Podcasts Are Becoming An Increasingly Popular Medium

Podcasts used to be a more rare form of medium when compared to traditional radio, television and online mediums. The use of podcasts, in both production and consumption, have skyrocketed over the last decade or so.

The first podcast was created in 2004, and since then, the medium has evolved tremendously, to the point where in 2017, 67 million Americans listen to podcasts monthly. 52 percent listen at home, while 18 percent listen in the car. In terms of how much of a podcast episode listeners are consuming, 85 percent of listeners hear most or all of an episode. This is important in terms of listeners hearing advertisements and spot reads from the show hosts.

Advertisers have noticed the increased popularity of podcasts, and have started to really put their money behind the industry as a result. A June 2017 study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that advertising dollars committed to podcasting will increase close to 85 percent, to an estimated 220 million dollars, with some individual brands spending over 10 million dollars on podcasts.

One benefit of a brand using their ad dollars on podcasting are the freedom and time that hosts generally have to discuss their products, and aren’t limited necessarily to a thirty second or minute long spot, like on television or radio. Additionally, listeners often subscribe to or download a podcast based on the host. Listeners are more likely to take advice or hear out a host on a product than some random commercial on a television or radio program.

David Silverman of PricewaterhouseCoopers said, “Ears are becoming just as important as eyeballs when it comes to ad impressions.”

Bill Simmons provides an example of the large amounts of revenue that can be pulled in from the most successful podcasts. Simmons reeled in an estimated 6 million from just one podcast in 2015, thanks to more than 500,000 dollars and the ad impressions that came along with that.

The podcast industry is still evolving, but it’s become clear that podcasts are not going anywhere… well, anywhere but up.

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Golden State Was Quite The Wake-Up Call for Philadelphia

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The Philadelphia 76ers are undoubtedly the darlings of this early NBA season. They feature exciting young stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and are getting great play from their role players, including Robert Covington.

The Sixers put their best foot forward on Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, coming out on top, 115-109. The overwhelming storyline of that game was the incredible, never-before-seen performance from Embiid, who tallied 45 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 blocks.

The reactions from Wednesday’s game bordered on crowning the 76ers the NBA champions, although in reality they didn’t go so far. The win, while certainly impressive, wasn’t really put into perspective the way it should have been.

The win, which featured incredible games from Embiid and Simmons, was over a Lakers team that is trying to make their way back to the NBA’s surface. The win was celebrated as if it were an announcement that the Sixers were now ready to take the league by storm.

To some extent, they already had, but a win over a middling Lakers team, that is just showing glimpses, isn’t enough for me to go that far.

Tonight, Philly had a wake-up call, hosting the defending champion Golden State Warriors, who are clearly on another level. Philly got off to a scorching hot start, outscoring the Warriors in the first quarter, 47-28, but it was the third quarter and taking the foot off the brake, that did the Sixers in. Golden State came back to outscore Philly, 47-15 in the third and coasted to a victory from there. There was a 40 point swing in the third stanza that once again made clear that the Sixers are not in fact ready to cut down any nets.

Philly will probably still be a playoff team barring an Embiid injury, but the excitement of a close win over the Lakers the other night was clearly overstated.

For Philly, it’s about managing their new sky high expectations, and understanding that while they have exceptional upside, there’s still improvements to be made.

Social Media As Present As Ever in Newsrooms

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Christine Loman, social media editor and member of the Editorial Board at Syracuse.com, visited with my Mobile and Social Media Journalism class via Skype last week.

She discussed how her role as social media editor has evolved throughout her time at Syracuse.com. She also mentioned the importance of a journalist’s presence on social media and how their presence could potentially impact the hiring process. As someone who reviews many prospective employee’s social media accounts, Loman said that it’s generally rare for their department to dismiss a candidate entirely based on their social media accounts, but she stressed that it’s important to avoid overly controversial or inappropriate posts.

Especially in a political environment where there are many opinions to be had, it’s important for prospective journalists to pay extra attention to what they post online. If one wants to work for a traditional news outlet, it’s generally frowned upon to express political opinions or to appear to take sides. Sometimes this isn’t always a bad thing, if you’re going for a job more geared towards opinion.

As social media editor, Loman and people with similar positions are tasked with utilizing social media in the best ways possible to produce good pieces and reach their audiences in new and improved ways.

Social media is now used in newsrooms additionally, to find story ideas and connect with audience members in the community. Sometimes, stories begin on social media, where a social editor such as Loman could find out what the local conversation is or scroll through Twitter and find a story.

One difficulty that comes along with that is trying to confirm facts that may be thrown on Twitter or another social medium. It may also be difficult to track down people on social media as a source, as they may have a different name or may allow limited access to their accounts.

Social media is playing an increasingly important role in newsrooms in 2017, and it seems as though its role will only get bigger.

Educators Conduct Workshop on Student Media Consumption

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Teachers group into categories of agree, strongly agree, disagree and strongly disagree, discussing students’ understanding of the media landscape. (Photo: Connor Weingarten)

CORTLAND—Tammy Whitmore, a social studies teacher at Charlotte Valley Central School, summed up her students consumption of media pretty bluntly at Friday’s educational workshop between Project Look Sharp and Facing History and Ourselves.

