Category Archives: On media

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 Blog, On media, Teaching

Books on slowing down, from unlikely sources

woman sitting in front of moon

Is she checking her watch?? Photo by geralt on Pixabay

When I learned that Jeff Bridges released a book on Zen and mindfulness last year, I didn’t exactly fall off my meditation pillow (as the NY Times review explained, the book was what you’d expect). The actor who played the unemployed, roach-smoking Dude in the ’90s cult hit The Big Lebowski makes the perfect guru for the chill life.

But high-octane achievers like Russell Simmons and Arianna Huffington? Their books made me stand up and take notice.

I know–I’m confused about why they came out with these books, too. Let’s poke at this.

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Filed under Blog, On media, Writing markets

Two new words for 2014

Photo by Flickr user miguelphotobooth.

If only a mind-reading device could read our feelings, too. Photo by Flickr user miguelphotobooth.

In 2013, the word “selfie” catapulted to fame. It happened organically at first, its usage jumping 17,000 percent in a single year, according to Oxford Dictionaries’ calculations. Then it happened officially, when that great keeper of human vocabulary declared “selfie” the Word of the Year.

Which word will light up the lexicon in 2014? That’s a tough call with so many months and pop culture phenomena still to come. I recently learned a couple of words I would like to share, though. Here goes:

Telempathy (n.) According to science writer Michael Chorost, telempathy is “the apprehension of another person’s feelings, rather than thoughts.”

As I mentioned before, I’ve been reading Chorost’s book World Wide Mind, and came across it there. This is a next step in interconnectedness begun by the Internet. We know the content of others’ thoughts through blogs and emails with astonishing speed. But what about the emotions behind them? That element lags behind, or never even makes it to the other side. Emoticons can only go so far.

A dose of telempathy would really come in handy for one of my email groups, not to mention Canadians.* Continue reading

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Filed under Language, On media

Mandela and the media

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg in 2008. Photo from South Africa The Good News / http://www.sagoodnews.co.za, via Wikimedia Commons

There it is, on page A8 in the World section–the part I usually flip past between reading the headlines on the front page and the latest dish in Style.

That’s it: The miracle. That’s what I want to talk about, and will get to if you’ll indulge me for a minute. Continue reading

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Filed under International, On media

Cyberspace and the community

What a week.

Thanks to cyberspace, my dear DC State Fair just garnered overwhelming community support on our Kickstarter campaign.

I also have the Internet to thank for both the topic and mode of publication for my latest story on Elevation DC, “Cyberspace connects DC with the businesses next door.

The 50th anniversary March on Washington that I plan to join on Saturday came together largely online. As I write this, buses and vans of participants are no doubt coming together all over the country through a frenzy of emails. Continue reading

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Filed under DC, Events, Gardening, On media, Writing and technology

Affliction

I’m applying to a fellowship that wants journalists who make a difference. It wants those who, in the words penned by Peter Finley Dunne and evoked by many a Mike Wallace obituary, “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

This phrase pops up often in narrative journalism circles. For the first time I wondered: Does this mean that journalists should play the activist role?

The answer came partly from the program concept itself. The main draw of the fellowship is its affiliation with two highly-regarded news organizations known for painstaking fact checking — or admitting the lack thereof with painstaking thoroughness. (Oops — just gave away one of the organizations). Continue reading

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Filed under Jobs, On media

Walking the wiggly red line

Wigly
Anyone who has seen my Facebook page, Twitter feed, or blog knows that I teach college English and writing. Fewer know that the posts about my failures and triumphs would have looked like drunken freshman scribbling if not for cyberediting.

Since the semester began, I have been checking and double checking the spelling and syntax in every handout or email I write to the students. Then I sleep on them and in the morning, I check them some more.

I live and die by the wiggly red line.

In the midst of this semester, I showed up to take my ASL Proficiency Interview. Walking into the reception room, my goal was to learn where I stand in my second language. Little did I know that 20 minutes, five conversation topics, and one frumpy pink shirt later, I would be redeemed in my first. Continue reading

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Filed under On media, Teaching, Writing and technology