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Callum Manning and his favorite books.

There are few more fulfilling hobbies than having a love of books.

Reading isn't just a great way to have a good time. Reading increases brain connectivity, makes people more empathetic, reduces depression symptoms, improves vocabulary, and may even cause you to live longer.

It's a huge benefit for a child's development as well. According to Parent.com, reading "stimulates the side of the brain that helps with mental imagery, understanding, and language processing, and that brain activity."

Sure beats wasting time playing video games.



Thirteen-year-old Callum Manning wanted to share his love of reading with the world, so he created an Instagram account where he posted photos of the books he's read. It started with a post about Stephen King's "The Shining."

"So I guess I'm going to start this account off with one of my favourite books, Callum wrote. "This book was the first book I read in 1 day. And I was like 10. So yeah it scared me."

He would go on to fill his pages with books such as "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley, "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, "1984" by George Orwell, and current classics such as "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin and "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" by J.K. Rowling

Kids Callum's age can be exceptionally cruel. A group of them created a group chat where they bullied him for his love of books and then invited him to join. After subjecting him to emotional abuse, they kicked him out of the chat.

"I don't tend to cry that often but I think that was the first time in a while I've actually cried," Callum told PA Media.

His older sister, Ellis Landreth, was understandably upset about the cruelty, so she tweeted about the group chat, hoping about "20 or 30 of my friends [would] like a few of his posts or follow him or give him some words of encouragement."

Her tweet would go viral, receiving over 180,000 likes.


She was bombarded by responses from people who wanted to support her brother.

Just a few hours after the tweet, Callum received thousands of followers on his page. In just three days, he's up to nearly 400,000 followers. He's also received countless messages of support through the page.

English novelist Matt Haig sent Callum a collection of books, adding: "Hey let's all follow Cals Book Account on Instagram and show him some support." A book store near Manning's home in northeast England promised him a book on the house.

Callum's story was shared on Instagram by authors Caroline Kepnes and Malorie Blackman.

The teenager received over 15,000 messages in his DMs. "He's absolutely overwhelmed," Landreth told CNN. "He can't even get through all his DMs."

Callum's mother is over the moon about the response. "She's so happy people are spreading positive messages about these issues," Landreth said. "No matter how small some things seem, they can stick with kids forever."


This article originally appeared on 03.04.20

Democracy

Fox News uses the word ‘hate’ far more often than MSNBC or CNN

Fox's talk of hate undermines democratic values like tolerance and reduces Americans' trust of their fellow citizens.

YouTube/Fox News/The Conversation

Sean Hannity on Fox.

This article originally appeared on 09.30.20



`Fox News is up to five times more likely to use the word "hate" in its programming than its main competitors, according to our new study of how cable news channels use language.

Fox particularly uses the term when explaining opposition to Donald Trump. His opponents are said to "hate" Trump, his values and his followers.

Our research, which ran from Jan. 1 to May 8, 2020, initially explored news of Trump's impeachment. Then came the coronavirus. As we sifted through hundreds of cable news transcripts over five months, we noticed consistent differences between the vocabulary used on Fox News and that of MSNBC.

While their news agendas were largely similar, the words they used to describe these newsworthy events diverged greatly.


Fox and hate.

For our study, we analyzed 1,088 program transcripts from the two ideologically branded channels – right-wing Fox and left-wing MSNBC – between 6 p.m. and 10:59 p.m.

Because polarized media diets contribute to partisan conflict, our quantitative analysis identified terms indicating antipathy or resentment, such as "dislike," "despise," "can't stand" and "hate."

We expected to find that both of the strongly ideological networks made use of such words, perhaps in different ways. Instead, we found that Fox used antipathy words five times more often than MSNBC. "Hate" really stood out: It appeared 647 times on Fox, compared to 118 on MSNBC.

Fox usually pairs certain words alongside "hate." The most notable was "they" – as in, "they hate." Fox used this phrase 101 times between January and May. MSNBC used it just five times.

To put these findings in historic context, we then used the GDELT Television database to search for occurrences of the phrase "they hate" on both networks going back to 2009. We included CNN for an additional comparison.

We found Fox's usage of "they hate" has increased over time, with a clear spike around the polarizing 2016 Trump-Clinton election. But Fox's use of "hate" really took off when Trump's presidency began. Beginning in January 2017, the mean usage of "they hate" on the network doubled.

Fox says 'they hate' way more than CNN or MSNBC.

Since 2011 all three major cable news channels used the phrase "they hate" in their evening newscasts (between 6 and 11 p.m.). But starting with the 2016 Clinton-Trump race, FOX News has done so far more often than CNN and MSNBC.

CNN, Donald Trump, culture

A graph representing the segments mentioning “they hate."

The Conversation, CC-BY-ND Source: Te

'Us' versus ‘them’.

