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Making sense of media: It’s not time for death knells

Posted by on Sep 19, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


As part of his Ender series, author Orson Scott Card titled one book Speaker for the Dead. Ender, a child who had vanquished an alien threat to humanity, left Earth and spent time speaking for the dead, talking of people’s  lives, their hopes and fears, their successes and their failures.

Although some would currently argue otherwise, Ender could not yet speak about the death of journalism, especially as it concerns print media.

Journalism is not, and will not be, dead. Print is not, and will not be, dead.

Morphed, mutated and changed: maybe.

And, because of these potential changes, we need to speak about –and guide – students through its transformation by making sense of that process and keep the best standards of the fourth estate, or legacy journalism, alive.

One way to make sense of the changes media are undergoing would be to follow Poynter’s Making Sense Project. That’s easy enough to do by going to the Kent State Poynter Next Ethics site, clicking on Today’s Archives and then clicking on Kelly McBridge’s nearly hour-long session. Questions raised, ethical and political, are well worth your time.

Some points McBride made in her session:
• We are finding a lot of new players in media and they don’t always have the same sense of traditional values we do.
• The lines between journalism and the rest of media are very, very blurry. Jon Stewart is a classic example as a news source to a whole generation. The “rest of the media” includes infotainment and a growing “fifth estate” which encompasses new, social and citizen media.
• We are no longer able to trust that information itself will abide by any sense of standards.
• Citizens are going to need a new set of skills regarding information just to be participating members in a democracy, consuming as well as creating information.

For example, under the heading of  “why are we so worried” about changes in the ways people access information, McBride cited Sarah Palin’s Facebook page as an example of fifth estate media that requires special skills people would need to understand.

She said the Palin site is “very well managed” so those who go there receive highly controlled and laundered information and views, nothing controversial or opposite of her views, according to information gathered by Slate. “People who get information from Sarah Palin’s Facebook site have a very distorted understanding of who they are as a group,” McBride said, “because the information is managed. It’s not the information Sarah puts out; it’s this community and how they understand themselves that’s been massaged to fit some of the political agenda Sarah Palin has. It’s distortion, if not outright deception.”

The Making Sense presentation raises important issues and questions worth our consideration, and classroom time for discussion.

While the existing business model of print journalism fades and changes, traditional journalistic principles need to live as the base for continued legacy media and new media for the future – not only as used by its practioners but for its consumers.

In that way we will not speak of the death of journalism. We will participate in its adaptation.

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Celebrate Constitution Day by seeking answers

Posted by on Sep 17, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Today we celebrate Constitution Day as all schools are mandated to by federal law.

To focus this celebration of the Constitution’s 223 birthday, let’s ask ourselves and our school officials a few questions:
• If we don’t train our students to practice and believe in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, how can we possibly expect the coming fifth estate (journalism’s and civic journalism’s use of social media) to fulfill their mission of civic involvement and awareness? Without freedoms, while they are in school, as citizens they will barely be media literate.
• Are comments on social media and in response to articles in the media becoming ruder because people in many communities have no outlet to expression themselves freely, with responsibility, while in school because of censorship?
• Along the same lines, do people feel they have a right to anonymity in making online comments because it is the only way they could express themselves during their school years? Is the reason many youth favor anonymity of online comments stem from a lack of ability to freely discuss issues in our schools?
• Should we be educating students to be consumers of news, to be media literate, so they can engage in public discourse and intelligently handle discussions in a democracy?

In celebrating our democratic heritage – and future – today, let’s highlight the importance of free and responsible student expression. In so many ways it is the key to another 223 years of our freedoms.

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Poynter’s making sense of information

Posted by on Sep 16, 2010 in Blog, Law and Ethics, News, Scholastic Journalism, Teaching | 0 comments


Poynter’s Kelly McBride talked about Poynter’s Making Sense study of media this morning at the Poynter-Kent State Media Ethics Workshop. You can find a lot of  usable information from this session at the workshop’s website.

Some key points:
• 31 percent of people say they want news from outlets with which they share a point of view
• 49 percent say they prefer news from sites with no discernible point of view
• Checks and balances are being created for fifth estate media distortion and misinformation which has a growing potential to become the “Big Lie.”

Video of all sessions will be available as the day continues, and live streaming is available now.

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