Blog

[Published] A return to real social networking

Reconnecting is hugely important, not only to our economy but to our sense of community and understanding of people around us. This summer is going to be about getting back to the things that we love. But it can also be about correcting some of the bad communication habits we’ve fallen into that have left us feeling out of touch and even angry at the world outside.

I wrote for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette twice in 2020, both columns about how the COVID-19 pandemic created an unhealthy communication environment prone to misinformation and animosity.

Now that Arkansas and America are returning to normal, I wanted to write something to remind us of the community beyond our screens and encourage real social networking – even if we might be a little rusty. The piece relies on theory and research into social identity, relational maintenance, community structure, and affective dimensions of partisanship and trust.

Read the column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

See more of my media appearances here.

[Quoted] A president inaugurated; another deplatformed

Media research and comms professor Dylan McLemore tweeted this on Tuesday night, and I think it was spot-on. “I know he has a few more hours,” McLemore tweeted, “but it feels like Donald Trump’s presidency ended when his Twitter account was taken away.”

As Joe Biden was set to be inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, his predecessor – capable of dominating a media cycle like no other – had become largely silent.

I appeared on Al Jazeera English shortly after the insurrection to talk about Donald Trump’s social media ban, and noted that as president, he continued to possess one of the largest platforms of any person on earth. And yet, in the final weeks of his presidency, he really didn’t use it. Without the ability to tweet stream of consciousness from his phone, the president’s press shop basically called it a term.

I appreciate Brian Stelter fitting the observation into a very busy news day.

Read the entire CNN Reliable Sources newsletter here.

See more of my media appearances here.

[Published] Trump, the Capitol and religious endorsement

What happened at our Capitol festered in our churches and was done in the name of our God. As Christians, we can’t stay silent. The time has long passed to rebuke and remove this cancer once and for all.

I was glued to my television on January 6. The images of protesters breaching the United States Capitol building in a violent show of opposition to presidential election results will stay with me forever. Not just because of what it means for democracy, but because of what it means for the church.

It was impossible not to notice the religious symbols amidst the throng. A giant wooden cross. A flag pledging allegiance both to Donald Trump and Jesus Christ. A Christian flag planted in an occupied Senate chamber.

I’ve been writing about the uncomfortably cozy relationship between Donald Trump and the Evangelical church since he was a candidate. In the four years since, support for Trump has become an important piece of a fused religious-political identity.

It’s an uncomfortable topic. I reluctantly brought the thoughts that would eventually form this article to Facebook. People argued. My faith was questioned. I got (loudly) unfriended. I hated it so much.

But the point of all of my writings on this topic has been the importance of speaking up. No longer accommodating Christian nationalists in our midst, but instead asking why they feel so comfortable in our pews and compatible with the Gospel being preached from our pulpits.

So I wrote this piece – you can read the entire thing in Relevant Magazine.

Update: I also spoke to Eric Sentell for the Metamorphosis podcast for a longform conversation about this. You can listen in your browser via Soundcloud, or download it from Apple or wherever you get your podcasts.

See more of my media appearances here.

An unprecedented year and what it means for journalism in 2021

Journalists faced new obstacles and rose to new heights in 2020. What will the news look like in 2021?

“The speed of the news cycle was a new kind of dizzying. If you missed a day (or even a few hours) of news, you felt like a stranger in a foreign land. If it’s tough for those of us whose job it is to keep up, imagine the person who reads a couple headlines during their lunch break, or catches a few televised newscasts a week.”

I wrote that for CNN’s Reliable Sources newsletter looking back at the year that was… 2017.

If I had only known what 2020 would bring.

It’s easy to forget that the year was off to a ferocious pace before a global pandemic, worldwide protests over racial injustice, and an Election Day-turned-Week-turned-Month. In January alone, wildfires still raged in Australia, a U.S. drone strike killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, NBA superstar Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash, and the House held the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Journalists faced new obstacles and rose to new heights in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic placed pressures on newsrooms that transitioned to remote work. Broadcast anchors set up makeshift studios in spare bedrooms while reporters joined frontline responders to tell their stories.

Continue reading “An unprecedented year and what it means for journalism in 2021”

[Quoted] Dan Le Batard and ESPN ‘mutually’ agree to move on

“Dan Le Batard put up ESPN’s best podcast numbers by far. Curious to see (a) if he lands with Spotify, Ringer, etc. and (b) if ESPN has new plans for the podcast space or if it returns to being recycled radio shows…”

Sports talk radio has been playing in the background most of my life. I listened because I wanted to be them, then because I was them, and later because I missed being them.

The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz has been my fix for the past – oh goodness – at least five years. It’s occasionally smart social commentary wrapped in stupid morning zoo radio. Like Jim Rome or Scott Van Pelt, they never take sports too seriously.

But that irreverence and continued meandering into the culture war was a relic of former boss John Skipper’s ESPN, not Jimmy Pitaro’s strict “stick to sports” network.

So it wasn’t surprising at all to learn that Le Batard and ESPN were parting ways. What I was most curious about as a media researcher is how it would affect the podcast space. Digital audio is where Le Batard increasingly found himself resigned, but he turned it into an impressive brand rivaling that of Bill Simmons.

I think, like Simmons, it’s going to help Le Batard become a rare post-ESPN success story. Meanwhile ESPN has to decide if it’s going to devote resources to developing new names and ideas that play to the unique podcast space, or just toss in replays of Mike Greenberg and PTI and call it a day. Is it worth it to a media enterprise that is focused on TV and streaming video, owned by an even bigger media conglomerate focused on all of that plus movies and theme parks?

It’s a lot to consider. Thanks to Brian Stelter for using my questions to get the conversation started.

Read the entire CNN Reliable Sources newsletter.

See more of my media appearances here.

%d bloggers like this: