Crime Scene: A lesson in reporting & interviewing (w/ fake blood!)

A gruesome murder has occurred on the SAU campus – the fifth on an area campus in as many weeks. But for the first time, the killer has slipped, leaving clues behind…

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Crime Scene is a collaborative project between the Theatre and Mass Communication students within the department. Students in my Reporting and Writing course attempt to uncover details of the apparent murder and develop a news story capturing the facts of the case so far.

It’s their favorite day of the semester. Mine, too.

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Teaching September 11

One of my senior-level seminar courses took a break from our normal lecture schedule last week to look back at the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and their impact on journalism, culture, and diplomacy in the United States and abroad. I titled the series, “Effects of 9/11 – 10 Years Later,” and opened it to students across the campus.

With the immense anniversary coverage being prepared for the weekend ahead, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to look back (For more on the extent of the coverage, see Paul Farhi’s piece in the Washington Post). The idea gained steam with the launch of the new Understanding 9/11 page from the Internet Archive, a massive collection of television coverage from the original Sept. 11, 2001 broadcasts of major news networks around the world.

I arranged the lectures around clips from the archive and other corners of the Internet. I was quite pleased with the discussions that took place. My colleagues and I wondered if the students – most of them 10-11 years old when the attacks occurred – would have the same memories of that day as we do. As it turned out, the associations were still strong, and sparked some great debate.

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Perceived Media Bias and Cable News Branding: The Effects of Diversification in the Marketplace of Information

This presentation was given Saturday at the AEJMC Annual Conference as part of a refereed paper research session on “Bias and Branding” sponsored by the Radio-Television Journalism Division. This is a rudimentary script to an oral presentation with visual aids, so it will leave a bit to be desired for the blog reader.

For the PowerPoint accompanying this presentation, email Dylan.

For more on the conference as a whole, view my main post on AEJMC ’11.

Claims of media bias are nothing new. And despite plentiful content analyses that show little to no evidence of some collective attempt to mislead the public, perceptions of bias not only remain, but have increased dramatically over the past decade, a time frame that correlates with the rise of Fox News and MSNBC – cable news networks to compete with CNN and create a competitive marketplace.

Researchers like Sutter or Anand, DiTella, and Galetovic have looked at news coverage economically, and cable news as just what it is – a for-profit industry. That means, like any differentiated product market, the news outlets must seek a place along a continuum of potential audiences. With radio stations, it would be genres of music; with news it could be the types of stories covered (intl/domestic; hard news/entertainment), but we often think of it in terms of political ideology.

The suggestion is that our oft-idealized paradise of objectivity doesn’t make good business sense, because wide-open market segments are left untapped while everyone battles for the middle. If every station in town is playing country music, why don’t you try reaching out to the hip-hop fans? (Ideology isn’t quite so drastic, but you get the idea.)

So instead, content analyses (or a casual channel surf during primetime) have suggested that the cable news environment looks something like this. Each network has differentiated, targeting its own particular audience. Which begs the question… How do these differentiation attempts influence the audience’s perceptions of bias in those networks?

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