“They don’t know anything about current events,” she said.

Whitmore was referencing her experience at school the day after a mass shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead.

She said, “It was almost near the end of the day, and I had four kids who didn’t know about the Las Vegas shooting… I need to find some way to reach these kids.”

Teachers came together at SUNY Cortland on Friday to try and find remedies to situations such as these, in addition to improving the overall awareness of students in their media environments.

Two organizations, Project Look Sharp, and Facing History and Ourselves, led the workshop.

Project Look Sharp‘s mission is to support teachers in integrating critical thinking and media literacy, while Facing History and Ourselves aims to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.

 

The two groups worked in concert to mesh the ideas of media literacy and an informed look at issues such as racism, using the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri as an example.

Juan Castellanos, a senior New York program associate for the international group, Facing History and Ourselves, presented to teachers from various parts of New York state, engaging discussion on what the group coins one of their essential questions surrounding Ferguson: ‘What is the role of journalism in a democratic society and how can we become responsible consumers and producers of news and information in the digital age?’

The discussion at the workshop ranged from the importance of understanding biases within students and the media they consume, to conversations on lesson plans to help students think critically about the way they consume the news.

David Rhodes, who works in professional development for Project Look Sharp, and teaches eighth grade at Corning Middle School, said it can be tough for students to answer these types of questions, and fully understand what’s going on around them.

“I feel like some of the challenges have to do with that initial, early on in the year, ‘Wait, you’re asking us to really analyze it for ourselves,’ versus the kind of one directional type of teaching or communication,” he said.

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Comprehending the news and what’s circling the headlines has never been easy for students, but it’s become more complicated with the advent of 24 hour news, social media and mobile devices.

Some teachers attending the event mentioned that their only access to news as students was a daily or weekly newspaper, or the three network nightly news shows.

Chris Sperry, the director of curriculum at Project Look Sharp, said for students today, the arenas for news consumption are endless.

“The ability to access media has changed at a profound level. Now with that comes great challenges and great responsibilities, but the potential to have our students to not only analyzing diverse media from all over the world, but producing media that they can then share on a platform that can get shared all around the world,” he said.

The answers to many questions brought up at the workshop were not always concrete, but Sperry said the passion displayed by talented teachers to work toward solutions was exciting.

He said, “What stood out for me today was how much caring there is on the part of teachers… to want to help kids negotiate their mediated worlds, to figure out how to make well-reasoned, thoughtful, empathetic judgments, while staying open-minded to the possibility that they could be wrong, to evaluate things from different points of view, and to reflect on their own thinking.”

 

Ithaca College Football Continues To Roll

The University of Rochester football team welcomed Ithaca College to campus this afternoon, in the Yellow Jacket’s conference opener. It was over, rather quickly.

At full strength, Rochester was evidently an inferior team to Ithaca. They were undersized and outmatched at just about every position. Unfortunately, Rochester was nowhere near full strength, and it showed, as they lost at home, 46-6.

The win improved Ithaca’s overall record to 3-2, and 3-0 in the Liberty League, a conference they are a part of for the first time this season.

Rochester was absent all four of their captains, including their two senior, starting wide receivers. At game-time, while covering the game for 92 WICB Ithaca/91.7FM, our broadcast team was informed that Rochester’s starting quarterback would not be playing. Another injury, that Rochester simply couldn’t afford.

They struggled to move the ball on Ithaca, waiting until the final quarter to score their first points.

For Ithaca, things were much easier. Football is typically played 11 on 11, but this afternoon, with a non-existent Rochester defense, it looked more like 7 on 7. Ithaca freshmen quarterback Wahid Nabi had nothing but time in the pocket. He was able to go through all of his progressions, and make any throw of his choosing. Receivers were running open with ease, holes were open for running backs, and 1 on 1 match-ups were basically no contest for Ithaca receivers.

The Bombers compiled touchdown after touchdown, going up by as much as 40-0, before succumbing to a late Rochester score.

The game ended up being nothing more than a tune-up for an Ithaca team that was fresh off a comeback win at home vs. Hobart, the Liberty League’s perennial powerhouse.

Ithaca has now won three games in a row, and travels to RPI next week, to try and continue their hot streak. With a win over the team that’s widely considered the third best team in the conference, Ithaca would likely have a stranglehold on the conference, leaving them with great odds at earning a playoff birth.

I’m Giving Girardi A Pass For Game Two

I probably shouldn’t.

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi made some questionable coaching decisions Friday night in game two of the American League Divisional Series vs. the Cleveland Indians.

The Yankees brought an eight to three lead into the sixth inning, before all hell broke loose. There were runners on first and second, with two outs, and it felt as if all the Yankees had to do was avoid an historic collapse. Then it happened.

