Alarming Highlights

     It is finally my last entry for the Jotting Journal! I have learned an abundant amount of information in Doctor Strangelove’s Media Industries class this semester, so I’ll be using my last posting to highlight some of my favourite lecture topics or pieces of information.

     I really enjoyed Bruce Campbell and Marita Moll’s “Taking the Top off the Jellybean Jar: The SPP Regulatory Framework Agreement and Current Changes in Canadian Telecommunications Regulation”, as it discussed the Regulatory Cooperation Framework Agreement and how it too works for the numerous regulatory harmonization schemes existing in our beloved country. This is an issue and the authors address this.

     Personally, I have never given much thought about harmonization up until reading For Sale to the Highest Bidder: Telecom Policy in Canada.  It is truly something that all Canadians must be aware about to make certain that Canada is still in the hands of Canadians and Canadian aspirations and policies continue to be of importance. We are considering harmonization here, essentially, as the attempt to make parallel the telecommunication policies of the United States with Canada’s. What also caught my eye and I felt was very alarming was the claim that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government right now is devoted to deregulation (p.31). It is not simply various government officials that are advocating and working towards deregulation but it is our current government in power and this thought conjures up instant worry.

     Campbell and Moll also draw attention to the fact that the larger and more powerful countries, such as the United States can bend the rules when it comes forcing the government of developing countries to undertake a deregulatory approach. The powerful countries do this by using rather ambiguous treaty rules (p.29). These are just a couple of warnings that are given regarding deregulation and ultimately, it is our responsibility; the citizens and the educated, to keep ourselves informed on the matter and do what we can to make it known that deregulation is not advantageous for Canada. After all, we have heard multiple times in class that the United States policies and initiatives are not exactly successful ones and with deregulation, we will be losing much of what we cherish in our country – our independent and culture-oriented telecommunications system.

     I also enjoyed learning about net neutrality and I appreciate the concept being taught in class because a number of my other classes would mention the term; however, it would not be adequately explained or expanded on. I never felt like I cared a great deal about the internet or the rules that surround its use but truth be told, I now realize that as a University student relying heavily on internet use and making my way into a world that depends just as much or more on the internet, I should care what happens to it. Furthermore, now that I’m aware that internet neutrality is at risk for being more controlled and that the information could be much more constrained, I see a need. We need net neutrality in order to have the freedom and the wide and fair access to the world’s information that we have had and been grateful for, online.

     Those are just two of the many topics that I enjoyed being enlightened on this semester. The information, no matter how frightening at some points, is extremely crucial to have. Thank you for a great semester. I hope everyone who has taken the time to read our blog has enjoyed reading it as much as we have enjoyed writing it!

Take care.


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Government Influence on the Mass Media

     My last entry focused largely on introducing propaganda and the five filters of the propaganda model, provided by E.S Herman and Norm Chomsky. Tonight, I will be further detailing this concept with a case study to better illustrate how government influence permeates the news production process and how it is that we are affected by this.

     First of all, governments are extremely reputable sources for journalists and there is a strong connection between state authority and those responsible for producing the news. Brian McNair, author of an Introduction to Political Communication says that McNair notes that there is a mutually interdependent relationship that exists between media actors and politicians (1995, p.64).

     Strong government influence on the mass media presents various implications for the social world today. Writing for the Star newspaper, Susan Riley remarks on Stephen Harper’s decision to not lower the Parliament Hill flag for each fallen Canadian soldier. He claims that it is out of sensitivity to the relatives and he also claims that, for the same reason, Canada will not have media coverage of the dead soldiers being returned to the country for burial. Riley, however, criticizes Harper’s claims and says that they “feed concern that his real goal is to hide negative images of a war that will only get more bloody.” She also comments that throughout the on-going war with Iraq, the United States mass media have also fallen short of providing an entirely truthful account of the war by keeping negative and gruesome images from reaching and circulating amongst the U.S citizens. Riley argues that the public need to see the reality of the war rather than a veiled and incomplete version. Susan Riley makes a perfectly appropriate argument here and does a great job and exposing how government choices can effect what the mass media produce and distribute.

