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.

NOTE: The video on these pages does not work with Internet Explorer. Try Firefox if you are having trouble viewing the video.

Going through a very busy time right now. Will keep having links, but I'm going to have to keep the comments to a minimum over the next few weeks.

I'm now on Twitter. Follow me at ralphehanson

Author Pam Hanson blogs on Holding on and Letting Go

Monday - Nov. 30, 2009

Things I Learned This Morning From Media Post Newsletters


Tuesday - Nov. 24, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)
BTW, if you aren't reading Media Bistro's Daily Media News Feed, you should....


Friday - Nov. 20, 2009

How Comcast's Competitors View the Proposed Purchase of NBC Universal - Part II

How do cable giant Comcast's competitor's view the company's bid to take control of NBC Universal? Hint - They don't like it.


Thursday - Nov. 19, 2009

Everything You Need To Know About Comcast's Proposed Purchase of NBC Universal - Part I

Trying to keep up with the changes taking place in the media landscape recently is a full-time job. I thought I had closed out the newspaper chapter for the third edition of Mass Communication: Living in a Media World, when word came about the shuttering of several gay newspapers and suggestions that the fundamental market for the gay press had changed. That led to Tuesday's blog post and a flurry of e-mails between me and my editors.

But there's a much bigger change hovering on the horizon - the likely change of controlling ownership of NBC Universal. NBCU has been owned for the last several years primarily by General Electric, a major provider of consumer products, military and industrial products, and financial services. Speculation started circulating back in late September/early October that Comcast, one of the nation's largest cable companies was trying to buy a 51 percent stake in NBCU, which would give it control of how the network/film company would operate.

Today we will look at issues surrounding the merger itself. Tomorrow we will see how competitors view the proposed merger.


Tuesday - Nov. 17, 2009

Washington Blade, Window Media Close Down
The question of authenticity is a difficult one for the entire alternative press. How can a paper represent the interests and concerns of a particular group yet still operate as a profitable commercial venture? This question has been particularly problematic for the gay press.

The Washington Blade was the oldest and biggest gay weekly paper in the country. It was started in 1969 as a one-page mimeographed publication that was distributed in several gay bars at a time when such establishments were routinely raided by police. In the 2000s, a typical edition of the Blade ran to more than 100 pages, with news about health as well as legal and political issues. In the early 1990s one of the key features of the Blade was the large number of obituaries of men who had died of AIDS; these have become much less numerous in recent years. The Blade became such a success that it expanded outside the District of Columbia in 1997 with the New York Blade News.

But in 2009 the recession hit the media industry hard, including the LGBT press. The most prominent of the gay papers to be affected was the Washington Blade. Just week's after the Blade's 40th anniversary party, the paper's parent company, Window Media, shut down after investors were unable to meet financial requirements from their Small Business Administration financing. With the closing of Window Media, a number of gay papers across the country were shuttered, along with the Blade. The New York Blade News also ceased publication in 2009, when it's parent company, HX Media, closed.

Why did these previously successful publications fail? There are likely several reasons:

  • Like many media companies in the late 2000s, the owners of LBGT newspapers were facing severe financial problems. Even though the Washington Blade was reportedly turning a profit up until the time it closed, its parent company was not.
  • The audiences for LGBT media went online to use social media and web-based publications. MediaPost reports that the LGBT community was an early adopter of new online media.
  • Gay culture has moved into the mainstream. As Truth 3 states - Everything from the margin moves to the center. When gay and lesbian papers were founded in the 1960s and 1970s, reporters at the papers feared for their personal safety. Reporter Lou Chibbaro Jr., who had been with the Blade since 1976, told the Washington Post that over the course of his career there he had gone from writing under an assumed name in the 1970s to sitting in the front row at a presidential press conference in 2009. With gay and lesbian issues increasingly being covered by Big Media, there may not be the same demand for gay-specific newspapers now.

The trend of gay publications moving to the mainstream has been an ongoing one. In the 2000s, there was an extensive debate in the New York over whether straight-owned papers could adequately cover the LGBT community. In a 1997 interview with Editor & Publisher magazine Troy Masters, the former publisher of a gay-owned New York newspaper, laid out the issue clearly in a way that could apply equally well to culture- or community-specific alternative papers outside the gay community:

There needs to be a hard look at whether or not a publication that serves a specific group of people—whether they’re of a certain race, nationality, sexual orientation, or whatever—can be owned and run by people who are not from that place. Do they truly understand the culture they’re getting involved with, to treat the business the way it needs to be treated and to be sensitive to those they’re trying to reach? It’s very important, I think, for those kinds of publications to be treated first as a culture, and lastly as a marketplace.


Thursday - Nov. 12, 2009

More Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)


Monday - Nov. 9, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)


Wednesday - Nov. 4, 2009

Health Care & The News
Last night I was part of a panel talking about news coverage of health care issues. The link above is to the slides I put together on how health care has been covered over the last couple of years. One of the key points I wanted to make is that we can't just talk about "media coverage" because as we all know, different media cover this story in dramatically different ways. For example, talk shows talk about health issues as a political conflict while the broadcast network morning news shows talk about it in terms of specific diseases. Because we all remember Truth #2 - There are no mainstream media. That is, all media matter, regardless of whether they are the legacy big media or upstart new media.


Monday - Nov. 2, 2009

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)


Saturday - Oct. 31, 2009

Celebrating Halloween The Web Comics Way


Wednesday - Oct. 28, 2009

On The Media Takes On The Music Industry
NPR's On The Media typically takes a news/press orientation to what they cover, but this week the show has Rick Karr as a guest host and reports on the current state of the music industry and how it got there. Aired on the 10th anniversary of the creation of Napster and the brave new world of online music, this program is an absolute must for you to listen to. (I suppose you could read the transcript, but how much fun would that be?) Here's the run down of stories:


October Entries

Living in a Media World Archive

Ralph Hanson's
Other Web Pages

Lots of new and repaired links!

Journalism Orgs

Activist Groups

Media Gossip & Blogs


For Fun

Web Comics
Note - Many of these comics are PG-13

Student Journalist Blogs