Frank: Eccentric and Melodic

FrankAt first glance, Frank, directed by Lenny Abrahamson, should appeal to the true Indie film fan, and rightly so. Casting Michael Fassbender and Maggie Gyllenhaal, for the A-List credibility, and Domhnall Gleeson, who starred in the 2013 film, About Time, which grossed $15.3 million domestically, the underlying message of Frank, is much more humorous and borderline unbelievable with a hint of insanity.

Inspired by the very real character Frank Sidebottom, Fassbender’s performance as Frank, takes you through an ecentric  man’s creative journey with a group of equally eccentric apostles With the roller coaster rides of emotions, you experience the powerful performance of Fassbender, even though you don’t see his face throughout most of the film.

Costumed in an oversized, cartoonish head ala Sidebottom, Frank is a musica genius who’s true talents have yet to be witnessed by adoring fans, primarily due to his controlling bandmate, Clara, played by Gyllenhaal. The mask is a metaphor on how we, as humans, shield our true selves from the gaze of others.

Enter Jon Burroughs (Gleeson), an aspiring songwriter in his own right, who wants to push the band, the Soronprfbs, into the mainstream via Twitter and YouTube. Finally, on the cusp of reaching certain fame with an invitation to SXSW, The Soronprfbs are doomed to failure as Frank descends into a whirlwind of despair.

In the end, Frank is a poignant message of creativity and humor in the shadow of mental illness and eccentricity. And though we want to stay hidden behind the facade we build, our true genius is yearning to break free.

Potential Indices that Influence the Public’s Attitude towards the Police


           Recent events concerning the Florida teen Trayvon Martin expose perceived injustices and exemplify the beliefs that such injustices have the potential for spurring civil unrest. Whether or not these said injustices have the power to envelope a community in hateful rhetoric or criminal malice, they do play a role in a communities’ attitude with their local police force. It is also important to understand that South Texans may have a much more skewed attitude towards the police than citizens in other parts of the United States because of the perceptions of immigration status among minorities.

           One important note is the lack of studies done in the South Texas region of the country concerning community attitudes towards police, so content analysis of regional news sources and community comments on news organization websites is the ideal measurement of a communities’ attitude towards the police. By reviewing such comments, one can gauge the public’s awareness of a topic and the level of animosity towards people of authority. It is especially important to note that not all attitudes are affected by a police officer’s treatment of a minority individual. Some individuals comment negatively when police officers themselves are subject to criminal proceedings.

The Inebriated Officers

            On February 2, 2012, Police Sgt. Joseph Myers was found roaming around an office building north of downtown San Antonio in his underwear, his wrecked unmarked police vehicle nearby. At the time, it appeared as if Officer Myers was drunk and severely disoriented. It was alleged that officers on the scene attempted to cover up for Myers by destroying evidence and taking Myers to a different location. After the alleged crime came to light in the media, Officer Myers retired from the police force and six officers were placed on administrative duty pending the official investigation (Moravec, 2012).

            Though Officer Myers was never charged with any crime and the other six officers were later reinstated to duty, the public’s view of the events seemed to show a degree of anger and disgust with the lenient treatment of Officer Myers and the six officers involve in the incident. Public comments on various media websites also demonstrate the public’s distrust with the media for apparent censorship of comments and the police’s treatment of fellow officers (Moravec, 2012; Villarreal, 2012). Although there is no evidence of censorship of comments by the media, there are public comments concerning censorship and a media website with only one comment on the subject (Conger, 2012; Moravec, 2012).

            Such attitudes are common among minority communities specifically with the Latino population. Studies have shown that Latinos have a lower regard for the police than Caucasians (Correia, 2010). The attitudes of the Latinos towards the police are not necessarily because of the alleged corruption of the police; however Latino immigrants tend to correlate the corruption of the police of their native homeland with the police of their new home. A stronger argument is of the general distrust by Latinos because of other circumstances such as more negative treatment by authorities, excessive force by the police, and because they viewed the police as unfair, impolite, and unhelpful (Correia, 2010).

