Thursday, December 9, 2010

Virtual worlds - can it really be anything for businesses? If developments and trends (2 hr lecture / workshop FSV 1, 2, 7)

Virtual worlds are three-dimensional digital spaces that are distributed over the Internet, where large numbers of people can communicate, interact, create and consume both virtual and physical goods and services. Branding is a major presence in virtual worlds like Second Life, Entropia Universe, Planet Calypso, and Blue Mars. This lecture and workshop will focus on how some companies have used virtual worlds, including the mistakes they have made and how the media can be improved in terms of development of a customer base, profiling the business and creating a brand presence in virtual worlds. Case studies discussed include the Second House of Sweden and the business model employed by Planet Calypso.

Background Factors to Virtual Worlds and Business

Age is a particularly important factor in the virtual worlds. Most of the users of virtual worlds are today under 15 years of age.

It is estimated that there are over one billion registered accounts in virtual worlds today. An estimated 700 Million of them are under the age of 15.

What are Virtual Worlds?
The concept of a virtual worlds can be distinguished from the concept of game space by the absence of the characteristics of a “game.” Bell (2008) presents a number of previously proposed definitions of a virtual world and proposes a synthesized, more contemporary definition that attempts to take into account changes that have appeared in virtual worlds over the past several years (Chesebro, 1985; Bartle, 2003; Koster, 2004; Castronova, 2004). Bell states that a virtual world can be defined as “a synchronous, persistent network of people, represented as avatars, facilitated by networked computers” (2008, p. 1). Bell’s definition has three key components:

1. “synchronous” indicates that shared activities necessitate synchronous or real-time

2. “persistent,” as explained previously, indicates that a “virtual world cannot be
paused” or does not shutdown when the user exits

3. the “avatar” is “any digital representation (graphical or textual), beyond a simple
label or name, that has agency (an ability to perform actions) and is controlled by a
human agent in real time” (2008, p. 1).

Schroeder emphasizes the experiential element of virtual worlds. Schroeder defines a
virtual environment or, equivalently, a virtual reality as “a computer-generated display that allows or compels the user (or users) to have a sense of being present in an environment other than the one they are actually in, and to interact with that environment” (Schroeder, 1996, p. 25). “Virtual Worlds Research: Consumer Behavior in Virtual Worlds”
There are three main forms of business in relation to virtual worlds:

1. Virtual goods and services
Virtual goods are non-physical objects that are purchased with real money for use in online
communities, virtual worlds, or games and fulfill a functional or decorative purpose in an online
environment. Virtual goods are typically priced from $1 to $3, but can be sold for much higher prices depending on scarcity, functionality, and design. Virtual goods include weapons or tools that help players progress in a game, decorative items like avatar gear or profile themes that allow users to express their individuality, and virtual gifts that enhance communication between friends and family. Perhaps most importantly, virtual goods also act as social badges that, depending on the social context, can convey a level of status, achievement or acceptance similar to that associated with ownership of real status symbols.

The Entropia Universe entered the Guinness World Records Book in both 2004 and 2008 for the most expensive virtual world objects ever sold, and in 2009, a virtual space station, a popular destination, sold for $330,000. This was then eclipsed in November 2010 when a player sold a virtual resort on Planet Calypso for $635,000; this property was sold in chunks, with the largest sold for $335,000.

2. Branding
The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

Therefore it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospects to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem.

The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

* Delivers the message clearly
* Confirms your credibility
* Connects your target prospects emotionally
* Motivates the buyer
* Concretes User Loyalty

Branded Virtual Goods (BVGs) are virtual goods that – in addition to offering some functional or
decorative value – display an insignia, copyright protected mark, logo or derivative image of a known brand, and by virtue of being “branded”, command a higher social and monetary value among end users. This premium positioning is analogous to the difference between generic and branded products in the real world where branded items typically sell more units and fetch higher prices than their generic counterparts. A plain white t-shirt can be transformed from a cheap commodity to a sought-after product by incorporating the mark of a well-known company or celebrity. Brands have a similar impact on virtual goods. In this report, we define brands broadly, i.e. they include not only popular consumer brands, but also images of and associations with celebrities, famous athletes, sports teams, colleges, movies, musicians and televisions shows. In short, a brand creates a point of differentiation in the user’s mind, and this differentiation represents an opportunity for monetization that is not found in generic goods.
See Branded Virtual Goods Market Report : Opportunities and Strategies for Aligning Brands with Virtual Goods (August 2010)

Nation branding is a field of theory and practice which aims to measure, build and manage the reputation of countries (closely related to place branding). Some approaches applied, such as an increasing importance on the symbolic value of products, have led countries to emphasize their distinctive characteristics. The branding and image of a nation-state and the successful transference of this image to its exports - is just as important as what they actually produce and sell. The Second House of Sweden is a virtual world example of nation branding.

3. Provision of a virtual world and related media
Creating a virtual world from scratch and building a community to populate it is a long terms and specialized occupation. There are free development tools around, NeL gives you a skeleton, for free, but wants half a million Euros for a something you could actually use. Kaneva's game engine is more complete, but you can't use it for free-to-play worlds of any scale (ie. more than 30 players - and they want to host it on their own network). RealmForge is very good except for its network features, although it is rapidly improving in that area. RealmCrafter is only $55, so it's practically free, but its graphics engine is dated and it's still something of a work-in-progress. BYOND is 100% free, and is excellent - if you don't mind having a 2D world rather than a 3D one. Multiverse is a complete, end-to-end platform solution that is free for non-commercial use. The business model appears to be to build up an installed base of Multiverse browsers through free games, thereby making the platform attractive to commercial developers (who will have to pay to use it).

Links for Further Reading
Robin Teigland
Robin Teigland is an Associate Professor at the Center for Strategy and Competitiveness at the Stockholm School of Economics (SSE) as well as the caretaker of SSE’s island in Second Life. She is also the Program Coordinator for SSE's PhD program in Business Administration and a member of the faculty of the International Management PhD program at the University of Agder in Norway.

The work of the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurship Legal Studies at Harvard University, Yochai Benkler is influential in my approach to the role that virtual worlds can play in business. His book, The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (2006) should be considered as background to my lecture.

Revenue recognition on the sale of virtual goods

By reading Hypergrid Business. We offer in-depth and up-to-date coverage of the OpenSim technology and community, which is currently the leading contender to be the hyperlinked 3D Web, with news, case studies, opinion, and feature stories. We also cover alternative open source platforms like Open Wonderland, and proprietary enterprise platforms like ProtoSphere and Teleplace.

Selected Bibliography

Alexander, T. (2003). Massively multiplayer game development. Hingham, MA: Charles River

Alexander, T. (2005). Massively multiplayer game development 2. Hingham, MA: Charles River

Bartle, R. (2004). Designing virtual worlds. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders Publishing.

Bell, M. (2008). Toward a definition of “virtual worlds”. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research.
1(1). Retrieved on November 1, 2008,

Bittarello, M. B. (2008). Another time, another space: Virtual worlds, myths and imagination.
Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 1(1). Retrieved on November1, 2008, from

Burdea, G. C., & Coiffet P. (2003.) Virtual reality technology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley &

Castronova, E. (2004). Synthetic worlds. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Damer, B. (2008). A brief history of virtual worlds as a medium for user-created events. Journal
of Virtual Worlds Research, 1(1). Retrieved on November 1, 2008, from

Hays, G. (2008, August 5). The social virtual world’s a stage. Retrieved on November 1, 2008,

Hypography. (2007). What is an acceptable definition of “game”? Retrieved on November 1,
2008, from

Koster, R. (2004, January 07) A virtual world by any other name? [Msg 21] Message posted to

KZero. (2008a). Universe. Retrieved on November 1, 2008, from

Oldenburg, R. (1989). The great good place: Cafes, coffee shops, community centers, beauty
parlors, general stores, bars, hangouts, and how they get you through the day. NY: Paragon

Oldenburg, R. (1991). The great good place. NY: Marlowe & Company.

Oldenburg, R. (2000). Celebrating the third place: Inspiring stories about the "Great Good
Places" at the heart of our communities. NY: Marlowe & Company.

Schroeder, R. (1996). Possible worlds: The social dynamic of virtual reality technologies.
Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Schroeder, R. (2006). Being there and the future of connected presence. Presence: Journal of
Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 15(4), 438-454.

Schroeder, R. (2008). Defining virtual worlds and virtual environments. Journal of Virtual
Worlds Research, 1(1). Retrieved on November 1, 2008, from

Schwienhorst, K. (1998). The ‘third place’ – virtual reality applications for second language
learning. ReCALL, 10(1), 118-128.

Sivan, Y. (2008). 3D3C real virtual worlds defined: The immense potential of merging 3D,
community, creation, and commerce. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 1(1). Retrieved
on November 1, 2008, from

Smart, J.M., Cascio, J., & Paffendorf, J. (2007). Metaverse roadmap overview. Retrieved
December 3, 2008, from

Soukup, C. (2006). Computer-mediated communication as a virtual third place: Building

Oldenburg’s great good places on the world wide web. New Media & Society, 8(3), 421-

Steinkuehler, C. (2005). The new third place: Massively multiplayer online gaming in American
youth culture. Tidskrift för lärarutbildning och forskning, 3, 16–33.

Steinkuehler, C., & Williams, D. (2006). Where everybody knows your (screen) name: Online
games as “Third Places.” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(4), article 1.
Retrieved December 3, 2008, from

Stephenson, N. (1992). Snow crash. New York: Bantam Books.

Taylor, T. L. (2006). Play between worlds: Exploring online game culture. Cambridge, MA:
MIT Press.

Wadley, G., Gibbs, M., Hew, K., & Graham, C. (2003). Computer supported cooperative play,
“Third Places,” and online videogames. In S. Viller & P. Wyeth (Eds.), Proceedings of the
Thirteenth Australian Conference on Computer Human Interaction (OzChi 03) (pp. 238-
241). Brisbane, Australia: University of Queensland.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

American Law and Popular Culture

Al Pacino, "And Justice For All" (1979)

The legal system of the United States of America is an influential source of narrative for popular culture. In recent years we have seen on TV alone a large number of series, mini-series, films and so-called 'reality' shows that depict the processes of law, usually criminal law, in a dramatic and often oratory style. In this lecture I will discuss the legal system of the United States in terms of structure and substance and refer to examples from popular culture to illustrate elements from it.

The law of the United States consists of many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United States Constitution, the foundation of the federal government of the United States. The Constitution sets out the boundaries of federal law, which consists of constitutional acts of Congress, constitutional treaties ratified by Congress, constitutional regulations promulgated by the executive branch, and case law originating from the federal judiciary.

The Constitution and federal law are the supreme law of the land, thus preempting conflicting state and territorial laws in the fifty U.S. states and in the territories. However, the scope of federal preemption is limited, because the scope of federal power is itself rather limited. In the unique dual-sovereign system of American federalism (actually tripartite when one includes Indian reservations), states are the plenary sovereigns, while the federal sovereign possesses only the limited supreme authority enumerated in the Constitution. Indeed, states may grant their citizens broader rights than the federal Constitution as long as they do not infringe on any federal constitutional rights. Thus, most U.S. law (especially the actual "living law" of contract, tort, criminal, and family law experienced by the majority of citizens on a day-to-day basis) consists primarily of state law, which can and does vary greatly from one state to the next.

At both the federal and state levels, the law of the United States was originally largely derived from the common law system of English law, which was in force at the time of the Revolutionary War. However, U.S. law has diverged greatly from its English ancestor both in terms of substance and procedure, and has incorporated a number of civil law innovations.

To begin at its foundations, you will notice the central role the judge takes in the courtroom scene from 'And Justice For All'. The Pacino character is addressing the jury, always made up of twelve people, who consider the evidence as it is presented by the prosecution and defense and make a finding to the court. The judge then passes sentence upon the accused according to the precedents of law. In law, a sentence forms the final explicit act of a judge-ruled process, and also the symbolic principal act connected to their function. The sentence can generally involve a decree of imprisonment, a fine and/or other punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime. This system is part of common law.

Common law, also known as case law or precedent, is law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative statutes or executive branch action. A "common law system" is a legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law, on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different occasions. The body of precedent is called "common law" and it binds future decisions. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, an idealized common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts. If a similar dispute has been resolved in the past, the court is bound to follow the reasoning used in the prior decision (this principle is known as stare decisis). If, however, the court finds that the current dispute is fundamentally distinct from all previous cases (called a "matter of first impression"), judges have the authority and duty to make law by creating precedent. Thereafter, the new decision becomes precedent, and will bind future courts.

In practice, common law systems are much more complicated than the idealized system described above. The decisions of a court are binding only in a particular jurisdiction, and even within a given jurisdiction, some courts have more power than others. For example, in most jurisdictions, decisions by higher courts are binding on lower courts in the same jurisdiction and on future decisions of the same appellate court, but decisions of lower courts are only non-binding persuasive authority. Interactions between common law, constitutional law, statutory law and regulatory law also give rise to considerable complexity. However stare decisis, the principle that similar cases should be decided according to consistent principled rules so that they will reach similar results, lies at the heart of all common law systems.

Stare decisis (Anglo-Latin pronunciation: /ˈstɛəri dɨˈsaɪsɨs]) is a legal principle by which judges are obliged to respect the precedents established by prior decisions. The words originate from the phrasing of the principle in the Latin maxim Stare decisis et non quieta movere: "to stand by decisions and not disturb the undisturbed." In a legal context, this is understood to mean that courts should generally abide by precedents and not disturb settled matters.

This doctrine essentially requires a Court to follow rules established by a superior court.

The doctrine that holdings have binding precedence value is not valid within most civil law jurisdictions as it is generally understood that this principle interferes with the right of judges to interpret law and the right of the legislature to make law. Most such systems, however, recognize the concept of jurisprudence constante, which argues that even though judges are independent, they should judge in a predictable and non-chaotic manner. Therefore, judges' right to interpret law does not preclude the adoption of a small number of selected binding case laws.

Common law legal systems are in widespread use, particularly in England where it originated in the Middle Ages, and in nations that trace their legal heritage to England as former colonies of the British Empire, including the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Ghana, Cameroon, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong and Australia.

The common law is more malleable than statutory law. First, common law courts are not absolutely bound by precedent, but can (when extraordinarily good reason is shown) reinterpret and revise the law, without legislative intervention, to adapt to new trends in political, legal and social philosophy. Second, the common law evolves through a series of gradual steps, that gradually works out all the details, so that over a decade or more, the law can change substantially but without a sharp break, thereby reducing disruptive effects. In contrast to common law incrementalism, the legislative process is very difficult to get started, as legislatures tend to delay action until a situation is totally intolerable. For these reasons, legislative changes tend to be large, jarring and disruptive (sometimes positively, sometimes negatively, and sometimes with unintended consequences). Sweden operates under a system of statutory law or continental law.

The presiding judge, that is the judge who sits "on the bench"in a court must make a decision at some stage of the proceedings regarding the degree of the crime/s committed. The judge does this by referencing prior cases and the decisions of higher courts.

Judge Milian gives a University of Miami law student a piece of her mind after he disrespects her.

Returning to the film And Justice For All, the great Al Pacino is addressing the jury introducing his arguments as the counsel for the defense. The judge is presiding over the court, at one stage calling inadmissible evidence, but it is the jury that is the addressee not the defense counsel.

A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict (a finding of fact on a question) officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to judge whether an accused person is not guilty or guilty of a crime. (There is no such verdict as 'innocent').

A person who is serving on a jury is a "juror".

The old institution of Grand Juries, which are now rare, still exist in some places, particularly the United States, to investigate whether enough evidence of a crime exists to bring someone to trial.

The jury arrangement has evolved out of the earliest juries, which were found in early medieval England. Members were supposed to inform themselves of crimes and then of the details of the crimes. Their function was therefore closer to that of a grand jury than that of a jury in a trial.

The Rockford Files, "So Help Me God" (1976)

The birth of the grand jury is believed to be in England. In the 13th and 14th century the function of the grand jury was to determine whether, from the prosecution's evidence, there were grounds for trial. Grand juries are today virtually unknown outside the United States.

A grand jury is meant to be part of the system of checks and balances, preventing a case from going to trial on a prosecutor's bare word. A prosecutor must convince the grand jury, as an impartial panel of ordinary citizens that there exists reasonable suspicion, probable cause, or a prima facie case that a crime has been committed.

The grand jury was provided for in the Fifth Amendment to the constitution of the United States to protect the citizen from unjust prosecution.

However, since the grand jury is an independent body answerable only to the court and operates in secrecy to protect the innocent, they can also be misused by unscrupulous people to free the guilty and indict the innocent.

Cato Institute (a libertarian think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C.) writers argued that grand juries as conducted today are unjust as the defendant is not represented by counsel and/or does not have the right to call witnesses. Intended to serve as a check on prosecutors, the opportunity it presents them to compel testimony can in fact prove useful in building up the case they will present at the final trial.

Judge Sol Wachtler, (Chief Judge of the New York Court of Appeals from 1985 to 1993) the former Chief Judge of New York State, was quoted as saying that a prosecutor could persuade a grand jury to "indict a ham sandwich."

The Constitutionality of contemporary grand jury practices has been brought before the Supreme Court six times in history; however, the court has yet to allow a case to be heard. According to Mike Martin, former Texas State Representative in an interview with the Austin American Statesman in 1982, "A grand jury is nothing more than a perjury trap. They drag you in by court order, won't let you have an attorney present, tell you the Fifth [Amendment] doesn't apply because you are not accused of anything, then slap a felony charge on you at the end because you deny an accusation. It goes against everything our forefathers intended when they set up America's judicial system".

Adult citizens are called to jury duty. This video from the State Legislature of Indiana explains how it happens;

The law of Indiana is not the same as the law of Arizona. This is due to federalism. Federalism in the United States is the evolving relationship between U.S. state governments and the federal government of the United States.

Another movement calling itself "Federalism" appeared in the late 20th century and early 21st century . New Federalism, which is characterized by a gradual return of power to the states, was initiated by President Ronald Reagan (1981–1989) with his "devolution revolution" in the early 1980s and lasted until 2001. Previously, the federal government had granted money to the states categorically, limiting the states to use this funding for specific programs. Reagan's administration, however, introduced a practice of giving block grants, freeing state governments to spend the money at their own discretion. New Federalism is sometimes called "states' rights", although its proponents usually eschew the latter term because of its associations with Jim Crow and segregation. Unlike the states' rights movement of the mid-20th century which centered around the civil rights movement, the modern federalist movement is concerned far more with expansive interpretations of the Commerce Clause, as in the areas of medical marijuana (Gonzales v. Raich), partial birth abortion (Gonzales v. Carhart), gun possession (United States v. Lopez), federal police powers (United States v. Morrison, which struck down portions of the Violence Against Women Act), or agriculture (Wickard v. Filburn). President Bill Clinton (1993–2001) embraced this philosophy, and President George W. Bush (2001–2009) appeared to support it at the time of his inauguration.

