Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

UP FRONT: News or Noteworthy

UP FRONT - New or Noteworthy

Getting Translated—What that Means

Over the years, we and our colleagues have had their books on media translated into foreign languages, thus indicating the wide interest in media topics abroad, even when from a U.S. perspective.

Just what does a translation mean? Some say simple exploitation of an existing literary work or property since foreign publishers rarely pay for the work they translate into their own languages. Others say the currency, importance and vitality of the work selected for translation. Still others can find more subtle meanings—such as a rare opening in an otherwise closed society where western ideas are not always welcome. That was the case a year ago when a Teheran publisher translated one of the Center Director’s books into Persian, after months of tortuous e-mail traffic. More recently, several of our books have been translated into Chinese, first in Taipei and exported to the overseas Chinese community as well as to the mainland and more recently in Beijing and Shanghai.

In several instances these were not technical reports or tedious texts, but books that took up such verboten topics as freedom of the press, access to government information, the role of the private enterprise press and others. Clearly, these acts of publication have an underlying message, namely that even in China with its totalitarian infrastructure, ideas about changes communication so closely connected to freedom of expression are not unwelcome. Even while there is repression against some media, books promoting freedom of information and other concepts are published – and even more startling used as texts in Chinese universities.

One window on change in this rapidly changing world may be the buying and selling of the most venerable medium of them all—and the least nimble, the book.

Everette E. Dennis

Inside Media 2.0--the View from NBC Universal at Fordham's Graduate School of Business

Dr. Gali Einev, director of new media research, at NBC Universal, discussed "Media Technologies and the Consumer," in a March 22 talk at Fordham's Graduate School of Business. In a presentation rich with data and audience analysis across generations, Dr. Einev reviewed "consumer insights we ignore at our peril," including:

--You are the media you grew up with;
--Don't confuse technological capacity with consumer interest;
--Choice has diminishing returns; and
--The consumer's ability to pay for media has its limits.

As she noted, television and other media platforms court specific audiences, notably the 18-34 demographic, but also consider early and late Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y and increasingly, the Millenials. She and previous speaker Jeff Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at USC's Annenberg School of Communication whose research has turned up "digital natives," and "digital immigrants." If you are over 13, he said, you are in the latter category.

In her presentation, the NBC research manager warned that just because a technology is available, doesn’t mean the public will adopt it and cited the work of Fordham's John Carey, a renowned expert on the consumer adoption of new technologies.

On the matter of choices as media outlets and channels increase rapidly, there are diminishing returns for some media industries, notably network television, cable, newspapers and others squeezed by competition.

And finally, the customer's interests and ability to pay for endless and expanding media options does have limits. This is consistent with studies by Maxwell McCombs and Donald L. Shaw on "the constancy hypothesis," which posits that there are fixed limits on the amount of disposable income that will be spent on media and entertainment. Add one service and something suffers, they said long ago.

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