Junot comes to #EMORY

One type of media we⏤ or at least I⏤ haven’t talked about in length this semester is books. Back in January, we all subscribed to Wired and a daily newspaper of our choice. For me this is the Wall Street Journal. And I must say, I’ve loved getting my newspaper delivered to my doorstep every morning.

But just like the fields of music, live TV, and shopping (to name a few), I would argue that the digital is having an affect on reading trends nation- and perhaps worldwide. I found a few neat Pew studies documenting trends in reading after the advent of things like the Amazon Kindle. A 2015 study found that “Slightly fewer Americans are reading print books.”

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Given that I’m a huge book-lover (and a proud Kindle-owner), I always find studies like this so disheartening.  I think everyone should read, and as often as possible.

Which brings me to the focus of this post: Junot Díaz’s April 12 visit and lecture at Emory. The Dominican Republic-born and New Jersey-raised Díaz is a world-class author… a Pulitzer prize winner to be more specific. It made me so happy that the Schwartz Center was packed with people⏤ both young and old⏤ who came to hear him speak.

Díaz began with a brief speech before diving into audience questions for the majority of the event. He talked of xenophobia, “the Wall,” racism, freedom, and history. All the while, everyone around me remained totally engaged in his words. I must just be accustomed to the always-on world of 2017 because this felt like a treat.

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It also had me wondering about how and why Junot has achieved this fame and captured the legit undivided attention of his audience. Is it because he writes in a way that works with our fast-paced, fleeting way of life? Or maybe the issues he writes about are high priority. Either way, he owned it.

Props to Emory for making this happen!

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Fake News and the Consumer

I am glad that Dr. Allison encouraged us to go to the March 24 Teach-In on the Quad. I don’t know if I would have heard about it otherwise, and it ended up being very interesting.

The theme was “Intellectual Responsibility: Truth and Politics.” A bunch of the different academic departments had an hour time slot, in which students and professors spoke on how this theme applied to their research and work. The Film and Media Studies Department focused on Fake News, a topic we have discussed almost weekly in our class.

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I especially enjoyed the second presentation that featured Emory Professor and Journalist Hank Klibanoff. After many years in the field of journalism and an impressive career, it was neat to hear Klibanoff’s thoughts on the current state of News in America.

According to Professor Klibanoff, “in mainstream media, no one is as critical as journalists are of themselves.” He argued that this may be the only industry where professionals daily point on and call attention to mistakes made in the ‘Corrections’ section of a newspaper, magazine, or publication.

I think the key word here is mainstream. Klibanoff was referring to news producers that hold themselves to a high standard, that have integrity. I immediately thought of publications like the Wall Street Journal, which I chose to subscribe to at the beginning of the semester. I think journalists at theWSJ would fit the bill.

This leads to something else we have discussed in regards to fake news and news in general: how do you discern the good stuff from the bad? How do you filter through all of it and get a well-rounded, partisan glimpse of society when there’s so much out there? Klibanoff believes this burden has shifted to the news consumer.

“You have to bring your own filters and scrutiny to what you read,” said Klibanoff.

I enjoyed Klibanoff and the other professors’ comments. I particularly appreciated his comment about the changing role of the consumer in this evolving and changing news media landscape. I will be certain to keep that in mind and not believe everything I read!

They do in Chinatown.

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On Tuesday, February 28, I made my way to Midtown for the Landmark Cinema’s Noir Film Classics Series. Beginning in January, the theater started showing a classic film every Tuesday evening- the last of which takes place on March 7. On that particular Tuesday, the Landmark was screening the 1974 Roman Polanski film, Chinatown.

Considered by some to be the best film of all time, it stars Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway (whom we have certainly been hearing much of lately!) in a captivating neo-noir mystery. I enjoyed the film as I had not yet seen this particular one by Polanski.

I especially appreciated the introduction and post-film Question & Answer led by Gabe Wardell. This format was reminiscent of the way we handle screenings in our class; either Gus or Dr. Allison present the film, and then we dissect it together. Just like in our Wednesday discussions -following whatever we have most recently watched- I was impressed by some of the points people raised.

 

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What was especially interesting in regards to our class was the style in which Chinatown was made. Chinatown was set in the 1930s. Although it didn’t actually come out until the mid 197os, it seems to me that Polanksi constructed it to resemble an earlier type of cinema. That is, he employed new-and-improved technology or technique to achieve the look of the past.

What struck me so much about this is how much it contrasts with our relationship with media. Something I have noticed in our class discussions and through the readings is the way each of us strives to be on the cusp of what’s hot and avant-garde. But here, with Chinatown, it was all about going backwards in time.

I highly recommend (to all in the class) checking out the Landmark Theatre and their different events! When I went, they mentioned that a new Classics Series will be starting up soon.