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Is it really that hardcore?: A Case Study on the Marketability and Audience Impact of Manix Abrera’s Online Comic, News Hardcore

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Today’s generation is all about social commentary through various media. The internet has served as the perfect avenue for people to produce, share, and distribute social commentary because of the overall accessibility of the internet and the convenience it offers its users. Be it funny images, parody videos, and/or interesting pieces of articles, the internet has indeed become the modern public sphere in which people gather to talk about and discuss current social issues happening all over the world.

News Hardcore is an online comic segment found in GMA News Online. Created by famous comic-book artist Manix Abrera (author of Kikomachine comics), News Hardcore has been deemed as one of the most popularly shared and viewed segments of GMA’s online website due to its funny, witty, and relevant content.  It features satirical scenarios and stories about the mass media and the journalism profession. According to Odi de Guzman, managing editor for GMA News Online,  Manix Abrera’s fascination with the newsroom lifestyle spurred him to create News Hardcore.

“He was inspired by our own (GMA News Online) newsroom and the everyday travails of our journalists.”, said Sir de Guzman.

For this case study, we used qualitative interviews through the distribution of questionnaires via electronic mail to the following people: Sir Manix Abrera (creator/author of News Hardcore) and Sir Odi de Guzman (managing editor of GMA News Online). We also posted online surveys on Facebook to gain insight on the perception of at least 50 audiences/readers of News Hardcore. We would like to note that our survey was a non-scientific survey and mainly served to gather qualitative data for our analysis.

Data Gathered and Analysis

Responses were gathered from News Hardcore author himself, Manix Abrera, featuring the significance of the content of his material in being able to “sell” itself to its online audience.

When we asked him what he thought the role was of News Hardcore in the world of social media in terms of information dissemination, he said that it served to expose the behind-the-scenes lifestyle of news reporters and other mass media practitioners. It’s also interesting to note how,  despite his comics serving purely as a commentary and satire of mass media, it’s still being taken seriously. Sir Abrera mentioned one particular instance when one of the News Hardcore issues (issue #85: Mamatay na ang Lahat wag lang yun Equipment) was discussed during a GMA News Online meeting in order to address whether or not the issue of valuing office equipment over the welfare of the reporter was real.

 

Sir Abrera also talked to us about his principles on online journalism and how it complements News Hardcore. He mentioned how his current outlook regarding the media was greatly influenced by his previous work ethics which he applied during his time working for the Philippine Collegian (Kule).  He also added that he couldn’t speak for GMA News Online as a whole on the journalism ethics that they practice since he isn’t exactly a full-time employee of GMA News Online.

 

“Yung ginagawa ko kasi sa News Hardcore, kadalasan ang mga nangyari sa amin dati sa Kule, tsaka yung mga nangyayari sa mga opisina ng nakakausap kong journalists….Ako mismo kasi, hindi empleyado ng GMA News Online, contributor (lang)  ako doon.”, he said.

Meanwhile, our interview questionnaires for Sir Odi de Guzman focused less on News Hardcore and more on the GMA News Online site and how it participates in the world of the internet as a distributor of information. He mentioned that GMA News Online relies heavily on social media in order to disseminate their content. He says that not all Pinoys who are online visit GMA News Online directly and that usually, they hear of GMA News Online through social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. He also adds that the utilization of social media was a great way to engage the audience of GMA News Online.

 

Sir de Guzman further expound on the significance social media has in the role of guaranteeing the public fast and updated news courtesy of GMA News Online.

“Social media provides our news organization with another platform to reach Pinoys in general. The other news platforms in which we operate are: TV (UHF, VHF, cable), radio, online, and social media. Specifically, social media provides us with a platform to break and disseminate news in real-time, similar to radio.”, says sir de Guzman.

 

Another interesting matter to note would be GMA News Online’s campaign called ‘Think before you Click’. Sir de Guzman mentioned how this campaign is all about raising ethical awareness regarding online journalism which in turn encourages people to become more responsible and more accountable while using the internet as a platform for disseminating and sharing information.

A quick survey disseminated through Facebook generated a total of 40 answers from selective respondents who encountered News Hardcore online.

The responses showed that the social media have become a very effective tool to popularize the comic strip. Aside from Manix Abrera’s own set of fan base, through sharing these contents in different social media sites, he was able to earn more fans. Of all the set of questions asked with sharing as part of the choices, it had garnered the highest score among other choices. Sharing the content had been a fad in social media sites and was very helpful in spreading informative data and making one content viral and a talk of the town. Facebook with its wide set of users had been chosen to be the social media site where respondents would most certainly want to share News Hardcore. Since facebook have encourage among netizens about the good use of networking, more people can attract other people to read a content by sharing because of its accessibility and sharing feature. Aside from this, if observed from the age group of the respondents, they are all active netizens of the internet who  actively uses the share and the like feature of facebook, posting feature of blogs and the uniform hashtag features of Twitter. Though it had become a selective process to know which respondent should answer the survey, we can infer that this age group are the present active users of the social media sites. Although, there were two responses from 46 and 56 years old who happen to still enjoy reading News Hardcore.

Generally, the respondents thought of News Hardcore in a positive note. It had been depicted as a online graphic comic relief that mirrors the society’s notion not only of reporters and the newsroom but also to situations in various workplaces too. This comic strip captured a lot of college students and new workers because they were the one who can relate to the discussions. Though what was feared by some is that the high intellectual context of News Hardcore can only be understood by selected people on the internet. It is certainly not a threat for the comic strip’s popularity but it won’t just be easily distributed to other clusters of the social media site. Despite this, the comic strip’s contexts encourages the readers to be highly intellectual and learned users of the society.

In line with Sir De Guzman’s pitch about the “Think Before You Click” Campaign, News Hardcore has shown how one should be prepared and how a user should take the internet seriously. Netizens should be able to exercise the need to express themselves in a cautious and healthy manner.

News Hardcore not only gives a very creative way of putting up social issues online, but also pushes the users to enjoy and motivate themselves in starting to change what seems to be wrong in the society. In here enters the Social Action Theory by Weber and Anderson which promulgates that the audience is not passive but rather an active part of the society by which content through the use of mass communication media is being interpreted and perceived. Within the construction of meaning when content is received, the theory explains three processes of how it evolves. First is the intentions of the creator to spread out the message. Second is the conventions of the content. Last is the interpretations of the audience once content was received. It falls under the media effects theory because it assesses content through how the message will affect the audience who has perceived the message. The thought to inspire and to move must come out of the message through this theory. Just like News Hardcore, Manix Abrera created such content to not only share the behavior of the newsroom but also give out important points missed by people who tend to concentrate on work and school alone. Since the social media had become the alternate world of the young adults who are college students and new workers, these active participants in both worlds (the labor force and the cyberspace) are targets of such content in order to push for effects in the society. They hold one of the strongest opinions aside from the established middle-aged population of the nation.

If the message was understood correctly and was targeted at the right group of people who makes an active participation in both worlds, the action in society might advance positively.

News Hardcore might just be a new fad in the social media, but it surely garners a lot of positive notes and gives the active netizens a way to express and shake things through their own means.

To wrap things up…

From what we see, we are able to conclude that News Hardcore is truly a content-driven site. Looking at the number of hits it gets, it is indeed quite popular mostly because of its content.

 

 

News Hardcore is an example of an online material that makes use of ‘marketable’ content in order to guarantee that users of the internet would really take the time to view it and even make use of online features such as the ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ features present in the site. From here, we can make the assumption that the marketability of a particular online material relies heavily on its content. The fact that News Hardcore  features content that is not only witty and hilarious, but also relevant, goes to show how effective it is in being a marketable piece of online material. Aside from that, it’s also important to note the form of News Hardcore which are comic strips that are easy to read and are also relatively entertaining.

 

So the question is: is News Hardcore really that hardcore? Well in terms of being a hardcore online distributor of information, the answer is yes.

 

 

9 Things We Learn from Haruki Murakami

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What’s your favorite line?

Be it a line from a film, a song or a book, there will be such words carefully etched and formed into a statement that will surely shoot you straight from the heart. It will crush your soul and will give you those OH-MY-GAAAAHD-a-tear-fell-mehuhuhu moments. Or you might just jot in down in an old crisp paper you’ve been saving for such wondrous discoveries to write about.

One dead serious thing about me, that you might find peculiar is the heavy influx of Post-it notes in my computer desk filled with different quotes I’ve picked out from a film, a book or a song. I also keep a notebook (actually 4) of which I put quotes I want to remember. It’s a clutter of different statements but oh what the heck.

AND SOOOOO….

YESTERDAY,

while reading a book, I got this idea of sharing you guys interesting lines from the books of Haruki Murakami. He’s a multi-awarded Japanese author of surreal and humurous stories of  alienation, loneliness and unrequited love. Murakami is actually a personal favorite (I hope I can push with Neil Gaiman for the next list of lines).

I’ve worked quite a few hours to make this visually remarkable with the story where I got the quotes from ( pictures used are vital symbols or photos in the story).

Also, I’d be mentioning a quick background of the book where I got the lines from.

Here it is!

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9. A Wild Sheep Chase is the third book of Murakami’s Trilogy of the Rats. Published in 1982, the story revolves around an unnamed man who goes on an adventure through the cities of Tokyo and Hokkaido in order to hunt for a sheep that had disappeared for seven years. The protagonist then meets a woman with magically seductive ears and a man who dresses like a sheep and has slurred speech.

A Wild Sheep Chase has been defined as a parody or a renewal of Yukio Mishima’s Natsuko no Bōken (夏子の冒険, Natsuko’s Adventure)”

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8. South of the Border, written in 1992 and translated in 1999, is a short novel of regrets. Hajime, from a small town in Japan meets Shimamoto, a girl who suffers from polio (she has to drag her legs because of her condition). They spent their childhood together talking and mostly listening to records owned by Shimamoto. They grew apart and had been reunited after 36 years. Hajime is now an owner of two jazz clubs and is a father to two kids. A swirl of “what ifs” puzzled Hajime’s mind because of Shimamoto’s random appearance and her reluctance to tell any story about her. Meeting her again, Hajime is forced “to choose between his wife and family or attempting to recapture the magic of the past.”

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7. First published in 1988, and translated in 1994, Dance Dance Dance is the sequel next to “A Wild Sheep Chase”. This, quite obviously, is a continuation of the third book where the unnamed protagonist goes back to the hotel that he and the woman (with the magically seductive ears) stayed. She suddenly disappeared without a trace. And this moment, the unnamed man dreams of her and the Sheep Man leading him to two mysteries. First is the question of how to survive the unsurvivable. Second is the murder of a call-girl, and his film actor friend is circumstantially involved. Murakami said that he enjoyed writing this novel the most after his unexpected fame from Norwegian Wood.

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6. 1Q84 is one of Murakami’s recent book written in 2011. The title, 1Q84 is actually the year 1984 since the plot is set in the fictional year of 1984, divided into three sets of time (April-June, July-September, October-December). Q is a wordplay by Murakami since Q is pronounced the same with number 9 in Japanese (kyu). I’ve been personally reading this right now but is still at the first few chapters of the book.  However, I can’t help myself getting such awesome lines one after the other. From what I can initially get from this is the existence of an alternate reality or the questioning of such existence.

“While Aomame and Tengo impact on each other in various ways, at times by accident and at times intentionally, they come closer and closer to meeting. Eventually the two of them notice that they are indispensable to each other. Is it possible for them to ever meet in the real world?”

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5. Now this one’s a great book they say. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle revolves around Toru Okada, an unemployed man whose cat ran away. A chain of events revealed a much more complicated life than he thought he had already seen.

“In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife’s missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan’s forgotten campaign in Manchuria.”

The book is also divided into three parts: The Thieving Magpie, Bird as Prophet and The Birdcatcher.

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4. Sputnik Sweetheart was written in 1999 and translated in 2001. Sumire, K and Miu is bound in a twisted love triangle. Sumire, a writer financially depends on K, an elementary school teacher. K falls in love with Sumire. Sumire thinks otherwise. At a wedding, Sumire met Miu, an ethnic Korean woman. Sumire, for the first time fell in love with Miu. Miu offers Sumire a job and she accepted it. Since then, Sumire tried her best to impress Miu by changing her sedentary lifestyle completely (even her smoking habit). K happened to be just a friend whom Sumire can talk to about other things. Then Sumire disappeared. Up until the last part, which is also an open ending, when one night, Sumire called K to tell him that she is back in Japan and decides to reciprocate K’s feelings, and asks him to pick her up at the same phone booth she always called him from.

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3. Kafka on the Shore, his 2002 book, is about a teenage boy’s mission of finding his sister and mother and left his father and probably escaping from his Oedipal prophecy. The only clue he has is a picture of a beach and a blurred image of probably her mother and sister. He finds refuge in a private library in Takamatsu and spends his time reading a lot of books. Another protagonist of the story is Nakata, known as a cat whisperer who can find lost cats, has acquired a peculiar disorder after an incident back in his childhood during World War II (and yes, Philippines was mentioned there). They might have seen each other but did not know it. They collided, but their reality is not the same as each other’s.

“Due to the Oedipal theme running through much of the novel, Kafka on the Shore has been called a modern Greek tragedy.”

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2. Still Kafka on the Shore. But I would like to share to you the origin behind this quote I find magical. Greek and Japanese mythology encapsulates a certain kind of belief that there existed three kinds of humans, a male, a female and a male-female. But the gods deemed their existence as chaotic and unnecessary. The gods decided to split the male-female in half. Today, each person’s mission is to find their better half, the missing piece to their incomplete being because once they were separated but they have to endeavor the pursuit of being one again with their better half. Deeply touching isn’t it?

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1. Huhuhu finally! Norwegian Wood! The Beatles once wrote a song like this. This also became a Japanese film in 2010 starring Ken’ichi Matsuyama, Rinko Kikuchi and Kiko Mizuhara. Both watched the film and read the story, it still gave me goosebumps when I hear the song Norwegian Wood. It talks about Toru reminiscing his past life on a plane when the song “Norwegian Wood” played. He had once been great friends with Kizuki and his girlfriend Naoko. After Kizuki killed himself (in a very awful manner of gas suffocation), Naoko is left with Toru. After her 20th birthday, Naoko entered a sanatorium to reclaim her emotional stability. Toru now entering college, frequently visited Naoko and spends time with her until the time he met Midori. Midori’s quite an aggressive classmate of Toru who showed immediate interest on him. Toru was left to choose between Midori and Naoko. However, Naoko also committed suicide and when he proclaims his love for Midori on a phone call, she hung up, leaving an open end to the story.

So there you go! I’ll publish a similar list of Gaiman’s. Feel free to suggest other authors though. Or probably songs! That would be awesome!!! :))))

Now can you tell me, what’s your favorite line?

The Emergence of the Man of Steel: A Review

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I got an earworm.

The song “Save Me” by Remy Zero, featured on the TV Series “Smallville” played on and on up until this time. Why? Because just like Clark Kent, I reminisced.

Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan’s “Man of Steel” took an angle on reminisced origins of belief. This 2013 version of Superman’s story introduced Krypton. It showed a planet with creatures of human-like features and an advanced technology evident with their ginormous robots and spaceships. The whole perspective I got from this quite dragging scene (because it almost took 45 minutes to give emphasis on Clark Kent’s origin) was dystopia. Since the planet surely got destroyed and there had been a clash between two parties plus the big black ships, it all draws a picture of War of the Worlds or what any sci-fi film might possibly look like.
Ironically, Clark Kent’s hometown looked and felt like a life in retrospect. Knowing that it was shot on a farm, it gave out a countryside feel. Several frames expressed a very classic American vibe. Likely because of the appearance of the lens flare, the sunset, a slightly focused American flag, a breakfast diner, and a simple town in contrast with an urbanized city (which was very Western by the way—dichotomies). What I was happy about are shots when Clark as Superman feeling awesome flying up in the air, it was like I’d been watching a film back when Christopher Reeve was Superman. The grainy shots really did a subliminal flashback brought into the present.
 man of steel
 
