Media Alert: Democracy suffers when broadcast stations own many outlets in one market

Media consolidation reduces the number of voices and views available in towns and cities across the county. The FCC has rules about this but, “companies like Gannett, Nextar, Raycom, Sinclair and Tribune have set up shell corporations that they then sell some stations to –while maintaining control of much of the content and revenue” according to this Seattle Times editorial. To read more about this issue and how to act, click

Media Alert: Massachusetts Passes Media Literacy Bill for Schools

NWARM thought you would be interested in this bill regarding Media Literacy in the Schools in Massachusetts just passed (Bill S.213) – An Act Concerning Media Literacy in Schools and perhaps you would want to support such a campaign here in Washington state. The group who sponsored the legislation is interested in seeing if they can help in other states.  While it focuses on teaching children the skills for “accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating and participating in the 21st media culture” (The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2014), these skills can spill over into their own home and community, teaching these children how to better look at these cartoons, videos, etc. and learn what is fake and what is real, and use their critical thinking process on what to apply to real life and what to leave alone.

The Massachusetts Bill S.213 states the following:

SECTION 1. Chapter 69 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 1N the following section:Section 1O. To equip students with the knowledge and skills for accessing, analyzing, evaluating, creating and participating in the 21st century media culture, and to ensure students develop the independent thinking and critical analysis skills needed to navigate the messages of a media-saturated world, the department of elementary and secondary education shall authorize and assist in the implementation of programs on teaching media literacy. The components of media literacy covered in the program shall include: Accessing and evaluating information from a variety of internet and other media sources; Analyzing how media messages, including advertising, are constructed and for what purposes; Evaluating media’s explicit and implicit messages, how messages can be interpreted, how values and points of view are included and excluded, and how media can influence ideas and behaviors; Creating media and messages using a variety of media tools, including the use of words, images, sound and other multi-media tools; Participating in a global media culture.The department shall develop standards and objectives for media literacy for grades kindergarten to 12, inclusive, within the existing curriculum. The department shall make available to school districts a list of resources to aid in the selection of materials and resources that contain substantive provisions on media literacy, and will ensure that approved media literacy training opportunities are made available for professional development points within the teacher recertification program.

This Bill could be instrumental in teaching children important critical thinking skills, not only with video games and cartoons, but with any type of television they watch from the time they start learning these skills and throughout life. These skills can teach these children to start looking at media sources in a different way, especially young children who want to fit in with the crowd in middle school and high school. They can help them understand that models are air brushed to make them look better and delete their deficiencies, as well as help young women just coming into puberty understand that society is not interested in women who are skin and bones, but a woman who is strong and confident and believes in themselves. I believe that these media literacy efforts could possibly thwart different types of “growing pains” that children and young adults experience now-a-days and instill a sense of self worth by understanding that media is a portal to get a message out in order to sell money and basically control the populace in different ways.

For details go to:

Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (2014). Bill S.213 – An Act Concerning Media

Literacy in Schools. Retrieved February 26, 2014 from

A Hornet’s Nest Over Violent Video Games


Repost from the Chronicle of Higher Education

By James D. Ivory and Malte Elson

When the relative peace and safety that many of us enjoy are blighted by horrific  crimes, like the recent shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, the public naturally wants to know why. In recent years, the urge to make sense of such crimes has led to the identification of a culprit: Violent video games, many people believe, cause violent behavior. Among social scientists interested in media effects, the topic is a hornet’s nest.

In 2005 the American Psychological Association released a policy statement claiming that research has consistently found that violent video games influence various outcomes like aggressive thoughts and behavior and “angry feelings.” As we write, a committee of psychologists appointed by the association is reviewing the statement to consider revising or replacing it. We are two of more than 200 scholars from psychology, communications, criminology, and other fields who have signed an open scholars’ statementurging the committee to repeal the 2005 document’s strong claims. We believe that the APA needs to tread more carefully into the politics of the public discussion of research.

