Hello World!

Hello all! I am still in the process of uploading to and organizing my WordPress, so please bear with me as I get everything up and running. I intend to use this as a sort of online-portfolio that contains a variety of my writings over the last few years as well as an outlet for 2 communication classes I am currently enrolled in for the Spring of 2013.

Thanks for your patience, and I hope you find something to read and enjoy.

-Mark

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Filed under Academic Writings and Essays

Dear Congress…

Dear Members of Congress,

My name is Mark Revello and I am a 24 year old who lives in Staten Island, New York. I write to you as we enter the fourth day of a ‘government shutdown’ because I believe I am one of many young people in this nation that feel utterly disappointed in your ability to successfully run the country.

The entire idea of the United States Congress, a bicameral legislature with both houses containing both fixed and proportional amounts of representatives, was born out of accommodations between opponents who disagreed. Members of congress have essentially undone the provisions that were created in an attempt to prevent situations like the one we are currently in from occurring in the first place.

As those in the legislative body older than we are, (there are no serving US representatives or Senators under the age of 30 currently serving) continually fail to reach agreements, the nation, the ‘middle ground’, and we the youth are the casualties..

My generation, “Gen Y’ers” or “Millennials”, depending on who conducts your polling research, have seen a dramatic reduction of the labor market for our age group, near-defaults.on national debt, and other unprecedented economic perils,

While we face these hurdles together as a nation, no longer are debating and shaping these issues a rational expression of one’s ideas. Instead, these challenges are treated as a sport where empty phrases are shouted at the highest possible volume and for the longest possible duration, no matter who or what the cost.

The inability to reason between two opposing viewpoints is no longer a congressional issue alone either. Many debates with friends that have beliefs opposite of mine are treated the same way that political discourse is in both houses of congress; they are no longer rational expression of one’s arguments that end in some understanding of the opposing position.

Even worse, some in my age group have already started to adopt the traits you demonstrate on a daily basis. I can already see that strict adherence to the doctrinal beliefs of a chosen political party, expression of meaningless expressions with zero context, and exhibiting political conduct with the subtlety of a shotgun are all becoming commonplace procedures amongst peers.

I and other people my age, at times the most ardent and passionate, are simply exasperated and worn down. We are hoping that actions undertaken by congress to govern our country on one of the principles it was created out of can restore the dwindling faith, and growing apathy in political affairs. We hope that this country can begin to restore the ideas of reason and compromise before it becomes yet another problem for our generations; if it isn’t already too late by then.

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Blog Post 5 – In Pursuit of ‘Truth’

[Note: The professors comment for my last entry made think that I had missed the mark on what I had intended to say in my last paragraph of my preceding blog post.

I hope it is not copping out to go and redress this for the Thurs. assignment, because the story is still running strong, even more so that that more information has been emerging.

Comment: Do you think the media’s need to justify the Pope’s actions is a reflection of a deep cynicism? While some cited Pope Benedict’s health, others have speculated on some other angle.]

[Insert ANY story about the resignation of Pope Benedict XIV here]

The frequent use of referents, testimony from experts or otherwise, and other attempts to explicate a ‘truth’ in media coverage of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is not the reflection of a deep cynicism but rather a phenomenon that has turned ascertainment of the ‘truth’ behind the circumstances an event, such as this one, into an unwieldy, and inaccurate process that through seeking to rationalize what otherwise may be irrational actually distorts, or adds elements that otherwise might not exist in, the ‘truth’.

The process of explicating all of the surrounding details around an event in search of the truth is rooted in the judicial and penitentiary system. In this system an identity must be given to a defendant or person in question through exposition of motive and other external factors, such as mental health, in order to properly administer their punishment.

In ‘Discipline and Punish’ Michel Foucault writes about the occurrence of this phenomenon. Foucault argues that the process of administering judgement and punishment is no longer a method of determining whether the act was committed and can be punished but instead a larger process that turns assertion of guilt in a scientific process.

Foucault posits, “To be more precise, within the very judicial modality of judgement, other types of assessment have slipped in, profoundly altering its rules of elaboration…to judge was to establish the truth of a crime, it was to determine its author and to apply a legal punishment. Knowledge of the offence, knowledge of the offender, knowledge of the law: these three conditions made it possible to ground a judgement in truth. But now a quite different is inscribed in the course of the penal judgement. The question is no longer simply: ‘Has the act been established and is it punishable?” But also: ‘What is this act? What is this act of violence and murder? To what level or to what field of reality does it belong? Is is a phantasy, a psychotic reaction, a delusional episode, a perverse action? It is no longer simply: “Who committed it?’ But: ‘How can we assign the causal process that produced it? Where did it originate in the author himself? Instinct, unconscious, environment, heredity? But: ‘What would be the most appropriate measures to take? How do we see the future developing of the offender? What would be the best way of rehabilitating him? A whole set of assessing, diagnostic, prognostic, normative judgements concerning the criminal have become lodged in the framework of penal judgment. Another truth has penetrated the truth that was required by the legal machinery. A truth, which entangled with the first, has turned the assertion of guilt into a strange scientifico-juridical process” (Foucault 17-18).

In Foucault’s “scientifico-juridical” process everything must be codified or placed into the proper strata that it belongs; whether it is motive, identity, or punishment. The inclusion of such varying fields of study into the penal process has altered the nature of truth.

This process of altering the truth in a “scientifico-juridical” manner has become a methodology incorporated into systems other than the penal one. This codification process can be witnessed in other institutions such as hospitals or schools; rooms or areas in hospitals or schools are designed and sectioned by their uses and purposes. .

Why is this important to, or how does it relate to media coverage of the popes resignation?

Media analyzation of the motives behind Pope Benedict’s resignation, a mass shooter, or any of its focal subjects, have also adopted Foucault’s strange process.

Since media have integrated all of these forms of Foucault’s “scientifico-juricidial” process they have become a judge, trying the subject they are covering and creating a new, different version of truth in a manner similar to that of the penal system.

Informal punishment through social conventions and norms exist alongside the system of formal punishment that exists in the establishment of laws, and political power. Media present the viewer with the evidence to damn or acquit the person in question in the creation of a larger new ‘truth’

To drive directly to the point, is this process ‘truth’?

I do not see it as truth but rather a substitution of a sensible reality with that of an unsensible one; the actions of a mentally ill person, or otherwise.

It is impeccably odd that we must make sense of events this way solely because irrational acts don’t appear sensible to rational animals. This process of rationalization is almost a substitution of our ‘reality’ in place of theirs, especially in acts that appear senseless, such as mass shootings.

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Filed under COM 438 - Newspaper Reporting, COM 438 - Weekly Blog Assignments

Say Yes to “No”

http://storify.com/markcrevello/say-yes-to-no?awesm=sfy.co_aEWI&utm_medium=sfy.co-twitter&utm_campaign=&utm_content=storify-pingback&utm_source=t.co

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Filed under COM 438 - Digital Projects, COM 438 - Newspaper Reporting

Blog Assignment 4 – News You Find Interesting

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/world/europe/with-popes-resignation-focus-shifts-to-a-successor.html?_r=0

This story in the New York Times about the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is the most interesting news piece of the week for a number of reasons. The most obvious reason that this story is important is that Benedict XVI is the first pope to abdicate his position while still living in nearly 700 years.

Benedict XVI had cited failing health and physical capacities as one of the reasons for his resignation. The Times quotes, “Saying he had examined his conscience “before God,” Benedict said he felt that he was not up to the challenge of guiding the world’s one billion Catholics. That task will fall to his successor, who will have to contend not only with a Roman Catholic Church marred by the sexual abuse crisis, but also with an increasingly secular Europe and the spread of Protestant evangelical movements in the United States, Latin America and Africa.”

The second part of this quote is also the reason that this story reigns as the most interesting of the week. It will be interesting to see which direction that the Catholic Church moves in the wake of Benedicts XVI and some of the more controversial stances that the church had taken during his tenure. It will be also interesting to see the next pope that the College of Cardinals elects and whether or not he is from a country with a growing Catholic population, or from an already established Catholic nation.

The second reason this story is interesting is because of the attention and analysis it has received in other media outlets besides the New York Times. The thread that connects every news outlet in its coverage of this story, whether print, online, or other formats, is the use of Pope Celestine V as a referent of the last time that the pontiff of the Catholic Church has resigned. It is terribly amusing how news outlets seem to require a referent, or some other information like a person’s physical or mental health, to make sense of the actions of Benedict XVI, or other persons in the media spotlight.

We can see how important the use of referents and justifications seem to be in journalism, as demonstrated by the news early ubiquitous citation of Clementine V’s resignation over seven centuries ago just to contextualize the current actions of the now ex-pope.

This aspect of news, the use of referents or other material to justify and comprehend a person’s actions, also used many times to ‘explain’ the motives of various mass shooters, is a goddamn postmodern nightmare. As addressed by various postmodernist thinkers like Albert Camus and Michel Foucault, people, especially news people, go to great lengths to expose the motives of people actions, whether or not there is actually merit or truth to their exposition. It appears that a person cannot act just for the sake of action, but that there always has to be SOME underlying motive to what they have done.  We as a species cannot seem to come to grips with those people who do not have clear motivations or reasoning’s for their actions.

