Tag Archives: Boise State

Last Day at The Blue Review

Four years ago, a small group at Boise State launched The Blue Review with a quote post from Walter Lippmann, attempting to explain our tagline — “Popular scholarship in the public interest.”

Lippmann wrote in his 1921 book, Public Opinion, that the primary defect of representative government is, “the failure of self-governing people to transcend their casual experience and their prejudice, by inventing, creating, and organizing a machinery of knowledge.”

Lippmann tasked journalists with at least organizing, or explaining, the knowledge that our society produced.  My job, as a journalist and founding editor of TBR, was to serve as a bridge between town and gown, to publish articles grounded in academic research but written for the general public on topics of local interest.

We wanted to transcend the trivial and dull, as Lippmann might have put it, in favor of “lively commentary, informed scholarship and critical conversation on politics, cities, the media and the environment,” as we put it.

It is because they are compelled to act without a reliable picture of the world, that governments, schools, newspapers and churches make such small headway against the more obvious failings of democracy, against violent prejudice, apathy, preference for the curious trivial as against the dull important, and the hunger for sideshows and three legged calves. — Lippmann, Public Opinion

And we did. Over the past four years, we published almost 400 articles from some 175 scholars and public intellectuals, garnering more than 2 million page views and curating special issues on elections, schooling, cities and race. It was fun, stimulating and fascinating to meet so many energetic and well-read professors at Boise State and beyond.

The Blue Review, Winter 2014
Winter 2014 “Racial Discrimination in Idaho” cover with “Skeletons” art from Bobby Gaytan.

We achieved a tone that I think Lippmann would have appreciated, but we also injected some of the democratic ideals of John Dewey into those pages, inviting writers from all walks of life to contribute, hosting public forums and debates and opening up the comment sections. This formula — a highly curated, well-crafted, transdisciplinary, town-gown blog — remains unique in higher ed, and I want to thank Boise State University and all the people who supported it over the years for providing such a forum.

This is my last week at the helm of The Blue Review and I’m eager to transition from editor to reader. Jill Gill and Justin Vaughn, who co-direct the Center for Idaho History and Politics, will become the publication’s new stewards. Justin and Jill have both written extensively for TBR and are committed to scholarship in the public interest and the type of community engagement we’ve cultivated these past four years.

I am moving on to a new chapter of my writing career, which I will announce next week — still crafting and organizing the “machinery of knowledge,” but in a different context and forum.

Here’s a few of my favorite TBR posts from the past few years:

There are many, many more, and I encourage you to explore the archives (hint: change year in URL), to add your voice to the comments and to keep an eye out for future TBR events.

Here’s to the next four years!


UN High Commissioner for Refugees, US State Department reps visit Boise

Last week, I interviewed Vincent Cochetel, the Regional Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the United States and the Caribbean, and Kelly Gauger, Deputy Director for Refugee Admission at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration for Radio Boise. The two officials spoke at the 4th Annual Idaho Conference on Refugees at Boise State.

I have been working with Radio Boise to set up a news and public affairs department for months now, and wanted to test out my equipment, use the editing room at the studio and try out some different formats for journalism at the station. I’m also quite interested in refugee affairs and had some questions for Cochetel in particular.

Here is the story that ran today on Radio Boise:
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This is a new format for me and I’d love to know what folks think. I know I have a few audio problems that audiophiles will notice. My editor’s hat also tells me it’s way too long, but I also think that community radio provides a good forum to allow interesting sources to speak at length on interesting topics. Both Cochetel and Gauger had a lot to say, and my interviews with three refugees confirmed and illustrated some of their points. At this point, we don’t have a dedicated time slot for reported stories like this at Radio Boise, so we had the freedom to run it long, before the afternoon syndicated newscasts (Free Speech Radio News and Democracy Now).

One thing I’d like to follow up on is the point toward the end about the intersection of economic, or voluntary migrants and asylum seekers. Increasingly these two groups are occupying the same space, whether it’s in urban Africa or in rural parts of the United States.

Here is a bonus clip on Vincent Cochetel’s 1998 kidnapping. He was held hostage in the Northern Caucuses for almost a year: