Cut Off At The Salad Bar: Dave Copeland’s Blog

I’ve been blogging since May 2002 — not one of the first, but well before all the cool kids tried it, made it a craze, then gave up on it. The best way to describe this portion of my writing life is part personal notebook where I test ideas and pieces of drafts I’m working on, part self-promotion, and part random ranting.


Frequently addressed topics include journalism, teaching and higher educations, writing, cooking, drinking (or, more specifically, not drinking, running, reading and life in general. Comments are appreciated but monitored before they appear on this site. All views expressed on “Cut Off At The Salad Bar” are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of any of his past, present or future employers.

A Case For Journalism Classes In Higher Education

Posted November 21st, 2012 in Higher Education

Undated photo of Tent City from the Bridgewater State University Website.

In each of the six Novembers I have taught at Bridgewater State University, a small but growing band of students have lived in tents for five nights. It’s part of the International Tent City program, designed to raise awareness of homelessness and simulate the tent cities homeless people live in throughout the world.

Some students spend a night in the tents for extra credit in a class; others spend all five nights (and last week, when this year’s event was held, that was pretty hearty given temperatures that dipped below freezing). The program has become so popular in its six years I heard unconfirmed reports of alumni coming back to spend a night or two in the awareness-raising event.

The timing of this Pete Earley post on his decision to not spend time pretending to be homeless and write a book about the experience contrasts nicely with Tent City at Bridgewater State. Book publishers have loved this idea ever since George Plimpton suited up to train with the Detroit Lions and write Paper Lion. It can be entertaining reading, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the experience. Continue Reading »

How well-informed were you on election day? Topics Of Election 2012 Coverage

Posted November 19th, 2012 in Politics

I’m prepping a class for late on today about the difference between social and mainstream media coverage of the election, and found some interesting tidbits in this Pew study.

In the eight weeks the study covered:

  • The economy accounted for 10% of election coverage
  • The Benghazi attack accounted for 5% of election coverage
  • Healthcare accounted for less than 1% of election coverage
  • Abortion and gay rights combined accounted for less than 1% of election coverage
  • Iraq and Afghanistan combined accounted for less than 1% of election coverage

Also widely missing from 2012 election coverage in the crucial weeks leading up to election day: China and the fiscal cliff.

Beyond that, horse race coverage, which pulls good ratings on television but does little in offering voters substantive insight on the candidates and their positions, made up about 40% of the coverage in the study period.

Another interesting tidbit about tone:

So how well-informed were you on election day?

Happy 10th birthday, Cosmo!

Posted November 16th, 2012 in Cosmo

As best I can tell, Cosmo turns 10 sometime around November 16.

This year I am thankful that he still has the energy of a 10-month old but behaves much better than he did when he actually was 10 months old.

Writing For Online Readers Webinar

Posted November 14th, 2012 in Uncategorized

Yesterday I ran my webinar for writing for online readers for Washington County, Ore. employees who update the county’s Website. Click here if you want to view a recording of the session, which runs just over an hour.

Three Considerations For People Who Say Social Media Did/Did Note Influence Election 2012

Posted November 12th, 2012 in Social media

If you were a Facebook user over the age of 18 in the United States, there was only a one in 50 chance that you did not see some sort of election-related messages if you logged in on Election Day. Did those messages influence the results?

Well, that depends on who you ask. The Atlantic’s Rebecca J. Rosen seems to think the increase in turnout among younger voters is evidence that the Facebook messages did influence voter behavior, while TechCrunch’s Gregory Fernstein is being accused of link-baiting for his takedown of Rosen’s piece (that’s the usual response anyone who questions the power of technology tends to be hit with when they write anything that suggests there is a limit to how radically said technology is transforming all aspects of life).

Which one is right? Which one is wrong? In my mind, they both are. Because a person’s decision to vote, and the influence that decision carries within online and offline social networks, is far too complex to be understood less than one week after an election and explained in a blog post. Social media is like every other technological advance of communication since the telephone: people debate its impact, taking strong stands on two distinct sides: dismissal and grandiose pronouncements. In the end, the technology evolves to a point of acceptance and the reality falls somewhere in between the two initial stands of the entrenched camps in the debate. Continue Reading »

Books To Read In Paris (Or When You Want To Be In Paris)

Posted November 12th, 2012 in Books

When Kate and I were planning our trip to Paris earlier this year, I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations for books about and set in Paris:

It ended up setting off a year in which I read primarily fiction, both set in France and just in general, a first for me since college when I thought I was going to be the last great American novelist.

Yesterday the Boston Globe tried to answer the same question with Five Books To Read In Paris. Here’s my partial list:

  1. A Moveable Feast was the only place where my list intersected with the Globe’s but we both had it as number one. It was the book that helped me understand why writers love Paris and (finally) why readers love Hemingway.
  2. Sarah’s Key: Read the book before I left and then watched the movie on the flight over. perhaps not the most upbeat way to start our trip but a great story. I may end up using this in my “Better Than The Book” class if I end up teaching it again.
  3. The Count Of Monte Cristo: Can’t believe my fear of literature written before the 20th century had me pushing 40 before I actually read this.
  4. Shoot The Piano Player is actually set in Philadelphia. The person who recommended it was probably thinking of the film, which was set and shot in Paris. Still haven’t seen the film but the book was fun, gritty noir – the kind of book they just don’t make anymore. Perhaps a stretch to include it on this list but I wouldn’t have read it if we weren’t planning our trip to Paris.

The #12DC Election Live-Tweeting Project

Posted November 7th, 2012 in Teaching

Here’s a storify chronicling the highlights from what was, hands down, the best assignment I ever gave as a college instructor. Students from three classes live-tweeted network coverage of the election to #12DC last night, and they seemed to love it. Will be writing more later today/tomorrow once I’ve met with the students who participated to get their take.

The #12DC Project: Live-Tweeting The Election

Students from my Online Journalism and Social Media & Journalism classes at Bridgewater State University covered shifts where they watched an assigned network and tweeted out news as it was reported. Some students in my Digital Media & Cybeculture class also volunteered help.

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