Blog Post #1; Audiences, Advertising, Donald Trump

October 5, 2017

Joshua Nagenthiram 4959425

Audiences have existed since mankind has existed, back in the era where cavemen existed, they would gather around bonfires as a collective ritual to share stories, celebrate, inform, entertain

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Fast forward to a thousand…. maybe million years later we have Ancient Greek society where the concept of audiences was intertwined with the notion of the public and public spaces they did this with the Greek theater which provided entertainment to the public; this was used to control and appeal to lower social classes in order to gain and retain political process through democratic process. These events were collocated in time and space and that was the concept of audience, but as years passed by the concept changed……

Remember playing broken telephone in kindergarten?

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Where the teacher would have all the kids sitting close to each other and would relay a message to the first person and expect us to pass it on till the end, and every time the original message the teacher said and the end message the last kid receives aren’t the same?

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Well that’s how society worked for a long time, through word of mouth. Then words were created and used, literacy become a thing and books started to emerge. The book brought about the first separation between the originator of a message and the message receiver (p.11, Sullivan). The “act of reading” changed the audience experience and audience structure adding a different aspect to it, people were able to read texts in silence to themselves;

Media audiences has evolved with technological advancements like the internet being apart of our everyday life where social media, video streaming, live streaming are used by millions all over the world; you can be apart of an audience being alone in the comfort of your own home. Even when I’m sitting in a 3P18 lecture or seminar, I’m apart of an audience, when I’m on Twitter and Facebook, i’m apart of an audience. When you look at a billboard or a poster, you are apart of an audience. When….I think you get my point now. Even the concept of public sphere has evolved, before it was a table full of people discussing and now you can argue a Facebook chat group can be a modern day public sphere. Even the state of journalism is changing, we are moving from the print industry to the digital industry; it’s forcing journalism to change and adapt now. Now we can get live and updated news within seconds opposed to waiting 9am for the newspaper to be delivered to your front door.

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This is also causing a conflict between social norms and journalism norms because social media is breaking barriers between the journalist and audience now; we can now have access to a journalist’s personal life, have direct contact with him and this is causing conflict because before this wasn’t the case. Another issue is how a journalist’s personal interest and the company’s interest intertwine together. If the perception of the journalist is in a negative light then that will also apply to the company s/he works for. From the Double-Edged Sword article written by Jeyeon Lee; the study showed “the relationship between journalist perception and news perception in the professional dimension. The result indicated that professional-dimension journalist perception was a significant, positive predictor of professional-dimension news perception”. This is why companies have strict guidelines for journalists on how to use social media “that focus on preventing trash-talking and perceived conflicts of interest” because the audience’s perception of a journalist impacts the audience’s perception of the company. This is why you see companies fire media figures when they get involved in a scandal or anything public scandal related; an example is Justine Sacco, who was the senior director of communications at media company IAC she tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”. She tweeted this while on her way to Africa and turned her phone off, the whole time this spread all over social media and hurt her reputation, she ended up being fired from IAC shortly after because of her comments. Although it had nothing to do with her job, the perception that it gave to the audience forced her employer to let her go.

I find this course and the concept of looking into audiences interesting because it relates to my degree major (Business Communications) and down the line I want to have a career in the marketing field hopefully working for a big advertising agency. The main point of advertising is basically to reach out to an audience and grab their attention in any way, that’s why different styles of marketing exist and even that’s evolved with the concept of audience changing. In class the professor showed a commercial from Molson Canadian Beer. It had a large red fridge in the middle of the street and required people to say “I am Canadian” in different languages. I loved the concept because it engaged the audience who were there at the scene of the fridge as well as the other audience watching the commercial. It portrayed and signified on one of Canada’s biggest strengths, which is diversity and that we are all Canadian.anigif_enhanced-5698-1403542254-29

I liked how Molson Canadian appealed to the entire audience of Canada (every race, ethnicity) all while connecting them all as Canadian. Audience power is important because it’s why companies pay millions to advertise commercials that span from 15 seconds to 30 seconds to grab the attention of a mass audience, the example used in class was the 1984 “Macintosh” commercial by Apple that premiered at the superbowl (which has a large television audience every year). The commercial consisted of all these bland looking guys in a room staring at a TV where a cult leader is talking and then you see this lady wearing white and red  running from police and throwing the hammer at the TV. The commercial ends with the narrator’s saying “Then you see the saying you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984”. The commercial was about introducing the Macintosh but it never mentioned the Macintosh or its specs, but the commercial was a huge hit and garnered interest from various media outlets which expanded to a bigger audience Apple intended to reach out to. I hope in a few years I can be a part of a successful campaign for a advertising agency.

