Thursday, July 6, 2017

Hamilton, I don't have the words...

I (along with wife and two of the boys) went to see Hamilton in Chicago a couple weeks ago.  I've wanted to blog about it for a while but my words can't do it justice.  Each time I would get started I found my words just couldn't describe the experience. Our Founding Fathers were amazing, genius, brave, courageous and after reading Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter's Hamilton: The Revolution I got to see just how those same words can describe these modern day "founders."   It was an amazing show. I've been mowing my yard and taking my daily walks with the tunes from the soundtrack blasting in my ears. My interest in history has been renewed - because of the Hamilton phenomena I've seen the musical, read Ron Chernow's Hamilton, read Hamilton: The Revolution, and a witty book called Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell. (She is a very funny author who has a unique view of history.) Chernow's nearly 1,000 page book about Washington is now begging to be read. I'm not sure I would have taken the plunge back into our American history without catching the Hamilton bug.  Maybe I was able to find the words after all.

Sheila is crushing the blog. I see an award winning podcast in the future

Our former Chronicle Editor-in-Chief Sheila Raghavendran, now a media student at I.U. is crushing the blog scene.  She gets it - the blog is excellent and worth the time spent flipping through the pages. Stories, artwork, graphic creations, opinion, audio commentary, podcasts, journalistic works, posts, etc. You name it, she's got it. Great work Sheila - Great blog. Check out Sheila's blog HERE. I think you'll really like the podcasts - very well produced and great stories.  Look out This American Life and Serial. BuzzFeed recently published a list of the 27 Podcasts You Should Listen to in 2017. Sheila didn't quite make this list but I have a feeling she will probably one day end up on their list. If you're looking for podcasts Esquire just published their list of the 10 Best Podcasts of the 2017 So Far.  I think if you flip through these you might find one you like.  Between BuzzFeed (Ashton Nichols - former Chronicle staffer - soon to be O.U. journalistic giant - I know you're a BuzzFeed fan) and the Esquire list you're bound to find some interesting pieces, gain a little knowledge and for our media students maybe find a new genre of media production you would like to explore.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

If you don't want a free press, just buy it

Click on the picture to watch the trailer
I just finished watching an excellent documentary on Netflix. "Nobody Speak: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and Trials of a Free Press."  

My colleague Matt Marvar sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me this was a must watch.  He was correct.  If you can get past the salacious story of Hulk Hogan's romantic exploits you will quickly see that this documentary is not about Hulk Hogan but a more important topic.  Our freedom as a journalist - the only profession that was actually protected in the Constitution.  

Watching the Sunday morning political talking heads I heard a media ethicist talking about how we've entered a new media ecosystem. A system where instead of balancing ideas, talking point/counterpoint - instead it's about simply argument, creating false realities, and if we talk about it enough then it must be true.  She said this new media landscape is beyond repair. I think she's probably right - it can't be fixed. She could be right but that doesn't mean that the press still doesn't have a vital role in digging, researching and reporting.  If you watch this documentary you'll see that if you don't want a free press - just buy it - yes I said buy it - that's exactly what some of our billionaires are doing in the U.S, they're buying media organizations and newspapers to suppress information or shape the stories that are being reported in their publications.  

If you take the time to watch this documentary you are going to be inspired by the story of the courageous reporters from the Las Vegas Review-Journal who stood up to a billionaire who bought their newspaper and tried to suppress their reporting.  Instead they fought back, knowing it would cost them their jobs.  This is probably the best part of the documentary as you listen to these amazing journalists talk about the importance of press in a free society.  So important in fact that they put their own jobs at risk. When the staff learned that their paper had been bought out they quickly went to work trying to unmask their new owner. They practiced good old fashion journalism on their own newspaper.  Oh my, if David Carr was still alive he would have a field day with this story.  

While I've never checked out the Gawker website (until just now - which of course is shut down, if you watch the documentary, you'll see why.) The type of news coverage they provide probably isn't for me but I do defend their right to report and write (even if some of their content is outrageous.) Ashton Nichols sent me an article a few weeks ago about how the current political climate is giving rise to a new era of journalists, an uptick in newspaper subscriptions, and a growing trend that is seeing more and more young people choose journalism as a career.  You should check out the story here. It is definitely worth the read and validates what we're doing. 

