Adios Ay-Pad

Posted on December 17, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Luis

As we bid adieu to the iPads I reflect on what the device did to contribute to my overall learning experience. But besides that what I thought most about was the convenience of having a tablet device as a college student. That is why I would like to urge that colleges and universities push for a more portable-based technological student body.

As we have seen throughout the class, the “age of Twitteracy” is something we are living in the now. With news stories constantly being published, the sense of constant news coverage has reached levels unlike before the radio or television. With the internet in our cell phones and at our fingertips there is a constant checking and rechecking of the latest and hottest stories whether they be of politics or of someone making their relationship “Facebook official.” But what sets the tablet device apart are the capabilities that a cell phone just does not have. For example, the organization it allows. Apart from having a calendar in your phone there is no real way to organize yourself in terms of time. Sure there’s an app for something of that nature like maps, but that’s really it. Compared to the iPad there’s anything from making notes on pdf files (a “green” initiative), putting all homework assignments due dates and the ability to them on the tablet itself, download/buy books for class which also saves time and paper, and many other capabilities.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m making an excuse for the university to buy me an iPad because I don’t have the money. However, the iPad and other tablet devices bring about a new set of rules to the connected world. The capabilities are beyond what I expected, but just what I needed in terms of having what I needed as a student. I just hope that I could afford it sometime soon.

A Bloody Valentine

Posted on December 17, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Luis

Kathleen Parker in her piece titled “Michelle Obama’s valentine to men” writes of the First Lady’s speech during the first night of the Democratic National Convention. A striking point brought up by Parker is that toward the end of Obama’s speech there was emphasis placed on fathers, both on her own and President Obama, essentially marginalizing those that do not fit into the traditional family frame. This point is striking because, as Parker mentioned, there has been rhetoric of promoting the exceptional when it comes to people who grew up in single-parent homes (i.e. Obama and the Castro twins). They did not fit the “traditional” families that the GOP has so pushed with the phrase “traditional family values.” But even so, the Obamas were now a traditional family.

Why is this important to recognize? I point this out to highlight the fact that the Democratic Party has more recently pushed for and endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples. Most notably was President Obama’s personal endorsement back in May. Although it has gained much publicity, there is still a need to continue the conversation on the issue. This is because people unknowingly offend a group they have so proudly defended simply by word choice. Or even ignoring the issue has the same effect.

Parker, in her article, argues for the necessity of a mother and father in a family stating “More often, young males (and females) without fathers wind up in trouble.” While that is the case in a great deal of cases, it ignores those same-sex couples seeking equality. What happens to them? How would they respond to the Zach Wahls’s out there?

I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then, the “traditional” family it is. But what is truly “traditional”?

To Endorse or Not to Endorse? That is the Question

Posted on December 17, 2012 in Endorsements, Uncategorized by Luis

As the race for the presidency winds down we have and will continue to see more endorsements for a presidential candidate. Just last week Colin Powell endorsed Obama. But what significance do these endorsements hold, especially more now that the election is only one week away? While these endorsements are legitimate and have an impact I think it is more so to affirm the decisions voters have already made. These public figures serve as role models to the general public. By making a decision and having it affirmed by someone you look up to is a comforting feeling. If a person you admire endorses someone else you can always move to the next without hesitation. Apart from the – what I would say – lack of  influence on the decision the language endorsements use is interesting especially toward this election.

In the LA Times, references to the Bush administration go nowhere near unnoticeable. With phrases such as “misguided adventure” and referring to opponents as assailants, the rhetoric is by no means subtle to the watchful eye. While an endorsement is obviously partisan, the language is accusatory and set out to attack. But passive-aggressively. Apart from  being accusatory toward the beginning of the piece, it also concludes with an accusatory line besides the usual “we urge you to reelect Obama.” They state, “The alternative offered by Romney would neglect the country’s infrastructure and human resources for the sake of yet another tax cut and a larger defense budget than even the Pentagon is seeking.” By bringing in the Pentagon, images of the 9/11 attacks still haunt the public. By using such images, the LA Times equates Romney to these attacks on America. This was prevalent throughout the entire article. Therefore, it is easy to state that the LA Times focused more on crating a negative image out of Romney, than a positive one of Obama.

The Des Moines Register on the other hand focused on how they believed Romney would be able to address, what they labeled, the most important issue of this election: the economy. It focuses on the business successes of Romney and how they would reflect his successes in the economy. They site his experience. the structure also differs from the times, as it seems to be more of a conversation with Romney getting the last word. By structuring as such there is better portrayal of the newspaper as a subject that was not taken lightly (as it should be portayed). But to conclude, the Register did what I found to be very interesting and a method to disqualify themselves as a partisan newspaper. They listed all the previous endorsements – which include both GOP and Democrat) and whether those endorsed won.

What we receive from both sources are different approaches. One is more lingering on the past and mentions of the future, while the other is more on the now and the future. Whatever the case, the newspapers took their stance and lived with their failed or successful endorsement.

“It’s been one week since you looked at me…”

Posted on December 14, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Ben Cooper

Just over a week ago, I parted with the iPad for the semester. I originally thought that the sorrowful goodbye would be more difficult than it actually was. In the seven days since returning the iPad to its proper owner, my life has remained mostly unchanged. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the convenience, didn’t miss the sleek touch screen, or didn’t miss the Twitter interface. But really, the iPad had not made a huge impact on my daily life.

When I first received the iPad, I was hesitant to acknowledge its value. I was worried that it would become an inseparable part of me and that and that I would be judged for using it in public. I quickly got over each of those fears and hesitations. I found the iPad to be tremendously helpful in classes and in life (using it for course readings and calendar organizing). But at the same time, the iPad was a mere convenience and did not really serve many unique functions that can’t be found elsewhere. After the first few weeks of having the iPad, its novelties wore off and I ended up using it a lot less than I thought I would. I’m worried how easy it became for me to use the iPad in public, both in class and around campus. Before having an iPad, I looked down on people who used them all the time- I thought they were just another pretentious use of technology. But I quickly got comfortable using it anywhere and overcame the fact that others might look down upon me for doing that.

Although I’ve stated that the iPad didn’t change my life, it did have its advantages. I’ve learned since not having it how easy it was to tote it around for checking email, Twitter, Facebook, or ESPN. I now understand why they are so trendy. The iPad, and other tablets, are definitely the future of personal technology. Being so easy to integrate into daily life, tablets will likely continue to gain popularity. While I would probably not purchase an iPad for myself, if given another opportunity to use one for an extended period of time, I would not turn it down.

And since you probably can’t get the song out of your head…


Back to the Dark Ages

Posted on December 6, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Malcolm

And so I recede back into the technological darkness from whence I came, disconnected from the world and alone. Or so that’s how I feel….
Yes today we reluctantly return our iPads. The too-close-to-magic machines have reached the end of their journey with us as we complete our class. As I reminisce on the endless hours I spent studying, reading, exploring and generally messing around on the iPad, I realize how quickly it integrated itself into my day-to-day life. I used the thing at every possible moment, whether it be in class for a reading or to study news stories or to play numerous mind-numbing games while on a long car trip.
And as much as I kid, I am sincere when I say that this iPad really changed how I read the news. The Flipboard app simulated an infinitely interactive newspaper and helped me maintain a strong connection to stories I would have never discovered otherwise. Our Twitter page was only a button away. Within seconds I was able to scan the big stories of the day, just by looking at our Twitter feed. And the user-friendliness (sp?) made all other computers seem like an old western telegraph machine. Jumping from web browser to news story to blog post to twitter was as easy as can be.
I am even more sad when I realize how much more as left to be discovered. I only recently found out how to take screenshots and every day I find another news app that I want to check out. I have a weird guttural feeling that despite all the wonderful experiences I had with the iPad that I still have left so many possibilities out on the table. I guess the ipad can do that – it makes you feel as if the information at your hands is infinite and that no matter how much time you spend on the darn thing you’re always going to find new efficient tricks or apps that open up another world to connect to. I understand now why Apple is sometimes considered a cult – and I’m chugging the kool-aid.
I have even considered getting an iPad for myself for Christmas….or at least an iPhone for Christ’s sake. I need something to satisfy my fix. And that’s the way things are going now, news has become a 24/7 ordeal and the public is constantly connected. Whether it be an iPad, an iPhone or some sort of other lesser smartphone (I kid, again), the source for news has become the palm of our hand, it is at our fingertips. As soon as I discovered the vastness of news media on the iPad the problem wasn’t staying connected or keeping on top of it all, the problem was disconnecting. Surprisingly, the endless information was not overwhelming – it was fluid, easy to find and constantly available. Having the iPad was a peek into what journalism has become and how it connects a multitude of publics – something we have never seen on such a large scale. With the advent of internet and now devices like the smartphone or tablet the news has become personalized. As Michael Schudson claims, traditional lines within journalism have become blurred. The distinction between writer and reader has disappeared, as has the difference between a blog post or a newspaper article or a tweet. Everything has meshed together and this seems to be for the betterment of the informed citizen. As a class, we became part of the future and participated in a new system of news-reading. Having to remove myself from that world feels like being sent back to the 5th grade. GoodbiPad


Posted on December 6, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Ben Cooper

Or: The Punning

I remember the old jokes about the iPad when it first came out, chief among them that it was an extremely advanced sanitary napkin. At the time I wasn’t terribly excited about it, but I didn’t discount it either. Eventually, it found its niche, in my life between the computer and the smartphone. You see, my laptop is a desktop replacement model. It is large, too large to be carried about casually, though still quite portable. So the iPad came to occupy the space between, being brought to classes, a place to take notes and so on, since it was awkward to do so on my phone. Additionally, for whatever reasons, teachers tend to be more suspicious of students with smartphones out than with iPads out. Perhaps their aversion is not so much to distracting devices but specifically to phones, and not to messaging in general but specifically texts.

It was always something that was fairly unique though, and in this new program it was made common. Everyone in the class had one. It was an improvement overall, I think, since it gave common ground for discussion and avoided people probing your motives with questions. The number of times I was asked why I needed an iPad, the tone silently accusing me of being a tech geek or someone flaunting a new toy. Furthermore, the trade of tricks and tips helped out improve the utility of Apple products for me generally. I was able to learn more than a few new things from classmates, despite prior experience. A community can do wonders for any item.

Now, with the time to turn them in coming, I am honestly curious to see how many people will just let their lives go back to the way they were before, and how many will seek to get an Apple product themselves. I would think more of the later. While I am no marketeer, I would think Apple could be induced to provide such devices on the cheap, since it would lead to an even greater customer base. Then again, I’ve heard tales of Apple being rather tight fisted, so perhaps not. Regardless, we shall see about the challenge of new tablets, but despite feeling no particular brand loyalty to Apple, I do feel the iPad is a wonderful specimen of tablet. Hopefully it shall enrich the lives of many classes after this, eventually ending up in a history class about electronic devices humans used to use before the robot takeover.

So Long, Farewell

Posted on December 6, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Laura

As our semester comes to a close, so does our time as iPad owners. I will admit, I am sad to see them go.

This iPad is the first and only Apple product I’ve ever owned, and I will say I was impressed. And, I understood the theory behind why our class received them for free this semester. However, I am not quite sure I took full advantage of owning one for a brief time.

I’m not saying that these aren’t amazing tools, because they are. They made my life and things I did incredibly efficient, and using them in other classes in order to go paperless was huge. However, that’s just about all I used mine for, aside from a couple of apps, which I could have just as easily downloaded to my smartphone (which is even more convenient due to its size) or accessed on my laptop (which is, for me, more user-friendly due to the ease of typing). Plus, nobody wants to be “that person” who carries an iPad everywhere and uses it for everything. It’s a silly stigma, but I will admit that I sometimes hesitated to use it even just to access readings in other classes because I didn’t want my classmates to judge me as the girl with the iPad who flaunted it everyday.

I do understand that the underlying reasoning for having iPads this semester was to use it to explore different publics and to identify now means of communication and journalism, and I think it was successful to this end. Like I said before, I’m kind of disappointed in myself for not taking the time to fiddle around with mine a little more and see what other neat things I could take advantage of for the semester, but, who knows — maybe someday I’ll have a tablet that’s mine forever (but not an iPad. As long as I’m my father’s daughter, Apple products are off-limits. Samsung Galaxy Note anyone?).

Fare thee well, iPad <3

Posted on December 6, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Lauren

Please excuse the bad pun or whatever you can call a term like “goodbiPad”, I just can’t resist a good play on words.

Alas, the time has come to bid thee farewell, loveliest iPad.  Although I never named you, I feel as though we knew each other so well.  We shared laughs, memories, stressful moments – even though we’ve only been together for a semester, you came home with me for every single break.  That says something about us, ok?  That meant something!

Admittedly, dear iPad, I did doubt you in the beginning.  You were so new and exciting, but also seemingly frivolous.  I had my macbook and my iPhone, so I doubted that you would bring anything new to my life.  I was locked into my old ways.

But then you opened my eyes to things like Flipboard – customizable, interactive news like I had never experienced.  And what about Storify? With this app, you gave me the tools to express myself in ways I had never known existed!  Together, we navigated the muddy waters of political ads, presidential debates, and campaign spin in this tough election year.  You were instrumental to my discernment during this period of inquiry in which I questioned the political conventions that I had always held.

iPad, this is where I leave you.  Although you have shown me many things, I must send you back from whence you came.  I don’t know that I may ever see the likes of you again, but it was grand while it lasted.

Land of the Free

Posted on December 6, 2012 in Underrepresented by Lauren

America is founded on the notion that we are a free nation, extending and promoting “Liberty and Justice for All”.  If you grew up in this country, you have known this since the kindergarten days when you place your hand over your heart and pledge allegiance to the flag and the great country for which it stands.

History shows us that “freedom” is a relative term, even in this country which takes so much pride in that ideal.  Those who live here, even today, are not free to be or choose the same things as the privileged, dominant white society of America.  Inequalities still wrench at the edges of the American tapestry, distorting the beauty that could be.

This sounds idealistic, and I don’t mean for it to.  But I do hope to demonstrate the issues that minority groups in this country deal with on a daily basis – exclusion, oppression, racism – I could go on.

According to Pamela Newkirk in “The Minority Press: Pleading Our Own Cause”, minority newspapers arose out of a great need for accurate, fair representation in the public sphere.  The press was, and arguably remains, dominated by white society.  The radical minority newspapers that were born of the Civil War, such as Freedom’s Journal, were just a precursor for modern adaptations of this remaining need for minority representation, such as BET and Telemundo.

The minority newspaper that I examined was the Lawndale News, “Chicagoland’s Largest Hispanic Bilingual Newspaper”, which features articles in columns side-by-side both in English and Spanish.  The newspaper obviously came about where there was a need for it.  Chicago’s Latino population is ever-growing, and at a very fast pace.  The need for minority representation pervades the community, ad this is a viable source for news that covers issues differently than mainstream media.

Although many argue that minority papers serve to further divide minority groups in this country, I believe that until we reach full integration in the mainstream media, the call for minority press will remain.

Endorsement Party in the USA

Posted on December 6, 2012 in Endorsements by Lauren

With just hours left in this crazy campaign, there is more speculation than ever as to who the man will be that runs this country for the next four years.  Everyone seems to have his or her own input, and major news sources are not exempt.  As to the effectiveness or relevance of newspaper endorsements, I cannot hazard a guess.  But what I do know is that the media is expected to remain largely neutral (see “professionalism”), and this is one of the few times that newspapers outright declare which candidate it supports.  Gone are the façades of political agendas wrapped in rhetoric – this is a display of newspapers taking a stance in the final hour.


I compared two very different news sources from geographically diverse locations, and with very different audiences: The Baltimore Sun and The Daily Herald.  Each newspaper endorsed one candidate and one candidate only.


The Baltimore Sun, as many other newspapers seemed to do, endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election with more than just a hint of concern.  This concern sprung out of many unfulfilled promises and blunders of the Obama administration over the last four years.  One of the biggest issues touched upon was the divide between our two parties in this political system we have adopted as our own.  At the beginning of the article, although the Baltimore Sun supports the president, Obama’s shortcomings were laid out one by one, ending with the statement saying, “…most disappointingly, the promise of a new politics to move us beyond a long and bitter partisan divide remains painfully unfulfilled,” in regards to the president’s last term.  The Baltimore Sun concluded, “We endorse President Obama for re-election, with this caution: We can’t afford four more years of gridlock. Perhaps Republicans will be more willing to work with a second-term President Obama, perhaps they won’t, but the buck stops with him.”  Essentially, the Sun states that we must overcome the party divides and collaborate to actually bolster this weak economy that our country is grappling with now.  Again, by stressing the importance of bipartisanship or bust, the Baltimore Sun warily cast their endorsement vote for Obama.


The Daily Herald, on the other hand, seemed more sure in their decision to endorse Mitt Romney in this election.  It is important to note that this Chicago suburb newspaper backed Senator Obama just four years ago at this time.  This article walked through the decision-making process of switching across the aisle in their endorsement.  However, rather than point fingers to simply make the opponent look bad, the Herald gave a fair account, saying “Whomever is elected will be trusted in large measure with the fate of a stumbling economy, a foreboding debt crisis, a gridlocked government and an unstable world.”  And while this article was fair, it clearly outlined the differences between the candidates: “… it is clear that one trusts government too much; the other appears to trust it too little.”  In the end, however, the Daily Herald could not dispute the fact that the economic crisis is at the forefront of American concerns, saying, “Ultimately, we endorse Romney because he, unlike Obama, understands that jobs are a creation of business, not of government.”

In this brief pause in American political history – the calm before the storm, or at least the ceasing of winds for the time being – gives rise to some interesting commentary from our sources of news.

iPads, iPads everywhere

Posted on December 6, 2012 in iPad by Lauren

Alright, alright…I guess I’ll take the free iPad you’re throwing at me.  Admittedly, I was not the first person to jump on the iPad bandwagon.  It seems like a lighter computer with a more annoying keyboard.  I sound like an old grouchy man, but it’s true – these are my feelings.

After messing around with all of the cool apps that the iPad has to offer, I consider myself mistaken – they’re awesome.  And addicting.  I’ve found that after discovering and personalizing Flipboard, I get annoyed with your plain ol’ newspaper over breakfast.  Why?  Because all the sudden newspapers are a hassle.  They unfold into huge spreads, they are not really visually appealing, and I find myself zoning out  while skimming over headlines of news I don’t really want to read, now that I know what personalized news is like.

That is not to say that I’m going to start purging my shelves of physical books, only to amass a gigantic library of e-books on the iPad.  Nor does it mean that I will reach for my iPad when I need to write a 5 page paper.  There are some limitations to this amazing little machine, and I don’t want to get too carried away here.

In the end, receiving iPads in this class offers a unique experience for us students: we can get a real feel for all that iPads have to offer.  This extends beyond the classroom and beyond class content, and that, my technologically equipped friends, is something very exciting indeed.

GoodbiPad: Pushing Technology Capabilities and Habits (For Me)

Posted on December 6, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Ben Zelmer

Our class’s work on the iPad this semester has been both enjoyable and beneficial to our examination of journalism and democracy in America. With the continuing expansion of technology, news can be delivered and consumed on a huge variety of platforms, and the iPad gives users a mobile, user-friendly device with access to countless media and applications. The iPad introduced me to many useful apps that expanded my ability and options for news consumption, with Flipboard probably being one of the most useful in its function as a news conglomeration program. Flipboard allowed me to access a wide range of news stories from a variety of topics and sources, and fit perfectly with the touch screen page-turning presentation that the iPad allows. Our discovery of the “news-creation” app Storify also showed us some of the great possibilities for utilizing different media to share stories, and the iPad is a great platform to access the social media, videos, and text sources that can combine to make a unique and powerful presentation. Overall, the iPad’s combination of a user-friendly interface with access to a multitude of forms of media made it a useful and enriching tool for our class and for our overall news consumption.

On the other hand, one personal trend I did notice with the iPad was that I probably did not use it as much as I should or could have for all sorts of tasks, largely because I normally and habitually do so much news consumption on my laptop. I have not gotten into the habit of reading news while “on the go,” and I never developed the habit of frequently taking my iPad out and using it while away from my room. While the iPad is a great and innovative device, ultimately I feel like it does not offer many large-scale capabilities that are not available on a laptop. This observation likely occurs to me largely because of my own technology-use and news consumption habits, and there is no doubt that the iPad’s portability and combination of technology and media capabilities make it a very useful device. I very much enjoyed my introduction to the iPad this semester, and I feel that there is a high probability that I will be using a tablet again extensively in the future, whether professionally, leisurely, or both.

Never Gonna Give You Up

Posted on December 6, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Clara

I can’t say it better than Rick Astley so I won’t. But lucky me because I had an iPad at the start of class and I’ve still got one now.

I am not an Apple girl. I have a dinosaur of a Dell, a Verizon EnV flip phone, and I still use an iPod mini. Yeah, no not the Nano, the discontinued mini.

But I have an iPad 2, which I proudly bought for myself for my birthday two years ago, because I was excited to finally join the age of college kid technology. Since then, I’ve learned that it is more than just a fun object to interact with (read: check my email), it is a device that connects me to the various social media sites which journalists now rely on.

Though I came into the class with a strong mastery of some of the most common social networking sites, I learned about so many more ways I can create because I was encouraged to explore new apps like Spotify, Flipboard, and Evernote. It is crucial to remain connected, and especially for those like myself without a smartphone, the iPad keeps me ready to share even when I’m on the go. I use it to cover football games (it was with me at USC) but I also use it for class.

The iPad represents the shift in journalism toward a multimedia product. Learning with one has better prepared me to be a journalist.

Never Gonna Give You Up


Posted on December 5, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Meredith

Throughout this semester, I have found and discovered a new side of the iPad. A side composed of interesting media apps, apps capable of annotations, and overall educational apps that have changed my view of the iPad. This semester I have been able to check my weekly news, my twitter updates, and my Facebook. I have been able to check political facts on hand, watch The Colbert Report in bed, and read an in-depth analysis of the Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma game just by the touching two buttons. This semester has not only given me a new understanding of what the iPad is capable of, but a new wave or curiosity of what is can be capable of the future.

Because of the fact that I will not be giving up my iPad at the end of this semester, I am excited for my future with the iPad. Before this class, my iPad was usually stowed away, under my bed, next to my shoe box. But after this class, my iPad is usually smushed in my back pack, next to the multitude a books that usually feels like  ton of bricks. I do not carry around the iPad because I want an extra workout with more weight in my backpack, but because I feel as if it is truly useful. As of a couple months ago, a lot of my articles for classes are on my iPad as well as useful internet search engines that allow for a more direct and filtered search of specific information. Overall, this class had opened by eyes to how the iPad can help me in school work and life. It has opened my eyes to what technology can do to make life easier and how devices such as the iPad have the capability to place many helpful resource in one place, in one tablet.

So as the class says Goodbye to the iPads, I say hello. Hello to a new understanding of how this device can help me in school and most importantly life.

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, GoodbiPad

Posted on December 5, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Mike

At the beginning of this semester, I really couldn’t conceive of ever needing an iPad – sure, I figured it would be nice to have, but beyond just needing something to blow extra money on, there didn’t seem to be much point.  And yet, I must admit that over the course of the last few months I’ve grown quite fond of the tablet.  What’s more, prior to this class I wasn’t all that interested in the news.  I think from outside a journalist’s or news junkie’s perspective, news tends to seem like a continuous report on everything that’s wrong with the world, just a giant negative spin cycle on society – or, as my dad fondly refers to the nightly news, “our daily death and destruction count.”  Having the iPads in class not only transformed my opinion of tablet computers, but of journalism in general.  The tablets present the news in such a streamlined and easy-to-use manner, it’s hard not to get attached.  I find myself pulling it out between nearly every class (and sometimes in class – hey, it’s not my fault Theo lectures get dull…) to check Twitter, Flipboard, NPR, or whatever.  And by being more or less forced to actively engage with the news, I’ve actually grown more interested in it.  I believe it was Schudson who wrote about the feeling of ‘connectedness’ people get from partaking in the news, and I can’t deny that I’ve experienced some of that, probably in part because of the iPad – if nothing else, keeping up on current events makes for more interesting conversations with people in daily situations.  At this point, I can’t deny the value in owning an iPad, but I’m still not really inclined to spend my own money on one; they’re still pretty expensive, and I think I could probably get more bang for my buck on something else, or donate some of it to a worthy cause (say, helping get radiators for needy Norwegians).  So it looks like I’ll be saying goodbye to my iPad for now…then again, Santa will be here in only three weeks…

So long for now

Posted on December 4, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Meg

Using the iPad this semester has revolutionized the way that I interact with social media, technology, the Internet and the news. I have become an informed citizen, motivated to stay updated on the important events happening in America and around the world. While I know the ambition to get involved with the news comes in part from my interest in the topics we discuss in class, I think the deciding factor was the iPad, which offered convenience and ease to consume news within my daily schedule. As David Carr said in the Page One documentary, we now have the ability to get updated on the news in the time it takes to wait in line for a cup of coffee. I use the iPad to check Twitter, Flipboard, and The New York Times regularly, if not constantly, throughout the day.

Not only has the news become an integral part of my daily routine, but the iPad has also changed the way that I do homework. Having the ability to open, download, read, annotate, save, and refer back to articles on a single device is great for an American Studies student, who has no shortage of reading assignments. I bring the iPad with me everywhere and love that everything I need is stored in one place.


Over the semester, I have been no stranger to other students making fun of me for having an iPad. The frequent response I get when students find out the University provided iPads to our class is: what? Why? Okay, it’s super convenient. That’s great. But why? Why did the Notre Dame sink money into giving the newest gadget to a group of journalism students? The undeniable fact is that iPads, or tablets in general, represent the future of how the public is going to obtain news. As we have studied this semester, print journalism is gradually fading out and tablets embody the technology that will replace it. Though many people remain sentimental and long for the old ways of doing things, as we saw with Kathleen Parkers anti-Twitter speech, technology is advancing quickly. As students with an interest in entering the journalism field, our futures depend on our ability to stay updated on the technology with which our stories will be made available to the public. I feel that, as journalists, we were given a great opportunity to embrace technology this semester; we created intellectual Twitter feeds, set up personal blogs, observed the way that other journalists embrace social media (Brian Stelter, anyone?) and familiarized ourselves with the growing world of online news.  The opportunity to use the iPad put us ahead of the game in the journalism world. Because of the familiarity I have gained with the technology, I know I am better prepared to work as a journalist because I have a better handle on where the future of news is heading.

So, while the iPad has done great things to change my life this semester, it has also been hard at work changing the way that the media operates in America.  Though it is sad to say goodbiPad, I know that this is not the last I will see of tablet technology, and the iPad will grow to be a widespread fixture in the lives of many Americans quite soon.

A Fond Farewell

Posted on December 1, 2012 in GoodbiPad by Caitlin

As my time with the iPad is quickly coming to an end, I realize how attached I have grown to a technology that I never thought I needed. Getting the opportunity to use the iPad was such a great experience, because it was like a technology test drive, where I got to try out the iPad and all its capabilities for the semester. Prior to this class, my mom would often call or text me, asking me if I had heard about a particular news story or event. More often than not, my response would be something along the lines of “No, I don’t really watch the news. I live in the Notre Dame bubble.” During the course of this semester, though, I found that I was much more connected to the world outside of Notre Dame, as a result of the class discussions we had, as well as the convenience of the iPad.

Although I do not necessarily see myself continuing with the use of Twitter after this semester, it was interesting to see what it was all about after having been encouraged by my friends to join for ages. I still do not love Twitter, because I feel it is used by many people in a manner that is less than productive, it was interesting to learn about what a major asset it is becoming for journalists. While it was initially challenging for me to find a story to tweet everyday, I eventually found myself checking Twitter and finding stories to tweet without deliberately having to search for one. Admittedly, prior to this semester, the “news source” I most commonly read was probably Through the use of Twitter, I have been able to read headlines and stories more quickly and easily from a greater variety of sources.  This is the same reason I also love the Flipboard app, because I was able to follow all the news sources I was interested in, as well as my social media networks, in one easy place. In fact, I think I like Flipboard more than Twitter, because I particularly like how visual it is, with the bold headlines and photos being more engaging.

It is going to be a sad day on Thursday when I have to return my iPad (I always have called it “my” iPad in denial of the that I would not be able to keep it…), but I really enjoyed having it for the semester in order to more completely immerse myself in the relationship between journalism and democracy. As a non-journalism student, this class was a great introduction of sorts. The use of the iPad allowed us to really immerse ourselves in the new technologies associated with the journalism profession. So not only were we learning about journalism and its conventions, but also acting as mini journalists as we also employed these technologies. So after a wonderful semester together, on Thursday I will fondly say “goodbiPad.”


New Sincerity or the Age of Irony?

Posted on November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized by Clara

Earlier this month Princeton professor Christy Wampole published the article “How to Live Without Irony” in the New York Times, sparking heated and lengthy responses to what she calls a generation “investing in sham social capital without ever paying back one sincere dime.” She postulates that Millenials have developed no culture of its own, instead pulling from what others have already created as a mechanism of self-defense. Her argument lies in the assumption that this generation – unlike others before – fears being torn down for its ingenuity.

Journalist Jonathan D. Fitzgerald’s article “Sincerity, Not Irony, Is Our Age’s Ethos” ran in The Atlantic three days later, defeating her classification of modern life as dispassionate with examples of rising artists producing sincere, vulnerable music and writing. He does not believe, as Wampole does, that the 90s were the peak of sincerity, instead remembering his own coming of age decade as apathetic and melancholy. And where she uses generalities to explain her criticism, Fitzgerald makes a point of throwing names and statistics around to support his. One that stuck out to me most was the Knights of Columbus-Marist Poll survey. “Among Millenials,” Fitzgerald writes, “six out of 10 prioritized being close to God and having a good family life above anything else. For those in Generation X [of which Fitzgerald and Wampole are a part], family was still important, but the second priority was not spirituality – it was making a lot of money.”

I hesitate to jump right in and agree with what is largely a defense of my generation, because I, like Wampole, observe with a mixture of distaste and humor the “hipster movement.” Granted, I was a child in the 90s, but I don’t remember hipsters existing back then. It certainly is a new movement and there are members of my generation who choose to take part.

That said, the hipster movement is just a new way to accomplish what adolescents have always sought – protection from the harsh critics sitting across the lunch table. Adolescents are insecure, but their approach to life with “apathy” and refusal to stand out from the crowd is a self-defense mechanism not limited to Millenials, as Wampole intimates. Fitzgerald is right, they were around in the 90s. But they’re around today, distinguished by the label “hipsters,” and these cultural robots were around in the 70s and 80s too. I mean really, are you going to try to tell me that everyone aged 50 was a true fan of disco? I guess you’ve seen That 70s Show too.

I can’t tell Wampole or Fitzgerald what our generation will be remembered for. Perhaps Fitzgerald gets close when he cites icons such as Lady Gaga or Frank Ocean. Or maybe those two will only be remembered as sub-cultures, filed away with hipsters and disco. But every generation of adolescents has got a little sincerity and a little irony in it, and that’s because we’re human and sometimes our fears get in the way of being true to ourselves. If anything, what we once wrote in diaries is now broadcast over blogs, Twitter, and all-too-personal Facebook statuses. We’re more sincere but also more ironic, because we have more places to express. So here’s my nod to remembering our generation as the first to grow up on social media. The distance social media provides also gives us the courage we need to be sincere. And with the rise of cyber-bullying, forgive us a little if we need an ironic tweet or two, or tens of “likes” for “creatively” hating on Bieber, to lift us up when we’re feeling unsure.

Slaying the Googlebeast: Minority Newspapers

Posted on November 26, 2012 in Underrepresented by Ben Cooper

Before we get to the main point of the article, you’ll have to forgive two digressions related to my search for the subject of this article. Firstly, the search for minority newspaper turned up a large number of African American newspapers. Indeed, Google suggested alternatives that specifically ruled out other groups more than a couple of times. I could only speculate as to the meanings and implications of this. It surprised me certainly. Secondly, the process by which I came about the newspaper. Because I am somewhat contrary, I wanted to do a non-African American newspaper simply because it was because the opposite of where I was being directed by the Googlebeast. And because I was compelled by its very origins, that of a newspaper seeking to reach, represent a group not so widely covered, implied they should not be the regular but the relatively ignored. But mostly because I was contrary.

So, I sought to escape the world of the Googlebeast and its algorithms, and asked around among friends and acquaintances. And the answer came not from their answers but by accident. A friend mentioned the Cherokee Phoenix had not, in fact, shut down when the militia came and confiscated their printing press but was still in operation. Whether it has been in continuous operation I cannot say, but it has been in operation since at least 2003, and is financially backed, at least for the moment, by a tribal council. It was, until recently, available for all Cherokee Indians who could prove citizenship in the Nation. It was also mostly in English, which is good, because I can’t read Cherokee. This, I thought, was it. My odyssey was over, I had landed in Ithaca (or Latium if you prefer the Aeneid), but that itself was not the end.

Runner up goes to Today’s Zaman who lost on the technicality it is a Turkish paper, and thus not within American Journalism. Still, a Turkish paper that caters to English speakers with an article, albeit an opinion piece, on minority press within Turkey was a temptation.

Perhaps it is because the first bit of the Cherokee Phoenix I’d ever seen was basically mundane, specifically a man informing the community that he was no longer backing his wife’s credit, but the relatively mundane nature of the newspaper didn’t surprise me. It took on the aspects more of a community newspaper than that of an advocate newspaper, reporting on the community rather than hurling invective or persuasive articles to try and change a wider opinion. That is not to say it was similar to other newspapers, it catered to a very specific community and dealt with their issues. Those issues, now as then perhaps, were largely mundane. There was internal election news, external elections were relatively less covered. More so than either were internal event news, things about tribal politics, campaigns, building projects, employment relief, and so on. The only external election I saw extensively covered was, understandably enough, Elizabeth Warren, due to the controversy. Retreading the entire argument with all its pitfalls isn’t for this blog, but suffice it to say there were some false claims while she still in academia that Warren was a minority via being a Cherokee Indian. She is not, by the Cherokee’s own account.

She was, however, still dwarfed by community issues. In particular, proposals about voting rights seem to have kicked up a good deal of interest. Perhaps the greatest flaw in choosing this newspaper is that it caters to an enfranchised community with political control over a certain area, since that seems to tend it towards those patterns. But then again, that is what the newspaper was from the start. It was also what newspapers like The Republican or other abolitionist newspapers were. Of course, what they did to eventually contribute to the Civil War and end of slavery was more memorable, but the average days news was probably more mundane. Just as someone looking back at the Times in the lead up to the Iraq War will remember its articles that supported it, the eventual apology, and forget that there were also articles on a number of other topics that history will probably forget. For example, the Los Angeles Herald (with thanks to Laura) had an article reviewing a play. I say this not to criticize this type of article specifically, but to point out that if, in the future, the Herald becomes remembering as the primary force behind some widespread social change, who will remember that play article?

This is not to say that such newspapers are unimportant or do not play a role in social change, or that they will not play that role, to some degree, into the future. The limits of their audience does limit them, to some degree, though. The New York Times may, through its own ignorance, unknowingly represent an overly white view of the world. But knowingly representing a view of a minority world limits your readership, or at least I would imagine it does. Tracking down racial statistics for some of these newspapers is surprisingly difficult, but if nothing else the fact that among my friends, who are fairly diverse, few could mention minority newspapers, even if they were minorities themselves, would seem to prove my point. Thus it seems overly optimistic for them to provide some equal service to the majority newspapers, but they remain an important avenue for a community’s specific needs. Whether they will go on to become important policy makers, or no more relevant than Threads remains to be seen, and probably depends on the cohesion and maintenance of racial identity.

Money and the Minority Press

Posted on November 25, 2012 in Underrepresented by Mike

There’s no denying that minorities are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of their representation in the press – both the frequency with which they’re covered and the type of coverage they receive.  Oftentimes they are portrayed as criminals or helpless victims, which is problematic to say the least.  We know that news picks up on the exception rather than the rule, but that’s not what the average nightly news-watcher perceives.  As Michael Schudson has pointed out, this may be because of the demographics of many journalists, who are white and suburban.  That of course affects their worldview, which inevitably translates into what makes the news and how it’s written.

Over the years, that persistent problem gave rise to the minority press, its own separate entity designed to address issues of importance in minority communities.  In a way, that was a positive move, as it gave those minorities their own outlet through which to voice their ideas and opinions.  But in some ways, we might say it actually hurt their cause – by working outside the mainstream press, they inherently limited their audience and influence.  Although they can portray themselves the way they think they should, if virtually no one reads it, what’s the difference?

What’s more, we know that the news industry has been changing rapidly the last few years because of changes in advertising and the internet news revolution.  These factors have had a crippling effect on many news outlets, from local papers all the way up to agencies like the New York Times; undoubtedly, it hurt the minority press as well.  I actually spent some time looking at numerous minority press outlets as part of a project for another class, and the results were pretty discouraging.  Their web sites are limited, poorly designed, and difficult to navigate (and that’s just of those that do have web sites).  Few of them had comprehensive archives, which makes it difficult to find past stories.  Their presence on the internet is lacking, to say the least.

So what does all this mean?  These minority media outlets are already far behind their mainstream counterparts on the internet, even as the news industry moves increasingly towards exclusively publishing online.  Major outlets are trying (and struggling) to come up with successful online business models, and quite a few have been forced to close their doors because they could not keep up.  Likewise, I suspect that this move to internet news will spell disaster for most minority press outlets.  At the end of the day, the news business is still a business, and many minority press establishments do not seem positioned to deal with the way the industry is changing.  I’d like to think that some will survive, or perhaps that they will get folded into more mainstream outlets, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Gay and Lesbian Newspapers in D.C.: Is There Value In The Modern Minority Press?

Posted on November 23, 2012 in Underrepresented by Ben Cooper

While reading “The Minority Press: Pleading Our Own Case,” it became obvious why there was a need for the minority press in the past. Pamela Newkirk outlined a strong argument for media that covers minority interest denoting the restrictions on free speech for minorities before the civil rights movement. While Newkirk pointed out that minorities are underrepresented and stereotyped in the media, she fell short of making a clear argument for why minority presses are needed in a post-civil rights movement era. I had a hard time believing that our troubles now are anywhere near the trials that were around for minorities in the previous two centuries. Contrarily, Mitchell Stephens and David T.Z. Mindich make a much stronger argument for minority press in “The Press and Politics of Representation.” In a simple short sentence, the two authors make clear that the limitations of journalism require (if not an ethnic press) a media more in tune with minority affairs. They argue that “journalism, the point is, is mindset bound and mindsets are boundless” (376). Here they state that the misrepresentativeness of media oversimplifies the complexities of important issues to stereotypes and limited coverage. To better understand the debate regarding the importance of the minority press, I had to investigate it myself.

Because the issues facing society are not as grave as they were during slavery, nor are they as severe as they were before civil rights legislation, it was difficult to see a clear need for minority media. To this end, I decided to explore the minority press of the most egregiously excluded and over stereotyped minority group I could find in contemporary society: the gay and lesbian community. Much like Fredrick Douglass’s North Star and the Freedom Journal, the Washington Blade attempts to gain rights and freedoms for an under represented community. The Blade covers topics on both the local and the national level that would be of interest to the Washington D.C. gay and lesbian community. In the local section, articles cover adoption “beats,” hate crime reports, and local health and business issues. The national section covers more political issues such as marriage rights debates across the country and how the issues facing politicians in DC affect the gay and lesbian community.

Although the Blade covers topics that are important to a minority group that is often ignored in the mainstream media, it comes up far short from serving  as an influential advocate to plead the case of gays and lesbians in the same way that the black press fought for freedom in the nineteenth century. The paper covers issues that affect gays and lesbians, but does not appear to have the same thrust as historical accounts of the minority press. This leads me to the question: if the minority press isn’t covering topics as important as slavery, what value does it serve in the modern media landscape? Given the statistics listed by Newkirk about the underrepresentation of minority reporters and minority stories in the media, it would be hard to argue that the minority press is not needed or that it does not provide valuable information. I believe that the minority press is less of an advocacy group to plead the case of each group to the world, but rather that it is evolved to be a means of interpreting stories in the context of a niche group. As much as we’ve talked about the press as a filtering authoritative institution, it is as limited as the journalists that make it up. In this sense, the value of the minority press stems from insight it offers to minority groups regarding issues of both local and national concern.

Native American Times: America’s Minority Paper

Posted on November 20, 2012 in Underrepresented by Malcolm

The media likes to portray itself as a mirror, an entity that reflects the state of society and represents the public it reports to. But sometimes, as Pamela Newkirk mentions in “The Minority Press: Pleading Our Own Cause”, the media has failed and continues to fail in properly representing a multitude of minority groups that have suffered grave injustices in the past. She concludes that this has led to the “…ever present yearning by distinct groups to assert their unfiltered voices in the marketplace of ideas”. The result is an explosion of newspapers focused on reporting news that is relevant to and represents certain minorities. These papers stretch back to the 1800s with the African American Freedom’s Journal and the Native American Cherokee Phoenix. Both provided platforms for these oppressed groups to express frustrations, ideas, and social injustices relevant to them – most of which had been left uncovered by the mainstream press of the time.
Today’s press is much more diverse but it still carries inherent biases that prevent it from reporting on issues important to certain minorities. The Native Times is in the same vein as the original Native newspaper – Cherokee Phoenix – hoping to cover news that is relevant to America’s original peoples. It is the largest independent Native American news source and is nationally distributed. The top federal news stories have nothing to do with what I had been seeing for the past week on mainstream news. No mention of the Petreus Scandal, no articles on the looming fiscal cliff, and no analysis of foreign affairs. Many of the articles had a connection to the federal political landscape but focused on legislation or issues that pertained to Native American life. The most significant and simple example was the posting of a White House press release that declared November 23rd Native American Heritage Day. This recently came out of the Obama camp and all other news sites, even local ones, failed to even mention it.
But the federal news took a back seat to reservation news. Reservations, after all, are technically a sovereign nation with their own governance and culture. The federal news is taken from AP clippings or White House press releases but articles on native land acquisition or reservation law are produced by the paper’s own writers. From my experience on several reservations, it is safe to conclude that news relevant to reservation law and governance is much more important than anything taking place nationally. Whether this stems from a remaining distrust of the government or a more localized culture is unclear but the fact remains that a native newspaper would be wise in focusing more attention towards news on the res.

Is Minority-exclusive Media Good?

Posted on November 20, 2012 in Underrepresented by Laura

Prior to reading Newkirk and Stephens & Mindich, I wasn’t even aware that there were minority newspapers (ignorant, I know). After reading, I definitely understand the importance of minority press, historically, and hence why there are still minority publications today.

Newkirk got me thinking, though with this quote: “While the nation’s racial landscape has radically changed between then and now, and the mainstream press — including television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet — is more diverse than ever, many believe the need for a racial minority press “to plead our own cause,” persists.  (82)

She also wrote, “While a need for a viable alternative press is apparent, the diversity, however slight, of the mainstream media has contributed to the decline of the traditional black press. As mainstream newspapers and television began covering the civil rights movement, black readers became less reliant on the black press for news and information.” (Newkirk 82)

My question is, if minority reporting is being integrated into the mainstream media, and if we as a democracy are striving to achieve an America that is not racist, why would there be a problem with mainstream media being more incorporating when it comes to minority reporting? Shouldn’t this be what we want, if we are seeking a public that is not white-normative? I would think that diversity within mainstream media is a good thing. Yes, it is still extremely important for minorities to be represented in these publications, but I would think that having entire publications devoted to minorities would further the separation of races, instead of bringing them together. Maybe I am showing my ignorance again, but it just seems sort of logical.

Secondly, how can media that is explicitly published for minorities be written without bias or framing? I found the website for the Los Angeles Sentinal, and although it has been two weeks since the Presidential Election, the headline reads, “Young, Gifted, Black and Brilliant! BARACK OBAMA RE-ELECTED.” I understand that the audience the newspaper is being written for was generally supportive of President Obama’s re-election, but come on, the headline has an exclamation point in it. If that’s not bias, I don’t know what is.

I understand what the point of explicit minority news was during times when minorities were more oppressed by the American Public. For example, Newkirk wrote, “While the independent spirit of the minority press is taken for granted today, it is difficult to fathom the kind of limitations on free speech that were, at the birth of the nation, imposed on African Americans and Native Americans and  those who supported them.” (84) And that’s not to say that minorities aren’t oppressed now; I do realize that racism still exists and that there is still much inequality in our nation. However, I just don’t see how a movement towards minority press within the context of mainstream media could be a bad thing. Representation in such news outlets would seem to be a good thing for these smaller publics.


Stephens and Mindich said in their essay, “The inherent blind spots and prejudices of journalism, along with the often unrecognized blind spots and prejudices of its practitioners, are themselves, in many instances, the “message,” the factor that changes our view of the political world. We have to battle, the point is, against the bewitchment of our politics by means of journalism.” (377) I can see the importance of what is being reported in the Sentinel. There are stories that pertain exclusively to African-American audiences, and they are important things that both African-American, as well as white (if we are to be a truly progressive nation) audiences should be aware of; however, it would be more progressive if these stories were printed in a section of the Los Angeles Times rather than in a newspaper that will mostly be read by African-American readers. I understand that there are limitation on media such as ad space, revenue, and other logistical aspects such as time and human capital, however if it were possible for minority papers to integrate into mainstream media. I am not saying they should transition their stories to be mainstream — rather, they should maintain their race-specific voice and be printed alongside other stories for a general public.

If anyone thinks I’m really wrong or just missing something, please point it out. I felt kind of bad writing this post, but these are questions I have and I’m just curious why our readings didn’t necessarily praise the integration of minority press with the mainstream media.





Insight into Insight News

Posted on November 20, 2012 in Underrepresented by Caitlin

In her piece “The Minority Press: Pleading Our Own Cause,” Pamela Newkirk quotes the inaugural editorial of the Freedom Journal from almost two centuries ago: “… From the press and the pulpit we have suffered much by being incorrectly represented.  Our vices and our degradation are ever arrayed against us, but our virtues are passed by unnoticed” (81).  Thus, this journal, among other African American newspapers, aimed to provide a platform through which black people could “plead our own cause,” as was not possible through mainstream media. The Minneapolis-based news outlet Insight News is a modern version of the minority press, with the following mission, as described by Founder and CEO Al McFarlane: “Editorial Mission: Information, Instruction, Inspiration in a user-friendly, culturally relevant communications vehicle. Business Mission: Providing preferred access to Black consumers for businesses, agencies, and organizations.” Insight News, which was founded in 1974 as a color-cover magazine, began printing as a community newspaper in 1976.

This picture illustrates the format of the Insight News site with today’s headlines.  Although minority news outlets are not necessarily as radical or politicized as in the past, publications such as this one demonstrate that “the continuing desire for an alternative minority press reveals both the unmet promise of media diversity trumpeted in the 1960s and the ever present yearning by distinct groups to assert their unfiltered voices in the marketplace of ideas” (Newkirk, 89).  The Minneapolis College Preparatory School advertisement featured above indicates that the source is not intended just to provide news to minority readers, but also direct advertisements to black consumers and spotlight African American businesses and organizations, as indicated in McFarlane’s mission.  The headline for the reelection of President Obama is particularly interesting in that more mainstream media sources, such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune, featured such headlines as “Re-elected, Obama heads back to a divided government.”  Insight News, however, another Minneapolis-based publication, features the title “Justspeak: Presidential slam dunk – Obama wins electoral landslide re-election.”  While the Star Tribune takes a much more neutral stance on the President’s re-election, instead focusing on the challenges he will face with a divided government, the title of the Insight News has an overtly celebratory tone, which many would view as more acceptable coming from an African American media source, especially being that Obama garnered 93% of the African American vote.  In the subtitle, the word “Black” is also bolded, illustrating the emphasis on his shared heritage with the readers of the publication.  While mainstream media outlets are often criticized for the lack of diversity they include, such niche publications as Insight News are able to address issues of specific interest to readers of their cultural, racial, or ethnic group.


Communicating the Effects of Politics on Minorities

Posted on November 19, 2012 in Underrepresented by Ben Zelmer

I looked at two minority newspapers—the Indianapolis Recorder, an African-American newspaper, and EXTRA, a bilingual Hispanic newspaper based in Chicago. Both contained an interesting variety of stories from different news topics, but it was also apparent that both operate off smaller budgets than most newspapers, as the amount of articles was small compared to mainstream papers, and the design and layout of the websites were very simple. However, these papers report on important issues with great fervor from unique perspectives.

Both of these newspapers contain stories from genres such as sports, entertainment, and community events, but both also carry a healthy dose of stories on politics and public policy, and they display concern for needs of underprivileged citizens facing financial difficulties or discrimination. EXTRA published an article describing an online guide that provides information on what health care benefits the new Affordable Care Act will bring to citizens. The article notes that Latinos often face additional challenges regarding health care, such as a language barrier and a lack of insurance benefits from their jobs, and it emphasizes that the online guide is available in Spanish as well as English. EXTRA’s informative article on health care coverage has a clear aim of providing important information to Latinos who may have trouble acquiring the health care they need.

An article published by the Indianapolis Recorder addressing the significance of President Obama’s reelection for African Americans contains some explicit comments and quotes reflecting concerns about racial inequality and discrimination in America. The article mentions that an effigy of Obama in a noose had been hung from a tree in Lebanon, Indiana, and seemed to take an angle that Obama’s reelection was an expression of America’s rejection of racial prejudice. It states that Obama’s reelection “indicates that the country is not turning its back on the racial progress made when he was entrusted with the presidency in 2008.” The director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture is quoted as saying, “In many ways, Obama’s reelection can be seen as resilience on the part of the African-American community.” This angle on the presidential election shows that this newspaper is interested in increasing awareness of racial discrimination and fighting to prevent its negative effects. Another quote in the article demonstrates the intense feelings many African Americans have about race relations and politics. A professor of African American Studies at IUPUI, in addressing Obama’s difficulties promoting social and economic improvement for African Americans, states, “We are in a war. The same war we’ve been in for the past 40 years. We are dealing with white supremacy.” This type of perspective on a presidential election would likely not be found often in a mainstream newspaper, and its presence encourages questioning of whether ideals of equality and social justice are being fully extended in America. This article provides insightful evidence of how the Indianapolis Recorder and other minority newspapers view power structures in America along racial lines and aim to encourage minority citizens to make their voices heard in the public sphere.

Prior to doing this bit of online research, I was unaware of the large number of minority newspapers across America, and it was interesting to see how these papers’ articles promoted the interests of their readers with bold candor. Most journalism aims to present only the facts surrounding a story with little editorial perspective, but these news sources openly present stories based on the interests of the populations they represent. These newspapers play an important role in American democracy by communicating the opinions and interests of minority groups that may not be printed in most mainstream papers.

Louisiana Weekly: Fulfilling the Dream of Civil Rights Activists

Posted on November 15, 2012 in Uncategorized, Underrepresented by Meredith

The emergence of African American newspapers forever gave African Americans a voice, even though not always loud or powerful, a voice nonetheless. Coming from the birth of the nation where “It is difficult to fathom the kind of limitations on speech that were imposed on African Americans” (The Press page 84), a media outlet exclusively available to African Americans is a great stride in civil rights.

Today, African American newspapers still function similarly as they did in the 1960’s, catering to the African American community, and raising awareness of injustices to their race. In the Louisiana Weekly, based in New Orleans, there are sections such as Entertainment, and Classifieds but also article dealing with major issues such as racial profiling and unfair treatment of blacks in the workplace. I found an article called “The Hard Truth.. Recognizing the face of evil” by Min. J. Kojo Livingston. It comments very heavily on racism of African Americans, and cites America as “a nation built on lies, theft, and oppression.” The freedom of speech allows for negative comments about out country, even if it may be looked bad upon in conventional main strem media. And African Americans, after their years of oppression, have gained the right to publish what they like, even if it may be against the foundations of our government. The important thing about African American newspapers in the past and today is that they allows African Americans to publish what otherwise might not be published in a main stream media outlet. Mainly because of the constraints of the media we have learned about throughout our class, such as demographics, fear of loss of revenue and competition between media outlets.

Overall, I believe that the one of the main goals of journalism, to serve as a function of the common good, lives within African American newspapers. Which I also believe was ultimate dream for African American newspapers by popular advocates of this cause such as Frederick Douglas and Ida Wells.


Undeniable Misrepresentation

Posted on November 15, 2012 in Underrepresented by Meg

There exists an undeniable parallel between the level of cultural acceptance of a racial group and the amount of news coverage devoted to them. Journalism has remained dominated by coverage of white men and white issues since the concept of media was invented. To compensate for the uneven representation, racial groups fought back by creating alternative newspapers published by different racial minorities. Such newspapers have allowed members of racial minorities to find their niche in the news, but this does not compensate for their failure to give fair coverage to all minorities. The unequal representation has serious effects on society. In her article “The Minority Press: Pleading Our Own Case,” Pamela Newkirk quoted a National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders panel that stated, “By failing to portray the Negro as a matter of routine and in the context of the total society, the news media have, we believe, contributed to the black-white schism in this country,” (The Press, 88). By leaving the racial minority groups out of press coverage, journalists misrepresent reality to Americans. Although African Americans have fought back by creating their own newspapers and media outlets, such as BBC or The Chicago Defender, the racial minorities are still not fairly acknowledged in the press. It is 2012, approaching fifty years past the civil rights movement. In this modern day, it is appalling to see such a bold example of inequality as this one.

When looking at African American newspapers such as The Chicago Defender and The Chicago Crusader, the substandard quality is shocking. I say this not to put down the people who have formed these newspapers, because they have obviously done so out of determination for equality, which is honorable and admirable. However, it is undeniably disheartening to compare newspapers like these to The Chicago Tribune or even The Chicago Sun Times. The differences in quality are stark, and they epitomize the perceived difference in “American-ness” between African-Americans and whites. The African American public should have access to a reputable paper that will provide them news that is relevant to their lives. After the Civil Rights Movement, large steps were made in changing laws to make America a more accepting place for African Americans. However, changing public opinion to accept African Americans as an integral part of our country is a war that continues on. The difference in the newspaper quality provided for African Americans than that provided for whites is comparative to the difference between the facilities, such as water fountains or public bathrooms, provided to African Americans and whites during the years of segregation.

I believe Americans easily convince themselves that the racial tension that divided our country in the past is behind them. However, looking at the difference in the publications for African Americans and those provided for white readers clearly proves that these problems are ongoing. The first amendment of the United States constitution provides freedom of the press to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to remain informed through the media. African Americans are being denied this right because they are ignored by reputable newspapers and unable to form their own because of the widespread discrimination in the industry. They deserve equality, especially equality of information provided by the press.

Washington Hispanic: A voice for the Latino electorate

Posted on November 14, 2012 in Underrepresented by Clara

Democracy as established in the Constitution of the United States of America should have protected the minority from majority rule. But during the antislavery movement, states went as far as to make laws abridging the freedom of speech. Illinois lawmakers, for instance, decided that the First Amendment did not apply to abolitionists. Editors for papers serving the African American community were attacked and their printing presses were destroyed. Nevertheless, people like Frederick Douglass persisted in their pursuit of equality.

Today, media outlets still seek to serve underrepresented populations in the United States, but not necessarily in the fight for equal treatment. In Washington D.C., the Washington Hispanic (c.1994) publishes with the motto “The voice of the Hispanic community in Washington, Maryland and Virginia” and the coverage I sought out seemed to be exactly that: coverage about the community not picked up by the major media conglomerates. The Washington Hispanic prints 55,000 copies per week. According to its Wikipedia page, the publication is headquartered in Adams Morgan, making it the only Spanish language outlet in the actual district.

On its homepage on 11/13/12, I found the following five stories – all related to the election – rotating in the top page element:

“The Latino electorate turned out in impressive numbers to the polls -15,000,000-and 70% gave their vote to Obama.”

“Maryland already has a Dream Act. They also legalized gay marriage and the expansion of casinos.”

“America is changing, and the results of the last presidential elections prove it.”

“In Ecuador, Rafael Correa announces his candidacy for reelection, and he rides a bicycle.”

“In January there will be automatic cuts in the national budget and tax increases if Obama and Congress fail to reach an agreement.”

What I like about the Washington Hispanic is its commitment to civic engagement, focusing on the aspects of the election that are a.) most important to its audience but b.) will inevitably increase voter turnout next time. One of the headlines – the third – seems to lack a tie to a news element, but when I clicked to read the story it explained how Latinos can become a very influential population in the election process, giving their growing numbers and growing voter turnout (a story which fits into the current national narrative that the GOP must do something about their Latino disconnect).

If the mass media aren’t covering these kinds of issues in a way that caters to all minority communities, then they need to start by diversifying in their newsrooms as Pamela Newkirk suggests in her essay about the minority press. One of the problems with newsrooms remaining largely white and male is that the homogenous makeup reinforces limited coverage, and as the electorate – and society – diversifies, journalism as a mirror must do so as well. It makes me wonder – will newspapers like the Washington Hispanic eventually fold because the mainstream press must broaden their coverage and steal readers? Or will the mainstream press buy out papers like the Washington Hispanic to gain diversity in the organization? Or will we eventually see a “Washington Post – Hispanic section?” Perhaps the most important question is, though, will the U.S. Latino population follow the coverage of their community to the mainstream papers? Because while it is the responsibility of the media to hold a mirror to society, they also need to sell papers, and if their readership continues to reflect a homogenous population rather than changing with the growth in minority populations, it seems unfair to ask them to change their coverage. But perhaps they need to change their coverage to get the new Latino readers. Or perhaps the homogenous population of subscribers needs to read about the Latino population, regardless of whether the coverage helps business or not. Unfortunately, the “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question comes into play, and it might take a few guinea pig publications to test it before the media figures out how to best cover the diversifying community.

Arizona’s Mundane Day

Posted on November 12, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Malcolm

While the election coverage of an Obama / Romney square-off stirred up madness on Twitter and numerous media websites and television channels, Arizona’s premier media outlets remained calm. The state’s top two news outlets –, home to the Arizona Republic Newspaper and channel 12 news, and The Arizona Daily Star – seemed more preoccupied with voter issues, such as the long lines in the east coast and issues experienced within Arizona, than with the election results within the state.
Arizona is a red state through and through. With the increasing Latino population it has been argued that the it could become a battle ground state in the future. But right now, it remains unequivocally red. The proof lies in the media’s coverage of the election. As the polls closed in Arizona, the Daily Star immediately reported that “All 11 Electoral Votes Go to Romney”. I assume there was about 0% reporting at that time. Now, it is true that Romney actually garnered a larger percentage of Arizona’s vote than McCain did in ’08. And since there were no contested congressional races, the world of federal politics was largely subdued in Arizona. Both sites were very focused on voter troubles however, serving as a government mouthpiece to help inform voters at home on how to report any problems or issues experienced at the polls. This was interesting to see. Whether this is basic protocol or a new development in wake of the problems out east, I don’t know.
There was, however, an important local race that garnered some attention from both papers; Infamous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio versus challenger Paul Penzone. Arpaio ended up winning an unprecedented 6th term as Maricopa County Sheriff but it was his closest race yet. Sheriff Arpaio and his office have been the subject of hundreds of lawsuits from civilians and the U.S. Justice Department, the big one citing widespread discrimination of Latino residents in Maricopa County. His harsh stance against illegal immigration has made him quite the controversial figure in Arizona, as well as national, politics. Most Arizona news outlets jumped on this breaking news, largely ignoring the national election. Many televised Penzone’s concession speech as well as Arapio’s acceptance speech. This was the big news of the day for Arizona, who will face another 4 years under Joe Arpaio. How long that lasts with the new lawsuits remains to be seen.

The Neighbor of the Crossroads of America

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Ben Cooper

“The Nation Votes, Ohio Decides” seems to be a common national sentiment (that specific phrase via The Daily Show). Indeed, President Obama released a special political advertisement just for Ohioans asking them to vote, running it for nearly the entire span of the early voting period. The sentiment is relatively absent in Ohio itself, with only a few newspapers attributing victory directly to Ohio. The most blatant about it almost certainly being the Akron Beacon Journal (). Nonetheless, most couch it in the language of swing states, making it an interesting time when newspapers feel neutrality includes having no bias towards their home market. Normally there’s some forgiveness of such things, such as when a newspaper barely conceals glee at a home team victory, but here that seems absent, to my somewhat surprise.

The radio stations and television, at least insofar as I could access them, which was inevitably over the internet, seemed to lack much in the way of local flavor. They reported the election results as they came in, swayed to one side or the other based on their partisan preferences, and had the only concession to their locality in focusing on what this meant for both Ohio and the nation. Even then, aside from a few specific points such as how it would affect a local plant, generally things focused on more general issues like the economy. Indeed, the economy tended to be the general theme of coverage, but that seems to have been true nationally. Whether this is because Ohio is an accurate reflection of the nation or simply because of my own limited knowledge, I cannot say.

Also surprising was that there were numerous and heartfelt calls about the election, the importance of democracy, and getting out to vote. Many newspapers appeared surprisingly civic minded, such as The Plain Dealer turning its into an encouragement to vote. This was, it is worth noting, notable enough to get national attention. Putting aside the front page itself, which is lovely enough to make me like it even as I am consciously aware it is trite. Indeed, perhaps it says something about the relative position of news and politicians in my life that this struck me more than President Obama’s appeal.

There’s also story from Kentucky, which has remained in the top five of its newspaper from the election for a few days now, and is funny in a sad sort of way.

are pictures of a few dozen front pages of newspaper pages from Ohio, which are interesting to examine.

Anything could happen

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Laura

It was a a personal moment on the morning of November 6, 2012 when I had an overwhelming sense that anything could happen that night. I was voting for president for the very first time, and it was a powerful feeling and one in which I was proud to be a part of this country. I ventured out very early that morning with my dad and my brother to the local fire station to cast our vote, and it turned out to be a simple enough pursuit. Although a early on the morning, there were many people already out to cast their vote. We did not, however face the longs lines projected in Virginia or Florida or Ohio.

As a fairly new South Bend and even Indiana resident, it was hard to learn very much about the candidates while in school here. Jackie Walorski and Brendan Mullen fought hard battles over television and radio ads, while Donnelly and Murdock raced for the open senate seat.

While there can be so much negativity surrounding this campaign and people can be pulled in by the spectacle of news channels and twitter trends and mathematical predictions (which I sure did as I watched the results), it is important to take into account this great notion that anything could happen that night. It was a close race, and in our democracy, no one knew what would happen until al the ballots were cast. And that can be a comforting thought in all the headache of election season. Here the U.S. had two amiable and competent candidates who were willing to sacrifice much of themselves for the country, and they let the American people decide with each of their votes.

While the results were streaming in, I was volunteering at the local Ronald McDonald family room, and one of the parents standing there and watching the results struck me when he said, it’s not just the candidate who will get things done. There is a lot to be done in this country, and it will not just be from the president. Many people will be working of the benefit of this country for progress. Although Indiana voted for Romney, there must be comfort in the process of the election and that there should be four more years of working together for progress and a better future.

Nevada fits national narrative

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Clara

Alright, so my prediction that Nevada would go red was wrong. Barack Obama won 52.30% and Mitt Romney won 45.73%. County-by-county, Romney won 15/17 counties, losing Clark (Las Vegas) and Washoe (Reno). I was surprised that Obama was able to capture Reno, especially with the last-minute campaigning that Romney did in the area to get students at the University of Nevada Reno to change their votes this time around.

In post-election coverage, The Washington Post evaluated how the state split its tickets – electing some Republicans like Dean Heller over Democrat incumbent Shelley Berkley, while still sending the electoral votes to Obama. This election for Nevada was really going to come down to two factors – whether the poor economy would be enough for Romney to flip the state from 2008 (when it elected Obama) or if the rapidly growing Latino population would get out the vote and keep Obama in the lead.

From the Reno-Gazette Journal’s “Latino votes come with a demand: Reform immigration system” published 11/7/12 (click photo to link).

Because the Latino population, as reported by National Public Radio, has grown to comprise 10 percent of the electorate, the GOP has to figure out how to win back their votes. With rising Latino superstars in both parties – Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, Julian Castro (Democrat) and Florida Senator Marco Rubio (Republican) – the door is open for the parties to realign on the issues in an effort to court the burgeoning population’s votes. Losing the minority vote in general hurt the GOP, and while they may struggle with African-Americans, many say that the religious links between Latinos and the GOP make the fit plausible, if they can work out their presently rigid position on immigration.

I checked in on the Reno Gazette-Journal, which changed its endorsement to Romney this year after feeling let down by Obama’s first term. Their coverage would indicate that Romney lost Nevada due to women and the Latino vote. Seems like Nevada’s narrative fits right in line with the national narrative, so all the stories – like today’s Early Start CNN coverage and The New York Times’ front page article – about the GOP needing to re-evaluate are right on target in this state.

Indiana Election Coverage: Driven by the Sentiment of the Electorate?

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Ben Zelmer

In analyzing coverage of the presidential election across Indiana media, I looked at articles from three papers: the Indianapolis Star, the Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne, and the Evansville Courier & Press. One trend that I immediately noticed across all three papers’ websites was that they seemed to pay more attention to the state and local election results and aftermath than those of the presidential race. None of the three websites had a story related to the presidential election placed very prominently on their “news” or “politics” page, and I had to do a bit of searching to find their coverage of the presidential election. Most of the featured political stories on these three websites discussed the results and significance of state and local races, and most of the stories on the presidential race were picked up from other newspapers or media sources with a more national base. This smaller amount of reporting and coverage on the presidential race is probably largely due to only having the access and resources needed to directly cover local races. It may also, however, reflect the Republican leaning of the state, and knowledge that many readers will not want to read lengthy pieces touting or analyzing President Obama’s victory. Because Indiana was won decisively by Governor Romney on Tuesday, there may not be great demand for extensive coverage on a national decision that did not reflect the state’s popular opinions. The coverage of state and local elections, on the other hand, are guaranteed to deliver favorable news and analysis to at least a considerable portion of readers.

It was also interesting considering the angles by which some of the stories discussed the presidential election. One story in the Indianapolis Star focused mostly on how Romney won Indiana decidedly and how Obama was unable to generate enthusiasm in the state as he did in 2008. The story quotes a professor from Indiana University in Bloomington as saying there was “a lot less excitement” for Obama in this election than the last. The article also mentions that Obama did not visit Indiana once this election cycle, as his campaign likely sensed that chances of victory were very low. A story on the website of the Journal Gazette, originally from Bloomberg News and titled “A nation divided?”, focused on how Obama gained the votes of a large majority of minority and women voters, while Romney gained a significant majority of votes from white and male voters. This article seems to portray a narrative where there is a widening ideological gap between different segments of the American population. This narrative, along with the perspective that shows Obama failed to generate much support in Indiana, draws attention to the fact that neither candidate was able to develop a wide, diverse base of support across the country, and presents the idea that despite Obama’s victory, the nation is not necessarily united behind him. It seems that there might be a subtle yet intentional negative backdrop given to coverage of the presidential election results in these Indiana papers.

Jersey Strong

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Laura

Amazingly, when I logged on to — the website for one of New Jersey’s largest papers, the Star Ledger — the headlines were not about the election results. In fact, without scrolling down a bit and finding the link to election coverage, one would hardly know that an election took place yesterday. The news of the moment is all about the disaster and debris left in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, and the impending nor’easter that is wreaking even more havoc.

Once the reader scrolls down a bit, there is more news about Sandy as it pertains to the election, including the fact that there were record-low voters in the state of New Jersey yesterday due to the lingering effects of the storm.

Then, there is an interesting tidbit on the link that takes the readers to pages of the election coverage. It reads, “Is it too soon to start the Christie-for-President Chatter?” This is interesting for a number of reasons. Governor Chris Christie is a Republican, and yet New Jersey is a state that has historically voted Democrat, including this year. Chris Christie has also made some controversially blatant and honest remarks in the past, which have garnered mixed feelings about the man in charge. (Personally, I think his what-you-see-is-what-you-get attitude is great. He spoke about education in America at the Law School last year on a Football Friday and my dad and I went to see him. I thought he was great. He’d have my vote for President). So, it’s interesting that in a historically Democratic state, New Jerseyans would already be calling for their Governor to run in 2016.

On the election coverage page itself, there is commentary on how social media (read: Twitter) showed that New Jersey residents had mixed feelings about the election results, as well as the fact that Tweets calling for Christie began as early as last night.

Just to add some personal commentary based on what I know about my home town as well as the rest of the state, I will say that I am not surprised that there are mixed feelings about the results from New Jersey residents. I come from a generally affluent town that is very socially conservative. I know of many surrounding towns and areas all across New Jersey — not just in my central area, but in the north, the south, and on the shore. However, there are also some very blue-collar and inner-city areas that likely would have pulled for Obama (for example, for every Princeton and Short Hills, there is a Camden and Newark). All sides of the spectrum are covered by New Jersey, and those larger cities such as Newark, Camden, Trenton, and New Brunswick probably made a lot of strides for Obama.

In general, there clearly was significant coverage in a state that voted for our President, but a lot of it was overshadowed by recent events, and how newly elected local officials would help assist with the aftermath.

Amendments + Bachmann > Obama?

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Caitlin

Although in many places, the presidential election was the focus of the day, it seems that that particular election was hardly at the forefront of the minds of many Minnesotans. In fact, the news of Barack Obama’s reelection did not even crack the 10 “Most Viewed” stories on the Pioneer Press website, and only appeared five stories down on Star Tribune’s “Most read” list, below “Downtown Mpls. restaurants under scrutiny over disabled accommodations.” Arguably, it is understandable that the presidential election was not the main focus in Minnesota, as it is not a swing state, having granted its electoral votes to the Democratic candidate in every election since Richard Nixon’s 1972 win. It is also important to note that in Minnesota, there were two amendments of great magnitude on the ballot – a voter ID amendment and a marriage amendment.  Judging by the list of most read stories on the two major newspapers’ sites and the buzz I viewed on various social media outlets, the defeat of these two amendments was bigger news for many people in Minnesota than the reelection of Obama. The reelection of Michele Bachmann, an extremely controversial conservative U.S. Representative who has gained nationwide notoriety, by a mere 4,207 votes, was closely watched across the state – and likely the nation. Kare 11, the local NBC affiliate in the Twin Cities, was live tweeting the vote count, as it was extremely tight throughout the evening. This station, along with other broadcasts and newspapers, tended to tweet results so as to keep the voters informed, but also encouraged the viewing and reading of traditional news sources, as evident in Kare 11’s last tweet of the night: “Bachmann defeats Graves in tight 6th District race. Tune in to KARE 11 Sunrise starting at 4:30am for the latest.

Since I could not follow the election coverage on a local station as I would have if I had been at home, I settled for following Kare 11’s twitter feed and the CNN website, as I watched the CNN broadcast. It was convenient that the CNN site offered state-by-state coverage, but it was also interesting to see how they prioritized the results. Obviously, since CNN is a nationwide network, the Minnesota presidential results were featured at the top. They would also display “Key Races,” essentially meaning close races or those that might hold wide interest, such as the Bachmann v. Graves race. They also prioritized amendment initiatives, as the results of the marriage amendment were being prominently displayed, but it was very challenging to find out any information regarding the voter ID amendment. Truly, across various media sources, the marriage amendment appears to have taken precedence over all other contests, including the presidential race. In the days and weeks leading up to the election, there was a proliferation of “VOTE NO” statuses, profile pictures, cover photos, and stories being posted on Facebook, with little noticeable buzz regarding Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.  As one Pioneer Press article is entitled “Minnesota Republicans lose big, face tough two years ahead,” it seems the focus in Minnesota was less on Obama’s win, and more on the uncertain future of the Republican party as a whole as it faced major setbacks in Minnesota and elsewhere in the 2012 election.


