Beau Berman


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JOMC 711: Week 14 FCC Assignment


A response to FCC Public Notice  DA 10-100

By Beau Berman Hartford, Connecticut

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is wise in launching an examination of the future of the media and the information needs of communities in a digitial age. All Americans deserve access to vibrant and diverse sources of news and information. Posing questions and welcoming input from a spectrum of citizens is not only a shrewd endeavor on the part of the FCC, but a necessary one. In its 2010 call for comment, the FCC posed 42 questions in its public notice pertaining to the state of the media, listed across seven categories.

The two questions most germane to the future of media surround:

1. The role of user-generated journalism 

2. How young people receive educational and information media content

The role of user-generated journalism continues to expand. In years past that might include calling into a radio show to voice your opinion. Now, it encompasses many practices, including the submission of your own writing on sites like BleacherReport, Medium, and Huffington Post.  Citizen journalism and user generated content is leading to blurred lines. It’s a matter of credibility and it’s a matter of confusing fact and opinion. The old adage is to “consider the source”. Well what about when you don’t know who the source is, or if it’s a 15 year old from Egypt, or a 57 year old from Wyoming who is an expert in “video cloning”?

Of course, citizen journalism can improve upon traditional media by providing more immediacy and better video angles and providing content without the bureaucracy. But the proliferation of technology among all populations means that more and more news will be coming from “unofficial-stringers”, freelancers, interns, members of the public and other “viewer-submitted” sources. This could erode journalism jobs or create new ones, but this question is very much connected to many of the other questions posed by the FCC.

As for young people and the media, it’s clear that young people will be a driving force of media consumption. The key demographic for advertising in local TV is 25-54 years old. So today’s youth are tomorrow’s buyers. They are who the advertisers target or will be targeting 10 years from now when they are in the proper consumerist demographic. So the FCC should be thinking about our youth and what they are accustomed to seeing, what they want to see, and perhaps most importantly, what they need to see.


The FCC leads it’s questions with perhaps the other most important topics:

1. Needs of news consumers

2. Business models and financial trends

Needs are the ideal journalism should strive for as a service to the public and they are constantly juxtaposed by the business side of the equation, which keeps media viable in a capitalist society.


*Information needs

  • Citizens and communities need unfettered access to information about what is happening around them
  • That information needs to be timely, accurate and free from bias
  • Communities currently lack this brand of information – be it a problem of access or attention span- the reason varies
  • Overall access to information has improved with the advent of the internet including blogs, social networks, RSS feeds, et al.
  • But information delivery may not have improved when considering the potential for information overload, distraction by social media sites and a cacophony of media “voices” that may or may not be accurate
  • United States citizens are heavily focused and informed on domestic issues
  • The lack of cognizance and understanding of foreign events and issues among U.S. citizens is problematic
  • Cable news channels have become increasingly politically partisan, driving a wedge between information and unbiased presentation of that information
  • Investigative news has seen a resurgence but has also faltered at the national level, with the alleged stifling of former CBS Network reporter Sharyl Attkisson
  • Local television news is criticized for running stories heavy on crime and destruction

*Covering emergencies

  • The rise of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook have provided a fast stream of information during times of natural disasters, extreme weather and public health emergencies
  • However, the recent ebola happenings display the penchant of the national media to perhaps saturate the landscape of coverage despite a low risk to public health
  • The FCC faces a challenge in getting information to communities faced with such events – but one effective measure is through the use of social networking sites
  • Perhaps paid advertisements or contracted alerts via Facebook and/or Twitter would help disseminate this information effectively

*Youth media consumption

  • The nation’s youth are increasingly consuming media via mobile devices from internet-based sources
  • This trend should absolutely influence the FCC’s decisions and regulations
  • For example, while a shot of Janet Jackson’s genitalia on national television was a grave concern in 2004, children and teens can easily see more graphic images in an instant on their smartphones in 2014
  • The FCC must determine the extent to which online media can and should be regulated now and in coming years

*Media consumption among minorities

  • Minorities in some cases, crave a venue for consuming content hyper-relevant to their culture
  • The “digital divide” in some cases, could impact minorities of lower socio-economic status by limiting access to online media
  • However, the increasing reach of mobile platforms for media is impacting minorities just as it impacts the rest of the nation
  • A “new digital divide” has been suggested – implying that minorities have more smartphones than whites
  • The FCC must monitor media consumption among minorities
  • Changing demographics may also change who is considered a minority in the United States, particularly with the growth of hispanic citizens

*Libraries and schools

  • Libraries and schools remain important hubs for certain segments of the population to gather and consume information
  • For some adults, libraries represent the only place to browse the internet
  • For children, libraries and schools can guide the conduct of online research, steering children toward productive academic use of the internet
  • Communities may be wise to utilize talented web developers in the community to build town websites or maintain certain pages without pay
  • In times of tough budgets, the creativity of the community might be harnessed

*Governments and new media

  • The best examples of governments using new media to provide transparent information to the public are those instances in which the internet is harnessed in ways that provide open access
  • For example, Hartford, Connecticut has launched providing data sets to the public online regarding public health, public safety and other topics

*Measuring the importance of local news availability

  • It is difficult to put a metric toward the value in readily available local news
  • Surveys and questionnaires may provide the best insight into the minds of local news consumers

*Seeking specialized media

  • Compared to past decades Americans are far more likely to seek specialized media sites like the conservative leaning or the liberal leaning
  • This tendency is problematic in a democracy in which Congress is receiving its lowest approval ratings in history
  • As Congress struggles to compromise on Capitol Hill, news consumers struggle to see opposing viewpoints when they are increasingly seeking reinforcement and echoes of their own viewpoints on cable television networks like Fox News, MSNBC and online at specialized politically-slanted websites

*Demographic groups

  • Older Americans and those in extreme poverty are negatively affected by the rise of internet journalism
  • Those populations have less access to information because of their habits and/or financial status
  • However, the increasing penetration of home internet access could help offset this problem
  • But as more news breaks on Twitter and more news appears on screens instead of printed paper, those who are not comfortable using Twitter and those who cannot afford electronic devices could be left out

*FCC policies in the digital era

  • The FCC should focus less on serving as the penal overlord of traditional media like print and television
  • Instead, the FCC should concentrate on the proliferation of internet media
  • Policies should be drafted to adapt to the changing landscape of media- and determine ways to protect the nation’s youth from dangerous material in thus largely unexplored areas like “the deep web” or “dark web”
  • News is increasingly presented online, which remains a “Wild Wild West” of pornography and profanity
  • The FCC should craft policies to reflect the transition from media on TV and print, to media on websites and smartphone screens

*Governmental entities in a digital era

  • Other governmental entities must recognize and adapt to the digital era
  • Far too many government websites and record-keeping systems are out of date
  • Governmental entities must recognize that news reporters may not always work for a major agency now


*Journalism in jeopardy

  • Traditional print journalism is in jeopardy in the continuing digital era
  • Traditional broadcast media such as local television news and to some extent, broadcast networks overall may be in jeopardy 
  • Commercial market mechanisms may not be able to serve minorities accurately or to properly execute investigative journalism

*Profit or not?

  • Media outfits that have adapted to the digital era are still raking in profits, while those clinging to the old guard are suffering
  • Vox Media recently raised millions of capital for a new online media outfit
  • Giants like The NY Times are conscious of the need to adapt – it remains to be seen whether they will

*Advertising trends

  • Mobile seems to be the key buzzword in advertising
  • The “Freemium” model is also increasingly popular when it comes to integrating advertising
  • It remains to be seen whether web-advertising will ever be solely viable as a revenue stream to support sites
  • Currently the cost per “impression” is not enough to sustain profit from web content, unless it’s “video pre-roll” (the short video advertisements that preface online video content)
  • Traditional advertisements have become like “wall paper” and consumers glance over it to find the true content they want to consume.
  • Demographic/locational targeting has helped online advertising



The FCC may stand for the Federal Communications Commission but it’s rightly thinking about it’s role in a rapidly evolving industry that directly and indirectly affects the health, safety and perception of the United States in ways we can see and some that aren’t as easy to decipher. The FCC must strive to predict where the media is headed and be prepared to govern that media of the future. While that media system may look different than today’s, the FCC should hold strong to three concepts:

  • The media must provide consumers with useful information, following journalist standards
  • The media is a business and must remain profitable, adhered to capitalism
  • The media is a watchdog, critical to democracy

JOMC 711 “Storify Assignment”

PERINE VS Melvin-Gordon-ISO-Wisky

Record Breakers

I created a Storify post about the shake up of the college football record books taking place this week.

