Multimedia StoryTelling

By the students of MCJ300 at The University of Southern Mississippi

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HPV Vaccine and Reporting “All Sides”

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It’s a tough day for someone who wants to report the news in a balanced way.

Few issues could be more difficult to tackle than vaccinations. On one hand, we know that the fairly new HPV vaccines (Gardasil being the most popular) have enormous public health benefits. Gardasil in is credited with preventing the kind of HPV that causes cervical cancer and other cancers (YIKES!) as well as the kind that causes genital warts (EWW!). But critics say HPV vaccines in particular are responsible for a range of conditions as well as dozens of deaths. The CDC has kept track of reported negative effects caused by the vaccine, and of the thousands of reported effects, only 7.4 percent were deemed “serious” this year. (“Serious” means¬†hospitalization, prolongation of an existing hospitalization, permanent disability, life-threatening illness, or death). Despite the relatively low number of serious problems with the vaccines, advocates continue to lament the drugs’ dangers, even going as far as citing a debunked study linking the HPV vaccine to autism. (Here’s how it was debunked.)

So when Katie Couric decided to give what I would call undue weight to the anecdotal claims of some parents on her show today, the media criticism world went nuts. (All separate links there.)

Whether your job is to deliver information or entertainment (or in Couric’s case, maybe both), I feel that public health and safety should be regarded as a top priority. In class we talked about giving too much weight to certain ideas in an effort to showcase “all sides” of a story–the concept of false equivalency. Some opinions are perhaps so irrelevant that we should start calling them “corners” instead of “sides.” However, in this case, there is a really vocal and organic movement of concerned parents that demand their side be heard. I actually feel bad for Katie Couric’s staff because any decision about the coverage of this issue is going to piss off a lot of people.

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Written by jarodkeith

December 6, 2013 at 12:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Media shouldn’t label Tom Daley

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Over the weekend, British Olympic diver Tom Daley made a touching video in which he told the world that he was in a relationship with a man. What he didn’t do was put a label on himself. He could be gay, bi, pan, queer, or any number of other designations. Or, like a growing number of young people, he could just prefer not to have a label. But of course this didn’t stop some media outlets from rushing to label him. And while most outlets simply reported that he was in a relationship with a man, others did not. Among the offenders: The Bilerico Project, Yahoo News, and whatever website this is.

Written by jarodkeith

December 5, 2013 at 5:05 pm

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We can do better than this

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Film god Ken Burns has a really cool project that he recently put together to memorialize the Gettysburg Address on its 150th anniversary. “Learn the Address” features recitations of the speech from various public figures, from former President Bill Clinton to country pop star Taylor Swift. As we know from history class, the famous speech was President Lincoln’s eloquent explanation of why the Civil War was more than just a struggle for the unity of the country–that it was a battle for the dignity of all the country’s inhabitants.

But the video compilations are decidedly low-tech. At first I liked the simplistic approach. But the more I watch the videos I can’t help but thinking how cool it would be to overlay multiple voices at the same time. With more complicated editing, the compilations could show the wide array of participants without violating the time constraints of the short address.

Written by jarodkeith

November 24, 2013 at 9:57 pm

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Obamacare rollout is bad enough, even without Fox News’s lies

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It’s no secret that Obamacare has had some problems. While much of the media attention surrounding the rollout of the state healthcare exchanges has focused on the failures of the flagship reform website healthcare.gov, stories abound about the how the law will negatively affect individuals and businesses who may now have to purchase insurance or change their current plans. Conservative media have been using these anecdotes to support the larger narrative that healthcare reform is bad for the economy, which may or may not be true. But the infuriating thing about some of the conservative media reports is their blatant and gratuitous inaccuracies.

Fox_News_Channel.svgWriting for Salon, liberal politico Eric Stern has taken the broadcast behemoth to task in two separate articles, researching the plight of the guests on two different Fox News segments who claimed the law would have negative effects on their lives. In the first article, Stern calls up all three couples featured on “Hannity,” each of whom had an Obamacare “horror story.” I won’t describe their individual stories here, but I can safely summarize that the couples’ “problems” all stemmed from either their misunderstanding of the law or their refusal to comply with it. With just basic questioning from producers, Fox could have avoided the embarrassment

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Written by jarodkeith

November 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized