Now you’re at the other end of the telescope
Seven billion stars in her eyes
So many stars
So many ways of seeing
Hey this is no time not to be alive

To get to commencement weekend, we had to walk through a bit of fire.

I don’t want to make this an overly long post, but I wanted to mark the end of the 2020–21 academic year — really, the pandemic 14 months — by sharing a few things.

This was, by any measure, a lost year. Certainly we accomplished some things, as the conferred degrees can attest. I’m…


Classes started this week at Lehigh. Every year I teach at least one section of our introductory course, COMM 001 Media And Society. I still think of it as some of my most urgent work. It exists to help students understand the business of media, how it’s structured, and its powerful way of influencing, well, everything. In a time of disinformation and danger, the work is even more important. What follows is a Zoom transcript of my short introduction on syllabus day, edited for grammar and clarity.

— —

So this morning I was thinking about a couple different things…


As a tenured professor, I submit a triennial portfolio to monitor my progress. These are usually fairly antiseptic pieces, which cite metrics and data and are full of boasting about how we are without being too over-the-top. I wrote something like that when I went up for tenure, but now that I have tenure I used the chance to do something more expansive and non-traditional. I’m publishing it here because right now the moment to say some things and challenge academic ways of thinking about teaching effectiveness really matter. At least to me. I’m hoping it’ll inspire some of my…


I wanted to expand on this point from Dave Wasserman:

What he noted here is pretty consistent with what I teach in my media intro course here at Lehigh: stories, to some extent, are artificial constructs. Sometimes they are more solid than others because they have the benefit of time and thought, but in breaking or developing news situations they should be consumed with some care.

News narratives are built by turning lists of facts (data, quotes, information) into stories, and then aggregates of stories become larger narratives. This is the process of reporting. Journalism isn’t a list of…


The Washington Post published a story this morning about a preliminary study of 96,000 patients that showed that using hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug promoted by President Trump (and against the advice of the CDC) as a possible treatment for COVID-19, is linked to higher death rates in coronavirus patients.

If we are ever going to level-up on media literacy, what the Trump administration and Fox News did to promote hydroxychloroquine should be a wakeup call. This was a dangerous moment created by a cynical political play and intermixed with a dangerous media approach. …


“The models were all wrong and can’t be trusted!”

I have been seeing this argument a lot online, sometimes on Twitter but more often on Facebook, as a claim meant to support the idea we shouldn’t be sheltering in place at the expense of the economy.

This is dangerous and wrong thinking.

I am not an epidemiologist and don’t work with those particular types of models. But I have done enough study and working with models to know how the underlying statistics and assumptions work.

The problem isn’t that the models are wrong, but rather the public’s understanding of them…


The people protesting closures are hacking the journalistic news value of covering what is novel or contrary over what is normalized/accepted. The effect is amplifying a view the vast majority of Americans oppose. Which is fine; airing another view has its place.

But here’s the thing.

The protests have to be understood in the context of how right-wing protest and media operations work now. The protest is the visual show that becomes the seed of more coverage. …


Since we’ve started sheltering in place, I’ve been spending time thinking about a two-tiered problem we are facing right now with coronavirus coverage.

First:

Second:

Let’s start with the second tweet, which has Tapper sketching out the ongoing feud between the White House and the national press corps that reports from DC. The feud, of course, is nothing new even as it has escalated since President Trump took office. But embedded in Tapper’s tweet is something important about sourcing.

“That’s not what the doctors and nurses from all over the country are saying.”

If you understand how our…


This post is not going to be long, or super detailed. You’ve got 1, 2, maybe 3 days of notice to convert your in-person college class to an online format thanks to COVID-19. Or let’s just leave the reason evergreen due to the next pandemic as we descend into a cyberpunk novel.

I’ve been teaching online for 15 years now. I’m comfortable with tech and this kind of teaching environment. I know when to be experimental and when to go meat-and-potatoes.

Maybe you are comfortable in this format, maybe you’re not. But if you’re getting started, here’s how I’m approaching…


When we talk about “saving local journalism,” we too often are really talking about saving big newsrooms. We need to stop doing that.

This week gave us a one-two punch to local news: the GannettHouse merger and news that McClatchy is in serious financial trouble (and really, three if you count the wait-for-it-wait-for-it slow-build takeover of Tribune by Alden Global Capital). Margaret Sullivan captures the worry quite well and it’s worth your read for the context.

I wanted to share a different view on this. I’m less worried about this story because I just spent a few days at Newsgeist with entrepreneurs and local news independents who are telling a different story: the road ahead is hard, but the ground is less treacherous…

Jeremy Littau

Journalism prof • Multimedia • Sociology • Dad • Generation Catalano • #Mizzou • Sabermetrics Justice Warrior • I read retweets for the endorsements

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