I Turn 36 Today

It’s not a long blog entry today because it’s my birthday.

Normally the most notable birthdays and anniversaries are the ones meeting five-year increments. In the university world, I think 36 is an exception.

Bryceis36
University students used to make jumpdrive mixes for each other in this form

I turned 18 on Father’s Day of 1995. It was notable in Nova Scotia because the G7 Summit had wrapped up the day before in Halifax– the event even had a website! Jean Chretien was wrestling with Quebec sovereignty issues while Bill Clinton was wrestling a Republican Congress over budget issues. An absolutely horrible song topped the charts on both sides of the border and Batman Forever was crushing it in its opening box office weekend.

Nine days later, I walked the aisle of CBC Recreation Center to receive my Riverview high school diploma, which is why I think that my 36th birthday is somewhat notable. Everyone born on my 18th birthday is receiving their high school diplomas now. Meaning they are the freshman students I will encounter in the fall.

Our nostalgia for the present is such that 1995 seems like yesterday and not just for late 30-somethings like me who like to pretend that it really was just yesterday. “18 years ago” in 1995 was 1977 and you didn’t have a mass amount of 1977 movies, news and (oh, to laugh) websites at your disposal back then. I can far more readily access TV news reports about Elvis Presley’s death now than I could when I was a teenager. In some ways, the year of birth feels closer to me now because of it. Of course, 1977 felt like forever ago then.

Elvis1977
I can also look up Elvis death hoax conspiracies. And laugh at Geraldo’s haircut

The landscape that my college freshman self and the freshmen I’ll end up advising bear a lot of differences and similarities.

I didn’t live in an Internet-capable household when I graduated high school. No word of lie, the first time I experienced this wacky “Internet” was in a UCCB lab. In America, the number of Internet users was pegged between 20-30 million at the time. Much of my college classroom experience
was spent discussing how we were going to refashion our way of life around it. Now the use of the Internet in the classroom itself is perhaps not ubiquitous, but darn close (then again, if cyberslacking counts, then yes, it is ubiquitous).

Optimistic outlooks back then cast a digital divide that would be much smaller, but really that’s not the case. 1995 Bryce probably thought that the Internet would allow his small town and other small towns to grow as they utilized the digital tools to reach out into the world. 2013 Bryce lives in Atlanta: a city with a metro population over a million people more than it was ten years ago. I was told that one day I’d have to move to the big city as a college student. Here at GSU, I advise people that already took up that advice coming out of high school.

Tuition is always a problem. We bailed on classes in my senior year at RHS to attend information sessions with federal government representatives to address the rising costs of postsecondary education. We were nervous about how much it would cost us, but today’s student will tell me I got a bargain. It goes up and up back home, but stateside doesn’t tell a better story. Even accounting for inflation, my 1995 tuition dollars wouldn’t go as far. Whatever we told those representatives didn’t work, I guess.

I attended a small university slash college but there was a persistent desire to present a more consolidated vision. It would take years and years before the University College of Cape Breton became Cape Breton University but it was a march to the inevitable. The idea behind such a name change– besides optics– was (and is) to foster a belief (and develop programs towards that belief) discouraging students from using CBU as a “stopping point” before transferring to a bigger university. I met several students like that when I set foot on UCCB campus. I wasn’t one of them…no one else in Atlantic Canada offered a B.A. in Communication.

I was at the tailend of Generation X and we were being told as we headed to college that it was gonna be rough. Rick Mercer was an emerging Canadian comedian and he was wondering when the baby boom job clog was ever going to clear up. 18 years later, we’re still wondering. Today, I’m telling my media students that there’s a job market out there, but you best be careful because it’s constantly reinventing itself in the name of mobility.

Bryceis36
Mercer had to get older to pull his snark out of a black & white haze

The university professional living in Georgia, USA, 2013 is witnessing this manifest in the seeming death of the two-year school. I get transfers volunteering for GSTV and The Signal all the time but many smaller Georgia schools are consolidating under institutional umbrellas to develop four year programs. Witness the new University of North Georgia (an amalgamation of two North Georgia College State and two Gainesville State College campuses) of and Middle Georgia State College soon-to-be “Middle Georgia University” (a merger of Macon State College and Middle Georgia College). Perhaps the middle Georgian freshmen born in 1995 will elude me and stick to their roots?

Pontifications and questions that will have to wait for another day. For now, I’ll enjoy my birthday mix and wish good luck to the Class of ’17. After you get your tassle, you’re invited to my 40th birthday party.

Quest For Info: In State, Across States and Home

It’s a John Lennon sort of day today. Everyone searching for some truth.

You’ll notice when you enter the front page of my website, the following statement appears: “(This page does not officially represent Georgia State University or any of the Georgia State University Student Media divisions).” I should add to that “or the University System of Georgia”.

Especially since the students that cross my path on a regular basis occasionally cross the path of the Board of Regents.

One such student is David Schick. Schick contributed a bit to The Signal this year during his transfer year from Georgia Perimeter College to GSU. His work ethic stood out such that USA Today selected him to be their GSU correspondent. However, it’s his time at GPC that remains as pertinent to the present as anything because of an unresolved Open Records Request.

Before transferring to GSU, Schick (then EIC of The Collegian) made a request for 15 budget related documents. As of now, he doesn’t have seven of them. GPC had laid off 282 employees and reports alleged that the school had “overspending for years” thus causing the shortfall precipitating the layoffs (Collegian adviser David Simpson was among the casualties). Schick’s request reflected his journalistic curiosity as to whether or not this allegation was true and if so, how could it have gone on undetected for so long.

That was in July 2012. Today, Schick filed suit against the USG Board of Regents because he still doesn’t have all of the documents he requested.

Open Record Requests are not supposed to simply be a resource for professional journalists: anyone can request them. However, oftentimes, the costs given to requestors can be quite exorbitant. I’ve advised students who have placed ORRs that have resulted in four-figure quotes and that is more likely of a possiblity the more redactions are deemed necessary due to various legal concerns. The original quoted cost of Schick’s ORR began the delays and the new quote remains a sticking point.


David Schick

The lawsuit is instructive on a few levels:

1) American college journalists shouldn’t just pay attention to what their university administration is doing, they should also be mindful of the systems under which the administrations operate. The one thing I find myself suggesting to my students during teardowns more often than not is “you should call the students at (Somewhere Else in Georgia) University and see if the same thing’s happening there.” And where the public universities are concerned, the USG is the first place to look for why things work the way they work.

2) Open government is messy, whether the facts of the case dictate that it has to be or not (and being 100% fair, I’ve yet to hear USG’s response to the suit). Launching an ORR isn’t activity exclusively reserved for journalists but non-exclusivity doesn’t necessarily dicate ease. Rights to privacy often clash with rights to public information and even after that, debates will arise has to whether or not public officials leverage the perception rights to privacy are in play when they aren’t. (An ongoing controversy in campus journalism is how much FERPA is used and misused in ORRs).

3) This is yet another case that proves that students do have the most important story ideas sometimes. This is not the AJC* or a network affiliate (or even Creative Loafing, though David’s worked there as well) causing such a ruckus, just one journalist on behalf of one student newspaper. That he doesn’t even edit or write for anymore. Students are affected by a lot of things and think that their problems exist on their island, but that island can be exposed to a wider audience if you ask a question or two.

* = One person commenting on an AJC column about the affair writes “I guess that I’m kind of curious as to why a lone student journalist is carrying the spear here. Why has the larger media complex not been all over this like ugly on an ape ?” Eek.

It will be interesting to see how far the case proceeds. There’s interest is in the verdict, yes, but also in the discussion will be on reasonable cost projections on citizen requests and the level of awareness it will create for student journalists on covering their campus budget beats.

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Whenever there’s someone saying that we’re not getting enough information, however, there’s someone that thinks we have too much. Nationally, that’s the case with the Edward Snowden case. Snowden’s recent online interview detailing his whistleblowing on the National Security Agency has attracted a lot of buzz. The future doesn’t seem promising for the whistleblower. Snowden must believe as much as his plans essentially involve never setting foot on American soil again. At the time of this entry, he’s fallen off of the planet.


America’s Most Wanted

Two takeaways from this?

1) The furor over the PRISM leak seems to reveal that we’re not as “post-post 9/11“*** we think we are. Specifically, it’s interesting that the lines of inappropriateness have been drawn domestically. William Binney worked with the NSA for 28 years but only quit when he felt the surveillance of domestic data got to be too much. Obviously legally, this makes sense: the privacy issue is framed as a constitutional one and the constitution only applies to American citizens. However, no one has asked yet if PRISM’s reach has affected private citizens of other parts of the world whose connections to terrorism would be specious at best. There does seem to be an invisible “othering” in play.

*** = “Post-post-9/11” should be considered a scale rather than an absolute. Just as scholars reminds us that Obama’s 2008 election shouldn’t be treated as a pass/fail inscription of the notion of a “post-racial” society.” There are other elements upon which we can assess 9/11’s effect on social perception and policy beyond suspicion and personal privacy.

2) I wonder if this case is going to make people think twice about how much they voluntarily disclose online. Never mind the companies that try to facilitate our unwitting divulging of information, the social mediation we currently experience leaves a lot of people thinking it doesn’t matter whether people know everything about everyone anyway. So much so that I regularly now see panels at national media conventions where professionals essentially try to shame 18-24 year olds to keep to them damn selves when Twittering and Facebooking. They shame them with “you won’t get hired!” Are we going to transform this into “the government can take everything you did 30 years ago and ruin you?” or will the new generation reply “if anything, I’ve learned I can’t do anything private on the Internet anyways so YaskY?”

Danah Boyd argues that you can’t take refuge in the idea that “I’ve done nothing illegal” because PRISM takes us in a direction that “presumes entire classes and networks of people as suspect” (particularly apt here is her analogy on how we all freak out after doing our taxes and imagining feeling that way all the time). “Nothing to hide” does indeed often fail as logic and it seems like we’re a culture that’s hiding less and less. However, recent scholarship suggests that the more we get into our social media, the more we seek privacy out. If that research is indicative of our behaviour, you can expect us to be outraged about PRISM for a long, long time.

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Speaking of hiding, I wonder where Manning is these days.

No, not Bradley Manning (though that’s very directly relevant). Preston Manning.

Remember Preston Manning? The squeaky voiced idealist who emerged from the Canadian Praries in the late-80s with a message of populism, more provincial equality, less wasteful spending and what not? The man who was vocal in an anti-establishment charge against the Charlottetown Accord that taught Canadians you could beat all the major parties in one referendum?***** And the man who took the Reform Party from the fringes to the opposition benches, which led the way to a merger with the Tories that left the Liberal Party in shambles?

***** = I struggle to imagine the U.S. voting populace being given a chance to smack both the Republicans and Democrats in the face as mightily as Canada smacked the three major parties in the face in 1992.


And no one was happier than Preston

I lie when I paint a portrait of Manning literally hiding. He was seen only weeks ago denying that his non-profit organization is fronting a movement to undermine the current mayor of Calgary. And he’s still beating a familar drum from 20 years past, reforming the Canadian Senate.

However, I still feel like the old Preston is hiding when I see the latest news about Conservative tumult. The Reform Party was never very popular east of Manitoba and social progressives absolutely bristled at the thought of their taking charge. However, there seemed to be a general consensus that one upside to Manning’s movement succeeding would be an increase in accountability and information. The Liberals had turned off even many of its own voters with its image of an arrogant, power-entitled group oblivious to its own scandals and Jean Chretien was frequently criticized for centralizing too much of the power to the office of the Prime Minister.

Now Stephen Harper is arguably the most power-centralized Prime Minister in Canada’s history and it’s starting to take its toll on the party. Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber departed in a huff and reports indicate that the grumblings of Defence Minister Peter MacKay are getting louder. The Senate remains unchanged, unabolished and the accounting of a Conservative senator’s expenses is now an issue. The Office of the Auditor General– an office designed to corral overspending which was the biggest Reform pet peeve of all– is constantly in disagreement with the CPC. It’s a far cry from what the Reform Party projected on a mount of Western alienation in a not-too-distant past. Which is puzzling since some people were quick to trumpet the 2011 election out as a realization of Manning’s work– not the least of which Manning himself.

The press is positioning this as a populist vs. moderate fight and that seems half-right. How “moderate” Rathgeber or MacKay or anyone else is or isn’t on social issues hasn’t publicly frothed to the surface as a source of discontent yet. However, there is one very simple strain of populism clashing with moderate politics. Moderate politics dictates that what is electorally successful is too some degree justified. However, many within the conservative movement are concerned because, majority or not, as one blogger puts it, “Surely Conservatives deserve a party that is bigger than one man—i.e., Stephen Harper”.


Manning’s Idealistic Stephen Harper

When these “new” Conservatives came to town, there’d be more accountability and the Prime Minister, even if you disagreed with his policies, wouldn’t be so power mad. You could ask questions in the House of Commons with less fear of blowback within your own party if you didn’t tow the line. The CPC that voters encounter now is certainly a far cry from the Liberals on economic issues and some social issues (though they’ve yet to touch gay marriage despite the worst fears of progressive voters). However, it has done nothing substantial to tackle the Senate issue and it’s created an image that only the Prime Minister is in a position to comment on anything.

It hasn’t taken on the level of the mid-2000s Liberals yet and some columnists argue that all of this hubbub can only strengthen Harper’s resolve for 2015. Still, regular deficits, quibbles with the Auditor General and Mike Duffy overspending? I can only imagine if there still is a 1992 Preston Manning hiding somewhere, clutching a Social Credit pamphlet and shrieking in horror.

All I can say, is that it’s enough to make this whole “transparency” thing catch fire.

Return from the abyss / Survivor = Wrestling / RISK and Reality “Gamebotting”

It’s been a long sabbatical from the online world.

I mean, really long. Seven months long. In the digital age, I may as well have abandoned my apartment and returned to see squatters trifling through rubbish…only to find I didn’t leave much behind.

So what’s been going on in the interim?

–> GSU student media outlets continued to make me proud. The spring brought good news as GSTV,The Signal and WRAS all received placements at the Southeast Journalism Conference and The Signal added some state awards to that list as well. Speaking of which…

SignalGCPA
I clean up nicely when I have students to not embarrass

–> GSU was selected to host the 2015 SEJC. We’ve already hosted our own in house conference (with a followup planned for the fall) and a regional Society of Professional Journalists conference. Perhaps a future career is conference planning?

–> The Student Activities department also did its Panther Leadership Academy, which I always find rejuvenating and inspiring. This year, it was held at the Enota Mountain Retreat area in Hiawassee. Aside from helping build group leadership skills, the retreat had trampolines. We’re all lucky I’m not still bouncing around up there.

–> My wife has gotten really, really into geocaching. Well, OK, she already was into it, but now she’s really into it. So I’ve seen a lot of backroads of Georgia.

–> We’ve been planning a summer excursion to Lima and Iquitos as well as the Machu Picchhu trail near Cusco. Hard as it is for me to believe, I actually haven’t left this humble continent in my lifetime. So look for me to come back stateside in late-July with hilarious misadventures of sherpas having to drag my sorry behind up the mountain and my inability to speak a sentence of anything not-English leading to horribly delicate misunderstandings.

That’s the real-life stuff going on with me. In the made-up(ish) universe…

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Something strange happened to me over the course of the past few months. While my colleagues and friends have been glued to the relevant shows of the day (and basically having heart attacks watching Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode), I was busy becoming reacquainted with a TV show more than a decade past its cultural zeitgeist. I stumbled back into the landmine of Survivor.

My wife likes to have a certain amount of TV shows “on the go” and re-added Survivor to her queue in February. I hadn’t really given much thought to it since Richard Hatch became America’s TV villain of 2000 for forming an alliance. The show has become especially “non-courant” with dwindling ratings leaving it strong enough to make renewals at CBS, but only because of a dedicated subculture.

Watching the show play out– and becoming more addicted to it than the person who suggested we watch it in the first place– I was struck by some of the similarities between Survivor and pro wrestling (more specifically the WWE), which fits my aca-fan profile. Similarities such as:

–> Neither are close to as popular as they were during their peak(s) yet both have major media forces that continually rely on repurposing for profit.

–>Wrestling and reality TV also overcome their dwindling popularity with lower overhead than their traditional dramatic counterparts. Wrestlers have no union and are usually relegated to no-name status without their WWE trademarks. Survivor contestants compete for prizes and returning players are shunned if they demand any additional compensation for their notoriety.

–> Both Jeff Probst and Vince McMahon, the most powerful people in the Survivor and wrestling universes respectively, have traversed the path from host overshadowed by the talent to the showrunners seldom overshadowed by anybody.



Vince’s phlegm would put out the torch by itself

–> Since its infancy, Survivor has been much like wrestling was pre-Vince McMahon. Back then, everyone thought wrestling was fake, but no one admitted it. The entire “reality television” genre is shrouded with suspicions of how much it’s “rigged” and the Survivor fanbase often holds similar beliefs that certain seasons are decidedly tilted by producers to favour certain players.

–> Both have found themselves both compared and usurped in the popular imagination by something that’s kinda similar but really not similar at all. For the WWE, UFC. For Survivor, singing/talent shows.

–> Both subcultures stick with the product but endlessly complain that the producers won’t find fresh new faces. Entrenched crusty WWE fans tire of John Cena and Wrestlemanias centered on one-time-a-year wrestlers, Survivor fans are wondering when they’re going to get another season without any returning players, as the last three have all featured various numbers of returnees.

–> Both have hermeneutic terms of production that simultaneously are universal yet genre-specific in their application. In particular, the word “edit” amongst Survivor fans takes on individualistic meaning (as in “Brenda didn’t get a very good edit this season”) just as “booking” would appear to be another word for “writing” in wrestling jargon. Yet hardcore wrestling affectionados would tell you that what’s wrong with wrestlng today is too much writing and not enough booking.

–> Most fascinatingly, but sadly not surprising, both are genres of entertainment that wrestle (pardon the pun) with portrayals of women (maybe Ashley Massaro could comment?). Both McMahon and Probst seem most comfortable when they can keep their onscreen females in the 18-35 demographic but at least Probst always has a spot for a working mom or two. However, perhaps his portrayal of them is still lacking for nuance (see my point on gamebotting and Dawn Meehan below…).

Being a diminutive scrawny fellow and being someone who completed countless university assignments on his favourite pop culture phenomena, it wasn’t too hard for me to treat John Cochran as the protagonist of the affair– even as he attracted the wrath of many devoted Survivor legions who yearn for new faces and complained of his edit taking over the show.

Cochran is the face of non-zeitgeist Survivor. First, for being the example of character development that Probst now aspires to have Survior attain with returning players. Cochran “two season” arc was reality TV’s version of the hero’s quest (minus the refusals). His first season transformed him from the bullied to the turncoat to ultimately a poor player who nonetheless has his “world of cardboard” moment upon his exit. The second season completed the ascent deemed inevitable from that moment; such that some fans argued the casting was rigged (booked?) to complete the “storyline” satisfactorily with Cochran getting a favourable draw of fellow favourites to navigate his plan.

Second, and more importantly, Cochran is the face of compulsive theorizing the gameplay of a show that on the surface is designed to emphasize drama much more than any idea of sport. One of his talking points when auditioning was a Harvard assignment in which he compared the Survivor jury system to actual jury systems. This actually fits Cochran in with the subcultural universe that exists outside of CBS’ purview in which players dissect their moves in podcasts that sometimes exceed two hours per player.

Which lead me to an interesting discovery…

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I’m no more of a board game person than your average Jane or Joe but I played a fair bit of RISK with my compadres back in the day. It usually went as follows: 1) choose red, 2) desire to take over Africa, 3) get a crappy card draw, 4) wander instead, 5) roll crappy dice and be the second to go. Fun times.


Arrrrrrrrggghhhhhh!!! Europe again!!!

My friends were never keen on playing the marathon model of RISK I’ve heard so much about through TV mythos. My friend and colleague Shane Toepfer, however, regaled me with tales of his games where the board would sit for an entire weekend and players would hold private convos with each other to try to form (and break) alliances. In other words, it sounded like a less serious version of reality TV.

Which is why the latest venture of Survivor alum Rob Cesternino is particularly compelling. The new online show Reality Gamemasters pits Survivor and Big Brother alumni against each other in a simple RISK game. Except of course, add cheesy music and private discussion booths so that the game can be edited to essentially resemble the shows that made the participants D(E?)-level famous.

I’m anticipating that the meager $7,036 budget (funded by Kickstarter) and the compressed timeline of the actual game itself will provide a hilarious bizarro universe of the reality TV world.

Theoretically the players should be reduced to “gamebots.” Notorious Survivor villain Russell Hantz usually (involuntarily) wears the “gamebot” term perjoratively as someone who embraced backstabbing and manipulating and forgot the endgame of the jury actually wanting to vote for you.

The most recent season saw Mormon adoptive mother of six, Dawn Meehan, get the “villain edit” by opting to vote out Brenda Lowe despite their bond. The corresponding jury/audience response was rife with gender politics, as she was lambasted for simultaneously playing “too emotional” and “coldhearted” as though the two had to be constantly mutually exclusive by some sort of sacred law. Cochran declared the absurdity of taking such things so seriously with the pithy observation “she was voting people out of a game where the crucial part of the game is voting people out!”

However, the private discussion booths, the history of all six players and the over-the-top dramatizing is designed to add a fake layer of emotional consideration to make RISK seem less “gamebotty.” It’s probably a bit sad that this might not even be necessary with some people as there’s always that one friend who takes it just a bit personally that s/he’s the first target in RISK (“everyone’s out to get me!”). However, that fake layer only seeks to reveal the absurdity of reality TV itself, where games are prolonged to 30-50 days in an attempt to make them personal to both player and audience– even though they take up a tenth of a percentage point of someone’s lifespan.

I’ll probably lap up this cheesy reenactment and end up being way more chatty the next time I play RISK (oh boy, won’t my friends be appreciative?). It also mirrors Toepfer’s helpful dissection of the playful wrestling audience delighting in the obscure Champions of the Galaxy board game. These fans of reality TV were devoted enough with their games to end up playing it for real, but when the spotlight dims, they’re really just seeking any way to playfully engage with social gamesmanship– even if it’s in the form of a video-edited game of RISK.

You’ll note that Cochran chose the continent of Africa for his first landing spot and red as his army colour. He’s already playing RISK like me. Heaven help him.

“The Devil You Don’t” Never Wins / Stifled Electoral Conversation / Best of Show

“We can’t afford four more years!” “Anything to get him out of office!” “It’s about defeating the president!”

I’m talking about the Republican outcry this year, right? Actually, I’m not, I’m talking about the Democratic outcry in 2004. In case you didn’t notice, both times, these outcries led to electoral defeat in the race for President.

By 2010, I felt pretty strongly that Mitt Romney’s ascendance to the Republican presidential nomination was a fait accompli. By 2011, this feeling was supported as such potential front-runners as Bobby Jindal, Chris Christie and, yes, even Sarah Palin gradually withdrew interest in the job. And right there and then, I told politico friends of mine that Obama would likely be re-elected in 2012. When asked why, I answered the same way every time: “Romney will win the Republican primary and there will be no enthusiasm for him going forward, only enthusiasm to find the ‘safe’ candidate to defeat the incumbent. And that’s not going to work.” Lo and behold, it didn’t.

Primary voters do sometimes fall for this logic. Romney certainly didn’t have a shortage of Republican opponents with enthusiastic bases while commentators generally noted the “enthusiasm gap” that he possessed. Such was the news of this that The Daily Show even did a skit from which 90% of the humor derivation was the principle that it wasn’t odd to imagine someone campaigning for Romney, but it was completely alien to imagine anyone being enthusiastic about it.


Excitement!

“Fringe” candidates such as Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum had (and have) cores of supporters that were (and are) greatly devoted to them but it didn’t (and doesn’t) translate to the primary ballot box. Obviously, there are numerous reasons for this besides the “safe” factor, but there’s no denying the groundswell of “we have to defeat the president” that underwrote some of the Romney primary vote. Somewhere along the way, “let’s find a candidate we support regardless of opponent” got lost.

For a quick exercise of this practice, go to your social media network of choice and visit the statuses/tweets/posts from your Republican friends. Find one person whose primary expression is that of disappointment over what they believe America lost by not having Romney as president without once mentioning Obama. Then send it to me because I haven’t seen it.

It reminds me of sitting in a house with my American friends in 2004 watching the Presidential election and hearing the lamentations of “four more years” with Bush. I silently waited for someone to say “it’s a shame that John Kerry won’t get to be President.” When it never came, it occurred to me that it was easy to understand why the Democrats didn’t persuade enough swing voters to come over to their side. The expression “the devil you know over the devil you don’t” didn’t happen by accident: elections are about more than about convincing people the other side is the devil. America’s Democrats found out the hard way in 2004. The Republicans are mulling that lesson today.

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Lost in the usual presidential headlines is the vote total of third party candidates, which remains a far cry from the Ross Perot salad days.

In 1992, Perot alone marshalled nearly 20 million votes and the overall third-party vote dwindled to nearly 10 million in ’96. Then came Ralph Nader. America hasn’t cracked two million votes for third party candidates since.


Not then, and not now

I’ve been reading Jonathan Sterne’s MP: Meaning of a Format (more on that in my next blog entry) and in it, he cites a very powerful quotation from Warren Weaver’s introduction to The Mathematical Theory of Communication: “Information is a measure of one’s freedom of choice when one selects a message.” In the strictest information theory terms, this has rather banal mathematical implications (1 and 2 has three exponential possibilities amongst them, 1, 2 and 3 has six, etc.). However, it’s also led me to consider that information theory is perhaps the best lens with which to understand how the electoral system can (and usually does) limit the scope of conversational possibility in politics.

Supporters of third-party candidates usually rail on the unfairness of ballot access, debate access, the tendency to reduce voting to a “lesser of two evils” practice, but stepping outside of that, does one necessarily have to disagree with Obama’s potential policies to see the loss here? What really matters it that the exponential possiblities of discussion remains incredibly rigid.

And voters have lashed out at this in other ways: three states supported regulatory measures to legalize marijuana. Two others voted to approve same-sex marriage. Of course, many suspect that most Democrats favour these things and Obama has come out and said as much for the latter. However, issues such as drug regulation and marriage rights were noticably dimmed during the actual election; swapped out for small talk over whether Obama used the word “terrorism” properly or other such technicalities.

By framing the discontent with two-party focus as an information theory problem, rather than as a fair access problem, I think we gain a greater understanding of what is lost. I don’t want to get too mathematical about it, but there needs to be a reframing of the electoral process as a chance to discuss issues robustly, especially in America, where the process is long and cumbersome. State-run ballots miss the point: they establish a groundswell of attention but fail to establish a long-standing conversation about issues that third-party candidates are much more often willing to address, only to receive little to no audience.

The first possible solution is election reform. It’s already clear that the “lesser of two evils” approach doesn’t lead parties to select their best candidates, so why not use that as a premise to open up discussion on various forms of runoff voting, reforming the primary system or fixing debate moderation and access. Will such discussions put a third party into power? Maybe not, but is that the larger point at stake?

It doesn’t interest me because I’m upset at any one given election result. It interests me because of how little we talked about along the way.

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I like my job a lot. My students do good things and have taken their organizations a long way from where they were when I started. I got more reaffirmation of that recently.

My GSTV students notched two CBI Award nominations this year as well as a Pinnacle Award nomination for its website. Following up on that, The Signal launched a new website and celebrated this by winning a “Best of Show” award (and an additional category placement) in its category for the first time. Not too shabby for a stolen issue.

In the end, the best reason to go to CBI and CMA/ACP is share with and learn from the students. Oh, and all these papers…:


Not a dead medium on campuses across America

Staying up to watch an election is fun, but I’ll take staying up in my pajamas and critiquing papers until three in the morning every day and twice on Sunday if there was a logistical way to make that fit my career. Probably isn’t, but such is life.

The loss of Phil Tarr / #MMC2012 / Of Teachers and Referees

Nothing else I write about this week has the gravity of the loss of a young artist’s life. The Cape Breton music scene was stunned this weekend when Philip Tarr passed away at his Sydney home at the age of 25:

Phil’s online obituary

The death is a tremendous loss to the community and its locally residing members could speak to it far more poignantly than I ever could, as they were present for his contributions and are thus most hurt by his absence. Tarr coordinated the Mess Folk outfit that put out a slew of MP3s and vinyl recordings in the past three years.

On a personal level, it was a reflection on my dissertation and personal transformation. My fieldwork was conducted in 2006 and Tarr and his brother James were but teenagers at the time, and not necessarily popular ones within the scene. They were agent provocateurs, if you would, rattling against the emo/screamcore trend of the day. Some of the posts on the CBLocals messageboard were under scrutiny for homophobia (the emo movement certainly bucked the masculine norms rock n’ roll sometimes presents) and disrupting the “signal-to-noise” ratio. Furthermore, the Tarrs were grindcore practitioners– or perhaps satirists of the amelodic genre– via James’ Canker project. They also formed a band titled The Abusive Stepdads.

Mess Folk steered more towards melody but it wasn’t necessarily greeted with open arms right away either. Philip famously called my hometown “a suitable hole to die in” in a Vice interview and MF’s content was occasionally inciteful on its face in the Stepdads vein (with song titles like I Beat My Woman Sometimes (And She Likes It)” and “Suicide Song”). The general arc of Mess Folk was exceptionally dark on its face but one reviewer noted, there was “a lot of snoot-cocking” in the band’s work. Tarr once told us through an online status that he feared ever living in the Brave New World; his music indeed reflected a lot of terrible misanthropic ugliness in the world.

Over time, however, Philip transformed into a scene notable. He likely won over several friends through work ethic alone (and his musical evolution to a 60s garage/punk throwback), but he also became a congenial peer and treasured friend to many. Only a few weeks before his death, he recorded an off-the-cuff track that is eerily autobiographical. It’s eerie to hear the line “I just want to be a musician” because it sounds like that was more of a struggle for someone who explored such dark subject matter while “just wanting to have some fun.”

It was a privilege for those who didn’t move away to get to know Philip on a level beyond his (alleged or not) “angry teenage troublemaker” days. If there were any demons haunting him in his life, I hope he had a chance to make peace on the way out.

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On a far less sobering note, here on the southern side of the border, reality hit me today that I needed to get my notes together for the GSU Modern Media Conference, which finally descends upon the school on Friday and Saturday. My students at The Signal dedicated an entire insert to the conference program in today’s issue. It’s an impressive lineup of presenters, to say the least.

My hats are off to the students doing all of the work to help put this together. A localized media conference is not an original idea of the current students; the Student Media department used to have “Media Day” back in the 1990s. It was an idea that was bandied about at meetings for years by several students and myself, but finally current Signal EIC Sabastian Wee said “hey, let’s do it!” And do it, we shall.

I’m flattered to be among those presenters…those notes I need because I will be conducting a panel on review writing. My students even did a spiffy write up on me in the insert…nice:

What a guy! :-p

If you’re a journalism/media student in Atlanta, we’ll see you this weekend, I’m sure that with the group of great professionals we have visiting, you won’t be disappointed!

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Fitting that it would be Wisconsin.

You might recall that Wisconsin is the state where the public employees protested a bill that would drastically affect teachers’ benefits (among other employees). Despite throngs of protestors descending upon the captial, public opinion polls indicated that there wasn’t a terrible wave of sympathy for the teachers. Several conservative critics framed them as nine-and-a-half monthers, cruising on blissful summer vacations and not working the full nine-to-five schedule. Others declared Walker’s eventual success pushing legislation through as a triumphant transfer of power from unions to elected officials.

Lo and behold, Wisconsin football fans- liberal, moderate, conservative and all points in between- were up in arms today as their pop culture darlings, the community-owned (imagine that) Green Bay Packers that were on the short end of an incredibly controversial ruling in Seattle last night on Monday Night Football. A controversial ruling that may never have happened if there wasn’t a lockout of the regular officials– normally the target of scorn, now suddenly the darlings of the sports fan set. It’s as if the karmic gods of organized labour decided to strike out at Governor Scott Walker’s biggest fan interests to spite him.

Suddenly Gov. Walker doesn’t seem to mind collective bargaining rights so much, something that one of his political opponents was all too keen to mention: “People end up thinking you can get good work for cheap, you can always find a cheaper way and it’s going to be just as good a result,” Larson said. “I would hope that Scott Walker is just as outraged about decreased quality of teachers that we’re going to get as he is with replacement refs in the NFL.” Of course, Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan decided to steer it in the other direction, correlating throwing the “failed” replacement officials out to throwing out incumbents.

That football could become a political…football in this way is a pretty fitting commentary on political discourse. More than one Grantland reader wrote in that Romney or Obama could seal the election by bringing the NFL’s officials back and there doesn’t seem to be a hint of irony in what they’re saying. Wisconsin teachers– you know, the people who have stand in front of dozens of heckling adolescents every day in the hopes of shaping their future– could apparently disappear tomorrow and not garner as much sympathy as a crew of people who measure ball distances at sporting events for a group of million-dollar athletes.

It’s unusual because sports fans, many fiscal conservatives among them, seem to be judging the current officiating fiasco by the standards of community interest rather than by the cold, hard bottom line that they judged the Wisconsin situation. While the NFL is a non-profit, its shutting out of the officials is at the behest of 97% privately owned teams that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars who provide a service that directly affects a fraction of the lives that teachers directly affect.

One would assume the community logic would apply to the public employees, not the wealthy businessmen. No one’s arguing that teachers and firefighters’ worth are measured by how many beer commercials a school can sell. The NFL , however, conducts business for the private owner’s profits and isn’t one logical tenet of late capitalist logic that you’re worth what the market says you’re worth? That being the case, the locked out referees aren’t worth that much: ratings are as high as ever.

The locked out officials can make somewhere between $25-70,000 but without benefits, something they want so they can drop their other jobs. This is for significantly less than nine and a half months of “official” work. Yet when teachers walked out to attend a protest, it wasn’t spun by fiscally conservative critics as the government’s fault that the quality of education might suffer, it was the teachers’ fault. They had to think about the economy, not the community. Whereas in 2012, it’s not the referee’s fault that their absence is hurting the quality of play, it’s the NFL’s…even though the NFL has no economic impetus whatsoever to change their stance. Apparently, the quality of NFL officiating is a community, not a capitalistic, concern.

And here we are, with Wisconsin at the center of the discontent. A strange, but not-so-strange, world indeed.

Violence in Politics / Suppression of Journalism / Fantasy in Sports

It’s the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks today and my students came up with an understated cover to mark the occasion:

On the 11th anniversary of an act that robbed thousands of their lives, I’m left looking back a violent act that took “only” one last week. While the States was focused on the Democratic Party’s conventions last week, back on the homeland front, all eyes were on Quebec’s provincial election. I figured this would lead to a reflection on the state of the sovereignty movement, but then tragedy reared its ugly head.

Richard Henry Bain is in custody after the murder of a stage technician during Premier-Designate Pauline Marois’ victory speech. It was an eerie callback to Quebec’s troubled political past (one blogger notes Bain’s odd aged resemblance to Denis Lortie).

Yet the profile of Bain remains surprisingly vague at this moment. His associates don’t drop any hints from his past behaviour that would indicate that he would have been politically motivated in any way. Still, all of the news reports are quoting Bain as shouting “Les anglais se réveillent! (The English are waking up!)” as he was dragged away. Sounds like you can’t get any more politically motivated than that. Which presents a frightening rhetorical conundrum in a situation that didn’t seem to be possessing one.

Despite the election of the separatist Bloc Quebecois to a mintority government, support for separatism nor any particular stances related to English-French tensions ranked particularly high on the voter priority scale. Instead, the BQ victory was largely attributed to a combination of fatigue (Jean Charest’s Liberals having been in office roughly a decade) combined with severe dissatisfaction with Charest’s handling of scandal and the economy. Related to my world, Charest’s hard-nosed approach in response to student protests of the Liberals’ plan to raise tuition won him few friends and the presence of red squares the night of the election indicates that this wasn’t forgotten at the ballot box.

Yet there we were the night after the election, circling around sovreignty issue again, but more specifically, the violence that a stark few seems compelled to commit in the name of it (regardless of the side the take). Cheryl R. Jorgensen-Earp wrote about the interesting challenge citizens face in terms of disassociating themselves from violence in the name of a movement for which they profess suppport (In the Wake of Violence: Image and Social Reform). She identifies three themes in such people’s responses:

1) Divesting one self of the “violent militants” that support a cause, often citing defeasiblity (one of Benoit’s oft-cited apologia strategies). Basically “This person ain’t one of us and there’s no way we could have controlled this person.”
2) Debates on the merits of violence to achieve a sociopolitical end.
3) A reaffirmation to one’s original beliefs and a strong statement that no violent act can erase that.

Following that second theme is what interests me. If debates on sovreignty or language issues suddenly open up again, it’s going to be hard to ignore a terrible violent act’s role in the middle of that. On the other hand, if the voters continue their focus on economy and government ethics, there will be something almost oddly refreshing about it, not because of my feelings for or against in those debates. But rather, if the voters stick to that for now, it will be their way of saying “we’re not letting deathly violence dictate or prioritize what policy we care about.” That’s how it should be.

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It’s somewhat enlightening and also sometimes frightening to compare situations stateside and overseas, especially so in the past few weeks. While there have been interesting developments here in Atlanta, a former colleague of mine underwent something far more exhausting miles and miles away.

I recently spoke in a municipal court here in Atlanta regarding a former Signal reporter, Judy Kim, who was arrested along with two other student reporters in November 2011 for “obstructing traffic.” Kim’s legal representative called myself, Kennesaw State advisor Ed Bonza, and Student Press Law Center Executive Director Frank Lomonte to the stand to vouch for the different legal rights accorded professional and student media…..which is to say “there are no legal rights accorded to ‘professional’ media that are not accorded to student media.” It remains to be seen whether the charges will be dropped or if the city will ignore the arguments Bonza & I put forth when the whole incident broke out in the first place. In the meantime, I’ve also been sledding uphill as an advisor to expand The Signal’s outreach in the downtown area. I’m happy to report that some progress is being made, but it won’t be overnight.

Well, distribution problems are petty by comparison, Kim and her peers’ arrests certainly were not and are not. Many miles away, Matt Duffy’s recent ordeal gives me pause for thought. Duffy is a fellow GSU doctorate and sat on the Committee on Student Communication with me years ago. He taught several students that came through the Student Media doors (and recommended some very good ones). He knows his stuff. And maybe that’s why he found himself in the center of the mess that he did.

Duffy’s research interests include journalism laws in the Middle East, which made his appointment as a Journalism professor at Zayed University a perfect fit. Then the very factors which are the focus of his research kicked in. Duffy and his wife were dismissed from the university, and Dubai, with no explanation other than the orders came from “outside the organization (university).”

He hasn’t been shy about outlining the many things he’s done that he feels likely contributed to his ousting. Unfortunately, this is a standard practice, especially in light of the Arab uprisings, in that part of the world.

I applaud Duffy’s various initiatives in Dubai, especially starting a SPJ chapter. Journalists cover events of interest, they don’t ignore them. This is the ipso facto of what it means to be a journalist. It seems ridiculous that something that should appear benign doesn’t in the eyes of a country’s law.

Yet that’s the same way I felt when my student was arrested for taking pictures at an event of public interest. Sometimes it takes a macro example of journalistic suppression to remind me of why the micro examples mean so much.

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On the (much) lighter side, is there anything more addictive to a sports fan than the experience of fantasy football? After winning my league in 2010, I sank like a stone in 2011 and picked up right where I left off losing my first game last night. I’ll probably be lucky to win 3-4 games but still I find it an incredibly fascinating and engaging form of fandom, even if my brother disagrees.

You see, my brother is one of those sports fans who sees fantasy sports as violating the sacrosanct relationship between fan and team. “Why would I join a league where I have to follow ten different teams for one score and where I might have to cheer against my favourite team because the other guys have one of my running backs?” If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably heard this logic a thousand times. Or maybe you’ve heard this argument: “it forces you to cheer for a quarterback to keep throwing the ball even though his team has the lead and they should run it. All because you’re selfishly cheering for your fantasy team!”

The sports fans reasons to embrace or deride the fantasy experience says a lot about what the values we celebrate by being sports fans. Jesse James Draper argues for the community values enacted by fantasy sports. He argues that, for example, when a team like the Dallas Cowboys win a big home game, the real winner in terms of power and capital is Jerry Jones: he overcharges for admission, food, parking…well, everything. The win will fuel the fans to come back and give him more of that capital and none of those fans will ever share in that very real wealth.

However winning one’s fantasy league typically involves much smaller stakes (though some people are known to invest hundreds and a few even thousands into it). I’m not going to suddenly move into a different tax bracket and social class by winning my fantasy league. If anything, by participating in it, I’ve identified the social class with which I want to identify.

This pro-community interpretation is ironic as that’s the exact opposite to what my brother and his like argue. They would tell fantasy sports is all individual and against team. However, what sports teams accomplish, unless you’re related to someone on the field, is imaginary culture. I’m not a part of that team. I’m not really a “part” of my fantasy team either, but I at least played a role in the team’s selection. In that sense, there is both more of the self AND the community engaged in fantasy sports, even though there is certainly no doubt that the NFL and other organizations are monetizing it more to their benefit by the year.

Of course, this could all stem from me watching the Cincinnati Bengals for over 20 years. Let’s imagine that didn’t happen.

“World”-labelled music, “Punk”-labelled protest, “Student”-labelled journalism

I flipped the switch to CBC Radio on the way to work Wednesday and caught a spirited debate between British writer Ian Birrell and Toronto-based producer/director Derek Andrews on the subject of “world music.” Namely, the subject was “is this a useful term anymore?” and “might it be that this term is even just a tad bit offensive?” Birrell says “yes.” Andrews says “no,” although his argument seems pretty vague other than a rather half-hearted “how else are you going to describe (Artist A)?” near the end of the interview.

Birrell’s argument is a little bit of the old, a little bit of the new. For the old part of his argument: the “world music” term colonializes all that is not American (or alternately, Western) and essentially exocitizes all music is that isn’t the familiar “4/4 intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-lead-verse-chorus-outro” as some foreign “other.” It’s a fairly racialized concept: as white is the “default” setting, so too American and European music essentially become “default” when we place anything that Westerns remotely find “exotic” into a world bin.

In an oft-cited 2000 essay on the subject, ethnomusicologist Steven Feld captures much of this angst towards the “world music” label and even takes issue with the fact that I would categorize him as as “ethnomusicologist Steven Feld”:

“The relationship of the colonizing and the colonized thus remained generally intact in distinguishing music from world music. This musicology/ethnomusicology split reproduced the disciplinary divide so common in the academy, where unmarked “-ologies” announced studies of normative Western subjects, and “ethno-” fields were created to accommodate the West’s ethnic others. Even if little of this was terribly contentious in the academy of the 1960s and 1970s, it is nonetheless remarkable that the valorized labels ethnomusicology and world music survive with so little challenge at century’s end.”

Furthermore, he argues the term allows for global music to be neatly subsumed into the “market logic of expansion” and that “the dream desires of technological and artistic elites are jolted by market cycles of agitated wakefulness. Then, blanketed in promotion, they are once more cradled and lulled on a firm mattress of stark inequities and padded mergers, and nurtured at the corporate breast.”

The newer part of Birrell’s argument– and one that inadvertently compromises Feld’s argument– is that we “live in such a mashed up world” that what we understand as contemporary Western pop music is wearing the influences of what “world music” was coined to describe many eons ago (K’naan occupying much of this particular conversation), so what’s the use anymore? All this label is doing, he maintains, is steering people away from what could easily pass as a pop hit because it’s that “other,” it’s world music.

I’m a bit torn because my first instinct as a cultural critic is to completely support Birrell (and Feld) and say “hey, this ‘world music’ term isn’t just colonialist orientalism, it’s flat-out outdated.” However, I can’t help but feel that Andrews left out a pretty good counterargument, which is that there is some validity to seeking out a world music experience. Getting rid of “world music” might get rid of the “other,” but might it also be a “padded merger” of our listening experiences into something akin to “ah, it’s all just pop music?”

Ethnic Studies professor Roshanak Kheshti is critical of the “culture-vulture” fears surrounding “world music” labels describes “world music” as more of affective phenomenon than a tangible music genre. Is this the intended fantasy effect of a culture industry? Perhaps, Kheshti concedes. However, she also argues that to give up “world music” would be also to give up the aural imaginary pleasures the genre provides:

“There is a tension here that I am unable to negotiate between the pleasure offered by listening to the musical other, performing the musical other, and the discursive, imaginary, and political-economic formations that have structured me in relation to that object and the pleasure it affords…scholarship on world music, then, should aspire to not only critique the social structures that distinguish the bodies who produce affective labor from the bodies who consume it but also elucidate the psychic and affective processes that draw the bodies together in the first place.”

Kheshti’s idea of “touching sound” might be too estoeric to really sway Birrell but there is some validity to the idea of an aural imaginary. After all, music is so ridiculously subjective that you can’t deny the imaginary’s impact on how we receive it. Think of those terrible pop hits from your high school days that you “know you shouldn’t like” and that you’d probably hate if they came out ten years after you graduated…you like them in no small part because of the imaginary (but once real) world you’ve constructed around them. By removing “world music,” we may nobly avoid orientalizing the music of Asia, South America and so on and so forth, but we might also completely disassemble all of the different places in our mind that music can take us. After all, if the only imaginary we can construct around ANY music is a North American dance floor ready made for Feld’s “corporate beast,” are we any better off?

I do know that this interview has compelled this steak-and-potatoes college radio guy to seek out Tribe Called Red.

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Speaking of music, terms describing it and those terms’ implications…

I was intrigued by Melena Ryzik’s NY Times piece on the movement to support the Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Ryzik immediately touches a chord in rock fans by bringing up the whole “when did punk die?” trope which is pretty much a rite of passage for anyone professing to be a fan of loud music that starts with a ruffian screaming “1-2-3-4!” A prerequiste for many punk purists is that the music being played carry with it a certain sense of danger, a certain sense of unrefined amateurism, and a certain sense of agitation: we will disrupt so that something might change because of this music. And that last part in particular is what Ryzik argues has been missing from anything claiming or claimed to be punk…until now.

Ryzik is right about this much: Pussy Riot’s actions certainly were calibrated to be punk as defined by the aforementioned terms. There was an instant sense of danger as authorities descended upon them to prevent their actions. The music was loud and certainly required practically no training to perform. Most importantly, it was a blatant agitation intended to create change.

There’s no denying the disruption of this performance, which puzzles many that are critical of the outpouring of support. The most disruptive element of the performance is that it pretty blatantly violates the freedom of religious assembly frequently defended and cherished in the Western world. Its true disruption, however, is indicated by the punishment: if you broke into my church and disrupted service, I’d reserve the right to kick you out…you might get charged a fine for petty disruption. Not two years for hooliganism.

That last bit of sentencing detail is why columnists such as Rachel Marsden miss the mark on the whole Pussy Riot affair. Marsden writes “The longer game of subversion would have required them to spend years working to get into a key position within the power structure, then influencing and subverting the system to change what they don’t like. The effects of such an effort would have been more organic, credible and durable.”

Well, that wouldn’t be very punk, would it? Most subculural scholars agree with Dick Hebdige’s assessment that “Subcultures represent ‘noise’ (as opposed to sound): interference in the orderly sequence which leads from real events and phenomena to their representation in the media. We should therefore not underestimate the signifying power of the spectacular subculture not only as a metaphor for potential anarchy ‘out there’ but as an actual mechanism of semantic disorder: a kind of temporary blockage in the system of representation.” Pussy Riot was out to make noise and they made it; I’m not sure that anyone– critic or supporter– is “duped” by any of this.

Marsden further remarks that the band would have gotten further if “they intelligently addressed Mr. Putin’s policies without breaking any laws, or associated themselves with a larger group of activists known for flaunting it relentlessly and treating it as a joke.” This is familiar railing against the “carnival of protest”. I’m critical of when the carnival takes over for any valid political discussion but the fact that Pussy Riot’s actions have raised a spolight on the issue of censorship in Russia is, in and of itself, a sign that their critics are wrong. Surely there are some in Russia that are working within the power structure for the aforementioned gradual subversion, but expressions of “noise” often provide the spark that allow those on the inside to instigate change.

And it also continues the great punk tradition, which I would argue predates the term “punk” in the musical sense: demystifying the process and telling kids not to be intimidated by those that say you can’t. As the late Martin Rushent once said, “Go up there and make a hell of a noise. And make sure you play music your parents don’t like.”.

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It looked as though the Red & Black furor had reached a comfortable detente (and victory for the students). I was heartened to see the students stand by their adviser Ed Morales, someone who is well-respected and liked in the adviser community, and the general consensus those students had was “this wasn’t Ed’s idea and we know he supports our journalistic freedoms.” The Red and Dead website issued a “final statement” on Monday which seemed indicate that this was the end of it.

Yet it’s evident there are some bruised feelings– no longer from the students, but from some of those that sit/sat on the board. Board members are resigning and it’s not entirely clear why– unless it’s because they’re uncomfortable with the students having final say over the content. I’d like to think that’s not the reason. Ed Stampler’s resignation at least seemed thoughtful…almost an apology-resignation hybrid with a bit of recognition that stepping aside would be right for both him and them. However, Charles Russell’s resignation is a bit more cryptic, referring to something that the paper “is about to do” moreso than what it’s done.

It’s good news that the students’ grievances were addressed so quickly, especially when it’s considered a flagship for what student journalism should be. It’s bad news if any lingering ill-will should overshadows and/or extinguishes the ultimate lesson: Letting the students have their say is a good thing.