Concluding Comments

Thank you all for a wonderful semester.  I want to remind you (if you haven’t yet) to finish revising your fine OpEds.  Once you do so, I will be posting final grades on our site (on the gradebook link).  Final Grades will be posted on CUNY First by Friday, May 27.

I want to leave you with an important story about the death of the heroic Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Akleh represented the best of what great journalists attempt to do (speak truth to power).  Her story also, yet again, reminds us of the dangers inherent in reporting “hard facts” and real news.

For a good laugh (in the midst of so much sadness in the world), please also view this clip from the classic film (“Network”) — which Enson astutely commented on.

Have a wonderful summer break. 

For questions, please email me at mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu

The “New Journalism” and Final Assignment(s)

Journalism Students,

We are nearing the end of the semester and I want to thank you for your hard work and strong participation this semester. I will be reviewing your OpEds and posts this week and will get comments to all of you shortly.

In the meantime, let’s move forward with our on-going media forays.

To begin, I want to highlight a speech President Biden recently gave at the White House Correspondents’ annual Dinner.  President Trump refused to attend this annual event with Washington reporters during his time in office in part because he couldn’t handle ANY kind of criticism (or perceived disloyalty) and also because he does not value a free press, as he has openly stated.  During the dinner, Biden makes some great jokes at Trump’s expense but ends with a powerful statement of the importance of a free press in America and the world.

Over the last two weeks of the semester, I ask that you think (and read) about the bold practitioners of journalism throughout American history and today.  One of these is the recently passed Joan Didion. Didion was a strong feminist icon and skilled journalist known, since the 1960s, for her feature writing in a style dubbed the “New Journalism.” This style of writing combined journalistic research with the techniques of fiction writing in the reporting of stories about real-life events.

Here is a more formal definition of this genre:

“As in traditional investigative reporting, writers immersed themselves in their subjects, at times spending months in the field gathering facts through research, interviews, and observation. Their finished works were very different, however, from the feature stories typically published in newspapers and magazines of the time. Instead of employing traditional journalistic story structures and an institutional voice, they constructed well-developed characters, sustained dialogue, vivid scenes, and strong plotlines marked with dramatic tension. They also wrote in voices that were distinctly their own.”

For a sense of Didion’s writing style, read an early magazine article entitled

“On Self-Respect” (Vogue 1961)

Please also view a new documentary on her work and life:

“The Center Will Not Hold”

——————————————————————————————————————-

No post is due for this week, but, by Tues.. May 17th, I ask that you watch a film on the media (such as the one on Didion) and connect what you learned to some key ideas we’ve covered in class. You can consider your final post as your Final Exam. I look forward to hearing from you on this.

Here are your film choices (watch at least one):

  1. The recent film satire Don’t Look Up (on Netflix). (The film is a great critique of the media in all its forms and, in my view, VERY funny).  

2. The classic film Network (another media comedy with a serious lesson) . 

3. The Dissident (a dark but important film on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Government).

4. “The Center Will Not Hold”  (on Joan Didion)

5. Documentary on Putin critic Vladimir Nalvany

Here is a film trailer.

Here is help on where to watch the documentary.

Your final assignment (and post) will be to connect one of these films or documentaries to key ideas we’ve covered in class. You can consider your final post as your Final Exam.

I look forward to hearing from you (Post Due Date: Tues., May 17)

Week 11: Mobile and Social Media Journalism

Hi Students,

I hope you all had a restful Spring Break.

For your pleasure, please review some of the fantastic interviews you all did of your fellow students: HERE It’s clear that there is enormous talent amongst you all as journalists and highly successful City Tech students.

We start this week’s lesson with some big news. Elon Musk has purchased Twitter for a mere 44 billion dollars. What this means for first amendment issues, Twitter users, and Donald Trump remains to be seen.

Also in the news is the endless blood-spilling in Ukraine and the arrest of more journalists in Russia. President Zelensky, however, is continuing to make good use of social media to keep the world apprised of the situation and to win support and much needed help to his side.

This week I want to focus on the importance of social media for all working journalists today. To this end, please read Chapter One (pages 1-22) from Professor Anthony Adornato’s book  Mobile and Social Media Journalism

If you have the time, I also am asking that you watch this superb documentary on Russian dissident Alexei Nalvany, who put social media to great use to expose Putin’s corruption and evilness. For his courage to speak truth to power, he was poisoned by Putin and is now lingering in jail in Siberia for at least another decade (or until the Russian people rise up — which let us hope they do).

Here is a film trailer.

Here is help on where to watch the documentary.

Let me know your thoughts on this documentary, Elon Musk, or your reading. Post your comment by Wednesday, May 4th.

Please also continue to work on your OpEds.

I will ask that you complete a draft of the assignment by Wednesday, May 4th.

Please Upload Your Draft HERE (or email it to me at mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu)

Week 10 Work on OpEd Assignment (Draft Due: Mon., May 2)

Hi Students,

Keep posting your topic ideas for your Op Ed this week.

Here is the assignment: Assignment #2

I will ask that you complete a draft of the assignment by Monday, May 2nd.

Please Upload Your Draft HERE (or email it to me at mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu)

For this week, I want you to watch a short Op Doc by my student last semester

who focused on the topic of Critical Race Theory:

“Critical Race Theory: Pass it On” 

Let me know if you’re interested in doing a video or podcast of your OpEd and I can advise.

Here (again) are some great samples to read/watch:

  1. An excellent OpEd from the New Yorker asking to increase funding for CUNY (which includes an interview with a City Tech Student): CUNY Article

2. An excellent selection of Op Docs from the New York Times (a good source for thinking about a good topic and how to present an OpEd in video form):

Video Op Ed section.

The opening Op Doc (on re-entering the post-pandemic world) is extremely thought-provoking. I highly recommend viewing it.

NEXT WEEK IS SPRING BREAK. If you want to get a head-start on our next assignments, here is the remaining class schedule.

Week 11 Mobile and Social Media Journalism

Read Chapter One from Anthony Adornato’s Mobile and Social Media Journalism

 Draft of Op Ed Assignment (Assignment #2) Due

Week 12  The Art of Feature Writing

View: “The Center Will Not Hold” (Documentary on Joan Didion)

Read:  Didion’s “On Self-Respect” (1961)

Week 13 Watch and Post a Response to a Film relating to the Media

Film Choices (I’ve linked trailers to help you decide):

  1. The recent film satire (a great critique of the media in all its forms):  Don’t Look Up on Netflix.

2. The classic, humorous film Network 

3. The difficult film The Dissident (on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Government).

Week 14 The Art of the Documentary                                                                                    

Watch Or Szyflingier and Jonathan Baez, “The SoHo Memory Project” (2020)

Read Kyle Spencer, “The Memory-Keeper of SoHo” (2015)

Week 15  Course Wrap-up. 

Week 9: The OpEd Assignment (Post your Topic by Mon., April 17)

Hi Students,          

I want to start with a message from Professor Lucas Kwong who is organizing an important event at City Tech on Anti-Asian Violence.  In your posts from last week, a few of you mentioned how “racial stereotypes” get perpetuated in the media contributing to some horrific acts of prejudice. This topic, which Lewis Raven addresses, demands deep consideration.  

Dear Asian faculty, staff, and students at City Tech,
Hope you are well and staying safe. As you may know, I’m the editor for City Tech Writer, the journal of outstanding writing at City Tech. I wanted to follow up with the call for Asian faculty and students to submit audio, video, and/or written text from faculty, staff, AND students who would like to discuss their experiences during the pandemic. I’ve created an ad previewing what the project would look/feel like here, featuring a powerful narration from a student: https://youtu.be/gv_xzpzIg1Q
Narrating our experiences can be a powerful way to process trauma from hate-related incidents, or simply to just inform the broader public/administration about the added stresses that have attended the rise in violence against AAPI. Contributions will be compiled into a short documentary that will be included in this year’s issue of CTW. The documentary will be presented as part of a virtual event in early May, after the issue’s publication, linked to AAPI Heritage Month.
Those submitting have the option of either identifying yourself or remaining anonymous in the video. You can see further guidelines + submit here: https://forms.gle/yWsyHnebf1pyNFj46

I know everyone’s doing a LOT, so please only participate if you have the time and want to! If you are interested, it would be great if you could provide your testimony by April 10 .

Thank you for speaking up about an issue that affects us all.

Best,

Prof. Lucas Kwong

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This week I want to begin by calling your attention to the power of a single photograph to celebrate our nation’s multiculturalism and the rich, vast backgrounds of its citizens. 

Leila Jackson, right, on the first day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for her mother, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, center.
Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and her daughter (at her confirmation hearing)

This photograph by Sarahbeth Maney (which has gone viral on social media) captures the grace of Judge Jackson and her importance as a role model to her beautiful daughter and all young ladies around the world who aspire to greatness in their chosen fields.  Maney has her own Instagram account and is dedicated to using photography to capture the lives and richness of contemporary African American culture.

Before introducing this week’s media topic and assignment, I want to also briefly return to last week’s discussion on “Objectivity in the News.”  As many of you pointed out in response to Lewis Wallace, there’s a danger when reporters are not allowed to speak out freely and when news becomes so “neutral” it fails to “check” fake and/or inflammatory stories in their tracks. At the same time, as Nasrine and Taliyah astutely noted, “objective reporting” still has an important value to insure that what gets reported is accurate and fair-minded (i.e. “unbiased.”) Please read a fine article on this topic shared by Taliyah (“The Greatest Threat to American Journalism: The Loss of Neutral Reporting”)

Getting to hear the opinions of both sides of an issue is always important; something we rarely get in the media today.  (In Latin, we get the phrase, audi alteram partem, i.e. “hearing from all sides”—good advice for all consumers and producers of media).

For your next formal assignment (Unit #2), I hope to hear your thoughts on a topic that is important to you.  I want you to enter a debate, consider the varying sides, and make a cogent argument in an Opinion Piece (OpEd).  Your OpEd can be in written form but you may also consider presenting it as a podcast or video (which I’ll talk about in more detail next week). 

Here is the assignment. 

OpEdAssignment

POST ASSIGNMENT: By Mon., April 17, I want you to come up with a topic for your OpEd and begin researching an article or two to support your points.

Possible Topics Relating to Issues in the News Right Now

The big story last week was Will Smith “slapping” Chris Rock at the Oscars (Did Will Smith really just “slap” Mr. Rock as the media has been claiming).  Who was at fault?  Is “joking” fully protected under the First Amendment?  What should be the consequences?  How do you feel about the media response to this incident.  Many have expressed their views on this.  What is yours? 

Your OpEd could be about what America should do about Ukraine, and related matters to Russia’s horrid invasion. Now that we are able to see the atrocities Russian soldiers have been committing in the towns they took over, should Putin be charged with war crimes?  Should more action be taken? How do we counter the continued “fake news” that comes out of Russia?    

Do you think unvaccinated athletes should suddenly be allowed to play for the Brooklyn Nets and New York Mets?  Didn’t you have to get your vaccination?  Why the free pass?  There are lots of potential topics relating to the Pandemic you might want to consider.

As you think about your own topic, keep in mind the inspiring words of Lewis Wallace:  “I propose that we need to become more shameless, more raw, more honest with ourselves and our audiences about who we are, and what we are in this for.”

Lastly, please review these sample Op Eds (and Op Docs):

Here is an excellent OpEd from the New Yorker asking to increase funding for CUNY (which includes an interview with a City Tech Student): CUNY Article

Here is an excellent selection of Op Docs from the New York Times (a good source for thinking about a good topic and how to present an OpEd in video form):

 Video Op Ed section.

The opening Op Doc (on re-entering the post-pandemic world) is extremely thought-provoking. I highly recommend viewing it.

POST YOUR TOPIC BY WED., APRIL 13.

Also consider attending office hours to run by topic ideas with me (Tuesdays, 4-5 pm)

Week 8: “Objectivity and the News”

Thank you students for following the continuing Ukraine Invasion news story and relating it to important media concepts.  Let’s see how long the terrors of Ukraine stay on the “front pages” of the media – as viewers get complacent and just want to move on.  The war, unfortunately, is just getting really really horrific and we need sustained news coverage now more than ever. 

