Thursday, May 31, 2007

June CommQuote

This month's quote trips us back to the 1980's when Reagan-appointed Chairman of the FCC Mark Fowler issued his famous toaster metaphor to justify the sweeping deregulation of TV advertising that was to follow. Demoting the medium of television to object-status fit into his view of broadcasters as market players rather than trustees of the community.

" Television is just another appliance. It's a toaster with pictures. Let the people decide through the marketplace mechanisms what they wish to see and hear. Why is there this national obsession to tamper with this box of transistors and tubes when we don't do the same for Time magazine?"
--Mark Fowler, Interview in Reason magazine, 1 November 1981

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study; Pew Reports

The Arbitron Cinema Advertising Study 2007 is the follow-up to Arbitron’s 2003 study which examined the size, characteristics, and behavior of movie theater audiences. In this new report, Arbitron focuses on the moviegoer’s relationship with cinema advertising and evaluate its ability to influence young and affluent consumers.

And from Pew:

Public Knowledge of Current Affairs Little Changed by News and Information Revolutions What Americans Know: 1989-2007, a report from the Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

A Quarter's Worth of News Coverage A new report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism which finds that the four-year-old war in Iraq dwarfed all other topics in the U.S. news media during the first three months of 2007. However, more than 80% of war news focused on Americans -- those shaping policy, fighting or affected at home. Only about one-in-six stories was primarily about Iraqis, whether their government, their lives, or their casualties. The 2008 presidential campaign ranked second in coverage with news focusing primarily on Democratic candidates.

Also from PEJ, don't forget about their annual State of the News Media reports.
State of the News Media 2007 has been out since March and is the fourth edition of this reputable report on the health and status of American journalism. (Earlier reports have been highlighted in a previous post.)

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Margaret Blanchard featured in special issue of Communication Law and Policy

A recent issue of Communication Law and Policy (Volume 11, Number 3, Summer 2006) is devoted to the scholarship of free speech historian Margaret Blanchard.

The lead piece, "Anthony Comstock and His Adversaries: The Mixed Legacy of this Battle For Free Speech," is written by Blanchard and John E. Semonche, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina. The article began as one of the ten chapters in a book by Blanchard and Semonche tentatively titled Speak No Evil: Sin, Sex and Censorship from Comstock to Helms. The book is forthcoming this year by Rowman and Littlefield as Sin, Sex, and Censorship: A Historical Peek. W. Wat Hopkins edited the issue which also features "Dissent Yesterday and Today: The Tinker Case and Its Legacy," by Joseph Russomanno; "Unconstitutional Review Board? Considering a First Amendment Challenge to IRB Regulation of Journalistic Research Methods," by Robert L. Kerr; and "Through the Eyes of the Abolitionists: Free Association and Anti-Slavery Expression," by Amy Reynolds.

The issue is available online from Penn Libraries.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Two Reports on Children: Violent Entertainment , Food Advertising

Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children: A Fifth Follow-up Review of the Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recordings, and Electronic Games. A Report to Congress, April 2007 Federal Trade Commission, 138 pages. The first of of these reports was issued in 2000. All previous reports are also available.

Food for Thought: Television: Food Advertising to Children in the United States, released by The Kaiser Family Foundation, is the largest study conducted of TV food advertising to children. Content analysis of TV ads & detailed data on children’s viewing habits for an estimate of the number and type of TV ads seen by children of various ages. Besides the full report which is available at the site, you can also find news releases and an overview; also a webcast of when the report was released at a forum in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, March 28, 2007. It featured U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, food industry leaders, health officials and consumer advocates.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Times Digital Archive available from Penn website

Now available to the Penn community: The Times Digital Archive, a full-image online archive of every page published by The Times [London] from 1785-1985. The text within the images is fully searchable at the article level. Users can easily search news articles, obituaries, advertising and classifieds — virtually everything that appeared in the newspaper. Results are displayed at the article level and users may view the article — or the full page upon which it appeared. I just checked it out and "stumbled" upon an account of Oscar Wilde's arrest, on April 6, 1985:

Mr. Wilde had with him two friends, and the inspector stated the object of his visit. Mr. Wilde made no reply, and the party at once drove to Scotland-yard in order to meet Inspector Brockwell, who had the warrant for the arrest. The warrant was read to the prisoner, who made no reply, and after some delay he was brought to Bow-street, arriving there at 8 10 in a four-wheeled cab. Mr. Wilde was the first to alight, and walked straight into the station, followed by the detectives. He did not appear to be at all affected by the circumstances of his position. He was at once placed in the dock, and stood there with his hands in his pockets while the charges was taken down by Inspector Digby. When the charge had been entered Mr. Wilde was taken to the cells to see whether he could bail out Mr. Wilde, and appeared much distressed when he was informed that on no consideration could his application be entertained. He then offered to procure extra comforts for the prisoner, but this also was not allowed by he officer on duty. Mr. Wilde occupies an ordinary cell, but will be allowed to supply himself with any extra food he thinks fit. he will be brought up to-day at 10 o'clock at Bow-street."

--The Times, Apr 06, 1985; pg. 10; Issue 34544; col E


Thursday, May 17, 2007

2007 Entertainment, Media & Advertising Market Research Handbook

Now in its 9th edition, The 2007 Entertainment, Media & Advertising Market Research Handbook combines current market statistics with trend analysis and marketing strategies, providing a comprehensive and reliable guide for strategic planning and market development across all media platforms. Published by the market research firm Richard K. Miller & Associates, this 230+ page handbook offers the latest data on the major advertising and media corporations, consumer uses of media (including multitasking), advertising by medium, political ad spending, cable and satellite services, consumer magazines, the internet, mobile media, newspapers (including online, college and free metro dailies), radio (including satellite and internet), and television (including online, mobile, and digital), filmed entertainment (in theaters and video sales and rentals), live performances and events, recorded music, and video games. There is an extensive section on marketing which includes branding, entertainment, and virtual worlds. Specific ethnic markets focused on are: African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American; also the Gays and Lesbian market, and markets divided into age groups (Millenials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers) and gender. There is also a section on faith-based media.

The handbook is available in the ASC Library as a print out. The ASC community can request the pdf version from me.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Declassified Iraq Media War Plan Paper

From the National Security Administration Archive, just released on May 8, 2007: a White Paper and PowerPoint slides on "a critical interim rapid response component" of the United State's Defense Department's strategic information campaign for Iraq "in the event hostilities are required to liberate Iraq." The plan, put together in January of 2003, called for a Rapid Reaction Media Team "to serve as a bridge between Iraq's formerly state-controlled news outlets and an 'Iraqi Free Media' network" (NSAA website).

These documents were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and are posted in their entirety on the NSAA website.

More in the way of explanation from the website:
"The Pentagon team would portray a "new Iraq" offering hope of a prosperous and democratic future, which would serve as a model for the Middle East. American, British, and Iraqi media experts would be hand-picked to provide "approved USG information" for the Iraqi public, while an ensuing "strategic information campaign" would be part of a "likely 1-2 years . . . transition" to a representative government. A new weekly Iraqi newspaper would feature "Hollywood" along with the news.

Defense Department planners envisioned a post-invasion Iraq where the U.S., in cooperation with a friendly Baghdad government, could monopolize information dissemination. They did not account for independent media outlets, the Internet, and all the other alternative sources of information that are available in the modern world. The U.S. media campaign has not been able to control the message - but its execution was privatized, and contracting has made it a profitable enterprise for those able to capitalize on the Pentagon's largesse."

The site also includes an "Iraq Media Timeline" that summarizes the U.S. media campaign and the difficult conditions faced by reporters in Iraq.

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Keeping up with the MIT Communications Forum

Time to check in with MIT.WORLD for some worthwhile podcasts hosted or sponsored by the the MIT Communications Forum:

Emerging Technologies and Trends in Online Entertainment and Business with Jonathan F. Miller and David Faber.

What's New at the Media Lab with Frank Moss, Adam Boulanger, Ryan Chin, Hartmut Geyer, and Henry Jenkins.

Evangelicals and the Media with Gary Schneeberger, Jon Walker, and Diane Winston. Abstract: American Evangelicals have a long history of engagement with the media, dating back to the Great Awakening of the late eighteenth century. Today Evangelical groups are active in all media, from the Internet and cellular telephones to print journalism, broadcasting, film, and multi-media entertainment. This forum convenes speakers from the academy and Evangelical community to discuss the social and political impact of the evangelical movement's use of media technologies.

And most recently, an April 2007 conference: mit 5: creativity, ownership and collaboration in the digital age. Featured events: Folk Cultures and Digital Cultures; Collaboration and Collective Intelligence; Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons; Learning through Remixing; Reproduction, Mimicry, Critique and Distribution Systems in Visual Art.

All programs are available in audio and podcast.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Tribute Essays in Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media Honoring BEA Anniversay

In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Broadcast Education Association, its official journal, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, has been honoring research pioneers in broadcasting in a series of tribute essays beginning in Volume 49, Issue 2 (2005) and culminating in the 50th anniversary year (2006) in Volume 50, Issue 4. Now that the last tribute has appeared in the latest issue of JOBEM, I thought I'd take the opportunity to feature the whole list, in case you missed the series or parts of it. The listings are in volume and issue order. Essays are relatively brief, no more than 8 pages, and include a brief bibliography.

Volume 49:
William Stephenson: Traveling an Unorthodox Path to Mass Communication Discovery, by Stuart Esrock

Erik Barnouw (1908-2001): Broadcasting's Premier Historian, by Christopher Sterling, et al.

Teacher-Scholar Herbert Zettl: Applied Educational Ideas, by Lawrence J. Mullen

Volume 50:
Jennings Bryant: The "Compleat" Scholar, by Susan Thompson

Maxwell McCombs: Agenda-Setting Explorer, by William R. Davie and T. Michael Maher

Sydney W. Head (1913-1991): Remembering the Founder of Modern Broadcasting Studies, by Christopher Sterling, et al.

Rethinking Marshall McLuhan: Reflections on a Media Terrorist, by Donald A. Fishman

Understanding Electronic Media Audiences: The Pioneering Research of Alan M. Rubin, by Paul M. Haridakis and Evonne H. Whitmore

Vernon A. Stone: Newsman and Educator, by Rod G. Gelatt

Sorry, no online access to this journal. You have to come to the ASC library.

For those of you reading this far down...actually the last issue of the Research Pioneer Tribute series is Volume 51, Number 1 (2007) and features three more pioneers! They are: Jannette Dates: A Lifelong Commitment to Teaching, Scholarship, and Service, by Cristina Pieraccini;
Lynne Schafer Gross: Extraordinary Role Model, by Elizabeth Leebron; and Scholar, Historian, Individualist: John Michael Kittross, by William G. Covintonr, Jr.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Citizen Media: Fad or the Furture of News?

A new report from J-Lab , The Institute for Interactive Journalism, titled Citizen Media: Fad or the Future of News? The rise and prospects of hyperlocal journalism, by Jan Schaffer, J-Lab Executive Director, is available for download. J-Lab is a center of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. It helps news organizations and citizens use new information ideas and innovative computer technologies to develop new ways for people to engage in critical public policy issues.

From the February 2007 Press Release:

Local news web sites offering content generated by users are securing a valuable place in the media landscape and are likely to continue as important sources of community news, according to a report released today by J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

"Citizen sites are developing as new forms of bridge media, linking traditional news with forms of civic participation," said J-Lab director, Jan Schaffer, author of the report, which was funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

These sites, which take many forms, have rapidly emerged since 2004. But rather than delivering comprehensive news and "finished stories," most sites are "forming as fusions of news and schmooze" that pay particular attention to key issues in their communities, Schaffer said.

The report was commissioned to determine the prospects for sustainability of these fledgling enterprises. It relied on in-depth interviews of 31 different sites and a 60-question, online survey that targeted 500 citizen sites that could be identified in the fall of 2006 and generated 191 responses.

"This report is the most comprehensive I have seen in documenting the community media revolution," said Dean Thomas Kunkel of the University of Maryland's Merrill College of Journalism, which houses J-Lab. "It quantifies what has been inherently difficult to quantify. And it shows in great detail how different entrepreneurs are employing different models and with different goals in mind."

Most citizen media ventures are shoestring labors of love, funded out of the founders' own pockets, and staffed by volunteer content contributors. While they’d like more readers and revenues, site founders nevertheless professed a solid resolve to continue: 51% said they didn't need to make money to keep going; 82% said they planned to continue "indefinitely." Nearly all would welcome reinforcements and the ability to make even token payments to writers.

"While not all individual sites will continue to operate, we project that the phenomenon of citizen media will be sustainable, with new sites coming online in serial fashion to replace those that collapse as their founders burn out," Schaffer said.

A sizable majority, 73%, of the survey respondents, pronounced their sites to be a "success," based largely on the impact in their communities.

Respondents said their sites provided local news and information not found elsewhere, built connections to the community and helped local media to improve. Asked to describe community impact:

* 82% said they provided opportunities for dialogue.
* 61% said they watchdogged local government.
* 39% said they helped the community solve problems.
* 27% said they increased voter turnout.
* 17% said they increased the number of candidates running for office.

The full report is available online at the new Knight Citizen News Network web. Print copies arel also available by email request to: news@j-lab.org.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Keesing's World News Archive

From newsbreaks.infotoday.com, an article (below) on the Keesing World News Archive, a sort of indirect news archive in that it contains reports drawn from international newspaper resources.

As the site explains: Since 1931 Keesing’s has collected news reports on a daily basis from all over the world in a wide range of languages. Our editorial team, based in Cambridge, UK, takes this huge mass of raw data and refines and processes it into a series articles which we publish each month. These constitute a concise, accurate and unbiased account of important developments in each of the world’s countries, major international organisations and within selected thematic topics. Therefore, each monthly issue of Keesing’s Record of World Events accurately records, and objectively places within its immediate and historical context, the world’s most significant political, social and economic events by the end of the month following that in which they occurred."

Keesing's World News Archive Puts Web 2.0 into Practice
by Marydee Ojala

Keesing's World News Archive was launched at the International Studies Association annual meeting in Chicago last week, bringing 76 years of objective, well-written historical reporting online. It uses Squiz's open source content management system,
MySource Matrix (www.squiz.co.uk/mysource_matrix), to bring historical information into a Web 2.0 world. Keesing's is hardly a new company. Founded in 1931 in Amsterdam, it was strictly a print publisher for decades, which is not surprising for a company that predates both online and computers. What's impressive is the transformation made over the past 2 years in creating what
Keesing's deems a "History 2.0" product.

The content for Keesing's World News Archive comes from the company's 76 years of news monitoring. Keesing's is not a comprehensive gathering of every news story on a topic; it doesn't scrape news from the Web, ala Google or Yahoo! News. Instead, its editors select the most historically significant political, social, and economic events, extract critical information from worldwide news sources, and write concise reports.

These reports exist for the record, stripping bias away and correcting errors in the original press reports. If you insist upon print, you can still subscribe to Keesing's Record of World Events, the monthly news publication. Today, Keesing's produces 150 articles per month on average. All articles written in the past 76 years appear in the electronic Keesing's World News Archive, which currently contains about 95,000 articles online.

As a content provider, Keesing's enjoys a solid reputation. Its previous foray into putting content online occurred in 1999. That product used Folio to create a Keesing's info base. The interface, reviewed by Barbara Spruill in the February/March 2000 issue of EContent, offered keyword, Boolean, and advanced searching but was not user friendly for novice users. All that has changed with the launch of Keesing's World News Archive.

The home page puts Search the Archive at the top of the options on the left-hand side of the screen. Although it's not immediately obvious, entering multiple terms in the search box combines them with an implicit Boolean AND. There is no advanced search capability other than limiting by date. Search results can be sorted by date (ascending or descending) or by relevance. Thus far, a search on Keesing's seems rather traditional. But look closer. The system extracts key topics, people, nations, and tags to enable searchers to refine their searches and to see related entities quickly. You can view these either as a ranked list or as tag clouds. The only glitch is the "no selection" that appears first every single time, both in the list and in the tag cloud displays.

It's when you look at the full text of an article that Web 2.0 elements surface. At the bottom of the article, you will find a space where you can add your personal tags to the article and write notes. In the collaborative spirit of Web 2.0, you can share your tags and notes with other searchers. You can also search within the article, which is useful since search terms are not highlighted. You can create your own private portfolios. Keesing's press release on the new product says, "These connecting tags form the spine of the new site. They allow users to conduct precision searches, establish new associations between facts, and explore the connecting threads that run through … history."

Unlike more static information sources, Keesing's gives you the opportunity to complain about what you see on a page. If you choose to "Report a problem," which I did when I found typos on one page, you get an automated response promising a human follow-up. However, you don't get the Wikipedia-like option of actually editing a Keesing's article directly yourself. Despite the promise of immediate editorial attention, I'm still waiting for a contact from that promised human.

(Update: The error report I filed was, in fact, answered via email by a human and acted upon. The responder was apologetic and promised faster response time in the future.)

The power of user-generated tagging for historical events has exciting possibilities. Because Keesing's World News Archive is so new, tags are few and far between. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of the tagging function. Keesing's says it intends to add more of its own tags: One possibility is political parties. The best case scenario is that researchers will learn from each other while they absorb Keesing's historic content. The perceived linear nature of history, which is certainly the way it was taught to me in secondary school and at university, stands ready to be exploded by the collaborative nature of the Squiz technology applied to Keesing's archives. Searching the archives is not the only option at the home page. A Breaking History option appears directly under Search the Archive. This provides timelines on predefined topics, such as bird flu. If you want to know what the Keesing's folks are up to, click on the blog option, which has the somewhat peculiar icon of a manual typewriter. Why a picture of manual typewriters should trigger thoughts of blogs, I'm not quite sure, but the quaintness of it is somewhat appealing.

According to publisher, Jonathan Hixon, "This venture marks our entry into the world of collaboration with developers, researchers, historians, and, hopefully, other publishers. We developed our software on an open source content management system developed in Australia, which is now being looked at by other publishers and could well lead to more compatible and consistent platforms for data. We have helped to develop an innovative new tagging feature [that] encourages collaboration among thinkers from all over the world to draw relationships between the events, people, and places we have covered."

Signing up for an account is a prominent option. Back in 2000, subscriptions started at $1,000. With Keesing's World News Archive, the price is substantially more appealing. There's a day rate of $7.95, a monthly rate of $49, and an annual rate of $219. You can pay by credit card. Bringing the price down like this encourages ordinary people, as well as information professionals, to search Keesing's archive, to add tags, and to contribute to an ongoing conversation about history.

Marydee Ojala is the editor of ONLINE and a longtime online business researcher.

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May CommQuote

It was only a matter of time until I worked New York School poet Frank O'Hara into this blog. It's not even a stretch because his poems are full of references to the movies and feeling about the whole movie-going experience. Here's a rather famous one.


Mothers of America
let your kids go to the movies!
get them out of the house so they won't know what you're up to
it's true that fresh air is good for the body
but what about the soul
that grows in darkness, embossed by silvery images
and when you grow old as grow old you must
they won't hate you
they won't criticize you they won't know
they'll be in some glamorous country
they first saw on a Saturday afternoon or playing hookey

they may even be grateful to you
for their first sexual experience
which only cost you a quarter
and didn't upset the peaceful home
they will know where candy bars come from
and gratuitous bags of popcorn
as gratuitous as leaving the movie before it's over
with a pleasant stranger whose apartment is in the Heaven on Earth Bldg
near the Williamsburg Bridge
oh mothers you will have made the little tykes
so happy because if nobody does pick them up in the movies
they won't know the difference
and if somebody does it'll be sheer gravy
and they'll have been truly entertained either way
instead of hanging around the yard
or up in their room
hating you
prematurely since you won't have done anything horribly mean yet
except keeping them from the darker joys
it's unforgivable the latter
so don't blame me if you won't take this advice
and the family breaks up
and your children grow old and blind in front of a TV set
movies you wouldn't let them see when they were young

From Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O'Hara. City Lights Books. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. Frank O'Hara.org.

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