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University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications

Archive for September 2012

Reading Essays Week 6

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1. In Lippmann’s Nature of News , why does he say PR is important to the task of gathering news? Do you agree or disagree? What was the context of the times that Lippmann was writing? Hint: WWI and propaganda.

In Limmpann’s Nature of News, he expresses the role of the public relations specialist, or press agent, as a necessary guide and director of information and news to the reporter.  Lippmann describes their role as necessary facilitators of information to  reporters who “are not clairvoyant, they do not gaze into a crystal ball and see the world at will, they are not assisted by thought-transference.”  He goes on to assert, “The range of subjects these comparatively few men manage to cover would be a miracle indeed, if it were not a standardized routine.” With such a vast (and ever increasing) amount of information to be reported in our society, the role of the press agent is to make the reporter’s job easier, sifting through what is important and presenting it to the reporter in a packaged way. This standardized routine that Lippman refers to is the long standing system of the press agent.

While I agree with  Lippmann in regards to the necessity and function of the press agent, I also feel his recognition of  the flaws behind this system are valid, asserting that the role of the press agent can be exploited in the interest of individuals, corporations, or the government. The press agent has the ability to shape the news into a neat little package that sheds a positive light upon their employer or organization, conveniently sidestepping information that could prove harmful or a public relations nightmare. Lippmann states, “The picture which the publicity man makes for the reporter is the one he wishes the public to see. He is censor and propagandist, responsible only to his employers, and to the whole truth responsible only as it accords with the employers’ conception of his own interests.”  It is our job as reporters to recognize this possible one-sided or biased approach that a press agent may have when presenting the facts of a report. While the role of the press agent is a necessary one in our society, it does not come without flaw or danger of exploitation by those on both sides.

The context in which Lippmann points out the issues of the press agent in this article system stems from propaganda that was rampant in WWI.  Michael Schudson described journalists prior to the war “naïve empiricists”  not recognizing the difference between human interpretation of facts and facts themselves (2001).  From reporters’ experience with propaganda during the war, the term objectivity was born, as journalists discovered that presented information was not necessarily fact, but constructed views influenced by the bias of those press agents supplying the ‘facts’.

 

2. Describe what Hall means by encoding and decoding.

In his article, Hall discusses his belief that communication should not be defined as it previously has, in a linear fashion of sender-message-receiver.  Hall argues that a new model, one that consists of production, circulation, distribution/consumption, and reproduction is more appropriate. Within this model and in the case of television in particular, a process of encoding and decoding must transpire between the content producer and the content receiver, or audience.

The producer of certain content creates a message (encoding) that can then be interpreted by the receiver or audience member (decoding).  However, many forces throughout this process of communication can effect the way in which an encoded message is decoded by a receiver.  A receiver first must feel like an encoded message is important in order to decode the message in a way that will bring about action.  Constructs such as cultural background, political views, social standing, upbringing; all of these can effect the way a receiver absorbs and interprets a message.  So the process of encoding and decoding is one that is not strictly defined or predicted, rather it is dependent on and effected by the individuals who take part in the process.  An encoded message may have one intended message, that is interpreted ten different ways, by ten different viewers, leading to ten different courses of action (or lack of action) on the part of the decoder.

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Written by charityhitt

September 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

Posted in Reading Essays

Analyze This Week 5

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1. The censorship issue in China that this article discusses is the censorship of social media posts by members of the Chinese society.  Contrary to what would be believed, many posts that deal with criticism of the government and government authorities are not more greatly censored than other content.  The main subject of content on social media that is censored are those that seek to encourage change or rebellion against government authority.

The Chinese government censors internet searches through Google and other search engines from pulling up search terms that they deem a threat to the state.  Recently, in June all search terms on Chinese search engines related to the Tiananmen Square Protests from June of 1989 were blocked by the Chinese government who did not want the Chinese people to honor the rise against Chinese government that these protests encouraged.

2.Summarizing Journalism in the Global Age-

In this article, the author makes note of John Carey’s famous definition of journalism as democracy, the two words synonymous.  However, increasing globalization and awareness of practices in countries other than America, particularly Western cultures, has shown that using American journalism as a litmus test for appropriate actions of the press in non-democratic societies is a comparison that is increasingly presumptuous and unfair in western culture where freedom of the press is not guaranteed.  Does this, by definition of journalism as democracy, not constitute journalism? Recent literature also points to a large disconnect in the idealistic teachings of journalism, and the actual practices of journalism in a democratic society, which increasingly answers to advertisers, corporations, and government regulations.  Recent literature by journalism scholars attempts to establish models of journalism that are not so constricted to the Anglo-American model that currently permeates the discourse of journalism.

