Blog Post #4

What is the best way to report the news?  Is tradition media and written word the only way?  On the contrary, new media has been growing both in popularity and in size.  These new media help us to understand the world in ways traditional media cannot  To examine the differences in how a story is covered, I looked at a stories about foreigners in China.  I looked at a video report by Vice and a written article by The Diplomat.  Both of these articles discuss how Caucasians are being hired to act as people, often professionals, that they are not in order to promote a business. These videos are different in many ways, but I will examine two ways in which their reporting differs.

The biggest difference between the Vice Video, entitled, China’s Rent-a-Foreigner Industry Is Alive and Kicking and The Diplomat article, ‘Monkey Shows’: Being a Foreigner in China is the format.   The Diplomat chooses to use the written word.    Written word is one of the most traditional formats for any type of reporting.  It is effective because it is concrete and specific.  Visuals are often not a large part of written articles, but sometimes they are added to provide additional interest.  However, the Diplomat choose to use purely written word, staying in a very traditional format.  The author misses an opportunity to interest their audience with imagery.

In contrast, the Vice video balks at the idea of traditional media.  Instead of creating a written article, Vice chooses to do its reporting in a strictly video format.  Many journalists choose to use video nowadays, but usually in combination with written word.  Vice finds this unnecessary.  The video format has strengths that words do not, by capturing the viewers’ attention with imagery.  This imagery provides the viewer with much more contextual and visual information about the contrasts of whites in China than mere words.

The other main difference between the Vice and The Diplomat piece is the way information was gathered. For the Vice video, the reported was on site, gathering information and actively interviewing individuals about their participation acting as a white professional.  This is fairly typical for interviews.  It is highly effective and the interviewer gains a sense of credibility by conducting the the interviews at the source.  In addition, the author of the Vice video, actively participates in a way to more fully understand the white actors.  He himself portrays businessmen and other roles.

In contrast, the Diplomat author does not do their own investigation at all.  This is a major fault with the article.  This is common, such as in the The Business Insider, but it does not make a good sense of reporting.  The author loses their sense of credibility because they were never on site. They did not get to learn firsthand about the whites in China.  Rather than gathering their own info, they gathered information purely from other news sources such as this one (The New York Times)  They offer a lot of quotes from other news sources, but do not provide any new material.  This type of media is a summary rather than true investigative reporting.

While both of these articles have some merit, I would argue that the Vice video is a better form of reporting as it goes to the source.  The Diplomat purely summarizes other findings instead of investigating its own.  The video imagery of the Vice video also provides much context that the Diplomat article was missing due to its written nature.  New media, such as the Vice video, provides new ways to understand and see the world.

Borenstein, D. (2015, April 28). ‘Rent-a-Foreigner in China’. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/opinion/rent-a-foreigner-in-china.html?_r=0
Bertrand, N. (2015, April 29). China’s ‘Rent-a-Foreigner’ industry is booming. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/chinas-rent-a-foreigner-industry-is-booming-2015-4
China’s Rent-a-Foreigner Industry Is Alive and Kicking | VICE | United States. (2016, January 21). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.vice.com/read/chinas-rent-a-foreigner-industry-is-still-a-real-thing (Start video at 14:00)

‘Monkey Shows’: Being a Foreigner in China. (2015, May 05). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/monkey-shows-being-a-foreigner-in-china/

 

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Blog Post #3

In Spreadable Media, Henry Jenkins identifies five reasons that media spreads, but is he missing any?  His five factors of spreadability are that the medium is 1) relatable, 2) accessible, 3) elicits emotions, 4) easy to share, and 5) sticky.   In light of these factors, I analyzed a media clip from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Through this, I find that while Jenkins’ factors for media spread are generally effective, he is missing an important one–star power.

The Tonight Show runs a segment called the Wheel of Musical Impressions.  Last year, they invited singer Christina Aguilera to participate.  In the game, Jimmy Fallon and Christina Aguilera took turns singing. They were assigned to sing like a famous vocalist and well-known but often silly song.  The segment was aired on NBC and also published on Youtube where it now has over 55,000,000 views.

This media artifact is relatable and elicits emotion.  Viewers find the clip relatable as almost everyone enjoys singing to music, and even mimicking certain vocalists through karaoke.   Jenkins says that emotion is also necessary for viral media, and other experts agree.  Because Christina does such an effective job of impersonating not only the vocals, but also the nonverbal behaviors of the singers, it elicits the emotion of amusement in viewers.  Both of these factors helped the video go viral.

This segment is also both accessible and easy to share.  This segment was accessible when the show originally aired on NBC in 2015.  Anyone who has access to a TV could watch.  In addition, the clip is accessible via YouTube so any Internet users can view it there.  This artifact is easy to share with the YouTube Share button.  Thus, many people shared the clip on social media websites. The Tonight Show pages shared it themselves and pages such as Buzzfeed shared it.  From seeing those posts, even more people shared.  The accessibility and sharability of this segment made it go viral.

The stickability of this segment is more up for debate.  Jenkins discusses stickiness as material people want to spread.  This segment was certainly shared by a lot of people, and a lot of people wanted to spread it.  However, stickiness also is participatory as well which is not ready seen in this video.  There is no invitation to shape the concept and there is no encouragement for the audience to use the content in anyway outside of sharing it.  Thus, the concept of stickiness is only half realized in this viral video.

One factor of spreadability that Henry Jenkins does not cover is that of star power.  When celebrities are in media, that media tends to draw more attention.  Taylor Casti of the Huffington Post writes that Fallon’s segments usually goes viral because “it’s fun to watch famous people acting absurd.”  Since celebrities typically try to put there best foot forward, it is enjoyable to see them in another light.  Thus, when Christina lets loose and imitates singers, it draws attention.

Henry Jenkins’ five factors for spreadability create a foundation for understanding why some media artifacts go viral.  However it is not a perfect and complete guide.  He fails to discuss potential other reasons why media goes viral such as star power.  This star power is exemplified in the The Tonight Show  the Wheel of Musical Impressions with Christina Aguilera.  This media artifact would not have gone viral unless it was 1) relatable, 2) accessible, 3) elicits emotions, 4) easy to share, 5) sticky and finally 6) star powered.  These six criteria give the true reasons why media go viral.


Casti, T. (2014, July 28). Why Fallon, Not Kimmel, Is King Of The Viral Video. Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taylor-casti/jimmy-fallon-viral-video_b_5374674.html

 
Jenkins, H. (2013). Spreadable media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture. NYU Press.

 
Konnikova, M. (2014, January 21). The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You – The New Yorker. Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-six-things-that-make-stories-go-viral-will-amaze-and-maybe-infuriate-you

 
Wheel of Musical Impressions with Christina Aguilera. (2015, February 23). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD2nOjV3AaI