Saturday, November 22, 2008

Topic: Final Paper

Gitlin identifies by name several different ways in which we navigate the media torrent. Which identify best describes or suits you? Why? Be as specific as possible in justifying your choice of identity. Also assess how well your chosen identity allows you to stay afloat in the media torrent.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Media Torrent

From the introduction to Gitlin's book, would he agree with the professor shattering the cell phone with a hammer or be appalled by it? Or would he think it makes no difference either way? What makes you say so?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Problem of Journalism History

What, to your mind, does Nerone identify as the cental problem with journalism history? Does the problem relate to Streitmatter's book, Mightier Than the Sword? Why or why not? Respond prior to class on Monday, Nov. 17.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good Night, and Good Luck

This film recounts the Cold War-era confrontation between CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow and demogogic Sen. Joseph McCarthy on a series of historic TV broadcasts. Do the events the film portrays reflect the recurring traits of the news media identified by Rodger Streitmatter in his book, Mightier Than the Sword? (Refer to the last chapter for a summary list of the traits.) Are there analogous events in the history of American journalism? Do you believe such events are typical or exceptional for the press? Explain why.

Your response should take the form of a two-page essay sent to me as a Word or rtf attachment before class on Thursday, Dec. 4.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mightier Than the Sword

What, in reading about the history of American journalism, surprised you the most? A particular incident? A particular personage? A particular development or trend? Briefly explain why (but in more than one hurried sentence). Please post your response by 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 1.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Locus Novus

Under "Links," you'll find the site "Locus Novus." Please visit it. Examine one of the hybrid word-image videos posted on the site. Then respond before class on Mon., Oct. 27, to the following question: Does the work you examined contradict or confirm Keen's claim that Web 2.0 is destroying culture with its blatant amateurism and stealth corporatism? Explain your reasoning.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Web 2.0

Read the handout from the book Deep Ecology. Apply the questions it asks of technology to Web 2.0. Based on Andrew Keen's analysis and/or your own experience, does Web 2.0 meet the critetia for a "fully informed, appropriate technology"? Why or why not? Please post your response by the start of class, Thursday, Oct. 23.

Warning: You must proofread your posts. Sloppy, ungrammatical, incoherent writing is unacceptable.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Cult of the Amateur

In his book, Andrew Keen complains about "a flattening of our culture." What do you think he means by that phrase and why does the phrase -- or, more precisely, what it represents -- seem to scare him so much? Please respond prior to class, Monday, Oct. 20.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Please examine the pbwiki below (and listed in Links). This is the direction the final project is leaning, though I'm open and even eager for your input as to how the wiki and the assignment might be revised to take advantage of the particular talents and interests of each of you. As I've created user accounts for each student, you should leave comments directly on the wiki's front page by class Monday, Oct. 6, when we'll discuss your ideas.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Media Reform

In the last few pages of Amusing Ourselves to Death, Postman makes several suggestions for fixing the problems represented and created by modern media, particularly TV and computers. Which of his suggestions strike you as most feasible? Why? Do you have any suggestions of your own? You should. Please comment by 10 a.m. Wed., Oct. 8.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Information-Action Ratio

Describe what Postman means by the term "information-action ratio." Now answer his question: How often does it occur that news causes you to alter plans, take some action, etc.? (He's not talking about weather or traffic news, but so-called "serious" news, the kind that shows up on the network evening news or the pages of a newspaper.) What does your answer tell you about the nature of what passes for news today? (You might recall the Crane poem if that helps or Postman's quotes from Thoreau or watch this music video:

Monday, September 15, 2008

Portable Electronic Devices

I want to reiterate something I said in a previous e-mail: keep portable electronic devices out of sight during class time. That was a condition stated at the outset of the class, both by me in person and on the syllabus. If you can't abide by it, please officially withdraw from the class. The use of such devices during class is not only disruptive to teaching and learning, but also personally insulting to me. I do my best to treat students with concern and respect; I expect something of the same in return. If that seems too much to ask -- though, of course, it's not -- then, as I said, please offically witdraw.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Deep Ecology

Read the handout from the book Deep Ecology. Now apply the questions it asks of technology to Web 2.0. Based on Andrew Keen's analysis in The Cult of the Amateur and/or your own experience, does the Web meet the criteria for a "fully informed, appropriate technology"? Please post your comments (which should be proofread before posting; sloppy writing is simply unacceptable) by the start of class Thursday, Oct. 23.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is the Daily Show Amusing Us to Death?

Please discuss by Monday, Sept. 15, whether and how "The Daily Show," as described in the New York Times article and as you have possibly experienced it on TV, confirms, modifies, or refutes Postman's thesis in Amusing Ourselves to Death.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chaps. 1-3

After reading the first three chapters of Amusing Ourselves to Death, what would you say is the major premise of Postman's book? Do you find yourself in agreement with it? Why or why not? Be as specific and concrete as possible in your response (such as by including examples). Please respond no latter than noon, Wednesday, Sept. 9.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"A Newspaper Is a Collection"

Under "Links" you'll find a poem by Stephen Crane, who's best known as a novelist, but who was also a journalist (and poet), called "A Newspaper Is Collection." What does Crane see as the overriding purpose or purposes of the press? What's his attitude toward how the press of his day -- the poem was written about 1890 -- operates? Is there anything about his description of the press that reminds you of today's media as described by Postman? What in specific? Please respond by noon, Sunday, Oct. 4.

The 10 Most E-Mailed Stories

Examine the 10 Most E-Mailed Stories on the New York Times Web site. When you consider them as a whole, do any consistent themes or preoccupations (on the part of journalists or readers or both) emerge? What does the list suggest is the primary function of the press in America today? Does that make you feel optimistic or pessimistic about the future of journalism, democracy, the planet, etc.?