Living in a Media World will be on hiatus till the middle of August, and when we come back it will be at a new address: ralphehanson.com. I am hoping to have RSS and indexing of content at the new site, so keep your eyes open. If you want a notice of when the new site goes online, drop me a note at email@example.com. See you in a couple of weeks.
Tuesday - August 1, 2006
Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)
- Why Doesn't MTV Want To Talk About Its 25th Birthday?
Because it's really hard to be hip when you were born seven years before the center of your target audience! Also, it's the 25th anniversary of the cable channel, and MTV is now a brand, not a channel. Funny, that's what the head of the New York Times said a couple of years back.... (USA Today)
- Are Men An Endangered Species When It Comes To Local News Anchors?
In the 1970s, we started to see the growth of women sitting at the anchor desk of local television news, usually with a handsome man, providing a mom 'n' dad pairing to head up the family news. Thirty years later, there's some question (according to the Washington Post, anyway, as to whether there is a spot for men left as local anchors. Is it because viewers like women better, are they better anchors, are they part of a cost-cutting strategy? Provocative reading.
- Are Paris Hilton's Lips Obscene? Or At Least Indecent? Or Just Plain Offensive?
Apparently not. The FCC has decided (or it least it seems they have decided) that it's enough for broadcasters to bleep out naughty words from television shows. They don't have to also pixilate out their lips. What a relief. Though in some cases (see the headline) it might not be such a bad idea. (Broadcast & Cable)
Thursday - July 27, 2006
Thanks to SPJ's Press Notes for several of the items in today's entry.
Wednesday - July 26, 2006
- What's Biased? Anything You Don't Like!
There is a poisonous debate going on right now that involves everyone on the left and the right claiming that the news media are biased. How do they know? They just have to look at the news. It's perfectly obvious "they" say. What's fascinating, is that you can take a single news story, show it to liberal and conservative observers, and both will claim that it is biased against their point of view. This is the result of a psychological experiment done on partisan attitudes and behaviors, where the source material was coverage of the 1982 war in Lebanon. The study showed that as long as the story tried to present a nuanced view that presented multiple sides of an issue -- that is what journalists would call an unbiased view -- partisans on either side of the issue viewed the story as hopelessly biased. On the other hand, if the story had a strong point of view -- i.e. was actually biased -- people tended to see it as less biased. People could handle aggressive propaganda easier than balanced news. Must read story. Also, the Post had an online discussion of this, and other, science stories. (Washington Post)
Tuesday - July 25, 2006
- Has The Time Come For e-Textbooks?
One of the hot issues in the textbook industry is that of e-book readers and electronic distribution. Publishers (and authors as well, I suppose) hate the used book market because they get no revenue from the reselling (and reselling and reselling....) of texts. They only make money off the sale of new copies. And students hate paying the high price of textbooks.
But what if publishers could get rid of the used market and sell new books for the price of used ones? Pretty sweet, huh? But how to do it, that's the trick.
One possibility is to sell copy protected electronic textbooks that could be viewed through a textbook reader - sort of a glorified Palm Pilot/laptop/iPod like device. According to a recent item mentioned in the Publishers Lunch newsletter, Apple may be preparing an iPod based textbook reader that would work off the same hardware as the "true video" iPod. The device that's getting the most attention, however, is Sony's PRS-500 Portable Reader, that is supposedly slated for launch this summer.
The main link on this item is to an editorial from the Daytona Beach News-Journal that is calling for electronic editions of high school textbooks. This is an issue that is not going to go away. It will be interesting to see if any of these new devices provide a tipping point for e-book success.
Saturday - July 22, 2006
Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)
Wednesday - July 19, 2006
Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)
Monday - July 17, 2006
- Does Anyone Still Care About The News? Or Do "They" Just Want To Blather On About Bias?
In Chicago Tribune's blog The Swamp, the paper's Washington Bureau reports that President Bush was overheard using the "S" word in a conversation with British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a dinner in Russia. What made this utterance newsworthy is that the exchange was taped by Russian television.
Now this, in my mind, is no big deal. Bush was quoted as saying:
"See, the irony is that what they need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s---, and it's over," Bush told Blair during their discussion.
Now this is completely different from Vice President Cheney telling a member of the senate to "f---" himself in June of 2004. The president was using colorful language in what he thought (mistakenly) was a private conversation, and he used it in a way that few people could take offense at. Let's face it, there is a lot of "S-word" going down in Lebanon these days.
What I find fascinating is that the very first post to the blog in response was to accuse the Trib of liberal bias for reporting the story and including the detail that Bush could be heard chewing his food on the tape. The next hundred or so posts focused not on any news value of the story, but whether the story exhibited bias, whether you could love America without loving the president, and irony of calling a conservative paper liberal.
I noticed this same thing happening last January when commenters on Jay Rosen's blog Press Think turned a discussion of news about the Sago Mine Disaster into a debate about press bias against the president.
I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible for the press to write anything that deals with the president anymore without it turning into a shoutfest in the blogs about the press being biased.
For the record, The Chicago Tribune is one of the most prominent conservative papers in the country when it comes to the editorial page. As with most major papers, I think it does a good job of reporting the news. Is it unbiased? I don't think I even know what the means anymore.
Saturday - July 15, 2006
50,000 Watch Dept. - What Have Journalists Been Counting?
