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Monday, June 11, 2012

Getting the Presidential Election into Perspective

Are you an iPhone or an Android?

Apples are still the choice of those who are not Conservative, who reject conformity and who are more likely to be creative. Google is the new Blackberry...male, Midwest, business, going to lower cost and limited apps...

A manager holds an Apple iPhone (L) and Motorola's Droid smartphone (R). Are you an iPhone or an Android?
Kai Ryssdal: First things first as we turn to the technology news of the day and the big Apple conference that got going in San Francisco this morning: No iPhone 5 yet. There are gonna be new some MacBooks. And, as rumors had it, new software that kicks Google Maps to the curb.
That might actually be the most interesting story in mobile technology right now, the Hatfield and McCoy feud between Apple and Google. Which is to say between the iPhone and smartphones using Google's Android operating system.

Marketplace's Queena Kim reports it's as much culture as it is technology.

Queena Kim: Remember those old TV commercials about Mac and PC. Mac’s the easygoing, cool guy in the T-shirt, jeans and sneakers.
Mac Commercial: Hello, I’m a Mac.
And PC’s the pudgy, pasty guy in the ill-fitting sports coat, khakis and loafers.
Mac Commercial: And I’m a PC.
Well this tech boom, there’s a similar culture war emerging in big cities across America, only this one is about smartphones. And Apple has a new rival, Google’s Android. In the U.S., Android has about 50 percent of the market while iPhone has around 30.
I went out to observe the warring tribes in their urban habitat in Berkeley.
Sonia Balcazar: I almost assume that everyone has an iPhone and then when they don’t, I’m surprised.
Kim: And what’s runs through your mind when they don’t have an iPhone?
Balcazar: That they’re not cool or they can’t afford it.
Sonia Balcazar is an adminstrative assistant and actress. She’s with her boyfriend Alex Garcia, who’s an Android user. And this is causing a little tension. Garcia says iPhone users, they sorta act like they’re in a cult.
Alex Garcia: It’s a little too much I don’t want to develop a friendship with my phone where my phone is like my new girlfriend.

Kim: And what do you think of Android users?

Garcia: What, who? There are still Android users?
You can’t blame her for falling for Garcia. He’s 30, storybook-tall, dark and handsome and in a stylish designer-looking suit -- which according to one marketing study, doesn’t fit the profile of your typical Android user. Android users are huge among teens and and the guys live in T-shirts, jeans and sneakers.
While ethnographers have yet to publish the definitive study on the Android and iPhone users, anecdotally, I’ve observed that iPhone users are more partisan.
For more insight into the Android user, I turned to John Gargiulo, the head of marketing for Blue Stacks. It’s a start up that caters to Android users and so part of his job is to understand them.
John Gargiulo: If you’re standing in Muncie, Ind., you’re more likely to be surrounded by people using Android devices.
Gargiulo says that the average Android users lives in the heartland, isn’t as affluent as the iPhone user and that more men use Androids than women.
Gargiulo: Politically more conservative -- certainly more than iPhone users. with a slighty larger than average head, according to what they’ve reported.
Kim: Can you spot an iPhone user?
Gargiulo: Ugh, you can try but...
Kim: No, but can you?
Gargiulo: Oh can I? If here’s a 27 -year-old, beautiful, super-stylish girl sitting by the pool in Palm Springs, chances are she has an iPhone.
And looking at Gargiulo’s head, which was pretty normal, I figured out he’s an iPhone user.
In San Francisco, I’m Queena Kim for Marketplace.

Buffo Big Box Office Weekend. Harry Potter Studios now WB London. Networks to begin stream-content ratings for Web. The Morning Fix: Mad for 'Madagascar'! Funny or Die gets big buys. Life without Oprah.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.
After the coffee. Before seeing if the Kings wrap this thing up already. 

The major broadcast networks will start streaming-content ratings for their shows on their websites. They already rate their shows on television so this is just an extension of that system. The ratings range from TV-G, which means the content is safe for all audiences, to TV-MA, for mature audiences only.

However, there will likely be no age-verification requirement for online viewers. Also, the TV ratings are meant to be used in conjunction with the so-called V-chip, a feature on most televisions that allow parents to block their kids from watching certain shows.

Computers don't come with a V-chip so much of this is just window dressing. Parents can block adult content, but most Web shows run without any ratings. For example, the popular and bloody Web series "Bite Me" from Machinima has no rating on it.

Although the Federal Communications Commission has no oversight over Internet content, the regulatory agency's chairman nonetheless praised the announcement, saying "I applaud the networks’ commitment to empower parents. With our rapidly changing media marketplace, it is vital parents have tools to help them make informed choices.”

"Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.""Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" finished first at the box office. Credit: DreamWorks Animation. (DreamWorks Animation / June 11, 2012
Big weekend. "Madagascar 3" took the top spot at the box office last weekend, taking in $60.4 million. Coming in a strong second was "Prometheus," which made $50 million. The strong starts helped end a slump at the summer box office. Ticket sales were up almost 30% compared with the same weekend in 2011. Not everyone was cheering. Box office for "Snow White and the Huntsman" was down about 60% in the movie's second weekend. That's not a good sign. Box office recaps from the Los Angeles Times and Movie City News.

The Skinny: Why couldn't the Commerce Secretary rear-end my car? That'd be a good story to tell. Monday's headlines include the box office recap, a look at life without Oprah Winfrey and how Funny or Die is winning over some big advertisers.

Funny and buy. The comedy website Funny or Die is best known for its often biting parodies of popular culture. But the website is also becoming a master of what used to be known as product placement but is now considered "branded entertainment." Its most recent clip is a spot featuring quarterback Tom Brady arguing with a clerk over his accent (or lack thereof). Amusing but also a not so subtle plug for sports apparel company Under Armour. Other big advertisers who have participated in Funny or Die spoofs include General Motors and Kraft. More on how Funny or Die is laughing all the way to the bank from the Wall Street Journal.

Life after Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey isn't the only one having to readjust without her daily talk show. Many of the TV stations that had Winfrey's talk show and now don't have had to get used to smaller ratings. Of course, if you want to look at the glass from the half-full perspective, Winfrey's show was very expensive and even if ratings are down, some stations are likely making more money. A look at what Winfrey's exit from daytime TV meant to the business from the New York Times.

London calling. Warner Bros.' London-based Leavesden Studios is officially open for business. Best known for being where the "Harry Potter" movies were made, Warner Bros. put $150 million into Leavesden with hopes of eventually becoming home to more than 30% of production in Britain. More on Leavesden from Variety.

Pixar Park. Next week, Walt Disney Co. will unveil its revamped California Adventure Park in Anaheim. According to Reuters, Disney spent $1 billion overhauling the park and almost half of the rides are based on movies from Pixar. Check our Radiator Springs!

A screenshot of "Aion," an online multi-player game developed by NCsoft.

Nexon pays $687 million for nearly 15% of NCsoft

Nexon, a Japanese game company, has purchased a 14.7% stake in the Korean online game firm NCsoft for $687 million.

The strategic investment bonds two of Asia's largest companies operating in the online game market.
Nexon, whose U.S. offices are in El Segundo, publishes free online games that make money by selling virtual items used within the games. Last year, Nexon notched $342.4 million in profit from $1.1 billion in sales. To continue click More.

Inside the Los Angeles Times: "Clybourne Park" and "Once" cleaned up at the Tony Awards.
Follow me on Twitter. It's only going to get weirder out there.

From the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news.

It’s Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider

People who work at Fox News might like to think that they are despised by real journalists only because they are conservative and most journalists are liberal. Anyone who read the admiring obituaries of William F. Buckley Jr. in mainstream and liberal outlets would know that is nonsense. Journalists, both liberals and ones with no ideology in particular, are quite capable of respecting conservative pundits and reporters who deserve their respect.

But Fox does not. The reason is not because it holds a set of values that others may not share. And that is only partially because it claims to be “Fair and Balanced” when it is neither.
Rather, it is because it fails the fundamental test of journalism: are you informing your audience? According to a new study by Farleigh Dickinson University, Fox viewers are the least knowledgeable audience of any outlet, and they know even less about politics and current events than people who watch no news at all.

Respondents to the survey were able to answer correctly an average of 1.8 of 4 questions about international news and 1.6 out of 5 questions about domestic affairs. “Based on these results, people who don’t watch any news at all are expected to answer correctly on average 1.22 of the questions about domestic politics, just by guessing or relying on existing basic knowledge,” said Dan Cassino, the poll’s analyst.

“The study concludes that media sources have a significant impact on the number of questions that people were able to answer correctly,” wrote Cassino and his colleagues. “The largest effect is that of Fox News: all else being equal, someone who watched only Fox News would be expected to answer just 1.04 domestic questions correctly—a figure which is significantly worse than if they had reported watching no media at all. On the other hand, if they listened only to NPR, they would be expected to answer 1.51 questions correctly.”

