Conflicting sources in Ferguson

Venn diagram with good source criteria

A diagram by the author, created for first-year courses. Click image for a link to the PDF version.

I tell my college students to evaluate a source before they use it in a paper. Before they trust it to tell them the truth.

Around Ferguson, Mo., trust and truth evade me.

Questions on page 196 of the textbook in my critical reading and writing class suggest a formula to determine reliability. It’s a blue box with a list of questions, the kind savvy media consumers ask, like How did you find it? Who authored it?  Where was it published? Subsequent pages offer a chart to help crunch your answers (if you found it in a peer-reviewed journal or government website, that’s a good sign; if a retail website published it, that’s not so good).

I often distribute my own condensed guide, shown above. I sometimes talk about my experiences as a white, hearing, Jewish woman and how this relates to how I see, react to, and generate rhetoric.

What the public accepts about what happened in Ferguson: On August 9, a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.

Some sources the public has about the event:

-A transcript of a detective’s interview with police officer Darren Wilson, who shot Michael Brown

-An interview with Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown that day, in an MSNBC video

-Accounts from other eyewitnesses–who saw it from cars, a balcony, the street–used in Wilson’s grand jury hearing.

I found these online, from media outlets I trust, mediated only by those asking the questions.

Other considerations include:
-American history

-Power

-Law enforcement trends and protocols

-Racism

-Prejudice

-Politics

-Psychology

-Communities

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Filed under On media, Teaching

Here Come the Videofreex has arrived!

Rhea:

An update on a film close to my heart…

Originally posted on The Videofreex:

Five people sit in a living room

Videofreex (from left) Carol, Parry, and Davidson, along with Videofreex exhibit curator Andrew Ingall, chat with Skip at a milestone event. Ann is there, too, and Bart is behind the camera.

It’s official: Here Come the Videofreex! has arrived.

Before I explain exactly what I mean, I want to go back four years. Attending a screening of Videofreex work at the Light Industry in Brooklyn, I met a guy named Jon Nealon who said he was interested in making a documentary about the group. I was impressed and flattered on behalf of my late dad and the rest of the crew, but wasn’t sure exactly how this film and funding would materialize.

After an energetic Kickstarter campaign, hours of interviews, scores of tapes restored, and months of editing, it’s safe to say he meant it.

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One writer’s experience at Binder Con

Check out my experience at Out of the Binders, aka #BinderCon, on Storify: https://storify.com/RheaYK/out-of-the-binders.

I was inspired by the Storify version of the Google For Media Summit, I decided to make one myself for this conference for women and gender non-conforming writers. Thanks for reading!

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Filed under Community of writers, Conferences, Events, Women

Converging new years: Baja and Rosh Hashanah

Norton grapes growing in Missouri.jpg

Grapes serve as a symbol for the new year in Baja. They parallel the round challah and apples I eat during the Jewish new year. Photo credit: “Norton grapes growing in Missouri” by Don Kasak – Flickr: Chaumette Winery. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This week, I’ve had much to celebrate. And contemplate. I can thank two converging new years for the opportunity. The evening of September 24 marked the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. Then on the 25th, The Washington Post published a story of how I spent the Gregorian Calendar new year in Baja California, Mexico.

I see Rosh Hashanah as a time to consider the previous year and the coming year. As one tashlich service leader put it, it’s a good time to contemplate how we balance power with kindness, emotions with principles, and intelligence with wisdom.

And as for the publication process?  That was a chance, as always, to take stock of my own writing — what inspires me, how I approach the craft, what I aspire to do with it, and how I take feedback along the way (especially when the editor has plenty).

Shanah tovah to all celebrating, and may everyone have a sweet weekend.

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Look who’s faculty

Books and computer

The view at my new desk.

It’s official: I’m on the English Department faculty at Gallaudet University. My official title is Lecturer II. After a few years of a full-time but temporary position, teaching is officially part of my life.

I’ve been quiet about this change here on the website, but it’s been a major presence since March. That’s when I learned of the English Department posting, summoned the courage to ask writers and editors I respect to write recommendations, updated my CV, and then sent off my application. In April, I received an invitation to interview. By early May, I had learned that an interview for a faculty position means meeting with the search committee, the department chair, and the dean, mingling with students and would-be colleagues at a reception, and giving a teaching demonstration to a classroom full of faculty members and upperclassmen–all within a few hours.

Before too long, the dean offered me the job.

I started teaching in my new capacity with the fall semester, which just closed out its fourth week.

This is both a change from and a continuation of what I did for three years as a temporary instructor. I’m grateful for this new phase, and look forward to sharing my experiences and insights here.

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The Google for Media summit, Storify style

Google for Media title imposed over a photo

Journalists and all creative users of video, data, and technology: The Google for Media summit in NYC last week was pretty mind-blowing. From the Google Trends workshop alone, I had dozens of story ideas. And did you know Miley Cyrus crashed her fans’ Google hangouts?

If you’re interested in what we learned, check out this Storify summary. You may see a familiar face in the tweets!

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A Little Life Hack: WordPress Customer Service

laptop screen displaying a red poster

Poster designed by the author via keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Earlier this month, a horrendous customer service call made headlines. Being the glass-half-full kind of gal that I am, I want to share a sunnier experience with people paid to listen to us whine.

It starts with a WordPress blog–just like the one you’re reading now. I’ve used WordPress for nearly eight years now, and currently own or contribute to half a dozen WP sites.

When I’ve bumped up against the occasional website snafu, I’ve always been able to pluck an answer from the help topics or the forums and fix the problem myself. Then I came up against email forwarding that mysteriously stopped. We’re talking about the service where you can take an address like info@funkycucumber.com and automatically forward it to me@gmail.com (if you’re not doing this yet for your own website, look into it!* It’s free. And it works great. Except when it occasionally doesn’t). Continue reading

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Filed under Public relations/communications, Writing and technology