The Many Words of Russell Dickerson http://www.rhdickerson.com Content writing, fiction and non-fiction, Creation Mon, 24 Jul 2017 18:39:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Parody: Legal, Ethical and Organizational Communication in Landmark Court Cases http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/legal-ethical-organizational-communication-landmark-court-cases/ http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/legal-ethical-organizational-communication-landmark-court-cases/#respond Thu, 20 Jul 2017 00:35:10 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4859 Parody has been a part of media and entertainment for centuries, with seemingly few public figures escaping notice. Parody and satire, particularly in politics and with public figures, dates back at least to a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin from 1754, predating the United States as a country7. From political caricatures and books of the 19th century, through the Keystone Cops and comedy films of the 20th century, parody has been a vital part of American culture. Even in just the past few months, television shows such as Saturday Night Live featured acerbic parodies of public figures such as President Donald Trump.… Read the rest

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Parody has been a part of media and entertainment for centuries, with seemingly few public figures escaping notice. Parody and satire, particularly in politics and with public figures, dates back at least to a political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin from 1754, predating the United States as a country7. From political caricatures and books of the 19th century, through the Keystone Cops and comedy films of the 20th century, parody has been a vital part of American culture. Even in just the past few months, television shows such as Saturday Night Live featured acerbic parodies of public figures such as President Donald Trump.

While parody typically enjoys protection through the First Amendment as free speech, it is possible that parody can be offensive, even causing distress for public figures. The landmark Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell asked the question of First Amendment protection for offensive parodies, and effects on public figures. This paper summarizes the court case, analyzes the ruling based on the First Amendment, and evaluates the final ruling.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Summarizing the Case

Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell centered on a parody advertisement (Figure 1), and whether or not the First Amendment protects offensive parody when it causes emotional distress to a public figure. In 1983, the sexually explicit magazine Hustler published a parody advertisement featuring popular Christian minister Jerry Falwell, satirizing the well-known Campari advertisements of the time5. The advertisement, carefully offering a parody disclaimer at the bottom, suggested that Falwell had lost his virginity to his own mother in an outhouse.

Despite the parody disclaimer, and listing in Hustler’s table of contents that the advertisement was fictional, Falwell sued the magazine. Falwell’s initial lawsuit was based on privacy invasion, libel based on the content of the advertisement, and “intentional infliction of emotional distress”5. Of those, the jury awarded Falwell damages only on the final charge of emotional distress, with Falwell awarded $150,000 in damages.

Hustler Magazine, Inc. appealed the ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Hustler Magazine, Inc. argued that the parody, no matter how outrageous, was protected under the First Amendment as free speech, but the Fourth Circuit found the level of outrageousness to be an irrelevant factor6. Hustler Magazine, Inc. also argued that a defamatory standard of actual malice against a public figure must be met, based on previous court cases6. However, the Fourth Circuit denied this approach as well, citing reckless behavior and protections against inflicting distress6. The Fourth Circuit upheld the decision in 1986 made by the lower court, and Hustler Magazine, Inc. appealed to SCOTUS for a final ruling.

SCOTUS ruled on the case in 1988, in favor of Hustler Magazine, Inc. and support of parody based on the First Amendment. The unanimous court ruled that the protections of the First Amendment trumped protection by the state for public figures against offensive parodies, provided that the parody could clearly not be taken as truth and that the offensive speech did not contain false statements of fact featuring “actual malice”8. The ruling only covered public figures, such as Falwell, and did not address parodies of private citizens.

Analyzing the Ruling

The SCOTUS ruling on the case gets to the heart of the First Amendment’s protections of free speech, and how that speech is communicated. The decision was a unanimous one by the court, and pointed out that outrageous speech could only be considered subjectively, as a jury would have wide-ranging tastes and personal views on the parody itself6. In a video interview given at the time of the decision1, Herb Block, Washington Post Cartoonist, supported the ruling and the methods that he himself uses in satire:

It doesn’t have to be the way you would do it, it doesn’t have to be in good taste, it doesn’t have to be something you agree with. It’s simply a matter of the person having the freedom to do it when it’s done in a satirical way1.

The court ruled on the emotional distress for public figures aspect of the case through the idea of reckless falsities. In describing the court’s ruling, As long as the satirist does not make false statements of fact, while recklessly ignoring the truth, the First Amendment takes precedence over liability2. SCOTUS ruled that parodies of public figures were a part of American culture, and that suing for emotional distress allowed public figures to drown legitimate and truthful free speech2. Public figures, including celebrities and politicians, have long been the targets of satire. Claims of emotional distress can chill not only free speech, but the freedom enjoyed by Americans to freely and openly discuss the public machinations of those figures, much of which affects the daily lives of citizens.

 

Falwell-Hustler Magazine Print Ad

Figure 1: Hustler Magazine Print Ad. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/qkbzjx/larry-flynt-profile-2016

As the daily lives of citizens could be affected by punishing creators of satirical works, even more so the court’s ruling found that the government should not take sides in American culture. The court found it unconstitutional to require standards of speech based solely on what a certain community finds appropriate3. American culture is a mixture of many different groups across the nation, and allowing one community’s guidelines of proper and improper speech is not what a government, which should remain neutral, can support3. Despite the explicit nature of Hustler Magazine and the potential for distress caused by it, the court decided that the clear parody was upheld by the First Amendment. What is offensive to one group may not be offensive to another, and limiting what can be openly said based on such limitations goes against the fabric of the freedom of speech laid out in the First Amendment.

 

Evaluating the Ruling

Much of the case relied on whether or not the outrageous nature of the parody was protected by the First Amendment, and in the shoes of a Supreme Court justice the decision could be a tough one. In the social media firestorms of the 21st century, allegations of fake news and the popularity of satirical media groups like The Onion and Cracked.com offer the American culture a possibly different modern view of the Hustler Magazine parody. The ease at which social media can turn a satirical article into a viral piece is something that did not exist in the 1980s, and services such as Snopes.com have evolved to counter untruthful claims.

The fierceness of how quickly false and satirical articles can spread unchecked through social media is a reminder of what Chief Justice William Rehnquist, overseeing the Hustler Magazine v. Falwell case, said about jury subjectiveness. In 2011, Justice Elena Kagan used Rehnquist’s words in a similar case, that outrageousness is completely subjective and would push a jury to award damages based on their own views4. The majority opinion by SCOTUS was that parody protections could lead to harsh, offensive, and even hurtful speech against public figures5. However, while obscenity does not get First Amendment protection, it is impossible to separate the outrageous from the culturally acceptable5. Allowing microcultures within society to decide what is acceptable, particularly in satire that often requires an amount of harshness against public entities, would chill the freedom of speech that the First Amendment is built on. The justices decided correctly that, much as Herb Block said, citizens do not have to agree with, condone, or appreciate satires and parodies. As long as there are no falsehoods, freedom of speech requires those statements to continue openly, without being restricted by cultural patterns.

Conclusion

Parody has been a part of media and entertainment in American culture for centuries, particularly in politics and with public figures. Parody typically enjoys protection through the First Amendment as free speech, but parody can be offensive, even causing distress to public figures. The Supreme Court of the United States case Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell asked the question of First Amendment protection for offensive parodies, and effects on public figures, and found that the offensive nature of parody cannot be chilled by the distress of public figures. This paper summarized the court case, analyzed the ruling based on the First Amendment, and evaluated the final ruling.

References

  1. ABC News. (n.d.). 2/24/88: Larry Flynt wins first amendment case. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Archives/video/feb-24-1988-hustler-falwell-12278659
  2. Chen, A. K., & Marceau, J. (2015). High value lies, ugly truths, and the first amendment. Vanderbilt Law Review, 68(6), 1435-1507.
  3. DeCosse, D. E. (2010). The Danish cartoons reconsidered: Catholic social teaching and the contemporary challenge of free speech. Theological Studies, 71(1), 101-132.
  4. From the bench. (2011). From the bench: U.S. supreme court. Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, 60(2), 53-55.
  5. Justia. (n.d.). Hustler magazine, inc. v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46 (1988). Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/485/46/#annotation
  6. Justia Case. (n.d.). Hustler magazine, inc. v. Falwell 485 U.S. 46 (1988) full opinion. Retrieved from https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/485/46/case.html
  7. Katz, H. (2004). An historic look at political cartoons. Nieman Reports, 58(4), 44-46.
  8. Oyez. (n.d.). Hustler magazine, inc. v. Falwell. Retrieved from https://www.oyez.org/cases/1987/86-1278

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Persuasive Case Study Analysis http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/persuasive-case-study-analysis/ http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/persuasive-case-study-analysis/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:31:02 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4851 Understanding how persuasion can affect a reader is an important skill when writing about a controversial topic. J.J. Keith of The Huffington Post editorialized one side of the vaccination debate, and used both Aristotle’s proofs and Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification in an attempt to persuade the reader5. This paper analyzes the methods of persuasion used in the editorial and how effective those methods were in convincing the reader of the author’s stance.

Summarizing the Editorial

The featured editorial took a position on whether or not parents should vaccinate their children, based on the vaccination safety debate.… Read the rest

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Understanding how persuasion can affect a reader is an important skill when writing about a controversial topic. J.J. Keith of The Huffington Post editorialized one side of the vaccination debate, and used both Aristotle’s proofs and Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification in an attempt to persuade the reader5. This paper analyzes the methods of persuasion used in the editorial and how effective those methods were in convincing the reader of the author’s stance.

Summarizing the Editorial

The featured editorial took a position on whether or not parents should vaccinate their children, based on the vaccination safety debate. Human Organization explored the history and science of vaccinations, reporting the small percentage of vaccinations that cause complications each year1. Coupled with research by Andrew Wakefield linking autism to vaccinations, a strong anti-vaccination movement was sparked, despite Wakefield’s claims being discredited4. The editorial covered one side of the debate, with the author taking a pro-vaccination stance.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

The editorial took on both a direct, researched voice and a more emotional one, in an attempt to convince readers of the author’s stance. Keith linked to several other articles that featured the science behind vaccinations, and explained how vaccinations work5. Keith offered examples of where the anti-vaccination movement failed, as with a church in Texas that was struck with a measles outbreak after the pastor denounced vaccines5. Keith also used emotional pleas to make the article more personal, not only mentioning her own ideas of parenting but also highlighting two children suffering from leukemia5. Telling the story of the two immunocompromised children was an emotional plea, humanizing not only the topic but the idea that others in the community are affected by a parent’s choice not to vaccinate.

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

The featured editorial used Aristotle’s proofs throughout to support the author’s discussion of vaccinations. Human Organization detailed the social science side of the vaccination debate, including factors such as forced requirements for vaccinations, the perception some people have of the deviant interests of the vaccination corporations, and the fear of the risk involved with vaccinations1. Keith countered equally with ethos, pathos, and logos, in an attempt to match theory for theory5. Each of these points followed Aristotelian proofs, with questions on the ethics, emotions, and facts of the debate.

Part of the problem that the author faced is that, despite the links and explanations of scientific facts, the other side of the argument historically has ignored legitimate facts. Aristotle’s rhetoric theories state that an argument is separate from the style in which it is made, especially if the direct route is not taken in the discussion but is avoided peripherally6. With a peripheral route, one side ignores strong arguments and facts, and is either unwilling or unable to assess them6. In the editorial, the author is starting from a position where the scientific facts are seemingly irrelevant, and must use all three Aristotelian proofs to make her case.

The editorial weaved through the Aristotelian proofs as the author attempted to make her case to the reader. Keith used ethos in two ways, from the perception of who she is and the research she featured in the article5. The author mentioned several times how she is a parent, that she writes often about parenting culture, and that in her position she sees many online debates about vaccines. To back up her position, she offered research throughout the article, and links to other sources of information, defending her stance on vaccines. The information not only showed her ethos, but promoted logos as she used data to make her point. Keith included information on vaccines, databases of vaccination rates, and featured a story on how the anti-vaccine movement failed with the Texas church measles outbreak5. Using the Texas outbreak showed logic of a different sort, the fact that not following the data can backfire substantially.

While the author’s point of the Texas outbreak lead into pathos with a bit of cynicism, the rest of the article featured a more emotional thread throughout. HEC Forum explained the peripheral route of ignoring the facts, and in the case of the anti-vaccination movement that problem might defeat the use of logos in the article6. Keith used the story of Jack and Clio, two immunocompromised children suffering from leukemia, as an emotional thread to counter the loss of logos for some of her audience5. The story bookended the article, and combined with the author’s pleas as a parent effectively used emotions to bring a personal feel to the article. Keith also effectively used humor and sarcasm in a few places, including the comment, “However, while there is nothing more “natural” than large numbers of children dying in a Malthusian cesspool of unchecked contagious disease, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that we should avoid that”5. The sentence is a great use of pathos, not only in getting the reader’s attention but in softening the blow just enough to keep them interested.

Identification

In the course of using ethos, pathos, and logos with the reader, the author used Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification throughout the piece. Burke’s theory is explained as someone identifying with a certain group or type of person2. Keith mentioned several times that the author is a parent, framing herself as more than just a bystander5. Burke described identity as not just the individual, but in other groups such as parents, and that individuals create identities shared symbolically with others in society3. In a vaccination debate about children, as a parent she made clear that she had also made similar decisions to what she was defending. By identifying with those who have vaccinated their children, the author hoped the reader will see her as being a part of the societal group. Keith made the point near the end that vaccination is a community-wide problem5. Using parental identification inferred that she and the reader should both identify with the entire group.

Persuasion

As a parent, the author’s use of Aristotelian proofs was personally more effective than Burke’s theory of identification. Several times, Keith promoted the author as a parent, with the intent of using that identification to add strength to the argument for vaccinations5. Parenting is a tricky thing, however, and every parent treats their children in different ways. A person declaring they are a parent only verifies that fact, it does not explain if they are good or bad at parenting. Due to the author’s effective use of ethos, pathos, and logos, she ultimately did not need to rely on identification for her agenda.

The editorial benefited from the author’s consistent, thorough use of Aristotle’s proofs. Starting off with the ethos of the author’s experience as both a parent and author of parental culture, the editorial moved into pathos with the story of Jack and Clio. Within that pathos, the author added logos through the explanations of vaccinations and links to vaccine rates and herd immunity. Keith then weaves in and out of all three Aristotelian proofs, effectively persuading the reader through multiple means5. In a very controversial subject like vaccinations, when both sides are very emotional, using multiple methods allowed for room to say what needed to be said in different ways. Using only one method might have bored the reader, or even offended them. Using all three proofs essentially kept the reader from settling on just one issue, effectively keeping their mind open for the next sentence.

Conclusion

This paper analyzed the methods of persuasion used in an editorial on vaccinations, and how effective Aristotle’s proofs and Kenneth Burke’s theory of identification were in convincing the reader of the author’s stance. Keith editorialized one side of the vaccination debate, using identification to set the stage for the article and Aristotle’s proofs to weave a persuasive argument for vaccinations5. Understanding how persuasion can affect a reader is an important skill when writing about a controversial topic, and the editorial is a good example of using all of the persuasive methods to make a case.

References

  1. Brunson, E. K., & Sobo, E. J. (2017). Framing childhood vaccination in the United States: Getting past polarization in the public discourse. Human Organization, 76(1), 38-47.
  2. Colorado State University-Global Campus. (2017). Module 4: Persuasion and communication contexts [Schoology ecourse]. In COM425–Communication Conflict and Persuasion. Greenwood Village, CO: Author.
  3. Crable, B. (2006). Rhetoric, anxiety, and character armor: Burke’s interactional rhetoric of identity. Western Journal Of Communication, 70(1), 1. doi:10.1080/10570310500305570
  4. Hook, L., & Mishkin, S. (Feb. 6, 2015). US measles outbreak: Spots of resistance. FT.Com. Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/4eea183c-ade3-11e4-919e-00144feab7de
  5. Keith, J.J. (2013, September 24). I’m coming out… as pro-vaccine. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jj-keith/vaccines_b_3829948.html
  6. Powers, P. (2007). Persuasion and coercion: A critical review of philosophical and empirical approaches. HEC Forum, 19(2), 125-43. doi:http://dx.doi.org.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/10.1007/s10730-007-9035-4

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Connecting PR & Writing http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/connecting-pr-writing/ http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/connecting-pr-writing/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 23:13:30 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4847 Organizations in 2017 have found a new problem to solve, a fight generated by fake and exaggerated news on social media spread by celebrities. When that falsity is spread by the President of the United States, an organization must defend itself from enormous publicity. PR Week explored the attacks that President Trump has made against organizations through his Twitter account and how those organizations responded1. Just as individual people do, organizations have a “fight or flight” response to the event, and choosing the right option comes down to how the organization has prepared for it.… Read the rest

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Organizations in 2017 have found a new problem to solve, a fight generated by fake and exaggerated news on social media spread by celebrities. When that falsity is spread by the President of the United States, an organization must defend itself from enormous publicity. PR Week explored the attacks that President Trump has made against organizations through his Twitter account and how those organizations responded1. Just as individual people do, organizations have a “fight or flight” response to the event, and choosing the right option comes down to how the organization has prepared for it. Organizations must have public relations crisis plans for digital media situations, such as when they are the subject of an exaggerated or fake news story that gains traction on broad social media.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Social Media Attacks

President Trump has attacked a number of businesses through social media, most recently the high-end retailer Nordstrom, and the organization used its resources to answer back. Forbes reported that President Trump had tweeted about his daughter being unfairly treated by Nordstrom after they canceled orders for her clothing line3. Nordstrom defended itself against the accusation, explaining that Nordstrom and Ivanka Trump had already been having discussions in the previous year, and that it was not a personal decision3. The battle in the social media arena was fought publicly by the celebrity against the organization, and highlights the importance of how organizations react in the modern age of social media attacks.

The Bandwagon and the Celebrity

When celebrities such as President Trump attack an organization, it becomes much larger than simply one person attacking a larger entity. Trump has over 24 million followers on Twitter1, and as a celebrity, Trump is able to use his fame to persuade his audience, and even those outside it, to manipulate the truth through social media. Three persuasive techniques fit Trump perfectly6: card stacking, transfer, and bandwagon. With card stacking, celebrities like Trump use only part of the information to build their case, while hiding other facts6. When Trump complained to his Twitter followers that Nordstrom was treating his daughter unfairly, he kept out the information that Nordstrom had been in discussions with her team long before the present moment.

Trump’s accusation also showed the techniques of both bandwagon support and the transfer of association, if in a negative way. Bandwagons imply that everyone wants a particular service, and that transfer is the concept of connecting a celebrity with credibility6. Trump send out a critical tweet, using his credibility as the President, to attempt to get his followers to harass or ban Nordstrom, shown by the temporary negative effect on Nordstrom’s stock3. Nordstrom’s stock quickly recovered, but the effect that a celebrity could have was apparent.

Trump’s celebrity, and his ability to offer a narrative style, captures a large audience that attempts to align themselves with him. With a large audience, the way he writes his posts on Twitter is clearly influential to some, and that narrative could explain why his followers would then attack another organization. In discussing crime and journalism, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly examined how news events in a narrative form gave readers the feeling of being a “mediated witness” (p. 581) instead of a passive reader5. Mediated witnesses do not experience events personally, but vicariously, and the narrative evokes the emotions of the reader to find the passages more persona5. Trump’s narratives work in the same way, by using persuasive, narrative speech he moves those who follow him more readily than the organizations he attacks. Without a plan in place, an organization would have a tough time defending itself.

Organizations that are not ready for such an attack could find a financial backlash, especially when social media users come out in force to attack an organization. Nordstrom’s stock fell, but recovered quickly3, and other organizations might not end up so lucky. Celebrities can amplify messages against an organization, resulting in collaborative brand attacks that get strong quickly4. Especially when an organization is seen as acting in an unfair manner, social media users can attack an organization in an attempt to harm it4. In Trump’s attack on Nordstrom he clearly calls them unfair, and using his celebrity allowed him to quickly amplify that message to his millions of followers.

Planning for the Worst

Social media attacks, especially with very popular brands or from well-known celebrities, are difficult at best to fight, and executing a well-considered plan ahead of time can lessen the damage from an attack. The best plan starts with observation, that organizations that understand their target audience ahead of time are able to work out messages that retain the most followers2. By understanding their base, organizations are able to rally both followers and their friends to support the organization, possibly deflecting any damage an attack would cause2. While keeping a sharp eye on social media helps to mitigate damage, being an active part of the community especially during a crisis is important. Being responsive and respectful to comments was vital, and by controlling cyberbullies and making sure to include followers in social media strategy, helps during crises4. By having the plan ahead of time, and executing it before, during, and after the crisis, an organization can escape any real damage.

Conclusion

Organizations must have public relations crisis plans for digital media situations, such as when they are the subject of an exaggerated or fake news story that gains traction on broad social media. In the modern social media age, organizations have to fight fake and exaggerated news on social media spread by celebrities. When that falsity is spread by a President, an organization must defend itself from publicity and attacks by others. Choosing the right options before and during an attack comes down to how the organization has prepared for it, and will mean the difference between a slight drop in the markets and financial disaster.

References

  1. Daniels, C., (2017, Feb. 10). Engage or walk away? Brands’ dilemma after a Trump twitter attack. PR Week. Retieved from http://www.prweek.com/article/1423990/engage-walk-away-brands-dilemma-trump-twitter-attack
  2. Kinsky, E. S., Drumheller, K., & Gerlich, R. N. (2014). Weathering the storm: Best practices for nonprofits in crisis. International Journal Of Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Marketing, 19(4), 277-285. doi:10.1002/nvsm.1502
  3. McGrath, M. (2017, Feb. 8). Nordstrom draws Trump’s ire after dropping Ivanka’s products. Forbes.Com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/maggiemcgrath/ 2017/02/08/after-dropping-ivanka-trump-products-nordstrom-finds-itself-in-the-middle-of-a-presidential-twitter-storm/#3821cad5772e
  4. Rauschnabel, P. A., Kammerlander, N., & Ivens, B. S. (2016). Collaborative brand attacks in social media: Exploring the antecedents, characteristics, and consequences of a new form of brand crises. Journal Of Marketing Theory & Practice, 24(4), 381-410. doi:10.1080/10696679.2016.1205452
  5. van Krieken, K., Hoeken, H., & Sanders, J. (2015). From reader to mediated witness: The engaging effects of journalistic crime narratives. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 92(3), 580-596.
  6. Wilcox, D. L., & Reber, B. H. (2013). Public relations writing and media techniques. Boston: Pearson Education.

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Evaluating Social Media Customer Service http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/evaluating-social-media-customer-service-2/ http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/evaluating-social-media-customer-service-2/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 17:23:14 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4840 The ways in which organizations use social media to feed their audience is not much different than the varied ways in which zookeepers feed the animals in their care. In the petting zoo, the hens are looking for whatever food they can get. At the other end of the spectrum, feeding the lions takes a specific set of rules, to keep everyone safe and happy with the care provided. Smaller organizations are closer to their audiences, and stricter guidelines, much like feeding a lion, need to be in place to protect the organization and the audience.… Read the rest

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The ways in which organizations use social media to feed their audience is not much different than the varied ways in which zookeepers feed the animals in their care. In the petting zoo, the hens are looking for whatever food they can get. At the other end of the spectrum, feeding the lions takes a specific set of rules, to keep everyone safe and happy with the care provided. Smaller organizations are closer to their audiences, and stricter guidelines, much like feeding a lion, need to be in place to protect the organization and the audience. Jerry’s Artarama, a national art supply chain, uses its Facebook page to interact with a relatively small audience. In contrast, the following of HBO’s Facebook page for the television show Game of Thrones is enormous, an audience of hens ready to be fed whatever they can get. Each organization approaches their social media differently, leading to the question of what companies should do with social media to effectively engage their customers.

Jerry’s Artarama

Jerry’s Artarama is a small, nationwide art supply chain, with an informative Facebook page. While most of the chain’s 17 retail stores have their own, localized Facebook page, the corporation has an overall national Facebook page with nearly 202,000 likes5. The national Facebook page offers a community to artists, featuring live and recorded technique videos, featured artists of the day, news and commentary about the art world, and upcoming national events for artists both online and in their retail stores. Many of their posts have hundreds of likes and comments, with a vibrant, engaged following.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

As an art supply store, having an engaged following requires a social media technique where both expert and novice artists are present, and a commitment from the organization to interact with followers. Companies that interact regularly with followers of their social media profiles give the perception of higher quality, friendliness, and trust2. In a competitive market such as art supplies, with internet sales giants like Dick Blick Art Supply, and larger, brick and mortar art chains like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, Jerry’s Artarama needs to have a social media profile that exudes trust and quality. Engaging with their followers, and keeping with polite and informative customer service, are strong, necessary ideals for Jerry’s Artarama to be seen in a good light.

To be seen in a good light sometimes requires working through conflicts in honest ways, with solid customer service, and Jerry’s Artarama does a good job of working through conflicts. Those conflicts are inevitable when followers range from new artists who have never held a brush, to professionals who have specific needs. Providing a consistent message is important, and Jerry’s Artarama typically posts cheerful and helpful updates overall. In one interaction after a video on March 7, the social media manager for Jerry’s Artarama had a conflict with a new artist who felt her question was skipped during a video5. The conflict was answered successfully, with the representative from Artarama explaining the situation, and apologizing for the confusion. For a smaller organization like Jerry’s Artarama to succeed, calm, rational, and friendly customer service is like feeding the lion, carefully helping out while trying not to take the wrong step. A good discussion can turn a conflict into an informative conversation, keeping the follower and possibly encouraging them to shop with Jerry’s Artarama.

HBO and Game of Thrones

Smaller organizations like Jerry’s Artarama spend much of their time working from within the community, but in larger organizations like HBO it is often the message alone that gets sent. With tens of millions of followers, the techniques used on a Facebook page change due to sheer volume. In the case of a popular television network, and especially with an audience starving for up-to-the-moment information, followers are often the hens.

On March 9, 2017, the Facebook page for HBO’s immensely popular Game of Thrones held a Facebook Live video event. HBO broadcast live video of the season release date set in a massive block of ice, promising to increase the fires aimed at the melting ice, thus revealing the date, if their followers reshared the video7. The cult of Game of Thrones followers complied, with 3.4 million views, over 19,000 shares, and 198,500 comments7. When the date was finally revealed, Adweek reported that more than 162,000 people were concurrently watching the video1, and HBO then released the full trailer on its Facebook page. The trailer was viewed over 37 million times, with 608,000 shares, a huge success for their Facebook page7. Fans of the series have been anxious to see a trailer for a long time, and offering up the trailer and release date with some spectacle fed fully into fans excitement.

Unlike Jerry’s Artarama, HBO and the television series feed into a different customer base, one that exists in fandom and speaks to millions at a time. The approach to answer a few questions when you have a couple of hundred comments makes sense, but when your audience is leaving nearly 200,000 comments on a single Facebook update, it becomes a much different animal. Observation of HBO7 between March 7, 2017, and March 11, 2017, revealed that representatives of HBO’s social media team did not interact at a commentary level during that time, but instead released new updates each time something needed to be said. With the sheer volume of traffic, that may be the simplest way not only to pass information to a crowd, but to avoid a misstep along the way.

The Facebook Live broadcast of the Game of Thrones reveal did run into serious issues, and people on social media were quick to comment on the problems. CNN noted that it took nearly 70 minutes for the ice to melt, with two of the video feeds failing after only 15 minutes at a time3. With such a huge following for the show, internet comments about the failures were inevitable, including “And the ice block melting video just ended with a cut to black! Very Sopranos, HBO”8. With so many still watching the reveal at the end, HBO was able to keep the broadcast from becoming a disaster by seeing it through, and making further social media updates.

HBO was relying on the cult-like popularity of Game of Thrones to keep the issues from causing a disaster, and the large following may have helped. People use television viewing and social media to try to fit in with larger communities, and social media provides a method for co-viewing shows4. Followers of a community like the Game of Thrones page connect with others who have similar needs, especially of belonging and fitting in with the correct group4. Running the HBO social media becomes less about constant interaction and more about putting the right content on at the right time, and keeping the community happy. Instead of engagement between the page and the community, the community is designed to engage with itself, even when things might not seem to be going well.

Conclusion

The ways in which organizations use social media can vary based on the nature of the organization, and are important to get right. Smaller organizations, closer to their audiences, need stricter guidelines to protect the organization and the audience. In contrast, the massive following of a popular television show is ready to be fed whatever they can get. Each organization approaches their social media differently, each with uniquely effective ways to engage their customers.

References

  1. Adweek. (7 Mar., 2017). HBO made fans watch ice melt for 69 minutes. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/tv-video/hbo-made-fans-watch-ice-melt-for-69-minutes-to-find-out-when-season-7-of-game-of-thrones-premieres/
  2. Calefato, F., Lanubile, F., & Novielli, N. (2015). The role of social media in affective trust building in customer-supplier relationships. Electronic Commerce Research, 15(4), 453-482. doi:10.1007/s10660-015-9194-3
  3. CNN. (9 Mar., 2017). Game of thrones. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/09/entertainment/game-of-thrones/
  4. Cohen, E. L., & Lancaster, A. L. (2014). Individual differences in in-person and social media television coviewing: The role of emotional contagion, need to belong, and coviewing orientation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 17(8), 512-518. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0484
  5. Artarama Facebook. (n.d.). National facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/JerrysArtarama/
  6. Jerry’s Artarama. (n.d.). Jerry’s local art supply and materials retail store locations. Retrieved from http://www.jerrysartarama.com/retail/store-index
  7. HBO. (n.d.). Game of thrones facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/GameOfThrones/
  8. Hibberd, James; Twitter, @JamesHibberd, March 9, 2017

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Coursework: 5 Unique Tools To Take Control Of Your Paintings http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/coursework-5-unique-tools-take-control-paintings/ http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/07/coursework-5-unique-tools-take-control-paintings/#respond Wed, 19 Jul 2017 16:56:07 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4838

Artist April McConn looked out the window of her studio, taking in the flat landscape of the Colorado plains as she started her new painting of ancient Rome. McConn has spent the last two years creating popular paintings of life in the Roman empire, despite not having access to the massive architecture the Romans are known for. McConn faces the challenges each day of painting with realism and accuracy, with only the reference models she finds or creates.

McConn and other artists have learned to use unique, often unexpected tools as references for things that either no longer exist or never have.… Read the rest

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Artist April McConn looked out the window of her studio, taking in the flat landscape of the Colorado plains as she started her new painting of ancient Rome. McConn has spent the last two years creating popular paintings of life in the Roman empire, despite not having access to the massive architecture the Romans are known for. McConn faces the challenges each day of painting with realism and accuracy, with only the reference models she finds or creates.

McConn and other artists have learned to use unique, often unexpected tools as references for things that either no longer exist or never have. Popular artist and Dinotopia creator James Gurney calls this type of painting “imaginative realism,” and finding the right tools to help portray both old and new worlds in a painting can lead to fascinating choices for references.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style. Note:  “April McConn” is a fictional creation for this paper.

Angles and perspectives

Artists use unique angles to make portrayals in a painting more interesting. Painting a portrait of someone whose head is at an angle can be problematic, as lighting, proportions of facial parts, and the angle of the head can be difficult to paint. Products that feature open positioning of reference models, such as a filmmaker’s century stand or a Versapose Artist Reference Model, allow for the unique ability to set items like balls or plastic skulls at any angle that is needed for correct reference.

Landscape and Building References

Short of flying to Italy, historical artists like McConn find themselves without local references for ancient buildings and landscapes. In some cases, local buildings might at least provide general perspective reference for a painting. But having boxes, styrofoam, or building blocks in the art studio can be a more cost-effective and efficient use of time. Using Legos, or products like Project Bricks, specific architecture can be quickly and inexpensively created for reference.

Clay Maquettes

Where a more unique reference is needed, such as an extinct animal or particular person, a clay maquette is fast and inexpensive to create. Maquettes are small, rough sculptures intended only to get the main idea across, and using them for reference helps when a real item does not exist. Clay products such as Sculpey and general oil-based clays are inexpensive, and can be reused many times for different projects easily.

Plastic Foliage

Plants and other fauna can be problematic to paint, based on their inherent complexity. Many stores, from local hobby stores to Walmart, sell a variety of plastic plants and flowers for use in weddings, home decoration, and events. Plastic plants tend to be inexpensive, can be bent and reshaped as needed, and are durable enough to last through many projects.

Action Figures

Several companies provide human reference models, including skeletons, wooden mannequins, small figures like Art S. Buck’s gray models, and individual plaster body parts. Action figures, sold in most department and toy stores, are a great source for human references. Most action figures are easily re-positioned, highly articulated, and have strong features for reference. McConn uses an old Spiderman action figure as a starting reference for some of her Roman characters, as the action figure can be reset quickly into nearly any configuration.

Finding the right references can be problematic for an artist, especially when the painting portrays events and places not easily accessible to the painter. Artists now have many useful choices to pick from for references, from action figures and plastic plants, to styrofoam bricks and clay maquettes, to stands and models allowing for any angle. Saving money, time, and frustration, artists can flourish with easily found and implemented references, ready to continue on with their paintings.

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Components of Issue Management http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/06/components-issue-management/ Tue, 20 Jun 2017 00:06:22 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4855 Executive Summary

The history and success of the Washington Redskins is important to the National Football League, fans of the team, and the heritage of American sports. Washington has won the Super Bowl three times in its storied history, and is one of the strongest brands in all of sports. The Redskins organization helps local and Native American groups through its strong foundations and charitable events, and supports environmental concerns through a solid program of environmentally friendly and ground-breaking resource management.

The great narrative of the Redskins’ success, however, is marred by the controversy over the name itself.… Read the rest

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Executive Summary

The history and success of the Washington Redskins is important to the National Football League, fans of the team, and the heritage of American sports. Washington has won the Super Bowl three times in its storied history, and is one of the strongest brands in all of sports. The Redskins organization helps local and Native American groups through its strong foundations and charitable events, and supports environmental concerns through a solid program of environmentally friendly and ground-breaking resource management.

The great narrative of the Redskins’ success, however, is marred by the controversy over the name itself. Trademark case losses, announcers refusing to use the team’s name, and commentary from local politicians raises concerns from the public that, despite the organization’s great achievements, the only concern that matters is the name of the team and its potential for insensitivity.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global, as a proposal for issues management to the Washington Redskins organization. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Just in the last two weeks, the controversy over the name has erupted again through the satire of the popular Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. The series spends several episodes making fun of the Redskins organization, the team name, and the employees of the organization directly. As the series has gained in popularity, several clips from the show have gone viral, reopening the issue of reputation with the public and potential sponsors.

Negative news has a deeper impact on the public and important stakeholders than positive news, and this proposal offers a change of direction centering on the narrative of the Redskins. NPR quoted a Washington Post poll reporting that 8 in 10 fans want to keep the team name, and those numbers support a change in narrative to convince the other 20% of the team’s value.

Instead of a small group controlling a narrative of insensitivity, this proposal strengthens the message that the Washington Redskins are an important part of the local community and a fervent supporter of Native Americans. Highlighting the work of the various Redskins charities, and an emphasis on the storied history of the team and the nation, will push the controversial topic out of the minds of stakeholders. The reputation of the Redskins organization will move forward, moving from name vilification to respect for all that the organization does for others.

Working with Native American groups, the local Washington, Virginia, and Maryland communities, and media groups are the vital first step in a new narrative strategy. Opening up a dialogue with affected communities presents the opportunity to move the narrative towards reconciliation, and a mutual understanding of the needs of all participants. Along with continued dialogue about the name, a focus on consistent charitable contributions from the Redskins organization will be used to foster goodwill. The intent is for the other groups to share in the advocacy of the organization’s reputation, to change opposition into a positive view of the Redskins by all stakeholders.

Along with meetings and open discussions with other groups, implementing a new narrative involves social and news media campaigns and shared knowledge throughout the organization. All members of the Redskins staff will understand and promote the new narrative, and a combination of social media and advertising will continually promote the ethics and reputation of the organization. Interviews, articles, and broadcast features, made in collaboration with the organization and various media outlets, will push the narrative both locally and nationally. Highlighting these media tie-ins will be a focus on the continued communications between communities, Native American groups, fans, and stakeholders within the Redskins family.

But all of these changes are just empty talk without a way to measure the impact of the new narrative. The final important piece of the proposal is evaluating how these actions change the perceived reputation of the Washington Redskins. Brand measurement and equity will be followed from its current level, through implementation of the new narrative, and at least one full year afterwards. An examination of news media reports, response from local communities and Native American groups, and feedback from all stakeholders will be measured and compared in an effort to satisfy the intent of increasing the reputation of the organization.

This proposal changes the narrative of the Washington Redskins, from the negative connotation of the name to the strength of the Redskins’ dedication to the community. The reputation of the Redskins will no longer hinge on the views of a smaller group concerned about a name. The new narrative will increase the strength of the Redskins reputation as a vital player in the community, a strong advocate for Native Americans, and a leader in the sport.


Introduction and Issue Management

The current narrative of the Washington Redskins, about the perception of the organization’s troubled name, is being spun by a small group with the potential for a larger impact. Some Native American groups and media discussions have portrayed the Redskins under a veil of racism and disrespect based on the perception of the Redskins moniker. The potential impact on reputation, finances, and the continued well-being of the organization are at stake.

Taking control of the narrative is vital to moving the organization past the naming issue, and into a fruitful relationship with the sport, community groups, and the general public. Highlighting the storied history of the organization, coupled with its tireless charitable and community-oriented activities, will shift the negative portrayal of the Washington Redskins into a more positive light.