Another important story that is occurring on Live TV is the nomination process of potential Supreme Court Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson.  If confirmed, she will be the first female African American Justice, the first with a background as a Federal Public Defender, and the first with a background in Criminal Defense. In other words, she understands first hand about the injustices of the current criminal justice system and its embedded racism.  As the world can now find out for itself (live on CNN!), she is a remarkable and talented jurist.  At the same time, we see how polarized the nation is in the questioning of her by partisan Senators as well as how her nomination process is being covered in different outlets from MSNBC (on the left) to FOX news (on the right). 

Side Note: The Judiciary (Supreme Court) is one of the three important “checks” in our government (along with the Executive and Legislative Branches). These are also referred to as “Estates.” Journalism is often referred to as the “Fourth Estate” for the important role it plays in the “checks and balances” system to keep our government honest, i.e. “in check.”

While Supreme Court Justices are in the business of making their opinions known on cases before them, it’s interesting that they cannot come across as holding strong “political” views in the nomination process.  This question of objectivity vs. being allowed to freely express one’s opinion in journalism is our next lesson (and preparation for your next formal assignment).

First, let me share what you have said about important media lessons over the last two weeks:

SOCIAL MEDIA AND FAKE NEWS

The article Javier chose discusses the rise of fake news in social media sources. “In 2019, 8 percent of news sources on social media were dubious. In 2020, that number more than doubled to 17 percent.” Javier writes how “fake news on social media is making political polarization worse in America, and it’s often the case that people no longer agree on even basic facts.” He adds that because news outlets are constantly fighting for clicks, “social media algorithms are often biased toward outrage — they push content that people have an emotional reaction to and are likely to engage with.” This gives an added incentive for news outlets to try to get people upset, often by information that is just made up.

Jenrry also made important comments about how social media not only distributes “fake news” – the news on it is often racist.  “For example, back in 2020 when Covid-19 just started, President Donald Trump made racist comments stating that the Chinese people were the reason for the pandemic. As a result, others started hating and bashing the Chinese people.”

Javier writes of an interesting news story called “Why Ukraine War Misinformation is so Hard to Police”. The article mentions the unique coverage that this war is getting: “a real-time stream of information on social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.” While this helps to drive home how serious the situation is on the ground (as we can see first-hand accounts happening almost live), it also opens the door for severe misinformation, where “clips from video games and scenes from old wars presented as views from Ukraine’s front lines have gone viral alongside legitimate images.” Javier adds that Between false reports of the Poland border being closed and the direct targeting of journalists, misinformation is seriously impacting lives caught in the crossfire of the confrontation.  

On Media Disinformation, Michael Calixto writes “Funny enough, the news sources I follow on YouTube are ABC News, Al Jazeera English, CBS News, CNN, FOX 5, PIX11, The New York Times, and VICE News. How about other people? Apparently, some people only get one news source they can trust. Vox reporter Joss Fong found 40% of republicans only trust Fox News in her report. (Note: The Vox Media company is also guilty of spreading false information as this video shows)” Citing the article Javier also discusses, Michael explains how easy it is to manipulate videos and even make President Zelenksky say “Surrender.”

According to Dominique, The Guardian wrote an article on the topic of TikTok reporting fake news to accounts on the conflict and war between Russia and Ukraine. TikTok is accused of showing falsehoods of information across its social media app. One example is that of the “Ghost of Kyiv” – the shooting down of Russian jets which was actually footage taken from a video game, while real videos from the war were determined to be fake by pro-Russian accounts.

Brandan too covered some interesting topics of Fake News in a Time of War : The article “Social Media In Time Of War: How Jokes And Memes Are Ruling The Information Warfare” speaks on how Gen Z Americans have created humorous memes out of the Ukrainian War. The Ukranians themselves have an incredible (and very funny) sense of dark humor but not all Ukranians were pleased by what they were seeing on social media. One Ukrainian says that:  “seeing such content made and them laughing at the whole situation is making me sad” He also states that “It’s not a “coping mechanism” for people who are living with fear, who lost their beloved ones, who were forced to abandon their hometowns.” As Brandan comments: “On Social Media people are allowed to post mostly anything and this leaves room for memes like this that are very insensitive to the people who are actually losing their lives. It can also stir up a lot of controversy as the people of Ukraine could see these memes and begin to hate us Americans because of the fact that they are in literal war and we are over here making fun of them.” 

IS JOURNALISM DOING ITS JOB?

Not really, says Ines. In the “The Elements of Journalism” we read that journalism’s “first obligation is to the truth” and “its first loyalty is to citizens.” But, according to Ines, “there are many issues not mentioned in the news and media. An example of this are untold stories that the Black Lives Matter movement has had to tell. Black people are being killed and mistreated on a regular basis, but we don’t see all the big media platforms speaking about it.”

For her part, Schear comments that journalists in Western media outlets all too often “keep the truth hidden while revealing bits of information it believes to be beneficial for them. For example, we have the ongoing attacks on Gaza. The media isn’t truthful enough to discuss what’s happening to the innocent lives in Palestine; it downplays the violence that’s being done to the Palestinians. It makes the Israeli’s sound as if they are the ones going through dismay.”  Schear’s points makes me think about how MUCH attention Ukraine is getting – when other acts of international violence do not get so much.

One of Arbi’s many points is that media outlets are not transparent with the public and tend to polarize situations and events instead of offering fair, unbiased coverage. Not only do news outlets fail to report on the corruption of so many of our elected representatives, when they do cover political issues is only from a single perspective.  As Arbi writes, “The media is so polarized these days and is divided into two major camps conservative and liberal (examples of that include Fox News and CNN) Reporting only one side of a story from a very politicized perspective is one “of the reasons why people lose trust in the media and don’t know what is true and what is false. I think a great example of this is the current, highly polarized coverage of the Ketanji Jackson Brown Supreme Court Nomination process.

Kimberly, for her part, points to an important story from The New York Times that shows how some journalists ARE doing their job well: “In “They Died by a Bridge in Ukraine. This Is Their Story” Andrew E. Kramer tells the sad destiny of a Ukrainian family that was trying to escape war but didn’t make it–the sad reality of so many Ukrainian families… This story serves as an example of the power, and influence that the press has in informing citizens, in showing a reliable and fair story. This news story also serves as an example of the freedom that the press has, at least in this country, to showcase and cover news stories about events that are currently happening (which couldn’t happen in Russia).”

Ling Mei, in addition to a fascinating discussion of how a person who was hurt by a dog used social media to share her story, also offered a news article about the current state of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, whose residents have refused to give in to Russia’s demand to surrender. As she writes, “this news was covered well” and is very moving.

Alvaro chose to talk about the article  “I’m ready for negotiations’ with Putin, but if they fail, it could mean a third World War“. It talks about how Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, is hoping to have direct talks with Vladimir Putin in order to possibly end the terror that’s been going on for the past several weeks in Ukraine. The article itself is an example of press freedom. “At the end of the day, Zelensky has every right to say what he wants to say to the American press. At the same time, it’s important to note that articles are available to everyone in the free world. Because technology is everywhere, we can stay informed about the Ukraine situation anytime, anywhere.”

JOURNALISM CRACKDOWNS IN RUSSIA AND ELSEWHERE

As a class, we have discussed the importance of a free press but Nasrine makes clear that authoritarian regimes such as Russia clamp down on press freedoms as much as they can.  She cites an article from CNBC by  Dan Mangan called, “New York Times Pulling Journalist from Russia Over Censorship Law Passed After Ukraine Invasion”. Mangan writes about how “the Times began removing their journalists from Russia in response to the Russian president Vladimir Putin who has signed a law that threatens any journalist for covering the Ukraine invasion with up to 15 years in prison if they used the words “war” and “invasion” in their articles to describe what is happening in Ukraine. The law defines any news coverage that says this is a war and invasion as “false information” which is why they have created this law in the first place.”  This is certainly a twist on “Fake News” when real journalism becomes fake and “fake news” becomes truth.

Nasrine also points out that it’s not just Putin that’s guilty of spreading “disinformation.” Like Schear, she writes that while all the world’s eyes are glued on the horrors in Ukraine, where were/are these eyes when there are “constant attacks on what is left of the Palestinian region”??? “I have personally witnessed these attacks on innocent people when I have visited Palestine and have family members who are and continue to be impacted by Israel’s illegal occupation. Seeing how much of the media downplays what really occurs in Palestine saddens me and Putin’s law reminded me exactly of this.” Given such imbalance in media coverage, Nasrine makes the important observation: “it’s up to the public to make the final verdict from what is false and what is the truth.”

Elma also points an interesting article on these issues. “In  “News about the conflict in Ukraine has been different”, former war journalist Janine Zacharia discusses what sets the coverage of the war in Ukraine apart, including the staggering humanitarian crisis unfolding and the possibility that it could escalate into a larger confrontation with a nuclear-armed Russia. Zacharia links the increased coverage to the relatively easy access that reporters have to Ukraine compared to other countries, talks about the important role independent, local media play during wartime, and recounts her personal experiences with the dangers of war reporting. Journalists could easily get into position to cover Ukraine, unlike in 2012 when Anthony Shadid, the preeminent Middle East reporter of our time, died of a fatal asthma attack while trying to leave a covert reporting trip to Syria because reporters weren’t granted visas.

Getting fair coverage of an event is challenging elsewhere in the Middle East. Orlando cites an interesting article which focuses on Jodie Ginsberg who runs an organization out of London that helps protects journalists across the globe that face dangers and harassment.  One example is of a journalist named Mr. Rajab from Bahrain, who was sent to jail after expressing “anti-government dissent on Twitter”.  

In reference to the article on the Russian journalist protesting Fake News out of Moscow, Arbi writes how “we as Americans aren’t aware of how Russians just don’t know what freedom of speech and democracy really are and I can say that because my dad was raised in a formerly Soviet communist country where such freedom did not exist.” It’s important to keep in mind, that with all of our own issues with media coverage, let’s always keep in mind that Americans are “ not at the same point where we have our federal government running the news and controlling everything and silencing those that criticize and speak the truth.” There have been reporters in Russia that have spoken against the government’s action but again consequences are high, and Putin and his companions make sure to get rid of opposing voices as they don’t know, nor do they recognize freedom of speech and democracy. There used to be a saying about the Soviet Union leaders during the cold era which said that the only thing the Soviet leaders did well was print propaganda in newspapers and deliver them to the people. A sad reality which is still true today.  

Taliyah chose to write about an article from The Washington Post called ”In Putin’s Russia, Fake News Now Means Real News” This article talks about how Rus.sia is making it a crime to post what they feel is fake news about the country’s military, The reason they are doing this is that Putin is covering up the real news and having people publish fake news. Putin is trying to take away people’s freedom to speak their minds and take away the right for them to express how they feel about what is going on within their country. The article also explains how the United States made fake news popular and how Trump came along and changed the meaning of fake news to hide the truth of what was going on.” Taliyah closes her post with a truth, I wholeheartedly support:  “We as the United States should have kicked Trump out and threw him in jail when we first found out about the wrongs he did. There is so much our country could have done to be an example to other countries but we didn’t.”

In a similar vein, Sherica Mae discusses “Russia’s outlaws spreading ‘fake news’ about the Russian military with fines and prison” by Al Tompkins. This article discusses how some Russian media outlets, including Dozhd, The Village, and Znak.com, have ceased operations as a result of the new restrictions. According to Tass, a Russian news agency, a new law known as Article 207.3 was recently approved and took effect, declaring that any public dissemination of intentionally false information about the use of the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces would result in three years in prison or a fine of up to 1.5 million rubles.

Chelsie too talks on this topic in her discussion of “Russia fights back in information war with jail warning”  As she writes, “The measures that a country would take to safeguard their government and military forces is brought to light at the expense of the West putting up sanctions so that Russia would potentially put a halt to the invasion. So many questions come to mind. What Russian officials are doing here, as discussed in the article, is stripping their citizens of reliable and accurate information, essentially, eradicating their rights, in order to safeguard the “false” information that is spread about their armed forces.”

