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.

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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.

  • Pentagon OKs Photos Of Coffins Coming Home
    For the first time since 1991, news organizations will be allowed to photograph the coffins of our war dead coming home, as long as the families of the fallen agree.
  • 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.
  • Handicapping the Pulitzer Prizes
    Who will the likely nominees be for this year's Pulitzer Prizes. Editor & Publisher gives their picks.
  • Rolling Stone Reporting Is No Longer Cutting Edge
    Arts reporter Bill Wyman looks at what he considers to be a sharp decline in the quality of report at Rolling Stone magazine.
  • How Will News Sites Pay The Bills?
    A look at how the New Yorker manages to make money with its free web site.

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Friday - February 27, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

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Thursday - February 26, 2009

Where Did The "Sext" Panic Come From?

Journalists, like wolves, often travel in packs.

For all the talk of getting a scoop or uncovering news first, the best predictor of what will be in the news tomorrow is what's in the news today. Especially when we can jump in on a trend.

Take, for example, journalists' fascination with the 50,000 online sexual predators back in 2006. Go ahead, read the link. We'll wait for you here.

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.)
  • A story from MSNBC, Dated 1/15
    This is from the folks who brought us 50,000 sexual predators. It's a story about .... six teens in Pennsylvania charged with .... well, you know. There is also a mention of a survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
  • 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.

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Monday - February 23, 2009

Everything From The Margin Moves To The Center Dept. - Slumdog Millionaire Brings Bollywood To American Mass Culture

Last night's Oscar broadcast was a prime example of Truth #3 - Everything from the margin moves to the center. And this time it's not something from the fringe of American culture coming to the center - it's the mainstream of the rest of the world - Indian cinema.

The big winner for the night was Slumdog Millionaire, a British movie set in India that makes use of a lot of the stylistic conventions of Bollywood--the filmmakers of India, especially the city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). Each year Bollywood produces more than 1,000 films that are distributed throughout Africa, China, and the rest of Asia. A BBC News Online poll found that the world’s most popular movie star was not Harrison Ford or Julia Roberts, it was Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, who has starred in more than 100 Bollywood movies.

Typical of India’s films are the masala, or spice, movies. They feature several musical numbers, a strong male hero, a coy heroine, and an obvious villain.

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.

As I write this, Slumdog is in the process of passing the $100 million mark for the U.S. box office. Not bad for a film that cost $15 million to produce. You may say, "Yeah, but what would have it done without the boost from the nominations and wins?" According to Box Office Mojo, Slumdog was doing just fine without any additional boost. I'm going to go see it Tuesday.

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Saturday - February 21, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

  • How Successful Was Denny's Super Bowl Ad?
    On the surface, it looked pretty good. The question is, will it have a lasting benefit?
  • What Can Web Comics Do That Print Comics Can't?
    That's the question Balak01 tries to answer with this absolutely brilliant comic dialog posted up on DeviantArt. I got the link to it at one of my regular daily web comics, PvP. In his comments, he says the following:

    this is just me, thinking about digital comic book.

    to make this work, you just have to clik on the arrow on the screen.
    you can use the arrow keys on your keyboard too, and it's more convenient, but you have to click on the screen first.

    i've done this in a few hours so it's really badly drawn, i was just thinking about the new ways of making comics with all the new tools we have.

    sorry about my terrible, terrible english.

    done with flash.

  • What Are Time's Top 25 Blogs of 2008?
    I came across a couple here I was not familiar with. And some interesting explanations of what makes a given blog great.
  • Could You Live In the HDTV World Without Cable or Satellite Programming?
    That's the question posed by MediaPost's Max Kalehoff. You might be surprised by his answer.

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Thursday - February 19, 2009

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.

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Wednesday - February 18, 2009

Magazine Covers

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 Lois Esquire 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.

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Tuesday - February 17, 2009

Media News Roundup

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Friday - February 13, 2009

Living in a Snowy Media World
Media news for a snowy day.

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Wednesday - February 11, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

  • How Will Sirius XM Bankruptcy Hurt Subscribers?
    Well, if it leads to them dropping Howard Stern and Martha Stewart, that would be a very good thing!
  • Can you have too much of "25 Random Things?"
    Salon seems to thinks so. You all know it, right? On Facebook, you list 25 random things about yourself, and tag 25 of your friends with it and ask them all to write 25 random things about themselves, and before you know it, there's nothing on the Internet other than 25 random things.... Oh, wait a minute, there never was more than 25 random things on the web. The Wall Street Journal has even gone looking for the index case of 25RT, and hasn't been able to find it. (And Poynter's Roy Clark has 25 Non-Random Things About Writing Short.

    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

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Tuesday - February 10, 2009

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

  • Internet Surpasses Newspapers as Source of National and International News
    Television is still the biggest source of news for Americans, but the Internet is growing fast, especially among young people. (Pew Research Center for People and the Press)
  • 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.

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Monday - February 9, 2009

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

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Wednesday - February 4, 2009

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.
  • Mythbuster's Adam Savage on LOST

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Tuesday - February 3, 2009

Top 10 Ways To Mix Media & Politics

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.

  • 9 - Music Matters Once Again In Politics: Brand New Day, by Rapper Will I. Am
    This video has been viewed more than 1.3 million times since it was posted a year ago from it's primary posting. Again, like Vote Different, it was produced on a low budget by someone with a lot of skill. By the way - Do you notice which candidate had the best viral video?

  • 8 - The Web Gives Political Voice To The Voiceless
    I had my doubts about the YouTube presidential debate. What a gimmick! Taking questions that people posted to YouTube! And then I realized that my friend Michael Sharley used YouTube to ask a question that he couldn't have asked any other way.

    Watch the video, then come back. I'll wait.

    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.
  • 5 - Campaign Messages Are As Much About Candidate Reactions as Voter Reactions
    When the opposition comes out with a message that can hurt a candidate, the candidate's reaction matters fully as much as the public's. Look at how Obama handled charges of plagiarism from the Clinton campaign.

  • 4 & 3 - Traditional Commercials Can Still Be Effective If They Resonate
    Just because viral, online videos are doing so well, doesn't mean that traditional spots can't work well, too. Here are two ads from this fall's campaign - one from Obama, one from McCain. Both got traction and attention, both were more about attitudes than issues.

    "Seven" -- Ad for the Obama Campaign


    Celeb - Ad for the McCain Campaign


  • 2. All (Communications) Politics Is Local
    RossIn 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.

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Monday - February 2, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

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Sunday - February 1, 2009

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.

  • Web Site for Super Bowl Commercials
    There is now a web site devoted to Super Bowl commercials.
  • Super Bowl To Have First 3-D Commercial
    If you went to Walmart this week, you got a set of 3-D glasses to watch the commercial.
  • Rocky Mountain News Says Commercials Are All That Matter
    Because, the blogger says, everyone knows the Steelers are going to win.
  • 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.

    Apple 1984

    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.

  • Archive of my Previous Super Bowl Entries

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Wednesday - January 21, 2009

4 8 15 16 23 42
Enough of all the media news. Let's look at what's really important. LOST is back!

And, of Course, the Required Videos

  • Everything You Need to Know About Seasons 1 - 3 in 8:15

  • Lost as a Seventies Sitcom

  • Lost as The A Team

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January Entries

Living in a Media World Archive

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