Category Archives: Homework

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Eniware is Everywhere

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Eniware lays out the urgent need for their product and provides a problem-to-solution scenario interspersed with market and product details.


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Engage! with your Audience via Social Media (Book Review)

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You are not alone … Engage!

I just read the book Engage!, by Brian Solis.  It is packed with useful strategies, tips, and tools for navigating in “social mediaville”.  The consumer evolution in the new “democratized information economy” where customers can speak as loudly as marketers has Solis repeatedly saying, “Engage or die!”  Although a tad dramatic, he has a point.  The good old days of broadcasting one-way messages are history.  Engage! addresses this issue and serves as a guide for “unmarketing”, the new concept of unlearning the old marketing model.

Brian Solis holding his book, "Engage!"

Brian Solis holding his book, “Engage!”

In order to thrive in social media circles, Solis’ argues that businesses need to build relationships.  According to him, “Content is the new democracy and we, the people, are ensuring that our voices are heard.”  With all of these voices spewing in all different directions, how can your business and my client survive?  Solis says not to jump in.  Whether you have jumped in or not, join me as we learn how to do it right by unmarketing.

It’s better late than never.  So, whether you are on the shoreline, or knee-deep into the social media scene, Solis suggests that you strategize by employing the 5 W’s + H + E. The author makes a strong argument for delving deeper into Who, What, Where, When, Why, How, and to what Extent.  Once you have reached Extent, you will have found your active audience (your influencers).  At this point, you will have a better idea of where your influencers connect with others and how they find and share information.

5 W's + H + E (for Extent)

5 W’s + H + E (for Extent)

Once you know more about your audience, then it is time to reach out with finesse via the mix of social media platforms your research dictates.  But remember, unmarketers do not blast their audience with messages.  If businesses and brands want to build trust, loyalty, and authority – they need to get real.  If you have done your research you will talk like you know them.  You will engage with them.   And, in doing so, you will build natural bridges that will lead to authentic relationships.

Owachomo Bridge at night (Utah)

Owachomo Bridge at night (Utah)

Analyze/Evaluate Engage!

For starters, I am a little conflicted about the book.  At times, I felt that the prose that Solis chose sounded more like a cheerleader than an expert, especially at the beginning.  I also felt that he contradicted himself at times.  That said, his catchy one-liners continue to stay with and remind me of how he blended social theory and trendy technology topics into relevant material for people like me to use.

Secondly, I was intrigued that Solis was a passionate advocate for podcasts.  In contrast, the authors of Groundswell classified podcasts as “rare”.  I tend to agree with Solis, I listen to podcasts on my iPod when I run.  Instead of hearing the same music over and over, I prefer listening to podcasts, such as, TEDTalksOn the MediaBoth Sides Now, or Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!  Further, podcasts are easy and inexpensive to make.  Click on the photo below to hear one I made for a class several years ago.

Glenda's first podcast

Synthesize Groundswell and Engage!

The two books share several common themes, they both encourage marketers to listen and learn from conversations taking place in social media about companies and brands.  Another theme discussed in both books is the evolution of the two-way conversation between audiences and businesses.  Solis said, “Monologue has given way to dialogue.”  However, he takes it a step further and warns to steer clear of pointless, idle chatter.  Therefore, the point isn’t to make conversation, but engage with customers through genuine interaction.

Further, both books encourage businesses to create a blog, institute a blog editor, utilize outside experts as guest bloggers, and interact with people who post comments.  I found it interesting that the Groundswell authors used the term Solis made popular when they warned that to start a blog you must “want to engage in dialogue with your customers.”  And, on the flip side, Solis uses the groundswell by encouraging people to link to other blogs/websites in hopes of reciprocity.  Solis also discusses using real people to blog/share their stories like Ford did with “Your Stories”.  In Ford’s “Your Ideas” blog, they encourage customers to “read the idea, vote and comment”.  Ford’s years of relationship building have certainly paid off, just look at these examples below by Ford customers.

http://youtu.be/-lYaGxBTtr4

1910 Ford photo submitted by Doug Crowe on Nov 8, 2012

1910 Ford photo submitted by Doug Crowe on Nov 8, 2012

Apply Engage! to my client

I appreciate a point that Solis made and plan to share it with my client.  He said that people are on Facebook to chat with family and friends not to read the latest pitches and messages from companies and brands.  I know that I likeshare, and comment on items that matter to me.  So, my client must listen to what is important to their audience in order to engage in meaningful discussions.

In my last blog post, I said my client should “take the plunge and immerse themselves” in the groundswell.  So, I chuckled when I read Solis’ advice in chapter two, “Do not jump in to social media” without understanding the five Ws + H + E.  I agree with Solis and plan to discuss these seven valuable points with my client before I create their social media plan.

In closing, I would like to highlight a few quick takeaways from Engage! that I plan to propose to my client:

  1. Have the CEO blog infrequently and on a schedule.
  2. Instead of having the CEO pen a blog post, have a Q&A segment.
  3. Last, but not least, consider using podcastslivecasts, or video broadcast networks.

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Use the Groundswell to Your Advantage …

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The Groundswell

I just read the book Groundswell, by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff.  It is a must-read for business-minded people who are leery of the social media landscape.  What is the groundswell?  Well, out there in “social mediaville” your customers are talking about you.  They are sharing stories, thoughts, and opinions about you, your product, or your company on FacebookTwitter, and many more.  You are no longer in control of the message.  But, do not panic.  Instead, learn how to use the groundswell to your advantage.

"Groundswell" Book Cover and Authors

“Groundswell” Book Cover and Authors

The Groundswell authors provide useful tools and a powerful argument for entering the social media landscape.  I have a client, a new small business, that is reluctant to use social media platforms.  They tiptoed in, but I am encouraging them to take the plunge and immerse themselves.  Therefore, I am writing this blog post to highlight some of the ways my client, and maybe your small business, can benefit from the groundswell.

Think it through

In this new chaotic landscape, your company is no longer in charge of the conversation.  The days of one-way communication are behind us.  First and foremost, to be successful, you must have a well-thought out strategic plan.  For me (and my client), the prevailing theme and salient issue emanating from the book is:  think it through.  First, clarify your objectives.  To accomplish this, the Groundswell authors developed a 4-step planning process with an easy-to-remember acronym:  “POST“:  Let me summarize:

People:  Who is your target audience?  Are they creators, conversationalists, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators, or inactives (please click here or see Forrester’s chart below for more detail)?  How can you tap into your audience and use their skills to your advantage?  The authors designed a free Social Technographics Profile tool to help businesses examine their audience.  Check it out!

Objectives:  What are your goals?  Do you want to listen to, talk with, energize, support or embrace your audience?

Strategy:  Envision a new relationship with your customers.  What type of interaction do you want?  Ponder what could go wrong?  Think it through.

Technology:  What social network platforms will you use – blogs, open communities, private communities, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or YouTube?

Forrester's Social Technographics Ladder

Forrester’s Social Technographics Ladder

The Groundswell authors repeatedly stress how business owners must think through the 4-step planning process.  My client is currently at this stage.  They must build awareness by starting a two-way conversation.  They need people talking about their product to create buzz.  In other words, they need their target audience (investors) connecting with others to fuel the groundswell.

How to create awareness?  

In my opinion, my client needs to set up a blog in order to create awareness.  Blogs that are authored by executives and guest bloggers—such as business partners, customers, ambassadors, and other respected people—create trust, produce visibility, initiate conversations, and according to the authors “generate significant ROI” (return on investment).  Further, a story or conversation that gains traction on a blog can quickly make its way upstream to the mainstream media.

An effective blog, like Bill Marriott’s of Marriott International, requires strategic thinking. And, according to the authors of Groundswell, one must start with the P and O in “POST“. In other words, who do you want to reach and what are your objectives? The authors provide ten suggestions to get started, I have condensed them to five for my client. Please allow me to summarize:

  1. Listen to the blogosphere.  Monitor your industry and competitors.
  2. Develop a blog plan and an editorial policy.
  3. Craft a plan to market your blog.  Use press releases, emails, and SEO.
  4. Blogging is a lot more than just writing.  Rehearse at first.  Moderate comments.
  5. Be honest (even when things go wrong).  Be authentic.
Bill Marriott's Blog - "On the Move"

Bill Marriott’s Blog – “On the Move”

Other ways to talk with the groundswell

My client already has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  And, if I can find a way to make a viral video like Blendtec, I will.

