Aug 14, 2019
Johanna Blakley, PhD, is the managing director at the Norman Lear Center. Based at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, Blakley performs research on a wide variety of topics, including global entertainment, cultural diplomacy, entertainment education, celebrity culture, fashion, digital media and intellectual property law. She has two talks on TED.com: Social Media & the End of Gender and Lessons from Fashion’s Free Culture. She speaks frequently in the U.S. and abroad about her research and her work has been cited by Reuters, the New York Times, The Economist, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Los Angeles Times, Politico, Huffington Post, RAND, Forbes, Business Week, PR Week and GOOD. She has appeared on Good Morning America, MSNBC, Al Jazeera and Current TV, and on several radio programs, including On the Media, Planet Money, Marketplace and the TED Radio Hour.
Blakley is co-Principal Investigator, with Marty Kaplan, on the Media Impact Project (MIP), a hub for collecting, developing and sharing approaches for measuring the impact of media, primarily funded by the Gates Foundation. MIP seeks to better understand the role that media plays in changing knowledge, attitudes and behavior among individuals and communities, large and small, around the world. MIP currently works with the US State Department on three cultural exchange programs: American Film Showcase, Global Media Makers and the Middle East Media Initiative.
Much of her work addresses the intersection between entertainment and politics, including two nationwide polls on the relationship between political ideology and entertainment preferences, and she co-authored a report on the Primetime War on Drugs & Terror. With funding from the Pop Culture Collaborative, Blakley is currently analyzing the impact of narrative ingredients of scripted TV shows on viewers.
Blakley is a regular contributor to the Lear Center Blog, and she has guided more than forty manuscripts through the publication process at the Lear Center, including Warners’ War: Propaganda, Politics & Pop Culture in Wartime Hollywood. She has also overseen two major research initiatives about the impact of intellectual property rights on innovation and creativity – Ready to Share: Fashion & the Ownership of Creativity and Artists, Technology & the Ownership of Creative Content. At USC, she co-directed a university-wide research initiative on Creativity & Collaboration in the Academy; she developed course materials on cultural diplomacy for the new Masters in Public Diplomacy program at Annenberg, and she taught masters courses on transmedia storytelling.
She received a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she taught courses on popular culture and twentieth-century literature. Blakley has held a variety of positions within the high-tech industry, including Web producer and digital archivist at Vivendi-Universal Games. She is on the advisory board of Women@Paley at the Paley Center for Media and FEM inc., a technology venture. She has served as an advisor to the Aspen Institute, Active Voice, the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities and TEDxUSC, the first TEDx event in the world. She’s on the editorial board of the International Journal of Gender, Science and Technology and she’s a founding member of the board of directors for Les Figues Press, a venue for literary experimentation.
CBS & Viacom strike merger deal
CBS and Viacom have struck a merger deal worth about $50 billion, according to CNBC. The companies have been negotiating a merger deal for three years, which often put CBS and Viacom Vice Chair Shari Redstone at odds with former CBS CEO Les Moonves, who has since left the company mired by sexual harassment and abuse claims. The Redstone family-controlled National Amusements owns both companies. The combined entity will include CBS, as well as Viacom brands MTV, BET, Showtime, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and Paramount.
Whole Foods workers protest Amazon’s work with ICE
Whole Worker, the anonymous group of Whole Foods workers seeking to unionize the Amazon subsidiary’s workforce, released a protest letter yesterday opposing Amazon’s work with Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. The letter specifically calls out Amazon’s cloud support for Palantir—the mysterious company partially-owned by Trump supporter Peter Thiel that helps ICE use artificial intelligence to carry out deportations.
Federal Appeals Court rules Facebook users can sue over facial recognition
You know how Facebook figures out if it’s your face in the images you post? Well, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that a class of Facebook users can sue Facebook under California law for using the facial recognition technology behind that feature. California’s Biometric Information Act requires companies to obtain consent before using the biometric data of their users. The 2015 lawsuit could put Facebook on the hook for billions of dollars.
Senator Marsha Blackburn calls out Huawei
U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn, who’s a member of the Senate’s Technology, Innovation, and the Internet subcommittee called out Huawei for allegedly implanting spyware on devices. Blackburn said the China-based company is part of China’s military industrial complex designed to spy on the United States and other countries. Huawei is still on the Commerce department’s blacklist. But last month President Trump said that he would allow U.S. companies to sell equipment to Huawei.
Democrats blast McConnell at DEFCON hacker conference
Senator Ron Wyden and California Representative Ted Lieu blasted Mitch McConnell at the main worldwide hacker conference, DEFCON, last week, for McConnell’s opposition to election security. McConnell has blocked legislation to strengthen election security—stating that federal legislation to defend election systems interferes with states rights.