Commentary: UFO's and the Media - by MTSU Professor of Journalism Larry Burriss

Jul 04, 2023 at 12:18 pm by WGNS News

UFO's in America and the media. Today's media commentary takes a look at unidentified flying objects, as seen by MTSU Professor of Journalism, Larry Burriss (Listen to the full 2-minute commentary above by clicking the PLAY button). You can hear more from Burriss by clicking the below graphic.



Commentary (Verbatim) - "Over the years I’ve been to dozens of media-related conferences all over the world. We’ve discussed legal issues, new communication theories, trends in journalism education and statistics-based research. All of them have been pretty interesting, and have had one thing in common: a very serious, almost end-of-the-world tone. But this past weekend was something new.

Probably everyone alive has heard of the 1947 Roswell UFO Incident. Depending on who you ask, debris from either a UFO, complete with alien bodies, or a weather balloon, or a top secret reconnaissance program designed to detect Soviet nuclear tests was recovered some 75 miles away. And today, in Roswell, New Mexico, is the annual UFO Festival.

There were thousands of people, of all ages, in a plethora of costumes, ranging from a simple paper bag someone had over their head, to elaborate costumes that could be used on the most expensive movie set. There were dozens of extraterrestrial spacecraft, aliens by the score, undercover government agents, astronauts and at least one, well, I’m not sure what it was.

But don’t think of this as just a bunch of geeks and nerds running around in over-blown Halloween costumes. There were standing-room-only panel discussions of electronic freedoms related to fan fiction as well as to serious music, serious fiction and serious art.

There were science tracks devoted to discussions of past and present scientific discoveries, to future possibilities, and impossibilities. Several science fiction writers, producers and directors were excoriated by real scientists using real scientific data and valid scientific methods.

Also well-attended were sessions dealing with skepticism. Needless to say, UFO sightings and alien abductions took a beating.

Academic conferences have a reputation of being filled with arcane theories and discussion of esoteric concepts and ideas. But sometimes a simple, lighthearted look at popular culture can prove beneficial as well.

Academic and professional conferences certainly have their places. But for sheer fun, you can’t beat a festival devoted to a 75-year-old incident that may or may not have occurred, but nevertheless has turned into a full-fledged, fun-filled, media event. In Roswell, New Mexico, I’m Larry Burriss.”


About Dr. Burriss - Larry Burriss, professor of journalism, teaches introductory and media law courses. At the graduate level he teaches quantitative research methods and media law. He holds degrees from The Ohio State University (B.A. in broadcast journalism, M.A. in journalism), the University of Oklahoma (M.A. in human relations), Ohio University (Ph.D. in journalism) and Concord Law School (J.D.). He has worked in print and broadcast news and public relations, and has published extensively in both academic and popular publications. He has won first place in the Tennessee Associated Press Radio Contest nine times. Dr. Burriss' publications and presentations include studies of presidential press conferences, NASA photography, radio news, legal issues related to adolescent use of social networking sites, legal research, and Middle Earth.

Dr. Burriss has served as director of the School of Journalism, dean of the College of Mass Communication and president of the MTSU Faculty Senate. He was appointed by Gov. Phil Bredesen to serve on the Tennessee Board of Regents. He was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and served on active duty in Mali, Somalia, Bosnia, Central America, Europe and the Pentagon.



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