November 30, 2003

The biases of Bias...and other media adventures

After reading Bernard Goldberg's representation of the "facts" in Bias, I cannot erase my first impression of his tone: blogger. His narrative style and content correlates with many of the blogs I have encountered in my careless searches (ones that I have stopped visiting and trusting). I have found that Goldberg, like some bloggers, is a biased and whiny individual that cannot relate the true "facts" of the matter.

Some of Goldberg's statements I support, though such as,

So while I'm for what we like to call affirmative action when that means reaching out to bring more minorities into the process, I'm against affirmative action when it means racial preferences, which in the real world is what affirmative action is usually about.

I have been trying to articulate this opinion for two papers I am writing on affirmative action, but I couldn't. I am happy to find an opinion that is synonymous with mine. My question now is: Will I have to cite it? Probably :-(

Anyway, I am biased already because I read the Eric Alterman essay first, undermining Goldberg's claims. (Dr. Jerz...did you specify which one to read first? I am sorry if I read them in the "wrong" order.)

In any case, I am happy that I read them in that order, I can see Alterman's opinion about Goldberg: "Much of Bias consists of blasts at unnamed liberals who are accused of exaggerating data and manipulating the truth for their own purposes."

Goldberg's style, though catchy and easier to read than Alterman's, does not offer significant proof for anything. Alterman's statement that the book is "shoddily written" does carry merit. I found a live chat record in which Goldberg defends his book, but I found him still very biased without significant proof for his claims.

As for the proposed bias that exists in the media, I cannot find support of it in my searches. In a current article by The Washington Times, a reporter quotes Tim Graham, a journalism expert for the conservative Media Research Center.

Leaks which make liberals look bad aren't as interesting or newsworthy to liberal reporters as leaks that make the Bush administration look bad.

Though the inclusion of this quote backs Goldberg's stance, including this opinion refutes it, making the speaker look incredibly stupid.

And then there are others that look just plain whiny.

I don't know...maybe Goldberg does have a good point...so why...why on earth would you put revolutionary claims in your book without suffucient back-up information???

He loses credibility right there.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:05 PM | Comments (0)

November 29, 2003

Typing too much

I haven't seen this problem on anyone else: a large lump from typing. I don't know what it is, but it hurts.

When I bend my right hand toward the floor, I want to scream...and it has gotten worse. You don't realize how often you move that way until something hurts. "Don't know what cha got til it's gone" (insert disdainful and why-is-my-body-betraying-me sigh -here-).

My hand doesn't fall asleep, and I grasp things. This monster on my hand isn't carpal tunnel. But I cannot bend!!!!

I'll probably have to get one of these nasty "computer braces".

5449.jpg Alimed

Very pretty :-(

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:29 AM | Comments (4)

November 25, 2003

Comfort and JOY

The holiday is finally here. This year, unlike any other, I find myself feeling more liberated than ever.

I am at work tonight--the library, and I am looking longingly at the DVD's, praying that I can remain conscious enough to watch one tonight. I will.

WHAT JOY! MY BRAIN IS GOING DOWN FOR A DAY...or two!

AND maybe a good book. Toni Morrison just came out with a new one that looks really good. Who knows? Maybe I will read four...

And then there is shopping. Not too much though, spring semester tuition and books need to be paid for. Who cares? It's Thanksgiving. I am so thankful that I got through this much. What a reward.

Bliss, absolute bliss.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 24, 2003

The snow has come

Over the weekend, I spent two of the most beautiful days walking outside by a lake and in the woods with Mr. Man. It was the most beautiful thing. Ahhh.

Time to come back to the real world *sigh*

Anyway, today, I come to school in a tee-shirt and a sweatshirt for good measure...just in case.

And it came....

The wind blew. The rain turned to sleet, then ice, then hail. I felt like a cat in a big bathtub of jello. I guess my heaven can't last forever.

But winter is here, and I am gearing up for the holidays. Does anyone know what to buy a guy, a really nice guy, for the holidays (on a very limited budget)? hmmmm.

