Author Archives: Kaleb Bogale

SENSATIONALISM in Digital Media – Causing Death and Destruction?

Do you Obtain News From Social Media?

During a class discussion, we realized not a single student (including myself) had
personal access to cable news. This
made me wonder – How are people engaging news? Check out how millennials engage news here (LINK)! The general trend is shifting their news engagement to social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat…) or online forums. In response to the blog, someone commented –

How do the economic urges to create sensational – let’s call it buzzworthy – content impact the digital media platform?

This blog post is aimed at addressing this complex question, and hopefully getting a better idea of the effects of dynamic viewership. Notice my insane article title – thats exactly the type of clickbait that many online news forum must use to garner the interest of online news forum. For example, Here are the top headlines from 2014 –

Officer Darren Wilson kills Michael Brown, Ebola in America, Obama declares war on ISIS, Donald Sterling loses Clippers, NFL flubs Ray Rice punishment, Russian-backed separatists blow up plane over Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappears, Israel vs. Hamas, School shootings, GM recalls

With the majority of top news stories overwhelmingly negative, online news forums have to compete to attract increased viewership – often they use sexy article titles.

Example 1) The World Health Organization released a report on Oct. 26 stating that certain processed meats are carcinogenic. In response, The Guardian’s Sarah Boseley published, “Processed meats rank alongside smoking as cancer causes – WHO.” This comparison is mockable, as meats do not have nearly the association with cancer as smoking cigarettes, which she even mentioned in her own article! She choose to frame the article as smoking and eating meat are similarly carcinogenic to attract viewership.

Example 2) In my sensationalist article title, “SENSATIONALISM in Digital Media – Causing Death and Destruction?” I simply found an article, investigating the increased rate of copycat suicides after a media outlet reports on an influential celebrity committing suicide (LINK). In fact the researchers recommend working with news media outlets to reduce the coverage of suicide in celebrities in hopes to lower the amount of copycat suicides. They frame this mechanism as social learning theory – one learns troubled people can solve problems with suicide, and may copy their suicidal behavior.

Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.58.51 PM

Top 12 News Podcasts

Personally, I found my solution through long-forum podcasts that investigate an issue through many different perspectives. Especially in comparison to hard-hitting TV news, “Lets Discuss Poverty in African Americans in a 2 minute segment – only two perspectives the “Democratic” vs. “Republican.” This type of one-liner and simplistic outlook on complex issues has been reflected in debates by young democrats and young republicans all over the country (and internet forums). However when presenting these same advocates in a long forum discussion, you (and hopefully them) realize that many mainstream news outlets are polarizing because they are only superficially discussing issues.

Works Cited:

http://www.abc15.com/news/national/top-headlines-of-2014-war-ebola-and-racial-divide

http://jech.bmj.com/content/57/4/238.full.pdf+html

http://www.snydergroupinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/2014states.jpg

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/26/451211964/bad-day-for-bacon-processed-red-meats-cause-cancer-says-who

http://www.dailytexanonline.com/2015/11/08/mainstream-media-tends-toward-sensationalism-excessive-coverage-too-often

“The Network” – How Do Millennials Engage News?

This movie very entertainingly invites the viewer to look at the absurdities of today’s media from another perspective. The main character, Howard Beale, captures the frustrations of the nation and rises into a media sensation in a couple of weeks. The newly appointed vice-president of programming, Diane Christensen, identifies Beale’s value to the network and attempts to exploit Howard’s stress-driven mania. She seduces some TV executives to centralize powers to the corporations that own the network. When the corporation’s influence grew, suddenly the ratings were more important than the quality of information.

 

among-millennials-facebook-far-exceeds-any-other-source-for-political-news

 

On a side note, this film is pre-social media; meaning television news was a major news distributer. What about media consumption today you ask? Check out this diagram showing the media consumption of political news in varying generations.

 

 

In our post-film, we discussed how few major corporations, which are obligated to increase profits for shareholders, own the majority of television and news stations. This business model is very concerning, especially considering the trend since 1983 is consolidationthese-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-americaCheck out this diagram from an interesting article explaining  consolidation of media! However something very interesting also emerged during our discussion – not a single student including myself had cable meaning. This made me wonder – How are people engaging news? Since everyone seemed aware of media ownership, I wondered how this influences their how they get news.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 6.16.47 PM

Today there are a plethora of options to get news, but when you look at the corporate ownership there are six main companies with 90% ownership. Since the younger generation is engaging media differently, this may not be as influential for them. This was the silver lining when considering the future of politics, which ultimate reflects the media’s exposure and framing of issues. According the recent pew pools – millennials are seeking alternative forms like social media. Consider the implication of Facebook offering $3 billion to buy Snapchat… The network sends a powerful message by encouraging the viewers to consider the implications of corporate influences on the news industry. Final diagram below – explains the distrust of many news sources from millennials.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 6.42.37 PMWorks Cited –

  1. http://www.businessinsider.com/these-6-corporations-control-90-of-the-media-in-america-2012-6
  2. http://www.neatorama.com/2008/07/07/who-owns-what-on-television/

K & A: Relationship Chronicles

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                                 Kaleb and Alice!

This class has given me many opportunities to grow as a person and in my relationship through watching films and our discussions afterwards. Yep, I am going to get personal and talk about how these movies have shown me different aspects where I (and maybe you) can improve. The girl in the selfie is Alice Cai and we have been dating for a little over two years. Our relationship has been very fulfilling, and I cannot imagine college without her although – this was not always the case. Similar to Tracy Lord, when I entered college my ego was out of control. Simply put, I was not open to learning from everyone and everything around me.

10801543_10205397309001245_5947302337541464181_n            That is why I found Dexter as a character so interesting, he embraced that he doesn’t know everything. In fact, that is what made him so important in the film; he allowed Tracy to make her own conclusions. The dynamic of Tracy and Dexter is perfect, because they both are pushing each other to grow as individuals. The film reminded me that you should be encouraging your partner to grow, and embrace the person they are becoming.

1. Progression

     In Hitchcock’s film, “Rear Window,” the final scene shows the couple Lisa and Jeff in a cute scene relaxing on their balcony. This is important in the film, because it shows their progression from spying on their neighbors in secret, to connecting with their community. Importantly, Lisa is reading an adventure novel until Jeff falls asleep, then she exposes that she was actually secretly reading a fashion magazine. Since Jeff demanded Lisa to become more adventurous, she felt pressured to satisfy his expectations. This however is contrary to Dexter, because Dexter supports Tracy’s development and embraces whoever and whatever Tracy becomes.

2. Acceptance

10296754_10205499710921229_6501105937410715213_n     The final thing that made an impact on me was a feature film called “Dirty Beautiful” from The College Town Film Festival. In this movie, a homeless woman spontaneously jumps into a random guy’s car at an intersection after the man she was with was being abusive. They both decide to try living together as a couple to see if it will work. They both had significant personal issues, but regardless of how much they hurt each other they always forgave with an open heart.

3. Forgiveness

            The three biggest things I have tried to incorporate into my daily life are supporting Alice’s personal growth, accepting any changes, and forgiving any mistakes along the way. This class has shown me that I do not want to be complacent in any relationship – family, friends, etc.

Quarter-Life Crisis: What’s Next?

quarter
“The Grapes of Wrath” and “The Graduate” both had main characters struggling with identity issues. Tom Joad had to acclimate to society after leaving prison, which was especially hard because he traveled with his family in search of work. In his travels, he encountered thousands of homeless, migrant workers in search of over advertised jobs that ensure surplus labor with minimal costs. There were many instances where Tom and his family were exploited, yet when they worked at the Wheatpatch Camp it represented their utopia. All members would live in peace, where they pooled their resources to focus on the good of the community rather than their individual needs. This was an impactful experience for Tom Joad. In the alternate ending that better represented the novel, Tom Joad gave a captivating monologue describing what he learned throughout their travels and their time at the Wheatpatch Camp. He decides to risk his life for societal injustices instead of caring only for issues with his family.

In “The Graduate”, Benjamin Braddock is overwhelmed with the plethora of opportunities after graduating college. His problems stem from his lack of direction and the overwhelming expectation from others to have a clear plan as a recent college graduate. The most telling shot is showing Benjamin standing underneath the pool in full scuba gear. The only sounds are Benjamin’s deep breaths in the scuba equipment. He is surrounding by his happy family and their cheers, although in his perspective he is completely isolated at the bottom of the pool. The metaphor of the water may be him drowning in a sense, totally overwhelmed in the world. It seems that while others have plans and expectations for Benjamin, his primary concern is not losing touch with himself, as he is flooded with information.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 5.33.31 PM            In either scenario, the distance between their envisioned lives and their reality is growing. This reminded me of an NPR article titled, “A Quarter-Life Crisis: When You Let Go Of ‘I Will,’ What’s Next?” The article is explaining how many young adults get caught in the “I will” phrase and as they enter their mid twenties. This article was relevant to these movies because the filmmakers gave two different responses to the article’s question, ‘What next?’ In Tom Joad’s case, he chooses to confront his problems directly by seeking societal justice for himself and the community around him. Benjamin Braddock in comparison chooses to deal with it indirectly. He thinks that chasing after another women with similar thoughts will solve his problem, however it doesn’t seem like he ever dealt with his internal issues. In the final scene of the movie, he is sitting on a bus with the runaway bride. After their adrenaline settles, they are now both sitting just as confused and unsure about their future as before. I appreciate how the films demonstrate the pros and cons for dealing with large internal struggles, in my opinion Tom Joad’s approach seems more constructive.

Chaplin, What a Critique!

Chaplin_in_Sherlock_Holmes

A Young Chaplin in Character

The themes Charlie Chaplin so effectively portrays in his film, “Modern Times” are just as relevant today as they were in the great depression. The tramp, a famous Chaplin character, struggles during the Great Depression. He is an outcast at work where he tightens screws in a factory line, leading to a mental breakdown. He ends up imprisoned, but is pardoned after stopping a prison break after an accidently cocaine binge. After his release, he comes across a poor young lady named Ellen. They are both arrested; but escape together and attempt to reintegrate society by searching for work. They always seem to encounter trouble in very funny scenes, with the film ending as it began; except the tramp now has hope through Ellen. They end walking together along the road in an unsure but optimistic future.

The tramp represented the plight of the working class in an increasingly industrializing world. However idealistic, the tramp should not be forced to be a cog in a factory line. In the beginning of the film, Chaplin shows a flock of white sheep with one black sheep running without direction. The black sheep foreshadows the tramp’s uniqueness and eventual problems being a functional member of society. While Chaplin was concerned about increasing industrialization, the role of the working class is still largely repetitive, non-mentally stimulating jobs focused on production. I found it interesting that the classical definitions of a contributing member in our society, production and consuming, have not changed.

The Tramp and Ellen

The Tramp and Ellen!

Charlie Chaplin’s childhood was inexistent; saying he grew up in poverty is an understatement. Raised by a mother driven to psychosis and an alcoholic father, he along with entire family was forced to work in workhouses when he was only seven years old. I hope to clarify; I am not attributing his criticism of society to his difficult childhood. To do so would only belittle his thoughtful critique. I simply wonder if his roots influenced him once he became a successful actor and producer.

Climate Change & Populism

random     During a discussion hosted by the Schreyer Honors College, Dr. Jonathan Brockopp explored the topics of religion, ethics, and climate. When the conversation led to climate change, there were underlying themes I found relevant to this course. We watched, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” that portrays the ills of the Washington establishment while glamourizing the common person. The main character, Jefferson Smith, is appointed to the senate to act as a cog in a corrupt system. Without any prior knowledge or experience in politics, Mr. Smith proves nobler and more effective than the most experienced politicians by simply acting in accordance with his ethics. Jefferson Smith found it unethical to stand by and allow corrupt politicians to pass laws for personal financial gain. This importantly shows that regardless of Jefferson Smith’s place in society, his common person decency should be celebrated.

These principles of populism, that all humans are equal, connected with the conversation with Dr. Brockopp, particularly when we spoke on the ethics of climate change. While climate change research is based on science, most conversations lack that perspective. This is why some climate change activists utilize an ethical approach, inquiring if future lives are as valuable as ours. This conversation will be unique for every individual, however I believe they are worth having. For example, consider the impact of the expanding human population. If you attempt to limit the population, it quickly leads into rich countries telling poor countries to stop reproducing because they are increasing disproportionately. However, the ecological footprint of one individual from an industrialized nation is much larger than an individual in a developing nation. Then is the life of a wealthy person the same value as a poor person in the context of climate change? If our fundamental approach towards industrialization are flawed and destroying our environment, then convincing others will take more then simply presenting scientific data.

Kaleb

 

 

D.W. Griffith’s Transition to Talking Films

abraham-lincoln-movie-poster-1930-1020198617     The rise and fall of great film director D.W. Griffith is extremely fascinating considering his advanced artistic expression through cinematography. Although Griffith began his work as a stage actor and playwright, his success was in directing films. Griffith set the stage for modern motion pictures by deviating from the common static camera shots of complete scenes in that era. Instead, he chose to immerse the viewer into the action with a series of close-ups, angle shots, and most importantly told several overlapping storylines through crosscut shots. One example is the film “Birth of a Nation,” a film which grossed an estimated $18 million in its first few years — the astounding equivalent of $1.8 billion today. In comparison, modern blockbusters such as titanic and avatar grossed 2.187 billion and 2.788 billion USD respectively. Regardless of Griffith’s pioneering efforts in cinematography, he ended his career with much less notoriety and several less-successful productions.

Griffith was present during a paradigm shift in Hollywood, the transition from silent films to talking films. This shift is notoriously known for ousting actors with undesirable accents; however to what degree the filmmakers were affected captured my interest. Since talking films required a silent set, the directors were unable to constantly coach actors during scenes. In addition, sound producers had much more control on set and were responsible for monitoring the set and declaring, “cut!” to end scenes. By the time talking pictures replaced the silent films in 1930, Griffith was opposed to this transition stating, “We do not want now and we shall never want the human voice with our films.” However, Griffith did produce several full-length talking films, including part-sound Lady of the Pavements (1929), Abraham Lincoln (1930), and his last film The Struggle (1931).

I have reviewed clips from Griffith’s Abraham Lincoln film in order to understand how Griffith utilized dialogue. My first impression was how clear and properly synched the audio was with the film. The main character, Abraham Lincoln, is introduced through a bar brawl with a local group of men. Lincoln showed apprehension to fight, describing himself as a peaceable man, although when attacked showed his ability to defend himself against three other men. The dialogue importantly showed Lincoln’s witty humor and allowed the audience to build a rapport with the calm Lincoln prior to the fight. In silent films, the actors were much more expressive and utilized body language to communicate with the audience, however the dialogue enabled less physically expressive communication making it appear more natural to myself. In a later scene, Lincoln’s twenty-two year old first love Ann Rutledge lay on her deathbed from typhoid fever. Lincoln declares his love for her in an emotional scene only possible through their direct dialogue. In conclusion, D.W. Griffith was able to utilize the dialogue in his later films in an effective manner.

In my opinion, the fall of director D.W. Griffith may not be attributed to his inability to utilize dialogue in his later films. Famous actor and filmmaker Charlie Chapman described his descent in popularity, “Yet of late years he could not find a job in the town he had invented. He clung to the shadows, a bald, eaglebeaked man, sardonic and alone.”

Links to Related Articles!                             http://www.und.edu/instruct/cjacobs/DWGriffith.html                           http://time.com/3729807/d-w-griffiths-the-birth-of-a-nation-10/ http://www.cobbles.com/simpp_archive/dwgriffith.htm  http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2014/08/31/talkie-terror-the-transition-from-silents-to-sound