Skip navigation
All Places > The Communication COMMunity > Blog > 2018 > September
Erika Gutierrez

A Back-to-School GIFT

Posted by Erika Gutierrez Sep 28, 2018

Congratulations on the new academic year! We hope your students are off to a grand start and are well on their way to a successful fall semester. Time flies, and it is surprising that we are already a month into the semester. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Erika Gutierrez, and I'm the Senior Program Director for Communication & College Success here at Bedford/St. Martin's and Macmillan Learning. It's been a pleasure to read  and share the Back-to-School posts from our authors. Joseph Ortiz, Choices & Connections, started off the series with a post called, “Back to School Tips 2018: Trigger Scripts,” that presents a compelling way to draw students into course concepts by using communication based dilemmas or trigger scripts. Christopher Martin, Media & Culture, wrote an excellent piece, “The End of the Summer of Media Merger Mania,” to spur conversations about current mergers, their goals, and their potential impact on culture and our media experience. Thank you Joe and Chris! Also, I want to send a thank you to our associate editor, Melanie McFadyen, for her work on the Communication COMMunity site.  


We created this site to provide a space for instructors to connect with one another and with our authors and to share teaching ideas and professional resources. Now that September is almost over, we have one last fall Back-to-School post to share that we hope you will enjoy and that will help you accomplish your teaching goals. We are sharing Communication in the Classroom: A Collection of GIFTs edited by John Seiter, Jennifer Peebles, and Matthew L. Sanders all from Utah State University. GIFTS is a popular term for Great Ideas for Teaching Students. Organized in chapters by research area, each GIFT selected for this professional volume includes information about the author(s) of the activity, a detailed explanation, and a debrief drawing on the instructors' experiences. There are 100+ teaching activities included! If you are interested in sharing new GIFTS on the community site, reach out to us!



This book is an invaluable resource for anyone teaching a communication course who is looking for new ideas to spice up their classroom and engage students. This resource, as well as our other professional resources, are available for you to download from the community site. To access them, register for an account at the top right-hand corner of the screen, and download GIFTs here.


Student engagement is key, and it's our goal to provide you with the professional resources to help, from class activities and video assignments, to blog posts with tips and tricks from other instructors, and now to GIFTs. Look for emails this fall about upcoming webinars with our authors and an upcoming webinar on our new video assessment program powered by GoReact. We hope that you make use of the community’s open resources and events and have a wonderful and successful semester!


Very best,

Erika Gutierrez 

The summer of 2018 has been a momentous one for media merger mania. Although this sounds like a topic for a high-level economics course, the approved and proposed media mergers involve a number of name-brand companies, and will have a significant effect on media culture, journalism, and what we’ll be watching and streaming on phones and other screens in the coming years.


Among the proposed mergers:


  • AT&T’s takeover of TimeWarner
  • Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox
  • Sinclair Broadcasting’s acquisition of Tribune Media,
  • a Sprint and T-Mobile merger
  • a re-merger of CBS and Viacom


The most recent wave of mergers waited upon the decision of a lawsuit between the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and AT&T over its planned purchase of TimeWarner, which would signal whether the Department of Justice would prevail in enforcing antitrust law. A federal judge approved the merger on June 15, which put Warner Bros. studios, HBO, and Turner under the corporate umbrella of AT&T, one of the two major mobile phone companies. The DOJ decided to appeal the decision, but AT&T still proceeded with its work, renaming its new subsidiary “Warner Media.”


AT&T’s reason for the acquisition was to control a huge flow of media content to stream on its mobile phone network so it could compete with other digital giants like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Netflix. AT&T’s CEO says they want to deliver a “mobile-first entertainment experience.AT&T has a head start with HBO, which is already streaming premium content, but it will need to continue to produce hits like “Game of Thrones” in the coming years to compete with all of the other digital media companies that have the same idea.


Disney’s purchase of 21st Century Fox (including its movie studio, but not Fox News FS1 sports, or Fox Broadcasting Network), approved in July, was proposed for the same reason. Disney now adds to its roster films like Avatar, Titanic, and the X-Men franchise, along with shows like “The Simpsons” and “This is Us” (broadcast on NBC, but produced by 20th Century Fox Television), along with cable channels FX and National Geographic, and majority ownership of Hulu. Disney reportedly will roll out three streaming offerings: 1) an entertainment channel (with Disney animation, Marvel films, Pixar Films, Star Wars, and everything else in the Disney and Fox film libraries) – people are already dubbing this Disneyflix, 2) a sports stream (Disney owns ESPN), and 3) Hulu, of which Disney now has controlling ownership, for streaming television shows. Disney looks to be a formidable challenger to Netflix.


Still awaiting approval are a Sprint and T-Mobile merger. There are only four main mobile phone companies in the U.S, and these two are the third and fourth largest, after AT&T and Verizon. A&T tried to buy T-Mobile in 2011, but it was rejected by the Antitrust Division of the DOJ on the basis that it would have hurt competition in the business. Will this merger survive the same standard?


After splitting in 2006, CBS and Viacom may re-merge, too, although that story has become complicated by the bad blood between Viacom’s leadership and CBS’s Chairman and CEO Les Moonves, who also became subject to a sexual misconduct investigation this summer after another blockbuster report of a #MeToo case by Ronan Farrow for The New Yorker magazine.


Sinclair, already the largest local TV station owner in the U.S., would have become even larger with the TV station properties of Tribune Media, reaching about 70 percent of U.S. TV households. Of particular concern is that the Sinclair, which has a history of imposing right-wing politics on its local stations’ newscasts, would have created a broadcast version of Fox News. As the FCC began to make regulatory approval more difficult, the deal fell apart in August.


Historically, half of all mergers and acquisitions are failures, and the planned synergies across the various subsidies are never realized. Consider, for example, the disastrous AOL–Time Warner merger of 2001 or News Corp.’s expensive bad bet on the success of Myspace in 2005. Time will tell with the mergers of 2018. Did AT&T and Disney invest billions to create even better (and more profitable) media experiences for the post-cable world, or did they waste their money by misreading the path consumers would be taking in the future? Like with earlier mergers, we should know in a few years.