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Sunday, June 2, 2013

On The Media: Broadcasting the Woolwich Video, George Plimpton's Legacy and More

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The difficulty of reporting on acts of terror, looking back at a giant of participatory journalism, and a blogger who learned to love his online tormentor.

Is There A Right Way To Report On Terror?

In covering acts of terror, like the gruesome Woolwich killing last week in London, how should the press report the story without giving those responsible the overwhelming amount of attention they seek? Bob considers the British media's coverage of the Woolwich attack and the decision by most British outlets to air the video of one suspect's diatribe.

Jim James - All Is Forgiven

'The Deciders'

There's a small group of men and women - "Deciders" - at big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter who make decisions everyday about what offensive speech is pulled from their sites. The huge scale of those sites gives those Deciders enormous influence over the state of free speech on the web. Bob speaks with George Washington University Law professor Jeffrey Rosen, who wrote about the Deciders and their many decisions in The New Republic.

A Writer and His Troll

Journalist Paul Lukas runs a website called Uni Watch, which has a fairly active cadre of commenters, including at least one relentless troll. To his surprise, when Lukas asked the troll for an interview, the troll agreed. Bob talks to Lukas about his six year relationship with his website's most persistent, most creative troll.

How to Create an Engaging Comments Section

Creating an interesting comment space can take a lot of time and energy. In an interview from December, 2011, Bob speaks to The Atlantic senior editor and blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates about his approach to internet comments and his own heavily moderated comment section.

Tone Check

What if your email service could tell you, before you even press send, just how aggressive or angry your email is? In an interview from September of last year, Bob talks to Josh Merchant, CTO and co-founder of Lymbix, a Canadian software company whose program ToneCheck promises emotional spell-check for overheated emailers.

JD Samson & Men - Life's Half Price

George Plimpton: Writer, Quarterback, Pitcher, Boxer, Triangle Player, Trapeze Artist

The name George Plimpton is synonymous with a kind of all-in participatory journalism. Plimpton played quarterback for the Detroit Lions and triangle for the New York Philharmonic, and was badly beaten in the ring by boxer Archie Moore. Bob talks to Luke Poling, one of the creators of the new documentary Plimpton!, about who George Plimpton was and how he got that way.

Nashville Bob

How do you get to Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe, the launch pad of dozens of country music's biggest stars? If you're Bob Garfield - and you're trying to make it big in country music in less than 36 hours - "practice, practice, practice" is not an option. Luckily, Bob has chutzpah, and a brilliant song, just waiting for a record exec to bite. In this piece from 1996, Bob goes on a journey to pen the next country music hit.
To hear the full piece, click here.

If Employment Game Has Changed, Who's Teaching The Rules?


It still pays to earn a college degree. 

That is, if you get the right one. 

Georgetown University that looked into this dilemma.

"The labor market demands more specialization. So, the game has changed," says Anthony Carnevale, the report's co-author and director of Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce.

Highlights From Georgetown's Study

(1.) Unemployment is generally higher for non-technical majors, such as the arts (9.8 percent) or law and public policy (9.2 percent).

(2.) Unemployment rates for recent graduates in information systems, concentrated in clerical functions, is high (14.7 percent) compared with mathematics (5.9 percent) and computer science (8.7 percent).

(3.) Unemployment rates are relatively low for recent graduates in education (5 percent), engineering (7 percent), health and the sciences (4.8 percent) 
because they are tied to stable or growing industry sectors and occupations.

(4.) Graduates in psychology and social work also have relatively low rates (8.8 percent) because almost half of them work in health care or education sectors.

Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Carnevale says students probably aren't choosing the right degrees because they haven't been given the right guidance.

Chasing The Elusive American Dream
Carnevale says some industries that sound promising aren't, given slow hiring in the current economy.

Like biomedical engineering. That's what Sandra Mantilla majored in at Florida International University.

Mantilla's parents came from Colombia with the American dream in mind: Go to college, get a degree and a good job. Engineering seemed to be solid career choice. She intended to work after undergrad for a few years and then return to school for a master's or Ph.D.

She's had internships at NASA, the National Institutes of Health and at two universities.

But she's been looking for a job since November. Despite job fairs and what seemed to be a few good interviews, she hasn't found work. The plan has changed, and now Mantilla intends to go straight back to school.
Mantilla says she doesn't think she had enough information to set realistic expectations when she first went to college.

"It was a little bit hard for me, when I was in high school, to get the guidance because I was a first-generation college student, so I didn't really have all the information," she says. "On top of that, there was the language barrier — I was still learning English."

Sandra Mantilla studied biomedical engineering and chemistry, but she thinks she could have used better guidance in high school.
Sandra Mantilla studied biomedical engineering and chemistry, but she thinks she could have used better guidance in high school.
Courtesy of Sandra Mantilla
 
If she could go back, she says she would have done more research and maybe even held off on going to college to save up money. Her former high school classmates who don't have four-year degrees have moved up, working as medical assistants or retail managers.

"It's sad to see that a lot of people who I went to high school with, who didn't go to college, are doing much better than I am," Mantilla says.

She's not very optimistic, she says, but her parents and fiance are.

"So whenever I get extremely negative, they are the ones keeping me going," she says. "And I just try not to stay still and not doing anything. I keep looking every morning, I sign up for job announcements, I get emails and I keep applying and I'm hoping that one day something will come my way."
Carnevale says Mantilla's lack of guidance is not uncommon.

"The United States really has no counseling apparatus. We have [300] to 400 students for every counselor in high school," he says.

Meanwhile, Carnevale says, college guidance offices are generally geared toward fulfilling curriculum requirements rather than shaping long-term career goals and expectations.

'If I Had A Time Machine'
Timothy Ryan also could have used some extra advice. He has a bachelor's degree in communications from Rowan University in New Jersey.

Carnevale says unemployment for communications majors is "relatively high" at about 8 percent. Ryan says he had no idea.

Timothy Ryan studied communications at Rowan University in New Jersey. He's saddled with debt, holding a degree for a profession that has an 8 percent unemployment rate.
Timothy Ryan studied communications at Rowan University in New Jersey. He's saddled with debt, holding a degree for a profession that has an 8 percent unemployment rate.
Courtesy of Timothy Ryan
 
"To be honest, if I had a time machine, I wouldn't mind going back right now and telling myself, 'Think otherwise!' " he says.

Ryan tries not to think about his debt — he has about $41,000 worth with $2,000 accrued in interest.

His mother has a disability and his father is retired, and neither of them finished college. Now they're living off Social Security, and Ryan says for them, "that's just enough to get by."

Ryan has found himself on the unfortunate side of what Carnevale calls "two classes of students."

"One [class] is the people who go through their entire post-secondary education with no debt — their parents pay," Carnevale says. "And then we have a second class of students who are accruing enormous debt and also working."

The circumstances for the latter group reduce graduation rates, he says. If they do graduate, Carnevale says, they have huge debt, which "influences their prospects mightily."

In Search Of Solutions
Carnevale says "the answer to our problems" is a piece of legislation known as the "Student Right to Know Before You Go Act."

Related NPR Stories

The bill, introduced in May, is sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. It would require universities to disclose the earnings of alumni and the nature of their employment to prospective students.

"It is time in the American education system, given its cost, given the fact that most of us now require it to get a decent job, to align it much more carefully with job prospects," he says.

But that doesn't mean young people should stop exploring and learning in their own time, Carnevale says.

"It is absolutely the prerogative of the young to find their way as best they can and to change their mind. It is an exploratory process — in school and in the labor market," he says.

However, if the goal of higher education is to "help people live more fully in their time," as Carnevale puts it, they need more information.

"We don't want them feeling their way in the dark," he says.