Written by charityhitt

September 24, 2012 at 5:10 pm

Posted in Analyze This

Reading Essays Week 5

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1. Why would the media industry support some forms of government regulation? Explain and give an example.

The media industry certainly supports forms of government regulation that positively effect their bottom line.  In the case of DVD technology, government regulation prohibits the copying of DVDs and digital content for any intent other than personal or fair use (ex: copying and selling copies of DVDs).  Following rampant problems with digital file sharing in the music industry, regulations and technological safeguards were put in to place to protect DVDs from being copied.  Like most technologies, ways  around these technological safeguards were discovered, however, the government rules and regulations against copying and selling digital content are still enforced and offenders are punishable by law.

 

2. In what situations do you think the government has the right to regulate media content?  Explain why you believe what you do.

I think the issue we read regarding child pornography and its government regulation is the perfect example of why the government should have the right to regulate certain media content.  I am fully amenable to the notion that “possessing” child pornography should be expanded to viewing child pornography, or an abundance of pornographic temporary files on ones’ computer; especially in the instance that those temporary files that are accompanied by the testimony of a witness. Particularly in the case of children, the government should be able to regulate media content that is derogatory or otherwise harmful to America’s youth, in both aspects of production and viewing of content.  Through safe harbor hours, the prohibition of broadcast indecency, or age restrictions on viewing salacious material, children have the right to protection, and should be protected from indecent material that can come with the media industry and its content.

 

3. Almost no one believes that the U.S. media should be able to print or broadcast information during wartime that could endanger U.S. troops.  However, the military also believes that the media should not publicize information that might adversely affect troop morale––and perhaps indirectly endanger U.S. troops.  What do you think?

I think this issue certainly falls under the category of “there’s an exception to every rule.”  As a student of Journalism, my first inclination is always towards freedom of the press and the protection provided by the First Amendment.  However, as an American and a person that values my freedoms that are being challenged in a time of war, I think that adjustments and exceptions can and must be made in order to protect our country. I will not pretend to know the first thing about war time strategies or the decisions that are made behind closed doors in regards to national security, however I have faith in the American government to make those decisions in a time of war that are best for the safety and success of the American troops and subsequently, the American public.  In this sense, I believe that restricting the media’s right to publish information that can directly or indirectly endanger U.S. troops is a necessary evil in a time of war.

Written by charityhitt

September 20, 2012 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Reading Essays

Analyze This Quiz Week 3

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1. B

2. C

3. A

4. D

5. D

Written by charityhitt

September 17, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Posted in Analyze This

Research Paper Proposal

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Is Niche Programming Contributing to Viewers Who Are Less Informed in the Information Age?

 

Statement of Purpose:

In an age where audiences have unprecedented amounts of news, information and entertainment sources at their literal fingertips, are we using this access to information for good? Specifically, how are increasing amounts of niche networks and programming effecting our media consumption habits? Does an increase in access to niche content (through cable TV, internet, streaming devices, etc.) correlate to increased viewing of content directly related to our personal interests, and a decreased motivation to seek out educational or informational programming?

Background:

During graduate school, I have been a graduate teaching assistant for Media Programming. One of the most interesting topics that we frequently discuss is the idea that the audience is now becoming their own programmer.  With the birth and dissemination of several technologies, the viewer now has power more than ever before to choose the content which they are exposed to: The technology of digital recording devices (DVR) allows a viewer to pick and choose which shows to watch and when, the internet allows us to seek out and stream digital content and recommends content of similar natures, and Twitter and Facebook allows us to aggregate news and information from only our preferred sources.  I am curious to see how this affects our knowledge and desire to seek out information regarding the world around us.

Significance:

Technological advancements across media platforms have led to media and audience fragmentation, making available an unprecedented wealth of content and information on almost any topic of interest, no matter how niche. In regards to the Internet, James Carey argues that stemming from the transmission view of communication, popular literature and technological conversation insists, “The profound possibility for moral improvement is present whenever these machines are involved” (Pg. 18, 1989).  While the possibility for moral improvement is certainly there, is that possibility being seized by the masses? With an availability of content that appeals so narrowly to the individual, have we become more concerned with our individual interests and less concerned with that which is of interest to our society as a whole?

