Thesis Progression

     These past few days have been quite difficult. I had to really knuckle down and figure out where I'm headed. Sometimes, I think I'm headed in the right direction and I lose myself. I went back and took some time to figure out where I want to head and what really makes me excited about writing and reading. I took some time and left writing and just looked over some books that I love to read and watch some shows that inspire me and fill me with many ideas.
     Afterwards, I thought it might be better to make an outline of my ideas and try to setup one by one what is important and what I really want to say towards my writing. But I took some time and decided to just do chunking. I chunked one idea down and wrote that out. Then I went and chunked another idea that supports the previous idea and continued in that method until I came up with something concrete.
     Now, I have developed an idea that I believe is workable. And I was able to build up some great points that gave rise to even more material. Then I took that information and created more information that made the previous information more detailed and specific for the idea I'm trying to present. Moreover, I'm just trying to make sure that I'm presenting a workable idea and that I haven't done something that won't be understood or that just doesn't make sense.
     I truly gave it some thought and wrote up some material that is workable. I developed some themes that I believe are important and created a story that is readable. Furthermore, I made an outline and a ten point arc. I'm working on a character outline. And hopefully, all this information will be doable and worthwhile. I've also started my research and an annotated bibliography.  

Thesis Progress Oct. 13 – Working on an Intro & looking at research

I'm exploring a couple of ideas for the start of my thesis.  One is to lay out kind of a historical sketch of how journalism and media have co-existed and how this is a different age than any other that came before.

Here's an idea....
Journalism in its traditional form had several roles:  it spoke truth to power, helping unmask corruption and fight for the rights of the common man and it helped bring news from disparate parts of the country and the world into the homes of average people to help them better understand the world around them and the events that would affect their lives. But the medium has always been important. It is clear that the capabilities of the medium play a critical role in how journalism has evolved. Newspapers provided lots of information, but was forced to keep up with the news cycle. Magazines could afford to be even slower (weekly or monthly) because their information and reporting was so much more in-depth. Radio was faster than newspapers but television was even faster than that and had pictures. Moving images were critical and it was obvious early on that the images themselves could strike a deeper chord with the public and reach a wider pool of them. It also sparked a renewed sense of journalistic mission - whereas the newspapers of the 1800's and 1900's fought for the end of slavery as well as women's and worker's rights, television had a key role in sparking the civil rights movement and bringing people the truth of what was happening in Vietnam. Context, in other words understanding what was happening, was in some ways secondary to the impact the pictures had all by themselves. The rise of the internet and digital media has done a few things: even before social media, the internet itself provided so many sources for news that the "context" of a piece of information could be manipulated, even subtly so, depending on where you got your news. The images themselves were still powerful enough to tell a story, but there was less weight given to understanding. Social/digital media has now allowed it so that the visual component of a piece of information may be all there is and the context may be zero. And disturbingly, the source of that information may be completely unknown to the consumer. The consumer is reliant almost completely on the provider's desire to display something accurately and with context in order for the consumer to correctly understand it. More traditional media had previously been a relied about source to at least check the boxes for showing something in an accurate light, but that notion has been so widely disputed that whatever context is provided by traditional media can =also= be dismissed as being unreliable. So where does that leave us? With sources that are unreliable and context that is unreliable.  Because of this, there is much more responsibility put upon news consumers than ever before: to seek out as many disparate news sources as possible, to try to reconcile their information to come up with what you believe to be a common truth and to use common sense to try and cut through white noise and spin.  Social/digital media has also added responsibility to those on the news creation side - journalists have to work harder to make transparent and even-handed and representative of all sides of a story. But those responsibilities now pass down to social media users who themselves have become part of a vanguard of new citizen journalists. They too, bear responsibility for not misrepresenting the images and information they provide, as to allow social and digital media to still function as some form of journalism....

As supporting text for this:
From an historical perspective, whenever a new medium reaches critical mass it threatens to, and does, displace existing media to some degree.   While specific types and segments have and will continue to be negatively affected by new media, as a whole, and over a lengthy period, old media have found ways to survive in the presence of new media.... new media can certainly displace existing media (as with television and the general interest magazines), but it can also have a complementary effect as well (computers, for example). 

This underscores the need for journalistic pedagogy to incorporate new digital/social media into lessons.  In fact, I would argue that an understanding of journalism needs to be made more widely available to students beyond our traditional sphere of education.   So-called traditional journalists are no longer the only ones contributing in the public sphere, and young people of all stripes have a responsibility (as discussed above) to understand the responsibilities they carry with them as civilian journalists.

(Using Google Scholar for my research)

This is discussed in this journal entry in which it discusses the need to rethink our traditional audience, arguing for a more "convergent" approach that takes into account the need to teach news judgment while still taking changing behaviors into account (including the fact that fewer consumers read or are interested in reading about news - they just want to see it). Convergent journalism is defined (by the Univ. of Missouri) as converging two or more mediums to create a stronger story. The challenge is to take into account citizen journalists who want to create, respond and interact with media. Those students need to understand the media options, storytelling, reporting, editing and managing information.  (My take on this is...) Those who want to be "serious journalists" have to also see this new group as resources.. resources to be culled, taught and when possible, used to help other news consumers have a broader understanding of the news. That doesn't mean co-opting these citizen journalists, it means working with them and not treating them as second-class journalists.

One question: where does writing fit in?  Is it still important to be a good writer?  Or do you just need to be a good communicator in some medium?
Longtime journalist William Zinsser says it's still important - even if it's just for a blog.
(The role of writing could be a very interesting part of this).


English and Writing Studies Thesis 2016-10-13 13:02:00

The good news is I feel like I am in a better place, and I have a better attitude when it comes to finding research for my thesis. The bad news is this blog is about to be somewhat short lol. This week I found more research addressing a major area in my paper or an area I wanted to focus on. The funny part is I already had what I was looking for. I just did not realize it. I went through the process of searching for the same thing again and going on different sites only to realize the final site I ended up on and thought was helpful was what I already had in the beginning. A site I found before I even started focusing on my literature review. I just needed to take the time to read further or scroll down further which confirmed I should try to read the articles, documents, etc. before I move on. So, an area I was concerning myself about was never really an issue.

Nevertheless I felt so much better after I found a source that addressed why prayer is contentious in schools, even though I still have more research to do. In addition, throughout this process I even thought about a different way to incorporate an article I have. In conclusion, the research continues.