‘The Media’, Plagiarists Beware, and Analytics All Day: this week on Fresh Powder

Conscious Re-branding

Well, we all know the president is waging a self-described “war” with the media. Cool. By “the media,” he means, like, all journalists. He’s made a habit of lambasting the media and, without irony, encouraging the American public to distrust journalists, whose job it is to tell the truth (if that doesn’t sound like some 1984-style doublespeak, I don’t know what does). And yes, there are “news” orgs that specialize in sensational, over-wrought and even fake news, but there always have been, and lumping them all together as “the media” de-legitimizes actual news orgs (see Trump’s press conference statement that CNN is “fake news” for proof). So possibly, it’s time for journalists and the American public to stop contributing to Trump’s rhetoric by rejecting the term “the media,” and opt instead for more accurate descriptors. It’d be a start, at least.

Just Say No

Ok- it’s like the first rule in journalism: don’t plagiarize. Just don’t. It’s not a hard concept, but somehow it’s one journalists go round and round with. And it’s not getting any better in our world of rapid-cycle, news NOW media consumption–– copy and pasting content and republishing without credit has become a regular practice for more than a few news outlets. But Ginger Gorman, whose original story about male sexual abuse victims was ripped off, found that she wasn’t alone in her outrage after she made an angry tweet and it went viral. The net lesson? Even in such an ethically dubious time as this one, people are paying attention, and stealing still isn’t cool.

Analytics All Day

Here’s a cool thing about journalism today (we know, you did a double take when you read that section after like, all of 2016 happened): analytics. Publications can access hard data from their readership at anytime: what’s the big story? What’s catching attention? What’s not? As a result, journalism orgs can dial in their coverage–– offering readers stories they’ll engage with. It’s pretty cool, and it’s totally worth learning how to do it.

The Mommy Market

There’s a new parenting site, it’s called Motherly, and it’s for millennials. Everyone knows that parenting intelligence is fluid and dynamic, and Motherly, looking at their targeted audience of highly educated, successful, (also married, also rich…) millennials, is tailoring their product to appeal to the burgeoning market. They’re using analytics (hey!) to tune in with their audience, and they’re utilizing a primarily decentralized workforce. It’s kinda cool, but also kind of disheartening: like, yay! One more product specifically designed to meet the needs of a highly catered-to niche group, AND it’s getting press coverage! And all those other kinds of women who are having babies and who are not married or rich or highly educated? Well. They can just stick with BabyCenter.

These things also happened last week: Executive orders happened, but you knew that. First, a sweeping ban on immigration. Then, a weird one about federal regulations: for every new regulation proposed, an agency must rescind two existing regulations. It’s like a children’s game made up but the recess bully. If you’re feeling a measure of cognitive dissonance, don’t worry, we all are. And if you’re having trouble understanding the mood you’re currently experiencing, that’s normal, too. Thank goodness there’s a Buzzfeed quiz for that.

VR, Going Funny, and Ethics All Day: this week on Fresh Powder

Getting Ahead of the Game

News media is experiencing a time of dramatic change (but really, hasn’t that always been the case?) and it never hurts to get in on the newest thing before everybody else does. While others are dealing with the unruly nature of Facebook Live and other live stream video services, it might be a good time to check out VR, instead. VR and 360 vid equipment is expensive, it’s true, but prices are starting to level out and as they do, we can expect that savvy journalists are going to be using the technology to take storytelling to a new level. VR and 360 vids can turn a story into an immersive experience, and you can bet that max-exposure-minimal-effort junkies (you know, like, all of us) are going to be all over that.

Humor Me

The Washington Post is getting funny. Or, they’re planning on it. With a recent round of hiring aimed at nearly doubling the current number of staff in the video department, the Post is setting aim at satire, a la the likes of the Daily Show and others. It’s not a bad idea, and they’re going into it with open eyes and a platform specific approach: they’ll abbreviate bits for YouTube and Facebook audiences and build ads appropriate to each platform. Not a bad idea. It’s a their goal for the next three years, but who knows, maybe they’ll catch on to the VR game, too. Comedy VR, now there’s an idea.

Ethics All Day

We’re pretty much a divided nation, that much has become abundantly clear over the last couple months. But with the Women’s March on Washington last Saturday, we witnessed a different divide, one of journalistic ethics. Scores of magazines and other publications covered the event, and so did Buzzfeed, WaPo and the New York Times. The divide? Those last three didn’t allow their reporters to attend if they weren’t on assignment. It’s got to do with the appearance of objectivity, and all those other journalistic standards, but in a time where many publications are taking an unequivocal political stance, the practice is starting to feel antiquated. One thing we can be sure of? The next four years are pretty well guaranteed to offer many opportunities for publications to hone their own brand of ethics.

You Are What You Believe

We’ve all done it–– argued with someone of an opposite political belief. We try to change their mind, they try to change ours. Mostly, both parties walk away angry. Or, at the very least, passively hostile. Turns out, it could have to do with the way our brain processes political conviction: a small study done by a collection of scientists shows that our brains may process challenges to our belief systems in the same area they processes identity and negative emotions. If someone told you your sense of identity is deeply entangled with your beliefs, you’d be like, “Well, duh.” But that personal identity and political leanings might operate within the same brain space? That’s kinda cool to know.

This also happened last week: On Sunday, Kellyanne Conway said Trump’s tax returns wouldn’t be release because the American public isn’t interested, not because they are being audited. On Monday, she said we would see Trump’s tax returns, when they are done being audited. It’s ok if you’re feeling dizzy and a touch of whiplash. We are too. But maybe we won’t have to worry about any of that anymore, because he’s here: the political satirist that will save America.

That Press Conference, Aptronyms, and Something About Stories: this week on Fresh Powder

Sideshow #1

Well, per expectation, things got weird at Trump’s press conference last week. He lambasted the media and called Buzzfeed garbage for publishing an unverified dossier about his conduct in Russia (because that kind of reaction proves innocence), and he flatly refused to take questions from CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling the organization “fake news.” The whole conference was bizarre, and left reporters (and, like, the nation) feeling more than a little dumbfounded. But, the Trump circus did it again: he got everyone so twisted up with his treatment of the press and his handling of the dossier sensation that in the end, it was easy to forget about that table full of dubious documents (the ones he claimed were signed contracts removing him from his many business deals). The cool thing, though? The whole scene prompted CNN’s opposite, Fox News, to back CNN as a credible news org acting within journalistic standards. So, there’s that, which is nice, and it might even signify a new unification among formerly opposed factions of news orgs. Neat.

Bright Idea

Here’s an idea (well, it’s journalism prof Amanda Bright’s idea): let’s get better at social media-ing. That doesn’t mean crafting funnier tweets or taking cuter photos, it means actually reading the articles we’re sharing, and conscientiously circulating information on our social media platforms. What a thought! She’s calling on journalists, advisers, and students to cite sources when they retweet, and to identify why the article they’re sharing is important. Bright idea, Amanda. Now we just need to broaden the base to include everyone, not just the kids in the journalism game. And if, for some reason, you’re still not convinced: John Kerry on why Twitter isn’t an appropriate platform for policy making.

Story, in Fact

Everyone’s pretty obsessed with fact-checking right now (with good reason), but let’s not ignore the necessary companion of fact: story. Facts don’t happen in a vacuum, and to ignore the context of a statement or event is to ignore much of it’s essence–– how did it happen, and why? And we should probably face the fact that as human beings, we’re story tellers, so compiling facts without context does not promote understanding or engagement. Of course, it’s past time that we take fact-checking seriously, but then let’s go a step further and analyze the narrative as well.

Fear for All

Obviously, we’re living in uncertain times (but who in the history of the world hasn’t felt that way?), and with uncertainty will always come the desire to quell anxiety. Enter: predictions. US intelligence analysts have an idea of what our country might look like in five years (hint–– America is going to have to share some of the glory of dominance as the playing field levels), and journalism is going to see new trends, too. The theme? Fear, pretty much.

