Dennis G. Jerz | Associate Professor of English -- New Media Journalism, Seton Hill University | jerz.setonhill.edu Logo

In September 1999 I was blogging about Tom Stoppard, techno-utopianism, voice-recognition software, and Edgar Rice Burroughs

In September 1999, I was blogging about What makes a play worth seeing twice, according to Tom Stoppard The then-unrealistic expectations of voice-recognition software A critique of the “information wants to be free” mantra A Microsoft exec who predicted that digital publication would eclipse print publication within a decade How marketers are pushing your buttons with the help of technology and semiotic theory The storytelling genius and embedded racism of…

Me (glares in iambic pentameter)

Me: I need to post the opening lecture for my online Shakespeare class. Also me: I should compose it in blank verse. Me (glares in iambic pentameter): Also me: O for a Canvas of fire, to surpass The farthest distance of instruction. SHU tech is cool, but can a Macbook hold A seminar discussion? Can we cram Within an LMS the self-same class That does engage the students on campus?…

Students in a Finnish community college learn how to spot "fake news".

Finland is Winning the War on Fake News

This is story is from May, but it’s very relevant. Standing in front of the classroom at Espoo Adult Education Centre, Jussi Toivanen worked his way through his PowerPoint presentation. A slide titled “Have you been hit by the Russian troll army?” included a checklist of methods used to deceive readers on social media: image and video manipulations, half-truths, intimidation and false profiles. Another slide, featuring a diagram of a…

Because Internet: the new linguistics of informal English

I’m planning to begin my online Shakespeare class with commentary on how it’s a good thing that language changes, so that students will (I hope) see the effort they will need to put into understanding English from 400 years ago as part of the process of engaging with a living language, the same process that inspires each generation to change the language to suit their needs. Large-scale analysis of internet…

Why Grown-Ups Keep Talking Like Little Kids

Felt writey. Because reasons. The other day I walked through a room full of toddlers who were energetically growling at each other. They were obviously playing together, but there was a passion and an aggressiveness in their voices that made me feel that somehow, they weren’t just growling at each other, they were joining forces to confront the unfairness of a stressful universe. When I noticed my 17yo daughter had…

I’m Gradually Losing My Hearing. (It’s Part of Aging.)

During a department meeting today, I noticed I was feeling very disengaged. I was having trouble following what my colleges were saying, unless They were speaking one at a time They were projecting (no sotto voce or vocal fry) I could could see their lips. I could usually get by with 2 of the 3, but only sometimes with 1 out of 3. I found myself scrolling through emails and…

Twitter and the “Two Minutes Hate”

Another of the many, many reflections on the big story of the weekend. In 1984, George Orwell famously described a totalitarian political order in which people were kept as docile subjects in part by a daily ritual called “Two Minutes Hate” in which the population directs all of its pent up fury at “Goldstein,” a possibly fictional enemy of the state. Thanks to Twitter, we now know that the same dynamic…

Lessons from the Covington Catholic Flashpoint

My social media network includes people who fully supported the narrative voiced by Phillips and magnified by social media outrage, who now feel the shifting narrative proves how hard “the media” work to excuse the misbehavior of smirking, entitled, racist bullies. (But they might agree the Hebrew Israelites went too far.) My social feed also includes people who were participating in the March for Life and insisted from the start…

Woodward dismisses CNN’s lawsuit against the White House; Fox sides with CNN

Bob Woodward, half of the Washington Post team whose coverage of the Watergate scandal brought down the Nixon presidency, told an audience at the Global Financial Leadership Conference in Florida that media figures are letting their emotions affect their reporting. NBC journalist Dylan Byers quoted Woodward as saying, “In the news media there has been an emotional reaction to Trump … too many people for Trump or against Trump have…

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A study in breaking news headlines.

For the UK Guardian, the news is the words the White House used while accusing Acosta of an action caught on video. For Fox, Sanders was accused of sharing an allegedly  “‘doctored’” video of a neutrally-identified “interaction.” For the Washington Post, the White House “shares doctored video” — no accusation, no scare quotes.   Read these articles for yourself, not just the headlines. We learn by seeking evidence from multiple…

College Seniors Confident about Their Work Ethic, Written & Oral Skills; Employers Disagree

According to the NACE 2018 Job Outlook, college seniors are very confident about their professionalism, work ethic, and writing skills. Employers are not so happy with those skills among the applicants they see. The biggest divide was around students’ professionalism and work ethic. Almost 90 percent of seniors thought they were competent in that area, but only about 43 percent of the employers agreed. Nearly 80 percent of students also believed they were…

Handwritten, all-caps note on printed script from which Trump read: "THERE WAS NO COLUSION"

Fascinating details in reports about Trump’s Russian retraction

We’re all still reeling from Trump’s statement yesterday that he “didn’t see any reason why it would be” true that Russia had meddled with the US election. Standing there next to Putin, he publicly rejected the positions of multiple US intelligence authorities. Today, in the face of blistering criticism from foes and friends alike, including powerful members of his own Republican party, the president backtracked, saying that he misspoke –…

Cartoon showing an artist drawing a caricature of U.S. president Donald Trump, while an arm wearing a business suit uses an eraser to rub out the artwork.

I Was Fired for Making Fun of Trump

After 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was fired on Thursday. I blame Donald Trump. Well, sort of. I should’ve seen it coming. When I had lunch with my new boss a few months ago, he informed me that the paper’s publisher believed that the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer, and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper. That…

Weaponizing Empathy: You reacted to the outrageous claim that I crafted specifically to outrage you. But I was just kidding. Now you know how I feel when you do rhetoric on me. (Or something.)

NRATV host Collins Idehen Jr (who goes by the name Colion Noir) made what appeared to be a serious call for legislation to restrict the First Amendment — then said he wanted people who were horrified by that call to know “That’s the same feeling gun owners get when they hear people say the same thing about the Second Amendment.” Here’s part of the transcript (via SFGate): These kids [shooters]…

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Context matters. Trump called MS-13 gang members “animals,” but critics say he was talking about immigrants generally

There are many, many legitimate, evidence-supported critiques that people can make about Donald Trump. Taking a quote out of context  is not a legitimate, evidence-supported critique. I was furious at what I thought Trump said, too, until I looked into the context (C-SPAN). In a sound-bite world, a wise politician would be more careful, but thousands of social media users who shared their knee-jerk outrage could also benefit from a…