Studying Mass Media

After a few less than passing grades, Nate and I are back to our old ways of studying together. This time it’s for Intro to Mass Media, and for the last couple of days we’ve been reading through printed out PowerPoint slides. Side by side we sit on the soft brown leather couch, Nate half-lying down with his head on my shoulder as I read to him, explain the content and ask him questions. He also reads, when I can get him to.

Newspapers – Nate has never read a paper, outside the comics and the weekly TV schedule, which he devours each Friday. Explaining to him the responsibilities of the press is daunting. I can’t say if he gets it or not, but if he can simply remember the facts he’ll do OK. The newspaper handout leads into a guide to All the President’s Men, which they watched in class. Good thing I’ve read the book and seen the movie multiple times. It allows me to cite examples from the film that flesh out the “points to consider” in the handout.

It’s usually at this time that I can tell Nate is wandering, his eyes half closed, no sign that he’s paying attention.

“Are you with me?” I asked.

“What do you mean ‘are you with me?'” Nate answers.

“I mean are you paying attention?” Then, though I know it’ll trigger a yell, I ask him if he’s spacing out.

He yells. “Ahhhh!” but that automatic action serves as a reboot to his system and, when he quiets down, he’s more on task.

Magazines – Nate is a big fan of Mad, so he enjoys the cover with a My Name is Earl parody. He reads most of the magazine facts, and we talk a little about Thom Yorke and Radiohead, who appear on the cover of Paste in the study sheet. When we talk about “zines,” I mention that my friend Paul Lukas, who Nate has met and remembers, had his own zine called Beer Frame. It’s important to connect the study material to real life.

Radio – For those who read the post about our trip to Albany, you already know Nate loves his radio. So, when we read about formats and programming, I could easily relate it to something he knows well, his beloved ’80’s station.

Recording Industry – Nate knows records. He’s been to record stores with me and his brothers. He knows a decent bit about music, more than I realize he knows (which is true about many things). This topic also touched on videos and Nate loves that. I told him about the war between Betamax and VHS and he knew very well which format won.

All finished, Nate says “Ah, that wasn’t so bad, was it?” As always, Nate puts in his time studying and, as he struggles this semester, I’m happy to be back on the team full-time. He has tried hard to be on his own, and I love that show of personal growth, but he still needs my help and I’m still here to give it.

Let’s see how he does.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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