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.
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Saturday - February 28, 2009
Things I Learned Reading Romenesko on Friday You all read Romenesko on a regular basis, right? Jim Romenesko writes a long-running press blog for the Poynter Institute that is probably the most read news media criticism site on the Web. A must read. (He also writes the Starbucks Gossip blog and Obscure Store and Reading Room.) Here's what I was paying attention to when I read it Friday morning.
Google News To Start Running Ads
So why is this so controversial? The content comes from newspapers, broadcasters, and other news organizations who pay to have the news produced. Google brings it all together on a single site, but doesn't pay news organizations for the content they provide. So it's not too surprising that these struggling news organizations don't like to see Google profiting from their work.
Great, you're back. As you noticed, journalists rather uncritically wrote about there being 50,000 sexual predators online with absolutely no credible source for the numbers. (And actually, journalists just love anything that there is 50,000 of!)
The latest prey of the journalistic pack are teens who are "sexting." Until recently, my only use of the term sext was to refer to a brief noon-time monastic prayer service. But that's not the use that's being made of the term today. Instead, it refers to either sexually explicit text messages or photos teens send to each other using their cell phones. You can't go anywhere in the news media these days without coming across a sext story. I just Googled the term "sexting" and came up with 305 hits in Google News, and 435,000 hits in the general Google search. (I wrote this previous sentence this morning. Tonight the total number of web hits is up to 462,000.) The stories are all over the place. A few examples:
A column from Cal State - Chico's Orion, Dated 2/25 Students writing on the topic. No surprise. Also no real-life examples other than a group of six teens charged with distributing child pornography in Greenville, Penn. (And a possible confession from the column's author.)
CBS News story, Dated 1/15
The Pennsylvania Six are here again, as is the National Campaign study. (Though here it is called the National Campaign to Support Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.) It's linked to a story about protecting children online from predators. There is also mention of a Texas eighth grader who spent a night in juvenile detention over a nude photo on his phone.
ABC News Story, 12/13/08
We've got the National Campaign study listed here, along with students who say "they" haven't don't it, but they know "someone" who has. There are also a few unnamed examples.
The sexting scare is also being used to help promote the sales of parental monitoring software. And the company promoting the software brings up the old 50,000 sexual predators story. The press release also brings up the National Campaign study.
So, after looking at just this sample, what do we know?
A limited number of students may be facing child pornography charges.
A lot of journalists are talking about a limited number of examples.
An unknown number of young people are likely sending nude or semi-nude photos of themselves to other students.
And CosmoGirl magazine sponsored a survey of sexting behavior among teens and 20-somethings who volunteered to participate in online surveys. Yes, this is the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy study that gets mentioned in an lot of the Internet postings about the sexting crisis. The study itself is not based on a random sample of teens - just young people who volunteered to be surveyed.
My point here is not to argue that there isn't a problem of teens misbehaving in serious ways with their cell phones. I'm sure they are and that we need to find a way to get them to behave better. No, my point is that a single study of limited validity is capable of setting off a media storm of coverage of an issue. Raw meat was thrown out to the wolves, and the wolves responded.
Movie critic Roger Ebert writes that American audiences could enjoy these films: “It is like nothing [Americans] have seen before, with its startling landscapes, architecture and locations, its exuberant colors, its sudden and joyous musical numbers right in the middle of dramatic scenes, and its melodramatic acting (teeth gnash, tears well, lips tremble, bosoms heave, fists clench)."
If that sounds similar to the musical movie Moulin Rouge, that’s no accident. Director Baz Luhrmann acknowledges he was inspired in part by the so-called Bollywood movie-making style.
Facebook Changes Terms of Service, Users Go Nuts
When you first start using a web site, software program, or the like, you usually have to click approval on a set of terms of usage. Nobody reads these. No one. And on Feb. 4, when Facebook changed its terms of usage, no one really took much notice. But on Sunday, Feb. 15, almost two weeks later, the blog The Consumerist ran a post outlining a theory at the new terms of service gave Facebook the right to do anything they wanted at any time with any content posted to Facebook. Then things go interesting. Facebook users don't view Facebook as a commercial business - they view it as a central part of how they live. And the thought that Facebook would not respect that sent them ballistic. Following this fuss, Facebook withdrew the new terms of service and said that they had no intention of exploiting user material. They were just trying to have a clearer set of policies.... Gotcha.
How Should You Control Your Facebook Presence?