Federalism under Obama

- Centralization (using combination of controls and selective flexibility to
advance central government’s views of appropriate policies and budgets).

- But centralization of a different kind: more money, targeted assistance,
executive control, federal entanglement in state policies and operations, and
interest in using states to identify and diffuse “effective” practices across
entire system.


- Strong interest in domestic policy change and program effectiveness.

- State fiscal weakness gives feds more opportunities to push states around.

- Growth in range of intergovernmental tools (including executive powers)

- Not much political support for greatly expanding federal bureaucracy.

- Limits of other direct forms of federal action (e.g., tax expenditures).

A great case study for the present condition of law between states and the federal government in the USA is the recent events in Arizona regarding immigration law.

The Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act (introduced as Arizona Senate Bill 1070 and thus often referred to simply as Arizona SB 1070) is a legislative act in the U.S. state of Arizona that is the broadest and strictest anti-illegal immigration measure in decades. It has received national and international attention and has spurred considerable controversy.

U.S. federal law requires certain aliens to register with the U.S. government, and to have registration documents in their possession at all times. The Arizona Act additionally makes it a state misdemeanor crime for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying the required documents, bars state or local officials or agencies from restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws, and cracks down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens. The paragraph on intent in the legislation says it embodies an "attrition through enforcement" doctrine.

Critics of the legislation say it encourages racial profiling, while supporters say the law prohibits the use of race as the sole basis for investigating immigration status. The law was modified by Arizona House Bill 2162 within a week of its signing with the goal of addressing some of these concerns. There have been protests in opposition to the law in over 70 U.S. cities, including boycotts and calls for boycotts of Arizona. Polling has found the law to have majority support in Arizona and nationwide. Passage of the measure has prompted other states to consider adopting similar legislation.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Jan Brewer on April 23, 2010. It was scheduled to go into effect on July 29, 2010, ninety days after the end of the legislative session. Legal challenges over its constitutionality and compliance with civil rights law were filed, including one by the United States Department of Justice, that also asked for an injunction against enforcement of the law. The day before the law was to take effect, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction that blocked the law's most controversial provisions.

The separation of powers, which have already discussed is relevant in relation to law, as it deals with the separation of the legislature from the executive (only a partial separation in the United States political system) and from the judiciary. The police, at both state and federal levels enforce the law/s, while the judiciary maintains it. A police service is a public force empowered to enforce the law and to ensure public and social order through the legitimized use of force. Criminal justice is the system of practices and institutions of governments directed at upholding social control, deterring and mitigating crime, and sanctioning those who violate laws with criminal penalties and rehabilitation efforts. The rights of the accused are rights that protect those accused of crime.

Popular Culture
Popular culture (or pop culture) can be deemed as what is popular within the social context - that of which is most strongly represented by what is perceived to be popularly accepted among society. Otherwise, popular culture is also suggested to be the widespread cultural elements in any given society that are perpetuated through that society's vernacular language or lingua franca. It comprises the daily interactions, needs and desires and cultural 'moments' that make up the everyday lives of the mainstream. It can include any number of practices, including those pertaining to cooking, clothing, consumption, mass media and the many facets of entertainment such as sports and literature. Popular culture often contrasts with a more exclusive, even elitist "high culture,", that is, the culture of ruling social groups.

Popular (1490), "public," from L. popularis "belonging to the people," from populus "people." Meaning "well-liked, admired by the people" is attested from 1608. Popularity "fact or condition of being beloved by the people" is first recorded 1601; popularity contest is from 1941. Popular Front "coalition of Communists, Socialists, and radicals" is from 1936. Popularize "to make a complex topic intelligible to the people" is from 1833 pop (adj., n.) "having popular appeal," 1926, of individual songs from many genres; 1954 as a genre of its own; abbreviation of popular (q.v.), earlier as a shortened form of popular concert (1862), often in the plural form pops. Pop art first recorded 1957, said to have been in use conversationally among an independent group of artists from late 1954.

Popular culture (commonly known as pop culture) is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the late 20th and early 21st century. Heavily influenced by mass media, this collection of ideas permeates the everyday lives of the society.

Popular culture is often seen as being trivial and dumbed-down in order to find consensual acceptance throughout the mainstream. As a result, it comes under heavy criticism from various non-mainstream sources (most notably religious groups and counter-cultural groups) that deem it superficial, consumerist, sensationalist, and corrupted.

The term "popular culture" itself is of 19th century coinage, in original usage referring to the education and "culturedness" of the lower classes, as was delivered in an address at the Birmingham Town Hall, England. The term began to assume the meaning of a culture of the lower classes separate from and opposed to "true education" towards the end of the century, a usage that became established by the interbellum period. The current meaning of the term, culture for mass consumption, especially originating in the United States, is established by the end of World War II. The abbreviated form "pop culture" dates to the 1960s.

To take one aspect of American popular culture, I want to share some examples of the popular depiction of the law in television programs.

Think about the differences in characters in the following shows in regards to ethnicity, class, and gender. One of the more obvious points is that the law dramas features many more characters from upper middle class backgrounds, while police dramas have lower and middle class characters.

Law Shows

Ally McBeal is an American comedy-drama series which aired on the Fox network from 1997 to 2002. The series was created by David E. Kelley, who also served as the executive producer, along with Bill D'Elia. The series stars Calista Flockhart in the title role as a young lawyer working in the fictional Boston law firm Cage and Fish with other young lawyers whose lives and loves were eccentric, humorous and dramatic.

Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It aired on NBC and its related cable networks, and in syndication. Law & Order premiered on September 13, 1990, and completed its 20th season on May 24, 2010. At the time of its cancellation, Law & Order was the longest-running crime drama on American primetime television, and tied for longest running American drama series of all time with Gunsmoke; both are the second longest-running scripted series with ongoing characters after The Simpsons.

L.A. Law is a US television legal drama that ran on NBC from September 15, 1986 to May 19, 1994. L.A. Law reflected the social and cultural ideologies of the 1980s and early 1990s and many of the cases featured on the show dealt with hot topic issues such as abortion, racism, gay rights, homophobia, sexual harassment, AIDS, and domestic violence. The series often also reflected social tensions between the wealthy senior lawyer protagonists and their less well-paid junior staff. Created by serially successful TV producer Steven Bochco, it contained many of Bochco's trademark features, including a large number of parallel storylines, social drama and off the wall humor.

The Practice is an American legal drama created by David E. Kelley centering on the partners and associates at a Boston law firm. Running for eight seasons from 1997 to 2004, the show won the Emmy in 1998 and 1999 for Best Drama Series, and spawned the successful and lighter spin-off series Boston Legal, which ran for five more seasons, from 2004 to 2008.
The Practice focused on the law firm of Robert Donnell and Associates. Plots typically featured the firm's involvement in various high-profile criminal and civil cases that often mirror current events. Conflict between legal ethics and personal morality was a recurring theme. Kelley claimed that he conceived the show as something of a rebuttal to L.A. Law (for which he wrote) and its romanticized treatment of the American legal system and legal proceedings.

Police Shows

Hill Street Blues is a US serial police drama that was first aired on NBC in 1981 and ran for 146 episodes on primetime into 1987. Chronicling the lives of the staff of a single police precinct in an unnamed American city, the show received high critical acclaim and its production innovations proved highly influential on serious dramatic television series produced in North America. Its debut season achieved eight Emmy awards, a debut season record surpassed only by The West Wing, and the show received a total of 98 Emmy Award nominations during its run.

COPS is an American documentary television series that follows police officers, constables, and sheriff's deputies during patrols and other police activities. It is one of the longest-running television programs in the United States and the second longest-running show on Fox and, along with America's Most Wanted, the first half of the longest unchanged nightly schedule (Fox's Saturday night) currently on American broadcast television. Created by John Langley and Malcolm Barbour, it premiered on March 11, 1989, and has aired 948 episodes as of September 29, 2010. It won the American Television Award in 1993 and has earned four Emmy nominations. COPS began its twenty-third season in September 2010. The series is currently one of only three remaining first-run primetime programs airing on Saturday nights on the four major U.S. broadcast television networks, along with America's Most Wanted, and CBS' 48 Hours Mystery.

The Wire is an American television drama series set and produced in Baltimore, Maryland. Created, produced, and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was broadcast by the premium cable network HBO in the United States. The Wire premiered on June 2, 2002 and ended on March 9, 2008. Sixty episodes comprise its five seasons.
Each season of The Wire focuses on a different facet of the city of Baltimore. They are, in order: the illegal drug trade, the port system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. The large cast consists mainly of character actors who are little known for their other roles. Simon has said that despite its presentation as a crime drama, the show is "really about the American city, and about how we live together. It's about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer. All are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution they are committed to."
Despite never seeing a large commercial success or winning major television awards, The Wire has been described by many critics as the greatest television series ever made.The show is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, its literary ambitions, and its uncommonly deep exploration of sociopolitical themes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Art and Practice of Machinima: Filmmaking with Graphics Rendering Engines Part 2

Welcome to a short course of how to make machinima. This is the second part of the lecture that takes up from where my colleague Jenna left off in her introduction. I would like to start by recommending

Machinima for Dummies comes with a CD-ROM containing the Moviestorm program for making machinima. The thing about buying a program to make machinima, such as Moviestorm or The Movies, is that you are confined to the program for the look, feel and audio of any movies you make. For this reason you should consider that the making of machinima is a process and each stage in the process is very important for what I describe as the texture of the film. I want to now go through the stages of producing a machinima film and explain what I think is important to know and what one should consider during the production process.

The film which Jenna showed, The French Democracy (2006) was made using Lionhead Studios The Movies. As a result you have backgrounds of jungle and log cabins as settings. It is important to remember that metaphor plays an important role in machinima.

Order of Production
Most machinima films that rely on narrative start with a spoken script. This is then recorded and the action is added later. It is also possible to add audio live using in-world voice software. Sound effects and incidental audio can be added later in post-production. The filming of machinima scenes can be very time consuming. Framing shots, getting avatars to do what you want, cutting out thought bubbles, and getting movements right can take many shots. You just have to go through it. Plan shots before hand taking into consideration the space, its features, if it is a high traffic area (you will have other avatars in shot) and so on.

Post-production is very similar to standard film production. You can do some editing in Camtasia but if you wish to make a more professional film, something like Final Cut or Premier.

Game Engine
The game engine is the virtual space in which you choose to set you film. There are thousands to choose from. Choose your engine based on criteria such as

- dimensions (cosmic, a city, a house, a planet)
- environment (urban, rural, gentrified, war etc)
- avatars (ethnicity, custom possibilities, costumes etc)
- actions (sex, violence, dancing, speaking, facial expressions etc)
- time period (contemporary, historical, futuristic)
- natural effects (rain, storm, ocean etc)

Image Capture
Virtual Camera

Camera Avatars
In most games the camera view is either attached to an avatar or moves in a third person (God-eye) perspective. One must think about the possibilities offered by the visual perspectives in the game engine.

Point of View
There are three main POVs in most game engines:

- First person (gamer view)
- Second Person (between users)
- Third Person (god-eye view, from above taking in characters, locations and worlds)

Second and Third person perspectives offer an independent camera view that is not attached to a single avatar. In the use of first person perspectives it is often worth using multiple camera avatars, who do not appear in the film but are used as virtual cameras in-world.

How to create a virtual camera in the Halo game engine.

Any sort of virtual camera could do
- Camtasia
- Jing
- The Movies
- Moviestorm
- WeGame
- PlayClaw

To use game platforms such as the Xbox 360 or Playstation you need to set up a video capture through another screen:

When you capture the video, there should be an options menu where you can adjust various aspects of the capture, such as quality, aspect ratio, etc

There are several ways of adding audio to your machinima film. You can use a free audio program such as Audacity. More advanced audio software such as Cubase and Protools are great but perhaps are too complicated and result in overkill for beginners. For these three programs the principle is the same; you lay audio tracks in layers, and can splice and edit them, adding effects in a visual time-line set up.

Avatars make up the graphic characters in a machinima film. Avatars are visual embodiments of users in virtual worlds. You can craft and customize avatars using skins and modeling. As well accessories can be added to avatars, such as hair, eyes, weapons, clothes.

Working on an avatar in pre-production can make all the difference in a machinima film. Skins can be purchased or made, using Photoshop.

Create and avatar skin based on the Na'vi characters from the film Avatar.

Scenario for Film
Machinima Short Course

Scene: Public place in Second Life (shopping mall, bus station, night club)

Characters (Clothing is spy):
Agent 1: waiting in the public place.
Agent 2: Approaches Agent 1 and offers information in the form of an object
Agent 3: Interrupts the transfer of the object from Agent 2 to Agent 1.

Agent 2 flees the scene. Agent 1 confronts Agent 3.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mass Media in the United States of America

The Simpsons, Fox and the Liberal Media.

Issues for Media in the USA

- Historical background to mass media in the United States
- Censorship of media in the United States
- Ownership and controls
- Citizenship and Grassroots Journalism
- Children’s media in the United States

Mass media in the USA is an enormous network of television, film, radio, print and web broadcasters. The organization Reporters Without Borders compiles and publishes an annual ranking of countries based upon the organization's assessment of their press freedom records. In 2010 USA was ranked 20th of 178th countries, which was an improvement from the preceding year (Sweden is ranked number 1 along with Norway, Finland, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands).

Historical Background to Mass Media in the USA

The First American Newspapers
Britain's American colonies, because of their sparse populations and strict governments, entered the world of the newspaper relatively late. Public Occurrences, Both FORREIGN and DOMESTICK was printed in Boston on September 25, 1690. The first story in this the first newspaper printed in America seems well chosen: "The Christianized Indians in some parts of Plimouth, have newly appointed a day of thanksgiving to God for his Mercy..."

However, if survival was its goal, other items in this paper were less well chosen. Publick Occurrences included an attack on some Indians who had fought with the English against the French and an allusion to a salacious rumor about the king of France. This sort of journalism was typical of the paper's publisher, Benjamin Harris, who had published sensational newspapers in England before he was thrown in jail and then forced to flee to America for printing a particularly incendiary account of a supposed Catholic plot against England. Massachusetts authorities quickly expressed their "high Resentment and Disallowance" of Public Occurrences. The first issue of America's first newspaper was also the last. It would be fourteen years before another newspaper was published in the colonies.

The Boston News-Letter, America's second printed newspaper, grew out of a handwritten newsletter that had been distributed by the town's postmaster, John Campbell. It was a much tamer affair than Harris's paper -- filled primarily with reports on English and European politics taken from London papers. The Boston News-Letter, which first appeared in print in 1704, survived for 72 years. Campbell lost the position of postmaster in 1719, but he refused to give up the newspaper. So, his replacement as postmaster, William Brooker, began printing his own newspaper, the Boston Gazette, on December 21, 1719. A day later, the third successful American newspaper, the American Weekly Mercury, appeared in Philadelphia.

These papers were careful, for the most part, not to offend colonial authorities. The first paper to attempt to give voice to political debate was Boston's third successful newspaper, the New England Courant, which was first printed in 1721 by James Franklin. The Courant was the most literary and readable of the early colonial newspapers, and in its first issue it began a political crusade. The issue was smallpox inoculations, which were first being used in Boston that year used to fight an epidemic. Cotton Mather, one of the most powerful men in Boston, supported inoculation. James Franklin did not. So the first American newspaper crusade was a crusade against smallpox inoculation. The next year, the Courant took on the colonial government, which it accused of failing to do enough to protect the area from pirates. This crusade landed James Franklin in jail.

Later a court decried that "James Franklin be strictly print or publish the New-England Courant...." To evade this order, James Franklin made his younger brother Benjamin, who was apprenticed to him, the paper's official publisher. Ben used the situation to escape from his apprenticeship. Benjamin Franklin took over control of the Pennsylvania Gazette in Philadelphia in 1729, made it into one of the finest papers in the colonies and embarked upon an extraordinary career as a writer, journalist, printer, businessman, postmaster, scientist and statesman.

The Colonial Press

The Maryland Gazette appeared in Annapolis in 1727, the Virginia Gazette in Williamsburg in 1736. By 1765, according to the American journalism historian Frank Luther Mott, all but two of the colonies, Delaware and New Jersey, had weekly newspapers. Boston had four; New York three; and Philadelphia had two newspapers printed in English, one printed in German. There were two newspapers in Connecticut, Rhode Island and each of the Carolinas. These early newspapers were usually no more than four pages long. They were filled primarily with short news items, documents and essays mostly taken from other newspapers, particularly British and European papers.

New York City's first newspaper was the New York Gazette, founded by William Bradford in 1725, but it was the city's second newspaper, John Peter Zenger's New York Weekly Journal, which began printing in 1733, that was to have a major effect on the history of journalism. The New York Gazette was a typical colonial newspaper: It stayed out of trouble by supporting the policies of the colony's governor. But New York's governor at the time, William Cosby, was a particularly controversial figure, who had alienated many of the most respected individuals in the colony. They wanted a newspaper that would express their point of view, and Zenger, a young German-born printer, agreed to start one. Zenger's Weekly Journal immediately began taking on the colony's administration. Governor Cosby had Zenger arrested on November 17, 1734, charged with seditious libel. (While he was in jail, the paper was printed by Zenger's wife, Anna.)

There was no doubt that Zenger had printed articles critical of the governor, and at the printer's trial in August 1775, the judge instructed the jury that, under the common law definition of seditious libel, criticism of the government was no less libelous if true. However, Zenger's lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, made an impassioned call to defend the "cause of liberty...the liberty both of exposing and opposing arbitrary speaking and writing truth," and the jury ignored the judge's instructions and found Zenger innocent. This case represented a major step in the struggle for the freedom to print honest criticism of government, and it would have the practical effect of discouraging British authorities from prosecuting American journalists, even when their criticisms of the government grew intense in the years leading up to the American Revolution. After the Zenger trial, the British were afraid they would not be able to get an American jury to convict an American journalist.

Newspapers and the American Revolution. The major limitation on press freedom in England in the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century was the stamp tax, which had the effect of raising the price of newspapers to the point where the poorer classes could not afford to buy them. The Stamp Act passed by the British Parliament passed in 1765 would have placed a similar tax on American newspapers. Americans were not represented in this Parliament, and American newspapers rebelled against the new tax. They printed letters and essays protesting the Act -- the "fatal Black-Act," one editor called it; they printed reports on the meetings and mobs that protested the tax. New York's lieutenant governor, Cadwallader Colden, complained that these newspapers employed "every falsehood that malice could invent to serve their purpose of exciting the People to disobedience of the Laws & to Sedition."

The Stamp Act was to take effect on November 1, 1765. As that dreaded day approached, newspapers like the Pennsylvania Journal dressed themselves as tombstones and announced that they were "EXPIRING: In Hopes of a Resurrrection to Life again." Then cautiously, as the date passed without a British crackdown, the newspapers began appearing again, without the stamp; the Maryland Gazette calling itself, "An Apparition of the late Maryland Gazette, which is not Dead but Sleepeth." The Stamp Act could not be enforced and was soon repealed.

Similar protests reverberated through the colonial newspapers when the British Parliament approved the Townshend Acts in 1767, which imposed taxes on American imports of glass, lead, paint, tea and, significantly, paper. "Nonimportation agreements," policed in large part through the press, led the colonies to another victory. In 1770 all the duties except that on tea were removed.

During these successive waves of protest against the British in America, newspapers appeared with woodcuts of divided snakes, to represent the weakness of the colonies if they remained divided, with woodcuts of coffins (designed by Paul Revere) to represent the victims of the Boston Massacre; they published list of those "Enemies to their Country" who continued to import boycotted British goods; they serialized radical essays by John Dickinson and, in 1776, Thomas Paine. They called British officials and their supporters "serpents," "guileful betrayers," diabolical Tools of Tyrants" or "Men totally abondoned to Wickedness." The Boston Tea Party -- a protest against Parliament's decision to allow the East India Company to market its tea directly in American, with a price advantage over local merchants -- was organized in the house of a newspaper editor, Benjamin Edes of the Boston Gazette in 1773. Among the other leading newspapers in this struggle against British policies were Isaiah Thomas's Massachusetts Spy and John Holt's New York Journal. One of these newspapers, the Providence Gazette, was published during some of these crucial years by two women: Sarah and Mary Katherine Goddard.

Not all the colonial newspapers were on the side of the anti-British Sons of Liberty. James Rivington's New York Gazetteer, one of the best edited, most attractive papers in the colonies, gave voice to the Tory, or pro-British, as well as the "Patriot" side in the ongoing conflict, in what he called his "Ever Open and Uninfluenced Press." Despite their professed allegiance to the principle of a free press, the Sons of Liberty were infuriated by Rivington's paper, and he responded by taking more openly Tory positions. A group of members of the Sons of Liberty wrecked Rivington's printing plant, and, after the Revolutionary War began, he was arrested and forced to sign a statement of loyalty to the Continental Congress.

Still, for the most part American newspapers in the years leading up to the American Revolution represented something the world had never before seen: a press committed to challenging, even overthrowing, governmental authorities. This remains an unusual and difficult position for newspapers to take. Unlike pamphlets or broadsides, newspapers must appear regularly. Their publishers cannot hide from authorities, and, as proprietors of an ongoing business, they usually have a stake in the stability of the community and therefore in preserving the power of authorities. This tends to make newspapers conservative forces, more likely to try to unify the members of a community than to try to incite them to anti-authoritarian violence. One explanation for the uncharacteristic role the papers played before the American Revolution is that they were in fact unifying and supporting a community -- a new community that was forming within the British Empire, of Americans. These newspapers were in a sense loyal to the authorities -- the new authorities who had appeared on the continent: the Sons of Liberty. Most historians agree that the American Revolution would not have happened when it did without the efforts of these colonial newspapers.

The Partisan Press

In the unsettled years after the Revolution, American newspapers remained filled with arguments and anger -- now directed not against the British but against their political opponents. Each of the two parties that formed, the Federalists and the Republicans, had their newspapers and these papers had little sympathy for representatives of the other side. For example, this is how The Aurora, a Republican paper published in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin Bache, greeted George Washington's retirement as president in 1796: "The man who is the source of all the misfortune of our country is this day reduced to a level with his fellow-citizens, and is no longer possessed of power to multiply evils upon the United States."

Although it had originally been left out of the Constitution in 1887, freedom of the press was guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, in the First Amendment to the Constitution. Nevertheless, Federalist Party leaders, increasingly uncomfortable with the criticism they were taking from Republican editors and made nervous by the threat of war with France, soon attempted to silence their critics.

In 1798, Congress passed and President John Adams signed the Sedition Act -- probably the most significant threat to press freedom in the history of the United States. The Sedition Act made "any false, scandalous and malicious writing...against the the Government of the United States," the Congress or the president, "with intent to...bring them...into contempt or disrepute" punishable by a fine or imprisonment. Among others, the leading Republican editor in New York, New England and Philadelphia (Bache) were all indicting for violating the Sedition Act or the common-law prohibition against seditious libel, which had been the charge against Zenger. There were at least fifteen convictions.

Thomas Jefferson was elected president in 1800, partly because of resentment over the Sedition Act, and the Act was allowed to lapse. "I have lent myself willingly as the subject of a great experiment," Jefferson wrote in 1807, " demonstrate the falsehood of the pretext that freedom of the press is incompatible with orderly government." That was a compelling "pretext" when Jefferson assumed the presidency. Certainly, the United States has upon occasion flagged in its commitment to Jefferson's "great experiment," particularly, but not exclusively, during wartime. Nevertheless, the experiment with a free press has continued, with the press in the United States eventually demonstrating not only a compatibility with the maintenance of "orderly government," but a talent for it.

There were about 200 newspapers in the United States when Jefferson assumed the presidency in 1801. A printing press was pulled across the mountains to print the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies, the Pittsburgh Gazette in 1786. The first daily newspaper in America was the Pennsylvania Evening Post, published by Benjamin Towne, in 1783. It lasted only 17 months, but by 1801 there were about 20 daily newspapers in the country, including six in Philadelphia, five in New York and three in Baltimore. With daily publication, American newspapers were in a better position to cater to the need of merchants for up-to-date information on prices, markets and ship movements. By 1820, more than half of the newspapers in the largest cities had the words "advertiser," "commercial" or "mercantile" in their names. These "mercantile papers" were often published on large, or "blanket," sheets, and they were expensive -- about six cents a copy, more than most of the artisans or mechanics in the cities could afford.

The Penny Press
On the morning of September 3, 1833, a paper printed on four letter-size pages and filled with human-interest stories and short police reports appeared on the streets of New York. Its publisher was a young printer named Benjamin Day, and he sold his paper, the Sun, for one penny. The American newspaper with the highest circulation at that time was New York's Courier and Enquirer, a mercantile paper which sold 4,500 copies a day in a city of 218,000. In 1830, perhaps the most respected newspaper in the world at the time, the Times of London, which was founded in 1785 by John Walter, was selling 10,000 copies of day in a city with a population of two million. However, within two years, Day was selling 15,000 copies a day of his inexpensive, little Sun.

The first cylinder press, invented by a German, Frederick Koenig and improved by Napier in England, was first used in the United States in 1825. An improved version of this press, using two cylinders, was developed by Richard Hoe in New York in 1832. Steam engines had first been used to drive presses at the Times in London in 1814. By 1835 Day was using a steam press to print his rapidly growing New York Sun. These new presses made it possible to push circulations much higher. The old Gutenberg-type printing press could print perhaps 125 newspapers an hour; by 1851 the Sun's presses were printing 18,000 copies an hour.

James Gordon Bennett, one of the most creative forces in the history of journalism, began his own penny paper, the Herald in 1835. Within in two years it was selling 20,000 copies a day, despite a price increase to two cents. A number of penny newspapers had failed in Boston, a couple even before Day started his Sun. That city's first successful penny paper was the Daily Times in 1836. Philadelphia had the Daily Transcript, begun in 1835, and the Public Ledger, in 1836; Baltimore's Sun was first published in 1837 -- all selling for a penny.
(See The History of Newspapers)

Radio in the USA
In 1900, Reginald Fessenden made a weak transmission of voice over the airwaves. Around 1900, Tesla opened the Wardenclyffe Tower facility and advertised services. In 1901, Marconi conducted the first successful transatlantic experimental radio communications. In 1903, Wardenclyffe Tower neared completion. Various theories exist on how Tesla intended to achieve the goals of this wireless system (reportedly, a 200 kW system). Tesla claimed that Wardenclyffe, as part of a World System of transmitters, would have allowed secure multichannel transceiving of information, universal navigation, time synchronization, and a global location system.

In 1904, The U.S. Patent Office reversed its decision, awarding Marconi a patent for the invention of radio, possibly influenced by Marconi's financial backers in the States, who included Thomas Edison and Andrew Carnegie. This also allowed the U.S. government (among others) to avoid having to pay the royalties that were being claimed by Tesla for use of his patents. For more information see Marconi's radio work. In 1907, Marconi established the first commercial transatlantic radio communications service, between Clifden, Ireland and Glace Bay, Newfoundland.

The question of the 'first' publicly-targeted licensed radio station in the U.S. has more than one answer and depends on semantics. Settlement of this 'first' question may hang largely upon what constitutes 'regular' programming.

