Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Effects of HIV PSAs?

NBC New York has a story about the controversy surrounding New York City's new HIV public service announcements. Some gay rights groups want them pulled saying that they stigmatize homosexuals, while other groups say that the ads should stay because they are starting a conversation about a very important topic.

My question is - Does anyone know what the effects of these PSAs actually are? I really hope that the Health Department tested these ads before running them and this controversy is just speculation on the part of advocacy groups. With focus groups and interviews, health communication researchers can answer these sorts of questions and prevent organizations like the Public Health Department from needlessly spending money on ads that have little, or worse, no effect. Let's hope the communication research process intervened here.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Is WikiLeaks Good or Bad for Scholarship?

Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts, has written a Chronicle of Higher Education column entitled "Why WikiLeaks is Bad for Scholars" which argues that the massive unauthorized release of classified documents will hurt future scholars because the U.S. government will seek tighter control of information as a reaction to this scandal.

As an information professional, I can't help but think that any release of information can't be entirely bad for scholars because, whether it was authorized or not, these cables provide yet another source for researchers to study so that they can get a clearer picture of what was happening diplomatically. While the U.S. government may try to impose tighter control on its information in the future, many such attempts in the past have failed and the information eventually gets out anyway. Just look at how WikiLeaks has been able to move its site around over the last few days to still be able to get its message out.

Basically in this information age, scholars really don't have to worry about having too little information for their research. It's information overload and the credibility of sources of information that really should be the bigger concerns.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Congress Turns the TV Down

Today Congress passed the CALM Act - it is a bill that would outlaw loud TV commercials. I've noted two common themes (or frames for you communication scholars) in the news coverage:
  • A focus on strategy. For example, CBS News leads with: "Congress is scrambling to address many issues during the lame duck session, including the Bush tax cuts, immigration reform, gays in the military and the extension of unemployment benefits -- but the House made time today to also pass the CALM Act, a bill that will ban loud television commercials."
  • An issue focus. For example, an AP story points out (bad grammar aside): "Consumers long have been complained about being blasted with noisy TV ads, but the FCC currently does not regulate audio levels."
This reminds me of the strategy and issue framing that is described in Cappella and Jamieson's Spiral of Cynicism. I just love it when research plays itself out in daily life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Tales of an iPad Newspaper

There was a story in the New York Times yesterday about how News Corp. is planning to create a new newspaper for the iPad.

I think what is really interesting about this story is that this new paper seems like it won't be updated all that frequently. According to the story, "The Daily will be a newspaper, an ancient motif on a modern device. It will be produced into the evening, and then a button will be pushed and it will be 'printed' for the next morning. There will be updates — the number of which is still under discussion — but not at the velocity or with the urgency of a news Web site." This is surprising given that the trend seems to be with more updates, not less. Maybe News Corp. figures that once you've bought the App, they have your money so they don't need to worry about keeping you coming back for more news?

If you'd like to read up on the future of news, we have lots of books on the topic in Cook Library.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Grant and Nonprofit Research

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been getting a lot of questions from students about how to find information about nonprofits, specifically how to find out about charitable contributions and grants.

Actually, a great resource is the new Nonprofits Subject Gateway, created by Business Librarian Shana Gass. This resource lists resources for finding charitable giving statistics, charity tax filings, and grant applications.

Two other things of note:
  • The Mediamark (MRI+) database does have some information on charitable contributions so you can find out what media contributors are more likely to use. Oddly enough, that info is listed under the category of "Contributions to Public TV/Radio" so it is easy to miss.
  • The Foundation Center has released a new GrantSpace site. This site offers lots tools to help novice grantseekers navigate the application process.
Since nonprofits and grants are becoming more of a part of the vernacular of communications, I think these requests are only the tip of the iceberg. I wouldn't be surprised if nonprofit research/grant writing become a larger part of the communications curriculum in the future.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2 Much Txting Bad 4 Teens

Dr. Scott Frank, a physician from Case Western University, presented research at the American Public Health Association conference that shows a correlation between teen hyper-texting (that is sending more than 120 texts a day) and other risky behavior such as smoking, drinking, drug use and having sex. Dr. Catriona Morrison of Leeds University in the UK says that this research suggests that hyper-texting is similar to other addictive behaviors, like gambling, in its co-morbidity with other risky behaviors.

I think it is interesting how this study measures hyper-texting in only quantitative terms and I wonder if we are going to see more robust measures of "texting addiction" (which I think would measure not only the number of texts but also people's attitudes about texting) in future studies.

To learn more about texting, check out these books from Cook Library.

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's the World Series and No One Seems to Care

Yet again last night, "Sunday Night Football" beat Major League Baseball (MLB) playoff games in the ratings according to an AP story on

So what's the big deal? I believe we are witnessing a shift here. Baseball used to be king. In fact, this is the first time that NBC aired a "Sunday Night Football" game in direct competition with the World Series because they were afraid of losing in the ratings. Now it seems they have nothing to fear because these ratings suggest that football has replaced baseball as America's pastime.

So from a communications perspective, I can't help but wonder where baseball lost its way. Is it that they need to sell the game in a new way and reintroduce the game to younger viewers? Maybe it is a fundamental problem with the product of baseball itself, meaning that the game just moves too slowly for our hyper-driven world? Whatever it is, MLB better figure it out fast or else they risk being about as popular as competitive basket weaving.

For more information about sports, media, and economics, check out the following resources:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Red Brand/Blue Brand

There's a fascinating piece in Ad Age this week about what brands are top with Republicans and Democrats.

No surprises for the number one slot for either party with Google topping the Democratic list and Fox News Channel leading the GOP list. There are some brands that are on both lists such as the History Channel.

The article talks a bit about what impact such partisanship can have on the brand, but in this political season I think the far more interesting thing is how campaigns utilize consumer data. Back in 2004, I was fortunate enough to coordinate an election debriefing with the top political operatives for both the Kerry and the Bush campaigns. One of the things that stuck out in my mind was how the Bush camp was able to successfully target their get-out-the-vote efforts using consumer data. They knew for example that if a person drove a Volvo, that person probably wouldn't be voting for Bush so they didn't bother trying to get that person to vote. To the best of my knowledge, this was the first election to use such consumer data in this way and it probably made a difference in the 2004 race.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unveiling the Wish List

There are a lot of books that we'd like to purchase for the library, but can't because of budget cutbacks. So we've created an Amazon wish list for Cook Library.

The books on this list have been selected by the library liaisons, including yours truly.

To purchase a book, just click on the link to the list and purchase it through Amazon. Then the book is shipped directly to the library and we'll send you a thank you note. Also, each donated item added to the collection will include a placard recognizing the donor.

Please consider donating a book to the library. For as little as $20, you can make a big difference.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How Does God Communicate?

I saw a USA Today story last week about a new book, America's Four Gods: What We Say about God and What That Says about Us by Paul Froese and Christopher Bader.

The book lays out the four different ways that people think about God:
  • The Authoritative God (engaged in people's lives and is judgmental)
  • The Benevolent God (engaged in people's lives, but is loving)
  • The Critical God (keeps track of our sins, but doesn't intervene in the world)
  • The Distant God (created the world, but doesn't intervene in the world)
What struck me about these descriptions is that an integral part of a person's portrait of God is how that person thinks God communicates with humanity. So even when it comes to something very abstract, like God, we find that communication is the heart of how people make sense of things. Communication is such a great field!

Cook Library doesn't have this new book, but you can request it through interlibrary loan.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Science News in a Nutshell

I come from a family of engineers and I am married to a scientist in a family of doctors. When I began studying journalism and news many moons ago, all of them pointed out how bad they felt science news coverage is. One of the chief criticisms I often hear is that science news lacks context and depth. Reporters cover a study like it is the be-all and end-all, studies are covered only if they are easy to understand instead of if they have merit, science only gets covered if it is political, etc...

I think this Guardian blog post that outlines what a typical science news story contains sums up their criticisms quite nicely. The fact that such a piece can be written (and be so darn funny) points to the fact that journalists may want to take a second look at how they cover science.

Cook Library has lots of great books about science news coverage including:

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week

This week Cook Library, along with other libraries across the country are celebrating Banned Books Week. During this week, the library emphasizes the importance of having the freedom to access and read information, no matter how controversial that information is. Freedom of information and communication go hand-in-hand. Without freedom to access and read information there is nothing to communicate.

So celebrate Banned Books Week along with us in Cook Library!

Maybe take the time to read a banned book (a list of some of the more recent ones can be found on the American Library Association's website). What is on the list may surprise you!

Another thing, you can do is stop in at the Banned Books Week Read-Out on Wednesday in the Cook Library Lobby from 12-1pm. At this event, students, faculty and staff will be reading from banned or challenged books.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

All the News that's Fit to Read

Pew's latest study on news consumption came out last week and there are some interesting findings:
  • About a third of Americans go online to get their news and that's a little higher than those who get their news from papers
  • People aren't replacing more traditional news content with digital, they're supplementing it
That last point made me think back to a story I remember hearing when I was a communication undergrad. I remember one of my professors saying how there was a fear when television first came out that people would stop going to the movies. It turns out that fear was ultimately misplaced. I wonder if the same will bear out for TV news and newspapers in this digital age. I think as long as there is a niche that those media can fill that is different from digital, they will survive. The question is: Can they find that niche?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Beginning of the End of OPRAH...

As the Associated Press reminds us, the final season of The Oprah Winfrey Show begins today.

The story hints at the effect this will have on her viewers, but as a quick search of the communication literature suggests, Oprah's impact went well beyond her audience. By just searching for scholarly articles containing "Oprah" in the Communication & Mass Media Complete database, I find 31 articles. A couple of the articles talk about the power that Oprah's endorsement of Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary had on the race. Many more talk about the impact that Oprah's Book Club has had on discussions about race, cultural, and social issues.

I think all of the research that has been done and probably will be done on Oprah is really a testament to the impact that media can have on society and culture.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Arizona Hires PR Firm

I recently saw a news story announcing that the state of Arizona has hired HMA Public Relations to come up with campaign to improve their image. The state's tourism office is hoping to counter any negative backlash that has arisen from the state's controversial immigration bill.

This news story made me wonder what the PR firm's best tactic would be here. Should they address the immigration bill head-on in ads or should they focus on the scenic touristy stuff that would traditionally be a major selling point? If they take the first tactic, they run the risk of having the most memorable part of the ads be the negative opinions about Arizona and if they take the other tactic, they run the risk of being seen as ridiculous for just glossing over one of the biggest controversies to hit the state in decades. Thus, I have a feeling they might allude to the immigration controversy in some way, but not specifically mention it in the ads. This seems like a nice, safe, middle-of-the-road approach. I'll be watching to see what happens...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What Do We Know about Weather Broadcasts?

With the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last week and Hurricane Earl threatening to barrel down on the east coast this week, I found myself being curious about news coverage of weather.

I wanted to know whether communications scholars uncovered any patterns in weather broadcasts? (For example: During a big storm, how likely are we to see that poor weather-beaten field reporter compared to the high and dry station meteorologist with his mighty Doppler Radar data?)

After turning to the Communication and Mass Media Complete database and searching for broadcasting AND news, I found a great article from the February 2007 issue of the Journal of Applied Communication Research titled " Conceptualizing Continuous Coverage: A Strategic Model for Wall-to-Wall Local Television Weather Broadcasts". This study looked at four local television stations’ coverage of four Atlantic hurricanes in two Southeastern markets in 2005 and found that live reporting only made up about 12% of coverage and weather reporters received most of the air time compared to news talent.

Granted, this is only one study, but it makes me wonder what other patterns exist in weather broadcasting. With all of these news-worthy weather events, I'm afraid communication scholars will have many opportunities to find out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Subject and Course Gateways!

Cook Library has undergone a lot of changes this summer. Last week we unveiled our new interface and this week we bring you new subject and course gateways.

I've created two subject gateways -- one in Communication Studies and one in Mass Communication -- that list some of the best resources (databases, journals, websites, books, and associations) in those disciplines. You can get to the new gateways from the library homepage by clicking on the Subject Gateways icon in the middle of the page. Once on the Subject Gateways page, just select one of the gateways from the drop down menu.

Also, a new feature are the course gateways. These pages list the best resources in specific courses. So far, I've created a gateway for COMM 131 (Fundamentals of Speech Communication) and I hope to create others in the very near future. You can get to the course gateways, by selecting the Research tab on the library's website and clicking on the Course Gateways link. Just enter the subject and the number of the course and you'll get the guide for that class. If no guide exists for that class, then it will send you to the Subject Gateway that covers the course.

I hope that you will make good use of the Subject and Course gateways. I promise that they are chock-full of great resources :-)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Take a look at our new look!

Last Friday, the Cook Library website got a new look! The functionality hasn't really changed, but we did move some items around to reflect how the site was being used. Mostly, we updated the look and feel to make it more user-friendly and more in line with TU's other pages.

For more information on the changes, visit the library's blog.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Anchorless Local News

According to a story in the New York Daily News, a local TV news station in Houston is planning to test out delivering their news broadcasts without anchors. Declining viewership is cited as the main reason for the cut.

As the article hints, experimenting with news styles and formats to try and reengage viewers isn't new. In her June/July 2009 article in American Journalism Review, Deborah Potter explains how news stations are trying social media and even "channeling ESPN's SportsCenter" to try to get back viewers.

I just wonder if removing anchors will ultimately make any difference in viewership. With more and more people getting their news online, removing anchors from local newscasts might be the equivalent of applying a new coat of paint to a sinking ship...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Pew Study: Media, Race, and Obama

I wish I could say I was surprised or that there was something different in the new Pew Research Center report examining news coverage of race during Obama's first year.

It's the same old story: News stories provide little context and cover events surrounding individuals rather than how trends (like the economic crisis) impact minority groups.

So even in the age of electronic news gathering, it looks like the same news norms outlined by Gaye Tuchman in Making News in 1978 (call number PN4756.T8) still hold true...

Monday, July 19, 2010

No Comment!

CNN has an interesting story on its website today examining how news websites are handling anonymous user comments. The article talks about how some news outlets are attempting to civilize the discourse on their sites by requiring users to register with their real names, e-mails, and sometimes hometowns so that posters can be held accountable for their comments.

I think this is an interesting topic for a number of reasons.

First of all: How will this impact the business end of news websites? If there are extra steps to commenting, will that mean fewer comments? If there are fewer comments, will that mean less page views, which in turn will mean less advertising? Hardly an ideal business move considering the economic state of many newspapers, so will the news outlets stick with this practice if it costs them money?

Second: What does this move signal about interactive discourse online in general? It is interesting to read articles from American Journalism Review (available through Communication and Mass Media Complete database) which point out that when comment boards were first created a few years ago, editors didn't give anonymous postings a second thought. Now they are a major topic of contention because profanity, vulgarity, and other undesirable content has become more pervasive. Thus, a pattern seems to have emerged - give the people free reign to post things until it gets out of and and then reel them back in. (Wikipedia comes to mind.) So will anonymous online posting across the internet survive or will it die out?

Friday, July 16, 2010

WorldCat TU

There's a new cat in town and he can help you find books! Cook Library now has access to WorldCat TU, a search engine for books. This tool can help you find books in Cook Library and in other libraries minus some of the headaches of the regular catalog.

What's nice about WorldCat TU is that searching has been simplified and streamlined. For example, you don't have to worry about making sure the word "The" has been removed from the title before searching, results are ranked by location and relevance, many of the results contain pictures of the book covers, and you can easily see which libraries around the world have an item.

The downside is that the searches are very specific, meaning that a search for journalist rather than journalism will produce very different results. Thus it is important to use wildcards (journalis*) and Boolean connectors (reporter + journalism) when searching. Also, WorldCat TU search results sometimes contain journal articles, but they are not always the best results. It is still best to use library databases when searching for journal articles.

To get to WorldCat TU from the library homepage, go to the research tab and select library catalogs. Then scroll down and click on the WorldCat TU link. Happy searching :-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Official! "The Internet is Completely Over!"

The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince has decided not to release his new album online. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, he said: "The Internet’s completely over, ... The Internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you."

Why do I feel like I have heard this tune before about other media? The Middleton Studies of the 1920s and 1930s raised concerns that radio was resulting in isolation and Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone argues that individualizing technology like television is causing a decline in civic engagement.