But, since the likelihood of a video going viral is rare, I think a social media strategy that includes talking to the audience through blogging or microblogging, posting on Facebook, and tweeting on Twitter will energize the groundswell.  Social media platforms allow people to have a “voice.”  Better yet,  these platforms encourage a two-way conversation.  I believe my client can create synergy by initiating conversations about their product and the desperate need for it.  Further, my client is soliciting an ambassador corps and I plan to propose inviting this group to join an open community to foster ideas through collaboration.

Does your social media plan measure up?

In order for my client or your business to determine if a social media campaign is successful, we must measure the audience.  A communications professional recommended several Web analytic companies that collect, measure, and analyze the following:  audience data, traffic to a site, level of engagement and more.  One is Quantcast, they offer free audience reports to advertisers.  Another option is the firm Compete. But, since my client is a small business on a serious budget, I will recommend using Google Analytics, a free and popular service.

Quantcast - A Web Analytics Firm

Quantcast – A Web Analytics Firm

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 5.55.56 PM

Compete – A Web Analytics Firm

Disappointed in Groundswell

Although I enjoyed reading the book and learned a lot, I feel as though it was geared to large businesses and I wish the authors had dedicated more space to small business owners.  My client is a small business on a limited budget, so a majority of the advice and examples provided were not relevant or feasible.

In closing

I believe my client will benefit most from talking with the groundswell – for now!  That said, I drew valuable information from the chapters that focused on listening, energizing, supporting, and embracing the groundswell.  I look forward to watching my client learn to use the groundswell to their advantage.


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Pretty in Pink: Is not what you think

Media consumers worldwide believe that Disney’s animated films are wholesome fun for the entire family to enjoy. However, a critical analysis of Disney’s movies revealed that they continue to promote films full of stereotypes that demean women, the working class, and those who struggle with their weight (Lamb & Brown, 2006). If consumers exercised their media literacy skills they would be appalled at the amount of flagrant stereotypes in Disney films and demand more realistic characters. This paper will analyze the following stereotypes found in Disney’s movie Mulan, and determine if these labels have an effect on viewers: dark skin versus light, fit versus fat, working class versus the elite class, and the overuse of female abuse.

Dark versus Light …
First, Fa Mulan, the female protagonist in the film made a strong statement when she wiped away her white Geisha girl makeup to show her natural, darker complexion. Mulan tried to make her family happy by hiding behind the traditional makeup, but she could not live a lie and chose to be true to her inner self. Studies show that young impressionable girls pay attention to what girl characters are saying and doing (Lamb & Brown, 2006). Thus, Disney receives praise for addressing this issue and putting a positive spin on dark skin.

In contrast, the lead villain, Shan Yu, and his soldiers are dark-skinned and loom larger than their enemies. Why cast villains as darker and larger? Is it difficult for illustrators to create another way to portray dark thoughts? Are illustrators racists? Disney continues to show stereotypes in films like, Aladdin, where the heroes have Anglo-American looks and accents, but the villains are dark-skinned and have Arabic accents (Clements & Musker, 1992; Wingfield & Karaman, 2001). Over time, consumers may start believing that people with darker skin are evil. The time has come to lighten up on the color of a villain’s skin.

Muscle Madness; Bigger than Big …
Not only do villains loom large, our hero Captain Li Shang has a very muscular physique that looks more like an Anglo-American body on steroids. During drill practice, Li Shang takes off his shirt in front of his unfit cadets and parades around with bulging pectoral muscles and six-pack abdominals. I doubt a captain in the Chinese army would disrobe in such Hollywood fashion. This G.I. Joe stereotype takes away from the story by making Li Shang into a sex symbol rather than a noble young warrior. Alas, at the end of the movie, the once feisty Mulan actually falls for the good-looking captain in Disney’s classic happily-ever-after style. This fully negates Mulan’s strong and independent character, but definitely supports Disney’s mantra of unrealistic happy endings (Maio, 1998; Lamb & Brown, 2006).

