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Mass Communication: Living in a Media World
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Living in a Media World 2E

Looking for Student Blogs

I'm always looking for links to blogs being written by student journalists. If you have one, or know someone who does, drop me a note!

Dr. H

Wednesday - January 31, 2007

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

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Monday - January 29, 2007

Does Internet Video and News Eliminate The Problem of Monopoly Ownership of Local Television Stations and Newspapers?
There was considerable debate back in 2004 as to whether large media companies ought to be allowed to own more broadcast operations and newspapers in single markets. In the end, under pressure from the left, from the right, from the public, and from the courts, the FCC dropped the idea of loosening the rules.

Now the FCC is once again considering easing regulations on the maximum number of local stations a company can own in a single market and whether a newspaper company can own a TV station in the same market.

(Under my own fairness rules I must point out that the FCC is required to reconsider these rules every four years. It is also worth noting that this story ran in USA Today, which is owned by newspaper giant Gannett. To its credit, the article briefly mentions the fact that Gannett is a strong advocate of relaxing the ownership rules.)

The fact that the FCC is reconsidering ownership rules now should come as no surprise, as we mentioned back in March of 2005 that the current FCC chair Kevin Martin was likely to favor more regulation of content and less regulation of ownership.

Here's a roundup of other coverage of FCC's look into ownership issues:

What I find interesting here is that while USA Today was clear about its conflict of interest in the case, the story focused on the part of the story ownership was interested in.

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Friday - January 26, 2007

Things I Learned While Researching The Radio and Recording Industries Dept.

  • We Want You To Make Mixtape CDs, But We Don't Want You To Make Mixtape CDs
    You know what the recording industry needs to do if it's going to survive? It needs to stop suing the people who love music! And they need to come to terms with the fact that once people have ahold of their music, they are going to do things with it.

    The recording industry is sending the cops out after folks who are making and selling hip hop mixtape CDs. Ok, I can accept the fact that this is illegal. But what the recording industry really wants is for these masters of cool to do is make the mixtapes, distribute them to a few influentials, and then stop. But it doesn't work that way. But I am puzzled by one thing here - how can a mixtape be a CD? (NY Times)
  • Radio Killed The Radio Star
    How do radio stations decide what to play on the air? Trick question. They don't. Satellite programming services do it by finding out which songs are least likely to make you change the station when you hear them come on the air. And then they play the snot out of them. An excerpt from Marc Fisher's new book Something in the Air: Radio, Rock, and the Revolution That Shaped a Generation. Required reading from the Washington Post.
  • Music and Memory - Why Songs Can Mean So Much To Us
    You hear a song, and it can suddenly bring in a whole flood of emotion and memories. A scholar at University of Wisconsin looks at how music connects to veterans' experiences at war. Fascinating stuff. (WP)
  • And finally...
    Off-beat musician Ry Cooder got the sound he was looking for on his latest CD by mastering it using Apple iTunes software. I'm not even going to try to explain this one! Read it if you want to geek out on recording technology.

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Wednesday - January 24, 2007

Headlines Your Weren't Expecting Dept.

  • HDTV - Making Porn Too Graphic
    Normally the pornography industry is among the first to make use of new media technology, from the printing press, to the VCR, to streaming video on the Internet. But it may be that high-definition television is just a little too sharp for good porn. Apparently some details, such as wrinkles and cellulite, are best left to the imagination. (The New York Times!)
  • Special Olympics Are Fine With Former Athlete Getting The Simon Cowell Treatment
    Former Special Olympian Jonathan Jayne got the full American Idol treatment when he was on the audition show last week. And the folks at Special Olympics said they couldn't be happier: "[People with intellectual disabilities don't want pity or special treatment. They want to be judged for who they are and appreciated for what they can achieve." One thing that impressed me was that Mr. Jayne was allowed the chance to fail. Because if you don't take the chance of failing, you can't ever succeed. And that's something we should all be allowed to do. (NOTE - To the two people other than me who have never seen an episode of American Idol, host and judge Simon Cowell is unrelentingly cruel in his criticism of lousy singers. If you watch the clip below, you will see that Cowell was honest and pretty decent with Jayne.)

