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.