A Look Back at 2011

Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31st and January 1st of every year are traditionally the days that we reflect upon the passing year and plan for the coming year.  While the latter is enmeshed in resolutions and possibilities, the former is concretely secure in the passage of history and the year 2011 provided plenty of that.

My collage above (courtesy of Zuma Press, NBC, CNBC, the AP, UPI and others) represents just a sampling of the biggest stories carried by traditional "mainstream" media outlets as well as the "new" ways we get our news in this second decade of the 21st century (Facebook, Google+, Twittter, Digg, Pulse, etc.).  Except for the killing of Osama bin Laden (depicted in the center frame) which I believe was the year's top news story, I did not rank any of the other activities/events of the past 12 months (clockwise from upper left):

It's Simply Human Nature

Friday, December 30, 2011
(NOTE: this piece was the final assignment for my recently completed JOURN 201 class.  We were tasked to postulate where we see journalism heading over the next 10 years or so when common people can communicate across physical, virtual and ideological 'battlelines'.  We were instructed to write a magazine-style article that was limited to 1,000 words.  My submission came in at 995.  The instructor's comments were "excellent as far as you went".  I finished the course with an 'A' and am looking forward to the next course which starts late next month.)

It’s Simply Human Nature
Social networking success links back to humanity’s most basic need

People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people - and that social norm is just something that has evolved over time.
- Mark Zuckerberg

It appears that the co-creator of Facebook, the world’s most popular social networking website, may have tapped into a primal necessity that still influences modern man.

In an age where many people have less discretionary time to maintain their numerous life relationships, the Internet now provides a medium to facilitate an online 24/7 presence to those we want to remain in contact with and to connect to others with similar interests or backgrounds. 

Unscheduled Trip Back Home

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
 Four days...1200+ miles...and 12 newspapers!

As I mentioned in my previous posting, a death in my extended family had me undertake a long-distance 'road trip' earlier this month.  It was an unexpected event so I had very little time to prepare for the 500-mile drive to arrive in time for the funeral.  To keep my previous blog promise, I finished my post on the Herman Cain campaign stop in the wee hours of the 1st and turned in for a couple of hours of sleep before heading out of town early that same morning.  On the way out, I stopped for gas and liquid refreshments and picked up a copy of the local paper to compare my online work to that produced by Dayton Daily News staff writers Lynn Hulsey and Justin McClelland.  Satisfied that I hit all the salient points of that visit, I cracked a smile at the register, paid for my goods, and strapped myself into the driver's seat for the long ground trek ahead.

Another (Prolonged) Online Absence

Monday, December 26, 2011
As the famous fictional late-night editorialist Roseanne Roseannadanna (pictured above) used to say, "it's always something" and that phrase can be used to cover my last four weeks.  Right after promising to end my blogging procrastination (and posting my Herman Cain work), I had a death in my extended family that required me to be out of town for four days. 

Driving over 1200 miles over that span, I returned to face a looming deadline for my end-of-course article that required a one-day extension request for submission (I did get an "A" for the paper and the course).  Add to that pressure my job duties/responsibilities and you can see how I could let the better part of the month of December get away from me.

I'm currently enjoying an extended end-of-year vacation and I will restart my blogging regimen in the next day or so.  One of the things I'll comment on is my trip and I will also post my JOURN 201 final article for your reading pleasure.

A/V: Cain Campaign Visits Dayton

Thursday, December 1, 2011
A defiant Herman Cain addresses an enthusiastic crowd at the Dayton Marriott

Despite dropping poll numbers and increasing scrutiny of his personal conduct in the press, Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain wowed a highly partisan gathering during a visit to Dayton, Ohio on Wednesday afternoon.  During this second stop of a day-long swing through the state, Cain stayed on his campaign message, touting his trademark '9-9-9' tax plan and other conservative-friendly talking points to an overflow crowd at the city's Marriott hotel.

Procrastination Strikes (Yet Again)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I am trying to get back into a regular posting routine but it is somewhat difficult right now.  For example, I was working on a post last week to commemorate the 48th anniversary of the JFK assassination and how that event helped create the television media we have today but I let it sit too long.  Even when I could have linked in the recent death of Tom Wicker, the New York Times White House correspondent, and his on-scene coverage of that horrific day, I lollygagged on the item and allowed it to lose its 'immediacy' with my readers.  Not meeting even 'soft' deadlines is not a quality for a budding journalist to aspire for.

You're Welcome!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I had a pleasant surprise this morning when I opened up my copy of the Dayton Daily News and saw a 'teaser' article at the bottom of the front page.  Julia Wallace, publisher of the newspaper, announced to the paper's readers that the Sunday circulation for the official reporting period from March-September 2011 had increased, the first such gain in the past 10 years.  She thanked the readership and directed us to go to the above page (AA4), where Jana Collier, the paper's editor-in-chief, explains the recent changes.

Everything Old is New Again

Saturday, November 19, 2011
(NOTE: this piece was the midterm assignment for my current JOURN 201 class.  We were tasked to take one of the main historical subjects from our Stovall textbook and compare it to contemporary journalism/communications today.  We were instructed to write a magazine-style article that was limited to 1,000 words.  Mine came in at 994--if the Facebook entry was considered a 'graphic'.  The instructor's comments were "excellent analysis and written well".  So far, so good.  For my Twitter followers, the Williams interview was the one I kept 'tweeting' about back in September.)

Everything Old is New Again
Rapid communication continues to evolve from 19th century inventor’s dream

A patient waiter is no loser -- Samuel F.B. Morse, 6 January 1838

At first glance, these two messages appear to be totally unrelated.   The former is the first telegram transmitted in the United States over a short distance in New Jersey; the latter is the initial urgent posting to a Facebook page created by a 32-year old woman responding to a looming natural disaster in northeastern Pennsylvania.

The 1838 message was an historic moment in the evolution of human communications while the more recent one being a single status update by just one of over 800 million users and groupings residing on the world’s largest social networking website. 

Although separated by over 170 years in time and 120 miles in distance, these disparate dispatches are indeed linked through their respective sender’s aspiration for instantaneous communications in pursuit of their personal and altruistic goals. 

A/V: Their ‘Times Square’ Moment

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Family members anxiously await the return of their veteran relatives at the Dayton International Airport

Last Saturday evening, one area of Dayton was intentionally turned back to a bygone era to help say ‘thank you’ to several dozen men and women who did not get this kind of adulation at the conclusion of their military service decades earlier.  A crowd of about 200 gathered at the Dayton International Airport to provide a heartfelt salute to 34 World War II and Korean War veterans upon their return from a day-long ‘Honor Flight’ excursion to the nation’s capital.  Friends, family members and even complete strangers participated in this patriotic ‘Welcome Home’ ceremony in the airport’s main terminal, which came as a complete surprise to many the unsuspecting travelers.

In Memoriam: Andy Rooney

Monday, November 14, 2011
(NOTE: this entry was originally going to be called 'In Appreciation' but, unfortunately, Mr. Rooney died before I could compose the post.  I will use that 'slug' for others deserving thanks for their contributions to journalism and/or the media.)

There isn't much to say about Andrew Aitken "Andy" Rooney that hasn't already been said by his fans, his critics or the man himself.  A fixture at the end of CBS News' '60 Minutes' programs since 1978, he shared his thoughts on a myriad of subjects in those few allotted minutes that drew applause, criticism, or simply just a faint empathy of viewers to the ongoing observations of America’s favorite curmudgeon.

Rooney passed away on November 4th at the age of 92 due to post-operative complications after an undisclosed surgical procedure.  Although he achieved his professional reputation as an essayist, humorist and television writer/personality, he began his long and distinguished career as a military journalist and it is this part of his life that I want to reflect upon here.  Most of what I provide below are from two books about his time in uniform: My War, an account written by Rooney himself; and The Writing 69th, a record of World War II military journalism.