     Ultimately, the mass media play a key role in establishing the knowledge of the public in regards to worldly events and information. If the public are only knowledgeable to the extent that state authority would like them to be, there is a problem. Voting, for instance, becomes skewed because the citizenry is not fully informed or informed correctly and cannot establish for themselves an accurate opinion and make the best, most well-informed decisions. Thus, government influence on the news-production process is extremely imperative to recognize in our social world today.


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Propaganda: Watch Out For It

     In class, we discuss so much about what influences, especially commercial influences, have on our information and our technological world. Today, I’ll be concentrating on propaganda. Most people have heard this term before and generally think it refers to ‘persuasion’ or something along those lines; however, it truly should be looked at on its own. In order to create a better understanding of propaganda, I will make use of this blog entry to explore E.S Herman and Noam Chomsky’s five filters of propaganda in the news production process.

      The first filter refers to profit, concentrated ownership, and owner wealth. This filter effects society because the media organizations are willing to disregard voices in which oppose the elite. The second filter considers how media organizations do their best to meet the wishes of the advertisers who fund the programming and content. Advertiser influence is also not such a positive thing for society because bits and pieces of a news story might be left out and a less truthful account might be made while the media is trying to satisfy advertisers. An example is news organizations excluding negative or gruesome images while reporting on warfare, because advertisers might feel such content will rid the want to shop in the consumer. From this idea, we can see the propaganda and see how it leads to skewed or dishonest news-production. Propaganda distorts what we hear and understand from the media.

     A third filter of the propaganda model is the reliance of journalists on information from only sources in which are authoritative or already reputable; consequently, media organizations are again excluding various sources that do not fit this mould. The audience then only hears from the same or similar few sources and is not informed or enlightened by the many other voices that have valid information to contribute to a story. The excluded sources might actually be closer to being honest and neutral. The fourth filter of the model looks at commercial interests in which make the media susceptible to the criticism coming from groups that are likely to oppose or protest. The media organizations are then cautiously responsive to these groups. The final filter focuses on the internalized views that news producers have. Resulting from these internalized views and ideologies, they are likely to frame a story in a way that is reflective of these views.

     Bearing in mind these filters of the propaganda model that Chomsky draws attention to, we see that the media is heavily influenced in a number of ways and this does affect the content that is created and distributed. The audience must then always be conscious and sceptical in regards to what they are reading and believing to be impartial information in the media.

Source:     Herman, E. S. & Chomsky, N. (2002 [1988]). Manufacturing consent: The political economy of the mass media. New York: Pantheon Books.

Have a good afternoon and please watch out for propaganda when you pick up your next newspaper or flick on your nightly news report!


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What Does the Future Hold?

Good Morning Readers!

Well, today is December 5th and it is my 22nd blog for the Jotting Journal, meaning that this will be my very last entry for Professor Strangelove’s Media Industries class.  I was brainstorming what to blog about, seeing as how it should be something fairly significant since it is the last blog, and I decided to blog on one main theme that was woven through our course this semester – and, which will be present on the final exam. 

This theme is the current conflict between the public interest and the corporate interest.  Because of new technologies and opportunties provided to the public – users of the internet – we are experiencing a freedom we’ve never felt before.  Rather than being exposed to strictly corporate content, we are now creating our own amateur content, which in some venues is even more popular.  Take for example Youtube; the majority of content on this site is created by us the public or is a product of corporate content that has been mixed, altered, and made into something new.  Also, as I have talked about in previous blogs, file sharing sites such as LimeWire and Frostwire allow us to avoid puchasing corporate content and instead get our music and videos for free – a phenomena called “pirating”. 

All of these aspects are in the public interest.  However, now the corporations are scrambling to control the chaotic pirating happening on the internet by imposing laws such as digital locks to keep us from accessing certain websites or copying any media.  Furthermore, large corporations are constantly in the process of convergence – trying to capture all technologies in one and trying to be both producers and distributers of content.  The owners of the main media pipes aim to purchase companies who produce content so as to stifle any competition and fill the pipes with only their content for us to view.  This is clearly not in the public interest; rather it is benefitting the corporate interest and is an attempt to put them back on top of the pyramid. 

Furthermore, we can examine corporate interest and public interest in reference to sovereignty and national interest as a whole.  As citizens, we would expect that our country’s broadcasters, government, and media regulators act in the public interest; but, this is not always the case.  The power and influence that multi-national corporations hold influence the regulators of broadcast and telecomm and end up serving and protecting the corporate interests, rather than regulating on behalf  of the public interest.  This is a main criticism of our class textbook, “For Sale to the Highest Bidder” and also a dominating view of Strangelove. 

We are part of a capitalist system, and as a result, sovereignty and national interest in broadcasting usually take the back seat to economic and corporate vested interests.  This will become even clearer if the system ends up becoming totally deregulated and the market forces “follow the laws of nature”; thus, a few very powerful corporations will dominate the media system to compete with eachother and protect against foreign markets.  With absolutely no regulation, our interests will not be protected and we will be subject to their will – especially if they continue making laws such as the digital lock to stifle our internet use, our freedom and creativity.

In class Strangelove posed the question: will the genie be put back in the bottle or will coporations win like usual?  I think that we have come a long way in expressing the public interest and utilizing the technology at our hands to rebel against the corporate monolopy.  For example, in our textbook, Ben Scott’s essay “Advcacy and Activism in Media: A Case Study in Media Reform” highlights efforts being made to protect the public interest and and the internet from folding under corporate power.  A group called, SavetheInternet Coalition campaigned and fought for net neutrality for years which finally resulted in a government vote tied 11-11.  Although the coalition did not win their fight for net neutrality to be put in legislation, the tie of 11-11 shows that powerful people are on the public side and have our interest in mind.  Clearly, progress is being made.  But, how much progress can we make and is it enough to fight against the powerful players who have always, and hope to always, dominate our media system? That is still the question.


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Stop Playing with Yourself

In Media Industries this year, I have learned about Bill C-32, the CRTC and it’s regulatory duties, the corporate intent to control our media habits, the corporate interest vs the public interest, deregulation of the industry, convergence of technology, and the monopolization of big business.  All of it is interesting and useful information to apply to our current and future studies.  However, one thing that has stuck with me after being with Professor Strangelove last year and this year, is not textbook facts but rather his dislike toward cell phone use in his class.  Although all students know that professors do not like them to be on their cell phone texting or playing games, they do it anyway, either hiding it in their lap or under the desk, in hopes that the professor won’t see them.  However, Professor Strangelove makes it known everyday in class that he doesn’t want to see anyone fiddling with their phone for atleast the hour and a half that they are in class, which, as I have seen, is a very difficult task for students to succeed. 

The reason I am talking about this is because it made me think about how addicted to technology everyone is these days; furthermore, it drew my attention to how much students, who pay loads of money to attend university, are too busy texting in those 90 minutes of class time to take any information in.  Why attend class if you aren’t even going to listen?  The same issue can of course be related to laptop use.  Because laptops are allowed in the majority of classrooms for note-taking purposes it is a much easier way for students to discreetly communicate with others through facebook, msn, e-mail, etc, search the web, watch videos, play online games, or in Strangelove’s mind, watch porn. Ha ha. 

Personally, I never bring my laptop to class for that exact reason.  I much prefer taking notes because I believe I can focus much better to the professor and class discussions as opposed to using a computer and facing the temptation of the wonders of the internet.  This is not to say that those who use computers in class aren’t strictly taking notes, many do. But there are also a large majority who spend their time engaging in other online activities that not only distract themselves from the class discussion but other students around them. 

 Not only is this not fair to the students who wish to learn, but it is unfair to the professor who is infront of the class, trying to teach a lecture or engage them in discussion.  I think they would be much more interested in the subject they are teaching if they have students engaged with them, rather than engaged with their screen or, as Strangelove says once again, “playing with themselves”. 

