ƒ Want to understand the media better? | Media Theorised | Al Jazeera English

Now more than ever, we cannot take news media at face value – we need tools to read media critically, strategies to discern how information works. This is what inspired The Listening Post’s project: Media Theorised.

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We’ve taken key works of five thinkers from around the world – theorists located in the space between the cosmopolitan centre and the 'global south'. Roland Barthes, French philosopher; Noam Chomsky, American linguist and political activist; Stuart Hall, Jamaican-British cultural historian; Marshall McLuhan, Canadian academic; Edward Said, Palestinian-American literary historian.

 

As Roland Barthes would have put it: these are writers who have taught us how to ‘read against the grain’.

 

Working with journalists, artists and political activists from Africa, Latin America, Asia, the United States and Europe, we have created five videos supplemented by essays to introduce you to these media theorists and to help you apply some of their critical tools in your everyday encounters with the media.

Roland Barthes

FRENCH PHILOSOPHER

Mediated Mythologies: The Semiotics of News

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The work of Roland Barthes (1915-1980) is difficult, slippery, whimsical - it calls on us to read the world around us as a series of texts - there to be interpreted, demystified, contested.

 

Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff narrates this video. Latuff is known for his biting satirical cartoons that provide political commentary on world affairs.

Read Lina Attalah’s article on how Roland Barthes influenced her work and how she reads the signs under Egypt’s President Sisi. Attalah is co-founder of ‘Mada Masr’, a Cairo-based news media site.

US LINGUIST & POLITICAL ACTIVIST

Noam Chomsky

The Consent Factory: The Mass Media Machine

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Stuart Hall

For decades, Noam Chomsky has been the agent provocateur when it comes to critiquing the US mainstream media. He co-authored ‘Manufacturing Consent’, a seminal work on mainstream journalism and its role in the mechanics of power.

 

It stands to reason that Amy Goodman should narrate this piece: she is the founder Democracy Now!, a US news broadcast which has provided viewers with an alternative kind of journalism, available on the internet and 1,400 radio and television stations worldwide

Read Kashmiri journalist Uzma Falak’s chronicle on how consent is manufactured by much of India’s mass media on the disputed region of Kashmir.

JAMAICAN-BRITISH CULTURAL HISTORIAN

Race, Gender, Class: The Politics of News

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CANADIAN LITERARY SCHOLAR

Marshall McLuhan

Digital Prophecies: The Medium is the Message

Known as the ‘Godfather of Multiculturalism’, Stuart Hall (1932-2014) gave us tools to understand how representation is always imbued with ideology - and how to resist.

 

We approached Natalie Jeffers to narrate this video because of the inspiration she has taken from Hall’s work, especially in her current role as co-founder of Black Lives Matter UK.

Read At a time of rising right-wing nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment and Islamophobia, read Arun Kundnani’s article on the relevance of Stuart Hall’s work on power and representation.

Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian academic whose work on electronic media in the 60s has come to resonate in the digital age.

 

This video is narrated by Alex Chow, one of the leaders of the 2014 Hong Kong Umbrella movement whose mass street occupation was mobilised and reported via social media.

PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN LITERARY HISTORIAN

Edward Said

Framed: The Politics of Stereotypes in News

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The Listening Post

AJMN Creative

Palestinian academic Edward Said’s (1935-2003) book ‘Orientalism’ showed how the West had the power to represent the colonial ‘other’ - while at once leaving them voiceless.

 

Sorious Samura who has narrated this video, produces journalism that does precisely what Orientalist narratives do not: in documentaries like ‘Cry Freedom’ and ‘Exodus from Africa’, he has covered Africa from the inside, representing African voices and African perspectives.

Read our conversation with Argentinian journalist Natalia Vinelli about how Edward Said’s work is just as relevant in Latin America as it is in the Middle East. Vinelli is the founder of Barricada TV - a cooperative TV channel and is author of ‘Television from below: History, Difference and the Journalism of Counter-information.’

Marcela Pizarro

Series Producer

 

Ali Rae

Digital Producer

 

Meenakshi Ravi

Executive Producer

Bouchra Johnson

Creative Producer

 

Patrick Bedeau

Global Art Director

Roland Barthes film

Directed and animated by Nina Gantz & Simon Cartwright

Additional animation and colour by Salla Lehmus

Narrated by Carlos Latuff

Sound by Chime Audio

Noam Chomsky film

Designed and animated by Pierangelo Pirak

Narrated by Amy Goodman

Music arrangement by Eric Samothrakis

Sound by Soho Studios

Stuart Hall film

Designed and animated by Ilze Juhnevica & Zahra Warsame

Narrated by Natalie Jeffers

Music arrangement by Eric Samothrakis

Sound by Soho Studios

Marshall McLuhan film

Directed and animated by Daniel Savage

Narrated by Alex Chow

Music by Flako

McLuhan recordings courtesy of marshallmcluhanspeaks.com

Edward Said film

Designed and animated by Ermina Takenova

Narrated by Sorious Samura

Music arrangement by Eric Samothrakis

Sound by Soho Studio

Konstantinos Antonopoulos

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