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I apologize greatly for my lack of posting this week. Obama-mania and homework caught up to me. I promise there will be a post next Sunday. (Besides, you got two last week. Quit whining.)
Until then, here’s Jon Stewart’s take on Obama’s visit to campus on Tuesday 9/28 to entertain you.—democratic-campaign-woes (Apparently WordPress only supports Youtube and Google videos unless I upgrade. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Media Fail

So, in case no one noticed, knew, or cares, other than the fact that there has been a terrorist attack in Times Square (which was possibly the most badly built bomb in history, has no one ever heard of the Anarchist’s Cookbook?), THERE IS A GIANT OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO THAT IS GOING TO DESTROY THE ENTIRE ECOSYSTEM, ALL FISHERY’S IN THE AREA, AND RAISE GAS PRICES BY INCREDIBLE AMOUNTS!!!!!

How is that not the real front page news? The last news story from the Times was on April 28th!

Just saying.

Ethics in Waco

In addition to J401, I’m taking J675: Media Law and Ethics with Dreschel. Today we’re dealing with the ethics in the media’s behavior in Waco, TX. I’m sure no one in our class is old enough to really remember this, we were all really young when this happened, but for brief background: The Branch Davidians were a cult in Waco, TX. The whole cult is based on the fact that their leader, Koresh, would commit all sorts of sins (things like sleeping with his followers’ 12 year old daughters) and his taking on the sins would cleanse everyone else of theirs. They were also big on End of the World, and so collected firearms like crazy. The ATF wanted to take them down, and around the time the raid was going to happen, the newspapers were going to run a story on the cult. The ATF gets in touch with the media to say “Please wait to run those, we’re going to take them down.” Media refuses, then decides to do a giant story on the raid, and use their contacts around town to find out when. Which would all be fine except…

Basically, ATF sues the news agency later for compromising the secrecy of the raid, because one reporter who couldn’t find the location drove around the back roads for hours and then when a mail carrier (who happened to be a Branch Davidian) asked what he was doing, he told him when the raid would occur. Also, all the news vans in the location constantly would have alerted the Davidians. They say this led to 4 agents and several Davidians being killed, and many more wounded. Waco was just a giant mess.

So the question becomes, does the news media have the duty to get the story first, or the duty to protect the ATF and the people in the compound? In the end, the courts ruled against the media, and I believe for good reason. The courts said the media had a duty because they put the agents in foreseeable danger. I think its just because of the need to protect innocent lives. The story is important, yes, but lives are more so.

Or does the government not have the right to silence the media, no matter what?

Your thoughts?

State of…Journalism

So I had a repetitive conversation in a local bar last night. Its the same conversation I have every time someone I just met asks me about my major.

“So, where do you go to school?”


“What are you majoring in?”

“Journalism and Legal Studies.”

At this point most people look surprised, and then they get this knowing sort of look on their face. The kind that says “This kid’s a dreamer, an idealist.” Then comes the next comment, sure as the sun rises in the East.

“So you’re planning on going to law school, right?” (That’s why you’re doing Legal Studies as well, right? ‘Cause everyone knows…)

And when they hear that I’m planning on trying my hand at being an actual, real journalist first, like one of those that interview people and write news stories for people to read, hear, watch, comment on, etc., they get one of two looks. The first is either a modified version of the look I’m already getting, the all-knowing smirk, or they smile like I just told them someone ran over my dog.

“Do you think you can actually make a career out of that?” (…that journalism is dead.)

And then they’re even more surprised when I tell them that, “Yes, yes I do.”

And then they ask me why. These are a few common responses: “Newspapers are dying. No one has any trust in media anymore, and its justified, in my honest opinion. People are becoming more and more ignorant and polarized by the day, look at the fact that Bill O’Reilly/Rachel Maddow are so widely followed. NO ONE CARES ABOUT MEDIA!” (The last one is a combination of various arguments, usually presented very furiously.)

To which I remind them: “Well, when you want to know what happened with something in Iran, in Europe, in Washington, in the next town over, where do you look? You look on TV, in a newspaper, online, but you always check the media first.”

In a lecture he gave last April at the University of Kentucky, John S. Carroll, former editor of the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Baltimore Sun and the Los Angeles Times (thanks to PoynterOnline for the transcript) summed up very well what I think about media and its future.

“There will be journalism in the future. And the journalism of the future will have tools unlike any imagined by earlier generations.

You will have new tools for finding things out, and tools to send your stories to the entire world at the speed of light.

Journalism has always been a one-way bulletin from journalist to public. Now it is a conversation with millions of participants, which gives us access to new facts and new ideas.

Thanks to hyperlinks, you can write accordion-like stories that can be expanded to match each reader’s degree of interest. One person might give your story ten seconds; another might spend a rewarding half day with it.

The journalism of the future will be flexible, making fluid use of video, audio and text to tell stories as they can best be told.”

Now I can’t speak as eloquently as John Carroll, but I feel that this perfectly sums up why I feel there is still hope for journalism. It may be changing, but it will always be there. Humans are the only creatures on the planet with an interest in what goes on halfway around the world, and with the drive to do something about it, and the intelligence to care.

It comes down to one simple principle: humans need media.


So I’m going to just admit this straight up. I’m having serious difficulty keeping up with everything this semester. After this conference is over I’m sure my life will get back to normal and I’ll be caught up, but there is really no way for me to get this all done right now. I’m constantly on the edge of being burned out with everything. I feel like crying all the time. I have so much responsibility and so much I have to do and its just not possible.

I realize this might not be a typical or good topic for this blog, but its definitely related to J401. Mostly because of the fact that I have no idea what my individual topics are going to be yet. I haven’t been able to come up with a single interview for the team yet. I’ll try again in the little bit of time I have before I go to work, and hope that Jacki has time at some point when I’m not in class, in my internship, or at work, which is basically never, if she even is willing to do an interview at all. I don’t know what to do for my individual story. I want to talk about how there is supposedly no “shortage” of mental health professionals but how we still can’t help everyone that needs to be helped. There’re supposedly all these resources, but people can’t use them, its backed up. But still there’s no shortage? I don’t understand. But Jesus Christ I don’t have the time for this right now. I don’t have the physical TIME to carry out these interviews. i don’t have the time to do the research first.

I’m so absolutely screwed.