South West Media Project

Bristol and Bath are home to some of the biggest creative industries and networks in the UK and in some cases the world.  The area of the south west is bursting with varied new and existing successful media businesses; Creative Bath, Aardman Animation, Future Plc and The Chronicle are just some of the companies out of the hundreds that are part of the media hub that is the South West. The success of media businesses that operate in the south west region is due to the diversity of the many different sectors within the area. This is made up of many digital industries, computer games, advertising, publishing, software, TV/radio / production, feature film and music. Creative media sectors alone accounts for around 5% GVA within the UK. Creative media within the South West area has created over 2 million jobs alone in 2011, contributing to the areas success within the landscape of media. Media within the south west has not only created millions of jobs, it now has the highest proportion of total businesses than in any other core city and nationally. This is now indicating a real advantage for Bristol and Bath in this sector or creative industries for media.

Aswell as the different businesses that surround the core sectors in the south west, there are many support networks that operate; Bristol Media operates heavily in this region, an industry led organization that delivers projects, events and opportunities for 500 strong companies.  Bristol Media is a successful networking umbrella, which helps and supports companies to grow and develop an exciting and competitive media community within the city. South West Screen also operates within Bristol, an agency providing film locations, crew and services for films, television, photo shoots and advertising in the south west.  Both these networks work heavily on creating a community within the businesses and networking between the businesses helps media as an industry develop and grow. South West Screen is now being taken over by Creative England , its purpose is to support the sustainable growth of independent and creative businesses, in every part of England  including the south west.

Aswell as networks that help the companies develop, other agencies and developments aid the companies to develop their ideas andproduce results; The Paintworks, is within Bristol’s creative quarter with live/work spaces, studios and residential lofts in converted industrial buildings.  The Bottle Yard is another example; they provide the locations, the crew and production space. The Bottle Yard is the south west’s largest dedicated production space and location facility.  Both the Bottle yard and Paintworks are the foundations to the companies within the south west area, both supported by Creative England. The area of south west England will constantly develop, with Bristol Media’s idea of building an enterprise within Bristol, and more companies growing and expanding to match the ever growing needs of the new developing media, the south west will constantly be the core of media industry.

COMPANY PROFILE – Aardman Animations Ltd – Bristol.

Based in Bristol, Aardman animations produces feature films, television series, television commercials and digital entertainment content for both the domestic and international market. Productions are multi- award winning, this is all down to a committed team which make up a smooth running and successful company. The studio is known for making films using stop-motion clay animation techniques.  As a world leader in animation, its success hasn’t gone unnoticed; the work produced is award wining , wining four of nine nominated Oscars. Established in 1972 as a low budget project,  Peter Lord and David Sproxton began Aardman Animations, since moving the company to Bristol in 1976 where Morph was created. Aardman now have 400 employees situated in Bristol, and has gained a deserved title of a world leading company in model animation.

Famous for the studio’s stop motion clay animations, Aardman has produced a huge portfolio and history of productions.  Morph was Aardman’s first creation that put them on the map in the world of animation. A small plastercine stop motion model, developed for the BBC programme Take Hart at the beginning of 1977. After Morph, Aardman’s creations developed and productions became morefrequent. With a number of clients requesting their talent and production skills. In 1986 Peter Gabriel requested that they created a rock video for the song Sledgehammer. This collected many awards and started a phenomenon of requests for visual accompaniment to artists songs, Nina Simone and Robert Parker also requested there production skills.
Creature comforts was also a popular production of Aardman Animations, originally made in 1989 the studio were commissioned by channel four, to create the short film to be lip synced, which later went on to win the 1990 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.It later became a popular television series on BBC three in 2003, which still runs today.Aardman as a company main highlight in its running’s was the creation of Nick Park’s Oscar Winning Wallace and Gromit. They are the main characters in a series consisting of four worldwide acclaimed British animated short films ; A Grand day out, The Wrong Trousers, A close Shave and A Matter of Loaf and Death. Also one feature-length film ; the curse of the were-rabbit. The wrong trousers is the most important for Aardman animations, with it being the winner of over thirty awards, it is one of the most successful animated films ever made.After the success of Wallace and Gromit, Aardman animations were being asked to develop for DreamWorks. Chicken run was realised in June 2000 and grossed over $220 million at the worldwide box office.  Recognising their success, they developed new audiences online, aswell as through productions; in 2002 Aardman realised a series of Wallace and grommet films available on the internet. This was viewed by audiences worldwide; the short films were so popular that the BBC aired them over Christmas.  After the popularity of Chicken Run, DreamWorks released the Aardman Animated Flushed away, which gained high reviews and excellent Box Office revenue. BBC went on to broadcast A Matter of Loaf and Death, and drew in a record audience of 16.15 million.Aswell as short length features and films, aardman have a extensive commercial portfolio, creating commercials for clientel such as Helmans, Colmans, Nokia and Npower.The company is situated in Bristol; Aardman is a key player in the media centre of the south west:

Aardman animations are extremely aware of charities, and the company claims that Wallace & Gromit Children’s Foundation will allways be their main focus within the business. The foundation has been set up to raise such funds to improve the quality of life for children in Children’s Hospitals and Hospices in the UK.  The charity  has agreed to support such projects as  Arts, music and leisure programmes and sustaining family relationship . Aardman also help to meet the cost of care in hospices, promote educations and support children with physical and emotional difficulties . To date the Foundation has distributed over £1 million to over 100 projects Nationwide.  The Foundation has developed such fundraisers who take part in events such as Wrong Trousers Day and Wallace & Gromit’s great British Tea Party.

Not only have Aardman acomplished the animation world, following forms of the new media landscape, Aardman started ‘ digital’ in 2007 . It was set up to not only draw in a bigger and wider audience, but mainly to transfer Aardman’s animation into the developed digital world; producing interactive online content.  Websites include Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention – a website created to inspire and involve with many different interactive conent.  Another is Shaun the Sheep’s fan site, a home for games, clips, forums and downoads for shaun the sheep fans. Aardman have cleverly produced many websites to involve audiences in the new digital age, and help intorduce them to the entertainment developed by Aardman. Swell as this they have touched upon social media , with Shaun the Sheep’s Facebook page. The page now has over 2 million fans and its still growing, Aardman have created a connection with its fans, and has enabled them to be part of the community at Aardman. Aswell as their extensive websites, Aardman have now created an App,  exculsively for Apple. The app is called ‘ Chat-o-matic‘, it allows you with 48 classic Wallace sayings and the visual of Wallace’s mouth, you become the character. Aardman have cleverly connected with the new media generation , drawing in larger and more diverse audiences is important for the success of this company.

Aardman are now currently developing a second series of Shaun the Sheep, and hope to develop many more award winning productions in the near future. With producing approximately 75 commercials a year, the company is busy and constantly developing new ideas, this is the key to their success. They produced world class productions with continity and passion, Aardman will be successful for many more years to come.

COMPANY PROFILE – Future Plc. – Bath

Founded in 1985 with their first magazine, Future plc is an international media company that creates special – interest multi media products for a high-valued and loyal audience, who are very passionate about their intrests. Future is a company that recognizes that the media landscape is changing and developing. They believe that as the digital world opens up, it needs to be able to reach out to an entirely newly developed audience, around the globe. Future creates over 180 special interest publications, events and websites. To follow the development of new media, they have added a ‘new dimension’ with their digital skills in the tablet and Smartphone, so audiences can indulge in a more integrated way. With an extensive clientele increasing the consumer experience and filling the needs of a more challenging new media landscape.

Based in Bath the company not only dominates the whole of the south west, it has operations in the UK , USA and Australia. Future PLC is the 6th largest media company in the United Kingdom. Future now has 1,100 people in its offices in the UK, including Bath.