Yankees’ reliever David Robertson was up in the count 0-2 on Erik Gonzales. On the third pitch Robertson left a pitch tight off the inside part of the plate. The pitch caught the bottom of Gonzales’ bat and landed in catcher Gary Sanchez’ glove. Logic tells you that should have resulted in strike three. The umpire, who is in fact human, saw something different. He called a dead ball, and signaled a hit by pitch, which the video evidence clearly proved to be incorrect. Girardi did not challenge the call.

 

The next batter up was Francisco Lindor, and what followed was the kind of thing that seemingly only happens in playoff baseball. Lindor took Robertson deep, for a grand slam, swinging the game from an 8-3 deficit, to an instantaneous reset, bringing the score to 8-7. Hindsight being 20/20, of course Yankee fans are mad at Girardi.

I tend to try and be the calm Yankee fan, who doesn’t overreact to emotional moments in the season. Last night was undoubtedly an emotional one, and there is no question it’s easy to blame Girardi for what happened. I’m not going to do that. Girardi’s challenge was a step in the process of the Yankees blowing a five-run lead, but it was not the cause.

Girardi did not give up the grand slam. He did not give up the subsequent Jay Bruce hem-run that tied the game at eight. And he certainly didn’t get picked off second base by a catcher, being the winning run on second base, with no one out. Managers can only do so much.

I understand that it’s easy to throw all the blame at the manager for what happens following a questionable decision. I prefer to think harder, and take a step back. When you do that, it’s clear that New York’s terrible choke-job was more complicated than a simple non-challenge.

Champion of Free Speech, Mary Beth Tinker, Visits Ithaca College

ITHACA—Boynton Middle School history teacher Cindy Kramer introduced Mary Beth Tinker at Ithaca College last Tuesday night, asking the audience to consider what they did with their lives when they were thirteen years old.

Tinker, the plaintiff and the winner in the 1969 landmark free speech case, Tinker v Des Moines, enjoyed roller-skating and slumber parties as much as the next teenager, but in a time of tremendous turmoil during the Vietnam War, she felt a greater purpose.

Tinker’s passion for supporting youth sprung up when she was just 11 years old in 1963, around the time Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned in Birmingham, Alabama. Tinker saw young people in Alabama allowing their voices to be heard when the Birmingham Children’s campaign took place, in reaction to King’s jailing.

Tinker described to the audience a different, bleaker Birmingham, which became known as “Bombingham,” as the Klu Klux Klan ran rampant in the city.

She reached a boiling point when the KKK planted a bomb in the 16th street Baptist church, knowing children such as those marching for racial justice in the name of King, would likely be present.

She told the audience that the images of four little girls, whose charred bodies were found in the church stairways, stuck with her.

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Tinker, with her mother at a Des Moines School Board Meeting in 1965. Photo courtesy of ACLU

Those portraits of violence were not the same pictures as those seen throughout the course of the war in Vietnam, but the effect was a familiar one for Tinker. She sought to make a difference in any way she could.

“We thought if we would wear black armbands and support the truce that Robert Kennedy was calling for, that that could help pressure President Johnson to negotiate a peace,” she said.

Tinker said she knew almost nothing of her rights when she was 13 years old, but simply had an inclination that something had to be done.

She said, “I had that natural feeling that so many young people have when something is not fair and somebody is trying to tell you to shut up or be quite and not express yourself, there’s a natural desire to express yourself.”

The Des Moines Independent Community School District saw the armbands as a distraction and a form of disruption during school. But after help from the Iowa Civil Liberties Union, and then the American Civil Liberties Union, Tinker’s case landed itself all the way in the United States Supreme Court.

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The court’s 7-2 decision held that the First Amendment applied to public schools, and that the administrators would have to demonstrate constitutionally valid reasons for any specific regulation of speech in the classroom. The court observed, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

Kramer, along with the Ithaca College departments of education and legal studies, was instrumental in bringing Tinker to speak. She said she likes to make connections for students to people who are living historians, who have actually experienced some of the things that her students are studying.

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Mary Beth and John Tinker

She said, “…We are living the results of Mary Beth Tinker’s experience. It’s influencing their first amendment rights at school, and they as students also could possibly influence the future as well.”

Kramer said it’s important within the educational sphere to encourage students and young people.

“I tell them it’s a rehearsal. They should be practicing how to express their ideas, know their rights, formulate and evolve on their positions on things that continually develop,” she said.

Grace Thomas, a first year student at Ithaca College, attended Tinker’s presentation and said that it’s very important for students to be literate in their first amendment rights, and that she looked to Tinker as a prime example.

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Tinker, speaking with students, after her presentation at Ithaca College.    Photo: Connor Weingarten

She said, “She’s very inspiring, and I think advocating for students’ rights as an adult gives us the inspiration we need to act and use our voices to promote thing we truly believe in.”

Tinker says the decision to put on that black armband so many years ago, and her passion to continue the fight for students’ rights, is a direct result of her upbringing.

She said, “I was raised to feel that you have some responsibility to make the world a little better… From our faith background, we had the message pretty strong, that you’re not supposed to just think of yourself and have your own life, but you’re also supposed to think about the bigger picture, look out at the bigger world and see what you can do to make things better for everyone.”