What We Know Now: Reflections on the Impacts of Entertainment Media

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Media platforms have evolved from a method of message distribution to a multi-faceted part of our everyday lives. We discovered throughout our research that as more media platforms have developed, different agendas and functions have arisen along with these new mediums, especially regarding entertainment media content. With our examination of each entertainment media platform, we have come to find that there are several overarching themes within entertainment media (the Internet, social media, the radio, print media, and television.) These themes include: advertising strategy, socialization, and media convergence.

1. Advertising:

We found that advertising is used across all media platforms, but different techniques were used within each platform in order to effectively meet advertising goals and to effectively reach targeted audiences. For example, repetition is often used in radio advertising because it lacks a visual component for audiences, while internet and social media advertisements rely on more analytical and personal data such as the behavioral tracking technique. Print and television media rely heavily on the use of visual graphics in advertising, and programs like Photoshop are often used to create and/or enhance graphics which seek to emphasize the impact of intended messages.

2. Socialization:

These advertisements rely on established social norms  in order to convey desired messages. Advertisers resort to this reliance on social norms  because of limitations of time and/or space. While the message becomes more direct this way, there are certain repercussions from the use of stereotypes in advertising. Such repercussions include the perpetuation of these stereotypes. Social media is often used in an attempt to defy/eradicate personal associations with these stereotypes. We found that media served many other socialization purposes including:

  • Identity
  • Sexualization
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Maintenance of the Status Quo

3. Convergence:

We found in our research that, despite our separation of media platforms, each platform was somehow integrated with another platform. For example, Buzzfeed articles and online radio stations can be linked directly to social media. Also there are many sites that allow for  interactive readings of traditionally print sources online and there are many websites that provide access to network television shows from computers or even cell phones and tablets.

Why Should We Care?

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Media is not only ubiquitous, but it has become an almost necessary component for participation in a globalized community. Media is everywhere, and the access to entertainment media seems to increase every day. The most important thing we have learned from our research is the importance of media literacy. It is important to know what kinds of resources you have, but it is more important to know how to use these media. We must be wary of the messages that are transmitted via the entertainment media because they are so powerful.

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Yik Yak

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What is everybody yakkin’ about?

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Most of us have all probably heard of the famous app known as Yik Yak. For those of you though who perhaps aren’t so hip, Yik Yak is an app that lets people within a five mile radius interact anonymously with one another. Think of it as Twitter without the hassle of followers or privacy.

Now while Yik Yak is a huge up and coming business, it has had many set backs due to the “dangerous” nature of the content posted. All of this leads me to ask the question of whether we control social media or does social media control us? Who really is to blame when social media transitions from fun to harmful?

The Downsides of Riding the Yak 

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‘”If this woman doesn’t stop talking, I’m going to rape her'”. Imagine being a speaker at a large university, your presentation ends, the kids get up to leave the auditorium and you turn on your phone to see this message pop up on one form of your social media. This is exactly what happened to Danielle Keats Citron after she gave a presentation at Duke University and saw this exact message referencing one of her colleagues who had been speaking earlier. It is messages like this, messages of hatred, racism, bigotry, that make Yik Yak such an unpopular app among scholars, teachers, professionals, and parents.

The New York Times see Yik Yak as a new form of cyber bulling that allows for no accountability. The problem with anonymity is that no one can be held responsible, this leaves people hurt and without anyway to seek retribution towards those bullies hiding under the mask of Yik Yak.

The Future of the Yak

Something major to note though, and something that Wired discusses, is that anonymity can be good. It allows for identity development, creativity, and a boldness that places like Twitter and Facebook have a tendency to restrict due to the creation of a profile. Yik Yak gives the shy kid a place to share his jokes and allows the jock to express his love of ballet. Yik Yak allows for people scared to shed their stereotypes a place to be free once and for all.

Final Thoughts?

Yik Yak can be whatever you want it to be, whether that is a place for harassment or a place to explore yourself, the only ones who get to decide what the content looks like are the users. The future of Yik Yak and the social media trend of anonymity is in our hands.

