Friday, November 25, 2011

"Can't be tamed"

On her 19th birthday, Miley Cyrus posted this video of her song, "Liberty Walk," which featured news coverage of the Occupy movement happening around the world. By doing so, she wanted to show her support for people standing up for what they believe in. Montage scenes of protestors and pepper-spraying police officers are displayed throughout the three minute video to lyrics such as, "It's a liberty walk, walk. Say goodbye to the people who tied you up... free yourself, slam the door, not a prisoner anymore."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Its a 'dog eat dog' world

On the first Thanksgiving, "The Pilgrims had dinner with the Native Americans, and then they all left and got in line at Best Buy." Or at least thats what Ellen DeGeneres told me. And... she has a point. Thanksgiving is often cut short by the anxiousness people have for those Black Friday sales that kick off at midnight, or better yet, 9pm Thanksgiving night. But when the large, dominating retail stores open at 9pm and receive free promoting from all major news outlets, how is it possible for small businesses to compete and survive?

In looking for some of the best Black Friday deals, I haven't seen beyond the names of 'WalMart,' 'Best Buy,' 'Kohls,' and many other the other dominating names in the retail industry. Even here on Lauren Conrad's blog she has the best "Deals & Steals: The Best Black Friday Sales," which include Best Buy, H&M, and an online boutique, What about the others, though?

My point is that it's not just in news that we see the big dogs outrunning the individuals or smaller outlets; we see it in retail as the system gets more and more monopolized. Black Friday means bitter competition in the retail industry, and for small businesses, this requires larger promotions, deals and an extra day devoted to reeling in customers: Small Business Saturday. This is a day, similar to Cyber Monday, where the attention is on small business owners.

So, moral of the story: don't forget about the small businesses because once they go down, corporate conglomerates will continue to monopolize this country. For the economies sake and for our sake, lets do what we can to keep that from happening.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Sound Bong

A friend is gaining attention from many independent artists through her music blog, The Jillboard. She began blogging in high school when she saw the emergence of music blogs and thought, "I could do better." This seems to be a similar quality that leads to the start up of many independent blogs, whether it be music or hard news. When the big guys aren't doing what we want them to do, we disassociate ourselves and find an alternative. For her, seeing and hearing "WooHoo" by Christina Aguilera was the motive behind her first blog post, and ever since, the venting, sharing and promoting of music from hop-hop to rap to electric has been continuously flowing. She has established a committed fan base by promoting herself through word of mouth, utilizing social media and You Tube, and creating bumper stickers with sayings like, "Sound Bong- The" She has one advertisement from Full Sail University, which doubtfully creates a solid revenue stream, but as the blog continues to progress it is possible that we will see more and more. Until then, she is doing everything in the right direction to make her blog go viral.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Queen of Rage"

Huffington Post reported on the recent outrage about the cover of Newsweek's portrayal of presidential candidate, Michelle Bachmann. The magazine chose an unflattering, bug-eyed photo of the conservative candidate—what conservative blogger, Michelle Malkin, calls a "photo cliche about conservative female public figures." 

Bachmann is a legitimate candidate in the campaign and this is an example of how mainstream news can consciously affect the public's opinion of an issue or in this case, a public figure. 

Police in riot gear swept into Occupy Oakland

USA Today published photos of Police ordering protestors to leave... even the most peaceful. Protestors mediated while police waiting for the signal to evict the demonstrators from the area.

The caption of this picture says, "An Occupy protestor is handcuffed by police." But are those really handcuffs? To me, at least, the object around his wrists look more like zip ties.

As the allegations for violence surrounding the Oakland site continue to grow, the media is capturing images that help to solidify the fact that police, themselves, are contributing. At the city's first raid, police used tear-gas and rubber bullets to disperse the activists and last week, there was a murder. As the Huffington Post reported, there is no evidence that the occupiers are to blame for the murder. For news media like the LA Times, though, their report of the incident quotes a police officer saying that the shooting victim is tied to Occupy Oakland. They even go as far as to say, "The city was using the incident as further justification to raze the encampment." 

The difference in the reporting is the opinion it creates in the readers mind. The images and the difference in reporting can either creates empathy for protestors and opposition toward police or give the Occupy movement a negative connotation that necessarily does not exist. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'Paterno' Scandal?

As an entertainment and celebrity junkie, even I can say that it takes no sports goo-roo to know what's been going on in the world of sports these past few days. No, I do not watch college football and no, I could not have told you who the Penn State football coach was if you asked me last week. Within four days though, I've learned that Joe Paterno has been leading the Nittany Lions football team to victory since 1966, he has been under fire for how he handled sexual abuse allegations against an assistant coach, and now, that he has been fired by the Penn State Board of Trustees.

How do I know this, you may ask? Or better yet, where's the real story? Well, the real story is buried beneath the hundreds of stories, headlines, tweets and Facebook statuses written about this 'American sports icon' who has reached the end of his professional career. In a Huffington Post article, 'Sandusky Scandal: National Media Misses The Mark', Dan Vecellio points out that amidst this breaking news, the "business" of journalism bypassed the journalistic obligation to tell a story and report the news.

Vecellio said, "It is making up the story that will sell the most papers, get the most page views, accrue the most Twitter followers and make the most money in the end." And with a big name like Paterno, it is no wonder that the real story regarding accusations of assistant coach, Jerry Sandusky, sexually abusing young boys, isn't making headlines.

