Member Comments

  • Reply to: Another Black Man Life Made Public   3 years 5 months ago

    Your main point about how the media chooses what to cover is an important one and there is no doubt that journalists perspectives (political and more) shape stories and even more that editorial orientation of newspapers and tv channels shapes coverage. At the same time, your claim that media did not provide front page coverage to the other side of the story is not accurate:
    New York Times Article: Ferguson Report Puts ‘Hands Up’ to Reality Test
    The acquittal of three officers and the dropping of charges against the rest were extensively covered, in major stories in the New York Times
    "Police Officer in Freddie Gray Case Is Acquitted of All Charges"
    "All Charges Dropped Against Baltimore Officers in Freddie Gray Case"

  • Reply to: Another Black Man Life Made Public   3 years 5 months ago

    The data reporting twice as many whites shot by police compared to blacks is widely raised, but as one commenter below notes this needs to be seen relative to the overall proportion of whites and blacks in society. Since only about 12-13% of US population is black, it means that blacks are much more likely to be shot by the police relative to whites.
    "White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers."

    This link has more details:

  • Reply to: Fall 2016 - Collaborative problem solving and the pain and join of a virtual team   3 years 8 months ago


    I'm planning to use NewsActivist with my SOC 100 class at the University of Rhode Island this fall. IT will have 54 students and I imagine students will be writing 3 brief blogs posts on social issues of interest to them. They will start with a critical response to a newsmagazine article and then write two critical responses to social science research articles. I think this might be a good fit with the information literacy element of your course. Part of my course is also aimed at increasing their recognition and critical thinking about cultural difference. I would love to have them selecting a few NewsActivists to reply to about three times during the semester. Depending on the topics of your students' posts this might work for my course.

    Let me know if you think this might be worth talking about in more detail.


  • Reply to: seeking collaborators for a CEGEP ESL class (ideally high intermediate, 102) Fall 2016   3 years 8 months ago


    I'm planning to use NewsActivist with my SOC 100 class at the University of Rhode Island this fall. IT will have 54 students and I imagine students will be writing 3 brief blogs posts on social issues of interest to them. They will start with a critical response to a newsmagazine article and then write two critical responses to social science research articles. Part of the course is also aimed at increasing their recognition and critical thinking about cultural difference. I would love to have them selecting a few NewsActivists to reply to about three times during the semester. Depending on the topics of your students' midterm based posts this might work for my course.

    Let me know if you think this might be worth talking about in more detail.


  • Reply to: Ethics class fall 2014 looking for collaborative partners- contemporary issues/difficult problems to solve   5 years 5 months ago

    Hi Gabe and Gina,

    I know this is last second, I've had this new course to deveIop and only just managed to get my deadline sin order. My Learning to Learn course will start this coming week and runs from Oct 15th to Dec 12th. We will be looking at different disciplinary approaches to learning and growth. My students will be responding to posts on NewsActivist during the weeks of Oct 20-24 and Oct 27 to Oct 31. Each week their deadline to reply is by Friday each week. We will be exploring the topics that raise our intellectual curiosity. They will be talking about what drew them to two posts each week and explaining how their social location shapes their response. They will be posting their own work by Nov 14th and Dec 5th at 11:59pm. These posts will be describing some key finding in their research into learning at the college-level.

    Let me know if our students can collaborate,

  • Reply to: Sickness and Youth: How volunteering at The Children's Hospital can help brighten a child's day   5 years 11 months ago

    Summary: This blog post looks at how changing the meaning that is attached to donating to Miracle Flights may help increase their revenue and ultimately be able to provide more free flights to sick children in need of transportation to receive the best medical care possible.

    Miracle Flights for Kids is a national non-profit organization that was developed in 1985. Their mission is to fly low-income children who are sick, with cancer or other debilitating diseases, to the proper hospital or treatment facility. Similarly, Miracle Flights also flies sick children to places for second opinions to ensure they are making the best medical decision based on the information provided to them. This organization has already donated over 84,000 flights to families who would not have financially been able to provide transportation to receive the necessary care for their child.
    The main assumptions of Miracle Flights is that it provides a safe and efficient method of transportation, free of cost, to children in need of reaching the destination of the best medical services. This non-profit assumes that the sick child needs this transportation in order to visit the best medical facility for their specific ailment. Another assumption is that Miracle Flights takes as much of each donation as economically possible and puts it toward the transportation of children. Miracle Flights is operated entirely from donations from the generosity of the public, organizations, and foundations. This assumes that they will receive enough donations to keep this organization functioning for as many sick children as possible.
    The outcomes for Miracle Flights are both short and long term. The short-term outcomes are that the child will board a flight and be transported to a hospital and begin treatment for their illness. The long-term outcomes are that this child’s health will improve because of this treatment and will grow to enjoy a healthier lifestyle that might not have been possible if it was not for Miracle Flights.
    The inputs for Miracle Flights are the costs of the plane, the maintenance of the plane, the fuel, the pilot’s compensation, and office supplies (for marketing and advertising purposes). Another input is the costs associated with making sure each sick child, and his or her family, is comfortable (i.e. reclining chair, blankets etc.). Eighty-one percent of all donations go directly to providing these flights.
    The outputs for Miracle Flights are providing a free flight to sick children who cannot afford transportation to the best care facility. This organization provides a safe and dignified flight for these children. Every 29 dollars that is donated to Miracle Flights can fly a child 100 miles. To date, Miracle Flights have traveled over 46 million miles to help these children.
    Based on this logic model, there are methods this organization could use in order to better achieve their goals. Adapting the ideas of Blumer could help Miracle Flights better achieve their goal of flying more sick children to the best medical facility. The main component from Blumer’s writings that can be applied to Miracle Flights is to use symbolic interaction in order to get more people, preferably more wealthy people, to donate to this organization. By using Blumer’s ideas and attaching more meaning, or a different kind of meaning, to this organization, Miracle Flights could see a great increase in their funds. Currently they rely on the generosity of individuals, organizations, and foundations. They also partner with corporate airlines by allowing people to donate their frequent flier miles to sick children and offer the lowest flight prices possible to this organization.
    Blumer’s work discusses how individuals attach certain meanings or values to things in society. Once this meaning is attached, it becomes an influence over our interactions with others. People have an internal dialogue in order to fully understand the meanings they have attached to certain things. We also attach meanings and values to symbols in our everyday life. Using Miracle Flights as an example, a person might put a Miracle Flight sticker on their car if they donate to this organization. That sticker becomes a symbol of support for the donator and the organization will hopefully receive more support and more attention by that sticker being driven around town.
    It is considered a symbolic gesture to donate to a charity in our society. Donating money makes people feel good about themselves, makes them feel like they are helping others in need, and provides them with a positive status in our country. Since, as Durkheim discusses, people are social products that serve a purpose, it is important for organizations like Miracle Flights to help attach more crucial meanings to the act of donating. There are two ways to donate to Miracle Flights, a one-time donation or a reoccurring donation through sponsorship. The meaning attached to donating, either once or reoccurring, is similar. Miracle Flights would benefit financially by working to attach more symbolic meaning to reoccurring donations. When people donate to a charity they feel good about themselves for that moment and perhaps for a short period of time after that. When people give a monthly donation to a charity, they are able to experience these feelings connected with donating on a constant basis. By helping individuals understand the meaning attached to reoccurring donations, Miracle Flights would be able to increase their revenue and be better suited to meet their long term goal of providing more safe flights for sick children.
    Individuals act towards things (Miracle Flights for this example) based on the meanings they have attached to that thing. If people attached some of the longer-term goals that Miracle Flights has to donations, they may increase their annual revenue. Currently, it appears that the main component that a donator would attach meaning to their donation to would be the flight itself. Instead, donators should be attaching meaning to the bigger goal of Miracle Flights, the ability for a sick child to receive treatment at the best facility.
    One avenue for improving their donations is to target high-profile celebrities. Many celebrities aim to promote a Good Samaritan image to the public. Many do it for selfless reasons; they have the money and can afford donating some of their revenue. Others do it because it helps them create a positive image to the public eye, which in the long run may help them in their careers. If Miracle Flights were able to get a few big name celebrities to donate money for flights, they could use the story to promote the celebrity, but more importantly get the name of their organization into the public ear. Other celebrities would see the meanings that are attached to donating to this cause and may become interested in donating as well. Similarly, as consumers of popular culture, non-celebrity people may see celebrities attaching meaning to an organization like Miracle Flights and want to feel connected to that particular celebrity, so they might then also desire to donate to Miracle Flights. This approach could greatly help Miracle Flights increase their annual revenue.
    I would imagine the sick child, and perhaps more importantly the family of the sick child, attaches great meaning to the flight that Miracle Flights provides. This organization strives to provide a safe and dignified flight to the necessary destination. Anyone who has worked with children before understands the importance of making a child feel safe and secure, and this organization aims to do the same. Families will attach the treatment and (hopefully) healing process of their child to the opportunity given to them by Miracle Flights. If Miracle Flights can broaden the meaning that accompanies donating to this organization, they will increase the amount of miles they can fly each year.
    Miracle Flights have had a successful first 28 years in business as a non-profit organization. Their business has a clear logical model, which helps them achieve their short-term and long-term goals. Making some changes in how meaning is attached to the act of donating money to this organization and what types of donations are acceptable can help increase their revenues and ultimately help meet its long-term goal.

