August 25th, 2014

What are young people like? This ad has a few ideas, but so do our students

If you’re one of the millions of people who spent last night watching and tweeting at the 2014 VMAs, then you are well aware of the hold that mass media has on youth. Every performance, appearance, sound bite – and the evening’s surprise social cause – was designed to capture teens and young adults worldwide. In this targeting, producers are not only making a range of assumptions about what young people want (and can be made to want), they’re often supporting some negative stereotypes. Take a look at what a team of seniors and teens in our Intergenerational Media Literacy Project discovered in one popular commercial from Taco Bell:

What do you think? Tell us when you make your own broken commercial with the MediaBreaker!

August 15th, 2014

The LAMP’s SXSWedu panel picks

The LAMPpost blog is breaking one of the cardinal rules of media, and going on vacation. In the meantime, take a couple of minutes and vote for our panel at SXSWedu! Community votes are a big factor in whether or not we’ll get to take our message of media making and breaking to Austin in March of 2015. Check out the video, then click the box below to vote:

PanelPicker Vote 3

After you’ve voted for us, share the love and check out some of the other SXSWedu proposals. Here are just a few of our faves:

WHAT: Deepening the Practice of Digital Literacy with Renee Hobbs
WHY: If you have ever read anything about media literacy, chances are you’ve come across Renee Hobbs. She is a force in this area of learning, and seeing her at SXSWedu would be a treat for field veterans, and a great opportunity for those new to digital media literacy.

WHAT: Meaningful ways to raise more $ for the classroom with Geraldine Smythe
WHY: This is a topic that, sadly, applies to most educators in K-12 classrooms today. Fundraising isn’t covered in most educator professional development tracks, but it’s vital to learn your way around sites like DonorsChoose – especially if you’re look for technology upgrades or additions, which are hard to come by in school budgets.

WHAT: Redefining EdTech Innovation: NYC as Case Study with a panel of great people
WHY:: We have to give a plug not only for Mozilla, but also for New York City. There are a lot of bold innovators here, but in our opinion, NYC public schools in particular still have a ways to go in making sure students graduate with meaningful 21st-century skillsets (read Emily’s BYOT op-ed if you haven’t yet). If we went to this panel, we’d love to hear about what NYC is doing well, but also where even a top city for tech companies is coming up short – plus what we can do to make change and learn from others in the country.

Again, these are just a few panels we’d like to see. Tell us about the ones you like in the comments!

August 14th, 2014

Playtesting MBv2, Remixing Reality TV and more: July/August News from The LAMP!


News from The LAMP            July/August 2014
Toys R Us

Playtesting MediaBreaker V.2

High schoolers at the Seidenberg Creative Labs got hands-on with our biggest improvements yet to the MediaBreaker video remix tool.

Watch their finished projects

Learn more







Reality Remix

Remixing Reality TV

Remixing Reality TV with Hudson Guild

In July, The LAMP began a weekly summer program with Hudson Guild called Reality T.V. Remix, examining the phenomenon of reality television and how reality shows are produced.

Learn more





honey shot

The Honey Shot

The 2014 World Cup is history, but – unfortunately – the Honey Shot is forever. Turning the camera on scantily-clad female sports fans is such a time-honored tradition of sports broadcasting that you may not have even known it was a Thing. One of our most popular summer blog posts clarifies its origins and puts it in context way beyond the bounds of a playing field.

Learn more


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August 11th, 2014

Remixing Reality Television with Hudson Guild


LAMP Education Director Alan Berry talks with students at Hudson Guild. Photo by Jennifer Castracane.

In July, The LAMP began a weekly summer program with Hudson Guild called Reality T.V. Remix, examining the phenomenon of reality television and how reality shows are produced. Unfortunately, on the day I visited the workshop, the computer servers were down and so we couldn’t work with the Media Breaker as planned. With the clock ticking, we had to quickly create a new lesson plan. Instead of breaking reality T.V. clips we decided that the students would create their own reality shows. Using pens, notebooks and their imaginations, the students formed groups to create a scene for their own show.

There were many creative ideas and some shows that I believe can be made into a real series. One group came up with a game show based off the children’s game M.A.S.H., which predicts what one’s future lifestyle will be. They decided to bring that game to life by fulfilling this quiz and living with the house, car and husband the contestant was assigned to. Other ideas were more traditional, such as Keeping up with the Teenagers, a parody of Keeping up with the Kardashians, which would go into the lives of everyday teenagers to exploit their drama for the world. Unlike in most reality television shows, the groups created problems and peaceful resolutions in their fantasy shows, showing that violence is not always the answer and many times it is more effective to talk out problems rather than fighting.


