Or at least they should be. The most successful of news giants are taking to the internet and their reporters are blogging. They’re “blog posting” more than they’re “story writing. (Doctor, 123). The New York Times hosts more than 70 blogs. The Journal News has over 50. These companies have their staff blogging, not outsiders. Big names from The Times such as David Carr, Brian Stelter, and David Pogue all blog on different topics for their company.

The TimesBrian Stelter is a prime example. He’s one of the few journalists who went from a solely online presence as a blogger to a major print media outlet. Mere months after graduating college, Stelter began work for The Times where he writes about television and the internet. But before he went to work he founded and worked as editor for the blog TVNewser, which also discussed the television industry. At age 19 he sold his blog to Mediabistro. At age 22. The Times came calling. His work as a popular blogger and internet presence found him a job in an industry that had previously been secluded from the online world.

Many news outlets, big and small, are learning the importance of moving online. Ken Doctor’s Law No. 7 of Newsonomics: Reporters are Bloggers says many papers closing their print editions and only working online stories and posts. The line between a news story and a blog post is quickly blurring and only the most effective of media outlets will succeed in this digital age. If one paper won’t, another will (132). In the digital age, it’s all about what the reader’s want and that’s conversational, easy-to-read pieces that they can interact with. Being told what the news is isn’t good enough any more. People want to have input, be heard, expand. Everyone has an opinion and the internet has made it possible to connect with millions of other people who share yours! There’s no coming back from that amount of freedom, there is only room to adapt to that style of news-telling.

The adaptation to short, conversational writing in the online sector has major potential to affect agenda setting. Agenda Setting Theory suggests that the media creates “what is news” in our minds. Ever heard of the old adage ‘If it bleeds, it leads’? That’s because the news typically prioritizes stories that include death, injury, and/or destruction. They grab attention and the media knows that. The media don’t necessarily tell us what our opinion needs to be, but it definitely sets the agenda for what we think about. With the ability for readers and non-journalistic professionals to insert their opinions, comments, or related topics, the news media doesn’t have as much reign to control what readers as a whole are paying attention to in the world or even locally. The readers listen to and trust other readers before they trust journalists. Also, the tone in which online writers create stories is more conversational. In the age of print news popularity, journalists typically used the inverted pyramid model (giving the facts, the facts, and some more facts in a very serious, methodical way) in order to tell stories. Making pieces more persona calls for more emotional material, and therefore more perceived bias on the part of the blogger and/or journalist.

Brian Stelter

The ability to operate blogs effectively and use other forms of social media is a necessary evil in the industry today. It also gives you an edge over your competition when searching for work. Brian Stelter got an immediate job offer because of this ability. His colleagues, including David Carr, were initially intimidated by him because he was so inept with social media platforms and using them to spread news. Stelter understands that to stay on top in the news industry, the insiders (AKA reporters) need to stay on top of social media. In a quote from the 2011 documentary, Page One: Inside The New York Times, he said:

” I don’t know why anyone who is a reporter isn’t on twitter – I constantly berate my colleagues who aren’t on it. Drives me nuts when hear my colleagues talk about a story at noon, and I read it on twitter at midnight. I’m thinking to myself, why is that allowed? Why are we not on top of the news?”

The same follows for blogging. No doubt, his successful blogging in his teenage years earned him a top spot in one of the most infamous print news companies in the entire world. In knowing how to create good online content whether it be a long blog post or a short tweet, you can ensure your lasting in a news industry that is quickly moving into the online world.

 

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

Rossi, A. (Director) (2011). Page one: Inside the new york times [DVD].

In September of last year, a documentary called Page One: Inside the New York Times was released. This documentary looked into the life of one of the most powerful newspapers ever to exist and the downfall of traditional media. The New York Times has famously broken major news stories, such as the Pentagon Papers, and has long been theorized to have been the go-to story source for other print news outlets.

It’s called The New York Times Effect according to James McQuivey, an analyst for Forrester Research. Basically, if The Times ran a story on day one, the next day all of the “tier two” papers would take the story and put their own spin on it.  According to Michael Hirschorn, “You really can trace almost any major story these days back to something that originally appeared in The Times.”

In 2008, internet ad spending in the United States was over $23 billion (Doctor, 84). Ad spending online has taken ad monies from traditional media sources like television and print media for three main reasons: it’s cheaper, you get more exposure, and you can track your views and viewers quickly and accurately. When money moves online, instead of on the pages of the newspaper, newspapers have to make cuts or find ways to make up that money. The Times is no exception. They’ve looked into finding funding through foundations and even borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars from a telecommunications investor, Carlos Slim.

So why does this matter? Yes, it’s faster and easier for all of us to get online and find the headlines than it is to go searching through the newspaper. It’s quicker to read a tweet or a Facebook post than to read an entire news article. What many don’t realize is that without traditional news media the blog posts, the tweets, the Facebook posts, and the online news curators wouldn’t exist. These online content curators don’t go out there and hunt down the stories, they don’t research or interview sources. They take headlines and give online readers a short summation of an event. They take content from internet sources and compile it. If they don’t have the stories to share, they have nothing. If they have nothing, we have nothing. If traditional news dies, the world has no news… at least not professionally and responsibly researched news.

Ken Doctor’s fourth law of news, The Old News World In Gone: Get Over It, says two revolutions are happening. Advertisers are spending their money online because that’s where people are going for their news. People are looking for news online because they can skim it, it’s shorter, and there’s more available (74-100). Many people don’t actively search for news, it pops up in a social media news feed and that’s how they know it applies to them. Finding short descriptions of breaking news is what readers want. They don’t want to waste time reading an entire article, they want the facts and then they’re done. Traditional news media has to understand this. The news industry doesn’t have control of the readers, the readers determine the direction of the news industry.

For example, On April 6, 2012, a Navy jet crashed into an apartment building in Virginia Beach, VA. It destroyed 40 apartments but there were no casualties of the disaster. I’m from Virginia Beach, but live in Farmville, VA going to school at Longwood University. I didn’t find out about the crash from my parents, my friends, or the news telling me. I saw a picture of the wreckage “Mobile Uploaded” to Facebook. I scrolled down further and saw someone’s status talking about the incident. I didn’t even have to look for the news, it found me.

But readers aren’t just passive anymore. Thanks to the online news surge, people can comment or even contribute to news. Every-day contributors often add to stories and can even edit them. By blogging, tweeting, or posting on your personal page you create your own version of a story for those who follow you online to see. You are in control of the story so you are the editor. Consider this, the picture I saw on Facebook was basically the same picture on CNN webpage for the story.

CNN:

My Friend’s Picture:

Every-day citizens being able to produce and contribute to news is a blessing. The news has been handed the task of being society’s watchdog for decades but there are hidden agendas once advertisers own too much of any industry. Anyone being able to edit and contribute to news gives everyone a right to correct mistakes and eliminate bias in any story. What is important to remember is this: the internet makes life easier, but without journalists out there finding and researching the stories in the first place we have nothing. Without the news media, we have no news. Traditional media, to some extent, must find its footing and keep working in order for online curators and commentators to have a place in the newsroom. Old news may be gone to some level, but without some level of the old news we will all greatly struggle to find stories that have not been strewn incorrectly. It may be easy to find breaking news on Facebook or Twitter, but remember where you go to find the rest of story.

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

Rossi, A. (Director) (2011). Page one: Inside the new york times [DVD].

On April 20, 1999 two teenage killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 12 students and 1 teacher at their high school. We all know the story of Columbine, but many don’t know how much of the publicized version of that story is really true. The revenge shooting of jocks by a group of Gothic kids who were obsessed with Nazi’s and referred to themselves as the Trench Coat Mafia is a fallacy. There were two killers, neither were Gothic and one was half-Jewish. They wore trench coats, but were not members of the clique, Trench Coat Mafia (TCM). They weren’t angry with athletes. They weren’t angry at anyone in particular. The truth is, the killings weren’t even planned to be just a shooting spree, the two teens planned to kill most of their victims by bombing. They were planning on killing so many more people than just 13. They were planning on blowing up their cafeteria to kill hundreds, and kill the survivors who ran outside while safely in their cars, which would also explode and result in their deaths. Nothing that happened that day went as planned, neither for victims or killers.

Just one week after the tragedy, a carpenter named Greg Zanis placed 15, 7-feet-high and 3-feet-wide , crosses atop Rebel Hill, very close to Columbine High School (Cullen 192). He drove all the way from Chicago to place a cross for all those who died that day, including Eric and Dylan. Maybe had he known the killers’ true intentions, he would have rethought that move. Then again, maybe not.

Over 100,000 people made the voyage up to the crosses over the next five days (Cullen 192). Everyone grieved the victims. Some grieved the killers, some were ready to show their hatred for them. One woman was shoved to the ground and spit on for showing forgiveness for them (193).Brian Rohrbough, father of Daniel Rohrbough, was enraged by the crosses erected for the murderers of his son. Rohrbough called the police to take down the crosses, and they said they would by the next day. The Sheriff, District Attorney, and head of the Parks Department agreed with him that the crosses shouldn’t be there, but the next day the crosses were never taken down. Rohrbough, Rich Petrone (Daniel’s step-father), and Sue Petrone (Daniel’s mother) took matters into their own hands. They took them down, destroyed them, and took their story to the media. He didn’t trust Zanis’ purpose.

The Today Show invited Rohrbough and Zanis to join them together. The result was Zanis promising to never make another cross for any killer and to remove crosses of killers he had made in the past. Turns out, Rohrbough’s doubts were not unfounded. Zanis has made erecting crosses in the face of tragedies a family business, Crosses for Losses. He ended up creating 15 more crosses and created a national tour to display them. He pulled a similar stunt in 2008 by placing crosses at Northern Illinois University after a student killed five students. He placed six crosses.

Zanis took advantage of a terrible situation and placed the single most recognized symbol on earth, the Christian Cross, in the middle of a town where many felt that Satan was at work. He knew the media would follow such a controversial move and milked this recognition to make his crosses a family brand. Years after his first real controversy, Zanis continues to use his crosses to memorialize the dead in high-profile murders. Some think he is trying to give families hope and others think he is using the pain of others for his own gain.

Semiotics attempts to explain how people use symbols and signs to create meaning in their world. There are two main pieces to Semiotics:

  • The signifier is the symbol itself. It can be a word, an object, an image, etc.
  • The signified is the meaning behind that symbol, what that symbol means to you. It’s the basic concept that the symbol represents.

The clear way that semiotics relates to this story is behind the Christian Cross. Whether Christian or not, when most people see the cross they think of heaven, God, peace, hope, and Christian beliefs. The reason Rohrbough was so angry can be summed up in one quote, “You don’t cheapen what Christ did for us by honoring murderers with crosses. There’s nowhere in the Bible that says to forgive an unrepentant murderer… You don’t repent, you don’t forgive them– that’s what the Bible says.” He would have been upset either way, after all he did lose his son to Eric and Dylan, but I would venture to guess the fact the two boys were represented by a cross pushed him, and others, too far. Zanis’ choice of making the murderers’ memorials the same religious symbol as the innocent victims’ symbolized that all 15 souls were all given the same hope for heaven, which is something the families of the victims were assuredly deeply hurt by.

The reason the issue of the memorials in Columbine became a national headline is because of the gravity of the murders that took place first. In news media one motto prevails: “If it bleeds, it leads.” Two teen boys walking into their school and killing 13 people is going to make headlines, because of the gruesome scene. Agenda setting theory basically explains that editors and producers of news are the “gatekeepers” of information. They decide what information gets broadcasted and what information gets left out of each and every story we hear, see, or read in the news. The news doesn’t expressly tell us what to think of a story, but by choosing which information we receive they do tell us what to think about in the first place. There could have been several other “big” stories developing on April 20, 1999; but none of those stories included the deaths of 12 kids and one beloved coach at an area high school. The news decided that’s what we needed to know first and foremost. The way in which they “frame” a story gives us a hint as to what they think we should think about a certain story, and different news outlets will frame stories in different ways depending on their ownership and political affiliations. After being bombarded with these images in their minds for days, people saw pictures of the killers on the cross and lost it. The Rocky Mountain News that day led with “Dad Destroys Crosses” (Cullen 193). That makes us think the man who defaced the crosses is the one at fault doesn’t it? Upon further reading, the reader has the opportunity to make their own opinion on whether Rohrbough’s actions were too harsh, but initially the paper wanted us to know a man defaced the biggest symbol of the Christian community…twice.

We are all consumers of media to some extent. Seeing the way the Columbine story as a whole got so misconstrued and bogged down with false rumors should give us all a clue as to how closely we need to read into what the media tells us. Rather than demanding the story within hours, the media (and society) needs to wait for the facts. There were only two killers, they were not Gothic and they did not have a grudge against anyone. They were not planning a shooting, they were attempting to blow up their school. Greg Zanis placed crosses for the killers on a hill before all the facts of the case were known. The media made him a celebrity. They followed him on his national tour with his crosses and made his brand known. In today’s media-based society, many people have become celebrities following tragedies whether personal or universal, big or small. We may never know what his true motives are in erecting crosses for the dead, after all he did lie on national television to a grieving father. We can be sure, however, that the media is a main reason he has been able to travel so many miles to place so many crosses in several high-profile cases. Sometimes, what seems like the smallest of acts can gain you 15 minutes of fame in extraordinary circumstances.

 

Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. New York City: Grand Central Publishing.

For decades, Disney (as well as other media giants) have been reinforcing ideologies and pushing their own personal agendas onto children through movies, television shows, commercials, advertisements, and products coming from all of the above. This issue spans deeply into the mindset of young children from teaching them how to act correctly in their gender roles to taking on liberal/conservative viewpoints on certain societal issues. All of these ploys are kept secret from children. They don’t see the media conglomerate executives making these decisions, or pushing to make movies to support their stance on political issues. All children see is a pretty princess, a handsome prince, or a robot trying to save the earth. They connect with these characters and want to embody what they believe in the story-lines.

I was originally drawn to this topic because of the way Walt Disney’s princess movies (p.3) portray gender roles for both males and females. Young girls especially buy into these roles and are often seen playing dress up, fighting over the fluffiest dress, sparkliest tiara, and tallest plastic high-heels. They are taught how to dress, act, speak to others, have relationships, and look ‘pretty’ to the outside world. Upon further examination, I found that not only are these movies and programs defining gender roles and societal views of attractiveness and behavior, some even push political roles upon young children!

Wohlwend (p.9) found that princess movies taught girls to be girls through twirling their hair, wearing make-up, caring about fashion, and that heterosexuality is the norm. They are taught that finding their “prince charming” will solve all of their life problems and that in order to find him, they must be beautiful. An article by Woodward, it is argued that such movies (though this example is not disney) can also push political views. Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax pushes a very liberal, environmentalist view of humans tearing down trees. The Lorax himself can speak to the trees and teaches the audience that cutting them down is a bad thing. Whether you agree with the viewpoint or not, children watching this movie don’t see these secret motives by the movie-makers and easily conform to the views of the characters that they admire. Similar liberal views have been documented in movies such as Pocahontas and Wall-E. It forces us all to wonder… are these movies for child entertainment or are they propaganda?

One term I took out of my research was sedimented identities (p.5). When you think of sediment, you think of layers… in this case, layers of reinforcement of identity roles. Children see these movies or television shows, play with the toy versions, and even wear the characters on their clothing, book-bags, and lunchboxes. They take away the gender and societal roles or behavior and mannerisms and digest them. The identity part forms when these roles are reinforced by their parents, teachers, peers, and surrounding community. These layers of affirmation “sediment” the roles into a child’s everyday lifestyle. As mentioned before, when you see a little girl in a pink fluffy dress and tiara, they got that idea from somewhere… the movie. Their parents then reinforced this ideal by buying her the costume. Her friends will affirm her role as a princess by wanting the dress as well or wanting to wear it. A babysitter may tell her she looks ‘pretty’ in her costume which further cements this image of femininity into her mind.

These findings force me to question whether these movies should even be allowed to be aimed to children. If so, shouldn’t the producers of products inform parents of what their aim is? Should media conglomerates be permitted to keep their motives secret? I don’t think so. What I’d like you to take away from this is to not trust the cover of the book, delve deeper before allowing someone more impressionable to read it (so to speak). Do your research so that you can choose what roles and identities are engrained into the minds of the children in your life. Inform them that these are the producers’ opinions, not facts.

This year during the Superbowl, one of the raciest ads had to have been the Fiat 500 Abarth commercial. The commercial starts with a typical “nerdy” man (wearing the stereotypical button-up shirt and tie, glasses, disheveled hair, etc.) who stops to look at a stereotypically “beautiful” woman who is bent over fixing her shoe. She catches him staring and begins to yell at him… in a foreign language. In the middle of her rant she gets closer to him and begins to speak gently into his ear and then dips her finger into the foam of his drink, drips it into her chest, and then touches his lips. As he closes his eyes, the camera changes angles and reveals that there’s not a woman, but a car in front of him parked at the curb. The ad then says, “Fiat 500 Abarth. You’ll never  forget the first time you see one.” After this, the ad turns to a street scene where the Abarth speeds down the road, takes a sharp turn, and the engine revs. The ad ends with a quick shot of the man’s face looking into the car with a look of awe on his face. Here’s a look at the ad:

This commercial was purchased by Fiat (CEO Olivier Francois) and created by Richards Group. It was created with the intent of attracting a male audience to the product. The Fiat 500 Abarth is the “performance version” of a car that is typically called “cute” by female consumers. I say that this ad is aimed at a heterosexual white male client base (for any man who is old enough to need a car really) because these men are looking for a women who possess assets that society deems attractive: tall, thin, and sexual. And if there’s one thing a “real man” loves as much as women, it’s cars. This ad is the typical commercial that is aimed at unsuspecting men with the intent of having them witness and believe in such notions of hyper-masculinity.

There are many sub-texts to this ad. Since there is literally no understandable speaking (at least for those Americans who speak nothing but English) until the last few seconds of the ad, the audience had to make their own assumptions [sub-texts] throughout the ad. I’ve listed a few:

  1. Real men like tall, thin, tan women.
  2. Men don’t care what women are saying.
  3. A Fiat is sexy.
  4. You’ll be cooler if you own a Fiat.
  5. If you want to be memorable, drive a memorable car.

There are also several persuasion techniques at work simultaneously. First, association (p. 7) attempts to get the audience to mentally connect a product with something that is already desired in society. In the case of this ad, beauty is what is desired. Men want beautiful women and women want to be beautiful. Sex appeal is something that is valued in our society and the aim of this ad was to associate the Fiat 500 Abarth with sex appeal/beauty.

The ad also make an explicit claim (p.7). An explicit claim is one that uses very specific wording and meaning to claim something that cannot actually be measured. This ad very clearly claims that you won’t forget your first time seeing this car. Is anyone capable of measuring whether every person who sees this car remembers it? No. But this claim does make the audience think that this car is unforgettable and worth a second look. This is important for the target audience of this ad because the Fiat is mostly recognized as a more feminine car as stated previously.

Another important persuasive technique was a plain folks pitch (p. 8). This is one that many might not readily identify because typically this technique is used to show a sort of rugged, down-home type of lifestyle to promote a product. While the man in this ad is not rugged in any sense of the word, he does represent the common man and the underdog. The company purposefully didn’t choose a male model to play his part in the ad. The woman draws him in and gives him attention because he was drawn to her (or really the car). He represents the common man who stands to gain by attaining the Fiat and the sex appeal that it hopes to represent.

One more persuasion technique that was used is timing (p. 12). It was no accident that this ad premiered during the Superbowl. Placing a car ad during a football game (namely the biggest one of the year) is like placing a toy ad on Nickelodeon. “Real men” like cars. “Real men” like football. Men will be watching the Superbowl and they will see your ad that features a beautiful woman and a fast car.

There are both positive and negative messages being sent in this commercial that has been deemed “too hot for TV.” One positive message sent by the ad is that this product can improve your status with one simple purchase. It says to customers that you don’t have to be the ideological “attractive” person in order to buy or benefit from this car. You can find happiness and beauty in this product.

A negative message that this ad portrays is the image of beauty in women and the blunt sexuality. Beyond just following the typical tall, thin, and tan perception of beauty, the ad takes it a step further by making sure the man can’t understand anything she says. I think this communicates that what a woman says doesn’t matter as long as she possesses certain assets that society appreciates as beautiful. Also, how many women do you know who see a man ogling them and then very passionately whisper in their ear/drip foam on their chests in front of them? According to ABC News, only 29% of women have sex on a first date, much less 20 seconds after seeing them for the first time!

In a way though, men and women are both empowered and dis-empowered by this advertisement. Men are empowered over women because they have the power to attract women just based on their possessions, making women seem like materialistic sex objects. However, women are also empowered over men because they can clearly put men into a trance and convince them to purchase a new car using their looks alone, making men seem powerless to their sexual desires.

The story untold by this ad? The price and mileage (two MAJOR important points in purchasing a car in this economy) are nowhere to be found. The customer does know that the car is “sexy” and “fast” but that’s not what you purchase when buying a car. You don’t magically a new realm of attractive partners based solely on your car or any other personal belonging.

So how should all this change your view about Superbowl ads? We can only assume that the majority of ads will be targeted at football’s main audience… men. There will be plenty of sex appeal and ideologies presented of what it means to “be a man” in these ads. It is important to understand what you are seeing because you could very possibly be the target of many reinforced ideologies that may not necessarily hold true in your life, or in real life period. In the future, you can know what to look for, and what to not be fooled by when viewing very big, expensive, publicized advertisements. Just remember, sex is used to sell cars and has been for a long time. Don’t be fooled!

 

About Sam Brown

Hi! I’m Sam Brown, a Junior at Longwood University. I’m a communication studies major with a concentration in mass media and a minor in political science. I am President of Alpha Gamma Delta, Gamma Lambda chapter and a member of the Theta Chi chapter of Order of Omega where I serve on the Greek Awards Committee. I served as Director of Public Relations for the College Pan-Hellenic Council for one year and recently ended my term. My academic interests include media criticism and communication theory. With my degree I’d love to get into radio or television, either as a personality or behind the scenes.

 

One huge pop culture artifact that was important to me as a child was the Harry Potter books. I had never been a fan of science fiction/magic books but for some reason found myself completely engrossed in the stories. The books were important to me because they really started my habit of reading for entertainment. I feel like the books caught on with others around me as well so it was something that I had in common with many of my peers. My parents also ended up loving the books and reading them. My third grade teacher actually used to read them to us aloud in class when they came out as well. Looking back, I see how that franchise really started as something small and turned into a revenue machine through the media.

Any time you turn on the television, you are attacked with visuals of beautiful people on every channel. Everyone knows that lifestyles of the rich and the famous equal liposuction, facelifts, and personal trainers. These millionaires have to look 110% at all times to keep the big paychecks rolling in. One bad shot by the paparazzi and your career could go sailing down the drain. The troubling news about this is… beauty is not only the main criteria of success in Hollywood anymore. Everywhere you go, if you notice a beautiful person you might also notice that they always look happy. Beautiful people are flocked to by others whether it be in the classroom, in the workplace, in social networks, etc. Because of this, I would like to argue today that beautiful people are more successful the majority of the time.

I, personally, am addicted to the E! network. I love watching the celebrity gossip and watching my favorite reality shows of the stars. However, has anyone ever noticed the complete lack of talent and intelligence in many celebrities? Paris Hilton’s father is rich, but she sure is tall and blonde isn’t she? Her looks are making her millions now without her father’s fortune! The troubling news is that unattainable beauty isn’t only for the stars anymore. A study within Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters by Julia T. Wood states that even in professions where we might assume that intelligence is the main criteria, there is more at play. In this instance, 2500 attorneys were surveyed and said that attorneys that were attractive earned as much as 14% more than those that were unattractive (Wood 2010). Beauty is not just for celebrities and models to fight over anymore.

So why is physical attractiveness so important to our society? Your physical appearance is one aspect of nonverbal communication. Nonverbal communication is anything that is communicated outwardly without using words. Your physical appearance can be unintentional (your natural looks) or intentional (putting yourself together before coming to class or work). In our culture, it’s better to have both if you want to succeed in the classroom and in life. It has been proven that taller men are more likely to be paid more (almost $800 more for each inch taller than average) while overweight women are more likely to be unemployed than thin women.

So, at the end of the day beauty is not only skin deep, its as deep as your bank account and wallet! Western culture has completely changed the importance of beauty from little to large and the focus on intelligence to optional. The next time you’re waiting in a lobby for a job interview, don’t worry about the other candidates’ resumes; just worry about whether you’ve been hitting the gym enough!

Now men might not know this, but women put a lot of thought into a first date; and really the entire time you are first starting to get to know each other. Guys, if you haven’t noticed start paying attention to how much your date eats the first time you take her out to dinner. I guarantee you that she will take tiny bites and will never finish her plate. No woman wants a man’s first impression of them to be that they really scarfed down their meal at a nice restaurant.

In my case, I know that I’m a girl but I can definitely eat. I love any kind of food and it’s a real pain to go on first dates because I know I won’t really eat my meal until after I get dropped off at home. The reason I, like many other women, don’t like to eat a lot on dates is not only because I don’t want my date to think I eat like a man, but because unspoken societal rules tell me I shouldn’t. Commonly held views in society project women as dainty and polite while men can inhale their food and people say “boys will be boys.” Society views the roles of men and women very differently and take them very seriously. I know that at some point in all of our lives, we can remember a time that we have gender stereotyped. This class has taught me what these views really are and how they affect the way that people act.

The generalized other is our perspective on societal perspectives of favorable values, actions, and appearances of ourselves and the people around us which affect the way we act in every day life. Clearly, society views women as less aggressive and more focused on outward appearances than mean. Therefore, it is easy to assume that a woman would eat less aggressively (and eat less period) than a man would based on the views of the generalized other. This is why women tend to eat less when out at a restaurant and focus more on conversation and maintaining their appearance. Society gives us guidelines on widely accepted behavior in our culture, and for the most part we listen.

Given this knowledge, now everyone can pay attention to the way they act in any given situation and realize that their actions are not entirely their own. Your actions are guided by silent rules that have been ingrained into you for your whole life. It is important to know why we act the ways we do to understand our culture and the way that we communicate with others both verbally and non-verbally. This information is also important because many people will have a negative reaction to your behavior if a you disregard the views of society in your every day actions. This information could change the way you view interactions with new people and may alter the way you act in any given situation.

Couple_Romantic_Dinner. 2007.Retrieved February 24,2011 from: http://www.sheknows.com/holidays-and-seasons/articles/6806/valentine-s-day-dinner-for-two

Introducing Sam

Hello world! My name is Sam Brown and I am a sophomore at Longwood University. I am a Communications Studies major concentrating in mass media and a Political Science minor. I am currently the Vice President of Member Development of Alpha Gamma Delta and the Public Relations Coordinator on the College Pan-Hellenic Council. I am interested in becoming a journalist or news reporter after graduating in 2013.

Beginning at age 15, I began to develop skills in communicating with a broad range of customers in my first job, a retail store. I also have found my current job of serving in a restaurant to be a very fast-paced environment that has allowed me to enhance my communication with many different types of people. In my first class for Communications Studies at Longwood, I learned how to effectively deliver speeches to an audience. My favorite speech, an informative speech, was on “How to Spot a Tourist.” Being from Virginia Beach, this is an often comical pass time for many residents. Through this speech, I learned to have fun with my audience while delivering any sort of information and also received an A. Through my experiences thusfar as the PR Chair for the College Pan-Hellenic Council, I have learned to format a web page and make eye-catching advertisements. Although these experiences have not been in a professional position persay, I believe that I am well on my way to developing valuable skills that will assist me in my future working in the field of communications.