            In another case, former San Antonio police officer, Winder Morales was arrested after crashing his unmark police vehicle in 2009. Morales also had a number of previous incidents in which he was disciplined, including one in which Morales crashed into another vehicle, killing its passenger. Individuals interviewed for the article and commenters sharing opinions both had negative attitudes toward Morales. Those commenting on Morales had many disparaging remarks, however the media page disabled further comments from being posted (Gerber, 2012).  Based on this evidence, individuals have increased negative sentiments towards police officers who have been arrested for a crime. It appears that their sentiment is more so when the officer is arrested for a crime involving drugs or alcohol. It is possible that the public perceives the police officers are given preferential treatment because of their status while the public is treated unfairly (Higgins, Gabbidon, & Martin, 2010).

When Authority Kills

           Actions of the authorities do hinder positive relationships between the community and the police. This is especially evident when fatalities occur. What is more detrimental to the relationship is when the death of a minor comes at the hand of the police or someone in authority. There are many cases across the country where such events occurred. One recent event occurred when George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, allegedly gunned down Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Shortly after the incident, Zimmerman claimed he shot the teen in self-defense, and the police corroborated his story citing Florida’s Stand Your Ground law (Alvarez, 2012).

            There was a tremendous outcry for justice among the minority community, specifically the African-American community, celebrities voiced their opinions on the case, and President Barak Obama also commented on the tragedy (Lee, 2012). Because the police determined that the case was a self-defense case and decided against bringing any charges against Zimmerman, the public’s attitude toward the police was highly negative. So much publicity surrounding the case, it forced Police Chief Bill Lee to offer his resignation.

            As quickly as the negativity surrounded the case, it was quelled when prosecutors decided on charging Zimmerman with second-degree murder. The change in comments on public media sights appeared to define why such anger surrounded the case. One commenter on the New York Times website stated the belief that individuals wished to see the cased determined by a trial by jury rather than the police at the scene (Alvarez & Cooper, 2012). Even though this argument seems indicative of the opinions of minorities, it does not define whether negative attitudes are universal among minorities of various races or ethnicities. It is possible that some minorities may look more favorably towards the police officers because of generation gaps or social upbringing (Correia, 2010; Taylor, Turner, Esbensen, & Winfree Jr, 2001).

When School Kills

            Such negative attitudes of the community are evident in the case of the fatal shooting of a middle teen by a Northside Independent School District police officer. Officer Daniel Alvarado was patrolling around John Pease Middle School when he came across a fight at a bus stop. 14-year-old Derek Lopez ran from the scene and hid in the shed of a home in a nearby subdivision. A struggle ensued and Alvarado fatally shot Lopez in the chest. The only comment left on the publishing media’s website hold a highly negative view of the officer involved (Moravec, 2010).

           A media editorial also opined on the matter cited many faults leading to the eventual shooting of Lopez. The author pointed out a series of missteps which both, made evident serious failures of the police response and the failure of an appropriate response by Lopez (Flores-Paniagua, 2010). In the end, the San Antonio Police Department determined that Alvarado’s use of deadly force was justified, but relatives of the youth had a very different opinion and attitude towards the city and school police force (Chasnoff, 2011).

           In circumstances when police officers use excessive or deadly force, whether justified or not, there is a tendency for community unrest to occur (Hirschfield & Simon, 2010). Such is evident with the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles Police, the shooting death of Amadou Diallo by New York Police Officers, and the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The reaction of the public could possibly be a causality response to the event in question and the content of the news coverage and determining whether this is a true effect relies on quantitative and qualitative content analysis of the content of news articles (Hirschfield & Simon, 2010). What this could determine is whether attitudes of the public, specifically minorities, are influenced by the media coverage of the event.

When Citizens Go Bad

            Another determinant factor in the attitudes of a community towards police is the contact one has with authority. As with the Lopez case, teens who have previous contact with police or authority tend to hold a less favorable attitude towards that said authority and the more a youth has an encounter with a police officer, the more negative the attitude of teen becomes. Along with said contact, the less satisfied a person is with police interactions, the more negative the attitudes become (Brick, Taylor, & Esbensen, 2009). This is true for adults as with teens.

            Teens tend to have stronger negative attitude towards police than their adult counterpart. The root cause may be traced to various factors, which include higher rates of delinquent behavior and involvement in the delinquent subculture.  A study found that youths who had been arrested had a stronger negative attitude towards the police than those teens that had little or no contact with police (Brick et al., 2009; Taylor et al., 2001).

           Race and ethnicity do bear a potential indication for varied opinions of the police by Hispanic and non-Hispanics as well. Where contact of a non-Hispanic with the police tends to bring about a positive attitude of the police, Hispanics view contact more negatively. Hispanics in Texas tended to view interactions less favorably, possible because of profiling and the belief that they received less protection from the police (Sutham, 2000). And while Hispanics in South Texas tend to view the police less favorably, a study of Hispanics in Houston showed that their opinion of the police was more positive than Hispanics in other regions of the country, however victims of crimes had a more negative attitude toward the police (Lai & Zhao, 2010).

           A few potential reasons for Hispanic’s distrust of authority could be the implementation of laws regarding illegal immigration and the state governments to attempt to control the illegal activity of immigrants.  Harsher punishments for criminal activity could possibly be associated with perceived threats of an increasing minority population (Welch, Payne, Chiricos, & Gertz, 2011).  And while there are no conclusive measurements concerning rise in population of Hispanics and the relationship with the emergence of strong social control measures, there are documented measurements of the negative perceptions of Hispanics because of the potential of immigration contributing to crime (Higgins et al., 2010).

           Another reason for distrust of the police by Hispanics is the potential racial profiling related to the immigration issues across the country. A study showed that race is a significant predictor for traffic stops (Zhao, Lai, Ren, & Lawton, 2011). Increased traffic stops are indicative of higher negative attitudes towards police because of the increased contact with police (Brick et al., 2009; Correia, 2010; Lai & Zhao, 2010; Zhao et al., 2011). It is this contact with police that is a key commonality among research regarding the public/police relations within a community.

Limitations to the Review

            There are a number of limitations regarding research of South Texas communities’ attitude towards the police. The primary concern is the lack of academic articles specifically targeting the South Texas Region. However, there are a number of articles researching the police interaction and community attitudes in other regions of the country, all which published similar measures with each other.

            Another limitation involves content analysis end user comments on media websites. While there are numerous articles involving police deviant activity with end user comments, because comments are anonymous, it is not possible to identify the race or ethnicity of the end user. This limits the specificity of the content analysis. Also, because of the global nature of the Internet, it is difficult to identify the true location of the end user.

            Finally, because of the dynamic nature of police interaction and authorities’ response to the interaction, the public attitude tends to change from positive to negative and vice versa just as in the Trayvon Martin case. This has the potential to limit the accuracy of the results in academic research.


            Police and individual deviancies challenge the nature of the relationship between each other. On one hand, it is important to have a level of trust and respect for the authority of the police, but actions by individuals or police can result a negative change in attitudes towards the police. If a police officer acts positively within the sphere of his or her duties, there will be varied attitudes toward the officer dependent on the public’s contact and proximity to the officer. And if the same officer is caught participating in some form of deviancy, the public’s attitude would probably change for the negative.

            The measured attitudes of the public are dependent on many factors including age, race, ethnicity, subculture participation, contact and proximity to the police, and police deviancy. Content analysis of media websites can be used to measure attitudinal variances in public opinion, but because of potential media censorship of public opinions, results of the analysis may be skewed. In conclusion, I believe further research in the area of public attitudes towards the police in South Texas is needed to measure the opinions of the public.

Reference List

Alvarez, L. (2012, April 6, 2012). Justice Department Investigation Is Sought in Florida Teenager’s Shooting Death, 2012, from

Alvarez, L., & Cooper, M. (2012, April 11, 2012 ). Prosecutor Files Charge of 2nd-Degree Murder in Shooting of Martin, 2012, from

Brick, B. T., Taylor, T. J., & Esbensen, F.-A. (2009). Juvenile attitudes towards the police: The importance of subcultural involvement and community ties. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(5), 488-495. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2009.07.009

Chasnoff, B. (2011). Northside district sued by mother of slain teen, 2012, from

Conger, J. (2012, February 8, 2012). Police union: No misconduct by officers following undercover sergeant’s crash E- Edition. Retrieved February 26, 2012, 2012, from

Correia, M. E. (2010). Determinants of attitudes toward police of Latino immigrants and non-immigrants. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(1), 99-107. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2009.11.012

Flores-Paniagua, V. (2010, November 15, 2012). In teen’s shooting, how did we get here? E-Edition. 2012, from

Gerber, T. (2012, April 9, 2012). Ex- SAPD officer convicted of DWI headed back to court, 2012, from

Higgins, G. E., Gabbidon, S. L., & Martin, F. (2010). The role of race/ethnicity and race relations on public opinion related to the immigration and crime link. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(1), 51-56. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2009.11.007

