Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Force that Shaped Radio


Commercial industries drove the evolution of radio from governmental use to mass media. Businesses took advantage of the new technology to reach a mass audience in order to increase sales on their products and create much of the entertaining elements of the radio, some of which transferred to TV and are still around today.

The relationship between the mass media and commercial industries like Goodwill, Marlboro, Nike and Sony, is simple. These industries pay for air time or ad space to publicize their latest products. The more space the buy the more money the media corporations acquire and invest in better entertainment (in theory). What this does is then establish a connection, the higher a show on TV say, the more expensive the ad space will be, the more money it gets from advertisers the quality of the show increases or more shows are created and more expensive is the ad space and so on.
In regards to the development of radio entertainment this relationship was key. As the technology developed and made home radios more accessible and cheaper companies saw this new media outlet as a new tool to directly engage their potential buyers while they were at home, listening to their news or a game show. They would insert their ads as catchy jingles or witty ads that amused the radio listener in exchange for some of his time. Commercial companies also sponsored shows like soap operas, which earn their name because they were sponsored by manufacturers of cleaning products (SOAP OPERA).  Some of these early developed genres transferred to TV, which again continued with the relationship with commercial industries.

In short we could say that at the time it was the job of radio broadcasters to insert ads in their shows, to create the ads with their own talent or collaborate with the companies and produce a show that revolved around the brand name. Whatever it was radio moguls saw “their advertisers as the real customers” (Straubhaar 177).  

This image is from: and is featured as part of an essay from 1922 that explains why advertising by Radio will kill the business. Hum? interesting.

“SOAP OPERA.” The Museum of BroadcastCommunications. 25 Sept. 2010. <>
Straubhaar, Joseph, Robert LaRose and Lucinda Davenport. Media Now: with Digital Moviemaking. United States of America: Cengage Learning, Updated 2010.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Social Learning Theory

The Social Learning Theory focuses on the impact that the media has in influencing attitudes, values and behaviors on the viewers. This explains why we suddenly see social or behavioral trends especially among teenagers, as we will see in our examples.
The Social Learning Theory centers on the audience and how they learn, attitudes, values and behaviors from the media. Viewers sometimes find role models on TV or in magazines and they emulate their behavior or perhaps their attitudes to be more like them. This is not a far-fetched idea, after all the media is a learning tool, proven by Sesame street or by cooking shows where it is evident that we can imitate what we see to get a desired result, either to learn to spell or bake a great cake.
We can find examples of Social learning when we especially look to the younger population. As an audience they tend to spend a lot more time in the media and as they are developing their character and maturing, they are disposed to rely on role models, fictional characters, singers etc… to shape their ideal selves. Take this example from The Times:

The article mentions that teenage girls, none older than 16 were having a pregnancy pact in a Massachusetts High school. It is unclear on whether they were actually inspired by films like Juno a comedic drama that centers on a witty high school teen that gets pregnant, however the article thus mention that news of the pact was made public around the same time that the 17 year old star from a Nickelodeon show Zoey 101 gave birth to her child. No comment is provided from any of the girls involved however there seems to be evidence that this could be influence from the recent media coverage of teenage pregnancy.

We also have this video from youtube that shows, possibly twelve year old kids making a prank on one of their friends, and if we look closely we can see that they are imitating stunts from the MTV program Jackass. We can see the kids emulating a famous stunt by Bam Margera, one of the stars of the show, and what he used to do was slap-attack his dad while he was busy at home and record it. See the video for yourself.

Saturday, September 11, 2010


The concept of media framing helps me understand how something as simple as word choice can change how a story is interpreted as I will illustrate by contrasting two accounts of the same story but told by two different news groups.

There is a saying that goes: There are always two sides to every story. Framing has something to do with this. Framing in media studies refers to the idea that media industries or news communication agencies have the power to affect how the mass audience interprets an event. The media collects the facts and when it comes to presenting them, they consciously or subconsciously arrange the issues to shape the interpretation of the facts. In short by the way that they portray the events they influence a way in which the events should be perceived.

In the following example we will note how a newspaper writer or a reporter for example has thousands of words to choose from and those words that she or he chooses connote different ways we could interpret the news.

In the latest developments of Thursday’s news concerning Terry Jones, a Reverend from Florida who is rethinking his decision to cancel and event in which the burning of Korans was going to take place on September 11 as part of a protest to the Islamic center being built in New York.

Below are the two stories written around the same subject and written around the same time however due to how the story is framed we have two ways at looking at the facts and the people involved. starts their article by stating that Rev. Terry Jones is rethinking his decision to cancel his plans of burning Korans on the basis that the Mosque builders he is protesting against had incorrectly announced that the Mosque they are trying to build close to the site of 9/11 was going to be moved.

On the other hand, states that Rev. Jones is rethinking his threat to burn the Koran since he was lied to when the builders of the Mosque told him they were considering a relocation.

Two stories yet they are framed differently and each one shapes a different response. In Rev. Jones was threatening to burn the Koran rather than planning as CNN states. Threatening connotes violence.

Further down the article of Rev. Jones was lied to as opposed to, had received the incorrect information as frames it. Lied to implies that it was on purpose rather than an accident or a misunderstanding, it implies treachery. Which then poses an aura on the Mosque builders as people who are not to be trusted and Rev. Jones is somewhat painted as a victim.

See, two reports of the same story offer two different ways of thinking about the events and the people involved, in this case Rev. Jones and the Mosque builders. The media frames a story by the decisions they make when it comes to how they are going to structure a story and as we saw something as simple as word choice can make an effect.

Links to the news articles:

A cartoon with a funny take on framing