominant paradigm is now proving vulnerable to critique is a measure of decline of capitalist legitimacy, commercial values and the political self-confidence of the rulers.

Mass Communication.

Weapons Of Mass Communication?

 

The purpose of this is to give some examples of the work of sociologists in media analysis. It takes a number of surveys conducted in the past and analyses them from the sociological point of view and determines their significance. The route between sociology and mass communication seems to be a one-way street. This is surprising because the exercise of social power, the mediation of social relations, the reproduction of society and culture, and the organisation of social experience are significant in sociology and media studies. (Sociology has a lot to say about the media and the media very little to say about Sociology.) 

The sociological study of communication is an attempt to answer the simple question of ‘who says what, in which channel, to whom and with what effect?’ This definition implies overt intention, avowed purpose, and communicative efficiency. However, some sociologists take the view that a greater emphasis on the role of society and external social forces in defining the roles of ‘sender’ and receiver’ is more appropriate. The former view further assumes that messages are as much received as sent and that motives for receiving are as significant as motives for sending. Thirdly, it further assumes the media are not neutral but complex social institutions with motives. Fourthly, messages are sent by media that have encoded purposes with many possible interpretations of origin and function.

Developments Of Theory: Directions of change are occurring in media theory summarised as; radical subjective (based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.), radical objective (not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.), subjective functionalist (Belief in or stress on the practical application of a thing, in particular.), and; objective functionalist (Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.), all of these are characterised by critical thinking, qualitative methods and attention to knowledge and culture rather than to society and behaviour.  The objective functionalist view is that Communication can be seen as an integral part of a culture and consciousness, as well as a tool of human activity. The primary question in sociological analysis of communication is ‘does culture (including mass media) influence social structure or does social structure influence culture?’

Media as Organisation and Institution: Viewing the media as a social institution where formally organised work takes place directed toward the production of knowledge and culture, the media share features with other complex institutions. Since most media work is part of show business it is not surprising that ‘illusions’ have to be protected. News is a manufactured version of reality with influences, for example, generated by public or private status. Journalists can be moved by professionalism alone and report the world as they believe it is with the hope of communicating the message that the world is improvable by ‘middle class’ ideals which are perceived as anti-working class and thus tainted. What pleases the public and finally sell newspapers may very well be the primary influence in news reporting.

Media Content and Culture: Systematic analysis of content and media output is subject to statistical research and manipulation. The primary of such research tends to be to shed light on aims of originators and to interpret cause and affect. The tradition of comparing media reality with social reality remains strong. For example, media reportage on legitimate social welfare recipients as being somehow a danger to society is often obvious. The middle class ethos appears under threat by such activity and media will protect such interests while risking weak and disadvantaged people.

The Media Audience: Sociologists are always fascinated by media audiences. Topics looked at include structure and variance and social-demographic factors which relates to cultural background and time availability. Another question for sociologists is whether the audience are ‘passive’ or ‘active’ in assimilating media messages. There are inconsistent answers to this question. The main product of the media is audience and this can be sold to advertisers. Developing audiences by not patronising them is a financial transaction imperative to the success of media outlets. Thus, catering to the demands of the audience is necessary.

Media Effect and influence: this too is an area significant and widely researched field for sociologists. Some research concludes that the media is powerful but homogenised (standardised) in its objective to change long-term public opinion. The media will construct their own definition of reality and sell it to the audience and thus the media plays a part in the unfolding of major social events, especially at times of critical events. Research suggests that the public view is influenced by the creation of this Hyperreality, which can be adapted by audiences as absolute reality.

Conclusion: The sociology of mass communication has always been stimulated by and concerned with issues of wider social relevance and we can see some extension of the range of issues that are raised in relation to mass media. These issues include, for example, the position of women, international media flow, and its consequences; the consequences for society of media change. Technology is moving at a rapid pace but these changes too are worthy of closer sociological analysis. Local community may or may not benefit from rapid change in interactive media and the heralded information society is being greeted at its dawn by social analysts with a mixture of optimism and pessimism comparable to that, which greeted the first age of mass media.

Primary Source.

Denis McQuail.

Mass Communication Theory (An Introduction)

Media And Culture.

Mass Media And Popular Culture

The history of humanity is a study of the influence of the media, a study of the influence of print, television, games, computers, and telephones. Most human beings are now consumers of popular culture, part of a global community of willing participants in the exchange of text dispersed by mass communication. Our opinions can be formed by media influences as our attitudes become affected by this relentless exposure.

Early Mass Media: The News Papers: newspapers derive from pamphlets printed and circulated in the 1700s. They are important in the history of modern media because they ‘packaged’ ideas and information in an easily dispersible way and as such had deeper impact on public opinion. The cheap daily press was pioneered in the US and soon copied across the globe. By the early 1900s most countries had ‘national’ newspapers relatively quickly and took The New York Times and The Times of London as their template. Since 1960 with the arrival of popular radio and television newspaper popularity and sales has been in decline.

Newspaper Publishing: Newspapers are normally (not inaccurately) associated with media tycoons. Newspapers are often owned and controlled by large companies and firms or families who also, in modern times, have control in other media outlets. Even local newspapers are now part of a chain owned and run by distant companies with little or no knowledge of ‘local’ issues. This concentration of ownership is a source of great concern to governments but they have achieved little or nothing worthwhile to change the situation. Advancing technology has made newspaper production and distribution much cheaper but electronic media also further threatens the continued success of the newspaper industry. Newspapers as a whole play less of a role in society than once was the case. They have been challenged by the spread of other media, first by television and now by internet.

The Impact of Television: The increasing impact of television is the most important development of the media in modern times. Virtually every household possesses a TV, which is switched on for many hours in the day with the average adult watching for three hours per day.

Public Broadcasting: TV is big business with the state involved in the administration of at least one major television network. These ‘Public’ television services are paid for by License fees and, in many cases combined with advertising revenue. The frequency of advertising on public (and private TV) is controlled by governments and viewing figures (ratings) monitored by TV companies can dictate whether or not a series continues. The arrival of satellite and cable TV has diminished the power and influence of major TV networks by dismantling audiences which is further effected by ‘self programming’ by people opting to watch what they want to watch and when they want to watch it by using recorders and DVDs. They can now construct their own viewing schedules. Public networks are under strain and the proliferation of new channels keeps adding to the problem.

The Effect of Television on Behaviour: Much research ahs been carried on the matter of TVs effect on audiences. Three commonly researched areas are effects on crime, nature of news and the role of TV on social and cultural life. Sociologists have carried on extensive research on TV and violence. Violence is defined as the threat or use of force, directed against the self or others, in which physical harm or death is involved. TV drama is high in violence; children’s programmes (especially cartoons) were also violent. However, does this violence effect audiences and, if so, how? There is no real evidence to suggest that audiences are affected by TV violence other than actually decreasing aggression. Themes of justice and retribution are enforced on TV (if you do the crime you do the time) demonstrates to viewers that violence is not really an option. More miscreants are brought to justice on TV then there are in real life and thus viewers are more likely to be influenced by moral themes rather than aggressive behaviour. In general audiences, children and adults, are passive and undiscriminating in their reactions to what they see. The same can be said of Gaming, which can act to develop skills that may be relevant in life and to wider participation in a society that depends more and more on electronic communications.

Sociologists Study TV News: Sociologists tend to study news more than anything else on television. TV news is a main source for news for the population. The ‘Bad News’ (1976) research project concluded that news about industrial relations typically was presented in a selective and slanted fashion. Using terms that were ‘anti-union’ in relation to the Miners Strike, this was on going during the research project. Strikes were depicted as disruptive to the public and film used depicted strikers as irrational or aggressive whereas in reality this was not the case at all. Bad News pointed out that those who constructed the news were acting as ‘gatekeepers’ for what gets on the agenda – what the public hears about at all. The views of the journalists reflect the outlook of dominant groups in society. These results were challenged; one argument is that millions of people were affected by the strike than took part in it and therefor the dominant group were the ‘innocent victims’ of the strikers and their side should be taken. Sometimes millions of people’s lives are disrupted by the actions of a handful of people and the majority deserve to know exactly why.

Television and Genre: television today operates on a continuous flow. TV is unending and most channels never go off air at all and apologise even if disrupted for a few seconds. However, while TV is a flow, programming is a jumble. A schedule consists of a number of genres such as game shows, comedies, dramas, soaps and so on. Each genre has its own rules and conventions, which mark it out and separate it from others. These are partly rules about content; soaps happen in domestic settings while westerns in 19th Century America. Characters and contexts also come into play with genre, which sets up different expectations for the viewers. TV producers know what TV viewers expect and so will operate with these boundaries. Cross-genres also occur sometimes for comedic effect and sometimes in Docudramas (re-enactments) for entertainment value.

Soap Operas: Soap is the most popular type of genre and has its own subgenres. Gritty soaps (Coronation Street and Eastenders) differ from American soaps like Dallas, which depict more glamorous lives, and Middle class soaps like Neighbours. Soaps are like TV in that they are never-ending and demands regular viewing and are more of interest to women, sensitive domestic creatures, than men. Sociologists contend that soaps are a means of escape for women who find their own lives dull and oppressive but the more plausible idea is that soaps address universal problems of a personal and emotional nature.