Not sure USA Today is the most authoritative source on managing your Facebook profile, but this advice here makes reasonable sense. It mostly sounds like a high school Internet safety lecture.
Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do with my magazine lecture now that I'm teaching Intro to 25 students at a pop rather than 350. I decided that I wanted to talk about what has been happening with magazines today by looking at their covers, starting with the George LoisEsquire covers from the 1960s. So here are several links about magazine covers you may find helpful. Also, if you are teaching an Intro to Mass Communication class and would like to have a set of the covers I dug up, drop me a note and I'll send you an archive of them.
Trisha Goddard's commentary on race and magazine covers
Trisha Goddard is a black British talk show host who’s been described as across between Jerry Springer and Oprah Winfrey. In addition, she’s also the mother of two girls. In a commentary in London’s Daily Mail, she writes how she was startled in the summer of 2006 to see a black face of R&B singer Jamelia staring back at her from the cover of British edition of Cosmopolitan magazine. "It took me a moment to realize why a simple photo of this beautiful girl had pulled me up short," she writes. "Then I realized it was because I’m so unused to seeing a non-white face on the cover of a mainstream magazine."
Living in a Snowy Media World Media news for a snowy day.
Web Comics v. Traditional Comics
It's no secret to those of you who visit here often that I'm a big fan of web comics. In fact, most of the comics I find interesting these days (other than Funky Winkerbean) are on the web.
The questions is, of course, how do you make money with comics on the web? Well, there are a lot of people who don't - they just do it for fun. But how about the folks who are actually trying to make a living this way?
There was some rather hot debate sparked by Mr. Swab's post, and he has since apologized and taken down the post. I'm sorry he did so because he raised a lot of issues that people who publish through the web have to confront. Mr. Jacques wrote a thoughtful, passionate, and somewhat profane response to Mr. Swab, and I would encourage all of you to read the entire essay.
Jeph Jacques is actually making a living as a comic artist self-publishing on the web. There's a lot to digest here. (Oh, and Questionable Content is on the web in part because the characters use lots of bad words, they talk about things polite people might not find appropriate, and they do things that would hover between a PG-13 and R rating.)
BTW, I got caught up in this mess. Here's my list for anyone who is interested:
1. Mac NOT PC
2. Prof. Cutter NOT Dr. Who
3. Greg NOT Meredith
4. Ben NOT Charles
5. Alton NOT Rachel
6. Rachel NOT Keith
7. Lyle NOT Julia
8. Kathleen NOT Michelle
9. Jeph Jacques NOT Jim Davis
10. John Adams NOT Phillip Glass
11. Daily Beast NOT Huffington Post
12. Washington Post NOT New York Times
13. Star Trek Babies NOT Clone Wars
14. Long tail NOT Short head
15. Nano NOT Touch
16. Netflix NOT HBO
17. Shock NOT Pistons
18. Amazon NOT B&N
19. Podcasting NOT Broadcasting
20. Facebook NOT AIM
21. Coverville NOT American Idol
22. Superbike NOT NASCAR
23. Cooking at home NOT Eating out
24. Green NOT Red
25. Red NOT White
Hi, Honey, I'm Home Dept. - Still Catching Up On Media News Part II I've been traveling extensively over the last couple of weeks, so work on the blog has fallen behind. For the next couple of days I'm going to be putting up a number of items with only minimal commentary. REH
A Muslim View of the Media Coverage of the War in Gaza While there can be considerable debate as to whether there is a liberal or conservative bias to American news, there can't be much of an argument made for a pro-Muslim bias. So it is interesting to read this story on the recent war in Gaza from iViews, a news site with a relatively secular Muslim perspective. Thanks to my friend Dolores Sierra for the link.
Denny's Scores Big With Super Bowl Campaign
Denny's restaurants had a great ad during this year's Super Bowl featuring a group of wise guys (do they still call gangsters that?) planning a hit while a waitress delivers clown-faced pancakes. The message? Serious people deserve a serious breakfast. They then closed the ad out with the announcement that the chain was giving away breakfast to everyone who comes in the next day between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. The result? Roughly 2 million people came in for their free Grand Slam breakfast. That's an effective message. Especially when you consider that most of the people who took advantage of the free food also paid for a drink that came close to covering the cost of the meal. We may talk more about this later.
Hi, Honey, I'm Home Dept. - Catching Up On Media News Part I I've been traveling extensively over the last couple of weeks, so work on the blog has fallen behind. For the next couple of days I'm going to be putting up a number of items with only minimal commentary. REH
Amazon Announces Kindle 2
Amazon.com has announced its second generation eBook, the Kindle 2 . Pretty typical second generation device - same price, lighter weight, longer battery life, thinner. Nothing revolutionary - just better at the same price.