  • Reply to: More people with mental health issues in jail than there are in hospitals.   5 years 11 months ago

    I came across a blog recently that really got a rise out of me, both because it was disturbing to me and because I want to go into law enforcement. The focus of the article is an autistic boy who was viciously and unnecessarily handcuffed by a police officer enacting what some may call police brutality. Jason, the autistic boy, felt that the police officer was threatening the safety of his mother and began to act out in an uncontrollable and slightly aggressive manner. His mother tried to explain to the police officer that Jason was autistic, but he didn’t care that he was autistic. The police officer used mace on Jason because he didn’t want to deal with the fact that he is autistic, or possibly because he didn’t know how to deal with it properly. This led me to think about how developmentally disabled people interact with the justice system. I found that 1% of physically disabled individuals and 4.2% of intellectually disabled individuals account for prisoners in our justice system (Weiss, 2013). Although there are many organizations that work with people with developmental disabilities, they usually work with those that are currently in society and forget about those that are already locked up.
    After acknowledging that this minority group was being neglected I began to search for a non-profit organization that specializes in developmental disabilities and came across Lifetime Assistance. Lifetime Assistance works with a lot of different people, of many ages with developmental disabilities to get the most out of life. Emile Durkheim’s notion of Division of Labor is a perfect tool to think about the way in which Lifetime Assistance betters society. Division of Labor meaning the jobs and tasks of society are divided, or specialized, among the people so that they can assist society in the best way (Kivisto, 2011). Lifetime Assistance is a specialized organization that assists society by helping individuals who have developmental disabilities, and their families with every day activities, so that they can operate properly and fully in society.
    In fact, Lifetime Assistance’s mission statement goes as “Our goal is to foster independence, self-reliance and respect for individuals with disabilities. Our vision is to help each person reach his or her full potential – and realize the opportunities of a lifetime.” This basically means that their goal is to help individuals with disabilities, and their families, make the most of their lives. Lifetime Assistance works to make interaction with others and functioning at community events easier for those that are disabled. They accomplish these goals though services, activities, and inputs.
    Lifetime Assistance offers many services such as residential services, day services, service coordination, vocational services, recreational services, individualized service development, and family support services. As for activities, every month they send out a newsletter listing all the activities they were offering that month. There was a wide range of activities that they offered including sporting events, bowling, basketball, swimming, dances movies, picnics, concerts, trips to amusement parks, and bingo. Being able to provide these successful activities proves to me that Lifetime Assistance is very well up to date on specific knowledge needed to assist individuals with these disabilities.
    Although these were only a few of the activities that are offer, they are only able to do so through their inputs. Inputs meaning resources like their employees and income. Lifetime Assistance currently employs 1,917 people who are offered courses to teach the employees how to deal with different types of people and situations. These courses allow employees to be better fit to do their jobs. The employees also must create schedules and rules for those involved in the programs. It also helps that Lifetime Assistance has a yearly income of $59,106,189 that they use to pay for the $58,250,900 for expenses (Guide Star, 2011). With the money, the people, and the plans that the people make doing what needs to be done to assist the ideas and plan of action toward their goal.
    The theory of change for this non-profit is simply that if they offer these services to people with disabilities, and their families, then they will get the most out of their lives without getting into trouble. Without these services the individuals suffering from disabilities may not be able to function properly in society, or could experience a situation like Jason where they are incarcerated for something beyond their control and capacity. These individuals need assistance and guidance, not to be locked up with a bunch of criminals, or worse, with a bunch of other individuals who also didn’t receive the attention they needed to easily avoid the negative situation.
    Lifetime Assistance is clearly knowledgeable about this specific issue in society and are more than capable of offering another program specifically for those already incarcerated because a large percentage of people locked up have a developmental disability and aren’t being treated for it. This is one of the main reasons that prisons and jails don’t change the people in them. You can’t change these people, you can only help them to understand and learn how to function properly in society. My only suggestion to this organization is to possibly make an outreach program to those in prison so we can slowly decrease the amount of people in prison, that don’t necessarily belong there. They could do so by offering the prisoners that have these disabilities that are close to their parole date a program on how to properly start over their life and function within it. With this program they would be less likely to not be found in the justice system again or at least anytime soon. I think this would be an extremely powerful move because Lifetime Assistance is already specialized in this topic they just need to use it in specific spaces. Other than that it seems that Lifetime Assistance is doing a very good job in their field of specialized labor.