Improving the reputation of the Washington Redskins requires seven stages to accomplish. Starting with a look at the current environment of the Redskins and the community around them, the proposal will identify key elements to focus on. Prioritizing and analyzing these issues will lead to decisions on the strategies that will be used to help the organization’s reputation. Implementing a strategic plan, and evaluating how effective it is over time, will allow the Redskins to measure and restore their reputation.

Stage 1: Monitoring the Redskins Business Environment

Sample advertisement promoting charity work

Sample advertisement promoting charity work

The Washington Redskins organization is listed as one of the most successful NFL teams, and provides support to local and Native American communities through the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (WROAF) and local charitable events. As a three-time winner of the NFL Super Bowl, and a reported net organizational worth of over $2.95 billion (Forbes, n.d.), the Washington Redskins are a clear success on the field and in the financial arena. The WROAF provides numerous support activities for Native American tribes, including education and youth support, health and community services, and economic development (WROAF. 2016). The financial and charitable successes of the organization offers a clear representation of the communities, fans, and people that it serves.

The history of the organization is important to the ways in which the Redskins portray themselves to stakeholders, including the much-discussed name. The Redskins moniker, according to team legend, honors one of the team’s first coaches, William “Lone Star” Dietz, who not only identified as Native American but also brought a number of Native American players to the team (Gandhi, 2013). Historically, the term “redskin” was initially used by Native Americans to identify themselves as different from Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries (Gandhi, 2013). In the 19th century, popular books by James Fenimore Cooper like The Pioneers were sympathetic to Native Americans, and used the redskin name to identify them. Even as late as 1929, the successful film Redskin respectfully used the name to identify the main character.

But as the 19th century gave way to the 20th century, despite the anomaly of the film Redskin, the term took on a harsh, racist meaning. Stereotypical displays of Native Americans as primitive savages, always pushing for bloodier and bloodier conflicts, reigned in the cultural eye, and it was not until the 1960’s that the term fell out of favor (Gandhi, 2013). In light of the controversial meaning of the term in modern culture, many have called for the Redskins to change their team name to something more politically correct.

Political debate on the name has come from both local and national leaders. The mayor of Washington D.C., members of Congress, the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and many former players have stated that the name should change (Gandhi, 2013). Several gubernatorial candidates in Virginia were asked about the name, with some being fully against it and others feeling that the controversy was “much to do about political correctness” (Johnson, 2017). The debate over the name is in the public consciousness, which may provide both opportunity and need to change the narrative.

Economically, the Redskins organization is one of the strongest in the NFL. Between game day attendance, team value, merchandise and other contracts, and both direct and shared sponsorships, the organization is valued at over $2.95 billion (Forbes, n.d.). With the average value of NFL television broadcast contracts being between $1.9 billion to $3 billion split between teams, the Redskins have a stellar financial outlook (Schoettle, 2014). While the team is a financial success, there is a concern that if the stakeholders lash out, sponsorships and other financial support could be lost due to reputation.

The social media response to the name could harm the reputation of the organization, and with the speed and viral nature of the internet that could be a growing issue. A poll from the Washington Post showed that 8 out of 10 fans wanted to keep the Redskins name, but less than half felt they would use it outside of a football discussion due to its inappropriate meaning (Gandhi, 2013). Examination of the commentary left on the Washington Redskins Facebook page shows little concern for the name, and mostly discussion of the current players and team dynamics.

Legally, the Redskins have faced an uphill battle with the trademarks protecting the organization’s interests and brands. Many argue that any use of a Native American name, term, or symbol is negatively against the Native American culture, and continues the harsh stereotypes from the early 20th century (Bollinger, 2016). Based on a similar interpretation, the United States Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) cancelled 6 trademarks owned by the Redskins in 2013, considering those trademarks to be disparaging to Native American culture (Cannata, 2014). With the case possibly entering the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017, not only will the topic emerge again but the value of adjusting the narrative is paramount to success both legally and publicly.

Ecologically, the United States is entering a difficult time in negotiations dealing with climate change, and the Redskins dedication to renewable energy is a highlight of the current business environment. As the U.S. government backs away from the Paris climate agreement, other organizations can step up their green efforts. With the Redskins being awarded for their work with renewable energy initiatives by the local Prince George’s County Chamber of Commerce, there exists a strong opportunity for the Redskins to acquire great social and news media coverage (Tinsman, 2012). That business and environmental stance is a light ready to be used in a time of uncertainty on climate change and ecological support.

Stage 2: Identifying the Scope of the Issues

Discussion and concern over the use of Native American terms and mascots has been ongoing for decades. Native American groups previously tried to cancel the Redskins’ trademarks in 1999, offering evidence of problems with the name as far back as earlier trademarks in 1967 and 1990 (Cannata, 2014). In 2005, the NCAA created policies that would eliminate the use of Native American names and mascots throughout its system, inferring that American culture had reached a point where those terms were no longer acceptable (Bollinger, 2016). It is a discussion and concern that is widely open in the public realm, a conversation that threatens any team using a Native American term as a name.

Some sports announcers have started to avoid using the Redskins name during major broadcasts, instead referring only to their location. Figure 1 below shows that mentions of the Redskins name was down 27% between 2013 and 2014, averaging only 81 mentions per game in 2014 versus 111 mentions per game in 2013 (Burke, 2014). In 2014, several popular broadcast television announcers said that they would no longer use the term at all, instead referring to the team as simply “Washington” when required (Blaze, 2014). That unwillingness to use the term in such a public arena sends a strong message to viewers that the name is an issue, and the organization faces a potentially strong public backlash when even their favorite broadcasters will not use the name.

 

Figure 1: Burke (2014). “Redskins” mentions down 27% on NFL game broadcasts in 2014

If fans find that their favorite broadcasters do not want to use the name, they may also not want to be associated with the name. That could lead to the team losing its audience, or even being offended by the controversial name. Fans may choose not to support team sponsors, react to advertisers unfavorably, or decide not to purchase merchandise. Considering, however, that 8 out of 10 fans in the Washington Post poll would still not want a name change, the impact may be less on fans and more on others (Gandhi, 2013). Team sports fans often feel a part of the group, and are hardier when it comes to a team scandal so as not to lose that sense of belonging (Chien et al., 2016). While sponsors and media could abandon the team due to the name, which would mean millions of dollars in lost revenue, fans would stay with the organization where others might not come into the fold. It is an issue affecting the future of the team, where new fans might not bother with a conflicted organization.

Stage 3: Prioritizing

With the U.S. Supreme Court possibly reviewing the trademark case this year, it is important to act on reputation issues before that time. This proposal offers a strategic plan to change the narrative, but it takes time to work through issues that have a long lifecycle like the controversial name. The time to act is now, before the controversy can create a larger narrative that takes away from the upcoming football season. A distraction of that magnitude can remove sponsors, merchandise purchases, and media viewership during the premium fall time frame. The impact of the controversy includes future revenue loss, further damage to organizational reputation, and a much more difficult stance to take as time goes on.

Along with the upcoming Supreme Court review, popular culture has also started to take notice of the controversy. A segment on the television series The Daily Show featured Redskins fans who were asked to say the name to Native Americans in the same room, and the clip went viral (Bollinger, 2015). In the last two weeks, the Netflix series Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt has had several scenes of its latest season go viral, and several of the episodes satirize the Washington Redskins, the controversy, and even the employees involved (Carlock et al., 2017). The effect of popular series satirizing the controversy is one of advocacy by thousands on the web, and without a better narrative more and more people will jump on the bandwagon against the Redskins organization.

Stage 4: Analysis of the Issues

Maintaining a strong reputation involves vigorous communication, an understanding of the impact of the issue, and methods to repair organizational image. The controversy over the name is a conflict against the Redskins organization, and much like an attack condition the organization needs to be able to defend itself and improve any reputational damage that had occurred.

Public perception of the organization’s reputation naturally rises and falls to a certain degree based on team performance during a season, but the name issue is a concern that stays with the Redskins both on and off the field. The reputation of the brand falls harder and further when negative news is causing controversy, and negativity pulls greater weight than positive news (Wang, 2008). Stakeholders may find that negative information is more important to evaluate the organization with, a sense that it is more useful than positive information (Wang, 2008). In that sense, the continued controversy is slowly dragging down casual fans, and if the pressure becomes too great may begin to impact more dedicated fans as well.

If fans stop supporting the team, the effect on the organization will become greater as time goes on. Fans abandoning the team over the name will cause a loss of revenue in ticket sales, lost taxes for local communities, and possibly denial of continued contracts, sponsorships, and new stadiums. With football being an international phenomenon, the immediacy of sports news and viral social media updates, and a greater sense of advocacy by online fans, keeping a good reputation and repairing it in times of distress is of massive importance (Brown et al., 2016). Repairing the waning image of the Redskins, changing the narrative from one of insolence to one of compassion, is vital to lessening the impacts of allowing the controversy to continue.

Allowing the controversy to continue affects a number of different stakeholders, in different ways. The types of stakeholders in a sports organization are vast, even nationwide, and the impact of a reputation failure can cause enormous distress throughout. Figure 2 lists a number of stakeholders and how they might be impacted by the controversy.

 

Stakeholder

Effects

Employees, team and management, support staff

Reputation; Revenue loss leading to job insecurity, loss of wages, lower benefits; Legal ramifications

Local community

Loss of tax base, travel and tourism revenue, population

Other NFL teams and organizations

Reputation; Loss of shared revenue and advertising base;

Native American groups

Loss of charitable donations; Gain in changing perceived racist name if changed

Media outlets and contracted networks

Loss of advertising partner and television/promotional revenue; Loss of sports and other journalists;

Redskins and NFL fans

Loss of group identity for individual fans; Financial loss from previous merchandise and ticket purchases

 

Stage 5: Choosing the Right Strategy

To repair the Redskins image and increase organizational reputation, there are several possible strategies that can be used. Keeping fans loyal is important to any strategy, as is gaining new fans, and the response to the controversy needs to avoid using apologies that would infer fault (Brown et al., 2016). Instead, by using the history of the organization and the term, and being honest in all communications, stakeholders will be more trusting and more open than an apology would provide (Brown et al., 2016). Honest and open communication allows for the implementation of the best strategy to use moving forward.

Without open communication, both sides of the discussion could fall into problematic tactics meant to damage the other party. Those against the name will surely go on the attack through social media and news organizations, proclaiming injustice and irresponsibility in keeping the name intact (Coombs & Holladay, 2015). Protests at the stadium during game days, at Redskins offices on off-days, and at away games, will be used to garner support for changing the name. Picketing, social media postings, local pamphlets, and other promulgation agitation techniques will be used by those seeking to change the name, in an effort to gain as much public support as possible (Coombs & Holladay, 2015). On the Redskins side of the conflict, the organization might choose repression to prevent such actions, including suing participants and affiliated groups, and making it more difficult for protesters by closing areas and increasing security (Coombs & Holladay, 2015). Suppression of the message may work in the short term, but both sides face a harsh backlash with continued conflict going nowhere.

While suppression is an identified strategy, there are other strategies to put into play. These choices include trying to persuade the other party that they are wrong, making some changes to goals or problems, or fully capitulating to all demands (Coombs & Holladay, 2015). The differences come down to the type of strategy that the organization wants to make. The best choice for the Redskins would be to use accommodative strategies in an effort to work with the other side, not apologizing for the name but working through responsibility and action (Jeong, 2015). Using a differentiation strategy, the Redskins can alter how people see the organization and give accusers a new perspective (Utsler & Epp, 2013). Working with Native American groups directly can change the sentiment around the name into a positive working relationship. In explaining how the organization provides financial support to tribes and communities, the Redskins can transcend the discussion, from a bully team stealing a name to an organization spending its time and money to help others who need it most (Utsler & Epp, 2013). The strategy of open communication, changing the narrative, and transformation helps both sides to meet in the middle, and increases the strength of the Redskins organization.

Sample advertisement promoting history

Sample advertisement promoting history

Changing the narrative to increase reputation starts with a close relationship between the Redskins and Native American groups. Working with Native American groups in a very public, open discussion, will allow the free range of feelings about the name to happen. Finding out how all of the Native American groups truly feel about the name will satisfy the sense of whether or not a future name change would be relevant. Discussion about the name should happen on a local and national level as well, with open communications between the NFL, other teams, area government, and fans across the nation. To start, private discussions between Redskins management, Native American groups, and NFL officials could start the process. As the ground rules are laid, top management can offer media interviews while negotiations with all organizations become more public. With continued dialogue about the name, a focus on consistent charitable contributions, and attention to local communities the Redskins can foster goodwill.

Stage 6: Implementing the Strategy

Implementing the strategy to change the narrative of the Redskins begins with the employees of the organization. Each staff member is a potential custodian of the new narrative, and each employee must understand how the narrative is turning away from the name and towards history and charity. As the plan is being implemented, training begins in early July for upper management, in order to educate the entire organization long before the first game on August 10. In the second week of July, upper management in turn relays the message to each of their department heads, followed the next two weeks by departments filling out the rest of the information.

During July and August, upper management and team personnel will set up or attend meetings with NFL officials, team owners, and managers, along with Native American groups from across the United States. The meetings are designed to inform each group of the narrative, and get feedback from all groups on how to proceed. Once initial meetings are complete, representatives from all sides can meet prior to the beginning of the season to coordinate social and news media contact.

As August proceeds, the Redskins can build confidence and reputation through interviews, articles, and broadcasts with the news media. Social responsibility in an organization can be received as being more credible by the public based on how they get their information, and the strong work with the news media can help the Redskins with the credibility of the new narrative (Wang, 2008). Using local and national news media gathers attention for the Redskins and, when included with the open lines of communication to the Native American groups, offers an opportunity to advance the message broadly.

At the same time as the organization is working through the news media, the Redskins social media accounts can use a constant campaign of information to spread the new narrative. Using visuals promoting the new narrative, including photos and videos, enhances how much people will remember from the campaign (Alhaddad, 2015). Sports teams can effectively use social media to influence the personality of the brand, and increase the brand’s rating through control of that image (Walsh et al., 2013). A promotional social media campaign of images and videos will be created to tell the narrative of the history and generosity of the Redskins organization. The strength of the Redskins’ social media will drive brand equity even further, and the narrative will be in the control of the organization.

Stage 7: Evaluating the Response

All of these changes are just empty talk without measuring the impact that the new narrative has on the reputation of the Washington Redskins. Evaluating how these actions change the perceived reputation includes brand measurement and equity, from its current level, through implementation of the new narrative, and at least one full year afterwards. Examining news media reports, social media metrics, local community and Native American response, and feedback from important stakeholders are all vital to satisfying the intent of increasing the reputation of the organization.

Increases and decreases of brand equity will be tracked over time through several measurement companies, each using different methods to rank brands. Increasing brand equity is a solid measurement for the impact of the new narrative, and combining the views of multiple methods gives a strong idea of how the brand is doing over time. Figure 3 features the different brand measuring companies, and how they measure brand equity.

 

Company

Methods

Interbrand

Financial performance, role of the brand vs. unbranded items, brand strength for future earnings

Millward Brown

WPP BrandZ database records of consumer brand evaluations; Branded earnings, brand contribution, brand growth potential

Young & Rubicam

Brand Asset Valuator; Uniqueness of brand, relevance/vitality, esteem, knowledge or degree brand is in everyday life

Harris Interactive

EquiTrend; equity (familiarity, quality, and consideration), connection, commitment, energy

Corebrand

Brand Power; overall reputation, perception of management, investment potential

Figure 3: Measuring corporate brands (Roper & Fill, 2012, p. 166-170)

Each social media network provides analytics for tracking responses, interests, and various types of traffic data to show the impact of the narrative both at the moment and over time. Every time a post occurs on Facebook, for example, analytics will show how many times it was ‘liked”, viewed, shared with others, and what level of engagement each of the user’s friends had with it. Since the Redskins use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram primarily, each post will be tracked through each service’s media options, along with Google Analytics to follow traffic on the Redskins website. Reports on the campaign and the effect of the new narrative will be made daily for the first three weeks, weekly for the next two months, and monthly for the remainder of one year.

News media coverage, including newspapers, magazines, television and radio broadcasts, and websites will be tracked for discussion or mention of the Redskins. News alerts will be set up through sites like Google News, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as services like Newstrapper, Facebook Signal, and Storytracker. Comments and mentions will be tracked through similar services, by connecting with comment systems such as Disqus, and through targeted keyword searches. Reports will be made on the same schedule as social media reporting.

The Redskins website, email newsletters, and social media pages will also be used to offer surveys, polls, and other response gathering techniques to gauge how the organization’s message is working. Polls and surveys will be timed to come out before or after a major part of the campaign has begun, to track data and information from multiple angles.

Throughout the campaign, direct feedback will be asked for from Native American groups, local communities and governments, other NFL teams and officials, and media organizations. Each effort will be either in person, over the phone, or through written efforts, to keep the lines of communication and feedback open throughout the campaign.

Conclusion

The current narrative of the organization portrays the Redskins under a veil of racism and disrespect, and the time has come to take control of the narrative. With the potential impact on reputation, finances, and the continued well-being of the organization at stake, taking control of the narrative is vital to moving the organization past the naming issue. Highlighting the tireless charitable and community-oriented activities of the Redskins and their storied history will shift the negative portrayal of the Washington Redskins into a more positive light.