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Tuesday - January 23, 2007

Special Entry For My JRL 101 Students
This is an entry to help my JRL 101 students with their homework on media synergy. Any of the rest of you are welcome to look at it as well, but there will still be a regular entry tomorrow. Remember, the primary purspose of this blog is to assist in teaching journalism and mass comm classes.

When you think about "the media," you typically think about the channels that you see – the cable networks, the movies, the newspapers, the CDs, the magazine, etc. These links take you to the corporate side of the media business rather than the entertainment/news side.

  • Who Owns What
    Want an up-to-date list of what all of the major media companies own or control? Columbia Journalism Review’s Who Owns What site is perhaps the most informative of the group, giving detailed, up-to-date information about the top six media companies, and many of the slightly smaller ones as well.
  • Time Warner
    You know the various Time Warner media sites, but here is the company’s corporate site. This site contains a mixture of corporate news, financial data, and previews of upcoming Time Warner products.
  • Disney
    Go beyond Mickey Mouse for the inside look at the Disney Corporation. Disney is somewhat unusual in that it doesn’t separate it’s corporate site from it’s content promotion site, though Disney as a brand is much more significant and known to the public than any of the other major media companies. Disney has an well-developed internship program that many business and journalism majors will be interested in.
  • News Corporation
    Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is truly global in scope, as the brand logos on the News Corp. homepage so clearly illustrate. The News Corporation site has links to the company’s various properties ranging from the racy London tabloid the Sun (Check out Page 3 on the Sun if you're curious; I won't give you the link.), to the Fox broadcasting services.
  • Viacom & CBS
    Get the latest on the business side of MTV and Nickelodeon. Along with the standard business information, there is a fascinating page here that gives a graphic links to all of the Viacom properties. It provides a wonderful illustration of the range of media controlled by one company. Viacom and CBS are now trading as separate stocks, though the ownership of the companies hasn't really changed.
  • Bertelsmann
    Chances are very good that most of you will not be familiar with Bertelsmann as a company, though you have probably heard of the BMG recording label.
  • General Electric/NBC-Universal
    The merger of NBC and Universal under ownership of GE was completed in 2004. This makes NBC the last of the Big Four networks to be associated with a major movie studio/content provider. But General Electric is much more than just a media corporation.
  • Links to Subjects Covered in Today's Lecture
    These links don't connect to the assignment, but they do deal with our lecture today on Long Tail Media and media bias.

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Monday - January 22, 2007

Truth #2: There Are No MSM Dept. - Hillary Makes Her Announcement On The Web
It's the conservatives who talk so endlessly about bypassing the "filter" of the MSM (mainstream media), but it was moderate Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton who bypassed the press and went straight to the people through her web site to announce that she was making a run for the presidency. At her site, she posted highly produced video that WP Style reporter Ann Hornaday described as "a veritable showpiece of Hollywood-style set design, lighting and cinematography." There's a lot to be said for the direct-to-home-video approach to campaigning. You get news stories about the web announcement, and then you get coverage for the press conference that follows the announcement, and then your video gets linked to at both Fox and CNN sites. Pretty sweet deal. Create the film yourself then get the MSM to publicize it for you. (BTW, I can already hear the screaming of "LIBERAL MEDIA" out there. The coverage comes from a media savvy candidate, not a political orientation. Interestingly enough, the links to the campaign video were at Fox and CNN, but not MSNBC, which linked to its own video.)

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Friday - January 19, 2007

Marshall McLuhan Explains Supercross
Well, not exactly. But moto-jounalist Mark Gardiner, writing in Road Racer X online, gives us a very thoughtful essay on what Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan really meant by medium, hot, cool, and message. Now, it just so happens that he illustrates it using supercross and road racing as his examples. But I've got to say that this is one of the most interesting and thought provoking essays I've read about McLuhan since I read Kenneth Burke's rebuttal of McLuhan. Gardiner has raced at the Isle of Mann, made a film about his experience there (One Man's Island), and wrote a pair of excellent articles about going racing on the island for Motorcyclist magazine. Well worth reading even if you don't like motorcycle racing. I should note that this column is not typical Racer X fodder.

In his column, Gardiner provides a link to an interesting little video at YouTube that provides a brief introduction to McLuhan.

Thanks to my friend Howard for providing the link.

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Wednesday - January 17, 2007

Copyright, Fair Use, and Online Audio/Video

  • Bloggers Take On Radio Hosts - What Is The Limit Of Fair Use?
    Anyone who thinks that Disney is all about cuddly mice and cute kids hasn't listened to radio station KSFO-AM lately. The station has some fairly strident right wing hosts whom the San Francisco blogging community has started taking on. Sites such as have taken to posting audio clips from the shows along with comments about the shows. Blogger Spocko claims he has the right under fair use to post his digital captures of the shows as part of his campaign to drive sponsors away from the shows. Disney, not surprisingly, says the only thing you can do with the shows is listen to them when they air.

    KSFO has posted its three-hour response to Spocko and company to their web site in streaming form. Interestingly enough, the KSFO site also proudly offers links to Saddam Hussein's execution. (NYT)
  • Hollywood's Love/Hate Relationship With YouTube
    Hollywood loves getting buzz about its movies, but hates not having 100% control of it. So it's no surprised that the media giants are having trouble deciding how to react to video sharing site YouTube. Most of the studios are in negotiations with YouTube for some sort of revenue sharing agreement. The studios issue a "tool kit" of materials that consumers can use to put together their own videos. But they have very definite limits to it. Most of these sites don't quite have George Lucas's vision on how to engage fans.

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Monday - January 15, 2007

Too Cool For You Dept. Part II - A Response to Friday's Entry on Apple's iPhone

Reader Dave e-mailed me the following on the entry I wrote Friday on Apple's new iPhone:

I subscribe to your blog, Living in a Media World. I was intrigued to read your take on the Apple iPhone. For the most part it was spot on, especially the issue regarding waiting for the second gen product to come out.

What I was a little confused about this part though:

"In typical Apple fashion, it has a my-way-or-the-highway idiosyncratic interface..."

I'm sure it's a bit of hyperbole but...

Isn't every product giving you, the end-user, a "my-way-or-the-highway idiosyncratic interface"? I mean, take my Blackberry. Nice and all but the "pointer" is a scroll wheel. I'd kill for a stylus for it. Scrolling through options that I never use to go from my work mail to the option to put it on silent... takes longer then it should. So it's definitely a "Blackberry's-way-or-the-highway interface." And your PDA? I'm sure there are things you'd like to tweak about the interface.

When creating interfaces a developer knows they're defining how the user will interact with the product. There's just no way around it. Now they'll think of the end-user and hope to guess what will make their life easier but still, it's their way. From the Blackberry to your PDA to the iPhone someone, somewhere else is deciding for you how you will use +their+ product.

Your other issues were spot on. I just don't think nailing Apple on the interface in the hyperbolic way you have is justified when: a) basically no one has used it, b) someone has to be the first to
introduce new interface possibilities, and c) EVERY product defines the interface for the end-user whether they like it or not (damn scroll wheel).

Dave makes a several of good points here, but I'd like to respond to a couple of his comments. I would suggest that Apple, when it is at its best and at its worst follows the "my-way-or-the-highway idiosyncratic ..." philosophy. As an example, for a long time Steve Jobs forbade using fans in Macs because they were inelegant. On the other hand, he gave us the minimal-moving-parts clickwheel on the iPod. Ground breaking products, like Dave's loved/hated Blackberry, are very often idiosyncratic. That's what makes them special.

My PDA (a Palm TX), on the other hand, breaks no real ground. It's very functional, it does what I need it to do. But I could change away to another product tomorrow, and never look back. Anyone who has ever used a stylus based PDA could instantly pick it up and make it work.

