Monday, February 16, 2009

A lesson for the Chicago Tribune

The Chicago Tribune ran an editorial called "A Teaching Moment." The Tribune irresponsibly picked up on the Statesman article about hooking up. Click here to read the Tribune editorial. Here is my response to the Tribune:
Dear Editor,
The teaching moment here is in responsible and quality reporting. This is a lesson the Tribune could stand to learn. It's the same lesson Fox needs to learn after showing up at the school after the article ran. This is really a story about poor reporting. Did you get a copy of the paper? Do you have any idea of the content? If so, why not discuss it within your editorial? If not, why are you commenting on it? Fox sent a news reporter out to the school to report on the story with live coverage, but they never read the article either. The student article was based on the opinions of one student. There was no survey, no research, no statistics of any kind. While I do not support censorship, and I do support Thill's efforts at covering topics traditionally left out of school papers, I do not support the way the Tribune, Fox news, WGN radio and other media have used the story as a sensationalized caption of teen life. The article itself was poor reporting and your use of it is even worse, unless of course you consider your paper on the level of a high school newspaper, albeit an award-winning one.

What do you think of this editorial? Do you see how the media irresponsibly reports on stories that might get them some notice? These stories seem credible to those who are not on the inside - which most of the time is not us. But this time it is us. Knowing what you know, I hope this episode will make you more media saavy. Be mindful of what you read, listen to and watch.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sources

We had an alumnus return and talk about his experiences covering the election for Fox news. What I thought was significant was his candidness about the recent trend in media to create conflict, especially on pseudo-news shows such as MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olberman or Fox's O'Reilly Factor. In both cases, these shows focus on the polar divisions of two sides rather than the middle ground. Both shows focus on the extremes and both taylor their news to cater to a certain demographic (Countdown = liberal, O'Reilly = Conservative). This leads me to sources. As we study sociology we realize the tremendous influence that our environment has on us and that environment includes the media. We have to be aware that corporate media like Fox and NBC is designed to get ratings and increase stock value. This means we (the public, the citizens and the consumers of this media) must be knowledgable about these dynamics. A terrific example of this recently was when SHS was on Fox News the other night.
video
Why is this on the news and where did they get their information? Being from SHS, this is a valuable opportunity for you to see how the media take information (often from an unreliable source) and create a spectacle or controversy. In this case, Fox is getting its sources from Kevin - one student, who was interviewed in the school paper! All of a sudden, if you are not from SHS it appears that the school has a hooking up problem. The reality (as you know) is far different than how Fox makes it out to be. We are lucky to know the truth in this case, but imagine how many other stories are spun in this way and we are not on the inside to know the difference. Watch your media carefully and critically!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Homework change!

NOTE TO STUDENTS:
The gang leader reading is now due wednesday.