IU Telecom Grad Student Research Talks – 09.16.11

Today IU Department of Telecommunications graduate student, Soyoung Bae described her research on selection of news articles. Her work shows that online news stories that were more threatening than innocuous were selected more often and news stories with photos were selected more often than those without photos. She says that this work builds on theories that suggest that humans are biologically predisposed to examine their surroundings to become aware of potential threats.

In a second presentation Sung Wook Ji described his work on the deployment of IPTV in low and high income areas. Interestingly, in Indiana, since 2006, AT&T has overwhelmingly built out its IPTV infrastructure in high income areas over low income areas. This encourages competition (and lower rates) among video service providers in these wealthier areas even though there are fewer people living in these areas.

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Media Industry Economics

Today professor David Waterman from Indiana University’s department of Telecommunications presented research which illustrates a confusing phenomenon occuring in the media industry. A professor of media industry economics, he showed that the total revenue for the media industry in the United States is declining while consumption of media products is increasing. He said that there is an increase in online advertising which helps offset the decline in advertising in other areas of the media industry but this online increase is too small to make up the difference in the decline in traditional advertising revenue. He suggests that the media industry is shrinking in terms of revenue but not necessarily in terms of production and/or employment. This coupled with the fact that media use is on the rise, creates a confusing picture for analysts trying to make sense of the media industry today. As audience member professor Harmeet Sawhney suggested during the Q & A, it is possible that the category system (news, radio, television b/casting, DBS/sattelite, cable, recorded music, video games, etc.) used to collect revenue and employment data are no longer adequeate for understanding the fractured and independent nature of media work and production today. While I find professor Waterman’s study very insightful and enlightening, I think an additional study which might help account for the unkown arenas where work (even free labor) is done in the media economy. This additional step may help us to understand the larger picture more completely. It seems it is in these unknown arenas where it might be possible to shed light on the confusing situation professor Waterman has uncovered in his impressive research.