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Archive for the ‘global media’ Category

What do you fear?

Posted by prof e on March 28, 2016

If you listen to news for any length of time you’ll find plenty of opportunities for fear. Global terrorism, the Zika virus, gang violence, opioid addiction, a White House occupied by ________ (fill in the blank with your least favorite candidate)…all are reasons to pull the covers over your head and stay in bed. The good thing about being a young adult is that most of these fears seem rather distant and unlikely. After all, you’re young and healthy and you live in America (not some undeveloped nation ruled by a despot). Why worry?

News is, by definition, a summary of what’s gone wrong. People always say they’d like to see more “good” news…but the fact is that news is news precisely because it deviates from what is good and right. Crime, natural disasters, political chicanery, moral failings…this is the stuff of news on any given day. When a new virus threatens millions of people, even in a distant country, we pay attention. Even more so if it has any chance of reaching our shores. Suicide bombers and mass shooters get our attention; which, ironically, is exactly what they want. And slowly but surely we begin to think that the world is a more dangerous place.

Media theorists have a name for this. Cultivation theory says that the more time we spend in the media world the more we fear. The Mean World Syndrome studies tracked people who watched a lot of TV dramas and news, and found that they had a more fearful and pessimistic view of the world than those who watched less.

So what do I recommend? Don’t ignore the news of the day. Don’t hide your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. Instead, remember that the reality created by the news industry is intentionally biased to show you everything that is wrong with the world. Then, take a moment to reflect on what is right in your world. You’ll be happier for it and we’ll all be better off.


Posted in global media, journalism, media effects | 11 Comments »

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 »

Are You Ready for Some Star Wars?

Posted by prof e on October 26, 2015

star-warsLast week’s Monday Night football game on ESPN was an excellent opportunity for Disney (parent company of ESPN) to promote its latest Star Wars movie. In case you didn’t know, Disney bought Lucas Films (creator of the Star Wars franchise) in 2012 for $4B. That acquisition was what happens, “when you wish upon a death star” according to one report.

Advertising is when one company pays another to promote its products. But if the company that wants to advertise is a media company, and it wants to promote its own products by using its own media space to do so, we call that promotions. TV networks promote specific programs to targeted demographics watching other programs. Radio stations promote themselves with their own airtime trying to build brand identity and loyalty. Even newspapers and magazines promote upcoming features or issues.

Disney using ESPN’s broadcast of NFL football to promote its upcoming film release is a no-brainer. NFL football is hugely popular…and a perfect audience for the new blockbuster. But this promotion actually worked both ways. The ESPN telecast actually saw a ratings spike as people tuned in to see the world-premiere of the latest trailer. That’s right, people tuned into the program to see the commercial! Now that’s marketing mojo. Theater servers crashed as fans rushed to pre-buy tickets for the latest installment. According to Josh Rottenberg of Tribune News, in the first hour after the half-time trailer, 1.3 million people interacted with it on Facebook and the Twitterverse lit up with some 17,000 tweets per minutes. AMC Theatres sold out more than 1,000 shows nationwide in less than 12 hours. Now THAT’s a force to be reckoned with!

You can see the buzz-generating promo on YouTube at


Posted in advertising, film, global media, media industry, social media | Leave a Comment »

Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Posted by prof e on September 6, 2015

The title is a saying that is intended to capture the painful choice between two equally bad options. You may have also heard someone use the phrase “between a rock and a hard place.” Both are idioms used to describe a dilemma.

When I saw this AP (Associated Press) photo in my local newspaper a few days ago I knew that this was one of those photos. It grabbed my attention and forced me to acknowledge a painful reality. Refugees from Syria and other nations under siege by the Islamic State are trying to get to safety, and some are dying in the process. Three-year-old Aylan and his five-year-old brother Galip, along with their mother, were just three of the victims of this tragically failed bid for freedom. To see a lifeless body of a young child is never easy…but is it necessary? That’s a question for journalists and reporters…and media ethicists.restricted-refugee-boy

The decision to take the photo or to record audio/video of an event unfolding is fairly straight-forward. Unless you can do something to change the outcome, your journalistic responsibility is to shoot the photo and record the event. Once you get back to the office, away from the urgency of the situation and with the support and counsel of colleagues who are emotionally one step removed from the situation, you can make the decision whether to use some part or all of the material.

As expected the photo was widely distributed, not just by AP but by social media users: some who were shocked by the photo, others by the reality that it represented, and still others by the decision to publish the photo at all. It’s not an easy call. Those who published the photo argued that the shocking nature of the photo may serve a greater purpose. According to the BBC article linked below, the UK newspaper The Independent said it had decided to use the images on its website because “among the often glib words about the ‘ongoing migrant crisis’, it is all too easy to forget the reality of the desperate situation facing many refugees.”

This incident is not without precedent. There have been other photos that have forced us to face harsh realities and the dilemmas inherent in life-and-death moments captured on camera. In an earlier blog post I asked similar questions about photos of men who were seconds away from dying. Years and continents away, a South African photojournalist, Kevin Carter, took a Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a Sudanese child as a vulture waited for her to die. Carter later took his own life. You can read more here and here.

If you believe that these photos should not be published, then you see me as contributing to the problem. I thought about that…and decided to take the risk. I hope that you think deeply about what this picture means, and what it means for you. If we turn away and go back to our Twitter feeds, our video games, or our Netflix movies…or even back to work or whatever else we might be doing this Labor Day weekend…without asking soul-searching questions about our role in the world and how this tragedy might be averted for future Aylans or Galips, everyone loses.

For more information:

Posted in ethics, global media, journalism, media effects, new media, politics, social media | 3 Comments »

The Infamous Spaghetti Tree Harvest

Posted by prof e on March 31, 2015

April Fool’s Day is a time to prank your friends and family members with a tall-tale or fib designed to make them believe something that isn’t true. When I was growing up it was not uncommon for one of us to look out the window first thing in the morning and exclaim, “Wow, look at that…it snowed last night!” Of course one could only hope that the target of the prank would look outside before remembering what day it was.

But how would you feel if your local news broadcaster pulled a fast one on you this April 1st? In 1957 the BBC’s Panorama program broadcast a 3-minute segment about the spaghetti harvest in the south of Switzerland. Here, see for yourself…

According to the website,

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest hoax generated an enormous response. Hundreds of people phoned the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this query the BBC diplomatically replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

To this day the Panorama broadcast remains one of the most famous and popular April Fool’s Day hoaxes of all time. It is also believed to be the first time the medium of television was used to stage an April Fool’s Day hoax.

You can read more about it here.

Posted in ethics, global media, journalism, tv | Leave a Comment »

Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Posted by prof e on January 8, 2015

Newspaper headlines this morning provide another grim reminder that terrorism by Islamic extremists is often directed at media outlets and media professionals who dare to poke them in the eye. What constitutes a “poke in the eye” is partly the issue. In this particular case, employees of a satirical magazine that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad were executed in a military-style attack by gunmen with possible links to al-Qaida.

It may be difficult for Westerners to understand how a religious insult escalates to this level of hatred and violence, but we certainly have no shortage of examples. You may remember the Benghazi attack that resulted in the death of our ambassador to Libya and two of his security detail. That attack, and widespread rioting in the Middle East, was blamed on the YouTube release of a controversial movie produced in the US. In 2005 a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the prophet leading to widespread riots and  violence in Muslim countries. And the year before, Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered for his film Submission, which took a critical look at the treatment of women in Muslim culture.

Adding insult to injury, a guest oped in today’s edition of USA Today, by radical Islamic cleric Anjem Choudary, suggests that the French newspaper had it coming and blamed the victims for their own fate.

The Social Responsibility model of the press, and the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution, call for a very different response to speech that may offend.

According to an editorial published in today’s Pueblo Chieftain,

It is both a fundamental right and a sacred duty of newspapers to consider and publish all opinions and angles of a news story, including those that are unpopular with certain readers. Any attack on this right is an attack on the very foundation of a free press.

Unfortunately this story, like life itself, it’s a bit more complicated than first appears. Journalism, the kind the 1st Amendment was designed to protect, is morphing into something that might be unrecognizable to our founding fathers. Charlie Hebdo, the satirical French magazine that was attacked today, should not be compared to Time magazine, The Guardian, or Le Monde. Don’t get me wrong, the actions of the radical terrorists is inexcusable…it was brutal, repugnant, and evil, and I am in no way offering a defense of their actions. But I’m also not ignoring the fact that news organizations (and pseudo-news organizations) are increasingly engaging in activities that are not entirely defensible under the old rules of engagement.

Posted in 1st amendment, global media, journalism | 1 Comment »

Hacking, Journalism, and Moral Treason

Posted by prof e on December 16, 2014

The hack of Sony Pictures and subsequent release of salacious emails and other confidential information has been the talk of the town (read Hollywood) in recent days. Much of the information obtained by the hackers (aka Guardians of Peace) is very personal and potentially damaging to careers and reputations of employees, executives, and celebrities connected to Sony. Medical records, compensation packages and their private negotiations…even jokes about President Obama that have a racial component…are on display for all to see.

But the hackers alone cannot do serious damage to Sony without the willing participation of journalists. What the hackers have stolen, journalists are now distributing with the protection of the first amendment and the claim that these are important and relevant issues to be discussed in a public forum.

But not every one is willing to give the news media a pass when it comes to reporting this story. Appearing on Howard Stern’s radio show, Seth Rogen (co-star of The Interview) claimed that journalists are profiting from doing exactly what the criminals/hackers want.

Television writer Aaron Sorkin has been another outspoken critic saying, “Every news outlet that did the bidding of the Guardians of Peace is morally treasonous and spectacularly dishonorable.” Sorkin acknowledges, in his op-ed piece in the New York Times, the importance and role of the media when it comes to whistle-blowing and exposing wrong-doing, e.g. the Pentagon Papers. But he makes a clear distinction between that and these gossipy morsels that have little or no value for the preservation of democratic ideals.

As demented and criminal as it is, at least the hackers are doing it for a cause. The press is doing it for a nickel. ~Aaron Sorkin

I suppose one could argue that this hack reveals facts relevant to issues of importance: gender disparity for celebrity compensation, race-tinged jokes about the President by Sony execs who support him and gave to his political causes, and allegations of journalistic malpractice by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. But these exceptions are not what’s generating all the buzz on blogs and social media.

Not too long ago when nude celebrity pictures were hacked from the cloud “real” journalists were careful to keep their distance for fear of being seen as accomplices to the crime. But this time the “gift that keeps on giving” has fewer detractors and the benefit of readers’ fascination with celebrity culture. The hackers have promised a “Christmas gift” of new information while Sony’s lawyers are sending threatening letters to news organizations in an attempt to discourage further dissemination. But if there’s one thing on which we can be fairly certain, it’s that attacking journalists won’t go over well.

Posted in 1st amendment, copyright, film, global media, journalism, media industry, new media, PR | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Copyright Monkeybusiness

Posted by prof e on August 9, 2014

Macaque-Selfie-finalPerhaps you’ve seen this picture of a female Celebes crested macaque. The picture is unusual in several ways. First, the expression is priceless. To peer into the soul of a subject and capture it on film in such a powerful way is truly amazing.

But that brings us to the second way in which this photo is unusual. It is a selfie. That’s right, the photo was taken by the subject. According to an article on the Mashable website, the photographer David Slater was on a trip through the jungles of the Indonesian island Sulawesi in 2011 when he had his camera swiped by the macaque who then turned the camera on herself.

Okay, pretty interesting story so far, but it gets better. Several years later someone uploaded the photo to Wikimedia Commons. Slater, who claims copyright on the photo, asked Wikimedia to remove the photo. Wikimedia denied Slater’s request claiming that Slater did not own the photo since he didn’t take it.

Alex Magdaleno, writing for Mashable, continues…

according to Wikimedia’s licensing report, it remains in the public domain “because as the work of a non-human animal, it has no human author in whom copyright is vested.”

There you have it. Once the courts settle this case we’ll know whether animal selfies enjoy the protection of copyright. And what if the courts say that the copyright belongs to the critter who pressed the shutter? In the US, copyright is awarded for the life of the author plus 70 years. If a Giant Galapagos tortoises snaps a selfie it could remain under copyright for upwards of 250 years!

Posted in copyright, global media, interactive media, new media, photography, regulation | Leave a Comment »