Friday, January 30, 2009

PETA Super Bowl Commercial

NBC rejected PETA's Super Bowl advertisement, requesting numerous changes to the sexual content before it was suitable to air. PETA refused to alter the commercial, resulting in free airtime on most major news networks. These prominent news sources not only covered the story, but most showed the commercial in the original, uncensored version. I thought this was a nice representation of what we were discussing last class session about free media. (I did not post the link, assuming if it is inappropriate by NBC's standards, it is most likely inappropriate by ours. If you want to see the commercial, its on YouTube, Google and Yahoo) 

Media Audiences & Operating Procedures

Recent Developments:
How do we measure media audiences?

Pew on "key news audiences"

A closer look at audiences for

So what did the media cover and what interested the public?

Back in 1976, Network was satire. Now it is almost a documentary:

Post Offices and Newspapers

When we learned about the evolution of technology and its impact on news media, we talked about the post office as a channel of distribution for newspapers and the original way to increase circulation. An blog article on the Washington Post's website (perhaps ironically) addresses an allegation that the rise of new media and the resulting decline in printed newspapers and periodicals is hurting the post office. Based on last class's readings, it's interesting to consider the arguments for how failing newspapers create impacts elsewhere. Below is an excerpt:
There's an interesting nugget in the prepared testimony of Phillip Herr, the Government Accountability Office's director of physical infrastructure. He suggests that an economic recovery may not trigger an increase in mail volume, "due to continuing social and technological trends that have changed the way that people communicate and use the mail."

Sullivan's Commentary on News Media

Just like Victoria hypothesized, Sullivan's Ath lecture hit directly on issues we have discussed so far in class. In case you were unable to attend, there were two points that fit especially well with our course material:

New Media in the 2008 Election
Sullivan highlighted the importance of new media in the 2008 election, going as far as arguing that without the presence of new media, Obama probably would not have won the election.

Media as a Check
In last week's Iyengar and McGrady reading we learned how one of the roles of media is as a watchdog. Sullivan stressed how much media really does serve as a check on governmental practices. Not only can investigative journalists reveal unknown information to the public, but media has the ability to demand transparency in government. He mentioned that media had a part in the atrocities at Gitmo and in the Iraq War because journalists had not pushed the government harder for answers.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Just a reminder

Andrew Sullivan, of Atlantic fame, will be speaking at the Ath tonight. His talk is titled "American Politics at Home and Abroad," and should dovetail nicely with current events and our class. If you haven't gotten a chance to check him out, take a look at the Daily Dish.

Bias in the Media

Think Progress has a report out here showing that in recent days, GOP congressmen outnumbered their Democratic counterparts 2-1 in appearing on cable news shows to talk about the stimulus package.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Must remain neutral!

The New York Times published an interesting piece on Monday that caught my eye after our discussion on potential bias in publicly subsidized media.

The BBC's neutrality in the Arab-Israeli conflict has come under increased fire after the corporation refused to air an appeal for humanitarian aid for Gaza:

In more than 80 years as a publicly financed broadcaster with an audience of millions at home and around the world, the BBC has rarely been buffeted as severely as it has in recent days over its decision not to broadcast a television appeal by aid agencies for victims of Israel’s recent military actions in Gaza.

BBC executives made the decision late last week and defiantly reaffirmed it on Monday, citing their concern with protecting the corporation’s impartiality in the Arab-Israeli dispute.

Read the rest of the article here.

Framing/"Intelligence Bureaus"

Here is an embedded version of the broadcast to which Anna refers:

Rio raises a good question. Lippman seemed to be proposing that each department at each level of government have an independent group of experts to analyze and provide information to the rest of us. The experts would be pretty darned powerful:

Tenure should be for life, with provision for retirement on a liberal pension, with sabbatical years set aside for advanced study and training, and with dismissal only after a trial by professional colleagues. The conditions which apply to any non-profit-makingintellectual career should apply here. If the work is to be salient, the men who do it must have dignity, security, and, in the upper ranksat least, that freedom of mind which you find only where men are nottoo immediately concerned in practical decision. Access to the materials should be established in the organic act. The bureau should have the right to examine all papers, and to question any official or any outsider. Continuous investigation of this sortwould not at all resemble the sensational legislative inquiry and the spasmodic fishing expedition which are now a common feature of ourgovernment. The bureau should have the right to propose accounting methods to the department, and if the proposal is rejected, or violated after it has been accepted, to appeal under its charter toCongress.

See chapter XXVI of Public Opinion at

A solution to the imminent death of the newspaper?

This NYT Op-Ed quotes Thomas Jefferson as saying, “... were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.” The authors propose an interesting solution to the dying newspaper industry - they suggest turning the "dead-tree" newspaper companies into nonprofit, endowed institutions instead of relying primarily on advertising and circulation to generate revenue. Endowed newspapers and those making contributions towards the papers would be exempt from taxes, but they would no longer be allowed to endorse candidates for public office.

