This is the blog that students in the course Mass Media & Society (CO130, section C) at Fairfield University, and teen patrons at Bridgeport Library participating in the workshop “Behind the Screens” will be using to post reflections and exchange materials on media literacy topics.

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Final reflection: the powers of media users vs. the power of media content

Go to the first prompt of the semester (“My personal perceptions of mass media”), and select one of the two questions you chose for your first reflection. 1) Write a new answer for that question (even if your personal position about it hasn’t changed substantially). Such a new answer must be informed by your learnings from this course and your reading of the article Your TV Is Watching You. In other words, be sure to make explicit connections between your own opinions and ideas explored in class or in the article.  2) Considering what’s discussed in that text, and what we’ve covered during the semester, what’s your final conclusion regarding the tensions between the powers of media content (structural forces) and the powers of media users (agency forces)?

Post your final reflection by Friday, December 16, 11:00 p.m. Reflections posted after that deadline won’t be graded.

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User-generated content (UCG) and copyright protection

Last Wednesday, we explored a number of examples of content that Internet users post online. Many times such content involves “recycling” or remixing popular media content –think of the many “mashups” and parodies of real movies and commercials that ordinary people upload on YouTube. Nowadays, almost everyone who has access to the Internet, including our young library partners, generates some form of online content (even if only status updates on Facebook), and most of the time they share such content with the world, without seeking to profit from it. Why do you think people spent time and energy doing this? More importantly, how can you conenct this phenomenon of content sharing with the arguments of the article Copyright Reform, by Gigi Sohn, which was assigned as a reading for last week. You might find the last part of that chapter, as well as the definition of Fair Use that I commented on during our last SL session, particularly useful to articulate your discussion.

Once again, I insist on the importance of invoking AND explaining specific concepts or notions covered in class or in the readings when writing your post. Many students keep overlooking this requirement, or addressing it in inaccurate or superficial ways. Those who do the latter won’t get full credit for this entry. You have until Monday, December 5, 11:00 p.m. to upload your response.

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Product placement, branded entertainment, and the future media content

Read the short article that I sent you via e-mail, and discuss the following questions:

1) In your opinion, will product placement and “branded entertainment” (i.e. movies, TV shows, music videos, songs, video games, books, and other media content developed around a particular brand) be so common in the near future that our young partners at the library may eventually become indifferent to these forms of guerrilla advertisement, in the same way that your own generation generally ignores many traditional ads? Or will these tactics make advertisement increasingly effective for younger generations?

2) What implications for the future of creativity and variety of content do you see in the increasing collaboration between brand owners and Hollywood studios? Is this economic partnership likely to  expand or limit the universe of situations, peoples, and settings we see in popular media? Why?

As I mentioned in class, I expect to see in your reflections a synthesis of your personal opinions and concepts covered in class (whether recently or earlier in the semester).  The latter means explicitly mentioning a concept or theory, and explicitly connecting it with your views. Please post your response by Monday, November 21, 11:00 p.m.

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Next-step reality, reality TV shows, and audiences’ preferences

Our SL session on 11/09/11 didn’t have as many community participants as usual. However, during your presentations, a few tweens who showed up briefly said that they didn’t follow reality TV shows that much, and when they do it, it’s mostly for entertainment purposes.  Consider their claims, and answer the following:

1) Do you believe that pre-teens and teens do not, in general, follow reality TV shows?What different types of audiences, in your view, are targeted by different types of reality TV shows and why?

2) Assuming that most people who watch reality TV do it for pure entertainment purposes, what elements of enhancement of the mundane (next-step reality) would you see in a shows such as “Survivor” and “Jersey Shore”? Why?

3) Product placement is a common way of financing media content, including reality TV shows. What brands do you recall having seen in any reality TV show you watched recently (any example is OK, except the show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”)? What kind of juxtapositions and associations that placement you noticed is trying to create for the brand shown in the program?

As usual, I expect that you combine your own views with explanations of relevant concepts or ideas covered in recent readings assignments or class discussions. Your reply to this prompt must be posted by Sunday, November 13, 11:00 p.m. Postings after that deadlines will not be graded.

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Empowering (and learning from) our community partners

I’m hearing from Amanda, our Service Learning Associate, that this week’s SL session at the library went pretty well, and that our young community partners were willing to participate even in some of the most structured of our activities. Based on your observations of this session, and/or the responses you got from library patrons in the survey you distributed, please answer the following questions:

  • What were, in your opinion, the highlights and low points of the session? What could/should have been done differently?
  • How would you rate our young partners’ degree of media literacy regarding media violence and/or casting and stereotypes? Did you learn anything new regarding their media habits, media preferences, or way of understanding media content? Are they aware of some of the problems we have discussed in class regarding violence and representation of different social groups?
As usual, I expect that you combine your own views with relevant concepts or ideas covered in recent readings assignments or class discussions. Your reply to this prompt must be posted by Sunday, October 16, 11:00 p.m. Postings after that deadlines will not be graded.
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Moving from play to collective exploration

Discuss your experience in our second service learning session at the Bridgeport Public Library in Black Rock, by addressing the following questions:

  • What differences and similarities did you perceive this time with respect to the interaction between the Fairfield U’s group and the library’s group? Did anything in your own behavior and/or in the attitude and composition of our young community partners change (or is likely to change in future SL sessions)?
  • Now that we’re starting to connect with our young community partners, we need to get them gradually involved into more structured, collaborative exploration of media issues. So, take a look in our syllabus at the description of our next SL session on October 12, and make a suggestion as to how to this goal while keeping activities entertaining for our community partners.
  • We briefly discussed questions of media violence. Which of the three major concerns usually voiced by critics with respect to the potential effects of media violence ( i.e. imitation, development of “mean world syndrome,” or desensitization), do you find most problematic or deserving attention? Why?

As usual, I expect that you answer all the questions in you reflection. I also expect that you balance your own views with relevant concepts/facts/ideas presented in our class or in our textbook. The latter applies particularly to the third question. Please reply to this prompt by 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 1st, 2012. Responses posted after that deadlines won’t be graded.

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Who am I? What am I doing here?

For this week’s reflection, please respond to the following two questions:

1) What’s your reaction to our first service learning session? How close or far from your expectations were the library’s young patrons we will be working with during the semester? Do you have any suggestions for alternative ways of bonding with them during our the first service learning sessions?

2) Linda Flower’s chapter, entitled Who Am I? What Am I Doing Here? (2008), argues that academic initiatives of service in the community usually reflect, in their design and interaction with community members, one of these logics: a) a logic of cultural mission; b) a logic of technical expertise; c) a logic of compassion; d) a logic of prophetic pragmatism (also known as a logic of collaborative problem solving); or d) a logic of intercultural inquiry.  Which ones of these logics, in your opinion, seems to underlie the design of our service learning sessions (it could be more than one –look at the last pages in our syllabus )? Why do you think so? What advantages and shortcomings do you see in that logic(s) that our SL sessions appear to follow?

Please post your reply by Saturday, September 24, 2011, 11:00 p.m. Replies after that deadline won’t be counted for grade.

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