Journalism and Mass Communication (JMC) at CU is offering a symposium to discuss the emerging forms of communication and prominent topics in journalism.
Monday and Tuesday brought a diverse range of guest speakers and panelists to CU as part of an ongoing effort to examine the changing face of journalism and mass communication in the Information, Communication, Journalism, Media and Technology (ICJMT) process.
Wrapping up the diverse array of symposium events was a discussion on the romanticism surrounding the life and death of Steve Jobs. Thomas Streeter, professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Vermont led the discussion.
Professor Streeter’s presentation, held Tuesday evening in Humanities 150, was titled The Net Effect: Why, Really, Do We Love Steve Jobs? and focused on the hype surrounding the recent death of the co-founder of Apple Inc.
Streeter said that the public excessively romanticized Jobs’ death as if they were “mourning for a mythological figure.”
Streeter said a number of factors might have contributed to the ideology surrounding Jobs. He said he seeks to break down the public’s fascination with Jobs’ death to reveal whether the reactions to his passing accurately reflect his life’s work.
“I’m interested in the fact that it seems fairly touching to a lot of people,” Streeter said. “It tells me something about where people live, it’s a clue to people’s hearts and minds.”
Streeter said that it may be a sense of “false consciousness” in people; the idea that Jobs created their personal iPhone, when in reality, it was most likely the hands of female laborers in Asia that created the domesticated product.
What Jobs did, like technology tycoon Bill Gates, was relate to a mass audience through an “American Dream” image and associated his image with his product, Streeter said.
“The trick is how to give people a sense of potential and possibility rather than a sense of just business as usual,” Streeter said.
However, Streeter said that the legacy of Steve Jobs may have solely been based on this romanticized image, and may not reflect how revolutionary Apple technology is.
“There’s various kinds of romantic bits lying around in our culture that people sometimes find convenient to draw from,” Streeter said. “We love Steve Jobs because, basically, most of us are just flipping hamburgers.”
Hedy Page, a local resident and former neighbor of Streeter’s, was also one of the many at the CU symposium. She said that Streeter was her son’s best friend while they lived in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
“He told me that he was coming [to the symposium], and I hadn’t seen him in more than thirty years,” Page said. “He was always the kind of guy who thought for himself.”
Katharina Buchholz, a 25-year-old journalism graduate student, said that Streeter’s talk was insightful, especially in revealing how people apply a sense of fantasy towards many public figures.
“I found it really interesting and I thought it had a lot of truthful aspects to it,” Buchholz said. “Steve Jobs was kind of this hero. When he died, people tried to weave that into a hero narrative.”
Like Streeter, Buchholz said that people often glamorize public figures to entertain their own imagination.
“People don’t stop thinking about the narrative, but I’m like, ‘hey, he’s just dead’.”
The ICJMT events featured on Monday and Tuesday were the first of two events sponsored by the JMC to promote the discussion of prominent topics in journalism and communication. The second set of symposium events will take place from Feb. 27 to Feb. 29.
For further information about the ICJMT symposiums visit this website: http://www.icjmtsymposium.org/.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Nora Keating at Nora.firstname.lastname@example.org.