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.

NEWS: The RSS feed is fixed! Check it out.

Friday - December 19, 2008

Media News From Media Bistro's Daily Media News Feed
Do you think we could get the word "media" in there any more times? Seriously, the Daily Media News Feed ought to be in your in box on a daily basis if it isn't already. Great roundup of significant media (sorry!) news. Subscribe to it here. The three following items all got there start from something I read in the DMNF.

  • Cable Newsers Audiences Skyrocket During Election Season
    No surprise there. Fox News up by 41% in total viewers, CNN up by 72% in primetime, and MSNBC was up 84% in primetime. Fox has the highest overall audience, with CNN being the most watched network on election night, outdrawing even all of the Big Three broadcast networks.
  • Watergate Source "Deep Throat" Dies at Age 95
    Mark Felt, Bob Woodward's secret off-the-record source during the Watergate scandal back in the 1970s, died Thursday at the age of 95. Felt had been the associate director of the FBI at the time. The identity of the source "Deep Throat" had been one of journalism's best kept secrets before Felt outed himself in 2005.
  • Actress Scarlett Johansson Gets Apology From British Cosmopolitan
    Actress Scarlett Johansson demanded and received an apology and retraction from the British edition of Cosmopolitan magazine after the publication ran a profile of the actress in which they quoted her about her marriage. The actress is very private about her personal life and never discusses her marriage. She had threatened legal action against the magazine. Be watching here Monday for more on British media law.

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Thursday - December 18, 2008

Science Reporting in the News

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Wednesday - December 17, 2008

Everyone's Gone to the Movies Dept. - Dealing With Gay Kissing
When straight male actors play gay characters, the point at which they kiss in the movie becomes the focus of all the stories written about the film. It's an impossible situation. The actors feel compelled to project their masculinity while not projecting homophobia. So they have to talk about the "ick" factor while not starting in on gay bashing. All of this is in the news because of the new movie Milk (starring Sean Penn and James Franco) that tells the story of Harvey Milk, the nation's first openly gay politician. Of course, there's very little talk about the opposite side of the fence - when gay actors play straight characters.

On a related note, gay activists in Italy complained when RAI TV cut scenes of gay sex and kissing from the movie Brokeback Mountain. They charged that if it had been men and women in the scenes, they would have been aired without any controversy at all. (Italian television has very different standards than American television.) Representatives of RAI said they got an edited print from the distributor so that's the version they aired.

BTW, you can file this one under Truth 3 - Everything from the margin moves to the center.

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Tuesday - December 16, 2008

Media News Roundup
I've been cleaning out my storehouse of media news today. Here's what turned up.

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Friday - December 12, 2008

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

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Thursday - December 11, 2008

The Blagojevich Case & The Press

So unless you've been completely absorbed by final exams this week, you know that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (or Blago, as the press loves to refer to him) was busted by federal agents for a wide range of corruption charges, including what sounds a lot like soliciting bids for President-elect Barack Obama's former senate seat. Here's a round-up of stories dealing with the press issues surrounding the Blagojevich case.

  • What did Blago Really Say?
    All the quotes in the legacy media from the Blagojevich wiretaps are full of "expletive deleteds." Wondering what he really had to say? You can read the full criminal complaint at The Smoking Gun, a web site devoted to funky mug shots and the full text of interesting legal documents.
  • Complaint Claims Blagojevich Called For Firing Tribune Editorial Writer
    The WP's Howard Kurtz reports on how Blagojevich told "a deputy governor that they should target some of the paper's editorial page editors by telling Tribune Co. owner Sam Zell to 'get rid of those people. . . . Fire those [expletives].'" The governor apparently also considered offering $150 million in some form of assistance to help the Tribune Co. sell Wrigley Field if the newspaper was willing to back off from criticizing the governor.
  • Kathleen Parker on Tribune and Blago
    The ever interesting WP columnist gives her take on the connections between the guv and the Trib. She also did an online chat on the topic.
  • The Trib on Blago and the Trib
    The Trib weighs in on Blagojevich's attempt to pressure the Trib.
  • And Finally - Everything (and More!)
    Everything you want to know about the Blagojevich Case from the Chicago Tribune.

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Wednesday - December 10, 2008

More Media Business News
Many of these items were picked up from the Morning News Roundup at Fishbowl DC. If you're not reading this on a regular basis, you ought to be!

Tomorrow - Covering Chicago and the Blago Scandal

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Tuesday - December 9, 2008

Media Economics News

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Monday - December 8, 2008

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

And finally - A great story told by Joe Jackson about his early days as a pub musician on The Moth podcast.

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Friday - December 5, 2008

Everyone's Gone to the Movies Dept. Part III - Roger Ebert on What's Wrong With Movie Writing Today

Roger Ebert, one of the great Chicago film critics (along with his late competitor/partner Gene Siskal), complains in his blog about the Associated Press limiting all of its entertainment coverage to no more than 500 words and encouraging writers to focus those words on celeb gossip rather than the merits of films or TV shows/. He also notes that there has been a serious decline in the number of newspapers who have full-time film critics, even at alternative papers, such as those of the Village Voice chain (which is now owned by New Times). For those of you who aspire to becoming film critics, Ebert also provides a link to "Roger's little rule book" on writing reviews.

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Tuesday - December 2, 2008

Everyone's Gone to the Movies Dept. Part II - Start of the Holiday Movie Season

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Monday - December 1, 2008

Everyone's Gone to the Movies Dept. Part I - Solving the Napoleon Dynamite Problem

How do you go about predicting what people who are renting movies from Netflix will want to watch next? That's the question Netflix is desperately trying to answer. If Netflix wants to stay in business, the company needs to convince its customers to keep paying their monthly subscription fees, even when they've watched all the recent popular hits. So Netflix developed their Cinematch software to predict what movies customers will like based on what movies they've previously liked. So Netflix is offering a $1 million prize to a programmer who can improve the predictive quality of their software by 10 percent. Clive Thompson writes in last week's New York Times Magazine about the problems faced by programmers trying to claim the prize.

As Thompson says in an interview about the article on NPR's On The Media, the key difficulty is Napoleon Dynamite. People tend to have very strong, and very unpredictable, reactions to the movie, which makes it difficulty to predict what other movies they will like. If anyone can crack the "why we like/don't like quirky indy movie" problem, they'll be a long ways towards winning the Netflix prize.

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Tuesday - November 25, 2008 Relaunches Iraq War

Late this morning I was shocked to see a story on reporting that the United States was invading Iraq across the Iraq border:

Washington Post war story link

It turns out the Post is for some reason linking to a story from March 20, 2003, announcing the start of the ground war. In this case, there isn't a lot of room for confusion, but when you think back to the huge problems created when a Florida paper had an old story pop up about United Airlines filing for bankruptcy, the consequences might be heavier than you might think.

wp war story

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Living in a Digital World

  • Writers Guild Says Producers Aren't Paying New Media Residuals
    One of the major reasons for last year's Writers Guild strike was payment for online distribution of their work. Now writers say they aren't getting the promised payments. (TV Week)
  • PC Magazine Goes Digital
    Remember Truth 1 - There's no mainstream media? Well, we've got another new example for you - Ziff Davis Media's flagship publication PC Magazine is going all-digital starting in February. This follows the news that national newspaper The Christian Science Monitor is going digital-only in the spring as well.(Fishbowl NY)
  • C-SPAN's Brian Lamb Sees News Moving Online
    For my money, one of the greatest figures in television in the last couple of decades is C-SPAN's Brian Lamb. He laid out a revolutionary idea - cover political events gavel-to-gavel using a standard camera angles and no commentary. In a recent speech at USC, Lamb said that he thinks the future of news is on the Internet. He sees C-SPAN making it's primary presence felt on the net in coming years, and notes the signifcance of President-elect Obama going from a weekly radio address to a weekly YouTube address. (Everything from the margin moves to the center, anyone?)

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Monday - November 24, 2008

Is The Fairness Doctrine Coming Back? Or Should We Be More Worried About Net Neutrality?
The Boston Phoenix, a long-standing alternative weekly, argues that the big concern today ought not be about whether Democrats should be thinking about reviving the Fairness Doctrine but rather preserving some level of net neutrality. The Fairness Doctrine, in place until the late 1980s, required broadcast stations to give coverage to divergent points of view on controversial issues. There's been talk by some in Democratic leadership positions that the Fairness Doctrine ought to be revived, largely because of conservative domination of talk radio. (Though not by President-Elect Obama, who opposes the Fairness Doctrine.) And there's been a lot of talk by conservative commentators that revival of the fairness doctrine is about trying to silence talkers like Rush Limbough or Sean Hannity. But what worries the Phoenix is attempts to link the Fairness Doctrine to net neutrality, which would require that all content be on a level playing field for transmission over the web, rather than allowing those who pay a premium to have their material transmitted at higher bandwidth rates than those by others.

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