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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Tuesday - June 30, 2009
News About Video
BYU Lifts YouTube Ban
Students and faculty at Brigham Young University can now access YouTube through the campus network without getting a special dispensation from IT. Previously the video sharing service was blocked on campus because there was a lot of questionable material up on the site. But the university now says there are so many educational resources on YouTube that they need to make it available on campus and rely on student and faculty good judgment to stay away from inappropriate materials.
Coverage of Iranian Protests Has Forced News Orgs to Change Reporting Rules
Blogs have always been willing to post news first and ask questions about authenticity later. But according to this story from the NY Times, legacy media (AKA the mainstream media) have been forced to report stories using unconfirmed sources about the protests in Iran because of the crackdown on journalists in that country. One of the biggest sources of news out of Iran has been video shot by non-journalists and then posted through social media sites. No question that it's great to have such alternative sources of news available. But should it be the basis of reports from what most of us would consider credible news outlets? That's the more difficult question.
Then the news came that 70s icon Farrah Fawcett had succumbed to her long battle with cancer. While she was best known for Charlie's Angels, a 1976 poster, and tragic-woman movies, she also made an excellent made-for-cable biopic about photographer Margaret Bourke-White's relationship with writer Erskine Caldwell.
And then late this afternoon the news broke on TMZ that Michael Jackson had been taken to the hospital suffering from cardiac arrest. If you've had the TV or the Internet on, you know the rest of the story by now. NBC and ABC went wall-to-wall with the story, as did the cable news channels. We have a revolution trying to take place in Iran, we have just lost the second Republican presidential hopeful in two weeks, and all that anyone wants to talk about is the death of Michael Jackson.
Here's a sample of the Facebook status messages that have shown up on my feed Thursday night.
Eric RIP MJ
Ali Ohh, Michael... Your music genius will be sorely missed in this world. :(
Matt is saddened by the passing of the King of Pop... Michael Jackson.
Lindsay RIP Michael Jackson Farrah and Ed!!!
Charley Said You Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' You Got To Be Startin' Somethin' 'Cause this is thriller, thriller night. If youre thinkin of being my baby it dont matter if youre black or white. Oh brother please have mercy 'cause I just can't take it. Stop pressurin me, just stop pressurin' me stop pressurin' me Make me wanna scream. Just beat it. So, Annie Are You OK Are You OK, Annie?
MK SO would have married Michael Jackson when I was twelve.
Garrett Michael Jackson already has three albums on the top 10 selling albums on itunes...just 3 hours after his death.
Alex why are people pissed about all the Michael Jackson status'. Same thing happened with Heath Ledger and you all didn't seem to care then? Silly opinionation.
Courtney Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958-June 25, 2009) Rest In Peace............I loved listening to his music growing up! So sad he is gone.........
The news out of Iran about the violent suppression of people protesting the results of the recent Iranian election has been chilling.
No where has this been more dramatic than with the news about the murder of Neda Agha-Soltan, a 26-year-old woman who was studying philosophy and vocal music. Though accurate details about Agha-Soltan are scarce, the New York Times reports that was engaged, valued freedom, and was shot while stopping to get some fresh air after driving home from a singing lesson.
When she got out of the car, she was shot by a sniper. Her death was captured on cell phone video. The person who captured the video then e-mailed it to a friend, who then forwarded it to the Voice of America, the British newspaper The Guardian,and several friends. One of those friends, who lives in the Netherlands, posted the video to Facebook. From there, it moved on to a report Sunday night on CNN.
A second person at the scene captured a shorter bit of video as well:
Citizen video has been used in a wide range of ways.Here is a collection of images and videos set to the music of U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday:
As I've written about many times in the past, I'm not a big believer in the idea of the press having some kind of overarching uniform liberal or conservative bias. I do think, that as Herbert Gans has written, that the American press does hold a set of shared values, both liberal and conservative, the resonate with Americans. These values laid out by Gans include: ethnocentrism, altruistic democracy, responsible capitalism, small-town pastoralism, individualism, moderatism, social order, and leadership. We can see these values playing out, especially that of individualism, with the story of Neda Agha-Soltan from Iran.
How Many People Are Watching Shows on DVRs?
Quite a few. As much as 1/3rd of LOST's audience (including yours truly) watch the show on the DVR up to a week after when it was broadcast. American Idol has a smaller percentage, but a larger number of delayed viewers. The key here is that we no longer all watch shows at the same time. Or in the same way. Take the summer limited-run series Harper's Island. Along with watching it on broadcast TV or buying episodes from Amazon or iTunes, you can stream it online from Netflix.
Guest Blogger - Not With A Bang But A Twitter When I got back from vacation, I found graduate student Charley Reed putting up interesting Facebook posts about news from the protests in Iran breaking through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. I asked him for a guest blog post, and here's what he came up with. This is fascinating stuff, folks. It's fun to make fun of older politicians trying to be hip with their Twitter accounts, but there's real news coming out of Iran these days on this newest of media. (This is Charley's second guest post for me. He's previously written on video games as media.)
If you have been paying attention to the events of the past week in Iran, you have most likely been doing so on blogs like this. This is not because people are more tech savvy, because the reporting has been better, or because certain blogs are sympathetic to either “president-elect” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his opponent and now revolutionary leader Mir Hossein Mousavi.
It is because, quite simply, there is no other way to get the information.
As the protests became the focus of international attention, Iran began to crack down on information leaving the country including attempts to crack down on the press, going so far as to kick reporters out of the country all together, and block any and all forms of social media, clamping down on internet speed, shutting down cell phone towers, and threatening retaliation against those who would use new media like cell phones and the Internet to transmit information out of Iran.
It is nearly impossible, especially at this juncture, to say whether or not claims of voter fraud are truthful; however, the disputed election results seem to be simply an excuse for a swell of democratic activism within the typically restrictive country. A full timeline of events, both assumed and confirmed, can be found on sites like Wikipedia and personal sites like that of “Tatsuma,” a visitor and contributor to the news aggregate site Fark.com.
While, in the typical sense of reporting, factual information in this kind of situation is undoubtedly important, it is not quite as important as HOW this information is getting out.
After the government of Iran shut down, one by one, perennial news sources like CNN, which cut its teeth on similar high-privacy situations like Tiananmen in 1989 and the Gulf War in 1991, the responsibility of news gathering fell on citizen journalists within the country, many of whom are risking their lives to get out messages through Twitter and Facebook. Anymore channels like CNN, or Fox News, MSNBC, or even the BBC are having a difficult time confirming any of the information because if it hasn’t been sent in as video, tweets, or texts, it has been come straight from the Iranian government which has been operating as if nothing is going on within the country. In the past, efforts by the Iranian government to clamp down on information getting out of their country would have been effective. While not every piece of information could have been kept within the country, it would have been nothing like we are currently seeing in Iran.
At this point, while many news sources are still covering the riots in Iran, almost all of their information and content has been coming through social networking sites and submissions over the Internet by way of proxy servers being set up in countries like the United States and numerous other attempts by people to overwhelm those in Iran with information so they can not pinpoint the location of people who are posting information online.
The most important aspect of this move, and people in and out of Iran relaying information through social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, is that the information coming out is instantaneous and can be viewed in real time as it evolves, rather than waiting for video to get fed back through corporate-owned or governmentally controlled outlets. As a result people are communicating with each other and to the masses, even in the face of governmental oppression. Therefore even if there is further restrictions and violence in Iran, it is something that will be seen, somewhere, by somebody, and then spread virally around the world and more traditional outlets which will gain even more exposure to the point that it cannot be avoided or denied.
It remains to be seen whether, as a result of this grass roots information movement via social networking sites, that Iran will re-revolutionize 30 years after the current government overthrew a monarchy with a republic, much in the same way the current democratic movement is attempting to overthrow what appears to be a “republic” in the loosest sense of the word.
What is already dramatically apparent however is that sources like Twitter and Facebook are becoming the go-to source for communication and information by a generation that has grown up never knowing a time when the world was not connected through computers and cell phones. This does not mean, I am assuming anyways, that people will completely turn away from channels like CNN or the BBC, or newspaper services like the New York Times or the Associated Press, but instead that these names are quickly becoming irrelevant in a time when instant access to information is not only demanded but expected. Whether it’s Iran today, Virginia Tech in 2007, or the terrorist attacks in 2001, the move has been to a completely decentralized era of news gathering and reporting.
While Iran may be on the cusp of experiencing a revolution towards a more democratic political regime, a democratic revolution of information access has already occurred in the West and this time it won’t just be televised, it will also be Twittered, texted, and tagged.
But let's put aside politics for a moment. What really interests me is media coverage of the fact that Judge Sotomayor is has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since she was 8-years-old. Regardless of what happens during her confirmation hearings, she demonstrates that there are very few limits on what a determined and capable diabetic can do.
I was diagnosed with diabetes eight years ago and started using insulin five years ago. Personally, I'm very excited to see someone nominated for the court who truly understands the issues diabetics face.
(As a side note, the new aliens-visit-the-earth show has enormous geek cred it its casting. In addition to LOST's Elizabeth Mitchell, it also features Firefly's Morena Baccarin (Inara) and Alan Tudyk (Wash)
How do You Sell Copy Protected Documents on the Web?
As the movie and music industries have found, selling media content over the web can be problematic. Once one copy of your work is out, people tend to distribute it freely without compensating the author/creator. Document sharing Web site Scribd is now moving into selling documents uploaded by authors that can have Digital Rights Management (DRM) on them to keep them from being pirated. (New York Times)
Do We Still Have Any Right To Online Privacy? The marketing phrase "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" could easily be applied to how a lot of folks think about their online presence - that things they post online ought to be considered out-of-bounds for everyone other than the folks they are intended for. But that's not how it often works out. Here are several recent articles that deal with expectations (or lack there of) for Internet privacy.
Law Students Give Scalia A Lesson In Online Privacy Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia recently commented that people could not expect to have every aspect of their lives kept private in the age of the Internet. Law professor Joel R. Reidenberg saw that statement as a challenge, and so he told his students to build the best dossier about Scalia that they could using online resources. They came up with Scalia's home address and phone number, his wife's e-mail address, and a number of personal preferences. He presented information about the project at a conference on Internet privacy, and Justice Scalia was not amused. (NY Times)
Danger Mouse Releases Blank CD With Artwork Ok, so this one is a little complicated. The DJ known as Danger Mouse produces mashups - combining multiple songs together to create something new. Mr. Mouse has created a new album (Dark Night of the Soul) that his label (EMI) won't let him release. So the music is available on the web through unofficial channels, and Mr. Mouse is selling the packaging to go with it. The music industry is changing faster than anyone can comprehend. Other than Danger Mouse. This story is from the 9-To-5 Mac blog, but you can listen to the album at NPR's web site.
Web Comics <3 Star Trek Babies I went to see the new Star Trek movie Tuesday night, and was absolutely blown away by it. I'm not going to geek out on you and explain how many wonderful references it had to the character development from Wrath of Kahn (ed. - Too late!), but here are several web comics that have had recent storylines connected to Star Trek. Some stand alone, while others have several strips in a row that deal with Trek. Have fun!
Multiplex Lots of movie in-jokes here. Multiplex features the staff of a multiplex theater who have way too much fun dressing up as movie characters and punking each other. As you read the strips, always keep an eye out for the movie posters in the background. (And you might see a bit of commentary about all the lens flares in ST.
pVp - Player vs. Player
And if you get the chance, read the artist's blog post for May 11th. It really sums up a lot of my feelings about this one.
Commissioned Comic A role-playing geek takes his first look at Trek. There's an interesting blog post to go with it.
Dorm Dorks has actually had several Trek based story lines. Of course, the characters go to see the movie, but the previous story line compares Twitter users to the Borg.
Is Being a Character in a Sports Video Game Misappropriation? That's what University of Nebraska Lincoln player Samuel Michael Keller is claiming in his class action lawsuit against video game publisher Electronic Arts. All of these college sports simulations feature images and stats of real players, and I've long wondered whether the game publishers have a right to use those images. Seems to me it looks a lot like invasion of privacy - appropriation. But this article looks at the court history of similar cases that have ruled differently. (Media Post)
Should Apple Be Censoring (Refusing to Sell) Trent Reznor's App? You can be explicit songs on iTunes. You can buy movies and TV shows on iTunes where they use the F Bomb. But you can't sell an iPhone app on the App Store part of iTunes if it uses bad words. And this is because..... (I understand not wanting to sell offensive material. I get it! But why songs and movies with bad words are ok, but phone apps with them are not, that confuses me.)
The Future of Print Online A roundup of recent stories on the implications of print materials going online.
Should Student Newspapers Suppress Embarrassing News About Graduates
It used to be that what happened in student newspapers, stayed in student newspapers. If there was a police blotter story about underage drinking, an ill-advised sex-advice column, or a quote espousing radical politics, they would all stay on the pages of the newspaper archive, locked away in a musty basement of the library or student newspaper office. But that was all in the past. Today those pages live on forever on the Web, and they can show up on a Google search by future potential employers. So what's a newly graduated college student to do? Why, try to suppress the story, of course! The Chronicle of Higher Education has a really interesting article on the ethics surrounding this topic. Their advice? Put better stuff up on the web that will show up first on a search. Or don't do stupid things in college. That works, too. Must read story.
Here's the point that people just don't get -- the fact that the Web makes all kinds of information available when we want it means that it also makes information available when we don't.
“I don’t ask to get rich off this stuff,” said Harlan Ellison, an author and screenwriter. “I just ask to be paid.”
Nine years ago, Mr. Ellison sued Internet service providers for failing to stop a user from posting four of his stories to an online newsgroup. Since settling that suit, he has pursued more than 240 people who have posted his work to the Internet without permission. “If you put your hand in my pocket, you’ll drag back six inches of bloody stump,” he said.
I have not seen it yet - I had company this weekend or else I would have been in line Friday night. But the feeling I get is that J.J. brought a badly needed new sensibility to the series.
Abrams has been quoted as saying, "This is not your father's Star Trek." Perhaps, but I don't think that was entirely the problem. I figured out the other day that in addition to the 10 movies, there have been at least 29 seasons of Star Trek television produced. (Correct me if I'm wrong, but there were The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.) That's an overwhelming load of backstory (future story?) to deal with. Abrams started with the concept of what would Trek be like if we started over from scratch without all the story baggage of the rest of the canon. I think that's what it needed from a storytelling point of view.
After seeing many of the trailers, I truly can't wait to see this. Keep in mind that I've seen every Trek movie in the theaters. Wrath of Kahn is one of my top 10 favorite films. I've met Jimmy Doohan (who played Scotty) twice. I am your father's Star Trek fan. And I can't wait to see Star Trek Babies.
Are The Ties Between Apple and Google Too Close For Comfort?
Apple and Google share two members of their boards of directors, which might be considered a violation of anti-trust law. Given that Apple is the nation's largest music retailer and Google is one of the nation's largest sellers of advertising, this is big news for the media business. The two companies don't compete in a lot of areas, but they are both in the smartphone business, and YouTube and iTunes could be seen as competitors. What I find most compelling about the question is that both companies make a big deal out of behaving morally. (NY Times)
What Did You Learn, Dorothy? Last week I asked my JMC 100 students what they had learned this semester that had surprised them. Here's a sampling of their responses:
The thing that surprised me most was when there was a little color in black and white films, that they colored those sections themselves.
I learned that even if there is right and left wing media it doesn't matter. There are essentially equal numbers of both.
Media forms (twitter) popularity/reliability for news in other countries such as India.
One thing that surprised my was that the press knew about JFK's thing with Marilyn Monroe and FDR's mistress along with other presidents but felt it was their job to not report it . Unlike the Bill Clinton situation.
The control that big media has over the media industry (i.e. who owns what).
The media isn't the devil. I always thought that media is a tool of control no matter what portion of media is used. I've never really thought about all the different corporations around the world.
Well, today surprised me that India has the 2nd largest newspaper readership and China has the first.
The one thing what surprised me was you showed class the [I Love] Lucy, video! I've watched the same one in Korea for class. I thought it was really popular sitcom!
I never knew about India and the film business. I thought we were #1 in the industry.
The 5th largest broadcasting network is Univision!
There is more to the media than what we know of. Media are always around us and are part of our everyday lives. Also, another thing I learned is that media can affect the way we think or see things, even though we may not notice it.
One thing I learned this semester that surprised me is that media does have a tremendous impact on how people live. Also, that technology does too.
I was surprised to learn how much content is left out of American Media when I listened to Kevin Sites.
India and its movie industry is the biggest in the world.
Liberal MSNBC host/commentator Keith Olbermann (who is a former Fox sportscaster) has offered to take Hannity up on the offer, saying he will give $1,000 to the families of U.S. troops for every second Hannity is waterboarded.
Far more interesting and useful is the experience of Vanity Fair journalist Christopher Hitchens, who volunteered to be waterboarded so that he could write about it. No macho "I double dog dare you" of the Olbermann/Hannity gladiator fights. Just a simple request of an editor to a reporter, and the reporter saying yes. That's journalism.
Don't get me wrong. I like a certain percentage of my news presented with commentary. But on-air posturing and name calling is not commentary. By either Hannity or Olbermann.
Supreme Court Rules on Fox Fleeting Expletives Case Back in November, the Supreme Court heard the case of Fox Television v. FCC. You can get the full scoop on the case here, from an entry I did back in 2008. Today, the court ruled very narrowly on the case, saying that the FCC behaved legally when it changed its rules in 2004 to subject broadcasters to fines of as much as $325,000 for a single use of expletives such as the "F word" or the "S word."
The key point here is that the ruling states that the FCC acted within its authority to change its rules. But the court specifically stated it was not ruling on whether the new rule was a violation of the First Amendment.
Watch the Lower Court Hearing
If you are interested in the arguments in this case, you can watch C-SPAN's broadcast of the original arguing of the case before the Second Circuit Court of New York. But be forewarned. They use naughty words....
Reporters, photojournalists, camerapersons, translators, and aides are risking their health, liberty, and even their lives to bring us the news we need from Iraq and other hot spots around the world. Show your support for these hard-working and courageous journalists by displaying the Support Our Reporters yellow ribbon on your blog or web site.