Recent news from the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

The Image of the Journalist in Popular Culture: An Interview with Joe Saltzman (Part One)

If USC's Nonny de La Pena is exploring new tools and platforms that will shape the future of journalism, another of my new Annenberg colleagues, Joe Saltzman, is using new media tools to make it easier for us to research journalism's history. Specifically, Saltzman has launched a data base which indexes a vast array of films, television series, comic books, and other media texts which include popular representations of journalists. Saltzman has long been at the center of a growing academic research field focused on the study of the image of the journalist in popular culture.

As Saltzman explains in the interview here, much of our understanding of who journalists are comes from such popular representations. It is there we can see both heroic representations of the power of the press to bring down seemingly insurmountable institutions and more critical representations of how this power gets abused for commercial gains or cynical motives. These media encapsulate our dreams and our fears about the Fourth Estate.

Designing the Futures of Journalism: An Interview with USC's Nonny de la Pena (Part Two)

You are especially interested in issues of bodily presence and affective immediacy that arise in response to immersive environments, qualities which make our experiences in such worlds expecially intense and memorable. Yet there's a long tradition of science fiction writing which worries about the use of such devices for propaganda and social control, suggesting that we may find it hard to separate virtual and real experiences. What do you see as the benefits or dangers of this level of immersive experience when applied to political debates and social policies?

If only I could use this technology to brainwash my kids into cleaning up their room! Joking aside, propaganda can be an extremely effective and manipulative tool and print, radio, television have all been used throughout history for this purpose. I do hope, however, that this technology will be adopted by reputable news organizations and well-trained journalists who can help establish best practices for telling news stories. This will also enable them to have the skills to undercover when mistruths are being fed to the public.

FNCM conference plenary videos now available

Please to enjoy the visual fruits of last week's Future of News and Civic Media conference plenaries. Below--available for viewing, downloading, and reusing--are the three plenary videos...

Announcement of the 2010 Knight News Challenge winners

Available for download at MIT TechTV.

"Data into Action": Plenary from 2010 Future of News and Civic Media Conference


Our lives are increasingly mediated by computers and data – a shift that is becoming more and more natural to us. From to real-time municipal bus information, data in many forms from many sources is being made available and recombined in ways we could not have anticipated just ten years ago, when everyone used the phone book, and when restaurant and movie reviewers numbered in the tens not the tens of thousands.


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