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.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Making It in Journalism

OK, stressed-out journalism students worried that there are no jobs out there that'll be worth having when you have your Simpson sheepskin and five figures of debt: Danny Sanchez says there's lots of demand, and he's even been kind enough to provide perspectives from several observers on what it'll take for you to get ahead.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

College students who actually like reading newspapers? Surely, something's amiss here...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nonprofit Journalism

Looking for a way to do good journalism without having to pay the piper, in the form of corporate owners who are simply bottom-line oriented? There is a model in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the local Times newspaper is making a profit -- albeit a "mere" 20 percent margin per year -- and the owners are happy.

In fact, says editor Paul Tash, the Times doesn't want to post more than a 20 percent margin because that would likely mean that the ownership group isn't investing enough into the core business.

So who's the forward-thinking owner? Time Warner? Gannett? McClatchy? Actually, the Times isn't owned by any media giant, and there is no publisher-baron at the helm. Rather, St. Petersburg's newspaper is owned by the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism-education organization started by former Times owner Nelson Poynter in 1975. Poynter bequeathed all his shares in the newspaper to the institute he founded so that it might serve as a training group for journalists and educators.

And it's succeeded on that count. So when you visit the Poynter Institute (I highly recommend a January-February seminar so you get out of the snow for a few days), make sure you thank the memory of Nelson Poynter for offering us an alternative model of running a newspaper. (And you, in fact, can do just that. There's a battered underwood typewriter at the institute where you can record your thoughts.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'Daily Show' Goes Legit

This is either a great compliment to Jon Stewart or a gross insult to network news: A new Indiana University study shows that news coverage on "The Daily Show" is as substantive as the news being provided by the television networks. IU Professor Julia Fox notes that some political figures, such as John Edwards, use the program to announce candidacies or initiatives on the program that airs four nights a week on Comedy Central.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Blogging and Libel

Watch what you say online. Bloggers are attracting libel suits by the bushel basket, reports USA Today. During

the past two years, more than 50 lawsuits stemming from postings on blogs and website message boards have been filed across the nation. The suits have spawned a debate over how the “blogosphere” and its revolutionary impact on speech and publishing might change libel law.

Richard Jewell's Libel Suit

Libel suits don't much more high profile than the suit brought by Richard Jewell, wrongly accused by several media outlets 10 years ago of being the Atlanta Olympic Park bomber. (It later turned out that the bomber was Christian terrorist and consummate nut Eric Rudolph.) Now a Georgia judge has agreed to let one of Jewell's libel claims go to trial. That leaves 21 claims as dismissed.

Jewell's already won more than $500,000 in a libel settlement with NBC.