Signs and Wonders
A scene from Emmy winner <i>Modern Family</i>
Associated Press/Photo by Peter Stone (ABC)
A scene from Emmy winner Modern Family

Signs and Wonders 09.24

Media

Emmy gimmes. Last night’s Emmy Awards was a massive disappointment. First, all the nominees for Best Drama were cable shows, which essentially means that you have to have massive doses of sex, blood, or strong language to get consideration in this category. One of the big winners of the evening was Modern Family, which features openly homosexual characters, and story lines and a general tone that openly mock traditional family structures and values. Another big winner was Game Change, which was a hatchet job on the 2008 John McCain-Sarah Palin campaign. Given what modern television has become, the awards for these shows were essentially “gimmes,” as they are both mediocre, and they both pander to Hollywood’s ideological biases.

Box office doldrums. While we’re on the subject of entertainment, Hollywood just closed its 38th week of the year, and the box office for the week was about $90 million. That’s the worst Week 38 since 2008, and it’s indicative of a shift that’s taking place in the industry. The high-water mark for theatre box office revenue came in 2009. If you measure tickets sold, the peak year was 2002. Of course, it’s hard to fret much over an industry that still does about $10 billion a year, and that doesn’t count foreign revenue, DVD sales, and new forms of streaming delivery systems. So don’t cry for Hollywood just yet. Besides, what’s bad for Hollywood could be good for America. If you go back 30 years, to 1982, you’ll find that the top 12 movies at the box office did 90 to 95 percent of the total box office revenue. Today that number is sometimes as low as 80 percent—meaning that there’s more diversity of titles, including more conservative and family-friendly films.

Media matters. The recession and continued economic slump have accelerated the decline of daily newspapers in America. According to figures released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the newspaper publishing industry fell to 246,200 in 2011. It was 414,000 in 2001. That’s a 40.6 decline in the last decade. In a single year, from 2009 to 2010, employment fell 16.2 percent. It’s been a tough decade for the newspaper industry. In 2001 there were massive declines because of the tech bust and 9/11. In the years that followed, advertisers learned how to use the internet, killing classified ads and other major advertising categories. Then came the financial crisis of 2008, resulting in a recession and yet another collapse in the advertising market. I nonetheless tell young writers that there’s never been a better time in history to be a journalist. For one thing, daily newspapers are no longer the dominant part of the media ecosystem. A study in 2008 discovered that 13 percent of adults relied mainly on the internet for news. That number is undoubtedly much higher now. Most working journalists write at least some for their publication’s website, and about 10 percent write exclusively for a website.

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New life in Spain. Spain has been a moribund country for conservatives and Christians. The Catholic Church supported the repressive Franco regime, so when he left power in the late 1970s many Spaniards took out their resentment not just on the Catholic Church, but on all forms of religion. Today, most Catholic churches are nearly empty on Sundays, and evangelicals make up less than 2 percent of the population—and many of those are immigrants. But the country is showing signs of life. Organizers of the Third International March for Life hope to bring about “profound” reform and “zero abortions” in the country. The Oct. 7 march will take place in Madrid and in 63 other cities across Spain, as well as in some 30 additional countries. Right to Life spokeswoman Gador Joya said the organization wants to “support and encourage” the new conservative government in its “stated intentions to protect human life, and to demand that this reform be profound.”

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren, who lives in Charlotte, N.C., is vice president of WORLD News Group and the host of the radio program Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.

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