This blog is, more or less, a space to collect thoughts on the “cultural meaning of news.” The topics emerge from my own assessments of and interests in how news represents the world. 

In 2011 and 2012, I used this blog to track news coverage in Iowa City that’s contributed to my forthcoming book. Now, I am using it for future projects, specifically collecting thoughts on news media as a function of social control. (As with all work on this blog and on my website, these are my thoughts and are not those of my employer or any other affiliation.)

Note: After a spam attack — and time I spent finishing my dissertation and my first year as an assistant professor — I’ve lost a lot of the past data (with work, I might be able to find it), but I have cleaned this up the best I can do. It will continue to be a process.

About this blog: What news is does not answer the question of “What is news?” The question mark might present the possibility for multiple answers, some of which may begin with “Well, it depends.”

Understanding the cultural meanings of news – concepts of interpretive community, collective memory, and the ideological work of the mass media – is challenging.

It is in these cultural explanations that we can see the true work of news – to delineate what we “know to be true” from what we are “told as being true” in the news media’s presentation of our existence and the meanings of everyday life. There’s a long list of names already associated with the social and cultural meanings of news.

Indeed, the terms “social” and “cultural meanings of news” have been turned into book titles on the topic. Still, the cultural (and critical) studies of media are ripe with opportunities to explore the meanings of news and its purpose in society and culture.

I hope in addition to my research that this blog can connect current topics with a critical/cultural understanding of what news media mean. Instead of answering the question of “What is news” – which often is answered in the perspective of what qualifies as “good journalism” – I hope to explore “What news is” – a cultural institution.

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