Mackenzie eloquently adds to this discussion with a focus on “Truth Is Another Front in Putin’s War.” As she writes, “public perception, and the morale of citizens are a huge part of any war that is fought on any part of the Earth. No matter what side of the war you are on, a person’s beliefs are strong and firm. Times of war are the times when people feel most vulnerable, and thus, less likely to know what to believe. Such fears are taken advantage of. In war, propaganda has also historically and currently been used to change the narrative to fit either side’s objective. The article brings out how Putin has been using propaganda and lies to keep people from protesting the war and invasion – or even describing it as such. He uses lies, and fear of what could happen if they speak of the truth to target those who don’t buy the propaganda. It is interesting how this article also shows how a picture is, indeed, worth a thousand words – but only those words you are led to see. By showing a picture of a woman in front of ruins in Mariupol we see a victim of an atrocity, further proof of the horror that is going on in Ukraine. In Russia, however, posts were removed, with posts with the picture and the word “fake” stamped over it, the narrative being told that the woman faked her injuries. All of this further proves how, while this war is extremely violent and gruesome, it is not just one of weapons, but one of beliefs, and lies as well. We look to the news as a way to know what is going on in the world – we just hope we are looking to the right, most truthful sources.”

Cynthia too talks of Putin’s disinformation campaign in “Truth is another front in Putin’s War” She makes a particularly striking point: “the article explains how disinformation in wartime is as old as war itself, but today war unfolds in the age of social media and digital diplomacy. What is also scary is that when we remember from 1945 to 1989, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States where it started by a little fire and became a big problem. Let’s just hope that this time “we have more fear than harm”. Well said!!!  Hopefully, quality reporting can keep us all from the brink of WWIII.

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THIS WEEK’S TOPIC AND ASSIGNMENT(S)

“Objectivity and the News”

Given the rise of big media and social media, your opinions–and a heightened critical media literacy–matter now more than ever.

For this week, I ask you to read the views of another important journalist. In the coming weeks, I will want to hear more of what’s on your mind, specifically, in an Op-Ed that you write on an issue that matters greatly to you.

OpEdAssignment

The OpEd, which stands for “opposite the editorial page,” is a short piece of writing typically published by a newspaper, which expresses the opinion of an author not affiliated with the publication’s editorial board. This genre was invented by the New York Times in 1970 and has been a mainstay of most newspapers ever since.   Interestingly, just this year, the Times announced it would now call opinion pieces “Guest Essays” (largely due to the fact that papers are now mostly on-line – i.e. not “opposite” another piece of writing on paper).

The New York Times also now has a Video Op Ed section.

The separation of opinion from the news is also part of the “professionalization” of the news that the New York Times also helped develop.  Since the early 1900s, professional reporters have been asked to be “neutral” and “unbiased” when covering stories.  Today, many in the mainstream media (PBS, NBC News, CNN, etc.) prize neutrality over virtually all other values. Being “neutral” means giving equal credence, focus, and criticism for all sides of an argument, without passing judgment as to the validity of the argument. The “neutral” reporter simply reports what the different sides of a debate assert but does not take a position.  

In 2019, Lewis Raven Wallace (in his book The View From Somewhere ) was one of the first reporters to criticize what he calls “the myth of journalistic objectivity.” To learn why, read his Op-Ed “Objectivity is Dead, and I’m Okay With It”

POST ASSIGNMENT: In a paragraph, respond to one point Wallace makes in his writing that you found interesting and important. Alternately, give a current example that speaks to the danger of journalists being too neutral or far too biased. Post due: Wed. March 30.

Be sure also to email me your completed Student Profile Assignment (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu).

Be sure to also check on your Mid-Term Grades on the Gradebook link (to the right).

Lastly, if you have time, please consider attending the Literary Arts Festival this Thursday at 4:30 on Zoom. I will give extra credit for those that do. The Guest Speaker is a powerful Native American Poet who will be reading from her work.

City Tech’s 41st Annual Literary Arts Festival featuring award-winning poet Layli Long Soldier will be held this Thursday, March 24th  at 4:30 pm on Zoom! 

Here is a link to the poet’s biography and some poems.

Free & Open to all! 

Register Here

For more information, see: https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/literaryartsfestival/

Weeks 6-7: Following the Russian Invasion of Ukraine: A Few Additional Media Lessons to Explore

Fabulous work on your profiles, students. I look forward to sharing them with the entire class soon.  First, please edit them based on my suggestions (you can simply “accept” many of them on google docs)  A few of you, however, might need to go back to your partner to bring out some richer, more detailed responses. Some of you also need to ask a few more probing questions.  Again, please review the sample I provided, or feel free to take a peek at another student’s profile on the google drive.

Googledocs dropboxHERE

Sample Student Interview 

WHEN YOU HAVE EDITED YOUR STUDENT PROFILE, PLEASE EMAIL THEM DIRECTLY TO ME AT (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu)

As I mentioned in my last post, I will be designing lessons to connect to media issues relating to the Russia invasion of Ukraine (which I’ve asked you to follow in the New York Times and other media outlets).

One topic I want to highlight is the sheer courage it takes to be a journalist.  It can be a really dangerous job to serve the public about what’s happening in a dangerous place.  Just this week alone, several American journalists have been killed by Russian soldiers while doing their work. One was a photojournalist working for Fox News. The other was Brent Renaud, a film maker working on a documentary on the Ukrainian refugee crisis. Here is an article on the incident but please also review the website where this amazing filmmaker showcased his work.  Some of the important topics he has worked on include documentaries on Black Lives Matter and the Opiate Addiction crisis.

I also want to call attention to a story in which I believe the Western media IS NOT doing its job properly.  We have been hearing about the American professional female basketball player (Brittney Griner) who has been arrested trying to sneak “hemp oil”  (aka marijuana) while going through customs in Russia (to get out as quickly as possible).  It’s clear that SHE DID NOT BREAK ANY (NORMAL) LAW and that President Putin is just retaliating against her for the many sanctions America (and many other nations) have put on his country. It looks like she will get up to 10 years in a Russian Jail for doing NOTHING wrong.  The problem in the media that I want to point out is how stories in the news keep repeating the false “trumped up” accusation the Russian police have claimed – that 1) she was traveling with opiates in her bags and 2) if even true, that this is a crime deserving punishment.

This brings up this week’s topic: FAKE NEWS and DISINFORMATION in the media. 

