Author Archive

postheadericon What would I change about higher education?

I have no academic administrative experience. I know very little about the day-to-day goings on of a seat of higher learning outside of my own observations as a nontraditional student. As such, the procedures, processes, elements, minutiae that make up a higher education establishment’s cog-work are not things I feel I can write about at this time with any authority. What I can write about with authority, and would change about higher education, is cost.

4-year university students largely rely on parents and loans, and to a lesser extent, as they are available, scholarships, to foot the bill for their higher educations. Those that have parental financial support or hefty academic or athletic scholarships – good on you, congratulations, you’ve managed to sidestep what in many cases turns out to be crippling debt. For the rest that rely solely on financial aid in the forms of student loans, and choose not to take on part- or full-time work or work study, higher education becomes a financial cross to bear, limiting options in terms of post-college living and working options. For those lucky enough to find a good-paying job right out of the gate, it’s not as bad, but for those that don’t? Student loans influence and affect work options. You have to make money to pay off those loans, which come due right away after graduation, meaning you do not have the luxury of biding your time, exploring options and interviewing, turning down not-so-good offers for better ones you’re holding out for. For those entering fields that aren’t known for their high salaries and top-notch benefits packages, and those that are forced to wait tables or bartend to keep up with post-graduation student loan payments, a different approach or system for financing higher education would be beneficial.

For one thing, rethinking how loans are distributed, rethinking the interest rates, may be beneficial. For example, I took out an undergraduate loan years ago. Its interest rates were, and still are, 2 percent. I took out another a few years later. Its interest rates are 8 percent, and have consistently gone up, and when I make payments on it I am essentially only covering the interest, leaving the principal amount the same. And if I miss a payment, the interest rate climbs right back up and I’m worse off than when I started. If the interest rates were locked in at 2 percent, I would be much better off financially and in a better financial position to work toward, and ultimately accept, a job or position I am happy with, instead of one that pays but does that and nothing more.

President Obama’s proposition for free community college is a good place to start, but will bring with it all kinds of issues. For example, during our in-class conversation on MOOCs, a high number of students enroll at the outset of a semester or beginning of a class. The dropout rate for those classes is high. Let’s take our nearby New River Community College as an example. Let’s say community college is made free. 5,000 students sign up for classes at the outset of an academic year. Professors and instructors, administrators, janitors, library staff, bookstore clerks, etc., are all hired on to service that number of students. Because it’s free to enroll, the 5,000 students jump at the chance to take classes. But by the end of the first month, 3,000 students, who were not really all that serious but signed up for classes because they could and perhaps felt pressure from friends, family, parents, advisers, to give it a shot, drop out. So all of a sudden you’re paying all the faculty and staff to support 5,000 students, but only have 2,000 enrolled after the first month. The cost puts the college deep into the red, and without a federal bailout will go belly-up. Or, because a community college education is now free to all and not just available for those who take educating themselves and improving their stations in life seriously, it becomes an extension of high school, and as such, an associate’s degree loses value and becomes the equivalent of a high school diploma as far as what it will do for you in life is concerned.

Student loan rethinking and relief are needed. Higher education and satisfying post-education employment should not only be an option for those that can afford it. Reserving education for the elite or financially secure places boundaries on our society’s future. How can we progress if we are only handing the tools we use to further our development to a select few fiscally lucky young people? Altering the way we pay for higher education is not a fix for this, but it’s a good place to start.

postheadericon Social media and higher education: A few scattered points

I joined MySpace in 2005 when I moved to New Orleans as a means to stay in touch with close friends I’d left scattered around the country. A friend pointed it out a few months prior to the move, said it was a better, faster, easier way to stay connected in real time to friends you may not speak to all that often via phone or mail. I resisted it until it became apparent he was right. I had that account for a few years, until it became clogged with ads and pages and pages of people trying to get me to listen to their shitty garage bands. I made the transition to Facebook, much like the rest of the world. And other than a seldom-accessed LinkedIn page, that’s where my social media stops. I do not have a Twitter account. I have never sent a “tweet.” I have never sent a snap, or whatever else the kids are using these days. That said …

My personal experience teaching a class where students have laptop or tablet access has been limited. The courses I teach do not require use of in-class technological devices, and I encourage students to leave them at home on lecture days. I learned that lesson a month or so into my first class-teaching attempt. Students had laptops out during class, and I gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed they were taking notes or looking up information relevant to the topic I was discussing. Nope. Checking Facebook or Twitter, surfing entertainment websites, messaging their friends – basically everything BUT taking notes or paying attention in class.

