We live in a society with so many differernt types of peolpe with many different needs. It is esential if you want to understand those people, to know how they communicate and why?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Last Chapter....

For me blogging has been an experience like no other. I have learned a new language it seems. My vocabulary has even expanded in the process. Our professor in Writ 340 introduced me to the “blogging scene”. Who knew it would be so enjoyable. All the new things I am learning in the blog community fascinate me. My blog in particular is about activism and communication. I my self am an aspiring journalist/ activist who has dreams of one day becoming a journalist for promoting something cause worthy.

My interests include ADIS research, overseas conflicts, gender issues and the current exploitation in Africa. I hope that as a result of this blog someone will have learned something from me. That would be an amazing goal for me. If I inspired just one person then I have successfully completed what I wanted to do.

My blogs were divided by content as well as depth. They started off as an overview of basic communication methods and means and turned into a more in depth and heart felt look at issues such as World Bank and youthink.org. My final and most inspiring storey was on Oprah Winfrey. I think that Oprah is a legend and will live on as somewhat of a hero to many young women such as myself.

In conclusion I would just like to say thank you to Professor Middlebrook for creating a dynamic class that allowed us to explore so much. I feel that I am a more whole individual because of this experience and I will continue to blog and explore the blogging community far after the class is over. This was truly an eye opening experience not only because of the topics at hand but also because of the way in which we wrote and presented our assignments. I am truly grateful.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

2007 USC Honoree: Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey is an activist and a television legend. She came into our lives in 1976 and has been a crucial part of society for many years since then. Oprah is more than just a humanitarian or an activist. She is a whole new category of activist journalist and a legend that will live on through us for many years to come. In her fifty-two years of life, she has accomplished more than any other entertainer or activist in the media. Oprah’s own life is an inspiration. She has overcome incredible hardships and achieved incredible success in her field despite these challenges. Not only has she achieved personal success but she has used that success to help others achieve their own success. The University of Southern California would be lucky to have her as our honoree for 2007. Allthough the trend has been honoring financial moguls, Oprah will be able to contribute in a way that is far more profound than money.

Oprah exemplifies the 1-4 of what is necessary to receive an honorary degree at The University of Southern California. In particular number three. Number three states that the individual being honored must, “recognize exceptional acts of philanthropy to the university and/or on the national or world scene” Oprah has done more for the “world scene” than any other journalist alive today.

While many people might object to Oprah’s celebrity status, she keeps her work away from gossip and the celebrities of the moment. Most journalists are obsessed with celebrities while Oprah only deals with topics that she believes in. According to Oprah’s biography on the biography channel, “in 1994, with talk shows becoming increasingly trashy and exploitative, Winfrey pledged to keep her show free of tabloid topics.” For example Oprah’s Tuesday episode this week was an interview with Madonna. Not to promote her new album or talk about concert ticket sales but to talk about Madonna’s newly adopted son from Malawi. Oprah’s focus was not the celebrity adoption but was on adoption policies for adopting over seas, which has caused so much controversy lately. Oprah did a huge public service by pointing out that there are so many children outside of the United States that need adopting. Oprah has proposed a non-traditional way of placing orphan children in appropriate homes. The American people rely on journalists to bring them news and current issues. If journalists are giving information that is bias or uninformed it can have a tremendous effect on the general public.

Oprah’s most important achievements include, promoting AIDS research, helping build shelter and housing in Africa, caring for Hurricane Katrina victims, helping raped and abused women and children and catching sexual predators. Oprah is committed to informing the public on world issues that are not being publicly expressed. The Honorary Degrees Committee states that the individual choosen must, "elevate the university in the eyes of the world by honoring individuals who are widely known and highly regarded for achievements in their respective fields of endeavor." What greater acheivements can one acomplish. Oprah has done so much for the world.

Oprah does not just hand money over and let it end there. She dynamically goes to locations, such as Africa or Louisiana and takes a first hand view of the situation. She then assesses the condition and decides where she is needed most. For example, Oprah is aware, as are the rest of the general public that HIV/AIDS is a widely spreading disease. According to Avert, “In South Africa and Zambia around 15-20% of adults are infected.” Oprah recognized the need to do something but saw that not much is being done to help these people. She wanted to go and see the people and talk to them, touch them and feel the pain they feel. Oprah is all about physical contact and live interaction.

She planned a trip to Africa and made it her mission to make a difference. While there her contributions far exceeded the general public’s expectations. In 2002 Oprah planned what was called “Oprah’s Christmas Kindness.” This was a 21-day trip of a lifetime. Oprah helped over 50,000 children across South Africa. “Oprah's mission was to give hope to children in South Africa.” and then she gave them a Christmas that they would otherwise never even dream of. She built housing, distributed vaccinations for disease and met basic hygienic needs. These children grew up with next to nothing, most of whom have never received a Christmas gift and Oprah gave them hope for the future.

James Freedman states in his book, Liberal Education and the Public Interest that “in choosing honorands, I emphasized intellectual distinction and public service.”(118) Who better invokes intellectual distinction and public service than Oprah Winfrey? Oprah was raised with next to nothing and was an intellectual from a very young age. Many, including Freedman, might say that choosing Oprah Winfrey is a ploy to generate publicity and gather people for commencement. Freedman states in his book that, “honorary degrees are, of course, one of the ways in which universities advertise themselves. Most announce the names of their honorands well in advance of commencement, and thereby often generate favorable publicity.” Freedman continues with a statement that, “the practice can backfire.” (125) Like any other nomination or award, honorary degrees are often controversial. Not everyone will be pleased, but well-informed individuals will recognize her causes and contributions to journalism worldwide. By and large, the general view of Oprah is in her favor.

Choosing her as a honorand would please many people and give them the chance to hear her speak. This is an incomparable chance that many people will not have. She has made outstanding contributions to the field of journalism and more importantly the humanitarian world journalism field. What makes her contribution different from other female broadcast journalists is the way in which she delivers her message. It is done with actions and communicates a tone of normalcy that people can relate to. Society knows how successful Oprah is but that is not the point of her being honored at the commencement ceremony. She is ranked number one on Forbes Power Celebrity 100, earning $225 million this year and with an overall net worth of 1.5 billion dollars. This makes her job all the more admirable. She does not need to work, or need to be a journalist; it is her passion. It is what drives her. Oprah is a woman who gets drawn in and goes out in the field. Once most journalists have reached success, they rely on other people to gather information and do field work for them. Oprah on the other hand goes out on the streets and meets people in at least one out of five shows.

Recently, she embarked on a road trip across the United States because she wanted to meet America. While on this journey, she stayed in normal American hotels and ate and shopped like the average American. It is no wonder that she is such a success. She is down to earth when very few reporters and journalists are. That is a quality that no amount of money or power can buy.

Mike W. Martin, the author of, Meaningful Work states that, “gratitude is appropriate towards professionals who help us, in part from benevolent motives, for example our teachers and those health professionals who provide us with medical care.” (9) Being in the public eye means people will look up to you. It is important to be a positive role model. Oprah is a mentor and role model. Many people have a mentor or an individual that they hold superior to all others. It keeps us focuses and allows us to aspire for more and reach for higher goals. Martin considers that, “often we cannot fully show our appreciation to individuals who helped us, perhaps because they are unknown to us or dead or do not want what we can give them.” (9) This is the case with many celebrities in society. They feel that they are above the “common folk” and must seek peers and individuals to surround themselves with that have more in common that the average American man or woman. That is not the case with Ms. Winfrey. She embodies what the model of a true American should be. She is fair, unbiased and insightful on a daily basis.

The Role and Mission of USC declares that “In our surrounding neighborhoods and around the globe, USC provides public leadership and public service in such diverse fields as health care, economic development, social welfare, scientific research, public policy and the arts.” It looks as though the university and Ms. Winfrey are on the same page. While USC might claim contribute to a vast amount of people and causes world-wide, many would agree that Oprah’s ability to change the world is that of a leader and a force greater than that of any university or industry can claim.

Past members, for the most part seem to be people who can help or do something financially for the university. In the last two years there have been two individuals who have donated a building to the school, Dr. Dushanka V. Kleinman and Andrew J. Viterbi. Freedman might say that these individuals were the “subject of ironic humor.” (124) It’s ironic that the people who have won were individuals that donated buildings. Oprah most likely will not donate a building or sponsor a fundraiser.

