Thursday, December 6, 2012

Media Torrent

Which style of media navigation listed by Todd Gitlin best describes you? How so? Please respond by Sunday, Dec. 9, 5 p.m.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Virtuous Journalist

What is virtuous journalism? Who working today is, to your mind, a virtuous journalist? If a journalist isn't "virtuous," as Kirkhorn defines the term, what is he or she?

Your response is due Wed., Nov 28, by 4 p.m.

Monday, November 19, 2012

W. Eugene Smith Photos

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Ruth Herrick's Assignment"

What is the moral of "Ruth Herrick's Assignment"? In deciding this, consider how the woman journalist is portrayed. What are her defining characteristics? Are they the same as a male journalist's? Is it surprising that a woman  journalist portrayed her fictional alter ego this way? How do you explain that? Does MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD offer any clues?

Your response is due on Sunday, Nov. 18, by 4 p.m.

Press Pause Play

Sunday, November 11, 2012

History Is. . .

Relevant? Irrelevant? Using Mightier Than a Sword (chaps. 6-10) as a reference, please argue for which every position you believe most. Your response is due by 3 p.m., Wed., Nov. 14.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

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 three-page essay sent to me as a Word or rtf attachment before class on the Monday we return from Thanksgiving.


Monday, November 5, 2012


Mightier Than the Sword (Chaps. 1-5)

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. 11.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cult of the Amateur

Do you agree or disagree with Andrew Keen's thesis in his interview that the Internet is "flattening" culture? How is his concept of flattening different than Powers'? Please respond by 4 p.m., Wed., Oct. 18.

In addition, each project group should be prepared to present to the class on Thursday, Oct. 19, a link to a Web site or Internet production that refutes or confirms Keen's argument.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Please identity the topic & approach of your "group" project by Sun., Oct. 14, 4 p.m.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Powers et al

How would you relate deep ecology's questions (see handout) to the  Internet? How about Postman's from the PBS interview? What is the key difference between their critique and Powers, if any?Do you agree with one or the other or all or none?

Your response is due by Wed., Oct. 10, at 4 p.m.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Project Ideas

Though it is a bit difficult at this stage, I'd like to begin our end-of-the-semester projects. As I mentioned in class, these can be a Web site, a video, a podcast, or another kind of "innovative" presentation. What I need from each of you is a topic you'd like to explore. Obviously, it should have a connection to media. It should be a topic with a history or tradition of relevance to our situation vis a vis current media. The topic may be a person, issue, invention, or event, but it should be something you're genuinely curious about. You will be required to compose an annotated bibliography and detailed outline  prior to creating your presentation.

Possible topics: Tabloids, Edward R. Murrow, Hutchins Commission, Areopagitica, Linotype, R. Crumb, Talking Movies, Marconi, Woodstein, Jacob Riis, Maguerite Higgins, Katharine Graham, etc. I'm not being prescriptive; pursue something you care about so long as it's related to the press (media) in America.

Please respond by this Wednesday, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


What do you think is the main point of Chuck Klosterman's essay, "Fail"? (Or, to put it another way, why is the essay titled "Fail"?) Can you relate to his predicament vis a vis technology?  How so? (Or, conversely, why not?)

Please respond by 3 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 23. No late responses will be accepted.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What's To Be Done?

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 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept.  20.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Onion Covers the News,28573/

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Amusing Ourselves to Death 3 (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 or NPR.) What does your answer tell you about the nature of what passes for news today? Please respond by 3 p.m., Wed., Sept. 12.

Amusing Ourselves to Death 2 (Chaps. 1-6)

Examine the 10 Most E-Mailed Stories on the New York Times Web site for Friday, Sept. 7. 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 news media in America today (informing, entertaining, rumor-mongering, counseling, editorializing, advertising)? Do your findings confirm or contradict Postman's major thesis? What does all this make you feel about the direction of American media and the society it serves? Your response is due -- remember, no late responses are given credit -- by noon Sunday, Sept. 9.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


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 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Say Hello

Please indicate you were able to access the blog and become a follower of it by responding briefly but cogently to some aspect of one or both of the articles on freedom of expression below. Respond
 by 4 p.m. this Wed.