Thursday, October 29, 2009

MC’s Weekly Top 10 Media List

Hello, fabulous readers, and welcome to the first installment of a new weekly feature in the NYU Comm Club Blog where I, irreverent cultural commentator that I am, give you the 10 most notable media events that happened this week .Let’s get started!

10. A family portrait of the Obamas taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz has hit the internet. The picture is cute and everything, but when I heard Annie was taking the photo, I was both confused and mystified at what it might look like. I had a feeling they wouldn’t be going for the Miley Cyrus “sheet wrapped around naked back” imagery. Sasha and Malia are too classy for that. But instead, it’s just a typical family portrait. Oh, and where is Bo? Maybe he urinated on Annie’s digital equipment and was kicked out or something. Anyway, take a look for yourself:
9. Everyone start protesting now- the popular website, which allows visitors to watch recent episodes of popular TV shows, has announced it will start charging in the near future. That’s like having to start paying to listen to the radio! Most likely, the site doesn’t make enough money just off the advertisements shown throughout the episodes. I don’t care. Make the advertisements longer, do whatever you have to. Paying actual money to watch something I could watch on TV for free, such as Courtney Cox’s latest antics on “Cougar Town” goes against my basic moral principles.

8. Some bright person decided to start a rumor that Kanye West died, and it turned into a trending topic on Twitter. Some people actually believed it. Why? Because earlier in the week, Kanye premiered a video on his site where he is graphically murdered. And they say those who insist Americans can’t tell fantasized violence apart from reality are crazy. But I digress. I’m sure ‘Ye was thrilled with the free publicity. In fact, it actually wouldn’t surprise me if he started the rumor itself. You know he couldn’t stand Balloon Boy stealing his spotlight. This displays yet another example of the wide influence of Twitter, as the social networking site becomes a place where actual news breaks out.

7. Lil’ Wayne pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a gun here in New York on Thursday. Why this is news, I’m not sure. He will be sentenced in court in February and could serve up to a year in prison. Watch for his sales and critical acclaim to spike notably in the coming months. We all know the media loves when celebrities act up. About a year ago, rapper T.I. was also found guilty of criminal possession and sentenced to prison. But not before racking up #1 hits and Grammy nominations. Anyway, I don’t really see what the big deal is about this. When I see Weezy, I expect him to be packing heat the way I expect an old lady to have packets of contraband restaurant ketchup.

6. This is certainly convenient- Google has announced that they are adding a “music search” feature to their site soon. You’ll be able to type in a song or artist name and instantly get links to purchase or stream music. I’m not yet sure how this is all that different from going to Google’s main page and just searching the name of the song you want followed by “mp3”, but the new design of the word “Google” (featuring a shiny musical note instead of the two “o”s) looks cool, and maybe that’s what’s most important after all.

5. Everyone set your TiVos and DVRs immediately, because on November 16 at precisely 4 p.m. on ABC, Oprah’s talk show will be graced by none other than Sarah Palin. She will be promoting her memoir, “Going Rogue”, or as I would have named it, “Going Off-TelePrompTer”. Anyway, this is shocking news since Palin has rejected offers to be on the show in the past, most likely because Oprah basically picked McCain’s opponent as our president. What Oprah (Gayle, Stedman, African school for girls) and Palin (moose) have in common, I’m not sure, but this will surely be an event.''

4. NBC’s decision to give Jay Leno his own talk show every night at 10 p.m. seems to be having some negative, yet predicted, consequences. Due to Leno’s lack of popularity and competition from other network's shows, viewers are dropping off of NBC before the 11 pm news comes on (which is not great for the affiliates). Leno’s show also takes away time slots where other shows could have had a chance to prosper. Perhaps some of NBC’s promising new shows would not have been cancelled if they were given the opportunity to score better ratings in a later time slot. For instance, "Southland" might have fared better as a 10 p.m. drama. None of this is great news for the network. However, I don't think Leno or his chin are going anywhere anytime soon.

3. In an interesting political-media development, the Obama administration has called war on conservative Fox News. A quick Google search reveals many opinions on both sides of the war, with some publications praising Obama for going after the network, and others cautioning against it. This news came as a surprise to me as I suppose I always thought there was a tacit understanding between politically skewed networks and the administrations in power. The incident all started when Obama appeared on all the major networks, except Fox News, to talk about health care in response to some comments made by FN commentators Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace called the administration "crybabies" in response to the incident. The fighting's been on ever since.

2. For the past six months, the media has been consistently and annoyingly reporting on the drama surrounding Jon, Kate, and their 8 paychecks, I mean children. Here’s the latest update in case you care- Jon is trying to get on another reality show. Shocker. When I saw that headline, my mind jumped to the obvious choice- “The Biggest Loser”. But it turns out he wants to be on a CBS show such as “Survivor”. The only way this would work is if you stuck Jon on an island and had that evil-looking possum thing that lives on Kate’s head chase him around for a month. I would be a faithful viewer to that one. Of course, it's debatable if another network would want to take a chance on Jon given that he was recently sued by TLC for violating his contract. (Jon claims he decided he didn't want his children around the cameras anymore). I have a feeling his desire for a new show is a result of the fact that, given that Kate is now raising the children while Jon picks up 22-year-olds and hangs out with Michael Lohan, the old show will be much less focused on his wonderful presence. Also, Jon was recently court-ordered to return the money he stole borrowed from his and Kate’s joint account- to buy more flashy, cubic-zirconium earrings, no doubt.

1. Speaking of events making me lose my faith in humanity, we have now arrived at this list’s #1...Balloon Boy. Last week, when it was discovered that a boy had apparently flown away in a hot air balloon, the public watched spellbound as authorities searched for him. Turns out he never left the ground- the little boy was hiding in the attic the whole time. The father, Richard Heene, called the media before the cops when his son “went missing”. There has been a general consensus that the media greatly overreacted to this incident; for a while, it was certainly the most repeatedly covered story on all news outlets. This feeling of irritation has certainly only increased with reports that the whole thing was a set up and the father is seeking his own reality TV show. Recently, the mother herself admitted it was a big hoax. So, that leaves the father as the only delusional maniac left still claiming it really happened. With any luck, either the police department sues him for every penny he’s worth, or we send him up in a hot air balloon headed for Mars. I’m done.

Michael Cavarretta is a freshman in the Communication department and a new writer to the blog. Feel free to email him at with any comments, praises, or criticisms about this week’s post. Actually, forget about that last one. You can just keep those thoughts to yourself.

Written by Michael Cavarretta, Edited by Sara Saldi

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 30th MCC Graduate Conference Open to All Students

Hey Comm Club!

The MCC department's graduate conference is occurring on October 30. It is an open event for any student interested in attending! There will be a number of informative panels with topics that include media activism, vision and sound as a commodity, and the politics of memory. Think you might be interested in attending? Want to find out more information about the day's events, panelists, etc.? Check out the schedule below:

Event Time:
Friday, October 30, 2009
9:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Helen Mills Theater
137 West 26th Street

9:00 Doors open & Coffee served

9:15 Welcome
* Marita Sturken, Chair
* Rod Benson, Director of Graduate Studies

9:30 Panel I – Vision, Sound and/as Commodity
* Jamie Berthe, “Deconstructing Tarzan or Reconstructing Racial Hierarchies?”
* Melissa De Witte, “Memory and the Spectacle: Phantom and fantasy in a new economy of the image”
* Jennifer Heuson, “Soundscapes of the Black Hills: An acoustemology of the American West”
* Faculty moderator: Martin Scherzinger

11:00 Panel II – Politics of Memory
* Lisa Gitelman, "Daniel Ellsberg and the lost idea of the photocopy"
* Hatim El-Hibri, “Sectarianism, Maps and Beirut: From the French Mandate through the end of the civil war (1920-1991)”
* Christine Weible, “How the creation of museums and memorials at the site of the ex-ESMA is impacting collective memory of the Dirty War in Argentina”
* Scott Selberg, "Cognitive Fever: Remembering Alzheimer's at the National Library of Medicine"
* Faculty moderator: Nicholas Mirzoeff

12:45 Lunch served

1:30 Brian Larkin, Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University, “The Mobility of Images and the Ethnography of Value: Cinema in Nigeria”

