Media Critique Blog #4

Abortion is a word that gets many people fired up for multiple reasons. Just saying that one word can incite quite a reaction from the general public. The news story “Alabama not the only state weighing mandate for additional info for women seeking abortions,” by Chris Pow of The Birmingham News, is sure to draw quite a few comments from readers. The headline is attention-grabbing and easily leads the reader right into the “good stuff,” the main information that Pow wants his readers to know.

Pow pretty quickly explains what this story is about by explaining that a bill was approved last week that requires ultrasound exams for women seeking an abortion. However, Pow then take a little bit of a detour from the story by saying Sen. Clay Scofield, the sponsor of Senate Bill 12, is planning to rewrite the legislation. Scofield wants women to be able to choose which type of ultrasound they would prefer, instead of being forced to undergo whatever the doctor suggests. This is an important piece of information for Pow to include, because it helps the reader feel like they have more of a say in the matter if this bill is passed in the future. Of course, Pow knows that many of his readers will be for abortion and will not want this bill to be passed. Including that Scofield is trying to help women have more of a say only makes Scofield more likable from both parties, those for and those against abortion.

Pow includes only a few quotes, most of them being indirect quotes. He does, however, directly quote from Scofield’s bill stating that before a women could give her informed consent, she would receive a “verbal explanation of what the ultrasound [was] depicting” as well as “the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.” Knowing exactly what this bill requires is the most important piece of information Pow could share with the reader. He held off explaining this part of the bill until about midway through his news story. Doing so keeps the reader hooked and makes it even more likely that they will read through to the end of the story since they have already read so much.

The last piece of the news story was about Gov. Robert Bentley, who told the Huffington Post that he had just heard about the proposed legislation and hadn’t been able to study it yet. At first, this seemed like a very strange way to end an interesting and insightful news story. Pow seemed to be ending on a low-key piece of information. But after thinking about it a little more, I can see exactly why Pow chose to end the story in this way. He wisely foresaw that many readers will come to the end of the story already feeling one way or the other about the bill. Closing the story with a quote for or against the bill would turn away half of Pow’s readers. Instead, choosing to end by pointing out what to watch for next – Gov. Bentley’s reaction to the proposed legislation – will keep readers looking ahead. Instead of being turned off, they’ll keep checking back to see what happens next.

Pow did a good job keeping the reader interested and informed while reading the news story. Although there weren’t many direct quotes, which is something I would change if I wrote the story, I was impressed with all the background research he obviously did before writing the story. There were also many hyperlinks throughout the story, enabling me to quickly do my own research. As I walk away from the story, I’m very interested to know what happens next. Though I certainly have my own view on abortion and whether I want the bill passed or not, I walk away knowing that I’ll likely check back every few days to see if Pow has given his readers an update. That is the best kind of writing – the kind that keeps people coming back for more.

 

You can find the news story here.

Advertising Chapter Analysis

Advertising has been around for at least 3,000 years. It started with painted messages on stones and later became pieces printed in newspapers. The very first newspaper advertisement appeared in 1704, but it wasn’t until the 1880’s that ads appeared in magazines. Radio advertising began in 1922 and finally, in 1949, advertising on television became a big hit. Of course there is also advertising on the Internet, but it hasn’t “taken off” the way advertising in the above mentioned mediums has.

Advertising has a rich history but, like all industries, it faces a few issues. Advertising can quickly become very expensive. If many people don’t see the ad, the money is wasted. But even if people see the ad, they might not do anything about it. For example, advertising on the Internet is risky because people often do not click-though the ad to find out more information. Because of this, the click-through rate for many sites is quite low. Pop-ups are another issue Internet advertising faces, because consumers can easily install a pop-up blocker, thus eliminating incoming ads. Other issues advertising faces include: the economic health of the nation, choosing which type of media to use, and staying within the codes established by the FTC, FDA, and FCC.

Technology is changing the advertising industry because less and less people are picking up newspapers and magazines, while more and more people watch television or spend their time online. This means advertisements are beginning to switch to online or televised versions instead of focusing on printed ads. But because the click-through rate for Internet ads is low, the ad industry is tirelessly working to find ways to work around the consumer, like putting ads below search engines, thus raising the click-through rate.

As a job market, the advertising industry looks like a very good place to work. There are many different places to work in an ad agency including: marketing research, creative activity, administration, and media selection, among others. Each job title has a different section of advertising that they’re responsible for. If I were to choose my favorite, the most interesting to me, I would go with the creative activity department. They are responsible for thinking up the ad, designing the art, and they often produce the commercials. Additionally, the job market looks stable. The chapter states that “in 2010, television advertising revenue in the U.S. totaled $70 billion.” The ad industry is only going to get bigger in the next few years.

My favorite part about the chapter was all the different information on ways ads appeal to consumers. Because I see so many ads every day, I rarely think about the fact that a certain message is being sent. Instead, I get the message and move on with my day. The chapter showed, however, that there are 15 different ways that ads are used to get my attention. Some of these include the need for attention, the need to achieve, and the need for guidance. I found it extremely interesting that all 15 ways targeted a different need that we each have. It makes sense, though, because advertising must always grab the consumers’ attention, and what better way to do so than to focus on what we need?

