Reflection

I never really thought there was this much depth and information in mass media. Entering the class I didnt know there were so many terms, definitions and facts which defined the world we live in today. This is was not a history class cramming information and facts down your throat but a class based on showing me the evolution of media, past, present, and future. There are few people who can say they are not directly involved with something media related or use a media outlet for there news. News IS media and  therefore is as important as anything in society. Our world is based on communication and understanding, ideas in which are the basis and goals of any good media source. I have learned a a lot about things in which I take for granted whether it be the influence of media on me or the amount of time and money is spent to shaped media around consumers like myself. It is a booming business and it is not surprising there is a class devoted to the study of it. J201 offers a very lively and comfortable setting to learn in as students are encouraged to speak up in class about anything that we are learning and therefore you learn and receive a lot more information then any other lecture based class. Not only did I learn about the evolution of media through lecture and the text book but also from interactive lectures such as the creators of Spot.us and bikeportland.org which opened up to me a whole bunch of information on the creativity of media. It not only did that but also opened up to me the on goings in a media company, although not very big, a first hand look into the media world is as important to a student learning this then your gonna get. Media is something everyone takes for granted in the main population. We look at tv and the internet as something for entertainment and nothing more. J201 has made me come to realize media is so much more.

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Political Disney

I agreed entirely with Nicole Gargeges and Melanie Zagami, both college students in the video, when they said that they grew up watching Disney movies and took it for what it is generally taken as, fantasy. In reality Disney is really no different then any other large media conglomerate companies as they own outlets in not only movies and theme parks but tv, advertisement and many other outlets of media. Disney bought ABC and therefore became one of the higher up media corporations in the world. Their movies reach out to millions of children around the world and therefore must carry a message which can be interperated globally. This means that any message in a movie not matter how direct or in direct it may be may cause such things as racism, discrimination and gender roles to become more apparent in children as they look to Disney for not just entertainment but educational purposes as well. I am not saying that Disney is doing something wrong but I agree more with Dr.John Lewis when he says that Disney with all this great power must come greater responsibility in what they are publishing and creating. It is a global message and is it truly the stories that we want to hear? These questions are far in number but rarely asked as Disney tends to shift attention away from them. Without these questions we are simply accepting Disney as a fact of what we want our children growing up with and without these questions we have no ability to change or control what our children learn, we leave that up to Disney. Certainly there are messages in Disney movies in which are made to be simply generic stories but these stories, such as The Little Mermaid send messages of discrimination and gender roles which our children can simply take as factual. I know it is hard not to criticize any movie like that but Disney takes a certain credit of being a global media company and therefore are far more criticized under the microscope because they have far more influence then any other company.

Spot.us

Being born and growing up  in the Bay Area I was very interested in what David Cohn had to say about spot.us as most of the stories were local, usually around San Francisco and Oakland, and therefore had more to do with me then most of the people in the class. Spot.us is a great idea not only because it allows readers to read what they want but it also allows them to get involved by suggesting stories, becoming journalists, as well as funding alternative and non profit media. That was one of the biggest pluses I saw with spot.us, that a media outlet can be non profit, not having to worry about advertisement or who their audience is. Although there is a downside of relying simply on donations I cannot see a problem in the future as spot.us is a new idea, only a few years in development and the first of its kind really. No where really can you determine what you want to read simply by paying a few dollars or a whole lot. YOU determine the news, not some board of directors or the FCC or anyone looking to make a dime off a certain story. Spot.us is also local which means more coverage to stories I want to read about, the ones in my community. I can get my worldwide news and national news on other media outlets but when it comes to local news there is a lack of depth and consistency in mass media and making  spot.us is a healthy alternative. There is hardly a downside as submissions and ideas are looked at with a detailed eye by David and his associates which means the writing isn’t garbage and depending on the funding, quite in depth. I cannot see something like this posing as competition for other media outlets but it isn’t trying to as it is simply a healthy new alternative to finding the stories you want.

Music Today

It was not surprising to hear how hard the music industry is when I heard John Shipe talk about it in class. Especially coming from a small yet popular artists such as Shipe it makes everyone realize that the dream of becoming a musical pop star in any genre as it takes more then just hard work and time but also a lot of you’re own money. John Shipe enlightened us in the fact that he is somewhat popular, more in the Eugene area, but this comes with great sacrifice. The spotlight is something which to me is very unrealistic to attain not only because of costs but because the conglomerate of music labels has created a music world which influences the artists songs to their standards and not the artists who creates it. The industry is about money, plain and simple. The music no matter how it sounds will always be dominated by the almighty dollar as labels like Warner, A&R, Universal, and Sony are corporations, music is simply their product. Like the video in class stated, songs are no different then a bag of chips, something which is a product influenced by the consumers wants and needs and nothing else. This not only takes away from the artists in a sense of creativity and original sounds but it also takes away whole genres as whole sections of music are thought to be old and therefore those artists will not go far. Of course I am not saying it is impossible to branch out, maybe in your own label such as John Shipe, but mediocre artists in major labels, ones who sell 100,000 cds or so, will have no pull or sway in any decision that goes on as they are simply lucky to be there.  The cost to artists such as these is so great that studio costs and tour costs are simply to much and many drop off failing to even break even at the overwhelming economical demands of major labels. Smaller artists such as John Shipe are what keeps kids growing up interested in new forms of music away from the sounds of the Black Eyed Peas or Miley Cyrus, bland and generic music which today is forcing these artists to work even harder just to stay afloat. I am not sure where music is headed but if it keeps up this way small artists will be swamped and will be forced to conform or to die out.

Communication in this Generation

No matter how much we talk about the convergence of media and how global communication and the ways we do business and interconnect with each other are changing, I will still stick by my opinion that technology like Facebook and Twitter have made us even closer. Before such inventions people were faced with a dilema of how to have communication which was more personal then simply being on the phone with a family member or a conference call.  Nowadays there is no problem with that because we have such things as I-Chat which you can directly see the person chatting with you, giving you a sense of in person communication. It seems realistic in the sense that in such situations as business deals, face to face chats are highly valued ad therefore video conference calls allow a personal touch as well as a realistic approach to person to person communication without having to fly across the country or world. Facebook and Twitter allow not only communication such as chat boxes directly linked to a specific person and conversation but also allows a personal touch as these pages can be personalized with pictures, videos and any other information which makes it seem less of a web page and more of a sort of “home”. I understand the arguments that these forms of communication are taking away from interpersonal communication, but as we spend more time with media, more time on computers, we draw further away from reality, the real world. What better way of finding a solution then having something which you can check, use, and rely on when interpersonal communication with family members, friends etc.. is just out of reach or impossible. Whether or not people agree with me doesn’t change the fact that technology is forever changing and advancing to a point no one really knows but to be able to communicate with family members through such things as facebook and AIM is a not perfect but adequate temporary solution. The world is forever growing not just in terms of technology but also population. The way we communicate with this growing number of people must evolve with the technology.

Advertisement in Blogging

Advertisement is the bread and butter for any blog or blogger. When blogging was first thought of it wasn’t thought to be something which could actually make revenue, rather it was something which people like myself could simply spread their ideas and write freely on any topic. After reading the article by Claire Miller, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/14/technology/internet/14blog.html, I have less of an open mind about the success rate of blogs. The success from such blogs as BikePortland and Sugar Inc dont come from simply good writing but the subject. I am not saying that it is something which is so out of this world that none of us want to read it and no other media wants to print it but simply unique articles which draw our attention. Gawker and Sugar Inc although successful do not represent the majority of blogs. They are successful because they are unique rather they narrow their sites on smaller topics which not all media can cover, in Sugar Incs case a lot having to do with specific things about family life and celebrity gossip. I am not saying that blogs cannot be like these but to simply rely on advertisement for 90 to 100 percent of your revenue is not something which any company can really rely on and if it does it has a bleak future if it cannot keep up with the constant demand of unique content. Advertisers are not simply drawn to how many people visit but also the content. Explained in the article however, blogs pose a low risk of being so out there on content because content is published and edited in the same place, putting in place a system of consistency. Sugar Inc realized that revenue cannot simply be about advertisement therefore they bought up Shopstyle which is a retail site which means that 30-40 percent of revenue comes from that site rather then advertisements.  However I do not mean to write this to detour people from blogging as blogging is one of the most essential tools of this generation as it has revolutionized freedom of press as we know it. Bloggers essentially are journalists because they blog on topics which fit the definition of a journalist, a person who uses gathered information on a certain event or subject and expresses it through media. Advertisers are attracted to this as there are no restrictions really on what we can blog therefore it is alot more open then a television new program and also less expensive to rent a banner then pay millions for a commercial. Although blogging isn’t a full time job for most people it can become whatever you want it to be as long as you have and take the time to work out what people want to see and simply shift to appease that want. There is a future for blogging,although not prosperous from advertisement, the blogging network will find other sustainable revenues to become sufficient.

Superstar

The first time I have ever heard the phrase “audience fragmentation” was in class the other day. It is not a common phrase for someone like me to know and just from assumptions I can guess it doesn’t ring a bell with a lot of people in America. Not to my surprise though is the fact that it is the biggest problem any form of media faces. The media runs off consumers aka the audience, therefore obviously  the less people watching or reading your form of media the less money you make off of advertisement and other sources of revenue. Not only is this a threat to the medias revenue and overall survival, it also is a threat to superstardom of any upcoming artists or performers. When you think of a superstar a lot of names come to mind, celebrities such as Michael Jackson and The Beatles top the list as their overall success not only in the record sales but also the media which has made them legends. Superstardom was once something which was thought to be attainable, live performances were highly demanded and the physical purchase of records and cds allowed the star to get every bit of credit for his or her work. Nowadays music is downloaded for free whether it is off of limewire or some other program which puts a very large dent in an artists reputation as no artists is even getting close to such artists as the Beatles and no one will ever reach Michael Jackson’s 100 million copies. This doesn’t all have to do with free downloads but also the amount of artists. There is a growing audience fragmentation for different kinds of music and the increase of upcoming musical artists and companies has made this gap even wider. Instead of a few large recording companies there are thousands of smaller ones pushing out as much music as possible. This divides an audience as people have different preferences when given a choice. Audience fragmentation is created from the massive amounts of musical artists, the amount of channels we are able to watch and the amount of overall choices we have. The more we have the less that person has a chance for true superstardom. The days of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show being watched by 70 million people is over, the day of mediocorestardom is upon us.

What Mainstream Media Lacks

I am a consistent viewer of such mainstream news websites as CNN.com, yahoo.com, and time.com and therefore I have not really looked into many other forms of news besides those outlets on the TV.  Alternative media sources are not something that I am scared of but simply something I have never taken the time to explore. It brings up a large question on how much influence large new outlets like CNN and time magazine have on America especially on important issues such as the war in the middle east and other global conflicts. While sifting through these alternative news sources I found many short yet honest articles about the recent military excursion in Pakistan. The CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/19/pakistan.offensive.visit/index.html) and Time (http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1930909,00.html) articles are very informative and very detailed about what they are talking about but it is obvious they avoid certain details and also describe the situation with hardly any opinion or negative looks at the situation. It’s like I’m reading a book report or a briefing on whats going on rather then a update article about a serious conflict in which America is sticking its head into. This differs from articles that I found on sites like Free Speech Radio News (http://www.fsrn.org/audio/pakistani-military-offensive-continues-south-waziristan/5618) and Democracy Now (http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/19/headlines#3) where they are short and less detailed but straight to the point of the article. FSRN for instance reports on the same topic as CNN and Time but instead of flooding the article with quotes from General Petreus on the strategies of the militants they quote Andrej Mahecic who leads the relief efforts for the millions of people displaced by the conflict. I am not stating that CNN and Times does not report about these civilians but articles like the one on FSRN are usually emphasizing problems with  civil and humanitarian issues rather then anything really political. The more direct story is better for the people to listen to and read because a lot of people like me don’t necessarily want to hear about background information about the the military positions. Mainstream media has to follow restrictions but out by their network while alternative websites don’t have to worry about advertisement money because they focus more on the actually story then those who fund it. Websites such as  Democracy Now (http://www.democracynow.org/2009/10/19/headlines#3) focused more on the bloody parts of the UAV bombings which are becoming more apparent and more often in Pakistan while the TIME article only mentioned it in a paragraph out of the 2 page article. I am not saying that these new sources do not care about the subject but alternative sources are more lax on what they write about and therefore give up in person reporting, background knowledge, and high up interviews with short yet detailed reports on important subjects. Alternative small sites like Wiretap.org  tend to be more in depth with more local as they write about local problems and are more personal, one thing which mainstream media lacks as they look to shape their media around masses amount of people trying to influence them to read their articles rather then letting them decide what THEY want to read.

The Death of the Newspaper

The future of the newspaper, or even the future of news printed on paper, has never really been a concern of mine. My generation is far more technologically advanced then when my mom and dad were growing up so when I look at the future of the newspaper it seems very near its end. I know that may sound a bit to forward or sudden but when I say the death of the newspaper, I mean it wont occur for another 20 to 30 years. Subscriptions to newspapers have already fallen and I find myself, when at home, reading the funnies or the sports section. Of course the argument can be made that I just am not as educated or eager to read about the news like some people who read the newspaper but the fact is I get that information from such websites as cnn.com and yahoo.com. Not to say I don’t like reading a newspaper or that I am totally against the printing of it but I can say that the convenience level of being able to go on facebook or youtube all while skimming news sites for stories that interest me far outweighs sitting at the table turning through endless pages with the occasional paper cut here and there. Newspapers I don’t think have fallen out of fashion, they are still useful just the constant increase in technological advances have created a convergence of all information onto the internet which means that many people tend to choose looking up info for free on the web rather then paying a subscription to only get a certain amount of information. The web allows you to access any information you want whether it be the latest news stories locally or globally, something a newspaper has a hard time competing with and ultimately will be its demise. I don’t think this generation nor the generation after us will have the sense to keep newspapers going except in small local areas by some fanatics trying to keep themselves connected to the past. TV and the internet have ultimately killed all forms of printed news, the only question that  remains is when will it die and what will something replace the web in our future?

The Power of Blogging

Blogging to me, ever since its creation, has never really interested me that much. Sure the idea of being able to express yourself openly, to have arguments and discussions with others on literally anything you can think of is a great thing for a lot of people who have a lot to say but cannot find the time to say it in person. Blogging allows for not only free speech but opens the flood gates for not only arguments, but ideas and thoughts in which some people may find hard to express. I for one am not a blogger, this being the first I have written on, but I do see the positive aspect of being able to write any idea, any thought without having to go through book publishers, magazine editors or forum admins. Blogs to me are something  which connects a large group of people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to chat, argue, and converse with one another without the internet and without a blog. It goes along with the idea in class of convergence, the ideas of an individual, no matter how crazy or outrageous they may be, can be posted and viewed by anyone around the world by using sites like wordpress and blogger. My hesitation to blog comes from the idea that many people feel that it is simply as useless as such sites as twitter or facebook. I hear a lot that these sites are simply a public diary, that no one really cares to read about someones problems or their ideas. I agree to some extent to this as it depends on the person. Each individual has the ability to express themselves whatever way they want whether it is a 146 character tweet of how their day was or a in depth blog about the positives and negatives of blogging. Many people feel the need to write down their ideas, share them, and there is no problem with that, it just takes a sharp turn when people begin to only write nonsense and don’t delve deep into a topic or idea. Blogs are for anyone whether they choose to write their life story or simply the best recipe for smoked ham. As I write this I begin to see the lure in writing blogs, maybe not everyday but occasionally writing down ideas even about random topics can be quite relaxing and satisfying.