Thursday, October 22, 2009

GROUP 5 - Final Assignment

The rest of Group 5's Final Assignment. Submitted by: Tara Baxa


This can be a tricky, or even sneaky topic to discuss and study in the media. Especially with the medium of T.V. Pictures, videos, and words can all work together to create an illusion of what the person is trying to say, but it isn't clearly stated. A speaker who is gifted or learned in rhetoric can be very good at saying one thing, but not really answering the given question. An example of this would be someone giving a "political answer" on a given topic.
With the green movement and the push.

This discussion was not a pleasant one to do! The people were fine in the group, it just was a difficult task to complete exclusively online. I think people take the online classes as a way of convience, but actually working together on a project proved to be challenging. I do not mind an online class, but working as a group is harder than I thought it would be. It is also difficult to get everyone's clear and precise ideas, since we are only communicating through written words. There is no face to face interaction, so "reading" the other person's facial expressions and body language is obsolete. This is difficult to do as the only way to interact.
Using the internet was not a difficulty in itself. Getting everyone gathered together to come to a clear understanding of one another was. It was difficult to work with the others, and I was difficult for the others to work with me! It is a hard way to have a working relationship with someone when we are under deadlines. But it was nonetheless an interesting way to learn how to make things come together and be ready by deadline.
A few of us tried to get together once so that we could meet face to face and get a better understanding of where the others were coming from, but this failed due to scheduling conflicts. Again, we all took this class due to the convience of not having to go to school and meet on a regular basis. It would have been helpful to get together, but it did not work out, and we made it work anyways. Next time I would push harder to get everyone to meet at least once, so that we could at least be familiar with how the others think and work, and what works best for each individual.


Question #6 and #7
6. When examining the rhetorical situation of any topic, we are examining the cultural context and standpoint of both the producer and the reader. When looking at the topic of the green movement, producers use blogging and internet news coverage as a way to receive feedback from readers and the audience that they would not otherwise have with another medium. The audience is not necessarily a particular reference group or do they have a particular demographic for this topic but, they must have a particular level of interest in the green movement. The cultural context in which the audience is reading the messages about the green movement depends a lot on their particular level of interest in the green movement as a whole because if the message is trying to be conveyed to a group of people that are preoccupied with other messages around them, the green movement will not even be on their radar and the message or text then becomes lost. The green movement can be viewed by the media and its audience as being a young and savvy movement meant for only young adults and the message may be lost to many people because of it.
7. First, I am overall not fond of group projects but, I do have to say that I really did not like this one. It was not the group members because they all seemed to do their part in trying to get organized as well as get the work done. Nevertheless, it is very hard to communicate with others to get projects like this done and it is definitely difficult to get it done via email and the internet. I will also say that I take a lot of my classes online because I do not like group projects and waiting on messages or phone calls to get my work done. A lot of times people have a lot of other things going on that it is difficult to try to work with others. But, this project was overall alright but it was a little tricky to get done.


The discourse conventions specific to the internet shape how people see the topic of the “Green Movement” in many different ways. Graphic and digital elements play a large role in the online encouragement to lead people to an eco-friendly lifestyle. By combining different types of media it gives the audience a better understanding of the news topic at hand. The dissemination pattern that the internet uses is incredible. The amount of time it takes information to be conveyed through the internet and then distributed to the public is practically instantaneous.
Digital media includes the combination of different media such as print, photography, graphics, video, and audio. By using all of these media it gives the audience a very firm grasp on what the issue is trying to portray. On many websites about the “Green Movement” there are numerous moving animations and photographs in which the reader can click on that leads them to another topic about the issue. By clicking on different links within the websites it guides you through several sub-topics of the actual news topic. The online medium is definitely the best way to learn about the “Green Movement” because anything you could ever want to know is provided for you on the internet through several websites. Websites not only offers links about more information but also includes links to other sources or related topics. The information you need is literally at your fingertips. According to Silverblatt, “detailed information can best be conveyed through use of print. Graphics can help illustrate or clarify complex statistical information. And photographs and video can provide a record of events.” Luckily, the internet allows all of these media types to combine into one forum--the internet. Graphics give the audience members ideas about how to “go green”, as well as videos to show people how to start their own compost pile. People get a much better understanding of the “Green Movement” topic by using the discourse conventions specific to the internet. Eco-friendly people are the main target within the discourse community, as well as people who are looking to become eco-friendly which is sometimes refereed to a manifest and latent audience. There is one main audience being targeted (eco-friendly people) and then the secondary target audience (people who want to take part in the green movement). Media programming can target two groups at once, which is a very effective way to grow knowledge about a certain issue.

Being in an online class was definitely a new experience for me. When I signed up for the class I never realized I would be working on a group project with classmates. When the assignment was given out I did not think it would be very hard, but once we started I realized it caused nothing but stress. The internet is a very useful medium for communication and offers endless amounts of information but it is very difficult to communicate with other people to put together an assignment. People communicate online through things such as blogs, and instant messenger which works out effectively but for some reason working through the D2l discussion board was very hard. It was nearly impossible to correspond with each other at the same time. There was usually a few hours or even days between responses. In this day and age, we are used to instant results so I think this is why everyone found it so frustrating. It is kind of hard to think of any advantages of working online, besides reading peoples work and learning from their thoughts on the topic. At first, it was very unorganized with the first due date, so we realized that would not work for next time, so certain people took the initiative to be the group leaders and distributed certain work to people. Once this was done it seemed to go more smoothly. There was not much difficulty in choosing the topic, we all seemed to agree on the “Green Movement”. The internet conventions I used to communicate effectively were to be sure everyone understood each other completely, and that we all used the same language. Luckily, we all are in the same discourse community and can understand a lot of what we are trying to convey. I would change the way I used the internet during this assignment by making sure everyone was online at the same time incase someone had questions. It would be easier if someone had a question there would always be someone else on the discussion at the same time to get feedback. As impatient as I am, it was very hard to wait for people to respond.


Discourse conventions specific to the Internet shape the way an audience views a topic in a variety of ways. The green movement has a vast amount of websites on the Internet, and this topic also has its on discourse community. The discourse community relating to this topic is anyone, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, etc., who cares about the environment and wants to take that next step towards going ‘green.’ The ways in which discourse communities reach out to citizens can vary; however, it is becoming quite apparent that the Internet is the main highway for information these days, and contains an unlimited amount of information. An example of a way that discourse conventions could lure a reader in is the title or lead of an article. By having a strong and interesting lead about the green movement, people within that discourse community or anyone else interested would most likely take the time to enlighten themselves. Although a strong lead is very beneficial, the main discourse convention that truly ties everything together on the Internet is the graphic and digital elements.

From animations to pictures, pop ups to advertisements, it is clear that the green movement is nothing to turn your head at. While sometimes, pictures or animations can annoy or even weaken the material by being distracting or obnoxious, every graphic element seen on the green movement’s websites help readers further understand the seriousness of this topic. There are numerous commercials out there advertising the next hybrid car or how to recycle, although, those messages/advertisements are straight forward. People, myself included, don’t necessarily know how to go green or save energy, and with the information from the websites along with the pictures and animations, it becomes a lot clearer. For example, the film An Inconvenient Truth has its own official website and it automatically shows a slideshow of our world and how it seems to be coming closer to global warming. The slideshow is touching, showing pictures of Hurricane Katrina and other environmental problems our world has dealt with. What I found to be interesting, though, is that the slideshow plays first, there is no information seen on the page until someone clicks it. The digital elements of this website are very advantageous because it gives readers a visual in their head before they read up on global warming and the Academy Award winning documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. Without digital or graphic elements, some readers would be uninterested, some would be confused as to what a compact fluorescent light bulb is, while others would simply see a lot of information but not any examples. By including both information and facts with pictures explaining which non-toxic cleaning products or long-lasting products one should buy, brings together knowledge and visuals, which hopefully equals a ‘greener’ environment.

Overall, this Internet assignment was very interesting and difficult at the same time. It became very hard to communicate at first with the group, seeing as we didn't know what topic to choose. The whole concept of the assignment was very confusing to me right away, but by reading everyones posts and questions on the discussion board i started to grasp the idea more. What worked well was dividing up the questions and assigning them to a person. If everyone would have done each question, we wouldn't have known how to decide who's to choose and it would have basically been extra and pointless work for those who's did not get posted. The Internet conventions we used for this project was solely this discussion board. It was however, difficult to remember to check the discussion board, so every once and a while someone would type an urgent message but no one would respond for a while. I would change the way we used the blog in this assignment. Even though one of the main points of this assignment was to use a blog, i don't really think anyone paid that much attention to any other groups blogs, considering it seemed that we were all in a time crunch. After posting our questions on the discussion board people forgot that, oh wait, we have to post it to the blog and that got to be confusing. Thankfully the members of my group didn't forget though because, i'll be honest, once i clicked post i totally forgot that the blog was the means of our communication and answers. In general, this assignment was very confusing at times but helped me see what it is like to work with people solely via the Internet.

Group 5 - Final Assignment

Media producers have conquered the “green movement” by creating awareness among the public. The media primarily involved are internet coverage/research and private/non-profit organizations who are educating the public based on their findings. The internet is filled with an abundance of information on the green movement, such as blogs, “green” websites, articles and more. Books, seminars and documentaries have been a large piece of the on-going green movement in America.

Spokesperson, Al Gore is an individual that tried to capture the public’s eye by creating the documentary, An Inconvenient Truth. He used charts and startling information to warn the public about possible outcomes from global warming. Another media producer and spokesperson that comes to mind is Oprah Winfrey. This woman has produced multiple shows concerning the global warming issue, green products and energy saving. Is it the spokesperson that influences the rest of the public on how to act?

Media communicators also play a factor into the production of the green movement. UWM’s sustainability director, Kate Nelson, has made it her job to create energy efficiency on the UWM campus as well as other eco-friendly projects. She is not producing media but she is involved in creating green awareness in Milwaukee, especially on the UWM campus. Along with Nelson, Will Allen, of Growing Power has also had a large affect on society, especially in Milwaukee. As a sustainability organizer he is working to create healthy food that is locally grown for urban cities. Both of these people have taken it into their own hands to create awareness among the public and have both been recognized for the progress they have made.

News stations and newspapers have taken the green issue by hand and have displayed pictures and research to the public. Is it the drastic headlines and bold print used by newspapers or the disturbing images used by television that is capturing the public’s attention? Not only are news stations but other television stations such as HGTV, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, The Food Network, DIY and more, are all taking steps to live in a green environment. They are media producers because they are influencing the public to “go green” by buying eco-friendly products.

Scientists seem to be the most knowledgeable on the global warming topic along with the green movement, yet has society decided to side with media producers and the media glamour rather than straight facts from scientists? Scientists are not necessarily media producers, unless they have their own television show, radio station or website. However, this group seems to have the most background information and knowledge on the green issue. This may be where most of the media producers are obtaining their information.

Though media producers are primarily on the internet these days, the public finds themselves in a constant battle of who to trust and believe in the media. The internet is not all truth, but how does society know which blogs to follow and which websites have researched and correct data? The media producers are the ones who have alerted society and who have made a conscious decision to produce “green” material for the public. It is the media producers who run the show, create an image of what the “green movement” is, as well teach the public what to do with this information.

I found it extremely difficult to work in an online group project. Group members had different schedules and time conflicts which made group work a bit of a challenge. This is understandable since we all have work, class and other activities. It was hard to decipher whether or not someone was going to take charge on a portion of the assignment. It most often ended up waiting till the last minute. Everyone in the group was open to choosing a topic, however, only one topic was mentioned and that is the topic we ended up going with. We all tried to exchange phone numbers and e-mail in attempt to connect in a different way but this just made it more challenging. We did seem to be a bit more organized after someone took charge and split questions up among the group members. Everyone contributed to their questions and posted their information by the given time, which was nice.

I would change a lot in order to make an online group work better. I would state that everyone must give input for each topic and question. Doing this allows for more topics to be discussed and chosen from. I would also make sure each member gave out their e-mail and phone number right away in case of some miscommunication. I would appoint each group member a specific job such as one person being in charge of posting the blog, one person being the time keeper/organizer, etc. I think my group did a great job answering questions that were asked of them but the whole ordeal definitely could have run much smoother.

Group 6: more question 7...

Tyler F:

As this was my first online class, working as a group over the internet was a new experience for me. Communicating between group members was a scramble in the beginning. Right off the bat Dustin proposed the topic of sexting, which it is an original and debatable topic in our society. Nobody had any objections towards sexting. After the topic was decided we tried finding a central mode to communicate. We were communicating with each other through the blog, email, and the discussion board and eventually led to the discussion board as our main source of contacting each other. As a group, we had a very individualistic approach. One thing we needed to improve on was communication and getting everybody to work together. Because of everybody’s schedules it was hard to communicate who was doing what. Overall this was a great experience learning about sexting, internet research, and computer mediated communication.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Group Three: Final Synthesis

Upon starting this project, our group was unsure what topic to choose. We did not have a clear concept of what would ultimately be required by the assignment, and thus, unsure what topic of discussion would be the best one to choose. Eventually, after brainstorming, we decided upon the topic of gay marriage. We felt that gay marriage has received substantial media coverage and would give our group a plethora of information to analyze. Also, though this is a controversial subject eliciting strong feelings one way or another, the majority of the group seemed to be of a similar mindset in regards to the subject which allowed us to focus on the way that the subject of gay marriage is reported and discussed without our own ideologies hampering our ability to work together.

The common hegemony regarding marriage is that it is an institution between a man and a woman. This has been reinforced the hegemony that romantic relationships are also between a man and a woman. As the American culture continues to evolve, so do the conceptions of what is acceptable in terms of relationships. While people disagree on the morality of homosexuality, most agree on the inherent freedoms as Americans guaranteed in the Constitution. As the American culture continues to evolve, so do the idea of these inherent freedoms. Homosexuality, once something that was taboo and kept from public view, has become a more accepted concept in American life. The idea being that regardless if one understands another’s sexual preference, as Americans, we are all entitled to do what makes us happy provided we do not infringe on another’s right to the same freedom.

While more conservative people may grudgingly accept this train of thought, the concept of gay marriage intrudes too heavily on their moral viewpoint. The acceptance of another’s rights to freedoms inherent to all Americans starts to diverge when the concept of gay marriage is discussed. The subject tends to create polar differences: those that feel the rights of the individual are of prime importance versus those that feel that allowing gays to marry will diminish the sanctity of traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The debate becomes one of determining which importance is greater, traditional religious-based morality or political-based freedoms? As the beliefs in both are very fundamental to most people, this argument rapidly becomes one in which there is no middle ground, either you are with us or against us.

Nowhere is this divide more evident than in the media context of the internet. The internet allows people to easily access information that directly reflects their own viewpoint. Also, anyone that wishes to do so is able to easily able to share with the internet their own thoughts. As we found when researching gay marriage, this tends to create a large amount of propaganda. People’s beliefs are so strong in relation to this issue, that often there is a lack of actual discourse. People become more concerned with discrediting their “enemy” than with defending their ideas with any sort of rational thought. The vast majority of information on gay marriage to be found on the internet is not concerned with creating a balanced understanding of the issue, but rather to persuade those undecided to one or the other sides of the debate. Any attempt to create a civil discourse is difficult if not impossible to find. Rather than being a forum for rational discussion, the internet widens the gap between the two primary trains of thought. Those of a particular mindset are more apt to only read that which agrees with what they already believe and be extremely susceptible to the propaganda that attempts to discredit the opposition. Media figures tend to disguise their opinions as factual information and those that view this material are already of a mindset that they accept this thinly veiled opinion as a reinforcement of their own beliefs.

Our group chose what we believed to be a subject that would provide us with a plethora of information. In that regard, we chose wisely. However, what we discovered is the way in which the internet changes the way that as a society we discuss the issues that are important. Rather than being the vessel that facilitates a rational discourse, the internet becomes the tool of the propagandist and creates a gap in communication that no one can easily transverse.

On Communication:

As a group, we strove to communicate with each other as much as possible. Through the use of e-mail, D2L, text messaging and real-life interaction we were able to create a group dynamic that helped in establishing goals and deadlines. As a group, we strove to create an online discussion via D2L that allowed us to exchange ideas in a way that facilitated a sense of teamwork. The few actual in-person meetings, while helpful, tended to repeat information that had already been discussed online. While working together in person was helpful, the rapport developed online allowed us to assign tasks, critique each others' work, and post assignments in a timely manner. Also, we were able to better gauge each group member’s strengths and weaknesses based on our commitment to abundant communication that allowed us to create a finished product that was enhanced by each member’s talents.

Group 6, More Question 7

Some of the advantages are the convenience to work from a persons computer, which in most college students experience is portable. Having assignments be portable makes them easier to work on because of the freedom. Some difficulties are that because the assignment was online, people can work on it whenever they have time between work and 3, 4, or 5 other classes. And in my personal experience as I'm sure other students share it as well, everyone's schedules conflict so not everyone can be online working on the project at the same time. Also people communicate differently via e-mail or D2L and so not everyone is on the same page and communication becomes difficult. What worked well is that everyone was extremely helpful. As soon as an assignment was coming up everyone volunteered to do whatever needed to be done as well as an extra part that didn't get done. I felt that communicating in the group on D2L worked the best. There wasn't difficulty choosing a topic. One group member suggested an idea and everyone thought it was a good idea. We had to use e-mail and the class folder for our group as an internet writing convention. Due to the fact that I'm taking 18 credits and working 30 hours a week, I don't think that I could change the way I used the internet in this assignment. In fact it probably made the assignment easier to access and accomplish being all online.

Synthesizing and Reflecting

Bringing It All Together

The discourse conventions specific to the Internet have shaped how people see the Chicago Olympic Bid, among many news topics, in numerous different ways. Methods such as blogging, audiovisual, and new sites bring their own take on the topic through sounds, visuals and written texts. For example, individuals who post to YouTube may use sound effects or background music to drive their point and push readers to feel a certain way. Another, newer, form of media that assists in spreading news is blogging. The casual conversations of blogs may lead readers to have a more relaxed approach to the topic. This type of media also allows for a more carefree and opinionated portrayal on said topic.  As for news sites, we have discussed the alteration of picture and headline size. 

These alterations between websites potentially show the importance of the topic to each source. Also, the location of the news piece (i.e. homepage or under a separate link) varies greatly between the news sites. In our case, the closer in distance to Chicago, the heavier and more dynamic the coverage. Chicago was so focused on the city itself that the coverage of local media surrounding Chicago were put to the back burner. This coverage being from local nightly newscasts, and papers like the  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

One of discoveries about the topic that was left out of the conversation of the media we analyzed for the Chicago Olympic bid from the Internet news sources, including the all-telling blogs, was the very strong possibility that Chicago would not win the bid.  In fact, if we looked at what might have been the deciding factor in Rio winning the bid was that they pitched the fact that South America had never hosted an Olympics while Europe, Asia (Tokyo along with Chicago was cut in the first round) and North America had.  The media focus was mostly on President and Mrs. Obama and others pushing for the bid.

The media focused on whether the President should be investing energy in the bid; what the loss would mean, etc.  It was a real lack in objective analysis by the media about whether the bid would come to fruition.  This led up to the reactions to the loss.

In all, the Internet can display a topic on a much broader scale than any other medium.  This is because there are many sites that allow any person to be a media communicator.  For one, blogging is a common way for one person to get their point of view out on a subject.  In the case of the Chicago’s lost Olympic bid; blogs can show us what real people think about the ruling.  Perhaps they are a resident of Chicago who is glad that the Olympics did not come because they do not like the mayor, Richard Daley.  Or, maybe the blogger is a native of Indiana, who would have loved to go see an Olympic game in their neighborhood.  The point is that there are a million voices that can be heard through the Internet; so it can bring more viewpoints to the table and shape the way receivers view the topic.  Also, the many blogs can easily show what the cultural context of the receivers is.  They will tell their mind on what they thought of the Olympic bid and how different producers brought the information to them.  Many could note, as one YouTube member did in one of our earlier videos, that FoxNews portrayed the Olympic bid and its failure differently than other media producers.

Final Reflections

In regards to this project, the group faced many difficulties and advantages with communicating over the Internet. These hurdles have allowed each of us, as members, to find personal routes to conquering said tasks. Whether that be meeting in person due to lack of time, swapping cell phone numbers, or defaulting onto email as a different writing convention. Regardless, we found ways to complete the topic on time without losing much information amongst the group. We all somehow managed to stay on similar route.

The selection of the topic was not a difficult task. Due to a last minute time crunch and not finding similar times to discuss the topic, one idea was presented, and we collectively chose to work with it. Also, the currency of the news topic allowed for the group to easily find information. Since the topic was based out of Chicago, we also felt a certain closeness and interest in the topic.

If there were a few things we would change about using the Internet during this assignment, for one, we request it would be over chat. Chat allows for a quicker and easier way for communicating rather than waiting for a new post or email to arise. Also, being more familiar with Blogger and the means of posting information, formatting, and inserting videos, pictures, or hyperlinks would have been more beneficial for everyone in the group. Not knowing this information can be discouraging. Finally, having separate blogs for each group would have made this project easier to follow. Having to scroll through the work of everyone in the class just to get to our groups information for reference was a bit of a pain. Allowing us to format our own blog also would have allowed us to personalize the postings more.

Group 4 Question 7

Initially our group had a hard time communicating. Some group members were sending e-mails, others were posting comments on our class blog and others were using D2L. Some group members were using all three. Once we established a central forum to share our ideas, engagement increased and our project seemed to make more sense. There was difficulty throughout this process, but many advantages as well.

Our group chose not to meet in person at any point during our research in order to take full advantage of the internet project. The experience was new and intimidating for most of us, as we had never completed an entire group project online.
Flexibility was seen as an advantage and disadvantage. Overall, we liked the flexibility of working together online, but the flexibility also made it difficult to monitor or gage progress which caused anxiety and frustration for some group members.

We did not have established deadlines or specific times to discuss our ideas which made it difficult to hold group members accountable.

Topic choice:
The topic choice was rather easy for most of us. Health care reform is a timely controversial topic that has received a lot of media coverage over the last few months.

Internet conventions:
We tried to organize our information in a way that was appealing to the eye: bold font, bullet points, italics, breaking up text with pictures etc. We used videos, article links and images as well.

What we would change? Overall, we would not change anything about the project itself. We learned a lot about health care and even more about the internet.

We would however, change the way in which we went about completing the project. We would establish deadlines early on to help hold group members accountable. The deadlines would also keep the group organized and as a result, alleviate any confusion, anxiety or frustration.