Monday, March 31, 2008

111 people say goodbye to...

...a leading national news magazine.

Her lead is shrinking, but... (UPDATED)

...two Pennsylvania politicians still expect Hillary Clinton to win the state's Democratic primary.

UPDATE: But will it matter? More once uncommitted Democrats are starting to announce they are backing Barack Obama. This is in part a sign of wanting party unity. It also might be a realization that the math is not in Mrs. Clinton's favor. Regardless, one Clinton supporter is pleading with those Democrats to be patient. That message also can be interpreted another way.

Live Webcast and discussion of Al-Jazeera

Heard about this today...would be an interesting topic for our classrooms. Note that you can sign up for free to watch the Webcast. The conference is next Monday.

Kathie Lee Gifford

That's the answer. The question is...right here.

More credence to the Al Gore scenario

I mentioned in a post last week that I was disgusted that CNN's Jack Cafferty was taking a local (Florida) newspaper report and turning it into a national story, when there really was no story to begin with.

Now along comes TIME's Joe Klein...offering a bit more evidence (and therefore a story) that Democrats in 2008 might have to consider Al Gore as a compromise presidential candidate.

The Olympic Torch arrives in China

Here's a blurb from CNN, but you can read and see much more on CCTV.

State-run CCTV also (and perhaps inadvertently) mixed politics and sports on the homepage of its English-language site, noting that the government was unhappy with comments made by European leaders over Tibet.

Meanwhile, The New York Times is reporting that China is attempting to rally domestic support, in part as a means to justify its handling of the situation in Tibet.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

You knew this was coming -- check out the comments

Kudos to the anonymous person who left two comments to the "You knew this was coming" post I made earlier this evening. Whoever it is makes a valid point -- there is more than one way to look at and interpret the events taking place over the past couple of weeks in China and Tibet.

Each of us should examine as many media sources as possible and make our own decision about what the truth is and where blame lies.

This idea, of course, holds true for any media story, no matter how controversial it is. (And it might be even more relevant when examining an international event.) We learn more, and we become better consumers and critics of news when we take the time to explore as many sources of information as possible.

Anonymous, you did indeed make a very valid point.

Hillary Clinton has a new fan in Pittsburgh...

...though he admits that he's not ready to say whether he'd actually vote for her.

You knew this was coming (UPDATED)

The Olympic Torch relay + Protesters = Arrests and Plenty of Media Coverage. Here are reports from FOX News and The New York Times.

And not a word about the protests can be found on the English-language version of CCTV.

Meanwhile, voices of support for the Dalai Lama are beginning to be heard. But on state-run CCTV there are reports that the government maintains demonstrate the "Dalai clique" was behind the March 14 violent protests. And a fresh round of protests erupted over the weekend.

UPDATE: China is tightening security at home, as the Olympic Torch prepares to arrive on Chinese soil.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Chancellor Merkel is the first

Will any others follow? Chances are pretty good that the decision by Germany's political leader to skip the Beijing Olympics will not be matched by many others.

Looking for Hillary Clinton to drop out of the presidential race?

Fuh-get-aboud-it. The candidate herself says she's going nowhere. Ironically, even her Democratic rival is acknowledging it.

I've read with some genuine interest the various media reports over the last day or two indicating that a variety of Democrats are asking Mrs. Clinton to step aside. My reaction to each story -- why? I pose the question not to suggest I have no idea why some within the Democratic leadership would want her to quit. Instead, I was asking it hoping that there would be substantive analysis of why.

Most stories have provided the answers, though there appear to be very few. One would certainly be party unity. Another would be preventing a protracted race that drains the funds either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama would need for the general election. A third would be the math involved -- it would be difficult for Mrs. Clinton to overtake Mr. Obama. Yet another would be eliminating the almost free ride that Mr. McCain is enjoying now that he has wrapped up the Republican nomination.

So, we wait.

Is one Chicago newspaper not being "fair and balanced"

To paraphrase a line from one cable news organization...here's the report, you decide.

More protests...more arrests

Today, almost 80 people were arrested in Nepal, as protests over Tibet continue. An interesting article in today's Washington Post, which notes that this week the "face" of the protests changed.

Meanwhile, is the Chinese government deliberately moving people to Tibet? A provocative charge...and here's who is making it.

Overarching the protests and any aggressive actions that the Chinese government might be taking is this: The West is urging China to begin talks with the Dalai Lama. What happens if it refuses?

And, in case you are wondering, state-run CCTV is reporting the ending of a trip 19 Western media took to Lhasa.

Friday, March 28, 2008

(UPDATED) Olympic-sized protests have Olympic sponsors concerned

Why? The answer is rather obvious, but this is worth reading anyway.

And a similar, but even more complex, story about international efforts to brand the upcoming Beijing Games the "Genocide Olympics."

UPDATE: Saturday afternoon -- This report highlights what must be a bitter reality for the Chinese leadership and for the International Olympic Committee -- more and more activists are attempting to use the Olympic Torch relay as a stage to protest what is happening in Tibet and China. Meanwhile, the Chinese government is promising assistance to people from Tibet who in any way were affected by the unrest from earlier this month.

More troubles for Al-Jazeera

A leading American anchor has quit.

China and Tibet -- a missing piece of a story (UPDATED)

An interesting report from the English-language version of CCTV about the media tour of Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

Do you see anything missing from this state-run media report? Perhaps this should have been included, if one were interested in telling the full story.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, the state-run media continue to beat the anti-Western media drum.

Did the media make too much of a recent story...

...that indicated perhaps one in five (and maybe more) Democrats was prepared to vote for John McCain, if their Democratic choice didn't get the party's nomination? Here's the answer.

Newspapers and the Web

Editors are spending more time on their jobs...and doing so online.

Strong turnout for Obama in the 'Burgh (UPDATED 2 times)

The Democratic presidential candidate began a 6-day trip through Pennsylvania, a state in which he still trails his opponent, Hillary Clinton, today.

Sen. Obama also picked up the endorsement of Pennsylvania's Democratic senator, Bob Casey.

UPDATE: Does Sen. Casey's endorsement suggest that he might be Sen. Obama's running mate? Now, this one is interesting. As the report suggests, Casey could be a difference in whether the Democrats carry Pennsylvania in the fall. But I would ask those who relish this idea to consider the following -- does Casey solve the perceived weaknesses of Sen. Obama -- national experience being among them?

UPDATE 2: At least one national political critic says the calls for Mrs. Clinton to abandon her presidential bid are not appropriate.

The title...

...says it all. This story should be of interest to almost everyone.

Industry job cuts

No matter how small/big the number and no matter from what department...job cuts are not good news.

Not a gold medal winning performance!

I agree with many of the issues raised in this Washington Post report.

Also, I heard an interesting interview on NPR yesterday afternoon, when Olympic historian David Wallechinsky discussed the history of politics and the Olympics. Needeless to say, China is not the first country dealing with this.

NPR also is reporting this morning that the unrest in Tibet and the Chinese government's handling of the situation has placed into question the notion of ethnic harmony within China.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Young people and political news

As you might guess, the old stand-bys are not for them.

Perpetuating stereotypes?

VOGUE magazine is in hot water with some groups. The concern -- how a popular African-American athlete and Caucasian woman are presented on the magazine's cover.

660 people... (UPDATED)

...have been detained, according to Chinese authorities, as a result of the protests in Tibet.

I heard an interesting interview on NPR about this situation this morning. China's "representative" to the United States (I put the word in quotes because it surprised me that he wasn't called an ambassador) indicated on at least two occasions that there was a concerted and orchestrated effort underway within Tibet to undermine the Beijing Olympics. I kept waiting for the "why," but that information was never forthcoming.

The Washington Post provides an interesting first-person account of the Tibet situation, today.

Meanwhile, the Chinese continue the drumbeat of negative comments about the Western media and their coverage of the Tibet situation. And, remember, there is certainly a coordinated effort to make this happen.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The pressure increases on China...

...as both European and American political leaders urge the government to ratchet down the tension and the rhetoric.

No digital converters!

Why is the Community Broadcasters of America making that (likely futile) claim? You need to link here for the answer.

A government bailout

That's what one critic thinks of the proposed merger of XM and Sirius.

I hadn't thought of this merger in this way before...I think Pearlstein makes a strong argument.

Other, though less biting, criticisms and analysis are available, including this report from NPR.

THe incredibly shrinking media pool

Brought about by the incredibly escalating costs of sending people to cover the campaign in multiple places and at multiple times.

"Misspoke", day two

Looks like the media are not going easy on Hillary Clinton. Check out the reports in The New York Times and Bloomberg News.

Speaking personally, if I were ever on a flight in which the pilot had to make a corkscrew landing, and people were firing bullets at the plane...you bet, I'd remember where it was.

Returning now to the campaign (as I get off my soap box), TIME magazine is reporting that Mrs. Clinton is showing no signs of stepping away from the challenges she faces in order to secure her party's presidential nomination. Those challenges do not include winning Pennsylvania (at least not at this point), but Barack Obama is fighting to the end.

Why do the media like John McCain? UPDATED

This column suggests his attitude about politics matches that held by most reporters.

Meanwhile, it also appears that the NFL and NBC are going to use good judgment and move the start time of the opening game of the 2008 season so that the game and Sen. McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention won't conflict.

UPDATE: Here's an interesting twist on the title of this post -- it appears that more Democrats each day are making up their minds to vote for McCain IF their preferred Democratic candidate doesn't get the party's nomination.

Barack is coming to the 'Burgh

The delegate-leading Democratic presidential candidate will make a visit to Pittsburgh on Friday.

China, Tibet and the 2008 Olympics today

The Chinese government is reporting that its military is gaining the upper-hand over numerous protesters in Tibet.

A new look at the situation on the ground could be forthcoming, as the government also announced today it is allowing foreign journalists to return to Tibet.

XM and Sirius (likely) merger

The analysis continues, including a report from the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune.

Is the English-language version of Al-Jazeera in trouble?

This report suggests the answer might be yes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shameful!

That's the Chinese government's description of those who are using the Olympic Torch relay as a forum to protest what is happening in Tibet. I wonder if they have the residents of San Francisco in mind.

Of course, the government isn't that thrilled with a British newspaper, either. And it also reasserted late Tuesday night (early Wednesday in Beijing) that a "Dalai clique" was responsible for the on-going unrest in Tibet.

Meanwhile, the government also is reporting that Chinese students studying abroad are strongly in support of what their leaders and military are doing.

CBS might get...

...a Democratic presidential debate. Needless to say, the network needs one.

This is a poor example of NEWS

A cable network program takes a local media interview...and attempts to spin it into a national news story.

Notice what is at work here:
1. A story that is essentially single sourced
2. A story based largely on opinion/speculation
3. A story that also panders to the audience largely for the sake of ratings.

CNN and Jack Cafferty ought to know better. And both ought to do better.

More kudos to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

One of the Democratic presidential candidates was at the newspaper's offices today. A wide-ranging interview ensued.

A college newspaper is shut down

Editorial control and content have nothing to do with the decision. What's your reaction, after reading this story?

Now that we are into Year Six of the Iraq War...

...American media are aware of and reacting to different stories that need to be told within the country.

Sacre bleu!

Check out what the French might do...in response to the situation in Tibet.

An hour with Betsy Hiel and Justin Merriman

Last evening, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Betsy Hiel spent an hour at Point Park University speaking to a group of our students.

Hiel is the paper's Cairo-based Middle East correspondent, and she and photojournalist Justin Merriman recently spent several weeks in Pakistan covering the political, religious and social situation in the country. Here is a link to her series of reports and photos by Merriman.

You'll notice in those special reports that Hiel and Merriman made a real attempt at practicing convergence. Learning that craft, regardless of whether one is a broadcast or print reporter, "is a challenge for all of us," Hiel said.

She noted that on a couple of occasions either she or Merriman were aware of the dangers they faced while in Pakistan. Their fears, she said, were not based on a sense that they personally were the targets of anyone; instead they were aware that the volatility within the country could have led to them become innocent victims of some kind of attack. Hiel later told the students that no reporter can place the possibility of dying in the front of their minds; doing so will prevent them from getting their jobs done. "If you think like that, you should get out (of the business)," she said. Merriman added that it was a surreal feeling to know that they were at times in places where one group of people would be happy to see them but another group of people would have welcomed the opportunity to kill them.

Hiel has been stationed in Cairo since 2000, when she became the newspaper's Middle East correspondent. She told the students of the importance of working hard, catching a few breaks, paying your dues and always being ready for that phone to ring.

Merriman said much the same thing. He said something that really resonated with me: A camera is "a passport to anything you want to do." Merriman has been to India and Pakistan in the past three years (and kudos by the way to the Trib for its commitment to these and other international projects). He told the sizable number of photography and photojournalism majors in attendance that he shot 14,000 pictures while in Pakistan, but there was only one that he really liked. Yes, that makes him a perfectionist, but it also makes him a really good photojournalist.

Be sure to check out that link I highlighted above. It's a fascinating series of reports and does much to educate us about the country, its people, and its relationship with the United States.

The XM-Sirius merger

As promised from yesterday...a variety of media reports assessing the Justice Department's decision to approve the merger of XM and Sirius. From here, you can access the Washington Post, New York Times, and the Associated Press.

What has the Internet done to the production of news?

Here's one person's opinion...most of this I agree with.

UPDATED! And what is the Chinese media telling us about the TIbet situation today?

People who were in Lhasa when the unrest started are saying that Western-media reports are not telling an accurate story.

And in a (very loosely defined) linked story, Chinese authorities are cracking down on those who attempt to sell (or re-sell) Olympics tickets.

Meanwhile, the Chinese media are saying nothing about the disruption during yesterday's lighting of the Olympic Torch. But the government is certainly not able to stop that information from getting into the country.

Late Tuesday update: FOXNews.com is reporting that at least 2 people have died today in clashes between Chinese people and demonstrators.

One effect of the 2008 Democratic presidential race...

...is an increase in people choosing to register as Democrats.

I think the larger and more pertinent question is not how these people vote in the Pennsylvania primary...but what they choose to do in November. And come to think of it, this trend of increasing Democratic voters and how they vote in the general election is a relevant national question as well. In other words, are these people switching simply so they can have a say in the primary contests? Or are these changes a sign of discontent with the Republicans/affinity for the Democrats? Stay tuned!

Did she misspeak...

...or was she being deceptive? Read this...then decide.

Monday, March 24, 2008

China and Tibet today

The top story on CCTV's English-language site is...the lighting of the Olympic Torch. The Tibet crisis is headlined by an apology from a German media outlet for its coverage of the China-Tibet situation.

At the same time, the relentless public relations campaign, blaming the media and the Dalai Lama for causing or highlighting the recent violent clashes between protesters and the military, continues.

I see no mention of the unrest in Nepal, where there were angry protests about the Tibet situation.

The Justice Department says "yes" to...

...the merger of XM and Sirius.

A variety of media reports can be accessed here, including from FOX News and MSNBC. Expect more media reaction both pro (and especially con) over the next few hours.

A new look FCC

There's no question that no matter which of the three main presidential candidates wins in November that changes are coming to the makeup of the FCC. This article suggests how a Clinton or Obama presidency would affect the board.

Will we still be watching cable news networks and programs...

...after the 2008 elections? The networks hope we will.

Does public unrest at home equate to...

...insurgent attacks in Iraq? An interesting question...here's the answer.

No Tiananmen Square during the Olympics UPDATED

The Chinese government has followed through on plans first suggested last week that will prevent live broadcast coverage from Tiananmen Square during the Olympics.

Be sure to read through this article...note what the International Olympic Committee is (and is not) saying at this point. This story about China, Tibet and how China intends to deal with its internal and external challenges is not going away, and the IOC knows it.
And here is how NBC is attempting to deal with the various non-sports issues that recently have surrounded China and its Games' preparations.

UPDATED: The Olympic Torch lighting ceremony was marred by a protester this morning. Lucky for this guy that he pulled his unruly act in Greece. If he had done it in China, he might never be seen again.

4,000

The figure above represents the number of Americans (almost all of them military) killed since the U.S. went to war in Iraq five years ago.

As is true with every "zero" number (i.e. 3,000, 4,000, 5,000) there is ample media coverage of this story this morning. You can access reports here from USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post.

In a somewhat macabre irony, the death toll reached 4,000 the day before PBS begins a two-part series titled "Bush's War." That airs tonight and tomorrow on most PBS stations.

When is indecent language not indecent language?

When the FCC refuses to institute a fine (or when it refuses to and then blames a court ruling).

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Interpersonal Divide, chapters 4-6

Playing catch up again with Michael Bugeja's The Interpersonal Divide...

Chapter 4: Bugeja suggests in this chapter that each successive media development (i.e. printing press, radio, television, Internet) has moved people further away from interpersonal communities, further into self-imposed isolation from people, and closer to the clutches of marketers.

As I read this chapter, I was reminded of the number of students whom I see on my college campus (and others, whenever I am on another one) who seem glued to their cellular phones. In my opinion, what I think gets lost is a sense of what is actually happening around them -- the people they see and the information they were just introduced to being the most obvious -- in place of their desire to be connected to other people in other places. This trend also continues within classrooms, where students too often use their computers to e-mail, Web search and text message others, instead of listening to what I (or other faculty) say in front of the classroom. I know of at least one colleague who mandates that all cellphones in his classroom be shut off, and another colleague who threatened to have technology installed in his classroom that would allow him to shut off the desktop computers when he doesn't specifically have his students using them.

Chapter 5: The knowing (or unknowing) decision people make when they allow media to gain more control over their lives leads to an increasing loss of self, an acceptance of a lack of personal attention when we seek professional assistance, an intrusion of marketers and other for-profit motivated industries into our homes, and the release of valuable (to marketers) personal information. A wordy sentence, but a provocative way to consider how technology, when misused, can overrun each person.

Underscoring this chapter is the recognition that there is an ethical use of technology, but too often corporations care nothing for this. Viewed another way, Bugeja believes people should use the media to expand, not restrict, the communities to which they need and want to belong. He also challenges his readers to use media technologies to find the truth, gain knowledge and other like virtues, and not to simply be marketed to.

Chapter 6: Bugeja chastises the baby boomer generation (within the marketing world) for selling out; he argues they've abandoned the non-commercial values of their youth in favor of net worth and profit margins. He also notes that information and communication have become valuable because they are marketable; information is not valued for information sake but as a mechanism for profit.

I found myself during this chapter thinking about the visits I make to my in-laws. They are from a small, southeast Ohio town, where easy access to cable and Internet is anything but easy. Inevitably when I go there, I wonder how in the world I will get along without the 'Net for a weekend. Soon, however, the book I bring with me becomes a healthy substitute for sitting in front of the computer or television.

One last element to this chapter that particularly resonated with me is what is happening to library-based research in this media-saturated world. I still find it enjoyable to spend time in a library (or a bookstore) looking for something I want or perhaps need. Yet, many of my students seem baffled when I tell them that the research they need to do shouldn't be done online...stepping foot into the library, touching the dusty books, etc. is at the heart of great research. I know I will hear groans when I introduce a research paper and then mention the need to be in the library. Why, I wonder, is that idea of being in the library seemingly so taxing to some students?

Rev. Wright update (UPDATED)

A fiery defense of Rev. Jeremiah Wright was delivered this morning by his successor, who compared media coverage of the pastor to a "lynching."

This could be a valuable research project for an academic scholar -- looking at media coverage of the reverend from a black-media source to that from a different source.

One other note -- I did a quick glance on the other cable news web sites -- I couldn't find this Wright story on CNN, MSNBC or any other site. Read into that whatever you wish: FOX is reporting it; its competitors aren't.

UPDATE: To further this point of what news organizations are (and aren't) reporting this story TODAY, I ran an Internet search using the words "Wright," "lynching" and "Trinity." I came up with only a couple: FOX and the Washington Post (plus a couple of other agencies that have picked up at least one of these reports). I didn't include blogs or other non-media sources that are writing about this story.

A divided Pennsylvania?

This Washington Post article suggests that race might play more of a role than outsiders think in the upcoming primary. I think the larger issue is whether race will carry over into November (and, yes, that question to some extent anticipates the answer).

Just wondering...

...has anyone seen/read/heard any reaction from anyone within the International Olympic Committee to the various media reports that circulated in recent days about the Chinese government perhaps banning live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square?

I accessed the IOC's Web site, thinking there might be something, but found nothing. You will find a story about the lighting of the Olympic Torch, however. That important event happens tomorrow.

China -- not letting up UPDATED

The Chinese government continues its public relations effort, offering its explanation for what has happened to and in Tibet over the past 10 days.

The People's Daily, the official state newspaper, adds that more countries are offering their support for the way the Chinese have handled the crisis.

Meanwhile, state-controlled CCTV is reporting that citizens from all over the world are (and are encouraged to continue) blaming CNN for offering a distorted series of reports.

Finally, the New York Times reports that within China there are more calls for the government to re-think its handling of this situation.

Readers of TIME magazine likely already have seen/read the cover story this week -- it focuses on the Dalai Lama and how the Tibet crisis could define his legacy. I hesitate to recommend the link only because it is an excerpt from a book.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Well, isn't that special! UPDATED

China has issued a list of people it considers critical to capturing -- the government is calling them the "most wanted" protesters.

I've provided mostly Western-media links so far, to help understand this crisis with and in Tibet. But you also should evaluate what the state-controlled media are reporting. Here is one story from CCTV. And another, also from CCTV, which boldly states that the "Dalai clique" has been responsible for causing the unrest.

Finally, here is the "official" version of what happened last week, when the first violent protests began.

Note that as you watch the state-controlled media that China has ordered all international journalists out of the region.

And late tonight the Chinese government announced that it might bar all live broadcasts from Tiananmen Square during the Olympics.

When Olympic caliber athletes attempt to mix politics and sports...

...they usually suffer. A Serbian swimmer is the latest to find that out.

Is it better writing and reporting?

At least one media critic says the answer is yes. But what's behind the question?

So, you want to search Hillary Clinton's schedule when she was the First Lady?

Hey, you're in luck...this link to a Washington Post site will help you out.

And just when you thought China was only facing grief over Tibet...

...there is this accusation about its role in Sudan (and Darfur).

A new call to free Tibet...

...is coming from the Speaker of the House.

Rep. Pelosi's call comes at the same time the Chinese military is increasing its presence in Tibet.

Finally, here is some background information.

You go, Bob!

Count me among those who want to see Bob Schieffer stay right where he is.

Important questions about the pictures/video from Tibet

Consider this report from Slate.com.

Does NBC News not play well on MSNBC?

Consider one person's response...and this also might be something to discuss in our classrooms.

The next Democratic presidential debate...

...will be as easy to see as ABC.

What do Pittsburgh television viewers want in their local news?

Some of the answers might surprise you, but regardless of your reaction I think we all should consider using this story in our classrooms.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Why do some professors blog?

You can probably guess what most of the reasons are, and this article identifies most of the positives (and yes the negatives) of doing it.

