12/30/2010 12:33:18 PM
With Christmas morning mercifully in the rearview mirror, you might think America’s marketing and advertising industries are ready to start acting like adults—at least until Valentine’s Day. But over the last decade, turning impressionable youngsters into full-time consumers has become a corporate obsession, reports Z Magazine: “In the United States alone, expenditures on marketing to children skyrocketed from $2 billion in 1999 to $15 billion in 2005.”
And even though the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission acknowledge that young children are uniquely vulnerable to commercial messages, the U.S. government hasn’t passed significant legislation on the issue since 1990—giving companies carte blanche to “surround children with messages at school, on the school bus, on the Internet, on cellphones and videogames, at doctors’ offices, zoos, museums, with viral marketing (i.e., fake word of mouth), grass-roots marketing, guerilla marketing, immersive marketing, and so on.”
Yosef Brody, who penned the Z piece and is a clinical psychologist in Paris, references recent studies establishing that young children are prone to pay particular attention to TV commercials, but they can’t discriminate its form or intent from other programming. A majority of these ads are for junk food, which is directly related to childhood obesity, considered a health epidemic and correlated with diabetes and hypertension (conditions that have tripled in teenagers since 1980).
Gender stereotyping and violence are also rampant.
“Recent research shows that a high level of exposure to commercial messages is a significant cause of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and psychosomatic complaints, including headaches and stomachaches,” Brody writes. “Sociologist Juliet Schor found robust evidence that the more that psychologically healthy children become involved in commercial culture, the worse their mental health becomes, and that the more that emotionally disturbed children disengage from commercial culture, the healthier they get.”
Source: Z Magazine
Image by giovanni_giusti, licensed by Creative Commons
12/23/2010 12:33:26 PM
Every week we share links to stories, articles, and other interesting things we’ve come across online for you to enjoy over the weekend. It’s the utne.com crockpot; we add the ingredients for a great online meal. This time, it's a holiday meal! Enjoy!
We knew there was something trippy about the jolly old elf, but have you heard about the roots of the Santa Claus myth in Russian psychedelic shamanism? Christmas will never be the same.
Is that an intoxicated reindeer on your sweater? The Wall Street Journal gets festive with a trend-piece on ugly Christmas sweater parties.
It’s time for the yearly deluge of Top 10 lists. And, per usual, the hype around new artists, albums, and films (which are at best above average) is often as ludicrous as it is historically barren. A Blog Supreme’s list of 5 jazz reissues that put 2010 to shame helps keep things in proper perspective.
Get the whole family holding hands around the computer and sing "The 12 Days of WikiLeaks."
While you’re standing in line waiting to purchase that new iPad for Uncle Albert, consider this: Apple computer, citing its “developer guidelines,” has banned a WikiLeaks application from its online store. (Hat tip to Tech blogger Shelly Palmer.)
Speaking of WikiLeaks, the Center for Public Integrity once again ignores the media hype to actually do some reporting and concludes many of the memos expose the
“U.S. government’s penchant to make even trivial details classified secrets.”
“The most significant change to food safety regulation in 75 years” is how one expert describes the new U.S. food safety bill, whose landmark passage this week was downplayed amid flashier news and pre-holiday hubbub. President Obama is expected to sign it into law soon after the new year.
Pat Robertson is in favor of decriminalizing marijuana. What’s next, treating gays like real people?
Senior editor Brad Zellar reads a twisted Christmas story. (Content may not be suitable for some viewers.)
Image by ~Merete, licensed under Creative Commons.
12/9/2010 9:33:11 AM
Though some of us persist in our refusal to even enter into discussions regarding “the future of the book,” there’s no longer any point in denying that there are now all sorts of people who are positively gung ho about the possibilities of portable reading devices and electronic books. People are buying them in staggering numbers and you can already buy some knock-off version of a Kindle at the Pump N Munch. Print devotees may relish fantasies about these gadgets ultimately languishing in thrift stores, garage sales, and landfills—someday every Third World urchin will have an e-reader! How can that not be a good thing?—but for at least one more holiday cycle we’re all just going to have to play along with what is essentially an upscale Cabbage Patch Doll phenomenon that creates serious money for maybe a dozen already onerously wealthy people.
This week’s big news on the e-book front is Google’s launch of its eBookstore. One more pig has joined the pile! According to MobyLives, however, this pig might not be quite so piggish as the other pigs in the pile; through Google’s entry in the e-book biz, Nathan Ihara writes, “American Booksellers Association bookstores now have the opportunity to sell eBooks directly from their websites, offering them a first opportunity to take advantage of the rapid increase in the eBook market and to fight back against the corporate juggernauts of Amazon, Barnes and Noble, andApple.”
It’s obviously early, but the list of independent stores that are already hawking their e-book wares over at Google is modestly encouraging. Paul Constant, writing for the Seattle Stranger’s Slog blog (quoted in the MobyLives piece), says that before indies can hope to generate real online traffic and sales, they “need to figure out ways to make their websites into destinations that are just as interesting, appealing, and welcoming as their physical stores.”
The Google development is encouraging, in other words, but Constant reminds the little guys that they still have work to do:
Like it or not, your website is just as important as your physical store; the bookselling business is about to go through a change as dynamic as when Barnes & Noble and Borders first came on the scene, or when Amazon suddenly became the go-to bookseller for America. This time, indie booksellers have a shot at reclaiming some ground from the big boys; if you blow it, you'll go out of business. It's that simple.