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Filed under COM 438 - Newspaper Reporting, COM 438 - Weekly Blog Assignments

Blog Assignment 3 – News You Find Interesting

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/oreos-tweeted-ad-was-super-bowl-blackouts-big-winner/2013/02/04/9be24f10-6ef2-11e2-ac36-3d8d9dcaa2e2_story.html

The reading linked for the class discussion on social media and its role in journalism, as well as its place and implications for other entities or organizations, is about how social media, in this case twitter, was able to co-opt the Superbowl during the 30 odd minute blackout that occurred during the halftime show. This story is so interesting because the buzz generated from Twitter during the halftime blackout was enough to be nearly more memorable than the sporting event itself. When you consider the amount of advertising money that is made during the Superbowl, as well as how advertisements for that event are crafted many months in advance solely for this event and made to be as memorable as possible, the fact that Twitter posts and memes may have ultimately received more attention than these ads is pretty incredible.

The positive implications of this story would be how a social networking site that allows the possibility of all users to create, share, and collaborate, was able to generate more attention than some multi-national corporations whom had a ton more resources at their command.

That’s where the positives end though. There are negative implications that the article raises in it’s examination of Twitter and the role it played during the black out. The first one that springs to mind is how quickly major companies, like Oreo or Volkwagen, were immediately able to use and capitalize on the social networking site to their advantage, and use it equally or better than those average folk or small organizations who regularly crank out tons of memes, or other user generated content. This demonstrates that even the most grassroots and democratic tools, though I use these terms loosely and in the sense that they allow for a publishing playing field that is theoretically equal for all, can be quickly used to the advantage of giant, pre-existing, companies with much more capital, manpower, and other things at their disposal. It also demonstrates how much power that these big companies and conglomerates have over the average user because of pre-existing conditions such as having more capital, manpower, and ease of publication. These characteristics demonstrate how even something that appears to be equal and Utopian, in the sense that it makes for an outwardly appearing equal playing field, is not actually equal or level because of companies that already have stakes in pre-existing media markets like television or radio that have an advantage in pushing out and making their content well-known; in a sense its the rich begetting the rich or the powerful media entities gaining more power vis a vis their huge sums of money and marketing resources.

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Filed under COM 438 - Newspaper Reporting, COM 438 - Weekly Blog Assignments

Blog Assignment 2 – Web 2.0

http://gigaom.com/2013/02/09/the-man-behind-google-docs-is-now-trying-to-reinvent-the-web-app-at-box/

This blog article, published on February 9th, indicates  the highly collaborative environment of Web 2.0 through its examination of the career and feats of the former Google programmer who helped created their online word editing program Google Docs. Google Docs has a large connection to the collaboration effort of Web 2.0 because it is through internet based applications like Google Docs or other cloud based programs that data, academic essays, scholarly material, or anything  really, can be shared, edited, and viewed by anyone around the world, so long as they have a Gmail account, which is free. The ease of user and peer collaboration due to programs like Google Docs, or Dropbox is steadily rising and one can now consult with another across the world in seconds. It is interesting that the spread of information, ideas, or novel thesis, is now not limited to physical connections, university environments, or large scale distances because of programs like these; whereas 20 years ago a fax machine may have been used to transfer data over long distances and at least allowed the possibility, the device to do so was cumbersome, limited to those with the financial means to acquire it, and nowhere nearly as fast as the near-instant transmission rate of the internet. It will be interesting to see the future implications of being able to collaborate with another person without the imposition of restrictions such as time and space.

The article also explores Sam Schillace, the programmer behind Google Docs, and his move to a smaller company called Box. At Box, Schillace is working on newer, perhaps more innovative, forms of editing applications that would also allow for users to collaborate, share, and generally continue further lowering cost of publication or transmission. Another interesting note about the programmers move to Box is that there he may move outside of the established paradigms for editing suites. The article reads, “A debate at Box, he said, is whether to build a full suite of editing applications a la Google Docs, or whether that’s “chasing the last war.” Rather Schillace is inclined to look at what a company like Evernote is doing to enable creation and collaboration ‘outside of that paradigm of word processor, spreadsheet, presentation.'” How this new era of editing and collaboration software may look or impact preexisting markets should make for something interesting to keep a look out for, as we have seen many breakthroughs and improvements to the world wide web in such short time periods that have wiped out previous business or operation models, similar to how Facebook displaced Myspace in a short time.

I find an interesting parallel between what the implications of cloud based software has had on user cooperation and information sharing and forums. Virtual forums also contain many of these egalitarian traits that can arise from sharing information, or whatever really at rates that are nearly instant , albeit if they were actually doing it before Google Docs and other cloud based programs. The same principles that can be seen in the ease of cooperation through the use and sharing of Google Docs also exist, and somewhat pre-existed, in virtual forums, niche or otherwise. It is in these virtual spaces that the same sharing, editing, and peer reviewing takes place, and can take place, between users and writers of a website, something akin to the model that Cracked.com uses, with or without professionals, editors, or other unwieldy staff that may normally accompany print publications; which are also limited in scope to physical location through distribution to a somewhat localized area.

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Filed under COM 438 - Newspaper Reporting, COM 438 - Weekly Blog Assignments