Just how difficult will it be for Barack Obama to win Pennsylvania?

About as difficult as it will be for Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic presidential nomination. She leads him by double digits, according to the latest polls. But her road to the nomination needs to catch some important breaks.

An admission from the Chinese government

It did fire on protesters.

Of course, the larger questions continue to be what should Tibet get...and what will the Chinese government be willing to give? Absolute freedom? Greater autonomy?

Remember, as bad as this quandary is for the government, there is no chance that this will lead to a boycott of the Olympics. For that conversation to go anywhere, the Chinese will have to significantly ratchet up the violence...and that violence would have to be clearly instigated by them. Of course, with no more foreign journalists in the region...who would really know if they did?

And if you are one of those Americans attending the Games this summer, here's something you ought to consider.

Ah, the wonderful world of kids

Our two boys demonstrated yet again today that children can be oh-so wonderful.

Each has been battling varying degrees of asthma in recent days, and our younger one had it bad enough in the overnight hours to need an emergency room visit. When informed of what was going on, the boys' allergy doctor told my wife he wanted to see both of them...today.

On the way home from that visit, my wife told the kids that they wouldn't be going to their cousin's house for Easter, and they also might have to miss church on Sunday. Our older one -- he's 9 -- didn't seem all that concerned.

"I'll just watch it on television," he said.
"But it won't be on television," he was told.
"Why not? Jesus rose from the dead. We know that. So we'll just watch," he said, apparently with a healthy dose of confidence.
"Dominic," his mother said, "there was no television in Jesus' time. There was no one to record it."
"Yeah, but mom," he said, "television shows us everything. And because Easter happens every year maybe Jesus can just come down from Heaven and re-enact it."

Now, as you roll uncontrollably on the floor, remember...this kid is 9. Now, remember the younger sibling...whose about to join this conversation is 4.

"Mom," he asks. "How many galaxies away is Heaven?"

Could you blame my wife if she was about to drive off the road?

Can Clinton credit some of her recent success to...

...Rush? Sounds crazy, until you consider the ideas expressed in this story.

A side of the Iraq War that is not considered

The displacement of dozens of Iraqi journalists. Why should this matter?

That answer should be obvious enough. The nation is struggling to build a semblance of normalcy, but if those who are responsible for reporting what is happening...and doing that as objetively as possible...are facing threats from every conceivable political and religious front, their job becomes next to impossible.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

China -- the tension is spreading

An interesting announcement from the Chinese government about the depth of anger spreading from Tibet. The government also is insisting that the unrest will not disrupt the Olympics, even though that is a goal of the protesters, according to the government.

235 million a week

Yes, that's a large number. What's it represent?

Bored of this beat?

Could you ever become bored if you were a...White House reporter? Probably not, but the beat certainly appears to be beaten down with all the attention to the national presidential campaign.

A stunning announcement...

...by NBC, which is planning to seel two of its local owned-and-operated stations. A desire to focus energies and resources on even bigger fish is the reason why.

NBC's Jeff Zucker provided a further rationale for the decision in a speech earlier today.

Meanwhile, big news also breaking late today from another Miami television station.

Was money the ONLY reason?

Read this...then you decide.

Apparently it will be a big deal

I asked in a post from yesterday whether the media would make a big deal out of John McCain identifying Iran as a place where al-Qaeda was finding safe haven. Apparently we have the answer.

Fantastic citizen journalism video from Tibet

Check out the what appears to be one of the few visual representations of what happened in Tibet, when riots broke out last Friday.

I wonder how this video will aggravate or reduce the "blame game" that has been played in the week since this story broke.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government is keeping the heat on international news agencies and blaming them for "outrageous" coverage of the Tibet situation.

As mentioned in some previous posts, the important secondary issue associated with this crisis is whether it will lead to substantive conversation about a boycott of the Beijing Olympics, scheduled for this summer. At least one French official can't make up his mind...and confusing comments such as this do not help define how the debate will/should play out in media discourse.

A sad story of how fame can be fleeting...

...but can also be a burden to carry.

Remember Vicki Van Meter? She was the youngest girl to ever pilot an airplane. She committed suicide a few days ago.

Ugh.

Long-time readers of this blog know I am no fan of American Idol. This story, as you might guess, doesn't please me.

The 5th anniversary...

...of the beginning of the war in Iraq. You should expect an interesting series of television stories tonight.

I fear that the emotion of the day -- the angry protestors, those who say we need to stay there until the job is done -- will overshadow the requisite analysis. As I write this, I'm reminded of a section of the 2007 State of the News Media report that I always cite to my students: The report indicated that television was the medium that most consistently injected emotional elements into its storytelling.

Let's see what happens tonight.

And if you are looking for a retrospective of what's happened over the past five years...consider this TIME magazine link.

Barack Obama's race speech

Interesting reactions, and almost all of them favorable, from across the country as the media examine Barack Obama's race speech, given yesterday in Philadelphia.

Among the sampling of views: The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times.

For stories that are more analytical than reportorial, see The Politico and the Associated Press.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

In response to the charge that they have given up covering the Iraq War...

...with the intensity they once did, network television news operations are saying they are resolute in reporting from the country.

And speaking of the war, how big a goof do you think this is?

Free airtime for political candidates

I become more and more a fan of this concept every year.

Beijing -- bad air -- 2nd day story

Check out this report from MSNBC.com.

I can tell you from my days in Southern California that you cannot simply turn off bad air in a short period of time. It takes a concerted effort over many years. Consider, for example, the many efforts that local and state agencies have taken in Los Angeles and its surrounding areas. Now also consider where that area ranks among the dirtiest cities in America.

My point is not to bash Los Angeles. And I'm certainly not bashing Beijing. I'm merely saying that short-term efforts aren't likely to bear the kind of fruit that is hoped for.

Protests? What protests? Civil unrest? Where?

Hmm...let me guess. Would those questions be asked by the state-run Chinese media?

And so exactly how is this playing out on television screens?

And when it comes to blame -- of course, it has to be the Dalai Lama's fault. Let's not forget that in this world of make-believe that the goal is to undermine the 2008 Olympics.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Should there be a boycott of the Olympics? UPDATED (Again)

No less an Olympics authority than CNN's Jack Cafferty is taking up that discussion.

Setting aside my sarcasm, it is important to note that although this boycott conversation almost certainly will go nowhere, look at how quickly such talk has boomeranged into the national conversation.

On one hand, this is an example of the power of modern communications. On the other, it is a demonstration that the boycott is now viewed as a legitimate political tool for advocacy groups to call for. No, such groups often do not have the presumed legitimacy or power of a national government (and I can see no situation in which the current political administration would -- or should -- use Tibet as grounds for a U.S. boycott of the Games), but they nevertheless will use the 1980 U.S. Olympic boycott as a means to give their calls some credence. In other words these groups will ask: if our government was willing to do it then, why should it not at least consider it now?

Late Monday afternoon update: The Chinese military continues to ratchet up the tension in Tibet. Note also that both sides are now playing that dreaded game of "blame the other." I'm of the opinion that whenever the blame game is front and center that productive conversation is nowhere to be found. A mediator of some kind might be needed here.

Monday evening update: An American film crew says the authorities prevented them from taping a few days ago in China, fearing they would come across political protests.

Now, it's Barack Obama's turn...

...to have Western Pennsylvania to himself. The Democratic presidential candidate was in this area today.

Is an e-mail interview a substitute for a face-to-face interaction?

For one newspaper, the answer is clearly no.

I agree with this policy, but I also recognize that in the technology saturated world in which we live interview subjects are likely going to ask for this kind of media interaction more and more in the future. They see it as more convenient (and for them it is). How can journalists argue that there traditional face-to-face contact remains the best form of interviewing?

State of the News Media 2008 report

I use this annual report in a variety of capacities in my classes. I've not read the 2008 report, which was released today, to this point...but you can bet I will soon!