Fake News is nothing new.  During the American Revolution, colonial newspapers regularly misstated the facts or outright lied about Americans’ British oppressors.  Please watch this fun, informative video on the topic, to learn more about what I mean:

Fake News During the Colonial Era

Fake News and Disinformation really became a problem, however, during the Trump Presidency. [Here’s a good joke for you: How do you know Donald Trump is lying. Answer: His lips are moving].  Thanks to the First Amendment I’m allowed to tell this joke.  The problem, however, is NOT a laughing matter.  Facebook and Twitter famously allowed the spread of false information throughout Donald Trump’s presidency but finally kicked him off their sites for lying about the election results (that Biden didn’t win) and generally riling up his supporters with false assertions (leading to the Capitol riots).  

More recently, we learned that for a long time Facebook has allowed false reports about the Covid Vaccine, confusing people about whether or not get vaccinated. Read: Covid Misinformation on Facebook is Killing People.

It also seems the media is no longer covering how serious the latest surge is.  Rates in NYC, Brooklyn, and the rest of the world are, once again, skyrocketing.  Have we been adequately informed about this???

The danger of Fake News and disinformation is really scary in Russia right now.  With state control of all the news shows and media outlets, its people don’t even know that a war against Ukraine is even being waged.  A great moment happened last week, however.  During a broadcast on a major Russian News Network, a courageous young journalist held up a sign to tell viewers to wake up and not believe the lies they are being told.  She was quickly whisked away and interrogated for 14 straight hours and will probable spend several years in prison.

If you have not posted already, can you find another article that deals with Fake News or the spread of disinformation in the world’s media outlets and discuss it?   As these posts come in, I will organize them and we will see the results of our collective investigations.

Week 5: Ukraine, the First Amendment, and the “Essentials” of Journalism

Hi Students,

Thank you for uploading your student profiles in a timely fashion. I will be providing comments on them over the next few days, at which time, you will be allowed to revise them. I will be posting a new Journalism Lesson on Wednesday, which continues the discussion I’ve already included (below).

You can edit your profile assignment, using the same document, in our googledocs dropboxHERE.

If you have questions or concerns, please email me (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu). As a reminder, I also hold weekly office hours (Tuesdays 4-5 pm). Here is the zoom link: Office Hours

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Your Next Post Assignment (Due Wed, March 23):

Find an article (relating to news coverage of Ukraine or another topic) that speaks to the journalism lessons I will post about over the next few weeks. The article should relate to say how well (or poorly) the media is covering an event or issue (see the article on the photojournalist I discuss below). Alternately, the article might be about press restrictions (say in Russia) or maybe Putin’s use of Fake news or Ukrainian President Zelensky’s news conferences on Social Media to bypass Putin’s “disinformation” campaign and appeal to the world for assistance.

KEEP READING TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THIS ASSIGNMENT

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THIS WEEK’S MEDIA LESSON:

Over the next few weeks, I want your help in applying journalism concepts (which I’ll be going over) to media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and other topics in the news.

Let’s start by thinking about the role “the news” (also known as the “fourth estate”) should play in our country and around the globe.  

According to Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel in The Essentials of Journalism, the primary purpose of the news is that it:

“keeps us informed of the changing events, issues, and characters in the world outside. Though it may be interesting or even entertaining, the foremost value of news is as a utility to empower the informed. The purpose of journalism is thus to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies, and their governments.”

For further consideration of the purpose(s) of the media, please read “Ten Essentials of Journalism”. Over the next few weeks, think about how these essentials are (or are not) put into practice.

To cite one example of the media “doing its job” to help people understand the events in Ukraine (and more importantly CARE), please read this article on internationally acclaimed photojournalist Lynsey Addario. Be sure to also watch the CNN interview of her (in which she explains her craft as a photojournalist).

Photo by Lyndsey Addario

With the world watching the Ukraine invasion, I also want you to think about the value of freedom in its many forms—as much as its fragility.

Enshrined in the American Constitution (first conceptualized in 1787) is the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s interesting to note that freedom of speech and of the press are crunched together with other related rights: the practice of one’s religion, the right to assemble (protest) in the streets, and the right to tell the President he’s a jerk (!)

As you follow the media, what I want you to think about is how well the First Amendment really protects freedom of expression in America.  I also want you to think about the extent of press freedoms (and the right to peaceably assemble) elsewhere. 

It’s important to understand that the right to speak out and criticize the government was a hard-fought battle.  Its origins in America actually begin before America was a nation. Journalism historians credit the New York printer John Peter Zenger for achieving this right in 1734-5.  In that year he was put in prison for printing articles in his newspaper that criticized and ridiculed the governor of New York. Eight months later, he was put on trial for “seditious libel” but the jury proclaimed him innocent. Ever since then, newspapers have been allowed to print the “truth” about our government.

Please watch this corny but highly informative video that discusses the trial and the importance of the verdict (it’s also a great New York history lesson).

Post Assignment (Due Mon., March 21):  I am hoping to create a class-wide response to issues of press freedom and the role of the media on our site (as well as its abuses – next week’s lesson).  Over the next two weeks, I ask that you discuss (and link to) a news story and explain how it speaks to 1) press freedom (or unfreedom); 2) an “essential” role the media plays; 3) media disinformation (or “fake news”) OR 4) the role social media plays (in covering the news or combatting/creating Fake news.)

An example of this assignment is the article I posted of photojournalist Lynsey Addario. Refer to an article such as this and explain the media lesson it offers.

If you haven’t done so already, please sign up for a FREE New York Times App, which will help you do this assignment.

Sign-up here:  Academic Pass account (use your City Tech email)

Week Four: Work on Your Student Interview/Follow Media Coverage on Ukraine/Watch Joe Murphy Talk

This Week’s Assignment(s): Please view the links in my post as well as the City Tech talk given by NBC Data Editor, Joe  Murphy.  Please also keep working on your student interviews. You should be in contact with your partner by now. A draft of the interview (in any shape or stage of completion) is due by next Wed. (March 9) A final version will be due the following week (March 16). I am not requiring any posts for this week but feel free to comment.