Seems like it is the same old tune--just a different player.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Poll Problems

So here's the story: The Daily Kos, a liberal political blog, had contracted with Research 2000, a Maryland-based research firm, to provide polling data. According to a statistical analysis, the polling numbers provided to Daily Kos were bogus. In fact, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas writes, "I have just published a report by three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk."

You might be wondering what the big deal is here. Organizations sue one another for fraud and breach of contract all the time, right? Well Research 2000's poll numbers didn't just exist on this one blog. News outlets such as KCCI-TV in Iowa, WCAX-TV in Vermont, WISC-TV in Wisconsin, WKYT-TV in Kentucky, Lee Enterprises, the Concord Monitor, The Florida Times-Union, WSBT-TV/WISH-TV/WANE-TV in Indiana, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Bergen Record, and the Reno Gazette-Journal were among Research 2000's clients.

I agree with the Washington Post's Plum Line blog that "this is likely to prompt a serious discussion about whether news orgs should be doing more to vet the polling they commission or publish." I also think it's a shame that it takes a scandal like this to prompt such an important discussion in news...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

CNN cuts AP

When I first read a story earlier this week that CNN would no longer be using Associated Press (AP) coverage in favor of their own news gathering operations, I was shocked. After all it seems like every time I go to a news website or pick up a paper, it's an AP story that I'm reading. Also, setting up a news-gathering organization is expensive and producing news isn't getting any cheaper these days! But as a I read and thought more about it, I came to realize that actually CNN might be making a good business move here. It seems that more and more financially strapped news outlets are upset with the AP's fees and CNN is hoping to be a competitor with the AP. Maybe local papers in the future will at least have more varied wire content...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Government & Journalism - Should They Mix?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken on the task of studying how to fix journalism and they released a draft of possible recommendations for discussion.

As noted in an article in the New York Times, the suggestions in this document have come under intense scrutiny. Some conservatives have voiced concern over the possibility of a "Drudge Tax" which would charge news aggregators fees for reproducing content. Other concerns focus on a larger question: Should government be thinking about ways to fix journalism in the first place? What role should government play when an industry, particularly one that is important to democracy, is economically sinking?

So what do you think? Is the FTC on the right path or are they way off base?

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Help Guides Portal at Cook Library!

Thanks to some of our fabulous emerging technologies librarians here at Cook Library, we have a new Help Guides Portal.

Once in the portal, you can get to the guides either by searching or browsing by category. The portal also has sections at the bottom of the page listing the most popular guides and the guides that will help you get started in the library.

So whether you need help with APA citations, or you aren't sure how to make sense of that chart in MRI+, you can find a guide that will give you some answers.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


When you were creating an advertising or media campaign, did you ever come across the Nielsen Prizm market segments and wonder what the heck they were? What exactly makes "The Cosmopolitans" different from "Up-and-Comers," anyway?

On the MyBestSegments website you can get the definition of each of the 66 Prizm segments including where each segment is likely to shop and what each segment is likely to drive. Also, you can get basic information on what segments make up a particular zip code. To top that off, each of these components is free!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How to be influential on Twitter

According to new research, an average Joe or Josephine can gain influence in Twitter by limiting his or her tweets to a particular topic and being engaged in that topic.

The authors of this study analyzed about 2 billion public tweets and looked at followers, retweets, and mentions to see who moves information on Twitter. They found that while news organizations, such as CNN, can hold significant influence on a variety of topics, average people can gain influence "through concerted effort such as limiting tweets to a single topic." Apparently, influence on Twitter is not all about the number of followers that you have.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Polling Websites

Since this is an election year, we will undoubtedly see political news coverage turn again to poll numbers to help fill the news hole. If you want to see the data for yourself or want to learn more about public opinion in other areas, check out these sites:
  • Real Clear Politics: This site compiles the latest numbers from all the major poling firms for the 2010 political races and Obama job approval.
  • Gallup: Sometimes you want to know what the public thinks about an issue and this website contains publicly available polling data on the latest hot-button issues
  • Pew Research Center: This non-profit research center's website often contains their polling data for issues that are in the news.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Guidelines for Reporters

Sometimes reporters need to cover sensitive topics, such as a suicide, and there may be some confusion about how that topic should be covered. Once again, research can come to rescue, if you know where to look.

Chances are, if you are faced with an ethical dilemma about how to cover a story, another reporter has faced a similar situation. Other newspapers' standards and policies for reporting can be a guide and journalism organizations, such as the Society for Professional Journalists, may also have ethical guidelines.

Also, foundations or research institutes may have guidelines as well. In a previous life I worked for Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania on a project that focused on improving news coverage of suicides. Previous research had indicated that many news reporters didn't realize (or didn't want to believe) that how they covered suicides (the wording that they used and the pictures that they showed) could impact whether or not "copycat" suicides would later be attempted. We worked with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to create and disseminate media guidelines for suicide coverage that reflected the research. One thing to keep in mind when turning to interest groups for guidelines is to make sure that they are grounded in sound research and not just a ploy to get favorable media coverage.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Newseum: A good physical and virtual resource

Last summer I visited the reopened Newseum in Washington D.C. for the first time and I was blown away. As someone who reads news religiously, I could have spent a lifetime in the building just taking in the exhibits and contemplating the impact that news has on our society.

Thus, I was thrilled when I later went back to the Newseum's website and saw all the great news resources that are available. Through this site, you can:
  • See the front pages of newspapers from around the world
  • Keep up with journalism news
  • Get information on the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution (great for that upcoming informative or persuasive COMM 131 speech!)
So if you haven't visited the Newseum in person or virtually, I recommend that you do both.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Are Bloggers Journalists? or Does Receiving Stolen Property Equal News Gathering?

David Chen blogs for Gizmodo, a tech blog, and he recently posted pictures of a next-generation iPhone that he somehow acquired on that blog. Last Friday, investigators came to his house with a warrant for his computer, saying that it was used in a felony connected to illegally obtaining that iPhone. Chen and the folks who own Gizmodo are saying he is a journalist and therefor his property is protected under the first amendment.

A number of news stories are framing this incident as a legal question of whether or not Chen has protection under the Shields Law, which prevents a journalist from revealing anonymous sources. I agree with some legal experts, however, that this might be more of a receiving stolen property question. The Awl's Choire Sicha writes, "The reporter shield law, ... might not be germane—if the police are investigating the editor himself as the person who committed the felony. ... maybe you're going to find out that journalism and/or blogging is totally incidental to what happened here."

While I do think there will ultimately be court cases that attempt to settle whether bloggers count as journalists, I don't think this will be the case that tests those waters. There seems to be the larger issue of whether or not Chen knew he was receiving stolen property when he got that iPhone prototype and until that is cleared up, I don't see this case addressing the "Are bloggers journalists?" question.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Come on in -- The World Bank is Open!

Journalists writing international stories and the researchers who support them, rejoice!

It was just announced today that the World Bank is opening up its data archive and putting up a new website to house all of it. According to an article by Mathew Ingram of the business blog Gigaom, "The data at the World Bank site includes more than 2,000 indicators related to economic well-being and global development, including some that the agency has been accumulating for 50 years."

There looks to be a ton of great stuff in this archive. For example, you can find out how many patent applications were submitted by Bulgarian residents in 2008 and which countries have the highest life expectancy. On top of this, the archive lists the sources for the data so you know where all of it comes from. I can't wait to keep digging in this archive!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Welcome to the New Books!

As this academic year winds down, I want to highlight some of the new communication books that we've added to the Cook Library collection. While some books were ordered because they were requested by faculty members, I also requested other books to help beef up our collection in some key areas, namely global communication and Web 2.0. I also wanted to expand the number of books with graduate level scholarship.

So without further ado, here are some of the newbies:
  1. International media communication in a global age (Call Number: PN4784.F6 I583 2010)
  2. International communications strategy: developments in cross-cultural communications, PR and social media (Call Number: HM1211 .C36 2009)
  3. Advertising 2.0: Social Media Marketing in a Web 2.0 (Call Number: HF6146.I58 T88 2008)
Enjoy :-)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Where is the media middle?

John Douthat wrote a column in the New York Times a few days ago asking the question, "Can CNN be saved?" He basically contends that CNN's decision in 2004 to pull contentious shows like "Crossfire" in favor of more middle-of-the-road news programming has killed them in the everyday ratings. Douthat wants CNN to be more like John Stewart on "The Daily Show" and have more "lengthy, respectful and often riveting" debates.

But the research out there on selective exposure makes me wonder if Douthat's strategy would save CNN. Dr. Diana Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania noted in a paper for the Brookings Institute that "selective exposure is alive and well" with Republicans choosing Fox News and Democrats choosing NPR. Mutz goes on to argue that this selective exposure polarizes the electorate because those in the middle become disenchanted with politics and are less likely to participate. So this leads me to ask: If the middle is shrinking and that's where CNN sits, will there be anyone to even watch CNN's new "riveting" programming?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Broadcasting, interpersonal communication, and the job hunt

I think at least once a week, I come across some kind of communication phenomenon that I would like to scientifically investigate. My moment for this week came early when I saw an announcement on ABC2 offering viewers with resume help. The program allows people to e-mail their resumes to Good Morning Maryland and each week, three people will tape a 20-second video pitch as to why they should be considered for a job.

This made me wonder: It seems that successful resumes (the ones that don't automatically end up in the circular file) are often tailored to the specific organization and even the specific job. So how can the people making these 20-second videos balance this need for specificity with the fact that their pitches are being broadcast and could potentially reach a large number of potential employers? I'd love to study which resumes/videos are the most successful at landing people jobs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

C-SPAN Library is here!

C-Span has put its video archives online. contains over 160,000 hours of footage and spans the last 23 years. Best part--it's free!

According to a New York Times piece, MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow compared accessing the archive to "being able to Google political history using the ‘I Feel Lucky’ button every time" and Ed Morrissey, a senior correspondent for the Hot Air blog said, "The geek in me wants to find an excuse to start digging." I couldn't agree more! This a treasure trove for anyone interested in political communication.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Who in the world is using what technology?

Ever want to know what the broadband penetration is in Iran or how what percentage of Brazil's population has access to a mobile signal?

Check out this website created by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations agency.

Select a county using the map or the pull down menu in the middle of the website and you can learn about telecommunications technology and technology policy in that particular country.

(Just in case you were wondering - less than one out of every 100 inhabitants of Iran has broadband and 90.64% of Brazil's population is covered by a mobile signal.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscar doesn't matter that much?

According to a piece in this morning's USA Today, The Hurt Locker's best picture win doesn't mean a big financial boost. In fact, after working in marketing costs and movie theaters' cut from the box office revenues, author David Lieberman projects that the film will "be marginally profitable at best." Also, according to Rutgers Business School's S. Abraham Ravid, "The publicity from being nominated for an Oscar is 'more valuable financially than actually winning,'" and "'Award winners do not increase revenues' for the films in which they star."

So what does this mean for advertisers? Maybe it isn't so important for a product or a brand to tie itself to an Oscar winner; being connected with one of the nominees in future projects might just be enough. It looks like Oscar buzz has quite a bit of staying power...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Don't want to miss that hot new new journal article?

If you are a big fan of keeping up with the latest scholarly publications in the field like I am (or even if you just have an assignment due on a particular topic and you don't want to miss anything), you can stay connected by setting up an alert in any EBSCO database and have those articles delivered right to your desktop.

How it works: If you are in Communication and Mass Media Complete (or any EBSCO database) just log on at the top where it says "Sing In to My EBSCOhost." Next create and try out your search and then save it by clicking on the "Search History/Alerts" tab under the search box. Next, check the box next to the search you want to save and click on "Save Searches/Alerts" just above. Then you will be shown a form and in the last question, make sure you save the search as an alert. Now you will be given the option to have the article links emailed to you or they can be delivered via an RSS feed. I personally like having the RSS feed on my iGoogle page because it forces me to look at the updates daily.

So give it a try for yourself and you might just find that you never miss that really great new article again.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It's Texting, Social Networking and TV?

The Pew Research Center released a report this week titled Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change. In terms of technology use, there is nothing earth shattering here: 18-29 year olds are more likely to text and tweet than other generations.

