Archive for the ‘case study info’ Category

the saga of wiki-leaks

December 1, 2010

This is a case study we’ll be citing for years to come, in the tradition of the Pentagon Papers.  Here are some resources for further reference: The Times, of course, has a huge analysis in perhaps it’s biggest story of the year. School of Journalism Prof. Bill Minutaglio’s column critical of general tendency of governments to lie, with the leaks being further confirmation. Although critics at the other extreme have called for the execution of the leakers (!), I can’t help but think that the same openness we demand of other countries like China is not so appealing when it applies to U.S. policy. Regarding, China, today’s column by Thomas Friedman should be a must read, a tongue-in-cheek take on wikileaks China style. It’s a classic.


the press in central america

October 10, 2010

The role of the press in Central America during the anti-communist policies of the Reagan Administration connects directly to our discussion of the McCarthy Era and the upcoming case on the El Mozote Massacre.  The Institute for Latin American Studies will host an interesting guest on Thursday, the Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Chomorro. This talk is open to the campus community.

Thursday, Oct. 14, 2010,
5:00–7:00 PM
Reception to follow Benson Collection Rare Books Room For more information, contact Paloma Diaz at or 232-2415. Sponsored by LLILAS and the Harte Lectureship on Latin America and the Media

Ole Miss’s diversity problem

September 20, 2010

Any discussion of diversity is rooted in the historical meanings of symbols, words, and ideas.  Nowhere is the history of the Civil War more keenly felt than on the beautiful historic campus of the University of Mississippi, where the mascot has been until recent years “Colonel Reb.”  Is it racial insensitivity or just as mascot, beloved by many alumni?  These things matter, as we’ll discuss.  Read more about it in today’s Times. But this kind of history, although seemingly harmless to some, is part of a general historical revisionism of the Civil Rights Era, as argued by the distinguished columnist Leonard Pitts.

It is the social and political equivalent of an extreme makeover. The thinking seems to be: when history collides with cherished self image, change history.
Something very similar seems to be afoot with regard to a related event much closer to us in time: the civil rights movement of the ’50s and ’60s.
Just a few months ago, we saw conservative activist Glenn Beck claim ownership of that movement, in defiance of historical memory. “… We were the people that did it in the first place!” he cried.

Joining Beck are other figures, such as the current governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour! According to Pitts,

It was, he said, “my generation, who went to integrated schools. I went to integrated college — never thought twice about it.”
Barber is 62. In the Mississippi of his youth, he legally could not have gone to integrated schools.

Obama’s Chinese reception

November 20, 2009

Understanding Chinese press control is not always as simple as saying it’s free or not free.  President Obama’s trip to China is a case in point, during which he granted interviews to certain Chinese news organizations –including one the president hoped would be a little freer in covering his remarks.  But his experience with his remarks on censorship being blocked showed that the Chinese pay particular attention to high profile figures when they make remarks that are sensitive to the communist party–as indicated in the Times recent visit coverage.

Moreover, this week showed that the Chinese authorities were determined to oversee the shaping of Mr. Obama’s public image here. They rejected a White House request to nationally broadcast Mr. Obama’s town-hall-style meeting on Monday in Shanghai, and carefully screened and coached questioners. One student said that she and other participants underwent four days of “training” beforehand and that they were ordered not to ask about Tibet. Mr. Obama’s news conference with President Hu Jintao on Tuesday was broadcast nationwide, but no questions were allowed.

Chinese press freedom, to the extent it exists, is least likely to be found in these prominent moments, but rather in the more informal social spaces provided by new media and the millions of “netizens” functioning as citizen journalists.

God & Darwin followup

November 6, 2009

Following our discussion of religion as it related to the case study, I wanted to expand on my comments, since I went out on a limb on this particular lecture with my own personal beliefs. Religion has become an important part of the public square, but journalists often are uncomfortable knowing how to deal with it.  images-1They are either unacquainted with the evangelical tradition, given the geography of elite media as located elsewhere from the heartland of the evangelical concentration, or they take the often most vocal, fundamentalist view as the prevailing “religious” view–excluding other shades of faith expression.  In part, this is due to the success in recent years of the blending of conservative political ideology with a certain kind of religious belief into what I termed “political fundamentalism” (exemplified by figures like Sarah Palin, and her “speaking for God” vs. “speaking to God”).images In short, I would argue that journalists should regard the “intelligent design” movement as distinct from science (as a different realm of explanation and truth claims), and not feel obliged to report a controversy in the science where there is no controversy.  The case story could be given a religious frame, but that frame should not be religion “vs” science, but rather how one particular religious expression (“political fundamentalism”) sees that kind of conflict, while other faith understandings (including those of many scientists and your humble instructor) do not.  Ultimately, it’s the controversy among religious expressions that each believer must navigate for him or herself, including the need to reconcile one’s own faith (or lack of one) with the need to be tolerant of others within a democratic community.

case teaching

November 5, 2009

The theory behind a case-oriented class (including in Law and Business Schools) is to be able to see the world through a set of facts, because that is how we encounter real life anyway–first through experience, then through thinking about that experience.  The cases in class represent “stakes in the ground” around which you can begin to accumulate broader issues and understanding.  In my own reading, it’s easy to see countless connections that the news stories suggest to the framework of cases.  In today’s Times, for example, a story about the GOP intraparty feud in New York reminds me of the McCain 2000 primary case.  The gay rights referendum in Maine suggests the case of Alan Rogers and “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  So, at least that’s the theory for how the course is intended, and I hope you are making some connections for yourself.  Also important is the critical thinking link between claims and evidence, so for an excellent example of the kinds of unsupported claims at the heart of the first assignment, see Nick Kristoff’s column today on “The best health care system in the world” (at least not by a number of standards one could look to for evidence, as reviewed by the columnist).ts-kristof-190

That self-aggrandizing delusion may be the single greatest myth in the health care debate. In fact, America’s health care system is worse than Slov—er, oops, more on that later.

The United States ranks 31st in life expectancy (tied with Kuwait and Chile), according to the latest World Health Organization figures. We rank 37th in infant mortality (partly because of many premature births) and 34th in maternal mortality. A child in the United States is two-and-a-half times as likely to die by age 5 as in Singapore or Sweden, and an American woman is 11 times as likely to die in childbirth as a woman in Ireland.

more on obama vs. fox

October 30, 2009

The “case” of the administration’s conflict with the Fox News Network continues to get a lot of buzz, not the least of it from Fox itself. As often the case, the Daily Show has the most incisive take on the matter.s-JON-STEWART-large

Obama vs. Fox

October 23, 2009

The administration has provoked a new round of discussion about the role and ideological basis for Fox News.  It was interesting to see that administration officials noticed comments in the New York Times public editor column, suggesting that the Times was slow to respond to topics dominating Fox coverage, causing them to ramp up their pitch that Fox is not a legitimate news organization and therefore not worthy of being emulated.

“We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the deputy White House communications director. Later that week, White House officials said, they noticed a column by Clark Hoyt, the public editor of The Times, in which Jill Abramson, one of the paper’s two managing editors, described her newsroom’s “insufficient tuned-in-ness to the issues that are dominating Fox News and talk radio.” The Washington Post’s executive editor, Marcus Brauchli, had already expressed similar concerns about his newsroom.  White House officials said comments like those had focused them on a need to make their case that Fox had an ideological bent undercutting its legitimacy as a news organization.fn-header

Reporters followed their own professional instincts, which made some uncomfortable excluding Fox journalists covering the same beats. The tug of professionalism pulls against the partisan news organizational strategy.  This is new territory for journalism, and the Obama administration has brought the issue to a head by ramping up the rhetoric.  What remains unexamined is the basic claim:  that the opinion-based programs (Beck, O’Reilly, etc.) and the news-oriented programs are driven by the same political agenda.  In the early days, they certainly were.  Now the line still seems blurred, as I’ve posted elsewhere on this site.

j-students clash with prosecutors over notes

October 22, 2009

Journalism students tackling real-world issues, of wrongful convictions, face real-life conflict with the legal system over their research. The School of Journalism at Texas has launched a similar project with the Law School, the Innocence Project, which just recently scored it’s first overturning of a conviction based on its work.

a conspiracy hammer looking for a nail

October 22, 2009

In the echo-chamber world of opinion media, a political stance looks for facts that fit rather than a more disinterested search for truth.  Glen Beck is the conspiracy theorist host of his Fox network program, and his single-minded search for the facts that fit reminds me of the saying that when you’re a hammer the world is full of nails.  The latest version comes in his highlighting of an Obama adviser quoting China’s Chairman Mao as one of her favorite philosophers, evidence to him of her unsuitability to public life.  But as we have discussed with the McCarthy case, context is everything.  Consider for yourself from Beck’s own program clip in what context she was referencing Mao–(here, it seems clear, as an example of determination).

As for the “shocking” revelation in the conservative blogosphere that the Obama adviser admitted “controlling the press,” welcome to the modern world of public relations and the political campaigning industry.