I don't know that I really "nailed" Apple for the interface (though it clearly was in the section where I had moved from praise to criticism), but it is safe to say that even if the iPhone is wildly successful, it will still be off-beat and different from everything else, in typical Apple fashion...

BTW, the web comic Sheldon had a couple of great strips last week on the iPhone launch. (For whoever is wondering, I have done virtually all of my work on Macs for about 10 years now. I own both a color iPod and an iPod Shuffle. I both love and loathe the company. I also think they have a better handle on new media than almost any other company out there.)

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Friday - January 12, 2007

Too Cool For You Dept. - Apple Announces iPhone

Apple announced it's new iPhone on Wednesday, and in typical Apple fashion it is absolutely too cool for words. As the NYT's David Pogue puts it, the iPhone is "not so much a smartphone as something out of Minority Report."

In typical Apple fashion, the iPhone is already becoming a pop culture icon, just the way the iMac and iPod did before it.

In typical Apple fashion, the iPhone is redefining what we think a cell phone should be able to do. It's not enough for it to have a lame "mobile" browser. It's got to have a fully functional standard browser. It's not enough for it to have voice mail, it's got to have a voice mail system that looks just like E-mail. It's not enough to be able to show movies, it's got to have widescreen video. It needs to be smart enough to turn off the power hungry screen when you put it up to your face to talk.

In typical Apple fashion, it's somewhat ahead of its time (and I don't mean this in a good way), so everyone who doesn't have to instantly have one would do well to wait for the second generation.

In typical Apple fashion, it has a my-way-or-the-highway idiosyncratic interface that says however Steve Jobs think you should use it is the only way you should use it because he's cooler than you are.

In typical Apple fashion, the company neglected to clear all its trademark issues in advance, but instead just assumes that "Hey, we're Apple, and we'll clear up all our problems because we're too cool not to have what we want."

In short, it is a typical, mind blowing, infuriating Apple product. I'm glad I've got a new PDA that I won't be ready to replace for a couple of years, which gives the technology the time to catch up to Apple's brilliant vision.

BTW, Apple is no longer Apple Computer. Just Apple.

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Wednesday - January 10, 2007

Media Obits

  • Support Our ReportersMexican Newspaper Editor Dies Violent Death; Refused To Censor Himself
    This is what really serious censorship looks like - Mexican newspaper editor Misael Tamayo Hernandez was found dead in a motel room, nearly naked, his hands tied behind his back. The Chicago Tribune's foreign editor Hugh Delliios tells the story of how Tamayo refused to back down from writing about corruption and drug violence, and how that refusal to censor himself probably cost him his life. Reporters Without Borders says that nine journalists were killed in Mexico in 2006, making it the second most dangerous country for journalists, after Iraq.
  • AP Photographer Killed In Iraq
    AP photographer Ahmed Hadi Naji, age 28, was shot and killed in Baghdad. His body was found in a morgue last week. This is the price journalists are paying to get news from the war zone. We need to appreciate what they are doing for us.
  • UNR Journalism Dean Dies In Car Accident
    Cole Campbell, the dean of the Don Reynolds School of Journalism at University of Nevada Reno, died in a car accident on icy roads last Friday. Prior to becoming dean at the Reynolds School, he had been a prominent newspaper editor.
  • Scooby Doo's Dad Dies At 81
    Well, no, Iwao Takamoto wasn't really Scooby's dad, but he was the animator who created the mystery-solving great dane, as well a designer of Cinderella, Peter Pan, and The Flintstones. He was an interesting guy. He was the child of Japanese immigrants, and he learned to draw while he was in an internment camp during WWII. As the Scoob would say, "Ruh roh!"

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Tuesday - January 9, 2007

Censorship News From Around The Globe
There's lots of talk about censorship in the United States, what with an individual school district taking a couple of books or magazines out of the middle school library. But for the most part, the efforts are limited, and rarely keep reading materials out of the hands of those who really want them. Here's a couple of international examples that show where these things can lead. Note why these censorship efforts took place.

