Thursday, June 16, 2011

A few quick mentions on a busy afternoon, just to feed the blog and give you something to consider or to point you in the direction of some interesting stuff.
  • There's a huge new Pew Center report on social media out today.  I'll be reading it this weekend for a discussion Monday in my Consequences of Social Media grad seminar (thank you Pew for the perfect timing).  It's an 85-page pdf, so it'll keep the students busy and off the streets this weekend.  And it does a nice job of summing up the stuff we've been discussing all week and will discuss next week.  I may discuss this more next week if any of it fits my blog theme.
  • More to the point, there was a story in the NYTimes the other day about how poorly U.S. students do on tests of history.  Indeed, as the lede says, "American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject."  That alone is enough to make high school history teachers sob themselves to sleep.  Only 12 percent of U.S. high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, and the story comes complete with the startlingly low correct responses to the traditional questions.  Read it and weep.
  • Here's an interesting opinion piece out of Canada (and how often can you write those words?) in which the author states: "I want to challenge the myth that so-called "real" news is democracy's oxygen while "infotainment" has the deadly effect of carbon monoxide."  The argument is straightforward, and one I'm sympathetic to -- that news must engage the audience, else it exist in a vacuum and become, for many, irrelevant.  Some call this dumbing down, some call it marketing.  But there's no doubt the royal we of journalism are damn good at making the important brainnumbingly dull.  It's an old argument, the prescription model of news (here's your medicine, I know it tastes bad, but it's good for you) and the sugar-filled model of news (all celebrities, all the time).  The days of the former are over.  Now we just need to strike a meaningful balance in order to both make money doing journalism and fulfill are obligations to democracy and an informed electorate.

No comments: