Monthly Archives: August 2008

In The News

My opinion piece on the historical significance of this week’s Democratic National Convention was published in the Bergen Record on Sunday. Click to read “Historical dimensions.”

In addition, U.S. 1 Newspaper was kind enough to print my research essay on the private lives of public officials, a paper that became topical again with the revelation that former Senator John Edwards had engaged in an extra-marital affair. Click to read “The Press and the Private Lives of Public Officials.”

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Is There More to Olympic Coverage Than Meeets the Eye?

Today’s official opening of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing brings to mind a study I found several years ago while I was writing a paper about The West Wing.

One of the areas I was exploring was whether the popular television program promoted nationalism. While conducting my research, I came across an article in Critical Studies in Mass Communication titled Manufactured Conflict in the 1992 Olympics.

In it, the authors suggested that television can unknowingly contribute to the social construction of an American identity. Their analysis of television coverage of the 1992 Winter Olympics, concluded that “political nationalism is completely woven into the fabric of the greater discourse.”

The study cited numerous examples in which team and individual performances were presented in terms of nation-states’ relation with the United States. For example, TV commentators described the American hockey team as the “unheralded heroes of Team U.S.A.” and said the following about the Unified Team: “Do you think anything’s changed because of the dismantling of the Soviet Union? You’ve watched the old Soviet team, the Big Red Machine, and now, of course, that sports system is in shambles.”

Sixteen years later, it will be interesting to see if similar commentary finds its way into the coverage of the 2008 Olympics.

Summertime Blues

The months of July and August are traditionally slow times for news. Although New Jersey has had a few significant stories break this summer (such as child pornography allegations involving a state legislator), for the most part it has been a slow time for news in the Garden State.

Ironically, it has been New Jersey news organizations themselves that have emerged as the subject matter of several news accounts this summer. Collectively, these developments could very well change the face of journalism in New Jersey.

At the start of July, The (Bergen) Record announced plans to have most of its reporters working as “mobile journalists” before the end of the year and to leave its longtime Hackensack office in the next two to three years.

Later in the month, two major figures at NJN News — anchor Kent Manahan and Director of News and Public Affairs William Jobes announced they were retiring. Senior Political Correspondent Michael Aron will take over Jobes’ job on an interim basis. No word yet on the anchor position.

And before July was over came word that Newhouse News Service, the Washington, D.C. bureau for Advance Publications (which includes The Star-Ledger) will close on Nov. 7.

This was followed a few days later by an announcement from the owners of The Star-Ledger that they are seeking buyouts from 200 of its non-union employees by October 1 – or they will put the state’s largest newspaper up for sale. A similar scenario is taking place at The Trenton Times, which like the Ledger is owned by Advance Publications.

One final item. This won’t have the impact of the other developments, but two Bergen Record reporters also made it into the news this summer. The New York Post on July 17 reported that billionaire Manhattan hotelier Patrick Denihan tried to chase the two reporters off a public beach near his house in Bay Head, N.J.