I think some of the more interesting information is about where Millennials get their news: 59% get most of their news from the Internet but 65% still get most of their news from television. While the survey asks about CNN and other news channels as sources of news, I wonder if many Millennials actually get most of their news from entertainment sources like The Daily Show. I wish Pew would have asked about that in their survey...

Friday, February 19, 2010

New APA Style Guide

Cook Library has updated its APA style guides to reflect the changes that the American Psychological Association implemented last summer. These guides cover in-text citations, and how to cite print, electronic, and other sources. You can get a copies of the guides through the Cook Library Citing Sources page or at the Reference Desk.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Getting Customers to do the Advertising

Having almost a week off because of the snow gave me some time to finally catch up on some reading. I just finished 'I love you more than my dog': Five decisions that drive extreme customer loyalty in good times and bad by Jeanne Bliss, a customer service expert. The book argues that customers will naturally want to sell your product/service when your organization is genuinely guided by principles of putting customers first. Jeanne Bliss notes that this can be difficult for many organizations to actually implement because it requires a radical shift in how business is done -- It requires asking "Do my customers even want a chair?" before asking "Since we make chairs, what kind of chair should we make make?"

As Erik van Ommeren pointed out during his Me the Media lecture at Towson last fall, companies and other organizations are no longer driving how the marketplace thinks about their products/services. Potential customers are developing their opinions based on what other customers are saying. (Customer reviews are king.) In order for companies and other organizations to regain some control of how their products or services are seen in the marketplace, they need to get their customers to be willing to sell their products/services. If Jeanne Bliss is right, getting this to happen on a large scale won't just require marketing executives to learn how to write compelling tweets; it will require a massive organizational overhaul. Those of you in advertising may have your work cut out for you...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Editor & Publisher is Alive!

E&P was sold to Duncan McIntosh Co. Inc and is planning a February issue. The "bible of the newspaper industry" lives on!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pay for Hulu?

According to a recent article in the LA Times, It looks like Hulu, the website created by studios to disseminate TV content, may not be free for much longer. It sounds like they are considering creating a subscription model where users would get access to the most recent episodes for free, but would have to pay to access older content. It also seems like they are thinking about charging for some of the most popular shows like House or 30 Rock.

I'm sure Hulu is hoping that it will have more success than Newsday, which has only had 35 people willing to pay $260 per year for unlimited access...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Looking for some speech inspiration?

Dr. Michael Eidenmuller of the University of Texas at Tyler has created Speech Bank: a free online database with full-text, audio, and video of over 5,000 speeches.

So whether you're looking for the text of Elle Wood's speech from Legally Blonde or video of Obama's last State of the Union address, this is a great place to find what you need.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

News News about Old News

I know you all think nothing is more exciting than microfilm, but what if I told you that Cook Library now has a new way to look at microfilm!

ProQuest, where we get our newspapers on microfilm, has begun offering microfilm for specific newspapers digitally. Basically, it’s the same as looking at microfilm, but instead, you can do it through the web, on and off-campus, instead of coming to the library and using a microform machine.

For those of you who can't live without the microfilm machines, don't worry - we will continue to get the microfilm at the end of the year.

The newspapers covered are: Barrons, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, all 2000 forward.

You can access the ProQuest Digital Microfilm archive through the database list on the library website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Great News Repackaging

Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism has a new study out that examines what makes up "the news." They looked at all the outlets that produced local news in Baltimore from July 19-25, 2009 and then studied the movement of six major news narratives from that week. The results are dramatic:
  • 80% of stories are just repackaged information published elsewhere
  • 63% of news stories were initiated by government officials
  • 95% of the stories that did contain new information came from newspapers
As we know, this is a tough time for newspapers so this study begs the question of who will fill the news hole if newspapers fold. It can't all be repackaged news, right?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

H1N1 and New Media

Happy new year to all of you communication scholars out there! Looking back at 2009, one of the biggest stories was the Swine Flu and what contributed to or helped thwart its spread. The Boston Globe had a piece in December about how the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) used YouTube and Twitter to get the public information about the epidemic. The article notes the challenges of condensing complicated scientific information into 140 characters and discusses how the CDC "has become the predominant online choice for swine flu information." I think the CDC's use of new media to communicate about H1N1 will be a model for future public health communication campaigns.