Sunday, December 10, 2006

Eating what the media feeds us

As I was perusing some differeng blogs on the web, I came across "informeddissent" blogging about the media's role in the war in Iraq. Here I go again, blogging about the positives of the American culture. With the recent label of civil war, I have to wonder how truthfully events are being portrayed. Although I take "informeddissent's" assertions with a grain of salt because I have no idea who this person is, I feel that some very good, as well as interesting, arguments were made.

"Instead of authoritative media information about aluminum tubes and mobile weapons labs, we’re now getting authoritative media illumination of why a swift pullout of U.S. troops isn’t realistic or desirable. The result is similar to what was happening four years ago — a huge betrayal of journalistic responsibility."

I find this argument on the whole to be true. Viewers were fed the "weapons of mass destruction" line over and over again. Now that nothing was found, that's something that is no longer mentioned. Now viewers are being bombarded with, "stay the course" and " Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say.”

"And so it goes — with U.S. media obsessively focused on such concerns as 'American military and political leverage,' 'American fortunes' and whether 'the United States can gain new traction in Iraq.' With that kind of worldview, no wonder so much news coverage is serving nationalism instead of journalism."

Are the media truly serving the government and themselves? Are we really getting the true story? Maybe we should all look past the bombardment of propaganda and think for ourselves--for the sanity of America.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Oh the Sexism...

In a recent communications class, the question was posed to the women: Can you be anything you want to be? There was some chatter, and then I responded, "I don't think that I can be president." Besides not meeting the age requirement, I think it may be a long road until I, or any woman for that matter, will become president. I'm really pulling for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the upcoming election, but I suppose we'll see what happens.

Curiously, though, Susan Estrich of claims that the First Whiffs of Sexismin in Hillary's Presidential Coverage are already upon us. I know that there will be talk and media coverage about Mrs. Clinton, but Estrich makes a valid point in the buzz she has already generated.
"Dick Morris criticizes her for the 'coy pretense of indecision' that he says characterized her attitude towards the presidency until she won her Senate seat. Who is kidding whom? Was Dick fooled? Was anyone in New York confused? Since when does putting first things first, dealing with challenges in an orderly fashion, constitute a 'coy pretense of indecision?' Did anyone accuse George W. Bush of a 'coy pretense of indecision' when he ran for re-election as governor of Texas – and then ran for president?"

Point taken! And really, when was the last time that you heard a male referred to as 'coy'? I'd say that the word has a pretty feminine connotation. But wait, it just gets worse.
"Dick Morris said to Fox’s John Gibson that Hillary would insist on being called President Rodham if/when she is elected president. How does he know? He hasn’t spoken to either Clinton in years, other than a handshake with the former president in a hotel lobby. Yet there he is, pontificating as to how she will insist on being addressed as president. And on television no less, taken seriously, as if he knows. But then, when it comes to Hillary, hysteria reigns, and the facts don’t matter."

Sounds to me as though Mr. Morris may be a little intimidated by Mrs. Clinton, or Mrs. Rodham for that matter. In all honesty, why would it matter? Just because a woman keeps her last name, or hyphenates it for that matter, doesn't mean that she's a bra-burning liberal feminist. Mr. Morris could use a little reality check.
"You don’t have to like Hillary to hate sexism. You don’t have to sympathize with Hillary to take issue with how she is treated. It will be a long road to November 2008. And don’t expect anyone to be coy when it comes to Hillary. Our reactions may, in the end, count for as much as anything she does. Interesting times, these."

I can't wait to see what's said when or if she actually enters the race. It will be an interesting road ahead, that's for sure.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Amputated Wall Street Journal

I decided to let's Jack Shafer help me make sense of of the Wall Street Journal's redesigned paper. As of January 2, the newspaper will lose three inches in width. I suppose I'm just too trusting and believed that the decision to "go small" was for my own convenience, as the publisher claimed. I guess I was blinded by the idea that it would be new and improved. Mr. Shafer brought to my attention, though, that the three inch width loss will save quite a bit of money. Afterall, a mere 10 percent of the paper will be axed.

I suppose I should have seen through the "I fly First Class, but when I'm reading the Journal now I knock over my neighbor's orange juice. That won't happen anymore," story. Pretty lame. I know I've had that problem. I do, in fact, read the Wall Street Journal in the afternoons at work. I can't say I've ever had a problem with the size.

Personally, I think the three inch loss is pretty aggravating. That just means less space for the stories that should be reported.
"The rejigged Journal will also brim with summaries of all sorts. The paper plans to digest news from other news sources in one column, summarize 'the key news by industry and news topic' in another, and even condense the paper's long features to 'draw out the key meaning.'"

Sounds great, doesn't it?

I really liked how Slate allowwed readers to make up new slogans for the Wall Street Journal. Mike O'Connell's seemed to fit particularly well.

all Street
ig things
ome in s

Maybe this alteration will be a change for the better, but the only benefits I can see at this time will be in the Wall Street Journal's pocketbook.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"All My Transgender Children"

Hot off the presses!, in a recent commentary, claimed that All my Children, the 37-year-old soap opera, will be the first to feature a transgender character in their show. I say good for them. It takes some guts to go against the norm, especially for the audience that they serve. In a world where the minority it too often under-represented and mis-represented, I applaud ABC's step out of the box.
"Jeffrey Carlson, whose looks are handsomely androgynous in the way of a Hunky Dory-era David Bowie, plays the transgender character, whose name is Zarf and who has achieved success as a rock star, despite having the stage name Zarf."

Did I mention that I love I digress...I am excited, though, to see some representation for the horribly misrepresented group of people. I have to say that I am a bit nervous that the portrayal will be on a soap opera. I mean, really, how realistic are soap operas? I can't even stand to watch them! I guess that means I won't be seeing the show, but I wish the endeavor the best.
"Agnes Nixon, the storied creator of All My Children, has long been devoted to exploring "controversial" social issues in the most sophisticated way that her art form allows."

Way to go Ms. Nixon, for not being able to address issues that most Americans, or media, don't want anything to do with.

Journalism Ethics a Laughable Matter at Columbia

It doesn't get much more ironic than cheating on a journalism ethics exam. That's just what supposedly happened at Columbia University. In a recent article by Robin Shulman on the, both students and the school responded to the possible cheating fiasco.
"'It's going to affect us for years to come,' said Jack Gillum, 23. 'Columbia's going to have this badge of dishonor. If people did cheat, it makes me really angry,' he added, noting that he pays much of his $43,422 yearly tuition and fees by himself and does not want his degree to be devalued."

I can understand this student's frustration, but I can't help but wonder if this was all a rumor or joke blown out of proportion. It's wouldn't be a very funny one; an ironic one, but not funny. But really, I'm curious to see if the allegations of cheating will be substantiated. It's really too bad for all the students that do shell out the money, though, and to have bear the brunt of the bad publicity in their degrees.

The students were given an extra take-home question to adjust for any unfairness. The new essay topic, ironically, "involves a report of cheating by an unnamed individual, followed by rumors and uncertainty."

Some students say this has been a real learning experience for them, learning more these past few days than they did in class. I'm sure it has! If you're going to stupid enough to cheat, don't get caught!