Saturday, February 23, 2008


United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently discussed placing bans on social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace. They would not ban the entire website, but would focus mainly on the part involving relationship statuses. "Sections of social networking websites including Facebook and Myspace, which encouraged dating would be banned under the new policy." Members of the UAE feel that these parts of the website go against their moral values.

This seems unusual to me just because it seems like such extreme censorship. Obviously things are different between here and the Middle East, but it is still hard to understand how a government can enforce these types of regulations.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Advertising- when the line is crossed

A recent article in Advertising Age discussed the Super Bowl and the many ads surrounding it. The ads play a large role in the Super Bowl every year. People look forward to seeing what advertisers have come up with and advertisers spend lots of time and money to impress their viewers.
A Bridgestone ad this year has received some extra attention. In this ad, a driver is twisting down a dark road. He is able to avoid a couple of obstacles like a deer and Alice Cooper. His last obstacle was Richard Simmons. Initially the driver acts as though he is going to speed up and hit Simmons, but swerves at the last second. Many found this commercial humorous, but there were others who felt it was sending a negative message.
Critics of this commercial believed it had a homophobic message. By displaying Simmons as a potential target for a car, they felt the commercial had the underlying message that annoying, flambouyant hyperactive men should be taken out.
I really did not see anything wrong with this ad. I saw it and laughed. I find Simmons to be very annoying and ridiculous. I had never associated him with being a homosexual though. I was very surprised to hear these accusations.
Since the Super Bowl, the ad has been pulled, being cited as being too offensive. I personally do not think that Bridgestone meant to be offensive in any way. I could see if critics were upset about the fact that a car sped up when it saw a person, but tying in the homophobic message to it is maybe reading into it a little too much. Advertisers have an extremely difficult job in trying to reach such a vast audience. As one website pointed out, Simmons did this ad out of his own free will. Maybe some critics need to remember that and calm down about the 'underlying' messages in commercials.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

"Upgrading" to Online

A recent news story from Madison, WI told of a 90-year-old newspaper. Capital Times has been in print for 90 years and currently has a circulation of around 17,000. This all sounds good, right? Well, so far, yes, but there is more to the story. After its many years of service to the community, Capital Times is suspending the daily printing of their newspaper.

On Thursday, newspaper publisher Clayton Frink said, "The paper will end its six-day a week publication and instead offer readers a tabloid-style insert in the Wisconsin State Journal twice weekly." Along with this, the newspaper hopes to focus more on "internet operations." This should be a very interesting switch for the newspaper, but unfortunately it will affect more than just the subscribers. The newspaper is predicting many layoffs and cuts in the staff. The number of needed employees will decrease through the process of changing from print to online versions of the newspaper.

To me, this is a very sad story. There is something special about getting a newspaper delivered to your home everyday. I am not a fan of the ink that comes off on my hands, but you can't give up the feel of the newspaper in your hands. Everything is laid out for you, all you have to do is flip through and choose which stories you want to read. I can carry the newspaper with me and cut out anything I might want to show to others.

I would love to talk to Keen about this topic. I am sure there are more newspapers than Capital Times who are struggling with this exact same issue. I am guessing that Keen would blame the Web 2.0 era for this event. For the first time, I might actually agree with him on something. People are turning to online sources for their news over the physical papers.

So, what is the ethical issue here? I think people need to be aware of what they are doing when they start switching to online versions of papers. Not only are the people at the actual newspaper being put out of a job. Think about all the delivery people. Moving deeper into the company, think about the people who repaired the press, ordered and delivered the supplies to keep the company running, and even the people who will no longer be receiving their daily papers. What if they do not have a computer (as shocking as it may be, I know people who still do not own a computer)? I am sure many newspapers will be dealing with situations like this in the next several decades. It will be interesting to see what they all choose to do.