Session 9: Intersection of Technology & Advocacy

After a break last week because I declared it too beautiful to be inside, we began class today by having our reporters report out on their stories as usual. The plan is to have all interviews done and a draft for peer editing ready to go by next Friday. After we discussed individual stories, we listened to Finding and Decoding Your Identity On Air by NPR and Nieman Lab. It's about how women's voices are often perceived as less confident and less knowledgable than a deeper man's voice. We had a discussion about gender and media, and how we as women in media can overcome gender stereotypes. For homework they'll listen to Just Shut Up from the podcast Strong Opinions Loosely Held, which builds on the topic of policing the voices and word choice of women in media (and also everywhere). 

We spent the last hour of class listening to a podcast episode called Yik Yak Returns from Reply All. The 35 minute episode is about how the anonymous social media platform Yik Yak has fueled racist hate speech at Mizzou and universities across the country. A line in the story says something like, "Technology doesn't cause this - Facebook doesn't make us lonelier, Google doesn't make us stupider, Yik Yak doesn't make us more racist. These platforms just give us more behavioral options." We talked about how technology and media are both good and bad for advancing social movements. Since the episode focuses pretty heavily on Mizzou, we talked about how involved they felt in Mizzou's anti-racism protests in November, and how Rock Bridge handled those protests. They said they felt the same way a lot of college kids I know felt: that they knew something was going on and it was a minor inconvenience to them, but they didn't quite know what was being protested. One of the interviewees in the Yik Yak story said some of the most terrible Yik Yak posts were actually helpful to marginalized students because they finally had "proof" of racism on campus. We talked about how discrimination is often both felt and perpetuated as "microaggression," which was a new word to them. We talked about how it's hard to explain microaggressions, which is why it was sometimes hard to understand why the protesters were protesting. They shared examples of microaggressions they had experienced in their own lives. 

For homework this week they're reading the chapter on story structure in Out on the Wire. They're also revisiting two GREAT Transom articles on interviewing called The Basics and Before the First Question. These students are so awesome. I'm excited to see what they get this week - their interviews so far have been awesome in both content and sound quality.