50,000 continues to be a hugely popular number for journalists around the world. As I've mentioned previously, 50,000 is the number journalists and their sources use to describe something that is big enough to be serious, but not too big. So what have international journalists been counting over the last week?
- 50,000 Foreign Workers in Shanghai
- 50,000 People Disabled Per Year In Road Accidents In Thailand
- Briton Accused Of Smuggling 50,000 Hits of Ecstasy Into Malta
- 50,000 Turks Protest Israeli Invasion of Gaza
- 50,000 Attend Durham Miners' Gala
- Pompey To Offer Soccer Star £50,000 Per Week
- 50,000 Singaporeans Watch National Day Parade
- Man In Ireland Arrested For Possession of €50,000 Of Cocaine and Ecstasy
- Criminals Have 50,000 Canadian Passports
- Glasgow Show Will Attract 50,000 Spectators
Thursday - July 13, 2006
- What Did Bob Novak Say, And When Did He Say It?
The odyssey of columnist Robert Novak's involvement in the Valerie Plame Affair has finally been (sort of) explained in a article by the WP's Howard Kurtz that ran Wednesday. In it, Novak tells Kurtz that he did testify before the grand jury, his three confidential sources had granted him permission to testify, and that he didn't tell Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald anything that he didn't already know. In his column, Novak names two of his sources, and explains why is naming them now. It was Novak's column that supposedly outed Plame as an undercover CIA agent that started the whole mess that ended up with NYT reporter Judith Miller spending much of last summer and fall in jail.
Tuesday - July 11, 2006
- Old Media Finds New Media Dept. - YouTube and Politics
A little over a year ago the traditional media discovered podcasting and just couldn't write enough about it. This year the new media du jour is YouTube, which seems to be reported about constantly. Today's story is actually worth paying attention to, which is Howard Kurtz's piece on political videos on YouTube. (Washington Post)
- Rick Rubin - What's Right About The Music Business Today
There's a huge amount of talk these days about how file sharing and digital downloads are killing off the CD business. I keep asking whether the real problem is that record labels are turning out CDs filled with mass produced, over processed crap. (Hmmm, I really do sound old here, don't I?) But record producer Rick Rubin shows how to make music that people actually want to listen to and pay for. He's the many who has given us the revitalized Johnny Cash, a fresh Neil Diamond, the latest from the Dixie Chicks, and most recent release from the Chili Peppers. Now if that isn't eclectic, I don't know what is. Interestingly enough, both my wife and my teenager have bought Rubin produced albums within the last couple of months. (USA Today)
- The Power of Free - AOL Considers Dropping Subscription Charges For Broadband Users
My wife is a long-time AOL subscriber, and has kept up her subscription despite the fact that we get our Internet service through our local cable company. As of late, she's considered dropping the service and replacing her AOL mail with Gmail, largely because Gmail is free. But AOL may be addressing this concern with a proposed plan to drop subscription fees for users who bring their own Internet service. Why? First of all, AOL is gradually moving to being a content provider supported by ad sales rather than a subscription service. Second, it costs a lot to maintain a paid subscriber base. Giving away access through broadband may actually be more profitable. Keep in mind that World Wide Web initially became the Internet standard for sharing and displaying information because inventor Tim Berners-Lee gave away the technology. Never underestimate the power of free! (USA Today)
Monday - July 10, 2006
- Pirates II Has Record Opening
What are Americans looking for in a movie these days? Swishy pirates! Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest set a host of records this weekend with it's $132 million opening, including the first movie to bring in $100 million in two days. Now it's no particular surprise that Pirates II did so well after the initial film staring Johnny Depp brought in more than 300 mil. What is interesting is that the first time around Disney execs were reportedly "mortified" by Depp's "loopy, smirking and sometimes effeminate pirate." This time around Disney kept the marketing of the movie relatively low key and just let consumer demand drive people to the film.
At mid-summer, it's interesting to take a look at the current movie stats. We still have to wait and see how Pirates II will do in the long run, but it's safe to bet it will be a biggie. Superman fell off 58% from last weekend to bring in $21 million. Now pay attention class. Superman cost $260 million to make, and has brought in $141 million so far. Now there is no question that with world-wide box office, DVDs, and the like that it will at least break even. But look at this week's number three movie, The Devil Wears Prada - it brought in just $15.6 million for a total of $63 million over two weeks. But as the movie only cost $35 million to make, it's already earned back twice its cost of production.
Friday - July 7, 2006
All Things New Are Old Again Dept. - New Media Displaced By Newer Media
- FCC Looks In To Media Ownership Again
While everyone was busy trying to figure out how to converge the various old media into giant conglomerates, new media popped up that made the old debates look kind of quaint. The way to grow your media isn't through buying up new old media, it's making connections with new "new" media. (Washington Post)
- MTV Is Old Media At Age 25
In the 1960s (oh so long ago) we said, "Don't trust anyone over thirty." But that was so last century. Today you are old at 25. I mean, MTV is only 25 and it is totally over with. After all, there's YouTube, MySpace, and that new thing that's going to be invented next week. All kidding aside, there is a great danger in being the next big thing. And that's that the next big thing comes sooner than you think. (New Statesman)
Thursday - July 6, 2006
Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)
Where have I been? Getting the first online summer session finished off and the second one started up. We should be back to regular updates now.