Archive for May, 2011

Questions on Incivility in Contemporary Politics and Culture

By Dr. Steve Goldzwig

On May 1, 2010 President Barack Obama delivered a commencement address at the University of Michigan. In the address, Obama delivered a rather elegant treatise on incivility. The president noted:

“Sometimes all you hear in Washington is the clamor of politics. And all that noise can drown out the voices of the people who sent you there. So when I took office, I decided that each night I would read 10 letters out of the tens of thousands that are sent to us by ordinary Americans every day— this is my modest effort to remind myself of why I ran in the first place.

Some of the letters make you think — like the one that I received last month from a kindergarten class in Virginia. Now, the teacher of this class instructed the students to ask me any question they wanted. So one asked, “How do you do your job?” Another asked, “Do you work a lot?” (Laughter.) Somebody wanted to know if I wear a black jacket or if I have a beard —(laughter)—so clearly they were getting me mixed up with the other tall guy from Illinois. (Laughter.) And one of my favorites was from a kid who wanted to know if I lived next to a volcano. (Laughter.) I’m still trying to piece the thought process on this one. (Laughter.) Loved this letter.

But it was the last question from the last student in the letter that gave me pause. The student asked, “Are people being nice?” Are people being nice? Continue reading ‘Questions on Incivility in Contemporary Politics and Culture’

The Text Messaging Gender Divide in India

By Robert Shuter

I’m traveling to Boston this week to present my research at the ICA (International Communication Association) on the gender text messaging divide in India. This study follows up last year’s ICA paper and, now published article (with colleague Sumana Chattopadhyay) on “textiquettes” in India and the U.S.

Although text messaging has exploded in popularity worldwide, there is scant research on the social and interpersonal norms guiding its use, particularly when communicators send or read texts while conversing with others. In our recent published cross-cultural study of text messaging, it was found that culturally different “textiquettes” – emerging interpersonal norms of text messaging –were quickly developing in India and the U.S. and appeared to be linked to indigenous cultural values in each society. While different textiquettes were identified for both countries, one question remained: Why did women in India engage in text messaging patterns that were significantly different than their female and male counterparts in both countries?

My ICA paper explores this question, identifying socio-cultural forces that influence text messaging of women in India and fuel the gender text messaging divide.

Robert Shuter is a Professor of Communication Studies in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

Journalism and the Ethics of Photoshop

By Jennifer Janviere

The original Situation Room photograph. (Pete Souza/The White House)

The original Situation Room photograph. (Pete Souza/The White House)

The fields of both journalism and photography have undergone rapid and profound changes in recent years, and one of the biggest issues impacting both industries is the advent of digital editing and publishing software.

In the case of photojournalists, the range of digital retouching software such as Photoshop has in many ways made their jobs easier, allowing for rapid edits to lighting, cropping and the powerful ability to repair flaws. Results that once may have taken a combination of skill and painstaking effort to accomplish are now achievable with a few clicks of a mouse. And while this statement oversimplifies the skill and effort still required to produce a quality photo, any photographer will tell you that digital darkroom software is one of the most powerful tools in his or her arsenal.

These same photo editing tools have an alternate side, though. The ability to fix flaws or remove unwanted objects from an image also allows the photo editor to change the reality being presented to viewers. A talented Photoshop artist can dramatically and believably change the information that a photo conveys, swapping out  locations, things or even people present in the original. Because of this, photos, which were once taken as a factual record of an event, can no longer be accepted purely at face value.

This is harmless enough for photography intended for personal or fine art use, but what about images intended to be presented to the public as photojournalism? Where is the line drawn between removing things that detract from a composition and attempting the change the reality of what the viewer sees? Continue reading ‘Journalism and the Ethics of Photoshop’

Foreign News Perspectives and Internet Tracking

By Steve Byers

Like many of us, I’m fascinated with the various stories coming out of the death of Osama bin Laden. Unlike most, I suspect, I’m especially fascinated by foreign takes on the story — for example, the death is described as a “hit” and a “slaying” in the Asia Times, terms we’re unlikely to read here. Nor are we going to read much in American media like the column headed “U.S. Spins Web of Self-Deceit,” which ties Osama’s death, oil, banking and governmental lies— both in America and Pakistan — all together.

Similarly, looking at stories in the Pakistani or Indian press is instructive, in that they, too, take radically different slants. I also regularly check stories from media in Australia, Europe (especially Britain and Germany) and other localities as well as Al-Jeezra English (where you can find this excellent column by Richard N. Haasson “Beyond Osama bin Laden,” which sheds much light on the Middle East).

What makes this search fascinating to me is that we now have the abilities to view these media so easily via — and in real time. This is the upside of the new media — it can make us better informed.

On a related note — from the dark side of new media, in my view — as I was searching the site, suddenly there was a groupon for “The Best Deal in Milwaukee: Save 50% to 90% in Milwaukee” after I would “confirm your city: Milwaukee.”

Frankly, tracking software like this is scary, and the loss of privacy may ultimately kill the promise of the Internet.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication.

Diederich College Events: A Year in Review

By Julie Rosene

Centennial Seminars panel, February 2011

Dr. Erik Ugland moderates the 'Centennial Seminars' panel, February 2011

Where can you can you get the inside scoop from a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, hear fast breaking news from a network TV correspondent, learn the art of storytelling from a bestselling author and roar with laughter in a lecture on communication theory from the star of an NBC hit sitcom?

The Diederich College of Communication of course!

While we all know that students in our college receive a wonderful education inside the classroom, we shouldn’t forget about the exciting learning going on outside the classroom as well. As part of the Centennial of Journalism Celebration at the Diederich College, the 2010- 2011 academic year has been packed full of wonderful special events and guest speakers. As the event coordinator of the college, I have seen first hand the extraordinary “teaching moments” when outstanding guest experts and professionals share their knowledge and experiences with our students. Continue reading ‘Diederich College Events: A Year in Review’

Congratulations to Our Award-Winning Alumni

Pictured left to right: Schmitt Boyer, Strupp, Plale, Williams, Brunner Brown

Congratulations to our award-winning alumni, who were recently recognized for their accomplishments at the Marquette University Alumni National Awards ceremony.

This year’s recipients from the Diederich College of Communication include sports journalist Mary Schmitt Boyer (Journalism By-Line Award), director of corporate and executive communication at Northwestern Mutual Ted Strupp (Communicator of the Year Award), state senator Jeffery Plale (Professional Achievement Award), managing director and ultra-high-net-worth private banker at Citi Private Bank Daniel Williams (Young Alumnus of the Year Award) and CBS affiliate news anchor Melissa Brunner Brown (James T. Tiedge Memorial Award).

Read the bios of our alumni award winners on the Marquette University Alumni Association site

View photos from the 2011 Awards dinner on our photostream

Overheard: Opinions on Local News Coverage

By Steve Byers

A recently overheard comment:

Man: “The Journal Sentinel really buried the story about about questionable voting totals in Waukesha County (97 percent in one election; Australia, where voting is mandatory, only gets 95 percent). It’s on a blog but not in the paper.”

Woman: “Doesn’t matter. Social media is all over it.”

That statement would alarm me if I were running the Journal Sentinel.

Steve Byers is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Journalism at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication.

The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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