How Television Is an Effective Medium of Advertising?

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Television Advertising is one of the most effective means of generating awareness about a brand, service or business amongst the target audiences. For years, television has been an entertaining medium for the masses simultaneously educating them about various brands in the market place. Television Advertising is advantageous over other mediums of advertising as it provides audio-visual effect on audiences. The brand message is familiarized to customers through sound and visual effect that provides an immediate and lasting impression on audiences’ mind. Two significant advantages of brand advertising through television media are provided in the following paragraphs. Take a look-

Presentation of the brand message with a good storyline- Every advertising campaign is based on a storyline. However, this storyline is presented in such an interesting manner through television media that provides customers a strong impression about the advertised brand. Enhanced by sound and visual effect, brand commercial is presented like a mini film. It is because of this reason that brand commercials through television media are referred as ad-films. Through television media, the brand message is delivered within a minute in an interestingly exciting manner to customers. Though it requires a great deal of creative input and implementation to telecast a television commercial, the impact provided by television ads are better than other advertising channels.

Provides mass appeal to target groups- Television is the most effective medium of advertising to provide a mass appeal to target groups about any brand. Almost every individual loves watching television during leisure hours. The brand commercials that are telecast during serials, movies or particular shows provide a rich appeal on target groups. Customers also fondly remember the brand jingles with which most of the brand commercials usually end. Besides they also become aware of various brands and their updated features and benefits. This awareness later helps them to decide whether they should buy that particular product or not.

Amongst the various means of brand promotion, Television Advertising provides immediate impact on target groups. The brand message is presented in an attractive manner enhanced by the audio visual output of the commercials. Maximum numbers of customers depend heavily on television media to keep themselves informed about the launch of new brands or the updated features or benefits of existing old brands. Credibility is also an important attribute of brand advertising through television media. Any brand commercial through television media is meant to be entertaining and informative to enhance the interest of prospects. However, as mentioned above, the message should be credible and should also relate with the features of the brand. Flaunting about the brand through with a credible aspect is one of the secrets behind successful advertising practice.

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5 Alternatives to Cable and Satellite Television

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Cut your monthly entertainment bill by getting your fill of movies and television shows from streaming media players or an HD antenna. Here are five excellent alternatives to your pricey cable or satellite television subscription.

HD Antenna

An HDTV antenna gives you access to the free broadcast channels in your area, so you can watch them on your digital TV. Choose from a wide selection of HD antennae, from indoor types to bulky roof-mounted ones. Prices vary according to antenna type and model. Refer to TVFool.com for the channels that are available in your location. It also gives you the antenna direction for which to capture the available broadcast channels that you want to watch.

Roku

You don’t have to scrimp on the number of broadcast channels when you finally cut ties with your cable or satellite television carrier. The popular Roku streaming video device gives you access to over 750 broadcast channels. Roku’s streaming stick is priced at $49.99. The streaming media player’s most recent incarnation, Roku 3, is equipped with expandable memory and allows for Ethernet connection. Roku 3 costs $99.99.

Chromecast

Google’s $35 streaming media device can be plugged into the HDMI port of your computer monitor or TV. Chromecast streams a full 1080p display and works with many devices such as PCs and Macs, as well as mobile devices powered by Android and iOS. When you connect the Chrome OS version of Chromecast to your home Wi-Fi network or your TV, you can watch media content through your mobile device on any available HDMI TV.

ASUS Cube with Google TV

Priced at $111.99, the ASUS Cube is a good investment for your cable-free entertainment needs. If you already own or favor Google TV, then the sleek, futuristic-looking ASUS Cube makes for a sensible complement to your multimedia viewing routine. Giving you access to media content on multiple devices, ASUS Cube comes with a custom user interface with a handy voice-enabled search functionality, as well as 50GB of file storage on the Web plus a two-sided universal remote with motion sensors and a microphone.

Apple TV

If you are an Apple fanatic or an avid user of iTunes, you might want to look at Apple TV as a viable alternative for streaming media content. For a price tag of $99, Apple TV streams multimedia content from popular outlets such as HBO Go, Hulu, and Netflix. And with AirPlay Mirroring on your Apple TV, you can simultaneously stream Web-based video on your iOS device.

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TV and Media – Electric Fireplace

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The leading manufactures of the electric fireplaces have out done their selves with the invention of the  TV  and  Media  Consoles and the electric wall fireplace. These innovative styles and designs have opened up a new way to heat with style. With both of these designs being vent free electric fireplace, you will not have to worry about a chimney. Not remodeling that might require a roofer or the building contractor. This will help to keep the cost down if you are trying to remodel a room. The  TV  and  Media  Console and the electric wall fireplace are both great pieces of furniture that will add a new depth and interest to any room.

The  TV  and  Media  Consoles will allow for a place to place the TV and have plenty of shelves for your entertainment system. With plenty of shelves, some that are adjustable, you will have a location for the CD’s and the DVD’s. With the mantel designed to hold you TV, you could always hang a flat screen on the wall and use the shelf for other objects. To be able the hang a fireplace on the wall is surly something to talk about. Either of these two electric fireplaces will quickly become the focal point of any room.

Most of theses electric fireplaces will come with a remote. On certain models you may be able to control the flame brightness. Another great option will be able to turn off the heat but still have the fire on. The crackle that some of the electric fireplaces can also be turned off and on. The safety features have not been over looked on these electric fireplaces. The glass is cool to the touch so there is no worry if a small child is in the room.

There is nothing that can kindle thoughts of the warmth and cozy feelings like the electric fireplace can. If you imagine your friends and family sitting around a fireplace in your home, consider the electric fireplaces. The wood look will come in mahogany, cherry, pecan, walnut and oak electric fireplace. The black or white is also available. There is something to fit every type of room decor.

These very innovative designs of the major manufactures of the electric fireplaces have taken away the look of the old, ugly, metal boxed thing and has left us with a piece of furniture that we will be proud to show off. The units of today are more a work or art then the boxed heater that our grandparents might have stuck in the back room.

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Television and Children – How TV Affects Your Child

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There is an ongoing debate about the effects of television on children. Some believe that TV has a lot to offer. It can educate, stimulate and entertain. If parents are discerning about what their child watches and how much they watch, there is nothing too harmful about TV. On the other hand, some experts say that any children under two should not watch any television. They feel that it hinders a child’s growth and development in many ways.

So before you sit your kids down in front of your huge plasma TV, have a think about what they are watching and how long they are watching.To get a look at both sides of the debate, lets break this discussion down in to the positive and negative effects of television on young viewers.

Positive:

  • Children can learn about numbers, letters, colours and shapes by watching quality educational programmes.
  • Children can learn about social interaction and manners on good quality dramatic and educational programmes.
  • For many parents of young children, a day at home is many hours to fill. Sometimes a familiar or appropriate movie or programme can provide a relaxing moment both child and parent.
  • Children enjoy the familiarity of a movie or show they have watched many times as much as they love to read the same book again and again.
  • Many movies and shows have a moral tale, and this can sometimes provide a helpful way for parents to introduce moral themes and ideas into their children’s lives.
  • Quite often a movie or show can provide the inspiration for games and creative play away from the TV. A child might enjoy re-enacting a favourite scene or character from a movie and carry on with this scene in their playtime.
  • TV and media is a way of life in this day and age. Children can benefit from being conditioned and familiarised with media concepts. It will help them participate in social and cultural events and discussions in their developing social and educational lives.

Negative:

  • Children under two can be negatively affected by television. It can stunt their social and mental development.
  • Too many hours in front of a TV can prevent children from interacting with their family and siblings.
  • Too much TV can become a problem for some children who engage in less physical activity because they prefer to watch TV.
  • Too much exposure to TV and screen media can make a child’s mind lazy in terms of using their imagination and brainpower in other areas of their lives.
  • When children watch TV they are being exposed to advertising. A lot of advertising is aimed specifically at young children. Ads target young ones and condition them to become loyal brand consumers as adults. Exposure to some ads could encourage poor eating habits and food choices.
  • Injudicious TV watching can expose children to bad habits such as smoking and drinking. It can expose them to violence and create a mindset of fear and aggression.
  • Watching TV can also instil in your children social stereotypes of race, gender and class.

With so many reasons for and against TV watching, it seems that the decision is best left up to the parent. A parent knows their own child and how best to manage their TV watching habits. Undoubtedly a discerning and vigilant attitude is essential when exposing young children to TV, so think twice before you sit you child in front of your beloved flat screen, HD TV.

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Media Exposure Is Marketing Gold – If You Know How to Use It

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At a glance:

  • Implicit media endorsements make you stand out from the competition.
  • It’s not advertising; it’s building credibility.
  • Maximize your exposure by posting it on your Web site and sharing it via social media.

A colleague of mine, who’s a former newspaper reporter, tells a story about a savvy attorney she knew. He’d tip her off whenever he had a particularly juicy case if she promised to include his name alongside that of his client in her story. Whether he won the case or lost it, people remembered his name and associated him with high-profile cases. He’d figured out that having his name in the paper bought him something no amount of advertising could: credibility.

For anyone trying to build a business, sell a product or get their book into the hands of more consumers, the implicit endorsement that comes from being interviewed by the media is what I call “marketing gold.”

Let me explain. Thanks to the Internet, you and every competitor you have, big or small, have the same chance to reach your potential consumers. So, what makes one business, one product or book more appealing than another? It’s endorsements from the media that make you stand out. Let’s face it – if USA Today has chosen to review your book, or refer to it in an article, it gives reason to believe there’s something special about it. If a doctor is quoted in the news about solutions to a particular health issue you’re dealing with – your instinct will be to check out him and his product first, because the media must consider him an authority to have quoted him.

When the media recognizes that you have something important to say, you gain credibility. This is the marketing gold I’m referring to: the endorsements from TV and radio show hosts, the editorial coverage in newspapers and magazines – and now, bloggers, news Web sites and followers on social media too. All these forms of recognition give others confidence you’re as good as you say you are. But, it’s upon you to use this “gold” as a critical part of your marketing to let people know these endorsements exist.

The return on investment usually isn’t immediate, which can be frustrating to people who expect a surge in business or a spike in sales with every media interview. That used to happen more often in the old days – I’m talking way back in the ’90s – when a radio talk show host might chat with you for 30 or 60 minutes and newspapers had twice as many pages to fill. It became apparent that when a client’s message clearly addressed an urgent public problem, along with their expertise and solution-oriented content, they could hit the jackpot.

From January to April, an IRS expert who spoke of resolutions to IRS problems or gave on-air tips on how to prevent IRS abuses would always see a huge jump in book sales. Or, the health expert, who got on the air during flu season and explained why his health program would make them feel better faster would sell a ton of product.

But the old days are gone and here we are in 2012. Today’s talk radio interviews are brief – 7 to 10 minutes in the larger markets – and newspapers have no space for full feature stories on interesting entrepreneurs and writers. There are far fewer opportunities to grab an audience for a significant length of time.

So how do you grow your investment in PR? Marketing your media exposure is a strategy that pays big dividends over time – but requires an effort from you.

  • Your Web site should prominently display your endorsements: “As seen on CBS,” “featured in the Louisville Gazette,” “heard on WFLA radio.”
  • Don’t forget to mention the media coverage to your Twitter followers and Facebook fans, too. The third-party endorsement will help you build more contacts, because people like knowing who the experts are and following them.
  • Use the media you’ve obtained to help you gain more TV, radio and print exposure. It serves as credibility for journalists as well and they will be more likely to want to interview you if you’ve already been vetted by other media professionals.
  • Let your personality shine online and respond to journalists and followers alike with interesting commentary and insights – not pleas to buy your book or product.

Yes, it takes work, a strong theme and a message that resonates. But if you invest wisely, you’ll grow rich in marketing gold.

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Constructing the Ultimate PC Based TV Entertainment Center

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You likely already use your TV as a great source for entertainment. You probably also use your computer for a large amount of entertainment. With the combination of a properly configured computer and your TV, you can unleash so much more potential for entertainment and make everything so much easier to access.

Entertainment system will include

At the center of your entertainment system is going to be your TV. I of course would strongly recommend an HDTV to those that can afford it. Also, while size isn’t the only important factor in the quality of an HDTV, I do have to say, bigger is better. For this setup we’ll assume that you have an HDTV that supports HDMI input.

As I mentioned, that TV is great and all, but we’re going to use a computer to make it do so much more for you. So that brings us to the computer you’re going to want. I would strongly recommend a Windows 7 based PC that includes Media Center. If you don’t know what Media Center is, we’ll get to that. The computer should also have a nice video card to ensure that your computer can play high quality HD content without stuttering or being slow. You’ll want to make sure this video card has a built in HDMI port with audio support. This will make it as easy as possible to connect the computer to the HDTV. Also, it usually doesn’t cost much to add a Blu-Ray compatible drive to a computer and it is definitely worth the cash. If you haven’t used Blu-Ray on your HDTV you’re missing out on a true movie watching experience.

In addition to the TV and the Computer you’ll want to make sure you get a Media Center compatible remote for the computer. This will allow you to control everything we’ll install on the computer from the comfort of your couch.

Software and set up

As I mentioned you’ll want to run Media Center on the computer. This will be the base of everything we do on the PC. The reason for this is that it has an interface designed to be controlled with the Media Center remote so you don’t have to have a mouse and keyboard on your lap while doing all of this.

In addition to that you’ll want to install the Netflix Media Center plugin. This will give you access to all of Netflix’s streaming catalog right through media center. This way you can browse, search, and watch anything that Netflix has available. Netflix does require a subscription in order to have access to the streaming material, but it is definitely worth it to have access to all sorts of movies and TV shows instantly.

Another one you’ll want to install is the Hulu desktop application. This application gives you access to the same free streaming content that is found on their website, but it will also work with the media center remote. Hulu does not install itself into the Media Center application, but we can still make it work. You’ll want to use a program like Media Center Studio. Media Center Studio is a free program you can download that will let you make changes to the Media Center menu. Using this you can add a launcher icon for Hulu. Then you can launch Hulu Desktop from Media Center and when you quit the Hulu program it will bring you back.

Media Center does not come with built in support for Blu-Ray movies. If your computer came with a Blu-Ray drive it may have also come with a plugin to add support to Media Center for that. If not, you’ll need to purchase one. There are lots of options available online. Just whatever you purchase, make sure it includes a Windows 7 Media Center compatible plug in. This will ensure that you can control your Blu-Ray movies with that same remote and without having to leave the Media Center software.

The last real step for configuring your computer is to copy your music, video, and photo libraries over to the computer. Assuming the music and videos aren’t protected by non-WMC compatible DRM you will be able to listen to and view any of those files through the Media Center software.

Connect PC without HDMI

Some of you may already have a PC you want to use, or have just picked one up on some killer deal only to find it doesn’t have HDMI. Fear not, you can still connect it to the HDMI port on the TV, with some work. Your options are varied. First you can install a new video card in the computer that has HDMI. This is the best option for older computers that could stand to have an upgraded video card anyway.

Another option is to use a DVI to HDMI cable from any computer that has a DVI video port on it. This will get the video to your TV with no problems at all. Be warned though, that DVI ports do not output audio so you’ll have to run separate audio cables. Hopefully your TV has an input next to one of the HDMI ports on the TV to allow for that.

If your TV has a VGA input, you can simply use a VGA to VGA cable from the VGA port on the computer to the TV. This will work great in most cases. Some TVs don’t support full 1080p through the VGA port, however, so be cautious of that. Also, VGA doesn’t carry audio either so you’ll need to run separate audio cables in this situation also.

Let’s say you’ve got VGA on your computer, but you need to go to HDMI on the TV. You can use a VGA to HDMI signal converter to convert from the analog format to the digital, allowing you to use the full 1080p input of the HDMI port. These converters will generally support sound conversion to put it on the HDMI line which can help a lot in setting it up.

Just whatever you do, DO NOT purchase a VGA to HDMI cable. Those things have been floating all over the web, but they are a scam. VGA is an analog signal and HDMI is digital and you cannot just use a cable to convert from one to the other. If you purchase a cable like that you’ll really just be wasting your money.

Conclusion

Once you have your TV, PC, and remote all connected you’ll be all set to enjoy all these forms of entertainment from a single device. We’re talking viewing Hulu, Netflix, Blu-Rays, DVDs, listening to MP3s, stored video files, pictures and much more all from one device, and all from the comfort of your couch. I have personally been running a set up like the one described here for about 3 years, and it is continually improving as new sources of media come out. This is the ultimate home entertainment device.

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Multi-Media Systems for Home Televisions

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If you have a PC or laptop that has XP Media Center Edition, or any premium version of Windows Vista or Windows 7, you already have the tools you need to start building your own home media system. With your own multi-media system, you can control your music and TV with one remote control or your mouse.

Its designed to play your videos and music from your own hard, drive, any location in your home network, or any optical drive it has access to. Media which is managed by Windows Media Center can also be forwarded from your home network to TV sets when you add a Windows Media Center Extender or an Xbox 360.

Add a TV Tuner card to your system, and you now have the ability to play back and record your favorite TV shows in HD or Digital Cable. The recordings can be saved in DVD form, or they can be transferred to a portable media player.

WMC can add your music into the mix through the use of RCA type cables from devices such as cassette decks or video recorders, microphones, and other inputs. Windows Media Player also organizes music on your computer. Unless you specify another location, the music files are stored under My Music, and are arranged in alphabetical order. You can make your playlists so you can hear the music in any order you wish. Windows Media Player allows you to pause, fast forward, or rewind and repeat the music just like any other media player you have used in the past.

WMC can also play back video from URL’s when you add a third party plug-in, and this also allows you to access server and client side playlists on your network. Media Center also supports all FM tuned radio stations so you can tune into your favorite radio show anytime you like. You can also synchronize your smart phone and other portable devices with Media Center.

Windows Media Center is the place to start synchronizing your very own home multi-media center. With the recent release of Windows 7, Windows Media Player has been revamped and now has even more options for making your music and TV experiences the very best ever.

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All Media Is Fiction

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All media is fiction. Every thing you see, hear and read, in print and on any screen anywhere is a fabrication that has been altered, edited, censored, and pointed towards a preconceived agenda. It is not true, it is not real, it is not the whole story by any stretch of the imagination-which it is, but it’s not really anyone’s imagination either.

It is a corporate product; a mind game conceived of by faceless committees meant to dupe anyone within view or earshot into complacent consumerism. It is calculated manipulation with no genuine content that can remotely be thought of as the truth. It only appears real after it has been focus grouped and cut to fit commercial standards, no matter how amateurish or incompetent the final results appear. It has been approved-and that alone determines it as fake.

From cartoons to pornography, from news to soap operas, to game shows and antacid commercials, it is all contrivance. You will never see anything truthful or even factual in the media. Even the weather is approximate. The weather is taped. File footage is not news. The latest trend is ‘reality’ TV not ‘truthful’ TV. There is no one in the media or Hollywood interested in the truth, regardless of being ‘breaking news’ or ‘based on a true story’. Truth is simply one buzzword among many used to conceal and distort reality.

By its very definition media cannot depict reality because media is not real. At its best it resembles the most pedestrian dinner theater; at its worst, it simply is what it is, a transmitter and signal. It is not a mirror, though it uses mirrors, lenses, cameras, tape, film, lights, overrated actors, make up, under appreciated writers, whatever. The fact is so obvious that making the very point becomes painfully tedious-and moot, since for all of the interactive, real time, ripped from the headlines, video game chat rooms, no one seems to care one bit. The entire investment is in making the delusions of others tangible in one’s own life. One must believe what one is fed through the media, or else…or else what?

Let me give an example. War. War is not real for you and me but it is for the people in a war zone. When we turn off the set or change the channel, all of that suddenly disappears. Reality does not suddenly disappear. If you’re of a certain age you remember what TV looked like before black people existed. If you’re of another age you remember what MTV looked like before black people existed. I suppose if you’re even older you remember what war looked like before black people existed. That was a long time ago, but my point is this; war looks like whatever the media tells you it looks like and that is war. Nowadays war looks like a video game, except, of course, to the people in the war.

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The Benefits of Investing in an Archos 5 Digital Media Player

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There used to be a time when portable digital media players were intended to play audio and video files only. The trend seems to be changing nowadays because manufacturers are trying to add additional functions into their portable media player models. Take, for instance, the new Archos 5 – this digital media player comes with integrated web browsing facilities. Connectivity to the internet is availed with the aid of Wi-Fi. Some other interesting pointers that make this particular product revolutionary and innovative will be outlined in the rest of the passages.

One of the best factors that deserve to be mentioned first is the touch enabled screen provided on Archos 5. Imagine browsing through the web using such a device! I do realize that many other media players now come with augmented facilities to connect with the internet. Nevertheless, Archos 5 is the first portable digital media player to make this distant dream a reality. The model is offered in three flavors – these models come with the 60GB, 120GB and 250GB hard disk space. There is widespread confusion regarding the “term” that must be used to depict the true functionality of the device.

While the manufacturer advertises Archos 5 as a “Wi-Fi enabled internet tablet”, some of the renowned reviews still portray the device as a portable digital media player. In fact, when you first see the device in person, you are going to commit the mistake of treating it as a GPS unit. Well, if you were thinking about on those lines, do not fret; because in the coming weeks, the manufacturer has promised an upgrade for Archos 5. This firmware upgrade will make the device to function like as GPS unit (similar to the ones, which are fitted into the automobiles).

