Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stephen King Coming to Savannah!

This isn't related whatsoever to our class, but I thought many of you would like to know that there is now an even better reason to attend the Savannah Book Festival.

STEPHEN KING will be giving the Book Festival's closing address at the Trustees Theatre on Feb. 19, 2012.  Tickets for this will go on sale October 3 at 10 a.m. for only $10. Read about it at SMN here

I first found out from a writer friend of mine on Facebook, another example of how social media can be a powerful and immediate source of news.  But I thought I'd take the time to critique SMN's coverage of the news. 

First, I'd like to look at the page as an online source.  There is a picture provided, and like all articles on the site, there is a way to post the page's link via Facebook or Twitter.  You can also email the page and comment on it.  But there are no external links to be found on the page.  It's rather/kinda/extremely obvious to provide links to Stephen King's official website and the Savannah Book Festival website, at the very least.

As for content, the article is actually the exact press release that the Book Festival released.  No additional research was done.  As a fan, I immediately wanted to know was if there was going to be a book signing.  What is the potential for the festival's growth now that an author with such a huge reputation will be in the area?  How will the growth of the Book Festival affect the writing scene in Savannah? I speculate that people from all over - maybe as far away as Charleston and Jacksonville - will come to try to see him.  And it's always motivational for a writer to see a favorite/famous author, so much so that the numbers for local writing clubs could climb after the event.  How have other city's Book Festivals affected the local writing scenes?  Eck, my questions go on and on.  

Overall, I'm even more excited for 2012 than I was before.  I'll have graduated, regained my sanity, and hopefully, have seen Stephen King at the Savannah Book Festival.

P.S. For your viewing pleasure - Stephen King on Conan O'Brien, 2005 (sorry about the fuzz factor):

Friday, September 16, 2011

MSNBC's Getting Rev'd Up

So local and regional news agencies are shutting down all over the country.  Journalism jobs are hard to come by - there are less and less positions at traditional news businesses for more and more journalism grads to fight for.  I know this, but I hold out hope that the field will mold with the times.  But it burns me to see journalist jobs going to people who are not journalists.

Take MSNBC’s August 23 announcement as a prime example.  The news corp. placed Rev. Al Sharpton in its 6 p.m. “PoliticsNation” time slot.  It’s bad enough that he has no formal training in journalism (he actually holds no college degree), but his personal biases are blazingly evident and have been for years.  Here are a few that I found while reading his biography on
  1. He’s an ordained minister – religious bias.
  2. He’s a political activist, as a leader in the NAACP and a seeker of government offices and the presidency – he has a personal and political agenda to push.
  3. He has a history of slanderous remarks (late 80’s) – can he even do the job?

But this isn’t the first time that major news networks have hired outside the world of journalism for prime time national news, biases be damned.  CNN had Eliot Spitzer, former NY governor (political biases much?), on for about nine months before cancelling his show. 

I feel like we study not just the practices and principles of journalism, but ourselves while in school.  At the very least, we learn to recognize that we all have biases. I feel like handing this job, so crucial to the building and maintaining of this country, over to those who don’t know the journalism field and its mandates cheapens the degree we are working towards.  Do public figures who venture into the news world know that a journalist’s first duty is to the truth? Do they care? Regardless, it will be interesting to see if Sharpton’s news legacy is as long lasting as Spitzer’s.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Today’s Lesson: Best to be a Jerk

I didn’t speak up today about this, but I thought I’d weigh in with my own opinion. I think it is better to be a jerk in the journalistic world.  We are the ones who should “challenge the prevailing attitudes” rather than accept them passively.  We need to ask, “Should this be done? Who is at fault?”  There is still a need for watchdogs to dig at the truth.

While doing the reading in BNW this week and listening to today’s discussion, I kept weighing what The Post and Courier’s main concern should be: timing or truth?  Should their community image wholly/partly inform their editorial decisions?  I agree that there should be “grievance” pieces following a tragedy; to not do so is bad business for a newspaper.  But I felt that the hard questions that lead to the truth of the matter – that there were mistakes made by the fire department – were not addressed soon enough. 

I remember the coverage following the sugar refinery explosion in Port Wentworth.  Questions came first.  What caused it?  Who’s responsible? How many died?  The failure of OSHA to inspect the plant’s numerous violations became national news the following day.  A small southern city’s grief was expressed and shared, but it did not overshadow the truth of the matter – that the tragedy could have been avoided.