Media corporations are going straight for the big name because they know that is what the public (sadly) is most interested in. For this reason, 'The Downfall of American Icon' unfortunately seems to be taking precedence over the young boys abused or the charges Sandusky is facing.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Archiving Perez

Thursday's class with William Jacobson talking about his blog, Legal Insurrection, made me realize the commitment it takes to run a successful blog—finding ways around web controls, deciding on advertising, consistency in blogging, monitoring comments, linking to others, updating the site format, etcetera, etcetera. Although the popularity of his blog may only be a fraction of what blogs like The Drudge Report, Glenn Greenwald on and others have, he is still successful at bringing in revenue and maintaining a solid reader base.

Jacobson took our class through the process of how his blog progressed, which inspired me to investigate just how Perez Hilton has evolved and become one of the most established go-to celebrity news sites garnering nearly 300 million hits a month.

It turns out, that the blog, which launched in 2004, was originally named The mind behind Perez Hilton, Mario Lavandeira, began using Blogger just as Jacobson did. (I wonder if Perez faced the same problems with Google controls as Jacobson experienced.) The content of the archived blog is celebrity gossip, just like, and it appears to be just as critical, subjective and outrageously opinionated as it is today—characteristics that have made his blogging so viral. He takes what major celebrity/entertainment news sites report on and twist them into a perspective that is either comical, emphasizes the severity of an issue or brings awareness to the issue.

Another web archive from a little over a year after the original site began, resembles the most recent PerezHilton blog. By this time, he had changed the host site for the blog and there is still no advertising on the site, which is something that he heavily relies on for revenue today. From the start though, he has embedded links to names, photo reels, other blogs, and tags to articles—something that Jacobson says is key to getting hits on your site.

As an independent blogger, Perez Hilton has been recognized by major entertainment news conglomerates. He has really established himself in the entertainment business, even creating his won record label. He creates a community on his blog among the viewers by allowing them to contribute to song "cover contests," comment on posts, and be active members on the site. What I question, though, is, because he has been become so recognized and invested in mainstream institutions, is he still acting as an independent?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Komedian vs. Kardashian

Halloween was upstaged this year by the news of Kim Kardashian filing for divorce from hubby Kris Humphries after just 72 days of marriage. It was not only a trending topic on E! news, Perez Hilton, social media sites and all of the large media outlets, but some celebrities even escaped to their personal blogs to express their alarm about the alleged "marriage sham." 

On his blog, Take a Stroll...with Rob Delaney, the comedian announced his plan to sue Kardashian to stop her divorce from Humphries. And as if that didn't come as a large enough shock, he also plans to sue Ryan Seacrest (Exec Producer of the show), E! Entertainment Television, and Comcast for their promoting of what he calls a "sham marriage." 

Delaney has a standing argument and even has other celebrities backing him up. Actress, Zooey Deschanel posted an interview with Delaney on her blog HelloGiggles that also brings a comedic aura to the breaking news.  

Delaney's ability to propel this entertainment news in a comedic way reflects Jon Stewart's technique on The Daily Show. Comedy in general, acts as a bumper for comedians to deliver an issue in the boldest, rawest and more obscene way. Thus, using comedy to display news is successful because by going to the extreme, it grabs an audience's attention. It gets them to understand an issue for what it really is and in a way that they will not receive from major news conglomerates.  

He says, "It is alleged that Kim Kardshian was paid $18 million to participate in her own wedding. I feel like schools could use that money. Or health clinics in areas hit hardest by the recession. Or Pizza Hut. Or Bernie Madoff. Or my uncle Mitchell, who is a convicted sex offender making a living selling Percocet to the elderly in Rhode Island."

His comedian tang does not take away from the argument, though. It would not be unlikely for a dominating media conglomerate like E!, or a starlet like Kim Kardashian to delve into an opportunity that could both profit her and the network so favorably. Between the E! special: Kim's Fairytale Wedding, the upcoming season of Kourtney and Kim Take New York, and all the other promotions that have surrounded this marriage coming together and now falling apart, it would not seem out of the ordinary for a paycheck to be at the end of it. 

However, Kim's mother, Kris Jenner, came out with a statement today with E! News arguing this speculation saying that the couple did not make a dime off the wedding, but rather, spent millions. What is interesting though, is how quickly their image has transformed just in the past 24 hours from a heartbroken couple to "PR masterminds." 

The network also made a statement defending itself and producers whom have been targeted for having ulterior motives in this situation saying, "the Kardashians have authentically lived their lives on camera for a long time" and this was just another one of those instances.

And lastly, Kim resorted to her blog on Celebuzz to address fans about her decision to file for divorce. "I got caught up with the hoopla and the filming of the TV show that when I probably should have ended my relationship, I didn’t know how to and didn’t want to disappoint a lot of people." ...tis' the life of a work-a-shop-a-reality-tv-holic. 

So what does all of mean? This means we should prepare ourselves for Kardash-omination because we will be seeing even more of the Kardashians as they come to the defense for Kim. Something ironic about the situation though, is the fact that Ryan Seacrest was one of the first to break the news. E! reportedly held "emergency meetings" the day the news was broken to discuss how to "proceed" as a result of the shocking news about one of the stations top profiteers. For being a family so embedded in the network and for how much leverage they have gained as a result, it makes even me, an E! Entertainment and Kardashian goo-roo, a little skeptical of the alleged ulterior motives.