* It is commonly attributed to KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which in October 1920 received its license and went on the air as the first US licensed commercial broadcasting station. (Their engineer Frank Conrad had been broadcasting from his own station since 1916.) Technically, KDKA was the first of several already-extant stations to receive a 'limited commercial' license.
* On February 17, 1919, station 9XM at the University of Wisconsin in Madison broadcast human speech to the public at large. 9XM was first experimentally licensed in 1914, began regular Morse code transmissions in 1916, and its first music broadcast in 1917. Regularly scheduled broadcasts of voice and music began in January 1921. That station is still on the air today as WHA.
* On August 20, 1920, at least two months before KDKA, E.W. Scripps's WBL (now WWJ) in Detroit started broadcasting. It has carried a regular schedule of programming to the present.
* There is the history noted above of Charles David Herrold's radio services (eventually KCBS) going back to 1909.

Broadcasting was not yet supported by advertising or listener sponsorship. The stations owned by manufacturers and department stores were established to sell radios and those owned by newspapers to sell newspapers and express the opinions of the owners. In the 1920s, radio was first used to transmit pictures visible as television. During the early 1930s, single sideband (SSB) and frequency modulation (FM) were invented by amateur radio operators. By 1940, they were established commercial modes.

Westinghouse was brought into the patent allies group, General Electric, American Telephone and Telegraph, and Radio Corporation of America, and became a part owner of RCA. All radios made by GE and Westinghouse were sold under the RCA label 60% GE and 40% Westinghouse. ATT's Western Electric would build radio transmitters. The patent allies attempted to set up a monopoly, but they failed due to successful competition. Much to the dismay of the patent allies, several of the contracts for inventor's patents held clauses protecting "amateurs" and allowing them to use the patents. Whether the competing manufacturers were really amateurs was ignored by these competitors.

These features arose:

* Commercial (United States) or governmental (Europe) station networks
* Federal Radio Commission
* Federal Communications Commission
* Birth of the soap opera
* Race towards shorter waves and FM

The beginning of regular commercially licensed sound broadcasting in the United States in 1920 ended the print monopoly over the media and opened the doors to the more immediate and pervasive electronic media. By 1928, the United States had three national radio networks – two owned by NBC (the National Broadcasting Company), and one by CBS (the Columbia Broadcasting System). Until 1943, there were four major national radio networks: two owned by NBC, one owned by CBS, and one owned by Mutual Broadcasting System. The NBC's second network became ABC, the American Broadcasting Company.

Though mostly listened to for entertainment, radio's instant, on-the-spot reports of dramatic events drew huge audiences throughout the Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II. President Franklin D. Roosevelt recognized the potential of radio to reach the American public, and during his four terms (1933–45), his radio "fireside chats" informed the nation on the progress of policies to counter the Depression and on developments during World War II.

After World War II, television's visual images replaced the audio-only limitation of radio as the predominant entertainment and news vehicle. Radio adapted to the new situation by replacing entertainment programs with schedules of music interspersed with news and features, a freeform format adopted by NBC when it launched its popular weekend-long Monitor in 1955. During the 1950s, automobile manufacturers began offering car radios as standard accessories, and radio received a big boost as Americans tuned in their car radios as they drove to and from work.

The first regularly scheduled television service in the United States began on July 2, 1928. The Federal Radio Commission authorized C.F. Jenkins to broadcast from experimental station W3XK in Wheaton, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C. For at least the first eighteen months, 48-line silhouette images from motion picture film were broadcast, although beginning in the summer of 1929 he occasionally broadcast in halftones.

Hugo Gernsback's New York City radio station began a regular, if limited, schedule of live television broadcasts on August 14, 1928, using 48-line images. Working with only one transmitter, the station alternated radio broadcasts with silent television images of the station's call sign, faces in motion, and wind-up toys in motion. Speaking later that month, Gernsback downplayed the broadcasts, intended for amateur experimenters. "In six months we may have television for the public, but so far we have not got it." Gernsback also published Television, the world's first magazine about the medium.

General Electric's experimental station in Schenectady, New York, on the air sporadically since January 13, 1928, was able to broadcast reflected-light, 48-line images via shortwave as far as Los Angeles, and by September was making four television broadcasts weekly. It is considered to be the direct predecessor of current television station WRGB. The Queen's Messenger, a one-act play broadcast on September 11, 1928, was the world's first live drama on television.

Radio giant RCA began daily experimental television broadcasts in New York City in March 1929 over station W2XBS. The 60-line transmissions consisted of pictures, signs, and views of persons and objects.[80] Experimental broadcasts continued to 1931.

General Broadcasting System's WGBS radio and W2XCR television aired their regular broadcasting debut in New York City on April 26, 1931, with a special demonstration set up in Aeolian Hall at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-fourth Street. Thousands waited to catch a glimpse of the Broadway stars who appeared on the six-inch (15 cm) square image, in an evening event to publicize a weekday programming schedule offering films and live entertainers during the four-hour daily broadcasts. Appearing were boxer Primo Carnera, actors Gertrude Lawrence, Louis Calhern, Frances Upton and Lionel Atwill, WHN announcer Nils Granlund, the Forman Sisters, and a host of others.

CBS's New York City station W2XAB began broadcasting their first regular seven days a week television schedule on July 21, 1931, with a 60-line electromechanical system. The first broadcast included Mayor Jimmy Walker, the Boswell Sisters, Kate Smith, and George Gershwin. The service ended in February 1933. Don Lee Broadcasting's station W6XAO in Los Angeles went on the air in December 1931. Using the UHF spectrum, it broadcast a regular schedule of filmed images every day except Sundays and holidays for several years.

By 1935, low-definition electromechanical television broadcasting had ceased in the United States except for a handful of stations run by public universities that continued to 1939. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) saw television in the continual flux of development with no consistent technical standards, hence all such stations in the U.S. were granted only experimental and not commercial licenses, hampering television's economic development. Just as importantly, Philo Farnsworth's August 1934 demonstration of an all-electronic system at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia pointed out the direction of television's future.

On June 15, 1936, Don Lee Broadcasting began a one month-long demonstration of high definition (240+ line) television in Los Angeles on W6XAO (later KTSL) with a 300-line image from motion picture film. By October, W6XAO was making daily television broadcasts of films. RCA and its subsidiary NBC demonstrated in New York City a 343-line electronic television broadcast, with live and film segments, to its licensees on July 7, 1936, and made its first public demonstration to the press on November 6. Irregularly scheduled broadcasts continued through 1937 and 1938.[85] Regularly scheduled electronic broadcasts began in April 1938 in New York (to the second week of June, and resuming in August) and Los Angeles. NBC officially began regularly scheduled television broadcasts in New York on April 30, 1939 with a broadcast of the opening of the 1939 New York World's Fair. By June 1939, regularly scheduled 441-line electronic television broadcasts were available in New York City and Los Angeles, and by November on General Electric's station in Schenectady. From May through December 1939, the New York City NBC station (W2XBS) of General Electric broadcast twenty to fifty-eight hours of programming per month, Wednesday through Sunday of each week. The programming was 33% news, 29% drama, and 17% educational programming, with an estimated 2,000 receiving sets by the end of the year, and an estimated audience of five to eight thousand. A remote truck could cover outdoor events from up to 10 miles (16 km) away from the transmitter, which was located atop the Empire State Building. Coaxial cable was used to cover events at Madison Square Garden. The coverage area for reliable reception was a radius of 40 to 50 miles (80 km) from the Empire State Building, an area populated by more than 10,000,000 people (Lohr, 1940).

The FCC adopted NTSC television engineering standards on May 2, 1941, calling for 525 lines of vertical resolution, 30 frames per second with interlaced scanning, 60 fields per second, and sound carried by frequency modulation. Sets sold since 1939 which were built for slightly lower resolution could still be adjusted to receive the new standard. (Dunlap, p31). The FCC saw television ready for commercial licensing, and the first such licenses were issued to NBC and CBS owned stations in New York on July 1, 1941, followed by Philco's station WPTZ in Philadelphia. After the U.S. entry into World War II, the FCC reduced the required minimum air time for commercial television stations from 15 hours per week to 4 hours. Most TV stations suspended broadcasting. On the few that remained, programs included entertainment such as boxing and plays, events at Madison Square Garden, and illustrated war news as well as training for air raid wardens and first aid providers. In 1942, there were 5,000 sets in operation, but production of new TVs, radios, and other broadcasting equipment for civilian purposes was suspended from April 1942 to August 1945 (Dunlap).

Regular network television broadcasts began on the DuMont Television Network in 1946, on NBC in 1947, and on CBS and ABC in 1948. By 1949, the networks stretched from New York to the Mississippi River, and by 1951 to the West Coast. Commercial color television broadcasts began on CBS in 1951 with a field-sequential color system that was suspended four months later for technical and economic reasons. The television industry's National Television System Committee developed a color television system that was compatible with existing black and white receivers, and commercial color broadcasts reappeared in 1953.
(The History of Television in the United States)

Ownership and Controls of Media in the United States

The Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute (see 47 U.S.C. § 151 and 47 U.S.C. § 154), and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security, and modernizing the FCC.

