Sunday, February 28, 2010

Eric Alterman Reading Summary

Out of Print, the death and life of the American newspaper, March 31 2008, The New Yorker.

After 300 years the American Newspaper seems to be nearing its final days, with the loss of advertisers, readers, market value (42% in the last 3 years) with the rise of the Internet, and the advent of such services as Craigslist which make the classifieds seem obsolete. The once high-margin monopolies of the newspaper world are now creating websites and profiting from online advertising, but at a fraction of the sales that have been lost from circulation print ads.

Columnist Molly Ivins claimed that the only way to save the newspaper was to make the product, smaller, less helpful and less interesting. Now people are spending far less time with their newspaper, and the readership is dwindling, with the average American reader fifty-five and older. The $450 million Newseum opened in the spring of 2008 in Washington DC, alluding to the fact that the newspaper is ready to displayed under glass.

Not only is readership falling, so is the public trust in newspapers, and media in general. A Sacred Heart University study shows that 9 out of 10 Americans believe that the media consciously seeks to influence public policies.

The Huffington Post has developed a new strategy almost accidentaly - that news is a shared enterprise between its producer and its consumer. Internet offers immediate information, commenting, and sharing, and is alive in a way that that a static paper cannot be. The majority of content is borrowed from elsewhere, what is the best version according to the editors, and repurpose with a catchy liberal-leaning headline and offer a commenting section. At the time the article was written the author states that over the past 30 days the unique visitors jumped to more than 11 million, and is the 9th most popular news site.
An excerpt from the article:
Lippmann and Dewey devoted much of the rest of their lives to addressing the problems they had diagnosed, Lippmann as the archetypal insider pundit and Dewey as the prophet of democratic education. Beyond the publication of the occasional letter to the editor, the role of the reader was defined as purely passive. The rise of what has come to be known as the conservative “counter-establishment” and, later, of media phenomena such as Rush Limbaugh, on talk radio, and Bill O’Reilly, on cable television, can be viewed in terms of a Deweyan community attempting to seize the reins of democratic authority and information from a Lippmann-like √©lite.

Duncan Black is quoted telling the viewers that despite the idea of a liberal myth, large ideas in the public are still not represeneted in mainstream media (such as the disapproval of the Bush campaign, etc). The rise of the internet allows liberal communities to flourish and allow for the Deweyan debate.

Alterman points out that classic newspapers spend far more on reporting than bloggers and internet news sites, and that while "real reporting, especially the investigative kind, is
expensive, they remind us. Aggregation and opinion are cheap."

Essentially, the blog world does not come close to to the seasoned expertise, and years of experience that traditional media has provided, and that internet media survives parasitically off of published newspapers. "And so we are about to enter a fractured, chaotic world of news, characterized by superior community conversation but a decidedly diminished level of first-rate journalism."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stacy Schiff Reading Review

Know it all, Can Wikipedia conquer expertise, The New Yorker, July 31 2006.

The article starts off with a humorous list of examples from Wikipedia, and gives a light comparison to Britannica Encyclopedia. Wikipedia is all inclusive and instantly updated, and receives up to 14 thousand hits per second; all things that other encyclopedias are not. The founder Jimmy Wales and 5 other employees run the non-profit organization that meets most of its budget with donations.

Free knowledge for everyone with internet access, in over 200 languages and hundreds of thousands of contributers. Wales was inspired by the open-source movement, the idea of mass knowledge being available, and the Hayek's free-market manifesto. The first version was Nupedia, which led to the idea of a wiki to promote more contributers. The wiki ended up getting so many contributers that it had over twenty thousand articles in one year, compared to the 21 of Nupedia's first year

Wales cites Van Darnton's theory that the world is new and radical, and the encyclopedia should also be radical. At first there were no guidelines for Wikipedia, but now articles must have previously published content, and hold a neutral point of view.

There is now vast community of admins, contributors, editors, robots, vandals, and moonbats in the world of Wikipedia. Sanger, a co-founder who left the company in 2002, states that Wikipedia beats every other source when it comes to breadth, efficiency, and accessibility.

Judith Bell Reading Summary

(extracted from Judith Bell, Doing your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science, 4th ed, Open University Press, London, 2005)

Bell quotes Hart by stating essentially that the review of the literature is crucial to ones academic development; becoming an expert in the field. Haywood and Wragg allude to the fact that critical reviews are usually uncritical reviews... "It involves questioning assumptions, querying claims made for which no evidence has been provided, considering the findings of one researcher compared to those of others and evaluating. All researchers collect many facts, but then must select, organize and classify findings into a coherent pattern."

Theory and theoretical (or conceptual) frameworks are described by several different authors, mainly touching on key elements of the relationship between humans and social affairs, which organize and summarize empirical observations. Bell summarizes to state that "The label is not important, but the process of establishing a map or framework of how the research will be conducted and analysed is."

Bell goes on to include short extracts from successful literature reviews of both first-time researchers, and experienced researchers including Clara Nai, Gilbert Fan, and Richardson and Woodley.

Clara Nai divides her adult learning research into situational, institutional, and dispositional barriers, a method which she adopted from Cross (1981). Fan used headings in which to organize and categorize his findings regarding the decline of nursing program enrollment in Singapore:

• the decline in student enrolment in nursing education;
• curricula, types of nursing education and nursing com petencies;
• teaching and clinical supervision in nursing education programmes;
• the relationship between nursing education and the profession; and
• nursing as a career choice.

Richardson and Woodley prove to be well versed in academic reviews and use careful language to develop comprehensive connections and conclusions in their review.

Bell then reminds the reader to ask yourself whether the reviews you are reading are furniture sale catalogues or well organized accounts which are relevant to the topic.

The reading is concluded with a helpful ten point checklist for the review of literature.