In his book, The Dumbest Generation, author Mark Bauerlein laments the current generation as the least informed, least motivated, and all around dumbest to ever exist, in spite of their access to a wealth of knowledge they have been awarded through various technologies (2008).  Bauerlein and his research point to social media as one of the main instigators of this issue, claiming that these sites have helped the millennial generation to become experts in each other, as opposed to becoming experts on any other topic, forgoing their opportunity to seek out news or information about things outside of their social circles (2008).  However, social media isn’t the only form of communication that could be a factor, and the millennial generation isn’t the only one that could be effected.  With an increasing amount of niche networks, viewers of all ages are able to become experts in food, sports, home decorating, or reality tv stars; is this access to niche media content targeted at highly specific demographics and psychographics, having the same effect as Bauerlein describes with teens and social media?  More specifically, if we have greater access to media content that appeals to our personal interests, are we boxing ourselves in to a pattern of consuming the same types of media content, and is this content in place of, or in addition to educational or informative programming?

Using the theory of selective exposure as the basis for this study, I will explore viewer attitudes towards the increasing availability of niche networks and programming, and the way it effects their viewing choices, in particular how it effects their viewing of educational or informational programming.

Description of Research/Perceived Problems:

After initially researching this topic, I’ve found a wealth of information that is related to, but not replicated by this study.   There is an abundance of literature on the topic of selective exposure as it relates to political programming and media violence specifically, but the body of research is slimmer when it comes to niche programming.  There is also a wide array of research available on how Internet and increasing media use is effecting teens, but far less on how these issues are impacting other members of our society.  I will use the abundance of sources offered by the library and Internet in order to gather more information and build a literature review on this topic.

As a relatively new topic in the grand scheme of media research, I have already encountered of few issues in locating source material.  Utilizing the interlibrary loan capabilities has been helpful, as well as the relatively low cost of material on Amazon (where I ordered Baurlein’s book after it was unavailable through the library).  I have also requested a few academic studies directly from the authors, hoping to be granted temporary free access in order to incorporate their studies into a comprehensive review of the literature on this topic.

Methodology:

I plan to conduct this research through a survey.  The survey will be designed with early questions that categorize my sample by age, interests, media usage habits, and level of access to media content (basic broadcast, basic broadcast/internet, basic broadcast/cable/internet).  The latter part of the survey will ask questions related to the respondent’s news or educational programming consumption habits.  The questions will be designed to reveal whether the viewer’s consumption of educational programming have changed as their access to niche programming increased or decreased. The goal of these survey results is to determine if an increase in access to and viewing of niche content related to ones personal interests is directly correlated to a decrease in a respondent’s interest in and viewing of informational programming.

Works Cited

Bauerleing, Mark. (2008). The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Threatens Our Future.  New York: Penguin.
Baerling discusses his belief that though the current generation has more access to information than any other before them, because this generation has grown up with new media, they are less informed.  The author critically points to social networking as the basis for the problem.

Bryant, Jennings, and John Davies. (2006). Selective exposure processes. In Psychology of entertainment. Edited by Jennings Bryant and Peter Vorderer, 19–33. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
This chapter is an updated discussion of selective exposure, from Bryant and  Zillman’s previous text in 1985.  It is a curret overview of the process which a viewer undergoes when selecting entertainment programming. This particular text argues selective exposure is influenced by a viewer’s mood.

Carey, James. (1989). A cultural approach to communication. Communicatios as a Culture: Essays on Media and Society (pp. 1-23). Retrieved September 11, 2012, From http://web.mit.edu/21l.432/www/readings/Carey_CulturalApproach
Communication.pdf
This text discusses two  different approaches to communication; the transmission approach and the ritual approach, both born from religious and moral context.  The transmission view approaches communication as the literal transmission of communication from sender to reciever, while the ritual view approaches it as a communal act.

Hartmann, Tilo, ed. (2009). Uses and gratifications as media choice. Media choice: A theoretical and empirical overview. New York and London: Routledge. Retrieved September 13, 2012, From http://lib.myilibrary.com.lp.hscl.ufl.edu/Open.aspx?id=208446.
This text used the Uses and Gratification theory as a backdrop for their discussion on what drives certain personality types to view particular genres of programming, and how this guides their viewing decisions.

Weaver, A. J. and Kobach, M. J. (2012), The Relationship Between Selective Exposure and the Enjoyment of Television Violence. Aggr. Behav., 38: 175–184. Retrieved September 13, 2012, From http://preview.tinyurl.com/95jo5cf.
This study examines the correlation between the enjoyment of selective exposure to media violence, and the enjoyment of media violence.

Lee, P., Leung, L., & So, C. (2004). Toward Intelligent Societies: The Impacts of Globalization, Customization, Flexibility and Multiple Identities. Impact and Issues in New Media: Toward Intelligent Societies (pp. 1-20). Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, Inc.
This chapter is a collaborative effort of authors Lee, Leung and So, whcih  discusses the increase in societal problems that are prevalent as ICTs (information and communication technologies) permeate society.  The authors argue that we are equipped with access to more information than ever before, and the idea that an uniformed society is implausible; however it is not impossible.

Logan, R. (2010). Television. Understanding New Media: Extending Marshall McLuhan (pp. 192-203). New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
This work is an update and extension of author Robert Logan’s former colleague and mentor, Marshall McLuhan.  The insightful chapther dedicated to television viewing shows the different ways in which new media effects television; for better and for worse.

Macnameara, J. (2010). Audience Fragmentation and demassification. The 21st Century Media (R)evolution (pp. 120-135). New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc.
This chapter focuses on perceptions surrounding the mass audience, and its fragmentation.  The author questions whether a mass audience ever truly existed, and whether the fragmentation of audiences is only a result of more choices in media programming that cater to specific interests.

Messing, Solomon and Sean J. Westwood. (2011). An Era of Social Media Effects? How Social Media Change the Way We Consume News and Reduce Partisan Selective Exposure. Retrieved September 13, 2012, From http://www.stanford.edu/~messing/PopRecSrcNews2.pdf.
Through experiments in selective exposure and social media, the authors attempt to demostate that social ties, and the endorsement of information from those ties, directly correlates to why a viewer chooses selective exposure to certain media content.

Twenge, J. M. (2006). Generation Me: Why today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled–and more miserable than ever before. New York: Free Press.
Twenge exposes, using personal interviews as well as detailed research, how the newest generation of young adults differs, in an unfavorable way, from those of the past, and argues that new media is the source of the problem.

Zillman, D. and Jennings Bryant. (1985). Selective Exposure to Communication. Hillside, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
This text is an overarching review of selective exposure of media from both the viewpoints of a communications scholar and a psychology scholar. It discusses the process of selective exposure in television, in particular.

Written by charityhitt

September 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Week 4 Reading Essays

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PART ONE- BIG MEDIA: Pro and Con

Throughout this discussion between Tim Wu and Richard John of Columbia University, the theme of ‘big media’ vs ‘people in their attic’ was prevalent, in terms of media history, advancement, and the future.  On the side of big media was John, contending that in the rise of the telecommunication industry, structure shaped strategy: the captains of industry that guided the actions of Bell  and Western Union responded not just to technological advancements and commerce, but to the public interest and government regulation.  He argues, “Organizations can do things that people in their attic cannot, and have not done,” (John, 2010).  He expresses his dissent with the idea that ‘small is beautiful’, arguing that we may not be where we are today in the media industry if it weren’t for big media.  Citing Edward R. Murrow’s invaluable coverage during World War II as his example, he believes instances like this are the primary reason for the necessity of standards and training in the industry.

Wu argues a different point entirely.  Hw talks about the developments in the media industry as being a ‘cycle’, explaining that information technologies adapt “from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by a single corporation or cartel,” (2010).  Wu’s prime example was that of the radio industry, which in its earliest forms, belonged to the amateur broadcaster; an industry that now belongs in the hands of ‘big media’. Now, Wu predicts that the internet is destined for the same fate, saying, “You can’t build a big enough fence around the internet to keep out what happened to other industries,” (2010). Wu supports the ideal of net neutrality as a way of challenging the cycle that has effected so many of the internet’s technological predecessors.

I thought one of the most interesting questions Wu raised in this forum was weather or not we are truly living in an ‘unprecedented era’.  Yes, we have made enormous technological strides in the media industry, but are they any more impressive than those of days past?  Wu questions where the excitement has gone over the technologies of yesterday, each impressive in its own right, and each thought to have changed the media landscape forever. I equate this line of questioning with that of ‘magical thinking’, and I have to question: Are we naive to think, as Wu suggests, that the internet changes everything, that it is somehow immune from his proposed ‘cycle’?

 

 

PART TWO- ADVERTISING AND THE MEDIA

Question to be answered: What is the relationship between advertising and media production?  Does advertising benefit media production or hurt it?

The mass media and advertising, like it or not, are part of a symbiotic relationship; one needs the other to survive. Mass media has adapted from a public service, seeking to inform and enhance the lives of the public, to a full-blown money-making operation, and it’s the advertisers’ dollars that keep the lights on. On the other hand, without these mass media outlets there would be no business of advertising; no television screens to attract viewers, no radio frequencies to capture the ears of listeners, no newspapers or online publications to catch a reader’s eye.

It is this symbiotic relationship that is also a root of the problem of moral agency, or the obligation to provide the public with media content that seeks to inform and educate, as opposed to simply entertaining.  Advertisers pay for airtime that translates into the most viewers, and in turn the most purchasing potential for their product. More often than not, the media content that serves the public interest does not draw particularly high ratings, certainly not high enough to attract advertisers’ interest. The question must be asked then, who is to blame?  Is it corporate owned media, constantly in search of a profit and primarily concerned with the bottom line? Or are we as the public responsible for our own demise in terms of quality news and educational programming?  We may tsk and tut at the lack of  ‘quality’ programming available or the amount of ‘trash’ TV on the air, yet each time we tune our eyes and ears to shows like Honey Boo Boo or Jersey Shore, we are essentially casting our vote, through ratings data, for more of this type of media content.

So what then, is the solution? In the case of news specifically according to Eliot Cohen, paraphrasing the views of Robert McChesney (1998) in his study on journalistic virtue and corporate news, the answer lies in “the emergence of nonprofit, noncommercial news organizations whose executive boards are free from conflict of interest and affiliations with government agencies, special interest groups, and powerful corporations, and which are not dependent upon corporate advertising funds for survival,” (2004. Pg. 273).  While this line of thinking can be applied not only to news, but also publicly funded educational programming, the question of weather this is a viable solution remains. Even if more nonprofit news organizations and outlets of educational programming existed, would we as the audience embrace them and make them a relevant and desired choice in today’s buffet of media options?

This is just one question and area of interest I will seek to explore as I work on my final research paper, Less Informed in the Information Age.

__________

Cohen, E. (2004). What would Cronkite do? Journalistic virtue, corporate news, and the demise of the fourth estate. Journal of Mass Media Ethics, 19 (3&4), 255-275. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from http://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9QQ6zMLqeJJenNad0RNWV9GNjg/edit?pli=1

McChesney, R. (1998) Making media democratic. Boston Review, 23, 4-10. Retrieved September 11, 2012, from http://www.uiowa.edu/~c036088/mcchesney.html

Written by charityhitt

September 12, 2012 at 4:07 am

Posted in Reading Essays

Discussion Topic Proposal- Responsible Reporting in the Digital Age

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The advent of social media and its increasing influence on our society has led to the disruption of the traditional model of news and the way that it is disseminated to the public. This disruption has led to multiple issues in regards to responsible reporting, most prominently those regarding timeliness and accuracy of information.

In an industry with an “if you’re not first you’re last” mentality, and in and increasingly instantaneous society, being the first to break a news story is paramount.  As more and more users turn to websites such as Twitter and Facebook for their news, the real time function often decides the question of who got the scoop first? by a matter of seconds. In the age of smartphones and digital sharing of information, every citizen has the capability of being a reporter of breaking news; victims of a mass shooting can tweet news of their safety to followers, witnesses of a plane crash could be the first to upload photos to their Facebook.  These instances of news are coming directly from the public, and once they do, the race is on between media organizations to confirm the story and be the first to make the official “report” of the news.

Concerns over timeliness have the propensity to turn in to carelessness; racing to find a source that may not be accurate, or reporting before a source has even been confirmed, all in the name of being the first and therefore not the last. In recent news, self proclaimed ‘media manipulator’ Ryan Holiday duped several news outlets such as ABC, CBS and MSNBC into reporting manufactured information for several news stories.  In an effort to point out the inconsistencies in responsible practices of today’s press (and perhaps to promote his new book on media manipulation Trust Me, I’m Lying), Holiday posed as a credible source on the networking site HARO (Help a Reporter Out), a website that links reporters with “credible” sources of information on almost any subject. Here he claimed to be an expert in multiple fields, and offered false accounts of information to several reporters that were published in numerous mainstream publications. In an interview with Forbes Magazine about this hoax, Holiday stated, “As a journalist, it’s always been your job to do your research and check the source, whether you find that source on the street, on Craigslist or on HARO,” he says. “If you’re not doing that, you’re not doing your job however you find the source.” (Thier, 2012).

The reporter who interviewed Holiday, Dave Thier, understands how his colleagues could have been so easily duped, admitting to having used the site on occasion, saying “oftentimes, it can be hard to justify taking the long way around when news moves at the speed of the internet,” (Thier, 2012).

DQ: Are social media sites compounding the pressure on reporters to be first with breaking news, to the point that they sacrifice responsible reporting habits in order to do so?

________________________

Thier, Dave. (2012, July 18). How This Guy Lied His Way Into MSNBC, ABC News, The New York Times And More. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved September 8, 2012, From http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/
2012/07/18/how-this-guy-lied-his-way-into-msnbc-abc-news-the-new-york-times-and-more/

Written by charityhitt

September 11, 2012 at 3:55 pm