As specified in section one of the Communications Act as amended by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (amendment to 47 U.S.C. §151) it is the FCC's mission to "make available so far as possible, to all the people of the United States, without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex, rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wire and radio communication services with adequate facilities at reasonable charges."[sic] The Act furthermore provides that the FCC was created "for the purpose of the national defense" and "for the purpose of promoting safety of life and property through the use of wire and radio communications." Consistent with the objectives of the Act as well as the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), the FCC has identified six goals in its 2006-2011 Strategic Plan. These are:

* Broadband: "All Americans should have affordable access to robust and reliable broadband products and services. Regulatory policies must promote technological neutrality, competition, investment, and innovation to ensure that broadband service providers have sufficient incentives to develop and offer such products and services."
* Competition: "Competition in the provision of communication services, both domestically and overseas, supports the Nation's economy. The competitive framework for communications services should foster innovation and offer consumers reliable, meaningful choice in affordable services."
* Spectrum: "Efficient and effective use of non-federal spectrum domestically and internationally promotes the growth and rapid development of innovative and efficient communication technologies and services."
* Media: "The Nation's media regulations must promote competition and diversity and facilitate the transition to digital modes of delivery."
* Public Safety and Homeland Security: "Communications during emergencies and crisis must be available for public safety, health, defence, and emergency personnel, as well as all consumers in need. The Nation's critical communications infrastructure must be reliable, interoperable, redundant, and rapidly restorable."
* Modernize the FCC: "The Commission shall strive to be highly productive, adaptive, and innovative organization that maximises the benefits to stakeholders, staff, and management from effective systems, processes, resources, and organizational culture."

The FCC is directed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for 5-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The President designates one of the Commissioners to serve as Chairperson. Only three Commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them can have a financial interest in any Commission-related business.

Censorship and Freedom of Speech in the United States
In general, freedom of speech is considered an integral American value, as protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. This freedom has caused controversy at times. For instance, it is legal to express certain forms of hate speech so long as one does not engage in the acts being described or urge others to commit illegal acts. However, more severe and hurtful forms of hate speech have led to people or groups, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, being successfully sued.

The Sedition Act of 1917, passed in connection with the United States joining the Allied Powers in the First World War, was a controversial law that led to imprisonment of many prominent individuals for opposing the war or the draft. State laws prohibiting "sedition" were also passed and used to prosecute and persecute alleged "seditionists" during this period, including many people guilty only of being members of the Wobblies. However, the Sedition Act expired shortly after the end of the First World War; the state sedition acts, if in place, are undoubtedly unconstitutional under the Brandenburg doctrine of imminent lawless action as well as the former doctrine of clear and present danger.

McCarthyism is the term describing a period of intense anti-Communist suspicion in the United States that lasted roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s.

The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act of 1940 made it a criminal offense for anyone to "knowingly or willfully advocate, abet, advise or teach the […] desirability or propriety of overthrowing the Government of the United States or of any State by force or violence, or for anyone to organize any association which teaches, advises or encourages such an overthrow, or for anyone to become a member of or to affiliate with any such association". Hundreds of Communists were prosecuted under this law between 1941 and 1957. Eleven leaders of the Communist Party were charged and convicted under the Smith Act in 1949. Ten defendants were given sentences of five years and the eleventh was sentenced to three years. All of the defense attorneys were cited for contempt of court and were also given prison sentences. In 1951, twenty-three other leaders of the party were indicted including Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, a founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, who was removed from the board of the ACLU in 1940 for membership in a totalitarian political party. By 1957 over 140 leaders and members of the Communist Party had been charged under the law.

In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality, or McCarran-Walter, Act was passed. This law allowed the government to deport immigrants or naturalized citizens engaged in subversive activities and also to bar suspected subversives from entering the country.

The Communist Control Act of 1954 was passed with overwhelming support in both houses of Congress after very little debate. Jointly drafted by Republican John Marshall Butler and Democrat Hubert Humphrey, the law was an extension of the Internal Security Act of 1950, and sought to outlaw the Communist Party by declaring that the party, as well as "Communist-Infiltrated Organizations" were "not entitled to any of the rights, privileges, and immunities attendant upon legal bodies."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates "indecent" free-to-air broadcasting (both television and radio). Satellite, cable television, and Internet outlets are not subject to content-based FCC regulation. It can issue fines if, for example, the broadcaster employs certain profane words. The Supreme Court in 1978 in F.C.C. v. Pacifica Foundation upheld the commission’s determination that George Carlin’s classic “seven dirty words” monologue, with its deliberate, repetitive and creative use of vulgarities, was indecent. But the court at that time left open the question of whether the use of “an occasional expletive” could be punished. Radio personality Howard Stern has been a frequent target of fines. This led to his leaving broadcast radio and signing on with Sirius Satellite Radio in 2006. The Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy increased the political pressure on the FCC to vigorously police the airwaves. In addition, Congress increased the maximum fine the FCC may levy from US $268,500 to US $375,000 per incident.

(See Censorship in the USA)


The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), originally the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA), is a United States non-profit business and trade association designed to advance the business interests of movie studios. The MPAA administers the voluntary but dominant MPAA film rating system.

MPAA ratings carry no force of local, state, or federal law anywhere in the United States. They only serve as a consumer suggestion by a group of corporate analysts. After screening films, their personal opinions are used to arrive at one of five ratings. Theater owners agree to enforce corporate film ratings as determined by the MPAA, which in turn facilitates their access to new film releases.

The primary MPAA ratings are G (general), PG (parental guidance suggested), PG-13 (parental guidance suggested under the age of 13), R (not suitable for children under 17/restricted), and NC-17 (children 17 and under are not admitted).

As part of its campaign to curb copyright infringement, the MPAA fights against sharing copyrighted works via peer-to-peer file-sharing networks. The MPAA's anti-piracy campaign has gained much publicity and criticism.

Citizenship Journalism
Citizen journalism (also known as "public", "participatory", "democratic", "guerrilla" or "street journalism") is the concept of members of the public "playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information," according to the seminal 2003 report We Media: How Audiences are Shaping the Future of News and Information. Authors Bowman and Willis say: "The intent of this participation is to provide independent, reliable, accurate, wide-ranging and relevant information that a democracy requires."

Citizen journalism should not be confused with community journalism or civic journalism, which are practiced by professional journalists, or collaborative journalism, which is practiced by professional and non-professional journalists working together. Citizen journalism is a specific form of citizen media as well as user generated content.

Mark Glaser, a freelance journalist who frequently writes on new media issues, said in 2006:

The idea behind citizen journalism is that people without professional journalism training can use the tools of modern technology and the global distribution of the Internet to create, augment or fact-check media on their own or in collaboration with others. For example, you might write about a city council meeting on your blog or in an online forum. Or you could fact-check a newspaper article from the mainstream media and point out factual errors or bias on your blog. Or you might snap a digital photo of a newsworthy event happening in your town and post it online. Or you might videotape a similar event and post it on a site such as YouTube.
In What is Participatory Journalism?, J. D. Lasica classifies media for citizen journalism into the following types:
1. Audience participation (such as user comments attached to news stories, personal blogs, photos or video footage captured from personal mobile cameras, or local news written by residents of a community)
2. Independent news and information Websites (Consumer Reports, the Drudge Report)
3. Full-fledged participatory news sites (NowPublic, Third Report, OhmyNews,, GroundReport)
4. Collaborative and contributory media sites (Slashdot, Kuro5hin, Newsvine)
5. Other kinds of "thin media." (mailing lists, email newsletters)
6. Personal broadcasting sites (video broadcast sites such as KenRadio).
New media theorist Terry Flew states that there are 3 elements "critical to the rise of citizen journalism and citizen media": open publishing, collaborative editing and distributed content. From this perspective, Wikipedia itself is the largest and most successful citizen journalism project, with news often breaking through Wikipedia editors, and stories being maintained as new facts emerge.

In 1999, activists in Seattle created a response to the WTO meeting being held there. These activists understood the only way they could get into the corporate media was by blocking the streets. And then, the scant 60 seconds of coverage would show them being carted off by the police, but without any context to explain why they were protesting. They knew they had to create an alternative media model. Since then, the Indymedia movement has experienced exponential growth, and IMCs have been created in over 200 cities all over the world.

This is What Democracy Looks Like (2000)
A filmed account of the street protests against the World Trade Organization Summit in Seattle, Washington, USA in 1999.

Simultaneously, journalism that was "by the people" began to flourish, enabled in part by emerging internet and networking technologies, such as weblogs, chat rooms, message boards, wikis and mobile computing. A relatively new development is the use of convergent polls, allowing editorials and opinions to be submitted and voted on. Overtime, the poll converges on the most broadly accepted editorials and opinions. In South Korea, OhmyNews became popular and commercially successful with the motto, "Every Citizen is a Reporter." Founded by Oh Yeon-ho on February 22, 2000, it has a staff of some 40-plus traditional reporters and editors who write about 20% of its content, with the rest coming from other freelance contributors who are mostly ordinary citizens. OhmyNews now has an estimated 50,000 contributors, and has been credited with transforming South Korea's conservative political environment.

In 2001, became the first online publication to win a major journalism award for a feature that was reported and written entirely by readers, earning an Online Journalism Award from the Online News Association and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism for its "Accident Watch" section, where readers tracked injury accidents at theme parks and shared accident prevention tips.

Children's Media in the United States
A lot of attention is paid to the consumption of media by young children in the USA. PBS has a website that presents research and discussions on the topic. Much of the research is quantitative:

The average American child, aged 2-17, watches 25 hours of TV per week, plays 1 hr per day of video or computer games, and spends an additional 36 min per day on the internet. 19% of children watch more than 35 hrs per week of TV. This in the face of research that shows TV watching beyond 10 hours per week decreases scholastic performance. Comstock and Scharrer, Media and the American Child

How old is too young for children to own mobile phones?

Internet use is another area of debate in the United States. What should be considered is that 41% of children under the age of 18 do not have access at all to the Internet.