Theories of Media: Communication refers to the transfer of information from one individual or group to another, whether in speech or through another medium. The more efficient the mode of transportation the greater the flow of information. (Stone age society could not communicate on rocks so information did not flow from one community to another). Papyrus (a form of paper) in ancient Rome allowed communications to occur by allowing messages to be carried across society. ‘The medium is the message’ means that the nature of the media in a society influences its structure much more than the content. For example TV is different from a printed book and thus the ‘immediacy’ of TV will inevitably create a global society because it gives more people access to global information.

Jürgen Habermas: The Public Sphere: He updated Marx’s thinking on the basis that he believed Marx had not given enough credence to the influence of culture in society. The ‘culture industry’ (film, print, TV, music and radio) with its undemanding products undermines the individuals capacity for independent thought. The media has all but eliminated the ‘public sphere’ where issues of general concern can be discussed. We only watch debates on TV but we rarely participate in them. The absence of such debate, according to Habermas, has led to the demise of public opinion, which is now formed, by manipulation and control.

Baudrillard: The World of Hyperreality: The impact of modern mass media is more profound than any other technology. The media has transformed the nature of our lives. TV does not represent the world but defines it. Hyperreality occurs when the ‘reality’ is a string of images rather than the ‘real’ world. TV presents the world in a hyperrealistic way and our perception is not of reality but of Hyperreality. For example, the Gulf War became a TV event and not really a war as history has taught us. We witnessed it in living colour and were enthralled by the events that kept us guessing what would happen next. A very long but always interesting TV event. The question is now, did it happen at all? In the real world the events that took place are not what we saw on the screen so it can be argued that we saw a war but not the war. The same can be said about an election candidate that we choose to vote for without ever meeting them. We vote for the ‘hyper-real’ person but not the real one.

John Thompson: The Media and Modern Society: Thompson analysed the relation between the media and the development of industrial societies. He argues that the media have always played a central role in the development of modern institutions. He felt that early sociologists paid too little attention to the media in the development of industrial societies. He felt the modern mass media do not deny us the possibility of critical thought; in fact, it provides us with many forms of information we never had before. Media messages are the source of a lot of discussion, telling and retelling, interpretation and reinterpretation, commentary, laughter and criticism. This will constantly shape and reshape our knowledge and understanding. His theory of the media has three distinctions; face to face interaction (Dialogical), mediated interaction (using technology) (Dialogical), and mediated quasi-interaction (one-way form) (monological). The third type tends to dominate the other two but all three intermingle.

Thompson Ideology and The Media: Ideology refers to the influence of ideas on people’s beliefs and actions. Ideology is about the exercise of symbolic power – how ideas become used to hide, justify, or legitimate the interests of dominant groups in social order. In short Thompson sees the media as a monological organ of society that reaches mass audiences and based and used to advance dominant social thinking.

The Globalisation of Media: World News is a daily, and sometimes, hourly occurrence on many TV networks. They have contributed to the globalisation of the media. We can watch events actually happening ‘live’ from distant countries and because we are absent witnesses we perceive these events in a hyperrealistic way. TV shows and films, with few exceptions, are for global audiences. This new world information order has developed unevenly and reflects divisions between developed and underdeveloped societies. – News: Flows of news are often dominated by small numbers of continentally based ‘news agencies’ which, in turn, interact with each other in news distribution. Between them the main agencies send out millions of words every day to television, radio, and print. – Cinema, Television, Advertising and Electronic Media: American sources are dominant in TV production and distribution of cinema, TV, advertising and electronic media.

Media Imperialism: A cultural Empire has been established across the developed world and control of the world’s news distribution systems is dominated by American interests. Media entrepreneurs  such as Rupert Murdoch with his ‘News Corporation’ dominates developed society as does Silvio Berlusconi and his ‘Mondadore’ corporation and Ted Turner with CNN. This media imperialism is of deep concern to governments across the world; ‘too much power in too little hands’.

The Issue Of Media Regulation: Large imperial organisations can not only make money but also influence public thinking. Owners of such corporations are usually right wing and anti-Liberal. With advancing globalisation independent governments have little control of these ever-expanding media Empires thus the issue of media regulation becomes a more difficult task. To dictate who should own what is wrong and can effect a free economy and job creation and a further problem is who should do the regulating and who will regulate the regulators? Media owners are unelected and are a threat to democracy but they too may be under threat with the impact of multimedia and the internet, which they cannot seem to harness. Individuals are free to set up blogs and websites to discuss their points of view and with expanding followers can have freedom of expression to a global audience.

Multimedia: New communications technologies are behind profound changes in the global market. There are four main reasons for this; advancing capabilities, declining costs, digitisation, and satellite communication combined with fibre optics. The transformation of data into ‘bits’ converted by receivers back into data has allowed computers to send and receive all forms of media messages, audio, visual, written. Advancing speed of computers has made this machine the central point of reference for all forms of communication. Participants now have control over what they see or hear and the digital revolution has annihilated distance and created organised chaos.

The Internet: This is a global network of PC users all using an ‘un-owned’ resource that is only in its infancy. Fibre optics means that people can communicate, watch, hear, read, and write on one single device and if they deem it necessary can publish their work. No one can be sure what the future holds but developments are so rapid that they are at the heart of the future of communications. In cyberspace we are not longer people but ‘messages’ on computer screens. No one knows who anyone else really is and as such we may be losing our identities (Hyperreality).

Primary Source.

Anthony Giddens

Sociology (6th Edition)

Click On Image To Learn More.

Giddens On Sociology.

Sociology is the study of human social life, groups, and societies and its subject is our own behaviour as social beings. The Scope of Sociology: Everybody these days wants to be ‘in love’ but the reality is that ‘love’ is a relatively new concept to modern society and non-existent in some cultures. Up until recently love and marriage were not really connected. In some cultures, marriage is for property or wealth accumulation and love may or may not follow for such ‘relationships’ in time to follow. Marriage (if at all.) Modern society is seen in terms of familiar features of our own lives but there is a much broader view as to who we are and what or why we do as we do and thus is the essence of sociology.

Learning to think sociologically means cultivating the imagination. A sociologist is somebody who can break free from the immediacy of personal circumstances and put things in a wider context. The sociological imagination requires us to think away from familiar routines and look at them anew. The simple act of having a cup of coffee becomes more than routine when viewed from a sociological point of view. Rituals associated with drinking coffee, it is a drug, the chat that goes with it, and where we go and so on are all of sociological significance.

Sociological imagination allows us to consider something as an individual as Divorce as reflective of larger issues. Unemployment also has significant sociological consequences even though it is an individual problem. Ones private position may be reflective of a wider position in wider society. It is the business of sociology to investigate the connections between what society makes of us and what we make of ourselves. Out activities give shape to the social world and are also structured by that social world. Thus, the concept of social structure is important in sociology. There are regularities in the way we behave and our behaviour is not only structured by society but we as ‘building blocks’ of this structure can and will reconstruct as we go along.

This process of construction and reconstruction brings about actions with different results than we desire. Sociologists refer to this as intended and unintended consequences. It is sociology’s task to study the resulting balance between social reproduction, the continuity of society, and social transformation, and the changes that occur.

Sociology finds its beginnings in the early 1800s with the emergence of the Industrial Revolution in Europe. A key development was the enlightenments struggle to apply science instead of religion to understand the world. No individual founded sociology and there were many contributors to sociological thinking and some were more significant than others.

Auguste Comte invented the word ‘sociology’ and believed that this new field could produce knowledge of society based on scientific evidence. Sociology, he argued, should contribute to the welfare of humanity by understanding, predicting and controlling behaviour.

Emile Durkheim saw his peers as too speculative and vague and sought to establish sociology on a scientific basis. He argued that sociology should study social facts, aspects of social life such as economic and religious influences; ‘study social facts as things’ and thus they can be studied more rigorously. He believed that what held society together was shared values and customs. In his theory on the ‘division of labor’ he argued that people became more and more dependent on each other because they needed goods and services supplied by others. In the analysis of suicide he showed that it was not a ‘selfish act’ but social factors exert a fundamental influence on suicidal behaviour.

Karl Marx in his view social change is prompted by economic influences. Conflicts between classes, the rich versus the poor, provide the motivation for historical development. The class struggle was the key element of social change. He envisioned a forthcoming society where there would be no division of class (Communism) and thus equality in society would eliminate conflict.

Max Weber in his interpretation (contradictory to Marx) economic factors are important but ideas and values have just as much impact on social change. He argued that Christian influences contributed to the rise of capitalism and thus cultural values help shape society and individual actions. The development of science, technology, and bureaucracy (rationalisation) was in fact the organisation of social and economic life according to principles of efficiency and knowledge.

Later thinkers, Foucault & Habermas works concerned bureaucracy (hospitals, prisons, institutions) and sexuality all of which had not existed by created by social change and development and ‘sexuality’ is a property of the self (something we have). The study of knowledge as a source of power was a means of keeping tabs on people and controlling them. Habermas argues that capitalist societies destroy moral order on which it depends.

But is sociology a science? Science is a means of using evidence to develop a body of knowledge about a subject matter. Therefor sociology, by these standards is a science. However, human beings are not objects and all behave differently and when they are under scrutiny they may behave differently.

How Can Sociology Help Us In Our Lives? It allows us to see the social world from a different perspective? If we understand how people live we can acquire a better knowledge of what their problems are. Sociological research helps us assess the results of policy initiatives. Sociology can provide us with self-enlightenment and thus influence our own future and finally, sociologists can find themselves in practical situations such as urban planning, industrial consultancy, social workers and personnel managers.

Primary Source.

Anthony Giddens

Sociology (6th Edition)

Being Mature.

Click On This Image To Listen To The Full Documentary (15 Mins)

About ‘Being Mature’

The documentary entitled ‘Being Mature’ is designed to encourage adult learning in third level institutions in Ireland. The documentary sets out, first and foremost, to talk to students currently going through the system of re-education then it introduces some high-level academics and teachers to hear how they think and feel about having mature students in the classroom and at tutorials. It also canvases the opinions of younger students in relation to mature students and asks a number of significant questions such as are mature students a help or a hindrance in academic life. Finally, we have an in-depth discussion with Dr. Caroline Healy who is assigned to The Learner Support Unit at MIC and is furthermore one of Ireland’s foremost authorities, having conducted extensive research, on Mature Students.

From the outset I knew that the only way this documentary could work is by ensuring as much human interaction as was possible in the given timeframe [15 Minutes]. The initial task of interviewing random mature students proved a little more difficult than anticipated. Mature students were amazingly shy about speaking up there educational desires or giving reasons as to why they had returned to college life. I wanted an equal mix of both male and female students and interestingly, females were more forthcoming. I opted to interview each person in a natural environment and so, over three days, I randomly selected students on campus as MIC Limerick. I also made arrangements with a number of academics at MIC. My interviewees were Dr. Liam Chambers, Dr. Eugene O’Brien and Dr. Caroline Healy of MIC LSU department. Finally, I randomly selected younger students at numerous locations on campus.

The entire documentary aims to answer five basic questions as follows;

  1. What made you decide to become a mature student?
  2. How do academics feel about mature students?
  3. How do young people feel about mature students?
  4. Is academic life more challenging than anticipated?
  5. Are mature students in any way different to younger students?

All interviews were conducted over a two-day period and recorded on a Sanyo Pro Voice Recorder and the iTalk application on iPad. I also selected to use a hand-held microphone in my one-to-one interview with Dr. Caroline Healy. On completion I had conducted a total of 33 interviews consisting of students, academic staff and administrative staff at MIC.

At my own home studio I used the Cool Edit Pro suite for editing. I have been using this software for a number of years and find it extremely satisfactory and totally professional. I had a total of 44 audio clips to choose from but the background noise on some of these clips rendered them unusable. I was left with a total of 20 perfectly audible sound bites. I further recorded a small collection of sound effects including atmospheric recordings of lectures, canteen and corridors with heavy student traffic between lectures. My idea was to create an intimate college life experience for the listener. I am satisfied that I accomplished this in the final edits of the piece.

During the editing process I discovered that in the course of normal conversation many interviewees used irrelevant interjections that might be acceptable in casual conversation but sound nonsensical for my purposes. I spent a considerable amount of time editing out these extraneous sounds. The absence of these sounds makes the listening experience far more enjoyable.

I selected two pieces of ambient music to use throughout the documentary as a continuous music bed. My first choice was a gentle piece of music by Zamphir entitled ‘the lonely shepherd’ which I felt was relevant because all lecturers are a type of Shepherd. The second piece I selected was by Enya and entitled ‘The Celts’ which is an inspirational piece of music that implies success in the face of adversity. Perhaps a metaphor for mature students who have decided to take on the challenge of returning to education and succeeding in the process.

My objective was to produce a quality radio documentary using only original material consisting of voice, ambient sounds and music. I must admit that I have the advantage of extensive experience in live broadcasting but little or no experience in radio documentary production. For this reason, I found this project extraordinarily interesting and a very necessary learning experience for me while also introducing me to the art of radio documentary production.

This 15 minute documentary on the subject of Mature Students uses music, interviews and ambient sounds and is structured on a format based on a number of home produced Irish radio documentaries available from RTE, Ireland’s national broadcasting service. I have attempted to offer the information available on this documentary at a gradual and increasing momentum to bring the listener to the ultimate conclusion that a return to education is entirely possible for any listener regardless of past experiences or educational background.

As presenter of the documentary I tried to take into consideration my key role of introducing the various locations voices and facts at a steady pace, the mode of address I implied was upbeat and friendly. I further attempted to keep the piece lively, informative but most of all entertaining. While my subject matter could just as easily have been presented in a more serious manner I felt that my approach rendered the information contained in the documentary more relevant to a broader, less highbrow, wider audience.

As this was a one-man operation I was very conscious to ensure that all elements of this production were to the absolute best of my own ability. I am very proud and satisfied with the results of my endeavours. The project has been a vital learning experience for me and has further shown me that my past experiences in live radio are a serious asset to me in the production of radio documentaries. From this aspect of the course I have learned that this is an area I am very interested in exploring further.

Click On This Image To Listen To The Documentary.

Irish Media Regulation.

 

Global Influences On Irish Media.

 

In any discussion of media regulation it is necessary to consider three major factors, global influences, national influences and local influences. Ireland, proclaiming itself as a democratic and less authoritarian society than others, asserts to offer considerable constitutional freedom to media. This is untrue. This article, by looking at the depth of global, national and local influences on the primary organs of media; audio, visual and print, demonstrates that these ‘freedoms’ are illusive and misleading and creating the fallacy that media can be controlled at any level. The reality is the exact opposite. In fact, with the advent of technology and the expansion of capitalism (consumerism) we, as consumers and text receivers, are at the end of a long line of global, national and local regulators who dictate what we hear, see, read or think on any given matter at any given moment. This article concludes that Ireland has adapted international philosophies, ideologies and practises in the creation of numerous media regulatory bodies and has inadvertently altered the dynamics of Irish media regulation.


Broadcast Media in Ireland is regulated in comparable fashion to any other developed country. Ireland has freedom of the press enshrined in its constitution, “…the right of the citizens to express freely their convictions and opinions.” In the broadcasting sector this right is defended by The Broadcasting Act (2009) which outlines amongst its primary functions, “to revise the law relating to broadcasting services and content…” There are three main ‘guardians’ of these rights in Ireland and these are; the Department of Communications which decrees, “To facilitate the provision of quality broadcasting” .

Secondly, the BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland) which states as it’s clear objective, “to ensure that broadcasting services best serve the needs of the people” and further states, “that democratic values enshrined in the constitution especially those relating to rightful liberty of expression are upheld…” Finally, the government agency of considerable impact on Irish broadcasting and communications is COMREG which monitors and controls the distribution of licenses, “Comreg issues licenses in accordance with this Act (Wireless Telegraphy Act, 1926) and the 1988 Broadcasting & Wireless Telegraphy Act.”

It is a common illusion that organisations that produce media have a free hand to say and do as they choose. They are not only controlled by the law, state bodies and other institutions but also by a number of other significant factors. Regulation can be loosely defined as control over impact. As each new media emerges so does demands for its regulation. Government influence over the broadcast media in Ireland is fundamentally exercised by legislation and the allotting or termination of licences. Media regulation is necessary but media control is not. The ultimate consumption of texts is contaminated by global laws and rules influencing the end product or text before it arrives to the local marketplace.
In the Irish print media industry (we are concerned primarily with newspapers, magazines, journals and documents for general public consumption) there are a number of significant regulatory bodies demonstrating government and ‘self’ regulation. The primary media regulator is the law itself. As with any civilised country the Media and the Law in Ireland have always been, and perhaps will always be, at loggerheads in debate as to what is permissible and what constitutes defamation and libel. In 1991 the Irish Government appointed the ‘Law Reform Commission’ which recommended draconian changes in Irelands libel laws. A new defamation law came into affect on January 1st, 2010 but Politicians remain concerned about ‘tabloidisation’, and lowering of press standards, within the Irish media and propose a “privacy act” which is still in the legislative process.

There is little doubt that if the government goes ahead and introduces a privacy act, it would be challenged, probably to the European Court of Human Rights.” The NUJ (National Union of Journalists) with its stringent ‘code of ethics’ which includes a ‘conscience clause’ stating, “Journalists have a right to refuse work that would break the letter or spirit of the code.” In effect this means that a journalist can decide to regulate what he/she reports on without fear of retribution. The power of the NUJ as a regulatory body should not be underestimated. In the recent past it spearheaded a campaign with other activists called ‘Let In The Light’, and forced the Irish Government to introduce a Freedom of Information Act in 1997, “At the time it was considered a major contribution to accountability and openness and was praised internationally by free-speech advocacy groups.”

However, in 2003 the Government amended the Act by limiting what the government was required to disclose. This was seen by journalists as a major attack on press freedom. The third most important regulatory body is based on British and Swedish models. The Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman which was set up in 2009 with the dual role of preventing ‘media abuse’ and ‘abuse of media’ expressed as; “to safeguard and promote professional and ethical standards in Irish newspapers and magazines.” This organisation ensures that the freedom of the press is never abused, and that the public interest is always served; “we have now come to the stage where we should consider the need to protect people against the power of the press.” Such principles of press regulation are globally inspired. Here we see three clear examples of global regulation on local (national) media.

First Mass Medium.

 

The radio is a clear example of a machine in existence ‘invented’ but not recognised as such. It developed over time, step by step, in laboratories that began between 1886 and 1888 with a ‘spark’ transferred from a crude form of transmitter to an aerial and despite the crudeness of the apparatus it was demonstrated that these ‘radiations’ did have wave like properties and could, for instance, be reflected or refracted. Prior to this the microphone had already been in place and combined with the ‘spark’ device the age of radio dawned.

