Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

“Think About That for a Moment”

August 7, 2018

That’s what Gayle King, a co-anchor on CBS This Morning, advised us to do as she reported on the largest forest fire in California history during the rapid-fire, tightly-edited Your World in 90 Seconds opening segment on the show. (At one time, I did not like newscasts to be referred to as “shows.” I thought of them as being serious business. That was during the Walter Cronkite era. Now, unfortunately, the term “show” is accurate.” None of today’s news shows comes close to the numbers Cronkite, Brokaw, or Jennings newscasts pulled on CBS, NBC, and ABC. Admittedly, there were fewer choices then. But, I digress. Back to MS King and her advice.) If we had stopped to “think about that,” we would have missed the beginning of the next story.

That is one advantage that newspapers and magazines had over broadcast news. We could stop to think about a story before we went on to read the next one.  However, there is now something that lessens that advantage. It’s called a DVR, which stands for “digital video recorder.” Miss a story because you’re thinking about the one you just watched, just hit the rewind. I wouldn’t be without a DVR.  The latest stats I could find online show a little more than half of TV households have a DVR. Commercial TV stations and networks probably weren’t too pleased with them when they came into use because a lot of folks, including me, record most of what they watch so they can fast forward through the commercials. I do watch some commercials, the clever ones that give me a little entertainment or important information for my time spent watching their sales pitch. They have to come at the beginning of the break to hook me.

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Don’t Let Them Snow You

February 7, 2018

Recognizing Propaganda

Every minute of every day you are subjected to propaganda. People are using words, pictures, and even music to influence the way you think.  Before I get into how propaganda works, the techniques that are used, I should define the term as used in this post.

Propaganda is the use of one-sided messages to influence the emotions, opinions, attitudes, and actions of targeted audiences for political, ideological, or commercial purposes. The messages may or may not be factual.  That’s a paraphrase of a definition provided by Richard Alan Nelson in a Wikipedia article.

A very effective explanation of how propagandists manipulate us is a documentary, Propaganda and Manipulation: How mass media engineers and distorts our perceptions, by Jerry Kroft, Ph.D., a Psychologist, who wrote Duped! Delusion, denial, and the end of the American Dream.  You can see it on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pfo5gPG72KM

He explains the basic tools that are used.

1.Reframing

2. Repeated Affirmations

3. Vicarious/ Imitative learning

4. Distraction and denial

5. Classical & operant conditioning.

It would be great, in my view, if this were shown to every11th grader in the United States.

 

 

 

What’s the Hurry?

December 8, 2017

If I didn’t have a DVR, I would miss a lot of what is said on the CBS This Morning newscasts.  I find myself rewinding a lot to be able to understand some reports. And sometimes even that doesn’t work because the information isn’t properly explained. Not only do the anchors rush a lot of their copy and run words together, but the production of the reports is often too tight..  Maybe the editors should cut down on the number of stories and give each one a little more breathing room.  Also, in my view,  there needs to be a brief pause between the reports, and transitions help the viewer stay on track.

Any basic course in writing for broadcast news makes it clear that writing for broadcasts is different from writing for newspapers and magazines. Readers can pick their speed and can easily reread the copy.  Listeners and viewers have to be able to understand what is reported the first time around, especially if they don’t have DVRs.  Perhaps it’s time for some producers to get back to the basics.

For some reason, the three major network producers seem to better understand this on the evening flagship newscasts.

TV is Still Politically Powerful

May 19, 2017

IT  STILL  DOMINATES THE NEWS MEDIA SCENE

If anyone truly understood the political power of TV it was the late Roger Ailes, the creator of FOX News, who, according to news report, died because he fell and hit his head in the bathroom of his Palm Beach, Florida home.  He played a major role in helping Republican presidential candidates from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump get elected by advising them on how to  use TV.

President Trump certainly seemed to  understand Ailes’ “orchestra pit theory.” It enabled him to get tons of free TV news time, especially during the Republican primary fights. TV fell for the ploy hook, line, and sinker. Many, including me, believe this is the main reason he won the nomination. The “pit” theory, I read in Wikipedia, is explained in this Ailes quote:

“If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, ‘I have a solution to the Middle East problem,’ and the other guy falls into the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”

During Nixon’s time, TV was, no doubt where, to a large degree, elections were lost or won. It was and still is where most people get their news. At least, that’s what a Pew poll tells us that was the case in 2016..  However, that is changing.

The poll shows that 57 percent of US adults get their news from TV, cable, network, and local; 38 percent from social media, websites/apps; 25 percent from radio, and 20 percent from print newspapers.

However,  the trend appears headed online.  50 percent of people ages 18 – 29 get their news online, 27 percent of them get it on TV, 14 percent on radio and 5 percent print newspapers.

49 percent of 30 through 49 years old get their news online, 45 percent  on TV, 27 percent  on radio, and 10 percent from print newspapers.

Seniors still depend on TV heavily, 72 percent ages 50 – 64, and 85 percent ages 64 plus. The  age 64 plus crowd give print newspapers their highest percentage, 48 percent.

Where I get my news? From TV, online, radio, and magazines.  What about newspapers? Definitely. Big time.  But, not print editions, unless you count the Ledger-Enquirer online copy of the print edition as a print edition. I read both the e-edition and the website edition. I also occasionally sample newspaper websites from Washington D.C, Atlanta, New York,  Israel, U.K., Russia, France, China, and other countries. It’s amazing what’s out there for us to read now.

 

Columbus Gets a Local Radio Station for Intellectuals?

July 3, 2015

There is good reason to think that is the case. The sophisticated jazz music I’m listening to right now is a good start.  Here’s the news release published by CSU University Relations yesterday.


COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University went live today with its first radio station, thanks to a local contribution. Just after midnight, 88.5 WCUG-FM Cougar Radio signed on and inaugurated a new era in student broadcasting opportunities for CSU.

Housed in CSU’s Department of Communication on the RiverPark campus and operated by students under the direction of department faculty and staff, WCUG-FM enables university faculty and students to produce and broadcast original content over the 22,000-watt station, 24 hours a day. In addition to original content, the station will offer a broadcast schedule of music and other programming to fit diverse tastes and interests.

“The CSU Department of Communication is growing in number of majors and in classroom and community opportunities for students to gain practical experience in many areas of the industry said Danna Gibson, chair of the department. “We are excited to launch the station and provide opportunities for communication students to learn all aspects of running a radio station. We are grateful for this gift that will enhance not only our communication studies, public relations and integrated media concentrations but also will open opportunities for all CSU students.”

For now, the music on 88.5 will not change much. But that will change soon. The station plans a limited schedule of programming in the first few months of operation, according to Gibson. The schedule will expand in fall with additional original programming and news, as well as music and sports. “We look to faculty and students to tell us what they want to hear on WCUG,” she said. “This is a great learning lab for our students, but it also is a new alternative in radio listening for our university and the community. I invite you to listen to us as we grow,” she adde

Escape Radio, TV, Books, and Movies

March 4, 2015

When I was young, fiction interested me more than non-fiction.  Since my family subscribed to both the Columbus Ledger and the Columbus Enquirer, I did see the front page headlines on the way to  the  comics and movie ads, and I did  see the newsreels when I went to a movie, so I did  have an idea of what was going on in the world. But it was the feature films and the cartoons that I cared about.

Then, as I got older I became more interested in reality.  A highlight of the year was radio, and later, TV coverage of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.  And when, as a teenager, I got into radio broadcasting, announcers did a little of  everything back then. They read commercials, newscasts, and hosted disc jockey shows. It was the disc jockey shows that I wanted to do the most. Still, reading wire service radio news copy served me well when I matured enough to specialize in news, first on radio and then on TV. I learned to interview news subjects, edit audio tape for radio, and shoot and edit film and video for TV news. 

I basically stopped reading fiction, concentrating on non-fiction.  But, I never stopped going to  the movies,  watching entertainment TV,  and listening to music, live and recorded. All of us need some escape from the real  world. And now I find myself escaping even more when I watch TV and go to the movies.  There is so much distressing news in the world.  Fortunately, there are enough quality TV programs and movies to hold my interest. A prime example of quality TV programs is Downton Abbey.  The British are especially good at producing period series and movies for TV. Downton Abbey is over for  this year, but Selfridges, another excellent period series follows it, so I won’t complain.  

  

 

An Advertiser’s Solution to Commercial Fast-forwarding

June 21, 2013

As I watched a rare commercial break this morning – I record just about everything I watch and fast-forward through the commercials – I was truly impressed with some photographic magic.  A fresh-faced, well-scrubbed young teen-age boy came  on the screen to tell me about the problems drugs can cause a guy. As he explained what they do to the brain, his face morphed seamlessly into a scraggly bearded,  unkempt, troubled youth. As I said, it was seamless. And, the video trick did not distract from  the message; it  enhanced it.

This type of video art made me reflect on how advertisers could cut way down on people fast-forwarding  through commercials by doing more of it. In other words, give the viewer something artistic and/or entertaining to watch. Some do.

The very effective Aflac duck commercial is a prime example. That one is quite expensive to make so not every advertiser can afford something like it. However, much lower-budgeted commercials can also be artistic and entertaining. Some of you may remember from many years ago the two local seniors advertising Southern Maid No-burn Bacon. At the end of their verbal sparring, one would always end with, “He’ll never learn.” A lot of folks laughed at those commercials and bought that bacon.

My Take on “Rather Outspoken” by Dan Rather

June 26, 2012

Dan Rather’s book “Rather Outspoken” was especially interesting to me, having met with him personally a few times, and having followed his career with CBS News.

Just as he did, I always thought of CBS News back in the old days as being the gold standard of broadcast journalism.  We both had great respect for the news organization that Edward R. Murrow built starting during  World War II.

Murrow’s gutsy reporting got too much for CBS head Bill Paley and he was forced out, but others, people  like Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather continued that tradition, and were backed at crucial times such as the Watergate scandal by CBS President Frank Stanton and Paley.

But, Rather now says that changed and the network decided not to continue in  the CBS News Murrow and Cronkite tradition, opting to trend toward entertainment, and forcing him out in the process.  He also says the switch didn’t work, ratings fell, and now the network has decided to, fortunately, go back to practicing serious journalism.

Meanwhile, though 80 years old, he continues to do weekly news documentaries for the HDNet. And, as the flap of the book says, he would like to see more investigative journalism programs like his, “even in the face of corporatization, politization, and trivialization of the news”.

The flap also says, “Dan Rather also makes an eloquent case for the critical importance of a free and independent press as a check on political power, and its responsibility to be the voice of the people, to force government to be fair, reasonable, and democratic.” Amen.

He spends a lot of time in the book defending the report about former President George W. Bush’s alleged disobeying a direct order, and either going AWOL or being a deserter while in the Texas Air National Guard. That was the story that caused the network to force him out, he says. To this day, he maintains the report was correct.  Not everyone agrees.

All in all, the book was a page-turner for me.  He made a lot of enemies during his tenure at CBS News,  and he admits that and thinks making people angry is going to happen when investigative reporters do their jobs.  But, the fact is, he was and still is a courageous reporter, and it paid off for him for a long time. And he’s still at it.

A Dick’s World Reader Comments on the State of Television News

August 30, 2011

By Susan Stephenson

This post was sent as a comment on the previous Dick’s World post about television reporting of Hurricane Irene.  Since it is longer than most comments, makes interesting points, and is well-written, I decided to run it as a featured post. That doesn’t mean I endorse everything she says, or that I don’t.  It means she gets her say.

Unfortunately, people in the TV news biz these days know how to set up a shot visually, but all too frequently they are woefully uninformed on virtually ANYTHING else. They have no background knowledge in anything, therefore can present nothing in context or in depth.  And it shows.

Given the resources available on the internet, why do our local reporters mispronounce so many words, and the names of places and people? Especially, names that have been in the news on a national or international level? It’s a ridiculous lack of professionalism.

It would be an interesting experiment to sit down with a stop watch to time how much actual news is in our telecasts. After you take out the teasers on what they plan to tell us after the next commercial, the promos for other network shows, the recaps of what took place on previous network shows, and the “happy talk” between presenters, I bet ten minutes of real news would be a stretch.

An informed citizenry is critical to our nation. What passes for journalism in the 21st century is a travesty.

Rupert and William Randolph

July 25, 2011

Being a retired broadcast journalist, it’s de rigueur that I comment on the News of the World fiasco in the UK.  No doubt it adds even more tarnish to the news industry, but it’s certainly not the first time that a news corporation put profits above ethics.

Time put Rupert Murdoch in the same category as William Randolph Hearst,  and that makes a lot of sense. Controlling information is the source of great power and influence.  And making a lot  money is a part of that  equation. Hearst, in large part,  achieved his power through yellow journalism with his  New York Journal. That paper was credited with playing a role in starting the Spanish-American War in 1898.  He ended up, like Murdoch, owning a lot of papers, magazines, a movie production company, and added broadcasting when it came along.  He basically lost control of his empire when he greatly over-extended it.

Murdoch’s power is basically the same as was Hearst’s, though on a global basis, it is probably much larger.  Just as Hearst relied on sensationalism with his New York Journal, Murdoch did the  same with News of the World.  Murdock’s biggest money-maker is not his papers, though, but his movie studio, 20th Century Fox.  His Fox network, with shows like American Idol, is very lucrative, and so is his  Fox News cable channel.  His problem is not the same as Hearst’s, though. It’s not that  he overextended, it’s that one of his high-profile newspapers got caught being unethical and illegal by allegedly hacking phone calls.  It may not be his downfall, but it has  definately damaged his brand’s reputation, and the value of News Corp has dropped since the scandal broke.

What does all of this do to the credibility of the journalism business?  Probably not much.  Its credibility had plummeted before this ever happened.  I suppose it has always been about the money, but there was a time when it was also about a lot more, especially doing the right thing for the common good.  Actually, though, it is also about more than the money, because, in my view, especially with people like Murdoch, it’s about influence.

There is  hope, though. There are still some old-fashioned, dedicated, ethical, and committed journalists. Name one, you might say. The first to come to  mind is Bill Moyers.