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Archive for December, 2015

Sleepless in Austin

Posted by prof e on December 27, 2015

SW-THE-FORCE-AWAKENSLast week the Alamo Draft House, a theater in Austin, TX, hosted a special screening of the Star Wars movies. Each of the six episodes were screened, followed by the new film, The Force Awakens, on repeat until all but one viewer succumbed to sleep. That final nod happened after Jim Braden had watched the first six episodes, and nine viewings of episode 7; nearly 48 hours of intergalactic shenanigans. According to the Washington Post, the winner won Star Wars cards and artwork, seven years of free tickets and a theater seat named in his honor.

The Hollywood Reporter corresponded with Braden after his victory about what he described as “a grueling ordeal, even though I loved the movie.” You can read about his impressive achievement here. Here’s an excerpt:

You said you’ve watched all the earlier films multiple times, and now you’ve seen the newest installment nine times in one sitting. Is that enough? Can you imagine ever wanting to see it again?

I left the marathon convinced I’d never be able to watch it again. I had been Clockwork Orange‘d. I went home and slept for a few hours — my first sleep in over 50 hours — and dreamed, or hallucinated, about the movie the entire time. I woke up and immediately felt the urge to watch the movie again.

I think it has a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome-like hold on me now. I’ve come to love my tormentor. My parents are coming into town for Christmas, and I’ve already gotten us tickets to see the movie while they’re here. And I can’t wait to see it again. I’m a sick, sick man.


Posted in film | 1 Comment »

Journalists Behaving Badly

Posted by prof e on December 5, 2015

A tweet by Will Federman, an Audience Engagement Editor at Fortune Magazine, captured the essence of a bizarre incident that took place yesterday at the home of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, suspected of the recent mass shooting in San Bernardino, CA.


The tweet was a response to live news coverage from inside the home of the accused couple, where reporters from MSNBC, CNN, the LA Times, and other new organizations, were combing through the house and the occupants’ personal belongings. Social media erupted as the live coverage of the “home invasion” played out on the screen. According to reports, the landlord (the accused were renting) used a pry bar to gain access to the home.

For more coverage of the “coverage”, NPR has photos and commentary.

The fact that police and FBI agents apparently stood by as journalists entered and began sifting through personal belongings does not excuse their behavior.

Problems, of course, include: the invasion of privacy of people associated with the accused, the voyeuristic nature of the coverage, the inability to make editorial decisions on the fly when broadcasting live, and possible contamination of a crime scene. Journalists, and other members of the public, are typically kept out of crime scenes until after the police and investigators have done their work. In this case the police realized too late what was going on and failed to close down the scene until after the integrity of the home was compromised.

The lesson for students attending j[ournalism] school is that reporters should know their ethical and legal rights when covering criminal news, and should not allow a mob mentality to overtake them when doing their job. I’m sure that some of the journalists present knew that they were acting in a way that was unprofessional and potentially illegal, but the fact that others were doing it…potentially “scooping” them in the process…was enough to convince them to join in. Of course there may have been a few who were confused by the apparently lack of direction from those in authority. However, ignorance is not a defense and access to private property should always follow appropriate legal procedures.

So there you go j-school students…you don’t have to wait until next fall to learn this lesson.

  • know the law
  • don’t be swayed by the mob mentality
  • question authority…even if the authority figures in question appear to be aiding rather than obstructing your efforts to get the scoop

Posted in ethics, journalism | 3 Comments »