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So…. 2017 has been an interesting year so far, hasn’t it? The previous host of celebrity apprentice is now President of the United States. He doesn’t really fit the “politician” label, but I guess that’s part of a reason he won. Many major media outlets predicted Hillary Clinton as the favorite and Donald Trump as the underdog

……boy were they wrong! But how did this happen?

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Wouldn’t this be a bad look for the media and somewhat undermine their credibility? They predicted an outcome and were wrong about it. How did the audience react to this? The media has power to  influence audience members perceptions, even if they haven’t researched the particular subject themselves. The agenda-setting theory tells us what to think, and the way we interpret the story allows each individual to come up with there own conclusion about the particular subject. The presidential race is a good example for agenda-setting theory because both left-wing and right-wing media outlets played a huge influence on the audience’s perception of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton through framing. Framing occurs when journalists or media producers “select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communication text, in such a way as to promote a  particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation and/or treatment recommendation” (Entman, 1993, p.52) (p71, Sullivan) . On one side you all you heard about was Hillary’s email scandal, pizzagate, and her health and on the other end you hear about Donald Trump his Russia scandal, hate speech, his association with white supremacists and his personal interests his corporate interests); one side was in favor of Donald Trump while the other side was in favor of Hillary Clinton, whether the accusations were true or not it definitely played a influence on the audience.

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Source credibility, or the degree to which a message receiver perceived the source of the message to be credited, emerged as a major factor in determining whether or not attitude change took place in the receiver (p.40. Sullivan). So how did the media get the presidential election prediction wrong? Maybe the people surveyed weren’t being completely honest? German scholar Elisabeth Neumann’s theory, the Spiral of Silence, claims that individuals naturally fear social isolation and will their own opinions if they are in the minority (p.71); that very well may have been a big factor here. I’ve seen articles of how people got fired from their jobs and ridiculed for showing their support for Trump; that backlash Trump supporters received made other secret supporters keep their opinions to themselves. Also the underdog effect was a factor here where the public shifts its support to a minority position or political candidate which was in this case Donald Trump; added with storylines about Hillary Clinton’s email scandal and her health that started gaining buzz. Another reason why the media got the prediction wrong is the issue of sampling error; they may have not taken into account that the electoral vote which has a major flaw; the winner of the popular vote can still lose which is what happened in this case. According to CNN Hillary “outpaced President-elect Donald Trump by almost 2.9 million votes, with 65,844,954 (48.2%) to his 62,979,879 (46.1%), according to revised and certified final election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia”; so state overall votes counted more than individual votes here which is a conceptual error.

It’s really hard to pinpoint how Hillary lost but there’s many factors that came into play here and I’m sure the media has taken notice and learned from it. With social media and the internet the margin for error has to be minimal especially for the media who rely on credibility.

Even people who aren’t American are interested in American politics now (such as myself), a major part of it is because of the internet and how everyone has easy access to information. News can travel globally and reach an audience faster than ever. In 2017, everyone has social media; politicians, journalists, celebrities; they are able to use this platform however they feel they need to and they can directly reach an audience now without the need for a medium (the media). Donald Trump has a twitter account and he also has a “POTUS” account; one of them he’s professional and on the other it’s his personal account in which he says his views and opinions on things. I like that social media brings the audience close to the message sender; we can see his thoughts on everything and come to our own conclusions.

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Sources:

Media Audiences Textbook

http://www.cnn.com/2016/12/21/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-popular-vote-final-count/index.html

The Double-Edged Sword: The Effects of Journalists’ Social Media Activities on Audience Perceptions of Journalists and Their News Products by Jayeon Lee

 

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