Tag Archives: Media

Should it be Illegal to Call Someone ‘fat’ on TV?

Jennifer Lawrence thinks so.

Take a look:

She certainly makes a good point. If we’re regulating other words that are spoken on TV because of the effect they have on younger generations, why not the word fat? I can already begin to see the argument against: “if we start regulating words like ‘fat,’ does this become a slippery slope into regulating other words?” While I understand that practically, regulating criticisms like ‘fat’ on TV might be a bit difficult, I think it’s certainly something interesting to consider.

I originally saw this clip as part of a bit from Morning Joe, but that doesn’t embed so well here, so I found a clip of Walters’ interview with Lawrence on YouTube. The actual bit I saw had some commentary from some of the folks who make regular appearances on the morning television program on MSNBC. As I said, I can’t embed that video, so take a look.

Similar to how the opinion can be understood of the “slippery slope,” the first fellow that speaks on the video that’s telling Jennifer Lawrence (and other celebrities) to ‘shut up’ because they always blame the media for everything — I don’t buy that. It’s not that the media’s at fault for everything, but as has been demonstrated, they certainly do have a large impact on the way that people feel about themselves. In particular, young and impressionable people.

As a result, someone who outright denies the possibility that the media can have an opinion on the way that young people (and even not young people!) can feel about themselves, to me, seems out of touch. To reiterate, I can see where this fellow is coming from, but putting that aside for a second, Jennifer Lawrence absolutely has a point. There’s certainly a culture of highlighting flaws that is perpetuated (not just in the media), but in our culture — and in particular, with young women. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: if you haven’t yet, take the time and watch Miss Representation. It’s an important documentary that I hope will shed some light on this issue.

To be clear, I’m not implying that people, the media, or our culture are necessarily perpetuating this attitude intentionally, but that doesn’t mean that there completely innocent, either.

Musings on the Future of Cable News

After reading Kelefa Sanneh‘s piece in The New Yorker that took an in-depth look at MSNBC, it got me thinking about what I wrote a few days about about the future of TV. In that post, I mostly talked about the idea of moving television programs to online streaming or mobile streaming. I didn’t, however, talk about the idea of unbundling TV packages and allowing people to choose which networks they wanted.

This is one of the the things that Sanneh briefly touches on in his article. In particular, he questions whether the unbundling of TV packages would hurt cable news programming. That is, would CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News keep their heads above water if they weren’t part of a bundle? For instance, Sanneh tells us that FOX News (the leading cable news network since 2002), gets about half as many viewers as the lowest-rated network news program. That’s significant. Would FOX News survive if it wasn’t bundled? Might it do better if it weren’t bundled?

Chances are that cable news — barring something unforeseen — would be in trouble if TV packages became unbundled.

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About a quarter of the way into the article, Sanneh has a quote from the President of MSNBC that I find rather startling. I’ll include the lead-in, so the quote makes sense [Emphasis mine]:

“I’m building for the future,” Griffin said, not long after the switch. He was sitting in his office, reviewing a series of promotional clips that highlighted Hayes and the network’s other stars. “You’ve got a young guy who’s incredibly smart, who’s got a following,” he said. “We’re making a bet that this is what our audience wants.” 

The startling part is the bit that I’ve bolded. I don’t understand that a company as big as MSNBC would be gambling in the way that Griffin claims to be. They’re making a bet that this is what the audience wants? They don’t have the resources to find out if that’s what their audience wants? Maybe Sanneh hasn’t included the whole quote, but this to me makes it sound like Griffin is being a bit cavalier with the most important time slot.

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FOX News consistently outperforms other cable news networks in an older demographic: 35-64. Take this past Monday’s cable news ratings, for example. FOX News outperformed all the other cable news networks in this demographic at every time slot. The closest any network came in this demographic was in the 9 o’clock hour when Hannity beat The Rachel Maddow Show by over 200,000 viewers. I don’t know how to put this delicately, so I’ll say it like this: what happens when this demographic “passes on?”

Yes, FOX News still outperforms the other networks in the coveted 25-54 age bracket, but their lead is substantially smaller. The largest lead FOX News has is during the 8 o’clock hour and that’s a little more than 250,000 viewers (over the next closest show). If I were Roger Ailes (or the guy who was likely to replace Roger Ailes), this is something I would be thinking considering, in addition to the prospect of unbundling TV packages.

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The last thing I wanted to talk about is this idea that those people who MSNBC is trying to reach may not like cable news or TV:

One explanation for MSNBC’s struggles is that the network is trying to do something nearly impossible: it is a cable news network for people who don’t like cable news, and may not even like television.

MSNBC, in its current format as I understand it, is still quite new. It’s only recently switched over to a more partisan-esque feel. I wonder if there’s still a bit of a lag before the viewers they’re trying to reach will show up. I also wonder if TV does start to move in a new direction (simultaneous online streaming), will this open up a new audience for MSNBC? I’m particularly interested in MSNBC because of this idea that the people who MSNBC is targeting are those people who wouldn’t normally watch cable news or TV. I wonder if these people had another avenue to watch these programs, would they?

 

Women in Movies: Why Can’t Men Be The Weak Characters?

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to see a lovely coming of age story in The Way, Way BackI rather enjoyed it and so did my movie companion. In fact, I even thought Steve Carrell was convincing as a ‘villain.’ The one thing that did bother me about the movie, though, was the weakness of Toni Collette‘s character.

I won’t spoil the plot because I think you can imagine what I’m talking about from the title of this post and my reference to a weak character. Why does the female always have to be the weak character? Why aren’t there more movies where the male character is weak or the female character is strong?

I realize that some folks may think that I’m quibbling over something small, but this subtle norm is pervasive in the culture and it perpetuates itself by people considering it something small. By not kicking up dust about this issue, the issue is allowed to continue on with the perception that it’s not worth discussing. Well — it is worth discussing.

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about a Kickstarter campaign that is the Yang to the issue we’re talking about. Have you heard of Miss Representation? It’s a powerful documentary from 2011 that dissects the portrayal of women in the media. The Yin. The Yang version is due to come out in February. It’s called: The Mask You Live In. The Kickstarter campaign closed yesterday and they finished with more than 2400 backers and more than $100,000 pledged (125% of their goal).

If you don’t think the portrayal of gender in the media is important, then you simply must see Miss Representation and, when it comes out in February, The Mask You Live In. If you do think that the portrayal of gender in the media is important, then tell your friends! NOW!

The Mask You Live In – Gender Stereotypes in the Media

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 10.10.47 PMA couple of years ago, a really important documentary came out: Miss Representation. I mentioned it in my series about the people I follow on Twitter. I was surprised that when I did a search of the website that I hadn’t written about Miss Representation. The documentary brings to light how the media portray women. *Spoiler Alert* They don’t do a good job.

After I saw the film, my first reaction is that it should be required viewing in classrooms across the US (and probably Canada, too, as Canada does consume a great deal of US Media). This movie is really important, especially for teenagers and children. They need to see and understand the perversion of the portrayal of women in the media. As can be seen in the movie, a number of young girls seem quite grateful to learn that some of the beliefs that they’d internalized were a result of the media they consumed. I can only imagine the number of young girls across the US that had similar experiences upon seeing the movie. As a man, I was very moved by the the film and whole-heartedly support the cause of MissRepresentation.org (and hope you will check it out and support it, too!)

All that to say is, there’s going to be a “sequel” to the movie — this time, for the boys. Yes, we do a great disservice to our young women, but we also do a great disservice to our young men, too. The Director/Producer of Miss Representation has launched a Kickstarter to help fund The Mask You Live In. Based on some of the dates listed on the Kickstarter page, it looks like the movie is set to debut in February of 2014. I have already made a note in my calendar and can’t wait to see it!

If you have a few minutes, I strongly recommend heading over to the Kickstarter page to watch the trailer. And, if the project moves you, why not donate some money, too?

If I were the CEO of CNN… (Part 2)

In yesterday’s post (Part 1), I went down a bit of a tangent and really focused on CNN’s potential to become the “go-to” network for fact-checking. Today, I wanted to revisit the idea of being the CEO of CNN and take a closer look at CNN from a strategic standpoint.

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of CNN’s resources was its plethora of international journalists. This is certainly something that needs to be considered when developing a new strategy for CNN. Although, also as I said yesterday, Americans are known for not caring about what’s going on in the world.

Another one of CNN’s resources (intangible, mind you) is their brand. I couldn’t find any hard data, but my guess is that CNN has a better reputation for reporting impartial and accurate news than MSNBC or Fox News. (Aside from some slip-ups, of course.)

As some critics have said, CNN grew in popularity when it was showcasing, “hard-hitting investigative reporting.” One could postulate that this strength grew out of the two resources above. By having lots of international journalists, they’re able to report on the day-to-day news, while still researching/developing investigative reports. Similarly, their brand equity gives them an “in” because people around the world recognize CNN as a news organization that is watched by many people. As a result, someone may be more likely to tell CNN their story.

When examined from this perspective, it certainly seems that this kind of reporting is one of CNN’s core competenciesWhy is it a core competency? It’s certainly a unique strength and it is embedded deep within CNN. It also allows CNN to differentiate itself from its rivals. Unfortunately, it seems that CNN has strayed from this core competency.

So, in addition to yesterday’s conclusion about CNN expanding its “fact-checking” programming, it seems that CNN would be well-served to, as some critics have said, “get back to its roots,” and bring back the hard-hitting investigative reporting that brought it brand awareness.

[Note: I’ve barely scratched the surface on the tools that one can use to analyze/develop strategy. Notably missing are things like a SWOT analysis, Porter’s 5 Forces, the BCG Matrix, McKinsey‘s 7S framework, and the list goes on. This two part-series on CNN’s strategy was meant to provide a taste into some of the things that upper-level management would need to consider when developing strategy.]

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If you liked this paper/series, you might want to check out some of the other papers/series I’ve posted.