We The Media Revisited: Of showbiz talk shows and celebrities

We The Media Revisited: Of showbiz talk shows and celebrities

[REVISED & UPDATED] Two events prompted me to write this blog post.

One involved a celebrity calling out what appeared to be an insult hurled at a house-help in an exclusive resort. Another was news about the end of a long-time running showbiz talk show in a dominant television network.

At first, I found both stories amusing and trivial. But as I read and thought about it, I believe these two events are connected to a rising reality in media.

Let me set the context: ever since celebrities found love and power in social media, this medium has offered them new channel to genuinely and intimately connect with fans (this excludes celebs whose social media assets are “managed” by experts).

Social media has become their platform. How do I know this? My best examples are my two daughters and my wife. They all follow celebrities: my daughters do it through Twitter and Instagram, while my wife does through the latter “media.” They now know more than what TV-produced talk shows are showing every weekend. Weekend showbiz productions have become too passe since news breaks faster on social media. Check how many entertainment news are picked up or re-purposed from social media by traditional media. The first event that I cited in the beginning is one recent example.

Watching the popular showbiz talk show host explain why the producers of the show decided to call it quits, he said a lot of things have changed since they started in the late 90s when the Internet was at dial-up speeds.

“The world has changed…showbiz news reporting has changed,” he added.

(He is right. The world has changed, the audience has changed).

He also hinted that they might come back, but in a different form or format, or even not as a group of hosts, but individually.

He stressed that the interest in showbiz news has not waned; nor is the audience for talk shows. (Again, he is right in both counts). But where is the audience going? Who is your audience now and in the future?

If you want to survive and compete in the future, you must consider these observations: (1) A growing audience who don’t watch TV–at least on the TV that we old folks call the boob tube; (2) a new generation of audience growing up with celebrities whom they can follow everywhere, anytime, on any device. (This part is scary for parents like me because this is close to stalking–talk about fanaticism multiplied by 100x) but do consider the value of being able to talk to a celebrity directly; (3) a younger audience who are picky, multitasking, interactive, and often ready to share their opinion about their favorite celebrities; (4) an audience who idolize and immortalize celebrities through fan fictions and other creative endeavors found in communities like Wattpad or Tumblr. These are a few of the things that I have been observing directly from my kids–and they tell me there are hundreds of thousands of them doing the same thing. (I believe them!)

Meanwhile, the current and older audience of showbiz talk shows are shifting towards more convenient and ubiquitous devices with bigger screens that provide streams of celebrity news, photos, videos, and even strategic product placements on Instagram, Facebook and whatnot. Thanks to the Internet, celebrities can now (1) Tell or retell (some go to the extent of re-inventing) their own narratives; (2) manage their own fans; (3) strengthen and nurture their personal brand as they give fans a glimpse of their lives outside of the daily grind; and (4) endorse products and services, which in turn translate to direct revenue for them. (Wow!)

My wife gave me some examples: one involved a pretty young artista who eventually got married. She started sharing her family photos on Instagram, and often exploring creative themes and stories. Years later, this celebrity finds herself endorsing products again, thanks to a steady chronicle of her life on social media. (Personal brand building 101, folks!)

Then, we have the so-called YouTube sensations or the celebrity “bloggers” who are using their new-found stardom to churn out content or even services which they own or endorse. Some of the Internet celebrities eventually land shows on traditional media, but those who stay close to where they started seemed to have lasted longer. (Google: PewDiePie)

Dan Gillmor’s seminal work called “We The Media” talks about the tectonic shift in media, where the audience is now part of the conversation. Traditional talk shows (or traditional TV productions) will die, as the audience demands more transparency, immediacy, and feedback from celebrities. In fact, social media today is both a boon and the bane for celebrities. Not all celebrities know how to use it well. But for those who do, they’re reaping the benefits. (I can only think of Taylor Swift right now).

Gillmor wrote; “Tomorrow’s news reporting and production will be more of a conversation or a seminar. The lines will blur between producers and consumers, changing the role of both in ways we’re only beginning to grasp. The communication network itself will be a medium for everyone’s voice, not just the few who can afford to buy multimillion-dollar printing presses, launch satellites, or win the government’s permission to squat on the public airways.”

These words were written years ago. It’s funny that it still sounds current because it is the reality, and events such as the closing of a local showbiz talk show are signs of things to come for TV networks (and other forms of BIG MEDIA) which will be challenged by new business models and emerging technologies and services.

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If you like this article, do recommend it to others or share it on your social networks. What about you? What are your thoughts about this recent events? Drop me an email at erwin[dot]oliva[at]gmail.com.

*This think piece does not reflect the views of the company I work for or any organization I represent at the moment. But do leave a comment. Thanks and have a great day!

Quo vadis, Philippine cinema?

20150227_154035Today, I heard one of the most revealing truths about Philippine cinema. It’s not dead or dying. It is just, well, polarized.

As I endured the cold Teresa Yuchengco Auditorium at the De La Salle University, Filipino director and professorial lecturer Jose Javier Reyes warmed up the place with his no-holds-barred talk about Philippine cinema and movies. There is apparently a distinction between a film and a movie; the latter is a product that is meant to be sold. Speaking before students, faculty and guests at the 1st DLSU Communications Conference, Reyes began his exposition with questions about the top grossing films in the Philippines. Then, he went on to reveal how much money did the Metro Manila Film Festival make–it was about PhP 1.1 billion. And the top grossing films? Let’s just say, they are mostly romcoms, produced primarily by a dominant studio, which also happens to be producing the most popular stars in movies and on television.

Reyes’ talk focused on how BIG studios today dictate how movies are made, and how economics play a big part in the distribution and production of these movies in cinemas. Contrast that to indie films which, by the way, is not a genre but a business model that simply means films not produced by BIG outfits. The success of English Only, Please and the recent That Thing Called Tadhana–films which Reyes dubbed as “maindies,” have succeeded despite it being produced by smaller outfits.

Indie films are often misconstrued as art or experimental films that only the intellectual moviegoers appreciate. Unfortunately, many Philippine indie films don’t have the marketing muscle and distribution that BIG studio-produced films have, thus are often not making enough money, or worse, forgotten and pulled down from cinemas after less than a week of public showing. Think of Bwakaw.

Reyes argued that Philippine cinema is polarized between movies that are produced as products that sell versus movies that are made by independent outfits that are often only seen in Cinemalaya or, rarely, in short-runs in local cinemas. The top-grossing films in Philippine cinema of all time are produced by BIG studios that feature popular celebrities (who mostly got popular on television), and a well-known director who has mastered the kiliti of the masses. Every year, this has been the case, until some films like English Only, Please break out of the mold. English Only, Please is a romcom that is independently produced. It has also won awards, and has made its producers money, according to Reyes.

The truth is, Philippine cinema does not need to be mind-numbing and crass to be able to make money. There are good films out there–many are even winning awards abroad, but since BIG outfits control the distribution and cinemas, the audience only get to see films that are formulaic.

Reyes stressed that films can and should entertain. But, as it entertains, it should also INNOVATE, REDISCOVER, and REDEFINE Philippine cinema. Innovate perhaps in terms of distribution and production (there’s always digital media waiting to be tapped). Rediscover means the industry being able to figure out ways to showcase local indie filmmakers in cinemas or via digital distribution. Redefine: This is an area where Reyes gets fired up: Philippine movies shouldn’t be classified as indie or mainstream. There should only be one: Philippine cinema, just like Bollywood.

 

 

 

 

 

The Unfiltered Social Media: Why We Need to Edit Ourselves

(UPDATED) MANILA, PHILIPPINES—I got my biggest shock tonight, as I was looking through my feeds on Facebook. I followed this certain profile after I stumbled upon video clips of the aftermath of an alleged “mis-encounter” between Philippine special elite Police forces and forces from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and a smaller faction known as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Mamasapano, Maguindanao.

This same profile or person posted new videos tonight, and I clicked the video to see what it was. Then, for a few minutes, I saw a video of a dying soldier, lying on the ground, all bloodied. He was shaking and suffering. I then see a gun pointed at the fallen soldier. I could hear gunshots from the background. There was an apparent battle happening. The man holding the video then shoots the dying soldier several times until he was lifeless. At this point, I stopped the video, tagged it as too violent to show on Facebook, and un-followed the profile where this video was posted. (Update: I reported this video as inappropriate on Facebook. The next day, Facebook said it wasn’t taking down the video after consulting with the “community.” But it was tagging the video as content that can only be seen by users 18 and above).

For a moment, I was speechless, having just witnessed the violent cold-blooded murder of a young man sent to arrest two known terrorists hiding in that area. As the stories unfurled, a total of 44 special elite policemen died. Most of them brutally killed. (UPDATE: Police later confirmed that the video of the brutal slaying of a man was one of their elite policemen).

Seeing this disturbing video reminded me of my days with a news website. Our editors got hold of a video of a foreign hostage whose body part was being cut off by a group of rogue group operating in the Mindanao area. After a heated debate, our editors decided to hold off on publishing the video–an exclusive to the website. It was an editorial decision. A story about it, however, was published without the video clip.

This kind of decision was also apparent in news organizations like New York Times and Al Jazeera, both of which decided NOT to publish videos of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheading.

A Storyful compilation of what transpired in these media organizations could be seen at the end of this story. Both media organizations decided NOT to allow the ISIS propaganda to spread further by NOT publishing the video, while still reporting on this atrocious terrorist activities. This, despite the spread of the atrocious acts on social media.

Social media has its advantages in publishing breaking news and information, especially eye witness accounts often emerging during natural calamities, man-made tragedies and disasters, and other news where citizens are able to capture moments on a little mobile device armed with a recording mechanism. The video on the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office is an example of how social media became the channel for delivering breaking news, based on an eye witness account. But as we’ve seen later on cable news channels, the raw video showing a cop being killed by a man carrying a high-powered rifle was “edited out” and replaced with images. This was a deliberate move to tone down the violence seen in this eyewitness video.

The Mamasapano video clips that were spreading on the web were allegedly taken by those who killed the 44 policemen. The motivation behind the release of these video clips is still unknown, although the police have reportedly identified the source of one video showing the brutal slaying of a cop. As expected, mainstream media did not publish these disturbing clips on public television or on their websites. However, the video spread through Facebook and YouTube.

In an unfiltered environment such as Facebook, we could only do so much as to flag certain content as inappropriate. I still wear my journalist hat wherever I go. I have joined fellow citizens who have mourned the death of the #fallen44, and condemned the acts of these perpetrators. I also asked my friends on Facebook to stop spreading the controversial video—but some disagreed and said that it was the people’s choice.

I believe there is a huge difference between sharing news and sharing propaganda meant to spark hate, violence, and potentially chaos. I lean towards helping solve this issue by carefully weighing facts, and not twisting or manipulating them to fuel rage and hate.

 

#Fallen44: A nation mourns for elite police killed in raid

Their mission was to arrest a terrorist with a bounty on his head. It was a dangerous mission involving entering a territory controlled by a once-rebel group now negotiating peace with government. Hundreds of elite policemen joined the raid. What happened next shocked our nation: 44 elite police were brutally killed in what they now called a “misencounter” with rebel groups who had declared ceasefire with government.

The stories of what happened, and who was responsible for their deaths came. Video clips of the fallen men were posted on the Internet, some were too graphic and grim. Citizens and the families of these elite policemen were very angry and frustrated with the government whom they blamed for the deaths. Their ire was directed at the commander-in-chief, the President of this nation who went missing as 44 coffins arrived in a local military airport. It was reported that the commander-in-chief was attending the inauguration of a car manufacturer. It looked like business as usual for him, which triggered more anger among the citizens who felt that the he should be mourning with the people.

Today, the President declared a national day of mourning. The 44 elite policemen were called heroes. The wife of one fallen soldier asked her fellow wives to be strong. Meanwhile, some politicians were calling for the resumption of an all-out-war. Some withdrew from co-authoring a law to establish a basic law that would cover fellow citizens who once rebelled against government. Social media is on fire–with hashtags related to this tragic incident. Editorials were written. Exclusive stories filed revealing the target of the raid: he was among the top targets of the US government for his role in bombings, killing innocent people.

The pictures and names of the #Fallen44 were distributed by citizens over the Internet, telling everyone to remember them–the heroes who were loyal patriots who put duty above everything else. During a necrological service, one police officer stressed that uniformed men knew three certain things in their lives: victory, defeat and death. His voice was unwavering as he saluted his comrades, some snatched away from their families too early. One was in his 20s. He was a kind and obedient boy, her mom said. He obeyed everyone, she added.

Just a few weeks ago, this nation was praying for the Pope who came to visit the poor. This week, this nation was praying for the fallen and their families. Others could not hold back their distaste for a leader whom they felt should have acted more human: empathize.

Watching and reading news from my desk at work, I was hoping to comprehend what was going on. It’s hard to tell at this point the truth about this secret raid. Questions were still up on whether the mission was even successful. The sacked chief of this elite policemen said they killed the target, and they were trying to confirm his identity. Meanwhile, the blame game was heating up. Who was accountable for this bungled mission. Why wasn’t everyone in the chain-of-command informed of this mission? Many questions still unanswered.

 

 

 

Spotify drinks Coca Cola (at least in PH)

Today, I learned that Spotify has become available in the Philippines, thanks to Coca Cola.

Go here to get a free code to earn your ticket to streaming music from Spotify.

In my past reincarnation, I also had the chance to work with this soda brand. It wants its brand ssociated with music. So I assume that this Spotify and Coca Cola partnership in the Philippines is going to benefit both: one is brand association with music and the other is access to the local market, which counts as one of the most music-hungry culture.

An article on Vulcanpost reveals that this indeed is a mutually beneficial partnership. However, Spotify is coming into a market that has a low-penetration of credit card holders. If they can figure out more ways and means for people to pay for subscription, this service will become more attractive. Right now, you can enjoy the ad-based service. Also, the music is limited to Warner Music and Sony for now.

There are also other services, as the Vulcanpost writes, that have emerged in the Philippines. But there seems to be no clear winner. How will streaming music services fare in the country? It’s an interesting space to watch.