This also happened last week:

There’s a new email scam, it looks official, and it’s from Netflix-– don’t fall for it! They want your payment information and your social security number and like, everything, and it’s totally not Netflix. Now you know. And, if you haven’t heard, Trump is getting sworn in on Friday with the lowest approval rating (40%) of any president in the last four decades. So there’s that. But don’t worry, there are always baby red pandas playing in the snow.

Ethics, Freedom of Expression and Mind-Boggling Brutality: this week on Fresh Powder

The Ethically Invisibile

Trauma is a thing. So is PTSD. Journalists witness and report on trauma everyday, and if they’re worth their salt, they do it ethically (though the handling of trauma reporting is a skill that is woefully under-taught, turns out). And journalistic integrity is upheld not only by journalists but by the people keeping an eye on them (which is everyone). So there’s a measureable degree of dissonance if we stop to consider that while we’re so busy keeping journalists ethical (and simultaneously demanding to know ALL THE THINGS), many journalists who witness trauma receive no support from the news outlets who buy their stories. We expect them to be there, on the scene, getting us the news, but then conveniently forget that journalists are people, too, and that even journalists can get PTSD. Like, duh. It’s time news outlets check their own ethics, and start supporting the reporters who keep them afloat.

The Freedom Fight

Most journalists and journalism advisers are going to run into the old problem at one point or another: censorship. A conservative school administration, a nervous publisher, censorship is a thing that’s not going away. And the naysayers won’t go away either; there will always be people who want to minimize the value of our right to freedom of expression. This is a fight for the bold, and it’s a tough one, but it’s one worth staying engaged in. Because if you don’t, who will?

Social Media Assault

It’s tough being the most popular kid on the block, and Facebook got that message (yet again) last week when four people in Chicago used Facebook Live to broadcast themselves torturing a man with special needs. It’s awful, stupid and disgustingly cruel, and unfortunately, it’s the nature of the live-streaming beast: Facebook Live can be used to broadcast anything. So what now? Last month Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft talked about creating a shared database to track and remove terrorist propaganda using digital fingerprints, but unless companies offering live-streaming video services also invest in diligent editors, the database might not be enough to keep this kind of thing from happening again. Facebook is all about innovation, but it looks like now it’s time to pay the ethical-responsibility piper.

But, Why Though?

While Facebook bangs it’s head against a wall trying to figure out the problem with live-streaming video service, we can scratch our own heads and wonder: why in the world would those kids commit such a terrible act in the first place, let alone stream it? How much of it was just that they could- that all they needed to do was open an app and the whole world could watch them torture someone? Would it have happened if there were no audience? Is this a matter of life imitating… access? Technology? What?? Whatever the rationale, it’s disturbing, and not ok.

This Also Happened: The Golden Globes happened, and Meryl Streep used her acceptance speech to call out the president-elect for mocking a disabled reporter. Then she she asked the press to safeguard the truth, especially in the face of the new administration. And that’s why we love her. Streep ‘20. But if award shows aren’t your thing and you just want a 2016 throwback hit from before things got really weird, here are some classic dog-or comparisons. Enjoy.

Mindset, Making Fun, and Post-2016 Predictions: this week on Fresh Powder

The Post-Millennial Method

Everyone born before 1980 absolutely loves to gripe about the problem with millennials: they’re lazy, they’re self-absorbed, they’re the accidental detritus of the self-esteem movement. Actually, plenty of millennials like to crab about their own generation, too. But, this (probably unfairly caricatured) group of people were born of the desire to cultivate emotionally healthy individuals, and maybe it’s got more to do with individual mindset than anything else. Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford, has some suggestions for teachers interested in cultivating resilient students eager for a challenge, and ones that have good self esteem, too. Huh.