Missouri’s Miserable Election Coverage

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Mike

Being born and raised there, I’m usually pretty proud to tell people I’m from St. Louis.  However, after following the election coverage last night and looking back over the post-election news today, I must report that the coverage I saw was minimal, and really not all that impressive.  I followed the election news pretty closely last night on Twitter, and saw updates from all kinds of people and news organizations all across the country.  The Post-Dispatch (St. Louis’s one major newspaper) made all the same updates as other news sources, but often lagged far behind.  Like half an hour behind.  It seems to me that the only outlet moving slower was perhaps the New York Times; they, of course, were waiting to confirm everything with sources.  Since they’re still the leading newspaper in the country, it’s not really in their best interest to jump on breaking news too quickly, but rather to wait a little longer and make sure their information is correct.  However, if that’s what the Post-Dispatch was after, it seems like they would publish after the Times.  Instead, their tweets usually fell somewhere in between the first announcements and the Times, which makes them just seem…well, slow.

Looking at the articles posted on their web site, most look like they’re just re-posted from the AP  (that’s disappointing, sure, but not too surprising, at least to me.  Subscriptions have been declining for them for years, forcing them to make staff cuts, so they have had to turn more and more to pre-fab news stories from the wire).  The content leaves a little to be desired too – the first thing you see on the site is a slideshow of pictures of the Obama girls, so we can see how much they’ve grown up…

Aside from the Presidential election, the Senatorial race received considerable coverage, both in Missouri and nationally.  That had mostly to do with the controversy surrounding it after Todd Akin, now of internet fame, made his comments about ‘legitimate rape’, and then refused to drop out of the race.  Despite the coverage leading up to the election, which made the race sound razor close, Claire McCaskill defeated him 55-39%, what he called “a real skunking.”  And with that, Missouri politics will probably fade back into national obscurity…

Election Night in The Windy City

Posted on November 8, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Meg

The state of Illinois was considered by many to be decided before election night even began. Nevertheless, I can image it was exciting for President Obama, the 44th leader of the United States of America, to see his home-state turn blue last night. Big O took 57.8% of votes in Illinois, where 900,000 people chose to vote early including the President himself.  Obama chose to spend November 6th in his hometown of Chicago, sharing a family dinner at home and then heading to the Merchandise Mart where he gave his acceptance speech. His speech gave credit to the voters who have given the President the chance to move forward and continue to do the job that was entrusted to him in 2008. He promises that he has listened to Americans about what needs to happen in order for this country to regain his footing and proudly thanked Vice President Joe Biden, his wife, and his daughters.

The mood in Chicago was much less celebratory than Obama’s first victory in 2008—only 20,000 people were in attendance for his rally as opposed to 200,000 four years ago. The feeling was described less as excitement and more as relief. This is interesting for Democrats especially, many of whom acknowledge that the President’s policies have not helped our nation to progress as much as they’d like, especially to help decrease the deficit, but prefer him to Romney. The “lesser of two evils” viewpoint was widespread throughout America in this historic election. It seems that voters are excited for the Democrats to keep hold of the White House but aware that Obama needs to work a lot harder on job creation and diminishing the deficit before they will cheer as loudly for him again.

The real excitement in Illinois came from the four congressional seats won by Democrats in the House. Tammy Duckworth, an army veteran who lost both legs from injuries sustained by a blast in Iraq, won one seat for the Democrats. Another winner, somewhat shockingly was Democrat Jesse L. Jackson, who is currently under investigation for attempting to sell President Obama’s senate seat after he was elected to the presidency. He recently was hospitalized for mental illness as well. Still, he somehow managed to garner the majority and keep another democratic seat in Illinois.

Overall, Illinois was an exciting place to watch the election and proud to host their hometown hero elected to his second term as President. Illinois residents stand behind Obama, though they contribute to the pressure put on Obama to perform better this time around and make serious progress.

Idaho Election Coverage Leaves Citizens Asking “Was There a Presidential Race This Year?”

Posted on November 7, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Ben Cooper

On the excitement scale, reading Idaho’s presidential election news coverage ranks somewhere between watching a Mitt Romney speech and watching paint dry. Newspaper and television coverage was seriously underwhelming and uninteresting. The predictable outcome of the state’s Electoral College allocation led media outlets to cover more contentious local issues. In fact, news articles regarding the POTUS election were quite difficult to find on the Coeur d’Alene Press website. Of the “Top Stories” listed on the Press’s homepage, the generic AP story covering the presidential race came up fourth. Instead, the Press decided that the most important story of the day were the voting technology glitches and the announcement of local races rather than the presidential race.

Eight driving hours and a different time zone away, Boise’s Idaho Statesmen portrays a similar ambivalence to the presidential results. Of the three print editions published by the Statesmen, only two had the election as its main headline, the third focused on the state education reform laws. Interestingly all three editions featured a secondary cover story touting “In Idaho, presidential result means more Obamacare, likely less federal spending.” Thus, when there was some sort of reaction to the presidential election, it was typically negative. The only story within the Idaho press that covered the results in a more positive light was a brief article about included the headline the Democratic gathering at a downtown Boise hotel from the Spokesman Review that included the headline “Idaho Dems celebrate, pool beckons.”

Idaho’s television news was equally unamused with the Obama reelection decision. Although there was limited television coverage originating from Idaho (as Northern Idaho gets the majority of its television from Spokane-based stations), it was staunchly pro-Romney. On Boise’s KTVB, hosts described Romney as “almost a native son” and utilized Idaho’s $600 million in Romney campaign contributions as evidence of the state’s love for him.

Idaho’s news coverage of the 2012 presidential election left much to be desired. Most of the election focus was on local issues including education reform and state government elections. In browsing Idaho news sources, it would seem almost as if there was not a presidential election day whatsoever. I guess the predictability of the results doesn’t warrant much coverage. Nonetheless, had the national election results gone the other way, it would be hard to imagine Idaho not giving more attention to the race. Regardless, I believe that it is important for local media outlets to focus more on local issues because there was plenty of national election coverage elsewhere.


SIDE NOTE: Idaho was most recently relevant in Presidential politics in August when Clint Eastwood officially endorsed Mitt Romney in Sun Valley. You can thank us for the chairs later…

Twitter: The New Age of Tracking Elections

Posted on November 7, 2012 in Election Night Coverage by Meredith

Last night, just was we all did during the presidential debates, we stalked the election via Twitter. The Massachusetts senate seat election in particular was highly followed race because of what was on the line. If Elizabeth Warren was elected, then she would be the first women elected into the Senate in the state of MA, ever. She was indeed elected, and the history of MA senate race was changed forever.

Back to Twitter though, twitter was exploding on election day. Even though there are many other reliable sources via the internet such as the updates by CNN or NBC, twitter is a different kind of outlet  that is more accessible to a general public, especially young college voters. Many college students (such as myself) do not have televisions in their dorm rooms, and the alternative to tracking the election, other than the TV, is the internet. As I walked in the front entrance of LaFortune , I was hit by a buzz of  political college students assembling together, accompanied by pizza boxes and star bucks cups,  to watch the presidential election. I also noticed twitter up on a lot of different computers. Now even though many of the students were watching a projected screen of the NBC coverage of the election as well, they were also referencing twitter. I myself, as I proceeded to the basement to study in quiet, pulled up my twitter newsfeed and kept it minmized in the bottom of the screen, accessible for whenever I wanted to have a reliable update of the election. As I watched the coverage in the state of MA, news teams and media figures alike were also on twitter.

WCVB Boston tweeted many live updates from their Live Wire Blog. This blog had every single new election update, retweets from politico, CNN, and NBC as well as some of their own tweets and pictures such as Romney and his family voting in Belmont, MA. WBZ a Fox affiliate in the Boston area was also on twitter, tweeting live updates for the Senate Race in Springfield, tweets such as “Warren crowd now chanting her name. Waiting for her to speak.” and updates on the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of MA. Again, even though twitter is viewed by many journalists as a colloquial and un-professional type of news source, I got most of my election information from twitter, as I assume many others did. I believe that in general, we are looking at the future of election day, and personally I do not see it as completely dim.

Sometimes people surprise you. Sometimes, they don’t.

Posted on October 30, 2012 in Endorsements by Mike

After more than a year of campaigning, this election season is finally winding down to a close, with the big day being exactly a week away.  Pretty much everyone has his or her mind made up at this point of who will win their vote come Tuesday (although the alleged ‘undecided voters’ among us continue to provide ample comedic material:  That being said, most major news outlets are still participating in an age-old tradition of candidate endorsement.  Given that most everyone came to a decision some weeks ago (if not earlier), this sort of begs the question of why they even bother?  It would seem that should the undecided voters have been convince-able in the first place, one more newspaper editorial wouldn’t make much difference.  But save that for another day.

Some of said political endorsements come as no surprise to the general public; we often have preconceived notions of different outlets’ particular politics (for example, The New Yorker), so when they endorse a candidate (spoiler alert – they picked Obama) nobody bats an eye.  At other times, however, a publication’s endorsement takes us quite by surprise, as was the case when the Salt Lake Tribune, the largest paper in Salt Lake City, Utah, backed Obama.

At first glance, the New Yorker endorsement seems pretty much what we’d expect – the loquacious literary styling that we (well, some of us anyway) love about New Yorker pieces, the staunchly liberal politics, the praise of President Obama’s first term…  But a closer examination yields more interesting insights.  The editorial seems split up into three fairly neat parts: a criticism/review of Bush, a mostly praiseworthy review of Obama’s first term, and a criticism of Romney.  Though it’s no shock that they picked Obama, it does seem surprising they devoted roughly equivalent space to attacking Romney.  In apologizing for certain missteps in Obama’s political career, they also try to portray him as both an average, flawed person, and a uniquely mysterious political figure, a tactic I ultimately find unconvincing.  But then again, we could argue that readers of the New Yorker aren’t likely to care enough to change their votes.

The Tribune, on the other hand, takes a much more straightforward approach to its endorsement. They also criticize Romney pretty harshly, although more for his lack of committal to any particular political stance rather than his occasional flirting with far-right ideals.  They seem to miss the ‘pragmatic’ Romney of the past, finding this new and ever-changing version wholly unsatisfying.  The editors give their approval to some of Obama’s domestic and foreign policies, citing a successful struggle to preserve the economy, and his handling of the evolving situations in the Middle East.  Moreover, they cite Obama as a ‘competent leader’, saying he’s earned a second term.  From their tone, it sounds as though as content as they are with Obama, they are equally displeased with Romney’s shifting stances on nearly every issue, both of which proved important in their decision.

But hey, sometimes people surprise you.  Then again, sometimes they don’t.

Presidental Endorsments: Was there truly enough Change?

Posted on October 30, 2012 in Endorsements by Meredith

Newspaper endorsements predict the victory of President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Obama has obtained endorsements from 33 large  newspapers while Romney’s trails with 27. An even more interesting fact is Obama’s 33 newspapers almost doubled Romney’s 27 in circulation numbers, beating him 8,785,527 to 4,902,724. What do these positive endorsements for Barack have to say about his last election and his impending next election? What do these positive endorsements for Romney have to say for his past term in Massachusetts and how he would perform as the President of the United States?

Obama supporters continually cite his achievements within his first term as president; his success in bailing out the Auto Industry, in starting the withdraw of troops from Iraq, of saving the country from collapsing into a Great Depression. Papers such as the Toledo Blade state that Obamas’ “stimulus he promoted… helped prevent the recession from becoming a depression.” The News and Observer of Raleigh North Carolina stated that Obama “helped create jobs in many parts of the country (including urban North Carolina)”. Other more prominent news papers such as the New York Times states that Obama made great strides during his presidency in civil rights, with overcoming his hesitation on same-sex marriage, and legislating out of existence the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy concerning the United States Army. The New York Times claims that Obama also made great strides in health care and created jobs in school renovations and road projects that helped pull America out of a dark time in the economy. But was this enough, where all of these accomplishments enough?

They sure were not enough for Romney supporters, and this is what many of the Romney endorsements explained in their articles. Romney supporters claim that this “change” platform of Obama was not enough change, and the change now, needs to be a new president. Newspapers such as the Richmond Times Dispatch states that “Romney understands the value of free enterprise..and  in this year’s candidates he is alone in that respect.” And the Naples Daily Review states that they believe that the economy is on its eventual way back, but the total recovery of the economy will only attribute from a different kind of change, the change of the Romney administration. Other newspapers such as the Cincinnati Enquirer cite his success in Massachusetts economy crisis to his business back ground, saying, “Romney’s approach was business like. He didn’t spare any sacred cows.”

Overall, the general consensus of endorsements, of the papers still continuing to endorse, favor Obama. And those papers that favor Romney do so in hindsight becasue they feel like Obama did not do enough, and Romney’s more business like approach will save the economy.



Optimism and Pessimism in Presidential Endorsements

Posted on October 30, 2012 in Endorsements by Ben Zelmer

I compared the presidential endorsements published by the Detroit Free Press and the Tennessean. While the two papers supported different candidates, both endorsements offered passionate commentary on the presidential race and pertinent issues at stake. The two endorsements were also interesting in that one seemed to focus more on the past accomplishments of the candidates while the other seemed to focus on the candidates’ flaws and shortcomings.

The Tennessean, which ultimately endorses Mitt Romney, does not seem to think too highly of either candidate. The article describes this presidential election as a “cautionary lesson for the future.” Its commentary criticizes both Barack Obama and Romney for faults relating to health care and foreign policy, and especially attacks Obama for contributing to the partisan gridlock that has rendered American politics ineffective and failing to establish any sort of bipartisan cooperation. The Tennessean views the economy as by far the most important issue in the election, and it endorses Romney due to his experience working with businesses and job creation. However, the article is fairly critical of Romney throughout its commentary, and it seems to endorse Romney largely through a total lack of faith in Obama.

The Detroit Free Press, endorsing Obama, seems significantly more confident and optimistic regarding its choice and America’s future. The article describes Obama’s first term as being quite positive and productive, citing as evidence the elimination of Osama bin Laden, the winding down of the war in Iraq, the increase of jobs in the auto industry, and the expanded coverage of health care. It also criticizes Romney for his tendency to flip-flop on issues and his ambiguity on methods for decreasing the deficit, and these criticisms were levied by the endorsement in the Tennessean as well. Overall, the Detroit Free Press is pretty enthusiastic in its support of President Obama.

These two papers offer significantly different outlooks on the upcoming presidential election, as well as on the current state of American politics in general. The Detroit Free Press is confident in its claim that the nation is heading in the right direction under President Obama, and views the past four years as successful progress. The Tennessean, on the other hand, is severely discouraged by the political gridlock of the past four years, and seems to support Romney largely because it simply does not believe the leadership of Obama will encourage bipartisanship or stimulate job growth. With Tennessee being a state that almost always votes Republican in the presidential election, and Michigan’s recent history of voting Democrat, it seems that biases related to readership and local influence may be at least somewhat visible here. In any case, it is interesting to see such divergent takes on the presidential election from mainstream papers in major U.S. cities.


Detroit Free Press Endorsement:


Tennessean Endorsement:

Twin Cities, Different Decisions

Posted on October 30, 2012 in Endorsements by Caitlin

Although the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press both cover news for the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the papers have different policies when it comes to newspaper endorsements in presidential elections. Particularly in a race that is as close as this one is purported to be, it is understandable that a newspaper would choose not to endorse either candidate, for fear of alienation of its readership.  In an article he wrote regarding the phenomenon of endorsements, David Brauer quotes the editor of the Pioneer Press, Mike Burbach, as stating, “We just wanted to do it this way, this year. At this moment, it’s more comfortable for me.” Although the paper still publishes editorials regarding the election, as well as interviews with the candidates, Burbach states, upon receiving little feedback from the paper’s readership: “I guess that tells me people are going to make up their own minds, whether you do endorsements or not, and they have ever-more sources of information.”

While the Pioneer Press has not endorsed a candidate in this presidential election nor the previous, the Star Tribune has followed a different pattern.  The paper, with nearly 100,000 more readers than the Pioneer Press, has endorsed Obama for the second election in a row.  The Editorial Board made the endorsement despite “disappointment over the lost opportunities of his first four years.”  The Board cites concerns about Romney’s tendency to adapt his image depending on the circumstance, as they write, “But who can be certain which Romney will appear next? How can any American be sure where he stands on gay rights, immigration, climate change, reproductive rights and investment in education?” While it may seem like a risky move for the Star Tribune to endorse a candidate for presidency when its rival newspaper has elected not to dole out an endorsement, this is hardly the case.  As the state with the longest voting streak in the nation, in this case, for Democratic presidential candidates, it is treated as a given among Minnesota citizens that it is and always will be a blue state. When a friend of mine turned eighteen years old shortly before the 2008 presidential election, her dad said to her, “As a conservative living in Minnesota, get used to just throwing your vote away.”  Surely this is an extreme view of inefficacy, however the voting record of Minnesota speaks for itself.  While it is interesting that one paper chose to give an endorsement while the other did not, an endorsement of Obama is hardly surprising. An endorsement of Romney in Minnesota? That would be an article worth reading.


The following are links to the Minnpost article regarding the Pioneer Press’s non-endorsement, as well as the endorsement of Obama by the Star Tribune:

For extra information, this link displays general election endorsements by the top 100 newspapers based on daily circulation for both 2008 and 2012:




Newspaper Abstinence: The Decision to Not Choose

Posted on October 29, 2012 in Endorsements by Ben Cooper

For newspapers with broad readership, such as The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, abstinence has generally been the policy. Neither newspaper typically endorses a candidate during presidential campaigns. More targeted papers, however, have a tendency to endorse one candidate or the other. This decision to endorse is not the case for the Chicago Sun-Times nor the Oregonian this election cycle after both endorsing Barack Obama in 2008. I believe that scholars can gain insight into newspaper politics by analyzing two papers that chose not to endorse a presidential candidate after a history of taking a side in elections.

The Oregonian, a Portland based newspaper, typically chooses left-leaning candidates for its endorsement but chose not to endorse Barack Obama in the 2012 election. The editorial board justified their decision to abstain from the presidential election while still endorsing candidates in local races for several reasons. First, the board argues that the readers have the same access to information that the editors do regarding the presidential election, but lack sufficient information to make informed decisions in local elections. Secondly, the Oregonian noted that neither candidate had come to the state for open dialogue regarding issues that concern Oregonians. This lack of visitation has left both the Oregonian Editorial Board and citizens of the state with insufficient evidence to form a nuanced opinion of the candidates. The newspaper stated that it will not officially endorse a candidate, but will “take advantage of acute contrasts in the presidential contest” to assess the legitimacy of either candidate and analyze their policies. Further the newspaper promised to publicize the candidates when they show signs of listening to the interests of Oregon.

Back in the midwest, in one of the most shocking decisions of the endorsement cycle, the Chicago Sun-Times chose abstinence as well. Obama’s own hometown newspaper, that chose to endorse the President in 2008, decided that it was not appropriate to endorse candidates in the election. Instead of taking a side and endorsing a single political candidate, the Sun-Times chose to “provide clear and accurate information about who the candidates are and where they stand on issues most important to our city, our state and our country.” The paper aimed to allow a side-by-side comparison of candidates and their views. The paper will further publicize assessments of experts, but not endorse any of the opinions. Like the Oregonian, the paper argued that the vast array of media outlets and information sources allow voters to become informed on issues without the need for newspaper endorsements. The Sun-Times further justified its abstinence by citing evidence that claims endorsements don’t change many votes especially in presidential election and even promote the perception of a hidden bias. The newspaper claimed that its commitment to nonpartisanship is the driving cause of its lack of endorsement.

Both newspapers that chose not to endorse candidates shared many of the same justifications for their abstinence. The main theme of both pieces was that voters now, more than any other time in the past, have sufficient information to make their own informed decisions without the influence of the papers. Our use of Twitter in class has led me to hesitantly agree with this claim. While there is far more information available to voters, there is also much more misinformation available. Voters should be able to shift through the available news and information to reach an informed decision, but problems arise if they are not able to do so. This is where I believe newspaper come into play. Newspapers serve to shift through information and should do so transparently. While the Oregonian and Sun-Tribune argue that not endorsing a candidate allows them to be more nonpartisan, I believe that the limitations to journalistic objectivity make partisanship inevitable to a point. In this sense, it is best for papers to be transparent in their coverage by endorsing a candidate but still maintaining an effort to remain impartial.

News Endorsements Divided, Obama Ahead

Posted on October 29, 2012 in Endorsements by Ben Cooper

Looking at a meta-analysis of newspaper endorsements of the top hundred newspapers by circulation, a few things strike me. First, the two largest newspapers, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, do not generally endorse candidates. There are a couple of others as well, perhaps most notably Deseret News, which one imagines would lean pro-Romney if for nothing other than its name. Secondly, both these newspapers have lost fairly significant ground to newspapers that do in the last four years, USA Today in particular. Thirdly, the influence of such newspapers has diminished. Their total subscriptions went from 27,138,751 subscriptions to 23,598,488, a loss of over three and a half million. Thirdly, it is notable that Romney already outnumbers McCain in the number of endorsements he’s received, and is only two hundred thousand behind McCain in terms of subscriptions of those newspapers. Since there are still a little under a third of newspapers who have not endorse either candidate, things look more optimistic for him than McCain, and indeed he is significantly closer to Obama in terms of both newspapers and subscribers than McCain was (though lagging behind Obama in aggregate).

Regardless, I looked at the two largest newspapers’ endorsements, for two reasons. First, if we presume subscription number has any effect on newspapers influence, and we must if we are to accept the premise that newspapers can influence the matter at all, these two papers combined represent over one percent of the electorate and a little under ten percent of top hundred newspaper subscriptions. Secondly newspapers desire success and thus might seek to emulate their styles if not their content. Thirdly they are more directly comparable simply for the fact both newspapers endorsed Barrack Obama both in this and the previous election, thus both being ‘loyalists’ of his. Indeed, the Times has not endorsed a Republican since Eisenhower.

I wonder, and in truth do not know, how endorsement decisions are made. But it seems to break all rules of professionalism present elsewhere. The articles are unabashedly normative, loyalist, and hostile in a way uncommon to professional press and more suited to party rags. Notably the LA Times calls it an ‘endorsement’ while the New York Times calls it an ‘editorial’, but it is not really the latter because this is a statement of the views of the newspaper, not just the writer. It is true that it is an opinion rather than news, but it cannot be followed by the usual disavowal that it is the writer’s and not the newspaper’s opinion which is a staple of that genre. Despite the increased culpability, there is little admission of imperfection in either, and nearly half of the LA Times piece is dedicated not to talking up Obama but attacking Romney. While this is expected of politicos, it certainly opens them to criticism and accusations of dirty partisanship I would think a paper would avoid.

I also find it remarkable how blind both endorsements seem. They seem entirely unaware, for example, that someone might look at certain things they condemn Romney for and see them as good things. If they were aware, I think, they would have put some arguments in support of such a position, and thus its absence speaks to it. To use a more controversial example, both the LA Times and New York Times speak of the overturning of Roe v Wade as a strike against Romney without explaining or qualifying it, ignoring that the last Gallup poll has’pro-choice’ Americans are at a record low and outnumbered by ‘pro-life’ Americans. This is not to open that debate, I feel I must stress, but merely to point out that they treat this as a persuasive argument rather than a point to be defended. If we take this as a true barometer of the opinions of the newspaper, that implies the newspaper is so liberal that it cannot understand conservatism as a phenomenon, which is unfortunate.

Also, to the Los Angeles Times, ‘modulating’ is not an acceptable synonym for mutable, varying, wishy washy, flip flopping, or any such word, if not in denotation then in connotation.

All in all, I’m skeptical of the effects this will actually have on the election, but they are interesting as a phenomena in of themselves. And perhaps more interestingly to me, it seems perhaps the most firm evidence for the liberal leanings of the press, which up till now I had seen little but speculation and the bitter raving of conservatives about.


Newspaper Endorsements: From Perennial Favorite to a Four Year Flip Flop

Posted on October 29, 2012 in Endorsements by Malcolm

There is a great website by the American Presidency Project that compares the endless newspaper endorsements that have been flying out in the last week. It shows the 34 endorsements for Obama compared to the 28 for Romney. It shows the higher total number of circulation under the Obama newspaper endorsements than the Romney ones. And it also shows the unique trend of newspapers (current number sitting at 10) that endorsed Obama in 2008 but now endorse Governor Romney. It is understandable that many of these newspapers have flip flopped after seeing a slower than promised comeback of the economy. I happened to be more intrigued by the 1 lone newspaper that flip flopped the other way – The San Antonio Express News – and the newspaper that is probably the most predictable in presidential endorsements (even more so now for their native son), The Chicago Tribune.
Most Texas metropolitan newspapers – like The Houston Chronicle and The Star Telegram (Fort Worth) – surprisingly endorsed Obama in 2008 but this year chose to endorse Romney and those other Texas newspapers that endorsed McCain in 2008 stayed with the party ticket. Except for the San Antonio Express News. The Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times (which no longer endorses) had both decided to back Senator Obama in 2008 and to be honest, there was really no other choice for the two major newspapers of the candidate’s political hometown. The San Antonio Express News headlined their endorsement with the statement that “Obama has earned a second term” – a surprising divergence from the general theme of this campaign season, that Obama may not have done great but he’s still better than that other guy. The Tribune is more harsh on the president. The article references the list of reasons it gave in 2008 for why they endorsed Obama and one by one graded the president’s performance over the past years and whether he proved them right. The Tribune cited his decisiveness, which shined through in his expert handling of foreign affairs. The Express-News is equally as praising towards his foreign policy. The Tribune originally believed in his bipartisan appeal though, which both papers cited as a true failure of the president’s last four years. But surprisingly the papers differ in their general message. The Express News is optimistic, recognizing the handicap Obama deserves due to the mess he inherited and is extremely impressed by his immigration reform – an important issue to the state of Texas. The Tribune goes in depth about how Romney is a viable candidate for president due to and how the president never came through on the “change” he promised. It can be seen as a sort of lesson of “tough love” for Chicago’s native son. Both papers however reach their conclusion for Obama within the same vein as the rest of America – that he is the lesser of two evils. Romney raises skepticism with his tax plan and his big business past. Interestingly enough, the San Antonio Express-News never references its previous endorsement, as if it never happened. It is intriguing to think about the reason why they flip flopped but the reader will never know for sure. With the Tribune, their justification for past endorsements and reasons for the current endorsement are laid out in a clear, transparent way. This is much more convincing, despite both papers endorsing the same candidate.

Newspaper Flip-Flops: Obama in ’08, Romney in ’12

Posted on October 29, 2012 in Endorsements by Ben Cooper

The online satire news source, the Onion, recently ran an article declaring that it was endorsing John Edwards in the 2012 Presidential Election. The obvious inaccuracy in endorsement was used to poke fun at the importance of news agencies declaring their official stance on the election. Newspaper endorsement of political candidates, however, may play an important role in influencing undecided voters. Analyzing endorsement decisions can shine light on important issues during the campaign and how journalists cover politics. I thought it would be interesting to look at two different newspapers that endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, but chose to switch their endorsement to Mitt Romney in 2012. These newspapers will offer insight into criticisms of Obama’s first four years. The two largest newspapers to shy away from the President were the Houston Chronicle and the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas (with readerships of 384,007 and 195,455 respectively).

Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram is quite centrist in its analysis of the presidential race and its endorsement of Mitt Romeny. Framing their decision around the second debate, the main focus of the article is economic policy. The Star-Telegram acknowledges the successes of Obama in foreign policy and social policy. They also point out that the President should not be blamed for neither the economic crisis nor the slow recovery from it. The primary argument for choosing Romney in 2012 instead of Obama is less of a response to the President’s record and more of a desire for new eyes for a stagnant situation. The Star-Telegram places faith in Romeny’s ability to combine his business and public service experience to work with a divided congress to create economic growth.

The Houston Chronicle, on the other hand, is much more conservative in its endorsement decision. The newspaper acknowledges that Obama was the first non-Republican candidate that they had endorsed in 44 years, claiming that they had fallen for his “soaring rhetoric and… promise to move American politics beyond gridlock.” Contrary to the Star-Telegram’s endorsement, the Chronicle focuses mostly on Obama’s failures as president. The paper’s criticisms are much more geographically focused than the Star-Telegram. For example, the primary reason for the Chronicle’s endorsement was Obama’s failure with NASA and the energy industry. The Chronicle does add a caveat that Americans need Romney to further articulate his tax and budget proposals. Similar to the Star-Telegram, the Chronicle claims that Romney is a “fix-it man” that is willing and able to negotiate across party lines and repair the broken economy.

It is interesting that the two largest papers to change their endorsements between 2008 and 2012 are from Texas. It makes sense that a more conservative state would be the first to jump off the Obama bandwagon. Other major papers that made such a switch come from Florida (Orlando Sentinel and Fort Lauderdale’s Sun Sentinel) and Tennessee (Nashville’s Tennessean). I believe that the primary reason for endorsement is readership, newspapers want to appeal to the local constituency and support a candidate that the local readers would agree with. Thus, papers attempting to attract new readers that would want to endorse a more popular candidate. In 2008, Obama’s soaring popularity made it justifiable for a conservative or centrist paper to endorse the President. Obama’s 2012 approval ratings are much, especially in the south and amongst right-leaning voters, making it much harder for southern conservative newspapers to endorse the incumbent.



Chicago’s Favorite Son?

Posted on October 29, 2012 in Endorsements by Meg

It is no surprise that The Chicago Tribune has chosen to endorse President Barack Obama in the upcoming election—he is, after all, a Chicago native who was dubbed “Chicago’s favorite son” in 2008 during his race against Senator John McCain. Any Chicagoan, myself included, remembers watching Obama stand in Grant Park in front of dozens of American flags and thousands of cheering Americans the night he won his election and became the first African American president in history. His campaign for hope and change, combined with the feeling that we were literally witnessing history being made, created an electric energy that moved our city. This is a city that loves Obama. Surprisingly though, the article remains evenly partisan and refrains from endorsing and praising the President blindly. The Tribune offers strong reasoning for backing up Obama, but reminds the reader that there are certain areas in which Romney stands above Obama and thematically reminds the reader that bipartisan agreement is crucial if American’s want to see progress made in fighting the ever-growing deficit these next four years.

This is a city that has proudly watched him take on the challenges that awaited him when he took office—a failing economy, the housing and auto industries on the brink of collapse, and a limited number of jobs available. He has taken on these issues and made progress; despite the long road ahead, the Tribune credits Obama with maintaining pragmatism consistently throughout the campaign. The Tribune went onto backup their somewhat predictable endorsement, saying Obama has led our country by acting with “decisiveness and intellectual rigor,” that they saw in him four years ago. The Tribune use his track record—impressive handling of world affairs, some tax cuts, and passing a revolutionary health care plan for all Americans. But they also acknowledge his many shortcomings as president, including his failure to decrease the out-of-control deficit and instead doubling it during his term. They end with a plea to whoever shall take their spot in the White House this January: to face the deficit head on and do anything possible to reduce it, for it is the future generation who will condemn their fathers if they are left to clean up the mess left by politicians who have the power and awareness to do something now. By intellectually establishing the issues, and acknowledging the failings of Obama, The Chicago Tribune provides a strong, well thought out case for their endorsement of the President, even though we all saw that one coming.

What is surprising, however, is that good old Barack has not succeeded in maintaining the support of everyone in his hometown. The Dailey Herald, an independent suburban Chicago newspaper, recently announced their endorsement for Governor Romney. One city; two candidates; each of them gaining popularity among the Chicagoans. The newspaper cited loss of hope as their reasoning for changing their democratic endorsement in 2008 to supporting the republicans in 2012. However, the article fails to go into the issues. Instead, they give a bleak overview of politics today, writing, “Today, our country is still polarized, our politics is still partisan, our economy slugs along painfully on one of the slowest recoveries in history and the country’s debt threatens our future and the future of our children.” Although the newspaper acknowledges that Obama does not deserve all of the fault for the issues facing our country today, they place a lot of the burden on his shoulders. Addressing why they chose to support of Romney, they argue that Obama has failed to characterize the different classes in America and address them fairly during his time in office. Thus, they have turned to Romney, who has promised to provide jobs through businesses, not government, and successfully work across the aisle to create bipartisan solutions for the problems facing America today. To work together for the common good, the newspaper argues, is the most important thing. Interestingly, The Dailey Herald fails to go into many specifics, rather settling for vague claims about the candidate’s record in handling issues and overall philosophies. Without the concrete reasoning for their support of Romney, the endorsement comes off as more of a political move than a well thought out decision.

Using publications from a candidate’s hometown usually fails to provide an unbiased decision for their endorsement, so it is refreshing to see The Chicago Tribune offering strong reasoning behind their decision to support their hometown hero. Interestingly, this reasoning was even stronger than that provided by The Dailey Herold, who used ideas rather than facts and events to maintain their surprising claim that Romney should take over the White House in January. Although Illinois is one of the most decided states in this election, these articles would be extremely useful for an Illinois native to take a look at so they can ensure that they are voting for their candidate for the right reasons, and not just because he came from their city.


Different Papers, Different Endorsements

Posted on October 29, 2012 in Endorsements by Laura

Before I get to my analysis, I thought that this was an interesting list:,_2012

This Wikipedia entry shows which daily newspapers endorsed Obama or Romney this year. The thing that I found to be the most interesting is that many of the papers that endorsed Romney are underdog papers. I’m not really sure why this would be or what the significance of this trend is, but I thought it was worth noting.

The first endorsement I read was from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (  They endorsed Mitt Romney, claiming that President Obama’s administration has been rife with scandal. While they spend a lot of their endorsement bashing Obama, all they really manage to say about Romney is that he is a “good and decent man and proven politician.” It’s a short editorial, so when they do commend Romney, they do so in a rather broad and unspecific way. Throughout this election, all I personally have been looking for is specifics. When sources, whether they be the candidates themselves or media outlets, fail to give specific information, it is frustrating. Even though this is an editorial, the Tribune-Review should be able to go into more detail than they actually do.

The Chicago Tribune (, however, writes a lengthy and thorough endorsement for President Obama’s re-election. They focus on several issues the nation will face, and spend the entire first part of the column going into detail about the things Obama has done over his tenure in office that they find favorable, as well as the things they hope he can continue to do. It isn’t even until nearly the second page of the editorial that they start to talk about what they find unfavorable about Romney.

Perhaps the differences between the styles and content in each of the endorsements are telling signs as to why the Tribune is such a prominent publication, while the Tribune-Review is an underdog paper.

Swing State Newspapers Endorse Romney

Posted on October 27, 2012 in Endorsements by Clara

I’m straying a bit from the assignment on this one to point out an interesting trend in my home state and in New Hampshire, two swing states up for grabs this election.

I know everyone thinks Nevada leans blue, because it voted for Barack Obama in 2008, but I see a different trend. I see a state that is consistently in the highest bracket for unemployment – try being 51st out of 50 states in September 2012 (they’re counting D.C.) – and a people that despises its neighboring Californians almost as much as they love their guns. It’s a state that regularly puts out Tea Party congressional candidate, like Sharron Angle who produced ads attacking the Latino immigrant population, and the national circuit seems to think Harry Reid is still relevant to Nevadans when the reality is he gets reelected so that Nevadans are relevant to the national circuit.

How Nevada voted by county in the most recent presidential elections.

So when Barack Obama gets elected in 2008 with an endorsement from Reno Gazette-Journal, it means that the two most populous areas of the state will overshadow the rest of the born and bred red. And when that paper endorses Mitt Romney in 2012, it’s not something to ignore. Just look at the map – and recall that in 1996 Nevada went blue for Clinton and in 2004 Nevada went red for Bush. What’s the difference here? The state goes blue when a populous northwestern part of the state joins Las Vegas in going blue. Without Reno, I think Obama’s going to have a tougher time capturing those precious six votes.

Let’s look at New Hampshire, a state that also went blue for Obama in 2008. McCain swept the presidential endorsements during the Republican primary – leaving Romney largely ignored. Again in the 2012 election, the New Hampshire Union Leader – the only statewide paper – backed Newt Gingrich over Romney. But this fall, they have announced their support for him, and this may be because they are considered to be conservative-leaning. The Concord Monitor and the Nashua Telegraph both threw in their hats for Obama in 2008, but neither have announced support this election.

So what does this mean in New Hampshire? Perhaps a reluctance for either candidate, as the papers saw their primary picks ousted by Romney and are tepid about endorsing Obama when they had a decidedly Republican presidential record.

If you’re interested in taking a look at other swing state paper endorsements, here’s a link to a brief summary from ABC News.

Why I am Not Watching the Third Debate Right Now

Posted on October 23, 2012 in Uncategorized by Laura

I could be sitting in front of the TV right now watching the third and final presidential debate before the election takes place in a little over two weeks.

But where would it get me?

I sat through the entirety of the first two debates and paid attention to most of both. I was sort of disgusted by the lack of information I felt I had attained by the time each of them ended.

The most recent debate, that took place last Tuesday, had both candidates rubbing me the wrong way from the beginning. A 20-year-old college student asked the candidates how each of them could assure him that he would be able to find a job upon his graduation. They both answered the question without actually giving an answer. Mitt Romney sad several times that he had a plan to put in place to ensure that the young student would be able to find employment. My family and I were literally shouting at the TV, “Okay, so what is this plan?!!” (For the record, my parents are both undecided voters, so it’s not like they had a predetermined anti-Romney stance on the debate).

Plain and simple, it’s really annoying to try to decipher information when all two people are really doing is 1) repeating what the other person said; 2) bringing up things the other person said in the past; 3) arguing with the other person; and 4) arguing with the moderator. Somehow, I managed to make up my mind about who I am voting for based off of the last debate, but it was mostly to do with the way the candidates conducted themselves, as opposed to the actual issues our country faces.

We talk all the time in this class about what type of information the public needs, what type they get, and what type they deserve. If you ask me, these debates don’t present the public with the type of information they need, and they definitely deserve better.

Big Bird 2012

Posted on October 17, 2012 in Debate 1 by Luis

While I have been an avid Obama supporter, I was disappointed in his performance as my twitter feed so constantly reaffirmed. While remaining more factual than Romney, his body language revealed his discomfort with the debate. My friends and I joked by pointing out his slow blinks most times Romney spoke – something we often do with people we are not too fond of.

Romney came in determined to make an impression. He did as he planned. While I considered a great deal of his demeanors lacking professionalism, I think they remain commendable being that it helped him win the debate. He was firm in his stances and arguments, and addressed the issues (semi) directly – no candidate really answers the questions directly, that’s just how it is. And by winning this debate, Romney has shown that he is still giving Obama run for his money. Both candidates are on the treadmill of elections, Romney is just on a higher speed determined to get ahead; Obama hasn’t been active since the pictures he took playing basketball. Better get back in shape, Obama, if you want to remain in this race.

But as I think about it: is this Obama’s plan? Does he plan to look weak in the first debate, so Biden doesn’t look so bad – because, let’s face it, he is not as eloquent in public speaking – and, consequently, he blows everyone out of the water in the last debate?

I guess we’ll have to see.

Big Bird 2012!!!

Technology and the “Age of Twitteracy”

Posted on October 10, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Laura

I’ve got thoughts on Kathleen Parker’s speech from last Thursday, which I will post here after my exam this evening.

Until then, though, our discussion in class yesterday made me think of a column I wrote for my other JED class last week. The column topic was up to us, and I was getting annoyed by all of the pictures going up on Facebook and Twitter last week from Instagram of our beautiful campus, ruined by some kind of cheesy filter. That inspiration helped me apply my frustration to other social media, until I suddenly found myself in a full-on rant (which, by the way, can be read here:

There were things Parker said last Thursday that I agreed with, and things that I disagreed with. I guess my biggest takeaway from the speech is that we need to be selective in how we interact with this media, because if used effectively, it can be very powerful. But, if used for trivial and vain reasons, it just creates confusion as to what news really is, and furthermore, what news really is necessary.

How iPads Help us Grow?

Posted on October 10, 2012 in iPad by Laura

All semester long thus far, we’ve been trying to answer the question, ‘What kind of journalism does the public need?’

When our class was given iPads, one of the first things I asked internally was, ‘Why do I need this? I’ve got a laptop. I’ve got a smartphone. What can this do that these can’t?’

After having them for almost two weeks, I’m still looking for the answer. I’m sure it’s out there. I am sure that this tool can enhance our class’ ability of meeting its goal of broadening communication across various communities. I am still on the search for how to maximize this ability, though.

My Twitter community has broadened, that’s for sure. I’m tweeting more often due to the amazing app that is Flipboard. I love Flipboard because it is visually conducive to selecting information that suits the user. For example, when I’m on Twitter on my laptop or android, I can’t always tell if something might interest me based on the 140 character limit the posts allow for. On Flipboard, I get pictures, previews, and variety on a visually aesthetic layout. I’ve found that I read more news on my iPad than I do on any website on my laptop or any link posted through my smartphone. I’ve also re-tweeted more through Flipboard. I think it’s because of this I’ve had some random followers add me lately, such as “Communication News”.

Aside from being more engaged with the news, having the iPad has been a great convenience for other classes. In particular, for classes that have multiple PDF readings due on the same day, instead of printing out longer documents, I can just bring them up on the iPad. I’m still trying to figure out how to be able to take notes on the documents I’m viewing (i.e, having the ability to highlight or insert notes to areas right on the document), but I’m sure once I do that, my communities will be broadened even more by being able to better engage in my classes and the material.

The iPad has definitely altered my relationship with news and politics, because I am paying more attention. Is it necessary? Probably not, but then I also would not be as informed about the world around me, and as my dad says, “knowledge is power.” It’s definitely a powerful tool and I look forward to continuing to discover all that it has to offer over the course of the semester.

Debates Allow for Discussion to Enter Campaign

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Ben Zelmer

I do believe the debates matter for the process and outcome of the presidential election. Some of the post-debate coverage on cable news networks last night polled or interviewed previously undecided voters, and these reports often showed that voters were heavily influenced or had their minds made up by watching the debate. While some of this projection might be due to the media drawing responses out of voters or voters getting caught up in the immediate emotion brought on by the debate, I think the amount of discussion about the various issues and opinions shows that Americans do pay close attention to these debates and that not everyone has their mind unshakably made up going in. I am not sure how much statistical<code></code> voter swing will be linked to the debates, but I do think Americans factor them into their opinions. Much of the discussion from last night centered on who won the debate, but I believe there was significant worth in just having the candidates express their opinions and stances in each other’s presence. So much political campaigning is done through emotional statements and criticisms that do not allow the candidates to hear each other’s responses, and the debates allow voters to hear opinions, plans, and ideologies juxtaposed in a manner that provides some context for comparison. The candidates might not always respond directly to issues, and they often politicize statements, but at least there is some form of discourse going on. In this sense, debates can give voters a somewhat deeper understanding of pertinent issues and the differing opinions that surround those issues.

Debate On

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Caitlin

Many people may think that the debates no longer matter, especially with the proliferation of various other media sources that voters may refer to at any time, rather than tuning into the debates and listening to the, at times, painful discourse. However, I would argue that the debates are now more relevant than ever, as new forms of social media draw attention to them in unique ways. According to Beth Fouhy, a journalist for the Associated Press,last night’s debate drew 11.1 million comments on Twitter, making it the fourth most tweeted telecast of any kind. I do not know if the debates necessarily have huge power in swaying voters, but it is clear that they still have the power to garner the attention of large audiences. If any type of broadcast can incite that much buzz in a day and age when there are arguably more demands on our time and attention than ever before, I think that clearly indicates significance.

There are undeniably going to be voters who will vote along party lines regardless of what either candidate says in the debates or in any other media outlet. However, as more and more Americans are identifying as “independent” or “moderate,” a platform which requires both candidates to meet on an equal level is crucial. While maybe not deciding the votes of these middle-of-the-roaders, the event allows one to tune into issues regarding the election without the yammering of various political pundits – inevitably, that comes afterwards. Although Graber writes about the obvious issues in measuring media influence on viewers and readers,I would love to see even just self-assessments of the impact of the debates in the opinions of the viewers. Regardless, I think that viewers from all party affiliations continue to value this long-established tradition that allows for the presidential candidates to directly address us,the voters.

On-The-Fencers, Tune In

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Lauren

Do the debates matter? Why?

Short answer: Abolutely.

The debates offer candidates the space to showcase their ticket, defend their policies, and ultimately make themselves look better than their opponent. While this is broadcast nationwide, from the overwhelmingly red or blue states to the key swing states just the same, the real audience in mind is the voter whose choice has not been made yet. Just a month away from Election Day, time is ticking away for both Romney and Obama in their fight for the hearts of these on-the-fencers. A point that was clumsily made by Romney, but which both candidates are focusing in on, is that almost all of America’s mind seems to be made up about which vote they will cast. It makes sense to put those voters who are not in your favor on the back burner, because no matter how hard you try, they probably won’t vote for you anyway. Those supporting you going into the debates probably won’t sway either. Instead, focus on those voters, those states, who have not decided yet.

This is exactly what the mindset was last night (and still is) for both candidates. However, the two attacked this challenge in very different manners – and if it was not the approach that differed, the execution certainly did. As a first-time voter who is on the fence myself, it is clear to me which candidate came out on top. Hint: he’s got great hair and loves policy. One of the candidates maintained the upper hand, looked his opponent in the eye, and gave specifics. The other shifted when he spoke, searched for his words a bit too much, and gave the same sort of vague (albeit inspiring) ideals we’ve all heard before. Hint: he’s called the White House home for the past four years.

Many tune out the debates because they reinforce what they already knows out the candidates that they have chosen. The ones who benefit from them most (or at least the ones who should) are on-the-fence voters who will ultimately be the group who decides the outcome of this election. I certainly hope they tuned in last night, and will continue to for the upcoming debates.

Bureaucracy at its most public

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Luis

Just yesterday the country witnessed the 13th Presidential debate since the Kennedy-Nixon Debate in 1960. To the undecided voter, this is a chance to view if first hand how the nominees differ in positions. But to the decided voter this is merely a chance to bash on the opposed candidate. Is that really the case?

It seems that when the debates have come around, it is the decided voters who show more enthusiasm for the debates. It is like their “Jerry Springer”. But what about the undecided voters? If the debates are in place to help the undecided voters, why is there much less enthusiasm on their part? Because it is the decided voters that are more likely to actually view the debates, it seems useless to have them if their main purpose is to inform the undecided voter.

But is that really the case? The debates have become so engrained in the bureaucratic system, that their motive – while initially benevolent – has become a mere tool for candidates to show that if you speak with more assertion and poise, you can win the debate. Take yesterday’s debate. While Obama remained more factual, it was Romney’s assertive mannerism that helped him win the debate. Because of this I see no motive for the presidential debates. Not until the undecided voter shows more enthusiasm and actually pays attention to the debates, will the debates be remotely relevant.

But for the inebriation-seeking person, they can wholeheartedly say they watched the tetra-annual event along with the rest of politically-active population….while playing the “Debate Drinking Game.”

(Good-looking) Talking Heads

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Mike

Do the debates matter?
Absolutely they should matter. They’re based upon the idea of the Presidential candidates standing up in front of the American people and talking frankly about their stances in different issues. A way for the American people to connect directly with their potential political leaders, in a sort of proto-social media platform. Now, should they matter as much as they do? Absolutely not. The fact of the matter is that people judge the debaters primarily on looks, not necessarily policy – how they say what they say becomes at least as important. Let’s take a look at an example, published today by the Washington Post: The author, Mr. Nakamura, talks largely about how Obama’s performance today contrasted with the “sluggish” performance from last night. This is also quickly becoming an arguing point for Obama’s campaign, saying that “Romney may have won on style points”, but that his own arguments were more substantial. However, that doesn’t seem to matter, as the consensus is that Romney was the winner ( So if we’re primarily judging based on how they look, should these debates hold significant sway over public opinion? I would argue no. Furthermore, they only include the Democratic and Republican candidates. While those two parties certainly dominate the American political scene, they are not the end-all be-all. The Libertarian party, for one, has grown in strength in recent years. While they probably won’t win any time soon, it’s not unrealistic to imagine them splitting the Republican vote in the near future. Given that, it would be nice to see another candidate or two included. Considering these two things, I really don’t think these debates should be as significant to the Presidential race as they are. But, will I tune in next Thursday for Round 2? Probably.

Personality & Looks Is All We Want

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Clara

A strong showing in a debate can change the course of a presidential election.

But so can a poor one.

The oft-told story of how John F. Kennedy charmed the American public with his good looks and suave style does not go unaccompanied with recollections of Richard Nixon’s sweaty appearance. And after last night’s performance, Barack Obama will have to figure out how to escape his nickname “College Professor” and the adjectives describing his demeanor as “arrogant” and “distant.”

Some pundits are already dimissing the debate, arguing that Obama’s speaking style will hit home at the town hall debate in Kentucky next Thursday (Oct. 11). Others speculate that he can find success on his foreign policy record with a public that is not so receptive to upping military affairs as Mitt Romney’s rhetoric would suggest he’d do.

But for one whole week, negative coverage from what has been a largely sympathetic media will plague the Obama campaign. And this comes after weeks of battles on the mishandling of the Benghazi consulate attack.

Are the sweeping poll numbers in swing states enough to keep the Obama campaign afloat? Or will Romney close the gap over the next week, with the potential to see an upswing after the Vice Presidential debate? We all know what to expect from the unpredictable Joe Biden. But the eloquent, charming, home boy with a fake Ryan Gosling Twitter could put this election neck-in-neck with little time left before election day.

Looks and charm aren’t below us. We like a presidential team we can be proud of. Debate moments matter. And this one might just be the start of an entirely new race.

…Not In The Least

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Josh Roiland

The debates do not matter. They are, to use Daniel Boorstein’s term, a “pseudo event.” There is no new information presented during the debates. Rather, viewers simply watch a real-time drama of how well, or poorly, the two candidates are able to frame, shape, and highlight the plans they have for America, which they have been delivering speech after speech after speech about for the past six months.

Further rendering the debates both unnecessary, and unnecessarily dramatic, is social media and all of the various mobile devices that we used to stay connected. Worried about truth in advertising? Go to PolitiFact. Or Ad Hawk. Or SuperPacApp. All of the information and fact-checking is right there. And it can all be accessed via Twitter. But so of course, Twitter also offers us instantaneous reviews of the performance as well. Obama was stiff. Romney has a sense of humor. Bird Big just got fired. How does that help me become better informed about their political positions? Am I really to believe that after four years Obama does not have a plan? Should I be shocked that Romney operated with boardroom efficiency?

Beyond performance and personality, what do we really glean from the debates?
Go to their websites. Read their platforms. Cross-check their claims with the facts. Figure out what issues are most important to you and see where the candidates stand on the matter. Find a journalist you trust, and read her watchdog reports.

But, whatever you do, don’t go by what the candidates say in the debate…

The Need for Debate

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Meg

While the debates may not have a huge impact on the overall outcome of the presidential election, I believe that they matter very much. The debates are the one event where the American public gets the watch their leader, and potential new leader, be challenged on their policies and beliefs and provide support for their political point of view. In very few contexts is it appropriate to challenge the President about his particular stance on an issue or his progress as our leader. I found it fascinating to watch the two candidates finally address their policies and ideas straight to the American public.
The other reason I believe the debates are important is that they force the candidates to solidly explain the reasoning behind their political positions, and more importantly, their plans for change. While we can read about these things online and brush up on the facts, there is a certain effect if “hearing it from the horses mouth” that resinates strongly with me. The debates allow people to judge the demeanor, attitude, viewpoint and ideology of each candidate. This is especially important for undecided voters. Even for me, a decided voter, I found it extremely valuable to have the facts surrounding the most pertinent issues surrounding the debate (namely: the economy, health care, education) laid out by the men who will be in charge.
Overall, the debates require the candidates to stand up and account for their decisions. I believe it is a very valuable part of the election process. There is more the the race than deciding on a winner– it is a learning process that offers Americans a great opportunity to get involved in politics and their government, get educated on the issues, get motivated to vote and fight for the changes that they want to see in their country. The debate is a fantastic outlet for people to utilize when it comes to accomplishing these goals.

Why Debates Matter and Why They Don’t

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Ben Cooper

Depending on the measurement, debates don’t matter all that much. In a strict policy sense, debates don’t have a significant impact. Both candidates stand up to defend their own party platforms and stressing differences between the two choices. The debates are more of a venue to argue why the platform should appeal to a very broad public than one to shape policy or discuss the nuances of policies. This is evidenced by last night’s debate and its lack of attention to policy detail. Yes, candidates made claims as to what their policies can achieve but never seemed to emphasize how these results would be reached. In this sense, the candidates fail to explain their policies and open them up for public and expert criticism. Along the same lines, the debates don’t matter much because there is not much direct clash. Candidates criticize the other’s record or disagree about the results of actions the other might take but do not typically argue about ways to achieve results nor discuss alternative possibilities. Because of this, the debates fail to inform the public on issues that they need to know about, which are the policies behind the issues that they discuss.

That being said, debates and coverage of them do affect public opinion. Debates matter for shaping public opinion on issues that should not matter in an election. For example, the typical discussion about candidates after debates relates less to actual politics and more to personal characteristics of the candidates. Debate analysis revolves around a specific candidates overall charisma, likability, and even appearance. Coverage of the debate determines who “won” or “lost” a debate based on the candidates ability to convey his message and not based on the message itself. As Schudson noted, political coverage in the media tends to be more “game-focused” than policy- focused. The focus on personal characteristics and the game of politics is what drives political opinion in major elections. And this is why debates matter. The debates offer candidates an opportunity to show off their most charming and likable characteristics which will later be emphasized in the popular press.

It would be difficult to argue that an event with such a wide viewership is not significant since it serves a crucial role in shaping public opinion. But in a strict policy sense, the debates seem relatively insignificant in shaping the course of the country.

Obama vs. Romney

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Laura

Do the debates matter? And why or why not?

As I gathered some of the news stories circulating the Internet and newspapers this morning, as well as hearing what other friends and classmates had to say about the debate, an overwhelming amount believed it was Romney who won the debate hands down. “Romney was aggressive, while Obama looked down at his paper and smirked a lot” seemed to be a common theme of the debate news cycle this morning. However, was this just based off of looks, charm and personality? Or did people check facts and decide on a winner from the substance and their talking points?

At least for myself, I had to check myself from doing that last night. “Obama made sure to wear blue and Romney red” I thought! “Romney is really looking at Obama with care”, I would think. “Why is everyone on twitter being so mean about the moderator?” I asked some friends close by. With a debate such as this, with such large matters at to debate, it is easy to think of things such as the appearance of the debaters or the lighting on the stage. However one (definitely including myself) must remember to listen to the words of the two men one stage, and not only that, but also interpret these ideas and actions of the men onstage and think of the debate in terms of the larger picture.

Last night, Romney received a large (and much needed) boost from the debate which left many people wondering if Romney was the one. Who knows, if he can keep up this string of aggressive nature in the upcoming debates, this election may be on close terms in November. However, the general public should remember their voice in the election. While appearance may come as an important aspect of an American president, it does not stand alone as we vote for the hope of a better future for not only ourselves but for the American public as well.

Political science says no, but what about personal opinion?

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Signifigance by Meredith

This is one of the most controversial questions going into the debates- do they really matter? According to the Washington Post, they don’t. But according to my personal and political view, they do.

In a recent article I read in the Washington Post entitled “Do the political debates really matter? Political science says no” statistics show that the candidate going into the first debate with the higher percentage in the polls more commonly wins the election than the candidate in second place. Further within the article they stated only two years, 1980 and 2000, was the leader in the polls switch and nevertheless the leader after the first debate won the election. This is pretty convincing and heavy statistical evidence for why the presidential debates don’t matter, but what about personal evidence? Which is more convincing and which is more reliable?

Personally going into the debate I thought that Obama was the stronger and more passionately motivated candidate in the race. But after the debates, my opinion has been turned. Romney cam back fighting on almost every comment Obama had to make, never backing down even when it seemed as if Obama had the upper hand. Anyone would agree that in this debate Romney was fighting an uphill battle from the beginning which makes his strong performance even more impressive. Romney was solid in his claims, with specific statistics, anecdotes, and numbers to back him up. He even was able to bring up the point about Obama giving 90 billion dollars to green energy last year, which I’m sure many of the country wasn’t aware of. Romney was obviously prepared for this debate but not only in his appearance but in his background checks. He was educated upon Obama’s plans as well as his own, which I personally thought was very impressive.

Overall, I am more now enticed by Romney and his beliefs, his plan for the future, and what he would be like as president. So in hindsight does the debate change my vote? Not necessarily, no but it has changed my train of thought. So in reference back to the Washington Post, in my personal opinion the debate has made a difference in my mind, but has it in the nations? I guess only time will tell.

Of Emperors and Clothes

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Ben Cooper

Done in a twenty minute timed session for class, on an iPad.

Question: Do the debates matter?

The debates matter, though perhaps not to the degree that we have been led to believe. If nothing else, minimally, they have affected the ways parties perceive their potential candidates. The question of how well they’d do in a debate is one they hold important, and where there is such a belief the ponderous weight of factors follow. And when it comes down to it these factors, even minor ones, can have great effects. Not to mention that, as a spectacle, it too can draw crowds. And wayward American Studies students.

As to whether it sways people, gives them an eye into the candidate, it does to some degree. Public speaking can be taught but cannot really be faked. Debate skills again can be taught, but not necessarily faked. And while I might otherwise add discipline, such as that needed to stay within a time limit, is likewise, at last night’s debate we seemed to have none of that. The truth is that while most Americans get a good deal of their news by hearsay (“Obama Says Romney…”) via the news, or clips chosen by the same news, the debates are at least less filtered. While preparation is possible, I expect nothing said last night was ‘off the cuff’, it is still an indication of a personal skill. Not the most relevant one, perhaps, but a skill nonetheless.

But I cannot say that people take such debates seriously. Pollsters and politicos seem to think otherwise, and I can only muster a rational argument against them. Yet when the rational and empirical clash, the empirical usually wins. Still, one imagines it has at least had an effect on the candidates and how their parties choose them. No one wants to be Nixon, and if nothing else, our candidates seem to be getting handsomer, more photogenic. And if in no other way, that means they’re here to say, and be felt, in American elections.

The Importance of Image in Debates

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Malcolm

Debates matter. I would argue that it is not the material debated so much as how the candidates appear while debating. Since the advent of television and debates during Kennedy/Nixon, these events have become moments of likeability and image. Those who watch the debates are focused on how comfortable or how commanding each candidate looks up on stage. What they are saying is important but it is the same talking points and facts that the public hears during the entire campaign. This is a moment of live national exposure for each candidate. Reactions on twitter for last night’s debate were overwhelmingly aimed towards how Romney or Obama were being perceived. I believe that the debates are essentially a performance, acing your lines and handling yourself in a way that can benefit your image as a knowledgable, confident leader. This is something the public reacts strongly to. The debates may not reveal anything important or novel within each candidate’s policy, ideology, or plans but it still remains an important force on the road to the White House. Candidates can really define themselves during these moments and at other times, they can see their unraveling. Should these debates matter for more intellectual reasons? Probably but in this visual media that focuses on the horse race and campaign strategy, image reigns. And the debates set a perfect stage for the public to see how each candidate conducts himself in a national event. It is not about what they are saying. It’s about how they are saying it.

Debates Matter for the Undecided

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate Significance by Laura

I was really frustrated last night while watching the debates.

I was doing layout in the Observer office while it was on, so while I saw the whole thing, it was more background noise than my primary focus. However, I did try to pay attention as much as possible, and the pieces that I picked up were kind of frustrating. I’m not going to pretend to have an in-depth understanding of all that was debated last night, but what stood out to me the most was that the candidates were often indirect and extremely vague in their responses. Rather than giving any concrete information about what their own plans were, they sought every opportunity to knock their opponent’s plans.

Debates matter only to the extent that the audience (in this case, the whole country) has not yet decided their stance. I doubt that many people who had already had preconceived notions about who they were voting for changed their minds last night. The purpose of the debates are to persuade those who are undecided. So long as there are undecided voters who actually care about voting, debates matter. They might not provide the most information at the end of the night, but they certainly have an impact on those who have not yet made up their minds.

Debates also create watchdog journalism, and journalism in general. It was incredible how many stories were breaking AS the debate was going on. Twitter exploded with politics. The commentary surrounding the debates are equally as important because this commentary will also serve to persuade undecided voters. This raises the question of how biased the commentary can and should be. It goes back to wondering what kind of journalism the public needs. It is clear that the public needs journalism in order to digest the debates, but it is important for those reporting to separate fact from skewing the reporting to be in the best interest of the reporters.

So, overall, do debates matter? Yes. But not to the extent that they may be made out to matter.

Likability for a New Reason

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Lauren

​News coverage of the Presidential race, especially over the past few weeks in the wake of Romney’s 47% comment, has been buzzing with criticism on Romney’s demeanor. The general consensus seems to be that Romney is robotic, detached, callous, with no empathy for the non-millionaire masses, etc etc. Where Obama has secured a place in American hearts, despite his record and promises left unfulfilled in his presidency, Romney is sorely lagging. As Kathleen Parker points out in her article entitled “The Likability Trap” for the Washington Post, “One of the great fallacies of politics – and life – is that one must be liked to be effective…’Like me, please’ has become the operative prerogative of campaigns”. Arguably, the extent to which a candidate is supported by the American public is influenced more by the “warm fuzzies” the public gets from them, and less so by the candidates’ policies.

No doubt Obama knows there is virtually no competition in the “likability” department – the press is overwhelmingly behind him, and his campaign has zeroed in on this. When asked to present his stance on Social Security and Medicare, allotted only two minutes (one of many time constraints which were largely disregarded by both candidates), Obama devoted a significant portion of his time to a personal anecdote about his grandmother. Rather than defend and explain his policies, Obama focused on a story that tugged at heartstrings, drawing the audience in by the intimacy of this story.

Light on the facts, with a side order of mushy, please.

This was no accident – Obama has a team of very smart, strategic campaign managers (as does Romney, I am sure). No doubt he anticipated this question and honed in on the personal, because that’s what resonates with the American public.

If Romney’s main concern going into the debate was winning over those voters who are still on the fence, I think he did a fantastic job, appearing to have the upper hand in most portions of the debate. As one political analyst pointed out in the commentary immediately following the debate, this “close race just got closer”.

As far as “likability” goes, Romney made a few plucks at our American heartstrings, which were feeble at best and potentially offensive at worst. His “Joe the Plumber” anecdotes from the campaign trail seemed more like one-liners thrown into his responses because his campaign manager told him so than heartfelt stories. And his slip-up of referring to underprivileged children as “poor kids” did absolutely nothing to help his callous image – I can just see the advocacy groups’ criticisms now…

However, any doubts about Romney based on personality that on-the-fencers may have had before tonight, in my opinion, should be eclipsed by his clarity, honesty, and justification of policies – the hard facts that Obama seems to have simply left out. Whether Obama wiggled around these details in regards to his own policies, or his defense of them was just not as strong as Romney’s I couldn’t really say. But it is clear that Romney’s frank, direct, candid manner of speaking about his policies closed the “likability” gap considerably tonight.

Only time will tell if this will be enough for Mitt Romney, or if President Obama will see another term.

Debate + Twitter= Political Overload

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Meg

While the debate is always interesting to watch, this time around I had a much different experience because I chose to simultaneously look at my Twitter feed while watching the debate. Because I use my twitter account to follow mostly political news organizations and journalists, the feed blew up during the debate—everyone had a comment to share and Twitter is the perfect outlet on which to do so. In 140 characters or less people shared opinions, reactions, corrections to the many facts spewed off by candidates, and cracked humorous jokes. Using Twitter transformed my experience of watching the debate. While I still had my own personal reactions to what the candidates were saying, I was also reacting to the things other people were constantly posting on Twitter, and it became a little bit of a political overload.

I was most surprised at the speed in which people’s reactions were posted. Live tweeting was taken to a whole new level—quotes by Obama seemed to be shared before he even finished talking! Forget minute-by-minute journalism, this was news second by second. The benefit was that no part of the debate went uncovered. The downside: the information was hard to keep up with and quickly became overwhelming. Because there were such a multitude of organizations and individuals throwing in their two cents the commentary piled up and quickly became out of control.

However, following organizations such as politifact allowed me to look at the debate in a different light. Instead of taking the candidates words and facts at face value, I really learned how they were framing the issues and at times giving impressions of their positions on issues that didn’t necessarily reflect the truth.

Overall, making use of Twitter during the debate enhanced my understanding of what the politicians were talking about and inspired me to come up with my own opinions about the things they were saying.

My take? Romney clearly dominated, coming in from the beginning with strong answers and relentless support for his position. He did not back down but rather overwhelmed the incumbent president with his background knowledge, statistics, and zingers. Obama’s performance was disappointing; he failed to present his point of view with the confidence that Americans want to see in their leader.  However, the one area where he dominated was that he talked straight to the American people while Romney sometimes lost the audience with strings of facts and history that confused more than they helped. Obama was able to give clear answers and plans that outline success for the future. I would have liked to see him bring up more of the positive progress he has made in the last four years and touch on the issues that could have challenged Romney a little bit more. Unfortunately, he stumbled over his words and seemed to lack a clear train of thought. Romney’s performance showed America that he is still a viable candidate for the 2012 race.

One thing is for sure: the debate shook things up and made for a much more interesting race in the months ahead. Watching it with the iPad in front of me made for a much clearer understanding of the issues and positions of the candidates. I look forward to watching the next debates and seeing how they factor into the results of November’s presidential election.

What Was Left Lingering

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Ben Zelmer

Many topics and nuanced issues were covered during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, and I had some trouble keeping up with the pace of the discourse and understanding all the details of the issues that candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney discussed. In reviewing the debate in my mind, I think some of the biggest takeaways may have come from things the candidates did not say or address, or issues that they let linger. Both Obama and Romney left me with lingering questions about their economic plans, and I wonder if journalists may be most helpful in investigating and reporting on these lingering issues.

For Barack Obama, one important issue that I think he left unaddressed was the notion that his health care plan, popularly known as “Obamacare,” will deliver a significant financial blow to small businesses and damage job growth. In the debate’s segment on health care, Romney was adamant that Obamacare would severely hurt job growth, and I do not remember Obama ever addressing this claim. I think that this may say that Obamacare’s effect on job growth and small businesses may be one of its most glaring problems, and Obama should respond in detail to this issue if he hopes for the public to gain greater faith in his health care plan.

As for Mitt Romney, I felt that he never showed enough specific evidence to show that he had a specific plan for reforms that he would enact to decrease the federal debt and bring positive change to other government operations. On multiple occasions, Obama criticized Romney for not having a specific plan in terms of cuts and changes he would implement in the federal budget and in federal regulations. Romney often responded by saying that he actually did have a plan, or by saying that he couldn’t offer a cut and dry plan right now because he would work on a bipartisan basis to craft specific details. While I think Romney made a strong point in identifying the need to work with both parties to craft specific plans, I think he also should have offered more specific details of cuts and changes he would propose. It’s difficult for voters to simply take him at his word that he will have a focused strategy and plan to make improvements once he is elected. However, Romney could have offered more specifics in past interviews or settings that I missed, and I will be interested to see if more of his specific ideas are revealed in future debates.

It is often difficult to tell who makes the most salient points during political debates, and I think paying attention to important details that the candidates do not address can reveal the critical areas in which candidates need to shore up ideas or clarify their stance or strategy to the public. Hopefully some of the problematic narratives in regards to certain issues that were played out in this first debate will be addressed in future debates and be discussed further by the news media.

The Inevitable Appearance Evaluation

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Meredith

“OMG Obama is so cute.” “Ew why does Romney have that look on his face.” These are some of the common comments heard while watching the presidential debate among my fellow hall mates in the basement of Walsh Hall. I will admit, all of my hall mates are women, so these type of responses could be only from women. But as the debate continued I got a text from my father saying, “Obama almost arrogant in look.”

What does this say about the people I was in contact with during the debate? Possibly that they are shallow and only focused on appearances, but possibly that apparences, or how a candidate portrays themselves really does matter. An article I read prior to the debate tweeted by Ezra Klein called Do Presidential Debates usually Matter? Political Science says No. states good looking candidates usually benefit more from debates. Even though this fact may be true, I believe that how candidates portray through their appearance matters more. Noting and judging appearance is not a indication of un-intelligence, yet merely a characteristic of human nature. We are trained everyday to notice and recognize people by their physcial appearance and outward personality, so why wouldn’t we apply this common notion to the presidential debate? Nevertheless, policy still stands as the most important evaluation of a debate, but the fact that appearances matter is unavoidable, even for the most intelligent scholar. So whether you like an appearance of a pompous asshole or the appearance of a down to earth working man, the bottom line is that you like an appearance.

Overall, as much as we hate to admit it, appearances matter. They matter whether for judging for attractiveness or just plain likeability, and even at an institution such as Notre Dame, we cannot escape it.

Tie Color, Anniversary Wishes, and Big Bird – Oh My!

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Caitlin

My first major point of concern as the debate began was curiosity regarding whether the Republican candidate always wears a red tie and the Democratic candidate always wears a blue tie. Clearly I was not the only viewer to ever question this, as there were a myriad of articles about tie color choice in the Republican primaries. However, this speculation could merely be indicative of the lack of newsworthy material in the political aspect of the primary debates. Regardless, in case you, too, wondered about tie colors, here are some references: or

My unabashed contribution to the consumption of soft news aside, before the debate opened, Jim Lehrer stated the fact that average citizens submitted questions for the debate via the Internet. This indicates how very important what we do in this class is, because new forms of technology and communication are increasingly becoming integrated with traditional forms, such as the long-established presidential debate.  The fact that he was the ultimate decision maker in what questions would be presented mirrored the relationship of the public with the media.  While the public has an influential role in driving the kind of stories that are widely presented in the media, journalists and editors have the ultimate power to determine what goes to print or broadcast, informing viewers and readers across the nation.

As the debate opened, Obama acknowledged his wife and his anniversary; I questioned how this would be received.  Obama was really in a no-win position, as if he acknowledged it, it could easily be seen as corny or a ploy to pull at the heart strings of the viewers. However, if he had chosen not to acknowledge it, he could have been regarded as cold.  Ultimately, I think he handled it well, as did Romney who took the opportunity to congratulate Obama, while also infusing a little humor into what would otherwise be a serious evening of policy discussion.

The debate itself was expected, talking points and memorized facts galore. I was surprised by what seemed to me to be a lack of energy and eloquence in Obama, who normally dominates in these arenas.  Overall, Romney appeared to have more concrete plans for his potential presidency, supported with strong facts, which I think was crucial for him being that he has been criticized for just glossing over issues and being a “flip-flopper.”  However, I am looking forward to the fact checks that will surely come today to see whether the facts from both sides of the aisle hold water.  Do I think either candidate blew the other out of the water? No, but I do think that Romney was at least able to ignite some fire in his campaign. The one thing I can be sure of is that I never thought I would hear the words “I love Big Bird,” in a presidential debate. So thank you for that, Romney.

Tennis Match of Wit For One

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Clara

Just when you thought you were going to steal all of the spotlight for your unexpected performance at the first presidential debate…

I’mma let you finish. No, no, Mitt Romney, really, go ahead and finish.

You too Barack, you three extra minutes refuter.

Jim Lehrer happens and leaves the world scratching their heads wondering “But they never answered your questions. Why did you not follow up?”

Apparently Lehrer and Obama pregamed the event with NyQuil because really, Mitt was the only one who showed up. And thank goodness too, because the party started about five months ago and he’s just now making an appearance.

Mitt Romney owned that debate and there’s just no two ways about it.

He armed himself with specifics and called out Obama when he wasn’t presenting any. Sure, Obama started out with a cute but terribly irrelevant anniversary wish to his wife, but Romney’s first answer listed what he planned to do to create jobs while managing to work in an anecdote about a struggling single mother. Game.

Romney knew what he wanted. He wanted Obama to apologize for the last four years. Obama didn’t have to say “I’m sorry” for that to come out, because he was on the defensive for the majority of the debate. Oh, and somehow Romney managed to call him out for not offering plan specifics – Lehrer’s job – and really, I liked his spunk and audacity for doing so. Ooh, did I just grant him likability and turn Obama’s word against him? Set.

It’s probably here that I should let everyone know that I am an undecided voter in a state where my vote counts. I’m also an absentee voter with my ballot in my room, so I could vote any time I please. There, loaded gun on the table. But in this debate it’s time to move on from the economy – no thanks to Lehrer’s inability to get his questions in – and onto the Affordable Care Act, more fondly known by both parties now as “Obamacare.” Here’s my paraphrased transcript:

Romney: The ACA costs more. You are forced to limit yourself to the treatments they tell you you can have. Businesses say it makes them less likely to hire employees. We should be crafting plans in a bipartisan fashion at the state level where they know what their individual state needs.

Obama: We protect you from insurance companies. This is the same plan Romney enacted in Massachusetts. Everyone can get covered, no restrictions.

Romney: I already said you need to do it at the state level. Also, you can’t work in a bipartisan fashion. I can and I did.

Obama: (Fill in random facts about the benefits of the ACA)

No one expected Mitt Romney to win this debate. Not really. But hey, he managed to turn an issue he was flip-flopping on just months ago and turn it against Obama. And he made me believe it. And I didn’t before.


Why I Pad

Posted on October 4, 2012 in iPad by Clara

The public’s demand for instantaneous news, commentary and sources has led journalism to take hold of social media and run. Journalists often acknowledge that they interact with one another on Twitter far more than they do with the public. More than interacting, though, they compete. The first to have the story and tweet it, wins.

It follows then that journalists need constant connection to the web. They need it to check facts, to log stories on their respective sites, and, of course, to disseminate their findings through social media. As a journalism student, understanding the process of journalism and having the ability to track it as it happens provides invaluable insight into how news is reported and why the story never seems to be complete. The iPad fosters this kind of learning through apps like Flipboard to keep on-the-go students always plugged in.

From the first “BREAKING” tweet to the publication’s headline and link, the facts inevitably change. Of particular relevance is this summer’s CNN & Fox News flop when the two outlets proclaimed that the United States Supreme Court overturned the Affordable Care Act under the logic that the individual mandate was unconstitutional. We now know that Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion was that the individual mandate as a penalty was unconstitutional but as a tax was a reasonable exercise of the United States Congress’ powers under the commerce clause. But at the time, viewers watching the two sources had the wrong facts, all because of the desire to have the story first, a preference that results from the use of social media and smart technology.

This summer I was able to follow the Supreme Court ruling on my iPad while also watching CNN and it was enlightening to be able to watch the various media outlets flounder on their Twitter feeds and live broadcasts. I have had an iPad since March 2011 and I have found it an invaluable resource in my work as a journalist and as a student. As a journalist, I appreciate the connection it gives me when I am out and about (I do not have a smart phone). As a student, it enables me to stay connected as news breaks between class periods and to view the stories of multiple news sources at once, instead of flipping through stacks of newspapers or PIP on my TV (I don’t have PIP anyway).

While I don’t think that smart technology is crucial for the everyday public to remain informed, I think that there is a world people are closed off to when they don’t use it simply because so many have chosen to join that public. The iPad will help us to understand that public – even if we don’t plan to permanently be a part.

The Other Pad

Posted on October 4, 2012 in iPad by Luis

What has the iPad done for me?

When the device first emerged, only jokes came to mind. I’m sure we’ve all heard them. But little did I realize the convenience it would bring to my life as a university student.
Even before I received it I bragged about being in one of the few classes at ND that gets an iPad. “Guess what? I get an iPad for one of my classes!” My friends were jealous. But my excitement was merely because of the brand, not necessarily the device. Then the day came where I received my first pad – or tablet device, you decide what to call it. I was like a kid again opening my new Power Ranger toy – being that I was poor growing up I always got the knock-off, so you can imagine my excitement when I got this name-brand item.

After receiving it, I immediately searched for any app that even remotely interested me. From angry birds to PDF Notes, each app I could apply to school work, if not leisure. Since receiving it I have essentially transferred my being as a student into this device. My environmentalist side appreciates the paperless annotations; my nurturing side appreciates the Skype sessions with friends and family; my [Notre Dame] student side appreciates that I don’t have to look like the hunchback – pun intended – every time I walk with my backpack on because of my laptop. My back appreciates the latter as well.

Above the convenience, it has allowed me to be an overall better student. I am more organized and efficient with my time and work. It will be a shame when I have to return the iPad at the end of he semester. I might just have to save up to buy my own.

Romney – 1 Obama – 0

Posted on October 4, 2012 in Debate 1 by Malcolm

It was clear in the first 5 minutes and it was clear in closing statements. Mitt Romney came to play ball. He came ready to impress, looking to ace a job interview. He was crisp, he was clear. Obama, on the other hand, seemed mentally out of shape, years removed from his last debate. 15 minutes in and the President’s body language was already suggesting “Oh crap, I never actually studied for this”. Romney leaned into the debate while President Obama sat back. Twitter noticed too. Tweet polling by major news outlets such as Washington Post, ABC News and New York Times revealed an overwhelming consensus. Romney was running away with it.
To be fair, the live fact-checking showed a different debate, where Romney was losing…by a landslide. But therein lies the problem. Mr. Romney was on stage throwing out numbers, avoiding his plan details, and wrongly accusing the President but all Obama could muster was his same talking points, lauding his own plans. It was weak, it was passive and it was uninspired.
The debate itself has been receiving mixed reviews. NBC anchor Robert Costa enjoyed the minimal presence of moderator of Jim Lehrer. Others, like myself, found it wonky. Romney looked like a bully, talking over Lehrer the entire time. And Obama began taking chips at Lehrer for his lack of moderation skills (“I had 5 seconds before you interrupted me”). Maybe it was Lehrer’s fault, maybe it was Romney being overconfident, either way it hurt the structure of the debate, allowing Romney much more air time and a repetitive cadence of stances. The one bright spot? The awkward mention by Romney on his plan to cut The PBS budget and his silly way to patch it up: “I love Big Bird”. Lies. Well we all know who Big Bird is voting for.
In the end I think Political Wire’s own Taegan Goddard summed the debate up correctly – “Obama missed a big chance tonight. While the fact-checkes may ultimately side with the President in the end, Romney did a better job”

Cape Cod Wedding Announcements vs. Connecticut- Difference?

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Wedding Announcements by Meredith

The two different newspapers I chose wedding announcements from were the Cape Cod Times, and the Hartford Courant. I decided to choose these two different papers because I live in Cape Cod during the summers and my home resident is in Essex CT, which is close to Hartford. These, other than the major newspapers such as New York Times and smaller news sources such as my local newspaper, are the only papers I have read consistently throughout my life. As I began to navigate their websites, I noticed the uncanny similarity between the two newspapers, especially within the wedding announcements. The formats were even similar. Both of the websites’ wedding announcement sections were “powered” by, which I furthered investigated to be the leading provider of obituaries to online newspaper sites all over the country. has also expanded their horizons to not only obituaries but also to general announcements, such as engagements, births and weddings. Based on a format assessment alone, I was able to judge that both of these newspapers and their wedding announcement sections in particular are similar. This means they are targeting a similar audience, an audience capable of using a search engine such as to find wedding announcements.
But within the content of the wedding announcements alone these two newspapers are similar as well. Both the bride and the groom on the entire first page of wedding announcements on both websites were middle age, white, Caucasian, and straight. This rules out the fact that these type of newspapers are targeting gay audiences, inner city, mostly black, audiences, and poorer audiences. Wedding announcements are a function within the newspaper for pure entertain of the people reading the article. Entertainment within the announcement section serves through readers reacting to exciting news of people like them, or people they might know. So if newspapers publish all white, all middle income, all straight, type of couples, these are the types of people they think their audiences will connect to, or possibly know. Why would a newspaper audience be interested in a wedding announcement of a couple that their readers cannot connect to? They wouldn’t. And this is why wedding announcements in both the Cape Cod Times and the Hartford Courant tell us that these are the type of people newspapers are targeting.

Cheers to Kathleen Parker

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Lauren

Throughout the course of this semester, I have solidified my belief that journalism cannot and should not try to always be objective. Pulitzer Prize winner Kathleen Parker champions this view in many of her weekly columns we took a look at this week. Her take on the news in general, as well as the public’s understanding of the events going on and the major actors who affect them, is refreshing, frank and candid. To say the Parker’s style of writing is unique is an understatement. In a media world so bogged down by constant, superficial reports presented as a series of facts mixed with commentary, Parker’s articles offer a rational, encompassing yet simple look at what is happening in our world.

This simple and informative tone that Parker takes is perhaps best exemplified in the article about Romney’s recent 47% comment, entitled “Cyborg Mitt Speaks Out.” In this article, she addresses the callous comment made by Romney, with a nod to people’s frustrations with his character in general. However, rather than simply berating Romney for the duration of the article, as many others have done, and continue to do, Parker takes a step back and adds a healthy dose of reality and perspective to the conversation. She tells us, “What he meant was he doesn’t plan to focus [campaign] resources on voters who will never embrace his message.” She further goes on to say, “If only Cyborg Mitt had said it this way,” writing an eloquent, relatable and understandable paragraph, both explaining what he meant by the comment in a more tactful manner, while addressing plans to help those dependent on welfare for the future – the unspoken other half of what Romney meant.

Kathleen Parker seems to be the candid, passionate, and informative sort of journalist I have been searching for this semester. Her topics range from the personal to the highly political, all the while remaining understandable and engaging. Salud, Ms. Parker.

What a Difference Apps can Make

Posted on October 2, 2012 in iPad by Meredith

In high school and for my first year of college, I will honestly say I mostly used my iPad for Facebook and Netflix. And even though I still use my iPad for Netflix and Facebook, I now rely on it for the news as well. But the truth of why I only used my iPad as a fun device before this class is because I never really knew it could be used for much more. I always believed that the apps in the realm of learning would cost money, money I didn’t want to spend, and frankly didn’t have. But this class has opened my eyes to see a new side of the iPad. The side of the iPad marketed in commercials as the everyday and everywhere device.
Before, trying to find all my news on a computer constituted searching through New York Times, scrolling through twitter, and checking Facebook pages of ABC, CBS and other major networks. But now it’s all in the same place. Flipboard, which I believe as one of the greatest apps for news, filters my twitter and Facebook feed into one, combined with cover stories of the day and popular news. “Settle It” allows me to catch up on the political colloquy I never fully understood. While always noticing that Obama’s Health Care bill was a great debate in the presidential election, all of the news articles I came upon about it were about whether or not people were in favor of it, not what it was about. “Settle It” allowed me to comprehend what this bill was made of and how it will effect the people. Not only is the iPad great for political news, but it also allows me to compress all of my sports news into one click of an app rather than searching through endless blogs and websites. Bleacher report allows the reader to choose which specific sports and which specific teams they want to show up on their news feed. All of these apps and many more enhance my learning experience in the news today.
As a general statement, using my computer to find news always seemed like a task, yet on the iPad, apps allow me to find the news I want to find in a more efficient manner. I believe that learning an effective way to encounter news is one of the most important lessons one could give to an aspiring journalist.

A new way to carry news

Posted on October 2, 2012 in iPad by Laura

When I first heard about the iPad becoming a new staple of apple products, I wondered why this was a necessary machine. So many people already have desktops or laptops or both, and the iPhone had already made it’s way into the hands of many people around the world. The iPhone had everything you needed and it was the size of a pack of gum too! Why would people need that in the size of tablet? I thought this way about the iPad for a while, up until this past summer. I started to changed my opinion when my friend purchased an iPad for school. Actually seeing her use the iPad made it so much more impressive to me. It was so simple for her to use, and she was able to use many apps for school, as well as her own personal use. I was impressed by the impressive visual nature of the tablet, as well as the number of apps which were useful to my friend in her school life, as well as her everyday life.

After being told we would be getting apps for the class, I was pretty excited about this prospect, and now, with a few weeks of experience with the iPad, I feel as though my interaction with the news has become even better. Walter Lippmann, in his piece, “The Nature of News” writes, “All the reporters in the world working all the hours of the day could not witness all the happenings in the world.” However, with the iPad and its many apps, an average person can get pretty close to encountering many news stories of the day. My experience with the news has been greatly enhanced with the Flipboard app. I, like many people I know, enjoy the feeling and organization of newspapers and magazines. Although a completely different feel to it, I do enjoy the organization of Flipboard to be similar to that of a magazine. Not only that, but it also allows for me to follow my favorite news sites and commentators and updates the stories whenever I open the app. It has allowed for such an ease of participation and knowledge of news stories that I feel as though would not have been as easy with a laptop.

Honesty in Journalism

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Laura

Kathleen Parker has a sure amount of style and voice when it comes to her pieces in the Washington Post. She brings a lot of honesty to the table, and it makes for a sure set of intersecting articles for the reader. She not only challenges people in her articles who work at the public sphere, such as Romney, Obama, their wives, and other political figures; she also challenges the reader with their own actions and thought processes.

Parker will be here on Thursday, talking about the news in an age of twitter and social media. When I first signed up for twitter about a year ago, I worried about one main thing. I thought people would judge me for having a twitter and being too self-involved, and in particular I thought older people would just see me as another example of a younger generation, who only cares for their own life and self. Parker mentions this aspect of narcissism in The likability trap’ when she writes, “This ridiculous matrix for assessing a candidate’s qualifications for office is the inevitable offspring of the cultural coupling of narcissism and attention-deficit disorder, otherwise defined as an inability to think for more than two minutes about anything more complicated than oneself.” In this piece she writes about the apparent importance of likability in a presidential candidate, and I thought it was such an interesting quote just because it made me as a reader think about my own thoughts on this topic. And paired with my own narcissistic tendencies due to Facebook or twitter, I thought this quote to be a little true. However, with this new use of twitter for use of the news, I believe twitter can actually help people to care more about others and the news, if they use twitter in the right way. I suppose we will have to hear from Ms. Parker herself on this matter.

Kathleen Parker: A Recess from the Normal

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Malcolm

To put it simply, Kathleen Parker rubbed me the wrong way. I understand that opinion columns must be taken with a grain of salt but the triviality of Parker’s subjects overwhelmed me. I couldn’t find any importance attached to the appeal to men in Michelle Obama’s speech and there was nothing new or novel being expressed in her assessment of the “likability trap” of politics. The likability factor has been around for awhile and she writes about it as if she is condemning some major social problem that has only recently developed. And don’t get me started on the Notre Dame piece.
There were points at which I agreed with her but even then I found myself asking “Who cares?” Her voice is clear and her opinions are strong but they carry no weight. It was like hearing the ramblings of my abrasive friend at 2 a.m. Op-eds are a curious aspect of the news. There is a presence of voice and a blatant bias but the authors somehow maintain credibility as well as an audience. I do enjoy reading them every once in awhile. But Kathleen Parker didn’t connect with me.
As Sharon Grigsby points out in a comment about Parker, “She’s an independent thinker and her viewpoint is often so fresh and original, you can’t help but be moved even when you disagree”. I think Grigsby is right when she points out the unpredictability of Kathleen Parker. My opinion is that it hurts her credibility. There is no pattern, no support to her thoughts. They seem random, disjointed even. The points she makes can be clearly argued but she moves forward with a defiant march.
However, even with my disagreements on everything she writes I have to respect her. The provocative language and style does move me, even if it is in the wrong direction. She is humorous and entertaining and I get lost in the piece, trying to figure my way through her “interesting” rhetoric. And maybe that is the role of opinion pieces. To get the readers’ blood flowing during an otherwise uneventful and plain reading of the news. In a world of objectivity and professionalism Kathleen Parker seems to be a break from that monotony. In my mind it is comparable to the child who is kept inside all day by his overprotective, anxiety-ridden, germaphobic parents and his sudden cry of freedom when he escapes to the backyard to play in the mud. Maybe it’s dirty, maybe he gets hurt but it is important for him to experience that exposure.

Parker: How much involvement is too much?

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Laura

I really thought that Parker’s column, ‘Introducing President MSNBC’ was so relevant to everything we’ve been discussing in class. She crafted her piece in such a cheeky but informative way, and really conveyed how the media may perhaps be too involved in modern day politics.
This coincides with what Schudson discusses — how much media does the public need, and when does the media blur the line between reporting news and shaping a political scene? Parker would probably argue that media, in particular MSNBC, has their own political agenda in mind a bit too much when they go about reporting. It’s very telling when reporting figures are more sought-out by the public than the candidates themselves.
It is also good that Parker defends opinion columnists, because she is right; it is their job to have an opinion. But it is not EVERYONE’s job to have an opinion; some people should just report. Her quote, “What is not counted on by casual consumers is the merging of a television personality’s politics and the viewer’s understanding of the world.” This one sentence accurately sums up what Schudson talks about when he questions what kind of journalism the public needs, and what can go wrong when things are reported in an inaccurate or an improper way.

Openness and Broad Perspective in Kathleen Parker’s Columns

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Ben Zelmer

I found all of Kathleen Parker’s columns to be engaging and enlightening, and her ability to address a wide variety of issues in a style that is both lively and serious is impressive and encouraging. We have discussed extensively how it is impossible for journalists to be completely objective or unbiased, and Parker embraces this notion with her columns, but she at the same time offers smart and balanced analysis that is driven by a desire to contribute to public discussion and welfare rather than a stubborn ideology. Parker is very skilled at drawing lessons of morality and responsibility out of the most salient current events, and also from her own important personal experiences.

In her coverage of the current presidential election, Parker sharply critiques elements of both candidates and parties, and points out serious issues that confront the American public at large. She evaluates Mitt Romney as being too engrossed with the mechanics of winning an election rather than being dialed in to the needs of American citizens, and identifies MSNBC’s “unapologetically pro-democratic, pro-Obama” coverage as an example of problematic television news media that fails to deliver impartial information and coverage to citizens that need it. Also, Parker’s piece on the American public’s infatuation with personality and “likability” in evaluating the presidential candidates is a powerful reminder that public policy issues, and not self-promotion, are what should drive political debates and elections.

I was perhaps most struck by Parker’s column on the issues surrounding President Obama’s stance on abortion and his visit to Notre Dame as a commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient. In discussing an issue that is both controversial and highly significant to different groups and individuals in different ways, Parker illuminates the importance of appreciating different interpretations and points of view, referencing novelist and physician Walker Percy’s statement that “one kind of truth” should never “[prevail] at the expense of another.” In a world where opinions can be extremely divisive, Parker reminds us that keeping an open mind is often the most important step in moving toward solutions and agreements. This message of tolerance and open-mindedness may signify what especially makes Parker’s columns strong, helpful, and engaging.

Does the iPad have a distinct niche?

Posted on October 2, 2012 in iPad by Ben Zelmer

As someone who has never used an iPad before this semester, I am still trying to figure out exactly how a tablet device fits into my daily schedule, habits for media interaction, and means for consuming news and information. The iPad is very useful in that it packages many significant capabilities into an easily portable device, yet at the same time I have not solidly identified distinct ways and times in which I would use my iPad instead of my laptop. I feel at times like I am experiencing “technology overload” with so many means and sources by which to access news and information.

I want to first make clear, however, that I really enjoy having an iPad at my disposal. “Apps” can be really cool and useful in that they let you jump quickly to a specific source, utility, or category of information, and many apps pull stories and features from a variety of media outlets, which allows you to obtain an overview of relevant news in a minimal search time. The number and variety of apps available for download is tremendous, and I have found some apps related to personal interests that are often fun and helpful to have handy. The iPad also has fairly high-quality camera and film features, and these can be nice to have in a portable device. Aside from the nice leisure features, the apps on the iPad do allow me to access news in a sometimes quicker, more direct, and comprehensive fashion.

At the same time, I feel that the majority of the basic functions I perform on my iPad can also easily be done on my laptop. While apps on the iPad are often useful in that they are quicker to access and use, the information itself can still be accessed fairly easily on my computer, and sometimes I feel like I have two devices that serve largely the same purpose. With a portable device like the iPad, I think it has the potential to set an internal expectation for the consumer to constantly be looking up and taking in news and information. Similar to how Lippmann expressed concern that the amount of news was becoming too big for the public to absorb and interpret, the iPad presents so many capabilities and so much news that it can be a bit overwhelming to try to harness its full potential. The iPad has a wonderful interface and presents many terrific opportunities, but sometimes it feels like there is just not enough time in a day to utilize the iPad to a great extent. The iPad does present me with many great new ways to access news, but it sometimes feels like it is a bit unnecessary for me as well.

Opinions of Rightness

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Ben Cooper

I have opinions, lots of them, on all sorts of things, from why Brazilian industrialization is lagging behind its predicted standards to how the game went last Saturday. I like talking, debating, and expressing these opinions, and this is why columnists always confound me. The fact there is a market for people to state their opinions, whereby you have no recourse or action but to take it in, has always struck me as odd. I have always wondered if people adopt the opinions themselves, thus surrendering part of their thinking to another, or if they do so to test their own thoughts on the matter against someone who, at least in theory, is seasoned. The latter I can at least partially understand, for in theory these are wise people, but the former seems undue surrender to me.

To extend this to a discussion of news generally, opinion pieces are pure interpretation. While they may contain facts, their purpose is not to provide those facts but opinions and analyses. This, I believe, places them squarely outside the definition of news, but that does not make them worthless. Analysis can serve as a textbook and whetstone, allowing people to see how analysis is done, see conclusions others draw, and finally to test their opinions against it and thus become sharper and more aware of a wider variety of thoughts. While one’s opinion must remain one’s own unless they wish to surrender sovereignty to some figure, whether politician or prophet or columnist, the opinions of a person who never contacts opposing thoughts becomes inbred in its ignorance.

As to the actual columns here, they’re interesting and right of center, but in general that seems a relatively safe position. Perhaps that is why they are popular, through mass appeal. After all, mildly conservative opinions are less likely to offend than mildly liberal ones, for while mild liberal ones call for small changes mildly conservative ones usually call for none. This is perhaps best exemplified in “The Principle at Stake at Notre Dame” where she basically avoids condemning abortion despite leaning that direction, and even in the end states she supports, to some degree, the current form it is in. I do not mean to say this is gutless, strong moderates have their own temptations to fight and their own deeply held belief, but it makes me wonder if we’re a right of center nation.

Columnists in the Media: Americans Need Them, Despite Their Faults

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Ben Cooper

After reading several columns by Kathleen Parker, I noticed a pattern in her writing that reveals the benefits and drawbacks of columnists in the media. As for the drawbacks, Parker gets stuck in the routine of covering similar topics in a very similar format. She frames her most of her articles around an absurdity in the world then attempts to explain it pragmatically. The structure leads to uncreative articles that become repetitive over time. Along the same lines, columnists often end up reporting on very similar issues, issues that are important and interesting to them, but not necessarily a wide range of readers. Parker exemplifies this criticism with her emphasis on patriarchal society and confronting death. These themes hit home for some readers, but an ambivalence towards them leads a columnist into obscurity.

