Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Rating Religious Groups

Pew reports:
Jews, Catholics and evangelical Christians are viewed warmly by the American public. When asked to rate each group on a “feeling thermometer” ranging from 0 to 100 – where 0 reflects the coldest, most negative possible rating and 100 the warmest, most positive rating – all three groups receive an average rating of 60 or higher (63 for Jews, 62 for Catholics and 61 for evangelical Christians). And 44% of the public rates all three groups in the warmest part of the scale (67 or higher). 
Buddhists, Hindus and Mormons receive neutral ratings on average, ranging from 48 for Mormons to 53 for Buddhists. The public views atheists and Muslims more coldly; atheists receive an average rating of 41, and Muslims an average rating of 40. Fully 41% of the public rates Muslims in the coldest part of the thermometer (33 or below), and 40% rate atheists in the coldest part. 
These are some of the key findings from a Pew Research Center survey conducted May 30-June 30, 2014, among 3,217 adults who are part of Pew Research’s new American Trends Panel, a nationally representative panel of randomly selected U.S. adults.1

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Demographics of Gun Ownership

Pew reports:
To examine the demographic and political characteristics of gun-owners and their households, we examined data from the new Pew Research Center American Trends Panel survey of 3,243 adults conducted April 29-May 27, including 1,196 who said they or someone in their household owned a gun, pistol or rifle.
Other longstanding beliefs about the makeup of America’s gun-owning households are confirmed by these data. For example, rural residents and older adults are disproportionately more likely than other Americans to have a gun at home.
Americans with a gun at home also differ politically from other adults. Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to be members of a gun-owning household. Political independents also are more likely than Democrats to have a firearm in their homes.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Suing the President

At The Wall Street Journal, Kimberly Strassel reports that congressional Democrats are criticizing Speaker Boehner for having the House sue President Obama. The issue came up at a House Rules Committee hearing.
The suit, which sues the president for unilaterally changing a core provision of ObamaCare, is a "political stunt," declared Ms. Slaughter. Republicans have "timed" it to "peak . . . right as the midterm elections are happening," said the ranking Rules member. Having failed to stop ObamaCare, they have chosen to "run to the judicial branch." And, she lectured, a "lawsuit against the president brought by half of the Congress" is "certainly" not the "correct way to resolve" a "political dispute."
Strassel points out, however, that Slaughter herself was a plaintiff in a 2006 suit against President George W. Bush.
Democrats were sore that they'd lost a fight over a budget bill that made cuts to Medicaid and student loans. They dredged up a technical mistake—a tiny difference between the House and Senate version of the bill. Michigan Democrat John Conyers, ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, decided to (how did Ms. Slaughter put it?) file a lawsuit against the president brought by half of the Congress. He was joined as a plaintiff by nearly every other then-ranking Democratic member and titan in the House— Charles Rangel, John Dingell, George Miller, Collin Peterson, Bennie Thompson, Barney Frank, Pete Stark, James Oberstar and Ms. Slaughter herself.
In an April 2006 Huffington Post piece titled "Taking the President to Court," Mr. Conyers explained that he was "alarmed by the erosion of our constitutional form of government," and by a president who "shrugged" about "the law." After "consulting with some of the foremost constitutional experts in the nation," he had determined that there was "one group of people" who were "injured" by Mr. Bush's lack of respect for "checks and balances": Congress. So he was "going"—or as Ms. Slaughter might put it, "running"—"to court."

Saturday, July 19, 2014

J-School Enrollments Down

Michael King writes at The American Journalism Review about a study from the University of Georgia’s James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research. 
The study, titled Annual Survey of Journalism & Mass Communication Enrollments, showed total master’s and undergraduate enrollments among 485 U.S. journalism and mass communication programs declined by 2.9 percent in fall 2012, following a combined drop of 1.1 percent the previous year. Previously, enrollment in journalism and mass communication programs had grown every year but two since 1993, the study said.
Both undergraduate and master’s enrollments fell by the same amount in 2012 — 2.9 percent — but their respective declines varied the year before. Undergraduate enrollment dropped 0.5 percent in 2011, while master’s enrollment fell 9.4 percent. Doctoral enrollments, by contrast, increased both years, rising 4.9 percent in 2012 and 4.2 percent in 2011.
Journalism and mass communication enrollment is “dominated” by the undergraduate population, the study found. Some 93 percent of the total 212,488 students enrolled nationwide in the major in the fall of 2012 were undergraduates.
The study found that advertising and public relations continued to expand within mass communication programs, claiming a larger share of the curriculum than pure journalism courses.

The Georgia researchers concluded that journalism education is falling behind other fields within universities, where overall enrollment trends are up. The National Center for Education Statistics, for example, projects 1 percent growth annually for all undergraduate enrollment through 2021.

Media analysts say it’s too soon to tell whether the journalism enrollment declines represent the start of a downturn. “Two years does not a long-term trend make,” said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

He sees the recent dips as a natural reaction to negative publicity about the news industry. Rosenstiel noted that media outlets have extensively documented the crises of journalism employment for years, causing high school students to wonder whether studying the profession will result in a steady career.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Editing Congressional Wikipedia Pages

ArsTechnica reports (h/t JPP):
Ed Summers, an open source Web developer, recently saw a friend tweet about Parliament WikiEdits, a UK Twitter “bot” that watched for anonymous Wikipedia edits coming from within the British Parliament’s internal networks. Summers was immediately inspired to do the same thing for the US Congress.
“The simplicity of combining Wikipedia and Twitter in this way immediately struck me as a potentially useful transparency tool,” Summers wrote in his personal blog. “So using my experience on a previous side project [Wikistream, a Web application that watches Wikipedia editing activity], I quickly put together a short program that listens to all major language Wikipedias for anonymous edits from Congressional IP address ranges… and tweets them.”
The stream for the bot, @congressedits, went live a day later, and it now provides real-time tweets when anonymous edits of Wikipedia pages are made. Summers also posted the code to GitHub so that others interested in creating similar Twitter bots can riff on his work.

Thursday, July 17, 2014