T-Bone Burnett and Bill Davis to Speak at USC Annenberg Commencement

Academy and Grammy Award-winning music producer T-Bone Burnett and Southern California Public Radio founding President Bill Davis will speak at USC Annenberg’s 2014 Commencement ceremony.


(Credit: tboneburnett.com)

Burnett has produced and composed music for numerous television shows and films.

He is currently the Executive Music Producer and Composer for HBO’s “True Detective,” which stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. He also produced and composed the music for the first season of ABC’s “Nashville,” for which the songs were incorporated into the show’s plotline.

Last year, he produced Elton John’s latest album “The Diving Board” and collaborated with the Coen brothers for the fourth time on the film “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

Burnett produced the music for “The Hunger Games,” and the film’s companion album. He also produced, composed the score and co-wrote several original songs for the Academy Award-winning film “Crazy Heart” in 2010.

bill davis

(Credit: KPCC)

Before coming to SCPR in 2001, Davis worked as the senior vice president of programming at National Public Radio. He has also worked as the general manager of WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, making it one of NPR’s most popular stations.

Davis earned his bachelor’s degree from Occidental College, and Master’s degrees from the Graduate School of Journalism at University of California, Berkeley and the Kenan-Flagler School of Business at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

T-Bone Burnett
Bill Davis

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The latest from Center on Communication Leadership & Policy Senior Fellows

Overholser_121x163USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy Senior Fellow Geneva Overholser was featured on PBS NewsHour to discuss national security and surveillance reporting in light of the recent Pulitzer Prize awards.

Overholser, who is also a former professor and director of USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism, said that while the stories didn’t require a lot of “deep-digging reporting” because they were based on stolen documents, leaked by Edward Snowden, they still deserved the Pulitzer.

“It was awarded to the most affecting story of this year, in my view,” said Overholser. “I mean, this story had enormous impact.”

She added that the Pulitzer board’s decision to award the coverage of national security and surveillance is “an extremely powerful affirmation of this important work.”

powellCCLP Senior Fellow Adam Clayton Powell III recently wrote a blog post about the use of mobile phones for medical treatment in Asia and Africa.

“The potential for these devices is extraordinary: a wave of repurposed consumer devices as medical instruments are helping eradicate entire diseases in developing nations – and could be critical innovations in rural areas of the U.S. that are underserved by medical care facilities,” wrote Powell. “As mobile phones become a new universal medium in America, the impact can be enormous.”

Westphal_150pIn a recent story from CCLP Senior Fellow David Westphal, he analyzed claims that the newspaper is on the verge of extinction.

“Newspapers may well be on the road to marginalization in the news and information world,” wrote Westphal. “For the moment, though, they’re still its big financial and news-gathering engine. And, I would say, their printed publications are not fading away nearly as quickly as I thought they might.”

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Mary Murphy Talks About ‘The Late Show’ Hiring Stephen Colbert to Replace David Letterman

Murphy_163p.ashxUSC Annenberg Professor Mary Murphy was featured in several stories about David Letterman’s departure from “The Late Show.”

Prior to CBS’ decision to replace Letterman with Stephen Colbert, Murphy, who is also a former “Entertainment Tonight” producer, had other ideas about the new host.

“The bold move is choosing a woman,” Murphy told Bloomberg. “You put Tina, Amy, or Ellen in that position and it would be extraordinary. It’s an era where people are saying, ‘Not just one more guy sitting behind a desk.’”

However, she later told The Los Angeles Daily News that Colbert will bring about many positive changes to the show.

“This is not only a generational change, it is a cultural change,” said Murphy. “It is a homage to Comedy Central and a complete shift in what late night has been. We thought Fallon was the move into the future; THIS is the move into the future.”

Murphy was also featured on Inside Edition to talk about Letterman’s retirement and Colbert as the new host.

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Discoveries: Aimei Yang researches PR theory

Editor’s note: USC Annenberg doctoral student Mina Park blogs about the research and discoveries made by the school’s faculty. This is the second post in the “Discoveries” series. See the first post here.

By Mina Park

Interviewee: Professor Aimei Yang, Ph.D., School of Journalism:

In order to succeed, organizations use various marketing tools including advertising and persuasive campaigns. Marketing tools are not enough, however, when you think about how organizations work. For example, NGOs (non-governmental organizations) need to have a good relationship with potential alliances, donors, and members because they are engaged with a wide range of activities and they need budgets to operate. Thus, building a relationship is very important for organizations to achieve their goals and this is what public relations (PR) practitioners do. PR practitioners work for corporations, non-profit organizations, or small businesses to help them to build a relationship by promoting their image and dealing with crisis.

Professor Aimei Yang (aimei.yang@usc.edu) is doing research about public relations, especially focusing on international public relations associations. A PR association is a type of professional association that provides guidance for PR practitioners. For example, they identify ethical guidelines and develop certification exams. Thus, PR associations can be very powerful in terms of shaping the development of the PR outlook. Professor Yang is trying to explore how the big PR industry is connected internationally.

According to Dr. Yang, many existing PR theories assume that the United States PR association (e.g. Public Relations Association of America (PRSA)) is the most dominant and powerful among international PR associations because PR was developed in the United States. Although these theories have never been tested, most PR practitioners act as if this is the case. What Yang actually found was different, however. Yang and her colleagues identified a set of international PR associations and forty different local associations (country-level associations) to analyze their actual network. The analysis showed that European associations were much more active in terms of building relationships and participating in international meetings than US associations were. Figure 1 shows that European associations have more partners and more interconnections. Also, they were more likely to become members of international associations. On the other hand, US associations do not appear to initiate new relationships, although they have a couple of ties to other associations. Yang’s study thus indicates empirical study shows that the US association is not a central figure in PR organizational networks worldwide.

The other research Yang focuses on is the influence of cultural differences on PR associations’ network structure. Since international PR associations help local associations to be collaborative, gain legitimacy and win support, local associations want to have a connection with international associations. Based on this, most PR practitioners believed that local associations were directly connected to international associations. However, Dr. Yang found that regional institutions play a mediating role between the core international associations and each local association. For example, there is one regional institution called ‘Public Affairs Asia’ and most Asian PR associations have built a connection with Public Affairs Asia, which itself is a member of a many other international associations. According to Yang, one of the main reasons for this mediated network could be cultural differences. National associations find their ‘friends’ within more regional level institutions, rather than either isolating themselves or directly jumping into the big international community. By doing this, local associations effect a certain level of international outreach while maintaining comfort within a common cultural community.

(Figure 1. Partnership Network)

(Figure 1. Partnership Network)

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USC Annenberg Google Glass media round-up

Starting next fall, Professor Robert Hernandez will teach a class at USC Annenberg focused on the use of Google Glass in journalism. As Google plans to sell Google Glass in a one-day trial on Tuesday, April 15, here are some clips detailing USC Annenberg’s use of the product in its curriculum:

  •  ”USC Is Planning a Course in ‘Glass’ Journalism” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “USC Is Offering a Google Glass Course for Journalism” (Mashable)
  • “2013 Journalism Forum series opens with Google Glass” (USC Annenberg)
  • “USC Will Offer a Google Glass Journalism Course This Fall” (Fast Company)
  • “Shaping the Future of News: Journalism Schools Evolve in the Digital Age” (Coca-Cola)


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USC Annenberg-associated publications nominated for Webby Awards

Two online publications associated with USC Annenberg have been nominated for Webby Awards, the leading international award for excellence on the Internet.

Religion Dispatches — a daily online magazine acquired by the school last October that publishes a mix of expert opinion, in-depth reporting, and provocative updates from the intersection of religion, politics and culture — has been nominated in the category “Web: Religion and Spirituality.” The site is a Knight Program in Media and Religion project and is under the direction of publisher Diane Winston. It is the site’s third such nomination in four years.

Truthdig, which provides expert coverage of current affairs as well as a variety of thoughtful, provocative content assembled from a progressive point of view, has been nominated in the category “Web: Blog-Political.” Journalism Professor Robert Scheer is Truthdig’s Editor-in-Chief, alumna Zuade Kaufman is the site’s publisher and other USC Annenberg students and faculty, including Vice-Dean Larry Gross, are frequent content contributors. It has won seven Webby Awards since 2007.

Both Religion Dispatches and Truthdig are eligible for two awards in each category: The Webby Award and the Webby People’s Voice Award. The former is awarded by a panel of judges, while the other is granted by the public. Votes can be placed for Religion Dispatches here, and votes can be placed for Truthdig here.

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Funny or Die Creative Minds Speak to USC Annenberg Students

Funny_or_Die_logoPresident Obama’s recent appearance on the Funny or Die comedy web series “Between Two Ferns” sparked a national discussion about the presidential public image, and USC Annenberg students were able to touch upon this topic and more when a few Funny or Die creative minds stopped by USC Annenberg Monday evening.

Funny or Die President of Production Mike Farah, Director of Development Joe Farrell, and Writers’ coordinator Lindsay Kerns chatted with USC Annenberg Senior Lecturer Mary Murphy’s “Entertainment, Business and Media in Today’s Society” class about everything from Funny or Die founder (and USC alum) Will Ferrell, working with celebrities and how technology has transformed comedy.

“The internet allow[s] you to just go and make things,” said Farah, who’s been with Funny or Die for six years. “Whether just your parents saw it, or like “The Landlord,”[FOD's first and most watched video] a hundred million people saw it.”

Founded in 2007 by Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Judd Apatow, Funny or Die was one of the first websites dedicated solely to comedy videos, and regularly features appearances by celebrities and comedians such as Steve Carell, Amy Poehler, James and Dave Franco and many more.

Though Farah acknowledged that ideas for comedy video sites were floating around long before Funny or Die came about, and that Funny or Die wasn’t initially well-received when it was first pitched, the website’s creation really came down to good timing.

“There’s always been versions of Funny or Die,” said Farrah. “Back in the late nineties, Hollywood had ideas for content websites, and a lot of it was ‘the world’s not ready for it.’

