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Posts Tagged ‘political information’

Blog 1: Number of Veterans Hired in Federal Positions Increases

August 31, 2015 1 comment

This articles describes the rising numbers of veterans that are being hired for government jobs. Although, most government agencies have difficulties keeping the veterans, because they quit. The Department of Defense is the only federal department that has been able to maintain a high percentage of veterans staying in their positions.

These statistics were published by the United States Office of Personnel Management. The information is published in a booklet called Employment of Veterans in the Federal Branch 2014 Fiscal Year. The booklet does not describe what type of study was done, but it is given to us by a government website and we can only hope that it is an accurate display of information.

I am interested in how the data was collected. I liked how the data was organized and showed the data of the previous fiscal year next to it so the reader could see the connection and increase in the number of veterans that have federal jobs. I think it would’ve been nice to understand why veterans were quitting their jobs but no explanation was given.

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BLOG 12: The End is Nigh

As I was sitting at my laptop last night, refreshing Twitter and watching CNN, awaiting Obama’s announcement with breathless anticipation (okay maybe not so dramatically), it occurred to me how relevant the paper I researched for this class really was/is to my daily life. We talked about social networking technologies so many times throughout the semester and its implications for the news media and political communication. It was ironic, or maybe satisfying in its own way, when Twitter leaked the news of Obama’s big announcement a good 15 minutes before CNN even did.

That, I think, was the best part of this class–how extremely relevant the material and discussions were. The dissemination of political news, the evolution of satire, the effects of social media, and the changing structure of the political regime–these were all political and communication theories, in a sense, but they were also tangible theories; theories we could find real life examples to just by opening Twitter or turning on the news.

Materials-wise, I have to say that my favorite readings and lectures came from the Kennedy/Nixon discussions early on in the semester. Granted, I’m a bit of a history nerd and, as a Poli Sci major, a huge political science nerd as well. Still, seeing the differences between Kennedy’s campaign strategies and Nixon’s campaign strategies and then tracing the evolution of political campaigns and communications through today was not only rewarding for a nerd, but rewarding for someone who likes to think that politics has some relevance to her life. The information was new, to me, and the reading material was interesting and fresh, but I liked that it gave me a tangible timeline to draw from–background information on how political campaigns came to be the way they are today.

Relevance, relevance, relevance. I think in any good class, that is key, and even in discussing the history of political campaigns, the material we read and discussed was extremely relevant. I loved this!

On the other hand, there were differences I would have liked to have seen too, of course. The Sustein book wasn’t my favorite, clearly. But mostly, I wish we could have had more in-class discussions on some of the blog topics. I enjoyed writing and reading blog posts, but I feel like they could have really added perspective and good discussion to a class that almost encourages a Socratic-style seminar. I would have liked to have spent more time talking about current events, relating our discussions back to what we’re seeing in the world today (especially given that the Egyptian Revolution happened during the course of this class), and probing more into really interesting and unique theories like the Al-Jazeera Effect.

I won’t say necessarily that any topics were boring or irrelevant, because I think everything very naturally related to one another, and I greatly appreciated that. But perhaps next time, more discussion-based topics, rather than a discussion of the reading material, will make this class even more interactive, relevant, and fulfilling than it already is!

Thanks for letting me use this space to sarcastically remark about politics all semester! In return, have yet ANOTHER Obama manip. Thank god for Tumblr, really.

Nuz, out! xoxo!

Blog #12: Interesting/Boring Class Discussions

This class has certainly been one that has taught me a lot. Heck, not only that but it has also made me aware of influences on my everyday life.

For starters I enjoyed the discussions concerning the way social networking affects our lives in ways of getting political news. A perfect example of this discussion becoming a reality took place last evening when I was checking my Twitter before beginning some homework. While, I was scrolling through the posts I stumbled across one stating that President Obama was to give a speech on an undisclosed topic. From here I quickly turned on the news and watched until reporters were able to confirm that the United States had the body of Osama Bin Laden. From there I continued to watch until President Obama came on to speak. Without the use of this social network, I would have never known what was going on. I related all of this information back to our political information sources discussions; it was very neat.

From here I was able to connect my life to another one of our interesting discussions.  This one was concerning the concept that Presidency had to do with strategy and image. After watching the speech given by Barack Obama concerning Bin Laden’s death I was able to explain the aspects of this interesting in class discussion to my roommates. I told them that this was going to be good for Obama’s approval ratings and re-election, just as 9/11 was a positive thing for former President Bush’s campaign. The connect I was able to make made this class not only more relevant to my everyday life but made me appreciate the discussions that I previously found enjoyable.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the book “The Selling of the President” and our discussions following that. Not only were they extremely interesting but also applicable to politics today. It opened my eyes about what exactly was going on.

