Monday, April 9, 2012

Mike Wallace Resources

CBS reporter Mike Wallace died over the weekend at the age of 93. Even though he is best known for his work on "60 Minutes," Wallace had a storied career in broadcasting that extended from the 1940s until 2008.

To read and watch some of Mike Wallace's reporting and other works, here are some resources to peruse:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Publishers Oppose FRPAA? No Way!

When I have some down time at the library reference desk, I like to read the Chronicle of Higher Education so I can keep up with the latest education news. On their ticker today, I came across this story about the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which is legislation that is going up in the House and the Senate that would require the results from federally funded research to be made publicly available within 6 months of publication.

It's not a surprise that the major publishing organizations are against this, but when I read how they were justifying their opposition I couldn't help but laugh. Tom Allen, president of the Association of American Publishers, said “FRPAA is little more than an attempt at intellectual eminent domain, but without fair compensation to authors” (emphasis added). I find it funny that the industry that makes its money largely on the backs of academic authors and their university libraries and often leaves them with little more than prestige to show for their work can complain about someone else providing unfair compensation for authors.

I think it is high time that the research our scholars work so hard to produce is made available to them and their students for a reasonable price. The American Association of Publishers is going to have to come up with a better argument than this one if they want anyone to adopt their position.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why Wikipedia May Go Dark on Wednesday

If you're like me and you like to look up the occasional obscure fact on Wikipedia, you may not be able to do so on Wednesday, 1/18. According to news reports, the online encyclopedia plans to shutdown for the day to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that is currently under consideration in Congress.

While no one really likes piracy, this legislation has the potential to have some serious repercussions beyond simply stopping unauthorized distribution of content. Blogging for the New York Times, Jenna Wortham notes that SOPA "may force search engines and Internet service providers to block access to Web sites that offer or link to copyrighted material." Basically, if SOPA is passed as it was originally conceived, when a website is accused of containing pirated content, it can be wiped off the digital map without any real due process. Any website can be accused and be essentially shut down. Declan McCullagh writing for CNET put it best: "[SOPA is] kind of an internet death penalty."

So while a day without our favorite online encyclopedia may be a pain, it is for a worthy cause. Imagine an internet with no Wikipedia, ever. Or no New York Times. With SOPA as law, that could be very possible.

For more information about SOPA and its potential impact, see this CNET article.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Reporting When a Sex Abuse Scandal Hits Home

This morning the lead story in the Philadelphia Inquirer was probably one that no one at the paper ever imagined they would have to write. Award winning baseball writer Bill Conlin had been accused of multiple instances of sexually abusing children back in the 1970s. The story on details horrific acts and how the allegations managed to remain secret until now. Also accompanying the article is another piece from the editor of the Philadelphia Daily News talking about how it was difficult, but necessary for the Inquirer/Daily News conglomerate to report on these allegations against one of their own.

While editor Larry Platt pledges vigilance in their coverage of these accusations, I wonder how this story will impact their coverage of the Penn State and Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. Will they be less likely to write about the ignorance of those closest to the alleged abusers since they themselves didn't know an alleged abuser was in their midst for 30 years? I did notice that neither of the Bill Conlin articles online allowed for comments and I'm interested in why that is. Perhaps the papers have seen the hurtful comments that people have left on their stories about the other two scandals and don't want to have all that venom spewed in their direction? What does that say about the value of comments left on news stories?

It will be interesting to watch how the Inquirer/Daily News conglomerate handles the Bill Conlin abuse scandal and others going forward.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Plagiarism Goes to Court

When I teach my library session on citation and plagiarism, I always like to throw in the story of Adam Wheeler, the former Harvard student who was criminally prosecuted, in part because he was awarded scholarship money for works of literature that he plagiarized.

Now, I have another story I can add to my repertoire: Apparently reporter Susan Bradford has sued the Huffington Post and the New York Times alleging that they stole her stories about notorius financier Jack Abramoff.

So students, let this be a warning to you: If you steal someone else's work and claim it as your own, you may not only fail out of Towson but you may end up in court.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Baltimore Sun is Going Pay Wall!

If you blinked, you may have missed it. The Baltimore Sun will be putting up a pay wall on October 10th. What this means is that through the Sun's website, you get 15 free story views per month and you will need to pay a subscription fee after that . They estimate the fee will come to about 35 cents per day and even if you subscribe to paper copy, you still need to purchase a digital subscription for to get past the pay wall. For all the nitty gritty, see their relatively well-hidden FAQ. I think it is relatively interesting that the paper has somewhat kept quiet that this is coming and I also wonder how effective it will be. After all, look how quickly advice on how to break the New York Times' pay wall appeared when it was launched...

Of course, I'd be remiss as a librarian if I didn't remind all you Towson folks that you can access the Sun all the way back to 1837 through our databases and this won't cost you a dime :-)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mediamark Missing the Mark

A new semester is underway and with a new semester invariably comes the semi-annual updating of my library instruction handouts. One of the updates that I usually make in late August is to my MRI+ Quick Guide and Powerpoint because Mediamark adds last year's data to MRI+ around that time. (For those of you who don't know, MRI+ is a consumer data set that advertising students can use to learn how to best target their campaigns).

This year was different. The new data was just added yesterday and as of my writing this, it appears to be less robust in some areas than last year's data. For example, it is missing the data for women throughout.

Also, we are still trying to get clarification on what some of the categories mean. An example of this is the listing of dollar amounts in the Contributions to Public TV/Radio report. This report also seems to list contributions to other types of charities such as religious organizations so this raises the question of whether the dollar amounts refer to just public media contributions or to charitable giving in general. A colleague of mine began investigating the meaning of this report last school year and still hasn't gotten an answer.

I think that Mediamark's MRI+ can be a great teaching tool for communication students, but I wish they would do a better job of communicating with their customers about product changes and what their data means.