Monday, August 19, 2013

The Media Bias On On The Media

This NPR story on possible bias in an NPR story sums up my views of mass media bias really well. I remember hearing the story over a year ago, about how the state of South Dakota is "kidnapping" Native American children through their foster children programs in order to collect federal money, and being annoyed. Not that the bias was overt, but just the typical journalistic biases that attributes human intentions to the workings of bureaucracies (in this case attributing evil intentions to republican bureaucracies), and the human need to connect various facts with narrative based reasoning (i.e. needing to fit facts together into a story even if no story exists). These biases are pervasive and thus I was incredulous when Ira Glass and On the Media were trying to argue a couples years ago that NPR was unbiased, but ultimately agreed with their take, that bias exists but it is subtle, based on human psychology, the institutional makeup, mostly unintended and not overt (On the Media's co-host has a nice comic book I just finished reading that summarizes all of this). Anyway, what I do appreciate, is that it is NPR itself that owns up to these biases (at least partially and over a year later), and thus I still tend to trust the system as a whole.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

My network TV debut

My network TV debut. (I never did find the footage from my BBC appearance). They happened to film at the coffee shop that I work at. I'm on for about half a second. I'm also shocked that people I know still watch network news and saw me on it. For the record, this is one of those awful correlational studies that seem mostly useless.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Art of Ingratiating

NPR's on the media has a recent piece on the debate about unpaid internships suing their employers for wages. For me, the debate is not very interesting. My basic view is that interns should be paid what the market will bear, and if there are people willing to work for free, forcing employers to pay will just reduce the number of positions and increase unemployment.  (with all the usual caveats from the minimum wage debate).

But the more interesting line was their interview with one intern who says the key skill in an internship is "this process of figuring out how to sort of ingratiate yourself with the people with whom you are doing the internship, without being really annoying. That's a fine tightrope to walk."

Which is an important skill that is too rarely discussed or acknowledged. Something I have been working to perfect ever since I was 10 and teachers told me to stop raising my hand in class, to today, when its more about selling my research to the big names in my field without being annoying about it. I see people do both poorly all the time, whether its the pestering assistant professors crowding around an editor at a conference, to the students in class that probably raise their hand more often than they should.