Stereotypes are found in almost every corner of the media. They are found in such shows like Glee, TV dramas, and even reality shows where producers hand-pick characters to fit their stereotypes. One could ask though, if it is the television networks that “design” these stereotypes or are the stereotypes what we, the consumer, demand? In a show like American Idol, contestants are chosen based on their ability to sing. The selection has some, albeit very little, to do with their appearance. The contestants are “real” people playing no one but themselves. As they progress in the show, novice singers blossom into “pros” right before our very eyes. They may have direction from producers but the direction is to primarily bring out the best in them and secondarily, to mold them into a “sellable good.” American Idol is not making any “anti-stereotype” statements but they are delivering a positive program to households, which aparently IS on demand.
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There is a digital divide that is closing fast. It will only be a matter of time when everyone in the U.S is “connected”. As our eldest generations of Americans pass on, the divide will close further as they are replaced by the younger computer savvy baby boomers. The babies being born today will never know a world before the Internet, Facebook, wikis, Google, blogs, and smart phones.
There are some in socioeconomic areas who are not “connected” in the way that most are accustomed to. As of now, the best way for those who are unable to afford laptops to check email, do online backing, and google, is to use the local library. State and local governments offer funding for school and library computers. One local government in the city of Long Beach, California offers free wireless Internet access in its downtown business district. Maybe, in addition to libraries, local governments could offer free Internet access and laptop usage in some of their mass transit, post offices, or any other public (and monitored) facility.
Edward R. Murrow has had more of an impact on the television and news industry than anyone will ever have. He influenced radio, television, and beyond his own future, the Internet. His peers describe a “’Murrow legend and tradition’ of courage, integrity, social responsibility, and journalistic excellence, emblematic of the highest ideals of both broadcast news and the television industry in general.”
Murrow pioneered the transition from radio to television. Who is leading the transition today from television to Internet? That is the problem. There is no leadership. There are many “forces” out there in the industry, all trying to figure out how to utilize the newer technology while making a profit. As one group “discovers” something new that “works” and makes money, another group is finding something else, while the third group implements both of the new ideas. There are no leaders so the Internet news industry is on a path of two steps forward, one step back.
This is the age of bloggers and Wikipedia. Whereas some are credible, others are not. Where do they get their information? Who is looking over their shoulder? Have these bloggers taken an unofficial journalistic “Hippocratic oath”? According to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the “Canons of Journalism” include:
- Responsibility (of newspaper and journalist)
- Freedom of the Press (“a vital right of mankind”)
- Independence (fidelity to the public interest)
- Sincerity, Truthfulness, Accuracy (good faith with reader)
- Impartiality (news reports free from opinion or bias)
- Fair Play, Decency (recognition of private rights, prompt correction of errors)
Secondly, “The President’s Commission on Freedom of the Press,” arrived at a philosophical model of what the press should be and what it should do. It includes the following:
- The newsmedia should provide “a truthful, comprehensive and intelligent account of the day’s events in a context which gives them meaning;”
- The newsmedia should serve as a forum for the exchange of comment and criticism, as “common carriers” in the realm of public discussion;
- The newsmedia should give a representative picture of the various groups which make up society;
- The newsmedia should present and clarify the goals and values of society, and
- The newsmedia should provide “full access to the day’s intelligence.”
Ultimately, the biggest challenge with the dawn of Internet news is integrity and upholding a code of ethics. Maybe this is something that both bloggers and journalists should have to adhere to.
The Nielsen Ratings can measure precisely what channel is being watched, who is watching and when, and now include, “time-shifted” viewing like TiVo. The Ratings are a scientific analysis also measuring how effective the commercial stood in its placement during the program in order to be most effective for the specific brand. The data is then passed on to the company wishing to advertise. Companies can make very educated decisions for their advertising currency.
In the Nielsen Company’s efforts to monitor consumer habits and sell valuable airtime, they also act as the “world bank” of media, in that they determine which timeslot is more valuable then the next. In doing so, Nielsen also ensures which programs the people (a.k.a. human lab rats), want to watch, thus determining what is popular and hot, and what is not.
See the following website and read first hand, how scientific, interesting, and utterly disturbing their whole program is. Watch the first few embedded videos:
Public television has historically been the “purest” form of television broadcasting in the U.S. It has provided a medium that is less commercially influenced than commercial television. Public television is more informational and less sensationalized than mainstream news sources. It provides in-depth news on both a local and national level that relates to the people on multiple levels. The public news outlets tend to go into more depth into a story and allow themselves more time to explore and develop one.
Public television is funded through a multitude of sources that include, grants from government agencies, gifts from foundations, donations from public citizens, corporate gifts, and member station dues. The CBP (Corporation for Public Broadcasting) also distributes content to local outlets, which provides economic benefits. The economic challenges facing public television are partially due to the economic downturn that the U.S. is in. In response to the downturn, public broadcasting has had to increase public awareness and fundraising and cut back on some programing.
By having more corporate donors, public television stations have the ability to maintain quality standards and programming options. It also reduces the “annoyance” of asking viewers for money. Relying on corporations however, allows the “message” to become diluted and one-sided. Commercialization dilutes the quality or credibility of public television and endangers its future. Commercials, on public television, are referred to as “enhanced underwriter acknowledgments”. The FCC states however, that public broadcasting may allow commercials that use “value neutral descriptions of a product line or service,” but emphasizes that “such announcements may not include qualitative or comparative language.” According to an alert by FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), “a spot for Arthur sponsor Juicy Juice identifies the product with the tag “100% juice for 100% kids.” An ad for Healthtex (Zoboomafoo) markets its “playclothes for life’s little lessons.” Since phrases like “for 100% kids” and “life’s little lessons” have no objective meaning, they are not value-neutral descriptions of products, but promotional slogans.”
Ultimately, publicly funded television is headed to complete commercialization. Since the passing of the Communications Act of 1934, which forbade non-commercial broadcasters from airing any kind of advertisements that “promote any service, facility or product” for profit, public television has been finding loopholes for funding and has been growing farther from the initial ruling.
“FAIR Action Alert: The Commercialization of Children’s Public Television.” Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR). N.p., 15 Mar. 2000. Web. 24 Mar. 2011. <http://www.fair.org/activism/pbs-kids.html>.
As film, TV, and other media outlets converge, structural changes will occur within the film industry. It is likely that film companies will look for ways to offer film viewing on television, maybe creating specific “Made for TV Movies”. They may also look for new ways to cross promote TV and film products.
The film industry is suffering, talent is overpaid, ticket prices are soaring, home televisions are getting bigger and better, and instant viewing options are changing the way people spend time getting entertained. Moviegoers tend to only view the “Blockbusters” in the theatre so studios look for these hits in hopes of breaking even and gaining a following for merchandising and ancillary deals and products. When an expected “hit” goes bust, studios are set back a few seasons. This could mean fewer lower budget, creative, and independent films.
As the television and film industries merge, consumers will get fewer choices or viewpoints. Stories and plots may end up sounding even more like each other than they already do. Hopefully, the media moguls know we are smarter than that. Watching or renting movies will then add to the pockets of the few rather than to that of the masses. It will become a media monopoly. On the positive side of the consolidations, viewers should see reduced prices in movie and subscription television fees. That is unlikely though, the “suits” are likely the ones to profit from subscriptions and cost reductions.
New production technologies are reshaping movie budgets and costs to consumers. The ability to digitally create a crowd of people for a scene eliminates the need for large amounts of background extras. This in itself eliminates the need to pay wages to the background extras, it eliminates the time and man-power used to film the scene, and it changes how the scene is filmed. Now, most of the production energy is exerted in an office, on a computer. Theoretically, this should reduce costs to consumers. Also, as technologies improve and become more commonplace, costs should be reduced. Additionally, as distribution changes to digital, comsumer costs should come down.