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

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Job opening at the Center: Outreach Coordinator

The Center for Future Civic Media is adding an Outreach Coordinator--an amazing chance to help place incredible civic media work directly into communities. Interested? Apply via the link below, or forward it along to qualified friends...


Title: Outreach Coordinator
Req Number: mit-00007036
Department: Media Laboratory
Location(s): Cambridge MA
FT/PT: Full Time
Employment / Payroll Category: SRS (Administrative)
Work Shift:

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

What do you see as some of the recurring themes in the popular representation of journalism? How much do these myths change over time and how much do they remain constant?

The surprising thing is that the image of the journalist hasn't changed much throughout the centuries. In Antigone, Sophocles summed up the popular opinion more than 400 years before Christ was born: "None love the messenger who brings bad news." About the same time, another popular play told the story of a herald bringing shocking news to the mad hero who is believed to be involved in a murder plot. The hero picks up the herald and dashes his brains upon a stone. No doubt the audience cheered. And so, the image began.

One of the most vicious portrayals of the journalist, for example, is Five Star Final made in 1931. The final shot in the film is the newspaper in the gutter being splattered by mud or something worse.

This Week in Civic Media 06.28.10: FNCM recap, lots on open data/visualization

Get updates as they happen: follow us on Twitter at @c4fcm.

From the Center

  • @c4fcm's Ryan O'Toole gets grant to pitch Red Ink at Innovate100 in August
  • "Local competition inspires creative use of public-private space" via @mitnews
  • Hey @hockendougal and @amerigo: RT @ryan_thornburg: is the Ushahidi of 2010

Knight News Challenge/FNCM

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.


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