Happy Election Day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Depending upon a journalist's specific 'beat', type of reporting, or medium of communication, election days can be one of their busiest of the entire year.  Today, many hours of national and local coverage on television and radio outlets will be dedicated to analyzing exit polls prior to the end of the assigned voting periods, and all will try to be the first to announce these results once they are officially determined.  I work most evenings so I will have to rely upon another media venue, the internet, to keep apprised of the electoral goings-on.

On Film: "The Year of Living Dangerously"

(NOTE: after my very busy October and the submission of my JOURN 201 midterm article on Saturday, I finally had some time to watch one of the movies I've 'queued' through Netflix to augment my formal journalism education.  Hopefully, these viewings--along with posts to this blog--will be more frequent.)

"We'll make a great team, old man. You for the words, me for the pictures. I can be your eyes.'" -- Billy Kwan

I must admit that I had never heard of this movie prior to putting it on my Netflix DVD queue back in September.  Released in December 1982 this was during a period when such a film would not have been my first choice for an evening of Hollywood-created entertainment.  At the time, I was a 21-year old male Air Force member serving in the United Kingdom and action/comedies were my then-favorites.  In the near 30 years hence, I am sure that I had dozens of chances to watch it but never made the conscious decision to do so until this afternoon.  Nearly two hours later, I sat back in my recliner and asked myself why I avoided it for so long because it turned out to be a very good movie.  As I warned readers for my other movie review, I will be providing items that may spoil the experience if you have not seen the movie before.  If you fall into that category, I recommend you stop reading now.

Guest Papers: Catch-Up Edition

Monday, October 24, 2011
October has been a very busy month for me so I'm adding a few papers here to catch up on this feature.  The first two were from a trip to Columbus at the beginning of the month.  The third one was our local daily from last weekend.

A/V: Wright-Patt Says Farewell to a Giant Partner

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Attendees viewing the C-5A ‘City of Fairborn’ prior to the start of the ceremony.  The 445th Airlift Wing flew the Lockheed Martin aircraft for nearly six years out from the southwest Ohio base.

On a near perfect autumn afternoon, approximately 100 people came to say goodbye to a familiar friend of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base community for over the past six years.  Last Friday, the base’s 445th Airlift Wing held a farewell ceremony for the C-5A Galaxy transport aircraft, the largest in the US Air Force’s fleet.  Wing commander Colonel Stephen D. Goeman hosted the event at Hangar 4016 near the base flightline and tail number 00047—dubbed ‘The City of Fairborn’—served as the backdrop for the event.

Interview: Jeff Stahler

Thursday, October 13, 2011
Columbus Dispatch editorial cartoonist Jeff Stahler addressing 
the Columbus College of Art & Design audience

Sometimes opportunities just sort of jump up into your lap and this past Saturday happened to be one of those times.  I was attending the Columbus College of Art& Design’s annual Family Day and Homecoming weekend and it was during this event’s kickoff meeting that I found myself in the presence of a widely recognized journalist of the editorial cartooning variety.  Jeff Stahler, a CCAD alumni, was serving as moderator of a panel of recent graduates describing their lives after leaving the school.  An award winning cartoonist, Stahler draws regular panels for the ColumbusDispatch and a worldwide audience through Universal uClick (he also produces a daily freestyle panel called “Moderately Confused” for that same syndicator).  

Al Qaeda Propagandist Killed During US Drone Strike

Monday, October 10, 2011
Samir Khan, in Charlotte, NC in 2008 (courtesy Associated Press)

As someone who works in an intelligence-related profession, I have been trained not to talk about such subjects in a public forum.  When I first heard about the recent news concerning the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Islamic cleric who reportedly motivated militant Muslims to commit acts of terrorism against the United States, I had mixed feelings.  While the mission was a success (via the current campaign of using unmanned technology to undertake tasks considered extremely hazardous for humans), not bringing al-Awlaki to court to demonstrate America's adherence to the rule of law will make him a martyr in the eyes of his followers and does damage to our nation's image on the world stage.  This would be a good topic for an opinion piece pitting civil liberties against national security and I am not ready to post my personal positions here just yet.

Guest Paper: Air Force Times

Friday, October 7, 2011
Front (and second front) pages of the publication

As an Air Force retiree (and a current worker on the local military base), I sometimes pick up a copy of the Air Force Times, a weekly periodical geared exclusively towards that service and its members.  Published by the Gannett Government Media Corporation, the journal is one of company’s 12 military/defense-centric journals that focus on news and information generated within or applicable to those specific audiences.  Copies are available for purchase in various base outlets as well as the adjoining town’s lone newsstand that carries it for the convenience of its high population of former Air Force members.  Its continued appeal current and potential readers is that it caters to the entire Air Force community (active duty, guard/reserve, and retired members) and can follow them over a decades-long career right up through their ‘golden years’.  

A/V: "Occupy Wall Street" Movement Comes to Dayton

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
About two dozen boisterous protestors turned out for the anti-Wall Street rally

Two weeks and one day into the New York City protests against corporate greed in America, many cities across the country have begun to hold their own rallies in support of their efforts.  In the shadow of the Key Bank building in downtown Dayton, approximately 25 protesters took to the street this morning to let their voices be heard on this initiative to passing vehicles and pedestrians near Courthouse Square.

Food for Thought

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I saw this poster in one of the many hallways over at Sinclair Community College last week and I had to go back today to take a picture.  While I'm not working on a communications degree, the jobs that it directly applies to are numerous (I think that was the idea it was trying to convey to the viewer).  I'll leave it in its native size so you can get a better look at most of the careers/positions listed.

Media Matters Radio Debuts on SiriusXM

Friday, September 23, 2011

From the SiriusXM website:

New: Media Matters Radio

Starting this weekend, SiriusXM left will air Media Matters Radio, a live, interactive show from the team behind Media Matters, the Internet-based, progressive research and information center.  Hosted by Ari Rabin-Havt, Executive Vice President of Media Matters, and Bradley Herring, Executive Producer for the site, the two will analyze a mix of print, broadcast, cable, radio, and Internet media outlets for conservative misinformation and alert listeners to take action.  

Guest Paper: Sinclair Clarion

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

While not commercial publications, I do enjoy reading school newspapers to peruse the work of our nation's future journalists.  The Clarion is the official paper of Sinclair Community College and I had the chance to pick up their initial fall edition yesterday on a visit to their campus.  An 8-page broadsheet, the publication incorporates local news/information with syndicated items from McClatchy Newspapers.  One of those pages is dedicated to opinion (editorials, cartoons, letters) and is reflective of a healthy relationship between the editorial staff and their readership.

Happy Constitution Day!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On this date in 1787, the United States Constitution was adopted by the Constitutional Congress (to be officially ratified in June of the following year).  This document would serve as the framework of how the nation's government would be organized and that government's relationship with various entities (states, citizens, residents).  While it's the First Amendment (contained in the later adopted Bill of Rights) that journalists rely upon in the performance of their professional duties, that original document had to be in place to help clarify the freedoms that most of today's Americans take for granted.

As a 'boomer', I used to watch a lot of television while I was growing up.  One cartoon series I fondly remember was 'Schoolhouse Rock' and they ran an episode that gave an brief overview of the Constitution (and put the preamble to music--making it easier for me to remember).  Through the magic of YouTube, I thought I would share it with my readers.  Enjoy!

A/V: City Marks Tenth Remembrance of 9/11 Attacks

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
(NOTE: this is my first attempt at doing traditional reporting.  I attended Sunday's ceremony and took still and video images to document the details of the event.  Some conflicting priorities and technical 'glitches' prevented me from posting this sooner--unfortunately, 'Murphy's Law' is alive and well and living in my laptop and the item was eventually posted on the afternoon of the 14th.  I had the chance to meet several media and center representatives at the event and I appreciated their tips and feedback on my initial efforts.)

City Marks Tenth Remembrance of 9/11 Attacks
By JoB!
September 12, 2011 – FAIRBORN, Ohio

 Several residents display their personal patriotism among several hundred gathered for the Fairborn remembrance event.

In the spirit of a community that treasures its deep personal and economic connections with the military and national security, residents of this southwestern Ohio city gathered on Sunday afternoon to remember the nearly 3,000 men and women who lost their lives during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.  A solemn and patriotic crowd of between 200 to 300 people assembled at the city’s National Center for Medical Readiness (also known as ‘Calamityville’) for the hour-long National Day of Service and Remembrance program that featured remarks by US House representative Steve Austria (R- Beavercreek), state senator Chris Widener (R-Springfield), and two guest other speakers with direct connections to the events on 9/11 and the ongoing wars against terrorism.  Mayor Joan Dautel served as the master of ceremonies with other city, county and military officials in attendance.  Members of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard performed colors posting and retrieval duties and an element of the Fairborn Police Department flanked the assembly in full ceremonial uniform for this special occasion.

Happy Birthday NBC!

Friday, September 9, 2011

On this date in 1926, the National Broadcasting Company was formed by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA--remember them?) as the first major broadcast network in the United States (radio first, television added in 1938).  Headquartered in New York City's Rockefeller Plaza, NBC currently owns/operates 10 television stations and has a network of nearly 200 affiliates throughout the United States and its territories.

Guest Paper: Columbus Dispatch

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Living in an region within a few hours drive of four (Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati) of the largest 62 cities in the United States, I frequently have the opportunity to sample their journalistic offerings.  As someone who grew up with newsprint-stained hands, I prefer the physical copy to the online versions and currently subscribe to the local Dayton paper and the Sunday edition of the New York Times.  Whenever I visit those other cities, I try to buy a copy of their current edition as a show of solidarity for the traditional newspaper industry.

I made a short trip to Columbus yesterday for family-related business and made sure to keep that streak alive.  To document my support, I will post photos here to keep a running account.

A personal note:  while I understand the financial constraints that papers now face and novel ways they must now employ to attract customers for their advertisers, putting flaps or stickers or anything else on the front page detracts from the aesthetics of the reading process (the 'pre-processed' version is on the left above while the final 'converted' version is on the right).

On Film: "A Face in the Crowd"

Sunday, September 4, 2011

(I'm introducing still another feature to the blog which will highlight how journalism and/or the media is portrayed in movies and books.  Unless more is required for assignments in my program, I will only provide a short synopsis and focus on the main takeaways from the film/book.)

I'm not just an entertainer. I'm an influence, a wielder of opinion, a force... a force! -- Lonesome Rhodes

A disclaimer:  I admit that I probably would never have watched this movie if it wasn't for the repeated linkage former MSNBC (and now Current) commentator Keith Olbermann made between its leading male character (Lonesome Rhodes, played by Andy Griffith) and conservative radio host Glenn Beck.  While I initially took Keith's word for it, I could not give my own educated opinion until I viewed this 1957 Elia Kazan film last week.  To Mr. Olbermann...your judgment was spot on!

This entry is not to bash Mr. Beck or to impugn his ideology but to allow me to introduce some items from the film that fall into the journalism/media category.  If you haven't seen the movie before, I would recommend you stop reading now so I don't spoil it for you.

A/V: WPAFB Beds Down Displaced Aircraft

Sunday, August 28, 2011
(I'm starting another feature here to highlight the use of self-produced audio-visual products to complement textual content.  I normally don't carry a true camera around with me so cellphone-quality images/sounds will be the norm for unscheduled events.)

Four C-5 Galaxy aircraft from the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing take up temporary residence on the base (photo by author)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Several dozen US military aircraft deployed to southwestern Ohio this weekend to escape the anticipated wrath of Hurricane Irene as it churned a path along the country's Eastern seaboard.  Small two-seat Marine Corps A-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft commingled with much larger Air Force transports on the tarmacs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base who played host for personnel and planes from installations as far away as New York, Delaware, West Virginia and North Carolina.

BREAKING NEWS!!! Earthquake Strikes Eastern US

Tuesday, August 23, 2011
(I'm starting a feature here to document important events that attract the attention of major media outlets.  These exercises should help me refine my reporting skills.  This first attempt was one I was personally involved with.)

 (graphic courtesy of US Geological Survey--usgs.gov)

A magnitude 5.8 earthquake struck eastern parts of the United States earlier this afternoon.  The temblor, centered in the Charlottesville, Virginia region occurred at 1:52PM Eastern Daylight Time and was felt as far away as Toronto, Ontario and regions in the Midwest (this reporter felt mild shockwaves at his Ohio residence shortly after the quake was announced on MSNBC).  Washington, DC, just 90 miles northeast of the epicenter, experienced the brunt of the event and the initial jolting sent workers scurrying outside their offices to seek safety.  There were no immediate reports of any injuries or significant damage but most tourist attractions on the city's Mall were closed to perform safety inspections and two nuclear reactors near the Virginia quake zone were taken offline for precautionary reasons.

Time of posting:  3:31PM EDT 23 Aug 2011
Time of event:  1:51PM EDT 23 Aug 2011
Difference: 1 hour, 40 minutes

R.I.P., "Fairness Doctrine"

The FCC officially ended "fairness" yesterday

According to the Washington Post's Post Tech blog, the Federal Communications Commission  officially ended the 60+ year old "Fairness Doctrine", a policy (not enforced since 1987) of ensuring equal time for the airing of opposing views/opinions on the public's airwaves.  I'll provide a personal perspective on this in future postings.

Posted at 03:23 PM ET, 08/22/2011
FCC removes Fairness Doctrine from the books

The Federal Communications Commission said Monday it has abolished a controversial speech rule known as the “Fairness Doctrine” requiring broadcasters to present opposing views of controversial issues.

The regulation, which hasn’t been enforced in two decades, has been criticized for years as an over-reach of media industry speech rights.

(more at the link provided above)

Print vs. Online

Sunday, August 21, 2011
As a current subscriber to the New York Times (and someone who grew up with newsprint stains on my hands), I felt that this article was speaking directly to me...



Print vs. Online 

The ways in which old-fashioned newspapers still trump online newspapers. 

A little over five years ago, I announced that I was canceling my subscription to the New York Times. My cancellation wasn't in protest of Times coverage of the Middle East, ethnic minorities, religion, sex, or any of the other thousand hot-button issues that cause readers to kill their subscriptions. I was getting rid of my newsprint New York Times because the dandy redesign of NYTimes.com had made it a superior vessel for conveying the news.

The Curriculum Tab

If you browse around the site, you will notice a 'Curriculum' tab in the menu bar above.  I am currently enrolled in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst's online Continuing & Professional Education program to earn a Certificate in Journalism.  The tab lists the details of this program and what will be occupying much of my free time over the next year or so. 

My first class will be Introduction to Journalism class (JOURNAL 201) which starts right after Labor Day and continues all the way into early December.  This might be very elementary material for a person who has multiple degrees but I want to start this program on the 'ground floor' to better understand the principles introduced and vocabulary shared with my fellow students and future contemporaries.  Although I'll probably be one of the oldest participants, my motto is that it's never too late to learn something new--it just takes a little longer to remember it!

Welcome to the Blog!

Just a quick hello to anyone who might've tripped over this site through Blogger or via a search engine.  I'm in the early stages of set-up right now with a deadline of September 6th to be fully operational.  Items in progress include a autobiographical sketch, creation of a blogroll and commentary on current issues/incidents in the journalism/media field.  I hope to use this website in conjunction with other UMass resources to totally immerse myself into their certificate program. I guess you're never too old to chase your dream.