“[Funny of Die] was one of the things where the right people came together. The one thing that Funny or Die did really smartly early on was that it created a destination site, so funnyordie.com means something.”

Murphy’s class segued into the Funny or Die discussion with clips from “The Colbert Report” and “The Rachel Maddow Show” regarding President Obama’s appearance on the Zach Galifianakis-hosted series “Between Two Ferns” and discussed how comedic appearances can shape a politician’s image (and also be really entertaining.)

“The President was really into it, he was in a good mood,” said Farrah of Obama’s “Between Two Ferns” appearance. “He turned a corner and clapped his hands and just yelled out ‘Two Ferns!’ and then we were just like, ‘Alright he’s in a good mood.”

The Funny or Die team screened several videos for JOUR 381 students, including their sizzle reel, a preview of an upcoming comedic Discovery Channel docu-series, and the crowd-pleasing “Insane Sorority Letter” video featuring “Boardwalk Empire”’s Michael Shannon, which Farrell said exemplifies the reason many celebrities choose to work with Funny or Die.

“The day this video came out, [Jimmy] Fallon called and booked [Shannon],” said Farrell, who is an alum of the Peter Stark Producing Program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and producer on the Comedy Central show “At Midnight.” “The power of being able to show people instantaneously, ‘Oh yeah this dude is funny,’ that’s how funny media is, and that’s where I think Funny or Die can fill in sometimes because people can come and do something unexpected.”

Contrary to what some may believe, the benefits celebrities receive from working with Funny or Die aren’t monetary; in fact, the boost a celebrity experiences from a Funny or Die guest appearance can often be priceless.

“People always ask us do we pay [celebrities],” said Farrah. “And it sounds silly, but they’re not doing it to get paid, they’re doing it for the five million views and that relevance and to be able to get on talk shows from it all.”

So, how exactly do Funny or Die execs convince A-list celebrities to work for free?

“It all comes down to selling the dream,” said Farrah. “You have this idea, you try and get people excited about it; it doesn’t matter if it’s one of your cast mates or someone really famous and influential, or somewhere in between. And we try to sell this experience of doing a Funny or Die video that’s fun and fast and collaborative.”

Though many students were interested in gleaning specific advice about how to create entertainment gold in the digital age, the formula for Funny or Die’s success, at least according to Farrah, really isn’t so complicated.

“There’s no secret sauce,” said Farrah. “It’s really a culture of doing good work and having good people around you.”

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Graduate Student Accepted To Competitive Fellowship Program

clarkUSC Annenberg graduate student Graham Clark Stecklein was recently selected by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics (FASPE) to participate in a 2-week program this summer in New York, Germany and Poland.

The program, which selects 12 students studying journalism, law, medicine and religion, allows them to explore the history of the Holocaust and participate in a study of ethics within their discipline.

“My academic background deals with the history of journalism, particularly the politics and values of American news media in wartime,” said Clark. “So learning more about what was going on in German journalism and international coverage interests me greatly.”

Clark, who is in his second year of graduate studies at USC Annenberg, has done both radio and magazine journalism. Most recently, he worked for the Children’s Radio Foundation in South Africa.

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USC Annenberg Professors To Participate In Panels At Festival of Books

2014FOB_LOGO_bubblesSeveral USC Annenberg faculty members will be participating in panels at this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC.

Associate Professor Josh Kun will be joining a panel called “Let’s Get Together and Feel All Right: Music, Spirit, Community and Politics.” The panel will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Starting at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Professor Henry Jenkins will be participating in a panel called “The Future of Reading: New Technologies in Playing and Learning.”

“In a remix culture, young people are more and more likely to engage with the culture around them through acts of appropriation and transformation, rethinking and remaking stories, sampling and remixing sounds,” said Jenkins. “Our hope is to model ways that teachers can bring those new media literacy skills into their classrooms, but also ways that all of us can rethink what it means to read in a world where the lines between reader and author are shifting.

Clinical Professor Alison Trope will be participating in a panel called “L.A. Lives: Making, Mapping, and Imagining Southern California” on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

“I will specifically be speaking about the role Hollywood plays in our cultural imagination, both inside and outside Los Angeles,” said Trope.

All 3 panels will be held in Hoffman Hall. Free tickets to the panels are available here.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

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Jeffrey Cole and Karen North Featured In LA Times Article On La Habra Earthquake

ColeThe Los Angeles Times quoted USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future Director Jeffrey Cole and Annenberg Program on Online Communities Director Karen North in an article on last week’s La Habra earthquake and the social media reaction.

Twitter was one of the first places people went to talk about the earthquake, but Cole said people were describing it as being larger than it actually was.

“Generally, the human tendency we see on Twitter and social media is to amplify and spread rumors without any filter,” said Cole. “You just get to see everyone’s version of the truth.”

He added that Twitter is good for showing the scope of events, such as earthquakes.

northWhile seismologists used their websites to collect and release information, North said they should expand their social media reach.

“Places like Caltech and the USGS need to get on Twitter so that when the torrent of tweets go out talking about this earthquake’s implications for future earthquakes, they can go into that communication channel and correct false information and lead people to facts,” said North, an expert on social media.

Read the article

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