Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Pew Study: Media, Race, and Obama

I wish I could say I was surprised or that there was something different in the new Pew Research Center report examining news coverage of race during Obama's first year.

It's the same old story: News stories provide little context and cover events surrounding individuals rather than how trends (like the economic crisis) impact minority groups.

So even in the age of electronic news gathering, it looks like the same news norms outlined by Gaye Tuchman in Making News in 1978 (call number PN4756.T8) still hold true...

Monday, July 19, 2010

No Comment!

CNN has an interesting story on its website today examining how news websites are handling anonymous user comments. The article talks about how some news outlets are attempting to civilize the discourse on their sites by requiring users to register with their real names, e-mails, and sometimes hometowns so that posters can be held accountable for their comments.

I think this is an interesting topic for a number of reasons.

First of all: How will this impact the business end of news websites? If there are extra steps to commenting, will that mean fewer comments? If there are fewer comments, will that mean less page views, which in turn will mean less advertising? Hardly an ideal business move considering the economic state of many newspapers, so will the news outlets stick with this practice if it costs them money?

Second: What does this move signal about interactive discourse online in general? It is interesting to read articles from American Journalism Review (available through Communication and Mass Media Complete database) which point out that when comment boards were first created a few years ago, editors didn't give anonymous postings a second thought. Now they are a major topic of contention because profanity, vulgarity, and other undesirable content has become more pervasive. Thus, a pattern seems to have emerged - give the people free reign to post things until it gets out of and and then reel them back in. (Wikipedia comes to mind.) So will anonymous online posting across the internet survive or will it die out?

Friday, July 16, 2010

WorldCat TU

There's a new cat in town and he can help you find books! Cook Library now has access to WorldCat TU, a search engine for books. This tool can help you find books in Cook Library and in other libraries minus some of the headaches of the regular catalog.

What's nice about WorldCat TU is that searching has been simplified and streamlined. For example, you don't have to worry about making sure the word "The" has been removed from the title before searching, results are ranked by location and relevance, many of the results contain pictures of the book covers, and you can easily see which libraries around the world have an item.

The downside is that the searches are very specific, meaning that a search for journalist rather than journalism will produce very different results. Thus it is important to use wildcards (journalis*) and Boolean connectors (reporter + journalism) when searching. Also, WorldCat TU search results sometimes contain journal articles, but they are not always the best results. It is still best to use library databases when searching for journal articles.

To get to WorldCat TU from the library homepage, go to the research tab and select library catalogs. Then scroll down and click on the WorldCat TU link. Happy searching :-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's Official! "The Internet is Completely Over!"

The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince has decided not to release his new album online. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, he said: "The Internet’s completely over, ... The Internet’s like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good. They just fill your head with numbers and that can’t be good for you."

Why do I feel like I have heard this tune before about other media? The Middleton Studies of the 1920s and 1930s raised concerns that radio was resulting in isolation and Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone argues that individualizing technology like television is causing a decline in civic engagement.

Seems like it is the same old tune--just a different player.