Oprah would be a great match for the commencement honorary degree of 2007. She is an intellectual whose achievements go far beyond academia and into public service. This makes her an excellent match because of her public service, intellectual achievements and global contributions. Oprah can contribute a lifetime of experience, meeting new people, and extremely benevolant and commited interersonal skills. She will inspire everyone at the commencement address and will change their lives in a way that they will never forget. She will make an imprint on their hearts.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Activism: The Webby Award Winner, “You Think!”

The Webby Awards is a great place to become familiar with some of the most unique and visually stimulating web sites around. The judges at the Webby Awards break sites down into categories. These 100+ categories include but are not limited to, activism, art, education, finance, law, and lifestyle. Almost anyone can find a category that applies to his or her profession or interest. The categories are then judged by a variety of different things. Visual and audio stimulation are just the beginning. A nice place to go is the Web Style Guide, it is a site that breaks the material down in terms of what it must invoke from beginning to end. The sites must be incredibly intricate and thorough. From that point, one must examine the discipline at hand and go into depth with links, graphics and sound bytes. Many sites have video footage as well as personal interviews with people involved in the subject matter. After everyone has voted the academy narrows it down to the five best within the discipline. Later the five remaining sites are analyzed and a winner is chosen.

A focus that I chose to evaluate and decipher is activism. Activism is something that can apply to many professions. It does not take a vast amount of time to become involved with activism. There are many things that one can do to become an activist. Volunteering any spare time to help a cause you believe in would be a great way to start. Informing friends and family about current events and issues would also be beneficial. Hopefully the knowledge and information given will allow individuals to make more informed decisions on where they stand. This could lead to involvement and eventually that person has evolved into an activist. Ernest Gaines, a famous novelist once said, "Words mean nothing. Action is the only thing, Doing, that's the only thing."

This years, 2006 Webby Awards choose You Think! as this years activism winner. The site is loaded with information. Most of the site is dedicated to world issues such as globalization, gender issues, education and population. The remainder focuses on health issues and disease that seam to be most pertinent. Proper health care is essential for any world issues to be successful. This is why World Bank states that, "good health is an important foundation for economic growth and a thriving society." This is especially respectable and helpful when dealing with activism.

It is clear that users and new visitors to the site don’t have to pick one specific group or topic to focus on. Rather one can keep an open mind and view all world issues equally. You Think breaks up the homepage into categories that go over current issues in the world. On the homepage you also have a choice to get involved, learn more and take action. The first sentence on the home page informs the user right from the start. An example of a quote that engages one is, "With 1.5 billion of us between the ages of 12 and 24 around the world, youth represent a tremendous opportunity to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty worldwide." That is a moving quote and makes young people feel like they are making a difference.

While the average person may think that You Think is a great site; it has to be very thoroughly evaluated by individuals such as myself that know exactly what they are looking for as well as the demographic that is looking for it. The demographic information can be found on the Pew Demographic Trend site. "The Academy vote will choose a single Winner based on review and analysis of the nominees." The site is broken down and unpacked in terms of, its purpose, whether to inform, entertain or persuade. The site must be evaluated and judged on affectivity as well as credibility. The domain, .org or .edu can also inform the user of what to expect from the site. This is the shell in which the site is evaluated. Branching off from these guidelines are more specific and detailed guidelines that determine the overall value and meaning of a site.

To begin with the purpose of You Think must be determined. Its purpose is to inform but on the flip side it has underlying messages that are persuasive. Like most activism sites You Think has incorporated places to donate and help the main world issues that they feel are most important. This is of a persuasive nature and is designed to get more support on many global issues. The purpose is also to give people a chance to learn in an organized and stimulating way. You think offers many quizzes and games that test your knowledge of many global issues such as poverty statistics, fuel consumption, homelessness and even world population. For example, the section on corruption offers questions such as, "what is corruption, what is accountability and what can you do to help?" All of which offer the reader ways to learn about corruption and even help stop corruption. After taking the test it was astonishing how little one will know about such pertinent information. The quiz section is changed and maintained weekly so you can gain a vast knowledge of world issues in a pleasing environment from your own home.

After closely examining the site it is clear that, the interface and design of the site are superb. It is bursting at the seams with information in a clean organized fashion. This is extremely rare. In doing research it was made apparent that many activism sites are cluttered and designed in a way that doesn’t allow the reader to recognize what to look at first, or where his/her attention should be focused. The site is also not tailored towards one person, rather towards any audience of many different age groups that are currently on-line.

The site design is structured and themed in a manner that evenly breaks up information is an edgy sleek way. The site is modern and colorful while keeping the overall tone serious and educational. For example, a bright and colorful picture might have a dark and somber comment such as a colorful African painting with a caption of, "Sub-Saharan Africa today has 60% of the world's HIV cases, despite having only 10% of the world's population." That is a deep message and it being told in a way that is to the point and clear.

Every page is broken up in a fashion that allows you to decide what you are interested in learning about. You have the option to read a story, watch a slide show, get involved, take a quiz or even hear a public service announcement. All on the topic or genre that interests you. If the full-length version is too much, one can simply listen and see where that leads them. If after reading and listening the user is eager to test his/her knowledge, the quiz section might be useful. The nutrition quiz for example tests basic knowledge of the importance of proper nutrition and asks questions such as, "Malnutrition is most dangerous for people at what age?" It is a great way to see if the information is clear and assure that it has been informative.

Assuming that the information is clear to you, next comes the page design. Information can be clear and page design can be poor. However in the case of You Think, the page design for the most part is thorough and well thought out. The only flaw appears to be the over use of frames. The page is full of frames and consistently frames are being used when you get deeper into the site. Frames are also consistently used on all side bar links as well as the quiz sections of the page. While the frames are accessible and visual pleasing they are a bit repetitive.

Another visually pleasing aspect of the site is the use of graphics. The graphics are vivid and extremely abstract in some cases. However the limitless amount of text needs more support from graphics. A place where graphics would be useful and supplemental is in the education section. Facts about children and education are being given. You Think states that, "In South Asia, 36 million of children are out of school—22 million of them are girls." It would be helpful for a picture of a South Asian girl to be included so that a face can be put on this text.

On a more positive note, the color choices used for not only the fonts but the images as well were clearly thought out; as they all flow together in a harmonious way. While the graphics are lacking quantity it is certainly made up for in the multimedia section of the site. When going back to the archives, it is made aparant the transformation that the site has gone through. It only dates back to April of 2004. In that short time, it went from being sparse and dull to bright and jam-packed.

The multimedia area of the site is unique to any other web site in cyber space. It is robust and organized in a way that allows for some diversity. Like the rest of the site, you are given choices, and a wide variety with in that. The section about "youth activists and HIV/AIDS" is especially superb. It offers helpful advice on how to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS as well as how to help others living with the disease. This area offers a selection for all types of users. Audio vs. video, images vs. text, whatever you are in the mood for the multimedia portion can provide. Branching off into worlds of passion and charisma. The videos are excellent and movie theater quality. The interviews are precise and seam extremely professional. Overall the multimedia portion seams to be one of the strongest parts of the site.

Overall, You Think! is a well rounded and detailed site. It effectively fulfills its purpose of being an activist based site with soul and profundity for world issues. The site keeps users entertained while informing them and allowing them to make decisions with regards to global issues on their own. The site stays away from pressure and is targeted at a wide variety of groups. The metaphorical structures of the site come with the passion for the topic. With the exception of a few mechanical flaws and lack of small images, You Think truly deserves the 2006 Webby Award for best activism site.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Gay Rights and Women’s Rights: A Constant Struggle

It is nearly 2007 and still we are so politically behind. When I say behind I truly mean it. Not much has really changed in a hundred years. Politicians have covered up much obvious discrimination towards women and gay people such as voting rights, financial independence and health care. The truth is that it's still there, underneath the surface. Women are still being objectified by men and treated as objects, some used to show off by their husbands or used for sexual favors. Many men call their wives a trophy wife. What they mean by that is a woman that is good looking, and stays home and cooks and cleans. The same discrimination that straight women face, gay men and women face ten times worse. They are discriminated against in a much more severe way. They are not granted the basic freedom to legally acknowledge their love for one another. Gay couples cannot legally get married or receive any of the benefits that all straight men and women can. I found two blog posts that related to how I feel on this topic. The first was about gay unions and tax cuts and how politicians refuse to give legal rights to gay individuals. This blog is called, the bottomless well of gay identity politics. I wrote a comment responding to how well he described the discrimination that politicians are imposing upon gay people in the United States. The second blog is called, spark it up. Spark it up deals with politicians and their feeling towards women. This blog in particular talks about Jim Webb, a senator who is incredibly sexist and feels women should not get involved in the navy, army or air force. Both blogs are very similar. Women and individuals with different sexual orientation are looked down upon by most of the politicians in the United States. Both blogs that I commented on are trying to change this and educate the public on why we must do something. We can not keep going backward. This discrimination must end.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Air Travel: A Society Communicating Fear

