On the Media: September 16, 2011

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Reporters making predictions about the 2012 election, the advantage of late night legal advertisements and escaping wi-fi in a remote West Virginia town.

Journalists Predicting the Political Future

Republican Bob Turner defeated Democrat David Weprin to take control of New York’s 9th congressional district, the seat vacated by Anthony Weiner in June. This was widely reported as a sign that voter frustration with President Obama had trickled down into New York politics. Bob talks to political stat guru Nate Silver about whether he thinks this is a sign of things to come, or just over-extrapolation by the press. 

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Asking Politicians About Religion

With another election cycle underway, the topic of faith is a recurring one, especially in the current Republican primary race. Bob spoke with Amy Sullivan, who writes about religion and politics for Time.  She says journalists often miss the mark when discussing candidates' religions.

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Teasing Your Book on the Funny Pages

Joe McGinniss, author of the controversial forthcoming book The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, entered an exclusive first-serial arrangement for the book with Garry Trudeau, author of the comic strip Doonesbury. Bob talks to Trudeau about the unorthodox tactic of teasing a book in a comic strip, and critical reaction to both the book and the strips it generated.

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Hams Travel to South Sudan

When South Sudan became an independent nation this year, amateur radio enthusiasts (a.k.a. 'hams') were excited. For them, South Sudan was one more far-off place to communicate with. The only problem? Few people in South Sudan knew much about amateur radio. Bob spoke with ham operator Paul Ewing, who travelled to South Sudan to solve that problem.

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Escaping Wi-Fi in the National Quiet Zone

An estimated 5% of Americans believe they suffer from Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), an affliction they say brings on a range of symptoms when they are exposed to electromagnetic fields.  Some EHS sufferers have relocated to the National Radio Quiet Zone, where wireless devices are prohibited.  Bob spoke to BBC journalist Matt Danzico about a recent trip to the Quiet Zone.

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The Issue of Orphan Works

On Monday, The Author's Guild filed a lawsuit against several universities who have announced their intentions to make available electronic copies of so called "orphan works," books for which no copyright owner can be found. Law professor and blogger James Grimmelmann talks to Bob about the sticky legal issues that orphan works present.

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The Upside of Legal Advertising

Late night ads for lawyers on TV seem like the lowest form of advertising - they prey on the weak and sleep deprived, encouraging them to monetize their misery by starting frivolous lawsuits. But might they actually serve a purpose? Bob talks to legal experts as well as the grandfather of legal advertising, and finds that even the sleaziest ad does something for the common good.

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