prof. e.

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

Archive for September, 2016

Supersized Audience for Presidential Debate

Posted by prof e on September 26, 2016

trumphillaryThe first of three presidential debates between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was expected to set a new record for audience size as the two “least popular” candidates in decades took the stage tonight. The previous record goes back to 1980 and the Reagan/Carter debate.

With this large of an audience, brands see this as an advertising opportunity. While the debate itself is aired without advertising, some of the ad spending will go to social media where hashtags are used to connect with customers. According to,

Tecate and agency Saatchi New York are airing a Trump-mocking ad called #TecateBeerWall. Unlike the barrier proposed by the Republican nominee, Tecate’s wall will be 3 feet tall and used as a meeting point for people from both sides of the border to have a drink on. It will air Monday night on Fox, Univision and Telemundo.

The guidelines for the debate are set by the Commission on Presidential Debates, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that sets the rules and chooses the moderators. One decision that has drawn some attention is that the moderators this year will not serve as on-the-fly fact-checkers. So if/when either candidate says something that is dubious, it will be up to the other candidate, journalists, and later, the TV commentators, to try to set the record straight. Of course you can always turn to Twitter where the American audience will be fact-checking every statement in real-time.

And speaking of social media, you don’t even need a TV to watch the debates. Plenty of websites, including Facebook, are live streaming the events.


Posted in politics, tv | 9 Comments »

Russian Hackers Feed US Journalists

Posted by prof e on September 15, 2016

Hacker at keyboardYou may have seen news reports about emails and other documents that have recently been released to the public after they were obtained by hackers, who are likely of Russian origin. Documents were obtained from Democratic National Committee computers, the Hillary Clinton campaign, and George Soros, a billionaire and liberal donor, earlier this summer. More recently, former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s emails were hacked. Some have speculated that Russia is targeting Democrats in order to sway public opinion towards Donald Trump.

Cyber warfare is not new, but this meddling by foreign countries in political matters on the eve of a Presidential election is cause for concern.

WikiLeaks, the organization founded by Julian Assange, and DCLeaks have published the leaked documents. Little is known about DCLeaks. While they claim to be a group of “American hacktivists”, some have speculated that Russian intelligence created DCLeaks for the express purpose of leaking sensitive data intended to manipulate the upcoming election.

But leaked information still needs a channel or conduit (aka “medium”) to reach its intended target audience…the American people. That is where journalists come in. Once private emails and other sensitive information is uploaded to the DCLeaks website, news/gossip websites, such as BuzzFeed, report on the privacy breach and the private information. Journalists working for established media outlets such as the New York Times, NBC Nightly News, CNN and Fox News file stories about the “breaking” news and these front-page and top-of-the-hour reports are seen by millions. Social media users take snippets of journalistic candy and spread it even further and wider. And yes, I recognize that this blog post is part of the problem!

Russian hackers, using the moniker Fancy Bear, have also hacked the World Anti-Doping Agency and released medical records from Olympic athletes from numerous countries, including celebrity athletes such as Simone Biles and the Williams sisters., a journalism think-tank asked an important question: should journalists report on leaked information that was obtained illegally? You can read more here.

Whether it is private medical information or personal emails, questions remain. Should anonymous criminals with potentially nefarious motives be allowed to influence our culture and politics?, and should American journalists assist and abet them in the process?

Posted in ethics, journalism, politics | 5 Comments »

Not Safe for Advertising?

Posted by prof e on September 3, 2016

We’ve all seen the acronym NSF, which stands for Not Safe for Work. YouTube has generally been pretty careful to ensure that content on its site is devoid of overtly offensive material. But now they’ve gone a step further to protect advertisers who may be squeamish about appearing alongside content that pushes the boundaries. A new policy announced by YouTube allows them to remove certain videos from their monetization program if the contents of the videos is potentially offensive to advertisers.

YouTube producers are pushing back claiming the new policies are too strict and have a chilling effect on their creative output. According to AdAge, “On Wednesday, YouTube video creator Philip DeFranco, with 4.5 million subscribers, said he was put on the no-ad list after he mocked ‘political correctness.'”

According to Google’s guidelines, videos with the intent to “inform or entertain” and more likely to get a pass than those intended to “offend or shock.”

This is nothing new for websites and apps that rely on user-generated content. Again, according to AdAge,

The video site is just the latest to find itself embroiled in a social media battle with voices that oppose “political correctness” or claim free-speech violations over any pushback to their activities on a given platform. Last month, right-wing advocate Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter for allegedly leading a bullying blitz against “SNL” and “Ghostbusters” star Leslie Jones.

Here’s a link to a somewhat lengthy video (the first 4 min is about this issue, but the rest is pretty informative on related topics) from DeFranco that explains his position. (warning: graphic language)


Posted in 1st amendment, advertising, interactive media, new media, social media | 2 Comments »