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

Archive for February, 2016

I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

Posted by prof e on February 26, 2016

chris-rock-oscar-countdownThe first Oscars ceremony in 1929 was all of 15 minutes long. Last year, it was nearly 4 hours. Part of the reason for the length is the fact that nearly everyone honored with an award gets to make a speech, and in that speech they try to remember and thank the many “little people” who contributed to their success. It’s nice to be generous and to recognize the folks who helped you reach the top…but come on, some of these speeches go on far too long.

Producers and directors try to keep the show moving by cueing the live orchestra to “play them off” the stage after 45 seconds passed, but some don’t take the hint. This year, things will be a bit different. Instead of giving verbal thanks, nominees have been asked to list the names of those they’d like to thank should they receive the opportunity. And then, when their time comes, the names will scroll across the bottom of the screen, ticker-tape fashion, while the awardee focuses on delivering a short and pithy acceptance speech. It will be interesting to see if this works. By the way, can you guess which actor/actress has been thanked the most by his/her peers? Check it out here!

On a side note, the “swag bag” this year will be worth upwards of $220,000. Among other things it will include a vaporizer, a breast lift, and a sex toy. GQ categorizes each item ranging from basic to “trashy” to respectable. According to an article in The Atlantic, not everyone was happy with the assortment of gifts and the Academy has sued the marketing firm that put the package together. Sigh…it’s getting harder and harder for the 1% to enjoy their conspicuous consumption.


Posted in film, tv | 4 Comments »

Race to the Bottom

Posted by prof e on February 24, 2016

campaign_newsIt’s an election year and my news feed is turning into a political brawl. Cable and network news shows are stoking the drama that seems to grow with every passing day. Presidential candidates are coming unhinged and saying things that would have never have been accepted just a decade or two ago. What used to be a fairly conventional, and even predictable, process has changed. And media may be part of the problem.

Even though the research has not yet been done, I suspect that the political climate that has evolved in recent years is, in part, related to the growth of social media and the increasing polarization of traditional media. Let’s take them one at a time.

Social media, for all of the wonderful ways that it connects us instantly to our social networks, is also divisive. By that I mean that social media creates walls while appearing to build bridges. While creating an illusion of transparency, our posts on social media are often carefully curated presentations of self that are anything but transparent. Honesty is compromised by our desire to maintain an image and build a personal brand. We speak out on all manner of issues, often failing to consider the “audience” on the other end of the conversation. And without the benefit of seeing their reaction, we often fail to see the consequences of our speech. When everyone is standing on a soapbox, the only way to get attention is to yell louder, or say something more shocking.

As I write this blog post this appeared in my Twitter feed.


Meanwhile, traditional media outlets have found that ratings and advertising revenue increase when conflict and drama are served up. Worth mentioning is the fact that conflict is easy to produce on the cheap. Forget in-depth reporting that carefully dissects the issues and presents a balanced and objective review of the facts. Today’s leading “news” programs are more interested in generating heat than light. And it’s not just TV. Newspaper articles that don’t have the word commentary at the top are only slightly less opinionated than those that do. Everyone seems to want to take a position and defend it to the death.

Social media and increasingly fragmented TV news programs both do something else that contributes to the problem; they both promote the echo-chamber effect. What happens is that we increasingly limit our conversations to those who agree with us, and make little effort to search out opposing views. The Filter Bubble phenomenon is part of the problem.

Maybe I’m just frustrated and tired of watching civility and decency go by the wayside. What used to be valued and treasured human character traits are now seen as signs of weakness and an invitation to be characterized as a loser. Is media the cause or the result? Perhaps it’s too soon to tell. But if we don’t figure it out soon there may be little worth salvaging.

Posted in journalism, media industry, politics | 7 Comments »

Roll Out the Red Carpet: It’s Time for the Media Awards Shows

Posted by prof e on February 14, 2016

AwardsThe 58th Grammy Awards show tomorrow night, Feb 15th, continues the awards show season that started with the Golden Globe Awards show broadcast on January 10th. Next up will be the movie industry’s gala, the 88th Academy Awards show, (aka, the Oscars), scheduled for February 28th. Two smaller awards programs, the iHeartRadio Music Awards show and the 51st Academy of Country Music Awards, will air in April. TV’s big night, the Emmy Awards, will air sometime in the fall season.

These awards shows are an opportunity for media executives and celebrities to take a stroll on the red carpet while they pat each other on the back. I don’t mean to sound cynical, but the hoopla is mostly an insider’s party that the public is allows to watch from the sidelines. (Of, if you’re really lucky, up close as a seat filler.)

If you like music, movies, and TV there will likely be something for you to enjoy. But there will also be performances and awards that will just as likely make you wonder what else is on. These awards shows are all about pop media content, but the range is pretty broad and not to everyone’s taste.

However, if you need a reason to tune in here are a few.

Grammys: 1) Taylor v Kendrick, 2) you’ll get to see a number from the Broadway show Hamilton, and 3) Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie.

The Academy Awards: 1) will be hosted this year by Chris Rock, which is particularly newsworthy because of the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and the calls to boycott by leading black actors, and 2) Leonardo DiCaprio is up for an Oscar for The Revenant, and 3) the outfits.

Posted in film, media industry, music, tv | 3 Comments »

$167,000 per second

Posted by prof e on February 2, 2016

No, that’s not the growth rate of the national debt. It is the price for a TV spot. A 30-second ad will cost advertisers $5 million this coming Sunday. Super Bowl 50 (let’s just forget about that “L” thing for a moment) will likely have an audience of 115-120 million viewers, and this is a chance to pitch all 120 million of them with your brand or product. It is the only remaining mass media event that can pull a live audience of this size…and because of that it can command outrageous sums of money from brands that want/need that kind of exposure.

Here’s a video from last year that helps to explain…

When you’re spending this kind of money you want to maximize the effect and, if possible, increase exposure. One way is to release your ad on YouTube prior to the big day, and hope that you can build buzz online with social media. One Super Bowl ad that was very effective with this approach was VW’s The Force spot. This year Budweiser is trying it with a don’t-drink-and-drive spot featuring Helen Mirren. You can see it here…

Posted in advertising, media industry, tv | 2 Comments »