August 23, 2012

Just Give Them All ‘A’s

Let’s all just sit quietly for the next 50 minutes.

A top administrator at the University of Colorado says if a professor doesn’t like his students legally bringing guns to class, he’ll have to holster his emotions.

Jerry Peterson, a professor and chair of the CU-Boulder Faculty Assembly, told colleagues he’d cancel his class if a student brought a gun there.

“My own personal policy in my classes is if I am aware that there is a firearm in the class — registered or unregistered, concealed or unconcealed — the class session is immediately canceled,” Peterson said. “I want my students to feel unconstrained in their discussions.”

Shortly after Peterson’s comments were reported, CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said he can’t do that.

“I have the utmost respect for Professor Peterson, who is an old friend and valued colleague, but I want to make clear that if the student carrying the weapon has a concealed-carry permit, the position implied by Professor Peterson’s comments directly violates Colorado law and the operating principles of the campus,” DiStefano wrote in the email to faculty.

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August 22, 2012

Nothing Better To Do

Seriously. This shit is important.

One Oklahoma elementary school has a strict dress code policy — no college apparel that isn’t from Oklahoma.

Last week, Wilson Elementary School’s principal told 5-year-old Cooper Barton to turn his T-shirt inside-out because it violated Oklahoma City Public Schools’ dress code, KWTV reports. The boy was wearing a University of Michigan shirt.

District policy bars students from wearing “clothing bearing the names or emblems of all professional and collegiate athletic teams (with the exception of Oklahoma colleges and universities.)”

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August 8, 2012

Nothing Better To Do?

How to waste time and marginalize yourself as an opinion journalist:

I have news to report: Rush Limbaugh has finally had it with me. He has decided that I’m rooting for America’s decline and that I’m a part of President Barack Obama’s “crop of Democrats.”

None of that is true, but it’s worth recounting how Rush and I got to this point. It is a small but instructive tale about today’s ferociously accusatory political culture.

Once upon a time, we debated.

Now we tweet and rant in a world of sound bites and the sound-bitten.

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August 6, 2012

Hot Pink Might As Well Be Red

That little commie bitch! Or, how FOX News keeps the rubes in line:

On last week’s “America Live,” guest-host Alisyn Camerota discussed how “some folks” noticed that the “famous flag-styled outfits” of Olympics past were replaced by “yellow shirts, grey track suits and pink leotards” at the London games. Camerota and her guest, Sirius/XM radio host David Webb, took particular focus on Douglas’ outfit.

“You know, Gabby had that great moment, and everyone was so excited, and she’s in hot pink — and that’s her prerogative,” Camerota said. Webb, who hosts a program on Sirius/XM’s “Patriot” channel, wondered, “What’s wrong with showing some pride?” He likened the uniform choice to a “kind of soft anti-American feeling that Americans can’t show their exceptionalism.” Camerota pointed out how other nations, like China, wore nationalistic colors.

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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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May 10, 2012

From the WTF Department

Our republic can’t work if people are stupid:

After nearly four years in the Oval Office, President Obama is incorrectly thought to be Muslim by one in six American voters, and only one quarter of voters can correctly identify him as a Protestant, according to a new poll.

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May 9, 2012

Kar Kulture

Cars kill community connections for kids:

It turns out vehicular traffic does something else, too, more subtle but equally pernicious: It changes the way children see and experience the world by diminishing their connection to community and neighbors. A generation ago, urbanist researcher Donald Appleyard showed how heavy traffic in cities erodes human connections in neighborhoods, contributing to feelings of dissatisfaction and loneliness. Now his son, Bruce Appleyard, has been looking into how constantly being in and around cars affects children’s perception and understanding of their home territory.

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April 9, 2012

No Cost = OK!

Yadda yadda yadda, as long as the rich get richer:

In other words, economic liberalism is on life-support, while cultural liberalism thrives. The obvious question is why. The simple answer is that cultural liberalism comes cheap. Supporting same-sex marriage or a woman’s right to choose does not cost the wealthy anything or restrict their ability to become wealthier.

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April 7, 2012

What’s Really Important

What issue would Jesus use to justify cutting off the poor?

The Catholic Campaign, which doles out $8 million annually to about 250 groups nationwide, has been under increasing pressure from conservative Catholic groups to ensure that it is not unwittingly aiding organizations that run afoul of church positions on issues like birth control and marriage. While the amount lost is often relatively small, it can account for a significant chunk of a group’s budget. And it is not happening in a vacuum, coming at a time when other nonprofit organizations, like Planned Parenthood, also find themselves under fire from social conservatives trying to choke off their financing.

Since 2010, nine groups from across the country have lost financing from the campaign because of conflicts with Catholic principles, according to the campaign’s director, Ralph McCloud. Others have simply chosen not to apply — or reapply — for funds. Mr. McCloud said the Compañeros case was being reviewed and no final decision had been made.

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March 28, 2012

A Defining Moment

After they spit me out the other end of the graduate school machine, I would have conversations such as this with people I would meet:

Person: What do you teach?

Me: English composition and rehtoric.

Person: Oh, I’ll have to watch how I speak.

Every English teacher in the English-speaking world has had this conversation because it seems every speaker of English is scared to death of making a “grammatical” error (which tells you something about the language or English education or both). I developed this response:

Me: Don’t bother. I’m a content guy.

But the world was simpler then. I knew who I was. Despite the funky stereotype, when I told people I teach English they knew what I meant. If I answered “rhetoric,” I’d get a measure of curiosity that, appeared to me at least, to indicate “I haven’t the foggiest what that means, but it sounds interesting.”

A funny thing happened in 2004. I took a job teaching journalism — something that I had practiced for pay before enrolling in grad school (because I wanted out of journalism).

Now the introductory conversation goes something like this:

Person: What do you teach?

Me: Journalism.

Person: (look of horror and pity) Oh, that’s nice.

This reaction is often followed by the person asking one of two general questions:

Why is journalism so broken?

… or …

What kind of future can your students expect?

I’ve discussed answers to these questions on Rhetorica if you care to search for them. Short versions: 1. Arrogance, misunderstanding (long list), fear, and laziness. 2. Excellent, if one is not focused solely on big-city newspapers.

But here is where this post is really going: I don’t teach that much journalism anymore. My teaching duties have been, and will be for at least the next few years, two classes in media ethics, two classes in multimedia journalism (Ozarks News Journal), one class in fundamentals of media convergence/new media, and one class in introduction to journalism.

Half my teaching load is media courses. And ONJ is a learn-by-doing class for juniors and seniors. The come to that class knowing the basics and more of the craft of journalism, so it’s my job to help them practice their journalism skills for multimedia presentation. So it’s a hybrid media-journalism class.

I’m ready to have an entirely different introductory conversation:

Person: What do you teach?

Me: Multimedia convergence, media ethics, and journalism with a rhetoric focus.

Person: Waaaaaa?

OK, yeah, that needs work.

I can title myself almost anything within reason, I suppose. Technically, because of the name of my department, I am an Associate Professor of Media, Journalism & Film. But the film part just sticks out there because, frankly, I know nothing about film beyond what one learns watching movies. So here are a few ideas:

  • Associate Professor of Media and Journalism
  • Associate Professor of Media and Rhetoric
  • Associate Professor of Journalism and New Media
  • Associate Professor of Media Ethics and Journalism
  • Associate Professor of Media Ethics, Rhetoric, and Journalism
  • Associate Professor of Media Ethics, Rhetoric, Journalism, New Media, and Media Convergence
  • Associate Professor of Whatever The Hell It Is I’m Teaching This Year

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