    Works Cited
    Guide Star. (2011). Lifetime assistance incorporated. Retrieved from Guide Star website:
    Kivisto, P. (2011). Li. Emile Durkheim: 6. on mechanical and organic solidarity. In Social theory roots and branches (pp. 38-42). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Weiss, T. C. (2013, August 2). People with intellectual disabilities and the prison system. Retrieved from Disabled World website:

  • Reply to: Scared Skinny   5 years 11 months ago

    This topic is very important to bring attention to. Anorexia affects so many people in this country. Letting people know the consequences behind it besides losing weight is going to help in decreasing the disease. I personally did not know that this could shave years off their life and give a person health issues. I also agree with most people not being educated enough about good weight loss options. A lot of people I know think let me just eat very little to lose weight and that will be my diet. It is so extreme that it only hurts the person in the end. I feel anorexia is often looked over and not seen as that serious. People just say give them food tell them to eat, this makes it seem like less of a big deal. If it is less of a big deal more people wont see a problem with doing it. This article really shines the light on the dangers and seriousness of the disease.

  • Reply to: Beer and Wine: Now available at Starbucks   5 years 11 months ago

    Starbucks should remain just a coffee place. I agree with you when you said that serving alcohol will attract a different type of audience. Starbucks is known for it's quiet atmosphere where a person could read a book, study, or hang out. If they start serving alcohol the customer will become more rowdy and change the entire feel of the cafe. This will make it seem more like a bar and less like a coffee place. It will defiantly change the type of customer that goes to Starbucks towards the evening too. A student looking for their caffeine fix and a place to study wont want to study at a bar type cafe. The will go to any other coffee chain. I feel that Starbucks has a type of monopoly on college students. Why is Starbucks going to try and fix something that isn't broken I feel that people wont want to buy alcohol at a Starbucks when they can go to a bar, and students wont want to go to a place that serves alcohol when studying. Serving alcohol could ruin Starbucks.

  • Reply to: Cell Phones Changes Everything   5 years 11 months ago

    I would have to agree with all the pros and cons that were listed with the Cell Phone. Now, with that said there is defiantly that were missing from that list that I really feel that need to be shared. For example pros: not only is it easier to talk with friends and family but it’s easier to see them too. Cell Phones these days are made to do “face chat” which shows the face of the person that they want to talk too. SO…yes people aren’t physically seeing each other like they used too but they’re not, NOT seeing them. Anyways another pro is that it helps any businessman with everyday task weather it is creating a “to do” list or making a calendar of the entire meeting he has to attend every week. The Cell Phone has changed the way humans these days live for the simplest of task such as talking with someone too some of the hardest tasks like asking SIRI how to tie a bow tie. The cons are something that our culture has to definitely keep there eyes on because if things keep progressing then no one is ever going to even the house. Personally I love the Cell Phone, it not only keeps me in touch with my family and what there doing and how there doing but as well as my friends, cause lets be honest that’s the whole point teenagers and kids wants phones theses days is too stay “connected” with social media and see how everyone is doing.