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The Emerging Mediascape (MIT Communications Forum)

03/18/2004 5:00 PM 4-237
Mark Jurkowitz, Media Writer, The Boston Globe; Jeffrey Dvorkin, Ombudsman, National Public Radio; David Thorburn, MIT Professor of Literature
MacVicar Faculty Fellow

Description: '500 channels and still nothing on' is the gloomy assessment of these two media experts. In fact, what the public receives via TV and internet these days is often worse than nothing, at least where news and information are concerned. Mark Jurkowitz laments the "infinite news hole" pioneered by cable television, and describes mounting pressure on print outlets as technology transforms journalism. Witness the "mega story:" talk-based programs featuring embattled celebrities. O.J. Simpson and Martha Stewart stories are cheap to produce and provide gist for "national water cooler conversations," says Jurkowitz, but do not add to the public discourse. Jeffrey Dvorkin remembers when "news doctors" eliminated foreign desks to increase network profits in the 1990s. He points to the "rise of opinion makers 'who took away the value of fact-based reporting." This is a dangerous trend, says Dvorkin. A public without basic reporting faces "a dire situation, an age of missing information." In commercial radio, mass consolidation has left small towns without local news. When a South Dakota town had to evacuate for a chemical spill, authorities phoned the only local radio station in town only to find the phone being answered in San Antonio, Texas. "After 20 years of thin gruel 'the public distrust us. We give people informational comfort food and they don't believe we provide balanced information."

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Mark Jurkowitz became The Boston Globe media writer in 1997, after spending two years as the paper's ombudsman. Prior to that, he spent seven years as media critic for The Boston Phoenix and author of its "Don't Quote Me" column. Jurkowitz began his journalism career at the Tab Newspapers where he served a two-year stint as editor. He spent a number of years as a talk radio host, appearing on WRKO, WHDH, and WBZ and is a regular panelist on the weekly "Beat the Press" program on WGBH-TV. Jurkowitz teaches media ethics at Northeastern University and Tufts University.

Jeffrey Dvorkin writes a weekly Internet column for NPR Online at www.npr.org, and presents his views on journalistic issues on-air on NPR programs. Before being named ombudsman in February 2000, Dvorkin served as vice president for news and information at NPR. Previously, Dvorkin was a reporter and managing editor for CBC Radio News and Information, where he was responsible for all radio network newscasts.

David Thorburn has published widely on literary and cultural subjects and is currently completing a cultural history of American television, called Story Machine. He received his A.B. degree from Princeton, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford and taught at Yale for 10 years before joining MIT in 1976. He has edited collections of essays on romanticism, and on John Updike, as well as a widely used anthology of fiction, Initiation. He is a former Director of the Film and Media Studies Program and of the Cultural Studies Project.

About the Speaker(s): Mark Jurkowitz became The Boston Globe media writer in 1997, after spending two years as the paper's ombudsman. Prior to that, he spent seven years as media critic for The Boston Phoenix and author of its "Don't Quote Me" column. Jurkowitz began his journalism career at the Tab Newspapers where he served a two-year stint as editor. He spent a number of years as a talk radio host, appearing on WRKO, WHDH, and WBZ and is a regular panelist on the weekly "Beat the Press" program on WGBH-TV. Jurkowitz teaches media ethics at Northeastern University and Tufts University. Jeffrey Dvorkin writes a weekly Internet column for NPR Online at www.npr.org, and presents his views on journalistic issues on-air on NPR programs. Before being named ombudsman in February 2000, Dvorkin served as vice president for news and information at NPR. Previously, Dvorkin was a reporter and managing editor for CBC Radio News and Information, where he was responsible for all radio network newscasts. David Thorburn has published widely on literary and cultural subjects and is currently completing a cultural history of American television, called Story Machine. He received his A.B. degree from Princeton, his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford and taught at Yale for 10 years before joining MIT in 1976. He has edited collections of essays on romanticism, and on John Updike, as well as a widely used anthology of fiction, Initiation. He is a former Director of the Film and Media Studies Program and of the Cultural Studies Project.

Host(s): School of Humanities, Arts & Social Sciences, Communications Forum

Tape #: T18386

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December 12, 2011 18:47
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