Back To School With The Media

It’s Back To School time, so let’s look at some start-of-the-school-year themed stories:

    • Oregon school district rescinds ban on rap music radio in school buses.
      Rule was no talk radio, religious radio, or rap music – pop/rock, country and jazz were cool.  What could possibly be wrong with that….
    • Leaving Oman
      Journalism professor Dr. Chris Allen reflects on the time he has spent in Oman both on his Fulbright and with groups of students.  A beautiful blog post and an eloquent statement on the importance of study abroad.
    • Our chancellor is cooler than your chancellor!
      Also, UNK Chancellor Doug Kristensen is a really good sport.  Chancellor Karaoke:

Posted in Chapter 10, Chapter 15, Chapter 7, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

An in-depth look at the man who now leads Apple

Tim Cook does not have an enviable job as the CEO of Apple. Following in the footsteps of Steve Jobs, one of America’s most iconic and successful CEOs, can’t be easy.  Trying to establish yourself as a leader when everyone in the world thinks they know “what Steve would do” is a no-win scenario. And, of course, anything short of stratospheric growth in revenue, profits, and stock value is abject failure – even if your company remains one of the most valuable and profitable the world has ever seen.

And yet, it’s hard to feel sorry for a man who receives a salary measured in eight digits and stock options measured in nine.

According to a major interview Cook recently with the Washington Post, running Apple “is sort of a lonely job,” but he also notes that, “I’m not looking for any sympathy.  CEOs don’t need any sympathy.” The interview was given on the occasion of the production of the billionth iPhone.

I won’t try to summarize the extended interview here – You really should read the whole thing!  But here are a few highlights:

  • As Apple CEO, he can turn to a variety of people for advice.  Cook needs help with stockholder relations? Call Warren Buffet – head of Berkshire Hathaway.  Making decisions on the best way to come out officially in public as being gay? Check in with CNN’s Anderson Cooper who handled the same issue with grace. Testifying before congress about Apple and tax policy? Talk with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.
  • Standing up to the FBI for privacy on the iPhone and other iOS devices was difficult – both knowing what was right was hard and explaining it to the public was hard.
  • Trying to balance his own intense desire for privacy and his desire to help young people dealing with the same issues.

Tim Cook is one of the most important people in American and global media. This interview is worth the read.

Posted in Chapter 2 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Another Big Tremor in the Earthquake in Slow Motion: Part 2 – Two New Secrets

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 is going down in history as a really big day in the world of television. The fact that C-SPAN aired cell phone video through the Periscope social media service for much of the day provided by Democratic members of Congress holding a sit-in in the U.S. House is nothing short of a siesmic change in our media world. This is the long-delayed second blog post looking at how television is changing.

Screen capture of live Periscope video from Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) aired on C-SPAN.

Screen capture of live Periscope video from Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) aired on C-SPAN.

In the 6th edition of Mass Communication: Living in a Media World due out late this fall, I offer up two new (actually replacement) secrets in the Seven Secrets “They” Don’t Want You To Know About The Media:

  • Secret 5: All media are social
  • Secret 6: Online media are mobile media

We can see those two new secrets exploding with what happened on C-SPAN on Wednesday, June 22, 2016.

The reason that C-SPAN exists is to provide live coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives when they are in session.  At other times, C-SPAN carries a variety of speeches, campaign events and original programming.  The key words here, however, are “when they are in session.”  When the House is not in session, the majority party (currently the Republicans) controls whether the cameras are on or off. So, no surprise that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan shut off the House feed to C-SPAN while the Democrats held an out-of-session sit in on the House floor on June 22nd to call for votes on gun legislation.

But just because the official cameras were turned off didn’t mean there wasn’t video coming out of the House. Rep. Eric Swalwell (Dem., Calif.) used his Periscope streaming video account to live-stream the sit in, thus bypassing the Republican’s efforts to limit the sit in’s exposure. As did Rep. Scott Peters.

(To be fair, the majority party always has control of the cameras in the House, and the Democrats shut off the cameras, as well as the lights, in August of 2008 to stop feeding attention to the Republicans who wanted votes on energy legislation.)

That Swalwell would stream the sit in isn’t particularly surprising – he’s also known as the House’s king of Snapchat.  He’s a young, hip representative from tech-savy California.

What was amazing was when C-SPAN started carrying Periscope feeds on their cable, satellite and streaming channels.

C-SPAN spokesman Howard Mortman told the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple Blog (that covers media issues): “This is the first time we’ve ever shown video from the House floor picked up by a Periscope account.”

