Wonderful Student Team on Study of Whiteboards at MSU

I am working with two of my masters students on a study of the issues that arose over whiteboards in the dormitories at MSU. The students presented their conclusions yesterday, and today they finish their paper. I’ll then work with their paper to develop a working paper that we might blog or disseminate in various ways. It was a fascinating and fun project is several ways. It was for a course on media and information policy, so this led us to quickly see the whiteboard as a media for communication and information. It is simple – everyone understands it, but it raises many of the same issues that are raised by social media and the Internet on college campuses. It also fits into the rising debate over speech on college campuses. Can’t wait to share our findings, which I believe to demonstrate the value of research in contrast to journalistic coverage of events such as the whiteboard controversy at MSU. It also really does speak to the issues of freedom of communication and civility in the university context.

Most importantly, it was a delight working with Irem Gokce Yildirim, an international student from Turkey, and Bingzhe Li, an international student from China, on this study of communication on an American campus. This is the kind of experience that makes teaching so enjoyable and rewarding.

[We are all laughing about my clumsy efforts to take this with my selfie stick.]

Irem, Bill, and Bingzhe

All-Star Class: A Record for this Professor

Attending an awards ceremony at MSU I discovered to my surprise and delight that every member of my class this semester was a recipient for an award for their academic achievements. True, I have a small seminar, of 5 students, three MA and 2 PhD students in a seminar on Media and Information Policy. But all five had received awards, along with other students of mine from the past semester.

Needless to say, of course, I had nothing to do with their accomplishments, as my course is still in progress. Nevertheless I feel very proud of ‘my’ students.

Doctoral students, Ruth Shillair and Whisnu Triwibowo, received graduate student fellowships, with only three being awarded. Ruth was chosen as well for the Outstanding Doctoral Student ‘Triple-Threat’ award, for her achievements in research, teaching, and citizenship.

MA students, Menglei Cheng and Shenzi Su, received Academic Merit Awards, for their performance in course work, along with my student from last semester, Michael Nelson, who also received the Thomas F. Baldwin Endowed Fellowship. Along with these A students, Thomas Potron, received recognition in being chosen as one of our Academic Exchange Semester Students, visiting us from France.

It is little wonder that I have been enjoying discussions over the semester. I should add that in a university of 50,000 students, with hundreds in our Department of Media and Information, it is a seriously remarkable accomplishment to be among the top. Congratulations to all of the students who received awards, and to my all-star class. I must add that for all of my students to receive such recognition, it goes down as a record for me as well!

Here is a photo of me along with my students and a Visiting Professor, Jingwei Cheng, Communication University of China.

L-R: Bill, Menglei Cheng, Chenzi Su, Prof Cheng, Whisnu Triwibowo, Ruth Shillair, and Thomas Potron
L-R: Bill, Menglei Cheng, Chenzi Su, Prof Cheng, Whisnu Triwibowo, Ruth Shillair, and Thomas Potron








Here is another photograph of some of the students, along with faculty, at the awards ceremony set in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University.


Polls Right; Pundits Wrong: The Story of the Sander’s Upset Win in Michigan

The day after Bernie Sanders won an amazing come-from-behind victory in the Michigan primary, what was the story on NPR? Not the political dynamics of this late surge in support for Bernie. No. It was all about why the polls did not get this right!

To me, this is equivalent to punters blaming the bookies for not calling a horse race correctly. Anyone involved the slightest in polling can imagine a wide array of reasons why polls might be off. But poll after poll had Clinton ten to twenty-two percentage points ahead of Sanders. Could they have been correct, and there was a true surge in support for the Sanders’ candidacy? Could the last debate have made a difference? Probably. However, instead of looking closely at the likely shift in voting intentions, the pundits wanted poor polling to be the story. The polls made them – the pundits – look bad, as they debated all evening thinking they knew the outcome of the contest. They did not.

A related observation was the degree that CNN kept failing to call the election, despite the margin for Sanders remaining very steady, around two percent. This was all the way up to nearly 90 percent or more of the actual vote. Why? They kept muttering that the Clinton polls have her winning but possibly by only a small percentage. So not only were the ‘journalists’ believing the polls over the actual vote tallies, but they were hanging on the predictions of one of the candidates’ handlers. We all know that polls can influence the voters, but now we see polls dangerously influencing the reporters.

The Bernie Sanders’ campaign pulled off a major upset in Michigan. It defied all the predictions of pollsters and pundits. His rise in voter support should be the story, and what it might mean for the coming primaries, and not hand-wringing over the accuracy of the pollsters.

Michigan Results for Sanders
Michigan Results for Sanders