Cologne. A tee-shirt. hmmm.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:50 PM | Comments (2)

It's hard being a Webmaster.

Usability testing is harder on the ego than I thought.

Because, my website has not been approved by the MP Library, I cannot publicize the link, but it will apear on my page...hopefully soon.

Change Me: Usability Testing and the Mount Pleasant Public Library website

After testing my four subjects: students 16 and 18, rental representative, 22, and waitress, 39, I feel that my website on the Mount Pleasant Free Public Library needs many changes: more color, graphics and content, and better clarity were indicated as problem areas; however, the search for information was easier with my navigational tool: hover buttons.

After viewing the homepage, half of my testers, the teenagers, found that the page was "colorful", but later indicated that the site needed more color. Though I am trying not to go overboard with color on the site, considering that it is for a public institution, I feel that I can oblige their needs through varying the color scheme a bit. Considering that teenagers will probably not frequent this site, I may change some things, but I think I will keep much of the sedate coloration.

All of my testers indicated the need for more graphics or an affinity to the sparse amount that is already present. I may accomplish this task by adding photos by The Mount Pleasant Journal of programs, adding clipart, or by exterior and interior photos of the library. The difficult part will be adding graphics so that it does not take away from the content displayed on the site. I may have to test again to see if more graphics cause a disruption in content comprehension.

The content on the page also needs some work. The links on the homepage, for instance, noted the rental rep., "needs more explanation." This is in reference to the library catalogues that I highlight below the hover button navigation bar; I plan on adding blurbs to indicate what is on the other end of the link. All testers indicated a problem in the What's New Book List area. I didn't realize it, but the pages do not have listings of what months appear at the top of the page. This proved problematic in every test.

The clarity of the site's font was also an obstacle for half of my testers (on different computers). The 36 year-old said that the homepage is a "little blurry, the letters are too small and bunched up." The 18 year-old suggested that I try another font, perhaps Arial." Considering that this page will be for the library, which is frequented by all ages, this is an important change that I will make immediately.

The page, however, did have one redeeming quality: the hover buttons that I strived so hard to create. According to the 16 year-old, the "[homepage] looks easy to navigate." And it was. While taking the test, all users came back to the navigation bar, working from it, finding the correct link within seconds. The 13-question test filled with "explain this" took the longest tester only 12 minutes, the shortest, six.

Their critical analysis of my work, though stinging at times, has really helped me understand more about all elements of a website. Though my site needs a lot more work, I feel that I am now up to the challenge, and that I have a better understanding of what my audience wants, an essential in creating a website for a public organization such as the library.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:11 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

To worry

If anyone hasn't been picking up on my little romance vibe on my blog, let me say it now. Well there is.

Anyway, my grandparents are staying over the holidays. And they want to meet him, and the rest of my family. I am really worried for him. Both sides of my family...that is enough to scare anyone. Not that I am saying that my family is frightening, well, in the purest sense. But they are a huge force that can bring any adversary to their knees.

And this is Amanda's first real dating experience, so he has become an adversary. That whole taking-away-my-baby phase didn't happen as a young teenager, so I am stuck with it now.

He is coming to my church on Sunday. And he doesn't know what to wear. He is sort of a skater boy...but in a good way. He was really worried for me (or himself). I am just trying to be wary, not worry so much, like my grandma.

This morning she started to play 20 questions with me until I told her exactly what he is like. Family. They worry way too much. Or maybe I am worrying way too little...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:39 AM | Comments (2)

November 20, 2003

Jackson and the charges

Michael Jackson was arrested today in Santa Barbara, CA.

Another media fest for Mr. Jackson. What a world. And he'll probably get off, not only because he is a star, but because he will most likely buy his way out of the case.

Does this sound like another case involving an orange juice man? I think so.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:54 PM | Comments (1)

Christmas Land on the Hill

I can't wait for Christmas on the Hill. Everything will be over, and we can all get pretty once more.

I wore the nastiest clothes to school today, and I keep forgetting to chew gum and suck on mints after drinking the nasty cappuchino at the dining hall.

And maybe I won't have to go stag for the first time in a million years. Maybe I will have someone...

And then there is the wonderful Christmas Concert in the chapel.

Maybe I will love Christmas this year, maybe, just maybe, (Karissa) I will learn to love winter.

Anything is possible with a little Christmas magic.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:27 PM | Comments (2)

Anxious presenter

I don't know what it is about me that makes me shake when I am presenting something in front of my class.

This morning in my Thinking and Writing class I started to shake. Lifting up a paper, I could see it quivering in my fingers. Why do I do this? I am prepared. I know my stuff...Why?

FYI: My presentation was on Affirmative Action. I don't believe in these practices, but I was amazed at how many people support this.

If anyone would like to state their opinion, I would be happy to have the input for my paper. You could be famous!!!!!!! hehehe. I just sounded like a popup or infomercial. Well, at least you would be helping out a student that desperately needs primary sources. Thanks!

Comment away.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

Anything but tired

I will attempt to say anything but "tired".

Earlier this year I said, "I will not get sick." And now I will repeat that "I am not tired." Ooops. I forgot I am not supposed to say that.

So don't think I am crazy when you hear me repeating that through the halls of SHU.

SHU--said SHOE. I go to SHOE. hehehehe. Funny stuff.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2003

My so-called life

Wake-up. Go to County Market, the grocery store. 8 hours of my young life down the drain. Wake up go to County Market. Wake up go to County Market. Sleepy, very sleepy.

What is happening to me? I am going to screw up my financial aid for college working this much. I hate it. I hate who I am becoming. A great big stiff (the working kind).

And then my grandparents are coming from Mississippi for the holidays. Two weeks. I mean I love them, but this is the WORST time for them to come.

Look at me...I am ranting, about everything. THIS ISN'T ME!!!

Please forgive me for the bad blogging. I guess I'm alive. That's good.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:39 PM | Comments (5)

November 15, 2003

My brain is going to explode

And make a big glob of goo on the library walls. Kind of like pumpkin guts I think.

Yes. I am feeling the strain of all of my classes hurtling down on my head. That didn't make sense. Oh, well. I am sleep deprived.

Websites, blog portfolios, papers-papers-papers-papers IAMGOINGMAD!!!!!!!!!!

Well that is my mind right now, so have mercy on me. Pity. Blessed pity. And when I come into class looking like a half-starved scarecrow with bags under my eyes that can't fit in the trunk of a Volvo, have mercy on me.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:47 AM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2003

Journalist and Speaker-David Maraniss

Bringing worlds together. Vietnam, Washington and college campuses, specifically the University of Wisconsin in one day, October 18, 1967.

That is what David Maraniss did in his book, They Marched Into Sunlight, or so he claimed last night at the lecture in Cecilian Hall at Seton Hill University.

During the talk, I couldn't help but think that the people that we hold in such high esteem: sports athletes, television personalities, even bloggers that visit campus, are real people. And when Maraniss came to campus, I was at first star-struck at attending an in-person Pulitzer Prize winner's presentation.

Some of the best information didn't come from his book, however; much came from his interpretation and experiences in journalism (at least for me).

Everyone laughed when he said, "Journalists are the worst interviews." I believe it. We spend so much time hearing what others have to say, that we know what we shouldn't say, and eventually stifle (Archie Bunker-like) ourselves.

But perhaps the most memorable moment was when he mentioned his First Rule as a journalist:"Go there, wherever there is."

And this caused the most conflict all night for me. I wanted to ask him a question. I kept raising my hand. Almost waving to get his attention. And the worst thing was, he wouldn't call on me. He called a guy sitting in front of us, a good-looking young man in a red sweater, that littered his questions with obscure statements, such as, "my great uncle said that his brother said that....", and "ahhhhs" and "ums". Didn't this guy have the self-respect to form a question before raising his hand?

And what question, you ask, did I so ardently want to pose? Since he visited Vietnam after the war, I believe 34 years later, does he hold the same view on current conflicts? I wanted to ask him about importance of embedded reporting, his opinion, and how he feels about reporters going to Iraq and being killed in their coverage of war.

But Mr. Red Sweater asked another question--the final question of the night, and I didn't get to ask my GOOD question. How cheap. But I didn't have to pay for a ticket so I guess I got my money's worth. hehe.

I liked when he mentioned new media in his speech, "The Internet has become the community for Vietnam veterans." So often the Internet is vilified, such as in the librarians' presentation at Seton Hill (I don't think they want to lose their jobs); but it is a wonderful resource that should be used when necessary. I was happy to see that that form of communication was not left out.

Some of his statements: "Everything was different, but everything was the same," "There's a human being behind each of these faces," and "Everyday lives that are changed by these events," really struck me. His eloquence and calm demeanor really made me listen, made me think about not only the journalism aspects of the speaker, but the subject matter of his book as well.

Being there last night enabled me to contact a world completely different from the college student that I am. A world where pain and hurt are real, and, as Maraniss said, "[where] every day is a discovery." I was happy to discover that. I was priveledged to learn that.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2003

FUZZY RABBIT

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Yes. it is a rabbit. What are these things ? Apparently they are a special breed: the Angora.

Special thanks to James Lacey and J-Walk Blog for this funny pic.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:50 AM | Comments (7)

November 12, 2003

Dining Hall Nazi

No, not the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld. The Dining Hall Nazi. I don't know what kind of power trip this guy is on, but I am having a major problem with him.

Let me fill everyone in on my most current personal issue: a la carte in the dining hall.

Today, I went into the dining hall for lunch. I waited patiently in the long line, and when I finally get my turn, I face him. "Soup and salad, please."

"I don't do a la carte."

"Can't I just get a soup and salad?"

"I only serve lunch--$5.25."

Embarrassment. I am holding up the line.

I hand over my 20. Cursing. Slews of curses filling my irate brain. But I am a nice girl. I am a good Christian girl. I really am. And I will have a career dealing with people. This is good practice for real life.

So I calmly wait for him to slowly hand over my change. I am such an inconvenience. Then I get more lunch than I need because I want to get my money's worth.

On Monday I went to the Commuter Dinner in the Greensburg Room (not quite as swanky as I thought). Many problems come with commuting. Time management, car problems, gas money, etc. but the Dining Hall Nazi tops my list. Shouldn't there be some kind of standard for all cashiers in Lowe Dining Hall?

I am a cashier. I follow the same procedures as the rest of the cashiers at County Market.

But I wonder...Does he have some kind of pent-up frustration toward college students? Doesn't he want to look for the little numbers or words on the register?

If those are his motivation: predjudice or just plain laziness, I don't want to hear about it. Everyone has to deal with people that get on their nerves. I may be one of them, but do your job--don't slack off and make customer feel embarrassed.

So if you are reading this Dining Hall Nazi, know that I want my a la carte. I deserve the same courtesy as the card-carrying diners with meal plans. I pay for what I buy, and I deserve equal treatment.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:41 PM | Comments (5)

Term Project Connection

Yes, another connection to school and this time, on the term project for Writing for the Web: my website on the Mount Pleasant Library (I am revamping the monstrosity that inhabits the webspace you see on this link).

And then I went to Wikipedia and shared my overall knowledge of the Pennsylvania library system.

I must say wikis are a really great idea. I like editing the semi-crap I see on the Breakfast at Tiffany's movie entry, but under the constraints of one class period in the crunch time of end-of-semester prep, I find myself wondering, "Why don't we work on our websites?"

Oh well, I guess learning is an important part of school. hehehe.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 3:47 PM | Comments (0)

November 11, 2003

Merriam-Webster not McFriendly?

My poor sister and aunt has to hear this...Merriam-Webster just defined their current vocations as "a low paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement"--a McJob.

The definition is really offensive to people who have worked at McDonald's beyond adolescence; I've found many make decent wages, have moved up in the fast food heirarchy, and have great benefits from the company.

Bias looks like it is sneaking into the dictionary.

When coined phrases, such as "McJob", are included many people have different opinions on what that definition is. I think the Merriam-Webster company should rethink its stance before the America begins to call their employees "WebsterGeeks" or "Girly-Merriam-Definition-Dorks".

Lots of people work for McDonald's. There is power in french-fry-making numbers. And coining words is one of the most common practices around.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:21 PM | Comments (1)

November 7, 2003

Two lectures, one blogger

I would just like to thank Ms. Mortensen for coming to our journalism classes at Seton Hill.
Both lectures were wonderful. After watching presentations over the semester on drugs, alcohol, STDs, and the Holocaust, hearing something directly pertaining to my life was a refreshing.
I especially enjoyed the Writing for the Web lecture, focused more on blogging. The comment on personal blogging being more interesting than news blogging really interested me. Though journalism blogging is what my classes are focused on, I also find the personal blogging more interesting. What a dilemma! I am called upon to do journalism for my classes, but my own interests dictate making personal entries too.

I could just blog more....yes...yes...I think I will do that, to satisfy both my "outside network readers" and my professor.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:46 AM | Comments (0)

November 5, 2003

Warming up the bears

Does everyone remember the global warming reference in IANS (It Ain't Necessarily So? and in the presentations)

Good for Paige and CNN for making the point that this trend cannot be totally attributed to one source.

So will polar bears go the way of the woolly mammoth? I don't think so. Not as long as zoos keep carting them back to cages, and women keep dying their hair bleached blond.

Sorry that was very depressing and cutting, but when women dye their hair so much that they it becomes translucent, I cannot help making the connection. And as for zoos, maybe they are conserving, but I don't think the polar bear pond at the Pittsburgh Zoo is enough for the poor dears to puddle around in. They don't even get a block of ice!!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:58 PM | Comments (0)

Camping on concrete

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Concrete in my back. Sleeping bags are terrible when you can't hear the campfire crackling outside your tent.

And the experience of wearing shower shoes is one I am not comfortable with.

I was not Commuter Amanda last night, but Resident Amanda.

What a wonderful experience!! Friends right down the hall, movies (What Lies Beneath--oooo a scary one), and lots of junk food. And no parents or sibling.

But I miss home. My big closet (hehehe). My cat. My bathroom. My movies. My computer. AND most of all, MY BED.

I will be going back though. I like it. Now, since I said that, all of my resident pals will be trying to get me to stay next year. It is good to be loved. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 4:32 PM | Comments (1)

November 4, 2003

A Striking Picture

When reading a chapter in my journalism text, I came across a picture that shocked me (the baby in a bag).

What a shot. Good for so many reasons, equally bad for others. Sometimes I don't know when the photographers are stepping over the line.

When I worked at my local newspaper, one reporter was assigned to cover a dedication in honor of those soldiers headed to Iraq. Little girls were crying, wives were crying. I love her shot. She got the emotion, but did not show the individual faces of the children (their hands covered their faces). Though the children may be recognized they aren't blatantly shown.

I like the pictures that indicate emotion, that raw reality that many people lose touch with in the everyday hum drum. The shock value is important in news coverage, but the line is invisible. When it is stepped over though, get ready for the controversy. But where does that subjective line exist?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:00 PM | Comments (2)

Don't play games with ethics

Strong separation between reviews and party-fueled, influence-peddled previews is a good way for game journalism to develop meaningful ethical standards. Then we might see more game industry coverage written, as Ebert put it, “without benefit of the insights gained from free buffets.”

While searching for a topic on media ethics, I came across this OJR article on the computer gaming industry.

Though I do not play Internet games (gasp), I am interested in the influence they have upon young people (violence and all that). So I clicked on it.

Wow! The buffet junkets and free releases of computer games really does promote a good review by journalists of the industry. And who said that journalists shouldn't accept gifts from promoters? Oh, yeah, in my POJ class when talking about media ethics throughout this semester.

The practice of accepting free dinners or video games seems a major breach in the accurate representation of the game itself.

Beyond the gaming industry, the same occurs in other forms of media--movies especially. While constructing my website on classic movies, I was amazed by the wide range of reviews. One thing I noticed while searching was that so-called "good" critics gave nasty reviews to to certain movies, mostly from one company. I am not saying that the critics are bought off by the companies, but it may be a contributing factor.

Journalists take part in these junkets, receive good treatment, and then are called to report, but something else happens: the reporters report on their experience at the conference instead.

I am happy that there are people out there in journalism country that cannot, and will not be bought off by a filet mignon.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:28 PM | Comments (0)

November 3, 2003

Panties in a twist

It seems like everyone is getting in an uproar about this Boykin thing.

In my Pentacostal church on Sunday, I was almost vilified as a heretic for stating that Boykin shouldn't talk about religion in his army uniform. I guess that is viewed as "taking a stand". I have a problem taking that kind of a stand in a professional capacity, especially if one is for the entire American public.

But then, I am digressing. Boykin's statements have not even been confirmed because the reporter will not release the tapes.

And that is what many people have been doing, digressing from the fact. In one broadcast (via Jerz), one reporter, Nina Totenberg, said, “I hope he’s not long for this world.” She is making judgments without knowing all of the facts in this case. Apparently she is known for such behavior, but the fact remains that she does not know. None of us knows--yet.

So, maybe Boykin did make these statements. Maybe they were taken out of context. A full transcript of the talk has not been made public; it may never surface, but what we all need to do now is make an effort to stop this politically- and religious-biased mentality from eeking into our already jaded perception of the world through media lense.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:59 PM | Comments (2)

Gnomes without homes

On Donna's blog, she mentions this "short" article on gnomes without homes.

After the horrors of their abduction, one would think that their owners would claim the unfortunate piles of concrete and paint, and return them to their patio, lawn, and flower bed homes. But it just hasn't happened.

The poor vertically-challenged dears will probably suffer from shock at the impossibility of their return, but one gnome: we'll call him "Willaminafreddieafinfort" did go home. Lucky him.

But what of the others? I think we should construct a gnome outreach program. Anyone with me?!

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Just look at the poor exterior design ornaments. Couldn't you share your lawn with one of them?

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:21 PM | Comments (9)

Highlighter makeup

Karissa and I had this wonderful conversation this morning about highlighter makeup.

On Friday, I had orange highlighter streaked across my jaw and into my ear when she drew a pumpkin on my hand, I leaned on it, and then the orange oozed onto my skin.

Anyway. Wouldn't it be fun to wear highlighter to school one day?!! The fluorescent colors...the brightness to life. I would do that. Heck, I already did.

Karissa had a friend that highlighted her Cabbage Patch doll when she was younger. hehehe. So why can't I?

I am in college. Goodbye societal conventions. One of these days I am going to show up to class with highlighter eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush. Maybe even a bit of Sharpie action for my eyelashes.

Sound like fun? Let me hear your praises...of Amanda...the new Mimi (Drew Carey Show).

thanks.gif Thanks to Megasite

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:21 PM | Comments (0)

November 1, 2003

A little bit of rebellion

If anyone has noticed, on my blog I have had some pretty serious things coming up...and I am going to attribute them now to one source...HOMEWORK.

Yes, that is right. I have been disguising my homework as legitmate entries. I feel as if I have been betraying my blog persona, and for that I am truly sorry. hehehe.

But I just thought I would show a bit more of myself to the blogging world.

I like fairies. Yes, fairies. With pretty wings.

I even wrote a story this summer about fairies and how they can cross over into our world (part of a Sci-Fi and Fantasy writing group contest) and I won.

Well before writing this story I was looking for some inspiration and that is when I found Josephine Wall. This is one of her pretty paintings in her online gallery.

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Another great place for fairy art is Amy Brown. I love her work too (a bit more pop culturish, but pretty just the same).

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Big images and little writing. I am such a journalism blogging rebel. hehehe

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:45 AM | Comments (3)