Somewhere in between these positions would be to learn from history of "new" media and make new applications of theory and knowledge. To be fair, Murphy and Martin agree that "it's too early," and "the playbook... hasn't been written yet."
For example, movie attendance peaked in the United States somewhere about 1940, according to the classic book Milestones in Mass Communication Research. Obviously, the diffusion of radio, television, magazines and eventually the Internet have changed the way we watch, but this did not kill the movie industry.
So, be careful -- as Murphy warns -- of self-proclaimed new media gurus. It is enough to understand that fundamentals will carry us well into the next decade. Bright writing, solid production, engaging story-telling and authentic communication always have been and will continue to be the keys to sustaining your brand.
Facebook's update of the iPhone application offers nearly full Web features -- friend news feeds, inbox, chat, events, photos, notes and more. As the availability of 3G and wireless hot spots broadens, this makes possible real-time updates from events. We all have the power to shoot photos and videos for immediate posting on the Web. Move over traditional news media. The flow of information has again quickened, but this time it is not just about speed.
- educational background
- political orientation
Powered by the context of personal histories and relationships, opinions here resemble the classic 18th Century coffee house conversation rather than the over-generalized "public opinion" industry. For example, tolerance for President Obama's speech to school children seemed to have its origin in some of the Facebook polls and commentary. By the day of the speech, armed with the released text a day before, key Republican opinion leaders supported it as a positive.
Both sides sit as bosses over an historic bureacracy constructed in the early 20th Century. Revisions to the law seem to patch rather than reinvent a model. Even if the FCC could break loose of its assumptions, the body stands amid what scholars have identified as a policy-making system of lawyers, lobbyists, industry and interests.
The FCC is a "creature of Congress" -- it holds the money that keeps the agency alive. Every FCC action is not only scrutinized by this branch of government, many are struck down following review by the courts. Then there is the White House and its control over the FCC chair and other commissioners.
Still, some interesting discussion surfaced at the FCC in the form of questions:
1. Is the U.S. ready for the economic impact of a pandemic or fear of one? Could broadband video conferencing mitigate the negative economic impact of a disaster? Is the infrastructure ready to allow millions to work or go to school from home, if needed?
2. Could the lawyer-driven FCC process and its jargon be simplified, so regular people may understand it and participate?
3. Can the FCC successfully modernize its staff and operations? Will new media lead to a demonstration of interactive, 21st Century democracy? Will the FCC listen to people outside the beltway through technologies such as Twitter?
4. Can the FCC synthesize its data, improve quality and reform licensing?
5. Can the government mandate a simple telephone bill that would actually allow us to know all charges and respond in the marketplace to make better choices? May consumers be empowered?
The FCC has a mixed track-record in its attempts over the years to be a positive influence. When people complained about cable billing and service problems in the early 1990s, the FCC was slow to respond. The FCC has never forced cable companies to break-up channel tiers and pricing, which would be a responsive marketplace model. And, it's not clear that remarkable Internet innovation and mobile media development was so much a product of the FCC as a market that took advantage of freedom and trailing regulators.
The FCC's plan for a National Broadband Plan seems too little and too late. While the government collects and analyzes data, the U.S, may fall behind other countries. Further, attempts to structure consumer protection rules will not guarantee anything. Consumers need media literacy education to make the best decisions.
Despite the interest among those in the area of energy, education and public safety in mobile media, the government is not offering its most important assistance: funding.
Instead the tired Democrat-Republican ideological 3-2 split on the FCC has not changed. Democrats continue to voice doubt in industry self-regulation, and Republicans place most of their faith in the marketplace.
I do not need another Notice of Inquiry to conclude that a lot of the existing rules do not make sense. Regulation has its costs, as does industry run amok.
An informed public might be activated to challenge confusing, long-term contracts, poor service, lack of choice and over-charges. However, in the end our system must give great deference to the power of the First Amendment, the right of property ownership and the historic and healthy skepticism about government.
It is challenging to both allow innovation to take its course and also identify the point that monopoly takes hold and stifles its own market. The courts, not the FCC, are in a better position to balance and protect interests.
So, where does this leave the FCC? Perhaps back in the early 1940s when the Supreme Court incorrectly ruled in the NBC case that the Commission is more than a "traffic cop" directing spectrum management. Maybe all that the FCC can and should be is an engineering monitoring system.
Mobile media are coming fast. We do not need an FCC to manage competition. With minimal government intervention, mobile media are growing several times faster than the U.S. economy.
Further. we do not need an agency to look for "harmful" content. The FCC's indecency regulatory regime, which has exhausted so much time, energy and money, can also be addessed with existing obscenity state case law.
The agency acknowledges it must "reboot" the FCC. Maybe it just needs a shut down.
Enter my summer of discovery on Twitter and Facebook.
The 140-character world of the tweet is fascinating. I like the way that stories unfold on twitter.com over time. For example, I began following Internet pioneer John Perry Barlow as he apparently was getting back on his feet:
johnperrybarlow I get out of rehab today. I hope I've been permanently habbed. Weird to dread leaving an alcoholic's Abu Graib.
11:57 AM Jul 29th from web.
Once out and about Barlow quickly became frustrated with Twitter and its brevity:
johnperrybarlow In the history of human expression, there has been no medium more ephemeral than Twitter. Genius lasts 10 minutes.
2:47 AM Aug 18th from web
johnperrybarlow Enough. That was my swan-tweet. I'm going to learn to carve letters in stone. Which may breed real economy of thought.
10:43 AM Aug 18th from Twittelator
johnperrybarlow I'm sorry. One last tweet. We have been hugely self-congratulatory about Twitter and the Green Revolution.
11:13 AM Aug 18th from Twittelator
johnperrybarlow@JeremyHL Yeah. I'm starting to have second thoughts. Maybe I'll get over my bad self and slink on back.
10:28 PM Aug 19th from Twittelator
And later he did:
johnperrybarlow I'm slinking back on Twitter. It appears that more of you were listening than I thought. Sorry for the tantrum.
2:44 PM Aug 20th from web
Deggans Today show anchor sez more than 300,000 responses came in to its poll on Michele Obama's shorts. For some reason, this depresses me.
6:13 AM Aug 20th from web
BulldogReporter Angry Travelers Flock to Twitter with Airline Gripes: "United airlines, you are the bane of my existence," reads.. http://bit.ly/8SBkl4:51 AM Aug 20th from twitterfeed
AnnCurry Okay, here's my photo of Helen Thomas' reaction when asked if she would join Twitter. http://tinyurl.com/ln6lsg 7:00 PM Aug 19th from web
And as a professor, I am thrilled to follow alumni from our journalism program:
chrismachian A New York Times cover I did is now a book. (I did the cover photo) http://tinyurl.com/ourboys
8:59 PM Aug 17th from web
LozaFina Ok... So, I guess I'm going to Hooters tomorrow after all. Smile.
2:34 PM Jul 15th from web
Finally, Twitter is connecting me with colleagues from graduate school and universities around the nation,
FvrythingPR My Forever Pet Peeves: Publicity=Public Relations. http://bit.ly/5JyWz1:50 AM Aug 17th from TweetDeck
as well as the industry:
rickmurray May be the company I keep, but my facebook friends out-engage my Twitter followers 20:1
8:36 PM Aug 12th from Tweetie
I'm not ready to give up the face-to-face world, but I do think that the extended world of online relationships and engagement is the future of "media."
Published Monday July 20, 2009
By Julie Anderson
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
At the time, he was reading a book on personal finance. It mentioned purchasing services “a la carte” rather than as a package.
The Lincoln resident knew that wasn’t an option for cable TV. So he cut the cord about two months ago, canceling his cable subscription. Now the couple watch what they want, when they want — online.
Andrea Riley watches “Desperate Housewives” at ABC.com, which streams free full episodes of that and other popular shows such as “Lost” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” often the day after they air. The couple buy episodes of another favorite, “The Soup,” a revamp of “Talk Soup” on E! Entertainment Television, on Apple’s iTunes for $1.99 each with only a day’s wait.
Even paying for the handful of shows they can’t get free legally, Riley figures watching TV online saves money. The only thing they miss is flipping on CNN Headline News and the Weather Channel in the morning.
“It’s all getting to watch the TV shows you want to watch at a cheaper price, at your convenience,” he said.
In making the switch, the Rileys have joined a small but growing number of people who are tuning in online rather than over traditional network, cable or satellite pipelines. Some watch online occasionally to catch up on an episode they’ve missed or to track down old or obscure shows. Others, like the Rileys, watch online routinely.
Convenience, potential cost savings and the sheer availability of content through network sites such as ABC.com and videocasting destinations such as Hulu, Fancast and others appear to be among the drivers.
It wouldn’t be possible without changes in technology, including the availability of inexpensive laptops, the advent of smart phones and the increase in high-speed and wireless Internet access. An April survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project indicates that some 63 percent of adult Americans now have broadband Internet access at home — the kind fast enough to handle video viewing. That’s an increase of 15 percent from just a year ago.
The major drawback, sports fans, is a dearth of access to, well, sports. ESPN360.com, a broadband network, delivers online live sports programming, but only through a participating provider. For now, that list doesn’t include Cox Communications in the Omaha area.
Without cable, Riley couldn’t watch the College World Series last month or the Tour de France. But since neither he nor his wife are big sports fans, it hasn’t been much of an issue. They just have to warn their sports-minded friends that they won’t be able to watch Husker games on cable at their house this fall.
It’s not clear how many people are watching online. But the Nielsen Co. reported in April that the number of Americans frequenting online video destinations had climbed 339 percent since 2003 and that time spent on video sites grew nearly 2,000 percent during that period. From February 2008 to February 2009 alone, viewers of online video grew 10 percent.
And those folks weren’t just watching short clips. While YouTube topped all other video sites in February 2009, the growth in the early part of 2009 centered on sites that offer longer videos, including network sites and Hulu. Launched in March 2008, Hulu offers programming from equity partners NBC Universal, News Corp. and Disney, as well as others.
Jeremy Lipschultz, a professor and director of the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication, said the trend is just starting.
“People are just figuring this out,” he said. “Once people figure out that all this content is out there, you’ll see a more dramatic shift.”
Bobby Tulsiani, a senior analyst with the market research firm Forrester Research, said it’s still tech types who are making the change. Two years from now, more people will be doing it.
Both Lipschultz and Tulsiani predict a continued blurring of lines between the television and computer.
“The computer is more interactive than television,” Lipschultz said. “We were imagining a more interactive television age as early as the 1980s, but it never materialized until the computer. Now you come to a point where everything is converging, where it’s hard to distinguish between what’s television and what’s computer.”
So will we lose those shared frames of reference we had when we all sat around watching the console in the corner?
Not so much, said Lipschultz. The availability of hundreds of cable and satellite channels fragmented viewership long before the computer. Exceptional events, such as the Super Bowl, continue to draw mass audiences. President Barack Obama’s election brought people together around the TV screen, but that audience was augmented by people following it — and discussing it — on laptops, Twitter and social networking sites. Lipschultz and others tweeted last week during Major League Baseball’s All Star Game.
“We might not all be sitting around the same screen,” Lipschultz said, “but we’re looking at a lot of the same media and we’re talking about it online instead of face to face.”
With such integration, Lipschultz said, media becomes less one-way and more multi-way.
“I think that’s the biggest shift, and the biggest advantage is it gives people a voice that they didn’t have in the traditional television age,” he said.
At the same time, the TV isn’t likely to disappear from American living rooms. According to Nielsen’s April report, the amount of time consumers spent watching TV continues to grow — now hitting 5.5 hours a day. Nor is there evidence that the Internet is taking away from TV use, the company reported.
Ann Shrewsbury, public affairs director for Time Warner Cable Nebraska, said their business trends nationwide show the same thing.
But Time Warner, which serves 17 communities in southeast Nebraska, including Lincoln, is making changes to respond to customers seeking to view in a variety of ways and on a variety of screens, from the 2-inch iPod to 52-inch TVs.
To keep up with demand for downloading bigger files such as TV programs or movies, Time Warner Cable in June launched a new product that gives customers a boost of speed as they download. The company also is providing more on-demand content that customers can play whenever they choose. Husker football programming, such as recruiting videos and full press conferences with coach Bo Pelini, has been a big hit.
Cox, too, has launched new on-demand options, including one that gives customers instant access to hit programs, said Kristen Gohr, manager of public affairs for the company in Omaha.
Both companies also are in various stages of exploring systems that would allow paying cable subscribers to access programming through PCs and mobile devices. Time Warner is expected to conduct a trial yet this summer; Cox is in talks.
But not all of those who choose to watch online are hunched over laptops or slumped in desk chairs.
Riley, 34, a tech hobbyist, built a computer in his basement dedicated to television and connected it to his 42-inch LCD TV. He sits on a couch to watch and uses a wireless keyboard to get online and pick a show.
Upstairs is a smaller flat-screen TV connected to Apple TV, a digital media receiver linked to iTunes that he figures also will pay for itself in cable savings. He stores the programming he buys on a media server he can access through any of his computers.
His only worry? That Internet providers might someday start charging users for heavy Web use.
Sam Golgert of Omaha connected his old computer to his big-screen TV after he got a new PC.
“At that point, I said, ‘I don’t need cable anymore,’” he said.
He’s no longer spending money on programming he doesn’t want. When he does watch TV, Golgert, 33, can usually find what he wants on Hulu. The only thing he consistently watches is “Family Guy.”
Overall, he’s found himself spending less time watching TV shows and more time watching movies. He’s purchased a few movies online, which stream to him for about the cost of a rental. He certainly hasn’t found himself bored watching less TV.
“I realized I had it on as background noise most of the time,” he said.
Contact the writer:
I can tell you what I asked
Colleagues told me this was a timely question in light of the end of analog television this week. So, how can top news executives expect sources to stay on the record when they are not prepared to have their comments meet the light of day?
Federal digital TV conversion program more frustrating than helpful
BY JEREMY LIPSCHULTZ
Following weeks of adjustments to my digital television converter box and two antennas, I have more questions than answers about the federal government’s TV Converter Box Coupon Program (online at http://www.DTV2009.gov), which offered $40 subsidies to upgrade analog sets to receive digital signals.
There is no doubt that this option offered people an inexpensive solution to the latest impending June 12 deadline for all analog signals to go dark. And a good-quality antenna with good positioning will compensate for some of the shortcomings. Still, it is clearly not the best way to experience the media digital revolution.
I was frustrated by inconsistent signal quality and the fact that a converter box does only what it offers — conversion, and not a true digital experience. It allows you to keep using your now outdated sets, but it falls short of helping us to understand why digital TV is worth the trouble. Finally, a converter box does not address the need for some of us to replace portable, battery-powered sets that are so valuable during Midwestern storms.
Undeterred, I went looking for a better solution and found it.
If you happen to have an Apple computer, you are most of the way toward achieving HDTV nirvana. I purchased the Elgato EyeTV hybrid tuner for Mac (PC users can find similar tuners), which plugs into the USB port of a laptop. The other end goes right into an antenna plug. This ran $149 at Amazon.com, and I found a RCA compact indoor antenna at my local drug store for about $11. The results were astounding.
From the exact same location in midtown that the converter so disappointed me, I immediately began receiving true high-definition quality video. I already had a nice computer sound system, so my home theater was complete.
Beyond enjoying digital television signals, the tuner also turned a laptop into a digital video recorder, which of course does not happen with converter boxes. The DVR acts much like a TiVo, including the ability to pause live television. An added bonus is a picture-in-picture feature that allows viewers to toggle between recordings and live TV.
In the event of a storm, assuming the television station signals can withstand it, I have a few hours of battery power to allow me to watch television weathercasters. There are, of course, other developments on this front.
Cellular telephones are rapidly becoming able to receive television signals, and it is likely that local stations will jump on the bandwagon in the near future. In fact, mobile media may come to replace much of what we think of as mass media today.
While the government converter box coupon program may have been politically expedient, I think it risks leading viewers down a dirt path that threatens to confuse people about all that is possible in the coming digital age.
We seem locked in a mind-set that views television as it was five or even 50 years ago. In an age when people are already viewing their favorite shows on Hulu.com and other sites, it is clear that the computer is the device that rules the digital age.
It remains to be seen what happens after the June 12 deadline passes. Once we all find solutions to the shift, maybe we can look ahead to the many possibilities.
Once we accept the idea that going digital means we are making a fundamental media shift away from a limited number of choices and toward nearly unlimited choices spread across the planet, then we begin to see how the transition will keep over-the-air broadcasters in the game but not guarantee success.
In a marketplace that includes user-created YouTube videos, independent media productions and low-cost barriers to entry, professional broadcasters more than ever must produce great content that people want to trade for their valuable time.
In this digital world, Omaha broadcasters and those in more than 200 media markets across the United States will be pushed to be local, innovative, creative, entertaining and talented. This has to be good for those of us watching.
Rocky Mountain News closes
Just shy of its 150th anniversary, one of Denver's newspapers has closed. A victim of declining circulation revenues and a poor economy, the Rocky was given little time by corporate owners to recover or be sold.
Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.
Sanitizing the airwaves
The controversy has drawn sharp lines in the blogosphere, as parents divide on use of language that children may be exposed to while listening to radio. Some parents and children, however, wrote that they did not hear the profanity in the song until it was pointed out in media by the PTC.
The song has made the Billboard Top 1oo chart and is receiving airplay around the country, according to Reuters.
Beyond the song title, the lyrics include the following: "All the boys and all the girls are begging to if you seek Amy," according to a music lyrics website.
Talking points: "This is a stretch," University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication Director Jeremy Lipschultz said. "If we now say that the phrase 'If you seek' belongs among words you cannot say on radio and television, where does this end?"
"By going after iterations of the F-word and dual-meanings, I think the moral crusaders weaken their shaken case that language should be restricted," Lipschultz said. "In a free society, we tolerate freedom of speech that we may not like -- especially in the absence of scientific evidence of harm to children.
Golden Globe Awards face new problem
The FCC told Scott Collins of the Los Angeles Times that the agency is reviewing the program.
The incidents come as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on a New York Court of Appeals decision that struck down FCC regulation of fleeting use of the F-word and S-word on previous Golden Globe Awards programs between 2002 and 2005.
The FCC told the Times it has 18 new complaints from the recent show.
Talking points: "We have no case law on gestures, such as flipping the bird," University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Communication Director Jeremy Lipschultz said. "It is probably a stretch to classify it under the FCC's sexual or excretory activities standards."