The Supreme Court will listen to indecency arguments

I was amazed to read that no such case has been on the Court's docket in 30 years. One will be heard in the fall, and it is a case that ought to be closely paid attention to.

Remember Kosovo?

An earlier posting from today noted that the war in Iraq has all but disappeared from network television news...because of all the attention devoted to the presidential race.

Now there comes news from Kosovo...news that demonstrates yet again that we forget about our world around us at our own peril.

The incredibly vanishing war...

...at least on America's television news programs.

As I read this, I was reminded of a research project that a former colleague at Texas Tech and I worked on a few years ago. It examined media coverage of the unrest in the Baltics in the early 1990s. One of the more interesting findings was that once the U.S. went to war in Iraq, the question of what was happening in the Baltics all but disappeared from news coverage. It was as if the television news networks had determined that their audiences could handle only one significant international crisis at once. Of course, the costs of covering two major international conflicts couldn't be ignored, especially when one involved the U.S. and its military.

The New York Times weighs in...

...on the Toni Locy/name your sources debate.

As of now, politics and sports won't mix... UPDATED

...when it comes to the European Union, Tibet/China and the Olympics.

Of course, the Chinese government is not doing itself any favors by blocking international media coverage.

UPDATED: But it also appears that good air and sports won't mix either in Beijing. Is the IOC concerned? It appears so. Should it have been concerned earlier? Ya think!

Is Iraq safer than it has been? Is the surge working?

A TIME reporter returns to Baghdad...and offers an assessment that will please and disappoint you, no matter your opinion of the war.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

China/Tibet -- the trouble spreads

A late report from the BBC suggests that the tension surrounding protests in Tibet is getting worse.

The Interpersonal Divide, chapter 3

Playing catch-up on this book...a busy week and first part of the weekend slowed down my reading of this increasingly interesting text.

As I've done with the initial chapters, I begin with a (likely over-simplified) synopsis of the chapter -- the overuse of technology affects our mental and physical well-being. Michael Bugeja doesn't use the term "the biggest bang for your buck," but I think it is an appropriate way to characterize the third chapter.

Media seek to reach the widest possible audience, and therefore generate the largest possible profits, in part by defining all of us as alike -- we somehow are led to believe (or worse, are forced to believe) that we need to be like everyone else; can be treated, taught, influenced, bought or sold like everyone else; and ultimately we lose a sense of individuality. We dismiss, probably without realizing it, our connection to the community in which we live -- a community that thrives on the subtle differences that keep it ticking -- when we oversaturate ourselves in a media and cyberspace world that cannot in any way tap into our mental, emotional and physical uniqueness. Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone" book would be a very effective additional read, as you advance through "The Interpersonal Divide." Its focus on community decline meshes well with Bugeja's arguments.

As I read through this chapter, I kept hearing my department chair's voice. She occasionally rails against the immense amount of e-mails that flow into and out of her computer each day. "Can't we do anything by phone anymore?" she asks every now and then. It's perhaps ironic that she -- with a background in the print world -- grumbles over e-mails (a form of the written word) flying all over the place, while I, a former broadcaster, advise my students that I immensely prefer the e-mail to the telephone (a form of the spoken word). Go figure. A generational thing more than a professional thing? Perhaps.

I reiterate something I've said in summarizing the first two chapters -- I cannot understand why there has been such a negative reaction to this book. Sure, all of us can quibble about something we don't like in any text (I noted my belief that more substantive examples should have been included in chapter 2); however, the central thesis of this text remains a powerful and legitimate one: Technology works best in our lives when we dictate the role we want it to have in our lives. When the ruler and the subject is reversed, our humanity suffers.

On to chapter 4!

Our world...from 35,000 feet


I snapped this photo from my airplane seat as I flew over the Rocky Mountains in late January.

Yes, the power of nature has always amazed me. Having grown up in Southern California, I learned about nature's power (and sometimes fury) through multiple earthquakes. But it is nature's beauty...including these majestic Rocky Mountains...that I also respect so much.

Barack Obama's minister responds

This link will take you to an ABC News report/blog in which Rev. Jeremiah Wright responds forcefully to the "God d*** America" story that circulated a few days ago about him.

You'll recall that Obama repudiated the comments uttered by Rev. Wright almost seven years ago, and he also said that Rev. Wright would have no role in the campaign.

I also think you should read some of the strident, negative, nasty remarks at the bottom of the story to which you've been invited to link. I've glanced at perhaps 20-25 of them, and it strikes me that none of the authors failed to inject some kind of negative language into their comments.

Pakistani media in the news

I've come across a couple of interesting media reports about the Pakistani media, the national government and public reaction to both that I thought I'd share. The first comes from ABCNews.com.

Then there is the latest in a series of reports that Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter Betsy Hiel has filed from Pakistan.

Pittsburgh media reaction to the Toni Locy story

As you might guess, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is as supportive as it can be of a former member of the journalism establishment.

Then I came across this letter to the editor in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and I realized that not everyone holds the media in the high regard that I do.

A sign of things to come? (UPDATED)

China had to expect that there would be wide-ranging protests and negative reactions to the upcoming Beijing Olympics. Is this a sign of how the Chinese authorities will deal with them?

And if they elect to continue with the use of military crackdowns and violence, would such reactions further justify the words and opinions of the Dalai Lama?

Punishment for killing a journalist

Three former police officers in the Ukraine have learned that killing a journalist comes with a price.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Some final thoughts on SPJ

I came away from today's SPJ conference noting to a few colleagues that although there was less conversation than I'm used to hearing at conventions and conferences about new technologies, there also seemed to be less angst about what the future of media and technology will be.

I found that unusual, only because the title of the conference was "Digital Democracy." The first word in that title would seem to suggest that many people would have significant concerns. In fact, I sensed that there were more people embracing and excited about the future interactions of media and technology than I had heard before.

SPJ, post 5

Now what I think will be the highlight of the day...and I will post regularly from it. Toni Locy is speaking about her "anthrax" story.

As we begin, remember that the fines she was expected to pay has (for now) been set aside by a federal appeals court.

1st update: Locy is beginning with a brief background of the story, and how it began as a follow-up to the fear from 9/11. "The anthrax attacks acutely scared the American public," Locy says because everyone felt that they could be affected by it.

2nd update: Locy relied on many sources, at least a dozen of whom were from the FBI, and all sources had to be confidential because of the "highly charged atmosphere" that followed 9/11. She felt that the stakes in her reporting were never higher -- would we catch Osama bin Laden...what was happening at Guantanamo...legal issues associated with Guantanamo...and the coverage of the courts are just a few of the concerns that took part in this high-stakes games.

3rd update: Anthrax was not the sole story she covered, and therefore to highlight every source she used in any story would not only link sources to people that did not deserve to be; but she also discarded her notes, something she learned in her first journalism assignment at the Pittsburgh Press.

4th update: Two stories -- one in May, the other in June 2003 -- form the core of the lawsuit Dr. Stephen Hatfill has filed against the Justice Department as part of its investigation into the anthrax scare. Locy said neither she nor any of her sources could ever remember a term "a person of interest" ever being used before. Her May 29 story noted that Hatfill was under 24-hour surveillance' "it broke no new ground...but it was accurate," Locy said. She compared Hatfill's circumstances as being similar to that faced by Richard Jewell, the security guard who was initially at the center of the 1996 Olympic Park bombings.

5th update: Locy's fight is far from over, but it is on a fast-track. Among her critical questions: Should every source be revealed as part of a fishing expedition? Why did her information go from being somewhat irrelevant -- that was a judge's decision -- to being at the center of the case? Why has she faced an order that no other journalist ever had to deal with? Isn't there a danger that Hatfill's case opens the door for multiple future journalists, and doesn't it run the real risk of chilling investigative pieces? Recognizing that the media couldn't have ignored the anthrax case, then how could Hatfill be able to argue a privacy violation...once he had been identified as a person of interest?

6th update: Locy is wondering if the judge is attempting to bring about an out-of-court settlement in which she, the USA Today and the Justice Department will be forced to come together to take care of the civil suit brought by Hatfill? "Journalism, or what's left of it, will be destroyed out of fear," Locy said, as she wrapped up her prepared remarks, unless something is done to stop what is happening to her.

7th update: Locy has finally gotten around to talking about a shield law, which is something she deserved to bring about sooner. She says that while a shield law will not be perfect, it will be a way for journalists to gain some security. If its passage won't happen now, Locy is suggesting, then it won't ever happen. At last check, it was stalled in the Senate.

8th update: "I'd do it exactly the same way" if I had to do it all over again, Locy says. Locy is using her story in her media law class, not as a case study, but as the latest in a series of incidents about journalism, confidential sources, protecting sources and the value of a shield law.

9th update: Locy reiterated something that all students need to remember -- she made a promise to her sources to not reveal their names, and she never will. Moreover, hers is an example: If she loses, then think about what the implications might be. These reasons underscore why Locy says she's never going to give up...and will go to whatever lengths it takes to fight this.

10th update: So far, a fascinating discussion. Locy is demonstrating both a fiery determination but a desperate honesty -- she recognizes that she has to fight, and you get the sense that she recognizes that what she's doing is not about her. It's clear that whatever the judge intends to do, she won't give up. I admire her for her conviction. It's very easy for all of us who were (or are) in journalism to say that we would adopt the same attitude, and we almost certainly would. But wouldn't it be amazing to get into her head and share every thought...every fear...every bit of grit and determination she has.

11th update: "Why is this person telling me this?" Locy has just reminded a Point Park University student to keep that question in mind whenever the issue of confidentiality comes up. Because everyone has an agenda, it is important to know what someone is attempting to gain by telling you information without allowing their names to be associated with what they have said.

SPJ, post 4

Brad King from Northern Kentucky University has finished a well-thoughtout and argued presentation about how the media ought to be dealing with new technologies and using them to better interact with their audience.

King suggested that for anyone -- from the MSM to the local community to the individual -- to build a network, four things must be kept in mind:
1. Content is always king, and it is the writer's responsibility to take raw data and convert it into a meaningful context and then the final report
2. You need to organize your network so that everything is easy to find and access
3. Closely connected to this, the interface that the network uses must be simple
4. Finally, and this is probably the hardest one to accept, there must be a decentralized approach to control/access/ownership of the site. In other words, the more the public feels it is empowered or involved, the more of a role it will want to play.

Later, he added that there are 4 rules for that decentralization:
1. No free riders -- people must not only read but they also must contribute. (See, I told you I want to hear from you who read this blog!)
2. There need to be a set of rules (better defined as compliance) that everyone is expected to follow
3. There should be rewards for people who contribute (nope, I haven't even thought of how I'm going to do that!)
4. And the growth must be organic -- it can't be forced.

King then outlined why he believes the traditional media model already is dead (something I dispute, but this is not the time to argue that point) largely because the public says it has lost its trust in the media.

SPJ, post 3

Now that the technical difficulties have been resolved (I hope)...

The luncheon presentation was delivered by Kate Phillips from the New York Times. Her presentation was a bit disappointing, I thought. I expected a more dynamic conversation about how the newspaper is preparing and delivering content -- especially online - in this critical election year. Instead there was a disjointed presentation about a variety of issues.

Here are the highlights, as I found them:
1. The New York Times, as is true of so many media organizations, is recognizing the importance of this election and seeing consistent strong readership of its content and blogs.
2. The Times is adopting a "only the reader sleeps" mentality, meaning that its writers are at the ready 24/7.
3. The last thing Phillips said that I thought was poignant was that she feared that in this online, electronic, seemingly effortless means of communications...we are forgetting the power of the face-to-face interview. It is that kind of conversation that allows a journalist to best interact with a source.

SPJ regional conference, post 2

The second breakout session I am attending is examining the public records debate in Pennsylvania and a couple of other regional states.

One of the first speakers is David Marburger, a former Pittsburgh journalist who now practices law in Ohio. He is noting that one of the more bizarre use of public records involves people in Hamilton county Ohio (near Cincinnati) who were taking court records (especially from traffic ticket records) and using that information to create false identifications. One woman who was a victim of identity theft has sued on both the federal and appealate courts, and she has lost both times.

The Court of Appeals acknowleded that public records information such as she was noting should not be on the Internet; however, the court also said that the publication of this information does not rise to the level that supports her case. Marburger suggests that the strict nature of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which heard this case, had much to do with Cynthia Lambert losing her case.

"Before the Internet, the bad guys wanted to do identity theft," Marburger told his audience, but they were afraid of being recognized. Now, these people can do it from home.

Marburger reminds his audience that one of the reasons that journalists sometimes fail in their open records request is that they are thinking like journalists, and not like government administrators, when making their requests. He outlined a series of strategies, from narrowing the request; being aware of what is in a file; seeking what you want one step at a time; and others that will assist a journalist (or someone else) from getting what they want.

Teri Henning, the general counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, adds that most records in Pennsylvania are considered closed, despite the idea of a "public records" philosophy.

There is a new open records law in Pennsylvania that, although it is still flawed, does allow for certain access to community colleges, the legislature, the judiciary, state contracts and other agency records. One of the more intriguing items is that the state's legislature remains under some seperate rules than is applicable to other state agencies.

Henning says there is still a "culture of secrecy" in Pennsylvania about open records laws.

To wrap up the morning...a moment of humor: Today's conference is taking place at the same time that the city's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade. It is almost surreal listening to professional journalists, educators and lawyers discussing important journalism issues...as the bands, police/fire sirens, and cheering crowds hoot and holler on the streets below us.

SPJ regional conference, post 1

The first breakout session of the day is being led by Jan Schaffer, Executive Director of J-Lab. She's speaking about the variety of ways that participatory and citizen journalism is making a difference in several communities.

She suggests that there are four general community news trends:
1. User-generated content
2. News games
3. Databases/maps
4. Non-profit news

She reports that we often think of community journalism as either mainstream media offering coverage of a community...or individual bloggers commenting on what is happening. However, more and more often communities are using foundation grants to create their own community Websites and information sources. Some of the information is serious, while in other places it's designed to be fun.

Among the best uses of databases comes from Chicago, which has created a congressional votes database, which gathers information from a multiple set of sources.

Schaffer also is suggesting that in the future, blogging will not be something you read...but will be something you do. In other words, there are a variety of ways for people to create their own news.

Online video sites also seem to be growing in popularity, Schaffer is reporting. So, too, are citizen media sites, which, she reports, really became popular only four years ago. Many MSM are setting aside space for citizen media to become more engaged in this process. At the same time, many former journalists are creating their own sites...Schaffer suggests those who are interested to go either NewHavenIndependent.com or MinnPost.com

Schaffer mentions something that is important -- hyperlocal sites are generating significant audience attention, and in some cases it is leading to increasing political participation. Success is measured by:
1. Political empowerment;
2. Solving community problems;
3. Connecting people

Citizen news doesn't necessary follow traditional news concepts. For example, most sites offer in their reporting:
1. Less conflict
2. Fewer stereotypes
3. No parroting of experts
4. No finding both sides
5. Less attention to hard leads, narrative style, etc.

Now, imagine the challenges this poses to those of us who teach journalism!! Some of my colleagues will be frightened by this concept, while others wil embrace this strategy. One question that immediately comes to mind -- if we wanted to introduce this kind of storytelling, when is it most appropriate to introduce it into the curriculum? Should this be implemented only on the graduate level? How would an educator be able to distinguish between critical/analytical writing and simple opinion spewing?

Schaffer is also reminding people of something important -- transparency is important here. The "openness" of reporting and writing will determine how successful a site is and what kind of reaction the public has.

My first immediate reaction -- Washington state and Minnesota seem far more progressive in the creation and use of Web sites.

My second immediate reaction -- how are local media reacting to, dealing with, attempting to incorporate the information that is being created by their (potential) audience.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Image is everything

Sounds trite...until you do something that is embarrassing and someone takes a photo of it.

When religion, politics and the media mix...

...controversy is sure to follow.

How should this story be handled in our classrooms? I invite your suggestions.

One of my former students...

...in print. Kim Kweder graduated in May 2007. She began her professional career in Lithuania, where she was working for an English-based newspaper. Now she's in Washington, where she is a copy editor for the Washington Times.

She got out of the newsroom and on her own initiative (something she has plenty of)found a story about security plans for the new Washington Nationals' stadium.

Here we go again -- blame the media!

This time they're being blamed for causing President Bush's low approval ratings. The following text is copied verbatim from a blurb on the U.S. Political Bulletin blog:

Media Blamed For Low Bush Approval
The US News Political Bulletin has learned White House officials have a new theory about why President Bush's job approval ratings are so low -- the media keep harping on it so much that it's become a self-fulfilling analysis. "It's a drumbeat in the media," a senior Bush adviser tells the Bulletin. "It's a constant narrative that he suffers from low job approval. It should not be in the second paragraph of every story. The media should report what he's doing." White House officials are pointing to new survey research by GOP pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group to make their point that many of Bush's policies are very popular. Among the findings: While 62 per cent of likely voters disapprove of Bush's job performance, 73 per cent support his policy of going "on the offense against terrorists;" 65 per cent agree that he has "kept Americans safe from terrorist attacks:" and 64 per cent approve of his economic stimulus package passed by Congress earlier this year.

The 21 Club...

...is heading to Philadelphia.

Assaulted reporter...update

The woman who attacked a South Carolina television reporter has apologized.

The apology is great...but why did it take so long?

Toni Locy, update

The "anthrax" reporter is using her experiences with that story as a case-study. Her students at West Virginia University had better appreciate this fascinating opportunity.

Locy is in Pittsburgh this weekend to speak at the regional meeting of the Society of Professional Journalists.

How should NPR embrace the future?

Carefully...very carefully. That's the message coming from the affiliates.

A Texas sheriff threatens a local reporter

Why? For doing his job!

Are college newspapers in Wisconsin getting political?

A pro-life group thinks so. Here's the story...what's your reaction?

Should journalists be activists?

In at least one circumstance, a veteran journalist says "yes." Do you agree?

Sex and the...

...24-hour news cycle.

Or how Eliot Spitzer has become the latest man to get trapped in the "who's the other woman" scandal.

The leading Democratic presidential candidates...

...discuss how they think the Pennsylvania primary will shape up.

Also, Hillary Clinton is in the city today.

The NewsHour is coming to Pittsburgh!

What a coup for the city! Needless to say, Jim Lehrer's visit coincides with the Pennsylvania primary. Also needless to say, it would be a great teaching tool.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

And speaking of deans...

...the Newhouse School at Syracuse has a new one.

Medill dean -- my critics are out to get me

John Lavine, at the center of a controversy involving the use of quotes, says his critics -- including some on his own faculty -- are out to get him. Why? To prevent the implementation of his vision for the Northwestern journalism school, he says.

Hillary Clinton in Pittsburgh

Her husband was visiting areas outside the city, her daughter was at Point Park University last night...and now Hillary Clinton is prepared to make her first visit to Western Pennsylvania.

I've still not seen any event scheduled for Barack Obama, who, according to media reports last night, was heading to Washington for some important votes in the Senate.

A former Pennsylvania senator says John McCain is not doing enough...

...to excite social conservatives about his candidacy.

I wonder as we move forward with the 2008 general election if social issues will be a signficant factor in media coverage. Right now, Iraq, the economy, the environment, and immigration all appear to be more important than abortion and social issues. Perhaps I'm wrong, but that's my sense at this point.

If they remain in a secondary position throughout 2008, then social conservatives likely will remain frustrated throughout this election cycle.

But remember, this is only March.

An interesting lesson in the power...

...and danger of...MySpace.

The mainstream media rather quickly have identified the woman believed to be the high-priced prostitute that soon-to-be former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is linked to.

Now, here's the interesting moment: Much of the information about her has been gleaned from her MySpace page.

And if you go to WCBS-TV's homepage and link on its "top videos" link, you'll learn more about how the media are using MySpace to piece together the life of this 22-year-old woman.

So, what's the lesson here? Your past and your present are going to follow you wherever you go, and they can be found out very easily and quickly if you choose to place personal details about yourself (or photos of you in less than perfect moments) on these kinds of social networking sites. You can decide how much the world knows about you...use that power wisely.

The Los Angeles Times is correct...

...a federal shield law is needed, to protect journalists.

We slant the news here...they slant the news there...

...it seems as if all news agencies are accused of it, everywhere.

Guess who wants to have a re-vote in Michigan and Florida?

No, not HER. (And, no, certainly not HIM.) Would you believe...television people!

Now here's something that will change the political debate...

...support for America's role in Iraq is -- increasing.

Watch the television analysts go crazy over this development, with their being plenty of immediate reaction (sometimes well-reasoned, sometimes not) to what it might mean for the presidential race.

There is another way to look at this story...this one comes from USA Today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

5 years ago...

...the Iraq War began. Now ABC is planning a look at exactly what has happened in that period of time.

A reprieve...at least temporarily

A court has ruled that the fines handed down against a former USA Today reporter who now teaches at West Virginia University can't be enforced. Stay tuned.

90 minutes...yeah, right

It turned out to be 2:45 (or 165 minutes) of live television. Why? Chelsea Clinton was almost an hour behind schedule.

I anticipate that our coverage will be available through our university's Website sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours. In the meantime, I want to share with you the e-mail I sent to many people at the university tonight...

Hello everyone,

I can’t tell you the last time I was dazzled as I was on Wednesday night, as I watched a group of about 15 Point Park University broadcast journalism students light up the night. Consider these accomplishments…

1. 2:45 (as in 2 hours, 45 minutes) of live television as Chelsea Clinton came to our university
2. Attention to issues and relevant political ideas in their analysis and questions
3. A never-say-die attitude matched with a new sense of “wow, I CAN do this!”
4. Work that attracted the attention of the university community, the mayor of Pittsburgh, news professionals from this city, and many others
5. A professionalism that matches anything you will see on the local or network level.

Please take the time over the next few days to watch some of the work that these awesome young people did on Wednesday night. As their instructor, I was so proud of the fact that they got it…with “it” in this case substituting for so many things (some of which were mentioned above). As a former television producer, I was so proud of the content they delivered.

A few people told me that I deserved kudos for making Wednesday night work so well. And while I appreciated hearing them, I have to admit that what I did was minor – I had no role in getting Chelsea Clinton here, for example. What I didn’t say very effectively to those who complimented me was that the people who deserved the kudos were “my kids.” Whether they anchored, reported, directed, handled a crew assignment, or anything else that was asked and required of them, they did a fantastic job. I wish I could have saved the looks on their faces that I saw at around 7:45 p.m. (when we finally went off the air) and been able to share those with all of you. They were so proud of themselves. They deserved to be.

My thanks to the many people at the university that assisted in ways big and small with whatever my students needed to get their jobs done. If I attempted to name all of you, I’d leave someone out. So know that whatever you did, I appreciated it.

90 minutes of live television

Many of my broadcast students are getting a real first-hand look at the real world tonight...we're doing 90 minutes of live television as part of Chelsea Clinton's visit to Point Park.

