September 2008 blog archives
Audio file (mp3).
The 5th annual 21st Century Corps of Discovery Lecture was all about materialism. Titled “Always Wanting More: Implications of Materialism for Ourselves and Our World,” the lecture given by Dr. Marsha Richins of the MU Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business struck home with many of the event’s attendees.
Photo by Shane Epping
According to Richins, materialism isn’t all about outward appearances or the stuff that we have or even want. Rather, it’s about what we think those acquisitions will do for us. If you think a new “X” (car, backyard pool, video game, designer handbag, etc.) will make you happy, then you just might be a materialist. Otherwise, you might just be a conspicuous consumer — someone who has a lot of things or experiences (fancy vacations, for example) that you like to show off. Having a lot of stuff doesn’t necessarily make someone a materialist.
The blame game
We’re not entirely to blame for this behavior. In fact, the need to acquire stuff can be traced back to our ancestors’ survival instincts. (They needed new and better tools to make hunting easier and more efficient, in much the same way we “need” bigger refrigerators to hold more beer for that weekend get-together, right?)
The media share some of the blame too. What else are we supposed to think when we’re constantly bombarded with ads showing happy people with expensive things that we don’t yet have? And don’t forget our insecurities. By constantly trying to keep up with the Joneses, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. (Maybe if I have a PS3, too, I’ll have more friends
Because the high of acquiring something new wears off, we need to get more stuff to get our next high. It’s addictive and ultimately results in materialists being less happy overall. Much like other addictions, this can alienate us from our friends and cause us to be self-centered and shallow. According to Dr. Richins, materialists experience more spousal conflict, a higher divorce rate, more debt and shorter friendships than their non-thing-oriented peers.
So how do we become happier?
For starters, focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. The obvious way to do this is by comparing yourself to those less fortunate than you (say, starving children in developing countries) instead of celebrities who have “everything.” Focusing on others by volunteering can also do wonders.
Basically, be grateful.
Quarterback Chase Daniel has been virtually unstoppable this season, moving past the career 10,000-yard mark. He’s the fifth player in Big 12 history to do so, and now has 10,356 total yards on offense. Photo by Shane Epping.
Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel had yet another career day as the Tigers beat Buffalo 42-21 on Saturday at Faurot Field.
He went 36-for-43, racking up 439 yards and two touchdowns. The 83.7 completion percentage is a Mizzou record, previously held by Daniel. That was aided by 20-straight completions, setting a new Big 12 Conference record previously held by Iowa State’s Seneca Wallace in 2001 and Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford in 2007, who had 18. Daniel also outdid his previous record in yardage, beating out his 421 yards against Colorado in 2007.
“He made some outstanding plays today and got some great protection, and the receivers made some great catches,” coach Gary Pinkel said. “He brings his A-game every time he plays. He’s smart about what he does. He’s like a coach out there; he knows the offense so well. He always keeps his focus.”
Notes: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon recorded 20 tackles, including half a sack in the win
Mizzou has scored on its opening drive this season while forcing its opponent to punt on each opening drive
The attendance of 65,556 was the sixth-largest crowd at Memorial Stadium since it was reconfigured to current capacity in 1995.
After a welcoming ovation, Madeleine Albright walked to a podium, where she spoke at Memorial Union for about an hour on Thursday afternoon.
Albright expressed her views on foreign policy and shared her support of Barack Obama to a full room in S107. Not an empty seat remained.
For the latter 30 minutes of her presentation, Albright answered questions unrelated to her brooch or sense of style.
There was no shortage of discussion topics, both general and esoteric, at the Missouri School of Journalism Centennial events. But while variety abounded, common themes emerged.
The ubiquitous questions:
- Why is the world’s first/best journalism school in the middle of Missouri?
- Is journalism a profession?
The debate/dissertation-sparking subjects:
- Discrimination and bias, objectivity and fairness.
- Everything is so different, but nothing has really changed much.
My condensed conclusions:
This first question seems easy enough to answer. While more academic and philosophical theories surface, pragmatists agree: A Boonville, Mo., journalist named Walter Williams had a vision for a journalism school. He was in the middle of Missouri, and the nearest land-grant university was in the middle of Missouri, so here we are. (As Steve Weinberg and Fred Blevens point out, though, if Joseph Pulitzer had gotten a plan in place earlier, Columbia University would have beaten MU to the punch. You snooze, you lose.)
There was much talk of online “citizen journalism.” Some people tout it as a utopian, Benjamin Franklin-esque free exchange of ideas; during this morning’s technology summit Current TV’s Amy Grill presented an innovative integration of viewer-created and “professional” content. Other people are horrified by the notion; during this afternoon’s roundtable, CNBC President Mark Hoffman equated “citizen journalist” with “amateur physician.”
Of course, Walter Williams never earned a journalism degree.
(Does anyone remember underground newspapers? Or ‘zines?)
William Taft, the 93-year-old J-School alumnus (BJ ’38, MA’39) who, without question, stole the show during the first day of seminars, says journalism is not only a profession but also an important profession. In Heaven, he speculates, no one will need doctors and lawyers, but journalists will be in high demand, since the people on the east side of Heaven will want to know what the people on the west side are doing. Asked whether those new to Heaven start on the police beat, Taft quipped, “They write obits.”
Can a media entity separate itself from its advertisers? Do political interests drive content? Can an investigative journalist who’s a J-School insider write a fair book about the history of the J-School? Can a young reporter who’s a member of a racial minority cover race-related stories?
Here’s what I (Karen Pojmann, BJ ’94) garnered from journalism school back in the day: True objectivity is an unattainable goal, but unwavering pursuit of it improves the practice of journalism.
