As of late | March 17, 2016

 

It’s been a while, but I’m back with another post about what I’ve been thinking about the media I’m consuming…

News

New technologies at the library: When I told a librarian at my local library back home that I was thinking about going to back to school to become a librarian, she was supportive and told me how much she loved her job even after 30 years. However, she didn’t let me go without a couple of warnings about the future of librarianship. She said I should consider being a librarian if I’m passionate about technology and new innovation. She talked about how her job has changed: the library has had a decline in circulation so they’re focusing on new ventures to get patrons, such as 3D-printers, e-books, and other technologies. Librarians now have to be on the cutting-edge of all that is innovative because they feel that’s the future of getting patrons to step in the door. In this story, we see how people are using these technologies at libraries. The reality is that libraries need to change to survive and they believe this should be their new focus. I’m not sure if I am as into new technologies as the librarian thinks I need to be, but I can see how the technology has increasingly become important. And at least it seems to be bringing new people into the library. To me, libraries can be both spaces for books AND innovation, and just getting people in the door (for whatever reason) is the first step.

The biggest abortion case to come to the Supreme Court in decadesI watched a bunch of John Oliver clips with Thomas the other day, including one about abortion rights and the Supreme Court case heard a couple weeks ago. The decision has yet to come on the case, but I still think it’s important to be aware of the general facts of the case. Lawmakers and proponents say that this law protects women’s health and ensures their safety. As a result of HB2, which laid out new requirements for clinics (for example, wide hallways and admitting privileges at a local hospital), 26 of 36 clinics closed from 2013 to June 2015. There are now only 10 clinics in the state. Furthermore, 25% of women in Texas have to drive 100 miles to find an abortion provider and there’s almost a complete wasteland with no abortion providers west of Ft. Worth/Austin/San Antonio (see this map). I will definitely be watching for the decision this summer.

Podcasts

On The Media always ends up discussing things I’m interested in, but this past week they did an episode about all things bookish and lit! They dispelled the idea that e-books were going to take over the world (in 2015, physical book sales went up). To be honest, this was never something I really thought would happen – people enjoy physical books and everything (even e-book use) goes in cycles of popularity. I used e-books quite a lot when I was in college, but since 2015 I’ve been frequenting my library to get physical books. There are also entertaining stories about the biggest book thief, how a company is selling/recycling books by the foot for show houses and offices, and how coloring books got started as a political statement and typically mocked 1960s corporate America. I love OTM and they are always teaching me something new.

This episode of RadioLab about debate succumbed me. It really had all the elements  to grip me: a story of an underdog, a story of race and queerness, and a story of the power of words. I never knew much about debating before this (especially debate-speak). I also found it interesting to see the experience of children of color in a typically “white space” like debate. The end is interesting too, including what the POC debate community sees as a “backlash” and a consequence of Ryan Wash’s story. You should check this one out.

Another story that had the same tone (emotional and deep but also humorous at times) was Radio Diaries’s recent story about Frankie Lewchuk. Mostly, Frankie as a narrator is what made me love this story. He talked about growing up in the South (his accent is contagious) and his losing-est but still fun high school football career. Then, in the next episode about a grown-up Frankie, which looks back to his teenage years, things get way more serious and heartbreaking with stories about his dad’s past and stories about Frankie using drugs.

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As of late | Dec 15, 2015

I’ve started really looking forward to making these posts, so I decided to make two this month. I don’t know if this will be a new thing overall, but I have a lot of stuff I’ve been consuming this month that I want to talk about or recommend.

I have loved On the Media for about a year and a half–it was one of the podcasts I automatically loved when I started listening to podcasts. Their Dec. 4 episode, “Lies, Lies, Lies” focuses on how people hold on to false claims even when they are proved wrong. It’s hard to admit we are wrong especially when it “implicates a part of our identity.” Basically, we use politics to express ourselves and if we admit we are wrong, that says something about our values.

Another great podcast episode I’ve listened to recently is Past Present’s 12th episode about Mark Zuckerberg’s recent news about his future philanthropy, baby names, and prayer shaming. Mostly, I loved the discussion during the first two topics. I thought it was great to get background on how Gilded Age businessmen went to philanthropy without realizing that they could do things to help their own employees. I don’t think Facebook specifically is bad to its workers, but it’s important to think about philanthro-capitalism in the way that the hosts discuss it. Do leaders of corporations throw money at causes without looking at problems they themselves are creating?

The next topic, baby names, was so great. I almost thought they’d start talking about how celebrity babies have affected how we name our kids, but instead we got a discussion about the flip from very common names during a time of conformity in American culture before the 1960s. Nowadays, Americans are more individualistic and live in a competitive world–we name our kids something different in a competitive world in an attempt to give them a little boost. I also really thought it interesting when they mentioned how parents before basic health care used to not name their children until they were a year into their lives because it was likely that many of these children would die and names meant attachment. Basically, if you love history and news, you need to be listening to this podcast.

Columbia Journalism Review’s 2015 list for Best and Worst Journalism is out… I agree with many of its takes on what made good and bad journalism this year, especially its take on millennials, Donald Trump, and live coverage during mass shootings or police shootings. But it has pointed me to other stories I have to get to this month, such as the Frontline documentary about Syria and Tampa Bay Times’s work on underperforming elementary schools (maybe I’ll give them a shout out during my next “As of late” post.)

This great Vanity Fair piece I read in an actual print magazine, but I found online for you. It features a U.Va. alum going back to her alma mater and trying to see how three key events: the murder of a student, the arrest of a black student, and the fallout from the infamous Rolling Stone story about a gang rape of a student have all played out in the year since all of these tragic events started taking place. I loved this piece because most of it felt like a behind-the-scenes look at what happened with the Rolling Stone story. I liked hearing what Jackie’s friends and supporters went through. I thought it was really interesting how they hadn’t heard Jackie’s story because as victim’s rights advocates it’s not really in their place to ask for specifics about trauma. They reminded me, in the way they discussed what was happening, that they were still young college students and that they were not women ready for all of this to fall on them. I thought it was interesting hearing how they felt manipulated by both the reporter, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, and their friend, Jackie. And the author tries to tackle all of this as part of a bigger picture of the tensions “between black and white, men and women, aristocracy and democracy” at a university in the South.

The New York Times asked its readers to discuss how often they fear mass shootings might happen on a daily basis. The responses, put together here, are definitely bleak and really upsetting, but I loved that the NYT did this and was representative of different kinds of populations in its reporting. It appears that depending on your race, ethnicity, religion, and even occupation–you think about mass shootings and the possibility of mass shootings differently. I have to say, whenever I travel to a city with public transportation and whenever I fly (I did both recently in Washington D.C.–two days after the mass shooting in San Bernardino) I was definitely looking at ways I could possibly hide or escape. That is the truth. I know that the likelihood of a tragedy like that is minuscule, but it’s still such a frightful thing to see on the news, that it affects the way you view your day-to-day errands and travels.

Another post, another story about coal in West Virginia. Again, I am not stationed anywhere near coal (coal has not been mined in the county I live in for a while now). And there’s not many new facts cited about coal miners or employment in general here. However, I still thought I should link this story because the interviews are much more vivid than the last one and it’s an interactive piece so you can see way better pictures and videos.

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