Hey LOST Geek Dept. Here's a few things I've seen online of interest about this wildly complex show. (And, no, I haven't seen this week's episode yet. I've been having a wonderful visit to BYU and was away from the television.)
Eloise, Elly, and Elly
Is Ms. Hawking Daniel Faraday's mother? Is the Elly on The Island in 1955 Daniel's mother? And what kind of son names his time-traveling rat after his mother? (io9)
LostCasts John Keehler, Robert Stone and Matt Jones of Dallas are back with what I think is the best podcast on LOST. Very theory oriented.
This week I'm going to be talking with students at BYU about what has happened with media and politics over the last year or two, and how those events fit into the Seven Truths. Here's my Top 10 Ways to Mix Media & Politics for 2009
10 - Great Campaign Commercials Don't Have to be On Television or Even Be Commercials The Vote Different video was produced over the course of a weekend on the home computer of political Internet consultant Philip de Vellis. It was a mashup of the classic Mac 1984 commercial, and Hillary Clinton's campaign announcement online video. When the video broke on the political scene back in March of 2007, it picked up more than 1.5 million views over a two-week period. That's 1.5 million views by people who had deliberately chosen to see it - not people who might or might not have been in the room to see it. And the cost of distribution? Zero.
Michael has cerebral palsy and is almost impossible to understand when he is speaking. But with a question shot in the style of an old Bob Dylan video, he got his question across in a dramatic fashion.
7 - Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential announcement
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.This is the video in which Hillary Clinton announced her presidential campaign online. (It's also one of the source materials for the Vote Different video.)
7 - When Politicians Are Genuinely Mistreated By News Outlets, Legacy Media Will Raise a Fuss In February of 2008, the New York Times ran a snarky story implying that Republican presidential candidate John McCain may have had an inappropriate relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Of course, the conservative blogosphere had a field day with this, but interestingly enough, the rest of the legacy (mainstream) media also piled on to criticize the Times for its poor reporting that stretched very little evidence a very long way.
2. All (Communications) Politics Is Local In 2003, actress Charlotte Ross showed off her naked backside in a scene of the series NYPD Blues. As a result, the FCC is trying to fine ABC affiliates a total of $1.4 for this brief bit of non-sexual nudity. The FCC argument was because the show aired at 10 p.m. in Eastern and Western time, it was legal there, but not legal in the Central and Mountain time zones because there it aired at 9 p.m. What is interesting is that the Deseret News attacked the FCC, not because the paper liked the nudity, they didn't, but because they didn't like the FCC meddling in the affairs of a local broadcaster 5 years after the broadcast took place. The lesson? As it was in the era of Speaker Tip O'Neill, "All politics is local."
1. Always Watch Your Mouth - You Are Never Off Line With New Media It can be hard for old media people to remember, in the new media world, you are never off line. That was a hard lesson for columnist and former Reagan speech writer Peggy Noonan when she was suffering from a case of loose lips during a commercial break when she was commenting on MSNBC.
Sorry for the absence over the last week. My laptop was stolen a week ago and, on Friday it was returned to me. I won't ever really know the story of what happened, but I very much appreciate having it back. Your advice from the absent-minded professor? Never, ever leave your laptop unsupervised.
Super Bowl - Does That Include a Football Game? Dept. It's Super Bowl Sunday, so that means it's the most important television day of the year. Oh yeah, and a couple of teams will play football. But game aside, it's the one day of the year where almost everyone in the United States will watch a single television show. The networks drool over this as they think back nostalgically to the days when the public actually cared about what was on the Big Three networks.
Newsweek Roundup Of Classic and Controversial Super Bowl ads
Among those mentioned are the Apple 1984 ad that started the whole trend of event commercial and the ever brilliant Mean Joe Green coke commercial. Oh, and the People from the Ethical Treatment of Animals have their "too-sexy for TV" veggie lovers ad that some say is NSFW. Here are these three for your consideration. You can see old Britney Spears Pepsi ads at the Newsweek blog as well, but I refuse on principle to post them here.
Mean Joe Greene This is quite possibly the best soda ad ever. It also exists in a variety of other versions for markets around the world, though I haven't been able to find them to post here.
PETA 2009 Veggie Lovers
Nothing like creating a commercial you know will get rejected to drum up publicity.
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