Differences in free speech rights for print and broadcast media

Differences in free speech rights for print and broadcast media (such as Fairness Doctrine and FCC Indecency standard) 

By Katherine Woods

Free speech is a constitutional right but is often misunderstood or abused, laws such as the Fairness Doctrine and the FCC Indecency standard help to fairly and decently regulate what is said through the media.

FCC stands for The Federal Communications Commission, this is a program run by the government that helps to regulate the use of profanity, vulgar language, and other material that has no educational value. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the media, public safety and homeland security.

The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949 and ended in the 1980s and did not apply to print media. It required the holders of broadcast licenses to show both sides of the “story”. This included any topic that was considered substantial, controversial or concerning politics.The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented. The main goal was to inform the public with more than one viewpoint, and to remain unbiased.

In the end the Fairness Doctrine simply prevents bias media while the FCC prevents highly sexualized content from being aired, especially to younger audiences. This news clip from PBS News Hour talks about the extremes that the FCC is considering and has done to regulate indecency and how companies have fought back. Including internet websites, cable tv, and even phone companies.


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Week 12 Discussion Question

I can’t say that I have used Wikipedia for any definitions because we are taught at such a young age that Wikipedia is so terrible. I have to admit, however, that I often times use it to verify dates that may not be present in a more in depth article. I think that it’s not the best idea to use things published on Wikipedia, but I’m not sure I would classify it as plagiarism. Just like with any other article, it’s okay if you put things in your own words and cite your source. Teachers aren’t going to be so pleased if you cite Wikipedia as a source, so sometimes it’s better to just stick to more reliable sources like ones from the McIntyre library for instance. 

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The Freedom of Information Act

By Erik Hinch

The Freedom of Information Act is a law that was signed into law by former President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.  Essentially, the proposal was made because many people felt they had a right to know certain aspects of business that were formerly kept from them and dealt with completely by the government.  With this law, millions of documents that would have been previously unreleased have now been fully or partially disclosed to the public.  This has brought to light many business practices, trade secrets, and other government activities that the people hadn’t previously known about. It helps keep business and government more accountable for their actions.


This BBC article talks about the infamous Iran-Contra affair.  Then-President Ronald Reagan secretly and illegally gave the Contras a portion of the sales made by the US government of military arms to Iran.  When all of this news was finally reported to the public, there grew great opposition to the government’s activities. So, with information like this now known by the public, it forces the government to be held in check moreso than it was before.

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Identifying, Analyzing, & Targeting Publics/Stakeholders

By Erik Hinch

In terms of public relations and business, there are many groups they communicate with. Some of these include: Customers, government agencies, stockholders, employees, the media, and more. For each group of people, the company will want to engage them in a different way.  In order to most effectively communicate, they must first identify the group they want to talk with, analyze who they are or what they want, etc., then they will be able to more effectively reach that group/the public.


In this CNN video, the oil company BP has come to a settlement with families in communites around the Gulf Coast involved in the infamous “BP Oil Spill”.  The company has also talked to the government and agreed to pay $4 billion for the spill, and two employees have been indicted on manslaughter charges. This is showing the company is interacting with many groups, figuring out what needs to be done and finally coming to terms with all of this mess.

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Differences in Free Speech Rights in Broadcast Media vs. Print Media

By Erik Hinch

Broadcast media and print media have different rules for what they can and can’t do/say. There are federal restrictions on certain words that can be said in a TV show or radio program. They also can’t show things like nudity on TV either.  Many of these things are swear words.  If channels/stations refuse to follow these guidelines, they can be fined, or worse, they can lose their license to broadcast, which essentially shuts them down. For print media, like newspapers, they’re really not supposed to print things along those lines as well.  However, some poeple still do it.  They can also get into trouble for printing things like that.


This article here shows that Howard Stern, a popular radio personality, was actually taken off the air for refusing to abide by these guidelines.  Apparently, during his show, he had a caller on, and that caller used the N-Word, which is obviously a harsh racial slur, and is not acceptable. Clear Channel, the company that runs the station, refused to put him back on the air until he agrees to follow the guidelines as they see fit.

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The Long Tail Theory

By Erik Hinch

The Long Tail Theory is basically a theory that, if you are able to negate the cost of items, people would tend to buy the “non-mainstream” products, as opposed to products that normally sell in large quantity.  There are always some products that sell large quantities to the general masses (i.e. Ipod Touch), but there are also many, sometimes hundreds, of similar products that serve the same purpose (Zune and other Mp3 players).  Whether the reason be the cost, name recognition, or some other factor, these other products don’t sell as well as the leading product.  However, with the Long Tail Theory, if cost was negligible, it shows that people would tend to buy the less “mainstream” products in the market.  These other products are what make up the “long tail”.  It is supposed to show that small businesses can succeed with the lowering of prices, and that it will make the market a bit more fair.

In this article on the New York Times website, it actually talks about how Long Tail Theory is actually wrong, and has had little to no effect on the economy.

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Cloud Computing and How It Is Affecting Media Convergence

By Erik Hinch

Cloud Computing is basically a way of putting multiple files into one single source that can be accessed on multiple mediums.  So, for example, if you put Mp3 files into the “cloud” on your computer, you would automatically have the ability to access them on your iPod or cell phone, among other things. This isn’t limited to just media files though, as it can be used for regular information, assignments, papers, etc. as well.  Almost all of us use cloud computing and we don’t even realize it! A really good example of cloud computing is when you use D2L to submit an assignment to the dropbox for a class.

Cleverly named for it’s purpose, Apple’s service, the iCloud, does just this.  It syncs files in the cloud across all Apple devices. Here, CNN talks about the iCloud after then-CEO Steve Jobs finished a press conference on the product:

There are still doubts about this kind of cloud computing, as it isn’t yet a perfect science.  However, if cloud computing could be perfected, then we’d be able to access ALL of our files from multiple devices. It sounds great, doesn’t it?

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