While I found almost every aspect of this class to be interesting and worth my while I would not rate the discussions concerning Media Objectivity as one of my favorite. However, it was still some what interesting to hear other people’s perspectives on the matter.

All in all, this class included many topics and discussions that I found to be worth my while, not only as something that was enjoyable but something that I was able to relate to my life as well.

BLOG 11: “Democracy Now–Now Known As the Age of the Google”

April 18, 2011 1 comment

Democracy, if you think about it, is kind of a like a Pokemon. You start off with one creature in one shape with one set of powers. You nurture it, play with it, come to know it intimately. Somewhere down the line, you realize that you can’t cope with external pressures anymore. Your Pokemon evolves because you needed it to, because you’ve taken care of it long enough to see it change into a creature that’s more helpful.

Okay, so admittedly, I’ve never played Pokemon and even as a fifth grader, I was utterly disdainful of everyone who had the trading cards on the playground. The point is the same, though–Democracy, as an institution, as a bureaucracy, has evolved over time and with it, so has the role of the Democratic citizen.

The 20th century was a time of rapid change for our democracy. The Progressives limited the power of the political party, political parties realigned their values, women gained the right to vote, the voting age was lowered,  television won Kennedy the presidency, and Vietnam rocked the political world. To be a democratic citizen in the 20th century depended entirely on when you were being a democratic citizen.

Initially, the responsibility was simple–vote. Listen to the President on the radio, register with your political party, turn in a ballot and vote for the candidate determined by your party. If you had political discussions at the dinner table, good for you.

Nixon, Vietnam, the war between the Democratic and Republic parties–the 1960s-1970s changed the very face of our democracy and, with it, the responsibilities citizens had toward it. The media became much more critical of our government, television afforded publicity and gave a face to Washington D.C., so when Nixon’s “betrayal” and the entry into Vietnam rocked the surface of our democratic trust, so it changed the nature of political participation as well. Suddenly, the importance of democratic participation did not rest solely in voting or just consuming what the President said. Suddenly, democratic participation meant analyzing the government’s actions–being a critical consumer, if you will–and protesting when you disagreed with it. Nixon and Vietnam ushered in a wave of democratic participation and activism fueled by a suspicion of government that hasn’t fully gone away.

The difference between the protests that stemmed from Vietnam and protests in 2010 is not a very subtle one.  Signs, protests, and organized marches on Washington mall are still heavily favored, of course, but 2010 has something that the 70s did not have–the Internet. The fundamental difference between Democratic citizens today and our parents is that we have a multitude of forums through which to protest and participate. Participation is no longer simply a black-

and-white exertion of physical effort. Sure, you can march in downtown Los Angeles for immigration rights or through Washington for some misbegotten Tea Party movement, but you can also begin an awareness campaign on Facebook, you can have political discussions on online forums, you can Tweet live pictures, and organize Rock the Vote parties.

With this expansion of opportunities, of course, has also come an increased expectation of what entails a  real Democratic citizen. It’s not enough to vote anymore, it’s not enough to simply watch televised debates anymore. To be a well-respected, well-involved, active citizen in democracy–American or otherwise–you have to participate tangibly, visibly. I suppose it’s just as well that Google, Twitter, forums, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr create pressure to be involved or at least well-versed in current events and politics, because with Google, Twitter, forums, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr eating up our extra time, we certainly need that easy-access forum to participate at all.

That’s not to say, true political participation can’t be completely avoided regardless.  You might fail miserably at Jeopardy and be judged from here to the coasts and back, but it is, I assure you, entirely possible. I wouldn’t choose it as an alternative, though. Seriously, take five seconds to read Obama’s platform on a blogging site and go vote. Really, it’s not that hard. xoxo!


								

Blog 11: Democratic Citizen

April 18, 2011 Leave a comment

I think that today being a democratic citizen means something a lot different then it did for our parents or even our grandparents. Like we talked about in class earlier this semester, our parents grew up with only three main channels. When there was a political event broad-casted on television, they had no other choice but to tune in. In todays world we have hundreds of channel options. When a political event is on TV we do not have to watch it. We can pick and choose the information we get and where we get it from. They could not. When our grandparents were in their 20’s they had even less of selection for where they could access political information. Also today being politically involved means something different then it did back then. When our parents were in their 20’s in order to be politically active they had to go to political rallies and events like that. They were also dealing with desegregation of schools. Our parents generation would take greater personal risks to be politically involved. A lot of the rallies involving segregation laws would turn violent. Another type of event that they attended were peace rallies. There were a lot of events that they could attend. I would definitely say that our parents generation was far more politically active then we are today.

The only thing that held our parents and grandparents back as far as political involvement would be the social media available today. In order for them to spread ideas and write about their own thoughts, they would have to use resources such as newspapers and magazine. Today we can blog, Facebook, or twitter about our opinions. It takes no time at all for our generation to spread our opinions to thousands in minutes. This is an advantage that our parents and grandpaprents did not have. Our generation is more interested in following political figures or events on twitter then they are with actually attending these events. This is a major difference between our generation and the older generation. We would rather read about an event online then actually attend them. It is an interesting concept. We have the ease to spread around the time and place of an event but there seems to be a lack of drive to get people to attend these events. Overall I think today being a democratic citizen means something different then it did for our parents and our grandparents.

BLOG 10: Democracy in the “Daily Me”

April 13, 2011 1 comment

“The Daily Me” as described by Cass R. Sunstein is a phenomena by which we, today’s consumers, so narrowly customize our media, politics, and news consumption that we sow the seeds of our own destruction.

Perhaps Sunstein was not so overly dramatic about it, but his view of new media technology and its effect on the media, communication, and information environment is certainly a pessimistic one. “The Daily Me”, according to Sunstein, causes a plethora of problems including, but not limited to, a narrowing of the information environment and its diversity, decreased common ground and shared interest to act as the “social glue” in democratic societies, and providing a personalized forum for terrorists and other anti-Democratic groups looking to spread their word.

Republic.com 2.0 was certainly an interesting read, especially for a member of a generation that has virtually grown up in this “Daily Me”, personalized information environment. In the first few chapters of his book, Sunstein goes into detail about the importance of general-interest intermediary (GII) sources, such as public forums or newspapers–sources that require the consumer to consume more than just a particular brand of information. According to Sunstein, general-interest intermediary sources such as newspapers are important because the consumer cannot simply choose what he or she wants to read. In the course of reading a newspaper, the consumer is forced to at least acknowledge various news stories that she might not have otherwise chosen to read about.  Sunstein’s point in these chapters is that this exposure to a diversity of information is particularly important to democracy because it spreads knowledge, creates open mindsets, and allows citizens to connect to others despite differences.

Sunstein has a point. I enjoyed reading about GII, not only because I had never  thought about the newspaper’s role in that manner, but because he certainly has a point about the importance of exposure to diverse information. Where I fall short with him is the assumption that the internet and new media technologies do not foster similar opportunities. As any Wikipedia article-hopper can tell you, it is quite easy to expose yourself to a variety of different information online, whether or not you originally set out to do so.

The various holes in his arguments aside, there were two main problems I had with Sunstein’s book. The first is a comment on style. Sunstein often seems confused about whether he wants to express himself colloquially or pedantically. As far as style goes, Republic.com 2.0 was mostly understandable, although Sunstein’s tendency to throw in more complicated, academic subjects, written in a pedantic fashion, resulted in a book that wasn’t completely user-friendly.

“If the public is balkanized, and if different groups are designing their own preferred communications packages, the consequences will be not merely the same but still more balkanization, as group members move one another toward more extreme points in line with their initial tendencies”

serves as a stark contrast to sentences such as

“When I opened the email, I learned that the attachment was a love letter.”

While I appreciated Sunstein’s use of informal language and structure in example paragraphs, the jump between styles made the reading feel inconsistent and petulant.

The second problem I had with his book is more content-centric. While Sunstein never claims to want to provide a solution to the problem of the “Daily Me”, he spends over 220 pages outlining  a problem that he never gives a satisfying end to. “The Daily Me”, while interesting to read about and certainly relevant, is something a short paper could have sufficed to explain if Sunstein was not going to offer a plausible solution to this apparently earth-shattering problem.

His overly defensive language–he spends much of the time assuring “I have not suggested, and do not believe…” and “Nothing that I have said should be taken as an empirical argument…”–is uncomfortable enough to sift through, but add the constant repetition of themes and pessimism without mentioning counterarguments simply made the book long and his argument less credible, in my not-so-esteemed opinion.

Republic.com 2.0 definitely shed a new perspective–and a refreshing counterexample–to the ever-pervasive opinion that new media technology is good and only good, but I think the book could have been handled better. It could have been shorter, less repetitive, easier-to-read, and offered some kind of end solution so that I was not left, at the end, going “so what?”

I think to students of communications and political science, Republic.com 2.0 is a good book to offer new insight, but I would assign portions of the book, not the entire thing, to read. As for the average reader–I’m not particularly sure how much value they would glean from Sunstein and his analysis. Certainly not a bedtime story, anyway! xoxo!