Author Archives: nkarimipour

About nkarimipour

I graduated with my Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2016. I currently work in clinical trial recruitment at the University of Southern California.

Blog Essay Class 12 (last one!)

Re: The mediatization of society – This article brought full circle everything we’ve learned about in this course. One of the main points was to illustrate how media affects and permeates everything we do culturally and as a society. The media (and discussions of various aspects of the media) are ubiquitous. That is what Dr. Rodgers’ Tumblr page is trying to show us – that an article from The New York Times, The Guardian or The Atlantic and an article from TMZ, Jezebel and Yahoo! Shine can all discuss the media, and these media outlets run the gamut in terms of their perceived “credibility,” journalistic training, content, et cetera. On the first day of class, Dr. Rodgers said his goal for us as students was to learn to become “aware” of the media. Much of this awareness is contingent upon our knowledge of and ability to see just how connected the media is to everything we do, consume, see, hear, listen to, purchase — the list goes on and on. It is through this awareness that we can then apply a critical lens with which to subsequently critique and analyze the media.

The article goes on to discuss how mediatization influences political processes, which I found interesting. Politicians are keenly aware of how powerful the media can be and thus use it to their advantage when running a political campaign. Perhaps one of the most effective use of media (social media sites) in a political campaign is Barack Obama in the 2008 election. According to Politico, Obama is “master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House.” It is through these “manipulations” that a political figure it constructed and his image is iterated to the public.

I was particularly interested in the article’s discussion of consumerism. “Jansson (2002) takes his starting point in the general mediatization of contemporary culture, which he describes as “the process through which mediated cultural products have gained importance as cultural referents and hence contribute to the development and maintenance of cultural communities” (p. 108). In what ways do you think that mediatization has influenced your consumerism/purchases? For me, I think advertising has framed certain brand names and products as salient and desirable and it definitely has an influence on me. I know as someone studying the field of media, I should be impervious to catchy advertisements, but I fully admit that I am far from that. The truth is that certain products have been presented as necessary or “cool” (which reminds me of the Merchants of Cool article we read earlier in the semester). Trends influence our purchasing power and the impetus of it all is mass media – which dictates what is “in” and what is “out.” One of the advertising professors here told me that “aspirational images” are what sells products – so for example, in order to most effectively market a new type of fitness shoe, it would be best to show a couple exercising together to get fit.

Re: Ch 20 – This chapter discussed the future of the news industry. I found it the discussion about the decline of news media and how people confuse that with journalism (p. 366). It, again, goes back to something we learned early on in the semester – that journalism and media are not the same thing, or as the books say, “not synonymous.” (Dr. Rodgers says there are no synonyms anyway). Regardless, I agree. Just because print media is declining, it doesn’t mean journalism is too. Journalism is “an activity” (p. 366). It’s akin to saying that writing/reading is going downhill because people aren’t purchasing hard copies of books anymore. The advent of reading devices like Kindles, Nooks and iPads doesn’t make reading any less of a hobby for people. What do you think is the future of media? Where do we go from here? I think that the future is full of possibility. We shouldn’t view the field of communications in a state of decline because as we learned early on in this class, communications is like the “water”, and thus cannot be divorced as it is one of the most mundane and commonplace of human interactions. It is the basis for society in many ways. We will just have to be adaptable to accept the new platforms by which media will be disseminated.

DQ:

-What do you think is the future of media? Where do we go from here?

Analyze This 8

Can we equate the coffee shop discussions of 18th-century England that Habermas says was the ground for a public sphere to the virtual discussion platforms on the internet?

I definitely think so, as the principle is the same: to share ideas and trade them amongst those individuals involved. Habermas’ “public sphere” is the notion that a group of private people can band together to form a “public.” Politically, this sphere inspires critical debate to take place among the particular society it is present in.

Since dawn of the digital age and the advent of the internet, communications has been revolutionized, as people aren’t just limited to coffee shops, salons, the Tree of Cracow or town squares–debate and rational exchange can take place online. Discourse communities are formed online where people who have a certain interest, ideology, outlook, opinion, hobby, etc. can form sub-cultures and exchange ideas via the internet. Social media sites have been paramount in creating a place and a space for these conversations to take place online, in addition to accelerating this discourse. When discussing the power of social media for social activism, Malcolm Gladwell introduces Granovetter’s theory of weak and strong ties, which says that people can influence each other and both strong and weak ties hold society together. It’s these interpersonal ties that foster valuable discourse and exchange of ideas, especially online. According to Granovetter, there is strength in weak ties – they are our source of information and new ideas. Granovetter’s research has shown that a bunch of very strong ties isn’t always the best for inspiring new communication. According to him, “‘sociability is a routinized gathering of a relatively unchanging peer group of family members and friends that takes place several times a week.'”

“Granovetter then goes on to imagine how such a density of strong ties (but relative paucity of weak ones) might inhibit social activism” (Lehrer, 2010). On the internet, availability of both strong and weak ties is more pronounced. On social media sites, you have your close friends and your acquaintances. In the coffee shop, these weak ties may not be as available, because you might just be meeting with your “usual” group of friends or associates.

It’s important to note that in 18th century England, elite members of society went to coffee shops. Today, anyone who has an internet connection can have an online presence.

(great article on Wired talks more about this)

Blog Essay Class 11

Re: Josephi’s article about journalism in the global age – The readings from this week were particularly interesting because I am pretty fascinated by censorship and media ethics, particularly in other countries. In this article, Josephi outlined the 3 elements comprising a shift that is breaking down the accepted norms/theories of journalism. The 3 elements of this shift are “call[ing] an end to romancing democracy,” globalization, and the increasing gap between theory and practice (particularly concerning “objectivism”). According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement? I think that western media is dominated by infotainment and lots of interpretation, but superficial interpretation. The ubiquitous presence of “talking heads” and pundits only amplifies this. 

The article goes on to discuss literacy as a markers for later development of media and journalism (p. 582). The newspaper readership trends present in other countries persist even today. Typically, newspapers were thought to be reserved for the elite, urban and highly-educated members of society (especially in Mediterranean countries). 

Re: media ethics beyond borders – This article (by our own Dr. Rodgers, no less!) talked about the implications of a press release from our own university about microwaving a sponge to kill microbes and bacteria. This information ended up having dangerous repercussions because people didn’t wet the sponge before microwaving it, thus starting a fire. Despite the fact that this article discusses media ethics, I don’t think the writers of the UF press release intended to do any harm, they just left out an important piece of the puzzle. However, harm is still harm and it reminds me of the SPJ code of ethics: Minimize harm. Journalism that intentionally or unintentionally harms readers/audience is obviously not good journalism and not the ideal we are going for. The example of the UF/sponge press release fits under a couple of the ethical issues below:

Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics:

1. Seek Truth and Report it

2. Minimize Harm

3. Act Independently

4. Be Accountable

 

Dr. Rodgers makes a good point that bears repeating– that these media guidelines were developed in the “predigital” age. Things have clearly changed a great deal since those guidelines were first developed, and I don’t think anyone could have predicted to what degree the digital age would completely revolutionize our world and mass media at large. 

Re: Ch. 19 – Rhee discussed the fact that some Korean journalists shared political views with some high-ranking government officials and eventually left journalism to join politics. This is a definite ethical concern, but think about how many ties our media organizations and journalists here in the States have to political groups. What about the Koch brothers, which we were just talking about in class last week? How do political agendas and groups influence the content and business decisions of a newspaper/media organization? Warren Buffett also owns a sizable amount of newspapers in Virginia among other places (here’s an article I submitted to the Media is Plural Tumblr). I tried to read this chapter by comparing and contrasting it to media in other countries. I think this practice of politically-involved press/journalists is widespread and common. It has a great deal to do with financial incentives and corporate ownership. Coupled with the fact that in today’s world, print media doesn’t enjoy the widespread circulation/popularity that it used to (by virtue of being replaced by digital media), these newspapers really can’t afford to turn away the big-name sponsorships.