Nobody really thought about using ‘radiation’ phenomena for signalling or any other purpose. Radio was without social necessity and thus inconceivable. Thus the technology was invented but useful only in a laboratory environment. Over the next decade more complex devices based on the prototypes’ started to emerge and it was soon discovered that effective transmission of the radio wave depended on ‘tuning’. If both were on the same frequency (syntonised) they could communicate. Still, radio remained without an identified need and nobody had, at least in public, suggested their usefulness as signalling machines. It was not until 1892 that the idea of radio was articulated. It was envisaged as telegraphy without wires, posts, cables or any other costly appliances. It was seen as a person-to-person system and no more than that. Still nothing happened for another two years; the ideas were in place but the necessity had not yet come into focus.

It was not until the scientist Marconi garnished the benefits of previous research and development when he experimentally demonstrated that ‘radio transmission’ was possible. His crucial contribution was not the ‘invention’ of radio as is conventionally understood but rather the discovery that the taller the transmission mast, the further the signal would travel. His greatest accomplishment is that he discovered a supervening necessity for broadcasting.

Necessity, Diffusion And Suppression: Ironclads And Telegrams: Marconi saw the value of the device for the Shipping industry and decided to patent his advances in 1896. Just as the telegraph became the solution to railway’s communication problems, so the wireless telegraph began as a solution to shipping communication problems. Without the wireless a ships usefulness in battle would be very curtailed. As Marconi continued his work in Britain his contemporary A.V. Popov was doing the same in Russia. Wireless communication became an integral part of shipping on many levels. The transmission of distress signals, communication with shore, communication with other ships and by 1912 when the Titanic issued its SOS it was received by nearby ships and in New York and passed on to the White House. Radio proved to be without competition because no other long distance signalling system was possible at sea. However, in view of the fact that radio was prone to atmospheric conditions and this added to the fact that broadcasts were open and not private was deemed risky at best. Sending distress signals or private communications to all hearers was perceived as a dangerous act. Interestingly, In Ireland in 1916 from the roof of the GPO in Dublin those who proclaimed the state as independent were heard and declared revolutionaries.

Invention: From Wireless Telegraphy To Invention: Edison’s light bulb experimentation yielded results passing electric currents through filaments and this development moved radio wave detection and manipulation research rapidly forward. This development led to the use of tubes to amplify weak radio signals and enable longer distances. In 1906, using these tubes (valves) the first radio broadcast of music was made from Massachusetts. However in 1907 speech was transmitted over long distances and radio was ‘invented’ but, with the exception of those sailors out at sea, nobody was listening.

Ideation And Necessity: The Idea Of Broadcasting: Nobody really knew the potential of ‘non point to point’ communication and the main issue was that nobody knew where signals would be received and heard. The fault was ‘anybody could listen’ but for some this was not a fault but an advantage. David Sarnoff was very interested in radio and its possibilities. He saw it as a ‘music box’ for every home and was aware that music was listened to collectively and radio would have to allow for that if it were to become a mass medium. He set about achieving this and it was not long before Corporate America saw the possibilities and financed the development of the medium. Soon after, 1922, radio arrived into the living rooms and became the centrepiece of home entertainment.

Suppression And Diffusion: Valves, Tubes, and FM and Cartels: The radio system that swept the world in the early 1920s was not flawless. A radio system with less interference and noise needed to be created. By 1933 a new system of absolute (by standards back then) clarity was launched. The idea was to amplify frequency rather than modulation (AM and FM) and thus the FM band was created. FM was not just an invention but a revolution.

Living With Radio: Radio had used recorded sound from the very beginning. The relationship between records and radio is complex but radio quickly became a major patron of music and musicians and even financed Orchestras to produce it. The film industry, not really bothered with radio other than to see seats in cinemas, still achieved a mutually beneficial accommodation with the radio industry in that they held valuable assets on the programming side of the radio game. Newspapers continuously fought to suppress the journalistic aspects of radio. News was ‘immediate’ and deadlines were twenty-four-seven. Newspapers gave up the fight very quickly and just bought up the stations. However, newspaper owners failed to realise that radio and newspapers could continue to co-exist; people who heard radio news still bought newspapers and secondly newspaper owners and radio owners (often one and the same) were divided amongst themselves. However, these problems aside, radio progressed and by the 1930s it had successfully become a mass home medium over the entire developed world. The first mass medium.

Socrates Good Life.

What Is The Good Life?

We wonder what Socrates may have meant by the expression ‘examined life’ and also offer a personal evaluation of the Socratic view of ‘the good life’, which, it will be argued, is the fruit of self-examination and indeed the primary purpose and reward of living the self examined life.

On the streets of Limerick there lives a homeless middle-aged man named Billy. He is widely regarded in the community as some sort of a ‘nutcase’ because he sits on street benches smoking cigarettes, sipping cold coffee from Styrofoam cups and mumbling profusely to himself about whatever it is that is going on deep inside his own mind. I stop to talk to him and, with little effort on my behalf to abstract personal information; he tells me that he was diagnosed many years ago as a manic-depressive. He contemplates and he smiles to himself at the folly of the diagnosis. His hands are shaking nervously as he wraps them around the cold cup and lifts it to his mouth spilling some as he does. He further announces that ‘they’ got it wrong and, in fact, his own diagnosis is something he calls ‘obsessive rumination’. I ask him to elaborate and he tells me that each morning when he wakes up a new thought enters his head and that thought remains with him for the duration of the day until he falls back to sleep in the dead of night to reawaken with another new thought the following morning. He explains that today his mind was firmly focused on the reality that all human beings have insufficient layers of skin to keep in all the evil that exists within every human being. Clearly it was more than a ‘thought’ it was a daylong obsession with what many a ‘sane’ person would deem a redundant misinterpretation of reality.

For him, it was a fact. I further explored how it was that he came to this conclusion about his own illness. He sat back and contemplated for a moment and then leaned forward and admitted, as if it were wrong, that he was a one time student of Philosophy and paid too much heed to Socrates and the concept of the ‘examined life.’ He concluded that the ‘examined life’ is only good when the result is positive.

To understand what is meant by the ‘good life’ we need to understand what is meant by the ‘examined life’ because one follows from the other. Through the process of self examination ideas, thoughts and feelings are brought forward that enhance the quality of ones life through the development of ones mind, body and spirit. The philosophically reflective ‘self examination’ is best understood as an assessment of one’s basic beliefs and assumptions that should yield a positive rather than a negative effect on the quality of the self-examiners life. The purpose of self-examination is self-understanding and thus a rebalancing of our selves and a shifting in a positive way to a ‘superior’ or ‘good life’. The quality of the ‘unexamined life’ is too high a price to pay for the quality of the examined life. The unexamined life is not one of deep personal understanding. It is not a life of self-directed positive change. One pays a price for living such a life. Socrates identifies it when he states that this form of life, the unexamined life, is not worth what you have to pay for it. The price you pay for an unexamined life is your entire life and you pay no greater price for anything than with your life. Interestingly, Socrates did not say that the ‘unexamined life’ was valueless and leaves the viewpoint open that some positive value exists in any life however unreflective it may be. Philosophy helps us to examine our lives and Socrates’ statement about the unexamined life does seem to imply that the wise philosopher left us to draw our own conclusions about the quality of our own lives by examining ourselves.

…You hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living….

So what are the advantages of living the self-examined life and how does one achieve this condition? Because of his political associations the Athenian democracy put Socrates on trial, charging him with undermining state religion and corrupting young people. The speech he offered in his own defense, as reported in Plato’s Apologhma (Apology), provides us with many reminders of the central features of Socrates’s approach to philosophy and its relation to a practical or ‘good’ life. “No one is wiser than you.”iii Socrates argues that he has a kind of wisdom which is an open awareness and full acknowledgement of his own ignorance. Open questioning is the goal of the self-examiner which will help achieve genuine self knowledge and expose illusion about reality and help understand everything thus achieving a greater level of self awareness which is of primary importance to the good life. The goal of self interrogation, then, is to help the person to achieve genuine self-knowledge, even if it often turns out to be negative. There must also be a devotion to truth and a dispassionate reasoning in the process of self interrogation. These qualities are demonstrated by Socrates when the jury has sentenced him to death; Socrates calmly delivers his final public words, a speculation about what the future holds. Disclaiming any certainty about the fate of a human being after death, he nevertheless expresses a continued confidence in the power of reason, which he has exhibited while the jury has not.

Plato’s dramatic picture of a man willing to face death rather than abandoning his commitment to philosophical inquiry offers up Socrates as a model for all future philosophers. Perhaps few of us are presented with the same stark choice between philosophy and death, but all of us are daily faced with opportunities to decide between convenient conventionality and our devotion to truth and reason. How we choose determines whether we, like Socrates, deserve to call our lives philosophical and consequently ‘good’ or examined.

In short then, it can be concluded that if one follows the Socratic line of thinking that the ‘examined life’ may be the better of the two options, examined or unexamined, then the reward of the examined life is ‘the good life’. To understand what Socrates meant by the good life, the philosophical definition, is one of honest enquiry and impeccable conduct. By searching for true justice, true beauty, or true friendship, Socrates inevitably called into question what was widely believed to be justice, beauty, friendship, and so forth. “The good life is a life that questions and thinks about things; it is a life of contemplation, self-examination, and open-minded wondering. The good life is thus an inner life—the life of an inquiring and ever expanding mind.

Socrates’ relentless ‘questions and answers’ strategy of self exploration and forced self examination of people he encountered in his normal day to day life; and he obstinately pursued his task of questioning people about what mattered most in life in his endless pursuit of self knowledge. The obvious conclusion of this ‘line of attack’ is that the unexamined life is one which is lived with unthinking and the good life is one which is lived with intelligence and discrimination. Clearly Socrates was a man of strong conviction with regard to the importance of self examination and the pursuit of knowledge and true wisdom. In his ‘Apology’ he fully endorsed his own ‘modus operandi’ by delivering a passionate defense for the way he had chosen to lead his life.

Socrates always confessed that he was wise because he knew that he knew nothing and by virtue of this fact was not preoccupied with personal gain from self examination but arguably the more he questioned the more he realised how deeply his own ignorance ran and, consequently, how wise he was to realise this unavoidable fact. The statement made by Socrates about the unexamined life not being worth living makes sense from one point of view, but it is untrue if taken from the point of view of someone who is oblivious to this kind of wisdom and lacks the motivation to look for it. It is the same principle as saying ignorance is bliss. People can lead very happy lives, however simple, even without asking the questions that people like Socrates dare to ask. When it comes to those who do have an intrinsic desire to understand and have that passion about true wisdom like Socrates, however, to not pursue that desire would be very unfulfilling. So from Socrates’ point of view, the statement makes perfect sense and should be true for those who have that curiosity, but from the point of view of many others, it simply does not apply. There could be an argument that a life lived by one who is oblivious to true wisdom is still leading a worthless life, but only from the point of view of someone looking in from the outside. To the person living it, his life has all the meaning in the world. It just depends on which point of view is taken. This statement is so bold that it is impossible for everyone to agree with it. Socrates is thinking purely from the point of view of someone who has this knowledge, and not considering the possibilities of one who does not bother with curiosity.

In conclusion then an unexamined life would be just coasting through and not making any decisions or asking any questions. Socrates could not see a point in living if you were unable to ask questions and challenge your way of thinking. An examined life would be trying to understand your purpose and the current state of things. By examining your life, therefore understanding yourself, you will not be subject to actions motivated by passion or instinct.

Film Noir.

Melodarama And Film Noir Differences.

All narratives are constructed. Film genre theorists apply the rules of literary genre to film but there remains considerable debate as to how films should be categorised. Essentially, there are two types of film, fiction and non-fiction. Films within these classifications can be subcategorised into genres and further characterised as sub-genres. Genres of films can be defined in four ways; the Idealist method judges films by prearranged standards; the Empirical method where the film is compared to its predecessors; the Apriori method uses generic elements identified in advance and the Social Conventions method is based on popular accord as to the genre of the film itself. (Keith 2007) Iconography, setting, characters, narrative, style, theme and audience response are the key elements of Genre. (Genre Elements 2012) Applying the ‘Apriori’ method this essay examines the elements of genre and further compares and contrasts them in two different genres of film, Melodrama and Film Noir then argues that the classification of films into subgenres is a matter of personal choice.

In Film Theory ‘Melodrama’ can be loosely defined as a film that embellishes plot and characters in order to appeal to the emotions. Though Douglas Sirk (1900–1987) directed comedy, western, and war films, he was most distinguished for his convoluted melodramas that exposed unpleasant emotional turmoil lurking beneath the smokescreen of American upper-middle-class life; “Guilt, repressed lust, greed, and moral emptiness motivate the characters in his films”. (Encyclopædia Britannica Online 2012). “Summer Storm (1944), A Scandal In Paris (1946), There’s Always Tomorrow (1956), All That Heaven Allows (1955), Written On The Wind (1956), Imitation Of Life (1959) – these have been long acknowledged as unadulterated masterpieces”. (Sheehan 2004) ‘Imitation of Life’ (1959) achieved great commercial success in the waning years of the sub-genre of Melodrama known as ‘woman’s film’ (Heung 1987). The film’s true theme is captured in its final scene when Sara Jane cries over her mother’s coffin. The image is the characteristic melodramatic depiction of Sirk’s women constricted and alienated in terms of gender and race. Sirk used the term melodrama to describe a form of drama characterized by high emotion and its affective qualities in an unambiguous and rather ironic manner in order to articulate his own distaste for their overtly sentimental plots. (Film Reference 2012). In the quintessential melodrama ‘Imitation of Life’, we witness the lives of four women and their attempts to make their existence more than mere imitations of life. Two unmarried mothers of young girls, one Negro, one White, befriend each other and together they struggle to live in 1950’s New York City; a realm over which they have no control. This melodramatic “woman’s film” was aimed mostly at female audiences; it presents a significant formula for female happiness to its viewers. It suggests that happiness for women is only found in “more natural” domestic roles as mother and wife; “To women who rebel against the limitations placed on them because of sex or race, it recommends the path of least resistance, acceptance of society’s view of women (and women of colour) as different and inferior.” (Lavender 1998).

The film’s colour design submits an attempt to create a complete iconography with which the emotional patterns of the characters are imitated. The use of wide-angle lenses create space between characters who are emotionally separated; “The depth of space created by Sirk’s use of wide angle lenses also establishes a sense of receding boundaries in the world the characters inhabit” (Fischer 1991). All of Sirk’s melodramas involve the destruction of cosmopolitan women living in ultra-modern, upper-class, and wealthy but tortured lives. This setting in a multi-coloured pastiche of life suggests to the female viewer that money does not solve all problems; “it is a vivid example of Sirk’s turning towards a heraldic mode of signification”. (Stern 1991). Imitation of Life is unquestionably a pronounced example of melodramatic mise-en-scene as every detail of the film is extreme. The colours brashly indicate the emotional state of the characters, the music is appropriately majestic to clearly direct the emotional response required from the audience and; “the themes of love, death, social status, loose morals and despair are all principles of the genre”. (Caldwell 2008)

Throughout the film, as with all of Sirk’s melodramatic work, the characters actions and identity can be established from the mise-en-scene. Sirk’s films are disturbing because the characters are real people besieged in life’s perplexities and the characters in ‘Imitation of Life’ are no exception. “These characters abandon true human connections, including with themselves, for material goods and the sake of appearances”. (Camper 2006) Perhaps the most distinguishing element is the gulf between how the characters see themselves and how they are seen by the viewer. They cope with the problems of life, love, death and circumstance in their melodramatic world but the forces are beyond their control. The plot hinges on the hope of a miracle that never occurs in a way the audience expected. Sirk was not one for happy endings; “These happy endings all express the weak and sly promise that the world is not rotten and out of joint but meaningful and ultimately in excellent condition. One could follow these thoughts endlessly through Dante, Molière, and Calderon and even in the grandiose, celestial, operetta-like ending of the second part of Faust”. (Limmer 1973).

Most interestingly in Sirk’s work is how forces of repression are signalled through his imagery. His mise en scène is as crucial to his films as narrative form, his often baroque visual style points to the ways in which human ambition is largely determined by the mood of its environment. Homes are havens that turn to prisons, loved ones become emotional enemies, and Objects that are meant to be comforts become onerous. Character’s traumas become the rational consequences of the uncontrollable world around them.

Themes of failure haunt Sirk’s movies. “Drama used to be the belief in guilt, and in a higher order. This absolutely cruel didactic is impossible, unacceptable for us moderns. But melodrama has kept it. (Gallagher 1999). He further claims there are only two Sirk themes: characters who successfully impose their Wills despite pain (white melodrama), and characters who are dominated by their Wills, who like Faust sell out to lust (black melodrama).

Screenings of Sirk masterpieces are turned into emotional-strength tests for audiences, whether motivated by the urge to show off one’s emotional sensibility or an ill-advised loyalty to the tortured protagonist it remains that seeing Sirk’s films often becomes more about the audience response than about the films themselves. In his article for the Museum Of The Moving Image; ‘Tears Without Laughter’ Chris Fujiwara, Author and Artistic Director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival writes; “To get down to specifics, four types of laughter are almost unavoidable at screenings of Sirk’s best-known films” (Fujiwara 2008)  He identifies these as Pop, trash and camp laughter; laughter against strong image; emotion disavowing laughter and finally ideologically knowing laughter. This laughter, he concludes, detached Sirk from his audience; “Ignoring the detachment makes Sirk an idiot. Denying the emotion makes him a cynical mass-culture satirist.” (Fujiwara 2008)

