Two Weeks Left

     I embarked on a truly terrifying venture that many would think insane. I took thirty high school freshman on a field trip to an out-of-state college. My new principal mandated that all students be exposed to a four year school. She also required that it be outside of New Jersey so the students could see what is out there for them.

     A few reasons this is well-intended, but missed the mark. First, the kids are only fourteen years old; they aren't thinking seriously about school yet. Some of the female students swooned because a college guy said hello back to them. I tried explaining it was truly reflexive, but I swear some of those girls were ready to marry him. Secondly, we went to Temple University which is extremely urban. The campus was not too different from what they encounter everyday. Some greenery would have been nice. Thirdly, the trip consisted of a 90 minute bus ride, 30 minute tour (the students asked no questions, because, well, see my first reason), a 60 minute lunch, then another 90 minute bus ride home. They really got to see three lobbies and a cafeteria.

     I think a longer trip to Kean or Rutgers would be way more beneficial to the students. Maybe they could sit in on a class, see the dorms, speak to some club and organization leaders. The out-of-state trip should come when they are juniors.

     One reason I bring this up is because the founder of Temple is apparently buried on campus. There is a campus ghost hunters society who regularly patrol the campus for signs of hauntings. Oddly enough, they claim cell phone reception is strongest at the burial site. Every ghost hunting show I've ever seen has claimed that spirits do nothing but interfere with electronic devices. Perhaps I can use this experience for my paper at some point.

     Speaking of, I've started writing the section about urban legends to be discussed at our meeting next week. I was unsure what direction it would take, but once I started writing, it started to take shape (go figure, right?). I'm really looking forward to what it will look like in one week.

Blog update

I can’t do this blog post without first saying: I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! J
My thesis project is moving along well. The more I read it and work on it, the more tweaks I do here and there for the section I’ve already written. I’ve also been working on the development of the different voices in my story. I’ve been trying to connect more with my characters to be able to write and allow the story to flow in the most organic way possible.
I’ve also received feedback from Dr. Zamora and have been working on her suggestions. I was very nervous to share my work at first but I am excited about the feedback I received. Some of her comments made me think about where in the story I should be adding scenes that describe more in depth the feelings and experiences my characters are going through to best satisfy the readers and make them connect with all the characters in the story. I am having some trouble locating and blending the new scenes with the existing story so what I decided to do for now was to write them in a separate section and have it ready to later blend it with the rest of the story.
For the different voices I have for my story, I decided to do the same. I am still at a drafting stage in my novel and feel like the best thing to do for now, when I get stock on deciding where to plug in the new voices, is to just write and worry about blending and connecting where appropriate later.

As I move forward, I will continue to draft my novel. I feel like I have done a lot thus far but still have more writing to go. 

English and Writing Studies Thesis 2016-11-30 15:13:00

I sent my rough outline and a rough draft of the first part of my thesis to the professor in an email. I am proud of what I have accomplished, and I am praying that my professor is satisfied with my work as well. I hope no major changes are necessary, but at the same time if I made major mistakes I want them to be pointed out.
Once again, I feel like I did things within my work that I did not anticipate on doing. I ended up incorporating my written prayers throughout like the teacher suggested, but I do not feel like it is too much. I tried to make sure the prayers I incorporated flowed with the point I was making and the paper itself. My own written prayers acted as support/proof to defend what I was saying. The paper ended up being as hard as I expected, but I have been in situations that were harder.

I just know God came through for me!

Creating a New Environment 2016-11-28 18:37:00

Eng. 5020

Dr. Zamora

Writing Theory & Practice

Blog 9



                                                    “Proof of Authentic”

         Does researching inspires the use of the library and encourage the reading of multiple books that students may not had read? If someone is being quoted of course the information has be cited. The authentic information must be presented and acknowledge the, but to what extent? Although the composition format may not be used after college it is hugely suggested when in College. I agree with Dan Berrett she write “There’s some value to reminding students about the authority on certain subjects that are not in a digital archive,” she said. “What we’ve forgotten is that libraries were the repositories where people made judicious claims about what sources are worth reading.” and quoting in class.

      Different processes and presentations will encourage more productivity. I am not an educator but I totally agree with Barbara Fister when he writes “If you want students to learn about a topic and be able to synthesize information effectively, fine – but don’t call it research. Turn it into a presentation, an informational brochure, or a Wikipedia article. If you want students to make an argument, start from something they know and care about, something that matters to them and about which they can hold an informed opinion. If you want them to read and understand scholarly material, focus on close reading and have the class jointly prepare an annotated edition. If you want them to write academic prose, wait until they know enough about the discipline to know what they’re talking about and how to ask a meaningful question about it” may increase the student’s engagement. Valid opinions verses silence and awkward questions in the classroom. She also shares “But if you want first year college students to understand what sources are for and why they matter, if you want them to develop curiosity and respect for evidence, your best bet is to start by tossing that generic research paper. As for those who will complain that students should have learned how to paraphrase and cite sources in their first semester – we’ve tried to do that for decades, and it hasn’t worked yet. Isn’t it time to try something else?” to encourage better writing skills.

       All formulas are beneficial for certain grade levels. I agree with Mark Wiley as he writes a response of a suborned teacher “Schaffer’s approach does remove the mystery for students about what their teachers expect in their essays. “ Unfortunately, she observed, the method also removes the need for these students to judge for themselves how to shape their essays. Although this teacher’s negative evaluation was in the minority, the majority of teachers did fear that their students might become too dependent on the format,” causing many writings to appear similar. Self-assessment and peer review is important when writing the first draft. A writer must be able to recognize some errors and except criticism. Mark argues “A familiar in of formulaic argument support writings that many struggling writers really need a simple format to follow so that they can achieve some immediate succession in their academic writing” there are some merits to this argument. Struggling writers need lots of carefully structured assignments, but repetitively following the same direction for writing every essay will not help these students advance beyond a kind of “successful” codependency on teachers who have agreed in advance that this sort of formulaic essay will be what they reward. These students are precisely the ones who most need to be challenge” to increase their writing skills.

The Clock is Ticking by Debbie Bagnato

As I move on through my play, the process becomes more involved--naturally--and I find myself needing more time to get things accomplished the way I want. And time is the one thing there is never enough of. Work has become increasingly unbearable, as I have mentioned loudly, but I can use a lot of this in my story; these are the reasons that prompted my choice. However, I never in my wildest dreams anticipated my place of business would turn into the hellhole it has become. The only consolation is that I can infuse my aggravation, frustration and irritation into the lines of my play, and anyone who has ever had a similiar experience can identify with those raw emotions.
 It will be done with humor, because it is a comedy, but sarcasm as these are unacceptable work ethics and manner of treating people. Well, now that I have had my rant, let me tell you how my character list is doing. I have all my characters in both the opening and second scene completed, which comprises a sizable number of pages. It was very therapeutic and even funny, as I worked my way through descriptions of the people with whom I work, wait on line for coffee, share good and bad times, and cheer or jeer the bosses every day. In doing this lengthy task, I have discovered that many of these players in my piece need to simply be in the scene, not necessarily speak. There are a couple of other faces I want to introduce in the next scene, but I am uncertain if that is a wise thing to do, because the cast list is extraordinarily high right now! I will be putting that together over this week so I will make a decision then; one solution is an old theatre trick--small roles in different scenes are played by the same character. So perhaps that will be an underlying factor in the upcoming scene, as well as reusing a few players who had but a few lines in the previous one.
                       My new character is still in the story, but because she was prompted by--you guessed--a real person (who I tweaked for emphasis) I have, sadly, found some less pleasant attributes in the real character, and need to figure out the best way to utilize them in her stage persona. This may work out to the play's advantage, especially in lieu of the direct jab at corporate bull***t being emphaiszed in this production. The atmosphere that has to be brought to the forefront in the next two scenes involve the sexuality of the women, and the mens increased desire as they are being adamantly denied. The next scene will be transitional, but I hope to show a little more teasing in the manner the women (and specific others) are fighting with the men about the point of conflict. The corporate character is taking their side but can she be trusted? Maybe she wants her contest to be a fun interactive source of sales incentives instead of a heart-attack, stress making machine that will drive men to drink or destruction of each other simply to be the winner. And maybe she too has a significant other who is too involved in the biz to pay any attention to her. I have not ironed out all her details, but feel I am almost ready to tackle the next part. I have noticed a lot of what happens involves thinking, free-writing, and changing my mind. Then I usually have what I need--on numerous pieces of paper, post-it notes and sometimes, on the edge of books. Let's hope I can find all the little reminders of the latest brilliant addition when I try to put it on paper. I will be back next week and hoping that I have some solid writing completed on the next challenge. My prayers that we all get a lot of good writing out of our heads and on the paper as my favorite holiday, Christmas, draws near. The magic of the season is all around so let me get started!

English and Writing Studies Thesis 2016-11-24 09:33:00

Since the last blog, I still have been working on my rough draft. I have to admit it is starting to get hard. I am making progress, but I am not making progress as quick as I would like to. I set an amount of pages I would like to complete for the day and sometimes I do not accomplish what I set out to do. Naturally, I am not satisfied but then I try to keep reminding myself I still have more time. I am trying to get everything done as early as possible. But sometimes, I feel like I have no choice but to move the pace I am moving because of the way my ideas are flowing. I am trying to flesh out as much as I can before I move on to the next idea as well. I am mindful that this is not my whole thesis.
 Some days, I literally just feel like I spend my time going over what I already wrote. I feel like every time I reread my paper I am changing something or finding another area I need to work on. I am trying my best to do everything the first time around. So, a lot of my time is dedicated to making sure what I said makes sense, rereading some of my sources again, and then going back to my paper to add the sources.
But in the process of doing all this, I know I made the right decision when it came to just writing instead of choosing something and sticking to it. When I first started, ideas and pages were just flowing. Now, sometimes I find myself feeling stuck or just sitting trying to figure out exactly what I want to say. Sometimes, thoughts just come to me out of nowhere and other moments I feel like I have nothing. I had an idea of what I wanted my first rough draft to look like but like I said last week things are changing. Right now, my goal is still to complete what I set out to do, but I want to end up with a draft that I am satisfied with. This is exactly what you go through when you tend to like things that are difficult lol.

But through all the stress and frustration that comes along with school, I am grateful to be in this master’s program. 
                                                         Happy Thanksgiving!

Beating the Press: Journalism in the Digital Age

The journalistic profession changed forever just before 3 AM EST on November 9, 2016. That's not a political statement, it's a philosophical and deeply personal one. Upon learning that Donald Trump had won the presidency, I began wondering how the mainstream media, of which I am a part, got the call so wrong. Just one of the last 20 national polls had Trump in the lead, and the final poll margins predicted Hillary Clinton would win by more than 3 points and NBC News analysts opined that Trump would have to pull "an inside straight" to win the electoral college. When my network broadcasting team held a pool to predict the winner and the final vote total, not a single person chose Trump. Plenty has been written since about why the media didn't get it right: the minority vote was overblown, Main Street America was underrepresented, her likability, the FBI letter, the desire for change.... It didn't matter. What mattered was that the people that were supposed to know the real story (the mainstream media), got the story wrong. That they got it wrong at a time when the man that would become president was warning that media was getting it wrong on purpose, only compounded the problem. The election cost the mainstream media its credibility. 

If you go back in history, the media has had its share of credibility problems. In 1948, the media overwhelmingly predicted victory for Thomas Dewey. The famous image of a smiling Harry Truman holding a newspaper predicting his own defeat foreshadowed a contentious relationship with the press throughout his time in office.  In more recent times, Dan Rather's deceptive reporting about George W. Bush's flight records cost the veteran anchor his job and cast a cloud over his network. Brian Williams' misrepresentations of his own experiences forced him to step down from his post at the most successful night news program in the country. The wounds were self-inflicted. But it's one thing to hurt your own credibility when you're the only game in town. Yellow journalism, the blatantly sensational reporting that characterized newspapers at the turn of the last century, weren't fatal for the profession since there was no other way for people to get their news. It's a different story today.
Today, the platform of digital media and the phenomenon of social media is dominating the information-sharing landscape. Nearly anyone can disseminate information at nearly any time, and have the potential to reach literally millions of people, as many as the best-funded, most professional news outlets. And they can do it without any restraints whatsoever. There is no app, no technological barrier to reporting a lie, whether it be intentionally or unintentionally. Lies mix freely with truths in cyberspace and often, it's tough to tell the difference. Sometimes the only way to tell the difference is to do a little research on your own, something many people are unwilling to do, particularly in an age where information intersects only briefly with our attention span before we are on to something else. Journalism, in its traditional form, is established to take the guesswork out of the job of determining the validity of a piece of information. In generations past, the news was the news. You didn't question it, you simply accepted it as fact and moved on. But what happens when you don't trust the media to distinguish a lie from the truth? And what happens when people no longer agree on a common source for the truth? Daniel Moynihan, the late U.S. senator, once said "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." That may not be true anymore. Plenty of people are unable to agree on the most basic facts of what's going on in the world. An NPR program described it as living in a "post-truth"  environment. The consequences are immense.  Polarized politics mean fewer people are listening to opposing viewpoints, and the ones they are listening to can carry messages that are hyperbolic almost to the point of hysteria. Truth has become a relative commodity, defined by the messenger instead of the message. If we believe that there are people that refuse to entertain the validity of facts if they don't jive with their predetermined view of the world, then how can anything ever impact their world view? And will these people build a world in which dissenting viewpoints are welcomed or condemned, even punished?  Napoleon once said that "History is a set of facts agreed upon." Perhaps that hits a closer to the heart of our current culture when it comes to journalism and the search for truth than the quote by the late Senator Moynihan.

Into this environment, we throw a new generation of journalists, intent on trying to shed light on difficult and complicated issues that face the country and the world. But how?  How do journalists do their job at a time when roughly half the country doesn't trust them? How do you pursue truth at a time when blatantly false "news" is created and perpetuated online by paid operatives? How do you distinguish between citizen journalists who can help spread truth and "yellow journalists" who are dedicated to spreading falsehoods? And how can you thrive in an environment in which social media gives nearly everyone access to everyone else, gives anonymous individuals just as big a mouthpiece as entire news organizations, and rewards sensational, hyperbolic, often negative headlines with clicks, followers and cash? The fact that broad distrust of the mainstream media comes at a time when there are so many alternatives available online complicates the challenge for journalists. It also invites a specific focus on the pedagogical challenges ahead for journalism professors who are trying to get ahead of the changes and prepare students for the profession in its emerging state, not the world of TV-first talking heads that held sway in the news business as little as five years ago. In this thesis, we will dig into the current journalistic environment, the factors that have contributed to it, the consequences for the profession and the path forward.

Historically, the press is one of the pillars of American democracy,  notable for its ability to provide a check on powerful government entities that may try to run amok. Examples of the press and the president going head-to-head are as old as the country itself. Political party newspapers operating as propaganda mouthpieces waged war on behalf of their candidates when Adams and Jefferson were squaring off. Grover Cleveland hated the press, Ulysses Grant felt he was slandered by the media. Even President Obama had a toxic relationship with the press, believing it to focus on the sometimes sensational details of politics as opposed to the big picture. As a Rolling Stone article pointed out in 2014, "The White House suspects that reporters intentionally sensationalize their stories; reporters suspect that the White House plays with the facts to get its message out. Both suspicions are correct." Obama was also the first President to use social media, joining Twitter in 2007 and using Facebook to help build a base of millions of voters during his initial run for the White House. In that same year, Scott Goodstein, who help Obama increase his presence on more than dozen social networks said, "These social networks are shopping malls that have millions of people already hanging out in them. So the question becomes, how to find the people that are going to be your advocates and have them talk about your message?" It was a lesson that Obama's successor, Donald Trump, would learn well.

For traditional journalists, the burden is heavier and more complicated. The speed of the news cycle and the sheer amount of information available to inform your reporting can overwhelm someone trying to verify the truth of the matter. It is increasingly difficult to find those who don't spin their side of the story. On the other side of the coin, many so-called "citizen journalists" may not even realize their level of responsibility to the discourse happening around the country, They can bypass traditional media and potentially reach thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people. What's more, many enjoy the ability to remain anonymous no matter what they post and thereby often avoid any kind of legal or ethical consequence for their information. As people who put information into cyberspace, we must reassess our responsibilities in doing so and as news consumers we must approach all information like this with eyes open. We, as journalists, can not pretend that the dramatic cultural and technological changes are happening outside of the sphere of what we do. The news is no longer confined to the traditional gatekeepers. The digital media has torn those gates down. Access once enjoyed by media conglomerates is now open to anyone with a twitter handle and online access.  What’s more, the number of people getting their news online has skyrocketed as well.  According to a Pew Research study , 62% of all American adults get news on a social networking site, with Reddit, Facebook and Twitter taking the top spots. In fact, among those asked where they "often" get their news, digital sources ran a close second to television, 38% to 57%. News websites slightly outpaced social networking sites as the primary source for digital users, but that may be changing. The number of visitors to all nine of the top social networking websites studied by Pew grew from a similar study conducted three years ago.  

As we speak, traditional (or mainstream) media is trying to navigate an increasingly complicated, interwoven relationship with digital media and its users. Because of the ubiquitous nature of I-Phone's, the number of people who can create and distribute news content has skyrocketed. Because that video can be shared instantly on social media sites, it can be more appealing for  those users for whom quick, easily accessible content is most important. Unfortunately, that often can lead to images being shared widely, without explanation and without any context. During the recent rash of shootings of African-American men by police officers, the vast majority of video, both of the incidents and the aftermath, came from individuals, which we will describe as citizen journalists. Those citizen journalists, it can be argued, helped in spreading the truth of what occurred, but hindered a full understanding of the situations and the circumstances that led up to them. The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in the summer of 2014 led to weeks of protests and to the evolution of a hashtag: Black Lives Matter. The group, started three years earlier after the Trayvon Martin shooting, lived mostly online up until that moment. After the shooting, it became the platform for a real flesh-and-blood movement. In contrast, to past civil rights movements, the organizers were no longer reliant on traditional media, hoping that journalists were in the right place at the right time to capture developments. Instead the organizers were able to record and distribute the developments themselves. As an article in Wired put it, it demonstrated how, when it came time for the organizers to speak to the masses, they were able to bypass traditional media. "If you want to post a video of a protest or a violent arrest, you put it up on Vine, Instagram or Periscope. If you want to avoid trolls or snooping authorities and you need to coordinate some kind of action, you might chat privately with other activists on GroupMe. If you want to rapidly mobilize a bunch of people you know and you don't want the whole world clued in, you use SMS or WhatsApp. If you want to mobilize a ton of people you might not know and you do want the whole world to talk about it: Twitter." In addition, journalists relied on citizens inside the protests to post and send video, using it as the core of news coverage for weeks. But there was a downside to it too. Without traditional media to put a metaphorical box or frame around the information, some protesters allowed their personal agendas to shape the message they were sending. In ethical terms, this is something that journalists are taught not to do. But the protesters weren't journalists, nor did they pretend to be. They were messengers. And we can point to at least one part of that message, the symbolic chant of "Hands Up, Don't Shoot", as one that was based on a lie. Brown never said that, nor is there any evidence he ever tried to surrender. The media did its due diligence in working to debunk the lie, but the symbol endured. As one protester told the Associated Press, "Even if you don't find that it's true, it's a valid rallying cry. It's just a metaphor." Here we have those that were positioning themselves as the truth-tellers - as the ones that the traditional media became reliant on to deliver a true representation of the anger and frustration in the wake of the Ferguson shooting - basically passing on the job. But should we be surprised that citizen journalists are allowing their agendas to color what they send us? Of course not. We saw it during the Arab Spring as well, when citizen journalists became the key avenues through which the Western world understood what was happening. Of course they had a vested interest in knocking out the ruling governments. Syrian rebels have a vested interest in demonstrating the horrible actions of the Assad regime to gin up global opposition. The problem comes when there is no context or framework for the information. If we know that video of a certain incident is shot and distributed by a participating party, we can weigh what kind of agenda they may have, perhaps play devil's advocate.  But if we don't have that information, it's not possible for us, as news consumers, to accurately assess the truthfulness of the content. 

That's not to say that digital media is all bad. Journalists need information to report the news and through digital media and social media platforms, we have more than we could ever ask for. Yes, it needs context and yes, it needs explanation, but the act of news gathering has become vastly easier than it was when journalists still relied solely on shoe leather and knocking on doors. Crowdsourcing is a perfect example. When the Washington Post's David Farenthold wanted to find out if Donald Trump had really followed through with his promises to donate millions to charities, he realized quickly that he couldn't get what he needed through official channels. Farenthold instead decided to reach out via social media. In October 2016, he said he realized "I could publicly reach out to the big (charities), they would see what I was looking into and so might others. Maybe I would get answers from people I wasn't asking initially. So I then realized that I could do it (use social media) in a broader way..."  The benefit for Farenthold was that thousands of people essentially dig his digging for him, and he was able to uncover facts about Trump's charitable gifts that he likely would never been able to uncover on his own. To put the resources of an entire community or a society within reach of investigate journalists gives them tools they never had before. The collective knowledge of a entire group of people can be focused into answering a single question. And what if the conversation isn't directed by a journalist?  It can still be valuable. in the book, "Participatory Journalism", the authors write that "ordinary people... have provided intimate looks within the smallest of communities, sharing local and even personal information and ideas in depth and detail. They have carried on millions of topical conversations through discussion forums, comment threads and blog posts. In all of these online activities and many more, they have taken on roles and carried out functions that sound quite a bit like, well... journalism." What we see here is information in such an abundance that it becomes difficult to argue that it's a bad thing. 

But I would argue that a tool is only useful int he way that the person who wields it intends it to be. During the general election campaign during the last half of 2016, a phenomenon grew up around fake news. Fake news was a deliberate attempt by groups of people, some motivated by money, others by political ideology to intentionally plant false news stories. The idea was that those stories would be circulated by the public and they would either generate advertising revenue or fuel political animosity or both. A recent Washington Post article describes two creators of intentionally false posts and tweets the "new yellow journalists" and shares interviews in which the men, who went from unemployed restaurant workers to wealthy entrepreneurs, describe how they play on people's fears, religious beliefs and deep-seated anger about political figures to elicit reactions, including getting them to circulate the fake posts to their own followers and friends. As one says, "All successful journalism has shock value". And if you base the metric of success on the sheer number of clicks or likes or retweets you get, then they are definitely successful. You could also base success on how much of a reaction you generate. A man named Gregg Phillips posted tweeted two messages in mid-November, each alleging that three million non-citizens had voted illegally in the general election. Two weeks later, President-Elect Trump himself able to refer to use those tweets as the foundation for his claims that he would have won the popular vote if not for those 3 million illegally cast votes. Media outlets reached out to Phillips to ask him what he was basing his information on. He wouldn't tell anyone. Why not? He said he didn't want the media twisting his words. Trump's tweet was retweeted more than 53,000 times at last count. The fact that Politifact and other media outlets declared it patently false didn't stop the President-Elect from tweeting it and no doubt, won't stop many of his supporters from believing it. Why? Well, is you ask some of the people creating the posts, the audience simply isn't smart enough to know the difference between a lie and the truth, or at very least, they don't care to try to figure out the difference. Paul Horner, the head of a Facebook fake-news empire, said "People are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore - I mean, that's how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn't care because they'd already accepted it. It's real scary. I've never seen anything like it." But is that fair? How can people be "dumber" as Horner argues, when there is so much information around. One possible answer is that people simply don't want to take the time to check whether something is true or not. A second possibility is that when people see something they want to believe to be true, they will believe it, facts or no facts. There are certainly psychological aspects to this, and we will go into them later in this paper. But I would argue there is another reason why people might believe these "fake news" publications or anything, really, that purports to report information that has been otherwise repressed somehow. In other words, it leaks out into these "alternative" sites (alternatives to the mainstream media in other words) because the mainstream media has opted not to cover the stories, or to actively silence those reporting them. If the mainstream media was trustworthy, the chain of logic goes, the major television networks would tell you all of this stuff. But they aren't, so they won't. That lack of confidence in the truthfulness of journalists and the media at large is one of the most critical components to the changing environment surrounding the journalistic profession and, quite possibly, poses the biggest challenge.

In September 2016, Gallup asked people whether they trusted the media. Less than a third were willing to say they even had a "fair amount" of trust in the media to "report the news fully, accurately and fairly." In the 44 years that Gallup had been asking the question, the number had never been lower.  And why not? Cable news media has become increasingly polarized in recent years, representing the right and left wings ideologies of our political system, often at the expense of more moderate views. Donald Trump made media bashing a central tenet of his campaign, calling debate moderators unfair, and calling journalists "the worst people I've ever met." While I tend to believe that many journalists try to be fair, my own experiences in the newsroom haven't always borne that out. Several years ago, while sitting in the newsroom, a Supreme Court decision was announed that was seen as a victory for cultural liberals and a great roar of applause rose up from the "journalists" sitting around me. I was stunned. How could people who were supposed to be working hard to report the news without bias wear their bias so openly. While I don't believe that such ractions preclude people's ability to report fairly, I have also seen political ideologies more openly expressed inside the newsroom today than ever before. Those ideologies tend to bleed through on air, whether it be through the phrasing of a question or the kind of context and additional information that's provided to the viewer. 

The election of 2016 will also go down, I believe, as a critical moment in which the mainstream media lost a lot of credibility with the average American. The argument that the mainstream media had the real story, that all the stories indicating that Hillary Clinton was surging and Donald Trump was flailing could be taken together as the most accurate representation of what was going on in the country, was proven totally wrong. The average American that had believed all along that the media was misleading them suddenly had their proof - powerful proof that will be used as a hammer to bludgeon the mainstream media for a long time to come.


Of course, we don't just have to make a counterargument against the mainstream media. We've already discussed a bit about how digital media can tell a story that mainstream journalists simply can't tell, whether it be because of a lack of resources or simply not being at the right place at the right time. Would the police-involved killings of Philando Castile or Eric Garner ever made the news if someone hadn't filmed the incidents and put them online?  In the case of Walter Scott, a black man shot by police in April 2015, the media reported the police version of the shooting which claimed there was a "physical altercation". Not until video of the incident was posted online, showing Scott running away from the officer, did the mainstream media change its reporting and question the official narrative. The patrolman was later charged with murder. It's an extreme example. The media was forced to change its story in the face of obvious evidence contrary to what it had been reporting. But what if the media was the sole gatekeeper? Late in the presidential campaign, video and audio of Trump making inappropriate comments during an NBC taping in 2005 was "leaked" to the Washington Post. NBC raced to put the video out first, but only after it was forced to, to avoid looking like it had sat on the tape. In fact, the network had sat on the tape, trying to figure out how to protect an employee rather than fulfill its ethical obligations and release the tape regardless of the impact on the network's reputation or that of its employee. Unfortunately, that's the case of dealing with the world as we hope it is as opposed to the world as it really is.
Agendas are just as relevant to media outlets as they are to individuals posting pictures or stories online. Of course there are some significant differences. News organizations have a reputation to protect, for example. Any kind of failure to live up to the ethical standards as perceived by the public can hurt its credibility. While we may question whether the ethics are the same across the board and the severity of the media "spin", it is hard to argue that the vast majority of news organizations don't try to put accurate information on the air or in print.  Journalistic ethics go back as far as the development of the printing press in the 15th century when editors assured readers that they "printed the impartial truth based on 'matters of fact'".  Consider the guidelines of ethical journalism, as explained by the Society of Professional Journalists: Seeking truth and reporting it, minimizing harm,  acting independently (without real or perceived conflicts of interest) and being accountable and transparent. By that definition, every single person that distributes "news" or information without revealing their name and their methods is violating journalistic ethics. In the cases of "fake news" that we discussed above, all four tenets are violated repeatedly. Many are faceless; anonymous and in situations where they have conflicts of interest or they aim to maximize as opposed to minimize harm, the anonymity protects them from consequences as well. And while cultural and technological factors will always contribute to who pays attention to what and what form of "news" gains traction  , you could also argue that credibility will be the make-or-break factor when it comes to the long-term health of the journalistic profession. The reason is that credibility is a characteristic that real-life journalists can still claim (or reclaim) in a way that gives it an advantage over digital and social media.  While we mentioned earlier that few have confidence in the mainstream news organizations, even fewer seem to have confidence in the news coming to them via social media.  By not being afraid to take responsibility for their reporting and by being transparent about their methods and findings, mainstream journalists still have an opportunity to claim the mantle of credibility. 
It's fair to take a minute here and wonder about who we can fairly define as a journalist these days. As Scott Gant put it in his book, "We're All Journalists Now", "the lines distinguishing professional journalists from other people who disseminate information, ideas and opinions to a wide audience have been blurred, perhaps beyond recognition, by forces both inside and outside the media themselves....It is harder than ever to tell who is a journalist." The book was published nearly a decade ago, but the implications are staggering. If the definition is someone that disseminates information, then the pool of journalists in America has become unfathomably large. Gant goes on to question whether those same people shouldn't just be afforded legal protections under the First Amendment guarantees of the Freedom of the Press, but journalistic "privilege" that often prevents journalists from being forced to reveal information they would typically have to reveal if they were ordinary citizens. But what if an I-Phone in your pocket and a Twitter account makes you a disseminator of journalistic information? Where do the rights of a journalist that works at the New York Times end and yours begin?  But if those protections should apply to you, what if you looked at the coin from the other side? Should you,a s an individual, be held to the same standards as a newspaper or a TV network? 
Let's say, for the sake of argument, you can avoid the legal implications, either through luck or anonymity. Why should the average person care whether they uphold the standards of a traditional journalist? One reason might be a version of the Golden Rule. If you represent others accurately and fairly and express your best understanding of the world around you, others will do the same. This is particularly important when reinforcing social norms and mores online. The reason why things like body-shaming are frowned upon is not because of a rule or guideline distributed by the World Wide Web. Instead, the online community relies on a measure of self-policing. Some may argue that it's a naive approach to dealing with the glut of misinformation out there, but if spreading false information takes on the same stigma as, say, racial slurs, we could see people start curbing their own behavior. 

For those who defy ethical standards because they get paid to do so, the obvious answer is to dry up the pool of revenue, much of which comes from advertising. Facebook is already working to do so. But Facebook is not a journalistic gatekeeper, nor is Twitter or Reddit or Tumblr, or any of the social media sites that have become the platform of choice for disseminators of "fake news". So in the end, the job may fall on journalists themselves. 

Creating a New Environment 2016-11-21 19:49:00


Eng. 5020

Dr. Zamora

Writing Theory & Practice

Four questions regarding WhyIWrite


1)    How is the length of my presentation? Is it too long or too short? Should I add more slides or take some away? Should I add more words on any slides? If so which ones?

2)    How is the design on my presentation? Is it too colorful or not colorful enough? Do I have too many designs on each slide and will it compliment the group’s selected application?

3)    Does my presentation needs some reorganization? Should my WhyIwrite story be presented first because it is the theme of the project? Where exactly should the answer to the life question be, at the end?

4)    My presentation is on power point. Was it the application to use? If not which one is? How do I transfer my presentation to the required application

Thesis Outline

Digital media
Traditional media in a war with digital media, even if they don’t know it yet
Show statistics and shifting trends

Digi media vs traditional media – complicated relationship
Citizen journalists – pros: speed, on the scene,  cons: no context, anonymity
-          Contrast with traditional media
-          Use crowdsourcing as an example of positive impacts
-          And what’s the relationship between CJ and TM?  (are there ethical responsibilities?)

Recently its become more dire – spread of fake news
-          Same things that make digital media attractive to users being used to manipulate them
-          Info sharing websites trying to cope
-          Compare to yellow journalism?  - but at least at that time, someone (or some paper’s) credibility was on the line

Legal issues?
Ethical issues?

So it seems obvious that if people want real truth in the news, they come to traditional media, except…
-          Lack of trust in the TM (polling)
-          Exacerbated by polarized political climate – creates vicious cycle
-          Anger at TM has grown – journalists themselves are targets
-          Tur/Welker experiences
-          Election cost TM a good chunk of credibility, Pres-elect continues to fuel anger

Where do we go from here?
-          Napoleon: History is a set of facts agreed upon (set up the problem – no agreement on facts)
-          NPR: Post-truth society
-          How do we push through the polarization and find the truth?
-          Where does investigative journalism fit in? (John Oliver)

The Future
-          So much information – James Burke says there can’t be another Dark Age
-          Individuals must use digital media to solve digital media
-          Journalists must use digital media tools to be transparent as possible – raise the bar
-          Stop treating digital media as a passing fad – address pedagogical shortcomings

A Very Cathartic Character List by Debbie Bagnato

Well as you may have guessed from the title, I have been writing my character descriptions--and they are all characters in true life! Because each cast member in this play is based on my real-life co-workers, as I am writing a short character breakdown of each (adding in any extra traits for the purpose of my play) I am finding that I really do work with a bunch of nuts. They are nice nuts, in most cases, and irritable or hot-headed in others, but it makes for a colorful blend of people to write about. Of course, on the days I get home late--most days of late--I do not attempt this type of writing project as my ability to treat each person objectively would be largely compromised. However, I had some sleep, and caught up on my household duties so now feel much more able to provide the balance of my character descriptions. The biggest problem in this feat is the nagging reminder that plays with large casts, such as Lysistrata, are rarely produced because of the cost of all those actors. But in my case, if a school or charitable organization wanted to do this as a fundraiser or student activity, I would be delighted, and probably ask to audition or offer to stage manage. If possible and if time permitted, I would be an excellent dramaturg as I know the inside story. Because I wrote it. Of course, I know I am being silly over these minor problems; Aristophanes had a large cast, and that is why I chose this setting--which always has a lot of people in that space--as the "center stage" for my piece. And sometimes, when I am so tired of being there late, I look at my Acropolis and can bear it.

My next scene will not begin just yet as I am still cleaning up a few parts that were muddled. I have notes for the next scene and will probably run them at the same time using lighting to differentiate the front end of the store from the backroom. The revolving stage sounded superb, sort of like the ekkyklema of Aristophanes day, but my idea of showing the two battles will work better downstage with contrast lighting (I think). This will be a short, rapid-fire scene, so I need to have that momentum from start to finish. Which is why I need to have everything up to there nailed down better before I begin writing it. After that I will be looking more at the scenes that lead to the end, as I follow the master's (Aristrophanes) layout or game plan for these characters. Two more very funny scenes (which will require a lot of work and fine tuning) and then the closing scene will be at hand. In the midst of this type of reasoning (which is unreasonable as I am still fixing the opening scene...) I have added another character to scene I who will help tie up the missing pieces. Aristophanes can afford to miss tiny details as they may simply be in the various translations, but I cannot with my modest adaptation. It does not add too much dialogue, so that scene is not greatly lengthened but it helps coordinate the missing pieces at store level and the ability to actually WIN their inter-store war. I will keep you posted, but I believe this character is a keeper. My cast list is so large--just like the original, but there are only so many in each scene. My second scene has a lot, so I may lose a couple or just have them there but without lines--just like Aristophanes. I want the stage to look like the number of people that would be there in the store at the different times of day, but thye do not all need to havve dialogue. But they can all look very different, as they do in real life. Oh boy, this is getting more complicated. But it is still fun, so I think we will be alright. On that note, back to work for me. And to everyone, a happy and very fun-food-filled Thanksgiving!!!