Archive for March 2010

Birth of Sports Illustrated

March 25, 2010

I learned a fascinating piece of media history during a recent four-day golf trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with three golfing buddies from Elon.

Amid my slew of bogeys, I discovered that Sports Illustrated was born during a golf retreat to Myrtle Beach in 1954. A group of executives of Time-Life met at Pine Lakes Country Club and, between rounds, outlined plans for a new weekly magazine called Sports Illustrated.

More than 250,000 subscribers signed up for the magazine before the first issue came out, and a Time-Life executive sent a copy of that first issue to the golf course. It remains on display today.

By the way, the first cover dated August 1954 shows night baseball in Milwaukee, with Braves slugger Eddie Matthews, New York Giants catcher Wes Westrum, and National League umpire Augie Donatelli behind the plate.


Journalism and Public Diplomacy

March 18, 2010

Four of us had dinner in Elon tonight with journalism professor Philip Seib, director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.

He’s written thought-provoking books with titles such as Headline Diplomacy: How News Coverage Affects Foreign Policy and New Media and the New Middle East.

He believes that journalists can play a powerful role in foreign policy by deciding what stories to cover. He also believes that media technologies make it easier to engage in “public diplomacy” — defined as a government reaching out to a public rather than to another government.

As an example, Seib cited President Obama’s speech in Cairo last June in which he spoke directly to the people of the Middle East.

Seib believes Obama has the potential to be the best American public diplomat since Benjamin Franklin, saying: “His global appeal rests partly on his being what the world hopes to see in America: vigor and intelligence, evidence of what freedom’s harvest can yield.” But Seib lamented that Obama’s early foray into public diplomacy — his Cairo speech — contained beautiful rhetoric but no foreign policy initiatives to back it up.

Our students will hear Seib speak tomorrow about “The Global Journalist.”