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Structure 27. < !------- test block: issue=Structure id=708 sec1name=Media Morphology imagetmplt=3200 ---------->
     There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer. (ansel adams)             1969-1984

January 2019    Dennis R. DuBe'     708/3089

3. This Content Is What That Structure Produces
     Structure and content can be regarded as complimentary views of the same thing.
          Dennis DuBe edited 20120818 #3089   Created 03/04/2012   Updated 10/27/2016


I will postulate that structure and content can be regarded as complimentary views of the same thing, as the nature and detail of content are the common result of the structures which create it, and the physical and operational limits and expectations of the structures preponderantly produce a certain kind of content.

This imperfect theory hints that the creator and the creation are linked in ways that pattern and shape the process. A lumber mill, to use a really obvious and yet dumb example, is uniquely equipped to produce a variety of cubic rectangles made of wood. Similarly, a newspaper business is uniquely structured to create and deliver a variety of printed products to residential addresses, and staffed to produce those particular kinds of products, each of which has a familiar form and nature, and serves a familiar pattern of market relationships among consumers and commerce by manipulation of content.

This is plainly visible. Local newspapers are structured to operate information and mass delivery systems in local markets. That distribution system enables the business model of advertising, which fuels the production processes of sales, production, distribution and journalism, in that order. The editorial content is uniquely structured to work with the local advertising content.

An obvious non-coincidence. Any other product in the print technological realm, running that manner of distribution system, for that type of local audience, serving that type of retail commercial market of advertisers, would have to be quite similar, with the primary difference in only the specific type of content applied.

The visible product of the newspaper might seem to be the "news", which covers a number of subject and interest areas. But the visible revenue of the paper is the advertising, which accompanies the news on the pages, and the circulation revenue, which comes from direct contributions from consumers.

Newspapers are often identified as liberal or conservative, and their editorial positions often echoed national political platforms. But on local matters, the bulk of newspaper opinions usually closely parallel those of the retail community, which provides the majority of their revenue. Additional, the news product is tailored to serve the customers of the advertisers.

That tailoring is not done in the sense of censorship, but in the sense that the editorial product deliberately serves the needs of a particular community. It is not a coincidence that local newspapers carry local news, while Union newspapers carry Union news, and church newspapers carry church news. Similarly, it is not a surprise that local newspapers carry local advertising, and that church newspapers carry advertising from business catering to their members.

With that in mind, examining the content of newspaper advertising may tell you more about the interests of the publisher than reading the stories, because there is a potentially stronger structural link -- money -- between the newspaper's advertising revenue and the interest of the publishers and owners, than there is between the content of the stories the readers.

Similarly, there is a stronger link between the advertising content of newspaper and the consumers' net behavior. Consumers respond (or not) to advertising, and their behavior contributes to the success (or failure) of the advertised services or products.

Generally speaking, the great majority of the content in most papers is apolitical, not related to partisan politics, not connected to theological or ideological causes, but merely the routine exposure of local events and information, including advertising. The great majority of advertising is connected to the retail trade, or is an expression of person-to-person marketing.

Consequently, from a functional commercial perspective, the local paper can serve the commercial needs of the community by connecting consumers with products, services and interest groups, enabling local commerce to flourish, and enabling local residents to connects with the goods, services and people that are essential in daily life.

As a secondary product, the local paper at also engage in journalism, which is normally an important minority component of the package. The journalism is often unconnected with the commercial content of the paper, more focused on the local and world affairs, and serves as an marketable audience attractant for the economic engine of the publication.

The political view of a newspaper is often part of the content package. Structurally, it is part of the component intentionally designed to attract and hold an audience, and has no direct connection to newspaper advertisers, other than political advertisers. As a consequence, the content of the political view of the newspaper will either succeed or not succeed in attracting a sufficient audience to enable advertising revenue. There is a direct structural connection between political position and revenue, and it is joined through the advertisers.

That's why almost all local TV commercial stations fall into a small handfull of types, city after city, and why public broadcast stations similarly have a narrow range of stereotypes. Production and content are a completely intertwined processes, just as the creation and the structure are completely intertwined. If you understand the structural underpinnings of Fox News, you understand their content in both context and substance. Ditto the Longmont Times Call, the New York Times, and the Comedy Channel.

This is the sense in which you were able, in the print age, to construct triangular relationships among creation (the process), the structure (the pathway), and the audience (consumption). Those three connect the audiences' commercial activity (consumption of commercial product) to the structure (both the production and delivery system of the published product, and the production and delivery system of commercial products promoted in the publication.)


Consider professional sports. The public view of sports differs considerably from the structural analysis. The public narrative promotes the perception that athletes strive to achieve excellence in training and performance, and work as individuals or team members to achieve victory over opponents in a series of contests during a sports season, culminating in a concluding tournament to determine overall victors. In the end, only one is left standing.

The money story travels a different route. The structural underpinnings of the sports-media industry stretch deep into the culture.

In the U. S., schools are harnessed to train children from an early age to anticipate and expect the ability of attaining enjoyment, improvement, and possibly money, fame and glory in the pursuit of sports participation and achievement. Millions of children are harnessed annually into a nationwide system of independent and sponsored sports leagues, and over the course of their academic careers a diminishing number of participants continue until only the best remain, some of whom may compete for positions on teams at the professional level.

Commercial sports teams organize their activities to achieve maximum attendance at sporting events, and maximum viewership of broadcast events. Game schedules, draft picks, numbers of scholarships, and several other factors are manipulated to even out the competitiveness of leagues, ensuring adequate levels of gate attendance at all participating teams. Similarly, entire leagues manage their member teams to ensure an even spread or performance by linking recruiting opportunities to success in preceding seasons.

While athletic victory is an overall goal, and the declared intent of the organization at all levels, the actual corporate operating plans are for the maximization of attendance and profit, the maximization of vendors sales, and the maximization of licensing and other revenue streams. While ultimate victory is the best tool for achieving overall goals, these businesses are managed with the realization that every season brings differing results, but that profits must be realized at all times.

Structurally, then, the business of the sports teams is filling revenue seats to maximize all categories of event-related revenue, regardless of ultimate athletic achievement. Naturally, winning makes it easier, but is not a necessary condition. The necessary condition is profitability of the corporation, and achieving that end often requires making compromises on other values. Hence, the superior value is financial, not athletic, performance.

In both the schools (elementary and high school sports programs) and colleges, significant staff, facility and budget expense is invested in operating programs that are the structural foundation of a system from which a commercial industry derives significant benefit. It's exploitative in the sense that many of the participants in school sports are motivated -- in part -- by expectations of possible careers in professional sports. That expectation is fostered by direct instruction (frequently reinforced by teachers and coaches), and also by the context of and logic of the sports world itself. This expectation is not matched in breadth by job opportunities in professional sports.

This arrangement is not unusual when compared to similar structures existing between other areas of education and real-world industries and businesses. The American school and college systems are designed to produce potential employees for America's business. Even the business of education itself is similarly replicated in academic and commercial structures.




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