Tuning In

Notice the right-hand sidebar of this webpage, where I have put links to recommended exterior websites. Many students ask me what kind of sources they can cite for research papers. For my courses, the sites I recommend can be treated as legitimate sources, along with peer-reviewed books and journals, first-person interviews, and government documents.

Think of these links as my recommended information-channels or frequencies. Try following a few of these sources on a regular basis.Bookmark them in your browser, maybe set one as your homepage. This is what I mean by “tuning in.”

Before 1985, Americans really had only four broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. There were serious problems with such a restricted flow of information, but it had one advantage: a shared public conversation. Today, many Americans only ‘tune in’ to hard-Left or hard-Right media channels. Not surprisingly, they “Cannot understand” how anyone could hold the other political view from their own. The channels I list in the sidebar are slightly Left of center; more conservative than the conversation of San Franciscan, but more liberal than conversations in much of California.

You should know these biases. There is no ‘neutral’ nor ‘purely objective’ version of the sort of public debates we have in the classroom. Any number of political positions can be supported by a selection out of the billions of facts that emerge every day, so perhaps the most important lesson about public conversation is that no political position is an obvious, self-evident ‘truth.’By providing the list of media sources in the right-hand sidebar, I am proposing a shared reference-point for our public conversation. In your role as sceptical student, I strongly encourage you to challenge the tone and interpretations represented by this set of channels. However, to even have a productive and critical conversation in the classroom we need to be talking to each other, not past each other. The current public practice of ‘scoring gotchas’ and sticking to rigid ‘talking points’ has rendered Congress ineffective. The large, public classroom is where we need to practice healthy public criticism and disagreement–in radical opposition to contemporary American political practices.

I welcome your input to find other sites that should be added to this list.

the New York Times and the Washington Post. For more local news, the local papers are respected, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the East Bay Express, the Contra Costa Times, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Sacramento Bee.

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