At last check (and admittedly that was many, many moons ago!), there was discussion about streaming our coverage to the Web. If so, you can access it at www.pointpark.edu.

Television journalist assaulted

You'll want to watch this video...which shows a television reporter being assaulted shortly after she filed a report in South Carolina.

There are a host of teaching moments that come from this.

Using Chelsea Clinton's visit as a teaching tool

A couple of colleagues whom I've already talked to and I are revamping our schedules for today, to ensure that Chelsea Clinton's visit to Point Park University allows our students to experience what happens as if they were journalists.

One colleague has her students doing one-take, look-lives in which they summarize the preparations for the visit. (Those poor students had to use me as one of their sources...talk about the weakest link:-))

My student-produced newscast for later today has been revamped. When the director was told what was being planned, she had a wonderful expression on her face.

Our students are energized...they are excited. This is exactly what they should be experiencing. How fortunate we all are to have had Chelsea Clinton's schedule get wrapped up into ours.

Time for a quick lunch!!

President Bush is no fan of...

...The Fairness Doctrine. He says he'll veto any efforts to return it to law.

At least one newspaper report indicates that Mr. Bush's comments were very well received.

Spitzer will resign today

All the pieces now appear in place for the resignation of New York governor Eliot Spitzer.

It appears that some kind of deal is being put into place that will allow Spitzer to avoid federal prosecution for his involvement with prostitutes, in exchange for his resignation.

And here's a look at the man who will replace him.

The Pennsylvania Primary...

...is now in high gear. Plenty of media reports this morning concerning where the candidates are/were and what they will/did say.

We begin with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, noting that Hillary Clinton was touting her experience during a visit to Harrisburg, the state capital. The Philadelphia Inquirer is focusing one of its reports on how the Clinton and Barack Obama campaigns are looking to court voters, one at a time. Meanwhile, the Associated Press is examining Obama's visit to a factory in eastern Pennsylvania.

And kudos to KDKA-TV reporter Jon Delano, who scored a 1-on-1 interview with Mr. Obama.

Chelsea Clinton, today

At last count -- 27 e-mails sent or received so far about tonight's Chelsea Clinton visit. And our students are buzzing about this!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chelsea Clinton

Score one for Point Park University! The faculty and students late tonight received word that Chelsea Clinton will be on campus late tomorrow afternoon. It appears that an alum who is working for the Clinton campaign was able to steer Chelsea Clinton's visit to her alma mater.

The Interpersonal Divide, chapter 2

It was in Chapter 2 of Michael Bugeja's book The Interpersonal Divide that the critics must have begun to sharpen their knives. In this section, Bugeja begins to more clearly outline where and how he believes human beings suffer because of their over-reliance upon technology.

As I did with Chapter 1, I offer here a very short synopsis of this chapter: Our lives suffer because we allow technology (an inanimate object, in whatever form it exists) to replace the connections, communications and contact the human soul needs from other human souls in order for the entire body to thrive. We allow the "virtual" to substitute for the "real," and our lives are not better off because of it.

A reasonable argument? I think so. I do admit that I would have liked more scientific rigor in this chapter (and I suspect I will feel the same about subsequent chapters, as well); too often I read grand, sweeping statements that needed some kind of scientific evidence and/or an academic citation. Lacking that documentation, this chapter too many times comes off as a "here's the way it is because innate common sense tells me so." Returning to the previous paragraph to help illustrate this point, I would have appreciated consistent examples of exactly "HOW" the human body, mind and soul are negatively affected by the chronic reliance upon technology. What happens to us physically? What happens to us cognitively? What happens to us emotionally? Perhaps these kinds of answers are still to come.

Mind you, I found myself in agreement with significant parts of this chapter, but the citations or evidence that I believe are always essential to any research were not there. At one point, I found myself thinking that this book was beginning to read like an extended argumentative essay.

On to Chapter 3!

Murdoch: No Wall Street Journal agenda

Rupert Murdoch says there is no agenda that he is pushing for the Wall Street Journal. Of course, my rading of the paper would suggest it already has an agenda that in any ways Murdoch would support.

Looks like Spitzer will NOT step down today -- UPDATE

This CNN.com report is one of many suggesting that transition of power talks are underway and could lead to a change at the governor's mansion before the end of the day.

I'm struck by the photos in this same story...look at the facial expressions on both the governor and his wife.

And then there is this bombshell from late this afternoon -- Spitzer has been using prostitutes since 2002.

The New York Times is reporting late today that Spitzer will NOT resign today.

The presidential candidates (and their spouses) are in Pennsylvania

And kudos to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for telling us where!

$40 million

That's how much money is expected to be paid out to local television stations throughout Pennsylvania over the next six weeks. Why? You guessed it...political advertising for the Democratic presidential primary in this state.

What in the name of bow ties is going on here?

Tucker Carlson out at MSNBC! David Gregory in...with a new show?

Oh, wait...this kind of turnover happens in television all the time.

New York Governor Spitzer

Wow, what a bombshell. I mentioned to a friend in an e-mail that he and I exchanged this morning that what makes Elliot Spitzer's fall from power (and, yes, I am anticipated that he will resign as New York's governor because his connection to a prostitution ring) so stunning was that he rose to power by rooting out corruption.

The media coverage today appears to be what I expected -- plenty of attention to the core details of the investigation plus a healthy dose of ethics and morality. You can link from this post to stories from Broadcasting and Cable, The New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, WABC-TV in New York, and WCBS-TV in New York.

There also is an interesting report on Politico.com, indicating that Hillary Clinton appears unwilling to come to the aid of her Democratic colleague.

Two different sets of journalists...

...are covering the Obama campaign. What? That's the opinion of one media critic.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pennsylvanians for Hillary called me tonight...

...and left me one of those recorded "please remember to vote for our candidate" messages. The caller ID indicated that the call came from the 803 area code.

Remember, the group calls itself Pennsylvanians for Hillary (and I'm a registered independent).

The 803 area code...that's South Carolina.

Only 43 more days until the Pennsylvania primary!

The Interpersonal Divide, chapter 1

I promised as part of a post last week to pick up Michael Bugeja's book The Interpersonal Divide and offer an assessment of it.

Before I begin, an acknowledgment: When I was working on my Ph.D. at Ohio University, Dr. Bugeja was on the faculty there. (He has since moved on and is the dean of the journalism school at Iowa State.) I know him, and I like him. Does that make this review biased? I'll leave it for the reader to decide. Moreover, he has not communicated with me about my post from last week (see "Meanwhile at Iowa State...") nor has he asked me to review the book.

With all this as the background...

I finished Chapter 1 tonight, and I admit that to this point I fail to see why so many people are outraged by this text. The story about Bugeja that I included in last week's link indicated that he has received a steady stream of negative comments because of the book. If you are looking for a short summary of the book (to this point), I would say this: Are we aware of the over-reliance we place upon technology? Closely associated with that: Are we aware of what we are giving up because of our over-reliance upon technology?

I remain amazed at how easily we disconnect ourselves from the electricity of life (how's that for a mixed metaphor!). We plug into our iPods, Internet, televisions, MP3 players, and other lo- to hi-tech devices...and often listen or watch alone. We tune in to what we want, to what we perceive as important and tune out anything we deem unimportant. It seems narcissistic, if you think about it.

My colleagues across the country and I often bemoan that the current college crowd is too often so locked in to their technology universes that they lack too many skills needed for personal and professional growth. Are we correct? I think we are. What is the effect of this individual watching/listening and skill set erosion? I don't have an answer for that. But then I also must admit that at work I have my professional and personal e-mail accounts always at the ready. I can send a note to anyone at anytime, though, as Bugeja reminds his readers in Chapter 1, this ability to instantly communicate does not mean that communication has become instantaneous.
That and other fallacies, so defined by Bugeja, await you in that chapter.

On to Chapter 2...