All the News That’s Fit to Print… and Digitize

Last month The New York Times released its latest self-study, Journalism That Stands Apart: The Report of the 2020 Group, outlining its principles, priorities, and goals. By many accounts, The New York Times is hugely successful – $500 million in digital only revenue, more than one million print subscriptions – but the changing media landscape is forcing the news organization to rethink just about everything they do. The report highlights their drive to maintain the journalistic integrity and standards the paper is known for, while modernizing the way they tell stories and involve readers; who they hire and task with curatorial, writing, and editing responsibilities; how they train those individuals; and a more or less overall redefinition of successful journalism. Interestingly, some takeaways may resonate further than the newsroom and maybe even prove inspirational to organizations outside of the media.

Progressive vs. Flat Tax?

On October 6th, the Library hosted Senator Pat McGuire, Chair of the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee, along with a panel of Moraine students, in a discussion on how Illinois colleges are facing the impact of the current budget crisis. During the Q and A, the focus turned to sources of revenue and taxes. The point was made that while the terms progressive tax and flat tax are often thrown about, many people don’t actually know what they mean.

During the discussion, Senator McGuire referred to a couple of resources for differing views on tax information: the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability and the nonpartisan Civic Federation of Chicago. In addition, the independent Tax Policy Center offers a Briefing Book (a “citizen’s guide” to the federal Tax System) and the Treasury Department Resource Center’s website has a page on The Economics of Taxation. But for a more direct explanation on the progressive tax vs. the flat tax, check out this Forbes article from Kelly Phillips Erb, aka the Taxgirl.

Finally, if you are a part of the Moraine Valley community (student, faculty, or staff), you have access to the SIRS Researcher database, which offers background and an array of viewpoints on the taxation issue through its Essential Questions. Looking for more? Visit a Moraine Valley Library (or the Library’s Ask A Librarian webpage).

 

Facts, Please

The 2016 Presidential Election is less than two months away. If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to start fact checking what the candidates, their supporters, and detractors, are saying, especially if current headlines and tweets leave you skeptical.

The nonprofit, nonpartisan FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, may be a good place to start. The Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact, run by editors and reporters from the independent Tampa Bay Times, “rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics,” may be another. (Punditfact, Politifact’s sister site, offers insight on the accuracy of statements made by those in the media and political analysts.)

Wherever you fall on the spectrum of political preferences, be wary of biased “fact check” web sites. And if you are interested in reading up on mass media, a simple search for media bias in the library catalog offers titles on media bias in presidential elections, partisan journalism, and more.

World Migration Mapping

This year’s One Book One College selection, Illegal: Reflections of an Undocumented Immigrant, considers a number of immigration issues, including undocumented immigration in the U.S.; acculturation and belonging; and political polarization. While the MVCC community explores these issues locally, the world is watching another migration story unfold through headlines and imagery coming out of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Check out the fascinating World Migration Where We’re From app, from the International Organization for Migration, which shows inward and outward migration statistics for nations worldwide in an easy to use visual map. The Library can also give you access to books, articles, and other resources related to this quickly changing topic.

Forthright Voice on Media Dies

The New York Times lost one of its most distinctive voices last night. David Carr, the media columnist for the paper, died after collapsing in the newsroom. Carr was known for his unpretentious but sophisticated style, his journey to prominence the more impressive in light of the addictions from which he suffered in the 1980s. You can read his obituary in The New York Times, or check out the DVD Page One: Inside The New York Times from the library and see his take on how the Internet is redefining the news business. A sad loss for the news world.

Man Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

A couple of weeks ago the Man Booker Prize for Fiction shortlist was announced. The list includes six titles selected from the previous “long list” of 13. This year’s competition is significant because it is the first year in which works by American authors, in fact any authors writing in English worldwide and published in the UK, were considered. (Since the prize’s inauguration in 1969, its awarding has been restricted to authors from the United Kingdom, the British Commonwealth, Ireland or Zimbabwe.) Two Americans made the final round.

While the titles are pretty ambitious, the judges do include people outside the traditional literary circle of critics, academics, and authors, and have included poets, politicians, journalists, broadcasters, and actors. According to Ion Trewin, the literary director for the Booker Prize Foundation, this is one of the reasons regular and intelligent readers can trust the prize. Visit the Man Booker Prize website for interviews with the nominee authors and more about the prize. And check out this Guardian Books podcast to listen to a lively discussion about this year’s chosen authors.

The Moraine Valley Library has a number of past Booker winners, as well as Karen Joy Fowler’s currently shortlisted We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Can’t find the Booker Prize winner you are looking for? Check with one of the MV librarians for help in tracking it down.

Pop in to the Pop-Up Book Fair

Looking for something fun to do tomorrow? What better way to spend a Saturday in spring than in Oak Park at Curbside Splendor’s Annual Pop-Up Book Fair! Not only will you be able to meet independent publishers and authors, but comic book artist Chris Ware will be there conversing with literary scholar Hilary Chute, William Hazelgrove will read from his new novel The Pitcher, and Rey Andujar will perform Saturnalia. And what would a literary event at The Hemingway Museum be without readings and discussion about Oak Park’s most famous literary son? Best thing (or one of them): it’s free if you register online in advance!

The Power of Music

Alice Herz-Sommer won’t know whether the film of her life, The Lady in Number Six, receives the Oscar for Best Documentary Short this Sunday but hopefully she had more than an inkling of the indelible mark she left on the world. The oldest living Holocaust survivor and renowned concert pianist died yesterday at the age of 110. The inspiring Herz-Sommer performed over 150 concerts during her two years in the Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp. While her artistry at the piano enabled the Prague native and her son to survive the camp where nearly 35,000 prisoners perished, it was her optimism and self-discipline (she practiced the piano for three hours a day into her 100s) that made her life so remarkable. As she told The Guardian in 2006, “… life is beautiful, extremely beautiful… When you are older you think, you remember, you care and you appreciate. You are thankful for everything. For everything.”

Veterans’ Stories

Since 2008, more than one million veterans have returned home to pursue post-secondary education or a certificate (MVCC’s Veterans Information webpage has helpful information for student veterans). This Fresh Air interview with Iraq War veterans Roy Scranton and Jacob Siegel, editors and contributors to the new fiction anthology Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War, provides insight in to the experience of modern soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Siegel also edits the Daily Beast’s blog, The Hero Project, which showcases veterans’ writing and covers issues of interest to veterans. Visit the Library for help tracking down a copy of Fire and Forget, or other titles relating to veterans’ stories.