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Reinventing Mass Media with 10,000 Little Jon Stewarts
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Reinventing Mass Media with 10,000 Little Jon Stewarts

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Despite the potential for media as a tool for engagement and democracy, the media industry today acts largely as a one-way flow of information and ideas. News, advertising and entertainment reflect …

Despite the potential for media as a tool for engagement and democracy, the media industry today acts largely as a one-way flow of information and ideas. News, advertising and entertainment reflect only a handful of dominant narratives, and messages countering those narratives are easily shut down by corporations with the money and influence needed to shape the conversation. Major copyright and patent holders can – and do – intimidate those who challenge their products, and a lack of rights awareness combined with a tightly centralized media industry put innovation and freedom of speech in jeopardy.

However, a handful of voices have permeated the mainstream, and demonstrated that it is possible for nuance and dissent to take root and effect broad change. Popular critics like Jon Stewart, W. Kamau Bell and others are using humor and remix to challenge the media industry even while working within it, and a surge in the ethos of self-creation has given rise to the Maker Movement, MOOCs, crowdfunding and more. As a new generation of media producers grows up in these new systems for empowerment, our concepts of what it means to access, control and create media and technology are at a critical moment of shift.

In this session, The LAMP’s Emily Long will discuss this sea change in media-making and technology use through the lens of working with low-income communities to create “10,000 little Jon Stewarts,” and what’s next in a venture that confronts how we learn, create and interact with media messages.

