Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Global Civil Society 2007/8

The annual Global Civil Society Yearbooks are indispensable guides to civic participation and action around the world. This year's Yearbook focuses on Communicative Power and Democracy, investigating the relationship between communication, democracy and media.

Monroe Price serves as one of the editors of the volume as well as the author of Chapter 3: Civil Society and the Global Market for Loyalties. And Vincent Price leads off with Chapter 1: Democracy, Global Publics and World Opinion.

What I love about these Yearbooks are the cool Indicator Suites that comprise a third of their contents--graphic illustrations on globalization, population migration, social and economic rights, comparative laws, the environment, global values and attitudes, press and political freedom and, saving the best for last, Suite 3: Media and Communication (global comparisons of telephone mainlines, cellular lines, PCs per 1000, internet usage and penetration, WiFi service, top website genres, internet languages, and blog usage and penetration.)

The Global Civil Society Yearbook is a collaboration between LSE's Centre for the Study of Global Governance, UCLA's Center for Civil Society and for 2007/8, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

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January journal roundup

A few end of year 2007 special issues to point out:

The fourth issue of Social Semiotics (Volume 17, December 2007) is heavily devoted to Michael Jackson (Framing Michael Jackson: Celebrity on Trial) exploring "many questions about celebrity scandal, cultural performance and identity, intersecting with ideas about race, gender and sexuality," according to Jenny Kitzinger and Sujata Moorti in the issue's Introduction.

Communication Research and the Study of Surveillance is the topic of The Communication Review (Volume 10, Number 4, 2007), edited by Kelly Gates and Shoshana Magnet.

Paul J. Lavrakas edits Public Opinion Quarterly's (Volume 71, Number 5, 2007) special issue titled: Cell Phone Numbers and Telephone Surveying in the U.S. While the issue focuses on the use of cell phones in surveys, it leads off with a historical piece on two of the most influential researchers on survey methods with telephones, Warren Mitofsky and Joseph Waksberg.

The Journal of Mass Media Ethics, which explores questions of media morality, devotes a special issue (Volume 22, Number 7, 2007) to the question, "Who Is a Journalist?" Edited by Wendy Wyatt, the issue features an interesting article on the role of "fake news" (The Daily Show, The Colbert Report) in media criticism, among others.

And while not a theme issue, Comm history buffs should check out Critical Studies in Media Communication's (Volume 24, Number 5, 2007) Critical Forum which is devoted to Daniel Czitrom's Media and the American Mind with short pieces by Jack Lule, Sue Curry Jansen, David Park, Jefferson Pooley, and Peter Simonson, followed by a response to the contributors from Czitrom himself.

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Friday, January 18, 2008


You may have read about BigThink.com in today's The Daily Pennsylvanian, "A Video Site for Intellectuals." As DP staff writer Jessica Bell explains, "Bigthink.com is a multimedia site that features interviews with prominent public leaders, including authors, politicians, educators and businessmen." Upon viewing sections of the site, visitors can post comments/responses to what they've seen.

Currently in its beta release, BigThink's mission as stated on the website is this:

"This is a digital age, one in which a wealth of accessible information empowers you, the citizen-consumer. But where is the information coming from? How accurate and unprocessed is it, really? Ask yourself this: how empowered do you feel debating a television screen or a newspaper? Our task is to move the discussion away from talking heads and talking points, and give it back to you. That is BigThink's mission. In practice, this means that our information is truly interactive. When you log onto our site, you can access hundreds of hours of direct, unfiltered interviews with today's leading thinkers, movers and shakers. You can search them by question or by topic, and, best of all, respond in kind. Upload a video in which you take on Senator Ted Kennedy's views on immigration; post a slideshow of your trip to China that supports David Dollar's assertion that pollution in China is a major threat; or answer with plain old fashioned text. You can respond to the interviewee, respond to a responder or heck, throw your own question or idea into the ring."

For what it's worth, when I went in to take a look I notice there's a Media & the Press section which features Tom Freston, one of MTV's founding executives and former CEO of Viacom, Gillian Caldwell, Executive Director of WITNESS, an international human rights organization that provides training and support to local groups to use video in their human rights advocacy capaigns, and Josh Lieb, producer for The Simpsons and The Daily Show. Other experts featured on the site include Annengberg alum/AARP CEO Bill Novelli, Penn President Amy Gutman, columnists David Broder and Paul Krugman, New Yorker editor Davide Remnick, Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, to name a few.

Could this be the return of the public intellectual?

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Thursday, January 17, 2008


AsiaMedia is a daily electronic publication of news about all aspects of the media in Asia, including its role in regional and national economies, societies, and political debate. It also publishes commentary by a range of journalists, scholars, and policy makers. AsiaMedia is not an institution or a foundation. "Rather, it is an intellectual exchange network headquartered at UCLA, with a geographical and intellectual reach extending from the West Coast of California to East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, and on to Australia and the Pacific Islands" (from the website).

"AsiaMedia, formerly the Asia Pacific Media Network, was founded in 1998 by Tom Plate, an experienced columnist on Asian issues and now an adjunct professor in the UCLA Department of Communications Studies, where it was published. Along with its sister publication
Asia Pacific Arts, it moved to the UCLA Asia Institute in 2002 and was renamed AsiaMedia in 2004" (website).

The publication is divided into East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Pacific Islands, and The World (latest headlines from Asia about the rest of the world). There is also an Asia Pacific Arts section. One can subscribe for free weekly updates.

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Pew Reports: Teens and Social Media, Digital Footprints

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has recently published Teens and Social Media (December, 2007), a report that describes how teenagers make use of social networking tools to communicate. The full 35-page report is freely available, along with the five-page summary of findings preceding it. From the summary:

64% of online teens ages 12-17 have participated in one or more among a wide range of content-creating activities on the internet, up from 57% of online teens in a similar survey at the end of 2004:
--39% of online teens share their own artistic creations online, such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos, up from 33% in 2004.
--33% create or work on webpages or blogs for others, including those for groups they belong to, friends, or school assignments, basically unchanged from 2004 (32%).
--28% have created their own online journal or blog, up from 19% in 2004.
--27% maintain their own personal webpage, up from 22% in 2004.
--26% remix content they find online into their own creations, up from 19% in 2004.
The percentage of those ages 12-17 who said "yes" to at least one of those five content-creation activities is 64% of online teens, or 59% of all teens.

Another Pew Report, Digital Footprints: Online identity management and search in the age of transparency, is also available in full. It reports that "most internet users are not concerned about the amount of information available about them online, and most do not take steps to limit that information. Fully 60% of internet users say they are not worried about how much information is available about them online. Similarly, the majority of online adults (61%) do not feel compelled to limit the amount of information that can be found about them online."

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Friday, January 11, 2008

January CommQuote

Mark Bowden writes about acclaimed HBO Series The Wire and its creator David Simon, former journalist at the Baltimore Sun, in this month's The Atlantic.

"Every reporter knows the sensation of having a story 'ruined' by some new and surprising piece of information. Just when you think you have the thing figured out, you learn something that shatters your carefully wrought vision. Being surprised is the essence of good reporting. But it's also the moment when a dishonest writer is tempted to fudge, for the sake of commercial success--and a more honest writer like Simon, whose passion is political and personal, is tempted to shift his energies to fiction...

The essential difference between writing nonfiction and writing fiction is that the artist owns his vision, while the journalist can never really claim one, or at least, not a complete one--because the real world is infinitely complex and ever changing. Art frees you from the infuriating unfinishedness of the real world. For this reason, the very clarity of well-wrought fiction can sometimes makes it feel more real than reality. As a film producer once told me, 'It's important not to let the facts get in the way of the truth.'

Fiction can explain things that journalism cannot. It allows you to enter the lives and motivations of characters with far more intimacy than is typically possible in nonfiction. In the case the The Wire, fiction allows you to wander around inside a violent, criminal subculture, and inside and entrenched official bureaucracy, in a way that most reporters can only dream about. And it frees you from concerns about libel and cruelty. It frees you to be unfair."
--Mark Bowden, "The Angriest Man in Television," The Atlantic, January/Februrary
, 2008

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

African American Historical Newspapers online

The Pittsburgh Courier Historical Archive has just been added to the Penn Libraries website. It includes full page and article images with searchable full text from 1911-2002. The collection includes digital reproductions providing access to every page from every available issue.

As Penn librarian Nick Okrent explains: "At its height in the 1940s the Pittsburgh Courier was one of the most important African American newspapers in the country, had a national circulation of over 350,000 and was as widely read as the Chicago Defender and Baltimore Afro-American. It is famous for its coverage of racial stereotypes in popular media, segregation in the military, Jim Crow in the South and African American figures in sports, and is a vital source of information about the Great Migration."

Other African American newspapers available online include:

The Chicago Defender, 1910-1975
Ethnic News Watch, database of multiple titles, 1959-present
African American Newspapers: The 19th Century
The Baltimore African American, 1902-1978 (free registration required)
The Washington Bee, 1900-1910

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