Posts Tagged media

Author Talk: Sarah Sobieraj

On February 28, Professor Sarah Sobieraj gave a talk at Tufts about her book, Soundbitten, which focuses on the relationship between news and activist organizations.

In 2000, Sobieraj started collecting information for the book.  She interviewed more than 120 individuals and highlighted 50 diverse activist groups who focused on a range of issues from war opposition to the environment. When she started interviewing the groups around election time, she assumed that most would want to influence a candidate. She found out that only a few did but what all the groups were really trying to get was mainstream media attention.

Soundbitten dives into not only the tactics various groups used to get media coverage, but also how the media deals with these cries for attention as well as what movements have and have not been successful. Some of the tactics used by various groups include protests, drama, comedy, irony, wit,  recruiting political celebrities, dancing and singing. Most of these groups rarely get any attention for these actions and often the coverage they do get is not about their goals or message. These groups practice media literacy with talking points to give to reporters, however the problem is that journalists prefer unscripted sounding individuals. Some of the groups spend hours practicing for the reporters, when it truth this is what makes the reporters uninterested.

An example of a movement that got a lot of media coverage was the Occupy movement. As Occupy was unorganized and was not as actively seeking media coverage, this made the protests come off as extremely authentic. That authenticity was what attracted media attention. They avoided the trap of seeing media as the goal but were able to see it for what it should be: a strategy.

Professor Sobieraj has been an associate professor at Tufts since 2005. In 2010 she received the Tufts Undergraduate Teaching Award for displaying compassion to her students and passion about her work.

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Wikileaks and Beyond: Rebooting Public Diplomacy

On March 14, The Fletcher School hosted a panel discussion featuring Gavin MacFayden, director, Centre for Investigative Journalism and media partner of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The event, “Wikileaks and Beyond: Rebooting Public Diplomacy,” was live-tweeted by Christine Shepherd, F11, via the Fletcher School Live twitter account.

Here’s the live-reporting recap of the event:

  • Christine Shepherd coming to you from @fletcherschool event “Wikileaks and Beyond”. #wikileaksandbeyond
  • Crocker Snow, director of Murrow Center’s opening remarks: “Assange is held in higher esteem outside the US” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin Macfayden, investigative journalist and media partner of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange speaking now. #WikiLeaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden sharing information about what Iraq warlogs – reports from US soldiers on the ground – showed #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Torture continued after Abu Ghraib….lots of civilian deaths…” recorded by the Iraq warlogs. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “681 Iraqi civilians killed (by US forces) at roadblocks alone…their families were never compensated” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Information from Iraq warlogs has consequences.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden’s group created film about Iraq Warlogs but there was no interest in showing it in the US. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “NYT only covered a fraction of the Wikileaks” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden mentioned several times the extreme rhetoric by members of congress to “assassinate” Assange. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Now moving to respondents. The French consul, Mr. Guilhou speaking now from the diplomatic angle. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “diplomacy is based on trust.” Wikileaks worked to hurt this trust. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Now @fletcherschool student, Elise Crane, F11 speaking. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Crane sees 3 implications for diplomacy after Wikileaks. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • 1. “undermines trust” 2. “prevents info sharing” 3. “keeps diplomats from doing real jobs – they’re mending relations” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Macfayden: interesting that diplomats worry about hurting feelings and maintaining secrecy when corrupt regimes exist. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: who holds the whistleblowers accountable? #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin MacFayden: journalists are held accountable. If the info is wrong, they are held accountable. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience member: “no evidence that Wikileaks has put people in danger” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: “How does PJ Crowley’s recent resignation relate to Wikileaks” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin answers question about distinction b/t “on and off the record”: very difficult to make distinction. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Crowley steps in: is there still a distinction in the age of Wikileaks?#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin: sources should be kept secret but maybe “arms sales to Saudi Arabia” might not need to be secret. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Respondents want to stay away from the PJ Crowley question.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: “is there any evidence that what diplomats are worrying about is happening?” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “I guess so…” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience Member: “Wikileaks seemed motivated to embarrass diplomats rather than promote transparency” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: post Wikileaks, will training of diplomats have to change?#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: in a sense yes. Diplomats will need to work with journalists.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Question: is Wikileaks like the new napster? Will it be irrelevant in a few years. #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Not a clear answer to the napster/Wikileaks question.#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Audience member: “diplomatic services often forget the core value of freedom of the media.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “position of French gov’t is not to accept or deny Wikileaks”#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Guilhou: “often wonder when you write a cable back to your gov’t whether or not cable will be published.” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • Gavin has last words – “there will be more history unfolding b/c many new documents have been pouring into Wikileaks”#WikileaksAndBeyond
  • “Wikileaks model is replicable- one in Indonesia, brazil, San Diego…..” #WikileaksAndBeyond
  • In closing, Gavin asked for volunteers to the Wikileaks org (half joking). #WikileaksAndBeyond

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