J500 Media and the Environment

About Me: Vince Meserko by vincemeserko
February 18, 2008, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Society + Media

Well, I’ll start by giving a brief biography of myself. I’m a little bit older than most in this class. I’m *cough* 29 and have two kids, Bronson and Tyler (ages 10 and 12 respectively). My ex-wife Lydia lives in Boston with Bronson and Tyler. I miss them (and my beloved Red Sox!) but I’m adjusting to Kansas (and the Royals) well. After graduating from high school in Oregon and moving with Lydia to Boston, I became interested in environmental justice (and subsequently animal liberation efforts) after I noticed our local park’s bird feeder was inadquately serving the park’s burgeoning meadowlark population. The finches and the hornbills were gobblin’ up the good stuff leaving the meadowlark to scrounge around in the grass for crickets. After an intense letter writing campaign and phone calls to the parks and recreation department we finally got justice for the meadowlark. I’ve since dedicated my life to local and regional bird conservation efforts. This led me to a realization I still hold dearly. With a little sweat, tears (and bird seed!) anyone can fight the corporations … and win. As for my free time activities, I enjoy playing (semi)-competitive tetherball with my friends Otis and Desmond. We just got involved in a recreation league here in Lawrence. We call our team “The Ball and Chain Gang.”

As for my musical tastes, well, we’ll just say they are diverse. I like everything from late period Bee Gees to early Dave Mustaine-era Metallica. I’m also working on some of my own music. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my bio.

Ok, I made all that up. I just wanted to see if anyone would actually read this far. My real life is pretty pedestrian. I’m 22 and I grew up in Overland Park, Kansas. One time when I was 15 I got the 10 and under menu at Denny’s. I’ll graduate in May with a degree in journalism: strategic communications. I love strategic communications. It fascinates the crap out of me. I’m a huge fan of Douglas Rushkoff. He’s a brilliant dude and one of the foremost thinkers on media, strategic communications, cyberculture and dozens of other things. His newest book “Get Back in the Box” is one of the best things I’ve ever read. I also realized I never ever want to do this strat. comm. stuff as a career. It’s a terrible fit. For one thing, I’m not very skilled at conversation. Especially phone conversation. Leave it me to me to pick a major I love studying for purely academic reasons that I have no interest in applying to my post-college life. This is why I’m set on going to graduate school. Either that or I’m pretty sure there’s an opening at the KFC on 23rd street. It is my strategic communication work, however, that got me interested in this class because of the project with CReSIS last semester. The CReSIS project was alternately infuriating and enlightening and got me interested. This class is great. I learn a lot just by listening. You all know so much, and I don’t know that much so I do posts about facial hair. In my free time I am a DJ at KJHK 90.7 FM, the radio station here at KU. I do a blues/soul/funk show called The Jookhouse on Sunday mornings from 10-Noon. I’ve gotten to interview some vaguely famous musicians over the past year which has been a huge thrill. Sometimes they stay at my house during the Wakarusa Festival. The Jookhouse is probably the lowest rated show on KJHK so call in requests to make me feel like I have a huge audience. I am also the station’s Development Director. For the past couple of years I have been a contributing writer for CHALK Magazine. The magazine’s editor has a fascination with psychoanalyzing me so the last few stories I’ve written involve me going to psychics and getting tarot card readings and stuff. Here are some favorites:

Comedians: George Carlin, Bill Hicks, Doug Stanhope, Jim Gaffigan, Steven Wright

Music: Bob Dylan, Todd Snider, MOFRO, Wilco, The Mother Hips, Toots & the Maytals, old soul music, Hound Dog Taylor, BB King, blues, folk and alt-country. Thelonius Monk and John Coltrane.

Books: Anything by Jack Kerouac and Chuck Klosterman. A Confederacy of Dunces, A Fan’s Notes, and this one book my mom used to read to me about a kid who eats too many pancakes (I can’t remember the name).

Thanks. Look forward to getting to know everyone better.

-Vince Meserko


Just the facts, ma’am: Kim Wallace by kimwallace
February 18, 2008, 10:50 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags: , , , , ,

Vital statistics

Name: Kimberly Wallace…but I go by Kim…sometimes Kimbo, Kimmie, or Kimmer (My name means “golden needle” in Vietnamese and “from the royal fortress” in American baby books.)

Age: 22 (my half birthday is May 27, if you’re interested in sending me a gift…)

Heritage: Scottish, Vietnamese, Chinese—multiracial American (Sometimes I just say Scasian…)

Birthplace: Fort Smith, Arkansas (Who leaves Arkansas for Kansas? It’s not even a new set of letters! And for the record, never say “Our Kansas” to me or make incest jokes. It’s annoying, kind of like the whole Wizard of Oz thing is annoying to Kansans. Seriously.) So yeah…I know a little about Mike Huckabee

Class: Senior! Finally 🙂 And a four-year, graduating-on-time senior at that.

Major: Journalism (news and information; magazine emphasis). Minor in sociology with an emphasis on gender studies and work inequality. I do lots of reading and writing…

Languages I’ve studied: Vietnamese (studied through conversation); English; Swedish; Latin

Languages I speak: English, jacked-up Vietnamese phrase-lings, jacked-up Swedish, pig-Latin

Job: I’m an editor at Natural Home (aha, it’s all making sense now…)

5-year goal: I plan to move to the city and edit a women’s health/beauty/lifestyle magazine.

Favorite colors: I could be cliche and say green…but I won’t, because it’s apparent by my couch/bed/curtains/dishes/towels that my favorite color is red.

Words that I live by: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. (Words from an opera singer!)

Love of my life: Detective Elliott Stabler of Law & Order: SVU (Ask my coworkers about this obsession. It can’t be healthy.)

Other loves: My nerdy hax0r boyfriend, shoes, Scrabulous/Scrabble, Googling and chocolate. Not necessarily in that order.

I could keep going, but it’s just going to get weirder and weirder and weirder…. 🙂

Googling myselfSandy toesGo west, young grasshopper

(From left to right: I was the number one hit at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.; With his toes, my boyfriend etches my name in the sand in Santa Cruz; Who wouldn’t be smiling after taking in the Northern California sunset?)


About Me: Lauren Keith by Lauren Keith

Mmm, how I hate people with two first names.

I love hearing other people’s stories much more than I enjoy hearing my own, so I usually pare it down to the bone and probably make myself seem much more boring than I really am.

I grew up in the suburbian black hole that is west Wichita. I lived in the same house for 18 years until I moved to Lawrence. I went to school with a very cookie-cutter group of people, nearly all average, white, middle-class Kansans, kids of parents who wanted their children to go to a school whose name was a synonym of the word “corn.”

Since I was young, I’ve developed strange fascinations for things that I’ve “felt sorry for.” First it was the state of Utah, then it was Neptune, and then it was playing the French horn. I didn’t know why, but no one else liked these things, so I figured that I should and that I should show other people that these other things were not as weird or bad as they thought. Okay, except Utah.

Maybe that’s how I ended up a liberal, atheist, German-speaking tree-hugger from a community that prides itself on its ultra-conservative religion, its gun stash and its uncanny ability to forget that the rest of the world exists.

I’ve always loved to write. The first thing that I really remember writing and my teacher being amazed by was a story that I wrote in the fifth grade about traveling on the Amazon River. Just like the game Amazon Trail, I had to cure people who had malaria before my boat capsized or before I got eaten by piranhas or something else bad happened to me in 8-bit color.

Somehow from that, I thought journalism was the natural direction to go in. Somewhere along the line, I grew tired of writing and found something else to feel sorry for: commas. People forgot these poor guys all the time, but I vowed that I never would.

During my senior year of high school, my newspaper adviser told me that I should go to a speech the next day and write a story about it. She handed me a brochure with the speaker’s name on it: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. She said that this was the opportunity of a lifetime and that I was lucky to go.

I laughed. I had no idea who this guy was, but I was glad that he was giving me the opportunity to miss a day of school.

Kennedy’s speech was absolutely amazing and opened up something new in me. I felt his urgency, his passion. I just couldn’t believe that he cared so much about something that so many people didn’t even think twice about.

“An Inconvenient Truth” came out that summer, and of course, it wasn’t playing in Wichita, but I had to come up to Lawrence for freshman orientation. A nice two-fer.

Once again, I was amazed. The first time I saw it, I actually started tearing up when Al says, “We can do this! Each of us is a cause of global warming, and each of us can change it.” (wow, I’ve never actually admitted that to anyone before, I hope no one is still reading this).

So here I am: in journalism (I’m still trying to convince myself that I’m in it for more than the commas) with a nice side of environmental studies.

People keep asking me what I’m going to do with those degrees, and for someone who has had her entire life planned out in to-do-list format, it’s been really difficult telling people that I don’t know.

Saving the world is a nice resume filler, they say, but what are you really going to do?

Thankfully, this class has solidified that a bit more for me.

I’m hoping that someday my brain will become smart enough for the science side of the environment, but until then, I will just stick to informing other people about it.

—Lauren Keith


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Niche Media’s Green Obligations? by genghiskuhn
February 18, 2008, 4:37 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags: , , , , ,

Bryan Welch opened his presentation last Thursday with a reiteration of a well-known journalistic truth: fair-and-balanced sucks. Instead, he proposed a more palatable idea: the journalist’s duty is to present his or her best crack at The Truth.However, Mr. Welch’s reply to a question addressing hot-button green issues pointed in an entirely different direction: “Well, for example, Utne readers like to be challenged.” This statement’s unspoken half, unfortunately, is that the readers of Motorcycle Classics DON’T like to be challenged. From presenting The Truth (sorry about the caps, I just can’t help it!), we’ve suddenly shifted gears to “creating communities of readers”. Is this Facebook or the news? When coupled with the intense user-feedback mechanisms he described, this means people will never have to read anything that upsets or challenges them.

The upshot: Do informed niche-media journalists have a duty to present green material in publications with anti-green readership? If so, how should they go about it?

(Next time: Natural Home AND Motorcycle Classics?!: Media Diversification Makes John Uncomfortable)

John Kuhn

About Me: Ranjit Arab by rarab
February 18, 2008, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Society + Media | Tags: , , , ,

A “conversation” with Ranjit Arab and master-interviewer James Lipton:

lipton.jpg ra.jpg

LIPTON: Your upbringing is quite fascinating—one of the truly extraordinary American narratives of the last century–an Asiatic Huck Finn, if you will. Please tickle our eardrums and tease our imaginations once more with the melodious tale of your origins.

RANJIT: Huh, do you mean where am I from? I was born and raised in Wichita, did my undergrad in journalism at KU in the early 90s, spent most of the ‘90s playing, recording, and touring with some indie bands around town. When that fizzled out I got a job, which led to another job, which led to my current job publicizing books for The University Press of Kansas. Not a bad gig, really. We publish some pretty cool environmental books, among other subjects.

Anyway, I’m also back in school, slowly working toward a master’s in journalism, one that uses my documentary filmmaking as a form of advocacy journalism.

Marvelous! Bravo! Simply divine. Speaking of your documentaries… (reads blue card) You spent some time on Guantanamo Bay, is that correct?

No, that’s not correct–not at all!

But weren’t you accused of terroristic behavior.

Oh, that. You’re talking about that crazy woman I tried to interview. That’s all been well documented. I prefer not to talk about that anymore.

Understandable. I used to be a pimp, but personally I enjoy discussing that…You are an actor.

Yeah, kind of…I mean, I guess so. I acted in two independent films that are scheduled to be released any day now. I really enjoyed acting, but it all just sort of happened by coincidence…I didn’t necessarily seek it out.

Nonetheless, it’s safe to say that your performances continue to inspire audiences nowhere.

Yeah, I guess that’s safe to say.

In 2008 you enrolled in a Media and The Environment class. The world was never the same.

(Long pause) Is there a question?

What did you think you would achieve in this class?

I’m not sure. I’d like to learn how to effectively communicate our environmental problems in a way that is informative, entertaining, and ultimately influential in changing some of our current practices.

That’s it?


Splendid, Now, on to our standard questions. What is your favorite word?

I like words that sound dirty but really aren’t, you know, like Referendum or Discombobulate…say it slowly: dis..com…bob…u…late–isn’t it awesome?

Indeed. What is your least favorite word?


What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Are you hitting on me? To answer your question, I like being reminded I’m just a small part of something bigger.

What turns you off?

You are hitting on me, aren’t you? …Stubbornness. I guess that’s my turn-off.

What is your favorite curse word?

Right now I’d say it’s dipshit.

What sound or noise do you love?

Guitar feedback. Also, tablas.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Alarm clocks

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Blue Man Group alternate

If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?



At last the truth is out by travisjbrown
February 18, 2008, 8:18 am
Filed under: Food + Health | Tags: , , , ,

Check out this story in today’s Times about the largest beef recall in history. Apparently they’re mistreating the cows. Who knew?

-Travis Brown