November, 2017

Mason Knaub Anecdote

For some marching band is just a way to pass time in high school, a way to make friends and learn to play music. This was not the case with Mason Knaub.

Mason went to a high school with a competitive marching band program, but still managed to be ahead of his peers. He pushed himself to get on the drum line during his Sophomore year, training from February to August over hundreds of hours and countless drills.

This practice paid off, as the drum line went on to set a state record, winning all but one state competition and securing their reputation as one of the top schools in the state.

Weekly News Comment #12

A recent article by the New York Times focused on a single question surrounding the recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas: whether or not video footage of the attack should be released to the public.

While some advocate that the footage should be released immediately to inform the public of the terrible reality of such attacks, others argue that the footage serves no real purpose and should be locked away forever or even destroyed. Most occupy a middle ground between these two extremes, including the Rev. Stephen Curry, who likened the footage to that of the Kennedy assassination, but described the situation as being “too raw” for immediate release. Still others oppose the footage’s release for legal reasons, including a former Texas Ranger who suggested that it is still technically evidence in an investigation that might take years, and releasing it to the public might harm that investigation.

Overall, the article seems to suggest that while there are obvious issues with releasing the footage there is some journalistic and historical value to such evidence. While the families of victims in these attacks might be negatively affected by publishing explicit details, these details can also serve to make people angry or disgusted by the attack and subsequently take action to prevent future incidents. The fundamental question for journalists in situations like this is whether photographic or video evidence of such crimes adds anything to the story or is merely there to court controversy and attract viewers.

Emma Watson on Gender Equality

Emma Watson, renowned actress and social activist, recently reflected at One Young World in Ottawa on the difficulties involved with becoming a public figure in the “cause for equality”.

She addressed the audience, consisting of influential young adults from a variety of fields and countries, saying that she never thought she would call herself an activist. “The truth is,” she explained, “it had never been about being an activist; it was about the choice to make myself visible”.

Watson recalled numerous threats after first addressing the issue of gender equality, describing the period afterwards as a “baptism of fire”. Despite this, she did not retract her statements or step out of the spotlight, citing her belief that gender equality is as important or more important than other issues because it intersects with such a wide range of topics.

Weekly News Comment #11

The New York Times recently reported on an eleven minute blackout of President Trump’s Twitter account. Just before 7pm the Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump appeared to no longer exist. Eleven minutes later the account re-appeared and only an hour later the President was tweeting again as if nothing had happened.

While the New York Times provides a fair analysis of the situation, showing tweets that are clearly critical of the account and also voicing opposite opinions that suggest that this is an attack on the President and free speech, it also sensationalizes the story somewhat. While the account was only down for eleven minutes, and Twitter released a statement three hours after its conclusion announcing that it was the action of a rogue employee, the story as presented by the Times sounds much more dire than the facts suggest.

While this is probably satire, it does raise the point that never before has a nation as large as the United States been so affected by a single social media account as now. Regardless of whether this is for better or worse, it is something that has a major effect on the way media is perceived, and poses a potential threat to established media outlets like the Times. If, as suggested by one of the tweets cited in the story, Twitter is a way for the President (and presumably other politicians) to circumvent the “mainstream media” and target their audience directly, this could explain the Times’ dismissive and somewhat exaggerated coverage of the story.