New J School- MS Word distorts journalism as much as Photoshop

20120317-101033.jpgMicrosoft Word equally distorts reality as much as Photoshop. A picture’s worth a thousand words may be a truth but in the press or the blogosphere has no shortage words.  We should be engaging young people frequently in media awareness.  I’d like to suggest a Junior J School theme. We should expose techniques, engage in debate and build ethics about the pictures and words around us. With the liberating power of citizen journalism with blogosphere and social media there also runs the risk of believing falsehoods by not doing due diligent fact checking. Case in point Kuny 2012, Apple factory workers, and many more. Messages can go viral before the total story is released. Last week a successful radio program was embarrassed when their story about Apple factory conditions was retracted. The main source turned out to be a theatrical ruse if not outright lie and scam. The lack of prudence in running the story is troubling. Good companies are willing to tarnish their brand in the rush to cut corners and race to press. It’s a lesson that really starts in school when we choose to not enforce plagiarism or demand citation skills.

“… see cases where journalists morph truth using their word processor.”

Recently, the Final Four buzz expanded into the education blogosphere where bashing achievement or efforts of schools seems the easy storyline.  Media outlets everywhere were publishing diverse stories and mixed truths.  Even the US Cabinet joined the hip March Madness radar by spinning the Syracuse basketball news.

“U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan called out Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim on Wednesday in a conference call with news reporters about the graduation rates of NCAA basketball tournament teams. The NCAA plans to bar teams from postseason play beginning next season if they fail to achieve academic progress rates of 930, which equate to graduating roughly half of their players. Duncan spoke out publicly for a similar plan a year ago, advocating an APR cutoff of 925.”There was actually tremendous skepticism that the NCAA would ever raise the academic bar to be eligible for postseason glory, much less that it would act any time soon,” Duncan said Wednesday. “In fact, one Hall of Fame basketball coach told USA TODAY (last year) that the proposal to require teams to be on track to graduate half their players was, and I quote now, ‘completely nuts.'” Duncan didn’t mention the coach by name, but it was Boeheim who made the remark. (Athleticbusiness)

“If they would have called us, we could have told them that,’’ he added. “We would be fully eligible to play in the tournament this year.’’ Boeheim then prepared to fire back at Duncan for his personal remarks. “I think everybody knows who the secretary of education was talking about,’’ Boeheim said. “Is there anybody here who didn’t know who he was talking about? ( Syracuse.com )  Boeheim had one final jab left for Duncan, who played at Harvard.

“I don’t think Harvard was punished when Bill Gates left early,’’ Boeheim said. “I don’t think they were. I don’t think he did too badly. We’ve also had five or six guys who left early, went to the NBA, played, and came back and graduated. We helped them graduate. We have two or three right now that are very close to graduating who are done playing with their NBA careers.  “So education is paramount to me,’’ he continued. “We want every guy to graduate, and we work very hard on that. So I think it’s fair to say that I’m upset right now.’’

20120317-132356.jpg So Education Secretary chooses to besmirch a man’s reputation in order to make a media buzz. Slamming sports is an easy way to appear accountability and standards matter; however, jock slamming is cheap. Duncan may not have lied or shocked anyone but getting facts wrong just to make some buzz is crass.

Then there is Republican Presidential candidate Rick Santorum who cried wolf about rolling blackouts caused by Obama’s energy policy is a complete falsehood but will he have to retract? It’s such dystopic creative writing too bad he is selling it as truth.  He cannot blame a SuperPac or some journalist for this fiction. Santorum wrote on his web site,

“This president’s agenda doesn’t just stop with oil and gas,” Santorum wrote. “President Obama has also discouraged new electricity generation — forcing many parts of the country to experience rolling blackouts. That means that millions of Americans will live with a power grid that is second-rate, like a Third World country.”(Santorum)

Popular media speaks idiomatically with ‘photoshoped’ as a verb, with the manipulation of faces and body doubles using Photoshop.  I more often see cases where journalists morph truth using their word processor.  I think it’s important to share these media forms to students and engage them in discussions about topics such as KONY 2012- which is Ughandan history more than current reality.

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photographer, flyfisher , bird watcher, dog lover, amateur artist and retired teacher-librarian...
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