Presidential Media Critique

This is an advertisement about Ben Carson. In this video his persona is associated with the constitution, both black and white families, cities, industry, and growth/ capitalism when we are shown the stock exchange.  The video culminates with a picture of the white house to reinforce Ben’s worthiness to be the president. Now it might be a weak link to the picture in my head but I now see Ben as an entrepreneurial man who came from the big city and made a name for himself.  He also cares about traditional family values because we see a mother teaching her children how to read and  a black family and a white family walking together and spending time together at the table.

The ad video is just something I looked up so I have not been exposed to any critiques of it by the media but the coverage would be different based on the media organization that is covering it.  Some might focus on the American ideal of working hard and getting a reward that he tries to embody.  Others might focus on  how he probably hasn’t defended the constitution yet even though he claims to in the ad.  Because media are extremely successful at telling us what to think about and studies now show that “they also tell us how to think about some objects” the critiques I view of this ad may transfer the salience in a different way to my head (42 Pictures in our heads).  I could possibly change the view I had after the first viewing because, especially in the televised platform, there is very little critical analysis mid-view.

I also think this ad will not be as effective as Ben wants it to be, historically black Americans vote democrat and vote the least.  If his success will be determined by how he relates to young black voters he may not be as successful as Obama because he is not attempting to put any hip hop or similarly cultural aspects into his ads.  I think he is playing to the normal demographic who votes republican, older white citizens and if he chooses to fight for votes that will already go to the republicans rather than branch out to try to find new votes or sway young impressionable voters he will not will the election.  During the 2008 election “black youth could use their hip hop coolness, fashion, music, and dance to impact political discourse.”  nothing in Dr. Carson’s ad said anything about these themes (225 Gosa).  If he had an endorsement by Common or Kanye West like Obama he would have a better chance of winning the young black vote but he also might lose the historically republican vote so he is in a difficult situation.

I believe that because of Ben’s stereotypical asymmetry with the usually republican presidential candidates he will not win or receive the nomination because he will be fighting stereotypes to get the young black vote and the older white vote.  The pictures in our heads will be too influenced by how the media talks about Dr. Carson, conservatives will have their opinion and liberals will have their opinions and if he is talked about in comparison to the common republican candidates his “otherness” will be too great.


Journalism Comparison, Aljazeera vs. CNN

I chose to compare the news coverage of Aljazeera news reporting from Afghanistan to CNN.  The topic they were covering is the news that Obama has lengthened the withdrawal time for US troops from Afghanistan.  The main differences were that the US based coverage focused on politicians, and the setting during which the decision took place.  The two news sources were very similar in that any statistics or locations were exactly the same.

CNN seemed to be framing the article by only referencing politicians and not on how the decision effects citizens in Afghanistan.  The CNN article told the news more like a story with a timeline and numerous politicians’ views.  Aljazeera on the other hand focused more on the facts and presented opposing viewpoints well. An Aljazeera reporter interviewed a Taliban spokesman who said that the decision only spurred him to fight more because the US was continuing its invasion, “This will continue until the last person [from foreign forces] is out of our country,” Mujahid.  The Aljazeera news source gains my trust a little bit more with this addition of a unique interviewee.  I don’t think CNN would include a quotation from a member of the Taliban because it might create an uproar from the US population. Some readers might have a complaint along the lines of “associating with the enemy.”

I think seeing the views of people who are not in positions of power is important because those views might be more honest.  The Taliban spokesman isn’t trying to get votes or be politically correct he is stating what he believes and gives a very different view than most Americans are used to.  Presenting opposing views is an invaluable function of the news because it forces the readers and viewers to think critically about which view is more accurate or correct. Media literacy will increase with more views presented because more questions about who and why will need to be answered giving consumers more information to make themselves media literate.

The two news companies talked about facts equally but I think the Aljazeera article is better journalism because the facts were presented more objectively and with less framing.  I believe one could say after the Aljazeera article Cronkite’s famous line, “and that’s the way it is,”  whereas with the CNN article I think a more appropriate closing would be “and that’s the way we see it.”  This phenomenon is humorous because the Cronkite said that line while reporting for CNN.  This in itself may show the difference between traditional journalism and the storytelling journalism that is growing in popularity today.

The links to the articles are below.



This American Life Reflection

I listened to “The Land of Make Believe” episode of This American Life. In the episode they tell a story about a father who creates a fantasy world for his children and the story is told through the eyes of his daughter. The story isn’t a common book reading though, the show is broken up into acts, like a play. There is no “stock” transition. And as the story progresses there is a different voice for every character in the story. The story is very entertaining because there is a change in voice or noise frequently so the story doesn’t become monotonous.

Most notable about This American Life is the lack of advertisements, there was one brief “This show is brought to you by….” segment at the beginning and then the entire hour was ad free. In the reading Gomery stated, “Radio’s revenues came not from listeners but from advertisers.”(38). The show has managed to go against the trend of most radio stations and that is unique. This American Life has transitioned against what Gomery predicted is another way as well, “[Radio] was driven into a different role broadcasting formatted music (and sometimes all talk) to help suburban commuters pass the time” (Gomery 143). This American Life doesn’t attract audiences by its music and it isn’t just a talk radio station, it survives by its entertainment value as shows in the early 1930’s did (Gomery38). The show’s unique method of presenting a show with the formula of a play about everyday life helps it survive with few advertisements. The consumers can feel as if they’re participating in the show because the stories are about them, Americans.

Ease of access to the show and its niche content is important to its listeners. Listeners can enjoy the freedom to see the show whenever they want. This American Life benefits from podcasts because they “permit more flexible content delivery” (Pavlik &McIntosh 117). Anyone can subscribe to get the weekly podcast for free. The unique method of storytelling compared to regular talk radio is one of the most attractive aspects of the show. The show “has adapted to the changing media landscape by specialization.”(Pavlik & McIntosh 115) through its method of telling stories uniquely and well. The station doesn’t cover music, news, and politics. Executives for the station have found what works and they are utilizing it. The business method of surviving with little advertising is valuable because it allows the show to create the content the hosts wants. With a unique format and a unique business model This American Life is great for the audience but bad for advertising companies because they can’t use it to make revenue.