prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for April, 2008


Posted by prof e on April 29, 2008

GTA Video GameGrand Theft Auto, version IV, is out today and according to early reports is expected to break a few records (perhaps $200 million in US sales the first week). USA Today reports that the video game industry is already on a roll, with revenues up every month for the past 2 years and last year reporting record sales of $18 billion. BTW, that’s more than the film industry. Video game critics are also suggesting that the rich narratives and increasingly realistic visual effects of games like GTA are making video games the ultimate replacement for feature films. Why just watch a film when you can control one?! GTA highlights the power of interactive media to engage the player while creating a world in which anything…and in this case it really is anything…can happen. Will Wright, the renowned game designer, calls this the game’s “possibility space.”

Of course there are always social issues that accompany any new technology and the related mass media phenomena. Rockstar Games, maker of GTA, has been in hot water since the “Hot Coffee” scandal when an earlier version of GTA had hidden content that was, a) not very well hidden, and b) clearly Adult Only in nature. I won’t get into the raging controversy about the effects of video game play right now, but if you’er interested, check out this audio podcast from On the Media.  Or, if you want, take a look at the extended trailer and you’ll get a hint of what the debate is about. Be forewarned, it is rated Mature, and some of the content is clearly not appropriate for the younger teen crowd.


Posted in interactive media, media industry, new media | 28 Comments »

Seeing Red @ NAB/BEA in LV, NV

Posted by prof e on April 19, 2008

For the acronym impaired, the second part of the title refers to the National Association of Broadcasters/Broadcast Education Association convention in Las Vega, Nevada. I attended the conference this past week along with a couple of colleagues and several students from CSU-Pueblo. As always the NAB exhibit hall was daunting…too much to see and take in in the short amount of time that I had. And the BEA conference that followed the NAB presented its own challenges. I found myself wanting to attend two or three concurrent sessions and having to make some difficult choices on which one to attend.

So, what did I see in Vegas…besides the sad evidence of thousands of people trying to get lucky? Perhaps the most impressive new tools on the NAB showroom floor were the cameras by Red. The promise of electronic cinematography has been around for a long time…Francis Ford Coppola was a leading proponent back in the 80s…but this camera heralds a new age of electronic image acquisition. With over 4K pixels horizontal, the high resolution image is suitable for delivery on everything from HDTV to film projection. And with a camera body price below $18K, some are calling the Red, “the tipping point of the democratization of filmmaking.” This year Red intro’d the Scarlet…a 3K camera below $3K. Truly amazing! Check out the YouTube interview with Ted “Leader of the Rebellion” Schilowitz.

BEA also provided an excellent opportunity to find out what’s on the cutting edge of media production, research, and instruction. I had the opportunity to attend excellent sessions sponsored by the documentary division as well as several research presentations by colleagues and graduate students. All in all, a very interesting and informative visit to this dull, dusty town in the Nevada desert.

Posted in media industry, new media, video | 3 Comments »

What does it take?

Posted by prof e on April 13, 2008

What does it take to be a journalist? What kinds of skills are necessary to succeed in the role of news observer/reporter? And perhaps most importantly–what kinds of character traits are essential? Ask five practicing journalists and you’ll get at least 10 answers. But I’m sure that most would agree on some of the basics, such as: curiosity (with a healthy dose of skepticism), tenacity, ability to tell a story, attention to detail, high regard for accuracy, moral fortitude, and the courage to question authority.

It doesn’t hurt to have an area of expertise. Business reporters, medical correspondents, and sports journalists tend to have backgrounds in those areas and have the necessary expertise to know what questions to ask. If you want to report on global events, a second or third language could come in helpful. And if you want to have a career that lasts beyond 2010, consider digital media skills such as photography, videography and multimedia. The days when you could count on having a staff at your side to handle the “technical” matters is long gone and the crew of one is the norm.

But perhaps my leading advice to someone who want to report the news is simply to start doing it. You have access to an internet-connected computer and know how to type? Well get after it. Get yourself a Blogger or WordPress account and start writing. Report on issues that concern you, and, to stretch yourself, address other issues that are outside of your comfort zone. But write! Take an issue, dissect it, and put it back together. Try to find the story in something as mundane as a mill levy hike or something as controversial as a proposal for drug sniffing dogs in the high schools. Invite readers and their criticism. If you push a few buttons inviting criticism shouldn’t be difficult.

And if after a few months you find that you’re not excited by the process of researching, writing, posting and receiving feedback, do yourself, and the world, a favor and consider a career in accounting.

Posted in journalism, media industry | 10 Comments »

The Social Media News Release

Posted by prof e on April 9, 2008

Over at MediaShift Mark Glaser has written a fascinating article about the latest trend in news releases…the social media news release. If you want to cut right to the chase, check out the image on the right to see what a SMNR might look like. According to Glaser, the venerable news release–the stock in trade tool of PR practitioners–is long past its prime. The all-to-obvious solution is to update the release to take advantage of the power of social media.

Glaser quotes Tom Foremski who had this to say about traditional press releases:

Press releases are nearly useless. They typically start with a tremendous amount of top-spin, they contain pat-on-the-back phrases and meaningless quotes…Press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Business Wire or PRnewswire to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists. This madness has to end. It is wasted time and effort by hundreds of thousands of professionals.

Strong words. But if these new-fangled news releases catch on, it means that PR practitioners will have to become more savvy about social media technologies such as RSS feeds and social aggregation tools. And as these news releases incorporate more and more rich media, i.e., digital audio and video, skill with digital media tools will also be necessary. If you’re preparing for a career in PR and thinking that your future includes faxing text press releases–you may want to think again.

Posted in interactive media, journalism, media industry, new media | 1 Comment »

Psssst! Wanna buy an energy drink?

Posted by prof e on April 5, 2008

Hype energy drinkHas anyone every tried to sell you an energy drink as you strolled across campus? Or perhaps a classmate pitched the benefits of a particular brand of energy drink and its positive effects as you were waiting for your 8am class to start. No? Well perhaps you just weren’t AWARE that someone was trying to get you to buy something! Crazy talk, right? Well, what if I told you that I know a University student who earns a commission from an energy drink company, and that he carries an energy drink with him to all of his classes with a goal of “promoting” energy drink consumption on campus. Surprised? Just the visual cue provided by the unopened energy drink can sitting on someone’s desk might be enough to trigger an urge to purchase a can next time you’re near a vending machine. That, my friends, is called viral, word of mouth, or buzz marketing…and it IS a reality on this campus, and across the nation.

This is clearly a growth industry. According to researchers, Americans engage in more than 3 billion brand-related conversations each day. In order to monetize this trend, marketers are looking for ways to buy and sell these conversations. They even have their own association…WOMMA, the Word of Mouth Marketing Association.

And if you didn’t already have reasons to be skeptical of the contents of blogs, you should know that pays bloggers to promote products and services on their personal blogs…effectively making anyone and everyone an agent dispensing commercial messages. PayPerPost calls it “sponsored content” and says that they require disclosure in order to comply with FTC regulations. But full disclosure and transparency may be the exception rather than the rule since there is little practical oversight.

Want to get in on the action but don’t have a blog? No problem. The PayPerPost application can also be added to your Facebook page. Oh, and when you recommend a friend who adds the PPP application you earn $15.

Wow, who knew that viral marketing could be so…


Posted in advertising, media effects, media industry | 90 Comments »