Thursday, December 28, 2006

NYT columnist Bob Herbert coming to Vanderbilt

He'll be here Tuesday, Feb. 20 for the Chancellor's Lecture Series. The 6 p.m. lecture will follow a 5 p.m. reception at the Student Life Center. Attendees are encouraged to park at the 25th Avenue staff garage at 25th Avenue North and Highland Avenue.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

AP: Roberts moving court in more media-friendly direction

New U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts seems to have a much warmer attitude toward the press than his predecessors, AP says.

Pulitzer winner Rawls to teach at Vanderbilt

From Vanderbilt:
Vanderbilt alumnus Wendell "Sonny" Rawls, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, will visit the university during the 2007 spring semester to teach "Investigative Reporting in America." Rawls is the second Pulitzer winner to visit campus to teach the course, which gives students insight into journalism from a recognized leader in the field. Joseph Hallinan of The Wall Street Journal taught the course at Vanderbilt during the 2006 spring semester.

Friday, December 15, 2006

We're still ahead of politicos, CEOs, lawyers and stockbrokers

But journalists still rate fairly low on the scale in Gallup's survey on honesty and ethics, Editor and Publisher reports.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Helen Thomas, Bill Moyers to speak at Memphis media reform conference

Just got this press release this morning about a Memphis conference next month:

MEMPHIS -- Thousands of activists, educators, policymakers and leaders in the rapidly growing movement to create a more diverse and democratic media system will gather in Memphis on Jan. 12-14 for the 2007 National Conference for Media Reform.

This rousing weekend will bring together legendary journalists with new media visionaries, grassroots organizers and Washington policymakers, civil rights trailblazers and the hip hop generation.

“In the past few years, we’ve witnessed unprecedented public awareness and involvement in media issues -- with millions of people creating their own media, critiquing mainstream outlets, and demanding a say in how we use the public airwaves and what the future of the Internet should look like,” said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press. “The National Conference of Media Reform is a rare opportunity for all of the different fronts in the fight for better media to connect, broaden our ranks, and build momentum for real change.”

The National Conference for Media reform will be held at the Memphis Cook Convention Center and features PBS journalist Bill Moyers; Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition; Academy Award-winning actresses Geena Davis and Jane Fonda; and FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein; as well as numerous musical performances, film screenings and book signings.

Today, Free Press released the preliminary schedule of events for the conference, which includes more 100 hands-on workshops and panel discussions with a diverse array of speakers on a wide range of media issues.

Among the highlights:·

  • “Inside Corporate Media: Can it Tell the Truth?” - a panel moderated by Phil Donahue featuring Juan Gonzalez of the Daily News, MSNBC commentator Flavia Colgan, author and media critic Jeff Cohen and Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington.
  • A discussion on “Winning Alternatives” with Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman, filmmaker Robert Greenwald and Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation. · “Media Policy is a Civil Rights Issue” with former FCC Commissioner and NAACP Executive Director Ben Hooks, Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, Mark Lloyd of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and others.
  • A panel on hip-hop activism with Davey D of KPFA-FM, Rosa Clemente of R.E.A.C.Hip-Hop, Detroit hip-hop artist Ilana “Invincible” Weaver, San Diego’s Brotha Los, Adrienne Maree Brown of the Ruckus Society and Youth Media Council’s Malkia Cyril.
  • “The Press at War and the War on the Press” featuring famed White House correspondent Helen Thomas, media critic Eric Boehlert, Sonali Kolhatkar of the Afghan Women’s Mission and Paul Rieckhoff of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
  • "Watchdogging the Media” with David Brock of Media Matters for America, Janine Jackson of FAIR, media critic Norman Solomon and radio host Laura Flanders. ·
  • A look at the new media landscape with Dan Gillmor from the Center for Citizen Media, Jay Rosen of New York University, Afro-Netizen’s Chris Rabb, Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation and Chris Nolan of
The full schedule -- which also includes sessions on “Saving the Internet,” Hurricane Katrina, public broadcasting, ethnic media and global media policy -- is available at

Press credentials for the National Conference for Media Reform are available to members of the media who will be covering the event. Send requests to or fax to (202) 265-1489.

There will also be a limited number of spaces available for radio programs that wish to broadcast live from the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Broadcasters interested in joining "Radio Row" should contact the Free Press staff at

Many conference speakers, media policy experts, and the event planners are also available for interviews in advance of the conference. More information about the National Conference for Media Reform is available at

Monday, December 11, 2006

New MTSU poll cites media bias and deception

Here's a statement just put out by MTSU's mass comm college:

Americans cite bias and deception as the top two unethical behaviors by mass media that most concern them, according to a poll released today by Middle Tennessee State University’s College of Mass Communication.

Collectively, the study found, the most common concerns relate to media portrayals of the truth."One significant finding is that Americans are most concerned about issues orbiting truth-telling,” said Dr. Tom Cooper, MTSU’s Ethicist-in-Residence and a catalyst for the study.

“About two-fifths of those questioned voiced primary concern about deception, exaggeration, sensationalism, bias or inaccuracy,” Cooper said. “The second largest group seems concerned about issues of media excess, such as too much violence, foul language, gratuitous sex, redundancy and saturation, while the third largest group is concerned about privacy issues."

The poll of 1,017 randomly selected U.S. adults found that nearly a fifth (19%) say media bias or one-sidedness concerns them most. Another 11 percent name media dishonesty, and nine percent describe media invasion of privacy.

Other concerns expressed include inaccuracy (4%) and too much violent content, exaggeration, incomplete reporting, sexual content and repetition or saturation in coverage (3% each).

Concerns about sensationalism, too much profanity or bad language, and a lack of in-depth reporting each showed up among 2 percent of the respondents. Garnering 1 percent each were concerns about:

  • too much media focus on celebrities;
  • too much media focus on crime;
  • rude, pushy or obnoxious behavior by media;
  • unspecified concerns about reporting on the war in Iraq;
  • too much negativity;
  • revealing secret information;
  • being interested solely in ratings; and
  • focusing on unimportant stories.
"These trends seem consistent with previous polls and studies, which have shown a steady increase in Americans’ concern with journalistic truth-telling issues, entertainment excess, advertising saturation and Internet issues such as fraud, security, children's access to pornography, confidentiality, online pedophiles and privacy,” Cooper said.

The research is part of a larger study of the attitudes of the American public and media professionals toward media ethics issues. The study is part of background materials for the second U.S. Media Ethics Summit Conference, to be held Feb. 27-March 2 at MTSU.The summit will gather media ethics experts from professional associations, academic organizations, institutes and relevant publications to evaluate and recommend solutions to U.S. civic and media leaders.

Administered by Opinion Research Corporation of Princeton, N.J., with guidance from Dr. Ken Blake, associate director of MTSU’s Office of Communication Research, and Cooper, the poll has an error margin of plus-or-minus three percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. Opinion Research Corporation developed the categories used to code the poll's open-ended responses.

Of those polled, 19 percent said they did not know or declined to answer and 17 percent said they had no concerns. Nine percent of the respondents listed other concerns (less than 2% each), such as corporate control of news and political advertising. The sum of the percentages exceeds 100 percent, both because of sample weighting factors and because respondents were allowed to name as many concerns as they wished.

Most (85%) named one concern, but another 12 percent named two concerns, 2 percent named three, and the remaining 1 percent named either four or six concerns.Completed interviews were weighted by age, gender, geographic region, and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the 18-and-older population.

Sponsors of the poll include the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, MTSU’s Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies, MTSU’s Office of Communication Research and the College of Mass Communication.

More details and data are available at