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Managing the President's Message

The White House Communications Operation

Martha Joynt Kumar

Political scientists are rarely able to study presidents from inside the White House while presidents are governing, campaigning, and delivering thousands of speeches. It’s even rarer to find one who manages to get officials such as political adviser Karl Rove or presidential counselor Dan Bartlett to discuss their strategies while those strategies are under construction. But that is exactly what Martha Joynt Kumar pulls off in her fascinating new book, which draws on her first-hand reporting, interviewing, and original scholarship to produce analyses of the media and communications operations of the past four administrations, including chapters on George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Kumar describes how today’s White House communications and media operations can be at once in flux and remarkably stable over time. She describes how the presidential Press Office that was once manned by a single presidential advisor evolved into a multilayered communications machine that employs hundreds of people, what modern presidents seek to accomplish through their operations, and how presidents measure what they get for their considerable efforts. Laced throughout with in-depth statistics, historical insights, and you-are-there interviews with key White House staffers and journalists, this indispensable and comprehensive dissection of presidential communications operations will be key reading for scholars of the White House researching the presidency, political communications, journalism, and any other discipline where how and when one speaks is at least as important as what one says.

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Mass Authorship and the Rise of Self-Publishing

Timothy Laquintano

In the last two decades, digital technologies have made it possible for anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to rapidly and inexpensively self-publish a book. Once a stigmatized niche activity, self-publishing has grown explosively. Hobbyists and professionals alike have produced millions of books, circulating them through e-readers and the web. What does this new flood of books mean for publishing, authors, and readers? Some lament the rise of self-publishing because it tramples the gates and gatekeepers who once reserved publication for those who met professional standards. Others tout authors’ new freedom from the narrow-minded exclusivity of traditional publishing. Critics mourn the death of the author; fans celebrate the democratization of authorship.

Drawing on eight years of research and interviews with more than eighty self-published writers, Mass Authorship avoids the polemics, instead showing how writers are actually thinking about and dealing with this brave new world. Timothy Laquintano compares the experiences of self-publishing authors in three distinct genres—poker strategy guides, memoirs, and romance novels—as well as those of writers whose self-published works hit major bestseller lists. He finds that the significance of self-publishing and the challenge it presents to traditional publishing depend on the aims of authors, the desires of their readers, the affordances of their platforms, and the business plans of the companies that provide those platforms.

In drawing a nuanced portrait of self-publishing authors today, Laquintano answers some of the most pressing questions about what it means to publish in the twenty-first century: How do writers establish credibility in an environment with no editors to judge quality? How do authors police their copyrights online without recourse to the law? How do they experience Amazon as a publishing platform? And how do they find an audience when, it sometimes seems, there are more writers than readers? 
 

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Media And Revolution

Jeremy D. Popkin

As television screens across America showed Chinese students blocking government tanks in Tiananmen Square, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and missiles searching their targets in Baghdad, the connection between media and revolution seemed more significant than ever. In this book, thirteen prominent scholars examine the role of the communication media in revolutionary crises -- from the Puritan Revolution of the 1640s to the upheaval in the former Czechoslovakia.

Their central question: Do the media in fact have a real influence on the unfolding of revolutionary crises? On this question, the contributors diverge, some arguing that the press does not bring about revolution but is part of the revolutionary process, others downplaying the role of the media.

Essays focus on areas as diverse as pamphlet literature, newspapers, political cartoons, and the modern electronic media. The authors' wide-ranging views form a balanced and perceptive examination of the impact of the media on the making of history.

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Media Capital

Architecture and Communications in New York City

With a unique focus on corporate headquarters as embodiments of the values of the press and as signposts for understanding media culture, Media Capital: Architecture and Communications in New York City demonstrates the mutually supporting relationship between the media and urban space. Aurora Wallace considers how architecture contributed to the power of the press, the nature of the reading public, the commercialization of media, and corporate branding in the media industry. Tracing the rise and concentration of the media industry in New York City from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, Wallace analyzes physical and discursive space, as well as labor, technology, and aesthetics, to understand the entwined development of the mass media and late capitalism._x000B_

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Mike Barry and the Kentucky Irish American

An Anthology

edited by Clyde F. Crews

The Kentucky Irish American began life in 1898 as one of many ethnic newspapers in America, but by its final years it attracted an avid national audience of many ethnicities. From 1925, the KIA was owned and edited by the Barry family of Louisville: by John J. Barry to 1950, and by his son Michael to its demise in 1968.

This anthology focuses on the Mike Barry years -- a time of Cold War and Vietnam, of Kennedy, Nixon, McCarthy, Goldwater, and Happy Chandler. Under Mike's brilliant editorship, the KIA offered its readers a richly textured, pungent voice that combined humor with a constant push for social improvement in Kentucky and in the nation.

Always the KIA was strong in its support of all things Irish, Catholic, and American. It was also an acerbic commentator on the absurdities of Kentucky politics. But the KIA was notable -- and noticed -- for its strong positions on national and international issues.Red Smith once described the KIA as "all the excuse any man needs for learning to read." Today's readers can now discover the pleasures of a livelier era in journalism.

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Missed Information

Better Information for Building a Wealthier, More Sustainable Future

David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin

Information is power. It drives commerce, protects nations, and forms the backbone of systems that range from health care to high finance. Yet despite the avalanche of data available in today’s information age, neither institutions nor individuals get the information they truly need to make well-informed decisions. Faulty information and sub-optimal decision-making create an imbalance of power that is exaggerated as governments and corporations amass enormous databases on each of us. Who has more power: the government, in possession of uncounted terabytes of data (some of it obtained by cybersnooping), or the ordinary citizen, trying to get in touch with a government agency? In Missed Information, David Sarokin and Jay Schulkin explore information—not information technology, but information itself—as a central part of our lives and institutions. They show that providing better information and better access to it improves the quality of our decisions and makes for a more vibrant participatory society. Sarokin and Schulkin argue that freely flowing information helps systems run more efficiently and that incomplete information does just the opposite. It’s easier to comparison shop for microwave ovens than for doctors or hospitals because of information gaps that hinder the entire health-care system. Better information about such social ills as child labor and pollution can help consumers support more sustainable products. The authors examine the opacity of corporate annual reports, the impenetrability of government secrets, and emerging techniques of “information foraging.” The information imbalance of power can be reconfigured, they argue, with greater and more meaningful transparency from government and corporations.

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Monitoring Movements in Development Aid

Recursive Partnerships and Infrastructures

Casper Bruun Jensen

In <I>Monitoring Movements in Development Aid</I>, Casper Jensen and Brit Winthereik consider the processes, social practices, and infrastructures that are emerging to monitor development aid, discussing both empirical phenomena and their methodological and analytical challenges. Jensen and Winthereik focus on efforts by aid organizations to make better use of information technology; they analyze a range of <I>development aid information infrastructures</I> created to increase accountability and effectiveness. They find that constructing these infrastructures is not simply a matter of designing and implementing technology but entails forging new platforms for action that are simultaneously imaginative and practical, conceptual and technical. After presenting an analytical platform that draws on science and technology studies and the anthropology of development, Jensen and Winthereik present an ethnography- based analysis of the mutually defining relationship between aid partnerships and infrastructures; the crucial role of users (both actual and envisioned) in aid information infrastructures; efforts to make aid information dynamic and accessible; existing monitoring activities of an environmental NGO; and national-level performance audits, which encompass concerns of both external control and organizational learning.Jensen and Winthereik argue that central to the emerging movement to monitor development aid is the blurring of means and ends: aid information infrastructures are both technological platforms for knowledge about aid and forms of aid and empowerment in their own right.

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Muy buenas noches

Mexico, Television, and the Cold War

Celeste Gonzalez de Bustamante

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My Bayou

New Orleans through the Eyes of a Lover

Constance Adler

A vividly described and intensely personal memoir, My Bayou charts a personal and spiritual transformation along the fabled banks of Bayou Saint John in New Orleans. When Constance Adler moved to New Orleans, she began what would become a lasting love affair with the city, and especially the bayou, a living entity and the beating heart of local culture. Rites of passage, celebrations, mysterious accidents, and magic all took place on its banks, leading Adler to a vibrant awareness of a divine intelligence animating the world. That faith is tested in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, when Adler’s conviction that the sadness that surrounds her can only be leavened by the optimistic act of having a child comes into devastating conflict with her husband’s position on parenthood.

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My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White

Andrew Furman

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970s and 1980s, roughly half of Furman’s high school basketball teammates lived in the largely Anglo, and increasingly Jewish, San Fernando Valley, while the other half were African Americans bused in from the inner city. Los Angeles was embroiled in efforts to desegregate its public school district, one of the largest and most segregated in the country. Tensions came to a head as the state implemented its forced busing plan, a radical desegregation program that was hotly contested among Los Angeles residents—particularly among Valley residents—and at all levels of the courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. In My Los Angeles in Black and (Almost) White, the high school’s basketball team serves as the entry point for a trenchant exploration of the judicial, legislative, and neighborhood battles over school desegregation that gripped the city in the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education and that continue to plague our "post-racial" nation.

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