The reason is simple: The evidence is mixed. There is a lot of cleverly designed research exploring potential effects of violent games on laboratory outcomes—such as whether a person completes an unfinished story with an aggressive ending or how much hot sauce a subject chooses to give a stranger to eat—that is only abstractly related to truly antisocial aggression. There are also large-scale surveys examining correlations between respondents’ game use and their reports of delinquency and misbehavior. Some studies find such relationships; some do not. Over the years, the latter have become more common in the growing body of research. Most relevant to social concerns, little or no evidence exists to show that violent video games can be identified as a unique contributor to serious violent crime.

But the research culture surrounding violent video games has become so contentious that scholarly differences of opinion have created an impasse that restricts reasonable discussion in public and in academe. Scholars disagree about what research should be considered to assess effects, who is competent enough to draw conclusions, and how much of a consensus on the topic exists. The imbroglio provides a case study in how the cold equations of science can be contorted by the human elements in academe.

What can we learn from this mess? For starters, there is a chasm between the answers about violent video games that society seeks and the answers that research provides. Society wants answers about antisocial behavior in real life; the mixed bag of laboratory studies can’t provide those. Society wants to know what to do; current research about violent crime and video games doesn’t add up to enough evidence to support policy recommendations. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for researchers to use terms like “aggression” loosely when they describe their findings about laboratory outcomes, allowing a lay audience and policy makers to misinterpret their conclusions.

Second, some researchers tend to selectively report findings, claiming that the effects of violent video games on aggression are as pronounced as the effects of smoking on lung cancer, or of condom use on HIV risk. In some cases, “average” findings from meta-analyses are used to support claims about consistent effects, but meta-analyses tend to “split the difference” among widely discrepant findings. That, then, is often misreported as a consistent pattern of results across a large number of studies. The fact that the social sciences are plagued by a publication bias (the tendency to publish conclusive studies over inconclusive studies) may further sway meta-analyses.

Lastly, and most troubling, there has emerged a pronounced tendency for some researchers to denigrate the competence—and even the character—of scholars who are unconvinced about the social harms of video-game violence. Sometimes skeptics are likened to deniers of climate change (an area where there is more consensus); at other times, they are called “industry apologists.”Articles have been written comparing career accomplishments and publication records of researchers supporting and challenging claims of negative video-game effects, mistaking quantity of publications and journal impact factors for quality of research, and asserting that early-career scholars with short résumés are unqualified to comment on the matter.

The lesson for those involved in any debated area of research is clear: When the arguments stray from the science to the résumés of those discussing it, we run the risk of perpetuating established views and celebrating former research accomplishments more than new knowledge.

Like many people involved in this debate, we want to support research and policies that lead to reduced violent crime. But that goal is not served by jumping to conclusions with public-policy statements that outreach the evidence, spurring mistaken efforts by legislators to exert political pressure on scientists and encourage specific outcomes. Even if we want a culprit to blame, we cannot ignore inconclusive research on video games and violence.

We can understand why violent video games have been a suspect in the search for answers to societal violence, but so far the research has not supported the indictment. It is therefore inappropriate to list violent video games as a known risk factor for social violence along with more proven factors like previous mental-health problems or a history of family violence. It is improper to portray games as presenting a public-health crisis.

While researchers continue to explore the topic, we would do well to keep our minds on the principles of science and maintain a healthy respect for all of those practicing it. Otherwise, we will let an important societal question become an aggressive academic game.

James D. Ivory is an associate professor of communication at Virginia Tech. Malte Elson is a research associate in the department of communication and doctoral student in the department of psychology at the University of Münster in Germany.

2013 Video Contest Winners

Congratulations to the 2013 Our Media, Your Business Video Contest winners!

High School, 1st place

“A New Way to Terrorize” by Shelley Clark

College, 1st place

“Children’s Media Literacy” by Nathan Webber, Melissa Helgeson, and Eduardo Coelho of Whitworth University

Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony at Gonzaga University. Thank you for participating!

Media Alert: Media Crowds Convention

The political conventions this year have been described as primarily media events.  When journalist Dana Milbank attended the convention he received relaxation treatments, instruction on yoga poses and his appetite was fed with food and drink.

Milbank described the Democratic Conventions as “of the media, by the media, and for the media.” He reported there were more media representatives then delegates.

Read the complete story below by this Washington Post columnist:

September 6, 2012

Media crowds convention

Dana Milbank

CHARLOTTE – The Democratic National Convention is just getting under way, but already I’ve been given the treatment. Lots of treatments, actually.

I’ve had my deltoids massaged in candlelight by a licensed therapist; had a foaming pore cleanser and mask applied to my face by an aesthetician; been instructed in the Warrior, Half-Sun Salute and Dancer poses by a yoga instructor; and crawled into a hanging cocoon for a “meditative snooze.” I worked up quite an appetite doing all this, so I ordered vegan corn chowder and gluten-free chicken chile verde washed down with Fiji water all courtesy of the Huffington Post.

Ostensibly, the Huffington Post Oasis offers these spa services gratis to convention delegates as well as to media types. But in practice, said Brendan McDonald, whose LYFE Kitchen serves the Oasis’ healthy fare, “I’ve only seen the likes of you.”

Do not be deceived by all that talk of delegates and floor speeches: This is a convention of the media, by the media and for the media. There are some 15,000 representatives of the media here for the convention, about three times the number of delegates. This mathematical imbalance means most journalists spend their time with other journalists at events sponsored by corporations and hosted by media organizations for the purpose of entertaining advertisers and promoting themselves to each other.

There’s the Politico Hub (Ketel One Martini bar!), the Bloomberg Link (hot breakfast and goodie bags!), the CNN Grill, the MSNBC Experience and many more. The Atlantic, National Journal and CBS started offering mimosas at 9:30 a.m., and the Hill had a full bar open at 10:30 a.m. in its hospitality suite atop the Charlotte City Club. I attended these events for five hours straight on Tuesday and could not identify a single delegate.

Last week’s storm-shortened Republican convention in Tampa, visited by a similar media mob, produced no bounce in the polls for Mitt Romney. The situation in Charlotte – thousands of idle journalists and not a serious news story in sight – is one more reason to consign political conventions to the dustbin of history.

My Tuesday began at the Politico Hub, where Mike Allen was interviewing President Obama’s confidant Valerie Jarrett.

“He’s a human being, and he likes to laugh,” Jarrett disclosed.

Allen asked if it’s true that “they’re incredible parents.”

“They’re absolutely amazing,” Jarrett confirmed.

The dozens of reporters in the crowd, NBC’s Mike Isikoff and the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove among them, munched on scones and fruit (sponsor: Bank of America). Nearby were other pieces of the Hub to be used later in the day: a bar (sponsored by BAE Systems and others) and a Coca-Cola “Refresh Station.”

An hour later, the Bloomberg Link held its breakfast event – also featuring Jarrett. Attendees, including Time’s Mark Halperin, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith and three from the Washington Post’s editorial page, got purple Bloomberg beachbags containing sunglasses and water bottles. The Bloomberg hosts were pleased with their glitzy digs, two floors above the plaza with MSNBC’s set. “It’s like spring break out there, and this is like the cool party everybody wants to get into,” one Bloomberg guy explained to a guest.

In the plaza, a whiteboard listed MSNBC’s scheduled festivities, including a pizza party at noon, “Rev. Al’s Blueberry Pie Cafe” at 6 p.m., and viewing parties throughout the day. This was much like the offering at the nearby CNN Grill, which sent out updates with the political and media stars “sighted” at the grill, including Charlie Rose, Dave Barry, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper.

From there, I hurried to the National Journal-CBS Breakfast (sponsors include United Technologies, Volkswagen and Pfizer), which featured Obama pollster Joel Benenson informing a roomful of journalists that the president’s crowds have been getting bigger.

There was little time to process this wisdom, because I was late for a breakfast done by the Hill (sponsors include Tyco, Allstate and lobbying firm Holland & Knight), where Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., announced that Obama’s advisers have been “astonishingly successful.” By then I was behind for the Yahoo-ABC News event, so I missed Obama campaign manager Jim Messina telling the roomful of reporters that “the president is building an economy built to last.”

There were a dozen media events to go to, including munching Asian-fusion food at Politico, Politics and Pints trivia with the Post’s Chris Cillizza, and a RealClearPolitics party. But if I went to the late-night BuzzFeed party at a children’s museum, I wondered, could I still make it to Wednesday’s breakfast sponsored by Bloomberg and the Post?

Possibly – but I’d need a nap at the Huffington Post.

Dana Milbank is a columnist for the Washington Post. His email address is