This is a big deal because now mobile social media is providing programing straight into a legacy media channel.

We are seeing how members of congress can use their mobile devices to feed video out to their followers, and how long-tail media can pick up a much broader audience through short-head media.

As I think about it, we can see a large number of the New Seven Truths coming into play here:


I can clearly see:

  • Secret 2 – There are no mainstream media – A social channel was getting the news out nationwide.
  • Secret 3 – Everything from the margin moves to the center – A new social media channel was taking a stunt protest from inside the beltway to the entire country.
  • Secret 4 – Nothing’s new: Everything that happened in the past will happen again – In November of 2008, terrorists hit Mumbai, India, and there were not Western legacy media channels there to report the news.  In that absence, news organizations like CNN, Fox News, and the New York Times relied on images and reports coming from social media. (Obviously, the similarity here is not because of terrorist attacks but because of reports coming from places where legacy media cameras can’t reach.
  • Secret 5 – All media are social – The story about the protest going out on C-SPAN from Periscope spread through social media, word of mouth, and people talking about it on legacy media.  It was a social interaction.
  • Secret 6 – Online media are mobile media – This one was perhaps the most obvious.  Members of congress took their always on/on everywhere mobile devices to send out a stream that could be seen on television, computers, and mobile devices.

Posted in Chapter 1, Chapter 10, Chapter 9 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Questions Worth Asking (Maybe)

After a month of vacation and travel for family reasons, I’m back with mass comm posts (though national parks will keep sneaking in on occasion!).

Posted in Chapter 10, Chapter 7, Chapter 9 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The road goes ever on…

I had a lovely dinner last week with my editor Terri and marketing person Jill who were attending the AEJMC convention in Minneapolis,  and they asked me to do a couple of things – one of which was to get a mass comm related post up on my blog before the summer sales meeting starts this week.

So instead I’m posting this…

At the St. Croix National Scenic River visitor's center in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin

At the St. Croix National Scenic River visitor’s center in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin

I rode my motorcycle up to the Twin Cities to visit family and collect more national park stamps for my National Parks Tour.

So… Fear not, Sage editors and gentle readers, mass comm posts will resume today. But let me also recommend to you all when you visit the Midwest, take a long drive along the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers.  It’s a beautiful country we live in.

Posted in Motorcycling, Travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

North to the Yukon – Epilogue

Written Tuesday, 7/19/16 on an airplane between Chicago, IL and Lincoln, NE.

Flying over Chicago

Flying over Chicago

I’ve allegedly been home from this long trip for four days now, but I’ve only spent two nights in my own bed. Second day off the bike and I was on my way to the airport to take care of family business back east.  And in another couple days the Dear Wife and I will be off to visit our eldest and his lovely fiance in Vancouver, BC.

Reading this, you might conclude I like to travel. And that would be true. But my family means a lot to me as well.

Many years ago my wife and I were talking about this; we came to the conclusion that I don’t want to get away, I want to go to.

I’ve always wanted to go, from the time I was a first grader and took the city bus in Denmark’s second largest city to visit my dad at his office for lunch without telling anyone what I was doing. (Hey, Mom gave me money to get a hot dog, she didn’t say it had to be from the stand half a block away…)

When I was fourteen, I rode on RAGBRAI (then known as SAGBRAI for the Second Great Bike Ride Across Iowa) without anyone along to supervise me. (To be fair, my parents had good friends who were also on the ride, but I emphatically was not riding with them…)

16 mm film from the Des Moines Register of the 1974 SAGBRAI

In college I used to hitchhike from Ames, Iowa where I was a student at Iowa State up to visit my married older sister in Minneapolis. And when my brother and I came out of the Rockies from backpacking for a week, we discovered the bus we had tickets for didn’t start running till ski season, so we had to hitchhike back across the continental divide to Denver.

A couple of years ago I had the fantastic opportunity to go to China for about 10 days as a representative of my university. Never have I had such a feeling of being someplace different than when I was walking around a city where old men write poetry on the sidewalk with water using a giant brush.

Calligraphy in Water

This gentleman was painting calligraphy using water on the stone walkway along the Mall of the World on a hot summer morning. Not long after he had created the characters, they were evaporating back into the air. I wish I knew what he was saying.

I come by this wanderlust honestly.

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my Grandpa Arndt homesteaded near Williston, North Dakota from 1905-1911. He took the train from Minnesota up to near the Canadian border, bought a team of horses and a wagon, and took it out onto the unplowed buffalo grass prairie to establish a farm. (Thanks to my older sister for the description.) And my Grandpa Juul left home in Denmark at age 18 and moved to Minnesota where he got started working in the business of draining swampy fields so you could grow crops or hay on them. That eventually grew into a full fledged construction company.

Of all my adventures, the two weeks Howard and I spent riding motorcycles up through northwest Canada and up to southern Alaska has to rank up there toward the top. Riding the hundred miles or so of dirt roads was especially exciting, taking us to a whole new area of the mountains were the paved roads don’t go.

The figure-8 route Howard and I rode this summer.

The figure-8 route Howard and I rode this summer.

It has certainly been “a trip of a lifetime,” but it was not “the trip trip of a lifetime.” I have had so many trips of a lifetime, and always hope there’s another great trip in my future .. and another great chance to come home.

Posted in Motorcycling, Travel | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

North to the Yukon – Gotta Catch ‘Em All!

pokemonThe whole time Howard and I were traveling up north, I did my best to stay away from the news.  After all, this was vacation in rather remote places.  I had no desire to have the news of shootings, protests, and ugly politics intrude.

One rather whimsical bit of news, however, was inescapable – the massive success of the phone-based augmented reality game Pokémon Go. You all know about Pokémon, yes? Strange little creatures that started out as a Japanese trading card game in the 1990s that grew into a popular series of video games on both portable and console systems. The pocket monsters were also made into  popular animated TV series and movie series.

Pokémon had such a big influence on popular culture that 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain quoted from a song from the movie  Pokémon 2000 in his campaign:

In the fifth edition of my textbook Mass Communication: Living in a Media World, I even write about a pet fish named Grayson who played the Pokémon Red game using sensor array that detected where he was swimming in his tank.

The goal of all these games and shows was for the player, a Pokémon trainer, to try to catch, train and evolve as many Pokémon as possible under the slogan “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” With the new Pokémon Go augmented reality game, would-be trainers can travel around in the real world, finding and catching animated Pokémon with their Apple and Android phones in a sort of electronic/real life-hybrid scavenger hunt..

As I mentioned earlier, this new game has been insanely popular, with many of my allegedly adult friends chasing around outside trying to find the next little monster.  While we were in Prince George, British Columbia, when the desk clerk at our hotel got off work at 11 p.m., he pulled out his giant Samsung phone and headed out into the northern Canadian twilight to try to catch a few.

So… What does all this have to do with my trip north? I have actually been participating in a couple of long-distance motorcycle-based scavenger hunts on this trip – scavenger hunts that actually started before this trip and will extend on for much of the rest of the year.

The first of these is an Iron Butt Association National Parks Tour.  The goal is to collect national park passport stamps from at least 50 parks located in at least 25 different states and provinces over the course of a year. I completed one of these back in 2011-2012, and I’ve been working on another one this year.  For example, among many others, I picked up a stamp at Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota:

Entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park - North Unit in North Dakota

Entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Unit in North Dakota

And also from the Canadian Fort Battleford National Historic Site in Saskatchewan.


Fort Battleford National Historic Site

The second of my scavenger hunts is the Team Strange 2016 Strange Election Grand Tour. The goal for this one is to take a photo of your bike and your tour flag in front of the Welcome sign for as many US states as possible. You use a red flag if you think the state will go Republican in the upcoming presidential election, and a blue flag if you think the state will go Democratic.

Me and my red tour flag entering South Dakota.

Me and my red tour flag entering South Dakota.

When the grand tour is scored after the election, you will earn points for every state you called correctly.  Each state is worth the number of electoral votes it has times the number of square miles for the state.

I’ve gone to a number of states this year and am scheduled to go to several more. So I should do reasonably well, especially with Alaska in my quiver.  Not a very big number of electoral votes, but lots and lots of square miles.


I got all the way to Hyder, Alaska and forget to take pictures with my Strange Election Grand Tour flags.


Didn’t catch ’em all.

Posted in Motorcycling, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

North to the Yukon, Day 12 – Grandpa’s Homestead (almost)

I’m in Bismarck, North Dakota tonight.  Back in the United States after a fantastic trip “up north” to Canada.  One of the main goals for today was to visit the land my Grandpa Arndt homesteaded back between 1905 and 1911 in extreme northwest North Dakota.  And I achieved that goal…. mostly:


It appears to me looking at my track that Howard and I ended up several miles south of where we were supposed to be.

I wasn’t trusting the directions my GPS was producing, and so I had created a sheet of paper with directions written out.  But that fell apart quickly when a supposed road we were were to take south ended up being a couple of dirt tracks covered  with grass.  Howard, of course, thought we should go down the road – Howard always thinks we should follow the dirt “road.” But I sent us back to the highway and followed the GPS’s suspect directions.

Looking back at the track now, I can see we were definitely too far south,  But I don’t really feel too bad about it. We got to the right general area, and we still had a lot of traveling to do today.

Here I am, somewhere near where my dad's dad homesteaded in the early 1900s.

Here I am, somewhere near where my dad’s dad’s homesteaded in the early 1900s.

Our second scheduled stop for the day was the northern unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It’s a gorgeous area of badlands filled with bison, big horn sheep, and other wild critters.  After collecting our National Parks Stamp, we followed the scenic road about halfway through the park, where we stopped to take pictures.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit)

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit)

Unfortunately, the storm clouds that had been chasing us since lunch in Williston, ND were starting to catch up, and so we decided the wisest course of action was to get back to traveling south and east – away from the storms.

This ended up being a really good call.  We kept getting short bouts of rain dropping on us, but we managed to avoid a couple of pretty serious storm cells that would have been a mess to have been in. (No, I don’t have pictures – we kept moving!)

Tomorrow, Howard and I will be collecting several more National Park Stamps and returning to Kearney.  I probably won’t have a final post for a day or two after that, but expect an epilog early next week sometime.

Posted in Motorcycling, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

North to the Yukon, Day 11 – Pictures from a Trip II

It’s late, and we’ve had a long day today and a busy day ahead, so I’m going to keep this one simple with a few more pictures from a trip.

Bright yellow fields of rapeseed plants used to produce canola oil are everywhere in Alberta.

Bright yellow fields of rapeseed plants used to produce canola oil are everywhere in Alberta.

All over Alberta we’ve seen mile after mile of bright yellow fields. I got curious and did a little research on what they were.  These are fields of what used to be known as rapeseed, and they are used to press what is now known as canola oil.

The prettiest area we encountered today had fields of bright purple clover interspersed with the yellow canola fields. Sorry – wasn’t a good place to stop for a photo.

Canadian province flags at Fort Battleford.

Canadian province flags at Fort Battleford.

We stopped at Fort Battleford National Historic Site in Saskatchewan today to collect a national parks stamp (more on that another day), and while we were there we saw this lovely line of Canadian province flags that had been put up a few days before for a new citizens signing in ceremony held at the site.  What a lovely place to hold the ceremony!

The boardwalk in Stewart, BC.

The boardwalk in Stewart, BC.

And finally, one last photo from our time in Stewart, BC.  This boardwalk goes out over a beautiful marsh area near the harbor for Stewart/Hyder.  It gives you a dry way to walk through a big public park that would otherwise be quite soggy.

Posted in Motorcycling, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

North to the Yukon, Day 10 – Heading Home

Today was a pleasant, uneventful last day in mountain country.  We left Prince George, BC at 8 this morning, and cut back across British Columbia and Alberta, completing our northern loop.

The Spotwalla satellite track of our loop through northwest Canada and southern Alaska.

The Spotwalla satellite track of our loop through northwest Canada and southern Alaska.

If you squint when you look at the little map, you can see that we followed a mountain valley back to Jasper, then cut across the middle of the park, and then continued on to the city of Edmonton.

Low clouds, rain showers, and a damp chill followed us much of the way, but that’s what we’ve come to expect.

low clouds from a gas stop.

Low clouds from a gas stop.

RalphatTHWe stopped for lunch at Tim Horton’s at the town of Jasper.  We’d had dinner in Jasper on our way north last week. So nice to have a fast food place with good soup and croissants for lunch!  If only the biggest fast food chain in the US would serve that.  And honey crullers!

We saw a giant super cell thunderstorm off in the distance, and saw a big enough flash of lightening that both Howard and I remarked on it over dinner tonight.  Fortunately, though we continued to go through scattered showers, we did not have to deal with storms. Once we left Jasper and the nearby town of Hinton  (outside of which we saw both bighorn sheep and a giant elk!) we were clearly back into the central plains of North America, and I’m afraid it will be the prairie for the rest of the trip.

By the time we reached Edmonton, the skies had cleared and it was almost hot out.

Let me finish up this decidedly unphilosophical post by giving a shout-out to Howard’s sister, Susannah.  She very generously gave us Marriott points to pay for our hotels anytime we were able to find a Marriott property.  Up north, they were decidedly not available.  But tonight we are in a comfortable Courtyard hotel, and I will soon go down to take advantage of the whirlpool.

Thank you, Susannah!


Posted in Motorcycling, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment