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.