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From the Roosevelt Island Tram

Contact Jason Balsamo


College is over, but our time has just begun.


boston_univAs I finish my last exam of college.  I am struck by the finality of the moment, and the lack of my awareness.  Sure, I know that is over, but it doesn’t feel that way.  It just feels like Tuesday.

Then I remember what they say.  “College is the best four years of your life,” we are told this so many times that it becomes almost comical.  And one day we find ourselves saying this to others, completing the great cycle of nostalgia.

But these words of wisdom are incomplete.  They should say“College is the best four years of your life… so far.”  It is the “so far” that separates a peak from a milestone.  And I refuse to believe that College is the best it will ever be.  I hold out hope that when tomorrow comes the sun might shine a little brighter, and that I may reach just a few inches farther.

Life is nuanced and complex and not easily summed up in a Facebook status.  But if there were no surprise there’d be no reason to strive; no real reason to even be alive.

And so in perennial wisdom, “onward and upward.”

My Proposed BU COM Commencement Student Speech

Welcome to the Age of Empowerment and Authenticity

Why I hate lists, bullets, and cheap Buzzfeed stunts



Why Buzzfeed lists and their ‘amazing results’ are depleting independent thought and critical analysis.

Is it to much to ask for thoughtful content? How do we break out of a self-created echo chamber?

We live in the long-tail age of communications.  There are no longer a few select media elite or outlets that provide thoughtful content.  The result is that many, not all, but many of the viewers and readers in today’s world self-select content they consume.

This would be fine it were not for the fact that news outlets are now seeking out the highest number of hits for their sites.  What results is the use of cheap ploys and dumbed down content.  We no longer want to actually examine issues of society and gender, we’d rather read 10 ways Frozen redefines Gender on  And of course, our immediate response upon finishing one of these articles is to forget about or mindlessly share it.

Hint: Buzzfeed, you are totally not nailing it.

Now, I’m not saying that sharing content is bad, valuable content should be shared.  But it is a societal problem when hitting like and share on an article replaces critical analysis and independent thought.  And when we insulate ourselves with too many puff pieces, we neglect to pursue action in the areas of society and policy that we have true passion for.

“I am the King of Late Night, and so can you!”: Stephen Colbert tabbed to Replace David Letterman


CBS announced today that Stephen Colbert will be taking over the Tonight Show after David Letterman retires this year.

The move marks a major shake-up to the late night television world with the departure of Jay Leno last year and the now impending departure of Letterman.

CBS which is owned by Viacom (the owner of Comedy Central) was reportedly considering Jon Stewart along with Colbert but decided on Colbert due to the long standing audience built around The Daily Show.

Colbert will likely be successful in his role as he is an exceptionally skilled interviewer and a likeable host based on his previous work on television specials and events like the White House Correspondents Dinner.

The real question behind this move is what will happen to the future of Late Night Political Comedy?  Who will replace Stephen Colbert as the arch-conservative?  Will anybody?

Colbert’s move to the Tonight Show will likely see him leave his faux Papa bear conservative personality behind.  For many Liberal viewers and otherwise politically minded audiences, this departure will leave a whole in late night comedy.  While Jon Stewart and Bill Maher do a good job respectively in informational politically comedy, Colbert’s personality had a unique ability to point out absurdities in media and political candidates.

The Social Customer

Michael Brito the Edelman Social VP hosted alecture on Hootsuite about the shifting models of business and customer interaction.  Where companies once sought out the passive mass audience to buy their products, today they acknowledge the need to look for the type of conversations a growing number of social customers care about.

From 1995 to today the presence of the “Social Customer” is growing.  Who are these Social Customers?  They are the consumers who make purchasing decisions based on word of mouth (or word of “mouse”) buzz.  The customers are increasingly tech savvy and they look to online forums and peer reviews in evaluating the quality of a product or service that a business offers.

The customers themselves don not view themselves as a “Social Customer,” but these individual do filter content in a way to ensure that only the messages they are looking for get to them.  This new reality means there are growing audiences that cannot be reached through traditional mass marketing.

In 2003 Myspace brought forth personal forms of social media to the forefront of Business.  Social customers heavily use these types of platforms to take ownership of a curated online identity.  Businesses simply needed to follow suit and do the same or risk being left of the conversation entirely.

This rapidly growing field calls into question who exactly should take ownership of social media. Deciding whether to go with Marketing or PR is a frequent dilemma in the online landscape for many companies. Brito tells us that we have to research, participate, share, and advocate for our values.  Company goals should reflect long term needs. A lot of companies just want 12 million fans by next year.  But organic growth provides higher ROI and long-term business value.  Setting up platforms to share valuable content for your stakeholders will be more successful then only blasting out sales and prices.  Ultimately, advocates talk about the brand, even when the brand isn’t listening.  That is how you get genuine return on influence.