A 15 year single-game rushing record was snapped by just two yards on Saturday November 15th. It made national headlines and vaulted Melvin Gordon into the Heisman Trophy race.

Then, on Saturday November 22nd, the all-time single-game rushing record was broken again.

This time the rusher was Samaje Perine, a freshman running-back for the Oklahoma Sooners. So the record held by LaDainian Tomlinson stood for 15 years before it was broken by Melvin Gordon. Then Melvin Gordon’s record stood for less than a week. Perine beat Gordon’s record by 19 yards.

Reaction on social media was swift and strong across many social platforms. My Storify post explains what unfolded and showcases the Tweets and videos that documented the madness!

View my Storify post here 


JOMC 711 FAQ Assignment

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 9.57.36 PM


1. What is Sole Collector?

Sole Collector provides an all-encompassing sneaker experience online  and in print  via interactive forums and a blog. It’s a one stop shop for those dedicated to collecting sneakers and learning about new models, upcoming release dates and the latest about anything sneaker related.

Sole Collector is divided into sections including: news, release dates, forums and marketplace. The news section features articles about developments among brands and the sneaker culture, including detailed information on upcoming shoes releases. The release dates section is strictly related to the calendar dates predicted and slated for the release of highly anticipated new shoes. This section helps sneaker heads plan their budgets and their time.


2. How did Sole Collector begin?

Sole Collector is a subsidiary of Complex Media, a group that creates Complex Magazine and which centers on urban culture and clothing. 

Prior to Complex Media’s purchase of Sole Collector in 2011, it was owned and operated by Steve Mullholand, a self-proclaimed sneaker head who owns more than 1000 pairs of shoes.

Mullholand founded Sole Collector in 2003 and before that, founded In Style Shoes after he was inspired by a trip to Japan. His idea with Sole Collector, was to be anything but amateur.

Sole Collector started as a forum with a few hundred users and has grown to more than 400,000 registered users today.

The site draws 4.4 Million unique users a month and is touted as the second-largest sneaker marketplace outside of Ebay.

Despite the acquisition by Complex Media, Mullholand remains GM as has the same staff of 10 employees.

3. Does Sole Collector sell shoes?

No. But Sole Collector does host a marketplace section.

The marketplace is a center for buying and trading of both new and used shoes between members. So third-parties sell shoes between each other via Sole Collector’s marketplace boards. But Sole Collector does not directly sell any shoes. However shoes are sometimes raffled off during periodic contests offered on the site.

4. Are the release dates always accurate?

Not always, but most of the time, yes.

Sole Collector’s release dates are essentially crowd sourced and provide as a courtesy to visitors but are not intended to serve as a definitive guide to when shoes will be released in stores or online.

We are just one source among many providing information and most are based on limited data and some degree of speculation.

So, while we hope to be accurate 100% of the time, we cannot guarantee that level of accuracy not should visitors expect that.

5. Is Sole Collector tied to a shoe company?

No.  Sole Collector features photos, articles and news about nearly every brand of sneakers form New Balance, Nike, Adidas and Saucony to Reebox and even LA Gear.

We are owned by Complex Media.

6. Can I be kicked out of the forums?

Yes.  Sole Collector reserves the right to edit content posted to the forums and determine whether membership privileges are revoked.

7. Can the forums and marketplace be trusted?

At Sole Collector, we do our best to monitor the forums and the marketplace, but your private information is not protected on the forums and your money is not guaranteed by Sole Collector if you operate within the marketplace.

8. How can I join Sole Collector as a writer?

Head to our contact page and email us a writing sample or link to your blog. But please be aware we are currently staffed with 10 writers and are only budgeted for 10. Openings only come along if and when one of those 10 writers decides to leave for another opportunity.

9. What if the marketplace infrastructure malfunctions and affects a shoe sale?

Head to our contact page and email the support team.

The address is

10. Where is Sole Collector located?

We are based in New York City, but some of our writers live elsewhere across the United States.

Our main address is:

Complex Media, Inc. 
1271 6th Avenue, 35th Floor 
New York, NY 10020 





JOMC 711: Week 10-11 Assignment, “Online News Story”

Judge Favors Conn. Company in Patent Infringement Suit

by Beau Berman

Nov. 9, 2014

MIDDLEFIELD, CONN. – A federal judge in California ruled in favor a Connecticut racing photography company last week, finding a patent infringement suit against Capstone Photography invalid.

