You can’t name your source, but we can name your bias

If one were to scroll through Jenna Johnson’s twitter feed it would quickly become evident that she does not support the new President, or the White House’s new approaches toward policy and relations with the media. Jenna Johnson’s recent article, Unnamed White House official on implementing travel ban: ‘It really is a massive success story’, meanders from its purpose of presenting unbiased news to American citizens. One might read ‘The Washington Post’ and assume its inherent credibility. However, the author’s bias and personal ideologies infiltrate her writing, as Johnson shares her personal opinion of the new White House administration. Johnson’s rhetoric and diction condescends the senior administration official, calling his or her explanation “jargon-filled” and introduces his or her announcement as a “45-minute defense”. She also introduces his or her quotes to highlight the official’s inconsistency, stating he or she “jumped in to explain the ban in another way”, rather then letting the readers decide this for themselves.

Jenna Johnson also fails to cite many of her sources, leaving much of her evidence seemingly unreliable. Even her title announces that the entire article will revolve around the “Unnamed”. She also claims that “a reporter pointed out” an interesting fact about the countries listed on the ban, and yet this reporter remains unnamed as well. Furthermore, when addressing an executive order that the anonymous source claimed was reviewed by “several of the top immigration staff on Capitol Hill” and “approved by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and reviewed by some government agencies”, Jenna Johnson could have interviewed with some of these leaders.  Also precluded from the article are those directly affected by the ban, such as the immigrants or green card holders mentioned throughout the piece. Including these sources would have given her article a more holistic and well-balanced view.

Although Jenna presents vital news, her motivation appears alternative, such as the alternative facts she clearly expresses her distaste for on twitter.

Her rhetoric places the media in the ring with the white house, resulting in an entirely other argument: the White House is attacking the media as unreliable and underperforming. unnamed

Jenna points out how the white house official removes any blame of giving incorrect information by placing it onto CNN. She also highlights how the official attacks the media for their “false, misleading, inaccurate, hyperventilating” coverage of the “fractional, marginal, minuscule percentage” of international travelers. Jenna Johnson’s underlying persuasion causes the readers to empathize with the media, and thus belittles the White House with the media coming out on top.

If one sniffs around Jenna Johnson’s article long enough, one might SMELL something fishy, such as a lack of transparency and biased motivation. The logic of the article makes sense with the recent political news circulating from this election; however, asserting opinions in news articles should not be normalized simply because of the inconsistency of this election.


The Relapse: Plugging Back Into Old Media Habits

I woke up to a clamor of girls running around on a small, rocking boat. Once again,  I habitually reached for my phone. It was dead, so I plugged it in. The difference between this day and the prior was immediately obvious. I spent the majority of my next 3 hours scrolling through the pictures taken of my friends and me and responding to messages, snapchats, and perusing through Facebook. Exhausted from yesterday, our car ride was mellow. We chatted while simultaneously using our phones. When we stopped at Mara’s house, the four of us cuddled together on her bed and spent the next hour on our phones, editing photos and debating which ones were cute enough to post. If it weren’t for my blackout the day before, I might not have noticed the absurdity of our behavior. Yet, we still managed to have a deep conversation with our phones in hand.

Back on campus, my first task was to plug in all of my devices, including my speaker, phone, and laptop. When my phone had enough power I plugged in my headphones and headed to the gym. Despite my obvious fatigue from lack of sleep, I powered through a tough workout this time with my music to entertain me. After my workout I collected my fully charged laptop and headed to Ground Zero, a coffee shop on campus. My headphones continued to block out any potential silence. I found two of my friends studying and joined them. All three of our mac computers formed a triangle, and we rarely looked up from our screens unless someone had a funny story or post to share. We sometimes procrastinated our work, falling into conversation, but we might as well have been in different rooms, separated by our tall screens.


On my computer, I started writing this blog, and searching through blackboard to organize my homework assignments. On Facebook I posted in my sorority page about an upcoming event I was hosting. As diversity chair, I decided to start a new monthly event in my sorority that enabled girls to give speeches and share their life experiences, stories, and projects. It just happened that I would be giving the first speech about my work with child slavery in India and my experience living there for four years. This project, however, required a lot of technology usage to communicate. I had a diversity committee group chat that was texting all evening to coordinate logistics. My eyes remained glued to my screens as I built a PowerPoint and edited my speech. The majority of my communication this day was virtual. However, my access to technology enabled me to organize and create my event. I managed to spread the word to a mass group of people in a way that would have been quite difficult without media and technology.

Blackout Bonding: We’re all in the same boat.

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The morning started in a hazy confusion. Instinctually I woke up and reached for my phone.

“No!” my roommate screamed at me across the room.

Tiffanie woke me up that morning, because I was undergoing a blackout. The next 24 hours would be media and technology free.

The first seconds of my day already displayed my innate attachment to my devices. Not only was my downward reach to my desk habitual, but the start to my day depended on an alarm app.

January 14th began with many challenges, as I delved into what seemed an unfamiliar universe: one in which I was unable to use media or technology. One obstacle occurred at the gym. To my dismay, without a phone I was forced to run to the sound of grumbling machines and human breathlessness. The gym suddenly felt like a robotic laboratory. Surrounded by human robots and machines, I was unable to run very fast. Listening to my own gasping made me realize how tired my body actually felt. Usually I had loud music to distract and encourage me to keep going.

Back at my dorm, my roommate informed me that my friends were trying to contact me  to meet earlier and buy food before our boat excursion. I quickly rushed to Mara’s apartment, apologizing for the inconvenience of my blackout. On my walk over, my frustration grew. This blackout seemed selfish to my friends who needed to reach me.

In the car my friends shared the extra charger, making sure their batteries would make it through the night. Everyone wanted to share our experience through social media. I, on the other hand, was excited not to have my phone tonight. We rented a boat that permitted twelve guests, and I knew some of my friends would be bummed they weren’t invited. Sometimes obnoxious social media sharing only makes others feel excluded.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0538.JPG Processed with VSCO with f2 presetOn the boat my friends immediatly grouped together for a mass photoshoot. However, realizing these photos weren’t for the memories, or to bring us closer, it suddenly appeared fake to me. My friends intentionally posed knowing that they could later upload these photos to Instagram and Facebook and prove to the world that they were “fun and social”.

Finally settling down, we sat in a circle on the deck to play games. As rules were being explained I noticed many of my friends noses deep into their phones not paying attention.

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To my surprise, I grew irritated and proposed a rule for the night: no phones. At first my friends protested, but they quickly warmed up to the idea of hanging without the rest of the world interfering.

We laughed for hours. Processed with VSCO with c1 presetWe shared funny and personal stories, bonding in a way that we never could have if our phones were out. Suddenly this blackout didn’t seem like such a terrible experience. Instead, it instigated an experience that allowed my friends and I to grow closer. A night formed into a memory that would be cherished and remembered, and not solely through our photos that would later be uploaded.