My next postcard will be from somewhere warm…
February 15th, 2013

My next postcard will be from somewhere warm, heading out of Dodge on annual leave very shortly. Winter’s been brutal and it will be nice to be away from, among other things, tedious daily missives, signals and dire warnings about impending budget cuts. It’s hard not to be suspicious of all the government posturing around the economy. We are a have province, boom is apparent, the forecast is cheery, but yet we are being braced for an asteroid of a budget. This kind of disparity makes the citizenry cynical.

As a student and scholar of media and popular culture, I am especially interested in how carefully stage managed these things are. The Finance Minister is rolling out “consultations’ with community groups but one has to question the impact these conversations will have, if any, on what the government has long intended to do. We all now know just how images, attitudes and impressions need to be manufactured for the public. Celebrity culture has taught us that, even while we participate in it voluntarily. I am a devout follower of a massively popular web site, www.laineygossip.com, where Vancouver-based blogger Lainey tracks the way celebrities are both victims and fully complicit participants in the machine that shapes their images. If I were teaching a communications course these days I would have her on my syllabus. She satisfies two cravings: a desire for news about famous people and a desire for news about how these people are contrived for our desire. It’s more than clever—it’s ingenious. Some journalists do the same thing when they cover politics but that’s a dangerous game. You are supposed to be ‘”objective” and not comment on the backstory, even if the viewing or reading public is constantly suspicious of the news itself.

Anyhow, this digression comes from a desire to see someone do a Lainey Gossip kind of blog on how messages are constructed for public consumption. Obviously, as with celebrities, some parties, politicians, or public figures do it much better than others. The trick is to sound as sincere as possible, to cut through all the noise and hype and communicate convincingly, credibly, honestly about whatever you are selling—or at least appear that way.

I will be scanning the usual newsfeeds daily while out of the country, curious about what is happening here at home and in the world at large, and I know I will be utterly dependent on what the handlers and hackers want me to see and hear. I’ll try to filter all that through the hot haze of some equatorial sun. Sorry, but someone has to do it!

Dr. Faye Murrin is Dean pro tempore of the School of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the Department of Biology. She completed her B.Sc. (Hons.) at Memorial University, her M.Sc. at Acadia University, and her Ph.D. at Queen's University. Her research interests have always been focused on fungi, in particular the cell biology of insect pathogenic fungi and, more recently, the ecology of mycorrhizal mushrooms in the boreal forest. Dr. Murrin has served in a number of positions on the Council of the Mycological Society of America and was awarded the title of MSA Fellow for her contributions. She was awarded the Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Membership Award as founding co-director of the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Summer Program. Dr. Murrin participates in public lectures and workshops, and is a Director on the board of Newfoundland Foray, Inc.

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