Film Noir is a series of films of the 1940s and 1950s exploring the darker aspects of modernity and usually set in the criminal world or exploring the fallouts of a criminal act. It is unlikely that the film makers of this era were intentionally making Film Noir movies but merely appealing to a growing demand for subversive dramas depicting the fragility of the human experience. Love, lust and greed destroying lives are the main component of the Film Noir plot but such films were already in abundance in the 1930s. Films such as Josef von Sternberg’s gangland melodrama Underworld (1927), Lewis Milestone’s The Racket (1928), Rouben Mamoulian’s City Streets (1931) and one of the most influential post-war films that helped to launch the entire genre in the 1930s was German director Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse (1922). World War II had a deep influence on the creation of new more modern style gangster films and the emergence of European Directors (Fritz Lang (Austrian), Alfred Hitchcock (British), Abraham Lincoln Polonsky (Russian-American), John Ford (Irish-American) and Michael Curtiz (Hungarian-American) to name but a few) brought with them a new darker style and sense of ominousness to American filmmaking. However, Film Noir flourished to more than just gangster films and in the 1940s some psychological dramas such as Rebecca (1940), Shadow of A Doubt (1942), The Spiral Staircase (1945), and The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers (1946) were also classed as legitimate adherents to the rules of the Genre. By the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s the genre transformed to deal with social issues of the era such as Alcoholism in The Lost Weekend (1945) and Nightmare Alley (1947), Anti-Semitism in Crossfire (1947), White Slavery in Border Incident (1949) and Community terrorism in The Wild One (1953). Yet all of these films and many more can also be neatly placed into other mainstream genres such as Westerns, Horror, Romance or Thrillers. The rather basic rules of the genre are vague and opinions vary as to which films actually are valid genre adherents. In 1968 the basic rules of the genre are simply defined as; “These films centered on a world of darkness and violence, with a central figure whose motives are usually greed, lust, and ambition, whose world is filled with fear.” (Higman and Greenberg 1968). The more modern view varies as in a recent BBC Documentary (Sweet, The Rules Of Film Noir 2009) in which Matthew Sweet, film and television critic for the Independent on Sunday Newspaper states; “They’re rules about plot and character; about femmes fatales and doomed guys in fedora hats; about stark lighting that slices up the image into shards of black and white”. Werner Hertzog, considered one of the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, claims that Film Noir is far from being dead and is a genre that reflects the moods and demands of its audience; “There are times where you have an abundance of film noir, and times when there are few, but now, with a depression coming at us, we will see more film noirs than before.” (Sweet, Why The Recession Will Lead To A Renaissance In Film Noir 2009). His words were prophetic with the revival of the genre brought to its heights with the Oscar laden The Artist (2011) Directed by Michel Hazanavicius (France) who acknowledges Film Noir as a deep influence in his work; “In 1993 Hazanavicius was working at Canal Plus which owned most of the post-1948 Warner Bros. film library. With co-director Dominique Mézerette, he dove into this trove and created La Classe Américaine, comprising Warner’s clips from the 1950s…” (Corliss 2012).

The Maltese Falcon (1941) is considered “the first major Film Noir of the classic era” (Davis 2004) as it fits the criteria of a type of crime film featuring; “cynical malevolent characters in a sleazy setting and an ominous atmosphere that is conveyed by shadowy photography and foreboding background”. (Webster Dictionary 2012). The story concerns a San Francisco private detective’s dealings with three deceitful characters that compete to obtain a fabulous jewel-encrusted statuette of a falcon. Low key lighting and inventive angles, sometimes low to the ground revealing the ceiling, a technique also used by Orson Welles in Citizen Kane (1941), so not necessarily exclusive to Film Noir. Bogart’s interpretation of Sam Spade became the archetype for private detectives in the Film Noir genre. The ‘femme fatale’, (Mary Astor as Brigid O’Shaughnessy) is “an alluring or mysterious and seductive woman, especially one who causes men to love her to their own distress”, (Penguin Dictionary 2012). There is no shortage of twists and turns, double-cross in the storyline which are also prerequisites of the Noir genre. Urban settings, with the action taking place in bars, dimly lit alleyways and sleazy neon lit streets, nightclubs where the characters seem to function best at night and in heavy rain or fog.

The comparisons between Melodrama and Film Noir are conspicuous. The plots and characters in both genres are embellished to appeal to the emotions of the viewer. Both genres expose unpleasant aspects of the human experience, (The seven deadly sins, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride). The settings are invariably beyond normality and the characters are perpetually struggling to effect change in their lives. The common use of unique angles and visual techniques or mise en scene to imitate the inner feelings of the characters. Few of the characters in both genres are totally virtuous and many are lacking in any one or more of the seven virtues chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. This lacking, in the female characters will lead to the inevitable ultimate destruction of the female. The music is used in both genres to provoke audience reaction. Furthermore, the division between how the characters see themselves and how they are seen by the viewer and the lack of control they have over their environment are also common threads. The pointless hope of a miracle to change the scenario, the absence of happy endings for all involved, the characters are invariably failures in their endeavours, the imposing of will of one over another, the creation of audience nervous laughter at the predicament, characters functioning in shadowy or heavily colourised places are all further common elements of both genres.

The only tangible difference between ‘Imitation of Life’ and ‘The Maltese Falcon’ is the use of colour. One can legitimately ask; “Is ‘Imitation Of Life’ a colourised film noir or a melodrama and equally ask is the Maltese Falcon a black and white melodrama?

It is a matter of personal choice.

Bibliography.

Caldwell, Thomas. Cinema   Autopsy. 2008.   http://blog.cinemaautopsy.com/2008/10/12/notes-on-film-imitation-of-life/   (accessed 03 07, 2012).

Camper, Fred. The Films of Douglas Sirk: The   Epistemologist of Despair . 04 14, 2006. http://www.fredcamper.com/Film/Sirk.html   (accessed 03 06, 2012).

Corliss, Richard. “Michel Hazanavicius’ Warmup for The   Artist.” Time Magazine, 02 17, 2012.

Davis, Blair. “Horror Meets Noir: The Evolution of   Cinematic Style, 1931–1958.” In Horror Film: Creating and Marketing   Fear, by Steffen Hantke. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004.

Fischer, Lucy. Imitation of Life – Douglas Sirk   (Director). Edited by Lucy Fischer. North Carolina: Rutger Films In   Print., 1991.

Fujiwara, Chris. “Museum Of The Moving Image.” Tears   Without Laughter. 04 18, 2008.   http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/tears-without-laughter-20080818   (accessed 03 08, 2012).

Gallagher, Tag. “White Melodrama: Douglas Sirk.” Senses   Of Cinema, 1999.

Genre Elements. Genre Elements. 2012.   http://www.digitalfilmarchive.net/clda/docs/mia/film_lesson_plans/Genre%20Elements.pdf   (accessed 03 04, 2012).

Henke, Richard. Melodrama And Film Studies. Edited   by Richard Henke. 2012.   http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC39folder/imitationLife.html   (accessed 03 02, 2012).

Heung, Marina. “”What’s the Matter with Sara   Jane?”: Daughters and Mothers in Douglas Sirk’s “Imitation of   Life”.” Cinema Journal, Spring 1987: 21-43.

Higman, Charles, and Joel Greenberg. Hollywood in the   Forties. London: Zemmer, 1968.

Keith, Barry. Film Genre: From Iconography To Ideology.   New York: Wallflower Press/Columbia University Press, 2007.

Lavender, Catherine. Douglas Sirk, Imitation of Life   (1959). 1998.   http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/life.html (accessed 03   03, 2012).

Limmer, Wolfgang. “Suddentsche Zeitung.” Translation   by Virginia Soukup, 11 1973: 17-18.

Online, Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia   Britannica. 2012.   http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/546622/Douglas-Sirk. (accessed 03   02, 2012).

Penguin Dictionary. 2012.   http://www.thefreedictionary.com/femme+fatale (accessed 03 08, 2012).

Sheehan, Henry. “Essay On Douglas Sirk.” Film   Criticism And Commentary. 2004.   http://www.henrysheehan.com/essays/stuv/sirk-1.html (accessed 03 06, 2012).

Stern, Michael. “Commentaries On Imitation Of   Life.” In Douglas Sirk, 279. North Carolina: Rutger Films In   Print, 1991.

The Rules Of Film Noir. Produced by Elaine Donnelly   Pieper. Performed by Matthew Sweet. 2009.

Sweet, M. “Why The Recession Will Lead To A   Renaissance In Film Noir.” The Telegraph, 08, 19, 2009.

Webster Dictionary. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.   2012. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/film%20noir (accessed 03 08,   2012).

Online Journalism.

Online Journalism And Blogging.

In the 1980s the appearance of moderated newsgroups on the Internet heralded the arrival of what was to become known as blogging. By the 1990s the general public were creating online diaries and in 1996 John Parry Barlow created ‘The Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace’ which basically stated that the Internet was a ‘free-for-all’ to express, without fear, any point of view. In 1997 a new forum called ‘Weblog’ was created by Jorn Barger. However, two years later in 1999 came the arrival of Blogger.com which allowed any member of the public to create their own blog. By the 2000’s these blogs could interact with other websites such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. This convergence turned blogging into the mainstream pursuit that it is today.

Web news structures: news blogs are now interactive with other websites and will include links to other sources, eyewitness accounts, archive materials, stakeholder views, static and dynamic multimedia. They allow for user control of information. There is little or no editing, they offer journalists view with input from other users. This renders the blog a sort of network are collection of different views which are transparent, immediate and not lacking in diversity.

Open source: Web space is now freely available using forums such as Blogger. Development software has been created to simplify the process of creating a blog. Open source software is free to use and invites its users to enhance the software if possible. In fact, websites such as Wikipedia (created by Jimmy Wales in 2001) are interactive forums where users have free access to the information to amend, improve and add to the available information. This is a system not without pitfalls. The freedom to edit as one chooses renders much of the information unreliable.

Web journalism; the key elements of Web journalism are to identify information of interest to an audience, acquire, augment and verify information, order and present information in appropriate format, style and structure. This process involves;

  1. Archiving and linking.
  2. Multimedia.
  3. Convergence of roles.
  4. New format; design and site building.
  5. Lifecycle of news.

Internet journalism has created new forms of news and information consumption. These include nonlinear consumption, WAP – wireless application protocol and RSS – really simple syndication.

Interviewing For Radio.

All Talk Radio.

The arrival of reality radio journalism coincides with mobile phones; talk radio [phone in radio shows] did not really exist before the 1980s. It is a very cheap form of radio but it does have a number of boundaries before a person in the audience can communicate with other listeners through the studio. These boundaries include the switch board, the producer, time delay, and host. Programs are usually personality based and normally the presenter plays the devil’s advocate. The host communicates on two levels simultaneously with the caller and the listener. The mode of address fits the tone of the program and this style of radio blurs domestic and public technologies.

Interviewing for radio; the first thing the host must do is know the subject matter this calls for research to have the best questions for the interviewee. One usually only gets one chance to ask such questions. It’s best to know something about the person you are interviewing. If you have this information at hand your questions are appropriate and more than likely fair. In the case of a recorded interview it’s best to explore the subject with the interviewee before turning on the recorder.

Space and time; allow the interviewee to answer questions whilst keeping them on the subject. Allow second takes if needed. Best to record an interview indoors to avoid unwanted sound effects such as wind or traffic noises. Be aware that the process of recording itself changes the way people behave. Use a quite space to make recordings, remember, ambient sounds can be recorded and added separately. Listen carefully to what the interviewee is saying and always ensure that the interviewee does most of the speaking.

Questions; it is rarely acceptable to ask questions requiring a yes or no answer. Unless you are speaking to a politician then such questions are often unavoidable. Open questions encourage conversation and always show respect for your interviewee. It’s best to maintain eye contact as much as possible. Ensure that language is acceptable for broadcast and that content is not libellous. Ask only one question at a time and always avoid leading questions.

Make it sound natural: editing creates an aural representation, not reality. Talk about what you can see, feel, smell or touch. Pace conversations in a context, using music, ambient sounds and introductions guide the listener. Use stereo panning to create the sense of space. Observe radio conventions in order to be understood the way you intend.

When is radio not radio? Radio is normally not really radio when it comes to online radio stations playing nonstop automated music, podcasts and radio art are also not forms of conventional radio.

Gerry Hannan In Studio.

Radio Limerick One.

Media And Suicide.

 Click HereTo Go Directly To The Headline Site.

‘Headline’ is Ireland’s national media monitoring program for mental health and suicide, working to promote responsible and accurate coverage of mental health and suicide related issues within the Irish media. Specifically, headline aims to highlight mental health and suicide issues and address the stigma attached to emotional distress and mental illness through the promotion of responsible media coverage.

Headline is funded by the HSE’s national office for suicide prevention as part of the reach out strategy, and is managed by Shine; supporting people affected by mental ill health. We are guided by a steering group constructed of a number of national agencies concerned with suicide prevention.

The media have a significant role to play in promoting positive mental health and actively reducing stigma and discrimination towards people with mental health difficulties. With one in four people experiencing mental and/or behavioural disorders during their lifetime and everyone knowing someone who has been touched by suicide; tackling stigma is an issue for everyone.

Copycat suicides account for approximately 6% of all suicides and this imitative behaviour can follow certain types of news reports and under portrayals of suicide. We wouldn’t have a multimillion euro advertising market in this country if people didn’t think you could influence someone else’s behaviour through the media.

Those most affected seemed beyond the age of 24 and the elderly. Ireland has fifth highest youth suicide in Europe. The risk is greater when there is a sense of identification with the deceased, for example, a celebrity suicide or a fictional character that the vulnerable person emphasizes and identifies with. Romanticizing suicide as a heroic act is an acceptable strategy for dealing with the problem.

Headline monitors all national and regional print media daily. They search publications for a list of search words and monitored content, tone, and imagery of the articles. Headline will contact editors and journalists directly through letters, e-mails, meetings and phone calls. Headline action public complaints about the media directly our with the be BCC (Broadcasting Complaints Commission). They run training sessions for working media, media communication and journalism students.

Headline provides weekly e-mailed headline news highlights on mental health and suicide. People find this a useful way to keep up on all the relevant coverage about suicide and mental health. Headline sponsors an annual category in this media awards for students studying journalism are media communications.

A guide for journalists and brought casters reporting on schizophrenia stress such considerations as proper use of language and terminology, giving information, dispelling the myths around mental health problems.

A new study by Dr. Sally Johnson of the University of North Carolina found that people with a mental health illness are no more likely than anyone else to commit acts of violence, however mental health illness combined with substance abuse does increase the risk of future violence. These findings challenge the perception some people have, and which you often see reflected in media coverage, that mental illness alone makes someone more dangerous. The researchers carried out a statistical analysis of data collected as part of a study involving over 34,000 people. The results showed – if a person has severe mental illness without substance abuse and history of violence, he or she has the same chances of being violent during the next three years as at any other person in the general population.

The team found that when mental illness is combined with substance abuse, the risk for future violent reaches a level of statistical significance. However, even mental illness combined with substance abuse ranks only ninth on the studies list of the top 10 predictors of future violence. The high-ranking predictors, listed in order of their predictive value, are:

  1. Age: younger people are more likely to commit acts of violence.
  2. History of violence.
  3. Sex; males are more prone to violence.
  4. History of juvenile detention.
  5. Divorce our separation in the past year.
  6. History of physical abuse.
  7. Parental criminal history.
  8. Unemployment for the past year.
  9. Mental illness combined with substance abuse.
  10. Victimization in the past year.

The data shows it is simplistic as well as inaccurate to say the cause of violence among mentally ill individuals is the mental illness itself. Details of these findings are published in the Journal, Archives of General Psychiatry by Dr. Sally Johnson of the University of North Carolina.

The words anorexic and bulimia are adjectives and not nouns and therefore should not be used to describe the person for example ‘Mary is an anorexic’. That’s use implies that Mary is defined by her anorexia; other aspects of her personality are being ignored. It is better to say that ‘Mary has anorexia’ or ‘Peter has bulimia’ and so on. Eating disorders are a recognized mental illness. When referring to mental illness, there’s a great need to be mindful of issues around stigmatize nation. Recognize eating disorders in males. One in 10 people with an eating disorder are male. Making eating disorders a female only subject makes it harder for males to come forward to get the help they need.

Unlike televised suicide stories, print or online suicide stories can be saved, reread, displayed and studied. However, new technologies such as portable DVD, mobile phones, laptops and handheld computers and iPods make information easier to access at any given time.

TV drama does affect suicide rates. An episode of Casualty contained a storyline about a paracetamol overdose. Research showed that self poisoning increased by 17% in the following week and 9% in the second week. 20% of self poisoning patients who had seen the program said that it had influenced their decision to attempt suicide.

Copycat effect in print; for example, in the book Final Exit a guide to suicide for terminally ill persons, asphyxiation is the recommended means of suicide. In the year that this book was published the number of suicides by asphyxiation in New York rose from 8 to 33. Furthermore, a copy of Final Exit was found at the premises of 27% of these suicides.

Impact of Austrian media guidelines on suicide; a sharp increase in the number of subway suicides in Vienna was linked to a dramatic increase in their coverage in the media. The Austrian Association for Suicide Prevention launched a media campaign to change the amount and nature of press coverage of subway suicides. After the campaign the Austrian press either did not report the subway suicides at all, or cover them in short reports in the inside pages. During the years of sensation of news coverage there were up to nine subway suicides per six months. After the sensational coverage ceased, there were between one and four subway suicides per six-month intervals.

Quick guide for reporting a suicide: avoid phrases like a successful suicide, and unsuccessful suicide, commit suicide, suicide victim, just a cry for help, suicide prone person or epidemic of suicide. Always use phrases like: a suicide, died by suicide, a suicide attempt, take his/her life, kill oneself, a complete suicide, and a person at risk of suicide. Other key points to remember when reporting suicide are as follows;

  1. Avoid simplistic explanations for suicide.
  2. Remember the effect on survivors of suicide.
  3. Look after yourself when writing about suicide.
  4. Don’t romanticize or glorify suicide.
  5. Don’t imply that there are positive results to be gained by suicide.
  6. Seek expert advice.
  7. Use appropriate language.
  8. Include contact details for sources of help and information.
  9. Challenge the common myths about suicide.
  10. Avoid use of graphic images of suicide.

Headline is a one-stop resource for the media. It offers helpful tips for writing about mental health and suicide. It is fully informed in Irish and international media guidelines and has all necessary information on mental health and suicide related issues. It offers useful links for organizations related to media, mental health and suicide. It also offers access to a web site.

What is The Broadcasting Complaints Commission?

The broadcasting complaints commission is an independent statutory body. Its task is to consider and adjudicate upon complaints about material broadcast, both programs and advertisements, in relation to:

  1. Impartiality in news and current affairs.
  2. Taste and decency; code of program standards.
  3. Law and order.
  4. Privacy of an individual.
  5. Sandra.
  6. Published matter in relation to RTE and Ministerial prohibitions.
  7. General advertising codes.
  8. Children’s advertising codes.
  9. Any viewer or listener can refer complaints to this organization if they are not happy about broadcasting content on any Irish broadcasting service under any of these categories.

The Press Council and Press Ombudsman: The Press Council of Ireland and the Office of the Press Ombudsman were established in January 2008 and it is an independent press complaint mechanism that is quick, fair and free. The objectives of the Press Council And Press Ombudsman and are to provide the public with an independent forum for resolving complaints about the press, to resolve all of complaints quickly, fairly and free of charge. It also aims to maintain the highest standards of Irish journalism and journalistic ethics and to defend the freedom of the press and the freedom of the public to be informed. For a complaint to be examined by the office of the press ombudsman and it must breach the code of practice for newspapers and periodicals, and the person making the complaint must show that they have been directly affected by, and involved in the article or behaviour in question.

 

Stories With Sound.

Radio Documentaries.

