Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Sexually suggestive clothing, without showing skin

As I was checking people into their rooms at the beginning of the school year, I noticed a t-shirt one young man was wearing; An awkward morning beats a boring night was written across his chest. "What a first impression!" I thought to myself.

There isn't anyone to control what you can wear in college, but it's a different story in high schools across the nation. In Ian Shapira's article, "Teen's T-shirts Make Educators Squirm," he points out that high schools are dealing with these "gray area" t-shirts. T-shirts promoting alcohol, drugs or weapons are obviously unacceptable, but more and more school's have to make the determination of what is now acceptable, and what is not.

"Sexually suggestive T-shirts often fall into a gray area that requires officials to evaluate one shirt at a time. Some messages are considered harmless -- "Single and Ready to Mingle" or "My Boyfriend Is a Good Kisser." Others are not.

I've found that many of the t-shirts' messages have fine denotations, but when cultural knowledge is incoroporated, have very negative connotations. The signified messages of the t-shirts are not moral ones. Kids are now walking through school with t-shirt messages that include: Don't Call Me a Cowgirl Until You See Me Ride, yes, but not with u!, Yawn so I can see if you're the one and my girlfriend's sick in bed.

With the Nelly singing "Candy Shop" and Abercrombie and Fitch as well as other name brands promoting these "cultural" values, I can see why kids want to wear this clothing. I know that my 12-year-old brother will understand many of these messages, but I can hope that he hasn't gained the cultural knowledge at this point to understand them all!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bye Bye Business Section?

After reading a recent interview with SABEW president Dave Kansas, I was interested to find out that many newspapers have been cutting stock listings from their business section, not that I personally noticed. As I did some more research into the matter, specifically what newspapers have and will be cutting stock listings, I was surprised to see The Des Moines Register on the list. Other papers that will be cutting the stock sections include The Chicago Tribune, Providence Journal, Denver Post, Indianapolis Star and Newsday.

Honestly, when I read the paper, if I'm not reading it online, the business section gets tossed aside with the ads, so this was not upsetting news. What shocked me, though, was the notion that newspapers may get rid of the business section altogether.

"I think some papers have gotten too aggressive on this front, driven primarily by high newsprint costs. But I imagine that five years from now printed stock listings will be either all gone or just a weekly affair. My big concern is that some papers will use the elimination of stock listings to justify eliminating the business section altogether," Kansas said.
I understand that stocks are every changing; maybe it just doesn't make sense to print something that changes every minute anymore. The world wide web seems to serve this function much better, with stock tickers galore.
Although I don't read the business section, I think that it would be a disservice for newspapers to get rid of it. The money market plays a huge role in our everyday lives, whether I, or anyone else, doesn't want to admit it. Although I currently don't read the business section, maybe it's an activity that I should commit to habit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Serving the Public or the Pocketbook?

I thought I'd follow the story that Kate's blog brought to my attention about the Los Angeles Times as the editor and publisher continue to deal with the demand that they slash more jobs. I applaud their efforts, but I'm thinking there may be a few jobless people soon. In David Folkenflik's article "Tribune's Plan to Cut Paper's Staff Sparks Revolt," he raises many questions about the world of journalism today. Have newspapers, or rather their CEO counterparts, become too focused on the profit rather than the public service?

It seems daily that I'm reading something about the downward spiral of journalism: fewer jobs, less money for more profit, and print media being a dead duck. Things aren't looking too bright. It seems like every newspaper is demanding more work from fewer journalists in hopes of creating a greater profit.

"At The Dallas Morning News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and even The New York Times, the ranks of reporters have been slashed as owners seek to reassure investors."

Last time I checked, newspapers were making some pretty good bank, even with decreasing readership. As reported in this article, The Los Angeles Times is making a 20 percent profit.

"But the hometown Chicago Tribune runs a much leaner outfit -- making about 30 percent. And corporate executives want to bring the Times in line."

Since when did journalism become about making money rather than being the "watchdog" for the American people? The focus of our newspapers needs to be changed and soon. A round of applause to Los Angeles Times editor Dean P. Baquet and publisher Jeffrey M. Johnson for refusing to make the cuts. It may be an unanswered cry for change at this point, but I hear them loud and clear.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Real Life Laguna

So I guess I'll have to admit that I'm a closet Laguna Beach Fan. To be honest, it's not something I like to admit. I guess that I really don't like to confess how excited I was when I found out that my roommate had the first two seasons on DVD, either. The world of Laguna Beach has become reality for many fans, as MTV has announced its introdution of "Virtual Laguna Beach." I may like Laguna Beach, but I don't know how excited I am about a "virtual seaside hangout with three dimensional characters".

I know that Laguna Beach is claimed to be reality TV, although I don't think anyone believes that it's all too real. I did find it interesting, though, that now fans of the show can become, in essence, part of it.

“You can not only watch TV, but now you can actually live it,” Van Toffler, the president of the MTV Networks Music, Film and Logo Group, said in an interview.

I really don't think I want to "live Laguna Beach"; I'm perfectly content just watching it. Afterall, who wants to be a part of a group of backstabbing high school girls? I admit, it's entertaining, but I don't want to be part of it.

What sounds even worse to me is the advertising they're planning on incorporating into the virtual world. Virtual Laguna Beach already has relationships with the brands of Pepsi-Cola, Secret, and Cingular. I'm sure advertisers are having a heydey. After watching a few ads, you receive more money to buy your name brand clothes. No thanks.

I don't think that this is an online venture that I'll be participating in. To me, it sounds like The Sims visit Laguna Beach.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Things aren't always as they Appear

I guess you could say that I'm a pretty trusting person, sometimes to the point of gullible. People tell me stories all of the time, sometimes far fetched, and if they have any ounce of truth to them, I'll take their word for what it's worth, and I'll believe them. So, I did take the journalist's word for it when his article said that this was a photo I didn't want to see. The photograph (seen in any of the links) shows five young people sitting at the river's edge, seemingly unaffected by the World Trade Center in the background in flames. In his New York Times column, Frank Rich describes the picture as such. "This is a country that likes to move on, and fast. The young people in Mr. Hoepker's photo aren't necessarily callous. They're just American." I wasn't really sure how to take this comment, but not really looking any further, accepted it, and continued my newsgator perusal.

The next day, I found a new posting on Slate.com, by Dave Plotz, saying that Rich's interpretation was wrong. I didn't really know who to believe at this point, although I really wanted to believe Plotz. I really didn't want to make a decision. I wanted to hear from someone in the picture. Did they really not care?! Plotz's plea for someone in the picture to respond became reality.

One of the men in the picture did respond, saying, "It's me in that 9/11 Photo." The young person, who actually happens to be 40, had come down to the river bank and was in deep discussion with his girlfriend and a few other complete strangers. Somehow the meaning of the picture completely changed with the "subject's" explanation. What a perfect example of today's discussion in Mass Communication and Society.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Media politics?

Journalism isn't something that I always knew that I wanted to do, it just kind of worked out that way. I love to write, and I'm passionate about many things, sometimes more so than I need to be. The world of journalism seems to be every changing though. With convergence, I may be doing podcasts, or even blogging (God forbid :)) rather than writing for the tradtional paper newspaper when I'm done with school. One thing that I didn't even consider is the possibility that I may be treated differently because of my sex or my age. Sure, I may be seen as the rookie in the beginning, but I read a column that was quite discouraging.

Courtney Lowery in her column titled, "Women in Journalism: A Discouraging Generation Gap," talked about her recent experience at Journalism and Women Symposium. As a 26-year-old managing editor of an online magazine, she wasn't the in the norm, but I sympathized with her experience. Not only shunned by the women that she looked up to, she was scorned because of her medium. In a world of change and convergence, these all too common attitudes will need change, it's just a matter of time. In the mean time, I can say that I can only hope to be as successful as Lowery in five short years.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A worthwhile protest?

There's one time that I can remember, in my long lived life, that my generation has come together as one to protest for a cause. We didn't protest a war as so many did during the Vietnam War. We didn't protest for equal rights. We didn't even protest because President Bush is listening to our phone conversations. My generation united as one this past week to protest the new "stalker" facebook. The petition did bring some change. I'm so glad that we could come together as one to get a public apology from Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of facebook, and make something really worthwhile happen.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

So Long! Farewell! Dan Rather

So I do have to say that I feel sorry for poor Dan Rather. Katie Couric has stolen the spot light, and there just doesn't seem to be any room for Dan any longer. Rebecca Dana in her article "Fall In, Scamps" comments on Rather's seemingly sad farewell to the world of broadcast journalism, or at least to the world where he'll be seen. Rather is still a working journalist, but nobody seems to know.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

College Freedom of the Press: Where to draw the Line

The freedom of the press has come into question a great deal over this past year. What information can and can't be published in the world of newspapers today? New York Times Reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, Washington Post reporter Dana Priest and most recently USA Today reporter Leslie Cauley have all come under fire because of their "leaks" of national security information. This was and still is big news in the world of journalism, but what about the colleges' freedom of the press?

College, in my view, is supposed to be a place where wild ideas run rampant and free. People may not like everything you say or do, but what would the marketplace of ideas be without dissenting opinions? The college's newspaper is a wonderful place to make your views known to the entire campus, including faculty and alumni. People may not like the views expressed, but such is life.

This was the case at Ocean County College in New Jersey. After more than 35 years as faculty adivser to The Viking News, Karen Bosley's contract was not renewed because of what was written in the paper throughout the year. Her removal is thought to be caused by stories and opinion pieces that were critical of the college's president and administration. Thankfully, the matter was taken to the courts, and the story has a happy ending; Bosley was reinstated.

It still baffles me though how anyone could think that it was ok to censor someone's thoughts or ideas because they didn't like them. This seems to be a fundamental right given to everyone by the constitution. This occurrence also furthers my view that the Supreme Court direly needs to take this issue into consideration. They had their chance already this year, but one can only hope that the court chooses to hear it the next time around.