Sunday, January 25, 2004

I was part of an interesting discussion about blogs Saturday, at the Fort Worth Society of Professional Journalists chapter meeting. One thing discussed was American culture's increasing "enclave mentality" that may be nurtured even more by blogging.

What do I mean by an enclave mentality? Well, people have had a hard time getting along in public forums online, or in listserv groups or Usenet groups, which are sometimes characterized by frequent sniping and one-upmanship--especially if the topic is politics. So much for the so-called "electronic republic" where everyone can have his or her own say.

Well, blogs may help people retreat, either into their own little worlds or into a communication community that's filled with like-minded people. Even one of my favorite blogs, one that I've followed for a long time, is pretty much the same thing on a daily basis. It's hard for me to imagine anyone, whether conservative or liberal, encountering life in such a consistent way, where there is no ambiguity. Sheesh, my life is full of that, and in fact, I try hard not to be too sure about anything. Yes, it's harder to live like that, I guess, but I'd rather work on discerning the unintended consequences of actions instead of never thinking about what they might be.

We also talked about media companies and blogs, about pursuit of the next BIG thing, and about the necessity of complex reporting for explaining complex events and issues. I'm not sure that blogs are a good way to explore complexity, unless the topic is the same every day. Most pundits scattershoot about lots of topics on their blogs, with few details or well-reasoned arguments. Instead of logos, they tend to appeal through pathos or high emotion. And this isn't always good for public discourse or the practice of sound journalism.

Here are two more blogs to add to your surfing schedule, and I'll see you Monday. And here's a link for Jesse Jones' blog (lordnequam at

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Some comments about your comments, and a link that we'll be discussing in the coming weeks. Here it is now, for an article titled "Metaphor and war: The metaphor system used to justify war in the gulf," by George Lakoff (a UC-Berkeley linguistics prof). His insights are especially useful in analyzing Bush's state-of-the-union justifications for war, especially in how they've changed over the last year.

OK, so I hard-coded that because I'm in my office, using the crappy Mac interface for blogger. If it doesn't work, let me know.

I found your reactions to the book to be interesting, and some of you really dug into the density and found the good stuff, such as this: qualitative research categorizes the present and tries to predict future trends based on that. Many of you found the good connections between the two research styles and wondered about the animosity between them, finding it silly. It is. Objectivity, however, doesn't help a researcher (or a journalist, for that matter) overcome the silliness. Objectivity is simply an impossibility. We can, of course, strive for the appearance of fairness. I think that's the best we can do.

The main reason that I gave you the "celebrity/sex/web" journal article was for its descriptions of method (you try finding a "fair" list of celebrities and the traffic on their web sites--just not available) and the transparency that good qualitative research needs. Basically, it was a good example of "here's what I did and why I did it" that I think you might find useful when conducting your own research and building your own corpus later in the semester. Thanks for your openness in commenting--like I said, it was an invited piece and sort of a forced subject, so I made the best of it. Kind of like writing a paper for a class like this.

Post your comments as soon as you can, so that we'll have time to read them before class. This was not an assignment on the holiday--the whole purpose of course-based blogging is for us to have an asynchronous discussion, that you can read and write on any day at your convenience this week. Take care and I'll see you Monday.

I thought I'd share an interesting email I received late last week, about whether journalism may even be considered as a social science at all, not to mention the distinctions we made during our last class between quantitative and qualitative research. Just goes to show that our class discussions will be relevant to our profession and discipline.

Here's that post, from a PR listserv I'm on:

"This is Bernie Ankney at Indiana University of Pennsylvnaia.

Our department has applied to have its journalism and mass media
course as a social-science elective. Essentially, it is a mass
communication and society course.

While it has been generally well received, some departments have
opposed it, arguing that journalism and public relations are not true
social sciences.

We do things such as content analyses and qualitative research in

I have been asked for examples on other campuses where the journalism
and mass media course is a social science elective.

If you know of a case, can you please send me an e-mail privately at

I thought the issue of journalism and public relations being a social
science had been decided a long time ago."

Monday, January 19, 2004

OK, here are the URLs I have received so far, and I'll post the rest Tuesday once I have received the rest (over-achievers are listed first). Check out the comments of your colleagues about the reading, and I'll add my own comments in response to yours, so that we can begin this conversion before class next week.

Take care until then, and check back tomorrow. Let me know at if your URL is incorrect or doesn't work.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Check out my favorite blog at

I need to start blogging again.