A lot of close-up shots were used and starting details of the frame will likely be coming from an intricate detail or movement of a small object, then it will zoom out to the real scenario. The use of the hands to cover the sun glaring on the face had been seen a few times. Honestly, realizing this right after watching the movie, the color scheme used in this film were schemes used in Sucker Punch and 300 (Both directed by Snyder, eminent in battle scenes in comparison with Krypton’s present state) and from The Dark Knight (where Nolan directed, showed the hazy blue, fiery red, smoke and silver to black vehicles and spaceships). A pattern I observed from the film’s sound effects was the dead silence right before a very loud gush of wind, whenever Clark flies or when General Zod attacks.
A perspective of feminism can be observed from the movie and a lot of cliches you’ll get from superhero films. It was good that a female villain made it hard for Superman to be triumphant over the antagonists, instead of the usual macho perspective of man-vs-man. However, women were still a few in both the villain forces and the American military group. An important depiction of how women was stereotyped was when Lois Lane’s co-worker from the daily planet showed feelings of great fear, panic and unpreparedness (when the girl just stood there waiting for the building to collapse and hit her in the face). It was quite cliche that America is always the center of the world, everything coming from space drops right in New York City. The first place that the aliens will attack will be the United States. And no matter how chaotic the situation was in the Big Apple, the military base camps, and the main operational office was never afflicted with any kind of danger, just perfectly safe. Most importatly, an emphasis of how powerful the country is, seen from the dead-center close-up shot of the mouth of a cannon, can imply an American-centric vibe of Hollywood films.
Quite frankly, some scenes were not realistic. For instance, the breaking news of General Zod’s ship viewed clearly in the television and captioned (non-verbatim) “a video shot from the ground” is not the same as how Clark, his mom, and Lois had seen it as just a small bright UFO. Another example was when Lois was inside a burning metal chamber, coming from space inside the atmosphere. She might have at least afflicted a few burns, but she had still become perfectly fine. Similar to her experience inside the plane that held the reason of a creation of a black hole. Once within the proximity of a black hole, no one can escape its pull. Even Clark struggled to get out of the pull. However, Lois, before being saved, still fell and was pulled by the Earth’s gravity no matter how near she was to the black hole.
Like I said, the song’s forever stuck on my head, because I missed how I loved the show when I was a kid. I missed being a child. Like how Clark remembered how he was different when he was a kid but still his parents loves him for who he is. He kept in mind his father’s beliefs and lived up to it. And finally, my question was answered (well at least from the film’s take I guess). The S was not merely for Superman. It was for hope, a virtue believed of in their house back in Krypton. A symbol that every one has the potential to bring out the force of good in everyone.
  
A kid, after watching the film was asked by his mom,
Mom: Saang planet galing si Clark? (From what planet did Clark came from?)
Kid: Sa Earth
To her mom, it was a wrong answer (for she insisted that Clark was from Krypton, technically yes), but for Clark himself, he is a child of Earth and he let himself be. He chose to protect the planet and the people. He chose to cry, to bleed and to love. Clark became a human and pursued to bring out the hope, the force of good in every human. Clark surely did stick to his belief. Trust me, he did.
image sources: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRmwNIjnNL-lgJjus1RPlh55Ot0DRAhGT9767-XV-NcckzIa-ex
http://i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/02593/Man-of-Steel-film-_2593904b.jpg
http://wpc.556e.edgecastcdn.net/80556E/img.site/PH4h2ahMSbjU77_1_m.jpg
http://images.fandango.com/MDCsite/images/featured/201305/henry%20cavill%20shirtless%20man%20of%20steel.jpg

Blue-toned Maroon: Veejay Calutan

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Meet Veejay Calutan!

He is a fellow journalism major hailing from the business-centered city of Makati.

Blue, as he was named during his elementary years previously liked the color of blue. His taste of color transformed into tones of dark, forest and Prussian green as of the present time. One thing he shared was the origin of his chilldhood nickname. He was called blue not solely because he liked it, but rather it was his choice of handkerchiefs, bags, notebooks and other stuff schemed into this color. The color got stuck with him and thus the name was coined.

He entered the university as a History major before he shifted into the Journalism degree. His father wished to have his son to finish a Science course rather than his present. So Veejay adhered to leave his love for History and diverged to a science course. However, he found Journalism relative and interesting and made a bold move. He pursued to enter the degree and gradually helped his father understand his interest for the course. If he had continued History, he would love to become part of the academe and pursue law after. Right now he still wishes to go to law school after graduation.

This guy is loyal to only two musicians. He is a music lover but enjoys to listen only to Eraserheads and song covers of Boyce Avenue. His playlist consists solely of those singers. One time his friend gave him a memory card filled with other songs so that he will likely listen to other music. As he was telling me this, Veejay finds enthusiasm in songs of The Script, Simple Plan and Ogie Alcasid.

Of all books that he read, Veejay was hooked with the Harry Potter series. His fondness urged him to read each book for four times. Every time he got to read the book, he found new and interesting information  that he might had overlooked before. Aside from this, his childhood favorite were “The Little Prince” and “The Giver”.

He had been connected with the Philippine Collegian for one year and is currently a member of UP Lipunan ng Kasaysayan which he started to become a member of when he was still a History major.

Watch out for this quirky guy around campus because I’m quite sure you’ll love to have him as a classmate for his natural comic actions and an interesting personality you might want to know more of.

Check out his take on Journalism here

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