So who is doing all this hating – and why – according to Fox News?

Mainly, it's Democrats, liberals, political elites and the media. Though these groups do not actually have the same interests, ideology or job description, our analysis finds Fox lumps them together as the "they" in "they hate.”

When Fox News anchors say "they hate..."

Quantitative analysis shows Fox News' used the phrase "they hate" frequently on its evening programing between January and May 2020, most commonly referring to Democrats (29% of the time) or to a non-specific group like "political elites" (24% of the time). Many of these terms were used interchangeably, as if they were one group unified in their hatred.

news anchors, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson

Who are “they”?

Table: The Conversation CC-BY-ND Source: C. Knüpfer & R. Entman

As for the object of all this hatred, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and other Fox hosts most often name Trump. Anchors also identify their audience – "you," "Christians" and "us" – as the target of animosity. Only 13 instances of "they hate" also cited a reason. Examples included "they can't accept the fact that he won" or "because we voted for [Trump].”

Who's being hated, according to Fox News.

President Trump, politics, public policies, political discourse

Whom or what do “they hate”?

Table: The Conversation CC-BY-ND Source: C. Knüpfer & R. Entman

Thirty-six percent of times that Fox News anchors said "they hate" between January and May 2020, Trump was the alleged target of that hatred. A smattering of other targets were also named ("you," "me," "Christians," etc.). Rarely did Fox anchors offer a reason for this animosity.

Citing liberal hate as a fact that needs no explanation serves to dismiss criticism of specific policies or events. It paints criticism or moral outrage directed at Trump as inherently irrational.

For loyal Fox viewers, these language patterns construct a coherent but potentially dangerous narrative about the world.

Our data show intensely partisan hosts like Hannity and Carlson are more likely than other Fox anchors to use "they hate" in this way. Nevertheless, the phrase permeates Fox's evening programming, uttered by hosts, interviewees and Republican sources, all painting Trump critics not as legitimate opponents but hateful enemies working in bad faith.

By repeatedly telling its viewers they are bound together as objects of the contempt of a powerful and hateful left-leaning "elite," Fox has constructed two imagined communities. On the one side: Trump along with good folks under siege. On the other: nefarious Democrats, liberals, the left and mainstream media.

Research confirms that repeated exposure to polarized media messages can lead news consumers to form firm opinions and can foster what's called an "in-group" identity. The us-versus-them mentality, in turn, deepens feelings of antipathy toward the perceived "out-group.”

The Pew Research Center reports an increasing tendency, especially among Republicans, to view members of the other party as immoral and unpatriotic. Pew also finds Republicans trust Fox News more than any other media outlet.

Americans' divergent media sources – and specifically Fox's "hate"-filled rhetoric – aren't solely to blame here. Cable news is part of a larger picture of heightened polarization, intense partisanship and paralysis in Congress.

YouTube, political science, pandemic, presidential election

Sean Hannity portrays criticism of Donald Trump as hate-based.

YouTube/Fox News/The Conversation

Good business.

Leaning into intense partisanship has been good for Fox News, though. In summer 2020 it was the country's most watched network. But using hate to explain the news is a dangerous business plan when shared crises demand Americans' empathy, negotiation and compromise.

Fox's talk of hate undermines democratic values like tolerance and reduces Americans' trust of their fellow citizens.

This fraying of social ties helps explain America's failures in managing the pandemic – and bodes badly for its handling of what seems likely to be a chaotic, divisive presidential election. In pitting its viewers against the rest of the country, Fox News works against potential solutions to the the very crises it covers.

Curd Knüpfer is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin.

Robert Mathew Entman is J.B. and M.C. Shapiro Professor Emeritus of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University.

This article first appeared on The Conversation. You can read it here.

Anderson Cooper has interviewed hundreds of people, from top celebrities to heads of state to people on the street. He is fairly unflappable when it comes to chatting with a guest, which is what makes his reaction while interviewing inaugural poet Amanda Gorman all the more delightful.

Gorman stole the show at President Biden's Inauguration with a powerful performance of her original poem, "The Hill We Climb." People were blown away by both her words and her poise in delivering them, especially considering the fact that she's only 22 years old. But it's one thing to be able to write and recite well, and another to be able to impress in an off-the-cuff conversation—and Gorman proved in her interview on Anderson Cooper 360 that she can do both at a level most of us can only dream of.

In the interview, Gorman explained how she dove into research to prepare her poem to fit the occasion, and then how that work was disrupted by the attack on the Capitol.

"I'm not going to say that that completely derailed the poem, because I was not surprised at what had happened," she said. "I had seen the signs and the symptoms for a while, and I was not trying to turn a blind eye to that. But what it did is it energized me even more, to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope and unity and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear."

After explaining how she used tweets and articles and messages about the Capitol insurrection to hone parts of her poem, she shared thoughts on reclaiming the power of words.