This post should not be read as a complete criticism of Kathleen Parker, in fact most columnists are guilty of similar flaws. My favorite, and most famous, example of this is Thomas Freidman of the New York Times. While some of his articles are unique and interesting, many of them focus on the same economic themes of globalization and the Arab-Israeli conflict. He often writes pieces that are disconnected with the average reader of the New York Times, but appeals to a much smaller public. This can, however, be an advantage for journalists and the media. In my recent paper I argued that the American public needs an authoritative news source that is able to weave news stories with expert opinions. In this sense, both Friedman and Parker can be viewed as experts on their respective topics and provide readers with valuable insights into the issues that columnists deem important.

This is where Kathleen Parker’s use of a common pattern within her writing becomes valuable for her and her readers. I found that I disagreed with most of her views towards the beginning of her articles. The absurdities she mentions and attempted to justify, originally seemed, at least to me, unjustifiable. But then, Parker pragmatically explains the rationale behind such extraordinary events. For example, in her September 18th Cyborg Romney piece, Parker successfully explains what limitations caused Romney to make the claims that he did regarding 47 percent of the American population. Her practicality and relative neutrality offers insight into otherwise politically charged issues. Although I was generally unconvinced by her arguments, she provides a tremendous framework of how to make sense of otherwise unintuitive events.

I believe that it is the transparency in her writing that makes Kathleen Parker so effective and respectable. She argues in a September 7th column on MSNBC that the answer to the media’s problems stems from transparency. Because objectivism is nearly impossible in journalism, it is necessary to explain where a journalist is coming from before the consumer can pass any judgments on the issue at hand. Parker’s emphasis on explaining rationales and justifying beliefs offers the readers understanding of how she (and others who share her beliefs) arrive at her (their) opinions. Instead of attempting to hide subjectivity, I believe that the American public needs more journalists like Parker who are honest about their journalistic limitations.

Objectivity and Opinion in Parker’s “Introducing President MSNBC”

Posted on October 2, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Caitlin

Kathleen Parker’s articles do very similar work to that being done by this blog and our twitter feed, as she creates connections between many of the concepts we read about with various current events. In her article “Introducing President MSNBC” in particular, Parker’s critical and likable voice brings practical meaning to some of the class texts.

Parker, like Marvin and Meyer, in their article “What Kind of Journalism Does the Public Need?” calls for a greater sense of transparency in journalism, as she writes, “Surrendering pretentions to objectivity, news organizations (including Fox) can declare their political objectives and make the best case.”  While she is critical of news organizations, she is an equal opportunity critic, pointing out issues within news organizations across party lines.

In this same article, Parker also discusses the phenomenon of television personalities morphing into celebrities.  I think that when Giuliana Depandi, formerly known merely as an infotainment news personality on the E! Channel is suddenly making news for having a baby via gestational surrogate with her husband, the first winner of the Apprentice, it is clear that the epidemic of television personalities as celebrities is upon us.  Parker discusses this transformation as “unavoidable,” being that “We naturally feel a bond with people in our kitchens and living rooms every day.” However, she warns, “TV journalists risk becoming the event themselves rather than the events they cover.”  This point is also one relevant to our readings, as Schudson writes about the manipulation in journalism, stating, “The temptations of the reporter-source relationship are real” (135).  While Parker does not offer a solution to this lack of balance, her presentation of the issue in a clear, engaging manner raises attention to the matter, further opening discussion about objectivity and opinion.

Calm in the Political Storm

Posted on October 1, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Mike

I’ve never really been much of a follower of ‘hard’ news. I like to skim it from time to time to keep up a general idea of what’s going on in the world; but really, I’ve always been partial to other features, specifically the columns. They tend to be a little more literary, a little less ‘by-the-numbers’, and a little more personal.
Bearing that in mind, I’ve really enjoyed flipping through Kathleen Parker’s columns from the Washington Post over the last few weeks. Two columns in particular really caught my eye – one from late August, entitled ‘Celebrating a life well lived’, and another from a few weeks later, ‘Michelle Obama’s valentine to men’ (especially the latter). Parker hails Mrs. Obama’s speech at the DNC as “perfection” and “brilliant”, saying “only the mingy-minded could fail to be proud of America’s first lady.”
But Parker switches from political commentary to point out her favorite moment of the speech, Mrs. Obama’s riff on her father. And then, in an analysis surprising in this day and age, she interprets the quote to mean “that children need a father.” It seems this is an increasingly less popular opinion these days (or at least one that people are more hesitant to express, for fear of attracting feminist criticisms), so it was interesting that she chose to take the column in this direction. She then points out the photo of Obama accompanying this section of the speech, showing him with their two daughters, certainly a powerful and memorable moment.
This gets to an interesting side of politics – how each of the Presidential candidates tries to portray themselves through the media (in this case, as a caring family man). Obama seems pretty talented in this regard, but it may be a challenge for Romney’s campaign, as Parker thoughtfully points out in her column on Cyborg Mitt. I’m curious to see in the weeks to come how each tries to align themselves with ‘common Americans’ (the recent stir about Obama and his White House brewing being one fascinating example), and then how journalists like Parker treat those efforts.
In this case, Parker chooses to mostly avoid the political implications of Mrs. Obama’s message, but instead suggests that she tried to set an example for women and little girls throughout the nation, a sort of gift of its own. It was a nice and thoughtful moment, a welcome break from the usual political trash-talking we’ll hear in the coming weeks, and a reminder that politicians are people too.

Thumbs Up for Kathleen Parker

Posted on October 1, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Meg

Kathleen Parker’s voice comes through strongly in each article reinforcing the feeling that you are talking about major world issues with someone who could be your best friend. Her honesty is something to be admired, especially when working in an industry that is not short on critics. But she maintains a lively and positive tone that much journalism is lacking. Her matter-of-fact attitude reinforces my belief that she has a logical point of view and goes a long way in securing people who agree with her points.

Writing as an opinion columnist seems to give her the freedom that journalists crave; her job allows her to go beyond objectivity and inspire people to really think about the issues in the news. As we have just wrapped up our conversation in class about the homogeneity that is becoming problematic in media, Parker’s essays offer a refreshing style. Her articles on the election grab my attention because they are separate from much of the election coverage that has begun to run together in my mind. Taking risks (labeling Mitt Romney a cyborg) and sharing her point of view freely (“No longer do we get what we pay for, as the adage goes. We get what the activists want—and we all pay for it,” wrote Parker in her article regarding MSNBC’s blatant favoritism of the incumbent president in their election coverage) Parker manages to win me over, and many others I’m sure.

Another factor that sets apart her journalism is the broad range of topics she covers. Ranging from politics to her family life to the abortion issue and its play at Notre Dame, she approaches each piece with a strong point of view that is backed up accordingly. Her voice comes through in each piece so we can tell that she is confident in her writing. I applaud her writing and her ability to show that subjective journalism is important and can have an impact on readers to inspire them as citizens just like standard journalism does.

Modern Wedding Banns?

Posted on October 1, 2012 in Wedding Announcements by Ben Cooper

It was remarkably difficult to find wedding announcements. Even regional newspapers of great prominence, like The Plain Dealer didn’t have them, though it did have obituaries. I had to search quite low to find them, and it reminds me of a talk about the duties of news I once had. Granting it was an old reporter complaining about how good things were back in his days, but one of the things he spoke of was the sense of duty and how newspapers used to run such announcements free despite them losing money because of it. He spoke of how this was a great service to historians. Today this is apparently on the decline, but I do wonder whether it is in the duties of newspapers to service the historians. It at least seems like a worthy pursuit. Regardless, I had to resort to google and found wedding announcements in The Dallas Morning News and The Republican. It appears such announcements, excluding ‘nobility’ such as the Clintons or Kennedys, is strictly local news, and not simply general local news, but extremely specific to the locality.

    The Republican is specific to Springfield, Massachussets, and The Dallas Morning News is specific to Dallas, Texas. The first thing that strikes me about them is that the photos are overwhelmingly of European Americans, while statistically they should be about seven out of ten and half respectively based on an admittedly cursory overview of the US census data for the areas. Predictably, they are almost invariably from the local area. I also find it interesting several are announcements after the fact, making this a sort of reverse banns. In the old days, weddings were announced at banns at Church to prevent bigamy, though I doubt newspapers have taken on this purpose. The publics these newspapers serve, if indeed it is equal to the announcers, thus seems to not only be a very specific area but a specific segment, at least along race lines, and perhaps along economic ones, though I cannot make such a determination without indulging in my own prejudices. The man in the soldier’s uniform might be the son of a multimillionaire, for all I know.

I wonder, however, if it is equivalent. Perhaps sending in such things is a specifically cultural custom. I can easily imagine the custom being descended from the banns, in which case it would be part of a certain religious culture that other groups may not take part of. It might also be that other people go to other, more specialized newspapers I simply am unaware of, confirming the hypothesis. However, I have read many newspapers, and thus become their publics, without even being aware that marriage publications like this were a thing. I was aware of obituaries, but the announcement of marriages had somehow passed me by.

Sidenote: The Republican has an interesting history behind it, if it can be considered a reliable source on itself. Apparently it was involved in the founding of the Republican party all the way back in the 1850s, back when Republican meant ‘anti-slavery’. Apparently several newspaper magnates and newspapers were strong supporters of the party. I wonder how this fits into the role of media and the like?

iPad Saves, Not Wastes, Time

Posted on October 1, 2012 in iPad by Ben Cooper

An iPad is time. It’s the time between classes, the time waiting for class to start, the time waiting in line, the time that is normally wasted on some activity that requires virtually no attention, that is merely a buffer, a loading screen. This is when I reach for a phone, or an iPad, and make use of the time which would have been wasted, and in this sense an iPad brings efficiency to life: it makes me better at the expense of nothing valuable. This is perhaps the largest difference modern technology brings: with the advent of easily transportable mobile computers time, whether spent on work or entertainment, is never farther than my pocket. This had made me both more mobile, and more willing to put up with the little annoyances in life since I can retreat into a screen.

I have gotten a surprising range of comments on my iPad, all the more surprising because I already owned an iPad beforehand, and yet it seems as if my iPad is now open for comment. They’ve ranged from the envious to the praising, from the curious to the crucial, and from among these critical comments I select one to rebut. Specifically, that it was a sign of my generation’s need for ‘instant gratification’. Patience is, after all a virtue. But waiting is not. A love of waiting is as ruinous as a hate of it, since the key to patience is the right time, not before, but certainly not after. The iPad, like a cell phone, like indeed a regular phone, like indeed the postal service, like a thousand inventions and devices before it, simply makes things easier, more convenient, and faster.

I like to imagine a man making the same complaints made of us to a telegrapher, or perhaps even a man who prefers heralds complaining about letter writing, “You and your need for ‘one month gratification!”. It has not changed my wants, my desires, or the fact I really hate boredom. It has merely given me the means to alleviate such. It is a tool, and frankly that is all it could ever be, a tool.

At least until the robot takeover begins.

I Now Present Mr. and Mrs…

Posted on October 1, 2012 in Wedding Announcements by Meg

Comparing the wedding announcements from a big city newspaper to those published in a community post offers a lot of insight into the difference in intended audiences. The Chicago Tribune publishes, on average, short paragraphs that offer the necessary information about the bride and groom. Generally, it touches on their name, age, job, schooling, date and location of the wedding, and where they plan to go for their honeymoon. A picture is included with each announcement as well. This matter-of-fact reporting style shows that The Chicago Tribune understand that their readers are not purchasing the paper in hopes of catching up on the local gossip or social happenings, but rather interested in serious news happening in their city. Also, given the large audience that the Chicago Tribune is catering to, it is understood that many of the readers will not know anyone mentioned in the wedding announcements and are therefore not concerned with the information given in these articles. For this reason, they keep the wedding announcements short and to the point.

This is not the case for the wedding announcements published in The Connecticut Post, however. Utilizing much space for their celebration section, this newspaper publishes multi-paragraph articles covering each wedding. Every detail about the function is included. In addition to the basic facts covered in the Tribune’s articles, the Post discusses the parents of the bride and groom, names the maid of honor, best man and ring bearer, and touches on how the bride and groom met each other. The Post understands their audience well. Many of the readers of this newspaper will know the families of the bride and groom and are very interested to know the details of their wedding. By including such facts, the Post is catering to the interests of their audience very well. Also, one can assume that the readers of the Connecticut Post have a genuine interest in the members of their community more than you would find in a large city such as Chicago. To them, news about weddings and celebrations may be equally relevant to serious news regarding events going on worldwide.


Connecticut Post example:

Chicago Tribune example:

True Life: I love my iPad

Posted on October 1, 2012 in iPad by Meg

As somebody who has not always paid attention to the news, I know first hand the challenges associated with understanding the news for the first time. After starting college last year, my interest was sparked about the issues going on in the world and I was truly interested in grasping them. However, I struggled greatly to understand the news I was reading and found that I was missing background necessary for comprehending news. Getting informed involves much more than just turning on CNN or flipping through The New York Times. But I couldn’t figure out where to get the background information that would help me understand stories in the news today. Even when I spent time reading the headlines and stories for weeks in a row, I still felt like there was so much I had missed when discussing events going on in the world with others.

Using the iPad has completely changed this feeling. The iPad allows me to become involved with the news and I feel up to date on a wide range important issues and events going on. Apps like Flipboard, Google Reader, and Skygrid incorporate a wealth of news sources so that I can read about issues from many different angles and frames. The iPad has greatly expanded the news sources that I use. I used to be someone who mainly read The Chicago Tribune and occasionally The New York Times, but now am fascinated by Poynter articles, have become a big Politico fan, and my love-hate relationship with Huffington Post continues to develop. The iPad, and especially Twitter, allow me to see articles from each of these sources right next to each other so I can easily compare what they say. This deepens my understanding of the issues greatly; I am not just being fed an opinion by a single source but instead critically analyzing the way the facts are presented differently by each media organization.

My classes in college provide a lot of motivation for me to stay involved with the news and the iPad allows me to follow through on it. In the short time since we received the iPad, I feel that I have been transformed to a “news junkie” and I can’t say that I don’t enjoy it. As someone who believes that all American citizens are born with the obligation to be involved with what is going on around them, I feel lucky to have this resource that allows me to do so with such convenience. The iPad has greatly expanded the breadth of the news that I take in while deepening my interest.

iPads and Connectedness

Posted on September 30, 2012 in iPad by Caitlin

Compared to many of my classmates at Notre Dame, I am relatively resistant to technology and social media. While I do have a MacBook Pro, which I love dearly, and am an avid Facebook user, this is where my technological capabilities end. Prior to this class, I never even considered getting a Twitter, despite various attempts at cajoling by my friends. My lack of an iPhone makes me somewhat of an anomaly at Notre Dame. Since my computer can be a bit heavy to carry around all day, I am often in the position of being unplugged from the news and social media while I am away from my room. Ever since getting the iPad for our class, I have become much more aware of events going on throughout the day. When I leave my room, the iPad is now the first thing I put in my bag, as if it would be tragic if I did not have it for the day, when somehow I had previously managed without it for 20 years.
The iPad has allowed me to remain connected with news of all kinds in a manner that was previously not possible for me. I check Flipboard between classes to get a glimpse at any important stories that may have transpired in the last hour or so. While I absolutely appreciate the opportunity to be more efficacious in my relationship with the news, the iPad also provides boundless opportunities to procrastinate. I realized that I had reached a new low when I was checking Twitter and Facebook on my iPad while watching Netflix on my computer. Do I realize that is my own fault for allowing myself to be distracted? Yes. Do I take responsibility for it? No. It is definitely the iPad’s fault.
In all seriousness, though, having the iPad has caused me to interact with the news in new and different ways through the use of such apps as Flipboard and the Pioneer Press app, which I prefer to the full site because of it being more neatly laid out with fewer advertisements. However, possession of the iPad has also raised the question with me, how connected do I truly want to be? For the purpose of this class, having the news literally at my fingertips at all times is a fantastic thing. However, do I want to foster an addiction to my email, Twitter, Facebook, and various news apps beyond this class? Check back with me at the end of the semester.

Three Cheers for Kathleen Parker

Posted on September 30, 2012 in Kathleen Parker by Clara

Alternate title: Why politicians beg journalists (read: offer large paychecks) to be their spokespeople.

On Thursday, Oct. 4 Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post will give the Red Smith Lecture to students involved in the Gallivan program for Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. In anticipation of her talk, our class read some of her more recent columns.

“Cyborg Mitt Speaks Out”

Parker interprets presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remark while effectively framing his position as one based in truth about the way economics works in the United States. I mean really, were Romney’s comments something we didn’t expect him to say? No, not really. And is it unfair to rephrase (a portion of) his remark as “Heck, they need jobs an income before they can enjoy the problem of a high tax rate.”? Again, no. He’s not courting the vote of those who would fall into the 47 percent and they weren’t going to vote for him anyway. Hear, hear.

“Introducing President MSNBC”

I’m officially sending this column to anyone who wants to write one for Scholastic magazine, as it’s just a flat out good piece of journalism with an easy-to-map narrative structure. She teaches those of us purists who avert our eyes when MSNBC and Fox News comes on that in fact, at least one of these networks has a bi-partisan morning program. She also feeds our voyeuristic appetite with a colorful retelling of the DNC peppered with jokes at MSNBC’s expense. And then she goes on to explain why we so easily turn television journalists into celebrities, all while placing the blame on no one but the technology. With an attentive audience, she has set herself up nicely for her thesis: If news organizations would be more transparent and open about their biases, then people have the tools they need to hear the best case, rather than the set-in-stone fact of “balanced” programming. Hear, hear.

“The likability trap”

How anyone determines whether or not they “like” a candidate is beyond me, as no one outside of senior staffers ever get more than five minutes of the candidate’s time. And maybe I only speak for myself but I hardly think it fair that someone judge my “likability” factor off of five minutes. My suspicion is that I’m not alone. So why do we choose who we vote for based on whether we like them or not? Because politicians – like TV journalists – are celebrities, and as long as they’re not blander than vanilla tapioca, we’re willing to tune in. Parker says all that and more in her column about Romney’s unending battle to win the favor of the public. It’s a shame that she’s probably just preaching to the choir, which will be no different in Thurday’s lecture “Journalism in the Age of Twitteracy” – at least for our class (#NDJED).

But I’m happy to live tweet the event and more excited to meet Parker in person. Speaking of Twitter, follow @Sulliview. She’s the public editor for the New York Times and for those of you who thought “no one checks the press,” think again.

Huzzah! (Had to get that 3rd cheer in somewhere.)

Tweeters and Bloggers and Flipboards: Oh My!

Posted on September 27, 2012 in iPad by Mike

Since receiving an iPad for our class, my relationship with the news has undoubtedly changed. Admittedly, I was skeptical whether I would notice any difference at all – after all, isn’t an iPad basically just a stripped-down version of my computer with a touch screen? Regardless, I think it does make some difference. I definitely feel more ‘connected’ to the news – I’m much more inclined to pull out the iPad for a few minutes and flip through some news stories than I am to surf the web on my computer and go looking for them. Part of this may be my affinity for the pleasing esthetics of certain news apps such as Flipboard or NPR. The sleek look they have/their presentation of the news makes it more appealing (and isn’t presentation everything?), whether or not I’m consciously interested in seeking the news. The actual layout of the device may compel me to engage with the news as well. Having an app right on the home screen, where I can connect with one click, simplifies the process immensely, whereas I would have to navigate through a myriad of web sites on my computer to retrieve the same information. However, aside from the sleek design and functionality of the device, I have to admit that part of my new level of participation is the expectation of my participation in the class. In other words, I am well aware that someone else paid for me to have this device, and now they expect me to use it. Were this sense of obligation not a factor, I am not sure that I would be as active on my iPad…well, aside from Angry Birds. I do appreciate having a piece of technology that allows me to quickly and easily call up information from around the world almost instantly; it certainly makes you feel ‘in the know’. However, I’m still inclined to question whether this level of ‘connectedness’ is a good thing. At what point does it switch from staying informed to becoming too time-consuming? What sorts of effects could these devices have on other types of media? Do those effects even matter? By communicating in cyberspace via sites like Twitter, are we hindering our own ability to think/talk/analyze at length and at a deeper level? I doubt we’ll solve these questions in our class alone, but I suspect it won’t be too much longer before society begins to answer some of them. Hopefully we’ll be comfortable with the answers we find.

A Death in the Industry (Or Family).

Posted on September 27, 2012 in Wedding Announcements by Mike

So the blog assignment for this week was to compare wedding announcements from two different newspapers to see what that might reveal about the organizations, readership, etc. However, with roughly twenty other people doing the same thing, that felt a little overdone, so I decided to do it with a twist, and looked at obituaries instead. In a way, I think these are actually a bit more telling, since they tend to delve more into the lives of the individual. At any rate, the first obit I looked at comes from the (e-)pages of the LA Times, eulogizing Jerome Horowitz, a medical researcher who spent most of his career at Wayne State University. The second is an obituary for Bob Morse, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And frankly, the difference between the two is pretty striking. Dr. Horowitz’s obit focuses primarily on his accomplishments as a researcher; evidently, he helped develop an early drug to fight AIDS, something we learn from the title alone. The obit actually spends a pretty significant chunk space discussing the life of his drug, AZT, as well as the other scientific ventures of which Dr. Horowitz was a part. It seems fascinating to me that the space is equally devoted to his projects as to the man himself, and it also seems that the writer tried to place him within a larger historical context. This is likely an acknowledgement of the Times’ readership – they are trying both to remember this man who is of significance to a wide body of people, as well as to make his life interesting to a pretty wide and diverse audience. The obituary for Mr. Morse, on the other hand, seems much more personal; the language seems to focus on how much he was loved and how much he will be missed, rather than how much he accomplished. We are told some about his career, learning that he served in the Army in Vietnam, before returning home to teach and coach sports at a variety of schools, painting him as a sort of classic all-American working man (as opposed to Dr. Horowitz, whom we are explicitly told wished to escape the family poultry business). Now, the Post-Dispatch is a considerably smaller paper, and it is conceivable that an appreciable number of its readers had some connection to Mr. Morse (especially given his teaching position at schools in the area). We might even draw connections between stereotypes of West Coast people and Midwesterners, the former more consumeristic, the latter more preoccupied with family/American values. Whatever any of that’s supposed to mean.

iPads: A Transformative Force?

Posted on September 27, 2012 in iPad by Ben Cooper

To say that the iPad has significantly altered the way in which I interact with the news or any other institution would be making a gross overstatement. Sure, having an iPad increases my ability to access news (political or otherwise) and personalizes my relationship with it, but the impact appears to be minimal. It is very convenient to have a news source with up-to-the-minute news available at all times of the day and (quite literally) at my fingertips. It is also extraordinarily useful to receive fully personalized news that is catered directly to my interests. Beyond these changes however, my political interactions and the way I relate to different publics remain pretty much the same.

I view the iPad (and other mobile devices) as a small step forward in communications technology, rather than a significant leap forward. They provide little beyond the capability of a computer beyond their portability. The technologies themselves don’t necessarily change the way I interact, instead the applications developed for them do. Twitter, for example, makes the news more interactive but the iPad itself does not make Twitter any better. The use of Twitter on either the iPad or a computer allows news followers to comment on stories and even discuss issues with the creators of news in real time. Through Twitter and other means of discussions, individuals can break the barrier between the “news making elite” and become a part of an entirely new public.

The one application that is not available outside of the iPad is Flipboard. This plays in to the personalization of news that is experienced with mobile technology. No longer do I pick up a paper and browse for stories that interest me nor do I have to scour news websites to find interesting stories. Flipboard presents news according to my interests and is easily customizable. Although this is not a drastic shift in the way that I interact with the news, it does allow for increased convenience. Thus, the iPad is merely a small step of change in my connection with politics, publics and the news. While it does make the news more accessible, convenient, and customized, the iPad does not change the way in which I use, interpret, nor understand the news.