Benwahs blurbs

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Final Project

Wire Cutters Not Required: The Lack of Women, Minorities, and Sexuality in Wired Magazine Advertisements

Corpus:

For this quantitative and qualitative content analysis of full page advertisements in Wired Magazine, I looked at the main characters in full page advertisements in the November 1996 and June 2006 issues of Wired. Advertisements in magazines has changed dramatically over the last 10 years and this study hopes to document the potential shift in the way Wired operates and the audience the magazine targets. Would a successful magazine known to market towards wealthy, white men change their advertising practices due to the “Maxim effect”? This study hopes to answer the question.

Review of Literature:

The existing research in this subject area finds that the objectification of women in all magazines in highly prevalent. According to Katherina Linder the earliest studies of gender-stereotypes in magazines were, “inspired by the Women’s Movement in the early 1970’s; this research consistently showed that advertisements confined women primarily to traditional mother-, home-, or beauty/sex-oriented roles, which were not representative of women’s diverse roles in society.”

The treatment of white women and minorities is a sub-factor that contributes to further stereotypes. Christina Baker found during her research on images of women’s sexuality in White-oriented and Black-oriented women’s and men’s magazine’s that, “regardless of the race of the women in the advertisements, women who were in White men’s magazines were more than five times more likely to be pictured as partners and more than three times more likely to be pictured as dependent than women in Black-oriented men’s magazines.”

Much has been made of the “Maxim effect” both in class and in online journals, whereby the formula used by Maxim has contributed to the further sexualization of women in the media. According to an anonymous Folio magazine editorial, “magazines like Maxim have flourished because, aside from a handful of titles, there have been few male-oriented magazines attracting male readers in massive numbers.” How could other publications seeking high readership not question applying the Maxim formula to their periodicals? It doesn’t make it right, but one can see the monetary rationale.

Wired, however, does not tend to operate in this manner, rather they cater to their highly exclusive audience. Melanie Stewart Millar, whose study on Wired was the most influential in this study, states, “While fashion magazines invite women to emulate their models and extol the virtues of beauty and deference to masculine authority, Wired uses complementary images of masculine power and technological supremacy. In doing so, Wired does the seemingly impossible: it transforms images of men formerly associated with computer geeks and uptight ‘suits’ into ideals of hypermachismo.” (Millar p.73)

In essence, Wired shrugs women to the side and goes about with its agenda of marketing towards the target audience whether it is politically correct or not. In doing so, Dr. Cindy Royal notes, “by defining technology in regard to men, girls and women may approach technology less often and with less confidence, may relate to the machines differently, and may use them for different purposes.”

Wired magazine is devoted to their audience and their audience is equally devoted to them. That audience, rich, white men, receives the majority of the focus throughout the publication and perhaps in doing so the magazine finds itself alienating women and changing the female perception of technology.

Research Questions:

  1. From 1996 to 2006, did Wired Magazine become more diverse through an increase of women and minorities as the main character in full page advertisements?
  1. Did anything change in regard to Wired’s target audience over the last decade, or is the magazine sticking to its known lean towards rich, white men?

Methedology:

The method used in this study is quantitative and qualitative content analysis, in which the main character in each ad was coded as male or female, and then coded for dress attributes. Descriptive analysis was used to discover information that cannot be captured in coding schemes.

Report of Data:

I’ll use the November 1996 issue of Wired for the basis of the analysis as it was released shortly before the American introduction of Maxim in January of 1997. Not surprisingly, I found that out of 30 full page advertisements 24 included men and only six featured women. All but four of the ads were demure in dress; with the outstanding four all coded as suggestive and included women. The racial breakdown for the advertisements was comprised of 21 White, four Black, three Asian, and two undeterminable.

Ten years later, the June 2006 issue of Wired featured 20 male and 10 female advertisements. The number of demure advertisements was again high with 27, and three of the advertisements classified as suggestive. Two of the three suggestive advertisements included men rather than women. The racial breakdown was less diverse with 23 of the advertisements featuring a White main character. The outstanding seven included four Asian and three Black main characters.

Discussion/Conclusion:

So what has changed with the Wired formula in the last 10 years? Oddly enough, not a lot.

We do see an increase in the amount of females as main characters, but the advertisements are still 2/3 male.

One interesting shift the magazine has apparently made is the use of its few suggestive ads. In the span of ten years the magazine has shifted from exclusively featuring women in suggestive poses, to now using men, possibly catering to a more diverse audience. While that is the case, the amount of main characters featured suggestively has not.

Another interesting difference between the two issues in the amount of different minorities featured. One would assume that if the magazine is not going to feature many minorities at all, it should then try to represent as many minority groups as possible in the minimal space the groups are given. That did not occur, it actually reversed the trend and today we see a less diverse publication.

My research is found to be in line with the literature I found while studying this topic and publication. The magazine tends to cater to rich, white men and that is exactly what I found.

Additionally, according to my research, Wired is not a magazine that represents women and minorities well at all. On the contrary, the magazine focuses on one group and dismisses all others. Readership of the publication is good and apparently morals are not. Women and minorities play a significant role in the technology world, but the most influential technology magazine sees no need to address this audience or cater to all people’s needs.

I was hoping to find a change in the magazines trend over the last ten years, but unfortunately I did not. What I found that a wealthy publication still caters to its wealthy audience and is not making any steps towards socially changing the dynamic of its readership. Perhaps what the magazine needs is a healthy dose of competition. Stuff Magazine was supposed to deliver this, but instead of stepping up to the plate and possibly taking over the market, the publication went the Maxim route. Cargo magazine is the new kid on the block, but it seems to be leaning more Maxim as well. Not many publishers seem to want to veer away from the easy money Maxim formula and because of that magazines such as Wired will continue to get away with turning their backs on a large portion of society. It’s unfortunate, but until someone steps up to the plate to challenge Wired, I’m afraid we will not see much change.

Citations:

Baker, Christina N. "Images of women's sexuality in advertisements: a content analysis of Black- and White-oriented women's and men's magazines." Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. Jan. 2005: Look Smart.

Lindner, Katharina . "Images of women in general interest and fashion magazine advertisements from 1955 to 2002." Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. Oct. 2004: Look Smart.

Millar, Melanie Stewart. “Cracking the Gender Code: Who Rules the Wired World?” Toronto: Second Story Press, 1998.

McLaughlin, Tara L. "Gender advertisements in magazines aimed at African Americans: a comparison to their occurrence in magazines aimed at Caucasians." Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. Jan. 1999: Look Smart.

Royal, Cindy. "Visualizing Technology: Images in Google and Yahoo News Aggregators." Google Search. May 2006:

Unknown. "A Place For Guys - market research on men's magazines." Folio: The Magazine for Magazine Management. Nov. 2002: Look Smart.

All In the Bamboozle

Viewing the clip from the 1977 television show All In the Family made me wonder why the stereotype of extremely feminine gay men is still used so widely today. If a show in 1977 was able to depict a gay man as an average guy or guy's guy then, why do we not see that more often instead of the fumbling flamboyant guy? There seems to be more and more depictions of gay men as extremely feminine and sexually driven. This might be the case for a few, but not all. So why is that the predominant light gay men are shown in?

We also viewed the film Bamboozled. I have to wonder why Damon Wayans refuses to discuss his role in the film. Is it simply his character portrayal or is it that it was a rare film he participated in without his brother? In the movie Mo Money, Wayans also acts as a black man with white attributes, but probably a little less than Bamboozled. I doubt the reason he doesn't speak on the film has anything to do with family loyalty, but it was just a thought. Whatever his reason is, it was a brave decision for him to work with a director such as Spike Lee. Lee is known for tossing out stereotypes to relate what he sees and hears in his city. Wayans must have surely known this and I'm sure he's a better actor for it.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thoughts on the course

This course has seen its debates, funny comments, and inciteful analysis of stereotypes in the media. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and hope to continue taking similar courses at UNT.

Prior to this class, I was debating on changing my major simply because I hadn't had a journalism class or any journalistic activity for sometime. That was a wrong idea.

Listening to the debates, comments, and analysis by like-minded people helped me to remember why I am going after this degree. Journalism is what I really enjoy doing and the field I find most interesting. It is amazing what can happen when you're surrounded by bright people and discussing what you enjoy for a given time daily.

Now I just need to buckle down, continue my course work, and find my next rejuvenating class!

Elderly in the Media

We've discussed many different stereotypes this semester, but one I haven't heard mentioned is the idea of ageism. Why is it that the elderly are only depicted in the media as waiting around until their demise?

Older folks are capable of doing the same things they did when they were younger, mostly a little slower, but this is not depicted in the media. The elderly have their role and children theirs. It seems to me that the depiction of age groups in the media is very cookie-cutter. If it doesn't fit the premade role, you don't see it.

I've witnessed many new stereotypes in this class I would have otherwise paid no mind to, and hopefully there is something to the way the elderly are depicted. It definitely deserves a closer look!

Crash Course in Relationships

Looking for anything other than racial stereotypes used in the film Crash can be difficult as racism is the main subject at hand. I was able to see the gender roles play out between the husband and wife.

The wife plays a woman who desperately wants her husband to be her security blanket. After the police incident she leans into him pretty hard because she felt he didn't take care of her properly. Not really a good depiction of an independant woman. She also chases him around for the rest of the film, showing again and again that she is depending on a man for her ultimate happiness.

Overall, it's hard to say how anyone would react under the circumstances, and that one snapshot of behavior should not signify the role of women in marriage.

Disney

With regards to whether or not Disney intentionally places sexual subliminal messages in their entertainment, I say why wouldn't they? Disney is a powerful corporation with several outstanding projects which create revenue. Programming children to recognize these images and in turn get their parents to purchase certain items later in their development would online help to line the Disney pockets.

I don't think it's right, but I do not underestimate the greed of those in power. Children should not be subjected to these images. The fact that they are shows an arrogance on the part of Disney, a brash corporation with little regard for letting a few images slide that might help make them more wealthy in the future.

Asain Women

After briefly discussing the depiction of Asian women in film as either the lotus blossum or madame mao, I came to the conclusion that I needed to see that film many years ago! Following the events of 9/11, I found myself the proud recipient of orders to the USS Blue Ridge, a command and control ship stationed in Yokosuka, Japan.

Looking back at my two years in South East Asia, I truly believe that the stereotypes used in the media in regards to Asian women heavily influenced my thoughts towards the local women. I never looked at the locals as just the same as Americans, only living elsewhere. There was a culture I couldn't comprehend and an odd feeling that we weren't wanted over there. I think that the stereotypes I had been exposed to thoughout my life hardened my attitude towards the Japanese. I did see the local women as either one or the other of the two stereotypical roles.

My boss at the time sensed this was the case with me and actually took me with a group of local Japanese media to climb Mt. Fuji. This experience changed my attitude immediately.

In conclusion, it was interesting to see the massive amount of stereotyped information that is thrown out. I never actually thought it had influenced me, but now I feel a little wiser and lot more careful to believe what I see.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Not So Wild Wired

“Not So Wild Wired”

Two-sentence summary of findings:

Men and women in ads placed in a technology magazine were both depicted in demure dress and almost entirely in a non-sexual manner. The few ads which do depict the main character in the ad in a sexual light surprisingly feature men.

Summary of the previous study:

The previous study by Reichert, Lambiase, Morgan, Castarphen & Zavonia (“Beefcake &Cheesecake,” Spring 1999, Journalism & Mass Comm Quarterly) shows women are depicted in a more sexually explicit manner than men in magazine ads, during a comparison of ads from 1983 and 1993. The study of six magazines shows women to be three times as likely to appear in sexualized dress as men.

