Media Bites: Frosted Flakes

In this week’s Media Bites, GRIID takes a look at sugar cereals that target children. We look at a recent Frosted Flakes commercial and other techniques that these marketers use to convince kids that they should consume their products:

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

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Media Bites: Nike

In this week’s Media Bites, GRIID looks at the global sports apparel giant Nike. The Nike commercial we deconstruct is a new one featuring NBA All Star LeBron James. This commercial continues the same stylized approach that was used when Michael Jordan was the company’s main marketing icon. However, the company continues to use sweatshop labor abroad and slick ads can not hide that fact:

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

Media Bites: E-Trade

In this week’s Media Bites, GRIID looks at the online investment company E-Trade commercials that use babies to brand their company. We deconstruct a commercial from the 2009 Super Bowl and provide links to reports and analysis on the recent Wall Street crisis:

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

Media Bites: Bridgestone

This week’s Media Bites deconstructs a commercial by Bridgestone/Firestone that ran during the 2009 Super Bowl. The commercial uses Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head to brand their image, but we show you how the company treats its workers abroad:

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

Media Bites: Coca Cola

In this week’s edition of Media Bites, GRIID looks at Coca Cola commercials that aired during the 2009 Super Bowl. The coke ads are promoting their “open happiness” campaign. We deconstruct this idea and present information about how the consumption of Coke products harms us and what Coca Cola’s business practices are around the world:

Media Bites – Coke from Girbe Eefsting on Vimeo.

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

Media Bites: Go Daddy’s Porn

In this week’s edition of Media Bites, GRIID looks at Go Daddy commercials that aired during the 2009 Super Bowl. Go Daddy continued their trend of using women’s bodies to sell their imagine, but they also used a pornographic theme in one of the ads:

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

Media Bites: Budweiser

In this week’s edition of Media Bites, GRIID looks at the numerous Budweiser ads that ran during the 2009 Super Bowl, the techniques they use, and how some of their ads even target children in order to develop brand loyalty. :

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

DIRECTV Rejects Ad Critical of US Role in Israel’s Bombing of Gaza

The Washington-based US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation announced recently that a 30 second ad they created that exposes the US role in the Israeli bombing of Gaza was rejected by the satellite TV giant DIRECTV.

The organization’s web page stated, “This blatant act of censorship is preventing millions of U.S. households from learning the truth about our government’s crucial role in enabling Israel’s war on and siege of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

The ad is based on research conducted by the Campaign which says that:

“Israel carried out its aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip with U.S.-provided F16 fighter jets and Apache helicopter gunships. From 2001-2006, the United States provided Israel with more than $200 million in spare parts for its fighter jets and more than $100 million in spare parts for its helicopter gunships.”

The Campaign is calling on people to send messages to DIRECTV to pressure them to air this ad. In addition, the group is calling on the Obama administration to not provide more military aid to Israel. According to the Campaign, “the President is expected to ask for $2.775 billion in weapons for Israel in the budget he’ll be sending to Congress this year.”

Last Thursday, President Obama ignored pleas from human rights and religious groups to not speak at a Caterpillar plant in his home state of Illinois. There has been a decade long campaign against Caterpillar since the company supplies massive bulldozers to the Israeli military, which uses them to crush Palestinian homes and destroy crops.

Media Bites: General Electric Exposed

In this week’s edition of Media Bites, GRIID analyzes two recent commercials by General Electric:

About Media Bites

On any given day, most Americans are exposed to about 3,000 different commercial messages. These messages are in the form of TV ads, billboards, product placement in movies and video games or online advertising. Media Bites is an effort by the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy to provide some regular analysis of these images and messages that corporations and the government use to manipulate the public into supporting products and policies.

How to Watch TV News

Click on the image to purchase this book through Amazon.com. Purchases help support MediaMouse.org.

How to Watch TV News is a revised edition of a classic book originally published in 1992. Neil Postman, a well-regarded media theorist, and Steve Powers, a longtime broadcast journalist, wrote the first edition to convince people that anyone relying exclusively on TV news was getting a “vastly distorted picture of the world.” Now Powers has updated the book to provide a wealth of new details, including a discussion of “new media” and the role of television in the current media market.

An Inside Look at the News

How to Watch TV News brings readers behind the scenes of news broadcasts and news stations, exploring how television news is produced and what the underlying motivations are. Central to this discussion is the fact that television news is immensely profitable for networks and local TV stations. The authors compare the price of news programming to producing original television programs, showing that it is considerably cheaper to produce news programs. Moreover, the authors look at the demographics of who watches the news, arguing that the news audience is a highly sought after demographic for advertisers. The book also explores the relationship between commercials and the news, arguing that news is in many ways simply a platform for delivering an audience to advertisers.

Beyond the discussion of news, the authors present a comprehensive picture of how news programs are made. They go through the common jobs in news rooms, looking at reporters, anchors, camera people, assignment editors, and news directors (who get a whole chapter) and explain the process of how something becomes news. The authors also place considerable emphasis on the “show” aspect by discussing the importance of visuals and language in television news. They also look at the content of news programs, showing that they tend to include a lot of feel good stories and weather reports rather than detailed reporting.

What is to be Done?

Postman and Powers argue that we must all critically engage the media and that we not simply be passive consumers of media, which is what the television stations want. To that end, they suggest eight things that we must keep in mind when watching TV news:

  1. In encountering a news show, you must come with a firm idea of what is important.
  2. In preparing to watch a TV news show, keep in mind that it is called a “show.”
  3. Never underestimate the power of commercials.
  4. Learn something about the economic and political interests of those who run TV stations
  5. Pay special attention to the language of newscasts.
  6. Reduce by at least one third the amount of TV news you watch.
  7. Reduce by one third the number of opinions you feel obligated to have.
  8. Do whatever you can to get schools interested in teaching children how to watch a TV news show.

The book also argues that while the emergence of new news sources and technologies is rapidly changing television news, we will need to remain just as vigilant in evaluating those sources.

An Essential Read

How to Watch TV News is an absolutely essential read for anyone that either relies on or has ever relied on television news to make sense of the world. It’s simultaneously eye-opening and outraging, and it is packed with valuable insights into how a news room works and how commercial media decides what is “news.” Moreover, the authors ask larger questions about what that means for our society.

Neil Postman and Steve Powers, How to Watch TV News, (Penguin Books, 2008).