COMmunicating with the Media as a PR professional

            Over the weekend I got to speak with journalist Edwin Molina.  Mr. Molina was a former colleague of mine at Columbia University where we worked for the Business Sports Program. He graduated the Boston University College of Communication in 1998 and has worked for over a decade as journalist and PR professional.  Today he is the managing editor for the Sports section of a newly launched Hispanic website and news outlet call

            Mr. Molina started his career in journalism in 1999 working for the Boston Herald.  “I started out hating PR professionals,” he tells me, “I just didn’t think it was important for journalists to talk with them.”  The big change in his perception was when he left the Herald when they downsized.  In a tough job market, he found himself interviewing for PR jobs. “I showed up to New York without a job, he says, “I ended up interviewing with the Fashion Institute of Technology and landing a six–month gig.” 

            Working in PR was a new experience according to Molina, “I didn’t really know much about Fashion, he tells me, “but I realized that Fashion journalism was mostly about relationships.”  Despite having little background in PR, Molina became a relatively successful in the narrow industry.  

            Mr. Molina now has a much greater appreciation for PR professionals. According to him, they can really help make a journalist’s job a lot easier by bringing relevant and well thought-out information to support their pitch.  They can also really irritate a reporter if they don’t do their job.  “Get them [journalists] what they need for a story before 6 p.m. and know what they write and how they write it,” advises Molina, “make their job easy, don’t pitch a lifestyle story to a political reporter.”

            Mr. Molina spent 2006 working for Elliot Spitzer’s campaign for NY Governor.  He told me it gave him a new appreciation for the twenty-four hour news cycle. “I was up every day at 5 am reading the newspapers,” he says, “If there was a story on our opponent in the Binghamton Gazette we had to be prepared to respond by the morning talk shows.” He found political media relations to be challenging due to its adversarial nature.  But even in those kinds of fields, Mr. Molina emphasizes the importance of relationships.  “Don’t spam them,” he tells me, “take them to dinner, and cater the story to the interests of them or their editor if you can.”

            Mr. Molina is in the sports journalism field these days.  “I really enjoy the more relaxed pace,” he says, “I get to chose my own stories and write in my own time.” Social media is huge for his business.  “I usually find myself checking what trending when I decide what to write about,” say Molina. Twitter is the most important platform for him, he says it helps him connect with sources and push the story out to interested groups.  “I always hated Twitter when I was younger,” he reflects, “but now it’s a necessity to survive, and I love the relationships you can foster on it.” Mr. Molina is hopeful for new media; he sees it as a point of synergy for journalists and PR professionals.  “It doesn’t have to be adversarial,” he concludes, “just productive and relevant for both sides.”

Satire is Persuasive. And So Can You.



Satire and the humor it results in have a powerful ability to help or harm political candidates and prime the ideas through which they are judged and evaluated by the electorate.  In this way, satirists shape public perceptions by creating caricatures and illuminating contradictions in political campaigns. 


These are effective because there are enough layers of truth to make it effective.  This type of priming reinforces and establishes perceptions that effect individuals’ decisions in the voting booth.  This priming effect does not extend to the changing of values or beliefs, but rather lies in the ability of satire and parody to move the beliefs of people with latitudes of non-commitment and to reinforce those individuals within the latitude of acceptance within the message.  



            Before examining further the effects of priming in relation to political comedy, we must first establish the paradigm within which this research will reside.  The concept of “Priming” is a mess media theory closely related to Agenda Setting, the process by which media elites determine the most salient issues to the public by choosing what stories they cover and for how long.  This allows the editors, journalists, and producers of such stories to tell the public what they should be thinking about


Priming is the natural extension of this theory as it is the establishment of a narrative regarding these events, in this way, individuals are told how to think about issues raised by media content in either positive or negative lenses.  The relevancy of priming is in its ability to strengthen beliefs and validate existing beliefs.  Viewers with latitudes of acceptance and non-commitance are most likely to be persuaded in this theory. 


Political satire and parody primes people by using ideas that have some truth to enlarge flaws and contradictions in the policy of political candidates.  A candidate like Mitt Romney is accepted to be much wealthier than the average American, political comedy exaggerating this fact can portray him as out of touch with average economic concerns, but that priming does not create that idea, rather it strengthens and reinforces the principle.


Stephen Colbert’s parody of a conservative talk show host present arguments in a less straightforward way but these messages seem to resonate with the audience.  This suggests that priming is influenced by the fact that political comedy persuades by moving along the peripheral route to cognition.  The central route has the most rational response and predispositions cause such messages to be rejected. 


Political comedy avoids those beliefs by entering on the peripheral and over time and exposure moving beliefs in one direction or reinforcing ones that were already there.  This resolves the discrepancy between individuals being aware of political comedy as being attempts to persuade, yet being more affected by them than other persuasive mediums like advertisements. 


In Sum, the way to people hearts, and minds, is through their funny bone.


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