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Posts Tagged ‘Academics’

 

Hey Y’all:

It’s come to Auntie Beth’s attention that some folks don’t understand how the mainstream media works. As Auntie Beth has more than two decades of experience as a journalist for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines (yeah, no spring chicken), she is here to help clear up confusion with some DOs and DON’Ts.

DO have a healthy suspicion of social institutions.
DON’T only get your news from alternative news networks. There are many sources of legitimate news. If you need help finding reputable sources, use this updated interactive media bias chart.

DO understand the criteria for newsworthiness:

  • Timeliness: News is new.
  • Proximity: The news hits close to home.
  • Conflict: There is some disagreement/opposition.
  • Prominence: Names make news.
  • Impact: The news is of consequence and is useful.
  • Novelty: There is a deviance from the norm.

DON’T wonder why the conversation has shifted from COVID-19 to protests when protests hit all the above criteria.

DO understand that media representatives use the criteria to choose what to cover (see Agenda-setting Theory in communication studies). There aren’t enough staff or hours in a day to cover everything that is newsworthy. So editors, reporters, managers, producers, etc. have to make some hard decisions. These are economic/structural forces beyond the individual journalist (see Hierarchy of Influences model above).
DON’T mistake this for telling people what to think about what gets covered. In 1963, author/scholar Bernard Cohen said, “The press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.” But again, it’s not willy nilly and based on bias. Also, no one is controlling you.

DO understand that the way to combat this structural issue is to get your news from many sources. Again, the key here is choosing reputable sources — usually the mainstream media as there is an attempt at objectivity. Therein lies the bigger picture of what is happening in the community, region, nation and world.
DON’T get your news from Info Wars or Wonkette and think you know what’s really going on.

DO understand that news is an industry with many, many employees.
DON’T believe that every person working in this industry is part of some elaborate conspiracy theory.

DO know that news owners/folks in charge typically don’t get involved in day-to-day reporting and news coverage. (Exception: Sinclair Broadcasting.)
DON’T believe Auntie Beth? She’s happy to send you her dissertation that delves into this exact topic. That’s right: Auntie Beth has a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communications.

The findings of this study are in opposition to the ‘powerful pressure’ idea that the dominant ideology of the status quo finds its way down to the news product via the highest levels of the media organization: the owners who represent the status quo (Sutter, 2001; Iggers, 1999; Herman & Chomsky, 1988; Smith, 1988; Bagdikian, 1985).

DO understand that mainstream media reporters are literally risking their lives to cover what is happening in our world.
DON’T disrespect them by calling their work “fake news.” Don’t let the President of the United States (!) work you into a frenzy for his own ends. The mainstream media is not the “enemy of the people.” News he doesn’t like is not “fake.”

DO think carefully before you post something possibly incendiary.
DON’T run from dialogue if you go ahead and post it.

DO have an open mind. Be ready to admit you are wrong if someone who has actual experience tries to explain how things work — even if this flies in the face of the conspiracy theories you’ve been swallowing.
DON’T double down and tag Auntie Beth in something you think proves your point.

DO listen to someone who works in the industry you are criticizing.
DON’T watch a YouTube video and think you know everything. You didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.

DO understand that Auntie Beth is a living, breathing human being. In fact, High School Friend has known Auntie Beth since eighth grade and knows she is trustworthy. HSF also should know by now that Auntie Beth speaks her mind.
DON’T try to “other” her so you don’t have to pay attention.

Auntie Beth understands it’s a big industry. Not everyone in it acts responsibly or ethically. But Auntie Beth believes in the importance of the Fourth Estate.

If you have any questions, Auntie Beth is here for you. She also can call on any of her dozens of current and former colleagues at the national and local level to help set your mind at ease.

Happy watching/reading!

 

 

 

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Dear Friends and Family,

It’s Day 12 of captivity. I’ve gained two pounds. I have to resist the urge to eat cheese all day. It’s bad enough I take my vitamins with wine.

I’m still going to work for a few hours each day for a change of scenery. I’m not a dress-down-for-work kind of gal. Yesterday, I wore a skirt and heels. Just for me.

I rarely see anyone when I’m there. Yesterday, though, I saw the CFO at the water cooler on the second floor and the woman in charge of special projects down the hall. We all paused in our tracks, giggling nervously. The CFO went back into his office, and Special Projects let me go into the bathroom before she continued down the hall. Six feet of space, people.

Later in the day, I crossed paths with the CFO again. Same situation.

Him: Stay on your floor!
Me: I don’t have a bathroom up there. Unless you want to spring for a Porta Potty, I’m coming down!

When I was at my university the first time around as an English major, I won a major award for writing. The prize package included “Love in the Time of Cholera.”

In our house, it’s “Love in the Time of Corona.”

Gideon broke up with his girl Peyton. He informed me last night:

I don’t want to be in a relationship anymore. It takes up too much of my time. My precious time.

Incidentally, I won the award for a short story I wrote called “The Pot Roast.” It was about my weird grandmother wanting raw meat as a Christmas gift.

Last night, I made the dish.

Gideon, girlfriend-free with precious time on his hands, roamed into the kitchen.

Him (peering into the pot): What’s this?
Me: Pot roast.
Him: We haven’t had that in a while.
Me: Yep. I’m bringing out all the hits.
Him: Top 20?
Me: Top 20 from the 2000s.

After dinner, the family decided to play Twister. Yes, Twister. I’ve still got it! I managed to keep myself up plus Dominic. I bowed out when a spin for me would have required me to sit on his head. Let’s not get crazy in confinement.

Nighttime also is TV time. Even “sheltering in place” cannot help me get through the treacly “This Is Us.” I deleted all episodes in my queue, and instantly feel better. (Honestly. It takes itself SO SERIOUSLY. It’s like a DC Comics movie.)

I’m still taking CORVID-19 seriously. Perhaps too much. I got a little worried earlier this week because I had a sore throat and a headache. Insert panic. Then I realized it’s springtime in the South — an inch of pollen everywhere.

Maybe that explains the guy restocking at the gas station. He emitted a small cough. The cashier and I whipped around on him.

Me: How long have you had that cough?
Him: (Scurries quickly away from the loud lady)

Stay safe, and don’t get Corona-ed,
Beth

 

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Dear COVID-19,

Pack your knives and go.

One day you’re in; the next day you’re out.

You’ve been chopped.

But yet you’re still here. And where am I?

Trapped on the couch watching way too much Reality TV. Clearly.

I even managed to get through some of my “Ridiculousness” backlog.

I still have a ways to go.

It’s only been a week of intense social distancing, but it has taken a toll on this extrovert who loves nothing better than to be out of the house.

I remember my mother and father always being aggravated with me:

Mom: Why can’t you sit still?
Me: I just can’t.

Dad: You are going out AGAIN?
Me: YES!

My boss told me I could work from home.

I said I had two teenage boys at home. No WAY I want to be there.

So I’ve been splitting my time.

Answer emails. Walk to work. Answer more emails. Advise students via Zoom. Talk to whoever might be around at a safe distance. Walk home. Answer more emails. Read industry reports.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

On Friday, I spoke to two people. It was a big day.

I’ve been doing plenty of cooking and cleaning. Talking to people ON THE PHONE (!). And drinking. So much for the good done via Dry January.

I just read a horrifying article that indicates this could go on for 10-12 WEEKS.

If that is what it takes to keep more people from getting you, COVID-19, then I understand, and will try not to complain.

But I really wish you would take the hint and LEAVE.

The tribe has spoken.

Impatient and unhappily housebound,
Beth

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Dear Self-isolating Friends and Family,

What a time to be alive! It is unprecedented weirdness. I don’t know about you, but some aspects of life are totally normal (my boys fighting) and some are totally bizarre (no toilet paper or cleaning products in stores).

I received the email below. Ordinarily, that would send me into a tailspin. You know how I love my Biddy Boot Camp.

But you also know that I am an optimistic person. So here I am looking on the bright side:

1. Atlanta traffic has been reduced to early-1990s levels.

This is lunchtime on I-85 where it joins I-75. It’s usually a jam.

2. No line at The Varsity (no eating inside either, for better or worse).

3. No one is sneezing, coughing or sniffling in public. (I’m thrilled. I hate this. Pandemic and non-pandemic advice: If you are sick, STAY HOME.)

4. Family time (again, for better or worse). I’m not ready to kill the children. Yet.

5. Home cooking. Last night, I made Pommes Anna from a recipe by Chef Anne Burrell. (I watched “Worst Cooks in America” during my isolation this weekend.) It’s basically scalloped potatoes with a twist.

Yum!

6. The potential to watch shows on my (long) list of suggestions. Although I find myself rewatching “Schitt’s Creek” in preparation for Season 6.

7. No cancellation fees on the annual cruise we had to reschedule before Coronavirus came calling.

8. Faculty at my university are forced to try online learning. I’ve been singing this delivery method’s praises for years, but some of my colleagues have been reluctant. It’s not perfect, but it works. And it compels people to learn new things and be creative to improve the experience for themselves and for students.

9. The chance to do things that have been put off for way too long. We moved to a different place in the same neighborhood the weekend before everything started changing substantially. With the forced down time, we have unpacked everything, put up shelves, cleaned the place, etc. I also rewired our speaker system — something I needed to do since we moved back to Atlanta.

10. The constant reminder to WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS. I’m continually appalled by the number of people who do not wash their hands after going to the restroom. Gross!

Join me in optimism: Tell me about your silver lining.

Love and air kisses from at least six feet away,
Beth

 

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Dear Corporate Folks:

One of the best things about my job is meeting new people and finding cool opportunities for students. As a result, I’m getting to know my hometown of Atlanta and its residents even better.

There is a big difference in terminology in the higher education world versus the professional world. I go back and forth between the two, so I hear plenty of jargon in both.

I went to a presentation about Atlanta’s workforce last week. Plenty of discussion of past, present and future.

While it was interesting and productive in general, I heard a ridiculous amount of lingo.

Here’s a taste:

  • “We have to incent someone to learn new skills.” Please. No. Can we just provide an incentive? Or encourage someone?
  • “I talked to someone offline.” Good LORD. Can you just talk to someone? Let’s leave “offline” for tech.
  • “We wanted to internship these students.” Internship is a noun, not a verb.
  • “Pre-skilling,” “re-skilling,” “up-skilling” and “out-skilling.” Oh. My. God. Can we just say “training” instead?
  • “Workstream.” I’m OK with “workforce” (barely) but not “workstream.”
  • “Internal ecosystem.” Really? This is unnecessarily complex. Company culture is slightly better.
  • “Thoughtware.” Barf.
  • “Growing social capital muscles.” Can we not?

The visual aids were just as ridiculous.

I’m not a fan of cloudy communication.

In fact, one of my dissertation advisors yelled at me for not “elevating my language” like standard scholarly journal writing. I replied that the “elevated language” is why most people don’t like to read these journals. Especially professionals in the industry of interest.

So.

No need to be clever.

No need to obfuscate. (Hee hee!)

Just be clear.

KTHXBYE,
Beth

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Dear Students,

I love many parts of my job, but I like teaching you the most. When the semester is over, I’m actually sad (not relieved as many academic types are).

Public Speaking may be my favorite course to teach for three reasons:

  1. I get to know you extremely well through the topics you choose.
  2. You show a large amount of growth in a short amount of time. Each of you improves.
  3. I end up learning plenty.

In fact, this semester, I learned about child labor in smartphone construction, conspiracy theories about Kurt Cobain’s death, the House of Chanel, Chris Jericho’s career, and why you should exercise 5-6 times a week for 30 minutes (as opposed to 3 times a week for an hour, which is my routine at the moment).

I’ve written about student evaluations before, but here’s a recap: It is a little scary for me. There’s always someone who hates me and/or the class. But then I get feedback like this, and it takes out the sting:

(And her heart grew three sizes that day.)

Remember that I’m here for you long after the class ends. Yes, you have to climb a few flights of stairs to see me, but I’m also just a quick email away.

Best wishes,
Dr. Beth

 

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Dear Dominic,

You are something else. You call to mind Forrest Gump:

Your raging hormones ensure that life with you is unpredictable, at best.

See, this recent text exchange made me laugh:

 

 

(Why didn’t you take a selfie? I don’t know.)

This one with your father is pretty funny also:

And you even charmed some college girls when I took you to my Public Speaking class as a visual aid. One student was doing her informative speech on the difference between college-aged Gen Z and younger representatives of the generation.

Students in the class gave the presenter high marks for her breathing visual aid:

When you left, half the girls in the class squealed, “He’s SO CUTE.”

Don’t let that go to your head.

For the love of gawd, as you wrote.

