prof. e.

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

Archive for November, 2015

Selling Out

Posted by prof e on November 27, 2015

I bought an Amazon Fire tablet today for the ridiculously low price of $34.99. That’s $15 less than their usual ridiculously low price. Today’s special is not just a Black Friday “door buster” bargain. No, the additional $15 off is available to anyone who is willing to let Amazon place an ad on the tablet in place of the lockscreen image. That’s right, I sold the lockscreen on my tablet to Amazon, and invited them to use it to advertise to me so that I could save $15. I don’t know whether to feel like a smart shopper or a sell out. Actually I do, but I’d rather think of myself as a smart shopper.FireLockScreenAd


Posted in advertising, ethics, media industry, new media | Leave a Comment »

Internet Cats to the Rescue

Posted by prof e on November 23, 2015

Everyone knows that the Internet is for cats. Keyboard Cat, Colonel Meow, Grumpy Cat, and now…the BrusselsLockdown Cats! In response to recent attacks in Europe, Belgian security forces have been conducting raids intending to root out remaining terrorists. Police

In response to requests for social media silence by Belgium’s minister of defense and local police, Belgians and members of the international community have responded with the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown and lots and lots of cat photos.


Every once in awhile the concerted silliness of the millions of inhabitants of the interwebs gives one reason for hope…even if you’re not a cat person.

Posted in global media, interactive media, new media, social media | Leave a Comment »

The Magic of the Moment

Posted by prof e on November 19, 2015

A precious moment was captured with a video camera and microphone, and then shared for the world to see. There are many ways to document reality—to capture a moment in time and preserve it for others to experience. A painting, a photograph, a quote, a poem, a story; they all have their own way of capturing reality so that others can experience something similar to the experience of actually having been there. This is one of those moments that, had it not been captured, would still have been precious and significant. But the fact that it was captured at a time when the power of digital technology and social media have been fully unleashed on this global village we call home makes it precious and significant for millions.

Posted in global media, journalism, social media, video | 1 Comment »

Security v Privacy: Choose Carefully

Posted by prof e on November 18, 2015

The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have raised new questions about safety and security in a globally connected world. According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, readily available encryption is easy to use, and impossible to access even by government agents with warrants.

Some of the most powerful technologies are free, easily available encryption apps with names like Signal, Wickr and Telegram, which encode mobile messages from cellphones. Islamic State militants used Telegram two weeks ago to claim responsibility for the crash of the Russian jet in the Sinai Peninsula that killed 224 people, and used it again last week, in Arabic, English and French, to broadcast responsibility for the Paris carnage.

Another report, this one published in the Wall Street Journal, provided the following graphic to show which apps are most secure, and therefore most likely to be deployed by those intent on avoiding the attention of military and police counter-terrorism forces.


A lower-tech approach to terrorist communications is to use the online gaming platforms, e.g. PS4, to share information. According to this approach the terrorist are counting on the sheer volume of messages using similar violent language to mask their terrorist communications.

Meanwhile the cyber-hacking group Anonymous is waging its own war on ISIS. “Vowing to silence extremist propaganda and expose undercover operatives,” Anonymous claims to have deleted 5,500 Twitter accounts that had been used by ISIS. In a video just released they warned, “Expect massive cyber attacks. War is declared. Get prepared.”

According to the WSJ,

The bloodshed in Paris will likely exacerbate a tense debate between governments that want inside access to those encrypted tools and tech companies that say [they] are trying to protect customer data and are wary of government overreach.

What do you think? Does personal privacy trump security, or vice versa?

Posted in 1st amendment, applications, ethics, global media, interactive media, new media, politics | Leave a Comment »

I Need Some Muscle Over Here

Posted by prof e on November 15, 2015

Rarely is the 1st Amendment on such public display as it has been in recent days at the University of Missouri. On the bright side, the right to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition Congress for a redress of grievances has been front and center. But so too has been some pretty ugly behavior that makes one wonder if people really understand why press freedom is such an important part of the 1st Amendment.

A video of the demonstration contains a startling statement (at 6:30)…and even more so when you realize who said it!

According to the New York Times,

As the video nears its end, the person taking the video, Mark Schierbecker, emerged from the scrum and approached a woman, later identified as an assistant professor of mass media, Melissa Click, close to the tents. When he revealed that he was a journalist, Ms. Click appeared to grab at his camera.

She then yelled, “Who wants to help me get this reporter out of here? I need some muscle over here.”

In what may provide some consolation to journalists and 1st Amendment supporters, Ms. Click resigned her position with the School of Journalism the following day.

Again, according to the NYT,

Mitchell S. McKinney, the chairman of the department of communication, released his own statement, saying: “We applaud student journalists who were working in a very trying atmosphere to report a significant story. Intimidation is never an acceptable form of communication.”

You can watch the full video here

In this version of the video the confrontation is @ the 7:15 mark

Jan 27, 2016 update: The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article that explores the content of Melissa Click’s email inbox in the days after the incident.

Posted in 1st amendment, ethics, journalism | 1 Comment »

Political PR and Symbolic Gestures

Posted by prof e on November 9, 2015

Last week you read a blog post about the public relations difficulties facing the nuclear power industry…an industry that could be an alternative to fossil fuels such as coal and oil. We also looked at the issue of climate change and the PR war that is being waged by big oil, the environmental movement, and those who stand to gain when alternatives such as solar and wind are put into service.

Last Thursday President Obama vetoed the Keystone pipeline, a project that has been in the works for seven years. The pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the gulf coast of the US. The environmental opposition to the project is grounded in a belief that oil is bad, and that tar sands oil is one of the worst forms of oil when it comes to negative environmental impact. According to the New York Times, “The process of extracting that oil produces about 17 percent more planet-warming greenhouse gases than the process of extracting conventional oil.”

But the debate had come to be more symbolic than real. The oil will likely make it to market regardless of the fate of the Keystone pipeline and the pro-jobs and pro-economy arguments were largely overstated.

But the New York Times report suggests that Obama’s decision is mostly about cementing his legacy as a friend of environmentalists. It even makes the point that the decision is about sending a message to the international community.

But advocates of the agreement said that the Keystone decision, even though it is largely symbolic, could show other countries that Mr. Obama is willing to make tough choices about climate change.

Perhaps Obama’s decision is a chess move in a global PR strategy designed to affect the outcome of UN’s Conference on Climate Change when they meet in Paris later this month.

Posted in politics, PR | Leave a Comment »

Ad of the Day, featuring MCCNM alum Megan Matousek

Posted by prof e on November 3, 2015

Every so often one of our amazing MCCNM alums does something really fantastic…and this time it is Megan Matousek, class of 2005. Megan works for Industrial Light & Magic, and most recently had a hand in the making of this commercial spot for Duracell.

You can read more about the spot here, at the Ad Week website. Scroll to the bottom for Megan’s credit.


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Prognostications about Political Programming

Posted by prof e on November 2, 2015

The first Tuesday in November is typically election day…the day that ordinary citizens voice their preferences for candidates and ballot issues. This year is an off-year election, meaning that candidates on the ballot will be those running for school board, city council, mayor, etc.–not governor of the state or president of the United States. The national election for the office of president will come next year.

But 2016 will be here before you know it, and the major political parties are well under way with their process of determining who will be their candidate for the general election. While the Democratic party appears to have settled on Hillary Clinton as their candidate, the Republican party is still struggling to find the best candidate to go toe-to-toe with Hillary.

The surprising strength of billionaire Donald Trump’s candidacy is having an equally surprising effect on TV ratings. The three Republican debates thus far have generated much higher ratings that similar events in the past. Trump, the media celebrity, has leveraged his “star”-power and bombastic personality to attract viewers to TV programming that might otherwise be about as exciting as watching C-SPAN.

Which brings us to a very strange phenomenon. The appeal of huge ratings has the TV networks fighting over these political debates as if they were NFL games. Winning the contract to televise a presidential candidate forum has become a permit to print money…and the candidates know it. That is why representatives from each of the major candidate’s campaigns recently met to agree to new rules that will allow them to dictate to the networks how to structure future debates. The candidates are in the driver’s seat and they are going to decide where they want to go.

And one place they want to go, collectively, is away from networks and moderators who are less than friendly. The most recent Republican candidate debate, hosted by CNBC, a subsidiary of NBC, was widely criticized by political observers, and the candidates themselves. According to RNC chairman Reince Priebus,

While debates are meant to include tough questions and contrast candidates’ visions and policies for the future of America, CNBC’s moderators engaged in a series of ‘gotcha’ questions, petty and mean-spirited in tone, and designed to embarrass our candidates.

CNBC’s approach will work if the candidates are at the mercy of the TV networks to get their message out. But in this day and age with social media and websites and competing news outlets, the control is slipping away from TV networks. If they want to keep the debates, and the associated advertising dollars, they will have to make concessions to the news-makers.

In all of this journalists and TV news networks need to remember that credibility is their primary product. If and when they lose credibility they will have little to offer. And according to a recent Gallup poll journalists’ credibility is below business executives, on par with lawyers, and just a few notches above advertisers, politicians, and lobbyists.

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