Another perhaps-unattainable goal of the profession (or “trade” or whatever) is an environment free of discrimination. On Wednesday, the authors of the book Journalism — 1908: Birth of a Profession addressed racism, sexism, xenophobia and glass ceilings of the past, while audience members offered up parallel stories from recent years. On the second day, the large multigenerational group packed into a small RJI classroom for “Then and Now: Learning and Doing Journalism as an African American in Mid-Missouri” discussed (with varied degrees of candor) varied experiences with racism that occurred in years ranging from 1970 to 2008. The problems take different forms, veteran journalists said, but they persist. Art Holliday (BJ ’76) of KSDK-TV in St. Louis offered a sliver of optimism: The fact that we have to deal with racism in 2008 sucks, he conceded. “But the fact that we recognize that we need to have a conversation about it — that is progress.”
Everything old is new again
There was a lot of talk about new technology and what it means for traditional media. People said:
- Blogs are a danger to “real” journalism.
- Community journalism is alive and well; blogs, message boards and social networking sites are the new small-town newspapers.
- Addressing the smart-phone/PDA-laden “second wave” of the Internet in the J-School is just like starting the TV station KOMU; things worked out then, and they’ll work out now.
- New media will not destroy traditional media, just as the telegraph did not ruin the newspaper, TV did not take down movie theaters and video did not kill the radio star. (OK, that last part was my own contribution.)
- Stop worrying about the medium and concentrate on the message. The appropriately named media force Brian Storm of MediaStorm suggested “platform agnostic” content and said “It’s not about the delivery mechanism; it’s about journalism.”
Where do we go from here? A young person in Wednesday’s 1908 discussion innocently asked this question of the 93-year-old Taft. In 2108, she wondered, when people are celebrating the 200th anniversary of the J-School, what will they be talking about then?
Taft’s response: “Who cares?”
The world’s oldest school of journalism took a big leap into the 21st century with the interior design of the new Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute.
RJI’s decor is all about glass, chrome, bright-colored squishy ottomans, futuristic work stations, hip conversation-piece Scandinavian chairs and enough red carpet to put Hollywood to shame.
Check out Mizzou magazine’s virtual tour of the facilities, with photos by Rob Hill.
Or come to the official dedication of the institute. The ceremony takes place at 4 p.m. today on campus in very wet Columbia weather. It’s free and open to the public.
When organizers of the Missouri School of Journalism Centennial and Dedication decided to kick off the celebration with barbecue, they didn’t choose just any old barbecue. They went for the big guns: Mike “The Legend” Mills — three-time Grand World Champion at the International Memphis in May Barbecue Cook-Off, aka the “Super Bowl of Swine.”
Photos by Shane Epping
I stopped by Mizzou Arena yesterday to see how the pre-event preparations were going down. When I arrived, Mike Whiteley of Lonnie Ray’s Barbecue in Harrisburg, Mo., was there with some ribs he’d made. “When I heard Mike was going to be in town, I just had to stop by and meet ‘The Legend,’” Whiteley said.
As if the Grand World Champion designation wasn’t enough of a reason to kick off the centennial celebration, Mills also co-authored a book about barbecue with his daughter, Amy Mills Tunnicliffe, BJ ’86. Called Peace, Love, and Barbecue, the book earns some major street cred in the culinary world with a foreword by “America’s most innovative restaurateur,” Danny Meyer, and an introduction by Vogue food critic and regular Iron Chef America judge, Jeffrey Steingarten. Not to mention a James Beard Award nomination — the “Oscars of the food world,” according to Time magazine — in 2006 in the Food of the Americas category.
Years ago, Mills was working as a dental technician and barbecue was simply a hobby. But things fell into place over time. On a whim, he opened a restaurant in Murphysboro, Ill. His mother made the sauce, and he “practically gave away the barbecue to sell the beer.” Well, now he has a chain of four barbecue restaurants in Illinois, called 17th Street Bar & Grill, and three more in Las Vegas that go under the Memphis Championship Barbecue name.
Mills thinks most people will be surprised by his barbecue. “This whole area is a mecca of great barbecue places, and normally it’s a lot sweeter than the style we do, which is called Memphis style and is drier.”
He isn’t kidding! Mills kindly let me taste some of his first batch — 150 racks that cooked from midnight to about 6:30 a.m. — and they caught me so off guard I was afraid I’d offended him. I’d grown up with very saucy barbecue that didn’t allow the flavor of the meat to shine through, but Mills’s ribs were different. They had a good, dry crust on them, were completely moist on the inside and had a rich pink tint, thanks to the smoke, which (for once) I could actually taste. Sure, there was sauce on them, but it was playing a supporting role to the overall effect, which can only be described as balance.
Excuse us while we toot our own horn.
When we found out our Department Web Communications multimedia specialist Shane Epping was taking part in a book signing during the Missouri School of Journalism Centennial and Dedication, we had to get the word out.
While a graduate student at the journalism school, Epping worked with fellow student editors Abigail Pheiffer and Leah Gallo under the direction of faculty members Rita Reed and David Rees to create a photojournalism book about the historic town Arrow Rock, Mo., called Arrow Rock, Where the Past is the Future.
Featuring more than 300 black-and-white photos, the book offers insight into the history of the town and the lives its current residents. It’s a great addition to any coffee table. (Again, pardon our horn-tooting.)
To pick up a copy and meet the editors, stop by University Bookstore at 12 p.m. Friday, Sept. 12. Proceeds benefit the school’s photojournalism program.
And tell Shane we said hi.
Photo by Ann Hermes