2:45 Break

3:00 Panel III – Media Activism
* Victor Pickard, "Crises and Opportunities in the Ongoing Struggle for Public Service Media"
* Evan Brody, “(De)scribing Disease: Capitalist HIV imagery and cultural memory”
* Dwaipayan Banerjee, “Media Activism in its Local Place: Lessons from Bhopal”
* Marco Deseriis, “The Faker as Producer: Politics of fabrication and the three orders of the fake”
* Faculty moderator: Allen Feldman

4:45 Reception & Drinks served

If you have any further questions, please contact us at

Compiled by Caitlin Pirraglia, Edited by Sara Saldi

Monday, October 26, 2009

Comm Club and WIC Host Professional PR Panel

This past Wednesday (Oct. 21), Comm Club and the Women in Communications Club had the pleasure of co-hosting a professional public relations panel at Kimmel. We really had a phenomenal turnout and we hope that everyone got as much out of the event as we did. We heard from professionals across a wide range of industries and were really able to get a great sense of what it takes to make it in PR. Also, Quinn & Co., one of the firms that participated, covered us in their blog!

Update: Here's a short, clip from the panel. Enjoy!

The panelists:

· Katie Elliott, Account Supervisor, Travel and Digital Media Specialist, Quinn & Co.
· Emily Franklin, Digital Media/Senior Account Executive, Real Estate, Quinn & Co.
· Danielle Culmone, Digital Media/Account Supervisor, Real Estate, Quinn & Co.
· Jenna Hudson, Executive Assistant to the President, FerenComm
· Kate Brennan, Junior Publicist/Assistant to the SVP, FerenComm
· Claire Coveney, Content Manager, Perks Consulting
· Maureen Haley, Account Executive, Development Counsellors International
A small selection of the most informative and helpful Q&A:

What advice do you have for securing a job/internship in PR?
  • With the economy, you have to remember that although a job may be hard to find, an internship can turn into a four-month interview where you will have the chance to prove how valuable you are to the team
  • Remember to write thoughtful thank you cards after an interview. This will really make you stand out since you went out of your way to handwrite something personal and snail mail it.
  • Stay busy at your internship. Your supervisors will notice if you are slacking or not putting in 100% effort.
  • Go to as many networking events as possible. Meet people. Research different firms. Most importantly make sure you enjoy what you are doing!

What are the best and worst parts about working in PR?
  • Best: Communicating well is not easy for everyone. Helping clients by formulating effective communications message so they can promote their brand is extremely rewarding. Also, working with clients that reach across national markets is very exciting.
  • Worst: Pitching to journalists can be very hard. Some of them are mean and some of them will never call you back. It’s also always very difficult to leave your work at work. PR professionals are extremely busy and managing your time effectively often becomes the hardest part of the job.

How has social/digital media changed the way PR works?
  • There are so many different channels available now to communicate client’s messages. This can especially become harder to manage when people within the PR agency are new at using the tools. Communications agencies across the spectrum are now getting up to speed within their own structures and for the client work they produce.
  • The fact is that although there are all these new channels your goals are still the same – to effectively communicate and drive results for the client. The more channels the better but you always need to remember that the same diligence is needed in every execution.

If you’re interested in learning about any of the internship programs at the panfirms, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

Compiled by Natan Edelsburg, Edited by Sara Saldi

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bi-Weekly Interview: Mushon Zer-Aviv, Designer, Teacher and Media Activist

Mushon Zer-Aviv is a designer, teacher and media activist from Tel-Aviv. He teaches new media research at New York University and open-source design at Parsons The New School for Design. Mushon's work explores media i n public space and public space in media. He is the co-founder of, an open-source brow ser plug-in for annotating the web. His other ventures include, a foxy design studio, and Kriegspiel, a computer game based on Guy Debord’s Game of War. Mushon is also an honorary resident at Eyebeam, the New York based art and technology center.

Comm Club’s Lynn Burke sat down with Mushon Zer-Aviv so that we could all learn more about him, his work, and open source:

I suppose a good a question to start with is a basic one. So, what exactly is open source?

Open source is a production method for software-based projects. The heart of it is that the information is openly available and collaborated on. When people are sharing their music under creative commons sites, that doesn't make it open source. But if they made a platform that would allow them to collaborate on it, that’s closer to the realm of open source.

Open source platforms seem beneficial to everyone. Do you think it's ever going to catch on?

