MK 354 Spring 2010

April 26, 2010

Are we really still talking about tenure?

Filed under: blog #10 — Tags: — marringoodall @ 9:12 am

A recent article written by Kara Miller of the Culture Club questions the quality of teaching in public schools and how teachers should be rewarded and punished for the work they do.

The primary concern in this article is how teachers should be fired. Should the newbies be thrown to the dogs because they lack the experience of their older colleagues? Teachers’ unions find that the tenure system, which provides a job safety net to experienced faculty, is a matter of respecting seniority. When cutbacks are made under this system, it is the newer and younger teachers who are the first to be handed the unfortunate pink slips. Especially now in this time of financial crisis, cutbacks are being made frequently and educational leaders are beginning to question whether or not this system is fair and ensures the best education for students.

Washington D.C. Chancellor Michelle Rhee suggests a program where teachers forgo the security of tenure in order to be appropriated a salary reflecting the level of quality of their work. Salaries could potentially raise from $62,000 to $100,000 a year if a teachers go above and beyond to improve the education of their students. This performance pay may be the solution to get teachers to be more enthusiastic and engaged in their students’ education and schooling experience.

If a program like the one Rhee suggests were to go into effect, teachers may seek non-traditional opportunities outside of the classroom that could benefit student experience and improve learning enthusiasm. After-school and supplementary programs like those offered by Press Pass TV would likely see an increase in interest, participation, and funding. When most professional positions are given and maintained on the basis of merit, our country’s education system should be reevaluated to reflect this, especially if changes in incentives could positively affect student learning.


April 12, 2010

Don’t cha know who’s comin’ to town?

Filed under: blog #9, Uncategorized — marringoodall @ 9:17 am

Everyone has exactly two days to brush up on their northern accents and tired SNL jokes because Sarah Palin is coming to town! This Wednesday Palin will be making her last stop on the Tea Party Express nationwide tour on the Boston Common for a rally organized by the Boston Greater Tea Party. In 2009 nearly 1000 supporters gathered on the Common to rally for “no taxation without representation-” or something like that.

This unique group, which has sprung from fiscally conservative activists, will absolutely draw a large mass of people. However, recently elected Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown will not be one of the faces in the crowd. Although he owes much of his victory to the GOP and the newly formed and enthusiastic Tea Party, Brown will not be at the rally on the Common in the attempt to “mainstream himself before the election,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. This poses the relevant question of whether or not elected representatives are truly listening to their supporters and voices on a local level.

This event will most likely end in a chaotic and ineffective manner due to the celebrity (both positive and negative) that Sarah Palin has become. Facebook groups and events reveal plans to humorously crash the event by rallying with sarcastic Daily Show-esque signs and moose costumes. This event will most definitely be something that the media is going to cover for the chaos factor alone.

I think this would be a great opportunity for Press Pass TV to cover a story that has local roots in a much larger issue. The locale of the event also serves as a great opportunity for students who are acquiring professional skills to witness such a significant political (and pop culture) gathering.

April 5, 2010

$50,000 Public Art Project

Filed under: blog #8 — marringoodall @ 9:02 am

            “There is never enough funding for the arts!” This is something I hear often. It’s not briefly mentioned in conversation or just casually muttered. People I know, especially students at Emerson, like to passionately declare this matter of fact. Cambridge, however, is in the process of providing a $50,000 grant for a public art installation.

            The Cambridge Arts Council is holding a contest to choose a public art piece that will be brought to life by the end of May. The proposals are visual, performing, mixed media, architectural, landscape and social art works that stretch 1 mile on Cambridge Street from Inman Square to Lechmere Square. So far, 10 proposals have be chosen from a pool of 110, including an idea where ceramic “gossiping birds” would project local-related tweets onto the street. Jeremy Gaucher, the city’s public art administrator said, “We wanted people to really think about the street.”

            Although this project does make a bold effort to beautify a neighborhood and support the work of local artists, it raises the question of how well governments and organizations like the Cambridge Arts Council is spending its money. $50,000 is no small sum. I feel that this nugget of funds could have been better spent in the areas of art education in local public schools and supplementary programming. Obviously there is no way to force groups to delegate resources in any particular way, but projects like that of the Cambridge Arts Council do illuminate the lack of attention for youth and arts.

            One of the primary issues Press Pass TV faces is the funding deficit. The nonprofit organization relies on charitable donations, corporate sponsors, and dedicated professional staff to continue its programs with local Boston students. For Press Pass TV, $50,000 means better equipment, more help, and more availability for students. $50,000 means more students get to learn about creating socially responsible journalism and acquire technical skills that will prepare them for professional media production. I’ll argue that this eventually means less crime and higher education rates.

March 28, 2010

Mayor Menino’s “Circle of Promise”

Filed under: blog #7 — marringoodall @ 10:57 am


At the end of February, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced the implementation of a “comprehensive community integration plan” in order to transform public education in Boston. Targeting 10 underperforming schools, this place-based initiative is the first of its kind. The goal of the plan is to provide opportunity for youth and families by establishing support at the root of the problem, improving student achievement and ending the cycle of poverty.

The Circle of Promise plan would take advantage of the many resources that already exist in the Boston community. Mayor Menino recognizes that Boston has a sufficient number of programs set up to serve a variety of needs, but says that there is a missing link between these organizations and the underperforming schools. “The challenge is preventing kids from falling through the cracks. It should be just as easy to move from one out of school program to another as it is to move from 4th grade to 5th grade,” Mayor Menino said.

This initiative is extremely relevant to Press Pass TV and its goals as a youth-serving organization because the content addresses two of its most significant hurdles- cost and educational integration. Press Pass TV provides a unique education in the areas of journalism and technical media production. The education is extremely costly due to the equipment and is often not viewed by administration as a core necessity. However, with support from local schools and the government funds to supplement the cost of after-school programs, Press Pass TV has the ability to strengthen its ties to the educational community and influence the future of thousands of students.

March 22, 2010

Blog #6

Filed under: blog #6, Uncategorized — Tags: — marringoodall @ 9:06 am

Puppet Casting 001

Gary walks in to an all-white room set in front of a panel of unseen casting directors; his talent is staring. Next we meet an armadillo who fails to give his name because he recognizes one of the directors from wild spring break ‘91. A joke-telling alien dressed casually in a Hawaiian shirt then greets us. Finally, a singing crab stops in the middle of his audition to answer a phone call from his wife. This is a casting call for a new adult puppet show called Stuffed and Unstrung.

The commercial introduces characters of the television series in a way that reaches beyond just an average teaser clip. The ad’s [silly/fabricated] behind-the-scenes style that illustrates the characters’ audition process makes the audience want to see where they end up and what the show is all about. Heath and Heath discuss how telling a story with “built-in drama” is much more interesting and allows an audience to “mentally test” the situation presented. The story behind the commercial engages audiences and transforms them from a “passive audience” in to curious potential viewers.

Advertisements that tell a story don’t always draw me in because they contain nuggets of wisdom or inspiration like the Jared Subway campaign. Commercials that follow the framing of Heath and Heath’s “story” strategy grab my attention because they provide in depth insight to a situation, service, or product. As an audience member, I appreciate when an advertisement goes behind-the-scenes to see how things really happen, or in the case of Stuffed and Unstrung, what would happen if puppets were real people who actually auditioned for roles. Ads like this make you feel like you are in on a secret or have been granted access to information that has been newly discovered. For me, stories ignite curiosity because you become invested in what has already happened.

Also, I LOVE puppets/muppets.

February 22, 2010

The Truth

Filed under: Uncategorized — marringoodall @ 9:53 am

The shiniest nugget of information that I found in Made to Stick this week was the specific idea that something can become “credible” when statistics are brought to life. Heath and Heath also discuss how something is believable when there is concrete detail for the viewer/reader to latch onto. I immediately thought of the “Truth” anti-smoking campaign and more specifically, the “1200 Deaths a Day” spots that aired a few years ago.

In these commercials, random people in the middle of a city lined up to get big permanent ink numbers scribbled on their chest. They and this number symbolized one of the 1200 people would fall victim to the lethal effects of tobacco use in that single day. Once the crowd of primarily young adults had all been T-shirted and tagged, they shuffled to a big space in front of a tobacco company building and collapsed all together at the same time. They continued to lie there, motionless and “dead” in order to illustrate the tremendous impact of cigarettes and tobacco. The ad is so effective because it recognizes a concrete number, breathes life (actually- death) into that number and provides a tangible perspective. Personally, there is something about seeing real bodies hit the ground that really upsets and enlightens me.  

The Truth campaign is credible because it presents the underlying relationship between tobacco use and its effects rather than providing numbers alone. Like Ainscow’s BB’s in a bucket example, the numbers in the Truth campaign impart a shock-value unachievable without demonstration. 

February 14, 2010

Google is Rock Solid

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — marringoodall @ 6:54 pm

To me, “concrete” messaging invokes the idea of “show not tell” strategy. Evident in Heath’s example of Jane Elliot’s class of elementary school children who learned the harsh reality of segregation through first-hand experience on both ends of discrimination, concrete and tangible content produces the stickiest messages.

The most recent and apparent example of the “show not tell” aspect of concrete messaging is the Google “Parisian Love” ad from the Super Bowl last week. The ad follows a man through his experience on the search engine site. It chronicles a romance in Paris and the joys of life stages, adding emotional flare and an approachable tone without ever introducing an actual character on screen. The commercial is just a montage of sequential Google searches. In this ad, the message is concrete because it gives visual verification of how the service works and how it relates and fits in to the target’s life. There is no obscure plot, nor does the ad attempt to verbally “tell” or persuade you to use the service.

A message that is concrete, gives an audience something to firmly grasp and hold on to. If there is this substantial concept to hang on to, product and brand recall are more likely to occur. I think it’s also important to note how concreteness and simplicity often go hand-in-hand. If a message is direct and uncomplicated (so long as it is relevant) it is more likely to be concrete. Google’s new ad is both simple and concrete, uncluttered by superfluous storyline.

February 8, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — marringoodall @ 9:53 am

This year I sat through the entire Super Bowl completely enthralled by the “Brand Bowl” sponsored by Mullen and Radian6. Thankfully, there seemed to be more commercial time than actual football, so I was able to stay focused. I bounced with enthusiasm on my friend’s bed as I rattled off random marketing strategies, shot disapproving glares at the screen, and gave gracious giggles to brands I had higher expectations for.

Without question, one of my favorite Super Bowl commercials this year (second to Google’s “Parisian Love”) was Volkswagen’s “Punchdub” spot. Not only was the creative concept simple, it was unexpected. The scene illustrates people playing the “slug bug” or “punch buggy” game when any Volkswagen car drives by. Because the game is such a universal American pastime, the ad is approachable and attractive to everyone who has suffered a too-long family road trip.

The tradition of the game is to punch or “slug” the person next to you and declare a color when a Volkswagen Beetle drives by. However, in the ad, the brand breaks this ritual by expanding the slugging cue to the presence of any color, model, and make of a Volkswagen vehicle. Additionally, the characters in the scene hit with more of a pound than a playful punch. I think this is what made the ad as humorous as it was (and the celebrity cameos). Just as Made to Stick discusses, VW “breaks a pattern” by changing the rules of a very familiar concept. They therefore, open the world up to an all out VW boxing battle. I immediately noticed this change and was intrigued by the product as a result. The clever play on an old form of entertainment caught my attention and held it.

Check out the “Punchdub” spot. It really is adorable.

January 30, 2010

Silly Skittles

Filed under: blog #1 — Tags: — marringoodall @ 1:05 pm

Last night at three am, the girls I live with and I spontaneously erupted in howls imitating a fantastical creature from my favorite commercial. Unprovoked, we yelped “LOOHHHHH LOOOOHHHH LOH LOH LOHHHHHHHHH LOHHHH LOHHHHHHHH LOHHHHHH” in high wandering melody down our hall, as if this was something completely normal. Inspired by the Skittles brand and its outrageously creative television spots, my roommates and I now ritually chant the belting bunny’s cry.

As a candy brand, Skittles faces a difficult obstacle when it comes to conveying a key selling point. No one NEEDS candy. We all have our own preferences and tastes when it comes to sweet treats. Why should we grab for a bag of the chewy rainbow pieces instead of some other candy bar? The company embraces this “problem” and emphasizes the fact that candy has no function other than to exist for enjoyment and indulgence. Candy is bright and silly and playful. Skittles is the MOST bright and silly and playful. Skittles is magical. This is the CORE of the candy brand.

The current Skittles campaign is simple. Referring to the idea of the “commander’s intent” in Made to Stick, Skittles communicates (rather, SCREAMS) just one single idea . . . the product is outrageously magical. You don’t need a reason to eat Skittles. You eat them because there is no reason to eat them.

I don’t even like chewy and fruity candies, but EVERYTIME I see a Skittles commercial, I am struck with a craving because I want to experience the ludicrous magic. How the heck do you “taste the rainbow?” It’s not possible, but it IS magical.


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