To parallel the contrast drawn by Iyengar & Grady between European and American government-media relationships, President Sarkozy announced the French solution to the downturn of the newspaper industry: more government support. Specifically, his plan would increase government support from 280 million euros/year to about 480 million euros/year. An interesting twist to the proposal is the inclusion of a measure that would give 18 year-olds free subscriptions to the printed newspaper of their choice. American media specialists feel that such government support would negatively affect newspapers' legitimacy in the eyes of the public, but apparently Sarkozy does not share this concern.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Intelligence Bureaus

I don't really understand the concept of intelligence bureaus that Lippmann advocated for. Could you elaborate on what they are and what they would do? I know that it says that he didn't explain the role of the public in the process, but I don't really understand what these bureaus do.

Ownership and Control


This link from is a prime example of issue framing. An Israeli news cast takes a call from a Palestinian man who mourns the loss of his three daughters. Though not much is said by the news team, the audience is made to feel sympathetic towards the helpless father, humanizing the violence of the last month. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Many Faces of George W. Bush

Filmmaker Errol Morris interviews three head photo editors and asks them to highlight photos of George W. Bush they find particularly interesting or enlightening. The three editors, Vincent Amalvy (AFP), Santiago Lyon (AP) and Jim Bourg (Reuters) come from very different backgrounds. Amalvy's opinions are particularly interesting. He notes the ways in which Americans have much more access to their head of state than Europeans. Santiago Lyon explains the ways in which presidential images are carefully scripted and posed, while Jim Bourg tries to highlight images that are able to capture the authentic emotion of the presidency.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall - Errol Morris Blog -

Media Politics in Context

Answering Questions:

"Image Is Everything"

Media functions:

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FOX News: Fair and Balanced?

Jon Stewart has put together an irresistible package of the FOX News response to Obama assuming office. Keep in mind, this is all after Obama's first day in office.

Question on Graph

In Chapter 2, on page 22, I have a question about Figure 2.1. The graph suggests that in the year 2000, some delegates were still not chosen by the primary election. Is that still true today? Why?Who picks the other delegates?

Geithner and His Failure to Pay Taxes

Recently,confirmed Treasury Secretary has received a lot of steam from the media for his neglect in paying Social Security and Medicare taxes. This reflects the media's job in monitoring the acts of people who are being confirmed as public officials (p. 17 in Iyengar/McGrady). If it were not for the media doing their research as a watchdog group, the failures of the Treasury Secretary to not do his taxes properly may have gone by unnoticed. Useful for both the general public and Congress whom is confirming his appointment, these historical failures by Geithner serve as an important outlet to information. In this instance, also, although many times, American news corporations that are run privately must cater "interesting" news, this piece of news is both interesting AND informative.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sarah Palin vs. the Media

Sarah Palin has battled the media since the early days of her vice presidential candidacy. There's something about attacking the "elite media" and the "liberal media" that seems to set very well with small town conservative voters - and Palin used that to her advantage.

Palin and her supporters have continued to slam the media for being unfair to her, even after the end of her campaign. Palin recently claimed Katie Couric and Tina Fey "exploited" her during the campaign. But has the media really been biased against her?

For starters, we can instantaneously dismiss the notion that conservative media outlets - including Fox News, New York Post, Washington Times, National Review and Weekly Standard - have been anything but kind to her. It's also safe to conclude that liberal outlets as the Daily Kos, The Nation and some of the evening commentators on MSNBC haven't been her biggest fans.

But was Katie Couric being unfair when she asked Palin - a journalism major - what newspapers she reads (and Palin couldn't come up with any)? Or whether she could come up with a Supreme Court Case besides Roe v. Wade (she couldn't)? Was Charlie Gibson too mean in asking a vice presidential candidate a question about the Bush Doctrine - the biggest foreign policy shift the US has taken in well over half a century (and she didn't know what it was)?

Even Mike Huckabee said Couric was "extraordinarily gentle" with Palin.

It is true that Palin was often attacked by the media, but it seems that this transpired as it became very clear to a majority of Americans that she was out of her depth and unqualified for the vice presidency. Prominent conservatives and Republicans such as Kathleen Parker and David Frum echoed these sentiments well before November 4.

So my question for the class is: was the mainstream media (forget the ideologues on the fringes) inherently biased against Sarah Palin from the start, or were they simply doing their job and reflecting the sentiments of the country she was running to represent?

Fox's Next Four Years

Last Sunday's NY Times had an interesting article about Fox News's approach to handling the new presidency.  Fox is boosting its offense -- streamlining its conservative message to challenge the Obama administration.  Though Obama staffers have likely switched White House televisions to other news channels, what about the American public?  Do ratings trends of liberal/conservative media correlate with an administration's popularity?  If so, Roger Ailes is probably praying that Obama's honeymoon period does not make it to 100 days.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Online Video of Inauguration Sets Records

I know this is "old news" now, considering it was posted yesterday, but since we were talking about the inauguration today and the changing political landscape due to the Internet and new media, I figured I'd take a shot at a first post by putting the link to this article:

NYTimes: Online Video of Inauguration Sets Records

Also, though this is hardly academic, here's a little comic relief for that beginning of classes slump...

Taken from

Example of a Cable News Story