A major gripe, which was depicted in countless review sessions of the Archos 5 (which was conducted by independent reviewers), is that the device is a fingerprint magnet. Well, we too experienced the same – the good news is the inclusion of a cleaning cloth along with the boxed product. Despite the screen being brighter than most of the modern portable media players, it could not suppress the glares. Although the manufacturer has included USB connectivity, interfacing the device with your computer is going to mar the user experience. Thoughtfully, the product comes with a proprietary USB dock that must be used whenever you wish to transfer media files into the Archos 5.

Support for many video and audio codec makes it a pleasure to use this device. One can also read PDFs and text files with the same. If you are bored, you can spend some time trying your interesting games. It is better to check the official website for the newest firmware – the manufacturer incorporates additional features into the Archos 5 via these firmware updates. The same device (although enabled via suitable software) also supports High Definition (720p) playback of the video. The average pricing starts from $249 and increases according to the storage size.

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Civility in the Media

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In my forty years of broadcasting experience, I’ve fielded thousands of questions about my work; topics include covering news, anchoring programs, interviewing world leaders and celebrities, and yes, the glamor and excitement of it all. But I can’t remember anyone-whether on a street, in a classroom, or at a dinner party-ever questioning how news people behaved, or whether that behavior reflects our society.

In my earliest days behind a microphone, I worked at a small radio station while finishing high school. That’s where I began learning the very foundations of journalism-accuracy, truth and fairness. Those principles have always stayed with me, from serving as a news assistant for the legendary Walter Cronkite at CBS to the unique public responsibility of owning a group of radio stations.

From the moment that I walked into that newsroom at WKRO Radio in Boston, I knew I was in a different world-clearly, a strange place where all the stress of society found a home. As a kid from Nashua, New Hampshire, just out of college, I was about to get my first lesson in professional journalism. Newsrooms became my second home, and some of the characters in them were priceless mentors to me.

TV News & Decreasing Standards of Civility

The newsrooms where I have worked, for the most part, did not fit common definitions of civility. They’re generally loud, peppered with colorful language, and rarely well-organized; most are littered with used coffee cups, pizza boxes, and newspapers. It’s always been a wonder to me that somehow, this environment manages to lead to creativity and responsibility in communicating with a mass audience.

What a rich heritage we have in broadcasting, from Edward R. Murrow and Peter Jennings to Walter Cronkite, once voted the most trusted man in America. Remember Chet Huntley and David Brinkley? It was nice to hear them say, “goodnight, Chet,” and “goodnight, David.” They were our heroes, and we stand on their shoulders.

There were also rules in the early days of broadcasting – unwritten for the most part – that reflected the kind of society we were, and the standards we respected. To me, history and tradition are marvelous teachers. I wish young people heading into our business would spend as much time studying the events and personalities of the past as they do on technology and social media.

Why We Should Be Careful On Air

When we hit the air and go into millions of homes, it has to be with respect for those who watch and listen. We should be careful not to offend in any way and always aware of the trust placed in us. At times, however, politeness bumps up against the demands of reporting and the urgency to get the facts ahead of everyone else.

We all have seen instances where a reporter will stick a microphone in the face of a person in anguish who has just lost a friend or relative, to ask questions that violate their privacy and make viewers squirm. How can we balance civility and privacy with the aggressiveness of a reporter and the immediacy of television?

Sometimes, Attempts to be Civil Do Not Work

And yet, there are times when an attempt at civility doesn’t work at all on the air. A number of years ago, we began introducing reporters live at the scene of a story by saying, “good evening,” and they would reply the same. It was a nice touch, a display of politeness between the anchor and reporter. But you can imagine how awkward that is when the story is a fire, a murder, or any event that’s anything *but *good.

The same standards of civility don’t apply to every situation. While I believe positive stories should have a bigger presence on our screens and in our lives, it’s impossible to avoid tragic events altogether. When we do need to report on something that has disastrous repercussions for other living, breathing human beings, we must practice sensitivity. We must assume that a missing woman’s family is hearing our every word, or that our reports are being broadcast straight to the town affected by a natural disaster. When we cover a newsworthy event with many casualties, we should think less about the salacious details and more about the victims, who deserve our respect and whose loved ones need us to tell the truth, not to sensationalize or speculate or glorify.