It has already caught on. Most of the technology we use online is open source. You're already using it. Most website servers are running on Linux and Apache, which are open source technologies.You don't know about it because you don't necessarilyneed to know about it. But, we wouldn't have had the web and the culture that we have today if it wasn't for open source. If you're editing or using Wikipedia, you're directly affected by open source.

What are the similarities and differences between ShiftSpace and Wikipedia?

Wikipedia is has two aspects of open source: 1. It's open sourcing the creation of knowledge by having an interface of collaboration on that knowledge and 2. The software Wikipedia is using is open source software.

What we're doing with ShiftSpace is different because even though it's true that people can come and edit content, we're more interested in people coming in and deciding what interfaces to use on the sites that they're browsing.

It's not about content as much as it is about the interface. Even in the case of Wikipedia, the content is widely constructed through interface. So, we admire the Wikipedia project and the question that it's asking. We're just asking different questions. Even before we question content, we have to question interface.

How is ShiftSpace funded?

First of all you're assuming we are funded. A lot of the development around open source and ShiftSpace is not funded. In the past year we've been introduced to MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art). They were in the process of a site redesign and saw our work. They were looking for some sort of social media vendor and asked us if we could do stuff for their website.

So we looked at our code and saw that we didn't just create a plug-in environment, we also created a social application platform. We can use that technology to create other interfaces, and not necessarily just a plug-in.

That's the kind of business model that we hope to explore. We are still working with MoMA and are on phase two of the interface, which should be live soon. We're just fixing a few more bugs.

What kind of role do you think the internet and digital media has played on art and what kind of role do you think the internet is going to play in the future of traditional art?

I think the questions we are interested in don't really revolve around art; instead, they revolve around the wider perspective of culture. In the case of MoMA, what's interesting is the idea of sharing intellectual property. MoMA is a great museum and we enjoy working with them. On the other hand though, it has a very bureaucratic system. They have a legal department that makes sure every piece of art in the collection has specific licensing. Therefore, there's only so much you can do with an image on the Internet.

For instance, MoMA came to us wanting to have a Facebook feature, which we are now working on. But the issue is that due to licensing, art pieces are only legally allowed to be shown on MoMA’s website. Art pieces are not even allowed to be shown as thumbnails on Facebook, as that would be an infringement of the intellectual property of the artist. When you're putting art (or anything that has strong intellectual property issues) online, you're bound to run into these questions.

Our work, especially when it's focused on social media, is really challenging the way MoMA and other places like it are thinking about what and how things can be shared.

What advice can you give students looking at careers in web design or new media?

Install Firefox. That's the number one tip I can give to anyone looking to do Web stuff. Basically, what's exciting about a lot of web technology is that it is open. Whatever you are looking at on your web browser, you can inspect and learn how to do.

I am teaching a class called Open Source Design at Parsons. At the beginning of the semester I tell my students we are doing to learn HTML, CSS, WordPress, and much more. But the catch is, I'm not going to teach you. And it’s not just that I won't be teaching them, it's that I don't even know it!

We learn it together because we have all of the tools to do so from the web itself. If you have the patience, you can teach yourself all about technology. That is the one truly revolutionary thing about the Web: everyone can learn.

Edited by Sara Saldi

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our Second Monthly Meeting Updates

Hey everybody! First, we want to thank everyone who came to our second monthly meeting this Wednesday. We had a great turnout, and we loved how enthusiastic you all were! For those of you who couldn’t make it, here is some of what happened:

  • First we discussed the Media, Culture, and Communication Undergraduate Conference. This is a conference that occurs in the spring every year. MCC freshmen are required to attend, but everyone is welcome. This year, Comm Club was approached to help plan the event. This is an awesome opportunity, especially for the freshmen, because we have the ability to make this mandatory conference really cool. We started brainstorming some ideas for topics, speakers, and an interesting format. We always need more ideas and help. If you’d like to help out with this, please email us at

  • The second order of business was about the blog (the one you are reading right now!). We really want to get some new writers and expand our subject matter. This blog shouldn’t just be about NYU Comm Club happenings – it should be about the world of media! Please contact Sara Saldi at if you have any interest in writing a blog entry for us (or even start a column!). It can be as fun as an article about your favorite TV show or as serious as an interview with one of your professor. Remember, having your writing published looks great on your resume.

  • Now that we have our budget, we can really start planning events. At the meeting, we tried to get a feel for which events people were most excited about (an NBC studio tour was one example. A cupcake branding taste test was another). Though these events were ideas proposed by the E-Board, we are always looking to hear about what YOU guys want to do. Always feel free to approach us with ideas.

  • Abi and Natan briefed us on the Social Media Society, a professional society focusing on the world of social media. The Comm Club was able to attend the launch of this brand-new society (click here to read one of our past blogs about it). We hope to form the first student chapter of the Social Media Society. Abi will be keeping us posted!

If you have any further questions about what happened at the meeting, please email

The next Comm Club Meeting will be Wednesday, November 18th at 7:30. Be there!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

GlobalQuad: Colleges on Twitter

Attention everybody! There is a new website ( to check out! And okay, given the state of the internet today, that fact is not all too surprising. But trust me, this site serves a purpose! Think about it, have you ever wondered what is going at your university? What event one club is having versus another? What the school journalists are covering at any given moment? What events and news is happening around campus? Or perhaps a better question, have you ever wondered how other universities compare to your own? Wouldn’t it be great if you could find the answers to these questions from a primary source rather than hearsay and rumor? Well now you can! is here to answer your questions! Launched this past summer, Colleges on Twitter is an aggregate site for the range of twitter accounts from different colleges and universities. By bringing all of the schools’ twitter feeds together and organizing them on one host site, GlobalQuad makes it easy to follow exactly what is being tweeted both around your campus as well as your friend’s.

There are already over seventy colleges and universities represented on the site, ranging from lesser known schools like Towson University in Maryland, to Ivy League colleges such as Harvard. True to its name, GlobalQuad spans the globe as it hosts tweets from The University of Oxford and Cambridge University as well. (And of course, NYU is there too!)

The organization and functionality of the site is explained best in an article from the New York Times Blog, “The Choice.” It clearly states that:

Users can filter news by school, viewing all chatter about one place through, for example, the gathered feeds of a single university’s newspaper, alumni magazine, student clubs and sports teams. In addition to those institutional tweets are personal tweets from a range of campus characters, including student newspaper editors, law librarians, football coaches and journalism professors. (

If a tweet is sent out from a school registered on GlobalQuad, it will be easy to find and along with it, you will be able to read other twitter accounts from the same university, or similar accounts from different universities. The New York Times Blog entry also provides more background on the creation of the site and its editor, Natan Edelsburg (In full disclosure, Natan is an NYU Steinhardt Junior/Senior and the Vice President of the Comm Club).

So those are the straight facts about the site. Great. But what is its real value? It’s as simple as this: GlobalQuad is a great example of how social media can be used as a beneficial resource.

First, the site provides a one-stop shop to gather messages streaming out of your university and others. This will be useful to students who want to stay up to date, but perhaps more importantly for high school seniors who want to get a unique perspective on the schools they are considering. In a way, GlobalQuad provides an outpost for the social media enthusiasts at various universities to construct their virtual university. If the twitter feeds from all of the different academic departments, residence halls, clubs, student government, individual students, etc. at one university are collected in one “space” on GlobalQuad, the University, or at least a representation of the University, has essentially been constructed online through its own written and controlled tweets. That’s pretty cool. Current and prospective students, who want to know a school better, now have a new source for up to the minute information. But it gets better.

GlobalQuad is a great and unique resource because of the way it unites universities across the globe, creating, well, a virtual global campus. Lets say UCLA and USC have an upcoming football game. Being the bitter rivals they are, there are sure to be tweets talking about the game and how one team is going to beat the other (or something more exciting, and perhaps from the teams themselves). With the use of GlobalQuad, there is a new forum where those tweets can be viewed simultaneously and the rivalry, in all of its glory, becomes virtual. Though UCLA and USC are physically close to one another, students or alumni who are currently in a farther location can go to GlobalQuad and get a sense of the action happening on campus by its representation on twitter.

Whether one is an avid fan of twitter and social media, or doesn’t know a tweet from a text but wants to have up to the minute information stemming from campus life, GlobalQuad provides a great service.

Check it out!

Written by Felicia Shulman