We need now to distinguish between Radio news and documentaries. As discussed news has a cyclical nature and presents a number of short items using the inverted pyramid. News is factual and informative and presented with an authoritative voice. It is anchor based and uses minimal music and ambience and usually ends on a light note.

Radio documentaries have a narrative structure and a long single theme. The detail is slowly revealed and the content is usually impressionistic or investigative. The mode of address is usually a questioning voice and the narrative is presenter led. Radio documentaries will use music and ambience and create mood and structure. They will also arrive at conclusions.

The structure of a documentary consists of a little teaser at the start followed by a brief introduction and title music. After the music there is a more detailed introduction as to the nature of documentary presented with ambient and relevant sound. For example if the documentary is about the sea then we may hear the sound of crashing waves behind the voice of the presenter. (This sound should never crash with the voice of the presenter which normally has priority over sound effects or mood music.) One on one interviews are usually conducted in the studio or in a quiet place where both the voices of the interviewer and the interviewee are clearly heard. The documentary will proffer conclusions or a summary at the end of the broadcast.

The multi-track components of a documentary will include ambient sound and music. These sounds would be suggestive of mood and context which is interspersed with studio narration (identified by the silence around the voice) and/or interviews where we can clearly distinguish between the speakers.

The radio documentary will also provide textual information which shifts in balance between components, creates intrigue while sounds pre-empt text to segment narrative and maintain interest.

In summary radio documentaries use sound material alongside informative text. Information is provided in progressive narrative formats (unlike news programs). Materials are compiled from recordings and they are not necessarily connected in the order they are heard on the finished piece. Radio documentaries depend heavily upon the listener’s imagination.

Radio News.

The Radio News.

 

Radio news exists in time. It is organized for linear consumption which means it is reported, more or less, as it happens. The lead story is usually the most important event of the given hour of the broadcast while subsequent stories follow in terms of importance with the least important story appearing last.

  1. Radio news offers immediacy in that interviews are often conducted live and on the spot from locations relevant to the story being reported.
  2. Radio news is presented in cycles and stories are constantly updated in terms of priority and detail.
  3. The mode of address in radio news is often personal and individual depending on the target audience of the radio station. For example, on a talk station the mode of address may be serious and sombre while on a young person’s pop station it may be fast and far less solemn.
  4. Radio news is often prepared, produced and presented by a small team of people especially in local stations with little funding to keep them afloat. It is in organizations such as these that news agencies are very cost effective.
  5. Radio news is often context dislocated and audiences could be almost anywhere in the world. This means that news stories of local interest may have little or no interest to listeners not from the community or listening in a foreign country.

News bulletins usually have a basic structure which involves the main headlines often repeated in cycles, the main stories local, and national or global followed by weather and traffic reports. News bulletins may also contain reports on the daily newspapers, interviews, sport and weather or traffic reports. They may also contain arts, interviews and more recently, at local level, obituary notices.

Broadcast Radio newsrooms have a number of different departments headed by the head of news are news editor whose role it is to manage, schedule and prioritize the news. He or she is usually assisted by a bulletin editor or producer who is focused on styles, language, coordination, and checking. There are also presenters, journalists, researchers and technicians.

Radio news has a number of components and conventions. These are, more often than not, adhered to in most newsrooms. These components and conventions include the use of the studio anchor, telephone interviews, managed debates, outside broadcasts, specialist prepared articles, musical signposts to identify the station, voxpops and less weighty stories at the end of the broadcast.

So how does a new story come about? This is known as radio news flow and the process begins, for example, with an initial call to the news desk whereupon shocked report is prepared and a reporter is sent to investigate the story and to gather more information. The reporter will then prepare a short report prioritized and presented whilst other information is found. The reporter and external informants present the story true the news anchor. The news item is packaged for repeats or developed with updates or sent out for syndication or relegated in priority. The story dies when no new information is forthcoming and the priority of the story drops to the end of the schedule before finally vanishing.

Irish Newspapers.

Irish Newspapers.

Independent News And Media are owners of the following publications; Irish Independent, Sunday Independent, Evening Herald, Sunday World, The Star, The Farmers Journal, The Kerry man, The Cork Man, The Drogheda Independent, The Dundalk Argus, The Fingal Independent. The Irish Times trust are owners of the Irish Times, the Irish Field, And Ireland.com. Examiner publications are owners of the Irish Examiner, The Evening Echo, The Sunday Business Post, The Waterford News and Star, The Kingdom, The Sligo Weekender, The Nationalist and Leinster Times and The Kildare Nationalist. Some of these also run Irish versions of UK owned publications.

Recent readership figures suggest that the leading Irish newspapers are the Irish Independent followed by the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner. In the tabloid market the main papers are the Irish Daily Star, Irish Daily Mirror, Irish Sun and Irish Daily Mail in that order.

Leading Sunday titles are; The Sunday Independent, The Sunday World, The Sunday Business Post, The Sunday Times, Irish News of the World, Irish Sunday Mirror, Irish Mail On Sunday. Another leading title is The Irish Farmers Journal.

Each newspaper will offer readers and advertisers a breakdown of its readership which would include figures of local national or international readers. It will also inform as to where its main readership is in terms of class and if they are educated to third or postgraduate levels. It will also give a breakdown on urban dwellers, homeowners, professionals, self-employed, managers and even car owners.

These Demographic figures will offer information on the purchasing power of its readership and also offer statistics as to how and where money is being spent.

The press in Ireland is regulated by a number of bodies including; The Press Council of Ireland and Ombudsman, The Institute of Advertising Practitioners And Journalistic Codes Of Conduct as supervised and controlled by The National Union of Journalists in Ireland (NUJ).

The press industry has a code of practice which demands truth and accuracy, distinguishing fact and common, fairness and honesty and respect for rights. It demands privacy, protection of sources, court reporting, and elimination of prejudice. It also demands to children be protected and in the event of a breach of any of these codes that the newspaper responsible publish any of the decisions of The Press Ombudsman or Press Council.

Newspaper Information Flow.

Newspaper Information Flow.

The division of labor within a newspaper office is usually broken up in the following fashion; the editor followed by the subeditor who is responsible for the assigning and gathering of news to and from journalists, reporters, stringers, correspondents and photographers.

The departments within the newspaper office include the features department, the art department which is the base for photojournalists, typesetting rooms which focus on layout and design and the advertising department and finally the circulations manager.

There are a number of news agencies around the world that supply news to newsrooms in local, national and international newspapers. Organizations such as; The Associated Press, United Press, European Press Photo Agency or Magnum are usually 24-hour news services distributing news updates to newsrooms all over the world.

News production has a cyclical nature as it is processed, edited and published on a daily basis. The features sections within a newspaper may be on a weekly or monthly cycle while seasonal specials [and major sports events] may be produced on an annual basis.

Design Of Newspapers.

Newspaper Design.

 

When we look at the front page of the newspaper we see the most important news of the day. The front page of any given newspaper will contain the largest fonts, the most eye-catching imagery, the most colour and the headlines would normally link to other pages inside the newspaper. The advertising on the front page is usually class focused and aimed at the target readership of the newspaper itself. The front page will have a brand image and, of course, the price of the newspaper.

Newspapers are structured in a specific way and are divided into hierarchical sections according to their seriousness. A national newspaper will report news of a national nature and then look at international news. Other elements of the newspaper will include; editorials, features, a business section, arts and listings and in the final pages local national and international sport.

When looking at elements and proportions within any given newspaper a number of questions needs to be asked, for example, which section has the most space?, Which section has the leased space?, Where are the most pictures?, Where the most advertisements?, And why are structures so predictable? We also need to explore what proportion is given over to facts or opinions and entertainment? Within any newspaper we need to know where the paper’s loyalties are.

Finally, we need to understand how newspapers fit into the public sphere. How do newspapers facilitate dialogue in the public sphere? How do newspapers address particular markets? And how do newspapers differ in their use of language and imagery? Newspapers provide information for people to discuss and so they are a valuable and necessary part of the public sphere. Newspapers address particular markets, for example, tabloids usually aim themselves at people with more interest in light news and sport.

While broadsheet newspapers are usually aimed at a more upmarket readership in academic, political or economical circles. In tabloid newspapers the language and imagery is usually basic and undemanding while broadsheets usually publish pictures of people or places in the news.

Newsworthy Or Not?

What Makes News?

 

For example, a story is not newsworthy if it is negative in character about a country with whom we seek good relations and it must be unable to finish into existing types of news. For it to be newsworthy it must concern top people are nations and on the other hand for it to be not newsworthy it must not concern top people are nations.

A newsworthy story must have some affect or relevance to audiences while if it has no affect or relevance to the audience then it is not newsworthy. A story is newsworthy if it is focused on an individual but it is not newsworthy if, for example, it is focused on some unknown individual with an unpronounceable name from an unknown ethnic minority.

So then, we conclude from these facts that news information is highly mediated and has a lifespan after which it fails to interest. News providers are in the economic competition with one another and information is structured in highly predictable ways. Law, government, taste, location, language, and cost and market stylus are all regulatory factors.

What Is News?

What Is News?

News can be easily defined as new or interesting information or fresh events reported. News is something, somewhere, that someone doesn’t want us to know. “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, but when a man bites a dog, that is news”.

News has five basic functions and these are, to inform, to explain or interpret, to entertain, to serve a community and to sell newspapers. News has a number of interests such as negativity [all news is bad news], proximity [local issues], relevance [to demographic of readership], and immediacy [news from elsewhere], scale [importance]. Other elements include; interest, drama, entertainment.

%d bloggers like this: