Safety in the Visual Age

October 27, 2008

How do we stay safe in the visual age? Today it was reported that Arkansas anchor Anne Pressly from KATV (an ABC affiliate) died from injuries she sustained last week. She was discovered beaten in her home shortly before she was supposed to appear on “Daybreak” the station’s morning news program. At this time the authorities feel that this is a random attack, but are cautioning women to protect themselves. You can find more information on

Although at this time there is no evidence that this was a case of stalking it brings to my mind the case of Rebecca Schaeffer who was a successful television actress on the sitcom “My Sister Sam.” She was stalked and killed by Robert Bardo in 1989. I can’t help but wonder how dangerous it would be to constantly be in the media spotlight not because you are a celebrity, but because you are the reporter. How is a person supposed to protect themselves when their image has to be out there to become successful.

I am acquainted with a former local television personality and she has made the comment on more the one occasion how difficult it can be to be at the grocery store and people come up to you and want to chat because they know you from T.V. When you have to put forth this inviting, friendly personality for the camera it would be hard to dismiss those who expect you to be that way all the time.

On top of the stress of everyone wanting to be your friend, in most cases people (even psychos) can find out so much about you simply by knowing your name and having access to the Internet. All it takes is for one person to become obsessed and you could find yourself in quite a pickle.

As we become a more visually driven society there will be more and more anchors that are put in the spotlight that could risk their lives simply to bring us the daily weather report. Hopefully this is a concept that these individuals are aware of when they sign up for the position. Next thing you know news reporting will replace crab fishing as the most dangerous job.


To Blog or Not To Blog? That is the Question

October 19, 2008

This week we were given the assignment to write about citizen media. Being as I am now a blogger myself I am very torn about the idea of citizen media. I am a skeptic at heart and feel that journalists have a ethical responsibility to inform the public in a unbiased and accurate fashion. It seems that in today’s media world journalists now have to share the stage with bloggers. Bloggers don’t always have the same ethical obligation as journalists. In some cases they just use their platform to spout off their opinion without taking the time to determine if they are accurate or not.

By no means am I saying all bloggers are like this (talk about the pot calling the kettle black). This is exactly why I am so torn. As a public speaking teacher I tell my students to make sure they are using reputable, accurate, unbiased sources for their speeches. The problem is we are entering an age in which it is getting harder and harder to tell who is accurate and unbiassed, let alone reputable. I also tell my students that if they are not sure if the information is correct then look other places to find the same data. If you can’t find it anywhere else then it probably isn’t completely accurate. 

Of course my students are looking for things like is chocolate all bad, or how to make a green roof. It is possible that in the future of the media we will have bloggers reporting on information that no one else will report on. It is also possible that the line between journalist and blogger will be blurred even more than they already are. As bloggers don’t have the same ethical responsibility, they also don’t have to fight with the idea of being a business. They don’t have to worry about advertisers pulling their funding, or an editor pulling a piece that might upset the shareholders. It is possible that they day may come where bloggers are accepted into the journalistic fold and may become even more reputable than some journalists. All I know is that I will continue to take my own advise and check all my facts. 

Gas or Vanity Fair

October 19, 2008

This past week Bryan Monroe of Ebony and Jet Magazine came to speak to our class. During his presentation he discussed how magazines are considered discretionary purchases, and therefore, in the current economic climate they aren’t being chosen as a necessity. We are having to chose between our faithful monthly gossip fix and gasoline to get to work. Obviously gas wins (as always).

What does this mean for the future of magazines? I know I am willing to read the month old copy of Cosmo they have at the gym rather than spend the money on the current issue (I can’t afford to keep up with the trends anyway). Will this type of action cause some magazines to stop their presses and shut their doors? Will I have to someday do without my Cosmo forever?

I think that magazines will need to figure out how they can give something more to their readers. Something that will encourage their audience to say,”I can do without my morning latte so that I can buy US Weekly.” I know it is a stretch, but maybe they can take a page from The Great Depression. During this time movie houses gave away dishes as promotional items to get people to attend movies which was considered a discretionary expense. Maybe magazines could start handing out gas cards with their magazines, then I wouldn’t have to choose.

Breaking News

October 19, 2008

I was watching the news this past week and was very surprised to hear the news caster say,”Breaking news. Madonna’s publicist has just confirmed that she and Guy Ritchie are indeed getting divorced.” I wanted to cry. Not because Madonna was getting divorced, but because I just realized how much celebrities run modern media. The fact that this information was classified as “breaking news” on a reputable news program makes me want to go live in a cave with my head under a rock. Why should I care that somebody that makes millions of dollars just had their marriage fail?

Obviously this type of reporting is driven by the desires of the audience. With sites like TMZ and X17 in popular demand, the media feels the need to jump on the bandwagon. I am not sure why this particular event made me finally aware of this need for a celebrity gossip fix that the American audience has. It should have been clear with the following of Paris Hilton’s jail stay and the need to speculate who has a baby bump. I guess I have just spent the last few years convincing myself that the actual news wouldn’t be worrying about reporting such frivolous information.

It is my hope that as we continue on that the future of media will come back to reality. Enough with the gossip about Britney Spears and the discussion of who might be knocked up. Tell me how my retirement fund is going to bounce back before I am 65 and whether or not the soldiers are ever coming back from Iraq. If you need to fill in time slots help inform me how to finance better so I can afford the gas to get to work. Let the gossip sites report on who is getting married and who is divorcing. We have become addicted to celebrities and it is time to go to rehab.

Welcome to the Six O’Clock Opinion Show

October 19, 2008

I know that news is depressing. Who wants to sit around all day and hear about more soldiers dying in Iraq, or some kid was shot outside a nightclub? Not me that is for sure. I think that this is why we have decided as a nation that we are becoming more and more interested in hearing about our economic ruin with a hint of humor. Yes, I am referring to the advent of the comical news broadcast. Many Americans don’t mind hearing about how Wall Street is on the verge of collapse as long as Jon Stewart has a zinger to make me giggle at the end.

I have begun to notice though that the 24 hour news cycle stations have decided to try and jump on the bandwagon a bit. Although they are not as obvious (which is part of the problem) stations like MSNBC and FoxNews have been giving anchors their own show in which they discuss the events happening around the world with a touch of humor. Why is this so bad you ask, because instead of giving me news with my shot of humor, they give my news with a jab at one political party or another. 

As I said in a previous blog, these stations are beginning to take political points of view and are spinning things in a way that is bound to bring the opposing party up in arms. This wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t pose as (in my opinion) legitement news shows. Obviously, The Colbert Report and The Daily Show are going to revolve more around the humor of the show being as the are aired on a channel called COMEDY NETWORK, but when I turn on a “news” station I want to hear news. Again I think that this is a product of the 24 hour news cycle and the need to fill precious time slots to keep advertisers happy. As a compromise can we just call them something that makes their agenda obvious. “Welcome to the six O’Clock opinion broadcast.

Of Course I’m Write, Depending On Who You Ask

October 19, 2008

I am more aware every day how unaffiliated I am with any particular political party. I can tell because I watch the major news networks. I am not that old, but I was under the impression that at one point it was unacceptable to show any favoritism to political parties. Today it seems that this rule has been thrown out the window, some networks outwardly flaunt their political opinion.


Maybe this flaunting is more obvious since we are in the process of electing either the first African American President or the first female Vice President. Either one of these is an amazing accomplishment that shows we as a nation are FINALLY representing what we have claimed to represent for the past how many years? I digress. This does not make it acceptable for the people responsible for sharing some of the most important information I may ever hear to put their two cents in.

I am sure my instructor is wondering right about now what this has to do with the future of news media, and here it is. I am predicting that if we continue to allow the media outlets to choose sides politically we will awake in the coming years to media that mirrors the media of our nation’s past. Most newspapers were politically motivated when America first became a country. Then one day that changed and we realized it was important not to be politically motivated. Now we are heading right back to where we came from and I as a concerned media receiver want to make sure this doesn’t happen. Who is with me?

Internet Killed the Newscast Star

September 17, 2008

I am trying to determine how I feel about the direction that media seems to be taking and I think that as we become more and more internet reliant for our media/news I can be thankful for the possibility that the “perky morning weather girl” might someday become extinct.

I know that I have found myself no longer waiting for the local newscast come on to discover what is going on that day.I wake up in the morning and my cable box tells me what the temp is outside, what the forecast is for the day and what to expect for the rest of the week specifically where I live, not just the nearest large town/city. I then jump on the internet to read the latest updates on stories from around the world.

Basically I am one of those people that is easily annoyed by the perky newscaster in the morning and would rather read the story than have him/her tell me in the overly bubbly voice that there was yet another shooting at a local nightclub or another union is going on strike. I also believe that I am not alone in this annoyance.

What does any of this have to do with new media? I have one word: YouTube. I think that people are already writing blogs and occasionally (if not regularly) posting videos. Why not post your own news cast? If anything this might remove the stigma of having to be a size 0 to read the news.

I said before that I thought blogging has reignited the passion for writing; maybe web casting can reignite our passion for hamming it up for the camera too.