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“One of the things that was most shocking to me getting into the media business, an MSNBC.com producer tells Josh Braun, was the realization...

“One of the things that was most shocking to me getting into the media business, an MSNBC.com producer tells Josh Braun, was the realization that regular people were making it. Television to me . . . was just like sunlight. You push the button and it just comes off the screen. Today, television just comes off lots of screens. Computers, tablets, phones, city billboards, stadium jumbotrons. The path from the recording pictures to showing them to us their physical distribution is neither simple nor elegantly planned.

In This Program is Brought to You By . . . Distributing Television Online (Yale University Press 2015), Joshua Braun, an Assistant Professor of Journalism Studies in the Journalism Department at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, explores changes in the technology platforms for online news at MSNBC between 2007 and 2012. A book of media sociology, Braun uses a series of examples at MSNBC such as a more flexible video player, online community forums, and a blog for the Rachel Maddow Show, to make an argument about the shapes these distribution solutions take. Developed through project-based management, involving multiple teams with differing objectives and resources, each solution is ultimately unique to the particular task at hand. These digital systems, he argues, are a sociological phenomenon that come together like physical infrastructure such as power grids and highways.

Josh takes an inside look at MSNBC between 2007 and 2012, a time when the network was consolidating the brands of its television network and online news hub and rolling out new technologies internally like blogs, video players and community forums that could support viewer and visitor demands.

This Program is Brought to You By unmasks the magic behind the pictures and sounds that just come off the screen.


John Balz is Director of Strategy at VML, a full-service marketing agency with offices around the globe. He has spent his career applying behavioral science strategies in the marketing and advertising field through direct mail and email, display and .coms, mobile messaging, e-commerce and social media. You can follow him on Twitter @Nudgeblog and contact him at nudgeblog@gmail.com.