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Hi Student Journalists,

I’m sure you have all been following the unlawful invasion of Urkaine and the horrible suffering and deaths that Ukrainians are now enduring.

This is a tense moment in the world and a challenging event to cover in the media.  Media issues, in fact, surround this event.   As we will be discussing in our class over the next few weeks, the freedom to be an autonomous, Democratic (i.e. “free”) country is directly related to the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, and the right to assemble and protest (all enshrined in the First Amendment of our Constitution).  These are cherished values that have been increasingly under assault in our own country and across the globe.  Putin long began this de-democratization process in his own country and is now forcing tyranny upon Ukraine.

Another issue to consider is the disinformation campaign that Putin has tried to spread about why he is invading Ukraine.  We saw a similar abuse of facts when President Trump was in office, who made “fake news” his specialty (and whose acolytes continue to spread the “big lie” about who really won the election and false information relating to the pandemic).  Alongside Putin’s attempts at fake news, social media in Ukraine (and elsewhere) has helped to spread “the truth” of what’s currently going on

[Watch his video President Zelensky recently shared on social media].

[Watch this “hacking” of a Russian news station to bring Russians the real story of what their leader is up to.]

[Watch this video, now gone viral, of Ukrainian soldiers refusing to surrender a Navy Base.]  

Across the globe, people are rising up (even in Russia) to protest this illegal war in tweets and on the streets.

As a class, let’s also consider how our own media is covering the invasion. In other words, is the fourth estate (as the media is referred to) doing its job to relay information to Americans in an accurate, fair, and meaningful way?  Does it sometime focus on the wrong part of the story? Does it at times spread disinformation? 

Last week, NBC Data Editor Joe Murphy gave a talk at City Tech, in which he spoke about his job as a visual editor and the responsibilities of major news networks.  Here is a “live” digital map he produced to tell the story of the invasion of Ukraine

Please also watch the talk he gave (below), filled with information about what being a professional journalist is all about and the nuts and bolts of “curating” the news using stats, visuals, and clear, crisp writing.

Visualizing Information: A Day in the Life of a Data Journalist

You will need this access passcode: f@zXu#71

The talk is only 20 minutes (followed by Q & A).

Here is what fellow student Schear Munawar had to say about Murphy’s talk:

“This event was very interesting and informative as it covered a lot of topics in a short span of time. I enjoyed being a part of the immersive environment provided. Joe Murphy, an assigning editor at NBC News, talked about his experiences and tasks while working in the field of journalism. The point that interested me from this event was when Joe Murphy described the structure of management and operations of journalism. He speaks of the general manager and so on. I am currently taking a project management class in my senior year of college. In this class, our main focus is to learn the layout, strategies, and stages of projects in order to achieve the specific goals set and to develop strong planning abilities. Thus, I got to explore the ways management works in the world of journalism.  Another engaging topic Joe Murphy mentioned, was about how data journalism enlightens our duties as students, teachers, professional workers etc. It helps us visualize facts in another way.” 

Week Three: Interview Assignment

Hi Students:

Thank you students for your careful reading and comments on the interview and profiles of Eden Bridgeman Sklenar (new owner/editor of Ebony Magazine) and Andre Leo Talley (late Creative Director of Vogue Magazine).

Each of you made insightful points about what journalists-in-training can practice to improve their own writing. Some of these suggestions include adding images/photographs, providing a snappy title, asking creative questions, providing context and background material, including “notable quotables,” researching the subject, understanding your particular audience, selecting your material carefully, maintaining an appropriate tone, including personal mannerisms, adding a dose of personal history, and being candid without being intrusive.

Now that you’ve read and analyzed these pieces, I ask that you put into practice your own journalism skills by interviewing a fellow student and creating a profile of him or her.

Interview Assignment Directions:

1)Look below to see who your student partner is.

2) Read the Student Interview Assignment

3) Review this sample Student Interview to use as a model.

4) Create a list of questions drawn, in part, from the ones I’ve given you . I encourage you to add your own creative questions along the lines of those in the Eden interview. As you interview, you might find that you want to go in a new direction. You may also need to ask follow-up questions.

Not on the list but another good question to ask in your interview is: What media/political/social issues concern you most?

This week I want you to contact your interview partner (you can get contact information by responding to their self-introduction under “our community”).

Discuss how you want to perform the interview (on zoom, email, or google.docs).

You can upload (and work on) this assignment in our googledocs dropbox: HERE. To upload a file from your computer press “new” (on upper left corner) and then “upload file”.

If you have questions or concerns, please email me (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu). As a reminder, I also hold weekly office hours (Tuesdays 4-5 pm). Here is the zoom link: Office Hours

Interview Assignment Due Date: Wed., March 9 (but get started this week!)

INTERVIEW PARTNERS

Enson Zhou and Alvaro Panozo

Gabriel Paula and Chelsea Agcaoili

Daniella Santangelo and Elsa Villegas

Ines Bissat and Kimberly Baez

MacKenzie Bowman AND Michael Calixto

Cynthia Gamene and Arbi Hasa

Jenrry Loja and Orlando Melendez Ramos

Schear Munawar and Taliyah Watson

Dominique Jones and Javier Inga

Elma Kastrat and Ling Mei Wu

Narine Khalil and Sherica Mae Agcaoili

Brandan Ramnandan and Ahmed Kazi

Daniella Santangelo and Elsa Villegas

Justin Lewis AND (PENDING)

Week Two: The Art of the Interview

Thank you students for your astute comments on the history of the news. Several of you pointed out the multicultural origins of print production and the importance of evolving technologies and media forms. Another key point that was raised was how we all indeed suffer from “News cycle Fatigue.” On the positive side, as a few of you mentioned, the many media platforms today allow us all to become more informed and actual producers ourselves.

Your commentary on the rich print history of NYC’s famed neighborhoods was also illuminating. As your collective commentary reiterates, across eras, newspapers and magazines covered a wide array of topics, and New York has always seemed to be at the center of it all (less true today perhaps as media outlets have been decentralized.)

This week I want you to explore a legendary magazine called Ebony that has recently been revived. I ask that you think about the importance of this fact and the role the new editor sees for herself.

In learning about the old and new Ebony Magazine, I also want to focus on a particular type of journalistic form that was invented in the 1890s, when everyday people wanted to hear more about their “heroes”: the interview. Next week, I will asking you to practice this form but for now, please read the pieces below .

As you read, think about what tactics and tools (rhetorical choices) the interviewer uses to bring his/her subject to life. Also consider the role an editor plays in determining the shape of a magazine. In the profile piece on Vogue magazine editor Andre Leo Talley, consider the role “fashion” plays both in the media and society at large.

You’ll notice that two of these articles are from the New York Times. Be sure to sign-up for free student access here:  Academic Pass account (use your City Tech email)

ASSIGNMENT (DUE Tuesday, Feb. 22 — by noon):

First read

1) “Ebony Returns to Chronicle a New Moment” 

2) “Did I Really Just Buy Ebony?”  Interview with Eden Bridgeman Sklenar

3) Andre Leo Talley: Beholder of Beauty

Then post a response to what you found interesting about one or two of these pieces that you think will be helpful for a student journalist. Be sure to read the student responses before yours and try to focus on a different point if you can.

“History of the News”

Hi Students. Thank you for your sensational self-introductions that were very well-written and so compelling. It’s clear we have a class of diverse talents, experiences, and majors. I expect that we will learn a great deal more about each other and our course topics as the semester progresses.

This week I ask that you consider the history of news since it began as well as the important role journalism has played in New York City since its founding.

I first ask that you watch this fact-filled video entitled  “The Endless News Cycle”  

As you watch, take notes. Consider the meaning and consequences of terms like “news cycle fatigue” and “censorship” as well as the many reasons people “follow” the news. You might also want to consider the effect of important developments such as the invention of paper, the block press, and movable type as well as the different — and evolving — forms of the media (early newspapers, radio, newsreels, broadcast news, CNN, and today’s social media platforms) as well as new reporting methods.

I also ask that you take a virtual walking tour of one of New York’s famed neighborhoods to learn about local printing history. I created tours of the Seaport District, Printing House Square, Union Square, the East Village, and the West Village for my Digital Project “City of Print” (hosted on Squarespace). Choose ONE tour that interests you and comment on what interested you most about it.

Here is the site link: CITYOFPRINT. Use password (cityofprint2020) to enter. Go to the “Walking Tours” link on the upper part of the site. If you have time and interest, I also recommend viewing my opening lecture (“At John Holt’s Tomb: In Search of Lost Space in the City of Print”) which introduces the history of the site and expands on the significance of print culture). You’ll find this video under “lectures.”

HOMEWORK (due Monday, Feb. 14 by the end of the day): Please POST a one paragraph response to a topic you found particularly interesting in the “History of the News” video and from the virtual walking tour you chose. To post a response, simply click on “comments” above, type in your response in the text box, and click “post comment.”

Welcome Students!

Welcome to City Tech and English 1151: Introduction to Journalism.

This is an asynchronous class that only meets virtually.

I will post video lectures and assignments each Tuesday. You are required to complete your post assignments by the following Monday (end of the day is fine).

I hold weekly office hours on Zoom (on Tuesdays 4-5 pm). Attending office hours is optional (i.e. not required)

Here is the Office Hour Zoom Link

Meeting ID: 812 4144 6310
Passcode: 315823

Office Hours Begin on Tuesday, Feb. 1

I can regularly be reached at: mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu

Professor Mark Noonan

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Here are your duties DUE by Friday (Feb. 4):

  1. Watch my Self-Introduction Video: HERE
  2. Watch my tutorial video on how to use our OpenLab site: HERE
  3. Sign up to OPENLAB, join our course, and upload your self-introduction

Here are DIRECTIONS:

1.  Sign up for your OpenLab account with your name and a profile photo.  Log in, then join our course.  If you need  help,  contact the OpenLab Community Team

2. Look around our course site to familiarize yourself

3. Introduce yourself.  To write a new post, click the + sign at the top of the page. (It’s a small icon next to the class title and message box icon at the very top of the page). Fill in the subject heading with your name, then add your info and photo below.  After your work is complete, scroll down and check off OUR COMMUNITY under Categories (right side of page), then click Publish.

  • Paragraph 1: Include how you would like to be addressed, your pronouns, and any other info you’d like to share. This could include where you are from, where you reside now, your academic interests or major, any hobbies or NYC activities you enjoy, what media topics interest you, how you feel about being in college right now. Feel free to be creative!
  • Paragraph 2:  Include a photo of something (place, space, person, pet, object, etc ) meaningful to you, and tell us about it.  You can paste the photo into the body of your message, or Add Media  to upload it to your post.
  • Before next class, check back to read your classmates’ responses and reply to a few. Getting to know each other, we start building our community.

4. In a separate email (mnoonan@citytech.cuny.edu), please let me know if you have any issues with technology and/or working space that may affect your ability to complete your coursework. 

We are all in this together!  See you soon!

week 8: “Objectivity and the News”

Journalists and Objectivity

In chapter 8 of his book, Wallace talks about the situation when facts do not matter; this chapter is interesting because he talks of Rush Limbaugh and how he is a journalist when it is beneficial and not one when it is not, “Rush loved to play both sides: he claimed the title of journalist only when it served him and denied it when he was accused of bending the truth” (Wallace). This quote is important because it talks of a common phenomenon among journalists. They are too loud about their career and role as journalists only when they are gaining something out of it, however, when it is time to face the repercussions of their wrongdoings. This exposes the myth of journalistic objectivity that Wallace was trying to expose in his book; Rush knew that one of the journalists under his wing was attacking women using finances provided by a third party. This is a condition that is still going on. Journalists lack objectivity and belong to the highest bidder; this has encouraged the spread of misinformation emanating from the same people destined to be protectors of the truth. It is better to pick a side and stick to it rather than jumping from one camp to another. Biasness blocks the eyes and mouths of journalists by blinding them from seeing things objectively and reporting them as they are. If journalists cannot handle their biases, then very soon people will have no use for them as they require to hear the truth, not what the journalist wants them to hear, their whole career is based on objectivity, and if they cannot maintain that, they are in the wrong career.

 

 

Works cited

Wallace, Lewis Raven. “The view from somewhere.” The View from Somewhere. University of Chicago Press, 2019.

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