The chapter also says that at one time, Korean journalists were more concerned with being publicists/advocates (p. 351) than providers of factual information. It reminds me of the problem we have here in the U.S., where some “articles” resemble press releases and vice versa and it almost becomes impossible at times to tell the two apart. How could this practice be harmful to the public? With certain topics such as those that are scientifically or health-related, this “press release” style can influence people to change their behaviors and purchases to fit some new information they read, but in reality it may not be completely true–or could be spinned by public relations professionals.

Keeping in mind the earlier reading about news media in 18th century Paris, I remembered that obtaining the latest news in Paris during this time meant going to the Tree of Cracow in the middle of the city. Newspapers were banned by the government, so news was delivered by street singers and poets, also known as “nouvellistes de bouche” (gossipers/newsmongers).

The two societies are similar in the way that both governments exerted power over the media. The power of the press then fell into the hands of the people, like in 18th century Paris when the people made it their responsibility to deliver and disseminate the news orally because of a newspaper ban. In Korea, citizens “relied on Internet media as a main source of information and opinion. Readers and writers on the internet could have access to diverse sources and channels of news” (p. 362). The digital media, particularly the internet, has empowered the Korean people, much in the same manner that the oral news traditions empowered the French.

DQs:

According to Merrill, “the rest of the world… is caught to a greater or lesser degree in ‘an information culture, based on much raw data and very little interpretation’.” Do you agree with this statement?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

Analyze This 7

You are the head of Google and a country you operate in insists you obey its propaganda ministry and filter out certain terms and topics. What do you do and why?

– If I found myself in this position, I would absolutely not allow certain terms and topics to be filtered out. Let me preface this by saying that I believe every country participated in *some* form of censorship, but some obviously more than others. I would not allow certain terms and topics to be filtered out because people have a right to know. They also have a right to individual freedom (hello, capitalism!). What they choose to do with the information or spend their time watching, reading, or listening to shouldn’t be my concern.

I think from the outset, it is easy to claim we would be unwavering in our morals and ethics and wholeheartedly support the freedom of speech and information. But is that what we would *really* do given the circumstances behind closed doors and amid building pressure from higher-ups at Google? I hope we would all remain steadfast and vote against censorship. But there could be some pros to hiding information. If the information is deemed harmful or inappropriate for a mass audience, maybe that’s a reason to filter it out (I’m thinking particularly about psychologically harmful material such as some types of pornography, violent material, material that is graphically depicting death or some other related topic)…. but at the same time, other people have a right to see this stuff, even if we ourselves would never opt to consume such material. Thus, freedom of speech and information is not just for us, but for others too (even if we are offended or otherwise disturbed by the media-related materials or information to which they choose to expose themselves).

* nota bene: I understand that this issue is not nearly as “black and white” as I’ve just made it out to be, but that’s my personal opinion. Practically, I don’t know how feasible it is, though. Given the situation (that I am a CEO of a huge, lucrative company) ultimately I would probably have to resign to remove myself from the situation and still uphold the reputation of the company and for myself. I would also have to consider other external factors such as finances, propaganda, politics, corporate pressure, etc.

Blog Essay Class 10

Re: “Black PR” in China refers to the underground Internet agency, which help client companies virtually erase any bad publicity. I was really fascinated by this, as I had never heard of such a thing. I wondered if there was an American equivalent to this company. I have heard of sites deleting posts/comments, but not outright erasing bad publicity. The only thing I could think of that is similar here in the U.S. is Reputation.com, where you can manage your online reputation and they will monitor web content about you (if you’re their client). They can’t and don’t promise to remove everything, according to CEO Michael Fertik. Do you think an American counterpart to China’s black PR companies be popular here in the U.S.? I think it could be, but it wouldn’t be for companies, it would be for celebrities or people in the limelight. Think about how many unflattering photos, rumors/gossip/lies, scandals happen in print, broadcast and online involving celebrities or well-known figures—much like in China as discussed in the article. I think this type of service could be popular in theory but like Yage, it would first have to be unknown to the public and perhaps done through methods like hacking. But due to the fact that the First Amendment exists, I don’t think it could be possible.