References

  1. Alhaddad, A. A. (2015). The effect of advertising awareness on brand equity in social media. International Journal of e-Education, e-Business, e-Management and e-Learning, 5(2), 73-84. doi:http://dx.doi.org.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/10.17706/ijeeee.2015.5.2.73-84
  2. Blaze. (Aug. 18, 2014). Two major NFL announcers say they won’t use term ‘redskins’ on the air. Retrieved from http://www.theblaze.com/news/2014/08/18/two-major-nfl-announcers-say-they-wont-use-term-redskins-on-the-air/
  3. Bollinger, S. J. (2016). Between a tomahawk and a hard place: Indian mascots and the NCAA. Brigham Young University Education & Law Journal, (1), 73.
  4. Brown, K. A., Anderson, M. L., & Dickhaus, J. (2016). The impact of the image repair process on athlete-endorsement effectiveness. Journal of Sports Media, 11(1), 25-48.
  5. Burke, T. (Dec. 30, 2014). “Redskins” mentions down 27% on NFL game broadcasts in 2014. Retrieved from http://deadspin.com/redskins-mentions-down-27-on-nfl-game-broadcasts-in-1676147358
  6. Cannata, M. C. (2014). Trademark trial and appeal board cancels six trademark registrations owned by the washington redskins. Intellectual Property & Technology Law Journal, 26(10), 25-27.
  7. Carlock, R. (Executive Producer), Fey, T. (Executive Producer), Miner, D. (Executive Producer), & Richmond, J. (Executive Producer) (2017). Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt [Television Series]. United States: Netflix, Inc.
  8. Chien, P. M., Kelly, S. J., & Weeks, C. S. (2016). Sport scandal and sponsorship decisions: Team identification matters. Journal Of Sport Management, 30(5), 490-505. doi:10.1123/jsm.2015-0327
  9. Coombs, T., & Holladay, S. (2015). CSR as crisis risk: Expanding how we conceptualize the relationship. Corporate Communications, 20(2), 144-162.
  10. Forbes. (n.d.). Sports money: 2016 team valuations. Forbes Online. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/teams/washington-redskins/
  11. Gandhi, L. (Sep. 9, 2013). Are you ready for some controversy? The history of ‘redskin’. NPR.org. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/ 2013/09/09/220654611/are-you-ready-for-some-controversy-the-history-of-redskin
  12. Jeong, J. (2015). Enhancing organizational survivability in a crisis: Perceived organizational crisis responsibility, stance, and strategy. Sustainability, 7(9), 11532-11545. doi:http://dx.doi.org.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/10.3390/su70911532
  13. Johnson, R. (Apr. 18, 2017). Will Va.’s next governor roll out the welcome mat for the Redskins? WTOP.com. Retrieved from http://wtop.com/virginia/2017/04/virginia-governor-candidates-redskins/
  14. Roper, S., & Fill, C. (2012). Corporate reputation: brand and communication. Harlow, England: Pearson.
  15. Schoettle, A. (2014). Colts cash in. Indianapolis Business Journal, 35(23), 3.
  16. Tinsman, B. (June 5, 2012). Redskins recognized for green initiatives. Retrieved from http://www.redskins.com/news-and-events/article-1/Redskins-Recognized-For-Green-Initiatives/2f8ea25b-ba35-44a3-8aaa-09a0bdd06b59
  17. Utsler, M., & Epp, S. (2013). Image repair through TV: The strategies of McGwire, Rodriguez and Bonds. Journal of Sports Media, 8(1), 139-161.
  18. Walsh, P., Clavio, G., Lovell, M. D., & Blaszka, M. (2013). Differences in event brand personality between social media users and non-users. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 22(4), 214-223.
  19. Wang, A. (2008). Dimensions of corporate social responsibility and advertising practice. Corporate Reputation Review, 11(2), 155-168. doi:http://dx.doi.org.csuglobal.idm.oclc.org/10.1057/crr.2008.15
  20. WROAF. (2016). Washington Redskins original americans foundation hosts 150 guests at Redskins Cardinals game. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonredskinsoriginalamericansfoundation.org/whats-happening/2016/12/washington-redskins-original-americans-foundation-hosts-tailgate-redskins-cardinals-game/

 

 

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Team Dynamics http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/04/team-dynamics/ Tue, 04 Apr 2017 17:03:53 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4813 Imagine a small news organization, in a local market, discovered that their website was rated the worst in the area. It is a tired design, with outdated technology and ideas, one that the previous CEO would never allow to be fixed. But now, the CEO has been replaced with a new president, one that wants the organization’s managers to work together as a team to create a new, far better web presence. Without an energetic, central web location for all of its news, advertising, and multimedia, the organization will face bankruptcy within the year.… Read the rest

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Imagine a small news organization, in a local market, discovered that their website was rated the worst in the area. It is a tired design, with outdated technology and ideas, one that the previous CEO would never allow to be fixed. But now, the CEO has been replaced with a new president, one that wants the organization’s managers to work together as a team to create a new, far better web presence. Without an energetic, central web location for all of its news, advertising, and multimedia, the organization will face bankruptcy within the year.

This hypothetical situation could certainly be real, with the battering that news organizations have taken in the last decade. A solid, dedicated team might be able to turn it around, and when it comes to highly technical, innovative ideas, team cohesion is vital to success. News and media organizations face many uphill battles in the new millennium, and often the central tool to the success of the organization is in how the management and construction of their website is approached. Information from all sides, including technology, advertising, design, and content are all essential considerations, and team members must find ways to work together well. This paper examines the hypothetical creation of a new multimedia-based website for a news organization, and the best leadership and team practices required to see that the project flourishes.

Project Details

Multimedia websites for news organizations, with consistently new and updated content, are vital to the survival of media companies. For the website redesign of the fictional news organization, content of a varying nature is king. The organization offers a print newspaper each weekday, daily video news features, and an attached radio station. Regular news articles with photographic galleries, video playback from both static and live sources, multimedia of various types including interactive charts and graphs, and both live and recorded audio are requirements for the new website, with featured spots for both social media and advertising.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

The organization in question is not a large one, but must adhere to both their current staff capabilities and the needs of a modern web presence. Media in the modern era is in a state of flux, constantly needing to evolve to feed content to the masses. Video is being used online more fully, and mobile technology is leading the way alongside captivating journalism and social media2. The organization must change its website to meet the needs of modern consumers, people that are hungry for the latest, most shareable content. To do that will require all departments in the organization to work together towards a common goal, across wide gaps of knowledge, techniques, and interests.

Those departments all have unique views of what the website should do for them, and how the system needs to work to the benefit of all. The new president of the fictional organization is creating a self-directed team, acting only as a liaison between the department managers and the board of directors. Each individual department will run their own sections, working with the other department managers as a team.

Each team member brings different experiences, requirements, and leadership styles to the table, in a complex batch of technological and procedural soup. Each team member has unique skills and experience, and needs to be able to produce their own work in their own specialized ways. Team structure have high or low structure, but in this case the teams may experience both7. Highly structured teams have specific, unique roles with set routines, and teams with low structure organize themselves with respect to the bottom line instead of assigned work7. In this case, each team is highly structured within the overall organization, such as news versus advertising. At the same time, within the news team itself, the team has a low structure and decides how to reach their department goals.

Each department is responsible for not only its own tasks, but needs to fit within the organization as well. The news department needs to add articles to the site, control the overall content, and monitor social media and external sources. Financially, the new site needs the advertising department to offer ads and features to sell on the site. The video team needs to offer video on the site, both live feeds all day long and recorded features through external sources like YouTube. The radio station needs to broadcast live at all times through the website, and to feature recorded audio for music playback, news articles, and podcasts. The engineering department controls how video and audio are fed to and from the local transmitters, through local networks and external servers, and to the website. At the end of it all is the web development department, putting it all together in a well-designed, fast moving, multimedia website.

With the web development department in the center, even in a self-directed organization, the department becomes the de facto lead of the project. Many parts of the organization might have a say in the project, and having a central expert working with all of the information can keep things consistent6. That central stakeholder can determine which pieces of the puzzle are the most critical and which have priority, and can coordinate necessary needs and responses from the other members more easily6. In the case of the web project, the end product is a working website, and having the web developer as the lead keeps those responses and needs in check. The web developer can balance the needs of each department as features are created, taking into account the specific requirements of those individual departments in a more diplomatically harmonious way. As a former web director and developer, the author has intimate knowledge of the procedures and requirements for a case such as this.

Literature Review

Each of the sources for this paper provide information varying from general overviews to specific, theory-related applications. Within the team strategy needed for a fictional organization are different styles and techniques, supported by individual papers on leadership styles, self-directed teams, Myers-Briggs personality results, and team dynamics. The overall resource, helping to keep things on track and wrapped up, was the textbook for the course.

The textbook for this course, Making the team: a guide for managers7, covered team and leadership theories generally, and provided helpful guidance overall. Making the team: a guide for managers7 was extremely useful for defining theories, and the broad topics helped to shape the exploration of team strategies with both the stated, fictional project and with team dynamics. Making the team: a guide for managers7 also explained theories in detailed ways, using helpful phrasing and keywords that led to more concrete articles on the same subjects. The information provided throughout Making the team: a guide for managers7 can be applied directly to the fictional team situation, especially Chapter 6 and the methods of team strengthening. With different roles and needs between departments, communication is paramount to success. Approaching discussions as problems to be solved, suspending initial judgments, ranking items instead of choosing specific items, and making sure each team knows what the other teams are capable of, are theories that can be used to make the fictional team work well together7. The importance of shared knowledge and communication can not be overstated, and is information that will be invaluable to team success.

Each reference supported the theories needed for successful team strategies, in working with this type of project. “Relation of project managers’ personality and project performance”1 related well to how the patterns revealed in the Myers-Briggs tests reflected errors and planning in team projects, and how issues were approached. That supported the descriptions of the types of managers needed to make the web project successful, and helped to inform the paper on the best personalities for the project. “A study of personality and leadership styles among members of a rock band”5 also explored team member personalities, and the dominant leadership styles within teams. While “A study of personality and leadership styles among members of a rock band”5 was about a rock band, the idea of teamwork matched the fictional project well, as each member of either a band or the fictional team would have specific expertise. The information featured in both “Relation of project managers’ personality and project performance”1 and “A study of personality and leadership styles among members of a rock band”5 can be used to determine which types of personalities should work together on the teams, to reach important goals and avoid conflict. The right expertise levels and personalities are strong factors in how the team could work together.

The web project required a self-directed team, and two of the resources discussed how those teams should work together to reach their goals. “Self-leadership and team members’ work role performance”3 specifically discussed self-leadership, and the importance of working both independently and with other team members. Overall, “Self-leadership and team members’ work role performance”3 thoroughly detailed self-leadership and performance, and supported the theories used in team strategy effectively. This information could be applied to the team, as the self-directed team would need to rely on themselves to get their part of the website completed. Complimenting that, “Mission possible”6 described how those teams need to work in action, particularly in how to centralize and support the entire team. “Mission possible”6 also observed the importance of focus in the project, and with disparate departments on a web project it is of vital importance to keep things consistent and orderly. The information would be used to help different departments with organization, and how to focus on how their commitment adds to the overall project without adding conflict.

Inevitably, those disparate departments will run into conflicts on a technical project such as this. Departments as varied as advertising and news, coupled with technological systems that each may not trust, means conflict is probable. “Achieving IT program goals with integrative conflict management”4 supported the team dynamics in this paper through a strong explanation of integrative conflict management. By explaining the importance of integrating conflict into the team dynamic, “Achieving IT program goals with integrative conflict management”4 helped to strengthen the argument of how those team members would best work through conflicts. Team members building the website can follow much of the information in “Achieving IT program goals with integrative conflict management”4, and use the procedures discussed to work through conflicts. The information supports the discussion of team dynamics significantly.

In most cases, the listed references covered specific topics in detail, but in one case a reference simply assisted with the fictional project idea. “Transformation of the new communication media within the frame of interpersonal interaction”2 explored the project behind this paper, the reasons to transform media websites into more modern, interactive sites. The information provided in the article, in particular the information about the future of the newsroom, corroborated the author’s personal experiences in a student media position. The importance of multimedia, enterprise journalism, and the mobile nature of the modern web experience all helped to explain how broad departments in an organization would need to work together to pull off the project successfully.

Team Strategy

For the project to reach its full potential, a combination of leadership and team dynamics will have to occur. With a self-directed team, the styles of leadership that each department uses become more important as they work together in their common goal. Their personalities, and differing departmental needs, will impact the course the project takes. Along that course, and working through inevitable conflicts, the project can easily sink or swim.

Leadership Styles and Self-Management

Using a self-directed team for the project works well with the unique expertise that each department brings to the table. Knowledge of how advertising and marketing affect the website will be unique to how news and content affects consumers. How the data from radio livestreaming transfers through specific IP addresses, and through enterprise-level server software, requires different techniques than how cascading style sheets work in a web design. Each team member brings a different part of the equation into the mix, and the needs of each department need to be met if the entire project will work seamlessly.

For the end result to work seamlessly, departments need to be able not only to work together, but to work individually with their own methods. Self-directing teams are more innovative and motivated since they can determine the best ways to approach their individual problems7. With a web project, attempting to force one department to use the techniques of another would be disastrous. Those methods might be procedurally different from one another, and being self-directed allows for flexibility in determining the best course of action. For example, a reporter may only work from the start of the article to the end, linearly. The page designer, instead, might be working on all parts of the page at once, skipping from a placed ad to the article, to the color of the font in another article. With a self-directed team, as long as the overall project goal is met, each member can work on their sections with their own unique procedures.

As a self-directed team, members with disparate methods still work well together, and perform smoothly either individually or as a group. Self-directed teams are proficient both in their own tasks and with the team, and the relationships between members were both adaptable and positive3. Those relationships lead to better performance for both the member and the team, especially when mutual feedback and communication are emphasized3. In the case of a media organization, each member has a different type of expertise, and the adaptability provided by a self-directed team allows members to work together within strong, supportive relationships.

Myers-Briggs Tests and Personalities

For the team to work well together, and to reach their goals, each member will have to have a personality that works well with other team members. Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) for personality types, team members can be assessed according to the profile they have. “Relation of project managers’ personality and project performance”1 explained the scores through differences, as extroversion (E) or introversion (I), sensing (S) or intuition (N), thinking (T) or feeling (F), and judging (J) or perceiving (P). “Relation of project managers’ personality and project performance”1 reported that extroverted managers work well with the most people, are more sociable and connected, and have a mix of judging and perceiving actions in their personalities. Many managers are Sensing, Thinking, and Judging personalities, and often are more proficient and objective, and objectivity would be helpful in the fictional project1. Overall, extroverted team members would be able to adapt to the changes in the project as it progressed, and adapt to the different requirements that each department would need.

Openness to change and objectivity are imperative with a web project, as each department will need to negotiate and adapt to the needs of other departments. When team members agree with each other, and approach the needs of other departments openly and conscientiously, adaptations to the project can continue more amicably. The two dominant leadership styles from the rock bands in a survey5 were participative and oriented with achievement, and that leaders on the team welcomed participation in all discussions. There was no single leader, but a shared understanding among all members to consult about everything, and to challenge their high standards consistently5. The survey results mirror the idea of the web project team, as each member has a unique knowledge base and set of tools that are different from the other members. With an open team leadership style, a self-directed team is able to adapt more easily to change, and the clear communication styles between members create opportunities for shared excellence.

Team Dynamics

Self-directed teams with open communication lines provide meaningful opportunities for success, but they are not without a risk of conflicts. Self-directed teams have “the greatest potential for conflict”7 since there is no single voice persisting above all team members, and resolution can be time-consuming. With an element of information technology involved, solutions could lean toward the more unique end of the scale, causing friction with those departments used to working more linearly. The author, having been a programmer in the past, has personally observed how non-linear thinking programmers work with linear-thinking reporters, and the difficulties that those differences bring forward. Frustrations on both sides can ring out, causing delays and miscommunication.

But not all conflict is bad, and in the case of a large web project featuring different departments, conflict could be instrumental in creating a masterpiece. Integrative conflict management can be vital in technology environments, and directly and openly discussing conflicts leads to better products4. When members of the team are able to confront conflict head on, they can agree on how to proceed more consistently, with greater commitment to the final goals4. In the fictional web project, the importance of working through conflict is paramount to success. Each department has their own unique needs, some of which are sure to conflict with others. Through open discussion and compromise, and meeting conflicts head on, a successful project can be had.

Conclusion

This paper examined the hypothetical creation of a new multimedia-based website for a news organization, and the best leadership and team practices to see the project flourish. The hypothetical situation requires a solid, dedicated team. When it comes to innovative ideas, team cohesion is vital to success. Media organizations face many battles, and often the greatest tool to the success of the organization is in how their website management is approached. Information from technology, advertising, design, and content are all important considerations, and team members must find ways to work together well through conflicts.

References

  1. Bevilacqua, M., Ciarapica, F. E., Germani, M., Mazzuto, G., & Paciarotti, C. (2014). Relation of project managers’ personality and project performance: An approach based on value stream mapping. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 7(4), 857-890. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3926/jiem.1005
  2. Hadzialic, S. (2016). Transformation of the new communication media within the frame of interpersonal interaction. International Journal on Global Business Management & Research, 5(2), 116-134.
  3. Hauschildt, K., & Konradt, U. (2012). Self-leadership and team members’ work role performance. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 27(5), 497-517. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/02683941211235409
  4. Jiang, J. J., Chang, J. T., Chen, H., Wang, E. G., & Klein, G. (2014). Achieving IT program goals with integrative conflict management. Journal Of Management Information Systems, 31(1), 79-106. doi:10.2753/MIS0742-1222310104
  5. Kattan, M., & Fox, T. L. (2014). A study of personality and leadership styles among members of a rock band. Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, 18(2), 105-123.
  6. Porter, D. (2016). Mission possible: Building an effective business continuity team in seven steps. Journal Of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, 9(3), 239-250.
  7. Thompson, L. L. (2014). Making the team: a guide for managers. Boston: Pearson.

 

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Creating a Team Building Culture http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/04/creating-a-team-building-culture/ Tue, 04 Apr 2017 16:34:45 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4808 When promoted to being the president of an organization, a person immediately needs to find ways to make the organization stronger. New leaders are often tasked with creating teams and rewards for accomplishments, and to create a thriving culture is important to the longevity of both the leader and the organization. Having the right team in place is essential to the growth of the organization, to reach personal and organizational goals. To help reach those goals, a rewards program can help to motivate staff. This paper examines the need for leaders to cultivate an environment of solid team building, and to design a rewards program with the proper levels of responsibility and recognition.… Read the rest

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When promoted to being the president of an organization, a person immediately needs to find ways to make the organization stronger. New leaders are often tasked with creating teams and rewards for accomplishments, and to create a thriving culture is important to the longevity of both the leader and the organization. Having the right team in place is essential to the growth of the organization, to reach personal and organizational goals. To help reach those goals, a rewards program can help to motivate staff. This paper examines the need for leaders to cultivate an environment of solid team building, and to design a rewards program with the proper levels of responsibility and recognition.

Team Building Culture

Organizations with a strong, team building environment excel at what they do, and it is important for a new leader to choose the right team members who can work together to reach crucial goals. Leaders have the responsibility to put the best teams together, to choose the people who will work best together. Team members should be ready to work with open communications, often in self managed teams, and it is in each team member’s approach to projects that can help determine the best choices for team membership.

Team members who approach projects in the right way, ready to openly explore the abilities of other team members, are compatible enough to avoid competition problems. Team members should look at tasks as problems to be solved, not judgments to make, and facts are more important than opinions2. Members avoid creating problems when they stick to the facts, and it is important to understand the types of information that each person knows. As each team member’s knowledge is identified, and the facts laid bare, better decisions and teamwork can be observed2. Leaders can take the understanding of what information each member knows, and put together a team that aligns well.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Much of the puzzle of fitting a team together is in the unfortunate chance that knowledge sparks competition between members, and communications can alleviate those problems. In a media position, for example, there could be two people who are responsible for content. One is responsible for print news, the other for radio news, and the story might be suitable for either medium. Conflicts arise, especially in a situation where both members might be correct. Good leaders can work with teams to give the perception that they are dependent on one another cooperatively, to make sure members share goals and information2. A problematic situation like a multimedia news story can be handled better if each member understands that together they are pushing towards a common goal of expanded news media. Leaders need to be able to create teams that can grow together, to find these points of conflict and make sure that communication lines are broadly open.

As the leader brings the team together, open communication is vital to the success of the team. Team members not only need to share necessary information, but understand as a group which information is important. Information can be sent, or received, in the wrong ways, from uneven communication, to indirect speech acts, even a common information effect if each team member has a different idea of the most important tasks2. An organization must create an environment where the team agrees which tasks are priorities or are critical, to avoid all problems being the most critical all at once1. Leaders sometimes run into the problem of asking too much, for every project to be as critical and top priority as the other twenty projects on the list. With open communication, and agreements on which projects are the most important, teams are better suited for progress.

Open communication starts with how a leader puts together the right people for the team, and how ready they are for open dialogue. To start, the new president of the organization should talk individually with each team member, to find out how the team member feels about themselves and the other team members. Leaders should ask each individual team member what they feel their own strengths and weaknesses are, and how other team members might be able to help them succeed.

After discussing individual needs, the leader can move to an open, team-related session to see how the members work with each other. One scenario for a new leader is to put on a group lunch for the new team, a combination of a reward and a time for socializing. Team members trust each other more when they have familiarity between them, giving off the perception of them all heading for a common goal2. A group lunch, paid for by the new leader or the organization, allows a team to get to know one another away from project complications, to build trust between them. When it is time for business communications, members already feel more familiar with each other, more prepared for an open team environment.

In an open team environment, the new leader can push for all team members to interact with one another, and to openly discuss the team’s roles, strengths and weaknesses, and to find out who on the team has particular knowledge sets. Team members can open up to the group, explaining what knowledge and abilities they have, and where they could use some help if needed. When a team understands what each individual member brings to the table, there are not as many problems with information withholding2. The unique knowledge that the individual member brings to the team makes them all more nimble, and less likely to make incorrect assumptions based on perceived common knowledge.

Performance Rewards Program

Both teams and individuals can be motivated by rewards, and having a performance rewards program in place can help to keep projects moving forward. There is a balance between team awards and individual recognition that must be maintained, and a careful approach to how teams and individuals should be recognized. Leaders should make sure to reward staff members in ways that do not alienate either groups or individuals.

Individual recognition is often financial, but recognition can be an important reward if it is in tune with the organization and the industry, and works within the team ideals. In one survey3, one person reported that often members are already paid well in some industries, and financial rewards are not as important as the satisfaction gained from doing their work. One reward mechanism along these lines is when a team nominates their best member for a certain time frame, maybe a month or quarter. The team member might get their photo on a board, or free lunch, or even a small financial reward. By involving the team, members can feel more involved and find less competition amongst each other.

Leaders can offer promotional rewards for individuals as well, with input from team members, as a year-end reward. In a media environment, for example, perhaps a team member created a beautiful design for the newspaper. As a reward for excellence, the organization can pay to enter the design in a competition, or to pay the member’s way to a publishing convention. This gives not only financial incentive to do their best work, and to impress the members of their team, but it offers a chance to enhance the individual’s career in ways they might not be able to otherwise. The member is getting rewarded with a chance to be a part of something larger than the environment they are usually in, and it encourages others to do their very best.

Team rewards can also follow the same course, as individuals that excel can help pull the team up as well. If a sales team consistently improves and increases their productivity far over what is expected, the leader can set a rewards program up to recognize it. If the team does spectacularly, they might be sent as a group to a seminar or convention together as a year-end reward, with expenses paid by the organization. A team of sales “champions” could be sent to Cabo San Lucas for a week of recognition and fun in the sun, for a year’s worth of solid growth.

While larger goals should be kept in mind, a new leader could set up smaller rewards for quarterly or monthly exceeded goals. A hospital might find that the nursing staff has far exceeded their goals, so that team gets to choose any speaker they would like to have come to the hospital for a talk or seminar in the next quarter. Even the promise of a paid day off at the end of the month could entice the team to put in a bit more effort to reach the goals for the month. In some ways, the reward is still financial, but there is a social gain as well. Team members feel good about their environment, and looking forward to the goal helps motivation.

Those monthly goals do not have to be absolute either, and often should not be tied to exceptional work. Not giving a reward for beating goals can be detrimental, especially when members feel that targets are not based on performance or service, but simply regurgitated goals3. In the case of getting a day off for beating goals, it could be more of a tiered system of rewards. Meeting goals early might get you an extra hour off at the end of the month, or beating a goal by a decent, but still small percentage might get a few hours. Instead of hours off, maybe the team gets a free catered lunch one time during the month.

As a reward, a small token, such as free lunch for a team, can actually have far greater benefits than at first glance. The leader could set up the reward so that the best team of the month gets to pick the catering, paid for by the organization, and that team essentially puts on the show. Aside from the benefit of free lunch for the organization, having a team put on a lunch for everyone else builds more familiarity both within the team and with others in the organization. The winning team is recognized, and the social benefits of member interactions only makes the organization stronger. Other teams become familiar with the overall organization, and when the time comes for them to interact they will be far more comfortable with one another.

Conclusion

The need for leaders to cultivate an environment of solid team building, and to design a rewards program with the proper levels of responsibility and recognition, is vital to the health and viability of an organization. Being promoted to the leadership of an organization is an important opportunity, and a new leader needs to find ways to make the organization stronger. Leaders are often tasked with creating teams, and to create a thriving culture. The right team, and the most cohesive team members, is essential to the growth of the organization, to reach individual and organizational goals. To attain lofty goals, a rewards program can help to motivate staff and allow them to become more familiar with one another, making the team strong.

References

  1. Porter, D. (2016). Mission possible: Building an effective business continuity team in seven steps. Journal Of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning, 9(3), 239-250.
  2. Thompson, L. L. (2014). Making the team: a guide for managers. Boston: Pearson.
  3. Ueno, A. (2013). Are performance appraisals and reward really a contributory factor to service quality?. Services Marketing Quarterly, 34(1), 34-48. doi:10.1080/15332969.2013.739938

 

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Evaluating Social Media Customer Service http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/03/evaluating-social-media-customer-service/ Sun, 12 Mar 2017 17:46:36 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4821 The ways in which organizations use social media to feed their audience is not much different than the varied ways in which zookeepers feed the animals in their care. In the petting zoo, the hens are looking for whatever food they can get. At the other end of the spectrum, feeding the lions takes a specific set of rules, to keep everyone safe and happy with the care provided.

Smaller organizations are closer to their audiences, and stricter guidelines, much like feeding a lion, need to be in place to protect the organization and the audience.… Read the rest

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The ways in which organizations use social media to feed their audience is not much different than the varied ways in which zookeepers feed the animals in their care. In the petting zoo, the hens are looking for whatever food they can get. At the other end of the spectrum, feeding the lions takes a specific set of rules, to keep everyone safe and happy with the care provided.

Smaller organizations are closer to their audiences, and stricter guidelines, much like feeding a lion, need to be in place to protect the organization and the audience. Jerry’s Artarama, a national art supply chain, uses its Facebook page to interact with a relatively small audience. In contrast, the following of HBO’s Facebook page for the television show Game of Thrones is enormous, an audience of hens ready to be fed whatever they can get. Each organization approaches their social media differently, leading to the question of what companies should do with social media to effectively engage their customers.

Jerry’s Artarama

Jerry’s Artarama is a small, nationwide art supply chain, with an informative Facebook page. While most of the chain’s 17 retail stores have their own, localized Facebook page, the corporation has an overall national Facebook page with nearly 202,000 likes. The national Facebook page offers a community to artists, featuring live and recorded technique videos, featured artists of the day, news and commentary about the art world, and upcoming national events for artists both online and in their retail stores. Many of their posts have hundreds of likes and comments, with a vibrant, engaged following.

As an art supply store, having an engaged following requires a social media technique where both expert and novice artists are present, and a commitment from the organization to interact with followers. Companies that interact regularly with followers of their social media profiles give the perception of higher quality, friendliness, and trust2. In a competitive market such as art supplies, with internet sales giants like Dick Blick Art Supply, and larger, brick and mortar art chains like Hobby Lobby and Michael’s, Jerry’s Artarama needs to have a social media profile that exudes trust and quality. Engaging with their followers, and keeping with polite and informative customer service, are strong, necessary ideals for Jerry’s Artarama to be seen in a good light.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

To be seen in a good light sometimes requires working through conflicts in honest ways, with solid customer service, and Jerry’s Artarama does a good job of working through conflicts. Those conflicts are inevitable when followers range from new artists who have never held a brush, to professionals who have specific needs. Providing a consistent message is important, and Jerry’s Artarama typically posts cheerful and helpful updates overall. In one interaction after a video on March 7, the social media manager for Jerry’s Artarama had a conflict with a new artist who felt her question was skipped during a video. The conflict was answered successfully, with the representative from Artarama explaining the situation, and apologizing for the confusion. For a smaller organization like Jerry’s Artarama to succeed, calm, rational, and friendly customer service is like feeding the lion, carefully helping out while trying not to take the wrong step. A good discussion can turn a conflict into an informative conversation, keeping the follower and possibly encouraging them to shop with Jerry’s Artarama.

HBO and Game of Thrones

Smaller organizations like Jerry’s Artarama spend much of their time working from within the community, but in larger organizations like HBO it is often the message alone that gets sent. With tens of millions of followers, the techniques used on a Facebook page change due to sheer volume. In the case of a popular television network, and especially with an audience starving for up-to-the-moment information, followers are often the hens.

On March 9, 2017, the Facebook page for HBO’s immensely popular Game of Thrones held a Facebook Live video event. HBO broadcast live video of the season release date set in a massive block of ice, promising to increase the fires aimed at the melting ice, thus revealing the date, if their followers reshared the video. The cult of Game of Thrones followers complied, with 3.4 million views, over 19,000 shares, and 198,500 comments. When the date was finally revealed, Adweek1 reported that more than 162,000 people were concurrently watching the video, and HBO then released the full trailer on its Facebook page. The trailer was viewed over 37 million times, with 608,000 shares, a huge success for their Facebook page. Fans of the series have been anxious to see a trailer for a long time, and offering up the trailer and release date with some spectacle fed fully into fans excitement.

Unlike Jerry’s Artarama, HBO and the television series feed into a different customer base, one that exists in fandom and speaks to millions at a time. The approach to answer a few questions when you have a couple of hundred comments makes sense, but when your audience is leaving nearly 200,000 comments on a single Facebook update, it becomes a much different animal. Observation of the Game of Thrones Facebook page between March 7, 2017, and March 11, 2017, revealed that representatives of HBO’s social media team did not interact at a commentary level during that time, but instead released new updates each time something needed to be said. With the sheer volume of traffic, that may be the simplest way not only to pass information to a crowd, but to avoid a misstep along the way.

The Facebook Live broadcast of the Game of Thrones reveal did run into serious issues, and people on social media were quick to comment on the problems. CNN3 noted that it took nearly 70 minutes for the ice to melt, with two of the video feeds failing after only 15 minutes at a time. With such a huge following for the show, internet comments about the failures were inevitable, including “And the ice block melting video just ended with a cut to black! Very Sopranos, HBO” (Twitter, James Hibberd, @JamesHibberd, March 9, 2017). With so many still watching the reveal at the end, HBO was able to keep the broadcast from becoming a disaster by seeing it through, and making further social media updates.

HBO was relying on the cult-like popularity of Game of Thrones to keep the issues from causing a disaster, and the large following may have helped. People use television viewing and social media to try to fit in with larger communities, and social media provides a method for co-viewing shows4. Followers of a community like the Game of Thrones page connect with others who have similar needs, especially of belonging and fitting in with the correct group4. Running the HBO social media becomes less about constant interaction and more about putting the right content on at the right time, and keeping the community happy. Instead of engagement between the page and the community, the community is designed to engage with itself, even when things might not seem to be going well.

Conclusion

The ways in which organizations use social media can vary based on the nature of the organization, and are important to get right. Smaller organizations, closer to their audiences, need stricter guidelines to protect the organization and the audience. In contrast, the massive following of a popular television show is ready to be fed whatever they can get. Each organization approaches their social media differently, each with uniquely effective ways to engage their customers.

References

  1. Adweek. (7 Mar., 2017). HBO made fans watch ice melt for 69 minutes. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/tv-video/hbo-made-fans-watch-ice-melt-for-69-minutes-to-find-out-when-season-7-of-game-of-thrones-premieres/
  2. Calefato, F., Lanubile, F., & Novielli, N. (2015). The role of social media in affective trust building in customer-supplier relationships. Electronic Commerce Research, 15(4), 453-482. doi:10.1007/s10660-015-9194-3
  3. CNN. (9 Mar., 2017). Game of thrones. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/09/entertainment/game-of-thrones/
  4. Cohen, E. L., & Lancaster, A. L. (2014). Individual differences in in-person and social media television coviewing: The role of emotional contagion, need to belong, and coviewing orientation. Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, 17(8), 512-518. doi:10.1089/cyber.2013.0484
  5. Artarama Facebook. (n.d.). National facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/JerrysArtarama/
  6. Jerry’s Artarama. (n.d.). Jerry’s local art supply and materials retail store locations. Retrieved from http://www.jerrysartarama.com/retail/store-index
  7. HBO. (n.d.). Game of thrones facebook page. Retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/GameOfThrones/

 

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Media Coverage Around the World: Pulse Nightclub Attack http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/02/media-coverage-around-world-pulse-nightclub-attack/ Thu, 09 Feb 2017 22:42:24 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4798 Very early on the morning of Sunday, June 16, 2016, as the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was announcing their last call for drinks, a man walked into the club and began shooting people. Over the next several hours the gunman killed 50 people, wounding at least another 53, ending in his death after an intense shootout with police. News media across the world reported the tragedy, often in real time, detailing the horrific event and its aftermath.

Those details, and the way that the articles were written, offer a fascinating look into how media organizations in different parts of the world report on events.… Read the rest

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Very early on the morning of Sunday, June 16, 2016, as the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was announcing their last call for drinks, a man walked into the club and began shooting people. Over the next several hours the gunman killed 50 people, wounding at least another 53, ending in his death after an intense shootout with police. News media across the world reported the tragedy, often in real time, detailing the horrific event and its aftermath.

Those details, and the way that the articles were written, offer a fascinating look into how media organizations in different parts of the world report on events. That the Pulse Nightclub was primarily a gay venue, and a popular one in the Orlando community, complicates the ways in which news media from different cultures reported the tragedy. This paper examines initial reports of the event from three news media outlets in different parts of the world, including how they handled aspects of the story, how objective they were, and cultural factors that influenced their articles.

This article was originally written for my mass media communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Reports From Three Media Organizations

The three media organizations, CNN from the U.S., France 24, and Iranian newspaper Kayhan, generally agreed on the main aspects of the event. At around 2 a.m. on Sunday, June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen walked into Orlando’s Pulse nightclub and began shooting patrons. Armed with a pistol and an assault rifle, Mateen walked through the club shooting victims indiscriminately. For about three hours, Mateen held a group of people hostage as the police outside planned their negotiations. Police eventually stormed the club, shooting and killing Mateen in a wild shootout. After these similarities in reporting, each media organization covered the event with differing levels of detail.

The coverage provided by CNN4, at well over 3,000 words, featured the most depth of the three articles. A long video overview appeared at the top of the article, along with links to over two dozen other videos featuring various aspects of the event. Beneath the videos, the article began with a bulleted, short introduction to the event, giving way to more in-depth sections. The following sections included much more detail about the shooter, his possible ties to terrorism, eyewitness reports from within the club, reaction within the city of Orlando and the federal government, and commentary from law enforcement, local businesses, and both the Muslim and gay communities. CNN4 also included the arrest of a possible similar threat in California that was ultimately unrelated to the Orlando shootings, and that some Orlando officers had been put on temporary leave for the duration of the investigation.

At just over 1,250 words, France 245 described much of the event, but differed in a few key ways. France 245 covered much of the same information as CNN4, including information about the shooter and reactions from police and President Obama, as well as having one overall video featured at the top of the page. But France 245 did not go into nearly as much detail from the eyewitness side, and spent much more time on both Mateen’s link to ISIS, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) side of the discussion. France 245 did not include any condemnation from Muslim communities, but did offer several paragraphs based on reactions from the two U.S. presidential candidates at the time, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Other than similar commentary from President Obama, the political inclusion was far different from either of the other two articles.

As the shortest of the articles, clocking in at a mere 595 words, Kayhan8 was much more to the point than either of the other articles. Kayhan8 used only a sentence or two for each for the major points of the article, with very little examination or expanded content. There was one sentence for the shooter, two for Orlando’s mayor, and a continued brevity throughout the article. Kayhan8 did not mention reactions from the U.S. presidential candidates, reaction from the Muslim or gay communities, the similar arrest in California, or the officers that had been put on leave. There may be some cultural and style differences between Iran and the other countries to explain both information that seems to be missing, particularly any mention of Pulse being a gay nightclub, and the style in which the article is presented.

Two of the articles seem to have been generated at least partially from the same source. Kayhan8 and France 245 share several points, in some cases word for word. At the bottom of France 245, there is a short note that indicates that France 24 used information that it collected, as well as information from both AP and Reuters, but the same note does not appear anywhere in Kayhan8. In comparing Kayhan8 and France 245, there are several areas that are simply reworded, including one case where extra words are added to a copied paragraph. Another sentence is copied word for word, appearing in both: “Orlando has a population of 270,930 and is the home of the famed Disney World amusement park and many other tourist attractions that attracted 62 million visitors in 2014”8;5. Both may have used the same source, possibly AP or Reuters, that featured the same information, whereas CNN4 either reworded the information or did not use it at all.

Objectivity and Presentation Styles

One of the pillars of modern journalism is the theory of objectivity, of presenting fair and balanced news articles. Journalistic objectivity is the need for journalists to avoid their own feelings in their reporting, and the importance of moral integrity without bias10. It comes down to journalistic ethics, of presenting all sides of a story with accuracy and without the perception of attitude or opinions10. Good journalists are expected to stay objective in their writing, to hold to their ethics. But events like the mass shooting in Orlando, with so much horror and with the complication of the strong LGBT aspects of the event, can make that objectivity harder to maintain in cultures that are not as accepting.

Many people find the topic of LGBT rights controversial, and news organizations might find objectivity more difficult if they have an existing agenda against articles about LGBT rights. The Pulse nightclub was an important place for the area LGBT community, and advocacy group Equality Florida stated, “Gay clubs hold a significant place in LGBTQ history. They were often the only safe gathering place and this horrific act strikes directly at our sense of safety”5. CNN4 described Omar Mateen as very anti-gay, and included a comment from Mateen’s parents explaining that he was upset after previously seeing two men kissing in Miami. If a media organization has set an agenda not to discuss LGBT issues, or even simply to downplay them, the agenda setting could interfere with objectivity.

