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Communication, Academic

Illustration by David Wheeler
Spring 2013

Believe it or not

When a public policy issue, say climate change or health care reform, becomes politicized, people with strong partisan leanings sometimes have a hard time dealing with facts.

Douglas Blanks Hindman, an associate professor in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University, researches this effect, which he labels the “belief gap” between knowable and testable claims and partisan perception of those claims.

Communication researchers have long had a theory about a knowledge gap, which says the mass media does not distribute information about science and public affairs equally, and over time the difference between what highly educated and less educated people actually … » More …

Orcas
Winter 2012

Chris Dunagan ’74, ’75—Bearing witness to the sights and smells of our soggy backyard

If you cover the waterfront the way Chris Dunagan does, you have to expect a fair amount of smells. There’s the fresh, tangy scent of estuary and the mild musk of beach wrack. There’s the stench of rotting shellfish during the great Oyster Rescue of 2010, and the outsized rot of a beached gray whale. Dunagan, 60, has documented a lot of beached whales, although the numbers are hard to nail down.

Counting just grays, not killer whales or humpbacks or dead whale reports over the phone, he says, “I’ve probably gone out to 20.”

Dunagan (biochemistry ’74, ’75 communications) has been the environmental reporter … » More …

Unleashed magazine
Winter 2012

A healthy dose of sex in the media

The average teenager will encounter 10,000 to 15,000 sexual references in the media each year. Sex-related scenes appeared on television at a rate of 4.6 per hour in 2005. Unfortunately, most of the sex portrayed in media has little to do with the reality of sexual health, says Stacey J. T. Hust, associate professor at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication.

In looking at movies, television shows, music, and magazines popular with teens, she and her colleagues “found that less than one-half of one percent of all sexual content is actually health-related content,” says Hust. “They’ll depict a whole lot of sexual … » More …

First Words
Summer 2012

The learned observer

“We should observe first, and think afterwards.” 
—The Lancet, Oct. 19, 1823

Part of the nature of a writer—but then again, perhaps I speak only for myself—is the constant reimagining of one’s self and context, the repeated immersion in myriad and esoteric subjects, all the while desperately hoping for infinite reincarnations in order to fulfill all the things one would like to understand, experience, and be. On the other hand, being a writer embraces the perfectly paradoxical satisfaction with one’s role as a learned observer.

Given the skeptical writer’s reluctance to rely on reincarnation, the only way to grasp these multitudinous desires and perspectives … » More …

Video: Excerpt of The Murrow Interview with Ayman Mohlyedin of Al Jazeera English

In March 2011, founding dean of WSU’s Murrow College of Communication Lawrence Pintak interviewed Ayman Mohlyedin, correspondent for Al Jazeera English, on Northwest Public Television‘s The Murrow Interview. Watch an excerpt of the interview below. 

You can read more about Mohlyedin and other journalists in the Arab world in “Revolutions are televised by Arab journalists.”

3 minutes, 26 seconds

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Summer 2011

Revolutions are televised by Arab journalists

The world watched people rise up this year against dictators and authoritarian regimes across the Middle East and northern Africa, their protests aired by satellite television and the Internet. In Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, and other countries, journalists televised, twittered, and spread the “electronic virus,” as Lawrence Pintak calls the media revolution, around the Arab world.

Pintak, founding dean of the Murrow College of Communication and a former Middle East correspondent for CBS, says satellite TV plays the critical role in the protests. Eighty percent of the Arab world gets its news from television, and international news in Arabic, produced by Arabs, displays the … » More …

Fall 2003

The first casualty

Vietnam was the last conflict in which reporters could speak and write with prudent freedom.

During one of the nation’s many wars, I wrote of a patrol that came under fire and killed an enemy soldier. Before continuing, the GIs cut off the dead man’s genitals, and forced them into his mouth, leaving also a playing card-Ace of Spades-on his body. The soldiers said that such were enemy superstitions, that they would not cross over a dead man so festooned, thus it was required to keep the other side effectively tethered if the patrol was to complete its mission.

It was a poor excuse for … » More …

Fall 2004

Viewing life through the lens of a camera

After a dozen years as a photojournalist with KIRO-TV, Brian Miller left the security of a television-station job in 1998 to start his own company, Wide Angle TV.

Two factors influenced his decision-time and money. And he yearned to be independent.

He now works one-third as much as he did before and earns three times the money, he says. But the freelance business can be unpredictable, subject to such variables as the weather and the economy.

Miller won’t venture a guess at an “average” work week. “There isn’t any”-and he’s fine with that. Some days he might put in 15-20 hours-when he’s working. The downside … » More …