I used to be active on review sites like Yelp and similar counterparts, and I have heard rumors—albeit from users—about Yelp deleting negative posts (or perhaps the business establishment demands or pays them to). So these are two similar forms of content management though not nearly as extreme as China’s black PR.

But this topic just brings to the forefront the idea of a whole industry that now exists—reputation management. This article in Forbes discusses the “dark side” to this industry here in the U.S. She refers to “mugshot extortionists” who can expunge your unflattering and embarrassing mugshot and posting from the Internet. But this comes at a price– $400 to be exact. But as nice as it may be to have your mugshot removed, it can start a spiral of similar situations in which businesses/groups repost the photo to an identical site and then ask you to pay again to remove it, creating a snowball effect of sorts.

This sort of thing also created another issue that resulted in a class action lawsuit: “Hundreds of people who have been exonerated of all charges and had their records sealed are suing the websites for not only keeping their mugshots up and using them in banner ads, but refusing to take them down and “scrub” them off the Internet unless the victims pay a hefty fee. It just goes to show to what lengths people will go to have their personal information removed (when most of us are so eager to post/publicize ourselves on personal social media sites, which is ironic).

Re: Ch. 13 – Zhao’s piece was extremely dense, just as Dr. Rodgers warned us about. I found it largely grounded in historical and theoretical foundations that I honestly was not familiar with – for example, discussion of the Mao regime and the structural makeup of Chinese society (especially class relations). Despite that, I tried my best to make sense of the reading. I approached this with a dominant/hegemonic reading in mind because I had no other contexts to compare or contrast it with. I had more questions than I have had this semester with the readings thus far. She talked about the “online activism by Chinese citizens” (p. 254) but I was left wondering about what we have discussed in class about there being a total lack of options for the same social networking sites as we have here in the states, like Facebook and Twitter– instead there are Chinese equivalents (but they aren’t really equivalent). How can Chinese citizens exhibit this “online activism” when there are not any venues for them to do so, i.e. social media, and their government engages in widespread censorship? I don’t know the answer to such a question but it came to mind anyway.

I was also intrigued by confused by the discussion of “knowledge capitalists” (p. 257). What are some of the characteristics of a knowledge capitalist? Does this mean private ownership of knowledge, which to me sounds like another form of censorship? I wasn’t sure. Connected to this concept was that of class struggles and division (or as she referred to it, economic “cleavages”). I found Zhao’s discussion of class differences in China to be the easiest concept to understand. Basically, the differences dictate consumption. What kind of media do you think members of each class described by Zhao most heavily consume? i.e. the rural and urban populations? Later in the chapter she goes on to say that the ‘middle class’ is more concerned with consumerism and acquisition of material wealth. This is similar to the middle class of the U.S. who want upward mobility and social fluidity. Has the Western influence permeated Chinese class society and changed the type of media they consume? I know that Western brands and foods have permeated Chinese culture, but what about our attitudes about media consumption? I think our reliance and obsession with social media has influenced China. Even though they can’t have the same SNS as we do, they create counterparts that aren’t banned in their country. It just illustrates the fact that the desire for human expression cannot easily be silenced.

DQs:

– Has the Western influence permeated Chinese class society and changed the type of media they consume? I know that Western brands and foods have permeated Chinese culture, but what about our attitudes about media consumption?