A study by Michigan State researchers DeAndrea, Ellison, LaRose, Steinfield, and Fiore, published as Serious social media: On the use of social media for improving students’ adjustment to college, the authors argue social media, in a collegiate context, can help tremendously in helping students adjust to life on campus and feeling like they are not alone, feeling like they have a support group full of others in similar situations and assisted by a laundry list of trained faculty and staff whose priorities is helping them adjust and ultimately succeed during their time away at college. Their results indicate student-centered social media sites designed to enhance student perceptions of social support increased students’ perceptions of that support. Essentially, social media has the power to help students feel included, involved, supported, in a collegiate environment, which is a positive and beneficial use for it.

Conversely to my own experience with students and in-class social media use, where social media in the classroom is seen as nothing more than an addictive, high-profile electronic distraction for everyone in the room including myself (I have difficulty focusing on my lecture/materials when students’ attentions are focused on their machines instead of the lecture or classwork, all I can think about is whether or not it is appropriate in that situation to call them out and make them put their electronic devices away), researchers Wodzicki, Schwammlein, and Moskaliuk, published a study in 2012 in the journal The Internet and Higher Education, Vol 15 issue 1, entitled “Actually, I wanted to learn”: Study-related knowledge exchange on social networking sites, arguing social media have the potential for students to connect formally and informally, find like-minded people and exchange knowledge and information for educational purposes, but don’t really use said media for that purpose. They looked at StudiVZ, what they call the “German equivalent of Facebook,” and found around a fifth of study participants, mostly freshmen looking to orient or connect themselves with other students in similar academic situations or classes. They argue that although results show students use social networks primarily for social interaction, they do imply “communication about social issues on social networking sites goes hand in hand with study-related knowledge exchange.” I would argue, however, the massive amount of time spent socializing in some fashion dwarfs the time spent exchanging relevant course-related knowledge, and negates any benefit its utilization in its current form (here thinking in context of Facebook, Twitter and YikYak) , may potentially have as a classroom learning tool.

But then, that’s just me and my opinion based on my own observations, student interactions, and my own use of social media during lecture classes. I, at this time (for all you social scientists out there), have no empirical evidence to back up my opinion, so take it for what it is.

One last thing:

I’m sure you all (VT) are aware of the threatening message left by Virginia Tech senior Kiung Moon last week that resulted in campus and local police sending out a university-wide “heads-up” announcement. YikYak is, according to its developers, an anonymous way to send or leave geolocated messages that can be picked up by other users within a certain radius of the initiating message. Anonymity of such apps is a myth, first off, and police used digital location information to track the message’s origin. Blacksburg police chief Wilson told The Roanoke Times in an April 29 article that such threats and behaviors are taken seriously, and are “aggressively investigated.” Taken from the same article, “Yik Yak is an app that allows users to communicate anonymously with others in a 10-mile radius. Yik Yak representatives have said in the past that user information is disclosed if the a threat appears credible. Though users do not create accounts with personal information when utilizing the app, IP addresses, locations and information can be forwarded to authorities.” Students (and all users) need to realize nothing posted online is anonymous. Everything leaves a trail. Your SnapChat photo with that 10-second “message will be destroyed” tag line that you sent to your friend at 3 a.m. of your 19-year-old self doing a keg stand in your fraternity’s basement while wearing a day-glo green body stocking will not likely raise the hackles of local law enforcement, but three years from now when you graduate and try to land a job with a professional firm and that photo, benignly stored on some forgotten server until it is hacked and surfaces at the top of a Google search results page when that firm’s HR department does its due diligence before offering you a position, that “anonymous” photo may just come back and rabbit-punch your sense of social media security in the kidneys.

Essentially, anything that touts online anonymity is suspect. Especially social media. Students tend to send highly personal information and photos on faith that their messages will only ever be seen by the intended recipient, and that those messages will never, ever come back to haunt them. This is disastrously incorrect, as proved over and over again in the news. In the case of Moon, who stupidly posted such a threatening message for whatever reason, that lack of anonymity was useful to police. In the case of the bored student in the back of my classroom, face buried in the glow of his phone, posting negative messages about the class and lecture for anyone using YikYak to pick up and smirk at, while it is very unlikely campus and local police will use IP and GPS traces to locate him and point out the likely reason that student is not doing well in class is that he spends all his time in said class absentmindedly surfing through social media apps instead of paying attention.

 

postheadericon Open access – the International Journal of Communication

Initially, when I read “open access,” my mind went to “open source” and incredibly useful computer software. I don’t know why I felt that was relevant to this blog post, but I typed it out anyway. So there.

 

The International Journal of Communication, a scholarly, peer-reviewed Communication discipline journal, published by the University of Southern California (USC) and its Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and its Press.

According to its website, located here: http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc     , the IJC is “an online, multimedia, academic journal that adheres to the highest standards of peer review and engages established and emerging scholars from anywhere around the world.”

While Communication is its primary focus, it is an interdisciplinary publication that welcomes communication-related research from other fields, including psychology, sociology, philosophy, computer informatics, other social sciences and humanities. it fancies itself as “open and welcoming to contributions from the many disciplines and approaches that meet at the crossroads that is communication study.”

It does have its own code of ethics….:

“The International Journal of Communication (IJoC) aspires to select and publish, through peer review, the highest quality research in communication studies. In order to achieve this goal, the entire peer review and publication process should be thorough, objective and fair. Journal reputation depends heavily on the trust by all stakeholders in the fairness of the peer review and publication process. An important role of the publisher is to support the extensive efforts of the journal editors, and often unsung volunteer work undertaken by peer reviewers in maintaining the integrity of the scholarly record. It is a tribute to scholarly practice that the system works well and problems are comparatively rare. The publisher has a supporting, investing and nurturing role in the scholarly communication process and is also ultimately responsible for ensuring that best practices are followed.”

….as well as its clearly-defined mission statement…:

“USC Annenberg Press is committed to excellence in communication scholarship, journalism, media research, and application. To advance this goal, we edit and publish prominent scholarly publications that are both innovative and influential, and that chart new courses in their respective fields of study. Annenberg Press is among the first to deliver journal content online free of charge, and devoted to the wide dissemination of its content. Annenberg Press continues to offer scholars and readers a forum that meets the highest standards of peer review and engages established and emerging scholars from anywhere in the world.”

…… and finally, an Open Access Policy:

“Open Access enables authors to obtain the maximum possible exposure for their work. Freely available papers are read more, cited more, and have more impact than ones available only to paid subscribers. As an experiment, enter a research topic into a search engine like Google and see how many links you obtain to papers published in traditional journals. You will find that most references are to working papers, not to published papers, because working papers are freely available. The advent of the web has made free dissemination of research feasible and financially viable. Because existing specialty journals obtain revenues from selling subscriptions, primarily to libraries, access to the research they publish is limited. The attractive revenue stream that such subscriptions provide makes it unlikely that these journals will convert to Open Access. Thus a need exists for new refereed Open Access journals to replace existing journals. We believe that the establishment of a major Open Access journal in communication study will lead others to establish Open Access journals for many sub-fields and specialities in communcation, reclaiming full control for the profession of its research output. We hope that this will lead the profession to a new norm in which all research is freely available.”

Communication, while its own discipline, has interdisciplinary roots, and most, if not all, other disciplines have some communication element within it. This publication welcomes all studies from other disciplines that focus on that communication element. It seeks research and articles that are innovative and influential, and break new ground in their respective disciplines while advancing the existing knowledge base of the communication discipline.

While the publication has a clear Open Access policy, putting access to knowledge above turning a profit on subscriptions or per-article-purchases. The element of cost is restrictive, and the IJC does not believe, according to its OA statement, knowledge should only be available to those that can afford it. In line with the ultimate goal of a free and open-accessed Internet, the journal’s content is digital, and free, and sees itself as a trailblazer. If one journal allows free access, and that access is taken up and cited and referenced more so than the traditional subscription-based journals, that exposure will encourage other journals to follow suit.

…my battery is about to die, so I’m signing off for now. I may  revisit this later if anyone cares to comment.

postheadericon Ethics in mass communication

Ethics in mass communication and journalism is a vital part of its purpose. Speaking specifically to journalism, reporting, critiquing, and opining on news is only as good as the trust the journalist and publication/production has with its consumers. If the integrity of the journalist/publication/production, or source of information, is in question, its consumers will likely not trust it, rendering it valueless and therefore useless. Questionable agendas, questionable journalistic practices, such as fabricating information, lying about something the journalist did or did not witness, pushing an agenda based on financial or political backing, all are examples of poor integrity and a lack of adherence to a code of ethics.

While ethical codes vary from training institution to institution, newspaper to newspaper, television network to network, or even website to website, there are central tenets on which all journalistic ethical codes are built.

They include, but are in no way limited to:

Honesty – reporting what was witnessed, or sans personal witness, reporting what was ascertained through interviews with primary sources.

Integrity – never altering a fact or piece of information or element of a story to make the report or story shinier, sexier, seemingly more relevant to its readers.

Responsibility – take responsibility for, and stand by, your work. And always be ready to defend your work against critics.

Accuracy – Never misrepresent facts or context to help promote a story.

Plagiarism – much like the academic world, never, never, never, steal someone else’s work and pass it off as your own. Always attribute or properly cite any work not personally or collaboratively generated.

These are just a small few, but you get the point. In this post, I will copy and briefly discuss a code of ethics or ethical mission statement from the Society of Professional Journalists, a well-known journalism organization, then briefly discuss the recent string of ethical and integrity violations committed and exposed by a handful of prominent news and infotainment talking heads.

First, the SPJ Code of Ethics:

Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. Ethical journalism strives to ensure the free exchange of information that is accurate, fair and thorough. An ethical journalist acts with integrity.

The Society declares these four principles as the foundation of ethical journalism and encourages their use in its practice by all people in all media.

SEEK TRUTH AND REPORT IT

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.
Journalists should:

– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
– Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.
– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
– Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
– Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
– Label advocacy and commentary.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

MINIMIZE HARM

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.
Journalists should:

– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
– Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.

ACT INDEPENDENTLY
The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.
Journalists should:

– Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
– Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
– Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.

BE ACCOUNTABLE AND TRANSPARENT

Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.
Journalists should:

– Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
– Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
– Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
– Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
– Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.

Now this code is pretty lengthy, and some of its points overlap, but it’s pretty inclusive and many of its points of emphasis are shared by both journalism schools and professional publications/productions. Essentially it boils down to don’t lie, report the truth even in the face of public backlash or pressure to keep quiet on an issue or event, be open and transparent in your dealings, and don’t spin stories to suit your own, or the publication’s, purposes.

NBC News’ Brian Williams. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly.

Both last month had stories they had been telling for years (and in O’Reilly’s case, decades), called into question, and when the details of the stories the two had publicly told on numerous occasions were put under scrutiny they did not hold up. In Williams’ case, stories he told about his time covering Iraq War II were misrepresenations, and at times, fabrications, which he admitted to before being taken off the air. He had told a story about an incident in a military helicopter, describing the aircraft as being forced down after being hit by an RPG. He had also lied about being embedded with Seal Team 6, and again about being present and witnessing the opening of the Brandenburg Gate when the Berlin Wall came down. These stories, which Williams repeatedly told, embellishments to make personal stories more interesting to viewers, forever damaged Williams’ credibility as a journalist. He will never report for NBC News again, and I’ll be surprised if his on-camera career continues, at NBC or otherwise.

Bill O’Reilly – to be clear here, I have an extreme distaste for this man and what he represents, and abhor the cult-like worship offered up to him from his fans and viewers – several stories from his past, when he was working as a reporter and journalist before his time as a talk show host, came under scrutiny after a report from David Corn was published in Mother Jones magazine. The report stated O’Reilly lied about what he did or did not witness during the Falklands War in the early 1980s and rehashed in his ‘No Spin Zone’ book. And again during several accounts O’Reilly gave outlining a riot in Buenos Aires around the same time. And again an account in his Kennedy book about being on the Florida doorstep of one of Kennedy’s assassin’s friends as he shot himself inside the home, stating that he heard the shot from outside the front door – reports from witnesses put O’Reilly in Texas at the time. Since, several accounts of O’Reilly’s reports on other conflicts have been called into question, and numerous colleagues of his who were with him during these events taking place have called O’Reilly’s accounts completely fabricated. Unfortunately, and unfairly, O’Reilly will likely not be taken off the air – he works for a network that is not concerned with ethical reporting or information integrity.

Both of these are examples of journalists, or former journalists, violating professional ethical standards for image bolstering and personal gain. This behavior, in a climate that grows more and more compartmentalized in terms of belief, only fosters more mistrust of journalists and news agencies and serves to further separate and compartmentalize society.

Not good.

postheadericon Email and availability, digital connectedness, private life or constant contact?

As an instructor of record for an undergraduate course, it is required of me to stay in communication with my students outside of class via email, through Scholar, and in my office. At my office, and during office hours, answering students’ questions, providing clarification and assistance to them as needed, is not an issue – I am glad to do it and happy students are involved enough with the material and the course to seek assistance and advice outside the classroom.

With digital technology and the constant connectedness that comes with it, where is the line of availability drawn? In the past, before email, before this constant connectedness, as an instructor, would you have accepted a phone call at your home at midnight from a student that had a question about an assignment due the following morning in class (regardless of whether the information the student sought was right in front of them in either the syllabus or required text materials the student was in possession of)? No. You would not have, and would likely sharply reprimand the student for such behavior. But now, students are no longer limited to face-to-face communication. They can contact you any hour of the day or night, and often expect a swift response.

I tell my students if they contact me outside of business or office hours to not expect a response until the following day, and to only contact me after searching for the answers to their questions in the course’s required readings and asking their fellow classmates, in the case it was something I covered in class. But this is not usually followed, and some of my students are under the impression that as an instructor of record I am on call 24 hours a day to answer their questions – a notion of which I am not a fan.

For those of you with more collegiate teaching experience than I have (a mere semester prior, and this one), how do you handle the constant connectivity? Do you see it as a benefit to the students and a vital or beneficial part of the collegiate education process, or an infringement on your personal privacy? This argument is not limited to the academic world – it is a regularly recurring and growing issue in the professional world – employers assume you are online in some form, or have a smartphone or other digital communication device on or near you at all times, and (speaking from experience) often take advantage of that to push your professional life further and further inside the boundaries of your personal life.

Thoughts?

postheadericon Another mission statement comparison

It seems my previous post, mission statements from nonprofit organizations, was not the proper focus of this assignment. I did not realize/pay attention to the limitation of mission statements to higher education entities. So here I am, making up for it.

I attended multiple colleges and universities during my nontraditional track to “the now,” including Cape Fear Community College, and the University of North Carolina – Wilmington.

Both are North Carolina schools, both located in Wilmington, and degrees from both are hanging on my wall.

Cape Fear’s mission statement:

Cape Fear Community College is an open door, multi-campus, comprehensive community college that strengthens the academic, economic, social and cultural life of the citizens of New Hanover and Pender counties.

As a member of the North Carolina Community College System, Cape Fear Community College fully supports the system mission and fulfills its purposes by:

  • Focusing on vocational, technical, pre-baccalaureate, literacy education, and continuing education programs and services;
  • Recruiting, enrolling, advising and retaining a diverse student body;
  • Recruiting, retaining and developing a highly qualified and diverse faculty and staff who are dedicated to quality education and service to the College and the community;
  • Evaluating existing programs and implementing new curricula and instructional strategies to serve the changing needs of the service area;
  • Providing support services that help students succeed;
  • Enhancing student life through clubs, cultural activities, leadership opportunities, and athletics; and
  • Interacting and cooperating with others to encourage, promote and facilitate economic and community development.

Approved by the CFCC Board of Trustees, March 23, 1995; revised January 18, 1996; revised November 19, 2003; reaffirmed January 26, 2006; reaffirmed September 2010.

 

 

The University of North Carolina Wilmington, the state’s coastal university, is dedicated to learning through the integration of teaching and mentoring with research and service. Our powerful academic experience stimulates creative inquiry, critical thinking, thoughtful expression and responsible citizenship in an array of high-quality programs at the baccalaureate and master’s levels, and in our doctoral programs in marine biology and educational leadership. Substantial research activity, combined with our hallmark teaching excellence and moderate size, advances distinctive student involvement in faculty scholarship. We are committed to diversity and inclusion, affordable access, global perspectives, and enriching the quality of life through scholarly community engagement in such areas as health, education, the economy, the environment, marine and coastal issues, and the arts.

 

Both are focused on the student, and both point out the most prominent academic departments. For UNCW, marine biology and coastal marine research is its bread and butter.

 

Both mention diversity and inclusion, both mention a commitment to excellence and citizenship. Both list a slew of characteristics they claim a commitment to, including community engagement.

Interestingly, the community college mentions its athletics, but the NCAA Division 1 school does not.

In my personal opinion, the UNCW statement, in paragraph form, is more effective, appealing, cohesive.

The bullet points, while easy to read (and maybe that’s the point, they do a lot of literacy work and trade training), looks and feels cheaper. I know this is a brief analysis, but having completed an analysis on nonprofits as well, this is all I’ve got.

postheadericon Mission statement assignment

I do not have an on-tap supply of mission statements handy, so like any good student I plugged “mission statement” into a google search box and picked the top site listed to see what I could find. The first thing to come up was a site offering what it saw as the top 50 nonprofit mission statements: http://topnonprofits.com/examples/nonprofit-mission-statements

The point of a mission statement is to quickly and concisely identify whatever it is you, your group or corporation is all about. The best ones are parsimonious, catchy, marketable, and meaningful. They can be funny, short, plain or filled with industry jargon, inspiring or inflammatory. I picked the top one listed (TED) and one further down the list with a bit more length to it (NPR).

NPR: To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

TED: Spreading Ideas.

NPR is a Washington D.C.-based publicly and privately funded media organization. It broadcasts news, talk radio and other types of national and local programming. Its mission statement has two parts, but only really needs one. The first part – To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public – is pretty much sufficient. It details what it is, a radio station comprised of local station members which it partners with, and what it hopes to do, inform the public. Inform, not persuade, not invigorate, not detract. Kind of an important distinction. The second part is the industry jargon I mentioned above, the “artistic” part that allows its listeners to feel enlightened, to feel progressive, to feel hip – challenged, invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation.

The second, TED, is an American company with headquarters in several cities, but its main, I believe, is in New York City, and is much shorter – Spreading ideas. Doesn’t say what kind of ideas, doesn’t limit itself to any type of genre or subject matter. The word “ideas” is key here – ideas, not opinions, or facts, or misinformation. “Spreading” implies connection with anyone willing to listen. It’s short, memorable, useful.

They’re both similar in that they focus on information, and sharing that information. One is significantly longer than the other. They’re two very different statements, but convey similar purpose. They are two very different entities – TED likes to be seen as flashy, cutting edge, savvy. Its short mission statement allows it to be used in several different contexts, allowing it several different implications. NPR is stereotyped as being the go-to of stodgy, elderly, who listen to it at home and in the car instead of, say, trendy, “with it” modern music. Its lengthy statement reflects its programming – informative, wordy.

postheadericon Execute orders

I do not like blogs. I do not like reading them, I do not like writing them, I do not like commenting or responding to comments on them. I do not like the word “blog.” That said, welcome to my blog.

I use Facebook, mostly to keep in touch with old friends of which I no longer reside within close proximity. I don’t use it as a platform to type or post every little opinion, daily experience, or lingering thought. I was introduced to MySpace in 2005 for the same reason, but left shortly after (like everyone else, more or less). I do not, nor have I ever, had a Twitter account. I do not have a Pinterest or Instagram account. I just don’t find the minutae of other people’s daily lives, which many feel compelled to regularly post online, interesting, and I don’t believe others will find mine interesting, either. Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe I’m just late to that party.

Anyway, the point is, this particular assignment will be a challenge for me, mostly since it’s for a course and will be evaluated by a professor or GTA for a grade and I will be censoring myself accordingly. I tend to write intentionally provocative, cynical, incendiary things when left to my own devices, which I will attempt to refrain from doing in this particular forum. So cheers, everybody. Here’s to a solid semester – other than this blog thing I am looking forward to this course and its implications and insights it has the potential to provide for my future.

postheadericon Hello world!

Welcome to Blogs@VT Sites. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

I’m not entirely sure whether this auto post is supposed to serve as the first assignment or not, so I’m leaving this note accordingly. I posted another introductory, well, post, just in case.