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.