All posts by Karolyn Castaldo

Lover of skiing, dogs, books, and massive bowls of pasta.

#Growth

When I think of social media and how it’s evolved, I think of the change from Myspace to Facebook, then Facebook to Twitter, and so it goes with more and more networks being added for us to indulge in. As technology expands, it is natural that our media capabilities, both social and news, will grow at a similar rate.

My predictions for media in general is that, barring government intervention, society will have an even greater influence in gatekeeping. Already, we have seen that today’s technological society has taken the reins and put their mark on the news we receive. However, as media changes and our ideas of it shift as well, we will see an even greater increase in blogs and social news, but I believe the “authoritative” voice of the newscaster or journalist will remain as a staple in society.

With kids as young as 3 using technology, as intuitively as any of us, we can expect the growth of technology to affect their lives in a way we can’t imagine. Having grown up before much household technology was around, it is amazing to me how attached I’ve become to my smartphone, and how attached I see my 11-year-old niece is to hers. She has never known a world where assignments weren’t typed up, or where cell phones didn’t exist . To that point, I can see social platforms being targeted at children of younger and younger ages. They will know more “stuff”, but it won’t necessarily be “news” in the traditional sense.

I think civic action will stem from the growing phenomenon of advocating for a cause on your social platform, maybe even “liking” an organization on Facebook, but will not be taken to the physical level of donating time through volunteer work. Yes, there will still be good samaritans, but the way to attract more people to a cause will be through their social media, rather than, say, tabling outside of a grocery store for canned goods, or getting signatures for a petition from strangers on the street. Just check #civicduty on Twitter to see what I mean.

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Screenshot by Karolyn Castaldo via Twitter.com

All we can hope is that media continues to be a positive presence in our society that informs people, and that social media continues to give us the power to do our own gatekeeping…and maybe that people learn to use a proper hashtag #itsnotgoingtoturnupsearchresultsifnooneelsehasusedit.

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Step in Right Direction or Propelling Stereotype: #AerieReal

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Photo from aerie.com

In a recent shocking move, aerie, the lingerie sister brand for American Eagle Outfitters, decided to go for the ‘au naturale’ look when it comes to their models. There will be no retouching, no Photoshop; just positively radiant young women wearing their clothing.

The campaign, known as #aerieReal is aims to debunk the stereotype of the airbrushed-to-perfection, totally unrealistic “super” model, as can be seen in any Victoria’s Secret ad. They even added a site feature for online ordering, where a model who is a 34AA bra size actually wears that size to portray the fit in a photograph, rather than the usual busty model sporting the 36D. Yes, the photos still have the perfect lighting, with made-up models in flattering poses, but the message is prevalent: women should not need to be airbrushed to be sexy.

However, what is still perplexing about this campaign is the size of the models. They are as close to flawless as they come, and perpetuate the stereotype of the slim woman as advertising gold. Sex sells, and though these women have a realistic look, they are still the gorgeous, straight-teeth, blemish-free, “ideal” woman of our society.

The step in the right direction for this campaign is this African American model who is curvy and busty, but still healthy and beautiful. It calls to question the use of a black woman to propel diversity within the campaign, but overall sends a better message. She is also much lighter-skinned, which in our recent discussions, has been more positively received by the general population (i.e.; the executives) than a darker skinned woman.

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Photo from aerie.com

Another good move for aerie is the model with a visible tattoo. Tattoos are extremely taboo in this industry, and can sometimes lead models not to find work with certain brands who have a “clean” image. aerie proudly displays this model’s tattoo and it really grounds the campaign. Though she is not covered head-to-toe, it is moving towards inclusivity of a market that is not generally reached by feminine clothing brands.

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Photo from aerie.com

I commend aerie for this revolutionary ad campaign that empowers women to aspire for real, not airbrushed, but there’s still more to improve on. When they begin to include women from a more diverse race pool, or larger models, as seen in the Dove beauty campaign, they will have really started something great in an industry that starves and retouches girls, shaming the ones off of the page and the screen.

This campaign challenges the super in super model, and recent fads like fat-shaming, #thinspiration, and the thigh gap phenomenon, but I don’t believe it’s far under the radar of the womanly stereotype of our society. When they truly take women who look like they could be on the bus with you, eating an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s on a bad day, or has beautiful tattoo sleeves, they will have truly broken the mold.

Sources:
Adweek
aerie

Social Media and the Boston Bombing

Marathon Monday is always a joyous occasion in the city of Boston, but last year, two men intruded on the safety and pride of the runners and spectators. As a New England native, I was glued to my phone and the TV when I heard the news about the bombing. Many of my close friends and family live in Boston or attend the marathon every year.

Along with watching constant coverage on the news, I also kept up-to-date on Twitter. Though there were many posts under the hashtag #BostonStrong, #BostonBombing and #Bostonmarathon, the biggest phenomenon I noticed was the hashtag #BostonPoliceScanner which detailed the actions of the police. Through the internet and certain apps, civilians were able to listen to the scanner and give their reports on the pursuit of the bombers.

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This showcases gatekeeping in the hands of the “audience” because any internet user could post to Twitter about the happenings of the police scanner. The police’s actions were no longer a secret and the news media could not keep these actions from the public either.

On the blog essentiallyAli, social media blogger and consultant Ali commented on the Boston Bombing and the actions of social media in her article “3 Ways Social Media Affected the Boston Bombing Investigation.” She mentions the #BostonPoliceScanner hashtag, as well as the false reports from Twitter users, and the users who made a false Twitter account pretending to be Dzhokar Tsarnaev. The latter is a similar idea to the fake YouTube personalities seen in this week’s video in class.

In addition to the misleading information from former “audience” on social media, the news media also published false information in a expedient fashion. They wanted to be the first to break the story and did not research each lead to the fullest. This caused much panic and confusion among the masses.

In conclusion, the Boston Bombing was covered in a shoddy, discombobulated fashion using Instagram to show the marathon route blown to smithereens, Twitter to retweet unconfirmed news, Facebook to express deep sorrows, and many other blogs, and social platforms as well.

 

The Morality of MPAA Film Ratings

One of the most commonly seen forms of regulation via content and distribution is the rating systems used in film. Though other media such as video games and television use a similar system, I will focus on what is seen and not seen in movies due to this regulation.

Ratings for films are devised by the Motion Picture Association of America, founded as the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America in 1922. This system ranks the “suitability of films’ themes and content for certain audiences,” (Wikipedia).

The ratings are briefly outlined as such (from MPAA Website)

  • General Audience (G): No content that is deemed offensive including themes, violence, nudity, etc.
  • Parental Guidance Suggested (PG): Some content may be unsuitable for children, as it may include some profanity, violence, or nudity.
  • Parents Strongly Cautioned (PG-13): Parents are strongly cautioned to deem if this content is suitable for their children under the age of 13. It may include drugs, or a higher level of profanity, mature themes, violence, or nudity than a PG-rated movie.
  • Restricted (R): Children under the age of 17 must accompany these films with an adult. These often feature heavily mature content.
  • No One 17 and Under Admitted (NC-17): Content is only appropriate for adult audiences due to intensely mature features of the film. Not necessarily pornographic or obscene.

Six major film studios make up the MPAA including Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Paramount Pictures Corporation; Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.; Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; Universal City Studios LLC; and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. The issues presented by these large corporations being members of the MPAA is the bias given when rating these films. It would seem that the larger corporations involved with the MPAA would benefit from this system, where the independent films are restrained by these ratings.  If smaller independent films are produced, is it possible that they are either unrated or rated unfairly so as not to take away from possible screen time for films from these major production companies? If, say, an unbiased third party were to do these ratings, it is possible that they would be rated on a more accurate scale?

For example, The Wolf of Wall Street, an extremely mature movie with a large amount of nudity and sexuality, was rated as ‘R’, rather than NC-17. It dances along this very fine line, but because it was produced Paramount Pictures, it is possible that the MPAA rating was lower to promote a larger audience to view the film in theaters.

Another issue is the morality of film ratings in general. Who is to say that the contents of a PG-13 would be offensive to a parent with very liberal ideals, versus an extremely religious parent who is offended by profanity and nudity of any kind. These ratings, therefore, are seemingly an inaccurate judge of the films of today’s society. They do not fully represent the whole of the population.

I believe that by implementing a non-biased party with representatives from extreme levels of content sensitivity, the rating system could be vastly improved to reflect the feelings of more Americans, and would also lose the bias of a large conglomerate-driven organization.

Sources
MPAA Website
Wikipedia

The Graham Holdings Company

The Graham Holdings Company (formerly The Washington Post Company) is a publicly traded American media conglomerate founded in 1889 in Washington D.C.. After the sale of The Washington Post newspaper to Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos in 2013,  The Washington Post Company was required to change their name. Though it would seem that the newspaper must have been a significant source of income, having been the namesake of the company,  that is certainly not the case. Graham Holdings Company currently owns various media include print and online news, TV, broadcasting, education, healthcare, energy production and various web firms, specifically one that specializes in Facebook advertising.

Print and Online News

The Washington Post
El Tiempo Latino (D.C.)
Express (D.C)
Fashion Washington (D.C)
The Washington Post News Service with Bloomberg News
The Washington Post Writers Group

The Slate Group
Slate
SlateV
The Root
Foreign Policy

The Daily Herald (Everett, WA)
The Enterprise (South Snohomish and North King Counties, WA)
La Raza del Noroeste (Seattle, WA)
The Herald Business Journal (Everett, WA)

Post-Newsweek Media
Comprint Military Publications (Newspapers and base guides for military installations in D.C. region)
Fairfax County Times
The Gazette (Maryland Community Newspapers in Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Frederick Counties)
Southern Maryland Newspapers: Maryland Independent (Charles County); The Calvert Recorder (Calvert County); The Enterprise (St. Mary’s County); The Enquirer Gazette

Greater Washington Publishing
SourceBook: Guide to Retirement Living
New Condominium Guide
New Homes Guide
The Washington Post Apartment Showcase

Television

Post-Newsweek StationsWDIV (Detroit, MI)
KPRC (Houston, TX)
WPLG (Miami-Dade and Fort Lauderdale, FL)
WKMG (Orlando, FL)
KSAT (San Antonio, TX)
WJXT (Jacksonville, FL)

Education Services

Kaplan
Kaplan Higher Education
Kaplan International
Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions
Kaplan Ventures

Colloquy
Kaplan Continuing Education
Kaplan IT Learning Center
The Kidum Group
Kaplan Virtual Education
Kaplan Learning Technologies
Kaplan Venture Capital
iProf India, Ltd.

Other

Cable ONE (Owner and Operator of Cable Television Systems)
Comprint Printing
Robinson Terminal Warehouse Corporation
SocialCode
Trove
Washington Post Live

AND MORE!

The Graham Holdings Company showcase horizontal integration because they own a variety of media outlets in different categories. I For example, the owning of Comprint Printing with so many news outlets would maybe be considered vertical, but all media that falls into other, seemingly unrelated categories, like SocialCode advertising, creates a synergy between the different types of media owned by Graham Holdings. It can be assumed that these outlets are being used to promote the more obscure holdings to their consumers, whether that be students, advertisers, or viewers.

I was surprised to see that Graham Holdings (originally researched as the Washington Post Company) did not own more news and online publications. Having been named for a prominent American newspaper, it would seem that this would be their niche. However, I would think that dabbling in so many media holdings would provide greater reach and a chance to build off of each medium, rather than setting them apart. The biggest holding that I found to be surprising and a bit random was the Kaplan and other education products. I have used Kaplan resources all throughout my schooling, and it is interesting to know that they are linked to a medium-sized media conglomerate. The synergy created between these brands makes for a diverse and presumably powerful influence in our society.

Sources: 

Columbia Journalism Review
Graham Holdings
Wikipedia