Comm issues

This is my blog site I'll be using for my Mass Comm & Society class as well as my Editing/Design class. I will be posting my thoughts on topics that I feel need noted upon that arise in class.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The golden answers!

Recently in my Edit/Design class we discussed the differences in appearances of journalism. Big, bold and in-your-face tabloids are just screaming, 'Read me!', while lengthy, tiny printed, established newspapers elegantly say to young readers, 'Look at me, I'm boring'.

An article from throws out a few possible solutions for newspapers to excel in the future.
(They include) emphasizing local coverage, offering news stories you can't get anywhere else, keeping it short and to the point, picking a point of view, maintaining strong sport coverage, prompting circulation every once in awhile, and possibly making the big switch over to tabloids.
People will continue to keep up with the news, because it helps them makes sense of the world by constructing and representing reality. News is also driven by popularity and by what the audience wants. If news served with firecrackers is what they want, then they better strap on their explosive hats!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Copycat possibly caught

Many people think plagiarism only occurs in the writing aspect. Think again. An editorial cartoonist's reputation is on the line as her work is being closely examined after the question of plagiarism arises.
"In general, I would say the same standards for plagiarism should apply for both written matter and for visual material," Steele said. "We should credit someone else if we use any meaningful or significant part of their work."

Cartoonists and journalists alike work so hard to build up a good reputation, but it can easily be destroyed when people know you've been accused of stealing other people's work.
Wolverton said he would not take action against Breeden but that the similarities between her cartoons and others’ work would hurt her in the end. "It’s not going to be good for her in the future because she’s established a reputation for ripping off other people’s work," he said. "She’s ‘borrowing heavily’ which is at the very least unprofessional."
If Breeden's cartoons bare a substantial similarity to other cartoonist's work and there's evidence she had access to their work then she definitely should be in hot water. Her reputation may be ruined and that may be just enough punishment without action by either Wolverton or Handelsman.

It's just like cheating on a test -- you're only hurting yourself in the end.

Hard problems to solve

A drop here, a decline there -- what's next? Newspaper businesses completely disappearing? Unfortunately, the newspaper print business' insane loss of circulation numbers isn't surprising to anyone.

A Newspaper Association of America (NAA) analysis of data on 770 newspapers released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations found that average daily circulation fell 2.8 percent to about 43.8 million copies for the six months ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period a year ago.
Luckily, a glimmer of positive light can still be seen in the midst of all this darkness.

The group added that total newspaper readership is rising, when Web site use, sharing papers and other measures are included. The NAA has been emphasizing more positive total readership numbers than paid circulation figures over the last few years.
Newspapers are gaining more readers with more viewers turning to the Internet to get their news, but they still face the problem of revenue. One solution would be to charge readers for online news, but I see this as a "Catch 22". Readers will disappear just as quickly as they first surfaced with the ever-so-popular Internet, which will leave the newspaper company in complete detriment.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

I want my job back

Could the Dallas Morning News purposely be bumping up their numbers of young staff members by replacing the older ones? Eighteen staff members, all over the age of 40, were laid off in 2004 and are now suing the company because of age discrimination.

In the lawsuit, the former employees claim that -- before the layoffs -- the paper replaced older newsroom department heads with younger managers who made derogatory comments about older workers, including accusing them of failing to adapt to new technology.
While it may be true these former employees struggled to adjust to new technology, the judge still has to consider other important factors as well. They should question if the plaintiffs had a hard work ethic, if they met deadlines consistently, and if they got along well with their fellow co-workers.

At the same time, I don't think companies should be so quick to replace older members with younger members, because experience is still a highly acknowledged skill.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Goodbye digital fear

Magazines have bounced back after overcoming their fear of digital media. Jack Klinger, president-CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. and chairman of Magazine Publishers of America, made an impressive speech this morning by boldy claiming magazines will be making an incline and no longer a decline.

"We are no longer threatened by digital media," said Kliger. "We are figuring out how to use it to our advantage."

"I'm not ready to end up my career watching our industry get marginalized and fade away. I'd rather be an agent of change than efficiently manage our decline. And I'd rather pave the way so the next generation of editors and publishers can have long and rewarding careers."

Klinger makes a very relevant point by stating just because a company cancels an edition of a magazine doesn't mean the company as a whole is throwing in the towel. This should encourage other companies to see change as a push for improvement and not for detriment.

Aye or nay?

What consideration goes into categorizing high school plays as appropriate or unappropriate? Protests have surged at Valley High School in Des Moines over the soon to be performed play "The Laramie Project". On the other hand, a Cedar Rapids high school has yet to hear a complaint about the same play production.

The play is a true story happening in 1998. A student at the University of Wyoming was taken to the countryside, tied up, and left to die. Another probable issue community members could be wrestling over is the fact that the victim in the story was gay.

The moral of the story was very well summed up by Kennedy drama director, Phyllis Staplin.
"The message of the play will be very strong: When there is not tolerance and acceptance, a tragedy ensues," Staplin said.
What does the ending of this play tell viewers about ideology? I believe that it presents the issue of an on-going struggle that gays intercept on a daily basis in their community. Unfortunately, they (gays) are viewed as a disruption to society if they make their sexual preference known.

Some viewers would say let gays do their thing, while others would take the view of gay actions to be wrong, immoral and they deserve to die as the young man does in "The Laramie Project".

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Out with the old, in with the new

Newspapers everywhere are struggling to keep their heads above water. As most of us realize, print journalism just isn't doing the trick anymore and it doesn't appear to be in our future. An article from The Motley Fool points out how newspapers now have a new focus-- online opportunities.

Recently, Dow Jones has hired former Viacom executive, Ann Sarnoff, to educate newspaper companies on how to add 'bells, sparks and whistles' to their online form of journalism.

Newspaper companies must make the best of the current situation they are in.
As has been apparent in many areas of the media lately, an industry threat can also become an opportunity, and it appears that newspaper companies have become well aware of that fact.
Since newspapers are now concentrating on their 'online ventures', does this mean they're choosing to let the print version of their newspaper slowly drown?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More than what it appears

To many, Tracey Dyess is viewed as a crazy and confused 17-year-old girl who set fire to her house and killed some of her innocent family members about 18 months ago. There's obviously more to the story than the fact that she's crazy.

An analytical scientist would look into why she behaved this way. Unfortunately, like this case, sexual abuse has a history within the family.
Dyess said she wanted to flee not only from the sex acts, but also from her mother, who failed to protect her children, exposed them to crime, uprooted them more than 25 times, and prevented them from going to school regularly.
Professor Fred Jones, a recent Simpson College forum speaker, suggested even though we can't predict all behaviors, we can predict some. Many times, human actions appear to have a designated pattern they follow. One needs to research all variables that come into play and relate them to their theory. Later, one may be able to utilize some of their findings for similar cases in the future.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What's so hard about the truth?

In an article from the Slate Magazine website, brought up the issue how some newspaper companies and their journalists have a hard time admitting to their mistakes. As readers, we should be more concerned.

Jack Shafer, Slate writer, points a finger at newspapers for not living up to their mistakes.

Instead of announcing their errors in judgment, most newspapers reverse course by ignoring the flawed stories in their back pages and taking a new tack—as if those old stories had never been written.

Instead, newspapers tend to reinforce their mistakes in judgment or ignore them until the noise from critics forces them to confess to a kind of journalistic malpractice.

I feel it's the journalist's duty to report fair and accurate information to their audience, and it should be just as simple to correct your mistakes to keep your readers correctly informed.

After all, everyone's human right?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hot off the press

Bob Woodward's newly released 'State of Denial' has pushed the Bush administration to the edges of their seats. A Washington Post article reports the book has sold over 900,000 copies and is now starting its third printing.

An article in Newsweek points out how Woodward has dramatically caught Bush offguard.

"State of Denial" paints a damning picture of White House policy in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion. After The New York Times printed excerpts of the book on Friday, the West Wing immediately went into full damage-control mode, as top aides tried to figure out how to respond.
Bob Wietrak, a vice president of merchandising for Barnes & Noble, Inc., commented on the relevance of this specific genre in today's society.

"We think that political books will once again be the focal point for bookselling (this fall). We envision 2007 through 2008 will be similar to 2003 and 2004. It is back to the future for us."
Woodward's hot selling book has a mixture of novel elements involved. It falls under the political genre category. This genre is a huge hit especially during times of crisis. It also includes a bit of detective and invective aspects. Woodward is calling out President Bush on his 'crime' with the war and making brutal attacks on his administration. The Democratic audience surely sees this literature as incredibly pleasurable.

The ideas and concepts within Woodward's book are attached with ideologies of skepticism of our governmental leaders. This is very important to keep in mind, because readers don't just look at this type of genre as a simple form of storytelling. They will use this form of media to make better sense of our world.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Deal or no deal?

After airing a touchy interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News, YouTube quickly snatched up clips to place on the internet. This interview immediately sparked lots of conversations. Fox News then decided to throw down the 'copyright' card and proceeded to shut down all distributing channels. One major concern -- YouTube will steal the show's viewership.
Do you see unauthorized clips on webites like YouTube as a good way to promote a show or a network, or is it a threat to the very business model of television, still based on selling 30-second advertising spots?
There are well-rounded arguments to both sides. Fox News has no control over what's being produced on YouTube or what's being discussed about their own material. A reason to be pro-YouTube is it could prove to be good publicity for the news network.

Cross your fingers YouTube doesn't become the next Napster.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Who'd a thunk it?

Would you risk your life just to fulfill your job? To many, jobs like police officers, fire fighters, soldiers, and other closely related fields come with a probable life risk. Most people probably think of journalists as writers who sit in their little cubicle all day in front of a computer typing up articles.

An article from the Free Press emphasizes the danger journalists are currently facing. Journalists who are overseas, especially those working in Iraq, are in a totally different journalism world.
This year is the deadliest on record for journalists and media workers, with 75 deaths to date, the World Association of Newspapers said today.
As we discussed earlier in class, natives of Iraq are hired to do journalism work for our country's newspapers. The WAN chief executive, Timothy Balding, explains being in a warzone isn't the only danger these journalists face. Being a live bullseye to Iraqis for aiding the western news agencies serves as a larger threat.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

It's all about conversion these days

By converting news to the internet, media has followed one of its basic principles: supporting dominant ideologies by giving audiences texts in which are pleasurable; in this case it's easy access.

In the '80s and '90s, retrieving your daily news online wasn't really an accessible option for everyone. Back then we would revert to news online as an emergent ideology. Now everyone's jumping on the bandwagon to enable news online and other sources to be a mouse-click away and free. Bingo. Within this new millenium we've entered, readership for news online has sky-rocketed.

The Newspaper Association of America recently stated its findings in their readership study.
The average number of unique visitors to online newspaper sites in the first half was more than 55.5 million a month, the study said. That compares with 42.2 million a year earlier.
Unfortunately, for the print media, the numbers are predicted to continue soaring. The print media tortoise better find its running shoes to try and catch up with the online hare. Some even predict the tortoise will eventually have to quit the media race.