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  • Open. My name is Emily Long, I’m the Director of Communications for a nonprofit here in New York called The LAMP, and we’ll talk a little bit more later about what all that does. But first I want to talk about my family.
  • Let me tell you about my family. All girls, so not much diversity growing up. Popping out more girls. In fact I’m the only one not pregnant. Here’s us meeting my younger sister’s first child, Clementine.
  • And here’s Clementine now. What’s she up against? A whole lot of media exposure!
  • Here’s how much media 8-18 year-olds get every day, according to a study done in 2010. Which seems fairly long ago now. But the biggest thing here is the spike in media use from whites, to Blacks and Hispanics. Statistically, the odds are stacked against them in a myriad of ways. Those are the kids we’re trying to reach.
  • Here’s our mission. What does it mean? Active digital media participants, better creators (because we’re all creators now), better students, better online citizens. It also means more critical thinkers, which is what we mean when we talk about 10,000 little Jon Stewarts.
  • We really mean media critics, people who are able to talk back to the media, and in the best situations, spread their talking-back messages. People do this today all around us, criticizing media, politics and culture by breaking it down and then making something new from what’s left. This has mattered for hundreds of years, and will continue to matter because not much has changed. Media is still a one-way flow, controlled by a very small, centralized few.
  • Like these guys. Kinda like my family, but in reverse. The CEOs for 7 of the largest media conglomerates in the world, controlling probably close to 90% of the media we take in. So how democratic can media be, how much dialogue can take place, how many voices can be heard when all of these companies are run by white guys?Sure, there are people who work under them, but who are those people?
  • 500 top-grossing films AP computing science exam Tech firms NewsroomsThis, the CEOs and the painfully homogenous group that make their business happen, are who people typically mean when they talk about “the media.”And they do wield their power to shape messages and narratives. These people are the gatekeepers.
  • And so it matters when we know who makes a message. Dove vs. Axe.
  • Then we explained
  • So we teach all this to our kids, or we talk about it with other people and they say, “So you want to people to stop using media?” And we say, no! We want you to use it better, make it better, demand better. Is a food critic saying you shouldn’t eat? No! They’re trying to help you do it better.
  • Calorie counts are not there to stop you from eating, or even eating things that are bad for you, necessarily. You can still order the Chipotle chicken sandwich, but you should know that it’s close to 1,000 calories. Calorie counts are there to help you make better choices.
  • One way we teach our students to be critical is through something we call “breaking,” also sometimes called culturejamming, remix or mashup. Here are some examples. (show video) We’ve found this to be an effective way not only to get students in workshops actively thinking and engaging with media messages, but it’s also helpful for getting people involved online and adding new voices to the media mix. The Bratz video you saw a few of was one of our first “hits” online, because it attracted so many kids who wanted to defend Bratz dolls. We went back and forth with a few of them, and it was really interesting.
  • But, as much as media and tech education are needed in schools, and as much as the diverse voices of our students need to be added to the media pot, there are still some major hurdles. Like what Prezbylewski found in The Wire. This actually happens. YouTube is blocked in NY public schools, educators have had very little if any training on using technology in the classroom, there aren’t enough computers to go around, no specialists, “tech is a toy” and all of this is holding back teaching media literacy, broadening the spectrum of who is learning about and making media. DIVERSITY.That’s why it’s so important that we go into schools, library branches, community centers, but all of this isn’t enough either.
  • So we made the Media Breaker, our biggest tool yet for creating 10,000 little Jon Stewarts. Here’s an overview of what it is.
  • Some of the biggest questions we get, especially from people in media, are about copyright. How is this legal? And we say great question. That’s part of the education process. When everyone’s a maker, it’s good – in fact responsible - to know when you’re pirating something, and when you’re respectfully standing on the shoulders of innovators and creators before you. So we have print and video resources in place designed to teach the basics of fair use, and of course we teach it when we go into classrooms as well. And when you submit your video, The LAMP takes ownership of it, thereby providing an umbrella of sorts for the producer in case there is actually a lawsuit. Obviously there’s lots more we want to do with the Media Breaker. We are now in just the prototype phase, and like any good nonprofit, we’re constantly fundraising to keep the thing going and make enhancements.
  • People ask about what our endgame is with all of this talking back stuff. And while there are lots of outcomes we’re trying for, one of the best ways to sum it up is: McDonald’s.When people who went to McDonald’s demanded better, they got better. People didn’t stop going to McDonald’s when they made a change to their Happy Meals by adding options for fruit and milk instead of fries and soda.
  • We want the same for our students. We want to teach them to engage better, learn better, work better, express themselves better and participate better in the 21st century. We want them to be part of the larger media conversation, bust up the one-way flow of media.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Reinventing Mass Media with 10,000 Little Jon Stewarts Emily Long, The LAMP @emlong | @thelampnyc emilymlong.com | thelampnyc.org
    • 2. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 3. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 4. Source: Rideout, Victoria J., et al. “Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds.” Kaiser Family Foundation, January 2010. Media exposure of 8- to 18-year-olds by age, race, gender and parents’ education @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 5. Mission of The LAMP (Learning About Multimedia Project): “Educate and equip people to shape the media landscape through hands-on learning.” @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 6. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 7. Leslie Moonves CEO of CBS Corporation Robert Pittman CEO, Chairman of Clear Channel Communications Brian L. Roberts CEO, Chairman of Comcast Corporation Bob Iger Chairman of The Walt Disney Company Rupert Murdoch CEO of News Corporation Jeffrey Bewkes CEO of Time Warner, Inc. Philippe Dauman CEO of Viacom
    • 8. Where is everyone else? •Also in 2013, two-thirds of newsroom staff were male, 12.3% were minorities.5 1. Smith, Dr. Stacy L. et al. “Gender Inequality in 500 Popular Films: Examining On-Screen Portrayals and Behind-the-Scenes Employment Patterns in Motion Pictures Released between 2007-20012.” Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, May 2013. 2. Smith, Dr. Stacy L. et al. “Race/Ethnicity in 500 Popular Films: Is the Key to Diversifying Cinematic Content held in the Hand of the Black Director?” Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, October 2013. 3. Data compiled by Barbara Ericson using data provided by College Board. Available at http://home.cc.gatech.edu/ice-gt/556. 4. “In Search of Growth: Harvey Nash CIO Survey 2012” available at http://media.harveynash.com/usa/mediacenter/2012_US_CIO_Survey.pdf. 5. American Society of News Editors, 2013 Census. Available at http://asne.org/content.asp?pl=121&sl=284&contentid=284. •Of 500 top-grossing films in 2012, women represented 28.4% of all speaking characters.1 In the top 100 films for the same year, 10.8% of speaking characters were Black, 5% were Asian, 4.2% were Hispanic.2 • In 2013, no women took the AP Computing Science exam in 3 states. 11 states had no Black students take the exam, 8 states had no Hispanic students take the exam.3 •In 2012, 9% of CIOs at American-based tech firms were women (down from 11% in 2011).4
    • 9. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 10. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 11. “So you want people to stop using media?” @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 12. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 13. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 14. @emlong | @thelampnyc
    • 15. @emlong | @thelampnyc