Tough Gig

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Sad days for the newspaper industry – in my current home, the UK, with my beloved Guardian, but also in Canada, the country where I learned and practised journalism. The bleeding at Postmedia was painful and shameful (and, thanks to the dubious blessing of social media and the courage of people like Jana Pruden, completely exposed in all its personal minutiae), and then Friday saw the shuttering of the Guelph Mercury and, less significantly for the country (we all know where the power sits) but more significantly for me, the Nanaimo Daily News.

My parents gave me the drop on the Daily News by Skype this week. Nanaimo’s their home, the Daily News their daily, well, news. They knew I’d care because it’s big news from where I grew up, because I study media for a living, and because I used to be a journalist myself until, as happened to so many of my fellow travellers in this reporting game, the axe fell.

But my history with the paper is more entangled even than that paragraph suggests. Barring a mighty letter to the editor of Maclean’s when I was in Grade 9 (yes, I was That Kid), the Daily News was my first gig in journalism. Continue reading

JHistory – Review of Spreadable Media

So, this is not my academic blog, featuring musings on my research usual disclaimers yadda yadda. But I nonetheless reserve the right to store links to my available ac-writing here, not least to keep things in one place but also to help spread the word. Book reviews are a little easier, especially if they’re not behind any paywall. Tend to be less jargony, easier to get through in a brief sitting.

And this one is a doozy: pertinent to anyone who has a blog, reads a blog, shares a blog (hint hint), or whatever. Plus all those other non-blog things that also count as social media and, somehow, in a Wittgensteinian way look like they hang together. The problems of classification are part of what this book is trying to do. So click on, have a look… and spread it, yo!

“Spreading a New Buzzword to Describe Participatory Culture”: a review of Spreadable Media by Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford, and Joshua Green.

At the book’s very beginning, we are told, “If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead” (p. 1). This is more a buzzy, normative declaration than an empirical observation, and it is our best clue as to what informs the analysis that follows. They set their term against comparable buzzwords: spreadable not sticky, spreadable not pirated, spreadable not viral. These are the themes that shape what follows.

Read the review here

A New Empathy

So now I’m an expert on porn.

Not exactly, but the phrase “Michael Munnik is a researcher at the University of Edinburgh” was uttered by a BBC presenter in an item about pornography. Very weird. And I’m going to tell you how it all came about.

First, the issue: you might have heard about Belle Knox and “the opprobrium, the censure, the outrage, the alarm” as some expert said once on BBC concerning this Duke University student and the job she’s taken on to support her studies. Not to mention the porn-viewing classmate who outed her. Continue reading