The Globe and Mail published an article on November 26th called “Fed-up Professors says Texting is the New Doodling”, that discusses the issue of texting in class and the effect it has on both the students’ learning and the teachers’ performance. The article says that texting is the new phenomenon that surpasses “old-school” classroom distractions such as doodling, daydreaming, and note passing.  A study was done by psychology professors at Wilkes university and found that 90% of students admit to sending texts in class while 10% admit to using it during an exam, and 3% admit to using it to cheat.  The majority believe that they should be able to have and use their cell phones in classrooms “as long as they’re not disturbing those around them”.  Teachers on the other hand are beginning to take different approaches to texting in class. While some professors have a no-cellphone policy and have given students an automatic zero if they catch someone texting during a test, others are beginning to adapt texting exercises into their lectures. For example, if the teacher posed a question to the class, students can respond via text and their answers/comments are displayed on a big screen.

Personally, I think that incorporating texting exercises into classrooms is a bit over the top and unnecessary. A no-cellphone policy with an engaging professor and class discussion using verbal communication not texting seems more sensible.  But then again, maybe these new texting intiatives will encourage students to put their texting to use to benefit both themselves and the class.  I can’t really see this catching on globally but it’s an interesting idea at that. 


Rubinkam, M. (2010) “Fed-up professors say texting is the new doodling” Globe and Mail. Retrieved from:

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The Twelve Days or Scams of Christmas!?

Good afternoon readers!

Well November is coming to an end which means that Christmas is just around the corner! But of course before I can be home with my family, watching classic Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate in front of our beautiful -but allergy inducing- Christmas tree, final assignments must be finished and exams must be studied for!! With this in mind, the days of “The Jotting Journal” are also coming to a close – I believe the final date for blogging is December 3rd (?) after which, the blog link will be sent to Professor Strangelove for assessment. So, why not fill one of the last blogs with Christmas spirit, right? Well although this blog is reflective of the seasong of giving, I will be discussing a Toronto Star article published by McAfee that warns consumers, for some – those on the “naughty” list – it is the season of taking.

McAfee is a security technology company who’s duty is to take both proactive and reactive measures to ensure that internet users can safely and securely connect to the internet, access websites, insert private information, and shop online.  They are like the “watch dogs” or “security guards” of the internet.  Today, Monday 29th 2010, McAfee published an article called “The Twelve Scams of Christmas” in an effort to advise and warn happy-go-lucky consumerts this holiday season.  As McAfee told the Toronto Star, “’tis the season for those more naughty than nice to swindle naïve web surfers out of their shopping money.”  Not only are the classic “old-school” scams surfacing this season but now, newer and perhaps more convincing scams are emerging in an effort to access users private information and empty their pockets in the process.

Rather than worry about one Grinch stealing Christmas we now have to worry about numerous cybercriminals circulating the web. Bah hum bug.

Therefore it is important for everyone, internet users or not, to read McAfee’s list “The Twelve Scams of Christmas” so as to be on guard in the upcoming weeks.  The scams they are listed are as follows:

1.)iPad offer scams   2.)”Help! I’ve Been Robbed!” Scam   3.)Fake Gift Cards   4.)Holiday Job Offers  5.)Smishing   6.)Suspicious Holiday Rentals   7.)Recession Scams Continue       8.)Grinch-like Greetings  9.)Low Price Traps   10.)Charity Scams   11.)Dangerous Holiday Downloads   12.)Hotel and Airport Wi-Fi

Two of the scams that I have come into contact with often are 2.) “Help! I’ve Been Robbed! Scam” and 5.) Smishing Scam.  I have experienced both of these scams through my hotmail account; firstly receiving multiple emails from people who dire situations who need cash fast to get them out of trouble and secondly, from all of the Banks (Desjardins, RBC, TD, Bank of Montreal, etc). The latter is an especially tricky scam because it is apparently coming from an institution that you trust to do business with on a regular basis. If someone does not know that banks never contact you through email, they could become a subject of cybercrime.