It is nearly the fifth anniversary of September 11th and still, people seam very scared of air travel. Airlines are filing for bankruptcy, cutting costs and in many cases are under staffed. Many of us think that this is because of september 11th. It is not. Air travel has actually increased. However, with the government communicating fear many people blame the debt that the airlines are facing, on September 11th. It seems the shadow of September 11th is lurking over all of us. With on going efforts by various terrorist groups in the last five years, how do we know if it is safe to fly? The answer is we don't. We must go on with our lives. When do you ever truly know if you are safe. The airlines are communicating safety while the government is instilling fear in us from every angle. We must learn to be the judge of what is safe. Terrorist groups will always be a threat to most of our lives.

The most prominent terrorist groups that have made various attempts are, Al-Qaida, Hezbollah and Hamas. Many
of these attempts have resulted in fatalities and severe physical injuries. Not to mention the mental damage it has done all over the world. From Iraq to Israel to right here in America, terrorism is all over the globe. No matter where it comes from people seems to be communicating fear. The curiosity of the American people is at an all time high. They are wondering what will happen next. More specifically what will happen in the sky. A place where there is no back up and no jurisdiction to call for help.

Many of us seem to live in fear that when we board a plane it will be bombed
or hi-jacked. According to Time Magazine, "69% of Americans believe that the war on terrorism won't be won within the next decade. In fact, 73% believe that another attack on U.S. soil is at least some what likely over the next 12 months." That means that 73% of Americans are essentially living in fear of a Terrorist attack. It doesn't stop there. The same article also states that 21% of the people interviewed avoid places that are possible grounds for attack all together.

Numerous people are wondering what the government is going to do to stop the war on terror. The President seems to be communicating fear to the general public. This is done with frequent statements, reminding us that "we are a country at war." He released that statement just this week in a discussion on the global war on terror. Many of the people in the country seem to benifit from fear. It makes them feel like the government is protecting them. On the flip side many others are too scared to even leave their homes. Many people avoid public places and air travel just to feel like they are protected.

As a country we need to feel safe in order to be successful and comfortable in our daily routine. It does not seem that anyone feels safe. One thi
ng seams to be evident, that fear is the best way to communicate with the masses. This unfortunately seems to be getting the point across and hopefully will keep people cautious and aware of their surroundings. Pesident Bush one said, "We do not create terrorism by fighting the terrorists. We invite terrorism by ignoring them." As a society we must follow our instincts while living our lives. We can not let the fear keep us from enjoying the beautiful world we live in.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The internet: Is communication easier on-line?

We live in a society that accepts media communication and in many cases replaces it for verbal communication. Can we really say that this form of communication is wrong? Many college students feel more comfortable on line that in person. As a society we might just have to accept this painful fact.

Lets begin with a crucial on line site that college students feel is essential to their existence. Facebook.com is a site that links college students together and allows them to express themselves in endless ways. People feel safe on this site and feel like they can get their point of view across and not have to worry what facial expressions they might encounter along the way from various friends. According to the “Daily Trojan” a local paper at the University of Southern California, 12,000 students at USC subscribe to face book. Like face book there is also myspace.com. This site is similar but does not have the same guidelines to become a subscriber. On face book you must belong to an accredited university that they have approved. On my space anyone with a valid e-mail address can join.

So what makes these web sites special? Many would say it is the freedom they provide. The effortless ability to not have to worry about appearance or the need to make eye contact with whom your are speaking to. The daily colonial states that the facebook has, "brought to the college experience". You can be in your room at home and simultaneously be looking through your best friends summer albums. It is remarkable how much is available to a subscriber.

Myspace.com and facebook.com give you the ability to invade people’s privacy as well. That is where it seams to get tricky. You must know what is acceptable to post and what is simply not. If we can educate students as well as the general public on the danger of the Internet, we can keep it a much safer environment for everyone.