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Nancy Silberkleit, a friend who is Co-CEO of Archie Comics, is a firm believer that comic books, or graphic novels as they are sometimes called, can teach and inspire.
The iconic Archie series is often about teenage puppy love and the angst of growing up.
But Nancy has used the Archie platform, as well as the comic book medium in general, to help young readers deal with issues like bullying and self confidence. She even formed a foundation called Rise Above Social Issues to help kids deal with the issue, and she is a frequent speaker through out the U.S. and as far abroad as India and Africa.
Nancy also believes comics can inspire positive action. She recently added a teacher's guide to an Archie story titled "Get Drastic with Plastic," where Archie's pals Betty and Veronica, after hearing a speaker at school talk about the environmental impact of plastic, got their school and the community to do more to recycle. Nancy made the lesson plan available at no charge to teachers.
Hats off to Nancy Silberkleit for showing how a medium many see as simply light entertainment can be used to inspire and promote responsible action.
When it comes to preferences in music, movies and media, different age groups don't agree on much. But a recent poll by the Pew Research Center shows Boomers, Gen Xers and Millennials do agree on which news sources they feel they can least trust.
All age groups say sources they trust least for accurate reporting are Buzzfeed and three widely-syndicated conservative radio shows hosted by Glenn beck, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.
Although many listen to the opinionated radio shows, they may tune in more for the entertainment value than for trustworthy news reporting.
The Pew study found more of a discrepancy by age groups when asked which news sources they can trust. Millennials (ages 19-34) say they rely on two faux-news shows, The Daily Show and the recently-ended Colbert Report. Almost as scary is that this group also lists Al Jazeera America as one its most-trusted sources of news. Boomers and Gen Xers, maybe with wisdom that comes with age, said they don't rely on any of those programs for reliable information. They say they get much of their news from local TV.
Troubling, to me at least, is that newspapers didn't figure into the picture for reliable news. (And where do you think local TV gets many of its story leads? The morning paper.)
For 24 years, Bob Schieffer has helped make sense out of what too often seems like a senseless place -- Washington DC. As host of CBS' Face the Nation every Sunday morning, he'd ask tough questions of those we pay to represent us.
In his closing broadcast today, he said he's enjoyed every bit of the 58 years he's spent as a reporter.
Good luck, Bob, and thanks for your probing and your insights.
With the end of David Letterman's 22-year run in CBS' 11:35 p.m. spot, the network seems to be missing a real opportunity to keep a hold on the late-night spot. But instead, they're pretty much giving up on it until September when Stephen Colbert begins his new show.
In the meantime, CBS has an hour of "The Mentalist" reruns filling the hole between the local news and the promising new talk show being done by James Corden, who took over Craig Ferguson's spot a few months ago. When it was a first-run series, "The Mentalist" did pretty well for CBS. But now that the show is out of production, it becomes one of many re-runs that can be seen late-night on local affiliates and on cable.
Dropping the late-night talk show format at 11:35 puts CBS back in the dark days before they hired Letterman. Although he consistently trailed Jay Leno in the ratings, Letterman did build a solid and loyal following that was a profit center for CBS – more so than the reruns that had filled that time slot for many years.
So I can't understand why CBS is just giving up the slot. If I were CBS CEO Les Moonves, I'd do one of two things.
If Letterman would permit it, I'd run a "Best of Letterman" series of reruns until the new guy comes on board. It would hold the Letterman fans, and after all the hype of the past several weeks, it would probably draw lots of new viewers who never watched Letterman but would now tune in out of curiosity about what they've missed all these years.
If Letterman doesn't want to license those shows to CBS, preferring to have his final show mark the end of him on TV at all, there's another option. Start re-running past Late Late Shows with James Corden. There aren't a lot of them yet, but showing them at 11:35 might build an audience for him in his 12:35 spot.
Actually, there's yet another option which CBS already tried when Craig Ferguson left. During the few months before Corden started, CBS had a series of guest hosts, including many show biz people who you wouldn't expect to see in that role. Some turned out to be pretty good doing soft interviews, and at the least it kept the talk show format alive in that time slot on CBS.
It seems that CBS is just throwing in the towel at 11:35, waiting for Colbert. But as viewers surf over to Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, they'll get comfortable with either or both Jimmy's, and some won't come back – even for Stephen Colbert.
It makes sense to me, but what do I know? I'm not getting anywhere close to the $54.4 million Les Moonves earns, so he must know a lot more than I do. Maybe.
A new report from Nielsen, the TV ratings people, shows not only what we're watching, but how we're watching it.
It used to be very simple. A program was on at a certain time and either you watched it when it aired or you didn't see it at all. No DVRs or video on demand. Not even home recording on VHS or Beta.
But today, viewers have so many choices -- not only what to watch from among hundreds of channels and tens of thousands of shows and movies on demand and Netflix and Hulu. The choice now is also about how to watch -- live or delayed on your giant flat screen or on a variety of other smaller screens from computers to laptops to tablets and phones.
The report says Americans watched "traditional" TV 141 hours a month in the 3rd quarter of 2014. But live viewing dropped a little more than 4 percent, or 12 minutes a day, to 4 hours and 32 minutes on average. Instead, we spent an hour more per month watching time-shifted programs via the internet, which includes streaming services like Netflix.
For advertisers, the obvious challenge is getting their ads seen despite fast-forwarding. Many on-demand outlets now disable the fast-forward function so we can't zip through the ads. So instead, it may end up working the way it did in the "old days," when commercials breaks meant a run to the bathroom, refrigerator or a fast click around the dial to see what else is on. Or with today's technology, we might be checking texts and emails.
In a few weeks, longtime ad columnist Stuart Elliott will pen his last column for The Times. He announced on his Facebook page this morning that he will be taking "the very generous buyout" the paper's been offering to longtime reporters and editors, as it tries to reduce its newsroom headcount by 100.
Others who will be leaving by year-end include bylines we've been reading for some time, like Bill Carter on the TV industry.
But Stuart's departure will leave a real gap in The Times business section. He's written beautifully over the years about new campaigns, agency mergers and buyouts, marketing and advertising trends and, often after long holiday weekends, the 10 or 20 humorous questions he raises, always capped with the self-deprecating final statement "for a guy from Brooklyn, you ask a lot of questions."
I've always looked forward to reading Stuart's columns, in the paper and also online. And I'm pleased to say, while we're not close friends, I've had a cordial professional relationship with him. I've always tried to respect him by only pitching him story ideas that I honestly felt were on target, often telling a client "sorry, that's just not for Stuart." And he's treated me with respect, always repsonding to my calls or emails, even if, sometimes, to patiently explain why an idea just isn't for him.
He's been the longest-running ad columnist at The Times, going back to 1991. In terms of longevity, he beat out legendary ad columnist Phil Dougherty, who preceded him, by a year.
Actually, I go back with Stuart to 1990, when he was the ad writer at USA Today. I had just started my own PR business, and an early client was agency Geer DuBois -- a name, like so many others, now just a memory for us oldtimers. He did a nice piece on a new campaign by Geer client YooHoo chocolate drink.
I recall meetings with him and clients like media guru Gene DeWitt in the cafeteria at the old Times building on West 43rd, or more recently at his breakfast haunt at the Royalton on West 44th St.
I'm sorry to see him go, but I know there are many opportunities waiting for him, if he chooses. Or who knows... maybe there's a book in the offing.
Whatever he chooses to do, I know I'm among many who wish him the best and thank him for his good work over the years.
Bill Bergman, a marketing instructor at the University of Richmond's B-school, notes an interesting trend in a recent commentary in MediaPost's Agency Daily. He says college students he's teaching seem to be afraid to speak out in class for fear of being embarrassed by classmates who might call them out via social media. So they keep their hands down in class and their mouths shut.
These are kids, he says, who have grown up seeing the impact of a mistake or bad judgment on social media. They've seen firsthand that once something is online it can haunt you forever, possibly impacting one's ability to land a job or get into grad school.
So rather than get called out via a tweet, they seem to keep their opinions to themselves, Bergman believes. He thinks, from what he sees in his students, that by the time they reach their senior year in college, they hit a social media saturation point. It's not that social media has lost its importance to them, but rather they're getting caught up with other priorities and pressures that demand their attention -- studies and the upcoming hunt for the next step in their lives, finding a job or continuing thier education.
Bergman notes recent grads seem to be less involved with social media than current students. The explanation, he writes, may be "a boss, a cubicle and a 10 p.m. bedtime help diminish the social media habit." And they realize, as they mature, that it's more important to protect your real personality than to build "a contrived popularity" through silly or controversial tweets and potentially awkward photos posted on Instagram.
After college, he writes, young adults "begin to recognize that college is really created for the young - and so too is the extensive use of social media platforms."
Americans are fed up with news coverage that puts emphasis on gossip, celebrities, sports and sensationalism.
You wouldn't guess that if you watch most TV news or read many newspapers. But that's what a recent Harris Poll discovered, as reported in Media Daily News.
The poll, taken in August, found that 76 percent of American adults feel celebrity gossip and scandal gets too much news coverage. Forty-five percent say entertainment in general gets too much coverage, and 41 percent feel that way about pro sports.
The poll also found that some issues are believed to get too little news attention. Forty-seven percent cited education issues, 45 percent cited science, 44 percent said government corruption, followed by global humanitarian issues at 33 percent and health issues at 30 percent.
If this survey is accurate,there may yet be hope for real news. But it's a big IF. Let's face it -- when people fill out surveys, they generally want to appear more highbrow than they really are. So they may say there's too much gossip and trash on TV, even as they tune into it and then talk about it online via social media.
The proliferation of gossip and soft news may be why the level of trust in media continues to drop. The same Harris poll showed only 25 percent place great confidence in local TV news and even less -- 21 percent -- in their local newspapers. Network TV news is trusted by only 17 percent.
Online news sites not affiliated with a "traditional" news outlet had only 11 percent confidence among those polled. Well, at least they got that right.
Less than half of us now watch TV programs as they air live, Media Daily News reports.
Only 41 percent of us watch the live broadcast, as time-shifting grows in popularity. Watching via DVR is what 43 percent of us now do, as 19 percent use video on demand.
The move to viewing TV on so-called second screens -- mobile devices, PC, laptops and tablets -- isn't happeniong quite as quickly as pundits had been predicting. The vast majority -- 91 percent -- still watch TV on a TV. Laptops account for 12 percent of viewing, tablets 5 percent and somehow 3 percent manage to watch programs on their smartphones. It adds to more than 100 percent due to duplication -- watching on a regular screen and also on a second screen.
Programs like sports and major news events understandably score a higher amount of live viewing.