Not only is this article relevant to our present-day situation with cybercriminals, an internet swimming with scams, and vulnerable people who fall victim to them, it is also relevant to media policy and our class discussions on privacy.  Using the internet has many, many advantages, however, it can also be risky if not used carefully. This warning lists of 12 pervasive scams shows how easily criminals can use the internet to their benefit to access our private information and steal from us. Thus, when we talk about the internet, the issue of “privacy” comes hand-in-hand, especially in our world now with so many tech-saavy people with criminal intentions. 

The internet is great – and so is online Christmas shopping!! But also remember to use the internet with caution, be skeptical of any advertisement, email or request for info that looks suspicious or untrustworthy, and keep the 12 scams of Christmas in mind!


Toronto Star article:–watch-out-for-the-twelve-scams-of-christmas?bn=1

McAfee’s complete list:

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Intellectual Property in Canada

     This week in my Policy Studies class, a CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office) official came in to discuss with and enlighten the class on intellectual property. It was also mentioned in our Media Industries class yesterday afternoon, as it relates to piracy. I feel like it is a rather suitable topic to blog about because, truth be told, up until this week I had neither been informed nor entirely aware of what intellectual property entails; however, it is a very important topic to be knowledgeable on. This morning, I will provide the essentials of what is actually included as intellectual property.

     First of all, CIPO plays an important part, as they are responsible for granting intellectual property rights in Canada and this encourages inventiveness and creativity to develop and expand further in our country. Intellectual property is comprised of 5 particular types of rights: patents, copy rights, trade marks, industrial design, and integrated circuit topography.

     Fresh inventions are only considered patents when they are of use, when they are new, and when they are not an obvious skill or invention. Next, copy rights can be placed on a literary piece of work, an artistic piece, a musical piece, or a theatrical/dramatic piece. Interestingly, anyone in Canada can mark their own work with a copyright symbol and it is instantly protected. It is not necessary that they file at CIPO in this case; however, as soon as the creator has established 50 copies of that piece of work they must then file. Another interesting point to be made is that 50 years after the death of a creator, the work becomes public domain and anyone has the right to use it (i.e Shakespeare’s plays). Trademarks are another type of Intellectual Property right and can be seen virtually everywhere that you go. Trademarks are made up of a design or phrase (or both at once) that set apart a particular service or product from any other service or product. Trademarks must be registered at CIPO in Canada and trademarks are also branded, and this benefits the creator or company in a number of ways: it proves who owns the product or service, it allows the creator to identify infringement, it prevents against others using very similar or the same words or design to mark their products, it makes the licensing process of the product or service more simple. A popular trademark is the Blackberry. In addition, to patents, copy rights and trademarks, industrial design refers to the visual aesthetic of the product and only that, whether it be a certain shape or have a particular pattern that distinguishes it from other products. CIPO clarifies that, in order to have industrial design rights, the design must be original and it must be two or three dimensional and easy on the eyes! Last but not least, integrated circuit topography is commonly less-known than copyrights or trademarks, and it refers to the protection rights of three dimensional, electronic circuits which can be found in cameras, in computers, and in other important technology.

     It is important, with the creation of any goods or services, that one seeks protection of their idea. At this age and in post-secondary, it is not uncommon to come up with an explosive idea that could end up making mass amounts of money. Consider Mark Zuckerberg for instance: a young, Harvard student who invented facebook and, consequently, has made billion of dollars off of it. He has had some implications with rights and the law but he is a prime example of the capabilities of the mind at this point in life on and just how innovative and successful one can be. It is imperative though that we are aware of intellectual property rights, in order to take the necessary steps to ensure that we are credited for what we create.


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Bill C-32 and a Closer Look at Copyright

In our media industries class, Bill C-32, a bill currently being debated over in the government, has been a major references point in many of our discussions.   Bill C-32 was introduced on June 2, 2010, by Industry Minister, Tony Clement, and Canadian Heritage Minister, James Moore, as a third attempt to introduce copyright legisation. It is a copyright reform bill seeking to limit our extensive online activity through the increased enforcement of copyright laws and an introduction of technical tools to prevent the pirating of content, such as the digital lock. With a digital lock in place, we will no longer be able to transfer music from a C.D. onto our computer and then onto our iPod or MP3 player, because in the eyes of the corporations and government, format-shifting or copying of content is considered a violation of copyright.  Even if we purchased the C.D. or DVD from a store and desire to transfer it to another piece of our technology for our own personal use ie. not for re-distribution, we will still be found guilty or pirating or violating the copyright laws.

Michael Geist is a very active follower of this issue, as I have learned both through our class and his blog. On September 29, 2010, his daily blog was titled “Bill C-32: My Perspective on the Key Issues” and in it he listed five issues that he believed were “likely to be contentious in the upcoming hearings”.  While Geist acknowledged that at first, the government did a good job producing a bill that demonstrated compromisation over issues such as fair dealing, ISP liability, consumer provisions, and statutory damages, he followed by saying that the introduction of the digital lock “undermined many of the positive steps forward”.  How we can look at this is, Bill C-32 introduces many rights that we have as consumers and users of content, but then immediately reverses 360 degrees and presents us with a law or ruling (ie. Digital Lock) that then takes away all those rights. 

Beware the Digital Lock

The reactions toward Bill C-32 have been mixed. While Geist argues  that the support of consumers and education groups have been “far more supportive of the bill than proponents such as the music industry” other reporters, citizens, or industry personnel will argue the opposite. In my eyes, it seems clear that the musi industry would offer more support than the consumers because they are the ones losing money when internet users download their music for free off file-sharing sites or burn copies of CD’s for friends.  Consumers, citizens, and education groups on the other hand have been benefitting from their access to practically unlimited content for a minimal amount or in most cases, for free. Not only is it about money but also convienence, practically, and use of technology.  If I buy a CD, it seems logical I’m going to want to put it on my iPod as well so I can listen to it as I’m on the go.  For educational institutions, teaching is enhanced by visuals such as videos, images, or even print-outs.   As my policy studies teacher, Genevieve Bonin was explaining today, an action as simple as showing a youtube video or copying an article to distribute in class is a violation of the copyright law.  We must be reminded that just because the internet is free, it is not okay to reproduce or distribute.

Bill C-32 just recently entered into it’s second reading in the House of Commons on November 2nd, 2010 so it will be interesting to hear of any progression or outcomes that arose from that discussion.  I feel like this will be long drawn out process, particularly because of the immense controversy over digital locks. 


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Corporate Influence on Post-Secondary Education

     This afternoon I will be discussing an issue which is extremely relevant to our Tuesday November 23rd class. It appears as though big-time corporations have developed a substantial influence on university campuses in Canada, according to the article “Canadian professors decry power of companies in campus research” derived from The Chronicles of Higher Education and written by Paul Desruisseaux. Corporations now, and have for the last decade (according to the date of the article), play a greater part in funding university education whereas it used to be the federal government. I will draw attention to the implications on the universities that the loss of government support for funding and the increasing reliance on private funding has. A substantial concern made clear in this article is the influence that commercial interests have on what is being taught at the universities; the general agenda of the university can be and is affected. This thought is connected to the massive influence that the elite of society have on the media and how corporations are capable of determining what it is that gets told to the public by media organizations. I believe that university students, however, should be protected from this twisted corporate influence.

     According to the article, the grants that are offered to post-secondary students on behalf of the federal government are now required to have a corporate partner, or the researcher must be in association with and paired with the industry in some way when carrying out his or her research. Professors and other faculty at the universities express their concern over the matter and they believe that “scholars are being forced to forsake basic research for applied research, and to abandon scholarship in favor of entrepreneurship” (Desruisseaux). Moreover, faculty believes that this poses a serious and detrimental threat on the liberty of scholars, in their studies, and also puts at risk the honourableness of the universities.

     Bill Graham, the president of the Canadian Association of University Teachers and a professor himself, believes that this is the most volatile problem existent for universities or colleges in decades. The primary implications of having more corporate influence and shove, in regards to the research of universities, is the unbalanced agenda. This lack of balance in the agenda may lead to a less democratized way of operating the school and less chance for faculty members to get together with the university leaders. In addition, with corporate influence comes the encouragement on the student body to be entrepreneurs and sell something, whether it is a product or an idea, rather than critique and analyze to obtain truth.

