Category: Media

Blacks Consuming More Media — With Less and Less Control of its Content

Ernest J. Wilson III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at The Root on Feb. 17.

Today, in early 2013, American media and entertainment face a curious condition. On the one hand, African Americans and other people of color are flocking to movies, Twitter, television and blogs in ever-greater numbers and percentages. We are huge consumers of media.

On the other hand, the Federal Communications Commission and the Hollywood trade and professional organizations report that the percentages of people of color (and in many categories, women) in senior positions are stagnant or actually declining. Minority ownership is also on the way down. With black ownership and executive ranks dropping, not surprisingly, black-themed shows are falling as well.

Why We Can’t Let Marilyn Monroe Go

LOIS BANNER, professor of history and gender studies, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Why is Marilyn Monroe still an American icon 50 years after her death? She is endlessly analyzed in films and biographies; her image appears on T-shirts and posters; her popularity is reflected in the 52,000 Marilyn-related items for sale on EBay. My USC students, fixated on contemporary pop culture, know little about 1950s Hollywood stars, except for Monroe. Like everyone else, they puzzle over her death, respond to her beauty, recognize her paradoxes: the ur-blond child-woman, the virgin-whore of the Western imagination.

Silicon Valley Needs a Foreign Policy

ERNEST J. WILSON III, dean of USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared at Foreign Affairs.

As California’s high-tech firms grew to become economic powerhouses in the American economy, they punched below their weight politically. For the most part, they are not very savvy about the ways of Washington — they came late to the lobbying game — and their political strategies were naïve compared with those of old industrial sectors like oil and automobiles.

That seems to be changing. In January, a group of high-tech heavyweights, including Google and Wikipedia, along with less prominent combatants (155,000 Web sites in all) and nonprofits such as Fight for the Future, joined in a massive online blackout to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Since the bill’s introduction in May 2011, a wide mix of representatives from the film, television, music, and publishing industries had been championing SOPA and its sibling, the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), two pieces of legislation designed to address international theft of copyrighted U.S. intellectual property.

Life at the Extremes — Not Really

DAVID TREUER, professor of English, USC Dornsife.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

During the election cycle we tend to ask: What does America mean; where are we going? And then someone decides to check on the Indians to find out the answer, as though Indians represent America’s soul hidden in the attic. And of course politicians have long stood next to their “souls” and posed for pictures on the campaign trail.

Within the last year, Diane Sawyer and “20/20” did a special on the sorry conditions at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and the New Yorker featured a grim photo essay on Pine Ridge too. The New York Times published a piece on brutal crime at the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming and another on the deep financial problems at Foxwoods, the Pequot-owned “world’s largest” casino in Connecticut. Indians make the news, but the news

Political Ads Are Hazardous to Your Mental Health

MARTY KAPLAN, professor of entertainment, media and society, USC Annenberg

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

This is the disclaimer that Britain’s Public Interest Research Centre recently proposed for inclusion on billboards:

“This advertisement may influence you in ways of which you are not consciously aware. Buying consumer goods is unlikely to improve your wellbeing, and borrowing to buy consumer goods may be unwise; debt can enslave.”

For this buy-buy-buy holiday season, those words are a spritz of pepper spray.

Imagine, then, that advertisers were required to admit that the underlying premise of

In China, Blame the Murder Victims

MEI FONG, lecturer, USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

After USC graduate students Ming Qu and Ying Wu were shot and killed earlier this month, the Chinese student community in America was saddened, shocked and frightened.

The reaction back home was very different. The killings, which happened while Qu and Wu were sitting and talking in a BMW, unleashed a torrent of Internet vitriol in China, and it wasn’t directed at the pair’s attacker.

Grading the Media on Religion Coverage

DIANE WINSTON, Knight chair media & religion, USC Annenberg, and JOHN GREEN, Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, Akron University.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Post.

A visiting Martian might be forgiven for thinking that Americans care more about the religion of prospective presidential candidates than they do about the economy, the environment, health care, or even space travel. And, according to a recent poll, a growing number of Americans would likely agree. Last week a Pew Research Center survey reported that almost two-fifths of the public says the candidates talk too much about their faith.

Romney’s Wealth Effect

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics:

This op-ed originally appeared in the New York Times.

“Why is someone who is so good at making money so bad at talking about it?

Mitt Romney is not the first presidential candidate who’s had trouble communicating with working-class voters: John Kerry famously enjoyed wind-surfing, and George Bush blamed a poor showing in a straw poll on the fact that many of his supporters were

Meet the Republican Ego — and Id

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics: “The political, personal and psychological state of war that currently exists between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich provides a valuable insight into the conflicted mindset of the Republican Party…

Who Tests the Testers?

DAN SCHNUR, director of USC’s Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics: “It’s perfectly understandable to want the most capable members of our community to represent us in public office. The problems begin when you try to set up non-negotiable criteria…