Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Edward Bernays and the Many Faces of Truth

Edward Bernays, the father of PR, claimed that the concept of “truth” did not exist- reality is only in the mind of the beholder.

To emphasize the way in which a concrete event or activity can be portrayed in any number of different ways, write about the following evens (1 paragraph each) from each character’s perspective, trying to communicate to an audience his/her point of view.

Scenario #1 A patron of a restaurant slips on a banana peel as she walks past the kitchen on her way to the restroom. (Characters: Woman, Restaurant Owner)
  • As I slipped on the banana peel I felt my body fly back. I hit the ground hard as I felt a sudden rush of anger and embarrassment. Why didn't they take better care of this resteraunt? I thought to myself. I should sue them. I could have broken my neck.
  • I was in my office when I heard a loud crash outside. I exit to see that a woman has fallen and the culprit to be an old banana peel a few feet away from the crash site. My initial instinct is to see that she is alright and to make sure she gets comped for her meal and t taken care of to the best of my ability. I hope she doesn't sue.
Scenario #2 In response to a controversial bill just passed by Congress, thousands of angry demonstrators swarm the streets of Washington DC, slowing traffic and impeding commerce for hours. (Characters: Senator who voted in favor of the bill, Demonstrator opponent of the bill, Shopkeeper.)
  • The Senators would feel as if the bill must be passed. It was hard enough to decide to vote for the bill, but the constant reminders of the protesters make would make them second guess their decisions.
  • The protesters feel strongly opposed to the bill. They feel that if they all band together as a united group, go to Washington DC, blocking everyone's way, they will get what they want. All they will probably get during the day is the self satisfying feeling that they angered alot of people (some who didn't even deserve it) and a sun burn.
  • The shopkeeper is looking out the window at all the protesters. Because of their demonstration, his store has been empty for hours and could possibly be empty for the rest of the day. He needed today's income because he recently found out that his daughter needed to get braces. The shopkeeper is upset at the protesters.

The American View of the World Through the Eyes of Television

Americans are often criticized for their lack of knowledge about foreign cultures and places. One tool that could help people learn more about foreign places is television, since we often learn about our world through entertainment programming as well as news. But what does television really teach us about different ways of living, different people, or different places than what we are used to in the US?

Choose one major television network and tune in for its prime time programming (try 8-10pm) for three nights. Answer the following questions.
  • I chose the CW network.

How many foreign people were depicted in the hours you watched? Where were they?
  • Throughout the three nights, the only foreign people I saw was a single asian girl and an elderly indian man. These were on two seperate nights and it was a split second of screen time for each of them.
  • One star was of Middle Eastern descent.
Were any foreign languages spoken? What were they?
  • There were no foreign languages spoken. The best that came up in the three nights was a somewhat thick indian accent.
Were people shown speaking English with a foreign accent?
  • Yes
Which foreign countries, if any, were represented?
  • No foreign countries were represented.
How were foreign people represented? Were they good or bad characters? Heroes or villains? Comedic figures or serious characters? Men or women? Adults or children? Were only foreign places represented? Describe.
  • The Asian girl that I saw was a part of a clique of mean girls and the Indian man was just a minor character who hated his job and complained alot. Although the man added a sort of comedic relief through his complaints he could have been treated better.
  • The Middle Eastern star got much screentime on the night that his show was on but was depicted as a white washed American teenager.

If you saw NO foreignness, does this finding surprise you? Why? Why do you think this network did not choose to include depictions of foreignness in its programming?
  • I saw no instances of foreignness in the the commercials. Everything took place in America. The rare times that an actor with a different ethnicity is on a commerical, he or she will be speaking with a perfect American accent.

Explain why you feel you saw what you did. Draw on some concepts you have learned about media industry to support your answer.
  • I think if I tried harder, I would have noticed more foreign things in the commercials. As a teenager growing up in America and raised here, I am more accustomed to American traditions.

Myth vs. Reality in Pop Music Culture

In order to be successful in today’s pop music industry, artists often follow the advice that “image is everything.” But too often, say some music industry critics, the appearance of successful, wealthy stars is only that: an image. The reality, they claim, is that recording artists are sometimes grossly underpaid for their work as “stars”, while recording companies reap millions.

First, choose a popular recording artist or band of today.
Breaking Benjamin

Give a brief description of the artist’s “image” in the space below
The band has an image that is an amalgam of hard rock meets gothic.

Second, consider the arguments you have read and heard about regarding the closing of web-based music sharing services like Napster. Summarize both sides of the argument here, giving special emphasis to those you find the most compelling.
I feel that is was necessary to close down Napster. With a site like that up and running, there was no way for artists to get money for their music sales. I feel that if artists work hard to produce good music, then people should buy it if they wish to listen to it. Otherwise all it really is is stealing. It could be argued that sites like Napster and Kazaa gets the music around and helps promote the band, but with free promotion on sites such as Myspace and Facebook today, bands are able to allow fans to enjoy some free music and making them want to buy the CD at the same time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Investigating Ad Placement in Magazines

Choose a magazine, your favorite, if possible.

Which magazine did you choose?
  • Wizard
Describe the product advertised on the back cover
  • It is a box set for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy on DVD.
Describe the first advertisement in the magazine.
  • The first advertisement is a trading card game for comic book characters.
Describe the ads just before, during, and after the main cover story.
  • The ads primarily consists of action figures, trading cards, movies, video games, and comic books.
Do the ads for products seem to line up with the content of the articles? How so?
  • Yes, the majority of the ads are based upon comic books which is what the magazine is centered on.
Is it ever difficult to tell what is an ad and what isn’t? Explain and provide an example (staple it to this page)
  • In this magazine, the ads are very straight forward and to the point. There is nothing misleading and the information is centered and in large font.

Men are from Maxim Women are from Cosmo

To better understand the differences between geres in magazines, bring to class a “men’s magazine” and a “women’s magazine” of the service genre.

How did you know which was which? Describe.
  • The men's magazine would almost always have a scantily clad woman on the cover. Inside, it would either talk about sports, sex, or video games.
  • The women's magazine would also most likely have a woman on the cover. The difference is that she would not be wearing something skimpy. Rather, her natural beauty would be empahzised. The contents would be tips on healthy living, cosmetics, recipes, or life stories.

What kinds of products are advertised in the men’s magazine? The women’s?
  • The men's contained condom ads, beer ads, or cologne.
  • The women's contained makeup ads, health food ads, and perfume.

Are there any noticeable differences in content? What seems to be the main focus of each?
  • The differences are very noticable. The men's emphasises sex, violence, and crude humor.
  • The women's is more on healthy living and self improvement.
What did you think of the opposite sex’s magazine? Was there anything missing in “your” magazine that you saw and liked in the “other” magazine?
  • I didn't care for the opposite sex's magazine too much. The only thing I wish they put more into Maxim is recipes. Sometimes guys like to read about cooking without having a half naked girl on the page.
Do you think it’s socially useful to read a magazine aimed at the opposite sex? Why or why not?
  • I feel that it is extremely useful to read a magazine aimed at the opposite sex. It helps us better relate to the other gender and it gives us more in common to talk about.

Convergence: How are we getting our news?

The LA Times website can be found on the link above. The website covers news that specialize in the greater Los Angeles area. There are various links to the different sections of the newspaper as well as videos that viewers can watch.

The website is free for everyone and can be viewed in the comfort of their own homes. You wouldn't even have to get out of bed for news. The only drawback to the website is that if the server crashes, those who are reliant solely on internet for news will be left in the dark.

Forms of mass media that entertain us would fall under the category of talk shows in my opinion. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report have changed the way our generation watches the news. I remembered a time when youth dreaded watching the news, and treated them as if they were worse than commercials. Now we watch the witty Stephen Colbert inform us about politics and current events. For fun.

Even traditional news channels are getting more light. The morning talk shows on public channels are incorporating comedy into their news. The most well known one to me would be the Good Day LA a news show on the FOX network. The three hosts of Steve, Jillian, and Dorothy are quite raunchy but they get the job of bringing the people news in the morning done.

1) Show good taste. Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.
  • With news blogs like Perez Hilton and the tv show TMZ, news has gotten much more sleazier than it has ever been. And it shows that people enjoy it much more this way with the success with these institutions.
2) Balance a criminal suspect’s fair trial rights with the public’s right to be informed.
  • Sometimes news can be biased and blame be placed quickly on a suspect. With all the crime in the world today, it's hard not to point fingers.
3) Recognize that sponsorship of the news will not be used in any way to determine, restrict, or manipulate content.
  • With a media giant like Rupert Murdoch, it is hard (if not impossible) to get something published without his permission. The problem with all the news outlets merging together is that one day it will all be run under one thumb. This will leave free news to the generation of bloggers.

Advertising ads and entertainment can sometimes go hand in hand. Product placements are used constantly by sponsers throughout television shows.

Entertainment and news can be the same. Look at how successful the Comedy Central news shows have become in the last few years. It has helped gain more viewers and made the public aware of what is going on in the world while entertaining them. As previously stated, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are examples of this. The only downside is that they can sometimes be a bit biased.

Without advertisements, most people would not know what to do when they need their products. They wouldn't know there is a new Terminator movie coming out, or that the new contact lenses on TV will feel like nothing is in your eye at all. It keeps people updated on what the world has to offer.

I think that if magazines are sponsered by ads then it is ok if they mention it here or there in their stories if it doesn't happen too often. Since the magazines are dying out along with the newspapers, it is understandable for them to do everything in their power to make sure they stay standing. Ads not being labled as ads is a different thing. It works as a subliminal message to the readers if they are engaged in a magazine story and see a product carefully placed in one of the pictures. It's misleading.

The Blockbuster Phenomenon

Book Title: Jurassic Park
Author: Michael Critchton
Distributed by: Knopf
Published by: Knopf
Film Title: Jurassic Park
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy and Gerald R. Molen
Rights retained by: Steven Speilberg
Movie distributed by: Amblin Entertainment
Screenplay written by: David Koepp, Malia Scotch Marmo, and Michael Critchton
Movie directed by: Steven Speilberg
Website URL:
Movie Soundtrack: John Williams

Promotion: The promotion for the first movie was huge. Products release before and during the release of the film consisted of toys, comic books that tied in with the story, slurpee cups, video games, and even a ride.

I think that when conglomerates use their subsidiary rights to offset the cost they pay to publish books, it hinders the book industry. Even when a novel is on the bestsellers list, not alot of people will have heard of the book. But when a movie is being released based on the book, then there is a much greater demand for that book. But when the demand arises, the conglomerates gets most of the money once they buy the rights. This leaves less money for the authors.
I think that when conglomerates use their subsidiary rights to offset the cost they pay to publish books, it hinders the book industry. Even when a novel is on the bestsellers list, not a lot of people will have heard of the book. But when a movie is being released based on the book, then there is a much greater demand for that book. But when the demand arises, the conglomerates gets most of the money once they buy the rights. This leaves less money for the authors.

Commercial vs. Non-Commercial Radio

Public radio, best associated with NPR, is funded through a series of grants and donations. Only 2% of donations is received from the government as a majority lies from viewer donations, grants from the state, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Another source of income would be the Joan Kroc Grant. The late Joan Kroc is the widow of Ray Kroc, the founder of the McDonald's food franchise. Upon her death NPR was given the sum of $225 million dollars on November 6th 2003 (my 15th birthday!). NPR have been using the interest since then as funding.

Commercial Radio makes it's money by selling airtime towards advertisements. These are commonly known as commercials.

A substantial difference between the two networks is that with public broadcasting, you will get few interuptions throughout the program. Once in a while you will hear the name of a grant or sponser briefly mentioned. But that is pretty much it. With commercial broadcasting, you get commercials and advertisements almost as much as the actually programing. Lately it feels like there are more commercials than the program itself.