     Another concern, according Janice Newson (associate professor of sociology at York University) is that “[c]orporatization has been diminishing the public-service university and replacing it with a university serving private interests.” She also comments that “[w]e’ve been told that this model of corporate partnering encourages innovation, but that’s not so–it stifles innovation.” Another important note that was made, in this article, pertains to the secrecy between the universities and the corporations that they are associating with, especially in terms of the intellectual property clauses. Thus, these are major concerns that cannot be kept a secret, as it does impact the millions of students who pay millions to acquire a degree, and it also impacts the faculty because their careers and research will experience changes if commercial interests increasingly influence curriculum.

     Ultimately, Desruisseaux proposes that this issue should be kept in mind. I believe that it would be best if university funding could largely come from the federal government, because I feel like there would be less room to have corporate bias (which is examined in this article). I had never thought too much on the matter before; however, it is a significant concern and does have a huge impact on many people who go to school and expect certain uprightness and truth in their education.

Source: Desruisseaux, Paul. “Canadian professors decry power of companies in campus research.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 46.12 (1999): A59+. CPI.Q (Canadian Periodicals). Web. 24 Nov. 2010.


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Children Online: A Serious Issue

     This afternoon, I wish to blog on an important topic that I was reminded of while I was reading on the CBC news website. The article, “Willow Palin in Facebook hot water for using gay slurs against schoolmate” addresses the occurrence of well-known politician Sarah Palin’s daughter expressing homophobic slurs on facebook. The article reports that sixteen year old Willow Palin used the words to retaliate against a fellow student who was poking fun at her mother’s reality television sitcom. The remarks she made are very commonly used on facebook (ie, “gay”) but, because she is Sarah Palin’s daughter, it was brought into the media and she is now being scrutinized for the matter.

    This article actually reminds me of a previous blog entry that I wrote on the matter of politicians using twitter to disclose personal thoughts and government-related issues and policies. I still believe, as this article also suggests, that it should be the responsibility of the politicians to be careful in regards to what they report over the internet and what those who they are responsible for report. Sarah Palin, herself, admits to using twitter and facebook quite frequently, as it is convenient for her. What this article, more specifically, sheds light on is the duty of politician parents to be extra cautious in controlling what their children are saying on social networking sites – for the simple fact that they are known politicians. Moreover, it is their own careers that bring the child’s remarks into the spotlight in which wouldn’t be there otherwise.

     The article also briefly proposes that this is an eye-opener for parents who are not very watchful over their children’s use of social media websites. I wish to extend on this thought. There are new dangers that exist in this world that never existed pre-internet. There are new concerns for parents and these new concerns are very substantial concerns, because it is true that a parent or guardian cannot linger over their child’s shoulder on every computer that they use and every account that they build for themselves. Parents need to keep themselves as informed and into the business of their offspring as they can, when it comes to their activity and mannerisms online. I find it shocking that I’m getting ‘friend requests’ on facebook from children that I babysat when I was in high school. Something is very wrong with this picture for me: I feel like facebook is not for kids. I feel like the internet, in general, is not for kids. Of course when I was a kid, I did all the begging and convincing that I could to make my parents believe that there is much to offer for kids on the internet; however, now that I can maturely and clearly reflect on this idea, that’s simply not the case. There really is not much that is safe for kids online. There are games online, yes, but there are games offline too. I feel like children should be children without the potential risks present on the internet and social networking sites. There are enough dangers offline as it is. Bullying and inappropriate remarks are just a couple of the existing issues with the presence of children online and, of course, it’s not solely the children of public figures that need to be careful but any child.

     My parents, and most parents, teach their children not to talk with strangers; however, the internet is a highly interactive place for any user and, inevitably, you’re likely to interact with strangers. Moreover, these online strangers are not only just as dangerous as the strangers a children can encounter at the grocery but these online strangers have access to information instantly with the sole presence of a facebook account or a status update on twitter and this is something that should, in no way, be considered lightly.



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