Comedy Bang Bang

Satire has been a thing for a long time, and we like it. It’s critical and it breaks tension with well-timed humor. It pushes us to look critically at the world around us. So it’s not surprising that late night comedy shows have moved strongly into the arena of politics, offering critical, biting commentary that educates their audience while tickling their funny bone at the same time. Awesome. Even better? They’ve become a voice on education as well, highlighting and criticizing the flaws in the education system. And because humor is easy to digest, the stories have a broader reach, so more of us can be more informed. It’s a good thing.

Predictions 2017: Journalism Edition

It’s strange times we’re living in, no one needed to say that again. Who could have predicted Trump or Brexit? Who could have predicted the heartily revived popularity of 90’s chokers and belly shirts and generally Clueless fashion? Well, somebody, probably, but that doesn’t make it any less weird. If all that is enough to give you anxiety about the year to come, calm yourself by engaging with some good old-fashioned predictions, journalism-style. And if predictions aren’t your thing, here are some suggestions for operation in the new landscape of journalism.

Foundational Fact-ion

Fake news isn’t new, not even close. And if we were looking, we might even have been able to spot the conditions that brought the phenomena back into the spotlight (check social media outlets, the ease of online content creation, it’s all there) in 2016. So now what? A month or so ago, we enjoyed a personally blame-free holiday from responsibility by pointing our fingers at the creators of fake news rather than at ourselves. Now, though, we’re savvy, and we know that we’re at least as much to blame for our careless news consumption. Foundations know it, too, and in an effort to restore journalism and promote awareness, they’re funding educational efforts and fact-checking initiatives. It’s a start.

These thing also happened last week: Mariah Carey lip-sync fail. Enough said. Also, J-Lo and Drake are a thing, and apparently people care, so there’s that. And for those of you dear, dear high school teachers who are just getting back into the swing of things after winter break, here are some obits you can totally appreciate.

A major systemic failure, a photogenic flag, and the ban on Huck: this week’s Fresh Powder Report

The second season of The Newsroom wasn’t totally inaccurate:

The Times made a pretty significant mistake in an article published recently covering the San Bernardino killers. The article states that Tashfeen Malik, who joined her husband in carrying out the massacre that took place in California in early December, spoke openly on social media about her support and desire to be a part of violent jihadism. A few days after the article was posted, an FBI director condemned this reporting, claiming the only places Malik spoke of such beliefs were in private emails or messages. Reporting a potential terrorist threat openly disclosing their views on a public platform implies that action could have been taken, and deaths could have been avoided– an implication made as a direct result of the Times’ sources not comprehending how social media works well enough to understand the difference. The reporters themselves didn’t push to seek out the social media posts in question, and this systemic failure within the Times led to the story being run without knowing better until it was too late. So how do they plan on avoiding these faults in the future? By avoiding an “overreliance” on sources–especially anonymous ones– and having their editors slow down a bit when it comes to sensitive news stories.

Maximizing your productivity:

Part of being a productive person is knowing what works for you– if you’ve ever wondered what productivity type you are, here’s a guide to help you figure it out. Once you understand more about the way you go about getting things done, you can enhance that productivity even more by narrowing in on methods that will work best for you. 

If you can, avoid taking glamour shots in front of national flags:

A high school student in Massachusetts thought submitting a picture of herself standing in front of an American flag to her school’s yearbook would be the best way to preserve her patriotism forever– sadly, she didn’t realize that “standing in front of” and “standing on” can have some drastically different implications, and her photo was banned from the yearbook altogether.

No more adventures for you, Huck:

A school in Philadelphia recently removed “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from its curriculum on the basis that the racist language and implications in the novel far outweigh any literary benefits.

An inside look at a writer’s education:

Well-known New Yorker writer George Saunders shares his entire writing education timeline with us— from his start at Syracuse, to his first postgraduate job, and even returning to Syracuse as a teacher. With each chapter of his life, he shares a lesson he’s learned about writing, working, and everything in between. If nothing else, this pieces proves that absolutely nothing happens overnight– and, if you’re pursuing a career in writing, your teachers will prove to be far more influential than you could ever imagine.

These things also happened this week:

Trending, Encryption, and Algorithms Galore: this week on Fresh Powder

Manufacturing  Trend

The Facebook identity crisis of 2016 continues: a former curator of the “trending stories” section is saying that those stories may not have been trending at all. A group of curators were tasked with the management of the trending stories section, escalating or suppressing news stories according to Facebook guidelines, and sometimes according to personal taste. And they were instructed not to trend stories about Facebook at all, even in cases where those stories were getting a lot of traffic. This wouldn’t be a thing if Facebook were simply a media outlet, but it’s not, and it’s assertion that the trending stories section is just a collection of the most popular stories at any given time, is just not true. Facebook, of course, denies all of this. Incidentally, after Gizmodo released their story revealing the deceptive practice, suddenly the very same article showed up in Facebook’s trending stories widget. Smooooooth, Facebook.

Protect Yo-self

The next four to eight years are going to be a strange time for American journalists, and it’s time to start thinking about protecting yourself. Trump wants to loosen libel laws, making it easier to sue reporters over unflattering coverage. And, given a proper warrant, the government can request information from technology companies, putting both the reporter and protected sources or whistleblowers at risk. What’s to be done? The Atlantic’s Kaveh Waddell says: encrypt. Everything. All the time. It’s easy to do, and it’s important, even with a Commander-in-Chief who skips his daily intelligence briefing. Maybe especially, actually.

Fake-t Checkers

Over the last couple weeks, we’ve all become a lot more aware of fake news, and we’ve learned a lot about how to identify it, thanks to lists like this one, that delineates the hallmarks of news fakery. Naturally, though, there are people cooking up algorithms that should be able to spot and squash fake news before it makes its way into our newsfeeds. There are a couple ways to do it, including basic ones like source-weeding, but those can be overly simplistic and blunt. Other tools that follow the way news stories move around on social media are a more comprehensive approach, and could provide the solution we need to kill fake news before it shows up on our screens.

TV Toughs

Everyone is abuzz about the way CNN anchor Jake Tapper pressed Mike Pence for answers in a recent interview. Pence, not surprisingly, dodged questions about pursuing security clearance for Mike Flynn’s son, but Tapper, surprisingly, pushed back. He never did get a straight answer from Pence, but that’s not the point. The point isn’t even that he pushed back. The point is that he’s a stand-out as a reporter, simply because he did his job. This is a problem. It’s going to be a tough four years for journalists (and, probably, everybody) but with an administration like the one we’re about to face, the pursuit of truth and information even in the face of intimidation and uncooperative behavior, has got to remain paramount. It won’t be easy, but none of this will, so put on your big kid pants and get after it.

Here’s some other stuff: For those of you new to the Teacher’s Lounge: a comprehensive list of rules that shall be observed in every high school Teacher’s Lounge, everywhere, for the rest of time. And for those of you who are already pre-mourning the end of the holiday season and dreading the long, cold stretch of the winter ahead of us, you can start get a head start on award season by watching all of the movies and wikipedia researching all the celebs nominated for the 2017 Golden Globes.

Academics, Bias, China: this week on Fresh Powder

Do Not Go Gentle

It’s a sad thing, and maybe not a new one, but being a journalist is dangerous business. What’s really disturbing is that it’s particularly difficult for student journalists and journalism advisers, who increasingly face hostility and censorship from school administrators. And it’s all about image. Universities and colleges are so invested in their “brand” that free speech and freedom of the press don’t get considered if a story might be detrimental to the school’s reputation. And if student’s refuse to cooperate? Pull funding. Easy peasy. But students have rights, and the New Voicesmovement is seeking legislation to protect the rights of secondary and college journalists. It’s still a long road, but one well worth walking. So rage on, kids, rage on.

Check Your Bias at the Door

So, no one would argue that bias isn’t a thing, and journalists are (ideally) constantly striving to be mindful of, and check, their own. But personal bias is sneaky–– it can be hard to identify and sometimes even harder to keep out of stories. So Jennifer Cox, an assistant professor at Salisbury University, decided to approach bias from a different vantage point: she took her class on a canoe trip. The students were expected to take photos documenting their experience, and then put together a collection of images to tell a story. The catch? The students couldn’t use their own photos, so they were forced to think hard about what each picture was showing and why, and remove themselves from the story. Kinda cool.

Identity Crisis

Facebook is becoming a teenager in a few months and just like most teenagers, the social media platform seems to be having a crisis of identity. After the election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg balked at the idea of Facebook’s having had any effect on the election, and seemed to want to take a hands-up, not-my-problem approach to the management of fake news. Now, some anonymous Facebook employees are talking about the company’s work on a plan to introduce extreme censorship tools in order to enter China, where the platform is currently banned. This feels like a slippery slope to broader social media censorship that could spread outside of China, and Facebook is built on a foundation of free speech. So who are you going to be, Facebook? A platform so loose fake news can prevail, or one that supports censorship? But the bottom line, it appears, is the bottom line. China’s untapped market of 1.4 billion people must look pretty lucrative indeed, regardless of the cost.

Finnish-ed with the American Education System

Turns out, teaching in America is not the same as teaching in Finland. Go figure! But what Finnish teachers in the American education system are saying is that the differences are so dramatic, and the autonomy so lacking, that it doesn’t even feel like the same vocation the left in Finland. The constant monitoring by school officials in the name of quality control and test prep squashes any creativity that might naturally bubble up for teachers, and the runrunrun school day makes it nearly impossible to devote real time and effort to quality teaching. Huh. Unfortunately, though, busy days and constant monitoring aren’t the biggest problem with the education system, and last-in-the-nation Nevada public schools have their hands full just trying to stay above water. In sum: we got problems.

This also happened: Fake news became IRL terror when a man showed up at a fast food restaurant with a gun, investigating, he said, a (fake) news story about Hillary Clinton. That’s uncool and scary, and it’s just more evidence that we need to practice mindful media consumption. On a lighter note, though, here are some images that will please the perfectionist in you. You’re welcome.

Academics, Bias, China: this week on Fresh Powder

Do Not Go Gentle

It’s a sad thing, and maybe not a new one, but being a journalist is dangerous business. What’s really disturbing is that it’s particularly difficult for student journalists and journalism advisers, who increasingly face hostility and censorship from school administrators. And it’s all about image. Universities and colleges are so invested in their “brand” that free speech and freedom of the press don’t get considered if a story might be detrimental to the school’s reputation. And if student’s refuse to cooperate? Pull funding. Easy peasy. But students have rights, and the New Voicesmovement is seeking legislation to protect the rights of secondary and college journalists. It’s still a long road, but one well worth walking. So rage on, kids, rage on.

Check Your Bias at the Door

So, no one would argue that bias isn’t a thing, and journalists are (ideally) constantly striving to be mindful of, and check, their own. But personal bias is sneaky–– it can be hard to identify and sometimes even harder to keep out of stories. So Jennifer Cox, an assistant professor at Salisbury University, decided to approach bias from a different vantage point: she took her class on a canoe trip. The students were expected to take photos documenting their experience, and then put together a collection of images to tell a story. The catch? The students couldn’t use their own photos, so they were forced to think hard about what each picture was showing and why, and remove themselves from the story. Kinda cool.

Identity Crisis

Facebook is becoming a teenager in a few months and just like most teenagers, the social media platform seems to be having a crisis of identity. After the election, CEO Mark Zuckerberg balked at the idea of Facebook’s having had any effect on the election, and seemed to want to take a hands-up, not-my-problem approach to the management of fake news. Now, some anonymous Facebook employees are talking about the company’s work on a plan to introduce extreme censorship tools in order to enter China, where the platform is currently banned. This feels like a slippery slope to broader social media censorship that could spread outside of China, and Facebook is built on a foundation of free speech. So who are you going to be, Facebook? A platform so loose fake news can prevail, or one that supports censorship? But the bottom line, it appears, is the bottom line. China’s untapped market of 1.4 billion people must look pretty lucrative indeed, regardless of the cost.

Finnish-ed with the American Education System

Turns out, teaching in America is not the same as teaching in Finland. Go figure! But what Finnish teachers in the American education system are saying is that the differences are so dramatic, and the autonomy so lacking, that it doesn’t even feel like the same vocation the left in Finland. The constant monitoring by school officials in the name of quality control and test prep squashes any creativity that might naturally bubble up for teachers, and the runrunrun school day makes it nearly impossible to devote real time and effort to quality teaching. Huh. Unfortunately, though, busy days and constant monitoring aren’t the biggest problem with the education system, and last-in-the-nation Nevada public schools have their hands full just trying to stay above water. In sum: we got problems.

This also happened: Fake news became IRL terror when a man showed up at a fast food restaurant with a gun, investigating, he said, a (fake) news story about Hillary Clinton. That’s uncool and scary, and it’s just more evidence that we need to practice mindful media consumption. On a lighter note, though, here are some images that will please the perfectionist in you. You’re welcome.

Hold-outs, Small Towns, and What Now’s: this week on Fresh Powder

Print Win

Community Impact is a monthly paper out of Texas, and they say print’s their model and they’re sticking to it. While many newspapers are shifting focus from print editions to online platforms, Community Impact intends to keep it old school. At first glance, it sounds like brand suicide: how can a monthly print paper keep up with the demands of an ever expanding, give-it-to-me-now digital audience? But John Garrett, founder of Community Impact, says focusing on the print model gives the publication the space to build a quality product, complete with fact checking and even grammar police, areas that are woefully neglected by some online publications. And hey, Community Impact is getting delivered to 1.7 million homes every month, so maybe they’re onto something.

Collaboration Nation

Three weeks ago Americans became unequivocally aware of the dramatic divide between the way we think things are, and they way things actually are. The blame, from outset, has landed squarely on the media. It’s true, journalists and news outlets are responsible for keeping the public informed. But we missed a huge swath of the nation, those areas considered rural, when we covered the election, so now what?There’s a gap, it’s clear, but the solution isn’t. To start, we can support the already operating rural news orgs through collaboration, and we can start to reconfigure our thinking around news coverage. Clearly, small doesn’t mean insignificant, and this lesson was long overdue.

Crisis of Desire

It’s not news, nor is it surprising, that people want to lay blame in the wake of the confounding election results. We should have been able to anticipate this, right? Everyone wants to blame the media and examine lack of coverage, media bias, siloed information, and so on and so on. But it’s also a super dangerous time to be a reporter. So what’s going on? We demand to be informed, but journalists are routinely suppressed and censored, and the frequency of violent physical attacks on journalists is straight up alarming. Do we want the news or don’t we? What we do know is that the next four years will be a challenging time for journalists, given the vehemently anti-media sentiments of our new president, and we can expect that our collective crisis of desire will deepen as press access becomes more narrow and coverage becomes more imperative. Another thing we know? We’ve got to press on.

Twitterpated

We’re a divided nation right now, that much is obvious. But one thing we can agree on? We love the Donald on Twitter. His reactive, bombastic, stream-of-concious-ey Twitter presence kindles sensation on both sides and we either love to love him, or love to hate him. But here’s the thing: we, and those among us who represent the media, too, are all responsible for letting Trump’s over-the-top tweets dictate the news. We’re so busy fact checking his latest hyperbolic social media comment that we miss the real news. It might be time to recalibrate the gravity we place on off-handed social media blathering (which, heretofore, hasn’t been a problem in the Oval Office, but it’s a new day!) and attempt to focus on actual news. (We know, though. It’s hard. We’re tweeting about it right now.)

This also happened: Jill Stein collected enough money to call for a Wisconsin recount, and the Clinton camp is backing it. Stein says it’s not about changing the results, but rather taking the system to task. Of course, the recount ruffled Trump’s feathers, and the boss-elect tweeted (ugh, Twitter does it again, but it’s so good!) a baseless voter-fraud conspiracy, claiming that millions of people voted illegally. We’re not sure how he thought that would undermine the recount effort, but hey, logic has nothing to do with it, right?