Its most important foundation literature and how it relates to your own project:

The most relevant study used by the previous study is the work by Soley & Kurzbard (Sex in Advertising,” 1986, Journal of Advertising), which uses a similar coding scale, with the categories: demure, suggestive, partially clad, and nude. The earlier study, upon which the Reichert, et. al., study is based, finds the percentage of sexually oriented appeals in ads has not increased, while the amount of explicitness in the ways women are depicted has increased over time.

Corpus and method:

My corpus comprises all full page ads appearing in the June 2006 issue of Wired Magazine. The method is quantitative and qualitative content analysis, in which the main character in each ad was coded as male or female, and then coded for dress attributes. Descriptive analysis was used to discover information that cannot be captured in coding schemes.

Findings:

Wired Magazine included 23 depictions of main characters in full page ads: 14 of men and nine of women. Almost all of the ads were coded as demure, with the only outstanding ad being a suggestively dressed woman. The magazine featured more depictions of men as main characters than women. The typical “demure” depiction could be found in ads for the United States Postal Service, in which the main character is dressed in layers and generally appears relaxed and happy. The only “suggestive” depiction was found in a Comcast Digital Cable ad in which a busty woman emerges from a fire ball.

Conclusions:

While the only suggestive depiction in this magazine was of a woman, this mini-study does not fit much of the prior research on advertising depictions of men and women, in which females are much more likely to be depicted sexually and are more likely to be depicted more explicitly. A larger study of technology magazine ads could be attempted to see if this pattern continues, and this information could be compared to findings from studies concerning men’s magazine ads. In two out of the three ads having a sexual tone in this magazine, men were actually the main character. Do technology magazine contain far less sexual content than other magazines, and if so, does the limited sexual content cater to a separate population? It would be interesting to discover if technology magazines carry less sexual content on a regular basis and if so, who the limited sexual content is marketed towards.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Maxim Money

We had a fun discussion regarding the reason for Maxim magazine's high readership. The class debated over issues such as why men read the magazine, if they even do read the magazine, or if it is simply purchased for the picture spreads. After viewing UK, Russian, and Australian versions of Maxim and FHM, I have to say the US versions are far more reserved in regards to the pictorials. If men were the only ones reading the magazine and not teenagers or boys, the nature of the photos might be tolerable, but the fact is that anyone can get there hands on it.

Magazines such as Maxim exist for the sole purpose of making money. The fact that the publisher relentlessly purues the mighty dollor should come as no surprise, and just like MTV, they sometimes tend to lower their moral standars to achieve the goal at hand.

Both MTV and Maxim have a huge influence over American and worldly youth. Should anything be done to water down some of the issues? Is this a responsibily of the editors or one that parents should tackle?

The magazine is not going to change its practices to potentially lower profits and change a proven winner. Parents shouldn't have to police everything in society either. Where does the responsibility lie? Realistically, this is an issue best policed on an individual basis. If the magazine isn't accepted in your moral standing, filter it out of the family life as best as possible. The magazine is not going to change, and neither are individual morals and values.

Suzie Kolber's Joe Namath sideline interview

On the topic of female sports broadcasters, one specific concern comes to mind. Do the athelets and those in the sports world take these reporters seriously?

At a home game in New York, Jets legend Joe Namath was interviewed by ESPN sideline reporter Suzie Kiolber. What transpired was a drunk Joe Namath slurring through the questions and declaring to the female reporter that he wanted to kiss her. Not too professional Joe!

Below is an article I found on the incident and the link to watch the interview.

Joe Namath Drunk?

www.sports911.com Sports911 Newswire

Was Joe Namath drunk? That is the question many were asking (although maybe it wasn't much of a question) after the sideline interview conducted by Suzie Kolber during an ESPN broadcast Jets game.

The Joe Namath's interview was cut short when the Hall of Fame quarterback gave curious answers to Suzy Kolber's questions.

Namath was at the Patriots-Jets game as the Jets celebrated their 40th anniversary team. But evidently the Jets were not the only one's celebrating.

Asked by Kolber, ESPN's sideline reporter, about what the team's struggles meant to him, Namath replied, "I want to kiss you," as he leaned toward her.

"Based on Joe's response to the second question, we concluded the interview expeditiously," the network said in a statement Sunday. "While Joe made some relevant football points, had we known what was to come, of course, we would not have conducted the interview."

Kolber seemed a little happy herself, responding to Namath's comments by saying "Thanks, Joe. A huge compliment."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Case Study Questions

Q: How can journalists possibly hope to represent accurately the lives of two young women who can no longer speak for themselves?

A: I am not quite certain that it is even possible to accurately depict the lives of two deceased individuals. People tend to take full advantage of others after they are dead. This occurs not only within the family, where material items are bickered over, usually with several family members "selling" what they "know" to be the wishes of the deceased, but also in the media in the case of such odd murders. Journalists appear to take the role of the family members fighting over belongings. The different family members are played by the different outlets, and each seems to know what the deceased was like and would have wanted and done more than the other.

Q: How do reporters reconcile the dissonance among the voices speaking for the victims, including police sources, school authorities, former coaches, friends and family?

A: Through accurate reporting and the restraint of sensational reaction to a potential story. You have to be objective when researching any lead. There are always unknowns and two sides to the coin. Focusing on the most sensational aspect might sell, but a week later your true colors will be shown.

Q: How does a media outlet show restraint with reporting these provocative police theories while others are playing the story and the stereotypes to the hilt?

A: Sometimes you just have to take the high road. If it is your news organizations policy to print what is known and not what is hypothesized, your audience should expect that consistent behavior from your product. That being said, you might not make the same sales daily, but when you do have enough accurate information to adequately cover the story, and actually do, your sales should represent that and all parties will be pleased.

Q: What is a reasonable amount of coverage for such an event, since so few people are directly affected?

A: Reasonable coverage by such an event is not dictated by the number of people affected. Reasonable coverage should be determined by the amount of community interest. Though many were not directly affected by this story, many in the community have children the same age or will be that age soon. The community would more than likely like to see a swift police response and quick closure to the murder mystery. That angle affects all in the community and the coverage should reflect that.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

American Appetites

After watching the video in class today, I was left thinking about how easy it is to suddenly find yourself stuck in a loop of nonsense. When local news channels focus on the weird, sensational or just one aspect of society, they are doing so because they believe that is what their viewers wish to see. It may not always be the case, but I'm sure that at some level there is an audience for this type of reporting. Probably not on the local news, more appropriately on a cable channel such as Spike. It doesn't seem professional or admirable, but I can understand how news organizations could become stuck in this daily routine of the same old stories. What the channel in Austin did, reorganize and prioritize, seems to be an effective approach towards curtailing such a sensational broadcast.

We also discussed lynching and the relevance of lynching to how media behaves today. It is a shame lynching never fully experienced proper coverage so as to educate future generations on the dangers of such radical and malicious actions. What in modern times would parallel lynching? There are stories today which do not adequately progress our society and mislead Americans. There are also more educated media minds than ever working against progression of a professional journalistic environment in order to line the pockets of big business. These stories are part of a larger issue in America, one more broad than the specific acts of lynching. The future will let us know if we are handling this issue properly.

As far as women in the media go, I really do not notice them. I do not notice men either. When I am waiting for someone to deliver the news I am listening for a lisp and dissecting the delivery. I have always seen women and men side by side delivering the news and this is perfectly normal to me. If pressed to express one thing about discrimination in broadcast news I would have to say when quality broadcasters are pushed aside for someone more optically friendly. These individuals seem to be, in large part, weaker broadcasters and I have to change the channel.

Finally, we were asked to touch on the difference of coverage received between Jessica Lynch and Shoshanna Johnson. This appears to be a case of blatant racist coverage. Both soldiers were captured in the same ambush, Johnson actually was detained longer than Lynch. Tales of Lynch's injuries are questioned, insinuating they were perhaps exaggerated to enhance the nature of the story of her daring rescue. Johnson legs clearly proved she had been shot multiple times. The real issue at the time was a surge of activity from the fedayeen. The US was beginning to lose support overseas and the war was progressing slowly. America needed a pick-me-up in the eyes of the Pentagon and saw the opportunity to deflect attention with the ordeal. Could the military have picked Johnson over Lynch? Probably. Why they didn't I cannot say, but it truly is a shame for both women. It is not disputed that the two were POWs. Their experience was surely hell. The fact that the government seized this misfortune as an informational opportunity and shield against approaching criticism is shameful. These type of things seem to be popular with current US leadership, but I believe ethics will return to our practices of public affairs sooner rather than later.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Topics for Discussion

1. Statistics about racial/ethnic representation in various media fields tell us an approximation of the particular representation. No deeper meaning needs to be pursued. While keeping track of who is working where, we must also relate that data to the community being represented. If there is an obvious injustice, then yes, it should not tolerated. However, relying on statistics to run a business is simply not beneficial. Talent is talent. Relying too heavily on these numbers can be very dangerous. Each business, publication or job should be looked at on an individual basis because using a cookie cutter model for USA Today would not work at the Denton Record Chronicle.

2. The philosophical basis for diversity in the media is equal opportunity for whoever possesses the talent to report regardless of race, gender or sexual preference. This comports with the theory of democracy in that democracy is based on a government for the people and run by the people. These two theories should go hand in hand, but obviously the ship is capable of sailing far off course.

3. Benefits of groups like Unity were seen through organization. In any movement, organization is key. Through the organization of several smaller groups, Unity was able to push for their agenda with more force. This displays to media executives and leaders that there are people out in society who see an injustice and are willing to unite to overcome it.

4. The most visible and important leaders in the media diversity movement are the leaders of organizations such as Unity. I doubt they are known beyond their media fields among the general public.

5. When I think of visible minorities and women in the U.S. media, I think of Christiane Amanpour and Michael Wilbon. Both of these individuals are neither quite senior nor younger. I believe through progressions of generations and when what's in this "melting pot" actually melts, some media, in particular magazine and online publications will be more likely to have minority journalists and executives in their respective offices.

Class discussions

I immediately flashed back to last nights Sopranos episode when asked about my thoughts of my mother in class today. We were in the mindset of media and motherly feelings, so I thought the subject was appropriate, but I needed to stay focused on class and quickly tucked the thought in my back pocket.
Apparently, Tony is often discussing family relationship issues with his shrink, Dr. Melfi, when she tries to have Tony admit that his strange relationship with his mother was caused by a strange inner desire to be sexually linked with her. With his mother now dead, Tony was informed by the good doctor last night that those awkward feelings have been transferred to his sister Janice.
This is a strange problem Tony faces, and I can't quite grasp it, but it must be relevant to our discussion today in some way. I really wish I could recall what exactly made me think of this issue around 10:45. I just remember thinking that the mother-son attraction thing the doctor mentioned as extremely odd and that was the program I watched before going to sleep for the evening.
We also discussed a few advertisements such as Swiffer and Mr. Clean. Sure, these are very stereotypical ads, but certain things probably always will be. I doubt any of us will see an add for the upcoming World Cup, the world's most popular sporting event, on channels like Lifetime or Oxygen.
The gentleman in spectacles and the blue shirt was on point when he brought demographics into the discussion. These ads are not randomly placed in the hopes of targeting a few potential consumers. A lot of study has to be done before a business will throw out the cash to advertise in a particular manner on a carefully decided on channel.
Sensitive feelings and hyper-sensitive political correctness lead to frustration and a progressional stasis. I say push the envelope, push the buttons and live and learn! Stir the pot and whatever other cliche's need to be thrown out! Just don't limit my words and especially not my mind.