January 22, 2014

Taking a Break, Back in the Spring

Rhetorica and Carbon Trace will be on an extended blogging hiatus until sometime in the spring.

This is mostly a career-related break. I have several projects and matters to attend to that are going to require my full attention.

Now, when I say full attention, that doesn’t mean I’m going dark. I’ll still be commenting on the various topics of interest related to my two blogs through Facebook and Twitter.

I know you’re all out there just clinging to the edges of your seats :-)

Back soonish…

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December 19, 2012

Rhetorica Update

I’ll be busy with other things over the holidays — the kinds of things we ought to be busy with — so I won’t be posting on the rhetoric of our failing culture until the new semester begins. But I’m sure the recent shootings in Connecticut will play a large role in my first post of the new year.

I hope your holiday season is joyous and unmarred by violence and stupidity.

Good luck with that.

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May 13, 2012

Rhetorica At 10

I’m ten years burning down the road 
Nowhere to run aint got nowhere to go 

–Bruce Springsteen

The 10-year anniversary of Rhetorica has come and gone without notice. Or, rather, I’m noticing it now almost three weeks late.

Ten years means Rhetorica is one of the oldest, continuously-published blogs on the interwebs. That’s kinda cool.

Moving forward… I’m not sure what that means. I’ve obviously tired of day-to-day blogging here. That was apparent awhile back when I declared that I was no longer interested in examining the press-politics nexus. Part of the reason for that is my belief that political reporting in the United States is broken — hopelessly broken. And politics for that matter is also hopelessly broken. I fear the whole damned experiment we call America is broken.

If we are to fix anything, I think we have to start in our local communities where the insanity of partisan national politics, and the stenographic journalism that enables it, is often an annoying insect buzzing about our heads. We swat it away and get on with the business of making our lives better where it really counts. I’m getting a lot more satisfaction with my local blogging than I am with Rhetorica because, frankly, Carbon Trace makes a difference.

I have occasionally written about local journalism on Rhetorica. And I may do so again from time to time.

I would say “stay tuned” except that I’m not sure what you’d be tuning in for :-) I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

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October 7, 2011

Rhetorica Update

Just a reminder to loyal Rhetorica readers: I will not be covering the presidential campaign the way I have done in the past, i.e. examining the rhetoric of the press-politics relationship. I am out of the politics game — at least on the national level. It remains to be seen if I use my space here on Rhetorica for state and local press-politics coverage. I’m still thinking about it.

Due to other commitments (especially regarding the sites I run for my classes — Ozarks News Journal and Reflections in the Screen), blogging on Rhetorica will continue to be a low priority. Exception: This will be the primary space for sharing my academic work. I am finishing my peer-review draft of my case study on journalism and poverty now (deadline early next week). I’ll post my results and thoughts as soon as the latest draft is complete.

Most of my blogging effort is going into Carbon Trace now — my blog about bicycling and walking for basic transportation. I’m having a much greater impact on the world with this local blog. The whole point of writing a blog (for me) is to make some difference in the world, to apply rhetoric to an exigence for the purpose of persuasion and, thus, to  create the world I want (see here and here).

I suggest that you subscribe to Rhetorica’s RSS feed so that you’ll be alerted when I post new content if you remain interested in Rhetorica.

I’m also thinking about a re-design. Hmmmm… if you have thoughts on that, please leave a comment.

Rhetorica isn’t going anywhere. I have too much important work represented here to close the site. Further, as Rhetorica approaches 10 years of existence, it is one of the longest-running blogs on the internet. That’s reason enough to make sure that I keep it going.

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April 2, 2011

My Talks at the MCMA Conference

The Missouri College Media Association is holding a conference in Springfield today sponsored by journalism students at MSU. I’m giving two talks (from the program):

Blogging For Journalists: Bringing an Audience, Bringing a Brand

The presentation will acquaint participants with two important reasons to begin blogging while in school: today’s news organizations want you to come prepared with an audience and a brand. The session will also discuss best practices.

Everyone is Now Multi and Meta

This presentation introduces multimedia skills and theory for web publication. Special attention will be paid to the Ozarks News Journal site — a multimedia journalism project at MSU.

I’ve prepared a short Prezi for the first presentation. You may see it here. For the second, I’ll be using ONJ as a source of examples of what to do and what not to do — we manage both :-)

What’s kinda cool — given my first talk today — is that Rhetorica turns nine years old later this month (I mistakenly claimed nine years last year … duh). That makes it one of the oldest, continuously-published weblogs in the world. And if you count (which I do) my early proto-blog Timeline (part of the old Presidential Campaign Rhetoric 2000 site — a student project of mine – archived here), then that makes me one of the longest running bloggers in the world. None of that is a claim to expertise. I’ve simply been around long enough to be a curiosity.

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February 15, 2011

Lots of Opinion (Journalism)

The unfortunate thing is this: The way the semester works out at the moment, readers of Ozarks News Journal have to wait about six weeks into a given semester before our main features and the television show begin showing up on the web. That will change by this time next year (because we’ve created a new 100-level class to teach basic web/new media/ social media skills so students are up to speed by the time they get to my multimedia journalism class).

But, even better, the site is open for past students to use. And, still better, the site will soon be open for citizen contributors.

The goal: By this time next year ONJ should be a year-round news organization with a steady stream of local content.

Students have been blogging from the first week, and transparency has been job #1. Their first assignment was to post bios that tell readers “where I’m coming from.” The comment feature is wide open. We also have a corrections & amplifications form linked on the top menu for citizen feedback. We have a Facebook group for citizen feedback (where we post the reporting group assignments). And you may subscribe by e-mail, Twitter, SMS text, and RSS.

The main features will fall within the parameters of “news” and “features” — i.e. content reported and presented using the best practices (we can muster) of multimedia presentation and journalistic craft. The blog posts are (supposed to be) opinion journalism, and, at the editor’s discretion,  well-handled blog posts may be placed in the featured position. Neither I nor the editor edit or otherwise supervise these posts (although we may edit if we find glaring errors of fact/usage. ONJ reporters are supposed to approach their blogging by these criteria:

  1. Does the post pass the grandmother test, i.e. don’t shock your grandmother. The point is to keep content appropriate for younger readers. We don’t do pornography or violence.
  2. Does the post demonstrate good opinion journalism? i.e. based on one or more of: reporting, first-hand experience, and/or demonstrated expertise.

So there’s plenty of opinion on ONJ. And plenty of opinion about the topics the students are reporting because they are supposed to blog about the news and features they are working on. How is that going to work? You’ll find out as we do.

Also of note, the editor of ONJ last semester is doing an independent project in online opinion journalism. Her blog is Blogging and Opinion Journalism. Check it out.

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January 29, 2011

Beta Testing Google Chrome OS Laptop

What a surprise from UPS yesterday!

I filled out an application to receive and beta test a Google laptop with the New Chrome OS. It arrived on my doorstep without warning. I felt like I had won the lottery :-)

The appilcation included making a quick argument to persuade Google that you are worthy to become a tester. I said I was interested in the machine for remote, multimedia journalism so I could better teach my students to use the cloud.

I’ll be writing about my experiences with this machine and OS mostly on Facebook and Ozarks News Journal. I’ll mention it here when I think the topic is appropriate.

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January 24, 2011

What Happens When It Gets Serious

Daniel Cavanagh writes a blog called GerritsenBeach.net, and he is the topic of a story in The New York Times this morning. Cavanagh is practicing citizen journalism, and it’s pissing off his neighbors.

Here’s what I find fascinating: A part of the ire directed at him comes from a desire that Cavanagh do what members of the community think a (non-modified) journalist should do, e.g. (simplistically) get “both sides of the story.” He doesn’t seem particularly interested in such a craft. Nor does he need to be. If there can be said to an ethic of blogging that applies to all bloggers (and their readers), it is surely “my blog, my rules.” I have argued that bloggers (and blogging journalists) ought to make those rules clear because transparency is an ethical standard that arises from the medium itself, i.e. you don’t really have a choice if you want to be taken seriously.

Cavanagh has a comments policy. I could find no blogging policy. It’s time to write one.

And let me gently suggest that applying the craft as articulated in The Elements of Journalism is just another good idea if one’s goal is to be taken seriously. It’s certainly not a requirement. There are plenty of examples of successful, serious, and influential web projects that adhere to different standards. But it might be OK to listen to the complainers to the extent that they seek a journalistic standard of some sort.

Otherwise, good job. I’ll be mentioning this site to my students.

My advice for the complainers in Gerritsen Beach: Start your own blogs.

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January 11, 2011

Rhetorica Update

Welcome to 2011 — Rhetorica’s ninth year.

Here are some coming attractions:

  • A student of mine is doing an independent study project in online opinion journalism. I hope Rhetorica readers will check into her site often. I’ll be mentioning her work here as well. Link soon.
  • I’ll pick up the pace examining the work of various opinion journalists. My goal is one per month. I’ll be looking at Thomas Friedman next. Please let me know if you have suggestions — good, bad, mediocre, and any faction.
  • Jay Rosen’s criticism of the “view from nowhere” has been getting a lot of attention recently. This has prompted me to do some more thinking about the role of the rhetoric of journalism — its particular (peculiar) discourse forms — in encouraging this view. I’m especially interested in this now because I think I may be onto identifying and describing the psychology of the “view from nowhere,” which might give us further clues to its sources. This springs from from collaborative research I’ve been doing with Dr. Harry Hom, emeritus professor of psychology at MSU. More on this soon.
  • This should be the break-out semester for the Ozarks News Journal. Last semester’s class got the site up and running. My charge to the current class: make it better (i.e. good journalism) and get attention.
  • Last year I swore off doing any more analysis of  political journalism. I’m sticking to that. And, really, that ought to also mean swearing off analysis of political rhetoric. The two are obviously not the same but just as obviously related. I intend to tread lightly in the realm of politics. My posting of the Olbermann video on 9 January was not treading lightly. Posting it sprung directly from my own raw feelings about politics today. I stand by my statement about violent rhetoric. I could have made it without posting the video. I do not, however, apologize for posting the video. Something more productive may spring from this. I think we need to know what the actual extent of violent rhetoric is in our politics, who uses it, how they use it, and why they use it. Only after we know these things will it be possible to make intelligent hypotheses about the effects of violent rhetoric on our civic discourse. I’m thinking now about the possibilities of doing this work.

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December 30, 2010

See You Next Year

The cat picture can mean only one thing: I’m taking it easy during the holiday break. I’ll be back in the saddle when school starts on 10 January.

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