prof. e.

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

Archive for September, 2008

I’m Sam Ebersole, and I approve this message.

Posted by prof e on September 22, 2008

Vote for Sam!

Vote for Sam!

Have you ever wondered why nearly every radio and television political ad contains the line, “I’m so-and-so and I approve this message”? Well, wonder no longer. It is required by law. According to the “Stand By Your Ad” provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) aka the McCain-Feingold Act, candidates must indicate responsibility for a spot by using this disclaimer. This is intended to cut down on attack ads in general, and outrageous claims in particular. Also, in order for a candidate to receive the lowest-unit-charge when purchasing TV/Cable airtime, an image of the candidate must appear in the commercial spot and a statement of approval must appear on screen and remain for a minimum of four seconds.

The unintended consequence of this legislation has been the raising and spending of soft money by so-called “527 organizations” or PACs (Political Action Committees) who are free to create and distribute political ads that do the candidates’ dirty work while giving the appearance of being independent. These spots are often funded by partisan organizations with such innocuous sounding names as, Colorado First Project, or Democracy for America. Because we live in a “swing state” in the 2008 elections, we’re seeing and hearing more than our fair share of political ads and will continue to do so for about 5 more weeks. But look on the bright side–the political TV spots are crowding out the normal lineup of ads for Frank “the strong arm” Azar and erectile dysfunction medications!

Sources: The Campaign Finance Guide, Political 101, and Open Secrets


Posted in advertising, regulation, tv | 10 Comments »

MySpace Music to the Rescue!

Posted by prof e on September 13, 2008

The music industry has had a tough time of it for the past decade or so…but help may be on the way. According to a news story reported in Business Week, MySpace Music is about to launch in a few days.

MySpace Music is a joint venture between News Corp.’s social networking site and the three largest record labels—Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Warner Music.

This effort is a direct response to the plummeting revenue that music labels have been experiencing since 1999. Part of the reason for the decline is online music piracy…but some would argue that it also reflects a shortage of hit records. Whatever the cause, record labels are trying new tricks to monetize their creative assets.

According to Business Week,

The idea behind MySpace Music is that it can help generate revenue for artists every day, not just around an album’s release. The venture gives the labels access to MySpace’s global audience of 118 million users and its ad sales team of more than 250 people. It also provides the labels with a prominent venue to pull in audiences and advertisers with new types of nonmusic content, including music news, behind-the-scenes videos, and artist interviews.

MySpace is designed to do more than bring in ad revenue, though. It also gives the industry a new channel through which to sell songs, ringtones, T-shirts, and tickets. With 5 million artists using the site to promote their bands, MySpace has already become a major destination for discovering new music and upcoming concerts.

One thing is fairly clear–the major record labels have been slow to embrace new media and only time will tell if this is a case of “better late than never,” or “too little, too late!” What do you think? Will MySpace Music revive the ailing music industry?

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

Hockey Mom Scores Big on TV

Posted by prof e on September 5, 2008

Everyone expected Obama’s acceptance speech last Thursday night to garner impressive ratings…and it did. With 38.4 million viewers, Obama’s speech was the most-watched convention speech ever, according to estimates from Nielsen Media Research. To put it in perspective, 4 million more viewers watched Obama’s speech than watched the Olympic opening ceremonies or the American Idol final.

But the real surprise of the convention season was the TV audience for the Republican party’s VP, Sarah Palin. Palin’s speech on Wednesday night drew 37.2 million viewers, just 1.1 million viewers fewer than Obama’s and 13.2 million more than tuned in for Biden’s speech. According to Nielsen, these numbers are even more impressive because Palin’s speech was carried by only six networks compared with ten for Obama’s.

There are several reasons that may explain Palin’s huge ratings…the fact that she was virtually unknown until a few days before the convention, the disclosure of her daughter’s pregnancy, and the high stakes involved in this November’s election. Palin’s acceptance speech did not pull any punches as she took shots at both Obama and the media.

Speaking of the media, a fair number of Republican Convention speakers made a point to criticize the media coverage of the campaign, and more specifically, media criticism of the choice of Palin for VP. Some of the sharpest criticism of Palin and her family has been at the hands of bloggers and others outside of the media mainstream. Republicans have fired back criticizing the “elite” or “liberal” media for unfair and even “sexist” attacks on Palin by questioning her ability to be a successful woman/mother while holding an office “one heartbeat away from the presidency.” The next two months should prove to be interesting as the candidates, and the media, respond to the intense scrutiny of the spotlight.

Posted in journalism, research, tv | 10 Comments »

Browser Wars: Google On the Offensive

Posted by prof e on September 3, 2008

If you’re like most people you might not pay a lot of attention to the browser that you’re using to access the internet. After all, a browser is simply a program that provides access to the real content that you’re after…kind of like your computer’s operating system provides access to the applications you use. So whether you use Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox, or Opera may depend more on what is currently installed on your computer…and for most people running the Windows OS that is IE. When browsers were brand new – in the early 90s – the battle was between Netscape Navigator and IE. But Microsoft’s dominance in the OS wars led to the demise of Netscape and the victory for IE as the default browser. In recent years their market share has slipped significantly, but they still command a decisive lead over the next most popular browser, Firefox.

Enter the new force to be reckoned with: Chrome, the new browser from Google Labs. Released yesterday, Chrome has been receiving favorable reviews for its speed, simplicity, and security. If you are partial to pictures over words, you can check out Google’s comic book for an overview of the new browser’s features! (Be warned, even in comic book format some of the technical issues are beyond my level of expertise/interest!)

But Chrome is really part of a larger strategy for Google…they want to provide a complete user experience. Ideally a user would launch Chrome, conduct a Google search, then switch over to Gmail for communication and even Google Docs for word processing and other “office-like” applications. If the only thing you know about Google is their search engine, check out their other applications…the list is about 45 and growing! But herein lies the rub. By investing more and more of our internet usage/behavior with a single company, any company, do we flirt with personal privacy danger? Google–celebrating their 10 year anniversary this week–is proud of their motto “Don’t be Evil.” But what happens if they change their mind?

Posted in interactive media | 11 Comments »