Future holds an extensive portfolio throughout the media landscape; with Technology, Games, Music and films, and its Active title, the company holds together a community of successful forms of the media, which are expanding. It sells 3.2 million magazines each month, it is number one worldwide for guitar, cycling, and game magazines. More than 80 magazines are selling 2.9 million copies each month. Also Future is the number one magazine licensor and exporter.  Some of these magazines include ; Total Film, Xbox 360: the official magazine, Classic Rock, T3PlayStation: the official magazine , Cycling Plus, Digital Camera, Guitarist, Metal Lover  and Mountain Biking, they are the top ten UK magazines for revenue, headed up by Future. Future also organises 27 annual live events each year, which attracts thousands upon thousands of enthusiasts. They engage with an increasing audience with event space. In 2011 they planned the first 3D world CG awards, while the .netAwards is the UK’S largest running internet awards. Not only do they organise these events, many of them awards, Future Plc have picked up many themselves, Future has been named top digital publisher with two wins at the Association of Online publishers awards 2011.  For success across readership, revenues, social media, engagement and customer service. Future has various different aspects involved within its company : Technology, Music , Film and Games being among the many aspects that builds up the combines extensive and successful portfolio :

Games

Future is globally recognized in the games media market, Future Plc uniquely holds strong connections with console manufactures , which reaches across print , cover-mounted discs, events, on-console editions and most importantly the online market. With over nine million visitors to their games websites, the average time spent on the variety of sites is over six minutes. Their most popular site for Games is gamesradar.com; popular site is a multi-format video website that features  regular news, previews, reviews, videos, and guides, with thousands of visitors every minute. Future Plc has revolutionized the game industry in terms of the web, and has catered fgor PC gamers across the world through PCgamer.com. Future also publishes titles for PlayStation, Nintendo and Xbox, as well as this they introduced the first ever on-console digital editions. With PlayStation: the official magazine, World of Warcraft : the official magazine and Xbox 360 : the official magazine, future famously publishes and targets 11.5million paying subscribers each year. Future also holds The annual Golden Joystick Awards event, which has been famously nicknamed “The Oscars of Gaming” , attracted more than 1.5 million online votes in 2010.

Music

Future is the biggest music making publisher in the UK and the US, it is also the biggest guitar publisher in the world, selling 3.2million magazines a month. With an extensive portfolio for publishing music magazines ;

-Rythm, which is the UK’s number one Drumming Magazine.

-Guitar World , which is the world’s biggest magazine.

-Metal Hammer won awards for the best entertainment cover at the PPA Maggies Awards , beating magazines such as Heat and Hello.

-Classic Rock , which recorded its ninth consecutive ciriclation increase in the last year. It was also honored as 2010’s ”Living Legend” at the Classic Rock Awards.

Swell as Future’s scucess in the magazine industry, it has opened its doors to new technology and apps. With all brands launching mobile apps; Computer Music magazine created its first app for iphone  and received downloads of over 60, 000. Online Future’s Flagship music-making website musicradar.com attracted 5 million page views each month and many other brands of Future have developed extensive Facebook followers.

Film

Film is Future’s heaviest subject in terms of publishing, with SFX , Odeon and Total Film  heading up its broadest portfolio in print, Digital and events, they are the flagship brands within the landscape of Media within the company. Total Film magazine is popular but it puts Future as a publisher on the map because of its extensive Website traffic, with an average time spent on its website at eight minutes a month and six million page views monthly .Also the brand has and iPhone app that brings trailers, film reviews ,cinema listings,  latest news and forums for fans, Total Film succeeds within the title of the flagship brand for Future.  SFX continues to broaden the horizons for Future Plc , as the worlds number one sci-fi and fantasy publishing brand. The website SFX .co.uk is just getting started with promising figures and yearly sci-fi events with more than 2,5000 attendees.

