Sunday, April 20, 2008

Job-Hunting Online

As graduation looms, I know many of us are attempting the ever-so-grown up task of looking for full-time employment. Don't get me wrong, I am really excited about working, I really can't wait to work a million hours a week (I'm a freak, what can I say), but looking for jobs, not so much my favorite task.

Alas, I persevere. A friend in the entertainment industry turned me on to Cynopsis, a self-described free-trade publication written by Cynthia Turner, sent out daily to subscribers and available online. Now, some of the actual memo content is a bit over my head sometimes, but there is a handy-dandy classifieds section that lists all the media jobs becoming available. Sure, it doesn't list all, and some companies insist on hiring internally, or through their own website, but its a pretty good resource for media jobs, if that's your thing.

So, good luck to those of us embarking on the big-kid world. I think we'll be OK. Of course, this is the optimism of someone still in school. Talk to me in a few weeks, when my health insurance drops me and I'm eating Top Ramen everyday. Fun Times.

Pitts' Perspective

As I was reading the opinion section of the Austin American Statesman online the other day, I came across an article very relevant to our class. Leonard Pitts, frequent editorial writer, and Pulitzer Prize winner, shed light on the recent Youtube phenomenon and the proverbial quest for 15 minutes of fame that has ensued. This incident is a bit more serious than that of the British divorcee we discussed in class, but alas, here goes.

As Marcela also blogged about this week, a recent incident involving several 17 year-old girls beating one of their friends, has popped up on Youtube. The girls lured their friend to a house, beating her, while two boys kept watch. She takes blows to the head, barely covering herself, while the girls tell her to "make it good" because only 17 seconds of video remain. "Disgusting" as Pitts describes it, is that the girls show no remorse over the beating, only that they will miss cheerleading practice due to being incarcerated. Even more so is that the parents of the bullies defend their children, stating that the victim was "trash talking" online.

Pitts' article examines not just the act itself, but the startling motivation behind it- Youtube fame. Pitts worries that 15 minutes of internet fame may just have been the catalyst behind the brutality here. And sadly, I agree. What I most agree with, and appreciate, about his editorial, is that he worries about what "fame" actually represents in contemporary society. It used to be, he says, that you got famous because of a discernible amount of talent over others, an extraordinary quality. Those days are gone.

I know I've blogged about the "starmaking" quality of Youtube before. I stand by the fact that yes, some people use Youtube in a beneficial manner. We've all watched the same videos of little kids saying quirky things, and fashion commentators utilizing it to get media exposure. This is a different story. I should say that I'm amazed that people would stoop so low as to violently beat a friend of theirs (rendering her blind in one eye and deaf in one ear), but I'm not. Some people cannot filter things. They cannot differentiate between right and wrong, and when they see Youtube manufacturing notoriety, they take note.

Or, as Pitts more succinctly puts it, these are not smart girls:

"No, these are the video-besotted children of an era where only suckers can't find some way to become known. Fame is democratized now, no longer the exclusive province of the talented, the heroic or even the lucky, but rather a commodity accessible to anyone willing to seize it by any means necessary."

So, what do you think? Is this the downfall of society? Fame by any means necessary? Or is this a case, like that of the myspace girl who committed suicide, of tactless people in a tactless environment? Help me decide, because honestly, I just don't want to live with the fact that these girls did it because they thought we'd all have a laugh while bored at work.

As much as it pains me to use this as my example, here's the "O'Reilly Factor" coverage of the incident. It's all I could find, I promise.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Viral Video Project

This is my viral video for the World Food Programme.

It's a bit like Jenni's (inadvertently, I promise).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

This is what happens when people stop being polite, and start being... digital

This is the true story, of seven strangers....

Oh, how I remember it so well. We've all watched it, admit it. The 20th (20th!!?!! Really?) season of MTV's once-popular reality show, Real World, is set to make its debut in Hollywood this year. This season, the network is taking a more interactive approach with the show. Real World Dailies allows viewers to get access to "daily, uncensored clips" of what takes place in the house. Apparently, that which is shown on TV is actually the vanilla content.

The site includes cast bios, confessionals not shown on the show, and most recently, producer blogs. Executive producer Jon Murray blogs about move-in day:

"We have some concerns about Brianna; only a few weeks ago she got into a fight with her boyfriend and the police were called -- and she was arrested. She will have to return to Philadelphia for a court hearing at some point but we hope it doesn’t happen during the taping of the show, and remove her from the house."

Oh lord. Here it goes again. Does anyone remember Real World Seattle? Or the older seasons, like San Francisco? The cast used to be semi-intelligent, and there were some decent conversations and interactions to be witnessed. Lately though, it's gone downhill. Take Las Vegas, for example. That was the first season where all I can remember is nudity and stupidity, all fueled by alcohol. Is this indicative of our culture? Are we drunken idiots, who in a rage, end up hitting one another- eventually involving the police? It seems to happen every season! I'd like to think not. I have higher hope for our generation, and I'd like to think that MTV does too. Alas, people will keep watching, and drunks/idiots/fratboys/beauty queens/anorexics will continue to be cast. They'll stop being polite, and start being real.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Cluetrain Manifesto

19. Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance

I completely agree with this. Take the Southwest Airlines example. Now, I’m not ragging on Southwest one bit. Sure, my mom works for American Airlines, but that doesn’t sway me. As we know, the airline industry is often at a bit of a crossroads with their publics. Granted, airline travel is a necessary evil, but as an industry, it’s generally not one that we shower in support.

There are several problems fueling the hatred. Forced grounding of over 500 flights by several airlines. Sky-high jet fuel prices, frequently lost bags. Planes stuck on the runway without food and water for hours upon hours.

What I’m saying is that there’s a lot to overcome here. This is what I think is so successful about the Southwest Airlines blog. There is obvious readership, and feedback that’s consistently positive. This is an extraordinary example of a company really responding to its publics, and utilizing new media in effective ways. The rest of the airline industry needs to jump on this bandwagon. Of course, an ineffective company blog could blow it, but if they are as willing and able as the crew (no pun intended) at Southwest, then they have a lot to gain.

I mean, c’mon. If they’re gonna take away the pillows and peanuts, then by golly, they could throw us a blog post or two.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Favorite Podcast goes live

I've probably mentioned in class that I'm absolutely in love with "This American Life", the weekly radio show on NPR. It's a really great human interest show, that profiles regular people, and sometimes showcases authors like David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell, both hilarious people. The show has a podcast, updated weekly, that includes the episode for that week. Even better, the website lets you stream episodes for free. One of my favorite episodes is this one, in which various contributers talk about the role of music in their childhood. Seriously, give it a listen. This show makes me like television less and less, besides How I Met Your Mother, of course.

On May 1, This American Life is going live. There has been a television adaptation of the show on Showtime, but this will be the radio show on the big screen. At select theaters around the country, viewers can watch the live episode, hosted by Ira Glass, via satellite. Viewers can even submit questions to be answered during the show. I think it's pretty cool that this is happening. This is the number two most subscribed to podcast on iTunes (behind Oprah, and really, who can compete with the Big O). So, I encourage you to give this podcast a try. I listened to it on a whim, and now I'm hooked.

"How I Met Your Mother" finds online venue

The popular CBS show "How I Met Your Mother" has delved into the internet marketing realm. On Monday's episode, character Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris (or NPH as Harold and Kumar like to call him), is on a quest for a woman who's trying to sabotage his latest female conquests. So the gang gets together and creates a bracket to deliberate on which of his former flings might be the culprit. During his search, he locates a woman he once went out with, who, after being burned, created a website chronicling his flaws.

The only problem is that when Barney seduced this woman, he called himself Ted Mosby, the main character in the show (the one who narrates the show to his future children). So, she created, which CBS has created into an actual site. It's pretty funny, complete with drawings of Ted (Barney) being eaten by dinosaurs, and including the letter he left her while she was in the shower, calling her "resident" because he couldn't remember her name. The best part is the 20 minute song that plays in the background of the site's homepage.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bloggers hit a white-collar roadblock

Celebrity gossip bloggers have some new beef this week. Not with bitter stars, but with record executives. Bloggers are being sued by labels, namely Sony BMG, for supporting artists signed to their label. The main blogger attacked by the suit is media monger Perez Hilton, author of the IMMENSELY popular blog by the same name. Hilton regularly hosts songs on his site, that he, or his friends recommend. Recently, however, he posted a leaked Britney Spears song, in hopes to determine whether or not it was a fake. Sony discovered the post, and has since filed the suit.

Often, Hilton's support boosts a singer's career. His site has been responsible of strengthening the careers of Lily Allen, Eric Hutchinson, and most recently, Leona Lewis. (Partly) because of Hilton's praise and high site traffic, Lewis' song has recently reached number 1 on iTunes. Alas, sponsored bloggers can no longer promote musicians, for fear of Sony's wrath.

Really???? This upsets me. As a music fan, I feel that a band should be promoted in any which way they can, and by whomever wants to! If Perez Hilton, lame and cliche as he can be, could potentially make or break a musician's career, then why shouldn't he be able to? Honestly, am I alone on this one?

LBJ's famous speech turns 40

On March 31, 1968 President Lyndon B. Johnson gave his infamous speech announcing steps to limit the war in Vietnam and reported his decision not to seek reelection. This speech is one of the most famous presidential speeches of our time, and to me, it seems moderately relevant to today's election.

"So, tonight, in the hope that this action will lead to early talks, I am taking the first step to deescalate the conflict. We are reducing--substantially reducing--the present level of hostilities."

Can't you hear that being said about the War in Iraq? I can hear it coming in the first months (or years) of the next President's term. Johnson discusses the bloody war, images we can't really imagine being reported today. Reading his words, however, I am reminded of the genocide around the world that seems to go overlooked- such as the situation in Darfur, and the FARC in Colombia.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of LBJ's speech is that in which he discusses the partisanship of the political climate during his term-

"With America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President."

Seems amazing, doesn't it? That a President would admit to this partisanship? Of course, I wasn't around during LBJ's time, and admit that I perhaps don't know as much about the administration as I should, but this seems pretty profound. I know this isn't pertinent to the 2008 election per se, but I still found it relevant, and thought you guys might too. I really encourage you to read the speech, and let me know what you think. Does it sound forced? Is he just backing out? Or is it a legitimate attempt to keep the political sphere civilized. Here's the video of his actual resignation.