Sadly, the heavy Chinese soldier may be the recipient of the most overt stereotype in the film. Whether swimming underwater, crossing the river on poles, or marching with his fellow cadets, the portly soldier is portrayed as clumsy and always in the way. However, the most vexing moment was when the larger cadet sang about the girl he would fight for. He did not care what she wore or how she looked; thus, all that mattered was how she cooked. In one sense, this sounds like a step forward for women—in that, looks are not everything (Lamb & Brown, 2006). Yet, in reality it is a step backwards for large men who supposedly only want someone to feed them. Lastly, while dressed as a concubine the soldier says, “Does this dress make me look fat?” The comment was funny and does elicit a laugh, but it makes fat people into a joke. And, that is not funny. Fortunately, near the end of the movie, the larger comrade becomes quite agile along with his fellow soldiers and saves the heroes as they dangle from a cliff.

Working Class versus Elite Class …
Interestingly, General Li promotes his son to captain and jokes that he comes from an impressive military lineage. In contrast, Li Shang’s superior, the Emperor’s Counselor, rebuffs the new Captain saying, “I got the job on my own” (Bancroft & Cook, 1998). Disney effectively portrayed the difference between preferential treatment and hard work. Further, the screen writers showed how arrogance can cause one to stumble, like when the proud counselor fell for the simple ploy concocted by the lizard Mushu to get the fighters to the front lines. Disney’s message is clear. Anybody—no matter what their rank—can fall for a clever ruse.

Sadly, the Chinese cadets are shown as working class buffoons until they receive military training. While military service can transform young people, it is narrow-minded to portray working class people as barbaric and uncultured prior to such training. Stereotypes like this may cause kids to treat people unfairly (Shifrin, 1998).

Female Bashing and Thrashing
Lastly, the Emperor’s Counselor may have worked his way up in the ranks, but the man is a colossal idiot. Perhaps the screen writers used his antics to elicit strong emotions against him. However, I argue that slapping Mulan and throwing her to the ground is not something kids or adults need to see. The Counselor’s actions were deplorable, and his words harmful. He expressed that he knew there was something wrong with Mulan and went on to refer to her as “a woman, a treacherous snake” (Bancroft & Cook, 1998). Aggressive scenes like this could perpetuate this type of abuse against girls and women (Shifrin, 1998). Mulan is the hero and does not deserve this sort of attack. Why did Disney have to go there?

In sum, Disney films are made to entertain the entire family, but this paper suggests that parents should do their homework first. They need to exercise their media literacy skills and prepare their children for the onslaught of stereotypes in these films. Disney’s princess Mulan may not dress in pink, but she’s also not as independent as we were led to think.

References …
Bancroft, T., & Cook, B. (Directors). (1998). Mulan. [Motion picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures.

Clements, R., & Musker, J. (Directors). (1992). Aladdin. [Motion picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures.

Lamb, S., & Brown, L. M. (2006). Packaging Girlhood. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Maio, K. (1998, December). Disney’s dolls [Electronic version]. New Internationalist, 308. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from http://www.newint.org/issue308/dolls.html

Shifrin, D. (1998, August). Three-year study documents nature of television violence. AAP News. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from http://www.aap.org/advocacy/shifrin898.htm

Wingfield, M., & Karaman, B. (2001). Arab stereotypes and American educators (revised version of an article which appeared in the March/April 1995 issue). Social Studies and the Young Learner, 132-136. Retrieved March 28, 2009, from http://www.adc.org/arab_stereo.pdf


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Profit is the Culprit: Public Interest is the Victim

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“Consultants, committees, and computers” determine what the public will hear on the radio waves, see on the television screens, or read in the online or offline news (Moyers, 2002, p. 6). On the surface a mix of expertise and technology looks progressive and practical with the capability to deliver every consumer’s desires. However, a deeper probe reveals that a corporate-driven quest for profits actually strips media markets of diversity. First, this paper suggests that the deregulation craze caused the two-decade decline in the number of media companies; and second, it argues that the negatives outweigh the positives in the music industry where four companies dominate leaving little room for competition.

Deregulation on Business Growth Hormone …
How in two decades did the fifty major media companies merge into five massive conglomerates and emerge with significant political clout (Moyers, 2002)? Critics believe that multiple mergers compounded by relaxed regulatory rules contributed to the fact that we now have only five major media companies: “Time Warner, Disney, NewsCorp, Viacom, and Bertelsmann” (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006a, p. 109). Unfortunately, as these media entities grew they took on a more corporate mentality which meant the pursuit of profits overtook the desire to serve the public interests. Further, scholars and industry professionals posit that growth in communications technology linked with conservative politics led to deregulation of the media industry on business’s equivalent of human growth hormone (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006a; Moyers, 2002). News Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Rupert Murdoch provided a classic example of this exponential growth when he boasted that his media network has the capacity to reach three quarters of the world’s population (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006b, p. 140).

Positives …
Today, music consumers enjoy having more media outlets and product options than twenty or thirty years ago (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006a). Lee (2003) pointed out that conglomerates like Clear Channel Communications grew from forty radio stations in 1996 to more than 1,200 by 2003. As of February 2009, Clear Channel Radio’s website prominently states that they syndicate “90 radio programs”, and service “more than 5,000 radio affiliations”, and thereby reach “over 190 million listeners weekly” (Clear Channel Radio, 2009). Clear Channel can now reach listeners from coast-to-coast with its menu of radio programs, similar to the way McDonald’s consumers expect to order the same food items from city to city (Moyers, 2003). Further, music consumers can pick up their favorite radio programs wherever they go via radio, internet, or they can download them to play later on an iPod or equivalent.

Listeners also benefit in this corporate-owned era from the “standards of professionalism and high production values” offered by large media conglomerates with easy access to investment capital (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006a, p. 112). Now, consumers can access music via online streaming “in various formats” and listen to satellite radio that offers superior sound (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006a, p. 112). Therefore, music consumers who use iPods and handhelds enjoy the technological benefits of portability and higher quality.

Negatives …
First, large media companies actually cheat consumers of a local experience by substituting a real deejay with a station on autopilot mode. Many local deejays and other radio staff receive pink slips as national conglomerates cut operating costs by taking out the human element and adding voice tracking (Croteau & Hoynes, 2006c; Moyers, 2003). The voice tracking process entails recording an air personality’s voice, mixing it “with music, commercials and jingles”, and then broadcasting it on a regional or national basis (Moyers, 2003, p. 1). In the end, the consumers lose because they get “less music … less news … and less local flavor” (Moyers, 2003, p. 1).

Second, consumers and musicians suffer when art is lost and big profits are sought in a corporate arena (Lee, 2003). For example, media conglomerates enlist focus groups to test music for their formatted radio shows in the quest for “safe” music (Moyers, 2002, p. 6). Once the focus groups deem a song safe, the massive radio chains start playing them constantly across the nation. These stations play safe songs to keep an audience tuned-in hoping they will stay long enough to hear the commercials (Moyers, 2002). As a result, the stations end up playing homogenized tunes instead of providing communities with a local flavor (Moyers, 2002). Thus, while the corporate media entities play it safe, musicians lose the opportunity to exercise their creative, artistic abilities which in the end negatively affects consumers.

In sum, the general public lacks the media literacy skills to dig below the surface and recognize that their favorite radio stations are part of a colossal conglomerate. Consumers content with their media options and high quality service have no idea that radio chains play the same programs in Minnehaha, Minnesota as they hear at home in Kissimmee, Florida. Sadly, most consumers remain oblivious to the negative effects of a constant diet of homogenized material. In my opinion, the negatives clearly outweigh the positives. Therefore, journalists and communications professionals must work together to educate the public on the importance of media literacy and together fight to save our public interests.

References …
Clear Channel Radio. (2009). Premiere radio networks. Retrieved February 14, 2009, from http://www.clearchannel.com/Radio/PressRelease.aspx?PressReleaseID=1599&p=hidden

Croteau, D., & Hoynes, W. (2006a). The new media giants. In The business of media: Corporate media and the public interest (pp. 75-115). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Croteau, D., & Hoynes, W. (2006b). Strategies of the new media giants. In The business of media: Corporate media and the public interest (pp. 117-152). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Croteau, D., & Hoynes, W. (2006c). How business strategy shapes media content. In The business of media: Corporate media and the public interest (pp. 155-189). Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.

Lee, J. S. (2003, December 19). Musicians protesting monopoly in media. New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/learning/teachers/featured_articles/20031219friday.html

Moyers, B. (2002, April 26). Virtual radio. In B. Breslauer (Producer), Now. Public Broadcasting Service. Retrieved February 15, 2009 from http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transcript_clearc.html


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Perceiving is Believing – Introduction

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The news that people watch, read, or listen to shapes their perception and over time has the potential to transform into a belief system. This post suggests that Americans suffer from a lack of media literacy skills and offers ways in which people can obtain and improve these skills in order to take in a healthy dose of media options. It will argue that what we perceive, we tend to believe.


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How can YOU gain perspective? – I. Literative Review

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This post discusses several relevant pieces of literature produced by scholars on the origins of perception and media bias.

In America, citizens have the right to exercise their media literacy skills to search for a vein of truth or a version they can live with. To accomplish this people must cut through the veneer in search of visceral content and that includes stories they may not agree with. But most people are too busy to digest multiple news sources and often feed on news outlets that resonate with their political, social, or environmental positions. So, instead of challenging their views, they merely reinforce them.

Pronin, Kennedy, and Butsch (2006) concluded that people are so confident in their own point of view that others appear biased. In other words, if a co-worker’s views are far from your own, he or she may appear biased to you. Data collected by scholars also suggested that a variety of factors cause perceived bias; for example, an affiliation with a particular political group will alter perception instead of the actual media coverage itself (Ariyanto, Hornsey, & Gallois, 2007; Kim & Pasadeos, 2007). Therefore, people on both sides of an issue will look at the same media story and see it as biased (Ariyanto, Hornsey, & Gallois, 2007; Kim & Pasdeos, 2007).

People unconsciously allow the media to build their perception and eventually manipulate their belief systems. So, how can people re-construct their personal views? Is it possible? I argue that people can change by supplementing their media mix. If individuals use one source like Fox News, but do not supplement it with other views their perception will be limited. The same could be said for those who take in a daily diet of only CNN or Al Jazeera. Aday, Livingston, and Hebert (2005) deduced from their research that during the lead up to the Iraq War, American networks barely mentioned the growing dissent in the US and worldwide that brought millions of people out to rallies and marches. In contrast, Al Jazeera devoted 6.7% of its airtime to the issue of dissent (Aday, Livingston, & Herbert, 2005). Would the Bush administration have sold the public on initiating the war if Americans had heard in greater detail about the worldwide and U.S. dissent on the news? Sadly, we will never know.

In sum, scholars have analyzed the origins of perception bias and concluded that people base their perception of events on the following:

1) what they watch, listen, or read,
2) which political party they affiliate with, and
3) a host of other factors.

In America, many people grew up with only three television networks and they still rely on these sources today. However, young people growing up with new technologies prefer a plethora of options and are ripe to learn how to use them. In that regard, media literacy advocates must continue to encourage people of all ages to vary their media mix to ensure more balance and a broader perspective.


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Are Americans getting a balanced diet of news? – II. Analysis

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This post discusses two videos that offer different views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In some cases, the mere topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can bring typically mild-mannered people to the brink of emotional distress. Some, especially Christians and Jews, feel that Israel has a God-given right to the land and to defend itself. For example, many of my friends and relatives feel that the Israelis did the right thing by attacking the Palestinians in December of 2008. I argue that if these people were to openly partake of a well-balanced media mix, they might begin to perceive the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as well as other issues, differently.

For example, what if people with strong views against the Palestinians were to watch shows like Focus on Gaza featured on Al Jazeera:


(Al Jazeera English, 2009).

Several of the comments on Al Jazeera’s Focus on Gaza website reveal how people can have an open, civil discussion about this conflict. I would like to highlight two of them:

“I am very thankful that Al Jazeera is investigating war crimes in Gaza. Please don’t stop. I am sure there must be hundreds of war crimes. Al Jazeera is making a difference in the World.” (Barnes, 2009).
Robert Barnes, United States
22/02/2009 (Gaza War Crimes)

and

“It’s interesting, at least from my perspective, that the Arabs and the Jews hate each [other] so much. I speak as a Jew myself when I say that we are sons and daughters of Abraham. There is no logical reason why we should fight. Yes, Israel has done horrible things to Palestinians. But on the flipside, Arabs are waging a war of hatred against Israel just for being a Jewish state. I read the paper everyday and everyday I am amazed at the hatred both sides have. This hate must stop for their to be peace.” (Aaron, 2009).
Aaron, United States
07/03/2009 (Arabs and Jews)

I am not suggesting a total new diet of news from Al Jazeera, but something from the opposite side or at least a different angle. After watching Al Jazeera and Fox News, some people might come up with thoughtful questions or insightful remarks that could lead to a dialogue similar to the one above. For example, the following YouTube vlogger provides a good example of using several forms of media and pausing to ask questions:


(Liberal Viewer, 2009).

Americans need to learn to flex their media literacy muscles. Our brains are in an atrophied state from taking in the same redundant sources. Even though it is painful to listen to something that one opposes or does not understand, we must open our minds, take a deep breath, and try. People who want to discuss these issues should start a blog, embed video comparisons, and add questions to see how other people think. In order to achieve balance, Americans must open their minds to new perspectives.


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“Deadly Distortions” … Accurate coverage … Is it possible? – II. Analysis

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This post will analyze news outlets in the United States to determine if Americans are getting fair and balanced coverage.

As a result of their analysis, Cushion and Lewis (2009) suggested that news outlets in the United States are “insular and parochial” because they tend to focus on domestic news; thus, relegating international news to a less significant level (p. 140). Unfortunately, this leaves the general populace to search for international news on their own. Most Americans are either lazy or too busy and do not look further than their nation’s borders. Instead, they blissfully follow what the news organizations provide for them which is usually short sound bites from government officials or military experts that frame countries according to their current affiliation with the United States (Herman & Chomsky, 2002). News outlets frame their content based on what countries are allies or friends of the United States; thus, they cast a certain light on countries deeming their stories or people as “worthy or unworthy” (Herman & Chomsky, 2002).

All framing issues aside, Cushion and Lewis (2009) asserted that some news outlets are no longer in the business of providing facts. Instead, they offer consumers an entertaining version with an ideological twist built on gimmicks and opinion all in an effort to capture audience share (Cushion & Lewis, 2009, p. 132). Unfortunately, these tactics combined with an insular slant do not offer Americans fair and balanced coverage as evidenced by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). PIPA’s Principal Investigator, Steven Kull (2002) conducted a study titled “Americans on the Israel/Palestinian Conflict: A Study of US Public Attitudes” that provided the following results:

“Asked whether ‘so far this year, more Israelis or more Palestinians have died in the conflict, or is the number roughly equal?’ only 32% of respondents were aware that more deaths have occurred on the Palestinian side than on the Israeli side. Half believed that either more Israelis died (15%), or that the deaths suffered by Israelis and Palestinians had been roughly equal (35%). Another 18% did not answer” (p. 11).

Half of the respondents thought that more Israeli’s died, but the truth is that more Palestinians died as a result of the occupation. Why did these respondents believe there were more Israeli victims? Could it be because Americans hear more on the news about Israelis that are targeted by Palestinian suicide bombers than about the random deaths of Palestinians. Is it because Americans see an overuse of “Breaking News” showing bomb-blasted Israeli buses with ambulances scurrying to take the wounded and worse to hospitals or morgues (Cushion & Lewis, 2009, p. 143)?

This finding is indicative of what American freelance journalist Alison Weir, founder of the website If Americans Knew has learned from her visits to the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and, from monitoring the real number of deaths on her website. Weir is trying to inform the public about the plight of the Palestinians in an increasingly polarized environment. She shares statistics from the Israeli-Palestinian issue that differ with what the news outlets deliver on a daily basis. For example, 1,072 Israelis have died since September 29, 2000, compared to an overwhelming 6,348 Palestinians who perished in the same time frame (Weir, 2009). Clearly, every life is important and every death a tragedy. But, the disparity in reporting is colossal especially when you look at the actual coverage and realize most of the stories focus on the notion of Israelis as the victims and Palestinians as the perpetrators. In a 2004 study of Associated Press headlines or lead paragraphs, 131% of Israeli deaths were reported in comparison to 66% of Palestinian deaths (Deadly Distortions, 2004). In other words, Israeli deaths were reported on average two times more than Palestinians.

Deeply affected by this knowledge, I posted a link to an article by Alison Weir on my Facebook page and immediately received a response from an old high school colleague. He said, “She is a political activist, and a very well known, longtime anti-Semite” (S. O., personal communication, April 1, 2009). How did he know about Alison? I had stumbled across her website several years ago while doing research. I had never heard of her, yet my friend claims she is very well-known. After several Google searches I realized that mainly Zionist writers and the Anti-Defamation League were publicly condemning Alison. My hope is that more people will look at the facts and neutralize these sensational, divisive comments.

Please take 28 minutes of your time and watch Alison Weir’s video Off the Charts and decide for yourself.


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