At USC Annenberg, we don’t just cover the news, we make it. “Quoted: USC Annenberg in the News” gathers a selection of the week’s news stories featuring and written by Annenberg’s leaders, faculty, staff and others.
Clayton Dube — head of the USC U.S.-China Institute — was quoted in a Los Angeles Times story about a visa policy change that will allow U.S. and Chinese citizens to travel between the two countries for a 10-year period. The change is expected to bring about increased tourism and investment in China. Dube said that it’s hard to make predictions in terms of investment, but noted that the “hassle factor” will be reduced for people who travel to China often. “Your average tourist is not going to come here once a year for 10 years,” Dube said. “But for a business person coming here it will vastly simplify life — and that will facilitate greater investment.”
The Kansas City Star quoted Annenberg Professor Judy Muller in a story about the growing unrest in Ferguson as residents await a decision in the case of police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown in August. In the event of an unfavorable decision, residents and authorities are prepared for chaos. The article compared it to the rioting that followed the 1992 acquittal of four Los Angeles police officers caught on video beating a pulled-over Rodney King. Muller — who worked as a TV reporter at the time — said “it was the lack of in-depth coverage that fueled unrest there.” She attributed the extent of that rioting to “media fixation” based on a short, but graphic video of King being beaten. The video was edited to exclude a blurry shot of King coming at the officers. But she said that nobody expected the officers to be let off, describing it as “an unexpected shock that triggered everything.”
The New York Times quoted Professor Marty Kaplan in a story about the resurfaced rape allegations against Bill Cosby and the impact of social media. Kaplan said that the claims against him will be difficult to overcome because social media has created “a much more powerful amplifier and echo chamber.” “Social media is many things, among them it gives people a belief of what people are talking about, which is something larger than what they see on television or read in the papers,” Kaplan said. Kaplan was also quoted in the Los Angeles Times on how the scandal will influence how Cosby is remembered. He said: “Obits traditionally have a 'who' sentence at the start. Until now, his would have been: 'Bill Cosby, who ...' followed by something about the Huxtables and being America's Dad. Now I think that sentence will continue with ... this sad, sordid history now unfolding.”
Adjunct Professor Jeetendr Sehdev was quoted in a Bloomberg story about how the allegations against Bill Cosby have begun diminishing his potential for a comeback in entertainment, as well as his “squeaky clean image.” “He can’t bring that perception back credibly now,” Sehdev — a celebrity branding expert — said, adding that the crisis is the “death of his brand.”
Professor Stacy Smith wrote a guest blog post for TheWrap about the consistent lack of female speaking characters in film from year to year. Through the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative, Smith and her team found that only 29.2 percent of speaking characters in the 100 top-grossing films last year were female. In 2007, only 29.9 percent were female, and from 1990 to 1995, only 28.7 percent were female. So, how can Hollywood eliminate the “representational roadblock” women have been facing? “Overall, the solution is simple: Just add five female speaking characters to scripts going into production,” Smith wrote. “Then, repeat this process for an additional three years and do not look back.” In four years Smith predicts, “film characters might actually represent the audience they are trying to entertain.”
Marketplace quoted Karen North — director of Annenberg’s Digital Social Media program — in a story about the ridesharing app Uber. The piece discussed the recent questionable behavior of company executives, which includes a suggestion by one to spend a million dollars to investigate the lives of journalists. While many think this behavior isn’t enough to deter Uber customers, North argued that the company’s profits could suffer if they break the trust of their customers. “They need to push people to trust their app and their drivers rather than just the standard cab company,” North said. “If you start feeling like this is an untrustworthy organization or group of people, then it hits to the core of why people are interested in using these rideshares.” She added that a competing rideshare company could easily lure customers away if they marketed themselves as “the nicer, safer, more polite version of Uber.”
North was also quoted in a CBS story about growing concerns with anonymous social media apps such as Yik Yak. Threats made through the app resulted in the lockdown of a South Bay high school this week. “If my kids were using Yik Yak, Whisper, Snapchat or any of the other anonymous apps, I would be concerned,” North said. But, North pointed out, “if you think you’re being anonymous, you can absolutely be traced through the unique I.D. of the device that you’re using.”