 

Book/Chapter:

Media/Impact: An Introduction to Mass Media by Shirley Biagi – Chapter 10

PR Reflection

Public Relations is a confusing topic when trying to separate PR with advertising. The group that presented on Tuesday (MeMe, Taylor, Abigail, and Sarah Brook) began their presentation by explaining what PR actually is. It proved to be a great way to start, because it prepared me for the rest of their presentation and helped clear up the differences between advertising and PR.

The group covered many topics very thoroughly, including the history of PR, major trends in PR, and difference/similarities in both PR and journalism, as well as PR and advertising. One of the major trends they spent a lot of time discussing was social networking. They said that it is one of the most important parts of PR, and I agree. Social networking, whether through Facebook, Twitter, or another source, is an easy and cheap way to gain a lot of publicity.

In my opinion, the most interesting part of the presentation was the information about different PR occupations and skills that are needed. I didn’t realize that writing is the most important part of PR. From reading the book chapter, I knew there were many important skills needed, but the presentation proved to me that good, quality writing is the most important thing.

The Public Relations presentation group ended by talking briefly about PR today. They said that PR focuses mainly on three categories: the economy, relationships, and social media. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but it makes complete sense. Basically everything I see, read, or hear about that is related to PR is about one of these three topics.

The group did a good job with their presentation. I learned a lot in a short period of time, and they were able to teach not only what was in the book, but also more detailed information that they found through their own research. Although it was hard to follow what they were saying at times, simply because they sometimes spoke too quickly, the content was great and I left class knowing more than when I came in.

Media Critique Blog #3

Being from out of state, I had never heard of the Alabama Bingo Trial until I read the paper this morning. Apparently, those who would be voting on a new bill were bribed to vote a certain way. Ronnie Gilley is one of those who were bribing the voters. Kim Chandler, of The Birmingham News, wrote a story mainly on Gilley and why he is on the witness stand. The timing of this story is very appropriate, as he is on the witness stand all day today.

Chandler began her story already putting Gilley on “the wrong side.” For a person who had never even heard of Gilley before, I immediately felt like I should be against him, simply from reading the first few lines of her story. This is good for Chandler because it shows her writing was convincing from the very beginning. She continued to drive the point home by including direct and indirect quotes from him.

It was these quotes that really struck me. Hearing that he had not only testified to being guilty but also bragged he wouldn’t be in jail long (hinting that he would bribe people to get him out of jail as well) was a very strong point for Chandler. These indirect quotes brought the story home. Unfortunately, Chandler also included one other indirect quote from Susan James, a lawyer for former Country Crossing spokesman Jay Walker, that didn’t add to the story. The quote should have been left out and Chandler should have simply brought up that point another way, or left it out completely.

Overall, the quotes greatly enhanced the story. Without the indirect quotes from Gilley, Chandler would not have had a very strong story. Chandler could have made her story even better by quoting someone that believes Gilley is under trial unfairly. That would have made the story much more interesting and given the reader a contrasting view.

My biggest problem with this story was the punctuation, or lack thereof. There were multiple run-on sentences and missing commas. Personally, I have a very hard time reading a story without proper punctuation. Instead of focusing on the content, my mind gets stuck on how so many commas could be overlooked. Hopefully, Chandler’s readers aren’t as perceptive when it comes to punctuation. As long as people can overlook these errors, they will find a good story that will make them want to watch the witness stand all day just to find out a little more about Ronnie Gilley’s future.

 

You can find the story by Chandler here:

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/02/gilley_returns_to_witness_stan.html

Media Critique Blog #2

Alabama tornadoes have affected thousands of people. Mike Oliver of The Birmingham News recently told the story of Daniel and Rose Yarbrough, whose house was hit in the recent storms. The couple was given money to reimburse them while they weren’t able to stay in their house, but the couple gave the money back.

The story is told well, leading the reader onto the next paragraph every time. Oliver kept the reader by holding off on the answer to the question everyone automatically has: Why? Why would they give the money back?

Oliver utilized the inverted pyramid structure when writing this story. He began with a dramatic, attention grabbing headline, and then started the story with the most important details. The end of the story was less important with a quote by someone barely involved.

Oliver used four sources, three of which were quoted. Harry Brown, a United Way executive, was quoted saying that the money given from the Yarbroughs would go towards helping other families. Oliver was wise in quoting an executive making this statement, because the audience might not be willing to accept it as truth from someone other than an executive. Plus, Oliver foresaw that readers would want to know what would happen with the money. The direct quotes from Daniel and Rose Yarbrough were effective as well, but the quote from caseworker Shirley Wormley didn’t add anything to the story. Oliver ended on a weak point with Wormley’s quote.

The writing was clear and balanced; overall, Oliver did a good job. If I were to do anything differently, the very first thing I would change would be the ending. Leaving the readers with a weak quote doesn’t leave the best taste in someone’s mouth and likely won’t keep them thinking about the story later on.

 

The article can be found here:

http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/02/alabama_tornado_survivors_back.html