More People Get Election News From Radio Than Newspapers

When’s the last time you’ve intentionally listened to the news on the radio? It’s probably more recently than the last time you’ve read a newspaper.

From the latest Pew Research Poll:

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In the 18-29 demographic, 53% of respondents say the most helpful type of news comes from social media or news websites/apps. Only 2% mention local papers in print (1%) or national papers in print (1%).

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It’s worth sifting through the entire poll if you’re interested in this sort of thing. And if your organization is still printing newspapers or relying on print advertising to survive, start counting down the days.

Even sillier, when I graduated from the Penn State College of Communications less than two years ago with a degree in journalism, I had to take a class on how to layout a newspaper design. Guess how many classes I had on how to effectively use social media?

Zero.

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On Hover Parenting

On Hover Parenting

I was lucky enough to have two parents who put just enough pressure on me to keep me going in the right direction but accepted my own agency once I left for college (and, more accurately, the last couple years of high school). My mother experienced the teary eyed college goodbye freshman year not in front of my dorm room, but in my driveway at home because I insisted on driving myself to college. My parents visit me about once a year on campus, and I make it home every couple months. It’s an incredibly healthy, non-intrusive relationship.

I am not a parent but I spend a lot of time thinking about what kind of parent I want to be one day. I suspect it is the sort similar to my own — I don’t feel compelled to call home every day or share all of my grades or constant anecdotes about my daily life, and although my parents probably think I share less than I should, I consider my family unit fairly strong.

As I watch an era unfold where more and more parents continue to not just offer guidance but demand complete agency over their son or daughter during their entire college experience (“I’m paying for your tuition so therefore your life is not your own,” etc). We all know the parent who comments on every single Facebook photo of their kid in college, which seems to be a phenomenon occurring with increasing frequency. It was through that lens that I read the three-part series by Peter Gray in Psychology Today, which paints a scary picture about the effects of this new sort of “helicopter parenting” on society by creating legions of feeble minded young adults.

From Part 1:

In previous posts (for example, here and here), I have described the dramatic decline, over the past few decades, in children’s opportunities to play, explore, and pursue their own interests away from adults. Among the consequences, I have argued, are well-documented increases in anxiety and depression, and decreases in the sense of control of their own lives. We have raised a generation of young people who have not been given the opportunity to learn how to solve their own problems. They have not been given the opportunity to get into trouble and find their own way out, to experience failure and realize they can survive it, to be called bad names by others and learn how to respond without adult intervention. So now, here’s what we have: Young people,18 years and older, going to college still unable or unwilling to take responsibility for themselves, still feeling that if a problem arises they need an adult to solve it.

From Part 2:

In another study, Michelle Givertz and Chris Segrin (2012) surveyed 339 college students and their parents (mostly mothers). The students and parents completed questionnaires having to do with the parents’ style of parenting, and the students also completed questionnaires aimed at assessing self-efficacy and sense of entitlement. The entitlement questionnaire had questions concerning the degree to which the student felt that he or she deserved special favors, beyond those that others received. The results: Those students who had the most controlling and intrusive parents—as assessed by parents’ as well as students’ reports—manifested the lowest scores on the self-efficacy scale and the highest scores on the entitlement scale.

From Part 3:

“I am a high-school guidance counselor and have noticed a drastic difference in students’ ability to cope and handle adversity. I recently had a student email me at 9 p.m. because she couldn’t handle the B she just saw posted by her teacher. I had a parent meet me twice, wanting her son to drop an elective since it wasn’t meeting HER expectation of a 98% or higher in each of her son’s classes…Kids come to my office continuously because they feel anxious or are having a panic attack.”

At minimum, this research seems to back up anecdotal evidence that parents are coddling their children well into their twenties. My high school baseball coach, whom I still consider a mentor, was fired a year after I graduated due to what seemed to be a change in the attitudes of the parents (and subsequently, their kids), resulting in multiple parental complaints to the athletic department about fake issues, like the coach yelling at a player. I’ve been in classes with students who break down in tears over Bs. The administrators I interact with the most in my capacity as GPSA President report a steady increase in calls from parents about university issues (if my parents ever called Old Main about anything, I’d disown them). We are now in an era where fathers of Division 1 football players post constant updates about their sons on fan message boards. Attendance of organizations I’m involved with creeps lower and lower as lunches with visiting parents simply cannot be pushed back or moved forward a single minute.

How much helicopter parenting contributes to the mental health crisis across college campuses today is anyone’s guess, but it’s enough to make me concerned.

‘The Crossing’ and the Impermanence of the Internet

‘The Crossing’ and the Impermanence of the Internet

I care a lot about archiving and ensuring the permanence of a historical record. I also care a lot about digital journalism. Increasingly, I am worried about these two things conflict. In an Atlantic piece called “The Internet’s Dark Ages” my fears were confirmed. According to the author, something like 30% of all links on the Internet stop working after one year.

The web, as it appears at any one moment, is a phantasmagoria. It’s not a place in any reliable sense of the word. It is not a repository. It is not a library. It is a constantly changing patchwork of perpetual nowness.

You can’t count on the web, okay? It’s unstable. You have to know this.

Digital information itself has all kinds of advantages. It can be read by machines, sorted and analyzed in massive quantities, and disseminated instantaneously. “Except when it goes, it really goes,” said Jason Scott, an archivist and historian for the Internet Archive. “It’s gone gone. A piece of paper can burn and you can still kind of get something from it. With a hard drive or a URL, when it’s gone, there is just zero recourse.”

With journalism continuing to be consumed online instead of in print, I fear about what the historical record of our time will look like even a decade from now. There’s no clear solution, but I hope libraries and archivists (and even tools like WayBack Machine) will focus more resources on archiving online-only journalism.

To use a micro-example, much of what we know about the history of Penn State is gleaned from the Daily Collegian archives. I don’t have much good to say about the Collegian in its present form, but it’s impossible to understate its importance in telling the history of the university. I’ve spent countless hours digging through the stash of old Collegians in the University Archives. But what happens when the Collegian no longer exists in print form (and it’s no longer a matter of if, but when)? There are still a number of dead links in the Collegian’s web presence from its most recent redesign, and you never know when something could happen and its recent links are gone forever.

The Atlantic article gave the clearest example of the failure to preserve journalism in the digital age. In 2006, the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News published a 33-part series called “The Crossing,” which explored a 1961 tragedy about a school bus that collided with a train in a small Colorado town and claimed the lives of 20 young children. Its genius was in its digital sum, which includes tons of videos, documents, and other multimedia elements that are impossible to recreate in a newspaper  It won a Pulitzer Prize, and then one day, it was gone. The newspaper went under and with it went all of its online content.

Luckily, the writer had the entire story saved, and in 2013, he was able to recreate it using a unique URL (it’s well worth your time to read).

Had the author not backed up his work and saved it for all those years, this beautiful piece of journalism would have been lost forever. It’s worth thinking about the best way to preserve this kind of journalism as newspapers continue to go out of business or transition to online-only models.

What Does Shared Governance Mean? An Address to the Board of Trustees

What Does Shared Governance Mean? An Address to the Board of Trustees

The Penn State Board of Trustees met last week for its annual meeting at the Hershey Medical Center, the flagship of the burgeoning Penn State Health Network. Because of a schedule change this year, it also happened to be the last meeting of my term as graduate student body president. The three student government presidents are traditionally invited to give some brief remarks at the beginning of their final meeting. It was a responsibility I was greatly looking forward to — not to go over a laundry list of the year’s accomplishments, but to talk about what “shared governance” really means.

If you’ll indulge my shameless self-promotion, you can find the video and transcript below. I also encourage you to listen the remarks from my counterparts in UPUA and CCSG (link). Emily McDonald and Shawn Lichvar are two awesome stalwarts for the student voice who I will greatly miss next year.

Hello everyone, my name is Kevin Horne and I’m the president of the Graduate & Professional Student Association. I like to kid Emily and Shawn that we are the oldest of the three student government associations at Penn State, with our constitution chartered back in 1951.

But I want to use my time to talk a little bit about 1951, and how the concept of shared governance and the inclusion of the student body and its representatives in the university decision making mechanism has evolved over the years.

I want to start by saying that I think shared governance at Penn State is exceptionally strong right now – at least stronger than it has been in my five years of student government involvement at the undergraduate and graduate level. One need not look further than the latitude we’ve been given by President Barron and Vice President Sims to overhaul the student fee process, or the inclusion of a voting student-selected trustee, or our presence on the various committees of the Board and our invitation to speak today to know that we are in a better place  But the importance – indeed, the essentialness – of student involvement in all aspects of university decision making is not yet embraced by every administrator and every trustee, and I want to pose a challenge to those who haven’t jumped in feet first.

Let’s go back to the 1950s for a second. Only a few years later, Jesse Arnelle would be elected as the first black student government president to serve at a major university, months before Brown v. Board of Education was decided. A few years later, Dr. Eric Walker became Penn State’s president. Dr.Walker is a man who often referred – and Trustee Arnelle can back me up – to Penn State as having TWO presidents, himself and the student body president. This is a time when the Penn State student governments had offices and held their meetings in Old Main. This is a time when Penn State students ran the library, built the HUB, and contributed to a great deal many things that continue to enrich Penn State student life today.

Now, higher education has obviously changed considerably from the days of Jesse Arnelle and Eric Walker’s two president concept, but not all of its sentiment need be lost. Consider, when working with future student government leaders in our roles, what a Real University actually means. Memory of our past can improve the present and change the future. When students are treated and referred to as customers, we lose. When trustees, professors, townspeople and administrators view themselves as simply a conveyor belt of knowledge – or worse, businesspeople — and students – the very students who give our great University its lasting and enduring spirit – are viewed as too young to be informed, we lose. When students and their ideas are treated merely as something to manage, we lose. When we all pretend to be merely participants in a marketplace, rather than soulful people living together in a community, sharing in this moment in this place, breathing in the same magic of the Nittany Valley that visionaries like Jesse Arnelle, or Eric Walker, or George and Frances Atherton, or Evan and Rebecca Pugh, or Joe and Sue Paterno breathed, we all lose. These are some of the realities that my six years at Penn State have forced me to face, and they’ve changed my life, the highest calling to which a Real University can aspire.

I believe that the larger Penn State becomes by raw metrics, by numbers of whatever measure, the more vital it becomes to make it small again. And when we let marketing and public relations rule the day, or treat Penn State like its selling a product from the supermarket shelf, as another former Penn State president once described it, we fail tragically short of living up to what “We Are Penn State” really means.

And this all goes back to students, and embracing the 97,000 people – people fully capable of informing decisions on how their university is governed – in all that you do as University leaders and decision makers. I challenge this group: Why stop at one student trustee? Why stop at 2 or 3? Why not have students on every committee? Invite us to your meetings, and we will invite you to ours. The student body is eager to participate in all that you do — the participation of which is a hallmark of a healthy university.

I thank you all for a great term, for your dedication to a true shared governance system at Penn State, and I hope and trust that our successors will be met with the same candor of openness and willingness to work together — as you all have — to continue the indomitable Penn State spirit of developing excellence in all things.

Thank you.

Onward State Newsletter

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One of the comments I often hear from young alums is the lack of time they have to check their social media feeds or to keep up on the news in general. Even some of the most engaging folks I met at Penn State — people that read every State College news source every day during their student years — no longer have time to check even one. Time intensive careers, starting a family, and moving far away can hinder us from keeping up with Alma Mater.

It was with this demographic in mind that we launch the Onward State newsletter today. By signing up, you’ll be able to get an email in your inbox every Sunday that includes the most important 10-15 stories in the Penn State media sphere. Rather than spend the hours every day combing through Twitter and the various news outlets, we’ll pull out all the important news and features from the week and put it into one place.

With MailChimp, we’ll get our first 2,000 subscribers for free. I doubt we’ll exceed this number with the initial push but reaching our threshold by the end of the semester seems like a realistic goal. Onward State already has more than 6,000 subscribers through WordPress, which are mostly residual from when you needed to sign up to comment. A 10,000 sign up goal by the end of the year is something to shoot for.

Here’s the link to sign up: http://onwardstate.com/2016/01/21/sign-up-for-onward-states-weekly-newsletter/

Fixing the Eyewitness Problem

Paul Kix’s riveting feature in the New Yorker today is one of the best things I’ve read in awhile. Far too often in today’s system, it’s easier to score political points by being “tough” on crime than being “smart” on crime, and the collateral damage is unimaginably tragic. I suspect this is one of the unfortunate aftereffects of all the reform in the 1990s to address the violent crime issues of the day.

In a dissenting opinion in 1981, Supreme Court Justice William Brennan wrote that “eyewitness identification evidence is notoriously unreliable.” Dozens of scientific studies support this claim. Nevertheless, eyewitness testimony continues to be used widely, and many criminal cases hinge on it almost exclusively. Since 1989, two hundred and eighty people have been exonerated of sexual-assault charges in the U.S. Nearly three-quarters of those wrongful convictions relied, in whole or in part, on a mistaken identification by an eyewitness.

Psychologists have long recognized that human memory is highly fallible. Hugo Münsterberg taught in one of the first American psychology departments, at Harvard. In a 1908 book called “On the Witness Stand,” he argued that, because people could not know when their memories had deceived them, the legal system’s safeguards against lying—oaths, penalties for perjury, and so on—were ineffective. He expected that teachers, doctors, and politicians would all be eager to reform their fields. “The lawyer alone is obdurate,” Münsterberg wrote.

It’s for people like Tim Cole that organizations like the Innocence Project exist and are worth our time.