It's always good to to see what's doing at the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center. The McGannon Center conducts and disseminates research that informs the communications policymaking process and ethical decision-making in the management of media institutions. Here are three of their latest working papers.
McSweeney's Broadside Valentine to Print Journalism
Leave it to Dave Eggers at McSweeney's to try to save print journalism (well, DON'T leave it to him, but appreciate his efforts). In the publisher's own words:
Issue 33 of McSweeney’s Quarterly will be a one-time only, Sunday-edition-sized newspaper—the San Francisco Panorama. It'll have news and sports and arts coverage, and comics (sixteen pages of glorious, full-color comics, from Chris Ware and Dan Clowes and Art Spiegelman and many others besides) and a magazine and a weekend guide, and will basically be an attempt to demonstrate all the great things print journalism can (still) do, with as much first-rate writing and reportage and design (and posters and games and on-location Antarctic travelogues) as we can get in there. Expect journalism from Andrew Sean Greer, fiction from George Saunders and Roddy Doyle, dispatches from Afghanistan, and much, much more.
The folks at McSweeny's believe that if newspaper were better, more exciting reads, they wouldn't be so strapped for readers. Comments blogger Zach Dundas explains from a recent conversation with McSweeny's publisher Oscar Villalon, "papers need to realize that there are higher, better uses for their tactile, large-format pages than reprinting three-day-old David Brooks columns or intern-written high-school sports gamers. Though you wouldn’t know it to survey the abandoned-looking metal box on the average American city street corner, it is possible to design, shoot, write and edit a forward-thinking newspaper. Witness Mario Garcia’s recent redesign of Germany’s Handelsblatt, or any of Jacek Utko’s striking Eastern European dailies."
I've ordered a copy for Annenberg (for the holidays?). Along these same lines (items to sit down with over a latte between end of year paper writing or grading)... The Onion's Our Front Pages: 21 Years of Greatness, Virtue, and Moral Rectitude from America's Finest News Source is also on order.
A special issue of The Chronicle Review, the magazine insert of The Chronicle of Higher Education, is devoted to the crisis in journalism. Carlin Romano makes a compelling case for a philosophy of journalism and even outlines how a basic course in such would be constructed. Michael Schudson calls for university-based reporting as a way to keep journalism alive. Other scholars weigh in on the subject of how the academy can help revitalize/rescue the field. The largest piece is made up of 18 voices addressing the effect of a declining news media on higher education." Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Henry Jenkins, Laura Kipnis, and Stanford Ungar are among the respondents.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, is available as an e-resource from the Library homepage or in paper at the ASC Library.
David Hockney has a new passion, drawing on his iPhone, as Lawrence Weschler describes in a recent New York Review of Books piece. The application called Brushes, which enables users to digitally draw or fingerpaint on the device's screen, provides a full color wheel spectrum that can be easily lightened or darkened. Hockney has gone wild with this new technology producing thousands of images which he casually sends to friends. So far he's been working in three thematic areas--portraits and self-portraits, still life of plants and flowers, and California dawns. Most iPhone painters use their index finger but Hockney is strictly a thumb-man. He has no problem with his images finding their way into print media but believes it's worth noting that:
"...the images always look better on the screen than on the page. After all, this is a medium of pure light, not ink or pigment, if anything more akin to a stained glass window than an illustration on paper. It's all part of the urge toward figuration. You look out at the world and you're called to make gestures in response. And that's a primordial calling: goes all the way back to the cave painters. May even have preceded language. People are always asking me about my ancestors, and I say, Well there must have been a cave painter back there somewhere. Him scratching away on his cave wall, me dragging my thumb over this iPhone's screen. All part of the same passion." --"David Hockney's iPhone Passion," Lawrence Weschler, The New York Review of Books, October 22
This is not a new report, folks (sorry), but it's still well within the statute of limitations for importance. The BrookingsInstitution's Governance Studies program teamed up with the Norman Lear Center at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California to investigate the role of the media (mostly television news, newspapers, and blogs) in the ofttimes incendiary issue of immigration. They published their findings in a 2008 83-page report which is divided into two parts. The first and largest part is devoted to a content analysis of media coverage of immigration since 1980 with greater emphasis on recent years. The second section is composed of two essays, one focusing on coverage for one year (2007), the other on the role of public opinion in the debate. The Report does not hold out much hope for the media playing a role in resolving the crisis which, though the message is bad, is at least honest.