"To me, words matter. And I think that's kind of what made this inauguration that much more sentimental and special. We've seen over the past few years the ways in which the power of words has been violated and misappropriated, and what I wanted to do was to kind of reclaim poetry as that site in which we can repurify, resanctify not only the Capitol building that we saw violated, but the power of words, and to invest that in kind of the highest office of the land."

Cooper and Gorman discussed the last few lines of her poem before delving into Gorman's speech impediment. Cooper shared that he himself had a form of dyslexia and a slight stutter as a child, and Gorman shared that even up until a few years ago she would drop entire letter sounds from her speech. In fact, she said, writing and reciting poetry served as a kind of speech pathology for her. The "R" sound gave her particular trouble even into college, so she would practice singing along with the song "Aaron Burr, Sir" from Hamilton because it contained so many "R" words. (She also included allusions to Hamilton lines in her inaugural poem, which Ham fans quickly noted.)

But the part of the interview that got Cooper tongue-tied was when Gorman shared the mantra she says before every performance. Watch:

Gorman said she closes her eyes and says, "I am the daughter of Black writers. We are descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me."

Cooper had to take a moment before saying, "Um, wow...just...you're awesome. I'm so transfixed." So funny to see one of television's most familiar faces being so awestruck. He's not the only one, though. She is truly mesmerizing.

"Your mom must be so proud of you," Cooper added. Gorman mentioned in her poem that she was raised by a single mother, and considering how proud the whole country is of this young woman, her mom is undoubtedly bursting with pride. Gorman shared how "a village" of support has helped lift her up to where she is today, and that her mom was right there with her filming her as she did this interview.

Anderson Cooper was all of us here. Amazed by Amanda Gorman's talent. Stunned by her grace and wisdom at such a young age. Moved by her personal story. Awed by how she captured this significant moment in our nation's history so beautifully.

Pure brilliance. We will definitely be keeping our eye on Ms. Gorman as we work to build the brighter future she envisioned for our nation.

In the chaos of the attack on the Capitol two days ago, some important stories have gotten a bit buried. One story that's not getting the attention it should—ironically, because journalists usually do everything they can to not make themselves the story—is the violent attacks on the press that took place.

New York Times staff photographer Erin Schaff described her harrowing experience in a Twitter post shared by her colleague Emily Cochrane.

In Schaff's words:

"Grabbing my press pass, they saw that my ID said The New York Times and became really angry. They threw me to the floor, trying to take my cameras. I started screaming for help as loudly as I could. No one came. People just watched. At this point, I thought I could be killed and no one would stop them. They ripped one of my cameras away from me, broke a lens on the other and ran away.


But then the police found me. I told them that I was a photojournalist and that my pass had been stolen, but they didn't believe me. They drew their guns, pointed them and yelled at me to get down on my hands and knees. As I lay on the ground, two other photojournalists came into the hall and started shouting "She's a journalist!"

Another photographer, John Minchillo from the Associated Press, was physically assaulted, with the attack being caught on video. Some in the crowd seemed to think he's part of ANTIFA, despite him clearly and repeatedly pointing out his press credentials. At one point, he is violently thrown over a wall and you can hear someone yelling that they were going to kill him, but he thankfully was escorted away without injury.

The AP, which is known for being one of the least biased, most factual news outlets, had a bunch of their equipment destroyed by the mob, who chanted "CNN sucks" while destroying it. You'd think the big "AP" stickers on some of the equipment would have offered a clue that it was not CNN's, but no one is accusing these folks of being the sharpest pencils in the pack.

Here's another video of media equipment being smashed by people in the crowd to a chilling chorus of "F*ck you!"

And just to add to these disturbing and disgusting attacks, someone scrawled the words "Murder the Media" on a door of the U.S. Capitol. Lovely.

It should be crystal clear to anyone who values democracy that an attack on the free press is never okay. The freedom of the press is enshrined in the first amendment of the Constitution, and since the people who stormed the Capitol building were attempting to put themselves in the place of our duly elected government, their attacks on the press were an attack not just on the individuals and media outlets involved, but on the Constitution itself.

It shouldn't be surprising that people who have been told pretty much daily that the news media is the "enemy of the people" would eventually take that rhetoric seriously. This is exactly what people who criticized the president's extreme language warned would eventually happen.

People can have legitimate criticisms of media companies while still recognizing that the journalists working on the ground are heroes of democracy who put themselves into harm's way to keep us informed about what's happening in the world. These are people who document history as it happens. They are the eyes and ears of the people, and without them we would truly be living in darkness.

Attacks on the free press are attacks on democracy itself and should be called out as such. And the fact that these attacks came not from some outside terrorist group, but from a group of American citizens violently attacking an entire branch of our federal government, should be a huge wake-up call about where we are and the extremist rhetoric that led us here.