Judge Christina A. Snyder of the Central District of California ruled that the three patents challenged by businessman Peter Wolf invalid, determining them ineligible subject matter for patent protection.

Judge Snyder referenced 35 USC Section 101 in her October 28th ruling.

It’s a victory for Middlefield, Conn. company Capstone Photography after a lengthy court battle that cost the company $100,000 according to owner, Michael Skelps.

“It was a shock,” said Skelps when he first saw the lawsuit in January 2014. 


Capstone Photography of Middlefield, Conn.

Wolf, owner of filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Capstone Photography on December 31st 2013.


Peter Wolf – owner,

He alleged that Skelps’ company committed “willful infringement of the three patents” registered by Wolf.

Wolf claimed that Capstone essentially used his methods of cataloging race photos online without paying licensing fees to him. 

He demanded thousands of dollars in damages and thousands per year as a licensing fee for use of his multiple related patents.

But Skelps and Capstone Photography hired attorneys to fight the patent infringement claims in court.


Michael Skelps – owner, Capstone Photography

“In this case, the Court finds that the “basic character of the claimed subject matter is readily ascertainable from the face of the patent,” and that plaintiff’s arguments for delaying the § 101 inquiry are unpersuasive,” wrote Judge Snyder, in her opinion.


The Judge determined that Wolf’s patents were relatively basic in nature.

“The Court finds that the practically identical ‘214 and ‘875 patents are directed to the abstract idea of providing event photographs organized by participant, as applied using the internet. As the specification explains, event photographers traditionally The Court finds that the practically identical ‘214 and ‘875 patents are directed to the abstract idea of providing event photographs organized by participant, as applied using the internet. As the specification explains, event photographers traditionally,” wrote Snyder in her opinion.

This wasn’t the first time Peter Wolf sued a company for alleged patent infringement.

He’s sued a dozen other companies, and each one eventually chose to settle and pay Wolf, instead of continuing to fight in court.

“I’m really sorry to see Mr. Skelps head down the same path that a dozen other people have. I think he’s just going to spend an awful lot of money with attorneys, when we could sit down and come to a reasonable agreement and move on with life,” said Wolf in May 2014.

But Skelps chose to fight the suit, refusing to settle.

He says it forced him to layoff two staff members and create a fundraising website to seek help covering legal costs.


Wolf was described as a “patent troll” in some online blogs.

Patent Troll is a negative term to describe someone who establishes patents, not necessarily to use the idea, but more often to aggressively sue other companies who use the idea.

“That’s not at all the case with me. I don’t fit that definition and I take offense to someone calling me a patent troll. I’m simply defending some ideas that I invented and I expect other people to respect those patents,” said Wolf in May.

He did not respond to a request for comment on the ruling.


Capstone isn’t the only Connecticut company that’s been sued for patent infringement recently according to Attorney General George Jepsen.

“They typically prey on small businesses and realize that they would run up far more costs in legal fees than they would just to pay the licensing agreement and get rid of it,” says Jepsen.

Jepsen didn’t comment directly on the Capstone case, but he has kept an eye on others in the state.

On average nationally, it costs just under $1 Million dollars in attorneys’ fees just to fight a patent lawsuit in court, win or lose.

Last year, Attorney Generals in 42 states, including Connecticut, expressed support for anti-patent troll legislation pending in the U.S. Senate, already approved by the House.

But it’s a complicated job finding a balance between so-called patent trolls and those who are not “rent collectors” but business owners who sue to defend patents in the field they actually practice.

“It’s trying to sort through so that legitimate patent infringement can be enforced but small businesses are not victimized by those who would prey on them,” says Jepsen.


In the Wolf case, the Judge didn’t call him a Patent Troll, but she did rule strongly against his case.

“The court finds that all three of the patents in suit are directed to patent-ineligible abstract ideas, and lack an inventive concept that would make them patent-ineligible applications of those ideas,” wrote Judge Snyder.

With that, the court granted the defendant’s motion for judgment on the pleadings.

“It’s not a complete happy ending in that our legal bills have racked up to $100,000, but at least we will have the chance to stay in business,” said Skelps.

Skelps created to share his story and unite other companies facing similar infringement lawsuits.

Screenshot from

Screen shot from

“After a ten month ordeal and about $100,000 in legal expenses, Capstone Photography is pleased to announce that a Federal Judge has ruled in our favor and declared three patents are ineligible for patent protection under 35 USC Section 101.  The lawsuit is over and Capstone has prevailed.  Thank you for all of your support,” he posted to the site after the judge’s ruling.

We are grateful to be vindicated by the courts, as we knew we would be.  The photography business is now better for these rulings, open to free and fair competition that is the basis for our American economy,” wrote Skelps. 

While the case is complete, Skelps is now asking others to donate to his legal defense fund to defray costs he racked up during his legal fight.











PSU vs. OSU Liveblog: Ohio State Beats Penn State in Double Overtime

The defense prevailed for Ohio State in double OT as the Buckeyes sacked Christian Hackenberg to seal the victory and kill the Penn State comeback.

Did Penn State deserve to win the game? Probably not.

They were down 17-0 at halftime and the offense was barely there all game.

The team showed some fight in the 2nd half and great effort to send the game to overtime.

It looked like PSU might steal the game once they jumped out ahead in overtime, but J.T. Barrett did a great job to lead the Buckeyes back and save the game.

PSU vs. OSU Liveblog: Penn State Down 31-24 in Double OT

Penn State’s Last Chance

-On 3rd and 6, Hackenberg throws incomplete to Hamilton who was streaking into the endzone

-On 4th and 6, Hackenberg is sacked and the game is over for Penn State

PSU vs. OSU Liveblog: 24-24 – Double Overtime

Ohio State Offense on the Field Again

-J.T. Barrett scores touchdown on run play, giving OSU the lead

-The scoring play is under review by officials


PSU vs. OSU Liveblog: Penn State up 24-17

Penn State Starts with the Ball

-The OSU defense looks tired as PSU racks up yardage in overtime

-Hackenberg throw to Hamilton brings ball close to OSU endzone

-On 2nd and goal, PSU hands to Lynch who runs to the 1 yard line

*Ohio State will have a chance to match after PSU’s possession.

-Belton runs up the middle for touchdown!!!

*Oh my god! Watching the replay, the snap nearly went away from Belton and would have been a fumble! So close!


PSU vs. OSU Liveblog: 17-17

Penn Sate Offense Backed Up in Own Territory – One Last Chance?

-Hackenberg makes big throw to Hamilton bringing it to 3rd and 1

-Hackenberg then rushes for the 1st down

-Hackenberg then throws for about 7 yards to Godwin

-Blacknall catches a 2 yard pass setting up 3rd and 1

-Hackenberg rushes for 1st down on the left side

-Hackenberg throws to Godwin on the right side

*The problem for Penn State is only 1:38 remains in the game.

-Third and 1 for PSU – Hackenberg throws to TE Jesse James

-Hackenberg nearly intercepted on wild 1st down throw while trying to just get rid of the ball

*That could have been a disaster for Penn State as Hackenberg desperately threw the ball

-Hackenberg throws for 1st down to Geno Lewis who breaks 3 tackles and get to OSU 45 yard line with :48 seconds left in the game

-Hackenberg sacked on 1st down

-Hackenberg throws to Hamilton, Flag on the play, late hit, automatic 1st down, Hackenberg woozy

-PSU now in field goal range

*This game is very intense right now, clock is running, time running out. Only :35 seconds left. Now PSU takes last timeout.

-No time outs remaining for PSU

-Hackenberg nearly intercepted

-Hackenberg throws to Hamilton for a 1st down, :24 seconds remaining

-Hackenberg spikes the ball on 1st and 10, did they need to do that?

-Hackenberg throws to Jesse James and steps out of bounds

-Now, 3rd and 6, with :19 seconds remaining

-Hackenberg throws to the end zone to Godwin, who can’t haul it in

-Sam Ficken will attempt a 31 yard field goal

-Ohio State takes a time out

-The field goal is GOOD. The game is tied at 17-17











PSU vs. OSU Liveblog: 4th Quarter, Ohio State up 17-10

Ohio State on Offense with 5:17 Remaining

-J.T. Barrett run stuffed on 1st down

-Elliot gains a yard or two on 2nd down

-Under 5 minutes left in the game

-Barrett nearly sacked and then scrambles for about 6 yards setting up an OSU 4th and 4

*Does OSU punt here? I’m guessing yes. OSU defense has been better than offense tonight.

-Barrett was injured on the play

-OSU then flagged for delay of game

-OSU punts

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