And that's the way it is
Thirty years ago, a quarter of the American population gathered around their televisions nightly to hear an anchor from one of the major networks recount the day's events.
Today, that single voice of authority has been diluted. People gather news from many sources even shows created to mock the news.
Dr. Geoffrey Baym, an associate professor of media studies, explains that transformation in his new book, From Cronkite to Colbert: The Evolution of Broadcast News. In the book, Baym guides readers through the metamorphosis of broadcast news from the stately Walter Cronkite to the often sarcastic approaches of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, hosts of the popular faux news programs The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, respectively.
Baym argues that, as mainstream news has changed, broadcasts no longer perform its fundamental mission: to give citizens the information they need to be free and self-governing.
We might really like to know about Michael Jackson's death, but that in no way helps us be free and self-governing, Baym says. And if we hear about Michael Jackson's death 24 hours a day, what are we not hearing about?
Baym finds an example of media best practices in the most unlikely of places: Comedy Central. Personalities like Stewart and Colbert are reinventing network television and doing in-depth reporting with their hybrid comedy news shows, findings ways to communicate about current events in ways that are relevant to today's audiences, he says.
They are doing the heavy lifting of the Fourth Estate … they hold the powerful accountable and ask the questions that the regular people can't ask, Baym says. There's tremendous evidence the media didn't ask tough questions when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Yet, it was on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report where they were asking those kinds of questions.
A peace mission
Bishop Desmond Tutu with Dr.
Svi Shapiro and his wife, Sherry Shapiro.
Dr. Svi Shapiro's quest to teach America's children to live peacefully led him to South Africa.
Shapiro, a professor of education, spent a semester as a visiting scholar of education at the University of Capetown while planning a book on educating children for peace.
Spending time in South Africa was a good catalyst for me, he says. They are transitioning from an apartheid regime to a democratic society relatively peacefully. I had a deep sense of shared humanity. South Africa is an extremely diverse country racially, ethnically, religiously, politically that has been through great suffering. Yet I found great warmth there.
Shapiro had an opportunity to interview Bishop Desmond Tutu, an icon of social change and reconciliation. They spoke about the nature and consequences of memory, when that memory is filled with images of oppression and injustice.
It's a question of how you create a harmonious society while trying to maintain justice, he says. There's this balancing act between justice and reconciliation. Where is the line? To what extent should you forgive crimes that violate people's humanity and their rights?
Shapiro, an ardent advocate for educational reform in the U.S., wants to see America's idea of education broadened, incorporating moral and ethical values.
We're willing to talk about education in very crude terms, using superficial measures like test scores. Is that what it really means to educate our children? Many teachers and educators are quite frustrated. Most people go into education because they want to help children in a more holistic way, enabling them to become fuller human beings. Real education takes time. It's not instant.
Chancellor Linda P. Brady enjoys hearing students' ideas and perspectives on topics such as education, careers, community service and more. That's why, during the 2009-10 academic year, she is hosting four Fireside Chats open to all members of the UNCG student body. At the first Fireside Chat last April, approximately 50 students attended. Upcoming Fireside Chats will be held in November, January and March.
If you want to know the latest, or simply want to feel a part of day-to-day campus life, check out UNCG's new Twitter feed and Facebook fan page.
Alumni on the Twitter feed were the first to hear about the decision to renovate the Quad residence halls. Fans on Facebook were alerted to a Today show segment about the anonymous donor who gave several universities, including UNCG, millions of dollars toward scholarships.
And while you can turn to the sites for news, it's also a lot of fun.
Some fall semester tweets:
- Curious what the UNCG locker rooms look like at the Coliseum? Wonder no more: @[gbocoliseum] has behind the scenes pics: http://bit.ly/9p4uh
- UNCG Men's BBall coach @[coachmikedement] is trying to win a battle to get the most Twitter followers. The prize? Dinner. The foe? His wife.
- For a little first day of class fun, here's the Spartones singing a medley of TV Show theme songs: http://bit.ly/7gWb0
- For the c/o '13, the EU has always existed, women have always outnumbered men at college & no Saved By The Bell! http://bit.ly/PKYNf
And while you're online, check out UNCG Magazine's new fan page. Respond to articles, share memories and sometimes get behind-the-scenes notes from the editor.
UNCG on Twitter www.twitter.com/uncg
UNCG on Facebook www.facebook.com/uncg1891
Diversity is important to UNCG. And people are taking notice.
The university and one of its education faculty members, Dr. Charles P. Gause, were recognized in September by a national organization for work in advancing equity and diversity on the campus.
Gause received the National Faculty Mentor Role Model of the Year Award at the 10th National Role Models Conference. The conference was organized by Minority Access Inc, a non-profit firm, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. His award was inscribed For Guiding, Mentoring and Leading Others.
The university was recognized for a second year, receiving a citation for its campus efforts in diversity and inclusivity, including the UNCG Inclusive Community Task Force, which Gause co-chairs with Dr. Susan Dennison. He and UNCG Vice Provost Alan Boyette were recognized as Minority Access Role Models.
This recognition affirms our ongoing commitment to diversity at UNCG, said Provost David H. Perrin. We want to make diversity part of UNCG's core academic mission, and are seeking to foster an inclusive environment for all students, staff, and faculty regardless of race, ethnicity.
Gause, a former teacher and school administrator, is an associate professor of educational leadership in the School of Education. He is author of the book, Integration Matters: Navigating Identity, Culture and Resistance, which was published in 2008.
Earlier in September, Dr. Robert Mayo, chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, was named a Diversity Champion by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Over the past two decades, Mayo has mentored more than 200 students of color in the fields of communication sciences and disorders, allied health, medicine, dentistry and the arts.
