NCA Convention

At the recent NCA convention, on the elevator I read a graduate student's affiliation (U of Wisconsin at Madison) and I asked if he had taken a course with Mary Anne Fitzpatrick. He said he hadn't because he was in rhetorical studies. Later I thought that sometimes graduate students look only at the courses to take and not at the instructors. From my point of view, we learn most from great instructors regardless of what they're teaching. Attending UWM without taking a course from Fitzpatrick seems like a horrible waste to me. So, if that student is reading this, my advice is to take those courses--even those out of your area of interest--that are taught by the great people in the field.


Today, Cyrus Field, responsible for the first successful transatlantic cable (1866), is born in Stockridge, MA, 1819.



Today, in 1895, Busby Berkeley, dance director best known for his elaborate productions in the movies of the 1930's, is born.



Today, in 1908, Claude Levi-Stauss, social anthropologist and leader of the structuralist movement, is born in Brussels.



Today, in 1953, Eugene O'Neill, American dramatist (Emperor Jones, Desire Under the Elms, Mourning Becomes Electra, Long Day's Journey into Night) dies.



At NCA in San Antonio, one program I attended was devoted to plagiarism. Ably chaired by Sherry Morreale, the panel consisted of a number of young instructors and teaching assistants who focused largely on catching the plagiarist. So much attention seemed to have been devoted to identifying the plagiarism and punishing the plagiarist that I wondered if that was time well spent. Surely, plagiarism is a problem—in all college activities and not just in public speaking where it seems we focus—but if its identification and punishment absorbs so much of our time, where is the time to inspire students, prepare lectures, and to encourage those students who need our support?
It seems there are two issues which are often not separated. One issue is to explain to students what needs and what does not need citation and how to cite these sources in the oral speech and in the papers and outlines. That, it seems, is our province as teachers and one of the tasks we need to address thoroughly. The second issue is—and this one is never made explicit but it’s there in the background—to make our students ethical and moral people. This task, it seems, is more than most teachers have time for and of course it’s not something any teacher has been trained for. How do you make someone a good person? If we knew the answer to that, this world would not be in the shape it’s in.
Consider: from the time the child enters pre-school, the parents are helping with the child’s homework, craft projects, or whatever else the child has to turn in and that might reflect poorly on the parents or prevent the child from getting into the right prep school. And this pattern, it seems, continues throughout elementary and high school and when it comes to the college application, coaches are hired to guide what is said and how it is said and, in some cases I’m sure, to actually write the required essays. And, regardless of your political persuasion, you’ll have to admit we regularly see lying and cheating that has a lot more serious consequences than whether a student earns an “A” or an “F.” Unfortunately, the same is true in the large corporations where lying has destroyed the pension funds of millions of workers. So, why are we surprised when a college student buys a paper or speech from some online source or gets it from one of the club files? The student’s parents taught him or her that such behavior was acceptable and the political and business worlds demonstrate that such deceptions are standard operating procedure. To assume that we, as communication teachers, can take this student—with this very typical history and experience—and, in a one-semester course, turn him or her into a moral and ethical person, is nothing short of ridiculous.
There is another problem with this fixation on catching the cheater and that is that it changes you (the teacher). It refocuses your energies and makes you a police officer, a disciplinarian. Instead, that same energy could be used to help the young instructor become a great teacher. Unfortunately, each person (even the college instructor) has only so much energy; if you spend it on catching and punishing the unethical student, you have that much less to give to the ethical student who wants to learn and who needs your guidance. At the same time, your fixation on plagiarism establishes an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion. It’s similar to the situation in interpersonal relationships where one partner’s constant checking on the other creates an atmosphere that is guarded, accusatory, and just plain unhealthy and unpleasant.
All this is not to say that we should abandon efforts to identify plagiarism. It is a problem. But, it should never dominate the teaching experience.


Today, in 1922 King Tut's tomb was opened.



Not exactly Brad and Angelina, but today in 1938 the first Ann Sheridan-James Cagney film, Angels with Dirty Faces premiers.



Today, in 1925, William F. Buckley, conservative spokesperson and journalist, is born.



Today, in 1903, Enrico Caruso, perhaps the world's greatest tenor, debuts at the Metropolitan Opera.

Culture and public speaking

Here's an interesting article on the cultural dimension of public speaking which we rarely talk about in class.



Today, in 1963, President John F. Kennedy is shot in Dallas as the nation watches on television.



Today, in 1877 Thomas Edison invents the phonograph--without which we'd probably never have seen the iPod.


New Feature for Blog

I switched to a revised version of the blog and will now be able to label the posts so that you can call up all the self-tests or all the exercises with one button--or so I think--haven't done it yet. But, I will use labels with all new posts.

Off to NCA

For the next week I'll be off at the National Communication Association Convention in San Antonio--a great time to get rejuvenated and to meet old friends and make new ones.


Today, the word "star" was apparently first used to refer to a television performer, Grant Kimball of CBS, in the New York Sun, 1932.

Some Interviewing Don'ts

Here are some things to avoid in the interview.
HR Interview - HR Interview Mistakes You Will Want To Avoid - Free Training



In 1887, The Parrot, a Manchester, England humorous paper, publishes the first photographically illustrated advertisement.



Today, Horace Mann, a school for the education of the hearing impaired, opens in Boston in 1869. This is the oldest public school for the deaf and hard of hearing and is still in operation today.



Today, in 1965, the Northeastern United States and parts of Eastern Canada experience a blackout. CT, MA, NH, RI, VT, NY, and NJ all experienced a blackout where some 25 million people were without electricity, some for up to 12 hours. It would be interesting to speculate--maybe there's even research on this--on the effect this had on interperosnal communication.



Today, Margaret Mitchell, author of one novel--Gone with the Wind--is born in 1900. She died in 1949 from injuries received from being hit by a taxi cab. According to Wikipedia, GWTW sold more copies than any other book, other than the Bible. In 1992, Alexandra Ripley wrote a sequel, Scarlett.


The resume

Another list of 10--this time for the resume. Again, useful advice to the novice job interviewer.
MSN Careers - 10 Ways to Get Your Résumé Ignored - Career Advice Article

Small Group Advice

Here are some useful tips on small group meetings. Articles like these, I think, complement the academic findings from scientific studies. And they make a lot of practical sense.
MSN Careers - 10 Worst Things to Do in a Meeting - Career Advice Article


Today, in 1948, Studio One premiers with The Storm starring Margaret Sullivan. Studio One was the first dramatic anthology series and ran from 1948 to 1958 and was one of the major reasons this period is referred to as the "Golden Age of Television."


Outing, a great example

Here's a great example of outing, discussed in one of the ethics boxes. Personally, I support this kind of outing; hypocrites like this need to be outed and removed from positions of influence.
This article is also interesting from the point of view of the special occasion speech, for example, speeches of apology or speeches to secure goodwill.
Haggard: 'I am a deceiver and a liar' - U.S. Life - MSNBC.com

Cultural Orientation Self-Test

If anyone uses the cultural orientation self-test I posted the other day, I'd sure appreciate any comments you'd care to share. You can e-mail me at jadevito@earthlink.net. Thanks.


Today in 1921 James Jones, naturalistic novelist, most famous for the first novel of a trilogy of life before Pearl Harbor (From Here to Eternity, 1951--the others were The Think Red Line, 1962, and Whistle, 1978, is born. Perhaps his next most famous novel was Some Came Running, published in 1957. Jones died in 1977.



Today in 1733 John Peter Zenger published his first issue of the New York Weekly Journal. Zenger is remembered for his being indicted, tried, and acquitted of libel and sedition against William Cosby, then governer of the New York Colony. The trial was a landmark for its defense of freedom of the press, a freedom that now seems to be under attack from so many quarters in the United States and nonexistent in many other countries.


Self-Test on Cultural Orientation

I wrote this self-test as an introduction to the various cultural orientations I talk about in the texts. I thought it would make a good introduction to culture generally or to cultural orientations specifically.

Test Yourself
What’s Your Cultural Orientation?

This test is designed to get you thinking about your own cultural orientations, five of which are considered in this next section. Before reading about these perspectives, take the following self-test. For each of the items below, select either a or b. In some cases, you may feel that neither a nor b describes you accurately; in these cases simply select the one that is closer to your feeling. As you’ll see when you read this next section, these are not either-or preferences, but more-or-less preferences.

1. Success, to my way of thinking, is better measured by
a. the extent to which I surpass others
b. my contribution to the group effort
2. My heroes are generally
a. people who stand out from the crowd
b. team players
3. Of the following values, the one’s I consider more important are:
a. achievement, stimulation, enjoyment
b. tradition, benevolence, conformity
4. Generally, in my business transactions, I feel comfortable
a. relying on oral agreements
b. relying on written agreements
5. If I were a manager I would likely
a. reprimand a worker in public if the occasion warranted
b. always reprimand in private regardless of the situation
6. In communicating, it’s generally more important to be
a. polite than accurate or direct
b. accurate and direct rather than polite
7. Of the following characteristics, the ones I value more highly are
a. aggressiveness, material success, and strength M
b. modesty, tenderness, and quality of life F
8. In a conflict situation I’d be more likely to
a. confront conflicts directly and seek to win
b. confront conflicts with the aim of compromise
9.If I were a manager of an organization I would stress
a. competition and aggressiveness
b. worker satisfaction
10. I’d enjoy working in most groups where
a. there is little distinction between leaders and members
b. there is a clearly defined leader
11. As a student (and if I feel well-informed)
a. I’d feel comfortable challenging a professor
b. I’d feel uncomfortable challenging a professor
12. In choosing a life partner or even close friends, I’d feel more comfortable
a. with just about anyone, not necessarily one from my own culture and class
b. with those from my own culture and class
13. Generally, I’m
a. comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
b. uncomfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
14. As a student I’m more comfortable with assignments in which
a. there is freedom for interpretation
b. there are clearly defined instructions
15. Generally when approaching an undertaking with which I’ve had no experience, I’d feel
a. comfortable
b. uncomfortable

How did you do? Items 1-3 refer to the individualist-collectivist orientation; a responses indicate an individualist orientation, b responses indicate a collectivist orientation. Items 4-6 refer to the high and low context characteristics; a responses indicating a high context focus and b responses indicating a low context focus. Items 7-9 refer to the masculine-feminine dimension; a responses indicate a masculine orientation; b responses a feminine orientation. Items 10-12 refer to power distance dimension; a responses indicate a greater comfort with low power distance, b responses indicate a great comfort with high power distance. Items 13-15 refer to the tolerance for ambiguity or uncertainty; a responses indicate a high tolerance and b responses indicate a low tolerance.
What will you do? Understanding your preferences in a wide variety of situations as culturally influenced (at least in part), is a first step to controlling them and to changing them should you wish. This understanding also helps you modify your behavior as appropriate for greater effectiveness in certain situations. The remaining discussion in this section explains these orientations and their implications further.


The first continuous television serial, One Man's Family is presented on NBC, 1949.


Yesterday and Today

Yesterday: Station KDKA in Pittsburgh which received the first commercial lecense from the Department of Commerce opens to broadcast the results of the Harding-Cox presidential election, 1920.
And Today, the first color television coast-to-coast broadcast is made, 1953.
And, for the day I missed, November 1: Stephen Crane--a journalist and poet though best known for his novel, The Red Badge of Courage is born, 1800.