Internet Tools

I find this tool that the Tampa Bay Times developed to be really interesting and exciting for the future of the press. It’s called PolitiFact and it fact checks claims made by politicians and others in our national discourse. You may have already heard of it since it has won a Pulizter Prize, but I find it to be a groundbreaking development for journalism.

Here’s an example

One Wisconsin Now, a liberal advocacy group, claimed that “The Walton family, which owns Walmart, controls a fortune equal to the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.”

This seems a bit outrageous but PolitiFact deemed the statement “TRUE” adding that the percentage is in fact increasing. The site also displays a list of One Wisconsin Now’s previous claims and their validity.

This website provides a tool for people wondering what is and isn’t true in today’s national discussion. With the variety of media messages out there today and a lot of confusion about many of our national issues, there has never been a more important time for clarity in politics. PolitiFact does a great job in clearing some of the air. Do you think it is possible for more websites like this to appear? Beyond fact-checking, what is one tool that you as a newsreader would like to be able to have in navigating the Internet?

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Fake Social Media Posts

This past Saturday, Hollywood lost another star, actor Paul Walker, best known for his work in the Fast and the Furious movies. Many fans and celebrities shared their condolences on their social media accounts. Some news outlets have been tricked by fake accounts and using them as sources. A fake Facebook account claiming it was Walker’s daughter’s account was made and posting on how she was grieving with the situations. Unfortunately, the news outlets fell into the trap and referenced the account to later find out it was fake. I was in awe to see the accessibility that we have through technology and media to complete such actions. Not only has it allowed us to deceive the news outlets but it has provide us with a new form to cope with loss. It has given us the opportunity to share our thoughts with others on situations like this and in a sense pay our respects.

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Racial Categories

We talked in class at the beginning of the semester about the racial categories that are featured in surveys such as the census. I happened to complete a survey a couple of days later and it included this feature. It was confusing because it had many different options like Hispanic (White), Hispanic, Hispanic (Black) and it made me think, what does that even mean? I read an article in the New York Times about the categories that the census has which are white, black, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian and native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander. It elaborated on how it should be changed and how many racial groups are growing and mixing so these options wouldn’t work. I wonder, why these are the exact categories chosen versus the other racial groups there are. I understand when it comes to collecting data and creating statistics that it is better to have fewer categories but how are they chosen? What must a person have that places them into these specific categories?

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Journalism as Terrorism?

The British newspaper The Guardian is being threatened with terrorism charges in the wake of publishing documents outlining the NSA’s mass surveillance programs. The British government has already raided the Guardian offices and held reporter Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda for lengthy questioning under the pretext of counterterrorism. Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald has left the Guardian to join forces with eBay founder Pierre Omidyar in creating a new news organization with the goal of having a platform for ferocious investigative journalism. This article goes into greater detail than I can about what the company will look like but it is being built on the foundation of advanced technology.

Keeping in mind that Greenwald has yet to publish the majority of the documents he received from former intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden, it will be interesting to see how the new organization navigates the apparently choppy legal seas on the horizon. 

What are the implications of labeling the publishing of classified material as “terrorism”? How do you think American people would respond to a news entity in the states being accused of terrorism? 

How has the Internet changed the process of publication? 

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Amazon’s Prime Air

I just recently read up on Amazon’s Prime Air, which is a drone that will deliver products bought on Amazon to people’s homes. At first, I was amazed that this is even possible, but the more I thought about, the more I wondered if it really could work. What if the drone broke mid-delivery? Or some kids thought it would be cool to knock one out of the air somehow? Also, this would take a lot of truck drivers’ jobs away, which obviously wouldn’t be good. But at the same time, would Amazon lower shipping costs because of that? A major issue Amazon is dealing with right now is their worker’s poor morale and adding this drone will only make things worse. It’s fascinating how this new innovative technology brings up more questions than it answers and I am interested to see how this all unfolds and whether drones really will be delivering our products in a couple of years. 

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The Power of Language

In addition to this morning’s video on the Arab media, I agree with the director of Al Jazeera English that the bigggest obstacle America is facing is that “America is trying ot sell an unsellable product”. While at the same time America is denied access to Al Jazeera English, which has so much power in bringing different countries and showing a sympathetic side to the conflicts within the Arab countries. The two issues have a very significant strain to the current situation, especially when ideas of cultures are trying to be changed for the good of peace. This discourse of communication is largely caused by a major challege, the language barrier.

In order to get an intended message across it must be sent through the language of the receiver. When it is translated through a translator, much respect is taken away. This is interesting because it puts so much stress on the way a message is being sent. Though a translator may be able to translate what is being said word for word, a sense of personalization is lost. By speaking in the language of the receiver, it reflects that you don’t have intentions of imposing your ideas as an outsider because you are one of them. In essence you are speaking to them not at them.

This has been something we were taught in many parts of life, such as when we were children and were asking something from our parents. We knew that by screaming and demanding what we wanted was never effective and if you wanted something you’d have to speak to them as if you were an adult and achieve that respect to gain their attention. Why is it so difficult for America and Arab countries to apply that reasoning? Is it because it is at a much larger and political scale? Is it an issue of pride, that neither want to appear inferior to another? Or is that they want to establish power before peace?

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Violence in movies = violence in real-life? Society makes you think so.

I was thinking back to that movie we watched in September and still found it as a very interesting topic moving forward.

What do some of the best movies ever created all have in common? Violence.

What do some of the most newsworthy headlines on television all have in common? Violence.

As a society we can’t get away from it. Americans love it (in sports too), but it also drives them crazy outside of the movie theater or their home T.V screen.  Gun shootouts, robberies, hijackings, stabbings, and fighting all add up as the core entertainment facet of an action or thriller movie. There will always be a scene where two strangers walk down an alley and one looks suspicious/dangerous. Banks and homes will always be robbed. If there isn’t a fight somewhere along the way in one of those movies than its not an action movie.

In the news, it’s the same thing. I don’t have to go on and describe the types of headlines that grab the views and ratings that stations drool over. Very rarely do positive stories outweigh negative ones in a typical 30 minute show.

This has had a clear effect on how society deals with everyday situations. The nationwide phobia on these movie-esq situations is imminent. Someone wearing a ‘suspicious’ jacket has a hand in their pocket–they have a gun. Hear a noise in your house? It’s definitely a robber. That guy speaking a different language that sounds arabic–he’s a terrorist. Now all of these examples may be over exaggerated as a nationwide ‘thinking’, but these ideas do go through many people’s minds when certain circumstances occur.

What can be done to change this, if anything? Is it just a way people intake the messages that the media is dishing out to us? Is the media wrong in doing what it’s doing–weighing heavily on violent products. Is there even any problem at all?

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Phone usage on airplanes

So, apparently, the Federal Communications Commission is considering allowing passengers to use their phones during flights. This is pretty odd, considering how strict they are right now about that stuff. And although it is a pretty cool idea, the only thing more annoying on a plane than a crying baby would be listening to your neighbor’s phone conversation. Being on an airplane is one of the few times of our lives these days that we are totally disconnected from the rest of society and by allowing phone usage throughout the flight, that will obviously change. It does make you think, though, what has changed on planes that allow us now to use our phones? I’m not sure how I feel about this, but it is definitely interesting that they are thinking about loosening the rules. 

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Change the way we cover tragedy?

     We’ve discussed different ways to cover events, debated the psyche of the American teen, gun use, views of women in the media and the impact of technology on younger generations. As we grow closer to finishing the semester, one of the things I thought about was how we decide to tackle these issues and not just deciding what mediums we can utilize. Although how we choose the cover the issue may vary from person to person, but how do we go about changing the culture? If we are dissatisfied with the way that the news is being covered, how do we as budding journalists work to help re route the course? 

Its interesting to talk about how journalism can adapt and how we can change along with it , but if we are recycling the same stories then the issue still remains the same.  One of the examples I liked that we talked about in class was the different crises that we often recycle as being isolated and unique cases. With more adolescents resorting to gun violence over the past few years, what are some of the ways do you all think that journalists should write the article that talks about what happens?

 In a previous blog post, I suggested that a part of changing the culture of just isolating these tragedies is pointing to larger issues; depression, violence in our culture etc. I think this is an important question to develop some answers to whether we are writing the articles or reading them. If we continue to cover these stories or accept the way they’re being covered, then how do we really come to any new significant information that made us better than we were before; assuming that the role of journalism is to share the truth. 

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History in real time?

This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time. The NY Times wrote about two Twitter pages that are dedicated to two historical topics, one being John F Kennedy, who was assassinated 50 years ago this Friday. This twitter account posts things that Kennedy said and did based on the date. So when they update their page on September 3, 2013 it’s really what Kennedy was doing on September 3, 1963.

This is a very unique look into our nations history. It’s almost as if this Twitter account brings JFK back to life. This is a great example of how Twitter can be used as a learning tool. I followed the page and I’m eager to see the updates the page posts on November 22.

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Questioning validity and morality of blogs

I stumbled upon a few of the same shared links on Facebook, proving that traffic to a link puts it on more people’s newsfeeds, a useful tactic of social media. The link led me to a blog called Return of Kings with an appalling article-type post entitled ‘5 Reasons to Date a Girl With An Eating Disorder.’ At first, I wasn’t sure if it was real, but as I read on, the arguments seemed to get more legitimate as they went on. Even if the blogger meant for it to be some sort of sick joke, it was not. This goes to show that crazy things can be posted to sites that might have a good reputation and then spoil that reputation. I had never heard of the site before, but it is basically a blog for men. I think this puts a negative light on men’s moral values because there are some guys out there who believe in different sorts of degradation of women, some believe it jokingly, but posting about it on the internet can have negative effects on those who read it. The internet has little censorship, especially in this aspect, so it is important to know when to question the validity and morality of what you are reading, especially if it is on a blog that anyone can post on.

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News Culture: Getting fired Within 5 Minutes or Expressing Personal Opinion?

Over the weekend, I came across a video on my Facebook newsfeed that many of the people in my network shared.  The article as the title explains is about “Judge Napolitano: How to get fired from Fox in under 5 mins”.  It contains a video of the five-minute speech he announced on his daily show that is said to have been the reason for the recent decision to no longer be with Fox.


In the five-minute speech, to quickly summarize, he questions every corner of America’s government system, political parties, and social beliefs.  In fact it is very interesting and worth watching, providing you with greater insight and his different perspective he elaborates on.


The two things that caught my interest are: the title and the popularity. 


It is interesting that the title itself is quite the hook, however I believe it’s the information that is shared in the video that overpowers the message of the title. I believe the journalist who published the article used his morals towards his work.  Even though the Judge Napolitano has not provided any information to support or deny the reason for leaving the network, the journalist took it upon himself to make it news that a reporter’s job is put on the line when reporting substantial information that might go against what society and politics have set up for the country.  The journalist is not reporting ‘how to get fired from Fox in 5 minutes’, the journalist is reporting the unconventional, innovative ideas that should be shared with the rest of the public.


As for the popularity, it was surprising how many people were sharing the article. I was asking myself why our society cares about how one can lose a job. However, after looking into the article I quickly realized the popularity was not about how to lose a job, it was about spreading the ideas of an individual and inspiring freedom of thought.  I personally believe this is a bit conflicting. It is a good technique in grasping the attention of readers, however I do not feel that it is morally just to use a title to simply lure readers.  By continuing this technique, this instills a news culture in our society that good news only comes from good titles, which certainly is not correct.


My question is whether reeling in readers with news that is not really the news of the article is morally just or not? Is it okay for society to build off of insignificant titles that are purely meant to lure people in or should journalists title their articles with relevant and concise title that fall in line with the message of the article? Regarding Judge Napolitano, do you think Fox was rightfully just to take the steps they did (supposedly) for his decision to elaborate on his ideas and perspective, questioning our system?

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Boston Strong?

Boston suffered a tragedy in April of this year. The events of Marathon Monday in Boston won’t soon be forgotten, but is the media, and Boston community capitalizing on the tragedy?

Since April, the term “Boston Strong” has been used all over the Commonwealth as a phrase intended to incite unity and pride. From t-shirts, banners, commercials, and nightly news segments, to bumper stickers and tattoos, native Bostonians and the media therein have taken use of the term to extremes. What started as a way to show that we are more than, better than, and bigger than any tragedy that befalls us, has become a money making scheme. Do you agree with the commercialization of a sentiment? Or do you think that it should be reserved for fall out from Marathon Monday? Are people taking it too far? 

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Media’s Take on Being Disconnected

Recently, we have been talking about how our generation is connected to a screen almost all the time. Compared to past generations, we are more involved with our digital personas than we are with our real life. Many people have done research on the Millennial generation, and the negative psychological and sociological impacts that being so digitally connected have had. I found a movie called Disconnect that develops these cons into a interwoven plotline.

The story develops the plotlines of a number of different people and the ways that they are impacted by being so connected. The story dramatizes what happens when people are disconnected from one another, and how they try to get back to personal relationships.

Do you think its possible to get back to being connected on a personal level? What would it take for you to put away your phone for 24 hours? Do you have times or places that you keep tech-free?

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“The 2014 Olympics might feel more like 1914”

So it has been reported in this article that at the 2014 Olympics held in Sochi, Russia, journalists will be forbidden from using phones, tablets, or any sort of technological advice that allows them to tweet, instagram, vine, or share any kind of information.

I am just finding this absolutely ridiculous and I do not see the point. In today’s day and age, people everywhere use their phones and tablets to get information. With something as big as the Olympics, which some people for some reason tend to go CRAZY over, I don’t see the purpose of banning a way for people all across the globe to get up to date, second by second, feed of what is happening without social media. A major factor of social media is the convenience of getting breaking news right away. But with this ban of journalists, it will all be a game changer. Now people who are not near a television or computer to watch a live stream or read an article, will not know until a later time.

What do you guys think of this? Social media is a way of reporting in a visual, interactive, and immediate way. How will this change how people know what’s happening? Is this beneficial in any way? Will this cause a lot of backlash, and are journalists going to just do it anyways but in a sneaky manner? Also, should we think of how this could potentially cause other events/games to make journalists not use smartphones or devices as well?

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What do you think?

What is your take on this Fox News journalist being put in jail due to not revealing her sources? As a journalist I pray I never have to deal with this. Ethically, I know the right thing to do it keep confidential sources confidential. But that’s easier said than done with the law breathing down your back. I can only hope I would have the courage this journalist has.

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How Do You Cover a Championship After a Tragedy?

Last Wednesday, the Boston Red Sox won their 3rd World Series in the last 10 years. This came 6 months after the Boston Marathon Bombing. In their championship parade, the team stopped at the finish line of the Marathon and put the trophy and a “Boston Strong” jersey on the ground. What I want to know is how would you, as a member of the media, cover a championship with this tragedy as a background?

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What Modern Technology Does to Our Brains

Today’s class conversation about how ideologies affect technology, which affects memory and social interaction brought me to wonder more about this concern and how much the American society is worried about it. It seems to me that many people are concerned that children are getting cell phones at such a young age and are not interacting face-to-face as much as they should, but they don’t do anything about it. Worried adults write articles about the affect that technology is having on modern day society and the generation that will grow up to be unsociable adults, but I don’t see anything physically being done because parents give into what their kids want: more and more technology. In ‘Modern technology is changing the way our brains work, says neuroscientist,’ Susan Greenfield says, “Unless we wake up to the damage that the gadget-filled, pharmaceutically-enhanced 21st century is doing to our brains, we could be sleepwalking towards a future in which neuro-chip technology blurs the line between living and non-living machines, and between our bodies and the outside world.” 

Some technology could be good for medical reasons, but in terms of how it affects our brain for our sociability, there are risky factors of excess technology. All that we talked in class was technology used for Journalistic communication, but there are many other types of technology that factor in to how we will act in the future, which are brought up in the article. People take pills for depression and anxiety, but in the future, there could be “cures” for any type of mental function to make us better than who we are, to make us who we want to be. Granted, Paxil is used for shyness. I view any sort of unnecessary drug as risky. In my opinion, we are who we are, and drugs aren’t necessary unless we truly need them.

The technology and media we talked about in class also affects the brain because “the surrounding environment has a huge impact both on the way our brains develop and how that brain is transformed into a unique human mind.” We have been adapting to the world around us for a long time, but what could be considered artificial surroundings are different to adapt to because we learn from society how to reconstruct our consciousness. Culture and society changes with every technological revolution.

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The Controversy Surrounding the North Andover Volleyball Captain

In class the other day we discussed the story about the former North Andover High School volleyball captain, Erin Cox, and how we as journalists would cover the story. When we discussed the issue, our class was under the impression that Cox was not attending the party, rather, she was only stopping by to pick up a drunk friend. We were under that impression because of the news stories that were circulating at the time. But now, there has been new allegations from other students who attended the party against Cox on social media, where they said Cox was in fact attending the party and drinking alcohol.

The Cox family’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, denied the claims against Cox and used the police’s statement as a reason to ignore what students have been saying on social media. But although the statement of a police officer at the scene said that it was clear that Cox did not have the “slightest” odor of alcohol, her fellow classmates thought otherwise, and made their opinions public on Facebook.

This story is extremely interesting because it’s combining many different discussions we’ve had in class. Cox’s story includes the use of social media, breaking a story before fact checking, and the level of objectivity a story should have as a journalist.

Social media can be both a friend and an enemy for journalists to use. While social media allows for us to share news with our followers, just because someone posts something on Facebook doesn’t make it true. In Cox’s case, maybe her classmates are jealous that Cox is receiving national attention, so they are spreading rumors about her on the Internet; But maybe they aren’t spreading rumors, rather, they feel the need to expose the truth to the public.

Right now there is no way to fully know what’s fact and what’s fiction, so as a journalist is it right to use social media as a source? In my opinion, I believe that social media is a great way to find out what people are talking about, but if a journalist does not investigate the story further, then there will be many errors in his or her reporting of the story.

On a Yahoo blog by Ben Rohrbach, he made an important point about how journalists should sometimes wait for a story to play out, rather than to be the first one to break it. Rohrbach said, “So, from here on out, we’ll self-impose a ‘fool me twice’ policy to this saga. Before we start jumping on the Cox family for sticking to a falsified story as it received national media attention, maybe we should just let this one play out a bit more.” I agree with Rohrbach; sometimes, being right trumps being the first to report a story.

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What Should Television Interviewers/Producers Do and Not Do?

As I was just catching up on some celeb gossip on Perez Hilton, I stumbled upon this video of Jenna Jameson, who did a live television interview on Good Day New York this morning. This segment got cut short due to the odd behavior of Jameson, then leading to the suspicion of her having an issue with drug use. There were supposed to be two segments with Jameson, but producers just kept her for one. After watching this video, I had several concerns.

First off, the interviewers introduce her as, “She’s one of the biggest names in the adult film industry. She’s doing other things besides, you know, movies. She’s got a book out.” They even show an image of the book on screen, making the viewers think the interview will mainly be about the book. Yet, the first (of later on, many) question one of the interviewer’s ask her is not related to the book at all asking, “When did you retire from adult films?” They then ask her a few very quick questions (like three…) on her book, and then proceed to go back into her past career as a porn star. 

I just noticed that the interviewers really aren’t discussing the point of the segment at all. They continue to drift back to her past as being in the porn industry, and even delve into her marriage problems (which I thought was inappropriate, and as an obviously uncomfortable situation to put your subject in). Now this could be due to the fact that she obviously seems like she is on some sort of drugs, and that she wasn’t really giving lengthy, in depth answers on her book that they were most likely expecting. 

So it leaves me wondering a few things. What would you have done if you were one of the producers? Was it a good decision to cut this interview short, or was it biased to assume she was messed up (maybe that’s just how she acts…)? Also, was it poor skills on the interviewers part deferring the questions back to her porn industry days, or should they have just kept asking her questions pertaining to her new book? 

Another thought, do you think producers should converse with the subject before they put him/her on air? Maybe Jenna should have been checked out before the interview would be filmed, in order to prevent a lash of criticism, judgements, and comments that were immediately thrown her way once the segment had aired. Or is this done intentionally to get press?

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The media and the shutdown

Last week in class we discussed how different media organizations covered the government shutdown: how much time they spent focusing on it, what aspects they did focus on, etc. I did a little research on how the media feels the media handled the shutdown, with some interesting results.

James Fallows writes for The Atlantic, “any story that presents the disagreements as a ‘standoff’ … or any of the other usual terms for political disagreement, represents a failure of journalism and an inability to see or describe what is going on.”

Fallows says that, furthermore, the disagreement in Congress that lead to the shutdown was painted in typical Democrat/Republican terms, but was really triggered by divisions within the Republican Party. He says, “We’re used to thinking that the most important disagreements are between the major parties, not within one party; and that disagreements over policies, goals, tactics can be addressed by negotiation or compromise.”

The fact that the media was thinking in these terms despite the uniqueness of the situation, one Fallows says is different from anything we’ve ever learned about or been taught to expect, is not only a failure, but is, as Dan Froompkin writes for Al-Jazeera America, possibly dangerous in today’s extreme political climate:

“The political press should be the public’s first line of defense when it comes to assessing who is deviating from historic norms and practices, who is risking serious damage to the nation, whose positions are based in irrational phobias and ignorance rather than data and reason.  Instead journalists have been suckered into embracing “balance” and “neutrality” at all costs, and the consequences of their choice in an era of political extremism will only get worse and worse.”

In class, most people seemed to think the media was doing an okay job of reporting the shutdown. Do these new ideas make you rethink your original thoughts?

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Is the next generation of youth in trouble?

In class on Thursday, we talked about the transformation of technology and how this has effected not only our generation growing up, but the generation below us as well.

We grew up watching T.V shows and playing game-boy. We had our Nintendo 64′s and eventually XBOX 360′s. We’re old enough to remember when Myspace was actually “cool” and relevant. While we essentially grew up right in the middle of this big technological and social media transformation, some of us also were raised by old-school parents. The parents who made us go play outside, limited our T.V hours, didn’t buy us a cell phone until we reached high school (for me, at least) and etc.

The generation below us is looked at being raised differently. They knew how to navigate an IPad before we learned how to walk. You don’t see them outside as much. If you don’t see a middle-school or even elementary school student with at least a c ell-phone, let alone an IPod, you’d kind of be stunned.

I’m not saying this is a general view of the generation below us, because I know for a fact there are still kids who are being raised the way we were and the way our parents were years back. But there is a trend in a change, and it’s not difficult to see it.

Regardless of who’s to blame–or if there even is anyone to blame if people don’t see a problem with the generation moving forward–it has to be a result from society in America.

Three years ago when I vacationed in Lebanon for one month, I didn’t have any contact with technology. Outside of some of us gathering around one person’s house who owned a 1990′s TV so we could watch the World Cup (soccer is huge there), technology is not a make-or-break necessity in that country, or at least the part where I am from, and many other parts where I stayed. Yes, Lebanon is not a first-world country like the U.S–money dedicated for technology and “luxuries” is not even a fraction of what we spend here– so its expected that the average person there experiences nothing close to what the average person here experiences in regards to media/technology.

However, kids there go to school like those here. They play outside, and are involved in activities outside their homes and computer desks, more than kids here. They don’t all have cell phones. They don’t all have T.Vs. Facebook has just recently become a “new thing”. But the youth is just as smart, if not smarter than those here.

Two different ways of growing up, and one similar–if not partially different–outcome.

These are two totally different countries with two different cultures and ways of raising kids. People in Lebanon are not particularly worried with how their new generations of kids are being raised (my opinion). Maybe a survey would tell otherwise.

But people here, especially the way we talked about it in class, think otherwise about the next generation. And some people don’t.

But well find out the real answer in the near future.

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The Problem With TV News

We’ve discussed in class a few times how poorly 24 News Channels, like CNN, cover big news stories and partake in Political Debate. CNN is not the only channel that has this problem, it seems that most do. NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox vie each and every night to be the news that the public ingests, not for the news itself, but for the messages that the network wants to send out. When the owners and CEO’s of these corporations’ mindset isn’t public interest, how can any of them be a good source of our news?

Advertisers and Public Relations have so much to do with what we see on Television, even the opinions of the so-called “experts” can be linked to the top of the hierarchy of the network. It’s no wonder that there is so much chaos in the nation about every single important issue. Is there  any way we can fix this? This has been going on for so long that I don’t know if it can, at least not any time soon. Today’s society is a mold that has been in place for almost 100 years. It’s going to be hard to fix.

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A Different Approach to Digital News

This is an interesting article I read on Poynter about Dallas Morning News and it goes along nicely with past discussions. The News found that their subscribers do not find digital news as a replacement to print news. Unlike some newspaper outlets strategy of giving digital subscribers exclusive stories, the the News gives their digital subscribers access to more photos and fewer ads for $2.99 per week. What I found most surprising was that after polling their seven-day print subscribers, the News found that only five percent of them would be willing to give up their print edition for a digital edition for a price that would be 90 percent cheaper. This shows that subscribers of the News are not so much paying for the content, but how they receive it. In this case, that would be print.

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Miley Cyrus and the Media

I came across an interesting quote from Miley Cyrus about what is and is not allowed to be said and shown in the media. While Cyrus has been questioned about some of her own choices in the media recently, what she has to say about what is and isn’t said or shown in the media brings up an important topic for debate.

In the quote, Cyrus questions why certain words cannot be said on television, but TV shows, like the wildly popular Breaking Bad, are allowed to show illegal behavior.  Cryus also makes a good point in criticizing her own behavior. She says. “It’s like when they bleeped out ‘molly’ at the [MTV Video Music Awards]. Look what I’m doing up here right now, and you’re going to bleep out ‘molly’?”

I think Cyrus raises a really important question: Why does our society deem certain words as wrong, but actions seem to be socially acceptable? According to the Federal Communications Commission, they define profanity as “including language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance.”

If you look at many reality television shows, like Jersey Shore for an example, they capitalize on young adults in the party scene. I personally know many people who find this show, along with other television shows, offensive. But as long as the profanities that they yell almost every other word are bleeped out (which most of the time you can read their lips and know what they’re saying), the show is allowed to run on air at any time of the day.

Now I’m not saying that all shows with material that the public could see as offensive to be pulled from the air. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be too much left on television, plus it would bring up a lot of issues about our First Amendment rights. But it does make me want to research more about censorship in the media, and wonder if in our lifetime censorship laws will change.

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How Far Should A Sports Reporter Go?

In class about a week ago we talked about how athletes should not be considered role models. With the recent arrests of 49ers defensive end Aldon Smith on DUI at 8 AM 2 days before a game that he proceeded to play in and Broncos linebacker Von Miller’s failed drug tests and attempt to cheat the system through a urine collector, that fact is only becoming more obvious. I recently reread a book by Mike Lupica, called Travel Team. The book follows the story of a young kid who was told he was too short to make the team. His father, a former NBA player who’s career ended in a motorcycle accident, becomes his coach. In the emotional climax of the book, his father reveals he was drunk when he got into the motorcycle accident. A police officer who had been a big fan of him since college, took him to the hospital but made sure he wasn’t tested for alcohol until after the alcohol was cleared from his system. My question is if as a sports writer, if you knew about the officer, would you write a story exposing the player and officer, ruining his at the time crystal clear image to the public. The player will never have a chance to prove himself again on the court, and it would also result in a police officer getting fired.

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Who are the experts on “Senseless Tragedies”?

After talking in class today about the coverage of mass shootings in our country, I remembered the popularity of a blog post from a mother right after the events at Sandy Hook.

While the majority of news coverage focused on bringing in experts on gun control, mental health, and other semi-related topics, readers across the internet responded much more strongly to an expert on raising a violent and mentally ill son. Liza Long’s post on her blog described her experiences trying to parent a child she is afraid of. Eventually, her post got 1.2 million likes on Facebook, more then 320,000 shares, and almost 17,000 tweets. 

All of this suggests that the public would be very receptive to a different narrative of national violence. If there is a market (and even a demand) for different kinds of expert perspectives , why isn’t the media supplying that kind of coverage? How could that kind of broadening of the issues around mass shootings change the national narrative?

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We love to hate the racists…

From “Too bad no one as powerful as BuzzFeed aggregated the most joyful reactions to Davuluri winning the crown.”

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International Arms Trade Treaty

In the Washington Post article ‘U.S. to sign international Arms Trade Treaty, over protests of the NRA’ written by Karen DeYoung, she states that “The treaty… requires countries to put in place a system for keeping track of transfers of conventional weapons…”

I question how this be effectively put into place. I am in favor of it because I think it is important to have records of weapons that are being transported, but isn’t one of the points of using weapons to catch people off-guard? Weapons, specifically during war, should be kept track of by the country using them, but other countries don’t necessarily know about them because then they can easily defend themselves, which reduces the point because they can prepare in advance with other weapons that they would then document and the whole battle would be predictable.

The National Rifle Association will regulate civilian weapons and to create an “unacceptable” registry of civilian firearms purchasers. This is beneficial because they can then keep an eye on these people.

The point of the association tracking the weapons is to counteract what I said earlier and to therefore protect citizens, but if countries sneak around with dangerous weapons now, it is hard to say if “stricter rules” will really stop them from doing it again.

The article states that “Ni­ger­ian President Goodluck Jonathan called the weapons trade a primary source of internal and cross-border violence in Nigeria and throughout West Africa.” I agree that weapons pose a threat and cause issues that would be avoided if weapons were unavailable or had to be monitored. Am I crazy to think that this act would be difficult to monitor, though? Maybe I am undermining people’s trustworthiness.

The weapons that have to be documented are battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large-caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles and missile launchers, and small arms and light weapons. This is a lot of small and big weapons and machinery that may or may not be able to be hidden.

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CNN’s Navy Yard shooting coverage

Basing my search for what to post about this week off of the spot-on Daily Show clip we saw in class last Thursday, here’s a CNN story, updated last Tuesday, actually calledNavy Yard shooting: What we know and don’t know.”

It begins,

“The one question we all desperately want answered may have gone to the grave with Aaron Alexis: Why?

Why did he park at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, walk into Building 197, perch himself on an overlook above the atrium and open fire? The bullets that rained down killed 12 people and wounded eight others.


But that’s not the only missing puzzle piece. Investigators are painstakingly trying to piece together the motive, the means and the method.”

Never mind the speculative nature of the article, or the fact that trying to answer the question “why?” is actually the same exact thing as “trying to piece together a motive.”

The sensationalized nature of CNN’s scene-setting and description of raining bullets is deeply problematic because, as is the case in the coverage of most mass shootings, the gunman is the sole focus of the entire story. What he looks like, what weapons he used, why he did it. Curiosity about what would make someone do such a thing is what gets the most voyeuristic attention from viewers, and is what 24/7 news channels like CNN hone in on.

Every time a mass shooting like this occurs, day after day, you’ll see the same, usually deranged-looking photograph of the perpetrator on the news, held on the screen for comfortably long periods of time. I’m thinking specifically of the Newtown shooting, and the same wacky picture of Adam Lanza shown again and again.

Are we meant to think that the shooter’s crazy? Or that, taking it a step further, crazy people look a certain way? If we are, is the media trying to send out the message that “we should have known”?

And, unless the victims are “unique,” such as high-profile Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in Arizona in 2011, or the Newtown children (who can forget the montage of their faces on the news?), very little is said about them. “12 shot, 18 wounded.” Just numbers.

This way of covering shootings is ineffective because, as the CNN article shows, there are so many questions about the shooters that we’ll never know. But what we do know about is the status of the victims: who they were, why they were there, etc.

“Reporters” for news sources like CNN should focus on the victims as they try to figure out more about the shooters, since, as we’ve seen, a lot of misinformation gets thrown around when they try to rush and be the first to identify or analyze the shooter.

What do you guys think? Should there be more of a focus on the victims of these shootings? How can the media improve their coverage of these events?

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Social Media Used in all the Wrong Ways?

I though this article was interesting and related a lot to what we’ve been talking about in class

A New Jersey teen tweeted last night “There is somone in my hour ecall 911.” and was seemingly kidnapped a short time later.

But now the case is being investigated as a runaway – not a kidnapping. The teen was apparently identified as a girl who was taken in a cab later that night to a train station. She still hasn’t been found, but authorities aren’t suspecting foul play. 

It’s interesting that this girl may have used twitter to fake her own kidnapping. It’s showing all these other uses for social media that most people wouldn’t even consider. It kind of makes me think, is social media harming or helping us? Because that girl tweeted this the police station in that town had to send out members of the police force to follow up on something that may have been bogus all along. 

What are your guy’s thoughts? 

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Stuart Hall: Representation & the Media

Hi everybody,

I was really impressed with the presentation in class today, it was extremely dense with a lot of thought provoking ideas that came across faster than I could keep up with by taking notes.  I checked out the mef (Media Education Foundation) website and found a transcript of the video presentation, Stuart Hall: Representation & the Media, here is a link to it in case anyone is interested. The video is there also.

One of the ideas that Stuart Hall mentioned, which struck me as esoteric and challenging to my sensibility, was his assertion that “nothing meaningful exists outside of discourse”.  Hall anticipates this doubtful sentiment from students, and I would not disagree with his next point, that the assertion “Nothing exists outside of discourse,” is a mistaken conclusion to draw from his previous statement. So if I understand what he is saying, that there is an objective world out there, and there are events that do take place beyond any human discourse, there is no objective meaning out there until humans have a discourse to interpret and “make meaningful sense of it.”  I feel challenged to find a counter argument, although I may risk missing his point.  What about somebody who is surfing, alone with no one watching, and for whatever reason they drown or maybe a great white shark eats them.  I would say that dying was a pretty meaningful event for them, although there was not necessarily any discourse occurring during this event. There might be some internal dialog, such as “oh shit, I’m being eaten by a shark.” Maybe I’m answering my own question, internal dialog involves interpreting reality, so I guess it is a discourse with one’s self.  Otherwise, there might not ever be any discourse beyond someone later noting the victim’s absence, or a chewed-up surfboard or something. I think the point that Hall is making is that people do not encounter meaning until they subjectively create meaning when they interpret events. It’s a tricky point to make, you can say that humans only experience meaning through their interpretations of their sensory perceptions and physical interactions with the external world, but that feels too cerebral to me.  People experience emotions, feelings, and zen-like mystical states that are certainly real and yet they sometimes evade classification or description in terms of language, and it seems to me that these experiences are often the most meaningful, although I couldn’t adequately explain why in words.

– Kevin


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“Journalism doesn’t come with an instruction manual”

Please read this fascinating piece by Mindy McAdams, a journalism professor at the University of Florida, about the need for J-students to learn how to learn ( – other things than just writing). What do you think? Where are you at with this?

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Everything you put in an article matters – words, letters, images, colors, shapes, etc.

Check out this very interesting article from’s 10,000 Words blog about how journalists should start thinking in terms of online “usability.”

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“What newspapers and other media could learn from Reddit”

Excerpt from the GigaOm piece: “As they try to move online, or become reader-supported the way the New York Times is, more newspapers and other media outlets are going to have to get serious about building community — and that means more than just trying to get a bunch of Twitter followers who will retweet a headline.”

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Welcome to Journ 494MI: Media, Technology and Culture!

Hi guys,

Please take a moment to familiarize yourselves with the content of this blog. Please take a look at the Syllabus and the Schedule of Readings in particular. Then, please go to Assignments and complete the Thursday, Sept. 6 assignment.

Welcome to Media, Technology and Culture! I’m looking forward to having many great discussions with you here and in class!



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