Technology

New media is a very important aspect to Future’s success as a company. Being aware of the media’s development and the growing digital world has helped Future to put its mark on the media landscape.  Every year is attracts more than 34 million unique monthly visitors to its brands websites. In the company’s decision to engage with the new media generation, it also touches with the social media network with Facebook, with 1.3million fans worldwide of Future. T3 is Future’s  flagship consumer technology brand, it engages with hundreds of gadget fans every month in print, online and on-mobile.  With events like the T3 Gadget awards, with 750,000 participants in terms of votes , it has put Future on the map in terms of technology. Over 50 million minutes of video are viewed on their websites every year, aswell as websites they now have 100 digital products available for Smartphone and tablet devices. For example Future’s technology brands chart very highlight on Apple’s app – Newsstand. With over 50 titles available via Apple’s Newsstand platform  launched a number of free, paid and premium publications on October 13, editions that surpassed more than two million downloads in 4 days. The boost in downloads saw consumers spending well in excess of their usual monthly amounts.

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Post Three – England Riots – August 2011

On the 6th of August 2011, one of the biggest civil unrest that England has ever seen in generations took place. Disgusting scenes of looting, rioting and violence spread across the UK in the space of one week.  5 people died, 3000 people were arrested and nearly £100 million of damage was caused. Not only was this a shocking event for the country, it has opened up questions about how new media has a power and a hold on us today socially. Social media was the main outlet for communication for rioters and communities, is new media to blame for the riots?

New and Social media heavily dominated the riots; this fuelled the copycat behaviour, mixed with boredom and anger. People subsequently became predominantly influenced by what new media was injecting into them and moral panic began to spread out onto social networking and other media based outlets within communities.  Blackberry Messenger was the worst and most controversial to affect and heavily influence the riots. Because it is a private network, the police were unable to tap into what people were planning, hence why the riots got so out of hand and lasted so long.

Twitter and Facebook were used to coordinate and encourage rioters towards violence and looting. It was said that there was nearly 2.5 million ‘tweets’ relating to the rioting causing heavy amounts of civil unrest within society  . One example ; “Heading to Tottenham to join the riot! who’s with me? #ANARCHY”.  Facebook also heavily dominated the situation with its messenger service, status updates and events made to organise rioters made the problem worse. Two men Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan were the first to be charged with extremely harsh sentences for posting a group on Facebook, for a meeting point to start a riot.

In a positive light, Twitter and Facebook was also used to keep people up to date with riot information from the police in their areas and huge clean up operations were planned on Facebook and Twitter, to allow the community to help drive away the rioters.

New media in a bad situation does become some form of threat. When thrown into a situation of heavy moral panic, the outlet is used negatively, causing people to panic more, and push everything out of proportion. Although it has been proved that aspects of social media did cause the riots to flare up, this doesn’t mean a bad light should be cast upon social media and new media on the whole. ‘Social movements do not need Twitter, Facebook or BlackBerry messaging to succeed — they need any method of communication (like talking to the bloke next to you) and a sense of injustice (or futility or boredom) to motivate action’ – Stewart Mitchell he states here that new media and Social media isn’t a threat; it’s the people who are saturated within it and use it in a negative sense. The problem with new media, compared with Old media, is that it isn’t as established, it’s still developing and advancing every day, people are unsure of how far it goes, and how dangerous it can really be. Proving that New media has become a powerful influence socially on society today, and when in the wrong hands , can cause and encourage  disgusting behaviour, just like the England riots.

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Post Two – The Phone Hacking Scandal.

On the 10th of July 2011, The News of the World (NoW) ceased publication of its national tabloid pages. With over 4000 victims, journalists of NoW caused one of the biggest scandals in the landscape of media today; the phone hacking scandal. Not only does this scandal confirm how far journalists will go for a ‘good’ story, it asks the questions about media ownership, the police, press regulations and most importantly the relationship between politicians and journalists. Is our privacy safe in this media saturated world and how much power does old media co operations  like NoW have on our lives?

Through impeding phone calls and voice mails NoW created stories on people’s lives. In 2005, a report by Clive Goodman on Prince William spraining his knee  led to the trigger of a chain of events, that would not only end the life of the 168 year old news paper, but would change the codes and conventions of journalism forever.  It was then established that the articles had originated from Prince Williams voicemails. A police enquiry was started in 2006, resulting in Clive Goodman being arrested and jailed along with co-conspirer Glen Mulcaire for 6 months.

After months of allegations against various journalists within News of the World, Rebekah Brooks, Rupert and James Murdoch were now heavily in the lime light: with the government leading an inquest into NoW, looking into illegal activity that encroached on people’s private rights. The Guardian then uncovered in July that Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked when Brooks was editor. When her phone was being hacked, the Dowler’s were lead to believe she was still alive; this shocking act was among many that NoW had caused, it all ended with several arrests including Brooks. With  Murdoch’s empire becoming more fragile , with his bid for BSkyB failing   and the loss of  NoW ,  it changed the dynamics of journalism and created questions of why this was happening unnoticed for so many years.


With many hidden reports erupting about the NoW’s power to develop stories out of hacking into voicemails, it proves how much old media co-operations can control society and the sheer power they hold. Murdoch is the second largest media conglomerate in the world, being the founder of News Corporation and owning various different companies and newspapers, he immensely dominates the Media landscape today. His presence with old media within society has a huge effect on government, and his influence is greatly sought after by political parties.

Most crucially, the phone hacking scandal was kept under wraps for a very long time, and alot of the investigations into it were uncovered by journalists, not the government. It hints that Murdoch, who is profoundly part of old media, may have more control than people think. Even though the government may bring in some regulations into the media and journalism, it will be limited due to the fact that it is the private sector. Even though the rise of new media is producing more diverse and interesting ways to consume the news, old media for example newspapers, are more established, and at the moment, in terms of impacts on society, have more power. It begs the question can we trust the press, and old media, after the phone hacking scandal, uncovering how powerful old media can really be?

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Post One – Why it is important to study media?

November 11, 2011 1 comment

If you look around you, you realise how we live in a heavily media saturated society, it’s built up of many events, which is filtered through by the media.  I feel it’s important to understand the way media compacts and digests huge chunks of information and  presents them in an easily attainable way, using all forms of media accessible almost anywhere, and looking into how this affects and develops audiences as consumers in a passive or active light.  ‘Who says what to whom through which channel of communication and to what effect’. ( Harold Lasswell ,1948 )  Whether it’s well represented or not, it’s important to look at the channel of communication it is taking.

Not only has new  media had such an influence on our day-to-day lives, its consistently changing. ‘the patronising belief that students should be taught how to ‘read the media, is replaced by the recognition that media audiences in general are already extremely capable interpreters of media content’ ( David Gauntlett  2007) Gauntlett observes within web 2.0 ,that Media has created a digital generation and people are now digital natives.

I feel that it’s imperative to develop an insight into Technologies like the Internet and now accessible mediated outlets like YouTube. They are making it easier for consumers to become media producers themselves. The dynamics of media are rapidly changing so it’s vital to keep up with new  ideas that media outlets like YouTube have developed.  For example: SBTV (SmokeyBarzTV) Created by Jamal Edwards who uploaded videos onto YouTube of his friends rapping  for consumers like himself to see.

 

He received masses of views from audiences on YouTube, going from being a passive consumer developing  into an active producer within the media landscape. With new viral web-based content and a developed company,  Jamal Edwards had developed SBTV, via YouTube; A perfect example of new media affecting the society. These days’ media is so vast that so many more people are becoming involved within it.  Jamal Edwards would not have been capable of this at the age of 15 unless he was so influenced by the media as a passive consumer; he had become a digital native. Proving many of Gauntlett’s points in web 2.0 of that it’s very important to recognise that media is something that is a part of us now. This shows the links between the text (SBTV), the audience (YOUTUBE) and the producer ( JAMAL EDWARDS. )

‘The concept of everyday life is central to work in Cultural Studies and Media Studies. It covers the family relationships, routines, cultural practices and spaces through which people make sense of the world.’ Lister, M., et al., ( 2009) . As Lister explains here, Media is a part of everyday life, and it is essential to develop and produce an understanding of Media as we now live within a content generation, as media is part of our day-to-day lives whether we like it or not.  We will forever develop into our new media generation. If people carry on failing to understand the huge need and pressure on educating people about media and understanding that it is part of us as a society. They are neglecting an art form, a process and mainly a way of life that is closer to them than they think.

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