I have worked with Robert Mayo at two universities, for a total of almost 20 years, and I continue to learn from him and admire him in his mentoring of students, said Celia Hooper, dean of the School of Health and Human Performance, who also worked with Mayo at UNC Chapel Hill. He helps them learn the culture of the university and how to negotiate academic waters. He has a special passion for those who are underrepresented and helps them with dedication and humor.
Robert is in his sixth year at UNCG, and it is no accident that the student body in our Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is among the most diverse in the country. Robert Mayo has helped make that possible, one student at a time.
In 2004, Mayo developed the Research Mentoring Program, an inter-institutional initiative between UNCG and two historically black colleges and universities with the goal of enhancing opportunities for students of color to gain admission to graduate and professional school.
Last academic year, he encouraged five undergraduates and six graduate students to submit papers for the 2009 National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing convention in Atlanta. All 11 students presented at the convention; two received awards for their scholarship.
In Miriam's Kitchen
Nicole Fauble, a 2008 graduate of UNCG, provides assistance to the homeless at Miriam's Kitchen in Washington, D.C., as a member of the Lutheran Volunteer Corps.
Although only eight blocks from the White House, her workplace is usually far removed from the capital's political glamour. That changed, at least for a day, in March when Michelle Obama visited Miriam's Kitchen to serve lunch (risotto with mushrooms, steamed broccoli, apple-carrot muffins and salad) and to promote public service.
Like many of the program's guests, Nicole found herself with tears in her eyes. When she had the opportunity to shake the First Lady's hand, she was too nervous to do so.
I was petrified, she said. 'I never thought I would be in the same room as the First Lady.
Nicole, a Wilmington native who majored in social work, found herself in the media spotlight again the following month when USA Today published a column by the First Lady praising the idealism and service of young people. Obama used Nicole as an example of young people making a difference.
The April 13 column Nation Needs Youthful Idealism More Than Ever is available online.
As for her work, Nicole said it continues as it did before. She bikes the two miles from her apartment to Miriam's Kitchen, arriving by 6 a.m. each weekday in order to check the nonprofit's voicemail and post the names of those with messages before the doors open at 6:30.
The homeless can give out the phone number to family and friends. They can also have their mail sent to the nonprofit's post office box. She and other workers make sure their cart of supplies is stocked with soap, shampoo, razors and other toiletries.
Anywhere from 75 to 150 homeless people, mostly men, come in when Miriam's Kitchen opens. Some have been waiting outside since 5 a.m. Last year, the nonprofit served 55,272 meals to more than 4,000 guests.
The guests come for a healthy breakfast and help from caseworkers like Nicole. She works one-on-one with a handful of people on a regular basis. Others drop in every month or two. Some she meets only once.
The needs of the guests vary widely. In addition to help with immediate needs such as food, clothing, toiletries and bus tokens, she helps people find permanent housing and jobs as well as medical, mental health and substance abuse services.
Some people aren't ready to work on big picture things, she said. For some, just me saying hello and sitting next to them for a couple of minutes while they eat breakfast is an important role I play in their lives.
Nicole reports the work is tremendously rewarding. So much so that she recently signed up for a second year with the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, which will keep her at Miriam's Kitchen through August 2010.
What's going on up there?
It may not look like much in fact, it looks a lot like the small dishes used to receive satellite TV but the newest antenna on top of the Petty Building is gathering valuable information about ozone in the mesosphere, the layer of the atmosphere 30-50 miles above the earth's surface. Despite its vital role protecting the planet from ultraviolet radiation, ozone at that altitude is not well understood. Right now there are theories, but not a lot of observations, says Dr. Steve Danford, a professor of physics and astronomy. The antenna is part of a network organized by MIT's Haystack Observatory that collects as much data as a huge microwave antenna at a fraction of the cost. The network has also been a valuable teaching tool, one already incorporated into a lab exercise for physics majors.
The thrill of victory
It was the third national title in a row. And the victorious Spartans spread the word far and wide, as is evidenced by this article from the Dec. 3, 1987, Carolinian, headlined Student Informs Thatcher. Seems even the Iron Lady's personal secretary was rooting for UNCG. Needless to say, the mood on campus was bloody jolly that week!
When UNCG won the NCAA Division III National Finals you probably wanted to tell the whole world, right?
Well so did Tim Hackett, and he thought the first person in Europe to know of the victory should be Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
After partying heavily, Hackett, a resident of Guilford Hall, got the idea with a group of his friends to enlighten the PM.
It was about 2 a.m. Monday about 8 a.m. there so she was probably just getting up for the day, said Hackett.
After phoning the information operator in London and getting the PM's number, Hackett called and got in touch with the Prime Minister's personal secretary.
The information operator was the funniest ever, I'm sure she thought I was crazy. She said London. Then she said Name? When I said Margaret Thatcher she almost lost it, he said.
Hackett spoke with the PM's personal secretary for a few minutes and told her that he was calling to tell the Prime Minister that we had just won the National Title in soccer. Hackett told her he wanted to thank the leader of the country that invented the game of soccer.
The secretary was really getting into it, said Hackett. She was really excited about it: she was congratulating us and was taking down the information on the score and everything. She said Bloody good, he said.
The secretary said that she would pass the information along to Thatcher. Hackett was a bit disappointed that he couldn't talk directly with the Prime Minister.
The secretary said that the Prime Minister made it a policy not to talk to people on the phone. She said I could write her a letter and she would write back congratulating us on the win, he said.
The following day Hackett decided to let President Reagan know about the win.
Hackett called Washington information and got the White House's number, called and talked to the switchboard operator. She gave Hackett another number and told him to call back the next day.
It was about 9 p.m., so I figured he [the President] was already in bed, he said.