Nicki Karimipour; nickik1989@ufl.edu

Analyze This 6

Connect 18th century media to 21st century media…

Media in the 18th century was categorized by political speech. Particularly in 18th century France, political “gossip” was the order of the day, and citizens didn’t get it from newspapers. Instead, they heard most of their news from street songs that were updated and created as new events took place. Parisian street singers sang their songs to instruments like fiddles. I guess musicals such as Les Miserables (not 18th century, but still relevant) weren’t so far off in their depiction of France and how music could literally bring down a regime (as illustrated by the song that brought down the Maurepas ministry: “Par vos façons nobles et franches”). Politics were heavily integrated with music, almost like a cabaret. “The subject of the songs ranged from military operations to sex scandals and political schemes. One tune celebrated a French battle victory in the War of Austrian Secession; another lamented the taxes imposed after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Mme de Pompadour, the famous mistress of Louis XV, was an especially popular subject in many of the satirical songs.” – Emily Simon

Media in the 21st century is categorized by new media integration. Various platforms are available in an almost endless capacity to help people learn about different things and to do different things. In my opinion, it is all about personalization. Our Twitter pages can be personalized with a background photo of us, our blogs can be about anything we like–cooking, horseback riding, comic books, for example. It’s heavily focused on creation and personalized content with sites like Polyvore, where you can create fashion trends in a community of sorts. This is something I am interested in, and I’m sure there’s some “community” to meet every need online.

Information is also more readily available and accessible than ever before. Google has revolutionized the way we think, research and obtain virtually every type of information, ranging from how to prepare a cornish hen to how to properly tie a tie.

I think it’s interesting to note that we still have an affinity for songs about politics and change, as evidenced by the popularity of Les Miserables just recently. We don’t have musicians standing on the corner singing, but gossip is still very important to us today– sites like TMZ and celebrity magazines are very popular. Thus, these two media forms are connected by the fact that scandal is still heavily a part of our society. Celebrity culture is arguably more important than ever and the new media forms I’ve mentioned can be faster ways to disseminate this information on a large public scale. We are still very concerned with political scandals such as when politicians cheat on their wives or are unethical, so that is a definite similarity to 18th century media.

Blog Essay Class 9

Re: the Journalists Resource articles – Research from the Pew Center revealed interesting facts about the way in which Arabs express themselves online, particularly in a political manner. I wonder if Americans express themselves politically in the same manner and with the same frequency—I personally don’t think so. I think there are two extremes on the right and left and a middle that is largely apathetic (for my generation, at least). The article about Twitter, politics and the public discusses how microblogging can influence hot-button political issues. How often do you participate in political discourse on SMS/microblogging sites such as Twitter? I don’t find myself participating very frequently, especially not during peak times such as elections where it seems that political discourse is ubiquitous. I think there often is a backlash when it comes to how active people are on social media when expressing their political views—for example, people’s politically-related overparticipation on social media inspires me to do the opposite.

Re: The Economist article – I found this article to be very interesting, focusing on the benefit and validity of citizen journalism: “…photographs, videos and tweets from ordinary people are improving and expanding news coverage” and this can be seen in crime-related situations such as the Boston bombings. When the media can’t or doesn’t have the materials necessary to create a segment, sometimes-ordinary citizens do. In cases like that, the media have little choice but to use the content produced by average people in their broadcasts. I’ve thought about programs like iReport and its equivalents, but I’m not sure how I feel about them. I can see pros and cons to each side. An obvious pro is that it allows the flow of information to be free and unrestricted. A con is that it may harm or even damage the credibility of vetted, professional people and affiliated organizations.

Re: Jaschik’s article about science – Most newspapers don’t have fulltime writers focused on science and health. CNN got ride of an entire team of reporters who covered science and tech beats. After taking the Science Communications class here at the college, I learned that the average citizen does not know basic scientific facts at all. According to a NYT article, one out of five American adults thinks that the sun revolves around the earth. (Yes, seriously, check it out – http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/30/science/30profile.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). When we do away with such writers, we do away with such stories. When we do away with such stories, we harm the public knowledge and propagate a lack of awareness of basic issues. Our society becomes less educated as a result. What kinds of harmful effects does eliminating these types of stories have on our society? Particularly on youth? I think youth are the most important group because they ultimately shape the future. If they don’t possess basic knowledge, it can damage their worldview and globally, it can damage the way other countries view Americans.

DQ:

– How often do you participate in political discourse on SMS/microblogging sites such as Twitter?

Nicki Karimipour

nickik1989@ufl.edu