This should come as no surprise if you follow Fox. Consider some recent history. Fox and Friends host Steve Doocy invented a quotation from President Obama completely out of thin air. He falsely claimed that Obama had said he and Michelle were not born with silver spoons in their mouths “unlike some people,” in reference to Mitt Romney’s privileged upbringing. In fact, Obama did not say “unlike some people” and he has been using the silver spoon line for years. Several other news outlets repeated Doocy’s assertion as fact and Doocy initially avoided correcting the record after it was revealed he was wrong. Eventually he admitted that he “seemed to misquote” Obama, instead of stating that he did, in fact, misquote him. And he did not apologize for the error.

When Fox isn’t inventing smears against Obama, it uncritically regurgitates corporate-funded lies about him. Consider a segment of Sean Hannity’s show from last week. He showed a TV commercial by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group founded and funded by the Koch brothers, that attacks President Obama’s record on investing in renewable energy. Hannity and Frank Luntz praised its effectiveness, with Luntz saying, “It was fact-based, not assertions. You see the facts come up on the screen. There's specific numbers.”

The only problem is that the factual assertions are incorrect. The ad says that “80 percent of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries.” But the article it cites as a source clearly states only that the money went to foreign firms. The bulk of American tax dollars spent on the subsidies, according to Politifact, went to American subsidiaries of the firms.

The ad goes on to offer specific examples: “$1.2 billion to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico. Half a billion to a car company that moved American jobs to Finland. And $39 million to build traffic lights in China. President Obama wasted $16 billion on risky investments.” I won’t bore you with all the details of how each of these claims is untrue; each has been labeled false or mostly false by Politifact or and you can go to Media Matters for the full rundown.

Hannity routinely takes Republican misinformation as the gospel truth. To choose just one particularly embarrassing example, he let Herman Cain’s spokesman Mark Block declare, absurdly, that a woman named Karen Kraushaar who accused Cain of sexual harassment was the mother of a Politico reporter named Josh Kraushaar. Hannity did not challenge either the veracity of this claim nor question why this “fact” would cast doubt on Politico’s thoroughly reported revelation that Cain has been repeatedly accused of sexual harassment. In fact, Josh Kraushaar had left Politico for National Journal over a year before the story even ran, and he is not related to Karen Kraushaar. It would have been easy for Hannity to check on these facts and correct Block’s assertion, but he did not. Here is what Josh wrote about it the next day:
Anybody with Internet access would, at the very least, been able to figure out that I haven't worked for Politico since June 2010—and have been working at National Journal since then. I even Tweeted the fact that I wasn't related to Karen Kraushaar earlier that evening before Hannity's show to clear up any potential confusion.
That didn't stop Block. When I heard what Block had said on Hannity's show, I immediately e-mailed him informing him of his mistake. I still haven't heard back.
This laziness, partisan hackery and lack of regard for basic accuracy is what separates Fox News from outlets that merely have opinions. And it is doing their audience a disservice. This Fairleigh Dickinson study is not the first to find that Fox News viewers are the most ill-informed of any news consumers. As of November 22, 2011, Think Progress had found seven studies showing Fox News’s viewers to be the worst informed of all news consumers. In a post about a report that had just come out in the International Journal of Press/Politics, by communication scholar Lauren Feldman of American University and colleagues which found that “Fox News viewing manifests a significant, negative association with global warming acceptance,” Chris Mooney cited six previous studies with similar findings.
I identified 6 separate studies showing Fox News viewers to be the most misinformed, and in a right wing direction—studies on global warming, health care, health care a second time, the Ground Zero mosque, the Iraq war, and the 2010 election.
I also asked if anyone was aware of any counterevidence, and none was forthcoming. There might very well be a survey out there showing that Fox viewers aren’t [emphasis in original] the most misinformed cable news consumers on some topic (presumably it would be a topic where Democrats have some sort of ideological blind spot), but I haven’t seen it. And I have looked.
In the last year, since Fox News fired Glenn Beck and has sought to line up behind more establishment Republican candidates such as Mitt Romney, the new conventional wisdom has been that Fox is tacking back to the center. As a purely strategic move within the Republican party, that may be true. But, unfortunately, this has not been correlated with any improvement in the quality or independence of its journalism.

From The Nation (click here).

“Judging is preventing us from understanding a new truth. Free yourself from the rules of old judgments and create the space for new understanding.” 

― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free