  • Satirical Poem Sent By Cell Phone Lands Chinese Man In Jail
    A low-level Chinese bureaucrat named Qin Zhongfei was bored at work one afternoon, so he wrote a brief satirical poem that covered several local corruption scandals. Local officials were not getting a bridge completed, nor were they finishing off a new middle school or hotel. So the author wrote a pun-filled poem, and sent it by cell phone to a number of his friends, who in turn passed it on to their friends, who.... Well, you can guess. The poem ended up on the cellphone of a local communist party official, who got the author locked up in jail on charges of criminal libel. However, the story about the Qin's case got written about on the Internet, and published in a Hong Kong newspaper. Eventually Qin was released, and the charges against him were dropped, but only because his case got attention through the press - both paper and online. This is an interesting case to me because it involved such a simple thing - a local person making fun of local officials with a silly poem. Something we take for granted here. (Washington Post)
  • Brazilian Judge Orders YouTube To Block Steamy Video Of Brazilian Model
    So, in some ways, I'm in sympathy with the judge about this one. Not because Brazilian supermodel Daniela Cicarelli needs to be protected from her sex-on-the-beach video. But rather because it protects us all from one more celeb-sex stunt. Seriously, though, the judge has ordered YouTube to implement filters to keep the video from being viewed in Brazil. The problem is that people keep reposting it under different names. This case represents a key problem companies like YouTube face - The Internet crosses international boundaries, and it's very difficult to follow the different laws in different countries. (WP)
  • UPDATE: Brazilian Judge Blocks Order Shutting Down YouTube in Brazil

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Friday - January 5, 2007

Headlines You Weren't Expecting Dept.

  • Big Media Kicks New Media's Booty
    Who says the MSM are dead? Not Wall Street! Disney stock up 44.3% for year, News Corp. up 34.7%, Time Warner up 26.3%. Oh, and all of you who love to beat up on CBS because it had the nerve to let Dan Rather work there.... CBS was up 22.3%, while former parent company Viacom is up only 2.5%. (Hollywood Reporter)
  • Amazon To Offer Rocket Ship Rides
    Well, sort of. Jeff Bezos, founder of, has released video of the first flight of his spaceship prototype "Goddard." Good to know the profits from all those books, movies and CDs you've been buying has been put to good use. (Gawker)
  • Hey Booger Brain, Oxford Put Poopy In The Dictionary
    The editors of the Oxford English Dictionary have enlisted the help of British television viewers to find the origins of a number of common English-language expressions. Among them? "Booger," "poopy," and "sick puppy." (Washington Post)

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Wednesday - January 3, 2007

Who's Beautiful? Dept. - Where Are The Women Of Color On Magazine Covers?

Trisha Goddard is a black British talk show host who’s been described as across between Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey. (American audiences may know her from the horror-comedy film Shaun of the Dead.) In addition, she’s also the mother of two girls.

In a commentary in London’s Daily Mail, she writes she was startled in the summer of 2006 to see a black face staring back at her from the cover of British edition of Cosmopolitan magazine – the singer Jamelia.

“It took me a moment to realize why a simple photo of this beautiful girl had pulled me up short. Then I realized it was because I’m so unused to seeing a non-white face on the cover of a mainstream magazine.”

The implication of rarely seeing a woman of color on the cover of a magazine hit home to Goddard when her 12-year-old daughter Madison said that she thought she looked ugly. What did Madison think a pretty girl looked like? “Well, she’s got a little upturned nose, and blonde or light brown hair, and blue eyes,” she said. Goddard quickly realized that what her daughter was describing was a white girl.

Were editors being racist in using primarily white models on magazine covers? Goddard says no. Instead, she writes that magazine editors pick cover models who are well-liked personalities by readers. When the editors find black women who are popular with readers, the magazines sell well. The problem, according to the editor of British Cosmo, is that there are only a few black women who resonate with readers.

Goddard doesn’t suggest that running black or Asian models on the cover will cure racism. But she says it can make a difference. “If our daughters get used to seeing multicultural races when they flick through their magazines, maybe it’ll be that bit easier for them to live in our multicultural world.”

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