End of Media as gatekeepers?

There are those of you who remember a time when the news media mix consisted of three national network news broadcasts, preceeded by local news, a local newspaper and several weekly news magazines, such as Time and Newsweek.

As I point out in lectures I present on Media and Political Communication, we've seen tremendous changes in what is news media in the last twenty years. CNN proved its viability in the early 80s, joined by several other news networks. Talk radio rose in the late 80s, then the Internet in the mid 90s, and the rise of bloggers in the early years of the 21 century. Where the average person of a generation ago have four or five news sources, they now have a dozen or more convenient to them, with many more out there.

Unlike the "good old days" where the news was vetted and screened in plenty of time for the daily paper or evening news, we now live in a 24-hour world, with news websites, all-day/all-night cable news channels, and front-line combat journalists with satellite video phones. News outlets that hold a story to make sure its newsworthy or edit it for better clarity, or get time to present both sides of a breaking story, will often get left behind in a "first strike" new reality of news media.

Where media once had the benefit of time and market position to act as "gatekeepers", screening and developing raw news for what they felt was the way the story should appear to audiences, now they have become a jumble of "conduits", in which everyone is seeking to get the news quicker than the other guy.

The media "gatekeepers" are dead, victims of the reality of an instant, always-on, global village.

This is a point of view which is shared by Michael Delli Carpini and Bruce Williams in their 2004 paper entitled "Monica and Bill All the Time and Everywhere", which looked at how the media evolution made it increasingly difficult for the Clinton administration to shut stories up, as well as for the media and politicians to put their spins on what did make it out for public consumption. As media competed to get stories out with growing speed and less message-shaping, it gave audiences more information and less opinion with which to form their opinions.

In their groundbreaking work in the field of Agenda Setting theory, conducted in 1972, Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw found that media was far more effective at telling people what to think about than what to think about that subject. Delli Carpini and William's findings that people make up their own minds when given enough unfiltered information is certainly consistent with McCombs and Shaw's findings.

"I'd like to make you laugh for about ten minutes though I'm gonna be on for an hour."

The world has lost a champion of the much-needed ability to laugh at ourselves. Richard Pryor will be missed.

Rest in peace, Richard.

Miami Vice ... then, now, and forever

Today, I got the recently-released DVD set of the second season of Miami Vice, which I've been eagerly awaiting since last spring, when I got the first season.

In the early 80's, Michael Mann created a cop show like none other. Built around cool hit music and fashion, an amazing roster of guest stars, and sporty cars, the show brought us weekly looks at high times, easy living, and fast dying in the multi-cultural blender of Miami.

Before Bad Boys and CSI Miami, Miami Vice was the REAL story of high-crime in Miami. Everything that came afterwards was just an imitation.

What most people didn't see behind the show's visual imagery was the complex stories Mann weaved through many of the episodes of the series. Characters who lived not in a world of good/bad or black and white, but rather shades of grey, with people living with (and sometimes trapped by) the fate they often made for themselves. Bad guys living by codes of honor, cops with personal struggles, and so forth. It wasn't just in Miami Vice where Mann told these kinds of stories, as one could see this approach in movies like Band of the Hand, Heat, and Collateral.

Next summer, Mann is releasing an movie version of the Miami Vice series, starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx playing Crockett and Tubbs. Judging from the preview, some of the behind-the-scenes chatter about the movie, and Mann's refinement of his complex storytelling approach, I'm eager to see how he has worked to reframe the story of Crockett and Tubbs, making their characters relevant to today's times.

Miami Vice ... then, now, and for years to come ... go check it out!


Queensryche Mindcrime tour pics

Found these links for pictures from this year's Queensryche tour, courtesy of the Pamela Moore Alliance. Moore performed the role of Sister Mary on the album and on this year's Mindcrime Tour, and will be part of the Mindcrime II album, to be released in March. Go take a look.


Ya'll enjoy!

Congratulations to ... Me

Congrats to me!

Last night, I was elected Vice-Chairman of the Alumni Association for my college's Department of Communication. Less than two years after graduation too ...

Wednesday, I was elected Chairman of the Lowcountry Utilities Coordinating Committee, a work-related association I've been involved with for several years.

Two offices in two days - WOW! Looks like my life is getting better and better, and busier and busier too. Maybe life on my own isn't so bad after all!

Carroll Campbell, South Carolina's Greatest Governor

Carroll Campbell, whose term of governor between 1987 and 1995 changed South Carolina in many ways, passed away today after a long fight with Alzheimer's Disease.

As someone who grew up in a Southern state that was, and still is, fighting to move beyond the shadow of its past as a poorly-educated, segregationist society run by well-heeled insiders running the state to protect their interests, friends, and values, Campbell was a rare reformer who looked beyond the here and now, and worked to move South Carolina forward.

In the early 90's, after high school, I was one of his many street soldiers, testifying at legislative hearings, calling talk shows, letters to the editor, etc. in support of various Campbell reform issues. I was glad to do lend my support in moving those efforts, and this state, forward. Together, we prevailed on restructing, auto insurance reform, new ethics laws, tax reform, and other issues that made this state a little fairer and a little easier for the average person to live in, and for our children to grow up in.

He was a rare breed. Courageous, tough, and determined, Carroll Campbell is a leader and mentor to many, myself included, and will be missed greatly.

.. and a friend who we'll miss dearly. Rest in peace, Carroll.

"As only the second Republican governor in a then-Democratic dominated state, he persuaded the General Assembly to pass almost all of his priorities," said Whit Ayers, a Virginia-based Republican pollster who was a top Campbell aide in the first term. "He did so by appealing to the Democratic leadership to work together for the good of the state," Ayres said. As governor, Campbell:

  • Revamped the state's tax code to make it more business-friendly, resulting in record economic development.
  • Set the precedent of submitting an executive budget to the Legislature, a task previously performed by the Budget and Control Board.
  • Directed new expenditures into education, creating the Governor's
    School for Science and Math and the Governor's Teaching Scholarship.
  • Won partial restructuring of state government, putting formerly board-run agencies, unaccountable to the public, under a cabinet secretary reporting to the governor.

The scion of a blue-blooded family fallen on hard times who never went to college in the traditional sense, Campbell was a risk-taker of immense drive who found early success in business, then politics. "He always had the heart of an underdog," said Bob McAlister, a top aide during Campbell's eight years as governor, close friend and spiritual adviser. "He always saw himself as that young man in Greenville struggling to make a living."

In his 1986 campaign for governor, Campbell would rail at the "good 'ol boys" he said dominated state politics for their own, not the people's, prosperity.

The eight years as governor were marked by strong economic development, topped off by his personal efforts to woo BMW to the Upstate, and a major initiative that restructured part of state government bringing more authority to his successors at the expense of the Legislature.

Fowler found himself on the same side as Campbell — and with current Republican Gov. Mark Sanford's next-step efforts — in the government restructuring fight. "He deserves good marks for that, and his economic development efforts," Fowler said of Campbell. "BMW did come here when he was governor and it's been an economic blessing."

Former Democratic Gov. Robert McNair has credited Campbell with breathing new life into a sagging industry-hunting effort, getting the state "back into the international arena where we had in 1960s and 1970s been a leader, both regionally and nationally. "He did it the way you have to do it, by personal involvement (as) a tremendous spokesman for the state," McNair said a decade ago

Holiday Cheese

Allow me to share with ya'll this picture of my house, all decked out for the holidays.

More to come soon ...

Stay the Course in Iraq ... says Who?!?

Which United States Senator wrote this quote in the Wall Street Journal:

What a colossal mistake it would be for America's bipartisan political leadership to choose this moment in history to lose its will and, in the famous phrase, to seize defeat from the jaws of the coming victory.
Joe Lieberman, a DEMOCRATIC Senator from Connecticut, 2000 running mate of Al Gore, and probably one of the most decent human beings in the Washington political arena, regardless of party. Here are some more quotes from his Wall Street Journal op-ed:

I am disappointed by Democrats who are more focused on how President Bush took America into the war in Iraq almost three years ago, and by Republicans who are more worried about whether the war will bring them down in next November's elections, than they are concerned about how we continue the progress in Iraq in the months and years ahead.

We are fighting on the side of the 27 million because the outcome of this war is critically important to the security and freedom of America. If the terrorists win, they will be emboldened to strike us directly again and to further undermine the growing stability and progress in the Middle East, which has long been a major American national and economic security priority.

The leaders of America's military and diplomatic forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey and Ambassador Zal Khalilzad, have a clear and compelling vision of our mission there. It is to create the environment in which Iraqi democracy, security and prosperity can take hold and the Iraqis themselves can defend their political progress against those 10,000 terrorists who would take it from them.

Anyone with half a brain knows that for generations, freedom wasn't defended at home, nor expanded abroad as the outcome of partisan politics, but rather by bipartisan visionaries who knew when party politics was vitally important, and when it was terribly destructive.

Politics stops at the waters' edge, but freedom must carry on. Thanks for seeing that, Senator.

Click on the link in the title to read the full article. Stay tuned as I plan to post more about what is REALLY going on "over there".