– Jennifer Castracane

Jennifer will be a senior next year at Bayside High School, and is interning with The LAMP through the Career and Technical Education Summer Scholars program. If you’re interested in learning more about an internship with The LAMP, send us an email!

Follow The LAMP on Twitter: @thelampnyc

August 5th, 2014

Breaking and Making in the Hacker Play Spaze!

On Friday, August 1, The LAMP participated in a maker party in the Bronx at the Andrew Freedman Home. The event was organized by Spazecraft One of World Up and Celena Jamieson of Black Girls Code, and engaged about fifty local kids in an array of fun learning activities, including beat-making, web-hacking, and video remixing. The students involved in the Hacker Play Spaze! event have been spending their days at the Andrew Freedman House all summer, but had no idea they would be spending this day engaging with such cool activities. At The LAMP’s table, the Bronx students remixed commercials using the free, online MediaBreaker tool, and they really took to hacking the slick, branded messages. One young student, James, had to be pried away from the MediaBreaker when snack time came around. Then, after showing off some dance moves at the beat-making station, he returned to the MediaBreaker to continue messing with media. “This is really fun,” he said.

– Alan Berry

Follow The LAMP on Twitter: @thelampnyc

August 4th, 2014

Media Breakers ask: Did Toys ‘R Us just say learning is boring?

A couple of weeks ago, high school students in this year’s summer program at the Seidenberg Creative Labs at Pace University playtested the latest version of the MediaBreaker. We’re proud to show here a couple of the breaks they made – one taking on the classic Terry Crews Old Spice ad, and another challenging a Toys ‘R Us commercial that says learning is boring. Or at least, that’s what one team of maker-breakers thought. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments!

July 31st, 2014

Report: Lunchables Are So Bad, Kraft Can’t Advertise Most of Them


Image from

Yeah, yeah. I realize that’s a very clickbait-y headline. Usually I try to write a step above Upworthy and BuzzFeed, but in this case, there’s no hyperbole. That headline is 100% true, as reported in a recent study by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.

Here’s the backstory: The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) was formed in 2006 as a self-regulating strategy for advertisers. Companies figured that rather than have some outside entity make them follow a set of rules about how to market to kids, the companies themselves would come up with some guidelines of their own, join the CFBAI and pledge to stick to those guidelines. Kraft Foods Group signed on to the CFBAI in 2006, agreeing that only Kraft products meeting a set of minimal nutritional standards would be advertised to children less than 12 years old. So far, so good, right?

Not quite. As of April 2013, Kraft produced 42 varieties of Lunchables, but only five met minimal standards for fat, saturated fat, calories and sodium. And in the year prior, it seems, Kraft went all in on marketing those five varieties to kids, spending over $27 million on Lunchables advertising alone, with television ads reaching kids between 6-11 once a week on average – that’s five times more frequently than adults, who are ostensibly the ones buying groceries in the first place.

There are also three other points which at first seem minor, but given an ounce of thought, can easily be seen as harmful:

1. In at least one case, a variety of Lunchables was reformulated so that it no longer met Kraft’s nutritional standards, and had to be removed from the list of Lunchables that Kraft could advertise. But kids and parents didn’t necessarily know that. They’d already seen the ads touting the product as a healthier option, and the new packaging probably didn’t include a banner stating that the variety now had more calories, fat and sodium than ever before.

2. In 2013, Kraft introduced its new UPLOADED line of Lunchables, which have more calories and fat than other varieties, but for a time failed to separate online advertising for UPLOADED products from its other “healthy” Lunchables.

3. The Rudd researchers also found that the Lunchables meeting Kraft’s nutritional guidelines were more likely to be placed on the top shelves at grocery stores, making them virtually invisible to kids. Although CFBAI doesn’t say anything about how marketers can advertise in stores, one would think that if Kraft were truly committed to ethical marketing and promoting healthy choices to kids, it might be more proactive.

This woeful tale of Lunchables goes to show why it’s so important for kids as well as adults to be media literate. They should know, on a basic level, how they are being targeted, and they should know to ask questions about things like token green checkmarks and proclamations that something is nutritious. Adults should definitely be aware of how the big food marketing world works, and what means for their kids – not to mention themselves.

(Full report here)

Emily Long
Follow The LAMP on Twitter: @thelampnyc
Follow Emily on Twitter: @emlong
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