Dr. Larry Burriss


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  There’s a saying about nothing new under the sun, and this summer’s political landscape has certainly born that out.  Charges and counter-charges about plagiarism, accusations and allegations of duplicity, rebuttals and reprimands coming from all directions.  And all of it as old as the republic.
    Take, for example, the music used, and misused, as part of the political rhetoric.  Almost every rally and demonstration is accompanied by rock, jazz and even classical music.
    But is any of this new?  Absolutely not.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  I’ve heard that the best defense is a good offense.  Or maybe it’s the other way around, the best offense is a good defense.  Whichever, this is my attempt to strike first and head off what may be a problem at MTSU.

As you may have heard, there is currently a move afoot to change the name of Forrest Hall, named for Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. 


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  For years Wikipedia has, unfortunately, been the go-to source for up-to-date information on current and past events.  Almost as soon as something anywhere in the world happens, someone, somewhere, generates a news story for the on-line encyclopedia.   Then the story gets edited by almost anyone who has access to the system.  And therein lies the problem.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  -  With all of the news about the National Security Agency tracking our cell phones and e-mails, it’s easy to forget that it’s not just the federal government that is collecting information about us.  Plenty of other folks have access to all sorts of data about our lives, and in many cases we don’t even know it is being collected.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --   Let’s go way, way back to the beginnings of the Internet.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  Two things seem to have gotten people really stirred up about privacy lately:  the revelations that the National Security Agency has a massive program of data mining, and the fact that so many companies are collecting an inordinate amount of data about each of us.  But somehow not very many people seem to have put these two concerns together.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  Can you sign away your right to criticize a company you do business with?  Apparently some companies think you can, and may try to charge you a lot of money if you say anything bad about them.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  The last few weeks have seen an outpouring of remembrances about President John Kennedy, and the impact of his assassination 50 years ago.  We have seen retrospectives of his life, analyses of the assassination, and considerations of what might have been.
    But there is also a plethora of little-known stories that also deserve retrospection, analysis and consideration.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  A few years ago I visited Dallas, Texas, and sat on the grassy knoll, the location from which some people believe a second gunman shot President Kennedy.  I could see the Texas Book Depository, Elm Street was right in front of me, and the triple-overpass was just a short walk away. 
    I walked by where Jack Ruby’s Carousel Club used to be, stopped at the Texas Theater where Oswald was arrested, and stood on the spot where the infamous picture of Oswald and his rifle may or may not have been taken.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  William Shakespeare and Gertrude Stein both talked about the value of a name, and they seemed to reach the same conclusion:  not much value at all.  It’s the attributes of the name, what it stands for, that really matters.  Call it what you will, it’s the actual “thing” that really counts, not what you call it.
    So perhaps maybe it’s time to rethink what we mean by “journalism” and “newspaper.”

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  Well, it's Halloween season.  Time for trick-or-treat, time to get the be-jeebers scared out of yourself, and, if you believe Linus, time for the Great Pumpkin to rise out of the Pun'kin Patch.
    This is also as good a time as any to return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear when radio was the theater of the mind, and the collective psyche of the nation had the wits scared out of it by Orson Wells, the Mercury Theater, and the War of the Worlds.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  Flip through the television dial and you'll find all sports, all the time.  It seemed like just a few years ago all we had was a few minutes at the end of the evening news.  Now we've got not just sports stories, but sports stations and indeed, entire sports networks. 
    But I got to thinking just how far we've come, over the last several years, in terms of broadcast sports.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  One of the big questions we’ve had to deal with since the inception of the Internet is, “Who exactly is a journalist?” 

We’re pretty sure correspondents for major news outlets count.  What about freelance reporters?  Or lately, what about so-called “I-reporters,” apparently anyone with a cell phone camera who happens to take a picture of a newsworthy, or sometimes not-so-newsworthy, event?

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  This past week was some kind of perfect sports and media storm:  baseball is getting ready to enter the playoffs, high school and college football began in earnest, and professional football is back , as if it really ever disappeared.  But there is another perfect storm brewing, and it involves cross-ownerships of sports teams and media outlets.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  Every once in a while we need to step back from doom and gloom, coups and catastrophes, floods, fires and famines, and deal with something really, really important. And today that's a lawsuit involving the song "Happy Birthday."


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  It’s been said that it is better to debate an issue and not have it settled, than to settle an issue with no debate. And that’s precisely where we are with the latest revelations about the National Security Agency and our personal phone and Internet records.

Unfortunately, there are so many issues involved, it’s hard to know where to begin.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Somehow I thought we were done with various government agencies secretly accessing reporters’ phone records, but apparently not. As we learned last week, the Justice Department covertly seized information about the phone calls of some 20 news organizations. The records, by the way, were not obtained from the media organizations themselves, but from various phone companies.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  There has been a lot of talk lately about cloning. You know, recreating extinct plants or animals.

But here’s an interesting bit of news about bringing something back from the dead: A team at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has re-created the very first web page, designed in 1992 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. And unlike the first connections, which were pretty much limited to universities and government agencies, today anyone can go to the CERN web site and see what was going on a little more than 20 years ago.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  We all know television can bring us memorable visuals, and can provide an immediacy that is, quite frankly, impossible for newspapers and magazines. But that immediacy can lead to lack of details that can only be developed over time.

I’m not talking about errors that come from not having enough time to completely check sources and facts. I’m talking about how newspapers, and magazines, can provide documentation not available via video.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  This Friday is World Intellectual Property Day, an event that marks the 1970 founding of the World Intellectual Property Organization. This U-N agency has more than 170 nations as members, and was created to "promote the use and protection of works of the human spirit."

Around the world the organization has taken on added significance because of the growth in counterfeit goods, such as computer games, movies and clothes. It has been estimated that some 7 per cent of global economy is based on counterfeit products.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  I was walking down the hall the other day, and a young lady sitting in a chair, said, “Good morning, how are you today” as I walked by. So I said, “Pretty good. How are you,” but then I realized she wasn’t talking to me at all. She was talking to someone with her Bluetooth device.

Ooops. The same thing happened a few hours later, and in fact seems to be a pretty common occurrence.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  In 1954, Marian Anderson became the first black singer to be hired by the Metropolitan Opera. And in 1955, she became the first black singer to have a major role in a Met production.

But fifteen years earlier, and 74 years ago Tuesday, on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, Anderson sang a concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, putting on display what Arturo Toscanini said was a voice that came along only once a century.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  What do most Americans know about foreign cultures, and what kinds of pictures of foreign countries do we get from the news? Well, there is something of a formula for the kinds of news we get about other places: floods, famine and fires; coups and catastrophes. Or, if there is good news, it's all about foods, festivals and famous people.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS)  --  How many of you complain about your spouse spending too much time using the microwave oven? Or, how many times have you said, “I think I’ll go in the kitchen and use the sink?”

Sounds pretty silly, doesn’t it? After all, these are simply tools we use to do something else.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (BURRISS) --  At an educational conference I’m attending, two strands keep coming up: students at all levels don't know how to read, compute, communicate or think, and the negative impact the media are having on those same students.

Well, at the risk of sounding old-fashioned or corny, I would like to propose that we use the media to provide a remedy for all of these educational deficiencies.