Saturday, November 28, 2009

Final Exam Question

In Media Unlimited, Todd Gitlin identifies several different styles of navigating the media torrent.

*Which style best describes you? Are you a fan? A critic? A secessionist? Some other type?

*Offer specific examples of your use of and attitude toward media technologies and productions to support your choice.

*Also say whether you believe your primary style of navigating the media is sufficient to cope with the media torrent and why or why not.

Synthesizing other materials from class -- readings, discussions, presentations -- is helpful, if not essential. Your response, at the very least, should be thoughtful, well organized and clearly phrased.

Your paper should be 3-5 double-spaced pages. A hard copy of it is due by 12:15 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 10.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Feeling Our Way Through the Media Torrent

In Media Unlimited, Todd Gitlin writes, "Media are occasions for experiences -- experiences that are themselves the main products, the main transactions, the main 'effects' of media. This is the big story; the rest is details." What do you think he means by this? And how is it related to the ideas of Georg Simmel discussed later in the book? Please respond by the start of class Monday, Nov. 23.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Would it be good for the world if the Internet suddenly went black and never returned? Why or why not? What would YOU lose? What would YOU gain? Refer to Klosterman's essay for support as necessary.

Please post your response by 4 p.m., Wed., Nov. 18.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Girl Reporter

As the class handouts indicate, women had second-class status in journalism for most of its history. What does that suggest to you about the relationship of journalism to the rest of American society? By and large, is journalism a progressive influence on society or a reflector and enforcer of society's established beliefs? (And why do you think that is?) How does it make you feel to read about the limits placed on women in earlier eras in journalism? Do you see or sense gender-based limits on women in media professions today? If so, what are they? Please respond by 4 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 15.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Good Night, and Good Luck

This film recounts the Cold War-era confrontation between CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow and anti-Communist witch-hunter 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, including recent history? Do you believe such events are typical or exceptional for the press (that is, which traits seem to dominate -- courage or cowardice, public service or self-interest)? 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 Monday, Nov. 23.

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.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cult of Amateur 3

In the final chapter of his book, Keen proposes solutions to the problems he perceives with Web 2.0. Please evaluate his proposed solutions. Do you agree with them? Are they workable? Do you have other and better ideas? Your response is due by 4 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 28.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cult of Amateur 2

By 4 p.m. Wed, Oct. 21, each group should post a link that illustrates their assigned position -- that the Web is a bane to culture or that it is a benefit. The group should also explain how the link illustrates their position. Lastly, each group should be prepared to briefly present their case to the class on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Cult of Amateur 1

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 by 6 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 11.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Can the Media Be Fixed?

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. Do any of his suggestions strike you as feasible? Which one seems most feasible? Why? Do you have a suggestion of your own? You should. Please respond by noon, Sunday, Oct. 4.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Deep Ecology

Read the handout from the book Deep Ecology. Now apply the questions it asks of technology to TV. Based on Postman's analysis in Amusing Ourselves. . . and your own experience, does TV 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 noon, Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wiki Wacky

From the list of Wiki topics sent earlier, choose one name. Research who the person is and his or her relation or significance to the media. Write a 100-word biographical blurb on the person and submit it to the Comment section of this post no later than noon, Wednesday, Sept. 23. The person you choose will be the subject of your Wiki entry/project, so please choose well.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chaps. 4-6

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 front page of a newspaper or as the lead item on a news Web site.) What does your answer tell you about the nature of what passes for news today? Please respond by noon, Wed., Sept. 16.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

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 23, 2009

10 Most E-Mailed Stories

Examine the 10 Most E-Mailed Stories on the New York Times Web site for Thursday, August 27. 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 (informing, entertaining, rumor-mongering, counseling, editorializing advertising)? How does that make you feel (optimistic, light-headed, despairing)? Your response is due -- remember, no late responses are given credit -- by noon Sunday, August 30.

Big News!

What, to your mind, was the biggest story in the media in the summer of 2009? Please clearly identify the story or coverage you think qualifies and explain why you think so in a concise paragraph.

Your response is due on Wednesday, August 26, by 5 p.m. (Sorry, but no credit will be given for late responses.)