Historic Events that Shifted the Tide

On the air, Edward R. Murrow often referred to members of his reporting staff as “Mister Collingwood” or “Mister Severeid.” This was civility with a touch of dignity. And there was more. For example, it was unthinkable for a journalist to interrupt a president while speaking. At that time it was considered rude, uncivil.

The media aside, other things were different too. Men tipped their hats to women; kids obeyed their parents and cops on the street. For our purposes, it would be foolish to attempt to pinpoint a time when the country changed. Historians might say we lurched from one traumatic event to another.

In television terms, it was the equivalent of a sharp, jolting cut from the Kennedy presidency to the years of civil rights demonstrations, from the murders of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. to protests against the Vietnam War.

As these stories of anger and bloodshed were brought into America’s living rooms, lives were being turned upside down across the country. The civility we once had-however minute-was lost as a generation embraced a new culture on the streets and campuses, reflecting the turbulence of the era.

About that same time in broadcasting, the peacefulness of Sunday morning- usually reserved for religious broadcasts-slowly disappeared. Some may still remember “The Eternal Light”, “Lamp Unto My Feet”, and other award-winning broadcasts. Now, of course, we have non-stop political shouting programs and other talk shows on the networks and on cable. The programming has changed.

And through the years-through tough economic times, wars, national upheavals, and natural disasters-Americans have suffered, but we’ve always bounced back. So, as the pendulum of our lives went from one extreme to another, so did our civility.

The State of Media Today

It is easy to paint a negative picture of civil life right now. Gridlock in Washington, guns on the streets, terrorism, unemployment, and foreclosures are just a few of the challenges we face as a nation. And we’ve managed to keep some degree of civility, but we can do better.

In order to consider the overall picture of civility in today’s media, it’s inevitable that we’ll have to spend a few minutes on reality shows, as well as the unrelenting bombardment of instant information and entertainment from cable TV and the Internet.

From the Kardashians to Jersey Shore, when we turn on the TV, our children are mesmerized by lifestyles that encourage drinking, bad behavior, unhealthy habits and a lack of respect for family values. And that’s just early in the day. Evening programming, aimed at a more mature age group, brings us such “memorable” shows as the Real Housewives installments, Mob Wives, Dance Moms, Repo Men, and Bridezillas, all of which encourage conflict, drama, disrespect, and even crime. And then there are channels devoted to just about any kind of hobby or strange occupation.

Then there’s YouTube, an outlet for video from the sublime to the ridiculous. It’s always on, and there are always people watching from every part of the world. Unfortunately, I must add, too many of the videos on YouTube also find their way onto news programs, just because of how bizarre-and usually uncivil-they are.

Well, like anything, there’s good and bad. Cable and satellite technology do have a positive side. There are many quality channels that are educational and carry excellent, inspirational programs. We also have channels that provide community access and allow us to watch local government in action.

At home, we are taught at an early age how to behave in speech and in manners. But media and technology have changed our culture. The violence we see in movies has be
en carried out inside movie theaters too, hit music fills the radio waves with demeaning lyrics, tabloid magazines and TV devote more time to celebrities’ bizarre choices, and all of this contributes in some way to a breakdown in society.

And now, another factor has become part of the equation. A survey of 1,000 American adults, taken by the public relations firm Weber Shandwick, found the level of civility has suffered further because of our country’s ongoing financial troubles. 49% of those questioned consider American CEOs uncivil. Given the Madoff scandal and the low level of trust in Wall Street, they certainly have a point. At the same time, the survey showed 81% of Americans hold the news media responsible for improving the way we treat each other. And so, in these early years of the 21st century, we are faced with a serious challenge.

Civility & Truth

Now, a few words about the blogosphere and social media. As someone who has spent his entire life in journalism, I strongly defend freedom of speech. But I believe that civility and truth go hand in hand. So at this point, I want to raise a red flag. When it comes to news, the key question is: what’s your source? Who *told *you this information? If the reply is a common one-“I saw it online”-then beware. The Internet is not necessarily the ultimate source for truth.

And with the incredible speed and universal access of social media sites such as Twitter, news reporters have to be more careful than ever to sort out the truth, to get to the facts. More often these days, civility and truth disappear when the Internet is used as a playground for rumor mongers, hateful bloggers, and cyber-bullies. We’ve all witnessed the dangers attached to social media, mainly the horror of teenagers committing suicide because of cyber-bullying that followed them home on their smartphones and laptops.

A survey conducted by Consumer Reports last year showed that 1 million American children were harassed, threatened, or targeted by hurtful comments and rumors. Teenage girls were more likely than boys to suffer this unimaginable experience. Social media is relatively young and has a role to play in society, but it has shown that it must be watched carefully. Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker put it this way: “The greatest threat to civility is the pandering to ignorance, the elevation of nonsense and the distribution of false information.”

Ernie and the Big Newz: the Book’s Message

We must find ways to turn down the volume of our national discourse and stop rewarding bad behavior, especially that of celebrities who fail as role models for our children. Those of us in the media-especially in the news business-have an obligation to society to clear the air. Adults want that. Even kids look for it.

I regularly speak at local schools, and while the feedback and reaction is terrific, it is also eye-opening. Many young children tell me that they feel the only way they can become part of a news broadcast is to do something wrong, something bad.

It is really no surprise, because it’s what they see when they watch the news. We mostly reward bad behavior. I believe that kind of thinking has to stop. I am deeply concerned about the unfortunate news events we cannot control and must report, which impacts everyone, especially children.

So in response to hundreds of comments from adults and young people about the shortage of positive news stories, I wrote an upbeat children’s book called Ernie and the Big Newz: the Adventures of a TV Reporter. The book is about making career choices and believing in yourself, and it’s filled with news stories that all have positive endings.

My respected fellow colleagues and I know it’s a tough job covering a very fast moving and traumatic world. Today, my message is clear: not all news is negative, and living by the golden rule is not old-fashioned.

When it comes to civility in society, and particularly in the media, I’m uneasy about the kind of world we will leave our children. Are we on the wrong path when it comes to civility in the media? From what I’ve heard and seen, the answer is yes.

Well, then, can we turn things around and improve the situation? Again, the answer is yes. So, what do we need to do?

Steps We Can Take to Make a Difference

In this media-driven society, we have to take the lead by producing more high-quality local programs. And we have to exercise good editorial judgment when it comes to news stories for our daily broadcasts.

How many times have you tuned into a broadcast that started immediately with crime? A child was shot, or a teenager’s bright future was canceled by drugs, or an elderly person was mugged. The old tabloid saying goes, “if it bleeds, it leads.” In my opinion, that’s the wrong approach. It exists only because there’s a long-held belief in our industry that it will increase ratings-but many of us believe it doesn’t work anymore.

After anchoring close to 15,000 newscasts, I’ve come to the conclusion – people want information that impacts *their *lives. Is my job in jeopardy? Are food prices going up? Are my children healthy? Are the schools safe? The audience is changing because their world is changing, and we must change with it. That’s something we can do.

Throughout my career, I’ve also played the role of a TV news anchor in a few Hollywood movies. So a few words are in order about the big studios and production companies. With all the glitz and glamor of the silver screen, we’re still getting more than our share of films that can leave moviegoers with the wrong ideas.

After that horrible mass-shooting in Aurora, Colorado, movie theater, studio giant Harvey Weinstein of Miramax called for a summit meeting of producers to discuss movie content. We thank him for that; I fully support this kind of discussion, and hopefully, action.

On a grassroots level, I urge educators throughout the country to recognize the importance of this issue. For example, schools could require students to take a course in media studies, to better understand our culture and choose wisely. They could include social media etiquette and media exploitation in their studies of ethics and manners.

I don’t want this to become a one-person crusade. So I’m respectfully asking my colleagues in TV news, at local stations everywhere, to join me. Together we can make this a national effort to improve the balance of positive stories on TV.

My personal efforts go one step further. I have recently created a new series of TV specials called “Positively Ernie.” We feature refreshing segments on health, education, philanthropy, technology, media, and a wide range of subjects that are making our community, our country, and even the world, a better place. The feedback has been great.

Finally, we must start at home by focusing on family life. Communication is at the center, and we need to talk with our children – and really listen to them in return. We also have to connect and strengthen ties with many reputable organizations to do whatever we can to help parents guide children in their use of the internet, social media, and TV. Kids are growing up in a much different culture than their parents did, and it’s our responsibility to bring parents up to date, so that they have some context in which to understand, relate, and make a difference.

But make no mistake. We have a long way to go. It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. However, I’m confident that by working together, we can successfully spread the message that civility is the foundation of our lives-and of our media as well.

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