Political Economy

January 15th, 2010 by Collin Canright | Filed under Journalism, Political Economy.

This post is part of the Collin’s 50th! series, in which I look back as a way of moving forward.

At some point, like many young journalists, I dreamed of being a foreign correspondent. Not enough to actually do it, but I studied political science, economics, history, philosophy, and sociology so I’d know more about how politics and economics worked.

My favorite classes were on media and society, and I had two hard-nosed political reporting professors from which I learned the art and science of political and economics reporting. From J. Herbert Altschull at Indiana University, I learned about analytical reporting in the style of the New York Times magazine. From Steve Weinburg at the University of Missouri, I learned about detailed reporting and, in particular, clear writing.

The following articles represent my most politically and economically informed articles. Some focus on political process and others on larger economic questions.

As a student of Prof. Altschull, I wrote a long article on the Polish revolution of 1981. A portion of that article was published in The Bloomington Free Ryder, the then “underground” publication in Bloomington, Indiana, as Money Can’t Buy Me Love: A Report on Poland’s Economy.

My editor at The Ryder, Paul Sturm, signed me up to write political and economic articles. Next, we published “The Ailing Past of the New Federalism,” which covered the history of the term and ongoing tension between the federal and state governments, brought to the fore by the Reagan Administration. In our time of private and public organizations looking to the federal government for solutions (or bail outs), those questions seem almost quaint.

Paul also published my article “The High Impact of Low Level Radiation,”which originated as a paper from a class with Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass, a physicist who in the late 1960s conducted controversial research on the ill effects of low-level radiation. I was fortunate to have the chance to conduct a demographic study in one of his classes similar to those in his book SECRET FALLOUT: Low-Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island.

In the summer of 1982, I worked as an internship at The Hammond Times, now The Northwest Indiana Times. My editor loved my music reviews and gave me a dream project: to write an article on the business of rock and roll in the Chicago area. I interviewed musicians, recording studio owners, and record executives for “The Business of Rock” and “Rock music a morass.”

Working with Steve Weinberg on an independent study project, I wrote my most complete examination of economic development and the political forces that help and hinder it. In “Ebb Tide for a Shipping Dream,” I looked at the present and the past of the Missouri River, which was called “one of the most underutilized rivers in the U.S.”

The piece looks at how transportation promotes economic development and how neglect of basic infrastructure can hinder it. The arguments for river transportation are strikingly similar to what you hear at an Federal Communications Commission hearing on broadband development, as are the questions today about nuclear power similar to those in the 1980s.

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