Media Musings

A blog for students and stalkers of Brian Steffen, centering on issues of concern in media studies.

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Location: Indianola, Iowa, United States

Hello all... I'm a professor of communication studies at Simpson College and a junkie of all things media. I'm blogging on life on the faculty at Simpson and working with some of the best young future professionals in the world.

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Reader as Watchdog

The press' role in society often is likened to that of a watchdog over a society's institutions of power, but in more recent years, as the public has become more dubious of the press' ability to adequately keep watch in a profit-oriented culture, the question has become, "Who's watching the watchdog?"

In a model democracy, everyone should function as a journalist and a watchdog over all the other journalists who are out there. That's how you'd get a pure marketplace of ideas. And the new edition of Online Journalism Review outlines how the Sunlight Foundation is helping ordinary readers take up the cudgel of press criticism.

Ellen Miller is the executive director of the organization. It teaches ordinary citizens how to become journalists who can cover the federal government without relying on the professional media. The article in OJR is an interview with Miller on the Sunlight Foundation and the promise of citizen reporting.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

OK Radio, Let's Get Sirius

I just bought a new car today -- a 2007 Dodge Caliber, by the way, which is a pretty sweet ride for a small car -- and that's inadvertently made me a subscriber in the satellite radio revolution. The car package I purchased included hardware and a one-year subscription to Sirius satellite radio, and that means I can spend the next several months listening to Howard Stern's moronic antics on morning drive.

Actually, Sirius looks to be pretty good stuff -- 200 channels of commercial-free music. I'm addicted to my iPod (and the Caliber, incidentally, also includes an auxilliary audio jack that permits you to plug your Pod right into the sound system of the car -- why'd it take the Mensas in Detroit so long to figure that one out?) so I've long ago given up on the AM and FM bands. I just don't see how over-the-air radio isn't going to be decimated by these new-media developments.

If you're thinking about going into the advertising game, my advice is to stay away from commercial radio. As the audience further fragments and audiences have greater abilities to, in the words of Thomas Friedman in The World is Flat, "insource" their content, I see fewer faithful listeners to those bands.

OK, Back from a Break

Whew! Just back on the blog after about four weeks away. I've been teaching May Term at Simpson, a course titled "Freedom of Speech in Wartime," that has absolutely done away with any thought that an interim term can be a valuable learning experience for students who are absolutely determined not to learn anything. So I promise to be a much better blogger now, especially seeing that I'm working with students on starting their blogs.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Gotta Prop Tia Nearmyer

I've just gotten word that Simpson student Tia Nearmyer is the Intern of the Week as picked by The Hill, an influential newspaper covering Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Hill is aimed at members of the Congress and their staffs and is kind of a consummate insiders' publication in DC. Tia is in Washington during the spring term as part of Simpson's Capitol Hill Internship Program. Congratulations!