Just don’t.

Instead, focus on your school work so I don’t have to have convos like this:

I love you despite your bad attitude and general slackery.
Mama

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Dear Students Taking My Public Speaking Course,

I just met you this week, and already I’m channeling Dug from “Up.”

This semester is going to be so much fun as I help you unlock your best self — capable of any kind of public speaking. Some of you may not be the next Aristotle, but you’ll be good. Or at least better than you are today.

In return, here are some (nonnegotiable) things I ask from you:

  1. Please use my proper title in email and in person. I’m even fine with “Dr. Beth,” “Dr. C.” or even “Doc Con.” “Miss C” and “Hey” are not acceptable. I worked hard for my doctorate. (Blog readers remember.) And as my teachers said in high school, “Hey” is for horses. (Yuk, yuk.)
  2. Turn in your work on time. That’s in the syllabus, but I’m putting it here too. You may have the best excuse anyone has ever had, but you also have known what is due and when well in advance thanks to that magical syllabus.
  3. Show up to class, and show up on time. You can’t learn anything if you aren’t in class. Again, I don’t want to hear excuses — especially about traffic. We are in Atlanta: You should know to budget an extra hour to get anywhere.
  4. If you do miss class, DO NOT ask me if you missed anything important. Dear God. That’s the WORST. What am I supposed to say? “No, we just sat around and mourned your absence.” Look at the syllabus, and figure it out. Or ask a classmate. Also, I’ve put all assignments online. SIGH.

In return for following these (really quite simple) rules, I promise to make class interesting. Here are some testimonials from your fellow students:

I love you all equally. It’s true; I promise! Read this.

And I can’t imagine my life without teaching — even if it is only one class per semester.

I’m looking forward to seeing you next week when you will deliver your first speech!

Don’t panic. You’ve got this. I’m here for you.

Sincerely,
Dr. Beth

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O Canada!

I’ve enjoyed my short time in your Ontario province’s capital city of Toronto. It’s like New York with nicer people.

For example, an elderly lady stopped me to tell me I have a great walk. (That’s a first.)

The food has been spectacular.

Just look at this noodle bowl full of hand-pulled noodles.

And before you suggest poutine, know this: I’ve tried poutine. I like poutine. I couldn’t find poutine in the restaurants in my hotel’s immediate vicinity. I’m still working on it!

I did find a moose, though.

On a break from my conference, I did do one important touristy thing: I went to the top of the CN Tower.

I love heights. I would have done the EdgeWalk, but I didn’t bring the right shoes. I did appreciate the glass floor.

But perhaps not as much as others.

Even if I hadn’t been wearing a dress, I’m not sure I would have rolled around on the floor like a baby on a play mat.

Anyway, I’ve had a great time. Thank you for your hospitality. Hope to see you again soon!

Yours,
Beth

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Dear Climate Change Deniers,

I know that nothing I say can change your mind, but I can’t sleep unless I try. (I mean I can’t sleep anyway, so … )

Here are my boni fides: I have five college degrees: B.A., B.S., M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D. (not bragging; just offering facts). The second is the one you should care about as it is in Geosciences.

That’s right. I’m a meteorologist.

(Uh oh, trigger warning: a scientist — member of the intellectual elite, blah blah blah.)

I know evidence when I see it with my own eyes. Even without other scientists (and even NASA) saying over and over that global warming is real, I see proof in many ways.

Increasing intensity and number of tropical storms is just one. I mean, just look!

WTF?!

So it’s really hard to deny that climate change is real.

Still with me? Let’s move on.

The second argument is whether it is caused by fellow two-legged menaces. Like most rational humans, I believe it is. That doesn’t really matter, though.

Shouldn’t we still engage in practices that will improve the environment as opposed to destroying it?

Shouldn’t we still explore alternative fuel sources?

Shouldn’t we still recycle, pick up after ourselves, eschew straws in favor of sea turtles and the like?

We all have to live here on Earth, you know. Despite Elon Musk’s attempts, Mars is still not an option.

It’s not like it really costs each of us much more to be responsible land dwellers.

Plus, there are plenty of jobs in new technologies, so it makes fiscal sense.

Come on, folks: Work with me here. Let’s be rational and make some progress together.

You want to, right?

It’d be a lot cooler if you did,
Beth

*Brian Klaas, The Washington Post

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