By Andrea Rocha
Having been away from my home in Charlotte, North Carolina (West Coast USA) for an extended amount of time, I of course have had to find efficient ways of adjusting myself to the Aussie way of life. I have done this through no other way than immersion really. I’ve made the decision to undertake this internship, I’ve picked up a small café job on the side, I am living with an Aussie family in the suburbs, and I’ve been joining them in watching the news almost every evening. I could do the exact same thing back home, but with a guaranteed, entirely different experience. Certainly I could list all the things that differ in the USA, but let’s focus on the topic of media.
What is broadcasted & how
It could just be me, but I think it’s safe to say something is always happening in the USA. If you see a headline of a woman who has just married herself, you feel no need to continue on to read the article because you’ll only find that she’s a yankee doodle dandy. We are also sadly known to endure quite a bit of tragedies and injustices. In the last 3 years, Americans have seen quite a few shootings and also a few instances of authoritative officials abusing their power in cases that have controversially been about race. As you have probably read or seen on the news, the state of South Carolina suffered yet another hatred-filled mass murderer. I’m not here to deny that people are getting crazier in my country, however I do think that part of what’s going on is a trend. The United States strives off of being trendy. We like to make everything well…a thing. Did you know that just about the same amount of similar tragic incidents occurred before 2010 as after? It’s true, look it up! But lately, this is what we choose to put in the media. Not that it isn’t important news. Of course it is – but it diverts from the rest of what’s going on in the world.
Watching the news here in Sydney, I get everything on one channel. Back home I have to choose from several options of broadcasters/stations because if I only stick to one channel, I’ll either only learn about women marrying themselves, shootings, or just get a one-sided story of either. Does the Media feed us with what’s “trending”?
The amount of influence
I have found it is literally impossible to completely leave the United States. Every evening when I watch the news, you bet your bottom dollar something about the USA is covered. And if it’s not the news, it’s a show, or a movie, or the radio, or leggings and plastic red cups filled with beer. I think the last time I heard about Australia in the news was back in 2014 because of the hostages held by a shooter in the Lindt Café in Sydney. Other than that, I couldn’t tell you much about Australia. I can maybe name a few Australian figures/celebrities but no more than 10. How many Americans can you name? Yep, that’s right, too many.
USA being a consumer society
They say money makes the world go round and as true as that is for everyone, it is especially true in my country. Media puts out what it can sell. Want to see something interesting? Go to TIME Magazine’s website and search past front cover pages. You’ll soon discover that what was published on the front of the magazine in the US is not the same as what was published on Australia’s front page. What is on Australia’s front page however, is also practically the same as the rest of the world. One month’s issue reads “What Makes a School Great” with a photo of obviously an American school bus as the cover story in the US, when everywhere else it reads, “Pakistan’s Despair”. We sell books of Kim Kardashian’s selfies more than we sell newspapers because it’s what people want. This doesn’t help the notion of Americans being said to know nothing about the world around them. But I’d like to fight back with what I asked before: do we feed the media in the states, or do they feed us? Quite tricky to answer, I’d say. In the end, those who want to be in the loop will be. What I see that differs here in Australia is that you have less of a choice. You get in the loop anyway, which is a great thing.
People are far more sensitive in the US than anywhere else, I swear! I reckon it has to do with being the largest melting pot in the world and bringing in many different backgrounds, but do question me if you think otherwise. Although everything American-produced that is put out here in the Land Down Under is also put out in the States, you guys get a lot more of it than we do back home. If you were not aware, Americans have loads of censorship; no swear words on TV or the Radio unless it’s an absurd time when no one is awake and no nudity whatsoever, even if it’s partial nudity. You will get black bars, beep this, beep that, and blurred out lips.