Hirschfield, P. J., & Simon, D. (2010). Legitimating police violence. Theoretical Criminology, 14(2), 155-182. doi: 10.1177/1362480609351545

Lai, Y.-L., & Zhao, J. S. (2010). The impact of race/ethnicity, neighborhood context, and police/citizen interaction on residents’ attitudes toward the police. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38(4), 685-692. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2010.04.042

Lee, T. (2012, April 2, 2012). Trayvon Martin Case Protests Across Nation Culminate With Show Of Strength In Florida 2012, from

Moravec, E. R. (2010, November 15, 2010). Teen shot by Northside officer identified E-edition. from

Moravec, E. R. (2012, February 16, 2012). SAPD officer tied to pickup wreck retires from force E-Edition. Retrieved Feb 29, 2012, 2012, from

Sutham, C. (2000). Police-citizen contact and police performance Attitudinal differences between Hispanics and non-Hispanics. Journal of Criminal Justice, 28(4), 325-336. doi: 10.1016/s0047-2352(00)00042-8

Taylor, T. J., Turner, K. B., Esbensen, F.-A., & Winfree Jr, L. T. (2001). Coppin’ an attitude: Attitudinal differences among juveniles toward police. Journal of Criminal Justice, 29(4), 295-305. doi: 10.1016/s0047-2352(01)00089-7

Villarreal, M. (2012, February 8, 2012). Identity of SAPD officer involved in accident uncovered E-Edition. Retrieved Feb 26, 2012, 2012, from

Welch, K., Payne, A. A., Chiricos, T., & Gertz, M. (2011). The typification of Hispanics as criminals and support for punitive crime control policies. Social Science Research, 40(3), 822-840. doi: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2010.09.012

Zhao, J. S., Lai, Y.-L., Ren, L., & Lawton, B. (2011). The Impact of Race/Ethnicity and Quality-of-Life Policing on Public Attitudes Toward Racially Biased Policing and Traffic Stops. Crime & Delinquency. doi: 10.1177/0011128711398028

Global Media Influence and the Effects on Public Opinion


Recently social media websites were used for extreme and strategic dissemination of information. And much like its contemporary predecessor, network news organizations such as radio, news papers, and television, social media was used in a way that mimicked the beginning of the war in Iraq: Shock and Awe. This type of media style is not new, nor is it without merit, but the purposes for spreading a particular message in such a manner is as varied as the many news organizations in the market today.

From the beginnings of organized news mediums, there was either a need or desire to become financially secure, and thus news organizations used their particular medium to generate income. Much could be said about marketing and income generating within news media in the past, however, what could be more relevant is the use of news media as a tool to set agendas and influence public opinion in a way to benefit purveyors and their clients.

Keywords: Media, Agenda-setting, Priming, Social Media Networks


There are as many various means of disseminating information, as there are types of information to spread to the public. There have been tried and true methods, which have been used for centuries, and then there are methods fairly recent which technology has afforded the small enterprise. And each with their own style has been shown to influence the public, change opinions of issues, and force change in governments. One can assume that all journalism is non-biased, however media styles such as tabloid have an agenda. It is important to note that not all agenda-setting medium is tabloid, but each serves a purpose.

Defining Tabloid Journalism

Modern tabloid journalism derived from form of journalism called Yellow journalism or Muckraking and the first period of modern tabloid journalism began after the September 11, 1991 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City (Fox, Van Sickel, & Steiger, 2007). Some examples of this form of journalism include the O.J. Simpson trial, the impeachment proceedings of President Bill Clinton, and the Casey Anthony Murder trial in more recent times. Historically the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptmann in the mid 1930’s for the kidnapping and murder of the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, could serve as an example of tabloid media.

No Publicity is Bad Publicity

It should be commonly understood that any type of controversy or publicity however unwarranted or unwanted is a good way to disseminate a message and gain an audience for the media group. Today this is commonly known as “going viral” and generally speaking viral media translates to income from advertising. Unfortunately such tabloid journalism can also influence public opinion in a negative manner and it can be used as a tool to prime a demographic or set agendas. There can also be political implications when the media is used as a tool to promote a cause or gain awareness to a particular subject of importance according to Theodore White and repeated by Wanta, Golan and Lee (Wanta, Golan, & Lee, 2004).

It is important to understand that agenda setting is not something new or unknown (McCombs & Shaw, 1972), but to typical public knowledge, is not a common practice of major news media groups. This however may be more commonplace than one would prefer to believe. In fact, todays media outlets strongly lean towards agenda setting for various reasons as evident with the number of news articles concerning immigration reform, the US economy, and approval ratings for pubic officials just to name a few.

The Relationship Between Agenda Setting and Public Opinion

It has been highly suspect that media has a strong influence on a publics option of a particular issue, especially if the issue is of high importance to the individual. A research study done, suggested that individuals watching a targeted program are in fact influenced by issues of importance (Cook et al., 1983). To add to this, one can ascertain the possibility that if an individual is influenced by media reports, he or she may form an opinion and may be willing to express that opinion publicly.

According to Dunway, Branton, and Abrajano, the more a media outlet covers a particular issue, the more the issue because important to an individual (Dunaway, Branton, & Abrajano, 2010). Mass media’s influence has also been found to influence behavior from moderate to extreme levels as well (McQuail, 1994). And whether extreme reactions to mass media information are from lack of information or misunderstanding of information, it is evident that many individuals are influenced by what they read, hear, or see in mass media.

Moreover, McCombs and Shaw showed the importance of information in relation to an audience’s attachment to a particular issue. In this case, McCombs and Shaw asserted a relationship with a voter and their interest in political news (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Such relationship can be used to increase interest in a particular issue solely based on published media report.

Media Influence and Public Reactions

Public outcry for an issue appears to be commonplace in today’s society, primarily because of the ease of information gathering and dissemination. Whether there is misinformation or accurate data being shared, individuals will inherently form an opinion and in some cases react to said information. An example of this would be the Occupy Wall Street movement.  What began as an isolated protest of the US banking system in New York City, quickly spread to other cities in the United States and to foreign cities abroad such as Ontario and London. Another example of public outcry was the Casey Anthony Murder trial.

Prior to her conviction, media programs such as Nancy Grace’s Headline News appeared to prime audiences with the idea that Casey Anthony was guilty of murdering her infant child. The news coverage of the verdict of phase of her trial, one could witness the crowd and their apparent anger towards Casey Anthony and the crime she had committed. Reaction to the verdict was swift and very public on many media sources from Twitter to Facebook to CNN and Fox News (, 2011).

Such negative responses to news coverage such as the Anthony trial are not entirely unfounded. Research has found that anger fuels negative responses in individuals and such individuals are willing to share their opinions readily (Coombs & Holladay, 2007). Additionally, research has shown that this anger and negative response could spread to individuals who had no prior knowledge of the issue and cause a negative response as well.

Theory of Agenda Setting in the Corporate Setting

Agenda-Setting theory main ideal is that an important message or issue to the media can be transferred to the public to become an important message or issue (Carroll & McCombs, 2003). Likewise, the corporation disseminating the message also has a value to that message. According to Carroll and McCombs, the public measures the message by importance of the message and reputation of the company. If a company has a poor reputation, the message will less accepted, however the higher the reputation of the company, the more value the message will have (Carroll & McCombs, 2003).

This does not necessarily mean a prestigious company with an established reputation has the ability to readily set an agenda. A better correlation of reputation and acceptance is how a particular media is used and in some cases disrupted. In the case of social media, one must examine the actions in Egypt and the particular role social media had in the movement. While it may seem that social media was at the forefront of the political revolution in Egypt, it was clear the actions of the government prevented the media from disseminating information (Hassanpour, 2011). And though the inability to distribute information may have hurt the movement, the reputation of the social media network was an important idea to the government; so much so, it chose to limit speech.

The CNN Effect and Twitter

Because of technology advancements, the ability to share information with speed and accuracy, media outlets have become such powerful brokers of information. It is because of this that these outlets must scrutinize the messages they publish. Likewise, government administration use such outlets to disseminate information in the hopes it will spur public debate (Strobel, 1996). However likely or unlikely this may be, it is accepted that the CNN effect does possibly affect the way the public looks at information.

Examining non-traditional media sources to determine whether they too affect the way information is received and used via the CNN effect has not readily been done, however a study involving Twitter and the relationship with an audience was published in April 2010.  Unlike traditional media sources, Twitter allows for users to disseminate information quickly among a group of followers who often times retweet, or repost information in a cascading effect (Kwak, Lee, Park, & Moon, 2010). In doing so, the information reaches a large audience in an exponential manner regardless of the number of followers a user has.

While this may not be what one defines as the CNN effect, there are similarities, which one can opine does fit the model of the CNN effect. An example would be the use of Twitter to organize an uprising or the how the government of China blocked the use of social media sites, specifically Twitter, during the anniversary of Tiananmen Square massacre (Johnson, 2009). By this notion, one can accept that if the CNN effect is a true phenomenon propagated by large media empires, social media in this day and age is following in such footsteps.

Financial Gains of Media

The assumption can be made of the business nature of media outlets. Visually one can see how advertising inundates the very fabric of every medium. It would be illogical to believe that all that goes into publishing news has no cost and thus a business model is built upon a medium of information. It is suggested that there are 12 revenue for new media and as such, major established media outlets take advantage of most if not all such models to attain profitability (Dawson, 2009). It is also suggested that major media empires use personal vendettas for personal gain (Watson, 1998). This implication is a powerful indictment of the agenda-setting nature of media and it’s influence on political, legal, and economic issues around the world.

Social media networks are not fully afforded the economic power that traditional medial outlets use, however the current economic growth of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook reflect a change in the strength of such networks. The difference of large media outlets and social media networks is that social media networks are primarily consumer driven (Kwak, et al., 2010).

Journalism Ethics and Objectivity

Having established the relationship between agenda-setting, public opinion, and financial interest of media outlets, one must examine the duties and actions of journalist. Accordingly there has been at least a centuries long tradition with regard to journalism ethics and objective reporting (Ward, 2005).  Ward contends that the public has a reasonable expectation to objective news, thus a journalist has an obligation to remain objective and ethical. Unfortunately, there have been recorded instances where a journalist or a media organization has violated such trust.

The case involving the phone hacking by reporters of the News of the World, show the lengths journalists will go through to get information for news articles (Kofman, 2011).  Closer scrutiny demonstrates that violation of the public trust serves a purpose only beneficial to the news organization and such tactics have only been identified in tabloid-style media organizations.

It can be said that violation of the public trust only creates animosity between the news organization and the public, but the possibility that such actions are warranted is weighed with a claim of justifiable consequence (Kofman, 2011). In the case of the News of the World, the consequences of journalistic ethics violations proved detrimental in that the media organization which began in 1843, shut it’s operations in July 2011. What seemed to be an excessive reaction to ethics violations, public opinions of news organizations validate Carroll and McCombs’ study (Carroll & McCombs, 2003).


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Cook, F. L., Tyler, T. R., Goetz, E. G., Gordon, M. T., Protess, D., Leff, D. R., & Molotch, H. L. (1983). Media and Agenda Setting: Effects on the Public, Interest Group Leaders, Policy Makers, and Policy. Public Opinion Quarterly, 47(1), 16.

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My Open Letter to the President

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama

The President of the United States of America, Barack Obama

I understand that this may be construed incorrectly against the President of the United States, however, I did not intend for it to be as such. Instead, I had hoped to encourage our politicians to start looking at government employees, not as the privileged few, but as employees who suffer at the whim of the politicians. To better understand my point, you must look at the entry-level employees such as myself. In the five years I have been employed, I earned my bachelors degree, learned skills that my that should make me a more marketable employee, and yet remained as an entry-level employee, while I used my skills, working at the level of mid management level employees for the last three years. Because of an error in how human resources coded my veteran status, I am not eligible for transferring, promotion, or grade level increases. In essence, I am stuck at the entry-level. Yet my counterparts, which I am working at levels beyond, are earning $8000-$12000 more annually, and I am routinely sought for solutions, IT support, and work advice.

Frustrated at the prospect of the minimum wage increase, I sent this. I hope I do not get audited now.

Mr. President,

I have been an employee of the Department of Veteran Affairs since December 2008. Since 2010, our cost of living has been frozen, subjected to furlough threats, and furloughed in 2013.

I have noticed that you will be speaking on the State of the Union today concerning many points, but one in particular—a higher minimum wage. I would like to say that, as a voting democrat, a federal employee, and a veteran, I am disappointed that you would consider the minimum wage before you would consider raising the pay freezes imposed to loyal federal employees. It appears that we have been the recipients of many politicized agendas for the last 4 years.

I am appalled that you would consider a minimum wage issue, before considering raising the cost of living of those active duty soldiers serving our great nation on the war front.  And I am offended that those in public service to our nation are consistently taken for granted and taken advantage of, while the rest of the population reaps the benefits of our toils. I don’t intend to sound self-serving, but the private sector is often reaping the benefits of the government employee’s toils.

I am not opposed to raising the minimum wage, however, I believe that those in federal service are becoming the new working poor of our nation.  As an example, before my federal employment, I earned a greater living with the banking industry., but had to take a $6000 cut in pay because of the housing crash. From 1996 to today, my pay increased is approximately $3 an hour.

With your plan, overnight, many Americans will receive what took me 18 years to achieve—a $3 an hour pay raise. In fact, if you include the wage increase in 1996 to your proposed increase tonight, the increase would be $5.35 an hour, approximately $2.35 an hour more that what took me 18 years to get, and in those 18 years, I became a college graduate.

The cost/benefits analysis tells me as a federal employee and a college graduate, my income potential is guaranteed to grow at a much slower rate as a federal employee than a private sector, non-educated employee. I believe in my work within the VA, serving those who served, but I do not believe our government has the best interest of its employees in mind. I no longer believe I will see any economic relief from the squabbling political machine intent on self-sacrifice. I think I would rather take my chances and my talent to the private sector. I believe I would have a fighting chance there.


Art Villarreal

Ia Drang and Veteran’s Day

Originally uploaded by DotComet

I grew up in a time when my father was tormented by demons. Today they call it PTSD or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The cause of this was of course the Vietnam War, but it wasn’t just being in Vietnam. It was because of the battle that my father survived. The Battle of Ia Drang was the 1st Cavalry’s and the US Army’s first battle with North Vietnamese Regular Army soldiers on November 14 – 16, 1965.

If that weren’t enough, take 450+ men and put them in a valley clearing about the size of a football field and then have about 2, 000 enemy soldiers surround them for 3 days. There were many heroes that came out of that battle those three days. Rick Rescorla was one. Bruce Crandall was another.

But judging from the conversations I was privy to the last few days, there were more heroes that came of that day, that America will never hear about. In the conversations the theme was the same. The men were torn with so much fear, but they didn’t know how to react so they did what they knew how to do…fight.

Another comment I heard often was that each man who survived that battle was glad to have experienced such terror.

My father has never really told me much of that day, but what I have heard, impressed me, terrified me, and just made me respect the men who lived and died on those three days in November.

What is the battle of Ia Drang you ask? Think of Mel Gibson in We Were Soldiers. That movie was based on a book of that battle written by Joe Galloway and Hal Moore. Two survivors of that battle.

If you want more information you can visit or

So in true honor to all the men and women who served and serve our nation in the armed forces. Thank you this and every Veteran’s Day. May you never feel the stigma that those who served in Vietnam felt when they returned home.


Originally uploaded by DotComet

Well yesterday was a little hectic. Started off my car was acting a little weird. But seemed to be ok after that….I get to work and see that I have a meeting scheduled for 8:30 am. The weird thing about it was that only my team and a few other people were involved.

We all hed speculated that yesterday was going to be our last day of work, being that we were being laid off. A little info…I work(ed) for World Savings, which was, by far, the best company I had ever worked for. Recently they were bought out by Wachovia, which is not so good, but still offered a decent paycheck.

well for some time, there have been rumors that were were going to be displaced. While most people would have been worried about being out of a job, most of us were looking to the layoff with subtle anticipation.

World Savings prior owners, Herb and Marion Sandler, were very generous and truly cared about the company and their employees. When notice of the sale of World Savings to Wachovia, the Sandlers included a large sum of money to enhance the severence package for every world legacy employee that gets laid off. Meaning if I was there 1 week or 6 years, I received a 6 months severence package instead of the 1 1/2 month package offered by Wachovia.

It doesn’t end there. Since my official end date is November 19, 2007, I am getting my benefits and pay until that day, yet I no longer have to report to work. This is giving me about 8 months to take care of some personal projects that I really want to take care of.

I have plenty of plans for my future life outside of Wachovia and now I have plenty of time to work on them. Thanks Wachovia.

Night Shooting Again!

Originally uploaded by DotComet

Tonight, I wanted to do some night shooting so I went downtown tonight. It was sort of creepy though. I was at the Hemisfair Plaza and aside from some hoodlums and nightime visitors, I was pretty much alone with my camera.

I was pretty much worried that I was going to be accosted or mugged. When we went on Thursday night, we went with about 8-10 people. Tonight I was alone.

I really don’t think I’m doing that again. But here are some of the images that I captured tonight.

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