Monday, October 27, 2008

Film and Morality

My discussion on film morality had two motives behind it, 1.) a brief survey of controversial films from 4 different time periods and 2) the possible societal implications that may be derived from them.  Flowing from a basic definition of morality, I believe that unless a society has a distinct and well-defined moral foundation, the society will not be unified in its legislation or its ideals.  Flowing from a quote generally attributed (although unverified) to Alexander Tytler, all successful societies progress in a path that leads to an abundance of resources, and from that abundance comes a selfish complacency.  C.S. Lewis penned the philosophical and theological term "Moral Law," which drew on the assumption that every society from the beginning of time has had a concept of right and wrong, even if what is right and wrong shows disparity between societies.  When this disparity is prevalent among individuals of a singular culture many problems relating to purpose and goal may arise (one could look at Civil War, or any war for that matter).  

The film industry, unlike any art form before it, allows for the mass production and distribution of singular ideals to a culture that may have many variable ideals.  With only a relatively weak system of self-regulation and no consistent framework of what may or may not be shown, movies allow a strong opportunity for a sliding morality.  While things like rape, adultery, torture, and murder seem like negative contraptions for the society at large, they are sill fair game to the movie-going crowd.  In the name of artistic expression virtually all content is acceptable given the public is paying to go out and see it.  Murders have actually been successive to Natural Born Killers, a movie that came out in 1994.  As a society, what we are allowed to see has only been increased since the production of film; the Hays code is almost laughable when put in today's standards.  In many ways, artistic expression can be viable and poignant, but the envelope is often pushed just to see how far it can go.  While I enjoy movies (quite as much as anyone else), questions about the ethical climate in America must be raised.  

Monday, October 13, 2008


My discussion started with an in depth history of the race to invent radio. This race culminated in a victory for Guglielmo Marconi. He was the first to patent his ideas, followed soon after by Nikola Tesla. From there we discussed the recent history of satellite radio. Sirius had an early lead in the race to be the first fully operating satellite radio company. They got the first satellite into orbit on Friday, June 30, 2000. Unfortunately due to some unforeseen complications the company did not complete it’s satellite network first. That title goes to XM satellite radio on Tuesday, September 25, 2001.

From here we went on to discuss in brief the two different kinds of orbital satellite paths being used by the two different companies. The first of which is a geosynchronous highly elliptical orbit, what that means is that each of three satellites spends approximately 16 hours of air time pre day over the continental US. This allows for a higher orbit, and points the signal mostly down, keeping it from being easily blocked by tall buildings in cities and other forms of interference. It also allows Sirius to have a much smaller terrestrial repeater network than XM. XM uses to geostationary satellites instead, because of this the satellites are always over the US, but can be blocked and so need a larger repeater network.

Next we discussed the pros and cons of the 16 month long $3.6 billion merger of Sirius and XM. The vote from the FCC took the longest and it was split down the party lines. The basis for allowing the merger to happen was that there was sufficient competition from other forms of media, meaning that the media was not big enough to warrant having multiple providers. They set strict rules on price, allocated 8% of the current channels to public broadcasting, and forced both companies to pay fines for previous monopolistic tendencies.

Finally we discussed our opinions of where satellite radio is going, and if it can be a viable business in the future. Most of the class agreed that unless some major re-working occurred that the company would succumb to the other forms of media that are currently available.

out with the old...

Our discussion began with a brief history of public radio. With the onset of war in 1917, the US Navy put a freeze on civilian broadcasting. However, several universities were able to continue experimentation that resulted in unsophisticated programming and a mentality to just see “what worked.” Educational missions carved a path for noncommercial broadcasting during the commercial grab for radio licenses in the late 1920s. Educational broadcasters won a significant victory in 1941 when the FCC reserved a portion of the FM band for noncommercial use. The fifties brought a new technology – television. Radio had a difficulty competing with the visual media, but noncommercial had a particularly difficult time protecting its frequencies.

The Public Broadcasting Act of 1927 provided for ways to build a national financial and distribution infrastructure that noncommercial radio had lacked. Radio was so eclipsed by the 1960s that it was nearly left out of the legislation. The Act created the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to serve as a financial center. Its mission is to “facilitate the development of, and ensure universal access to, noncommercial high-quality programming and telecommunication services.”

The Corporation established National Public Radio (NPR) in 1970. It responded to questions of interconnection, production of programs, and the operation of satellite systems. It is funded in part by the CPB, member station dues, foundation grants, and corporate underwriting.

Continued competition from new media and a continued struggle for funding is the future of public radio. Clay Christensen’s Innovator’s Dilemma in which he “describes companies whose successes and capabilities can actually become obstacles in the face of changing markets and technologies” can help understand the future. In order for public radio to survive, it needs to be able to “identify, develop and successfully market emerging technologies.” In short, public radio, and public broadcasting for that matter, needs to evaluate market demands and be timely and unique in its endeavors. Many will seek to answer questions regarding the influence of the CPB on programming content as well as the purpose of public radio with new technological advances.

\\// peace

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Old School Radio and its Modern Counterpart

Since its debut in the early 1900s, radio has flourished as a common medium in mass communication, broadcasting music to the homes and ears of even the most impoverished of individuals. In modern society it has been integrated into new media mediums such as satellite or the internet, allowing for its transmission to have an even broader reach than before. This presentation concerned the advent of internet radio webcasts and how it has since affected both users and the terrestrial radio while still adhering to its original principles of a common means of communication and a source of ad revenue.

Pandora radio is a great example of how internet radio has drawn upon the influences of terrestrial radio and improved upon them in the attempt to get more listeners, and in turn more ad revenue. Rather than forcing people to listen to a predetermined play list, the actual "music-genome" project is to be influenced by users and their choices. Pandora has adopted narrow casting, catering to the tastes of listeners, allowing for a much more enjoyable personal experience. Another example of this methodology of allowing users to choose what they want to listen to is This website scours the internet for embedded audio or other media files and streams them for the listener to listen. With subtle ads on the flash interface, Seeqpod offers the options of buying media related to the content the user is currently consuming.

Enticed by internet radio's large following and the promise of an entirely new ad market, terrestrial radio has taken steps to adapt, and potentially share internet radio's success. Examples of this such as Kanm radio and 94.5 the Buzz have integrated live online streams, allowing users to tune into the radio from places such as their office computer, enabling a greater sense of accesibility. Coupled with online-only features such as online requests and last-played songs, terrestrial radio has effectively wedged itself into the internet.

All of these new forms of radio have been effectively influenced by the original terrestrial radio's principles of spreading radio to the masses and in turn, generating revenue through advertisements and sponsored programming. <----Use It! Really cool.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Freedom of Speech in News

There cannot be much doubt that freedom of speech is one of the most important rights set by the framers of the constitution. The majority of my presentation focused on the case of the New York Times v. United States; which was an issue of censorship and whether the United States had the right to prior restrain New York Times of secret government documents. Personally, I sided with the New York Times, which ultimately won the case, after my research I believe the government was deceiving and misleading the American people on how the Vietnam situation was being handled. This comes to the argument over the right to know versus the need to know. Should information be leaked based on the public’s need to know?

I say no, it should be leaked based on the public’s right to know. For example, if a reporter has information that he deeply believes the public should know, it is his duty to present this information. Regarding the Columbine presentation and argument over the issue of right to know versus need to know, the information presented to the public should be left up to the source. There should be a “code of ethics” when dealing with sensitive issues, and the information should not put the citizens or the case being dealt with in immediate or irreparable danger. For example, information leaked should not help an unfound criminal know of the police’s whereabouts, further complicating it for the police. Regardless, the regulation should be in the hands of the citizens and not the government, for the most part. The fact is information is legal as long as it does not put the citizens of America in immediate and irreparable danger.

I want my news to let me know many things, I want to be told the facts, but at the same time I want to be told if I am being mislead. If a reporter publishes and opinion article I don’t agree with, they do have the right to publish that article, and for that I am glad. Perhaps their article will broaden my horizons on a topic and force me to think differently on an issue. In this country we have the right to display our thoughts, in many cases, no matter how diverse they are, and for that we should be proud to be citizens of this great country.

Freedom of Speech and the Columbine High School Massacre

After doing research on the Columbine High School Tragedy, I was shocked about certain information that is open to the public. I am fully for having freedom of speech, don’t get me wrong, but I believe that there is some information that should not be make public when it is such a sensitive subject for family members. It seems like in today’s world the newspapers are more relaxed in the fact that people can say what they want, but they do have a code of ethics. In the 17th century, they had a very strict format of what they could say in their newspapers. Through many years of observing the newspapers, I have noticed that people want to know every detail about something they are interested in. In Columbine’s case, people wanted to know everything about the shooting. The police were wishy-washy about letting some of the information out because of the hurt it would cause to many people. I can’t help but think of the family members of Harris and Klebold, and if they went to youtube, they could see some graphic pictures of their children.

I am not saying that the government should regulate what information goes in the news, but it almost seems like the last resort at times. I would want to believe that people had ethics and would understand about some information getting released or out in the cyber world. In the case of Klebold’s autopsy being released, I believe that the public wanted to know and yes they had the right. I think about the Dylan’s family and if they had to open up the newspaper and see their child’s history is all over the paper.

With this tragedy, there are many touchy places because this is one of the first terrible school shootings. Many people believe the information should be out, but there are others that believe that the information should be kept a secret. Here is the link of the video of the Littleton Police releasing all of the evidence for the family members to view.

Kacee Richards