2017 Caulfield Lecture

Megan and Sydney

The 2017 Caulfield Lecture by Trif Alatzas provided insight in his discussion about the future of journalism. Thanks to the changes in technology, journalism is in the process of undergoing a change that will help small organizations such as his, the Baltimore Sun Media Group, compete with its much bigger counter parts. Journalism has a large influence over each and every one of us whether we know it or not, consisting of television, internet, social media, etc. Since the industry is currently changing its print production to more digital methods, journalists have had to take action in conforming to these advancements. The Baltimore Sun Media Group covers all types of stories such as sports, local issues, local events, and so on. These stories reach thousands of readers and touch the lives of so many due to the instantaneous ability access these publications on the internet. The immediacy of the new industry is allowing so many to embrace the journalist world in different ways than before, and we consume media more than we ever have today. This lecture was a great learning experience and opened our eyes to how the future of journalism can have such an impact on society, big and small.



Megan, Sydney, Chris


Netflix, an online DVD and streaming service, has transformed industry of video streaming, the way viewers watch movies in the present day. The company first started out in 1997 by Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph who co-founded Netflix together. In 1998, Netflix launched its first DVD rental and sales site, Netflix.com. In 1999, they introduced the flat fee for unlimited DVD rentals on a monthly basis. In 2000, they introduced personalized movie recommendations, and then in 2007 online streaming began, and allowed users to stream on personal computers. From 2009-2010, the ability to stream Netflix from all internet connected began. Netflix then from 2011-2015 spread to all different parts of the country starting out with the Caribbean, and moving all the way to Australia, Europe, and Japan. Then finally in 2016, Netflix became available worldwide. Over time, Netflix added new features such as being able to buy more screens available to stream at one time for an increased price every month, the ability to download movies onto your devices so users can watch without internet connection, and Netflix has even come out with their own Netflix original shows such as Orange is The New Black, House of Cards, or Stranger Things. Netflix currently has approximately 93 million subscribers worldwide, and more than 49 million are in the United States.

The evolution of Netflix has transformed the way people around the world now watch television and movies. Before services such as Netflix and Redbox were invented, Blockbuster was the service most people around the country used to rent movies. Over time, Netflix was one of the main causes for the downfall and bankruptcy of the company. Netflix did not single handedly take down Blockbuster, but the combination of online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon all fostered the slow downfall of the company. Netflix evolved with new and innovative ways to keep its customers intrigued in its services by coming up with personalized recommendations for users based on what they have already watched. Blockbuster eventually went out of business due to the less demand for their services, and a higher demand for more accessible services such as Netflix, which has transformed the industry of movie streaming.

Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 10.31.55 AM.png

It was an interesting way how Netflix came to be. When CEO Reed Hastings returned an VHL tape and was charged for a $40.00 late fee, he came up with an innovative idea of a movie rental mail service. CD’s were not well known in 1997 but Reed Hastings went and mailed 24 cd’s to himself and they came back in perfect condition. Soon after the company had been started. At first the company worked more like a blockbuster because it did not have subscription based customers. But this way of receiving DVD’s was not very successful so the company went on a limb with the idea of subscriptions. After the first month of free trials, the company saw a 90% renewal rate.  In the recent past Netflix and other online entertainment subscribers have left companies like Blockbuster in the dust and bankrupt.

Web 2.0 services and applications make possible more dynamic interactions between clients and servers, more engaging webpage displays and applications and ultimately more direct, interactive and participative user-to-user interactions than heretofore experienced on the web. Netflix is a great example of a Web 2.0 service because of its changing evolution, talked about in the first two paragraphs. All the time Netflix is changing its website structure, primarily to maximize user efficiency. For example, recently Netflix has changed the way to scroll through movies on its website and it now offers a service where you can download shows or movies to watch when not connected to Wi-Fi. Also Netflix now has movie preferences that are specifically tailored to show the user TV shows or movies they might like.   

Before the emergence of Netflix, blockbuster dominated the rental movie and gaming sphere. Blockbuster had its own store where people could walk in and rent videos and gained its popularity in the late nineties and early 2000s.  Eventually, Blockbusters around the country shut down because mail rentals, such as Netflix took over. Now consumers can rent videos and receive them within days in the mail without having to go to the blockbuster store.  Later came On Demand, where consumers could rent movies and record their favorite Television shows through their TV providers.  Finally Netflix changed their format, where consumers could now pay a monthly fee and receive seasons of shows and movies without those pesky commercials.  Teenagers and young adults were some of the early users of Netflix because they could watch their favorite shows on their computers, iPhone, and even through their Xbox or PlayStation.  In some senses Netflix replaced cable for some people, because some people would rather pay the smaller fee for Netflix than the idea of cable TV.  In today’s current society, most people do not watch live TV because they do not have time, or refuse to waste their time watching the advertisements.  Instead, they turn to Netflix because they can watch it on multiple devices and multiple people can watch at the sane time.  Culturally, most family’s and friends do not sit to watch shows anymore, but rather watch them on their own or through Netflix.  According to a Huffington Post article, more than 40% of all households have an internet subscription to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon (36% have Netflix). In another study, researchers found the number of video subscriptions to some of the major TV providers dropped over 1.2 million in 2014.  Now more and more TV providers must find a way to compete with these online streaming companies in order to acquire more consumers.  Therefore, economically TV providers are losing money (and have to spend more money on streaming devices) and Netflix is gaining more popularity and profit.

Because large TV providers are losing money to these companies, Netflix supports the Net Neutrality act enacted in 2015.   Supporters of the act claim the laws prevent ISP’s from engaging in potentially anticompetitive practices such as, charging certain websites for faster speeds within their networks, which gives them the technical advantage.  Internet companies, like Netflix and Google, support the act as well as other smaller companies.  However in recent news, Trump’s FCC boss, Ajit Pai, plans to undo the net neutrality acts.  Therefore ISP’s could start charging companies more for each standard video and essentially hike the price for consumers.

Ellen and The Rock Analysis

Megan, Sydney, Chris

In the reading, the text defines a media figure as an individual who people are familiar with, but who have not actually met. People relate to these unmet figures, as if they have met them in the real world. The text describes the nature of the imaginary social relationships with celebrities that appear in advertising.  The degree the people connected may range from just awareness to deep and abiding loyalty.  The media figure has some major functions that influence their audience, some of which include: an emotional outlet for positive and negative feelings, influence the behavior of viewers (to live in a particular lifestyle), and last, they celebrate the world of pop culture.  Advertisements at times can create illusions of interpersonal contact with viewers because some media figures speak directly out of the television and speak to the audience personally.  Through repeated use in an area of social media, the media figure helps viewers create a social web that allows the audience to form relationships, alter existing relationships, and possibly end relationships.  We chose to follow Dwayne “the rock” Johnson and Ellen on social media platforms to explore how the media creates these intimate social relationships.

Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian, talk show host, actress, writer, and producer.  She is most famous for her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres show, which has successfully aired since 2003.   Ellen’s fans follow her Instagram, twitter, YouTube channels, and most importantly watch her show on the daily basis.  On the other hand, Dwayne Johnson, a popular actor and producer, actively engages his viewers with his Instagram and his twitter.  He has over 81 million followers on Instagram and has over 10 million followers on twitter.

The Rock communicates with his fans mainly by the use of Instagram and Twitter. He posts at least once per day, and his posts are mainly aimed at promoting his most recent movies or shows that he stars in. The Rock is involved in many television shows and movies currently, and his main ones that he promoted on his Instagram in the past week are Bay Watch, his show on HBO called “Rock and a Hard Place,” and “Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle”. He also posted an under armor campaign that he is promoting called “Project Rock”. His fitness is a main component of how he interacts with his fans, updating them on his fit life while also promoting products along with it. His posts about the movie Bay Watch that he stars in include other celebrities such as Zac Efron and Michael Phelps. We have learned that the Rock’s social media presence is revolved mainly around his fitness, as well as the promoting all of the forms of media he stars in.

Ellen communicates with her fans through her Instagram and Twitter as well. She however uses her Instagram mainly to promote the Ellen Show. She posts daily updates of sneak peek video clips of who will be on her talk show the next day, or she will post funny things showcasing her funny personality. Ellen’s main goal of her social media accounts is to post about her show trying to gain popularity for her show. She showcases her biggest guests, and tries to hyper her followers up in anticipation for her upcoming episodes.

These two celebrities slightly differ in how they communicate with their audiences. Both of their fame has come from TV or movies, but the way they post on their social media accounts is what makes them different. The Rock posts very lengthy Instagram captions that go very in depth about what he is trying to promote to his fans. Ellen on the other hand normally posts shorter captions with a photo or a video. Both celebrities use the appropriate form of communications towards their fans because the Rock is more aimed at promoting new products or movies that people may not be farmilar with while Ellen is promoting a show that most people already are educated about.

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 11.08.15 PM.pngScreen Shot 2017-04-02 at 11.08.43 PM.png

Ellen mainly interacts with her fans on her twitter platform, and people form these connections with her because they see her on her daily talk show.  They see a normal friendly hilarious person who conducts interviews and has casual conversations with millions of celebrities and everyday people.  Ellen confidently speaks about her opinion to viewers and beyond the laughter, she has an underlying message about giving.  Ellen reminds people that we too have the power to make someone else’s life better by sharing our talents and thoughts.  Ellen’s talent as a natural comedian brings families and friends together in front of their television to watch her show.  Ellen specifically interacts with her fans on her twitter and tweeted one of the most famous selfies a couple of years ago that was one of the most liked and retweeted pictures.

Screen Shot 2017-04-03 at 10.12.05 AM.png

There are a few reasons why celebrities use social media.  One of them being for the same reason that any regular person would, to communicate with other. There other motive being using social media is to market themselves. Whether it is for the movie that they are going to be in or a song that is going to be released. Celebrities are the master users of social media because they can efficiently market their product on their own, while companies have entire teams dedicated to social media. The hook that celebrities have that most brands and regular people don’t have is that people are already interested in looking at their photos and learning about the narrative of their lives. For example, The Rock uses his Instagram to promote his movies and TV show by taking videos on set to show his followers what is going on.  Ellen also uses her Instagram to promote her TV show by posting funny clips from the show. To get more viewers and giver her followers a heads up, Ellen also posts pictures of who is going to be on the show the next day. By getting this type of traffic on their social media pages, celebrities can be in contact with their supporters and build a relationship backed with loyalty. Social media also allows celebrities to get feedback on their work, which makes there supports feel like they are a part of something. Another reason to follow these celebrities on their social media pages is for entertainment. Supporters and viewers want to know almost everything about who they are following, because it is something they aren’t able to have in their own lives.

My Story

For my story, I chose to tell my family vacation that my dad takes every year to Wildwood New Jersey with my dad’s side of the family. This family trip is so special to me because of all of the memories we have made together as a family since we have going ever since I was a baby. Even though we keep the things we do each week such as going to the beach, bike riding, or going to the boardwalk, our perspective and appreciation for the trip has grown over the years. Going on a vacation with my family like this helps us become closer, and has helped me form bonds with my cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that can never be broken. I am able to appreciate the trip more that I am older, and have evolved into a more mature individual.

My greatest challenge of this project was figuring out how to use iMovie, but once I learned how to, the rest of the project was fun to put together all of my old photos. My favorite part of my project is all of the pictures I collected. Overall, this project was interesting and made me realize how lucky I am to have such a great family.

The Kardashian Fan Community

Megan Fitzgerald, Sydney Comber, Chris Piterski


The Kardashian fan community was slowly established over the course of the few years, and they became popular after their show Keeping Up With the Kardashians aired in 2007. Each Kardashian has developed their own source of fame as a result of the show, and they all have a slightly different method of their source of wealth. Whether its from the TV shows, their product lines, their apps (snapchat, twitter), social media or their fitness, Kardashians have built themselves into a million dollar family.  People buy their clothes and perfume, consumer their brand of diet pills, and read their books send a clear message to companies that reality TV attracts fans and brings in large quantities of money. The fan community itself has expanded tremendously, and now with their fame coming from countless different sources, the community has extended in areas that are unimaginable.

The fans of the Kardashians function similar to a religion in methods of worship and imitation. All of the different Kardashians or Jenner sisters have their own reputation for achieving something different, but all come together as a whole as a family to “look up to” and “strive to be”.

The Kardashian’s fanbase follow them religiously and research and follow everything about the Kardashian family.  The Kardashians are a family, but more importantly a business.  “At the core, the Kardashians are an incredibly bonded, loving, large family, who live an incredibly large life” said E! president Suzanne Kolb.  If one were to delve deeper into the history of television, there are a large number of families who essentially have the same dynamic and can relate to their family.  For the Kardashians a family with “no talent” as some people would say, people follow them for their over the top lifestyle.  The fans aspire their lavish lifestyle combined with the basic plotline that conveys the all-American values of a tight-knit family.  Similarly to religion, people aspire to be part of a larger than life community one with values that embody their family situation that they do or do not have in their own homes.





Megan Fitzgerald

In 2015, Wrigley’s gum came out with one of the talked about commercials on social media worldwide. This heart wrenching story about a couple who meets over a piece of extra gum portrays a strong message to its viewers through emotions, symbols, and a story that sticks with the audience. This extra gum commercial has been viewed over 20,000,000 times on YouTube, shared on Facebook, and tweeted by millions. After their first series of their commercial aired “Origami,” this new story about Sarah and Juan uses the gum to symbolize their relationship. This is intriguing, and incorporates the product in a subtle way in order to make meaning out of the story. This ad is very affective at engraining a positive emotional story in the audience’s minds, is relevant to today’s society.

The basis of the commercial revolves around the relationship of Sarah and Juan. Sarah and Juan first meet in school when she drops her books in the hallway in high school. After he helps her, she offers him a piece of gum. From then on, every monumental moment that they share together she offers him a piece of gum. After every memory they share together, Juan keeps the gum wrapper and draws a picture of what happened when she gave him that piece of gum. Their relationship is shown in times of happiness, as well as times of hardship, but the gum is always present no matter what. In the end, Juan sets up a wall of all the drawn on wrappers of their memories, and the last one is of him proposing, and then she turns around to him proposing to her. #GiveExtraGetExtra is shown, and the commercial ends.

The companies campaign of “Give Extra Get Extra” uses a strategy of trying to promote making meaningful connections with those around you. Even though the concept of the story is romantic, the main goal of the company is to use the gum to symbolize the connections that we can make through a simple act of kindness of giving a piece of gum. Each time Juan uses the gum wrapper to draw their memories that they shared over that piece of gum, symbolizes their relationship. The company in this scenario is really trying more to sell the relationship to the audience than it is the gum itself. The wrappers tell a story, and it subtly uses the product to signify the importance of building memories and bonds with the ones you love.

The psychoanalytic aspect of this commercial is the biggest seller. The emotional rollercoaster the commercial brings the audience through is what makes it most memorable. The connection between the two actors is portrayed so beautifully that it makes the it seem so real. It portrays a sex appeal of an ordinary couple that finds love through the use of the product. The music playing in the background is a well-known song called “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Hailey Reinhart. If the music was not as emotional as it was, the ad probably would not have been as effective in creating a strong sense of emotion in the audience. The ad brought about a sense of happiness, but also at times sadness through the rough patches of the couple. But no matter what the situation, the gum was always there to assist in mending the relationship back to a stable place.

Energy BBDO, a company that Wrigley’s contracted to create them an ad, together created the #GiveExtraGetExtra campaign. BBDO was created in 1891, which was the same year Wrigley’s gum was founded. First they came out with the origami commercial, where the dad uses the wrappers of the gum to create little origami cranes out of them to symbolize the connection he has with his daughter. Then, in the sequel to this commercial came the story of Sarah and Juan. With this sequel, they hoped to create a similar ad to continue on with the message targeted at younger generations. The Even though this commercial may not directly make you want to buy a pack of gum, the story on social media is what is most talked about. The amount of people that have spread the word about this commercial and commented on it is how extra gum has gained so much popularity. Wrigley’s gum spent $19 million advertising extra gum in 2014 in hopes at gaining popularity in gum sales again after sales dropped from $262.3 million in 2013 to $254.8 million in 2014.

Puppy Love

Megan Fitzgerald, Sydney Comber, & Chris Piterski

Semiotics from this 2014 Budweiser Super Bowl commercial have to do with the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales. The Budweiser Clydesdales have been a symbol for the Anheuser-Busch company since 1933, debuting their first Super Bowl commercial in 1986. If you didn’t notice, you will only see the Budweiser logo once in this commercial in a place that is not very noticeable. Because the company has built such a symbol from their Clydesdale horses, the Anheuser-Busch company felt no need to put the logo a bunch of times in the commercial. The commercial is targeting two types of people to relate too.  One viewer to appeal to is, of course, beer drinkers but also animal lovers.  Whether you like dogs or not Golden Retriever puppies are extremely adorable and something that most people can relate too. The commercial is geared to tell an emotional story and to show that Budswier is more than just something to drink while partying. Commercials like these are used to sell beer by making people associate the Budweiser brand with friendship. This is shown in how the Clydesdale horses always stick together and in this commercial, befriend a lost puppy. The context of the commercial is that friendship comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors.

From a psychoanalytic viewpoint, the power of the bond between the dog and the horse makes the audience feel a strong connection to the commercial. There are aspects of sadness when the two are separated, but then shortly after there is a happy ending, making the commercial memorable and appealing to all age groups. The commercial aims right for your heart, and is successful in doing so. The human race is appealed to any and everything that will play with their emotions, and this “Puppy Love” commercial is looking for a positive emotional reaction. Even though it contained no dialogue, the music playing in the background helped make it relatable to a wide audience of individuals.

Adolphus Busch journeyed to America from Germany in 1857 determined to achieve the American dream.  He started working at a brewing supply company and eventually took over the family brewing company.  He developed a beer that people could enjoy in the summer, not the traditional heavy dark ales.  Due to his expansive shipping network and entrepreneurial ingenuity he was able to achieve an expansive network of customers around the world.   

A Divided Nation

On the night of November 8th as states were tallying up their ballots, millions of Americans stared at the television with their clammy hands and hearts racing. When the votes started leaning towards Donald Trump becoming president, the fear had turned into a reality and he had now just won over the votes of the American people. This inauguration day was one that will go down in history. The difference in attitudes, thoughts, and feelings compared to 8 years ago when Obama was sworn in is tremendous. The media has played an enormous role in the reactions to the discussion between our nations individuals, and has transformed how we view this change in society. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have been the largest contributors of social media from people expressing their feelings openheartedly. The Women’s Marches all across the country, and even some in different countries show how divided the nations opinions are right now, yet how we are able to come together and fight for what is right. Even though the nation is currently split in different directions, the only way to get past this division is and to find unity is to accept the current situation. Trump will not be able to “Make America great again” if such a great mass of people are against him. The meaning of this inauguration day for many has evoked such terror over the basic rights that hold true to all Americans, and our country just became a whole lot more unpredictable.