prof. e.

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Archive for the ‘print’ Category

MJ Advertising and the Case for Audience Research

Posted by prof e on March 18, 2015

I teach a course titled, Audience Research Methodology.  Over the years I have attempted, with varying degrees of success, to make the case for the importance and value of applied audience research. Audience research is happening all around us all the time, but it is often invisible to the average observer. But thanks to marijuana advertising, finding applied examples of audience research just got easier.

When Colorado passed Amendment 64 allowing for the legalization of marijuana they also created laws controlling the process whereby legal MJ would be cultivated, processed, marketed, and distributed. One part of the Colorado Retail Marijuana Code governs the advertising of MJ. For the sake of brevity I’ll cut to the chase. The legal requirement for advertisers is that they provide “reliable evidence” that no more than 30% of the consumers of said advertising are “reasonably expected” to be under the legal age (21 years). This provided a teachable moment in class last week when we discussed how audience research methodology might inform the issue of what percentage of a target audience falls within (or out of) a particular demographic range for various media products.

Some have questioned whether this part of the law would stand a legal challenge. According to a news report released March 17 by the Colorado Press Association, a legal challenge to the 30% requirement brought by the CPA and The Pulp (a local independent news magazine) was found to be without standing. In other words, the challenge on First Amendment grounds was dismissed because the parties bringing the lawsuit were unable to demonstrate that they suffered harm imposed by the legal requirement of no more than 30% underage readers. Claims that the law created a “chilling effect” were likewise dismissed.

Since this 30% requirement appears to be the law for the time being, any retail MJ establishment (or the media company hoping to sell MJ ads) will have to secure the services of audience research companies who can provide “reliable evidence” that can be used to meet the legal requirement. Companies such as the research giant Nielsen can provide data for TV and radio broadcasters and their Scarborough audience analytics for print media can provide reliable data (for a fee). According to the CPA news release, “the [Colorado Department of Revenue] found Scarborough research to be ‘reliable’” for the purpose of legal justification.

Mass Communications majors sometimes (and, I believe, unfairly) think of themselves as math-challenged. But understanding basic data analysis is not a luxury anymore. Nearly everyone working in or around the media industries will, at some time or another, be expected to make sense out of a spreadsheet or graph or table that contains or summarizes data. Quantitative illiteracy is not a reasonable alternative, and MJ advertising is just one example that brings that home.

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Posted in 1st amendment, print, regulation, research | Leave a Comment »

David Carr, Gone at 58

Posted by prof e on February 17, 2015

At the risk of this blog becoming a collection of obituaries, it is important to recognize the passing of a man who The New York Times executive editor called, “the finest media reporter of his generation.” Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., the Time’s publisher and chairman, said, “David Carr was one of the most gifted journalists who has ever worked at The New York Times.”

David Carr, media reporter for The New York Times newspaper, was an enigma. No one who knew him in his earlier life as a crack addict and single parent on welfare could have seen his rise to celebrity reporter for, arguably, the greatest journalistic enterprise of the modern age.

In his regular Monday column, The Media Equation, Carr dissected the media industry and many of its key players. His writing was often acerbic but always insightful. If all that you knew about the media industries was what you read in David Carr’s columns, you’d be pretty well-informed. If he hadn’t died last week I’m sure that he would have had something pithy to say about the 3.5 hour-long 40th anniversary of SNL that aired this past weekend. And you can be sure that he’d have written something both relevant and revealing about the upcoming Academy Awards telecast this Sunday. Carr did live long enough to weigh in on the very public implosion of NBC News anchor Brian Williams and his article will give you insight into both Williams and Carr, (and the delicate balance between fame and trust), if you take the time to read it.

You can read more about David Carr at the NYT website. Or, for the visually-inspired crowd, watch Page One, a documentary about The Times, in which Carr has a starring role.