Agenda setting by news media can work both for and against topics. News organizations use agenda setting not necessarily to tell users what to think, but what to think about3. Among the three news articles, France 245 discussed the LGBT aspect openly,CNN4 only mentioned it briefly, and Kaylan8 completely avoided any words that would even hint at homosexuality. All three articles highlighted possible terrorism links thoroughly, even to the point of the title of CNN4 prominently including the phrase “shooter pledged ISIS allegiance”. Those differences clearly follow an agenda set by those organizations, either to highlight or downplay links to LGBT issues or terrorism. Agenda setting in news media is not unusual when it comes to discussing LGBT issues12. Surveys show that coverage of LGBT issues has grown over the years in The New York Times, becoming an important issue into the 21st century12. In contrast, coverage of homosexuality dropped in USA Today, though for both news organizations it was specific news events that kept LGBT issues in the public eye12. Terrorism, in contrast, is a term that is mentioned much more frequently, up to a whopping 15% some weeks between 2007-2012 in a recent survey13. National security, which terrorism fell under in the same survey, was always extremely important to the media over the years examined13. The data from the survey clearly showed an agenda of the news media discussing more about terrorism and national security over many other topics, and highlighting that agenda in all three articles follows that trend.

The setting of the agenda for both terrorism and LGBT issues can be seen in the objectivity and presentation styles of all three articles. After opening coverage and the latest developments from the event, CNN4 spent several sections discussing the event as a terror attack, Mateen’s possible links to ISIS from a 911 call he placed, a mention of pro-ISIS sympathizers, and even an arrest in California that may have stopped another terror attack. The pattern follows the “If it bleeds, it leads” idea, of making the most prominent story sensational to sell papers, especially when it concerns Muslims and the assumption of Muslim terrorism9. Many stories on Islam and Muslims became reduced to loud headlines that have little to do with the normal lives of typical Muslims, but are sensationalized for the popularity of the media9. The American news media keeps the terrorism up front, highlighting it throughout CNN4, clearly keeping the agenda intact. The objectivity of the American news media becomes questionable if an agenda of highlighting terrorism at every chance is apparent.

While France 245 balanced discussion of LGBT and terrorism throughout the article, Kayhan8 sat firmly at the other end of the spectrum to show agenda setting in a different light. Kayhan8 featured terrorists and Daesh, the Middle Eastern term equal to ISIS in the West, often throughout the article. Though Kayhan8 reported those Daesh connections in a less sensational light than CNN4, more a report of the situation over an in-depth discussion, in most ways reporting possible terrorism connections more as a matter of fact over supposition. Where agenda setting comes in is in what is not mentioned, as there are no mentions at all in Kayhan8 of homosexuality. Kayhan8 never refers to Pulse as a gay nightclub, no indication that Mateen was severely anti-gay and outraged at seeing men kiss, or any mention of LGBT communities or victims at all. Omitting those mentions shows a strong lack of objectivity, and highlights an agenda that is set not by what the article said, but what was clearly absent.

Cultural Factors in the Media Reports

Agenda setting is an important theory when it comes to how news is reported, and a country’s culture can impact how that agenda is set. Media/society: Industries, images, and audiences explained priming, a theory linked to agenda setting, as the news media paying more attention to specific topics and thus increasing how delicate a culture acts towards that topic3. By setting an agenda for or against LGBT issues, and constantly mentioning terrorism and national security, a culture is more susceptible to influence. The three articles feature agendas that are set through their individual cultures, either through regularly using specific ideas or excluding them completely.

In America, terrorism has been a feature of news media for many years, especially since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The magnitude of the 9/11 attacks, and the wars and further global attacks since then, are often mentioned in the news media. CNN4 prominently mentions terrorism throughout the article, spending a great deal of time on the subject. In more subtle ways, the article consistently uses terms that reinforce the notions of terrorism, especially in how the article links the attack to other events. Phrases like “the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11” and “[Mateen] mentioned the Boston Marathon bombers”, and including the unrelated arrest in Santa Monica, point to the terrorism connection that CNN4 is trying to make, content that neither of the other articles added. While all three articles briefly mentioned the shooting of Christina Grimmie in Orlando just two days before, and the possible connections Mateen had to ISIS, only CNN4 tried to make a broader connection to overall terrorism.

Where two of the articles approach the broader terrorism agenda similarly, all three articles approach LGBT issues in very culturally different ways. France 245 featured the most discussion of the LGBT aspects of the event, and approached that content from a fairly neutral, but inclusive, stance.Homosexuals in France are described as not separating themselves from other people based on their sexuality, and the French people overall ignore the differences between those groups11. There is no closet to come out of, because the French care very little about those differences11. While highlighting LGBT issues more than the other two articles, the phrasing used in France 245 is not any different than if written without LGBT being involved. “Packed gay nightclub” and “especially heart-wrenching for members of the US lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community” are typical of a news article talking about any event5. Other articles from France 24 used “packed” in very much the same manner, such as “packed with holiday makers”6 and “he told a packed courtroom”7. Using it commonly makes France 245 unremarkable in using the terms the same way.

The American culture treats LGBT issues somewhat differently, and U.S. news media try to balance those discussions between various cultural groups. The U.S. is a broad makeup of many cultures, and as time goes on the culture in America is changing in regards to LGBT issues11. Homosexuality is gaining acceptance, and where the French have reached a point where those differences do not matter, in the U.S. that is still in progress11. The way that CNN4 treats the topic of homosexuality is a sign of a changing agenda. The article neither avoids nor embraces the LGBT discussion, and does not take a clear side by either including more information or avoiding it altogether.

Avoiding the discussion of homosexuality altogether sets a clearly cultural-based agenda, and the current cultural climate of Iran can be seen at the other end of the spectrum. Kayhan8 does not contain any references to gay, homosexual, or LGBT, not even mentioning that Pulse was a gay nightclub. Where both CNN4 and France 245 featured quotes from world leaders like President Obama that specifically mentioned LGBT communities, Kayhan8 avoided any quotes that included those references. Kayhan8 offered a number of other quotes from officials and eyewitnesses, but chose only quotes that avoided homosexual references. In the Arab world today, homosexuality is strictly prohibited by Islam, and is perceived as an infiltration from the West2. In Iran, Islam is used by the government and clerics to muffle free expression, and content that does not fit Islam or Iranian ideology is considered anti-Islamic1. As a prominent newspaper in Iran, Kayhan8 would need to follow that agenda. By omitting LGBT references so thoroughly, the culture in Iran sets its agenda in the media.

Conclusion

The ways in which the news media across the world reported the tragedy of the Pulse nightclub offers a fascinating look into how media organizations in different parts of the world report on events. The mentioning of terrorism and LGBT issues, or avoidance of those terms altogether, complicated the ways in which news media from different cultures reported the event. Examining reports of the event from three news media outlets in different parts of the world allows observation of the strength of cultural agenda setting, objectivity of each story, and the influence of unique cultural factors in modern journalism.

References

  1. Abdo, G. (2003). Media and information: The case of Iran. Social Research, 70(3), 877-886.
  2. AbuKhalil, A. (1997). Gender boundaries and sexual categories in the arab world. Feminist Issues, 15(1-2), 91-104.
  3. Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (2012). Media/society: Industries, images, and audiences (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
  4. Ellis, R., Fantz, A., Karimi, F., & McLaughlin, E. (2016, June 13). Orlando shooting: 49 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/orlando-nightclub-shooting/
  5. France 24. (2016, June 13). Mass shooting at gay nightclub in Orlando leaves at least 49 dead. Retrieved from http://www.france24.com/en/20160612-mass-shooting-orlando-nightclub-police-report-casualties
  6. France 24 Italy (2017, Jan. 18). Rome halts trains as three quakes strike central Italy. Retrieved from http://www.france24.com/en/20170118-italy-earthquakes-strike-rome-halts-trains
  7. France 24 Judge (2017, Jan. 12). French judge clears billionaire art mogul Wildenstein of tax fraud. Retrieved from http://www.france24.com/en/20170112-french-judge-clears-art-dealer-wildenstein-tax-fraud
  8. Kayhan. (2016, June 13). Deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Retrieved from http://kayhan.ir/en/news/27689/deadliest-shooting-in-us-history
  9. Lawrence, B. B. (2007). Exposing extremism-no matter where it is found. Nieman Reports, 61(2), 28-30.
  10. Muñoz-Torres, J. R. (2012). Truth and objectivity in journalism. Journalism Studies, 13(4), 566-582. doi:10.1080/1461670X.2012.662401
  11. Stambolis-Ruhstorfer, M., & Saguy, A. C. (2014). How to describe it? Why the term coming out means different things in the United States and France. Sociological Forum, 29(4), 808-829. doi:10.1111/socf.12121
  12. Ura, J. D. (2009). The supreme court and issue attention: The case of homosexuality. Political Communication, 26(4), 430-446. doi:10.1080/10584600903297067
  13. Vu, H. T., Guo, L., & McCombs, M. E. (2014). Exploring “the world outside and the pictures in our heads”: A network agenda-setting study. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, 91(4), 669-686. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1077699014550090

 

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Intercultural Relationships and Film: The 13th Warrior http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/01/intercultural-relationships-and-film-the-13th-warrior/ Mon, 30 Jan 2017 17:48:54 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4791 Halfway through the 1999 film The 13th Warrior, the Northmen’s much-feared serpent of fire is seen in the distance, working its way around the mountain towards them. One of the Northmen bangs a gong to warn the villagers, and as the villagers seek shelter the stranger among them, an Arab named Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, starts to believe that maybe the mythological dragon could be real after all. Ibn Fahdlan races towards a small girl trapped near the head of the dragon, and as he reaches her he sees that it is not a dragon, but hundreds of cavalry with torches.… Read the rest

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Halfway through the 1999 film The 13th Warrior, the Northmen’s much-feared serpent of fire is seen in the distance, working its way around the mountain towards them. One of the Northmen bangs a gong to warn the villagers, and as the villagers seek shelter the stranger among them, an Arab named Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan, starts to believe that maybe the mythological dragon could be real after all. Ibn Fahdlan races towards a small girl trapped near the head of the dragon, and as he reaches her he sees that it is not a dragon, but hundreds of cavalry with torches. The illusion revealed, he picks up the girl and races back to the safety of the castle. He is met by his Northman friend, Herger, who laughs at the revelation and proclaims, “I rather prefer a dragon”. It is the moment in the film where the two cultures, Arabic and Northmen, start working together against the third culture, the Wendol.

The 13th Warrior centers around the voyage of an Arab, traveling in Northern Europe, who meets a group of Northmen, or Vikings. Throughout the film, the customs of each culture are compared, mostly through the experiences of Ibn Fahdlan and Herger. Together they learn about each other, and what they learn is contrasted against the rage of the Wendol. This paper examines the cultural portrayals from the film and its characters, and the basis of the film in both established literature and real history.

This article was originally written for my intercultural communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

A Summary of The 13th Warrior

To discuss The 13th Warrior, it is important to have a background of the origins of the film in both literature and history. The film is based on the novel Eaters of the Dead by author Michael Crichton, and Crichton wrote in the afterward to the book that it was written on a dare, to make a story that some considered boring into an exciting novel3. Eaters of the Dead was based on the epic poem Beowulf, framed by the writings of the real Ahmed Ibn Fadlan. The film and Eaters of the Dead both follow the general story as Crichton reinterpreted the epic poem as if based not on mythology, but real events. By adding the historical travels of Ibn Fadlan, The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan, both Eaters of the Dead and the film offered a realistic take on the more mythological Beowulf tale.

The 13th Warrior began by following The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan quite closely, as Ibn Fahdlan, slightly renamed from both Eaters of the Dead and The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan, is forced to leave his country after some indiscretions. He is exiled, becoming an ambassador to Northern Europe, and after being harried by Tartar bandits ends up finding an encampment of Northmen. He and his companion see the culture of the Northmen, and the often wild differences between Arabic and Northmen cultures. One of the Northmen, Herger, is able to understand Latin, and explains the events around them to Ibn Fahdlan. The story leaves The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan here and enters into the realm of Beowulf, when Ibn Fahdlan is chosen as the thirteenth warrior in a mission to save a kingdom further north from monsters.

Ibn Fahdlan and Herger are the audience’s surrogates in the events that unfold. As each learns about the other’s culture, both must defend themselves, and the group, from the evil Wendol. Based on Beowulf, the remaining two-thirds of the film highlights the group’s fight against the Wendol, the mother of the Wendol, and the perceived dragon. The film, and Eaters of the Dead, stray from the fantastical nature of Beowulf and more into a historical aspect, as the Wendol are neither magical nor have a dragon, but are actually the last remaining tribe of Neanderthals3. The mythological monsters are replaced with real elements, the details clouded as they were passed down from century to century.

Cultural Differences and Conflicts
The character of Ibn Fahdlan was portrayed, especially in the first half of the film, as the “fish out of water” stereotype, attempting to keep up with the Northmen in their environment. While the Northmen drank large amounts of alcohol, he refused according to his Muslim beliefs. He wore traditional clothing, and he came across as feeling more advanced than the pagan Northmen. The first third of the film followed The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan closely, as Ibn Fahdlan watched a chieftain’s burial, and the next morning was subject to a huge cultural difference. As the Northmen woke up, their morning ritual was to wash in a common bowl that a woman brought around to all the men. This clearly offended Ibn Fahdlan and his companion, as Muslims must be physically clean, washing with clean water2. The scene followed The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan directly, as the real Ibn Fadlan remarked at how disgusting the Rus, or Vikings, were:

Every day, without fail, they wash their faces and heads in the filthiest and most foul water possible. A slave girl comes every morning carrying a large bowl filled with water. She presents it to her master, and he washes his hands and face, and the hair of his head which he also washes, and combs it into the bowl with a comb. Then he blows his nose and spits into it, and indeed there is no filthy deed that he refrains from doing in that water. When he has finished whatever is necessary, the girl carries the bowl to the one next to him, who engages in the same activity as his colleague.7.

The Northmen were also depicted as dealing with cultural issues, often making fun of Ibn Fahdlan and sticking to the opposing side of the “fish out of water” stereotype. Especially in the early parts of the film, the masculinity of the Northmen put them at odds with Ibn Fahdlan. The Vikings on Film6 observed the typical movie character of the manly viking, seen as being very masculine, filled with testosterone and being rude and noisy. In The 13th Warrior, characters taunt Ibn Fahdlan’s horse and call it a small dog, poke fun at his smaller sword, and goad him into arguments about his mother. The Northmen dismiss him even before they can understand languages together. As Ibn Fahdlan first tells them his long name, Ahmed Ibn Fahdlan Ibn Al Abbas Ibn Rashid Ibn Hamad, they simply dismiss his attempts by calling him “Eben.” Ibn Fahdlan does not back down, continuing to try to fit in. He jumps his horse over a temporary high gate, proving to the Northmen that he is more than what he seems.The 13th Warrior

The film does a good job of gradually reversing the stereotypical trends, each side begins to respect the other and they become more integrated. Viking Rus: Studies of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe discussed the travels of the real Ibn Fadlan, describing the funerary process that Ibn Fadlan witnessed first hand and explored the long event over multiple days of drinking heavily5. The film offered similar scenes, albeit in a much shorter timeframe, of a very similar chieftain’s funerary rites. Much as Viking Rus explained, Ibn Fahdlan in the film observed the entire ritual, but did not necessarily make any judgments about the Northmen and their methods. The film continually progresses to the point where both sides find the value of the other, and appreciate their differences. Unlike many other Viking films, The 13th Warrior explored a group of Vikings that found teamwork, and the value that a member brought to the group, as the most important factors6. This effect grows stronger throughout the film, as the storyline of the Wendol emerges.

The main cultural differences of the film come about as the Northmen and Ibn Fahdlan worked together defend themselves, and counterattack, against the Wendol. In the afterward of Eaters of the Dead, Crichton explained that the Wendol were the last remnants of the Neanderthals, and in both the film and the novel they are presented as a savage, archaic tribe3. The film portrays the murderous Wendol as believing they are bears, and they attack the Northmen violently. Crichton observed that the notion of the Wendols being Neanderthals, still existing alongside modern humans, was a little more palatable in 1994 than in its original release date of 1976. But “Neandertal Demise”8 continued to hold to the idea that Neanderthals died out around 40,000 years ago, and it is a theory that is firmly rooted in today’s science. For about 10,000 years, between 50,000 and 40,000 years ago, modern humans and Neanderthals did overlap, but no evidence of Neanderthals after this time exists8. It may be why the link is not mentioned in the film, though the cultural differences in the film itself do not really need the specific link to work.

While the differences between Arab and Viking worlds are easily understood, when it comes to the Wendol all that the story requires is the difference between the archaic savages and the more modern Arab and Viking cultures. Crichton researched what was known at the time of the book’s original publication about Neanderthals, but the overall culture of the Neanderthals was not understood well. The film explored the simplicity of an older culture, based more on the typical idea of proto-humans. They lived in caves, barely had language, and were exceptionally violent to outsiders. The culture clash becomes less about Arabs and Vikings, and more about modern humans versus an ancient past. The Wendol are not like us, and the Northmen are not like them, and conflict arises from the differences.

Conclusion

The 13th Warrior offered an intriguing look at the travels of an Arab in Northern Europe, who came across a much different Viking culture. The film progressed through the customs of each culture, mostly through the experiences of Ibn Fahdlan and Herger. They worked together to learn about each other, and what they learned contrasted with the savagery of the Wendol. The cultural portrayals from the film and its characters, and the basis of the film itself, existed in the established literature of Beowulf and the real history of The Risalah of Ibn Fadlan. Where Beowulf was simply a fantasy, The 13th Warrior offered a realistic, culturally interesting portrayal of the historic possibilities of the myth, combined with the perceived truths of the Vikings as written objectively by an Arabic outsider in the same era.

References

  1. Alexander, M. (1973). Beowulf: a verse translation. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin.
  2. Al-Fayez, G., Awadalla, A., Arikawa, H., Templer, D. I., & Hutton, S. (2009). Body elimination attitude family resemblance in Kuwait. International Journal Of Psychology, 44(6), 410-417
  3. Crichton, M. (1994). A new collection of three novels. New York, NY: Wings Books.
  4. Dubrow, E. (Executive Producer), Vajna, A. (Executive Producer), & McTiernan, J. (Director). (1999). The 13th warrior [Motion Picture]. U.S.A.: Touchstone Pictures.
  5. Duczko, W. (2004). Viking rus: Studies on the presence of Scandinavians in eastern europe. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
  6. Harty, K. J. (2011). The vikings on film: Essays on depictions of the nordic middle ages. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
  7. McKeithen, J. (1979). The risalah of ibn fadlan: An annotated translation with introduction (order no. 8008223). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (302921148).
  8. Villa, P., & Roebroeks, W. (2014). Neandertal demise: An archaeological analysis of the modern human superiority complex. Plos ONE, 9(4), 1-10. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0096424

 

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The Impact of Streaming http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/01/the-impact-of-streaming/ Sun, 22 Jan 2017 19:57:56 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4824 In the middle of 2015, our household faced a dilemma that many families ultimately have to face: whether or not to keep cable television service. I was still only working part time in 2015, and money was tight. The year before, Comcast had offered us an upgrade on our services, promising that the great price would not go up drastically in the future. A year later, after a frustrating call with Comcast’s billing support, it turned out that it was not true, and the price went up almost $50 from one month to the next.… Read the rest

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In the middle of 2015, our household faced a dilemma that many families ultimately have to face: whether or not to keep cable television service. I was still only working part time in 2015, and money was tight. The year before, Comcast had offered us an upgrade on our services, promising that the great price would not go up drastically in the future. A year later, after a frustrating call with Comcast’s billing support, it turned out that it was not true, and the price went up almost $50 from one month to the next.

On examining the situation, and realizing how we as a family consumed media, we “cut the cord,” the common term for canceling cable television in favor of over-the-air broadcasts and subscription streaming services. This paper examines the trend of cutting cable, the pros and cons, and how the current generations and the future affect the trend.

The Trend of Cutting Cable

The current media environment is much different for home cable or satellite service now, with the rise of the internet, streaming media, and the costs involved. “Cutting the cord ̶ a marketing case”3 detailed exactly the cost problems that we as a family found, that the average cable television package is around $90 each month. Adding up the numbers, and comparing them with the benefits of having a cable subscription, ended up with the household finding out that the price is not worth it3. As a family, especially with two teenagers, we found that most of our media consumption came through streaming media. We were paying for a service we weren’t using, and the alternatives were far more useful.

Our consumption of media had changed as a family, with a combination of local broadcast stations, shorter videos online, and streaming services, and cable was no longer important. Receiving local television stations, including the important local news stations that we watched daily for weather updates, were all broadcast in HD openly and free to get with a $50-$100 receiver2. The television shows that we watched were few and far between, thanks to missing certain vital episodes, so we had already started watching older episodes on the streaming services. Many of those episodes were watched on a varying number of devices as well, from our tablets, phones, laptops, and only occasionally the television. With that access no longer needed, and with such few channels of interest among hundreds anyway, cutting the cable service was an easy decision.

This article was originally written for my communications classwork with CSU-Global. It was written per the course as a blog/APA-style hybrid.

Cutting the cord has not been without drawbacks. Much of social media revolves around the “water cooler” talk, as people jump online during or right after a live broadcast to talk about what happened. Most of the shows we watched were typically a season behind, and were spoiled a long time ago. Some programs are never streamed, or take years before they finally are. The recent television series Person of Interest, for example, had never been streamed anywhere online until six months after the series ended its run. Not only with television shows, but many sports or live events are also not streamed. For those that want to watch a live game, cutting the cord may not be an option.

The Younger Generation

When cutting off cable, part of the decision rested with our two teenagers. As two people in our 40’s, my wife and I were thinking more from a financial side than a usage side, and their opinion was important. People over the age of 35 tended to watch live television or a recording1, and we felt we needed to find out how the younger generation would inform our decision. Both of them replied that they never watched live television, everything they watched came from YouTube or a streaming service.

Those answers were the same ones found in research polls, where millenials and younger generations tend to cut cable more often, if they ever had a cable subscription at all1. The teenagers were more concerned that they had access when they wanted to have it, for their specific style of shows, and live broadcasts were not that important to them. They watched on their devices, and wanted the control to watch what and when they were ready to, and not have to schedule their day around a broadcast.

Media Theories Fitting the Streaming Trend

One of the problems facing cable and entertainment industries is that, when they are owned by the same companies, programming diversity can fall flat. Comcast is the largest cable firm in the U.S., and also owns many cable networks including USA Network, NBC, Oxygen, and many others4. The homogenization hypothesis is when only a small number of people are enjoying the same, or very similar, broadcast products4. With the consolidation of media ownership, like the Comcast empire, the hundreds of available stations end up showing the same things. Modern audiences can cut the cord, and find their own unique content instead of facing an antiquated, homogenized model.

Users cutting the cord and finding their own content defy technological determinism as well, opening up the theory of social construction of media technologies. The theory of social construction is the social processes that determine how technology is used, and that people have varied options in how to use media and technology4. Social activity has changed the approach to cable subscriptions and live broadcast television, and the social construction theory can be observed in how people are using streaming content in their own way, redefining not only cable services and technologies, but streaming media as well.

Predictions for the Future

We live in interesting times when it comes to predicting what will happen with cable services and the internet. The new Trump administration has said many times that they intend to roll back most of the rules put in place by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under President Obama, including net neutrality and a strong trend against media mergers5.

Net neutrality rules stop broadband services from blocking or discriminating against websites and other services, as an example not allowing Comcast to block or impede video streaming coming from Netflix’s servers5. With those rules gone, the future of the internet might lie in those who can afford their sites to run, and with enough fees could destroy sites like YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. Consumers could be forced back into a cable subscription if streaming services cannot afford to offer content on demand due to exorbitant costs.

If the current FCC approach of stopping large media mergers is removed under the Trump administration, then a ten year cycle would see even less diversity in programming. As larger companies own more and more media, content would become even more homogenized. When combined with higher fees for internet traffic based on the loss of net neutrality, the unique voices and sites we enjoy today will be gone, replaced with whatever the highest bidder, with the most content, wants us to see. It would be a disaster for the free internet, and if net neutrality is removed then ten years in the future would look bleak and colorless.

Conclusion

As a family, we found that canceling cable television in favor of over-the-air broadcasts and subscription streaming services saved us money in the end, and allowed us to control how, where, and when we watched video. Cable television has increasingly become homogeneous, and as social methods drive more generations away from cable subscriptions, streaming takes over more audience share. Those technologies are in jeopardy with a new presidential administration, however, and the potential loss of net neutrality could undermine the social construction that has been seen so far. The next few years will determine how the cable services, and an ever content-hungry society, will manage in the future.

References

  1. Chulkov, D., & Nizovtsev, D. (2015). Bundling, cord-cutting and the death of tv as we know it. Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, 21(5), 27-33.
  2. Clearstream. (n.d.). Clearstream 2v long range hdtv antenna. Retrieved from https://www.antennasdirect.com/store/ClearStream_2V_UHF_VHF_Indoor_Outdoor_DTV_Antenna_With_Mount.html
  3. Crawford, J. E. (2016). Cutting the cord ̶ a marketing case: an examination of changing tv viewership. Atlantic Marketing Journal, 5(2), 137-149.
  4. Croteau, D. & Hoynes, W. (2012). Media/society: Industries, images, and audiences (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
  5. Pressman, A. (2016). Obama fcc chair resignation starts clock ticking on net neutrality rollback. Fortune.com. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2016/12/15/obama-fcc-chair-resignation-starts-clock-ticking-on-net-neutrality-rollback/

 

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Stereotypes and Film: Crocodile Dundee http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/01/stereotypes-and-film-crocodile-dundee/ Thu, 19 Jan 2017 04:06:37 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4773 As a parent, one of the things we encourage our children to do is to take in entertainment from various time periods, including books, music, and movies. One of the older films we watched recently was the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, a comedy featuring an Australian man from the Outback and the female news reporter from New York City who shares adventures with him. Viewing the film after 30 years, it also features a laundry list of stereotypes from the mid-1980’s, including the stereotypes of the Hispanic maid, the affluent New Yorkers and their high style of living, and African-Americans as either chauffeurs or gang members.… Read the rest

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As a parent, one of the things we encourage our children to do is to take in entertainment from various time periods, including books, music, and movies. One of the older films we watched recently was the 1986 film Crocodile Dundee, a comedy featuring an Australian man from the Outback and the female news reporter from New York City who shares adventures with him. Viewing the film after 30 years, it also features a laundry list of stereotypes from the mid-1980’s, including the stereotypes of the Hispanic maid, the affluent New Yorkers and their high style of living, and African-Americans as either chauffeurs or gang members. The three strongest of the stereotypes featured were the perceptions of 20th century Australians, the “fish out of water” trope, and the view of transgendered people at the time.

A Summary of Crocodile Dundee

Crocodile Dundee began with New York City reporter Sue Charlton (Linda Kozlowski) traveling to the Outback of Australia, to interview hunter and safari owner Mick ‘Crocodile’ Dundee (Paul Hogan). Charlton is writing several feature stories about Dundee for her newspaper, especially about the time that he was nearly killed by a crocodile while out hunting. Dundee takes her through the area in the Outback where the event happened, with a bond gradually growing between the two. Charlton is a headstrong woman, but begins to rely on masculine, tough Dundee, as her city ways make her unaccustomed to harsher life in the Outback. After hiking through the Outback, Charlton asks Dundee if he will come back to New York with her, which he accepts.

This article was originally written for my intercultural communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

In the second half of the film, Dundee has several adventures through New York City, as Charlton and Dundee swap places as the “fish out of water.” Most of those adventures are with Dundee, and reinforced the stereotype of the simpler man in a more sophisticated society. Charlton and her family are a part of high society, contrasted by the more rugged nature of Dundee, and she has to fight her feelings between her fiance and Dundee. In the end, she ends her engagement, runs to Dundee, and, in a somewhat famous scene, meets him after he walks over the top of all of the people on a crowded subway platform2.

The film was immensely successful, not only breaking into the American film market and succeeding with two sequels, but it helped to start the Australian craze of the late 1980’s. In adjusted dollars, Crocodile Dundee’s $393,000,000 box office still ranks at number 122 of the highest grossing films domestically in history, higher than hits like Saving Private Ryan, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and 2016’s blockbuster Deadpool1. The stereotype of the tough man from the harsh Outback, and other Australian stereotypes, were popularized by the film due to its strong showing in the U.S.6 The stereotypes have been hard for Australians to shake, parodied in cultural media from The Simpsons to films like Dumb and Dumber and Deadpool.

Australian “Man Down Under” Stereotype

The stereotype of the adventurous and tough, yet uncivilized Australian man is one that Crocodile Dundee made popular worldwide, and as other cultural media show it is a stereotype that continues to exist 30 years later. Countries are often perceived based on symbols and characters, and popular media is a robust method of ingraining a sense of a society on to another one3. Film offers a powerful image of a culture, molding how Americans see the culture of Australia and symbolizing, in truth or not, what the people of Australia are like3. The popularity of the film, and the rugged portrayal of Mick Dundee, enforces the idea that Australians are a tough people, fighting to live a hard, uncivilized way of life in a hostile country.

The stereotype cannot possibly offer a view of every member of Australian society, and is viewed as outdated by some in the country. Australians see the stereotype as very limited, an inaccurate and antiquated vision of who the people of Australia really are6. Dundee defined the Australian stereotype as always very masculine, a perfect shot with a rifle, can track and find his way through any type of land or harsh condition, and can drink anyone under the table. But Australia, like most countries, has many microcultures within it. From the aboriginal people, to those who emigrated from Great Britain and other parts of the former British empire, to modern immigrants from Asia, Australia is a mixing pot of varying cultures. In the film, the Australian stereotype is mostly seen as a curiosity. In several scenes, the upper-class people of New York City treat him more as a spectacle, someone to have fun watching instead of someone that fits within the microculture of their affluent society.

Crocodile Dundee“Fish Out of Water” Stereotype

Stories have been told for hundreds of years about the proverbial “fish out of water,” characters who find themselves in different cultures and situations, without any knowledge of what to do or where they are going. Mary in The Secret Garden, Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, and Gulliver himself from Gulliver’s Travels all fit the stereotype of the character lost in an unfamiliar place, often considered simple-minded by those around him.

While Charlton’s time in the Outback during the first half of Crocodile Dundee generally highlighted the trope, Mick Dundee’s time in New York City defined the “fish out of water” stereotype. There are similarities with 1942’s Tarzan’s New York Adventure, where the main character is perplexed by the modernity of the city4. Dundee is mystified by the escalator in the airport, and what the bidet in his hotel room is supposed to do. He sleeps on the floor instead of the strange bed, and is fascinated by the hotel’s revolving door. The stereotype is not necessarily about someone who lacks intelligence, but, as Dundee fits it, someone who simply is out of touch with the peculiar culture around him.

Dundee finds several microcultures within New York City, each of them unique, and the characters in each treat him mostly as an oddity. Others, who seemingly do not appreciate his different nature, highlight the stereotype of the person that does not fit in by treating him as inferior, or unintelligent. This is most apparent with Richard Mason (Mark Blum), Charlton’s fiance and a part of the affluent circle around her. He demeans Dundee, makes fun of him, and in general treats him as an inferior. Mason’s actions fit the antithesis of the stereotype to the letter, further enhancing Dundee’s simpleton stereotype as Mason attempts to make Dundee feel as if he does not belong. The people on the street however, including the cabbie he meets, the patrons of a local bar, and even the prostitutes on the corner, treat the “fish out of water” with friendly curiosity and humor. Both sides of the coin, being mean to the character or being curious about him, further strengthen the stereotype.

1980’s Transgender Stereotype

The “fish out of water” curiosity can lead in other directions, as the character might act on information in an unusual way. Crocodile Dundee features a situation that now seems out of place 30 years later, a scene where Dundee is trying to woo a woman at the bar. She is actually transgendered, and films from that period of time still fell under the cliché of a woman actually being a man instead. In Crocodile Dundee, and other films like The Crying Game and Naked Gun 33 1/3, the main characters are deceived into thinking that the man is really a woman.

While Dundee is attempting to woo the woman, the other bar patrons try to get his attention. Finally calling him over, they explain to him that the woman is really a man. To prove it, Dundee walks over to the woman and quickly grabs the front of her dress, between her legs. He yells out that it is a man, the transgendered woman runs out through the crowd, and in the 1980’s it was played for a laugh.

In the last 30 years, modern gender discussions have come a long way, and a situation like this is clearly a demeaning sexual assault to the transgendered person. These transgender stereotypes are a “deceiver” trope, where the character passes for a woman and is eventually revealed, normally through force5. The transgender stereotype can be a true threat for trans women, as they could be physically assaulted during a reveal, harassed, or discriminated against based on the outdated stereotype. A trans woman could assert herself, and end up being the target of slurs or assaulted with jokes at their expense5. Crocodile Dundee shows the outdated stereotype through the entire assault, as the trans woman runs off to Dundee’s declaration of “fag.” It is something that modern society, more accepting in 2017 than 1986, would not stand for. The scene made for an uncomfortable watch in a more enlightened society.

Conclusion

Rewatching films and other media from past years, especially as long ago as the 1980’s, often highlights the progress society has made over those years. Crocodile Dundee, warts and all, was an important cultural film, and still ranks highly on the list of the highest moneymaking movies in history. The film overflows with the stereotypes of the time, especially with its singular view of Australians, the overused cliché of the “fish out of water,” and the unfortunate humor revolving around the fear of transgendered people. In the past 30 years, society has moved along from the stereotypes in many ways, and reviewing media from the past is an excellent way to help society move towards a less stereotypical future.

References

  1. Box Office Mojo (n.d.). Domestic grosses adjusted for ticket price inflation. Retrieved from http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/adjusted.htm
  2. Cornell, J. (Producer), & Faiman, P. (Director). (1986). Crocodile Dundee [Motion Picture]. Australia: Rimfire Films.
  3. Faizullaev, A. (2007). Individual experiencing of states. Review of International Studies, 33(3), 531. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0260210507007644
  4. Hoorn, J. (2015). Crocodile Dundee. Metro, (185), 114.
  5. McKinnon, R. (2014). Stereotype threat and attributional ambiguity for trans women. Hypatia, 29(4), 857-872. doi:10.1111/hypa.12097
  6. Wood, N. T., & Lego Muñoz, C. (2007). ‘No rules, just right’ or is it? the role of themed restaurants as cultural ambassadors. Tourism and Hospitality Research, 7(3-4), 242-255. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/palgrave.thr.6050047

 

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Creating Fan Art: The Artist’s Perspective http://www.rhdickerson.com/2017/01/creating-fan-art-the-artists-perspective/ Tue, 17 Jan 2017 04:29:03 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4769 It is truly interesting that fan art is this week’s topic, since it is something I am not only intimately familiar with as an illustrator, but this week my freelance life centers around that very idea. One of the things I enjoy doing is interviewing the cover artists for Apex Magazine, and I am sending several this week. Fan art questions often come up with those artists, who create fan art for various reasons. Along with that, I am also working on a piece of fan art this week, in the hopes that it will be published later this year in a book filled with art based on the 1982 film The Thing.… Read the rest

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It is truly interesting that fan art is this week’s topic, since it is something I am not only intimately familiar with as an illustrator, but this week my freelance life centers around that very idea. One of the things I enjoy doing is interviewing the cover artists for Apex Magazine, and I am sending several this week. Fan art questions often come up with those artists, who create fan art for various reasons. Along with that, I am also working on a piece of fan art this week, in the hopes that it will be published later this year in a book filled with art based on the 1982 film The Thing.

Fan art for me is something that, as an artist, hits two major points that are mentioned in the video, Fan Art: An Explosion of Creativity. First, each piece of art that I create, whether it is just a simple sketch, or a piece of fan art, up to a published book cover, means everything to me. That happens mostly in the process, as no matter what kind of art it is I am putting a piece of my soul onto the page. The final piece makes the process meaningful, I’ve brought something into this world that wasn’t there before, in my own way.

This article was originally written for my media communications classwork with CSU-Global. I have adapted it from a strict APA style to a more web-friendly style.

Secondly, there is the feeling with fan art that I do care for these subjects, and I want to bring my view of them to the world. In the video, artist Sam Spratt describes fan artists creating this art as, “a means of expression of how much they care about these things.” The artists want to be a part of that world, to add to it. As with many of the artists I’ve interviewed, artist Denis Corvus explained that not only does he want to create fan art with the character’s basics, but to add his own take to the piece to get even more inspiration as a fan2. That is exactly right for many of the fan art pieces I have created. This week’s art will be based on one of my favorite films, and that expression of how I see the actions and characters in the movie means everything to me. There is a balance between recognition of the character and the unique expression of the artist, and how much I care for the film will hopefully be evident in the final piece.

Many artists create fan art, especially those who work on illustration versus fine art. To many artists that I have interviewed for Apex Magazine, fan art is to illustration what still life is to a fine artist. It is reproducing something in an effort to capture the essence of a known quantity. Style will always be apparent, but in the end, just as a still life orange should feel like an orange, a representation of a character should feel like that character. As the video shows, there are many different visions of what Sherlock and Watson look like, but the essence of those characters needs to be recognizable through those styles for the fan art to really succeed. When the artist hits those notes, they feel like they are part of the product, that their work will become part of the essence of those characters. There is always the hope that the Finn/Fiona situation from the video will happen, that a fan artist’s view will actually become canon for the character they represented.

I think we are at an interesting point when it comes to fan art, the media and its users, and new versus original creations. The corporations that own the characters in many ways are keeping the conversation going when it comes to fan art. On one side, as an artist that attends conventions, many artists sell fan art at their booths. Corporations, especially comic book companies, essentially turn a blind eye towards fan art of this nature, provided that artists do not try to sell thousands of prints based on copyrighted works. Some fan creations do overstep their bounds, however, such as the case of a Star Trek fan film. Creators of the fan-produced film, Axanar, were sued by copyright owners CBS and Paramount, due to the film not just using Star Trek content but exceeding what the corporations could allow as fair use1. In the Axanar case, the creators did more than an homage, but actually veered into the a large-scale realm, using strong elements of the Star Trek universe without permission.

An interesting side note is the common idea that the public domain has been shrinking over the past century, due to stricter copyright laws, and that it stifles a culture of remixing and creation. The public domain was meant to promote cultural creativity after a copyright has ended, and keeping nearly all works out of the public domain damages the creativity that is essential to a culture3. Fan art, skirting copyright as it does, could be seen as a way to answer that public domain loss. Artists are remixing and changing owned characters and worlds into their own unique visions, and as long as they do not take it as far as Axanar they may fly under the radar of the large corporations.

The Axanar case is an extreme example of how a fan piece can become a new and original media itself. The creators took that a bit far, trying to equal the level of the actual Star Trek films and television episodes. For most fan artists, though, the idea is much simpler. Fan art is a way to use their talents to create something in the universe they love, and to put their own spin on it. As the video mentions, sometimes those fan pieces end up becoming a part of the original works, and many of the artists I have talked to would love for their creations to do so. Fan art is an opportunity to bring a new, fresh idea to the world, and still be recognized through the original cultural creation.

Examples of my own fan art, with the inspirations listed in the captions:

time_enough_at_last_rdickerson

References

  1. Buckley, S. (2017). ‘Star trek’ fan film loses fair use case, moves to jury trial. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2017/01/05/star-trek-fan-film-loses-fair-use-case-moves-to-jury-trial/
  2. Dickerson, R. (2016). Interview with Cover Artist Denis Corvus. Apex Magazine (89). Retrieved from http://www.apex-magazine.com/interview-with-cover-artist-denis-corvus/
  3. Toula, C. M., & Lisby, G. C. (2014). Towards an affirmative public domain. Cultural Studies, 28(5/6), 997-1021. doi:10.1080/09502386.2014.886490

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Local Communities Should Offer Makerspaces http://www.rhdickerson.com/2016/12/local-communities-should-offer-makerspaces/ Wed, 28 Dec 2016 17:44:50 +0000 http://www.rhdickerson.com/?p=4760 Imagine for a moment that a visually impaired teenager has an interest in building a marble machine, where a small marble can roll down a series of pieces connected to a wall, landing in a cup at the bottom. This project would take materials that the teenager does not have, with knowledge he cannot easily learn by himself, and without the space at home to even try. He has the intelligence to learn it, and the will to try out new things. But he simply does not have the resources available to him to follow his ideas to their fruition.… Read the rest

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Imagine for a moment that a visually impaired teenager has an interest in building a marble machine, where a small marble can roll down a series of pieces connected to a wall, landing in a cup at the bottom. This project would take materials that the teenager does not have, with knowledge he cannot easily learn by himself, and without the space at home to even try. He has the intelligence to learn it, and the will to try out new things. But he simply does not have the resources available to him to follow his ideas to their fruition.

A new resource has just opened up in his local library, however, called a makerspace. In it, the public is invited to revel in a do-it-yourself atmosphere, loaded with materials, knowledge, and the space to make dreams happen. The 21st century comes alive in a local makerspace, ready for anyone’s projects to get started. Makerspaces offer education, a space for people who cannot afford equipment, and help to the general public.

This article was originally written for my classwork with CSU-Global, a portfolio project.

Makeability: Creating accessible makerspace events in a public library” explored a local library makerspace as it started up in existing space, detailing the assistance and education offered to those with disabilities3. At the event, an assistant helped a visually impaired attendee to begin building a marble machine wall, and within a short time the attendee was working without help, building his own machine3. With so much to offer, what would it take for local communities to fix the lack of public makerspaces? Many local communities do not offer public makerspaces, due partly to a lack of accessibility, liability, and funding. A potential solution would be for communities creating makerspaces to ensure activities are diverse and accessible; to provide safe environments through education, training, and design; to require user agreements for liability protection; to use existing community spaces to limit costs; and to use fees and grants for financial support.

Problem: Many Local Communities Do Not Offer Public Makerspaces

Despite not being offered in every community, the maker movement has become increasingly popular, with the intent of offering education, resources, and public production opportunities. The maker movement, evolving from the computer programming and electronics spaces that started in the mid-1990s, includes 135 million Americans, and 57% of U.S. adults, and contributes to 28 million small businesses16. “Digital fabrication technology in the library” explained how makerspaces, areas set aside to create virtually anything, allow communities to teach their populations new techniques that could lead to job growth, businesses flourishing, and innovation. People with similar ideas and methods can join a makerspace to learn and teach others, share equipment and materials, and innovate with new ideas and techniques11. Makerspaces can be very different from one another, depending on the needs of the makers involved, in both the size of the space needed and available equipment.

Makerspaces vary greatly in size and space, and each one provides creative and unique experiences that differ from one another. Makerspaces offer knowledge and resources as varied as 3D printing, computer hardware and software, welding equipment, power tools, sewing machines, and many differing supplies and tools to create just about anything14. Library makerspaces can start with just two 3D printers on a series of carts in a library4. At the other end of the spectrum, for-profit makerspace company Vocademy offers large, multi-million dollar spaces, and includes 3D printing and routing, woodworking equipment, programming, welding, and advanced manufacturing13.

“Digital fabrication technology in the library” reported numbers from the American Library Association (ALA) estimating that there were at least 250 library-based makerspaces in the United States, featuring many different programs for makers in an increasing trend. While the trend is increasing, it can be unfavorably compared to 2012 numbers indicating that general library attendance, for various programs in the United States, was 92.6 million attendees, in 4 million programs1. The majority of local community libraries, in this light, do not offer many opportunities for the maker movement.

The Causes: Accessibility, Liability, and Funding Issues

Despite the innovation and growth that the maker movement could supply, makerspaces are not featured in many communities due to inaccessibility, liability, and funding. Equipment is often very expensive, and can be dangerous if not used properly. The increase in liability, and the need to replace materials, can be challenging financially to a local community. With so many different kinds of equipment, and limited space, creating an accessible makerspace for those with disabilities can be difficult, even discouraging.

Accessibility

The makerspace event discussed in “Makeability” succeeded in allowing some with disabilities to flourish at the event, including with the marble machine, and indicated that people in the maker movement would be willing to help in the future3. However, at the same event, a wind tube project was inaccessible to those with visual impairments, and those participants were unable to try it3. If makerspaces are not accessible by default, interested makers with disabilities might stay away, or feel that the space was not for them, especially as many makers might stop by on a whim to create or learn something3. With fewer participants, a makerspace may become unused, possibly leading to a lack of administrative support or closure of the space.

Difficulties exist when designing makerspaces for disabilities in part because there are so many types of disabilities to account for. That includes those that are hearing or visually impaired, have problems with movement or are required to use wheelchairs, and those with neurological disorders. In interviews about the University of Washington’s popular makerspace, “UW Today, University of Washington” described situations where the visually impaired had trouble with wires and outlets being out of the way for wheelchairs, but at a height that struck visually impaired users when they were moving through the space. The University of Washington’s makerspace also features work tables on wheels, which helps with mobility-impaired makers9. Having movable tables, “UW Today, University of Washington” pointed out, unfortunately means that visually impaired users can not make a mental map of the room to help them move through it. That situation could create a hazardous makerspace if large or dangerous equipment was being used.

Liability

Makerspaces in schools and public libraries can increase the liability that local communities face, especially in those makerspaces that use large or dangerous equipment. Power tools, welding equipment, and computer-controlled machinery can cause injury, as well as environmental concerns. “Meet the makers” quoted Susan Hildreth, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), “If you’re going to have a space that could be noisy and could create smoke, you need to consider where the space is placed, and how it is vented”15. Makerspaces feature equipment that can be more dangerous to use, and events such as a Yale student’s 2011 death due to a lathe in a campus machine shop could make administrators wary of support for makerspaces5. Machinery increases risk, stricter adherence to safety standards, and could increase the need for funding to cover the liabilities.

Funding

Funding local makerspaces can be difficult, between costs for liabilities, tools, supplies, and facilities to house them. Space needs to be found, and often renovated, with the right amount of space for both current and future needs6. Funding needs to be available to create the space for the equipment that it needs, including electricity, networking, safety devices, soundproofing, and structural support, all determined before it is known how the space will be used by the public6. Funding at that level can be enormous, considering the price of the equipment and technology. The for-profit makerspace company Vocademy, describing its expansion plans in California, explained that costs to create a large 30,000 sq. ft. makerspace reached $2,000,00013. Cash-strapped communities might simply not be able to afford a makerspace.

Even communities that only want to start with a smaller amount of equipment face an uphill battle. “Digital fabrication technology in the library” explored the challenge of simply starting a makerspace with a 3D printer, the expense of which can exceed a library’s budget on just the hardware alone, before purchasing the plastic consumables or considering the financial burden of further time and training for staff. MakerBot, one of the leading 3D printer manufacturers, lists new 3D printers in the range of $999 to $6,499, and replacement spools of plastic consumables ranging from $18 to $379 each10. Other makerspaces might offer the use of much larger equipment, such as a CNC router, which ranges from $7,000 to $35,0002. Local communities might not have the budget to put into the equipment alone.

The amount of investment in a makerspace can be staggering, when many communities and educational institutions do not have the money to put into them. “The ‘maker movement’ goes to college” explored the investment in Community College of Baltimore County’s Fab Lab, which spent $400,000 to start the project, and estimates it will need to spend another $100,000 a year for staffing, materials, and replacement parts. For an educational institution to spend extensively on a makerspace requires administrators that are ready to take risks, especially with liability and safety. “Practical implementation of an educational makerspace” studied a high school makerspace in which the administration was helpful, but in many cases administrators are not as willing to come up with funding or assistance with new makerspaces.

However, “Practical implementation of an educational makerspace” also pointed out that makerspaces do not have to start out being the most expensive spaces in a community. A large budget is not a requirement to start, even a lack of technology budget at all should not be a barrier to starting a makerspace as simple as a table in a corner featuring simple tools8. Instead of aiming for multiple printers and devices, finding the funds for a simpler makerspace, even a single device like a 3D printer, might be far easier. The effort to start the space can lead to student or public interest, and starting small can gradually lead to greater technology and equipment.

Some Solutions For Local Community Makerspaces

Starting small with a makerspace can lead to becoming integral in the local community, and grants, fees, and administrative support are crucial to the success of the space. “Practical implementation of an educational makerspace” described the New Milford High School (NMHS) makerspace as starting in simply a corner of the library, expanding as needed with further student involvement. Even a smaller makerspace might give someone with a disability the chance to make their own creative projects, or learn a new craft, in a safe, accessible environment they might not otherwise have available.

Accessibility

Accessibility will always be a challenge with makerspaces, due in part to the many different types of disabilities that makers need to take into account. But with planning, innovation, and inclusiveness, makerspaces can work to include makers of all levels and challenges. “Makeability” explained that offering complete information about the makerspace on a website was a good start3. The website should feature a full list of the available equipment, any rules or guidelines for the space, and that the site be open for comments and discussion from users at all levels3. That gives makers the opportunity to research what the makerspace offers, and examine their own needs for the projects they would like to work on. If there are any rules or guidelines they have questions about, offering those lists online and providing a source for answers gives more opportunities for the community to determine what they require from a makerspace.

Creating more accessible makerspaces also occurs when those with all types of disabilities are a part of the discussion. “Make the makers’ voices count” added that through meetings, surveys, and web communications, makerspace developers can involve the disabled in designing spaces that are useful and inclusive of all. Disabled makers can help with the specifics of the space, not just to include general handicapped access, but to design spaces that consider how the disabled actually use those features11. Disabled makers can help design spaces that are more inclusive and safer for all users.

Liability

Designing safe and inclusive makerspaces helps the problem of liability, and having procedures and plans in place eases the liability problems that local community makerspaces face. With the inclusion of those with disabilities, a “maker culture of safety comes first” can work to reduce liability for all in the makerspace11. “Make the makers’ voices count” described having grips and guards in place to protect users, along with safety gear and proper, accessible labels. Safety and emergency equipment should be provided in ways that the disabled can access them, including access to fire suppression from wheelchairs11. “Make the makers’ voices count” added that training, manuals, and guidelines, in different accessible formats, should be openly available to all in the makerspace.

Along with proper guidelines, makerspaces can limit their liability through user agreements. With so many different types of makerspaces and users, being able to gauge the safety concerns of each user can be difficult. By requiring a user agreement before a maker can use the space, local communities are more protected from liabilities. “User agreements and makerspaces: A content analysis” detailed several types of user agreements, and the information provided in each. Solid guidelines and rules need to be laid out in the user agreement, including specific information for safety, future liability claims based on injury or death, consistent procedures, negligence and recklessness guidelines, and an understanding about the risks involved12. Having a solid user agreement can help to protect the makerspace and the local community from liability, in case of future safety or space issues.

Funding

Many pieces of equipment in a makerspace are novel to the public and are seeing increasing usage as the technologies become normalized. 3D printing has become a cornerstone of the maker movement, allowing anyone to learn how to create all manner of items. “3D printing in libraries” added that 3D printing is, “integral to the changing face of library service”7, and supports how users work with content, the growth of user-generated ideas, and the community formed around that creativity. 3D printing is a technology that can be housed in an existing space within a library very easily, and “Practical implementation of an educational makerspace” observed that several models can be purchased for under $1,500. With administrative support, NMHS was able to add a 3D printing station, and gradually other stations as the makerspace increased in student usage8.

Usage fees for equipment, staff time, and even wear and tear on the machine could be a viable way to help offset the costs of a makerspace. Financial support for 3D printing materials could come through fees for those consumables, and for maintenance of the machine6. ” Fines, fees and funding: Makerspaces standing apart” discussed that fees could also be charged for events such as fairs, through campaigns, and through creating clubs for interested local makers. While charging fees might shrink the number of people who use the equipment, it could also strengthen the dedication of those that use the makerspace, balancing higher demand with the wear on equipment6. Fees could be a good addition to grants and other financial support, from local communities and partners.

“Fines, fees and funding” explained that grants work well for starting a new makerspace, working much the same way as a start-up would. Grants typically have a specific lifetime, however, and further funding and support is ongoing. “A fabulous laboratory” explored a library makerspace that began even before grant writing for the physical library makerspace. The FFL Fab Lab started as a group of carts, staffed with knowledgeable people, allowing them to take their mobile makerspace anywhere4. Through donations, writing grants, winning awards, and raising money through Indiegogo campaigns, the FFL Fab Lab was able to start with two 3D printers and other tools, and has added the ability for the local community to create anything4.

Conclusion

Makerspaces offer education, a space for people that cannot afford equipment, and help to the general public. However, many local communities do not offer public makerspaces, due partly to lack of accessibility, liability, and funding. A potential solution would be for communities creating makerspaces to ensure activities are diverse and accessible; to provide safe environments through education, training, and design; to require user agreements for liability protection; to use existing community spaces to limit costs; and to use fees and grants for financial support. In exploring the ongoing creation of a makerspace at a public library, the author of “A fabulous laboratory” stated, “As librarians we don’t need to become experts in movie making, we need to do what we have always done—provide access, space, and facilitate opportunity”4. “Makeability” observed that makers, especially those with disabilities, find the do-it-yourself nature of makerspaces important, and local communities providing access to that level of creativity offers an impact on their lives. With the increasing popularity of the maker movement, local communities can offer makerspaces within their existing environments, saving money, contributing to community innovation, and increasing inclusiveness of all community members.

Local communities may not be funded for makerspaces, and face challenges of liability and inaccessibility. Makerspaces often feature riskier equipment, and could make administrators wary of supporting makerspaces due to liability concerns5. As “Makeability” explained, some makerspaces and equipment might be inaccessible to those with disabilities, which may make local makerspaces unpopular and unaffordable. Fees that “Fines, fees and funding” explored may thin the traffic to local makerspaces, leading to a further lack of funding.

As “Practical implementation of an educational makerspace” observed, however, a lack of funding is not an excuse for ignoring the value of creating a makerspace. The educational and community-driven environment of a makerspace can be vital to the local population, allowing for new innovations and collaborations that help the community grow stronger and more involved. In examining the NMHS makerspace, “Practical implementation of an educational makerspace” explained how students hurried through their lunch so that they would have more time in the makerspace. Students from completely different groups, who would never work together elsewhere in the school, have found a fascination with learning together and building new things8. Makerspaces are built to bring communities together, to learn from one another, and collaborate in ways that are not possible outside of the space.

References

  1. American Library Association. (2015). The state of America’s libraries. American Libraries. Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/news/sites/ala.org.news/files/content/2015state-of-americas-libraries-report.pdf
  2. Baileigh. (2016). CNC router tables. Retrieved from http://www.baileigh.com/woodworking/router-tables/cnc-router-tables
  3. Brady, T., Salas, C., Nuriddin, A., Rodgers, W., & Subramaniam, M. (2014). Makeability: Creating accessible makerspace events in a public library. Public Library Quarterly, 33(4), 330-347. doi:10.1080/01616846.2014.970425
  4. Britton, L. (2012). A fabulous laboratory. Public Libraries, 52(4), 30-33.
  5. Carlson, S. (2015, April 24). The ‘maker movement’ goes to college. Chronicle of Higher Education. p. A26.
  6. Crumpton, M. A. (2015). Fines, fees and funding: Makerspaces standing apart. The Bottom Line, 28(3), 90-94.
  7. Jones, B. M. (2015). 3D printing in libraries: A view from within the American Library Association: Privacy, intellectual freedom and ethical policy framework. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (Online), 42(1), 36-41.
  8. Kurti, R. S., Kurti, D., & Fleming, L. (2014). Practical implementation of an educational makerspace. Teacher Librarian, 42(2), 20.
  9. Langston, J. (2015, Aug. 5). UW Today, University of Washington. Retrieved from http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/08/05/how-makerspaces-can-be-accessible-to-people-with-disabilities/
  10. MakerBot. (2016). MakerBot store. Retrieved from https://store.makerbot.com/
  11. Meyer, A., & Fourie, I. (2016, June 6-11). Make the makers’ voices count: Combining universal design and participatory ergonomics to create accessible makerspaces for individuals with (physical) disabilities. Paper presented at the 15th EAHIL Conference, Seville, Spain. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.4401.9441
  12. Moorefield-Lang, H. (2015). User agreements and makerspaces: A content analysis. New Library World, 116(7), 358-368.
  13. Nash-Hoff, M. (2016, Aug. 9). Vocademy – an industry-driven solution to the skills gap? Industry Week. Retrieved from http://www.industryweek.com/education-training/vocademy-industry-driven-solution-skills-gap
  14. Prato, S. C., & Britton, L. (2015). Digital fabrication technology in the library: Where we are and where we are going. Bulletin Of The Association For Information Science & Technology, 42(1), 12-15. doi:10.1002/bul2.2015.1720420106
  15. Samtani, H. (2013). Meet the makers. School Library Journal, 59(6), 28.
  16. Thilmany, J. (2014). The maker movement and the U.S. economy. Mechanical Engineering, 136(12), 28-29.

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