“It’s Donald Trump taking a leading voice in trying to turn the country against journalism,” Joe Grimm, editor in residence at Michigan State University's School of Journalism, tells Teen Vogue. “He essentially needs an enemy and he’s chosen the news media to be one of his enemies.”
In response, many Americans are using their wallets to show support for journalism. Subscriptions to The New York Times doubled in 2016, and many other news organizations reported bumps in subscriptions and donations after the election. And there seems to be a rising enthusiasm for journalism as a career: Instead of being put off by “fake news” jeers and “dishonest media” jabs, preliminary numbers show that journalism education programs are seeing a rise in interest compared to the recent past.

I hope you'll take a break from your Netflix binge watching of 13 Reasons Why, The Office, Orange is the New Black, or whatever else you're into and give this 90 minute documentary a view.  I think if you watch it you're going to be impacted, especially by the stories of the staff members at Las Vegas Review-Journal and their columnist John L. Smith. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The smallest comment can have huge meaning

I heard a small nugget today that really made me think about The Chronicle and MBC staff.  While I know everyone on our teams do what they do for the good of the whole there are times when that may not be the case. Sometimes people start to think they've arrived or progressed at a pace that puts them ahead of others so when I heard this little line squeezed into something I heard at church today I just thought I would share it.  "If you're too big to do the little stuff then you're too little to do the big stuff." Wow, isn't that good.  Think about how everyone is looking for that bold title to put on their resume or that leadership role that will look good on a college application, NHS interview, or whatever.  Sometimes the people that finally get that great zinger that looks good on the application aren't always willing to do the little things that come with it.  The bold print on a resume or a cord at graduation looks really good, but maybe it's the realization that you where willing to do the "little things" that really matter.  Are you willing to help a custodian clean up a mess after you created it or do you think - oh well that's their job? Are you willing to walk around a classroom and push in chairs or pick up after others - or do you just say I didn't make that mess, it's not my problem?  Do you sit around wasting time but yell at out at others that they need to get their jobs done?  Do you model a behavior that goes with the title or the respect you so badly want? We're all guilty of this....right?  But that doesn't mean we can't take small steps to improve - to do the little things because if you're willing to do the little things then when a big thing comes along you'll be equipped to do that too.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

I finished Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow....Finally

I started the book in June of 2016 and finally finished it March of 2017.  Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow was a fascinating book about one of America's most influential founding fathers.  In fact so influential that many of his ideas, concepts, and creations are still impacting our daily lives in 2017.  I have to admit I probably wouldn't have read this book if it wasn't for all the hype surrounding the Broadway Musical Hamilton.  The book was fascinating and so in depth that I can barely go into it in a blog but wow, it was amazing.  Chernow's style is very easy to read and understand.  The book is not for everyone and it is very long.  800 or so pages.  I'm just glad I finally finished it and I'm looking forward to seeing the musical at some point.  Now onto my next read.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Teaching Fake News, it's about time

Fake news is everywhere and now you can take a class to learn how to determine if something is fake or real.  Colleges and high school are getting in on the act, adding classes or units to their lesson plans.
"I think only education can solve this problem," said Pat Winters Lauro, a professor at New Jersey's Kean University who began teaching a course on news literacy this semester.
Check out the story HERE

Monday, February 13, 2017

Brandon Phillips will be missed, but Reds have to get prospects on the field this season if this rebuild is to proceed as planned

The rebuilding effort by the Cincinnati Reds continues as we get to bid farewell to one of the best 2B to ever play in a Reds' uniform.  While I still think Joe Morgan is the best to ever play the position for the Reds and in the big leagues, Phillips has been a great Red. He's played through injury, he doesn't make excuses, he plays with passion, and he's been willing to bat wherever a Reds' manager has penciled him in - he has also embraced the opportunity to be a part of the Cincinnati community. He was good for at least one top ESPN highlight a week.  He should have won more Gold Gloves. He's shown up at little league games, area high school games, and is always accessible on twitter. Now Reds fans get to watch another year of the rebuild - I'm not sure how long this rebuild is going to last but I hope it's not too much longer and I hope BP can get another shot in the post season. He's a Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer.

Shout-out to Abbey THE MARSHALL PLAN blog

Journalism is changing but people's desire to get the news is not.  Abbey Marshall, former Chronicle editor is embracing the opportunity to feed the modern news consumer.  Her blog is packed each week with news on the campus of Ohio University.  She's constantly tweeting and blogging.  I like the way I don't have to wait for Abbey's stories - she's gives me a "heads up" before the story comes out because she tweets some information to get in the loop before the story comes out.  You've gotta check out The Marshall Plan.  (I think I might have given her the suggestion for this blog title.)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Don't forget about art and creativity

I know that without the field of science we wouldn't be living in an age where diseases are being cured, new materials for manufacturing invented, and advances are being made in nearly all facets of our daily lives.  I'm also in big favor of introducing young people to the world of science.  But what is worrying me is that in the focus to shed light on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) we are losing site of creativity and the arts.  You don't have to look far to find tweets and promotions from area school districts championing the cause of STEM, but you have to dig dip to find a picture of a young artist who is discovering a new way to express themselves through water color or sculpture.

While I know we need to continue to push our minds with scientific discovery we also need to consider that artists are people too.  In fact many of our scientists are probably harboring creative innate abilities.  But let's give some 'pub' to the creatives, the artists, the singers, the fashion designers, the film producers, the 'yet to be named' genres.

In a recent edition of Scientific American the editors wrote:
"Promoting science and technology education to the exclusion of the humanities may seem like a good idea, but it is deeply misguided. Scientific American has always been an ardent supporter of teaching STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But studying the interaction of genes or engaging in a graduate-level project to develop software for self-driving cars should not edge out majoring in the classics or art history."
This discussion over the shift to STEM led Chronicle staff writer Ria Parikh to focus on this topic. Ria was led to take a closer look at this subject after seeing tweets promoted by the school district that draws attention to the topic.  I agree, it is amazing what our students are discovering, the incredible teachers who are helping guide that discovery, the amazing young scientist who has captured national attention, and especially a district that fosters a learning environment where anything is possible.

In Ria's article she made sure to talk with science teachers. It was refreshing to hear from an MHS science teacher who is a believer in both science and the arts. In fact he thinks there must be connection between the two because creativity helps stimulate the mind.  There is no doubt science teachers are big believers in the arts and creativity and art teachers are benefactors of the scientific mind, but when it comes to exposure, PR, the pub - arts seemed to be getting short changed a bit.

"The need to teach both music theory and string theory is a necessity for the U.S. economy to continue as the preeminent leader in technological innovation. The unparalleled dynamism of Silicon Valley and Hollywood requires intimate ties that unite what scientist and novelist C. P. Snow called the “two cultures” of the arts and sciences."

Innovation might be the key word in this discussion.  The artists I've come across at MHS are innovators.  They have amazing minds that challenge boundaries,  there's no doubt there's some inner scientist at work there.

"Steve Jobs, who reigned for decades as a tech hero, was neither a coder nor a hardware engineer. He stood out among the tech elite because he brought an artistic sensibility to the redesign of clunky mobile phones and desktop computers. Jobs once declared: “It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough—that it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing."

I hope our scientist out there aren't taking this the wrong way.  I think science is cool. I wish I would have been exposed to scientific discovery at a younger age.  I'm glad my children have been exposed to it.  I have a family member who is a neuroscience graduate. Another who is studying the science that drives the logistics and supply chain industry that is driving our global economy. Another who is immersed in the world of graphic design using the latest scientific advances in computer software, and another whose favorite activity is his school's engineering club. However, all of them love books, movies, music, plays, theatre, and the occasional Netflix binge.
"The way to encourage high-tech industry to move to Kentucky—or any other state—is not to disparage Voltaire and Camus. Rather the goal should be to build a topflight state educational system and ease the way financially for students from even the most humble backgrounds to attend. The jobs will follow—whether they be in state government or in social media start-ups."

Arts and creatives this is on us, we need to make sure we continue to encourage the creatives and shout it out to the masses. Any thoughts on a creative twitter handle....oh yeah, I think I'm going to need an artist for that one - oh and we'll need a scientist to help us figure out the coding algorithms that are needed to program our Twitter feed.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Election Fatigue, it's a real thing

Are you sick of the election, campaign 2016 yet?  If you are, it appears you are not alone.  Election Fatigue is a real thing and according to some reports people were already feeling it back in July.  So now we're just about week away from the end of history's most humorous reality TV show (Clinton v Trump 2016).  I'll just be glad when this whole thing is over.  I hope the transition to whoever wins is peaceful.

In July, Pew Research Center reported that “most Americans already feel election coverage fatigue.” July! More than three months ago. And in those three months, it’s safe to say that no one has gotten any respite. The news cycle has churned forward, the conversations have devolved, and the fissures revealed by the primary elections have turned into gaping crevasses.This week, Pew published a new report, positing that people are so tired of talking about the election that they won’t even argue about it on social media (and people will argue about anything on social media). According to the research, twice as many social media users report being “worn out” than those who actually like seeing political discourse online.
Oh, yeah. You've gotta love this picture.  When you see Hillary and the Donald ragging on each other. Check out this photo.  Do they really hate each other? Hillary seems to have an awfully big smile on her face there.  Bill gets the joke too.  "Build that Wall!"