February 28, 2008

Great site for political reporting

The Census Bureau has been releasing information about the primary states in advance of each election.

Click here to go to election page.

Lots of really good demographic information.

And it is interesting to compare the 2008 information with the 2004 election data. (Note that this file is a PDF file.)

February 27, 2008

Pakistan censorship efforts affects other countries

YouTube outage might have been caused by Pakistan

Pakistani Internet service providers may have inadvertently blocked the popular YouTube Web site across the world at the weekend when they restricted local access to the site, a telecommunications official.

read more

Mason and the world

If your students are looking for a story taht goes beyond the normal, try this Washington Post story about how Mason has linked with the Cancer Institute in Italy.

So, yes, the world is closer than one may think.

February 25, 2008

Internship opportunity: Diplomatic Courier

Website: www.diplomaticourier.org
Email: info@diplomaticourier.org

Description: Looking for a place to have your own voice heard? We have multiple internship opportunities for students interested in foreign policy, international relations, conflict resolution, diplomacy, and international negotiations.

Interns will have the chance to contribute to the Web site, the blog, and the print version of the magazine, while building important publishing points for their resume in the process.

The interns work directly with the Editor-in-Chief and the editorial team of the Diplomatic Courier to update the blog; research materials for the resources section of the website; update the content of the website; to assist with other writing and editing tasks involving the print version of the publication; and help with business development.

Internship positions are available both in New York City and Washington, DC. Both part-time and full-time positions are available for the Fall, Spring, and Summer Semesters. Interns are eligible for academic credit.

• Must be at least a college junior in good standing, an advanced student or graduate student.
• Must have at least a 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) or equivalent from a non-U.S. institution.
• Must be independent, self-driven, and able to multi-task.
• Must demonstrate interest and knowledge of the subject matters covered in the magazine.
• Must demonstrate superior research skills.
• Must possess proficiency in Microsoft Office applications.

Application Deadlines:
• Fall semester: July 30
• Winter- Spring semester: November 30
• Summer semester: March 30

Application Procedure:
Applicants should submit a current résumé and a cover letter addressed to “Editors” via email at: info@diplomaticourier.org.

Documents should be in either Word or PDF format. Only completed applications with both a résumé and cover letter will be considered. Writing samples are desirable but not required at
this time.

No calls or walk-ins, please.
Only applications submitted via email will be considered.

Pakistan blocks YouTube

Once again that great partner in the war against terrorism is resorting to tactics more often seen in Iran, Cuba and China.

Nice to be in such company.

Here is the CNN link: http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/02/25/pakistan.youtube/index.html

And why is this important to journalism students?

Get them thinking that the threats to press freedom -- and hence their own rights -- are always under attack for a variety of reasons.

Supreme Court upholds right to satire

In an 8-0 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the First Amendment right to satire.

February 24, 1988 the Court overturned the $200,000 settlement awarded to the Reverend Jerry Falwell for his emotional distress at being parodied in Hustler, a pornographic magazine

In 1983, Hustler ran a piece parodying Falwell's first sexual experience as a drunken, incestuous, childhood encounter with his mother in an outhouse. Falwell, an important religious conservative and founder of the Moral Majority political advocacy group, sued Hustler and its publisher, Larry Flynt, for libel. Falwell won the case, but Flynt appealed, leading to the Supreme Court's hearing the case because of its constitutional implications.

In its decision, the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the lower court's decision, ruling that, although in poor taste, Hustler's parody fell within the First Amendment's protection of freedom of speech and the press.

(Thanks to the History Channel for this reminder.)

Click here to read a summary of the case and hear the arguments or decision from Oyez.org

It's a Scary World. Don't Campaign Reporters Care?

The president is in the unique position to deal with international affairs. And the candidates have staked out specific positions. So why don't we see any stories about this?

From the Sunday, Feb. 24, Washington Post Outlook section.

read more digg story

February 23, 2008

60 Minutes to look at journalist's killing

A 60 Minutes alert

In the second segment, CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper looks into a reporter’s murder. Editor Chauncey Bailey was shot-gunned to death for what police believe was an effort to quash his story about “Your Black Muslim Bakery,” an Oakland, Calif., organization police have tied to murder and rape. This week Bailey was honored, posthumously, with journalism's prestigious George Polk award, named for CBS News correspondent George Polk, who was killed covering the Greek civil war in 1948.

February 21, 2008

Check out this great story by BJ

Our class friend and Mason alumnus BJ Koubaroulis of the Washington Post and Fairfax Sports Network has a terrific story Thursday in the Post's weekly Fairfax Extra headlined, "Injured 'Sports Junkie' Maintains His Focus."

It begins:

"Through a window near his wheelchair, 17-year-old Nick Cafferky can see the top of a 20-foot-tall chain-link fence that wraps around a full-size basketball court in the back yard of his Great Falls home."

I hope you will read it and post your comments here for BJ.
BJ will visit class on Thursday March 27. You can read all his Post stories online.

Spelling and taking orders

YOu are just going to have to go to this site. I cannot add anything to it.


Getting the headline right

Take a look at the subhead.

If the Times writers get confused with "there" and "their" what hope do we have for our students?

Eyes on a story -- Just how many are needed

From my News Editing class blog.

We have talked in class about editors and their value.

Alan Mutter in his Reflections of a Newsosaur blog asked readers -- espcially journalists to vote on how many editors should look at a story before the public sees it.Interestingly journalists want more eyes -- that is more editors -- looking at a story.

See The Eyes Have It

So what does this mean?First it means that journalists recognize that we all need some one to look over our shoulders to make sure we get the story right.We know we all make mistakes and have to have some one looking out for those errors. (Think copy editors.)

It also means that we know we need some one to look at potential biases in our writing. We are only human, after all. A choice of one word could change the tone of an article from balanced to biased.

It also means that publications who use editors are at a disadvantage to the rants and raves of bloggers.

Journalists are the gate keepers of information.

Reporters seek out information, select the most important parts and write the stories.

Editors look over the reporters' shoulders to make sure the information provided is balanced and a fair representation of the event. And they check the spelling and grammar.

Mutter, himself, comments that his own column is a volunteer effort. Therefore he cannot afford a copy editor. SO his blog entries have typos galor.

Think how many errors can creep in to blog entries by some one less concerned with the facts than Mutter. And by errors I mean errors of fact not just spelling errors.

Blogs are a fine way to gain a window into the way a group of people think, but unless there are extra eyes on the reporting -- that is, unless an item is run past at least one editor -- think critically about the bias and accuracy of that blog.

February 14, 2008

Should Journalists Vote?

Media Channel brings to the forefront the age-old question of Should Journalists Vote.

This is a link to a Politico article from Potomac Primary day.

February 13, 2008

Cartoons reprinted -- an ethical issue?

If you are looking for an issue to raise in class, here is one.

Cartoons reprinted

European newspapers reprinted the controversial Muhammed cartoons from a couple of years ago.

The action in 2006 caused a great deal of discussion within the journalism community -- including the SPJ.

February 7, 2008

MSM v. Blogs

Interesting blend of the mainstream media and new media looking at similar issues with different results.

Today's Wash Post had a front page story about how US Customs officers are confiscating electronics without warrants. (P.1)

Also today is a posting on the TSA blog saying bloggers got TSA to correct the practice at some airports of taking out ALL electronics before going through security.

The two are related but not the same thing.

In the case of the Post story the items are being confiscated.

In the blog story, the items have to be in full view.

Still, in both cases the actions of local agents seem to be local and not necessarily a national policy. (Although we should expect to see the bureaucrats circle the wagons on the confiscation issue real soon.)

And let's see if the confiscation policy changes anytime soon.

February 3, 2008

Abbott and Costello break into radio

February 3, 1938

Vaudeville comedy team Bud Abbott and Lou Costello first appear as regulars on the Kate Smith Hour radio program on this day in 1938. The pair went on to have their own radio show from 1940 to 1949 and later made more than 30 films.

And without A&C we would not have "Who's on first."

The Beloit Mindset List for the Class of 2001

Each year Belot College (Beloit, Wisc.) publishes a list of things and events that are just a part (or not a part) of the lives of incoming freshmen -- sorry, first years. The schoool has been doing this for about nine years.

To see the previous lists and for more information about the list, click here.

In the meantime, enjoy


Most of the students entering College this fall, members of the Class of 2011, were born in 1989. For them, Alvin Ailey, Andrei Sakharov, Huey Newton, Emperor Hirohito, Ted Bundy, Abbie Hoffman, and Don the Beachcomber have always been dead.
  • What Berlin wall?
  • Humvees, minus the artillery, have always been available to the public.
  • Rush Limbaugh and the “Dittoheads” have always been lambasting liberals.
  • They never “rolled down” a car window.
  • Michael Moore has always been angry and funny.
  • They may confuse the Keating Five with a rock group.
  • They have grown up with bottled water.
  • General Motors has always been working on an electric car.
  • Nelson Mandela has always been free and a force in South Africa.
  • Pete Rose has never played baseball.
  • Rap music has always been mainstream.
  • Religious leaders have always been telling politicians what to do, or else!
  • “Off the hook” has never had anything to do with a telephone.
  • Music has always been “unplugged.”
  • Russia has always had a multi-party political system.
  • Women have always been police chiefs in major cities.
  • They were born the year Harvard Law Review Editor Barack Obama announced he might run for office some day.
  • The NBA season has always gone on and on and on and on.
  • Classmates could include Michelle Wie, Jordin Sparks, and Bart Simpson.
  • Half of them may have been members of the Baby-sitters Club.
  • Eastern Airlines has never “earned their wings” in their lifetime.
  • No one has ever been able to sit down comfortably to a meal of “liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
  • Wal-Mart has always been a larger retailer than Sears and has always employed more workers than GM.
  • Being “lame” has to do with being dumb or inarticulate, not disabled.
  • Wolf Blitzer has always been serving up the news on CNN.
  • Katie Couric has always had screen cred.
  • Al Gore has always been running for president or thinking about it.
  • They never found a prize in a Coca-Cola “MagiCan.”
  • They were too young to understand Judas Priest’s subliminal messages.
  • When all else fails, the Prozac defense has always been a possibility.
  • Multigrain chips have always provided healthful junk food.
  • They grew up in Wayne’s World.
  • U2 has always been more than a spy plane.
  • They were introduced to Jack Nicholson as “The Joker.”
  • Stadiums, rock tours and sporting events have always had corporate names.
  • American rock groups have always appeared in Moscow.
  • Commercial product placements have been the norm in films and on TV.
  • On Parents’ Day on campus, their folks could be mixing it up with Lisa Bonet and Lenny ravitz with daughter Zöe, or Kathie Lee and Frank Gifford with son Cody.
  • Fox has always been a major network.
  • They drove their parents crazy with the Beavis and Butt-Head laugh.
  • The “Blue Man Group” has always been everywhere.
  • Women’s studies majors have always been offered on campus.
  • Being a latchkey kid has never been a big deal.
  • Thanks to MySpace and Facebook, autobiography can happen in real time.
  • They learned about JFK from Oliver Stone and Malcolm X from Spike Lee.
  • Most phone calls have never been private.
  • High definition television has always been available.
  • Microbreweries have always been ubiquitous.
  • Virtual reality has always been available when the real thing failed.
  • Smoking has never been allowed in public spaces in France.
  • China has always been more interested in making money than in reeducation.
  • Time has always worked with Warner.
  • Tiananmen Square is a 2008 Olympics venue, not the scene of a massacre.
  • The purchase of ivory has always been banned.
  • MTV has never featured music videos.
  • The space program has never really caught their attention except in disasters.
  • Jerry Springer has always been lowering the level of discourse on TV.
  • They get much more information from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert than from the newspaper.
  • They’re always texting 1 n other.
  • They will encounter roughly equal numbers of female and male professors in the classroom.
  • They never saw Johnny Carson live on television.
  • They have no idea who Rusty Jones was or why he said “goodbye to rusty cars.”
  • Avatars have nothing to do with Hindu deities.
  • Chavez has nothing to do with iceberg lettuce and everything to do with oil.
  • Illinois has been trying to ban smoking since the year they were born.
  • The World Wide Web has been an online tool since they were born.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome has always been debilitating and controversial.
  • Burma has always been Myanmar.
  • Dilbert has always been ridiculing cubicle culture.
  • Food packaging has always included nutritional labeling.