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.
Professor Martin Kaplan was quoted in a Los Angeles Times story about the possibility of Jeffrey Katzenberg leaving DreamWorks Animation, the film company he co-founded with Steven Spielberg and David Geffen in 1994. Kaplan, who worked with Katzenberg at Walt Disney Co. years ago, suggested that Katzenberg is setting up a team of successors. “He has put together a cadre of administrators, artists and storytellers which has great bench strength. It's as close to a turnkey operation as you could get,” Kaplan said. If Katzenberg does leave, he’ll have plenty of options for what to do next, which does not surprise Kaplan. “For a person who can move a million miles a minute, it's a little hard to imagine him sitting on a veranda sipping something with an umbrella in it,” he said.
PBS MediaShift featured Professor Robert Hernandez’s presentation on wearable technology – Google Glass, the Apple Watch – at the 2014 Online News Association conference. “What we’re trying to do is be proactive about this disruption,” Hernandez said.
Marketplace quoted Karen North, director of Annenberg’s Digital Social Media program, in a story about Facebook’s new ad tool, Atlas, which will allow advertisers to collect and combine data on Facebook users’ travels across the internet. Facebook has been vague on the details of Atlas, but North said that if it works out well, Atlas could help Facebook in its ad wars with Google. “Where Facebook has struggled in the past is that people don’t go to Facebook to buy things,” North said. “So now they’re deciding, 'Well maybe the whole Facebook ad idea isn’t the right answer.' Maybe it’s, ‘We’ll just be the place to come to buy ads for wherever you are.’”
Professor Larry Gross was quoted in a story on AFPRelaxnews about Amazon’s new show “Transparent,” which features transgender characters. The show reflects a “cultural shift,” Gross said. He also mentioned the long tradition of straight men playing gay characters, citing Sean Penn playing gay activist Harvey Milk in 2008’s “Milk” as an example. He added that the real “change in acceptance and visibility of minorities is when they get to play the roles reflecting their lives.” “Every day we see gay actors playing straight characters but they don't come out because their managers tell them that if they do, they won't get lead roles especially romantic or action ones,” Gross said.
KPCC quoted Johanna Blakley, the managing director and director of research at Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center, in a story about the annual Global Citizen Festival. Though the purpose of the event was to draw attention to and fundraise for the Global Poverty Project – which aims to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030 – Blakley, who studies the impact of mass media on society, argued that most people’s attention was on the talent. “If Jay-Z and Sting were not performing on [Central Park's] Great Lawn, there would be no event, you wouldn't be interviewing anybody and nobody would be talking about this,” Blakley said.
Professor Daniel Durbin was quoted in a National Journal story about the end of the National Football League’s blackout rule for showing games on television and the possibility of games being shown on cable rather than free broadcast television. “It's a bunch of hyperbole,” Durbin said. “It's unlikely that it will start drifting toward pay TV.… The NFL is posturing a lot. I wouldn't take that claim seriously.” He added that having football games air multiple nights a week – for everyone to watch – is important for the league to remain “America’s dominant sport.” “The game itself is in everybody's lap, and you can't turn your eyes from it. Only people who have enough interest to seek it out will seek it out,” Durbin said, adding that other sports that shifted to pay TV have not done as well.
Associate Professor Stacy Smith was quoted in FiveThirtyEight in an article that focused on the underrepresentation of women, both in front and behind camera. The article shined light on the statistics that Smith and her team, at the Media Diversity and Social Change Initiative in USC Annenberg, have gathered. Based on the research Smith and her team conducted in the most recent annual review, in 2013, only 29 percent of characters in film were female and 28 percent of films had female leads or co-leads. Smith noted that women were more “sexualized” in film and television compared to their male counterparts. Although Smith and her team have, for the most part, seen consistencies with lack of representation of women and minorities in film, there have been some positive and interesting findings in their research. “One thing that surprised all of us was that women were doing very well in comedy,” Smith said. “Women are also thriving in documentaries.”