Counternarratives: A Conversation with Alexandra Bell

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One of the most important questions you can ask about media is how it represents – ideas, things, people. But it’s not just a question of what the mechanisms for representation are. Instead, questions about representation are questions about meaning and about power: how they are produced and maintained. And representations are a site of struggle over meanings and power. The news media are one particularly potent site for engaging with the politics of representation. How are stories told in the news? What cultural frameworks guide the construction of news stories and, in turn, our engagement with the news? How do these frameworks help perpetuate harmful ideological positions?

On this episode of Modern Media, we speak with multimedia artist Alexandra Bell about her work that engages with precisely these questions of representation. In particular, we talk with her about two series of prints that she has produced over the last several years. The earlier series -  “Counternarratives” - reimagines New York Times articles (through revision, redaction, annotation, and magnification) in order to reveal and confront the news media’s complicity in perpetuating racial prejudice. Her later series, “No Humans Involved: After Sylvia Wynter,” (which was part of the 2019 Whitney Biennial) engages the coverage surrounding what came to be called the “Central Park Five” or the “Central Park Jogger” case from 1989.  Across both series, Alexandra Bell’s work reveals the explicit and implicit biases that underwrite news narratives involving communities of color, and how those biases circulate nearly invisibly under the guise of journalistic objectivity.

Read more about Alexandra Bell’s work:

From The New Yorker magazine, April 17, 2019

From The New Yorker magazine, May 29, 2018 

From The New York Times, December 7, 2017


Episode Music Credits: Blue Dot Sessions

“An Oddly Formal Dance” (

“Careless Morning” (

“Our Digital Compass” (

“Our Own Melody” (


Antisocial Media: A Conversation with Siva Vaidhyanathan


In this installment, JNP sits down with Prof. Siva Vaidhyanathan to talk about his latest book, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy. The conversation delves into questions of how Facebook positions itself as a social good while its very structure provides a platform – unprecedented in its size and scope - for the manipulation of political discourse and the widespread circulation of misinformation. Prof. Vaidhyanathan is Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia where he also serves as the Director of the Center for Media and Citizenship. He is the author of several other books, including The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry), and he also serves as a columnist for The Guardian.

We Now Disrupt This Broadcast: A Conversation with Amanda D. Lotz '96


In this installment of Modern Media, JNP talks to Dr. Amanda D. Lotz about her latest book,  We Now Disrupt This Broadcast: How Cable Transformed Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All (MIT Press, 2018). The story of the transformation of television at the turn of the 21st century is a story of emerging technologies, regulations, business models, and aesthetic practices that came to establish the era of internet distributed television that we now inhabit. Connecting these new structures to older ways of understanding television, Dr. Lotz makes a compelling case for understanding the persistence of television amidst the news of its demise. You can follow her on Twitter at @DrTVLotz.

Journalism as Activism: A Conversation with Adrienne Russell


In this installment, JNP sits down with Dr. Adrienne Russell to talk about the changing worlds of both journalists and activists as they engage the intersection of emerging technologies and pressing social problems. Adrienne Russell is the Mary Laird Wood Professor of Journalism and the Environment at the University of Washington, and the author of two books: Networked: Contemporary History of News in Transition, and Journalism as Activism: Recoding Media Power.

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman


In this installment, JNP sits down with Anne Helen Petersen - senior culture writer for Buzzfeed and the author of the recent book, Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman – to talk about balancing academic and journalistic writing, managing the role of the public intellectual in the age of social media, and why cultural criticism matters. You can access Anne Helen Petersen’s work for Buzzfeed here. To find out more about her books, click here.

"Show your work": A Conversation with Frank LoMonte

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In this installment, JNP sits down with Frank LoMonte to talk about the importance of student media, the value of journalism education, and the need for transparency and the free flow of information. Frank LoMonte is the Director of the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information at the University of Florida. Prior to that, he was the Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Brechner Center for Freedom of Information:
Student Press Law Center:

"Nothing drives traffic like news": A Conversation with Juli Metzger


JNP talks with Juli Metzger about the role of media literacy education, journalistic entrepreneurship, and the importance of local media at a time when our media environment has been forever altered by new and emerging technologies that threaten to throw that environment out of balance while at the same time offering new possibilities for more meaningful and impactful journalism.

“Everybody Should Be Podcasting”: A Conversation with Michael O’Connell

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In this installment, JNP sits down with Michael O’Connell to talk about the role of podcasting in journalism, the changes that digital platforms have brought to the work of journalism, and the value of journalism in the digital media environment. Michael O’Connell is the host of the podcast It’s All Journalism and the author of the book Turn Up The Volume: A Down and Dirty Guide to Podcasting (Routledge 2017). O’Connell is also the senior digital editor at Federal News Radio in Washington, D.C.

From Franchise to Hometown: A Conversation with ESPN Founder Bill Rasmussen


In the summer of 1978, Bill Rasmussen hatched what is surely one of the most impactful innovations in the history of television: the 24-hour cable network, ESPN. As the founder and former President of the company, Rasmussen helped develop the network’s flagship program, “Sports Center.” Bill Rasmussen joins us in the studio to talk about the thinking that led to the idea for ESPN as well as his latest venture, Hometown Networks, which allows individual communities to create and maintain their own streaming service for local sports. 

“Design is content, design is journalism”: A Conversation with Sara Quinn

Sara Quinn

Sara Quinn

In this installment, JNP talks with Sara Quinn about visual journalism and the importance of design for news. Far beyond simply adding graphic elements to news production, design is central to the way that news is consumed, the degree to which people trust information, the increasingly undervalued status of photojournalism, and the fascinating eye-tracking research that goes into understanding how reader interact with news through design. Sarah Quinn is the President of the Society for News Design and the R.M. Seaton Endowed Chair in the Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kansas State University.     Eye Tracking Research

Net Neutrality - Part 4: Warfare

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In the final installment of our series on net neutrality, I talked by phone with Prof. Barbara Cherry of the Media School at Indiana University. Our topics of discussion ranged from primary definitions of regulatory structures, how those structures are represented in media accounts, the legal structures undergirding much of this debate, and the economic and ideological stakes of these regulatory policies. Prof. Cherry worked for many years as an attorney representing telecommunications companies, AT&T and Ameritech. She then worked for several years as senior counsel at the FCC in the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and now teaches courses on public policy, deregulation, net neutrality, communications infrastructure, law, and economics.

Net Neutrality - Part 3: What Do you Mean by ‘Fast Lane’?

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In Part III of our series on net neutrality, I talk with Prof. Doug Harms of the Computer Science Department at DePauw University. I sat down with Prof. Harms to find out just how the technical elements of “speeding up” and “slowing down” internet access to specific sites works. Prof. Harms teaches courses computer graphics, networking, and the ethics of computing. His research includes work on historic computing and computer generated holography.

Net Neutrality - Part 2: New Marginalized Spaces

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In Part II of our series on net neutrality, I sit down with Prof. Leigh-Anne Goins of DePauw University. We discussed how the prospect of rolling back net neutrality regulations could have direct effects on the ability of marginalized people to participate equally in political, educational, economic, and cultural spaces. Prof. Goins teaches courses such “Women and the Internet” and “Media and Marginalized Bodies” for the Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Department.

Net Neutrality - Part 1: Who Cares About Netflix?

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In Part I of our series on net neutrality, I talk with Prof. Andrew Cullison who serves as the Director of the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics at DePauw University. We spoke about the relationship between net neutrality and a healthy democratic system of governance. Sure it may seem like all this is really about is large corporations wanting the freedom to dictate your access to your favorite entertainment streaming systems. But as Prof. Cullison points out, there’s far more at stake. Andy has talked about this issue twice before on his own podcast, Examining Ethics.

Transparency is the New Objectivity: An Interview with Indira Lakshmanan

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JNP sits down with Indira Lakshmanan to discuss the problem of "fake news," the difficulty of reporting on politics in the era of President Trump, the erosion of trust in the news media, and how that trust might be re-established. Indira Lakshmanan is a Washington DC-based columnist for the Boston Globe, writing about foreign policy and politics, and the Newmark Chair for Journalism Ethics at the Poynter Institute. You can read her most recent work at

An Interview with Craig Silverman, BuzzFeed


BuzzFeed's News Editor, Craig Silverman, has been on the trail of fake news for years. In this installment of <modern_media> JNP talks with Silverman, about fake news: What it is, where it comes from, the economic and political impulses for creating and sharing it, and what we can do about it. For more on Craig Silverman's work, click here (

"Antelopes and Jaguars: A Discussion with Riley Ray Robbins"

JNP talks with Riley Ray Robbins, a Development Executive at Back Roads Entertainment, about the varied roles of reality television in contemporary television culture - as it relates to the current wave of high-end production, the politics of representation, the current state of the media industries, and the not-so-surprising spectacle of modern politics.

Here's Why You Should Care: An Interview With Dana Ferguson of The Argus Leader

In this installment of <modern_media> JNP talks with Dana Ferguson, the political reporter for The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Dana discusses the varied roles of a print journalist in the age of digital distribution, her early attraction to print journalism, and importance of student media in training good storytellers. You can access Dana's stories for The Argus Leader here.

Seeing in All Directions: An Interview with Ben Solomon of The New York Times

In this installment of <modern_media> JNP talks with multimedia journalist Ben Solomon of The New York Times about the emerging world of virtual reality storytelling as a tool for journalists. Solomon discusses the possibilities as well as the limitations of emerging VR technologies for journalists as well as the larger ethical stakes in telling stories about tragedy. His VR report, "Fight for Fallujah" can be found here. Solomon won a Pultizer Prize in 2015 as part of team working in Sierra Leone and Liberia on the Ebola outbreak. His prize-winning video can be accessed here