Source: MobyLives, The Stranger
Image by anitakhart, licensed under Creative Commons.
12/7/2010 10:05:38 AM
The argument goes like this: the Internet came along and started giving everything away for free and those ink-stained wretches grinding away to put out that daily paper that showed up on your doorstep each morning—that product for which you paid good money—just couldn’t be expected to keep up. How, in such an unlevel playing field were the old scribes to play along? Free news vs. paid subscription. The consumers, of course, made the choice that allowed them to spend a little more on Christmas gifts each year or put a little away in savings.
Or so the story goes.
Not so fast, argues Askold Melnyczuk in AGNI:
The death [of conventional journalism] was hardly inevitable and technology may have had less to do with it than most people think. A new medium is only as valuable as its message. Had newspapers continued to report the “news,” we might never have needed to find another way of getting it.
Melnyczuk points to an article by Michael Chossudovsky—“Towards a World War III Scenario?”—from the website GlobalResearch.ca as a particularly striking example of how news from Internet sources, more so than their print counterparts, actually cover stories worth covering and take strong stances on important issues such as war. He also points to WikiLeaks, calling the website’s success “the most important development in journalism in years.”
That newspapers around the world haven’t offered a chorus of thanks to WikiLeaks, and an even louder one to Private Manning, the young man alleged to have leaked the video mentioned above [of American soldiers murdering unarmed civilians in Iraq]—for which he now sits in a military prison—suggests that the decline and eventual disappearance of print journalism may leave us with little to mourn.
So maybe it wasn’t what we’ve all been led to believe—that the Internet killed the print journalism star. The lack of actual reporting on actual important issues may have simply chased readers to places where that coverage was actually happening.
What do you think? Do you get most of your news online these days or do you still subscribe to a daily paper? How about with ol’ Utne Reader here? Is the website your only destination for us, or do you get the magazine in your mailbox every couple of months, too?
Source: AGNI (article not available online)
Image by cookieevans5, licesnsed under Creative Commons.
12/3/2010 6:29:20 PM
Three months after 9/11, 20 men deemed dangerous to America landed at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base. In the nine-years since, nearly 800 detainees—often arrested without probable cause and held without being tried or even charged—have been jailed on the Cuban island. Some have been released, some have been tried, and some have committed suicide. And Carol Rosenberg, a reporter for the Miami Herald, has covered it all.
“Carol’s daily accounts are what you need to read to understand Guantánamo 101,” Karen Greenberg, executive director of New York University’s Center on Law and Security tells David Glenn, who wrote a profile about Rosenberg for Columbia Journalism Review that was published in November. “She’s still the only person who can contextualize what’s going on. Carol’s has been the consistent presence.”
She’s also a dogged daily reporter (an increasingly rare breed), who pushes back at the military’s efforts to limit information; files sharp, 1,000 word stories chronicling everything from the most mundane regulations to the most colorful detainees; and is completely uninterested in punditry. She isn’t even peddling a book. Instead, Rosenberg sleeps in the uncomfortable media tents at the Naval Base and cultivates her expanding list of sources, proving that institutional cooperation and feel good stories are not only unnecessary, but a waste of time.
“Reporters’ movements on the base are heavily stage-managed and during waking hours they’re almost never out of earshot of a public-affairs staff member,” Glenn writes. “Rosenberg has done much of her work here by gaining the trust of attorneys, guards, medical workers, and other personnel—and then finding way to communicate with them from Florida.”
Her scoops include a story about the Pentagon’s decision to create a joint task force to conduct interrogations at Guantánamo and a piece introducing Salim Hamdan, who, according to Glenn, “was one of the first detainees slated for trial before the Bush administration’s early military tribunals.”
It comes as no surprise, then, that Rosenberg’s tenure at the base has been threatened. In 2009, she was accused of unprofessional conduct and in May she was temporarily excised—along with three Canadian reporters—for allegedly violating a protective order. A few months later, she was given a First Amendment Award by the Society of Professional journalists.
“She’s a hard-ass. She’s tough as nails,” MSNBC contributor Bob Franken tells CJR. “But she doesn’t cut corners. The military sometimes seemed like they only wanted us to offer light color commentary and root for the home team, and Carol never played that game.”
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
, licensed under
12/2/2010 4:19:31 PM
Every week we share links to stories, articles, and other interesting things we’ve come across online for you to enjoy over the weekend. It’s the utne.com crockpot; we add the ingredients for a great online meal.
Maybe we’ve been living under a rock—you know, too caught up in our alternative media over here—but what the hell is going on with Randy Quaid?
A frog dissection made with LEGOs. Seriously.
The animated environmental video short The Story of Stuff went so very, very viral that it launched a cottage industry for filmmaker Annie Leonard. Her latest is The Story of Electronics, about “designed for the dump” consumer tech products.
Artsy folks will love counting down the days until Christmas with this advent calendar on Tumblr.
Also worth checking out: 3rd of May, another Tumblr that will feature an artwork every day, all year long.
Yes, your local community college may have a wind-power technician training program, but don’t be fooled: America is fast falling behind other countries in the push for green jobs.
Lapham’s Quarterly has a really fun chart of gangs in New York from 1840 to 1910.
As we approach the solstice, gray moods and scant sunlight pervade—which makes it a perfect time to wallow in gloomy literature for dreary days.
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