User generated content makes you the editor

Today’s news is able to extend its reach to even the most remote places of the world. This is not because news companies have increased their staff considerably, it is because average people are now able to create their own news material. User generated content (UGC) has enabled a link between news companies and individuals; one that allows individuals in a community to voice their opinions and ideas.

The difference between user generated content and other forms of media is that UGC is an amateur production while most other websites will have professionals creating the content. However, this does not stop most news companies from using the amateur content. This benefits both the individual and the news company. It is beneficial for the news company because they could cover a dramatic story even though they were not present and draw in a substantial amount of attention. The amateur is also rewarded by having their story covered and probably earning recognition for their contribution.

User generated content is an example of the Uses and Gratifications Theory. This theory states that individuals use forms of media to fulfill certain needs. People create user generated content to share their experiences with whoever they choose. When the UGC is deemed news worthy and becomes readily available to a large audience, the individual has met their needs of being social and informative. So if a person captured a video of a woman saving people from a fire with their cell phone and uploaded it to CNN’s iReport, they would have met their needs of being social and informing people of a courageous act.

People who create user generated content are helping out news companies everywhere. Some of this UGC will have the newsworthiness to become a leading story for some news organizations. By participating in user generated content people are having their voices heard and their stories covered. The next time you experience something a lot of people could be interested in, post it online and see what others have to say.

 

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Evolution of Journalism: Blogging

Since the creation of the Internet, individuals are now able to connect to hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Most of these connections have been made through a new type of journalism: blogging. Blogging has provided interactive collaboration between professional journalists and amateur bloggers; something traditional journalism could never achieve.

I have just become a blogger myself and I can see how blogging has changed traditional journalism. With newspapers, journalists and readers were considered separated, meaning journalists would write a story and subscribers would read it. However, according to Ken Doctor, author of Newsonomics, “blogs have made interaction easier between journalists and readers through commenting and various forms of easy feedback.” This statement means blogs create a community for anyone to discuss any topic deemed worthy by their standards; giving citizens the chance to become journalists and interact with one another.

Creating, commenting, or even reading blogs has the potential to increase one’s media literacy skills. Media literacy is the ability to interpret, analyze, and evaluate messages in all varieties and combinations of print, visual, and digital formats. By being able to read someone’s blog, then read comments to that blog, and even comment on the blog yourself grants the privilege of multiple points of view on a single topic. Traditional newspapers only allows the reader to view a single source produced by the journalist who wrote the story. Reading blogs has a higher probability of creating a more media literate audience opposed to only reading traditional newspapers

Although traditional journalism still exists, most professionals have adapted to becoming journalistic bloggers. Not only do blogs provide an easier way to reach an audience, they are a more informal, conversational type of writing compared to the storytelling style of newspaper columns. The benefit of having multiple viewpoints on a blog makes people inclined to become media literate individuals than reading a story from the newspaper. There are still hardcore traditional journalists who believe blogs are the death of “real” journalism; these same journalists could create amazing blogs with a large community. Besides, isn’t the purpose of journalism to reach the largest audience possible?

References:

Doctor, K. (2010). Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

 

 

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The Columbine Doom Theory

The tragedy of the April 20th, 1999 Columbine massacre left society looking for the answer of “Why?”. People were blindsided by the actions taken by the high school gunmen of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. When the media released information that both boys played Doom, a first-person shooter video game, people began tying Columbine to violent video games.

Being a serious gamer myself, it interests me as to why the media would label violent video games as a contributing factor of the massacre. According to Cullen, in an attempt to find the cause of such a tragedy, the media was quick to compile a list of culprits, including violent video games. The gaming market was just beginning to emerge as a part of mainstream media, making it misunderstood by society. This contributed to the false belief the gunmen were heavily influenced by Doom. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxz33MLCFXA

The media’s agenda setting of the Columbine shooting sparked the beginning of the campaign against violent video games. Agenda setting is when the media informs the masses what to think about, but not necessarily what to think. When information was released about the boys playing Doom, the media focused on saying the video game had a direct correlation with the violent shooting. Prior to this media coverage, society had not blamed video games for violent outbursts. The negative perspective within the media’s agenda setting started the excuse of violent games contributing to violent acts.

Gaming has evolved since the Columbine shooting. Although the media still tries to connect violent fantasy to reality, gaming has become more accepted by society. Eric and Dylan did indeed play Doom; however, this was not the sole cause of their actions. People should understand media uses any information at their disposal to try and answer the question of “Why?”. It is society’s responsibility to criticize media in order to make their own judgements.

References:

Cullen , D. 2009. Columbine. New York, NY: Hachette Book Group.

 

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Lucky Charms For Life

For 48 years, General Mills cereal brand Lucky Charms has been a household favorite for children and adults alike.  Despite this, a closer look is needed at the company’s advertising techniques.  More specifically, the cereal brand uses online advergaming to entice children to interact with Lucky, the cereal’s mascot. If one was to visit the site now, Lucky is asking visitors to help him fix the shooting star marshmallow charm by recombining the broken star pieces.

Advergaming is the use of video games to promote a product. Being an avid gamer, I was unaware this even existed. I knew video games had advertisements in them, but I never knew games were created for the sole purpose of advertisement. According to Deborah Thomson’s article “Marshmallow Power and Frooty Treasures: Discipling the Child Consumer through Online Cereal Advergaming,” children are immersed in cereal advertisements the second they choose to participate in these online games. It is important for parents to understand while their children are playing these games, each of the short narratives are actually advertisements that are geared towards creating lifelong consumers.

Children are a main target of many advertisements. Marketers realize if they are able to connect a child with a brand, they will have a consumer for life. This “cradle to the grave” technique ensures the company has a lifelong profit from their dedicated consumers. Lucky Charms use of advergaming connects children to the brand by not only seeing the advertisement on television, but also simulating actions previously seen in the commercial. The simulation creates a “bond” between the child and Lucky Charms. Beyond simply eating the cereal, a child now becomes emotionally invested in the product.

Understanding companies’ use advergaming to advertise to children will create a stronger parental presence in a child’s Internet usage. There should also be more restrictions regarding the content in these advergames. Video games can teach children real world skills; however, advergaming is mainly used to associate players with a particular brand. Combining the two creates a dangerous mix of pleasure and blind consumerism.

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No Fear For Chevrolet

Chevy Silverado \”2012\”

The Super Bowl 46 commercial “2012” created by Chevrolet begins with the Silverado truck driving out of rubble with a man and a dog; survivors from the prophesized Mayan Apocalypse of 2012. The next scene shows a crashed UFO indicating extraterrestrials were affected by the apocalypse as well. He continues driving and passes a recently erupted volcano. Large red glowing rocks surround the road, which could be meteors or debris from the volcano.  The commercial continues with the man and his dog pulling their truck up next to other Chevies with survivors of the apocalypse. The men hold a brief conversation about their friend Dave who did not survive because he drove a Ford. Another one of the Chevy drivers recovered a box of Twinkies and offers one to the main character to ease the pain of Dave’s demise. The commercial ends with frogs raining from the sky and the slogan “Chevy Runs Deep.”

Chevrolet’s commercial is aimed towards working middle class American men, since the price range of the 2012 Silverado is between $22,195 and $39,460. By using fear, humor, and ad hominem persuasive techniques in their advertisement, Chevrolet could lose some of their customers.

There is a gloomy outlook of a post-apocalyptic setting for the duration of the commercial. However Chevrolet does try and create a warm and fuzzy feeling by playing Barry Manilow’s “Look’s Like We Made It”. It is interesting how Chevrolet uses the fear of an apocalyptic setting with the soothing music of Barry Manilow. The conflicting themes of visual fear and musical serenity can create mixed emotions for an audience which is why Chevrolet used humor later in the commercial to help viewers understand the reasoning behind their tactics.

The main character meets up with other survivors and he asks about his friend Dave. Another survivor responds that Dave drove a Ford. It is implied Dave died because his Ford is not as dependable as a Chevrolet. This can be found humorous by Chevrolet owners but will be responded to negatively by Ford owners. According to Media Literacy Project, this can be classified as a persuasive technique called ad hominem. Instead of showing insurance statistics for dependability, Chevrolet subtly claims Ford products are inferior. Viewers of this commercial could believe Chevrolet trucks are more dependable than Ford trucks without ever seeing physical evidence to support their claim.

Ideology of assertive and self-reliant men owning trucks is reinforced with the mention of Dave owning a Ford; which raises the question: Where are the women in this advertisement? Women would be more of a benefit to the human race than an extended cab on a Silverado.

Viewers should understand Chevrolet broke an unwritten rule by using the “Ford” brand name in an advertisement with false accusations. By understanding only statistics will determine if a product less dependable than another is key. However advertisements with statistics are questioned because of credibility. How could advertisers show accurate information without being questioned?

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About Adam

Hello, my name is Adam Saldaña. I am a 20-year-old Mass Communications major at Longwood University. I enjoy spending time with my friends and family as well as my brothers of Delta Tau Chi.

A popular culture artifact that was important to me when I was a child was the Game Boy. Although I was not even born when it sold for the first time in North America, I remember seeing advertising for it on television when I was growing up.  Around the time I was in Kindergarten the Game Boy was becoming a must-have device as cell phones are now. The other children would play them on the bus and even in class when the teacher allowed the privilege. Since most of the boys in my class had one they would group up and talk about different games and other Game Boy related topics. This was unfortunate for me because I did not own one. My parents did not believe I needed video games at 5 years of age. This meant I was not included in the other children’s discussions related to Game Boys. When I reflect back it seems silly I was saddened by their rejection of my input to their conversations. Most children would become upset when she or he is not accepted by their peers.

 

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