prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for October, 2008

Free Speech or Hate Crime?

Posted by prof e on October 29, 2008

Trick or Treaters in West Hollywood, CA may be shocked to find an effigy of Sarah Palin part of the seasonal decorations at the home of Chad Michael Morrisette. A likeness of John McCain is displayed in the chimney surrounded by flames. While some say that it is simply a visual prank, others are calling it a hate crime that should be removed. National media and the blogosphere have begun to take note and according to the LA Times, MSNBC television host Keith Olbermann on Monday gave his “worst person in the world” award to Morrisette.  “This is not the spirit of Halloween, sir,” Olbermann said. “It is the spirit of violence.”

The LA Times story goes on to report on local law enforcement’s reaction. “The sheriff made this clear: This is a country that has freedom of speech, and we protect that right even when we think it’s idiotic and stupid and in bad taste,” said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department. “If it is nonviolent and doesn’t cause any problems, then they have the right to do it.”

Some have questioned whether a double standard is at work for those who argue that this is simply a free speech issue. To emphasize their point, they question the national response had the effigy been of Obama instead of Palin.

The website includes an online poll asking readers to weigh in on whether the display should be removed. As of Oct 29, respondents to the poll voted 82% in favor of removal of the display. What do you think?


Posted in 1st amendment, politics, regulation | 26 Comments »

Where’s my paper?

Posted by prof e on October 15, 2008

A student came by my office the other day to talk about the CSU Today newspaper. He wasn’t too happy that the newspaper was missing, in his opinion, a key ingredient…namely paper. If you’re new to campus you should know that the newspaper published by the Mass Communication department has evolved over the years from a weekly newspaper (printed on real paper) to an online paper that is updated on a more timely basis. In addition to the online news website, the department publishes a supplemental quarterly magazine (on glossy paper) in which feature stories are published.

This decision was made in response to two trends…1) increasing costs associated with printing and delivery of a traditional paper-based product, and 2), the movement by mainstream newspapers away from paper and towards electronic delivery. There will always be people who want to hold a “real” paper in their hands as they have their coffee each morning…but more and more that model is failing the sustainability test. Ink squirted on dead trees is a legacy medium that has greater environmental costs, greater production costs, a diminishing economic structure, and an aging user base. In short, the paper is dying.

Many of us who grew up reading a “paper” are sad to see this era come to an end…but the writing is on the wall, or perhaps I should say, the writing is on the screen.

Posted in journalism, media industry, new media | 18 Comments »

Movies by and about Michael Moore

Posted by prof e on October 5, 2008

There’s a new film out by Michael Moore (Roger & Me, Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko) but you won’t find it in theaters. In an attempt to allow as many people as possible access to the film, Moore is making the film available as a computer download at

The documentary chronicles Moore’s sixty-city tour in 2004 to get out the youth vote for John Kerry. In large stadium rallies, Moore challenges those in attendance to go to the polls. To help sweeten the deal, Moore is seen handing out Raman noodles and clean underwear to those who take his pledge to vote. Of course the outcome of the 2004 race turns this film into a review of what went wrong for Moore and his campaign. One suspects that the release of Slacker Uprising now is another attempt to motivate the college crowd to get out the vote….this time for Obama.

The documentary also chronicles Moore’s celebrity pals who show up to lend support. Eddie Vedder, Joan Baez, Viggo Mortensen, and Rosanne Barr are just some of the celebs who adoringly introduce Moore to the auditorium crowds. Film critics have been accusing Moore of being self-indulgent since Roger & Me premiered nearly 20 years ago…and this film will fan those flames again.

If you want to see a totally different perspective on Moore you can check out David Zucker’s comedy spoof called An American Carol, out in theaters now. This parody pokes fun at a character clearly modeled after Moore who is trying to abolish the Fourth of July holiday. While conservatives rail against Moore’s “liberal bias”, liberal critics accuse An American Carol of being “right-wing propaganda”.

What do you think?

Slacker Uprising trailer at

An American Carol trailer at YouTube

Posted in film, new media | 13 Comments »