SJMC students: Any reactions to this week’s historic media events?
With major news organizations around the country covering the debate and protest concerning Governor Walker’s proposed “budget repair bill” — and its implications for public employees both at UW and around Wisconsin — I know that many SJMC courses have been treating this week’s news as a “teachable moment.” For example, in J201, “Introduction to mass communication,” I scrapped my scheduled Wednesday lecture (on video games, no less) for a less-polished, more-tentative, just-in-time lecture on the recent history of protest in the Middle East, especially Egypt. We discussed the ways that, especially in societies lacking many of the press and speech freedoms that we enjoy in the US, the use of “new media” tools like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter worked together with the power of “old media” infrastructures of broadcast radio and television to combine into the oldest mass communication strategy of them all — getting lots of bodies in the same place at the same time — in bringing down a decades-old, single-party, authoritarian government. Clearly the situation and the stakes are different here in Wisconsin this week. But this is still an important moment to consider how media organizations, infrastructures, and strategies work (and fail) when members of a pluralistic, democratic, and open society must debate divisive political, economic, and cultural issues. So in an attempt to energize our humble SJMC blog a bit, I invite all SJMC undergraduate and graduate students to respond to this post with their experiences and reactions, photos and ideas, concerning this week’s media and policy action. (Asking questions is OK too.) Just use the “comments” link under the title of this post.