prof. e.

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

Archive for February, 2017

Picking a Fight

Posted by prof e on February 19, 2017

President Trump crossed a line and ruffled a lot of feathers the other day with a tweet that called “the FAKE NEWS media” … the “enemy of the American people.” Admittedly, President Trump and journalists are both suffering a crisis of credibility. According to a recent poll of registered voters, it is a statistical tie when it comes to who they trust to tell the truth (45% to 42%, +/- 3%).

But as we consider who’s winning this war of attrition, let’s be clear about two thing; 1) the press plays an important and essential role in our democratic process as a check and balance on power (see earlier blog posts here and here). And 2) Presidents throughout history have had adversarial relationships with the press. Nearly every US President has a quote (or two or three) that captures their frustration with the folks whose job is to hold them accountable.

This should come as no surprise. Any administration trying to advance its agenda will be annoyed when journalists challenge their assumptions, ask difficult questions, and hold their feet to the fire. In response Presidents have deployed various tactics to take their message directly to the people…bypassing the traditional media whenever possible. FDR had his fireside chats, Trump has his Twitter account, and every president has used the bully pulpit, e.g., the State of the Union address, to speak directly to the American public. (Regarding press conferences there’s even discussion about which news outlets are called on and whether the President is taking or not taking questions from certain media organizations based on their ideological leaning.) 

On a related note, leaks of classified information about the President and his staff  by members of the intelligence community (aka the “deep state”) have raised questions about anonymous sources and journalistic ethics. The NSA, CIA, FBI and the DHS have staff who appear to be willing to share inside information with members of the press when they uncover either illegal or unethical behavior that could put the nation at risk. The challenge for the press is to ensure that their inside sources are not selectively leaking information to further other, less noble, goals.

Back to the point of this post. Early on in his campaign President Trump decided to pick fights with the Washington establishment, with the intelligence community, and with the press. All three can do this administration great harm if and when they decide to punch back. But it may be the press who wield the strongest blow. In the words of Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain, “Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.”




Posted in journalism, politics | 9 Comments »

Take the Oscar Challenge

Posted by prof e on February 15, 2017

logo_oscars_3d-colorIf you’re 18 years of age or older, are a legal resident of the USA, not a felon, not an employee of the Academy (or family member of an employee), and don’t mind signing in with your Facebook account…you can enter the Oscar Challenge sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to  next year’s ceremony.

Just go to and submit your ballot by picking the winners in 24 categories up for selection. The grand prize winner (randomly selected from those with the highest number of correct predictions) will win,

… one (1) Oscar® All-Star Winner prize package, which consists of a 3-day/2-night trip for two (2) to Los Angeles, CA and tickets to sit in the bleachers next to the red carpet arrival area at the 90th Academy Awards® tentatively scheduled to take place on March 4, 2018 (“Trip”). The exact date of the 90th Academy Awards® is subject to change; exact date will be provided to winner at least sixty (60) days prior to the event. Grand Prize Trip includes round-trip coach class air transportation for two (2) to Los Angeles, CA from an airport near winner’s residence (as selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); two (2) nights’ hotel accommodations (one room, double occupancy) at a Los Angeles area hotel (as selected by Sponsor in its sole discretion); ground transportation between Los Angeles area airport (of Sponsor’s sole choosing) and hotel; and two (2) tickets to the bleacher section next to the red carpet arrival area at the 90th Academy Awards®.


Of course if you want to witness the grand spectacle from INSIDE the venue, you could always look into becoming a seat filler. Or, if you prefer, just kick back and watch the show, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel (for the first time). The live show is scheduled for Sunday, Feb 26 at 5pm MST.

This year there are nine nominees for Best Picture. The film with the most nominations is La La Land with 14 (including Best Picture)!

Recently on Kimmel’s show Viggo Mortensen had some advice for Jimmy.

Posted in film, media industry | Leave a Comment »

Supersize That!

Posted by prof e on February 5, 2017

wingsSuper Bowl LI is this afternoon and the hype is living up to expectations. I read earlier today that “experts” are predicting that Americans will eat 1.3 BILLION chicken wings today. (In case you were wondering, “1.3 billion chicken wings is enough for every man, woman and child in the United States to have four wings each”). It just so happens that the “experts” quoted are the National Chicken Council. Here’s their press release…the one that generated the news stories. As you can probably tell, this is all about promoting chicken wings. It’s not news, it’s advertising. And journalists and news outlets that carry the story are part of the problem facing real journalism.

And speaking of journalists, there will be approximately 5,000 of them covering the big game. Is that really necessary? I know what you’re thinking…I’m just jealous and wish my organization (fat chance) had sent me to Houston to report on the game and the many associated parties.

Of course I’ll be watching the advertisements. Every year there are a few good ads…ones that might even be worth the $$$ that keeps increasing every year. This year a 30-second spot will set the advertiser back a cool $5.5 million. Over the past half-century, total ad spending in the big game is approaching $5 billion. And while I don’t have hard data to support my claim, I think it’s fair to say that not all of those dollars were well spent. But there have been some great ads that have been worth every penny. Coke “Mean Joe Green”, Apple “1984” and Budweiser “Frogs” come to mind. (See them here.)

Okay, enough ranting. But before I close, I thought I’d revisit that whole chicken wing thing. PETA has, characteristically, found a way to make you feel guilty for indulging. Don’t click this link if you plan to enjoy some hot wings at your party…I warned you!


Posted in advertising, journalism, sports, tv | 10 Comments »