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

Second Edition Available Now!

The second edition of Mass Communication: Living in a Media World is now available at the very student-friendly price of $45. (Yes, the new edition sells for less than used copies often do of the first edition.) It features a newly strengthened media literacy focus, greater depth on a number of topics, extensive coverage of "long-tail" media, and new chapters on media effects and global media. For more information, visit the CQ Press website.

Thursday - January 31, 2008

Long-Term Impact of Writers Guild Strike
I don't have time for much commentary tonight, but here are several stories to take a look at on the long-term effects that the Writers Guild strike may have on television, movies, and media consumption in general.

Previous Entries on the Strike

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Wednesday - January 30, 2008

Graphic Novels and the Movies That Love Them Dept. --
Persepolis Shows The Serious (and Humorous) Side to the Genre

In general, when we think about graphic novels made into movies, we think about avant garde action stories like Sin City or 300, or blatantly commercial flix such as the dreadful adaptation of the brilliant graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

But graphic novels an also move into serious non-fiction topics such as cancer, the Holocaust, or the September 11th attacks. (Though these types don't generally get made into movies.)

So I've been really impressed with what I've seen of Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoir Persepolis that tells the story of a girl growing up in revolutionary Iran. The book (originally a pair of books) has now been made into a French animated film that has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Oddly enough, it was not nominated for best foreign language film. There's been a bit of an outcry about this, though I personally think it's more significant for Persepolis to be in the running for a major category against commercial Disney and films than for one that most people use to go get snacks during.... Don't yell at me for telling the truth! Think back to 1982 when the German-language submarine movie Das Boat was in the running for best director, along with five other categories. The big nominations are what get attention.

I've spent a lot of time at the local bookstore reading the book version, and I've found it funny, sad, and exciting. And I'm really hoping the local art house theater will show Persepolis at some point this spring.

Trailer for Persepolis

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Friday - January 25, 2008

Who Cares About the Primaries? Lost Starts Next Week!

  • UPDATE: USA Today Looks At Lost's return
    Though I gotta tell ya, the Lost in 8:15 is a much more interesting way to get caught up.
  • How Do I Figure Out What's Going On With Lost?
    Watch the official recap that tells you everything that happened in the first three seasons in 8 minutes and 15 seconds. (Hmmmm, what is it that seems so familiar about those numbers....)

  • What's Going To Happen in Season Four of Lost?
    Here's what the Lost Season 4 trailer has to say on the subject:

  • What Would Lost Be Like If The Cast of Baywatch Showed Up To Rescue Them?
    The horror, the horror....

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Wednesday - January 23, 2008

A Little Bit About A Lot Of Things
Articles about a wide range of topics that don't connect on a coherent theme have piled up in my box over the last few days. With very little commentary, here they are:

  • Writers Guild and Studios Resume Negotiations
    Now that the Directors Guild and the studios have reached an agreement covering a lot of issues surrounding digital rights, the writers are set to resume negotiations. Hope everyone settles soon. I'm out of new episodes of House to watch.
  • Press Agency Bans Reporters From Using Facebook, Wikipedia as Sources
    Agence France Presse has banned its reporters from using Facebook and Wikipedia as sources in news stories. Anything the reporters found on the sites would have to be verified from a second, more reliable source. So where does that put Howard Kurtz's posts on Facebook? (Thanks to David Dillard and George Lessard for the link)
  • YouTube Gives Quotes Context
    Former Chicago Tribune ombudsman Don Wycliff (who for my money was one of the best out there) tells why he likes YouTube -- It gives people who don't have time to be C-SPAN junkies the chance to see controversial political quotes in their full context. Required reading.

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Tuesday - January 22, 2008

Off Topic Rant -- I'm In Love With the MacBook Air

Last week Apple's Steve Jobs announced at Macworld 2008 the long awaited new Mac subnotebook computer - the MacBook Air (or MBA). And I will confess that I am infatuated with it beyond any reason. No one really needs a laptop that weighs three pounds and is less than an inch thick. Especially one that does not have an easily replaceable battery nor a host of external interface ports. And yet, the idea of computer that will fit inside an inter-office mail envelope, that weighs almost nothing, that can go with you anywhere with no real weight penalty is intoxicating. Especially for those of us who take our laptops everywhere.

The new MBA is not for the power user who needs a big hard drive, high speed processor, big screen, or tons of memory. It's not for the Creative Suite 3 jockey. But for those of us who write everywhere we go and want to be on a Mac, it is heaven.

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Thursday - January 17, 2008

Guest Blogger - Media and the Primaries

Today's entry was written by Leah Cunningham, a student from my Intro to Mass Comm class last semester. She raises some interesting questions about media coverage of the primary season in a Facebook message she sent me. I'm reprinting it here with her permission. The links are all mine.

Dr. Hanson,
I was in your 8:30 am JRL 101 class last semester. You might not remember me since I apparently had attendance issues.

Anyway, I am writing you because I am to the point now where I feel I need a more educated perspective in regards to the media and the current race to the White House.

Two things have led me to write you:

1. Persons in the news media stirring the @#$% pot.
~ Ever since the polls went whack in NH and someone just happened to suggest the possibility that voters didn't want to admit not voting for Obama (a black man) in the exit polls, it seems that Pandora's box has opened, and the effects could be potentially devastating, probably more so for Hillary's campaign than Obama's. (ie- claim that Sen. Clinton/Hillary/Mrs. Clinton was undermining MLK, former Pres. Bill Clinton's claim of Obama "living a fairy tale" apparently insinuating that a black man could never be President... and so on.. )

Before I turned on the news the other day and saw the heading "Clinton and Obama Battle it out on Race", I had never even considered race (or gender) as an issue. It shouldn't matter. Regardless, for over a week now, the news media has been on an all out frenzy, using the race card to turn heads and boost ratings.
(And neglect other candidates... which leads me to....)

2. Blatant lack of coverage for the smaller candidates.
~ Ron Paul is hands down the most straight talking Republican up there,( I was especially moved during the debates when he posed the question, "Has anyone even taken the time to think about WHY the "terrorists" are attacking us?"), but normal Americans, unlike me, that do NOT watch CSPAN and CNN/MSNBC/FOX/BBC (I like to be well rounded) every day, have no idea who he is.

Edwards seems to best represent the interests of the American people according to the polls, with his views concerning the middle class and corporate America, but no one is hearing him.

While it would be nice to live in a world where people actually took some personal responsibility and educated themselves on the candidates, it's hard enough to get an American to read a book. People turn to the news media to learn about the candidates and to equip themselves with the knowledge to choose a candidate that best represents their individual interests. How are we supposed to attain a fair assessment of the candidates when all you ever hear about is a select few?

I ask my "uninformed" friends who they like, and they tell me Obama. I ask why, and I usually either get a dumbfounded look or the all too familiar "because everyone our age is for him, duh". I have yet to get a legitimate answer that could potentially lead to a good debate. Sure, he has incredibly inspirational speeches, but, to me, his views seem a bit too idealistic to be taken seriously. Hillary, on the other hand, is a straight talking woman that is experienced in foreign policy, but, because of her lack of "Obamenthusiasm", people don't believe she is as passionate about inspiring change.

Unfortunately, people "just don't like her".

Thank God she cried/sobbed/choked up.

Apparently we have already forgotten 2004, when Americans voted for Bush because they felt he was the type of person they could have a beer with. Kerry, who was apparently "too smart" to be President (whatever that means), fell by the wayside.

It would be so refreshing to turn on the news and hear about the issues that really matter. Instead, I turn on the news and I hear commentators debating whether or not Obama is "black enough" to get the 50% African American vote in South Carolina. Every day I see the different campaigns using the news media like pawns in a chess game.

I guess what I'm getting at is the notion that it is impossible to have an entirely democratic (fair) presidential race as long as the news media is controlled by the interests of corporations. It's bad enough that we, as Americans, have been so incredibly apathetic in the past when it comes to the government in our country. But now, at a time when record numbers of people are getting involved and coming out to vote, we turn on the news and, instead of getting legitimate information regarding the REAL issues, we see crap like whether or not Hillary's choke up was really genuine or not. I wouldn't think responsible journalism would care. The middle aged women of New Hampshire sure did, however, coming out of nowhere 10,000 strong to snatch the win right out from under Obama.
Whoa, did that really just happen?

Can democracy really exist in America as long as the news media, which has such a profound influence on Americans, is controlled by privatized industry and the need to turn a profit?

Thanks for your time. ~Leah Cunningham

Leah brings up several good questions worth discussing:

  • Will the press learn anything from their previous screwups? (Truth #4 suggests not.)
  • Are there issues to volatile for the press to cover about the candidates?
  • How big of issues are race and gender in media coverage of the presidential primaries?
  • How vulnerable are the press to candidates' personal charisma?
  • Is a woman candidate held to different standards than male candidates?
  • What kind of news should the media be covering when it comes to the election?
  • Should news media run boring policy stories that no one will read, even though they say they will? (Hmmm.... That's a pretty loaded question.)

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Friday - January 11, 2008

Privacy In Public - Who Controls Your Photos?
A quick round-up of how the internet is changing how we look at copyright and privacy of photos.

Wednesday - January 9, 2008

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe) Campaign Edition
Sometimes we can all get a little too serious about election news. After all, if you've ever worked on or covered a campaign, it can be a lot of fun. Here's a few alternatives to all the seriousness.

Tuesday - January 8, 2008

The Dakar Rally -- Terrorism, Sports & The Media
January is a big deal for those of us who follow the biggest motorsports event of the year - the Dakar Rally. Once known as the Paris-Dakar rally, it involves motorcycles, cars, and giant trucks racing from Europe, across northern Africa, and on down to Dakar, Senegal. There is no other sporting event that even comes close to the spectacle of the Dakar. It crosses multiple countries, runs more than 5,000 miles, has more than 500 entries, and takes more than two weeks to complete.

So it was with great disappointment that I saw that the 2008 edition (the 30th running) of the Dakar was being cancelled following the murder of four French tourists in Mauritania, where eight of the race's stages were scheduled to be ruin. There were also threats against the race by al-Qaeda.

This is the first time in 30 years that the rally has been canceled, though individual stages sometimes had to be bypassed in previous years because of threats.

Even without the terrorist threats, the race has always been dangerous. Almost every year there have been deaths and severe injuries among the competitors from racing accidents, shootings, mines left behind from old wars, and illness. Several spectators have been killed in previous years as well.

The cancellation of the 2008 race raises the question as to whether the event will ever run again. Some have also suggested that the cancellation of the race was a "win" for al-Qaeda. Spanish competitor Carlos Sainz supports the cancellation of the race, but worries about the precedent it sets for the future.

I've long had mixed feelings about the Dakar. It is undoubtedly one of the most exciting racing events in the world. It makes every other form of racing (with the exception of the Tour de France) look wimpy. Where else can you see self-sponsored motorcyclists racing against everyone from factory teams to giant Czeck-built trucks?

And yet, it comes uncomfortably close to being a blood sport. No one is supposed to die, but someone almost always does. It brings the beauty and desolation of North Africa to the world, and brings news from an area of the world would otherwise know little about. And every year when the music of the Senegalese band Wock's "Sama Amie" comes on the air, the 1/2 hour daily news summaries of the race feels like a brief desert vacation. (For those of you who would like to hear more of Wock's world-music sound, their debut album is available through iTunes.

If you've never seen the Dakar, the Versus network is re-running their coverage of the 2007 Dakar in the time slots scheduled for this year's event. Or you can see the clips I've linked to below. I hope that this really is just a one-year cancellation. But I fear that this may well be the end of a great, global event.

2007 Stage 3 Motorbike coverage

2007 Cars Stage 7 Coverage

2007 Stage 5 Trucks Coverage

2003 Fatboy Slim/Dakar Rally Video

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Thursday - January 3, 2008

Year In Review Dept. Part II - Best Lists From the Washington Post and USA Today

Second installment of the the year in review roundup.

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Friday - December 21, 2007

Year In Review Dept. Part I - The Best, Worst and Most Bizarre of the 2007 Media World

It's officially late December (i.e. it's past December 15th), so it's time for everyone to get started on their Year in Review articles and blog posts. Keep an eye out here for links to lists about the best, worst and most bizarre in the 2007 Media World.

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