Sources:

Yik Yak and Online Anonymity Are Good for College Students

Who Spewed That Abuse? Anonymous Yik Yak App Isn’t Telling

New Campus Messaging App is Called Yik Yak. Some Call It Dangerous 

Yik Yak’s Flaws

Responsibility and Yik Yak

Gender Stereotyping on the Radio

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The Problem

Radio often serves as a unifying sources of entertainment, however, its unifying effects have the potential to be harmful. Through personality portrayal and targeted advertising, radio entertainment often perpetuates stereotype. A prominent form of such stereotyping is gender.

In order to appeal to a mass audience, radio broadcasters often resort to stereotyping. By creating a message that aligns with popular perceptions, stereotyping allows radio broadcasters to connect with a larger audience more effectively and thus retain a following.

Take, for example, a study analyzing the NBC portrayal of male gymnasts  the 2012 mensgymnasticsOlympics in comparison to other Olympic athletes. The study noted that “male gymnasts were more likely to have their success credited to athletic skill/strength and  composure” while “Male athletes competing in all sports except for gymnastics were more likely to have their successes attributed to their experience.” The distinction? Male gymnast success, by default, were characterized by emotion, something largely attributed to women, whilst non-gymnast male Olympians were characterized by hard work. Along similar lines, “Male gymnasts were also more likely to receive comments about being modest or introverted and have their emotional state described.”

The Effect

The study indicates that “Student athlete participation in men’s gymnastics decreased by 75 percent between 1981-1982 and 2011-2012” To what do we owe this drastic decrease? The social feminization of gymnastics and the fear of being categorized as effeminate pressures males to distance themselves from the sport.

What To Keep in Mind

It is important that in the pursuit of an audience we don’t sacrifice the integrity of a message. It may appear harmless, but in actuality the effects of gender stereotyping are severe. By stereotyping, we discredit individual identity and force a socially-constructed identity on ourselves and others.

Sources:
PARALLEL LINES OF COMMENTARY? THE NBC BROADCAST NETWORK’S PRIMETIME DEPICTION OF MALE GYMNASTS AT THE 2012 OLYMPIC GAMES

STEREOTYPES ON RADIO

THE GENDER STEREOTYPING OF EMOTIONS

STEREOTYPING HAS LASTING NEGATIVE EFFECTS

THE FCC AND FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Should Sam Censor Television?

Government Regulation of Television Programming

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It wasn’t until I was 10 or 11 that I finally understood that the little codes in a black box in the upper left-hand corner of the screen were program ratings. It was not until I started researching for this blog post that I learned that there is a small device, called a V-Chip, that is required by the Federal Communications Commission to be in all televisions with 13-inch (33 centimeter) or bigger screens. These microchips allow parents to block programs based on the ratings they are given by the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable Television Association.

The TV Parental Guidelines

TV-Y: Appropriate for all ages

TV-Y7: For children ages seven and older; may include mild fantasy or comedic violence

TV-G: General Audience – Suitable for all ages

TV-PG: Parental Guidance Suggested – may include moderate violence (V), some sexual situations (S), infrequent coarse language (L), and/or some suggestive dialogue (D).

TV-14: Parents Strongly Cautioned – Most parents would find content unsuitable for children under 14; may contain intense violence (V), sexual situations (S), strong coarse language (L), or intensely suggestive dialogue (D).

TV-MA: Mature Audience Only – these programs are specifically designed to be viewed by adults and are generally not suitable for children under 17; contains graphic violence (V), explicit sexual activity (S), crude indecent language (L), and/or nudity (N).

The government regulated the implant of V-Chips so that technology was available for parents to regulate what their children could watch on television, but the government regulation and censorship is still hotly debated. On the one hand, the Parents Television Council works to “protect children and families from graphic sex, violence, and profanity in the media because of their proven long-term, harmful effects.” Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that the three hours on average that youth and adolescents spend each day watching television are creating negative health effects on violence, sexuality, academic performance, self-image, weight and obesity, and substance use and abuse patterns. Organizations like these believe in the aggressive stimulation theory and the Cumulative Effects that Vivian expounds upon in his Media of Mass Communications text. Missi Tessier, on the other hand, cites research that concludes that the ratings system, combined with the use by parent of the government-installed V-Chip, eliminates the need for further government censorship of television content because they provide a system of regulation that protects youth from seeing what they are not yet ready to see.

 To Censor or Not to Censor?

What is it about the television landscape that has everyone talking about the “C”-word? Could it be the shared space of channels like Adult Swim and Cartoon Network? Are the ratings becoming more liberal? Or is it perhaps simply the increased popularity and widespread promotion of shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones that peaks childrens’ interests in very mature content?  Should we allow the government to censor television programming in order to keep from harming our youth, or would we be harming them by censoring television content and not exposing them to real-life subjects?

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Sources

The TV Parental Guidelines

The National Cable and Television Association Newsroom

The Parents Television Council

The American Academy of Pediatrics Journal

Federal Communications Commission

Are Magazines’ Days Numbered?

Tabloid magazines in a supermarket checkout line
While magazines may appear to be everywhere from the checkout line at the grocery store to the waiting room in the doctor’s office, the circulation of magazines has drastically decreased in the past few years. At some point we may even live in a print magazine free world.

The Problem

According to The Wall Street Journal in the first half of 2014, total magazine circulation declined 12% from the year before. Magazines receive revenue from both advertising and subscriptions, but both have dropped. If they continue to decline at the current rate, magazines may no longer be able to sustain themselves.

The Affected

The niche of magazines that is failing the worst is celebrity magazines. For example, People, US Weekly, and Instyle decreased sales by 15% in 2013 according to The New York Times. These sorts of magazines are struggling as competition in this section of entertainment has also been increasing. There are hundreds of online gossip sites that people are starting to rely on more than magazines for their share of celebrity news.

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The Solution

To try and fix this growing problem, magazines are moving towards the trend of convergence. Convergence is the melding of print and electronic media. In this case, print media is combining with the Internet. Magazines are going digital with their own interactive sites. During the first half of 2014, digital sales went from 10.2 million to 11.6 million. This convergence is changing the magazine industry. The real question now is will digital magazines take over, or will print magazines continue to have a place in the market? Only time will tell.

Sources:

“Print Magazine Sales Decline in 1st Half of 2014″

“Celebrity Magazine Sales Plummet on Newsstands”

Vivian, John. “Ink on Paper.” The Media of Mass Communication. 9th ed. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2009. 110. Print.

Behavioral Advertising: Your Personal Stalker

Ever notice how after you are online shopping for the newest pair of boots, then, hours later, you go back on the Internet to listen to Pandora or some other site, and BAM, there are the boots advertised conspicuously on the side bar. You feel like you are being watched. You might start to wonder, is something following me? Do not fret. There is an explanation. It’s called behavioral advertising.

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Behavioral advertising is a technique used by online advertisers in order to market specific ads to consumers based on their previous browser history. Specifically, researcher, Lisa Bernard, mentions that sites visited, length of visit and content viewed are all information collected that can be turned into meaningful online behavior patterns.

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Targeted advertisements especially on socially entertaining sites such as, Facebook, allow for ease of use. Consumers are just one click away from finding the original site of the advertised product. It seems every site on the Internet has advertisements. Thus, as we use the Internet to entertain ourselves through social media, gaming, or listening to music,  we must strive to be informed consumers and be aware of the touchy issues surrounding the Web.

Vivian points out the key to good advertising is resonating with consumers’ relevant tastes. However, is collecting personal online behavior taking it too far?

How far can we take advertising before it becomes too creepy?

Of course, people inherently like feeling like they are unique individuals with specific interests. However, in this context, consumer’s feel there is lack of consent to release their personal information. We feel as though this is an intrusion of privacy and may become paranoid about what else about our online lives is being tracked.

Jeff Chester reiterates this point by saying, “retargeting has helped turn on a light bulb for consumers. […] It illustrates that there is a commercial surveillance system in place online that is sweeping in scope and raises privacy and civil liberties issues, too.”

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Why does this matter?

As behavioral advertising brings up valid discussions about breaches in privacy, we are only left to wonder whether we, as a society, value convenience so much that we are willing to compromise our basic human rights. The government provides tips for us to protect ourselves online, but even that information is limited. We must continue to question the motives of these advertisers.  Do advertisements truly have our best personalized interest at heart or is behavioral advertising purely a creative capitalist move for collecting the almighty dollar?

Sources:

Barnard, Lisa. The Cost of Creepiness: How Online Behavioral Advertising Affects Consumer Purchase Intention. Diss. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2014. Ann Arbor: ProQuest, 2014. Print.

Vivian, John. “Advertising.” The Media of Mass Communication. 11th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2013. 18 Mar. 2015. Print.

“Retargeting Ads Follows Surfers to Other Sites”

Protect Your Privacy Online

The Old and New Business Model of YouTube

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YouTube is the second largest search engine behind its parent company Google, the site gets over one billion views per month, and in 60 days YouTube will generate more material than all 3 major US networks have generated in the past 60 years. Needless to say YouTube is a large part of our social media intake.

The Traditional Model

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I visit YouTube every day, for multiple hours a day, so what I see tends to have a large impact on my thoughts and behavior, it is a part of my socialization. YouTube is a platform for company branding and advertising, and it isn’t just any platform, it is one of the most important platforms. In Concept5’s article it tells us that “The best-performing brands publish high volumes of content on a regular schedule”. Companies use YouTube to engage with their audiences by taking advantage of the traffic flowing through the sites and placing ads in front of frequently watched videos as well as creating their own channels to brand their specific product.

The New YouTube

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In July Variety conducted a study to find out about teen’s and their favorite stars, the results were surprising. They found that “the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are all YouTube faves, eclipsing mainstream celebs including Jennifer Lawrence and Seth Rogen”. This is the new age of YouTube. The business model of YouTube is developing past the typical advertisement and self promotion, now there are celebrities forming out of the emerging platform. YouTube celebrities are becoming the new norm, with millions of subscribers and views, they are being paid big to keep regularly producing their popular content. In a Film Quarterly article YouTube videos and their popularity are cited to help explain how one video can mark the start of an entire career of YouTubing and the beginning of a celebrity status.

So What Does the Future Hold? 

YouTube is changing and adapting to fit the needs of viewers and it has opened the doors as a new source of entertainment that is strongly competing with television. With kids today preferring the content and persona of YouTube stars over TV and film stars it begs us to ask the question of whether these two media will enter a downfall of that similar to radio?

Sources

Youtube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge

Survey

YouTube Branding

The New YouTube

Avatars: An Alternate Reality

Remember SIMS? Well, virtual worlds are not a thing of the past. In fact, more than 1 million users get on virtual worlds such as the popular website, Second Life, everyday. While not all of us partake in these alternate realities, they are a growing part of our society and what some researchers deem the Internet of the future.

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What is virtual reality?

Virtual reality is a computer generated 3D environment in which users can interact with each other. Many believe these online platforms are escapes from reality, but  according to Nick Yee these virtual worlds are not escapes. Rather, “they are in fact perpetuating the status quo [… and] powerful psychological tools for shaping how we think and behave.” Something he calls the “Proteus effect.”

Is virtual reality considered a game?

Under typical consideration, it is logical to deem virtual worlds as games, and thus a form of media entertainment. However, virtual reality users raise controversy when others limit their usage to merely a game. Users prefer to view this alternate reality as a community, specifically verbalizing Second Life and other platforms role in meeting the opposite sex. This function is as depicted clearly in the documentary Life 2.0, below.

Why use virtual reality as a dating site?

Kristina Dell says it has to do a lot with confidence. If you feel your avatar is attractive, you can more easily approach someone in Second Life. Even if you have a negative body image and are deeply insecure in the physical world, virtual worlds create a new online community where you can shape who you are. Building these new communities is what Vivian points out as a key function of any medium including the Internet.

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Why does this matter?

While virtual realities have been popular for many years, as these realities are developed into to business models and presented as ways to generate profit, they will only become larger. The popular social media site, Facebook, recently acquired the virtual reality company, Oculus VR. Their newest contribution to the virtual reality world includes portable headsets that connect to Internet apps on smart phones.

So while these new innovative technologies are surely advanced, we must ask ourselves, at what cost? We must find a balance between reality and virtual reality. Avatars and megapixels should not replace the invaluable physical interactions which make us uniquely human.

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Sources:

“Virtual Worlds Are Real”

“Life 2.0” documentary

“How the Second Life Affects Real Life”

“Facebook sees Oculus Virtual Reality Headsets Shipping This Year”

Media Convergence: Online Radio

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The trend

Due to the rapid evolution of technology, radio has transitioned from an exclusively airwave format to a largely online format. This merging is a form of media convergence, the “merging of previously distinct media technologies and media forms.”

Many people, including journalist Jason Gilbert from the Huffington Post, argue that the convergence of the internet and radio is among the most important, “Soon, Internet music listening will surpass the radio and physical media, and the Era of Internet Music will officially begin.” Evidence of this statement lies in the sheer quantity of individuals who have made the transition from AM/FM radio to internet radio. According to a study cited by Statista, As of 2012, 46.76 million Americans used internet radio and on average listened to music online for nearly 10 hours every week.

While these numbers seem to support Gilbert’s claim, scholars such as those at the University of Sunderland claim that AM and FM radio will continue to exist:

whilst the internet is an important platform for content distribution it is not solely where our future lies; it will be an integral part of the ecosystem but it will not replace FM or digital broadcast technologies, or at least not within our lifetimes.

This persistence may be due to factors such as large funds required to pay for music royalties.

So, what is actually happening?

The transition to internet radio increasingly makes  itself more apparent, however, http://www.eppgroup.eu/sites/default/files/styles/large/public/photo/2014/03/176622799.jpg?itok=_BUwKZ4pthere is minimal evidence to suggest that airwave radio will completely disappear. In fact, completely shifting to internet radio would go against the interest of branding as “The cross-media advertising induced more positive attitudes toward the brand.” Here lies the necessity of media literacy. In order to understand the evolution of radio entertainment, one must have knowledge of more than the trend, they must also be able to interpret the trend and the implications behind such information.

Sources:

Internet Radio Is About To Surpass FM/AM, But Have Spotify And Pandora Really Changed Anything?

The cross-platform synergies of digital video advertising: Implications for cross-media campaigns in television, Internet and mobile TV”

“The Future of radio is the internet, not on the internet”

“Media Convergence”

“Statistics and Facts on U.S. Online Radio Market”

New rate for music digital stream

Internet radio closing in on cd, radio listening

Get Real

The Powerful Effects of Reality Television

We become concerned with societal regulations from a very young age and rely on mainstream media, such as television, to serve as major aids in our development and socialization. Reality television is increasingly becoming a part of this socialization process, and it’s a factor that has the potential to be very harmful.

Surreality

I must admit that my guilty pleasure is watching Bravo’s The Real Housewives, but when I watch these shows and other reality television series, I am aware that this is not “reality,” but that it is a constructed and carefully edited program, like most other forms of entertainment. This is not raw or unfiltered as reality is, but it is actually quite the opposite, and the portrayals of the women on reality television shows are about as “real” as their manufactured breasts. For me, it’s an escape, a fantasy, but there are some that suggest that it is becoming more and more a part of our reality because it has such an established place in our culture.

When Did Reality Become TV?

Dr. Romeo Vitelli states that a large portion of television consumers watch at least one reality television show faithfully. Some know that the people portrayed on these shows are a “train wreck,” while others seem to be developing a sense that the behaviors and lifestyles that these shows highlight are normal and even desirable. Tom Jacobs suggests that the behaviors highlighted in shows like The Real Housewives, namely the hostility, the luxury, and the heightened sexuality of these women on TV could be seen more and more by heavy viewers as a societal norm, and that viewers could be more likely to engage in these behaviors.

The theories surrounding reality television viewing and the effects on behavior are similar to those that are expressed about children and television violence – some are thought to live vicariously through these characters and so the behaviors do not develop, others think that the increased focus on this false reality is having an effect on what these viewers perceive as “normal.”

Keep it Real

Karyn Riddle thinks that much more research is still required to effectively determine exactly what kinds of effects reality television is having on society, but in the meantime it is important for us to bear in mind that these are, in fact, constructed realities. There is nothing real about reality television, and the more we are able to remember that, the more we as audiences can view it without being fearful of the aggression and deception becoming part of our own reality.

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Sources:

Psychology Today

Pacific Standard