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jeanne's first version of trust news.

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California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: October 18, 2005
Latest Update: October 22, 2005

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Topic of the Week: Newspapers

jeanne's first version of trust news.

How do we trust our newspapers?

Sorry. Here are the references on Proposition 65 I forgot to put up: Proposition 65: Warnings of Toxic Chemicals in Products. Please warn your friends and families and neighbors. I have some printed labels and we'll have materials to make little cards with the warnings. Wisconsin, please warn everyone you know, too, even though there's no Proposition 65 warning requirement in Wisconsin. Just knowing of its existence will make us more aware of protecting our children and women of child-bearing age. jeanne

Now, for this week's topic: trusting our newspapers. I had a wonderful discussion last week (or the week before) with a couple of our students. We were talking about newspapers and how much I rely on them to tie current events into the theory and practice of sociological theory. Both students "confessed" that they don't read newspapers. I say "confessed," because they both acknowledged that what we are learning from current events is stuff they want and need to know. But there's just not enough time in their worlds to read a paper. They're struggling with work and school, and achieving independence in an economic age that doesn't allow genuine early career entry for many.

So happens both these students were about thirty. That's the age group that has convinced newspapers and other media that newsprint is on its way out, that they must turn to the computer. I would like us to raise a collective voice against that conclusion, which I consider spurious. Both these young (compared to seventy) students do care about the detail we can get from newspaper accounts, that we can't glean from traditional media accounts. Neither of them would be searching for deep information on current events on their computer, because they don't have the time for it. Both told of there being newspapers in their families. One said her father wouldn't miss the daily newspaper with his coffee. But she doesn't usually peruse it. Recently, both have begun to take the newspaper into the bathroom. A humble beginning. But a beginning.

One of our goals on Dear Habermas is to serve as an introduction to the importance of newspapers in keeping up with a world over which we have minimal but important control. We get to vote. We get to complain vociferously, often in demonstrations. And we're trying to develop the habits of governance discourse, that would strengthen the minimal control each of us has. Both students agreed that they saw the role of the newspaper, even above the political analysis on TV, as the written word permits us more time to ponder, and is a reminder to which we can return later. Both also said that as they established their own residences and lives, they would subscribe to a newspaper they respected and trusted to provide that kind of understanding. We reckoned that by about 35 they'd both be subscribing.

We'll talk about this during the week. And if you agree with the view that you, too, will one day have time and value the role that investigative journalists in well-recognized papers play, then join us in e-mailing that information to the newspapers. I'll call the L.A. Times and the N.Y. Times to see if they would let some of us subscribe as a group to share the papers. We need them. And we need them to reconsider there approach to GenX as subscribers.

Second point: how do we trust our newspapers. William A. Scott gave a pretty meaningful answer to that in Values and Organizations, some twenty years or so ago. He said that if you want to test for values, then check out groups that represent those values. For example, the girl scouts, or the boy scouts, or a church, or a political group. I read the New York Times because it represents for me the values I want to share. I expect it to be read by readers like me, who share my concern for safety nets and community. For that same reason, I no longer subscribe to the Wall Street Journal, although I think there is good reporting there. They just don't share my values. Same reason for subscribing to the Los Angeles Times: we share values on approaches to poverty (Steve Lopez's recent series of articles.) and to safety nets, and sometimes even in politics.

Trust comes as the paper holds to those values. And so the New York Times was upsetting to me because of the Valerie Plame leak and Judith Miller. Would the NY Times give me the news as I needed it to understand the CIA leak, or would the NY Times protect the Bush administration? To this end I am posting two articles: one on Fitzpatrick, the prosecuter leading the investigation of that leak, and the other an apology by the executive editor for having supported Judith Miller as against telling readers what we need and demand to know. That's how important our trust in the newspaper is. Today, further links are often provided in the article or on the Website to let us go more in depth if we need to. But at least, I want to trust what I read.

Newspapers are an important source of learning. I don't have the time to read every book whose material I consider essential to informed citizenship. I have to rely on someone. Newspapers rely on their reputation for that. Blogs may be a substitute for some, but not unless you're really comfortable with the computer. Help support our newspapers. We need them, and will need them for some years to come, especially since the ownership of an up-to-date computer is a class issue. The poor don't have access. But the poor could have access to papers, especially if we all made that a goal. Informed poor, like informed others, make better decisions in their contributions to governance.


NEWS, Announcements, and

Current Events Discussion Topics:

Revised Syllabi for jeanne's Fall 2005 Classes
Instructions for Tutoring Requests and to Upload Learning Records

Famous People and Concepts We Should Have Heard Of, But Often Haven't.


  • The Watts Towers. Where are they? What do they represent? How do they establish one alternative meaning for community art?

  • Herbart's apperceptive mass. Herbart's term for the mind as we understand it. Herbart envisioned every experience from fetus-stage to death entering into this apperceptive mass, whether we understand it, accept it, are aware of it, or not. Experiences, once experienced, cannot be erased. As they crop up, brought to consciousness by a stirring of the apperceptive mass by some event, or by memory, we may find our reactions, beliefs, or statements illogical, as we are not aware of the presence of such experiences, especially from childhood, or because they were peripheral to some other experience we were concentrating on. compare this to Rabelais' Frozen Words and Discourse Lecture and references.frozen words.

Jeanne's Lectures for Fall 2005

Using Academic Language Effectively

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

and Careers

  • Resumes:

  • Letters of Recommendation:

    • Letters of Recommendation: How to get me to respond to your request. Many of you need letters. If you will follow this format, I can do them quickly and make them good.
    • Dog Letters If you do not give me adequate information, but do manage to get my attention, you may end up with a dog letter. That is a letter that says that you work well with people, that you are enthusiastic, that you persist at getting things done, and that everyone likes you. Of course, my dog gets along well with people, brings his ball to them, is enthusiastic, and persists at getting them to take his ball. Everyone likes my dog. That's a dog letter. It's so general it could be about my dog. jeanne

  • Career Options You Might Not Have Considered

    • visual media and their interdependence with other means of knowing to understand that we are not totally rational creatures deciding things apart from our feelings and values. Wolfowitz (new President of the World Bank to aid developing countries AND principle advocate of the Iraq War) might feel very differently when he is exposed to visual and aural images of the poor developing countries that have not before been his primary concern. So we want to know how best to present those developing countries visually. And we might find that we can have a career doing that sort of thing, so it does reflect on us as individuals. Added April 2, 2005.

That Was Fun! Sneaky Strokes and Flying Good Dogs

Flying Dog is also a painting by Zhang Kai. Best I've ever come across to illustrate our site with magic numbers and unicorns and whipped cream cats and now, flying dogs:

  • Index of Nice Things We've Said to Each Other

  • Flying Good Dogs: Whenever something happens in class that works out well, that inspires you, that helps in studying, whatever, take a few minutes to send us an e-mail. We'll post it where all of us can learn from it, including other teachers.