Posted in journalism, print | 1 Comment »

Disturbing Photos Create a Moral Dilemma

Posted by prof e on April 22, 2012

A few days ago the LA Times created a stir by publishing photos of U.S. soldiers posing with Afghan corpses. The two photos, published in the paper and online versions of the news publication, were taken in 2010 by a soldier in the 82nd Airborne Division and given to a Times reporter. According to the Poynter website, military officials asked the Times to not publish the photos, but the newspaper went ahead and offered this rational in defense:

After careful consideration, we decided that publishing a small but representative selection of the photos would fulfill our obligation to readers to report vigorously and impartially on all aspects of the American mission in Afghanistan, including the allegation that the images reflect a breakdown in unit discipline that was endangering U.S. troops.

This incident touches on several issues related to the textbook chapters currently being discussed in class. There are concerns over the legality of images that compromise personal privacy. There are also ethical issues related to images of a graphic nature. And there are concerns over journalistic ethics when national security is at stake. Another factor at play is the embarrassment of military and government leaders who would like to have miss-deeds go unnoticed. While military and government leaders have called the behavior captured in the photos “reprehensible” and “morally repugnant,” journalists have an obligation to shine a light on misbehavior whenever and wherever they find it. The question here is how to do so without compromising other important and cherished values. As the LA Times website noted, “the taboo against desecration of the dead is strong in this religiously conservative country.”

There are, unfortunately, plenty of other examples in recent history of visual imagery that posed ethical dilemmas. The Abu Ghraib photos in 2004 of U.S. military personnel posing with inmates in compromising positions comes quickly to mind. Graphic photos of slain Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were carried by some news outlets while others decided to opt for photos of rebels celebrating his death. The White House refused to release photos of a dead Osama bin Laden thus relieving journalists of the pressure of having to make that decision. And just a few months ago a video surfaced of U.S. troops urinating on dead Taliban fighters.

Images are powerful. Perhaps cameras should come with a warning label: CAUTION, do not use without first considering consequences.

Posted in 1st amendment, journalism, politics, print, regulation | 36 Comments »

Thank You & Goodbye

Posted by prof e on July 14, 2011

Last Sunday Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid News of the World was laid to rest after 168 years of operation. A scandal in which private individuals’ cell phones were hacked led to the public outrage that forced the closure. While politicians and celebrities, including Hugh Grant, have long complained of phone hacking by tabloid reporters, it was the hacking of the phones of  private citizens that brought strong criticism and investigations by law enforcement. Among those hacked: 13-year-old missing person Milly Dowler, relatives of victims of the London terrorist attacks and the families of fallen military.

Throughout history journalists have been rewarded for “scooping” the competition. The paper or news organization that got the story first was rewarded with the largest audience and the accolades of their peers. The challenge, of course, is knowing when to stop before aggressive journalism crosses the fine line that separates ethical from unethical practices. While this case appears to have focused attention on an unusually egregious lapse of ethics, the truth is that journalists push the envelope daily and often escape scrutiny. Sometimes the risk pays off in a big way. Other times it leads to someone getting fired–or an entire news operation being shuttered and hundreds of people loosing their jobs.

Posted in journalism, media industry, politics, print, regulation | 33 Comments »

iPad & the Future of Print Media

Posted by prof e on March 7, 2011

The iPad 2 will be available at Apple Stores this Friday at 5pm and the buzz on the street is that it will be another barn burner. In the first 9 months of iPad sales last year, Apple sold nearly 15 million units. Analysts expect that figure to double this year with the release of the iPad 2. The iPad is not the only tablet/e-reader/e-book/etc., it is simply the best-selling and is expected to hold that position for another 2-3 years. Unlike other tablets, the iPad is not first and foremost an e-reader. While the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Nobel Nook are about e-books, the iPad is about apps that range from games to business productivity. But the iPad can also be used for books, and perhaps more important, magazines. Condé Nast, one of the largest magazine publishers, has announced plans to release all of their titles as iPad apps. They already publish Wired, GQ, and Vanity Fair, amongst others, in digital format.

In deciding to go digital, Condé Nast design director Wyatt Mitchell said that the company considered the pros and cons of print and digital, and tried to capture the benefits of both. One of the benefits of print is the fixed design. Magazines ported to the web left designers frustrated by OS, browser, and html/css quirks that reduced their design decisions to mere suggestions. With the iPad, complete creative control is back in the hands of the designers and content experts. Advantages of electronic delivery are myriad and include: speed of publishing, interactivity, the compelling persuasive power of video and audio, and a much smaller carbon footprint.

If you’ve never seen a magazine on an iPad, it is certainly something to behold. More than just high-resolution images and text, iPad zines contain interactive features that make the content breath and pulse with life. What do you think, will the tablet-based digital magazine change the way you read magazines?

Posted in interactive media, journalism, media industry, new media, print | 73 Comments »

Online Recipes, Public Domain, and Internet Vigilantes

Posted by prof e on November 14, 2010

Last week we talked about Dog S*!t Girl and the Chinese crush video…two early examples of the effectiveness of Human Flesh Search Engines for uncovering and punishing misbehavior, both off- and on-line. Wikipedia even has a page on Internet Vigilantism that discusses the phenomenon and references the two examples above and several additional examples.

Now it appears that a new virtual firestorm has overtaken the internet…or at least the corner of the net that is populated by food bloggers and online magazine publishers. According to an article in the Los Angles Times, a food blogger by the name of Monica Gaudio had one of her articles lifted and reprinted by the food magazine Cooks SourceCooks Source is published in print, as well as on Facebook. But don’t go looking for their Facebook page or website because both have been removed after hackers and netizens have come to the aid of Gaudio by blasting Cooks Source (and its managing editor Judith Griggs) for not only misappropriating an online article and using it without permission, but because of the clueless (and rude) email response that Griggs sent to Gaudio after Gaudio asked for both an apology and that a $130 donation be made to Columbia School of Journalism in lieu of payment. According to Gaudio’s blog, this is the email that she received from Griggs at Cooks Source:

“Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”

Well, it appears that the online “spanking” may have been well deserved if the facts of the case are as they have been presented. In any case it will be a lesson for any future online publisher who is tempted to “borrow” someone else’s work without permission.

There are several big ideas here that should be noted: 1) copyright is copyright, both in print and online, 2) information travels at the speed of light on the internet, and the viral potential of social media is an amazing thing to behold, and 3) vigilantism is no substitute for the judicial system. The attack on Cooks Source and Griggs may be deserved…but do we really want angry mobs delivering their version of justice before all the facts have been reviewed?

Additional sources for your consideration:

Posted in interactive media, new media, print, websites | 10 Comments »

Why Don’t Millennials Read?

Posted by prof e on March 10, 2010

The publishing industry is facing some daunting facts about the reading habits of Millennials–i.e., people born during the decades of the 1980s and 90s. The fact is, they don’t care much for reading. While reading books and other literature has been steadily dropping for all age groups, the drop has been most pronounced for this particular demographic. My colleagues at CSU-Pueblo and at other colleges and universities are worried that text books and academic journals will no longer hold the importance that they once held for the transmission of information and knowledge from one generation to the next. An anonymous survey of students in my Media & Society class, midway through the semester, indicated that students had read, on average, about 34% of the assigned reading. Is this cause for alarm, or is it just the new reality that we must simply accept and move on?

Before you answer, consider the perspective offered by Mark Bauerlein, a professor of English at Emory University. In the book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, Bauerlein argues that the distractions of the internet age make it especially difficult for teens and young adults to focus on the kind of knowledge that is critical to the sustenance of democratic society. Without foundational understanding of history and the arts and a working knowledge of the world of politics, economics, and science, young people will be unable to participate in, and contribute to, the advance of civilization. And how is most of this knowledge and understanding acquired?…by reading books and other documents that wrestle with these weighty issues. This is not the kind of information that one gains by perusing Wikipedia or by skimming the Cliff Notes versions of classic texts. And it is certainly not the type of conversation that happens in MySpace or on Facebook.

Okay, I’m sure that I’ve pushed more than a few of your buttons. Tell me what you think and why I shouldn’t join Bauerlein in his pessimistic assessment of the next generation.

Posted in media effects, new media, print | 36 Comments »