Scale: 21% - 57%

United States 41%
Alabama 51% Barchart image
Alaska 29% Barchart image
Arizona 50% Barchart image
Arkansas 56% Barchart image
California 45% Barchart image
Colorado 35% Barchart image
Connecticut 30% Barchart image
Delaware 35% Barchart image
Florida 39% Barchart image
Georgia 48% Barchart image
Hawaii 37% Barchart image
Idaho 41% Barchart image
Illinois 44% Barchart image
Indiana 40% Barchart image
Iowa 37% Barchart image
Kansas 33% Barchart image
Kentucky 40% Barchart image
Louisiana 53% Barchart image
Maine 32% Barchart image
Maryland 33% Barchart image
Massachusetts 32% Barchart image
Michigan 38% Barchart image
Minnesota 31% Barchart image
Mississippi 57% Barchart image
Missouri 38% Barchart image
Montana 45% Barchart image
Nebraska 39% Barchart image
Nevada 44% Barchart image
New Hampshire 21% Barchart image
New Jersey 30% Barchart image
New Mexico 56% Barchart image
New York 40% Barchart image
North Carolina 44% Barchart image
North Dakota 35% Barchart image
Ohio 38% Barchart image
Oklahoma 43% Barchart image
Oregon 36% Barchart image
Pennsylvania 33% Barchart image
Rhode Island 32% Barchart image
South Carolina 49% Barchart image
South Dakota 40% Barchart image
Tennessee 45% Barchart image
Texas 50% Barchart image
Utah 34% Barchart image
Vermont 32% Barchart image
Virginia 35% Barchart image
Washington 33% Barchart image
West Virginia 42% Barchart image
Wisconsin 37% Barchart image
Wyoming 36% Barchart image
District of Columbia 59%
Puerto Rico N.A.
Virgin Islands N.A.

Definitions: The share of children under age 18 who live in households where there was no Internet access available at the time of the survey. This measure indicates how many children have access to the Internet at home-as opposed to a measure indicating how many children have regular access to the Internet. According to the U.S. Census Bureau report, "Home Computer and Internet Use in the United States: August 2000," school was the most common place for children to access the Internet.

Data Source: The Urban Studies Institute at the University of Louisville and the Population Reference Bureau, analysis of data from the U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey (October 1997, December 1998, August 2000, September 2001 and October 2003 supplements). The value for 1997-1998 is an average of data from October 1997 and December 1998. The value for 2000 is a three year average of data from December 1998, August 2000, and September 2001. The value is labeled as a 2000 estimate because 2000 is the midpoint of the 3-year period. The value for 2001 is a three year average of data from August 2000, September 2001 and October 2003. The value is labeled as a 2001 estimate because 2001 is the midpoint of the 3-year period. More...

Footnotes: Updated December 2006.

Note: The District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are not included in maps and rankings because they are not states and therefore comparisons on many indicators of child well being are not meaningful.

Sixty-two million U.S. households, or 55 percent of American homes, had a Web-connected computer in 2003, according to 2006 U.S. Census data. That’s up from 50 percent in 2001, and more than triple 1997′s 18 percent figure.

Home Web use continues to skew toward more affluent, younger and educated demographics. Both computer ownership and Web use are lower in households comprised of seniors, among blacks and Hispanics and among households comprised of people with less than a high school education.

Conversely, nearly all households earning over $100,000 — 95 percent — own at least one computer, and 92 percent are online. In homes earning under $40,000, the online figure plummets to 41 percent.

Children have benefited enormously from the growth of home computing. In 1993, only 32 percent of children had access to a computer at home. In 2003, 76 percent of school aged children had access to a home computer, and 83 percent of America’s 57 million schoolchildren used a PC at school. Again, these figures skew when ethnic and economic criteria are applied.

In 1997, only 7 percent of adults said they used the Web to get news, weather and spots. That figure spiked to 40 percent in 2003. Those seeking government or health information grew to 33 percent from 12 percent in 1997, and over half (55 percent) used the Web for e-mail and instant messaging, up from 12 percent 10 years earlier. Eighteen percent banked online; 12 percent looked for a job; nearly half sought product and/or service information and 32 percent purchased online, a radical jump over 2.1 percent in 1993.

Of the 45 percent of households without Web access in 2003, the most common reasons given were: “don’t need it/not interested (39 percent); and costs too much” or “no computer/computer inadequate” (each 23 percent). Two percent cited Web access elsewhere. Issues of privacy, child safety and security concerns were rarely cited, each accounting for only one percent of the reasons.

Homes in the West are the most wired at 67 percent, closely followed by the Northeast and Midwest. Southern households had the lowest percentage of online computers at 52 percent. (US Census on Internet Access and Computing)

Discussion on Mass Media in the United States

Shift Happens

Swedish media has a long tradition going back to the 1776 law enacting freedom of the press. In recent years this freedom has been marred by accusation of systematic media bias when reporting issues of political interest.

The press is subsidized by the government and is owned by many actors, the dominant owner being Bonnier AB. Swedish TV and Radio was until the mid 1980s a government monopoly, which slowly has been eroded despite resistance, e.g. a call for prohibition of private ownership of satellite dish receivers.

Public service media is financed by a special fee (tax) levied on all who own a TV or Radio receiver. Reporting ownership is voluntary, but TV sellers are obliged to report purchase to the government, and the government also has a special service of agents, with equipment capable of detecting tell-tale emissions from TV-receivers, who patrols residential areas in order to catch those who have not reported ownership of a receiver.

Swedish media has mechanisms for self regulation, such as the Swedish Press Council.
(See Media in Sweden)

Media, Political Power and Public Opinion in the USA
In a representative democracy, citizens' preferences are supposed to guide policymakers. Yet the American people are amazingly diverse, which means that there are many groups with many opinions rather than a single public opinion. And most citizens know very little about politics. This chapter focuses on the nature of these "public opinions," how citizens learn about politics, and the extent to which these opinions are conveyed to government officials through various types of political participation.


One way of looking at the American public is through demography: the science of human populations. The most valuable tool for understanding demographic changes in America is the census.

With its long history of immigration, the United States has often been called a melting pot; but policymakers now speak of a new minority majority because it is estimated that all the minority groups combined should pass the fifty percent mark by the year 2060. The largest component of the minority majority currently is the African American population. A legacy of racism and discrimination has left the African American population economically and politically disadvantaged, but African Americans have recently been exercising a good deal of political power. If current immigration and birth rates continue, the Hispanic population will outnumber the black population early in the twenty-first century. Hispanics are rapidly gaining power in the Southwest. The problem of what to do about illegal immigration is of particular concern to the Hispanic community. The recent influx of Asians has been headed by a new class of professional workers. Asian Americans are the most highly skilled immigrant group in American history, and they are the best off of America's minority groups. Native Americans are by far the worst off of America's minority groups. Statistics show that they are the least healthy, the poorest, and the least educated group. Most remain economically and politically disadvantaged.

Americans live in an increasingly multicultural and multilingual society. Yet, regardless of ethnic background most Americans share a common political culture - an overall set of values widely shared within a society. Over the last sixty years, much of America's population growth has been centered in the West and South, particularly with movement to the states of Florida, California, and Texas from states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. This demographic change is associated with political change, as the process of reapportionment brings with it gains or losses of congressional representation as the states' population balance changes. The fastest growing age group in America is composed of citizens over age 65. The new political interests of the elderly have been mobilized under the umbrella of "gray power."


Richard Dawson notes that political socialization is "the process through which an individual acquires his or her own political orientations." Agents of socialization are numerous, including the family, the media, and schools. Only a small portion of Americans' political learning is formal; informal learning is much more important.

Politics is a lifelong activity, and political behavior is to some degree learned behavior. The family's role is central because of its monopoly on time and emotional commitment in the early years. Although most students like to think of themselves as independent thinkers, one can accurately predict how the majority of young people will vote simply by knowing the political leanings of their parents.

The mass media has been referred to as "the new parent." Television now displaces parents as the chief source of information as children get older. Governments throughout the world use the schools in their attempt to instill a commitment to the basic values of the system. Both democratic and authoritarian governments want students to learn positive features about their political system because it helps ensure that youth will grow up to be supportive citizens. Governments largely aim their socialization efforts at the young because one's political orientations grow firmer as one becomes more socialized with age.

(See Government in America, Twelfth Edition)

The media is an intricate part of American government, intertwined with the practice of democracy, but to what extent does the media influence public opinion? To answer that several aspects of media coverage have to be explored. The media is America’s basic resource for all the news concerning American politics. Also, the opinion expressed by the press influences the opinion adopted by the public. Lastly the issues the media deem important help set the national agenda and to affect the publics opinion of voting. The most basic way the media influences public opinion is by offering knowledge about government decisions and access to government information.
Media Affecting Public Opinion
C-SPAN is a private, non-profit company, created in 1979 by the cable television industry as a public service. Our mission is to provide public access to the United States' political process. C-SPAN receives no government funding; operations are funded by fees paid by cable and satellite affiliates who carry C-SPAN programming.

Two examples of American public opinion

(This poll was conducted November 18-21, 2004.)
God created humans in present form
All Americans
Kerry voters
Bush voters

Humans evolved, God guided the process
All Americans
Kerry voters
Bush voters

Humans evolved, God did not guide process
All Americans
Kerry voters
Bush voters

Overall, about two-thirds of Americans want creationism taught along with evolution. Only 37 percent want evolutionism replaced outright. (CBS News Poll)

As well recent polls are showing that Arizona's police-state immigration law is broadly popular with the public.

The May 2010 results:


Implications for Education of Media Consumption in the United States

Stupid in America (abc TV)