Archive for April, 2011

Continuing to Help Japan Through Social Media

By Lauren Haberkorn

When the word spread of the disasters in Japan, the whole world looked to do what they could to help. Years ago, helping others on another continent would have been difficult. Today, social media makes it easier to help out.

The organizers of SXSW, the annual music, film and emerging technology festival that takes place in Austin, Texas each year, sought to raise $100,000 by developing a special website aimed at meeting their goal: sxsw4japan.org. Not only did they reach their goal, they exceeded it, raising *$105,000 for relief efforts.

These examples of social media aimed at doing good, can be applied to any endeavor. Anyone can identify their community or audience, formulate a succinct and powerful message, and then use social media to send out that message in a matter of seconds. Though there are arguments against the benefits in social media, it can be proven that it has done many good things in today’s world. It is likely that an entire generation will continue to use social media to reach out to each other and make powerful changes in our world. Continue reading ‘Continuing to Help Japan Through Social Media’

The Stream: Al Jazeera’s New Interactive Show and the Future of News

By Steve Byers

Want to see one possible direction for future media? Look to Al Jazeera’s new show and website called “The Stream.” It’s an indication of where television might be headed, according to this view.

What Al Jazeera has done is formalize a technique it used during the Mideast unrest, especially in Egypt. The show uses a social media service to gather content and interact with the community. The Stream is unique in its use of tools like Twitter,  YouTube and Facebook to both source the news and interact with its  audience.

The website, called “The Stream”, is can be found online at http://stream.aljazeera.com; the TV show can be viewed at www.ustream.tv/channel/the-stream-al-jazeera. Keep your eyes on this because it may well be the future for TV network news.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication.

Is Negative PR Bad for Business?

By Sarah Bonewits-Feldner and Tom Isaacson

For practitioners working in corporate communication and public relations, an ongoing concern is the impact of negative publicity on relevant target audiences. The old adage “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” – frequently cited by business journalists and alternately credited to either P. T. Barnum or an ambiguous “they” – deserves a closer look.

Unequal, a sport-equipment manufacturer, recently decided to use the controversial Michael Vick to promote its products. In a story described in the Wall Street Journal, company executives and consultants debated if the move would help the relatively unknown company or if it would be ‘business suicide.’ Apparently, it was the former.

According to the article’s author, Lee Hawkins, after the endorsement deal was announced the high number of hits on Unequal’s website crashed the site and sales initially went up 1,000 percent before settling “at about triple what they were a year ago.”

However, we know a single example rarely settles an argument. For every organization that benefits from negative publicity, counter examples exist as well. Continue reading ‘Is Negative PR Bad for Business?’

Student Review: Milwaukee Symphony Welcomes Guests

By Brian Sullivan, Senior

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and all classical music performers face a unique challenge among artists. They have to take something that is by definition old and make it new, make it interesting. In its recent performance, “Mozart Plus Handel’s Royal Fireworks,” the MSO took on that challenge and, with four different pieces, achieved varying levels of success. Conducted by Christopher Seaman, each piece was technically proficient but some had more life than others.

The performance opened with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, whose composition history is more interesting than the number itself. Handel composed it for a concert celebrating the end of the War of Austrian Succession. While a bit dull at times, Fireworks was a solid introduction to the orchestra that showed off the various musicians’ considerable talents. The main problem may have been that with an overture and five movements, it went on for a bit too long. In the end, though, it turned out to be a warm-up for the main attraction.

Christina and Michelle Naughton took the stage looking every bit the part of concert pianists, despite their young age. Dressed in gowns and exhibiting supreme confidence, they gave the feeling that there is nowhere they belong more than sitting at a piano. The Naughton sisters are Madison natives who have been playing piano since they were four. Now in college, they have travelled the world performing as a piano-playing superduo. After meeting with them and seeing them perform, it’s clear that this is not a life pushed on them by fame-hungry stage parents. Music is in their blood and when they’re playing together, it shows. Continue reading ‘Student Review: Milwaukee Symphony Welcomes Guests’

We Media NYC: This Time it’s Personal

By Kati Tusinski Berg

Last week I attended the We Media conference in New York City. Now in its seventh year, the We Media conference is where “technovators, changemakers and socialpreneurs” apply media, tech and ‘the power of us’ to bring solutions to 21st century challenges. Unlike other professional conferences I have attended, We Media has a totally different vibe to it – digital, innovative, and forward thinking.

Before we even arrived to NYC, the conference organizers encouraged participants to share their biographical information and contact points via Facebook or LinkedIn. During the short but insightful presentations, participants, including myself, used Twitter to highlight key ideas about digital communication, revolutions of journalism, changing world of advertising and waves of digital communication.

I really enjoyed Scott Heiferman’s presentation titled “People, not iPads,” because as the founder of Meetup he uses social media to connect people with similar interests (from Tea Party activists to people who hate to exercise to moms wanting to improve education) who then meet up face-to-face to engage and interact with each other. He believes the “next wave in social media isn’t media but people connecting with each other.” He wants people “to use the Internet to get off the Internet.”

According to Heiferman, groups interacting together are much more powerful than listening to one speaker. His message resonated with me because it gives students an opportunity to fuse their interest in social media with community action to Be the Difference. Social media is a great way to get the conversation started and to connect people but in order for people to take real action they need to meet face-to-face so to increase the collective power of their actions. Out of stories of me should come stories of we—the power of us.

I could go on to explain three waves of the digital age (commercialization, democratization and validation), talk about why the 30 second ad doesn’t work any more, or discuss the challenge of making content relevant and personal to consumers but let’s take Heiferman’s advise to heart and chat in person. I can be found most days in 519 Johnston Hall. Stop by chat.

Kati Tusinski Berg is an Assistant Professor of Corporate Communications and Public Relations in the Diederich College of Communication.
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Students Become Arts Critics

By Pamela Hill Nettleton

Students perform onstage at the Helfaer Theatre, Marquette University

Students perform onstage at the Helfaer Theatre, Marquette University

Students in my Critical Writing About the Arts course travel out into the city to watch ballet rehearsals, interview symphony soloists, tour backstage at the opera—and then return later to watch and review the polished performances.

This semester, we’ve visited and reviewed visual arts at the Haggerty Museum on campus, a play at the Helfaer Theatre on campus, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Milwaukee Ballet, and the Skylight Opera so far. We are about to visit Milwaukee Magazine to speak with dining critic and food writer Ann Christenson before dining at Coquette Café and reviewing the French food there—and we have a film to view and critique before the semester ends.

It’s a wonderfully fun course, for me as well as for the students. We attend events together and sit together as a group. Audiences are sometimes intrigued by 16 students feverishly scribbling onto notepads in the dark. I enjoy seeing the arts through their eyes. Continue reading ‘Students Become Arts Critics’

How Do We Reconcile Ethics and Journalism 2.0?

By Steve Byers

Writing in Forbes, Jeff Bercovici discussed how a story filed by a student ended up basically costing more than 30 people their lives. The story recounted the burning of a Quran by an insensitive pastor in Florida.

Bercovici’s report prompted some excellent comments (very nice to read thoughtful comments instead of the stupidity associated with most of those showing up in Wisconsin newspapers about the political problems) as he talked about how the story was ignored by “legacy newspapers” before being run by a foreign news agency. It’s the story of how the traditional ethics and checks and balances seem lost in this era of “empowered citizen bloggers and crowdsourced reporting.”

But the battle was joined. John McQuaid, writing  in the Huffington Post, sums up the flap started by Jeff Bercovici writing about the Internet reports of the Quran burning, and he extends the discussion into the whole role of aggragators — like Huffington Post.

What may be more fun, even is somewhat less enlightening, is a listing in New York magazine’s online site of the Twitter battle between Bercovici and two other writers he’s attacked: Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen.  (Note: profanity used here.)

Frankly, Bercovici’s central premise attributing the report to a student without direction was wrong. The student posted at the request of an old media news agency on that agency with, presumably, editing. But the point about crowdsourcing and ethical considerations is worth making. Anybody can start a blog or a website. It can operate without any ethical consideration at all. This has always been true in old media (go to a bookstore and look at the “current affairs” section or watch Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann or the Sunday morning political shows for totally unsupported, outrageous if not fully false claims), but the Internet allows faster and wider consumption of that drek, so the current discussion is worth following.

Sometimes progress hurts — and journalism can kill.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication.