Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Benton Foundation

The Benton Foundation is a private foundation in existence since 1948 that works in the areas of public policy, specifically serving the public interest in the media and telecommunications arena.
Current priorities include Current priorities include: "promoting a vision and policy alternatives for the digital age in which the benefit to the public is paramount; raising awareness among funders and nonprofits on their stake in critical policy issues; enabling communities and nonprofits to produce diverse and locally responsive media content."

They are worth pointing out on a library resource blog because their site is resource rich. Homepage sections includes Recent Headlines (free, daily summaries of articles on telecommunications policy), Policy Initiatives (on such topics as media ownership, affordable broadband, and other communication legislation), digital Beat Blog (Charles Benton and others' take on communications policy), and Community Media (the foundations work in educating nonprofits in this area) and more.

The Library and Topics sections are full of annual reports, research papers, news articles, and postings on a variety of topics in the areas of advertising, broadcasting, cable, children and media, community media, cyberwarfare and cybersecurity, digital content, digital divide, diversity, elections and media, emergency communication, energy and climate, FCC reform, health and media, indecency regulation, internet/broadband, journalism, labor, localism, media ownership, satellite, spectrum, telecom, violence, and wireless.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Introducing adViews!

Great news! Duke University's TV commercial collections spanning from the 1940s to the present, have gone online. From the website:
"The AdViews digital collection provides access to thousands of historic commercials created for clients or acquired by the D'Arcy Masius Benton and Bowles advertising agency or its predecessor during the 1950s - 1980s. All of the commercials held in the DMBB Archives will be digitized, allowing students and researchers access to a wide range of vintage brand advertising from the first four decades of mainstream commercial television."
AdViews is a collaborative project between the Digital Collections Program and the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, as well as a number of other groups, at Duke University.

Ads can be searched by keywords, company name, product, and by date. There are also broader categories to browse such as "Health and Beauty," "Transportation and Travel," "Food and Beverage," among others.

Note: To view the ads one needs to open them in iTunes. That appears to be the only option.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Consumers International

Consumers International has been around since 1960 and describes itself as serving "as the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers." It's useful for a more worldly perspective on consumer issues and has lots of media-related reports and projects on such topics as irresponsible drug promotion, junk food marketing, the mobile phone industry and communication about climate change as it relates to consumerism.

Check out these reports and briefings:
Left Wanting More: Food company Policies on Marketing to Children (March 2009)
New Media, same Old Tricks: A Survey of the Marketing of Food to Children on Food Company Websites (March 2009)
Drugs, doctors and Dinners: How Drug Companies Influence Health in the Developing World (October 2007)
Research Briefing: Promotion of Prescription Drugs in the Developing World (2009)

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Media/Materials Clearinghouse (M/MC)

The Media/Materials Clearinghouse (M/MC) is a repository for health communication materials from around the world--pamphlets, posters, audiotapes, videos, training materials, job aids, electronic media and other media/materials designed to promote public health. One can search its HEALTH COMMUNICATION MATERIALS DATABASE by country (128 I counted), subjects (such as AIDS, bed nets, blood pressure, chlamydia, dental heath, infant mortality, malaria, traffic safety--too many to count), and medium (from comic books to radio spots to wallet cards). There are over 150 languages to choose from as well.

Besides the database, the site also hosts a Health Communications Materials Network where communication specialists share ideas and information on public health communication.

An "In the Spotlight" features a new health campaign every month. This month's feature is a radio soap opera on body love:

Body Love actorsBodyLove is the soap opera that is good for you. Developed by faculty and students at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, BodyLove is a radio drama that reaches African American listeners with messages to promote healthy lifestyles. The program uses the technique of modeling healthy and unhealthy behaviors and their consequences. To date, 83 episodeshave been produced and broadcast on radio stations in Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Mississippi. They can also be streamed on-demand from three stations in Birmingham, Alabama. Please visit www.bodylove.org for more information.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

September CommQuote

This month's quote is brought to us by Paul Frosh offering "some physiognomic speculations" of television in its pre-digital form (The Face of Television) in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (volume 625, September 2009). The issue, edited by Elihu Katz and Paddy Scannell is called The End of Television? Its Impact on the World (So Far).

"When I watch my conventional, seven-year-old cathode-ray tube (CRT) television, I obviously see the colors and forms, figures, and faces of programming content. But I also see something else—especially when the set is turned off: my own reflection and that of the viewing space in which I am located. In fact, it is difficult to remember a time when I did not see my own reflection in the television, and I have occasionally noticed my own children preening before the screen.

There are many tempting possibilities for theorizing this mirrorlike quality of the CRT screen, not least the connection between television and a culture of narcissism, or the deployment of Lacanian models of psychic development (with obligatory references to the ubiquitous “mirror stage”). I will briefly mention only two obvious points, however. The first is that the reflection of the viewer in the television is a virtualization of the viewer’s body and physical setting. This is true, of course, of all reflective surfaces and mirrors. Yet, these other reflective surfaces double the space that the viewer already inhabits but do not add to it. The television screen, in contrast, makes the viewer’s image a part of a parallel world of THE FACE OF TELEVISION 95 strangers that television creates on the other side of the screen, a world that for all its verisimilitude is still very different from the space the viewer physically inhabits.

This incorporation of the virtualized viewer into television’s universe of strange faces and bodies is most obvious when the lighting in the viewing space and in the program content conspire to make the viewer’s reflection overlap with the image on the screen. Even when this does not happen, however, and when my reflection is replaced by the broadcast image, television remains perpetually open to this potential of world-overlap, and not least because I am what appears on the screen when the machine is shut down. The CRT television screen is therefore in a sense never really off: when it shows nothing, what it shows is me.

More than this, it shows me looking back at me. As with one’s image in a mirror, one cannot take oneself by surprise: it takes great effort to see oneself without meeting one’s own reflected eyes returning one’s gaze. To look at my reflection almost always means that my reflection looks back at me as a face that faces it, echoing the structure of the direct deictic gaze to the audience of certain televisual faces described earlier.

How do I look on my television? My image appears to emanate from the darkened depths of the set. The screen does not just reflect me; it also presents a mirror image of the three-dimensional space in which I am located. This is important since it constitutes the space behind the screen as a world in depth. The screen appears not only as a surface upon which images are projected but also as the translucent barrier to an anterior space—a space of representation (the illusion of three dimensions) that is mapped onto the physical space of the cathode ray tube. Unlike cinema, then, the space behind the television screen does not appear to be virtual: the screen is not a surface showing only the illusory representation of a three-dimensional world but a looking-glass onto the (inhabitable) inside of the television set itself.

The appearance of a world in depth behind the television screen is, therefore, not simply an effect of the optical illusion of three dimensions that characterizes the pictures shown on television. Instead, the pictorial illusion is made continuous with the reflected image of the viewer and his or her setting (walls, sofas, coffee tables), as though both take turns to occupy the same delimited space—a space that is mapped onto the physical depth of the television set. When the television is turned off, and the broadcast image disappears, the space it occupied is filled by the reflection. This gives the inhabitable “inside” of the television, the world in depth on the other side of the glass, a semblance of permanence. And this sense of a permanent world-space inside the television intersects powerfully with one of the most obvious aspects of television’s physical exterior: its appearance as a kind of container."
--Paul Frosh, The Face of Television, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, pp94-96 (September 2009)


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