Tuesday, May 10, 2011

While democratic uprisings in Arab world. . .

...utilized Facebook, Twitter and other tools from the U.S. tech industry, are tyrants in Arab and Islamic countries using Silicon Valley's help to suppress their people?

From Steve Henn's report, "The downside to Western technology in the Middle East" (public radio's Marketplace 5/9/11)
Facebook and Twitter received lots of credit for helping to spread the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia -- but Silicon Valley contributions to the Arab Spring are actually much more complicated. Within a half hour's drive of Facebook's Palo Alto headquarters there are at least a half a dozen other tech firms whose sales in the Middle East facilitate surveillance or censorship. Driving down Highway 101 from Palo Alto you'll pass the headquarters of McAfee and Palo Alto Networks -- both sell technology that's widely used in the Middle East to censor the net. You'll pass Polaris -- which helps states track their citizens using their cell phones -- and if you turn and left and head out to Milpitas you'll reach SS8. In security circles, SS8 is kind of infamous for designing software to bug BlackBerries.

Tyler Shields is a security consultant at Veracode.

Tyler Shields: Essentially, a lot of countries in the Middle East and Asia like to monitor all data in and outbound from their borders.

MIT Annual Entrepreneurial Competition now allows...

...1-minute YouTube videos to complement written and in person pitches(H/t public radio's Marketplace)


Thursday, May 5, 2011

IC student joins 2011 Freedom Riders

This is the kind of project that public broadcasting should be doing regularly...making history come alive through a powerful documentary and present-day community involvement, including IC student Tariq Meyers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Malcolm Gladwell: "Stop going to journalism programs"

Top journalist Malcolm Galdwell ("Tipping Point," "Blink," "Outliers")gave this advice to young journalists in an Oct.'09 Time interview:
The issue is not writing. It's what you write about. One of my favorite columnists is Jonathan Weil, who writes for Bloomberg. He broke the Enron story, and he broke it because he's one of the very few mainstream journalists in America who really knows how to read a balance sheet. That means Jonathan Weil will always have a job, and will always be read, and will always have something interesting to say. He's unique. Most accountants don't write articles, and most journalists don't know anything about accounting. Aspiring journalists should stop going to journalism programs and go to some other kind of grad school. If I was studying today, I would go get a master's in statistics, and maybe do a bunch of accounting courses and then write from that perspective. I think that's the way to survive. The role of the generalist is diminishing. Journalism has to get smarter.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What NOT to do when pitching an idea

From Seinfeld: George proposes to Jerry a unique approach to pitching a new TV comedy series to NBC. George melts down just before pitch meeting. After the pitch meeting that George screwed up by saying he wouldn't compromise his "artistic integrity, Jerry explodes.

And don't get in this bind: In a totally different episode, George quits a job in anger and without a plan. . .then ponders his career options.

Why don't we have public TV like this in U.S.?

Weeks before the Iraq invasion, Jeremy Paxman of BBC's "Newsnight" and skeptical British citizens literally cross-examined Prime Minister Tony Blair about evidence/reasons/legality behind the invasion. This interview with Blair resurfaced last year during Britain's official Iraq inquiry. (Here's another tough Paxman interview of Blair having nothing to do with Iraq.)

In our country, intimidation from politicians + lack of insulated funding = embarrassing timidity at so-called "public television" . . . as evidenced by PBS surgically removing Tina Fey's swipes at Republican hero Sarah Palin from a broadcast a few months ago.

Country by country comparisons of spending on public broadcasting in this study (at page 31.)

Despite our system's shortcomings, PBS on occassion offers exceptional programs. (H/t Evie)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pro Publica wins 2nd Pulitzer...

...and gives credit to its collaboration with public radio's Planet Money and This American Life. (H/t TJ)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Fast, fair Internet in U.S.

U.S. falling backward on broadband access and Internet speed.

There's a digital divide in our country whereby middle-class kids like my daughters grew up with computers in the home, but kids in poor rural areas and inner cities don't have access to computers or fast Internet. Here are videos of rural Southerners asking the government in 2009 to step in and help folks get broadband.

Big Internet providers such as Verizon, Comcast, AT&T DID NOT APPLY for any of the billions in stimulus grants for building out broadband infrastructure, according to the Wall St. Journal, because recipients of our tax money had to agree to respect Net Neutrality or Internet Non-discrimination.

Last August, the now-defunct Olbermann show on MSNBC (now owned by Net Neutrality foe Comcast) did a strong segment on Net Neut.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beware: "Drudge Exclusive"

Perhaps Matt Drudge should stick to aggregating content from elsewhere (with revved-up headlines) rather than "report" -- as demonstrated by this 1999 "world exclusive."

And as demonstrated by his 2007 "exclusive" in which he accused CNN reporter Michael Ware of "heckling" Republican senators during a news conference in Iraq and "laughing and mocking their comments." Drudge's evidence-free charge -- based on an anonymous "official" -- was picked up by rightwing blogs and the Washington Times.

It wasn't just Fox News and TV news. . .

...that conveyed BigGovernment.com's false impressions about ACORN, leading to the group's demise. The NY Times "Public Editor" laughably tried to defend an aspect of that paper's bogus coverage.

Video distortions by bogger (and later, MSM)

US Dept of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod was fired last July by the Obama White House soon after BigGovernment.com posted a 1 minute/40 second video excerpt purporting to show that, during a speech to the NAACP, Sherrod boasted about discriminating against a white farmer while she was a federal agriculture employee during the Obama administration. Actually, she was describing events in the 1980s when she was Georgia field director for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, a nonprofit that had grown out of the civil rights movement to help Black farmers; she was not a federal employee at the time.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, a fuller version showed that Sherrod told the story to illustrate how she had overcome her racial hostility toward whites and ultimately helped the white farmer save his farm.

BigGovernment is headed by Andrew Breitbart, a former DrudgeReport staffer.

Months earlier, other selectively-edited tapes distributed by Breitbart's BigGovernment.com (played repeatedly on Fox News and elsewhere) helped put the anti-poverty group ACORN out of business. Rachel Maddow dissects the distorted presentation that doomed ACORN.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What if...

...twitter existed at time of Civil War? (H/t Taylor & WashPost)

...new communications technology existed at time of Woodstock Music Festival in 1969?

You want a glamorous career as a journalist?

Cute video on launching one's journalism career. (H/t Carly & Carly's mom)

2008: Mayhill Fowler of HuffPost 'Off the Bus'

Mayhill Fowler says she didn't hide that she was recording ex-President Clinton's angry words about a Vanity Fair reporter, while he greeted voters in public as he campaigned for his wife in June 2008. BUT Clinton obviously did not know Fowler was a HuffPost "citizen journalist." Should she have ID'd herself? (She clearly got a more honest take from Clinton than if he'd known she was a journalist.)

Should public figures know nowadays that anything said -- especially rants (or racism) -- in public will be recorded and on record forever? Example A, example B.

Mayhill Fowler's earlier reporting scoop that launched "Bittergate" uproar.

Blogger Takes Ethical Action

Here's an apparent example of a blogger acting professionally and ethically as per SPJ Code of Ethics. Blogger Ken Krayeske -- who gained fame locally by questioning University of Connecticut's basketball coach about his huge taxpayer-paid salary -- announced in Oct. 2009 that he wouldn't be covering Hartford City Hall because his girlfriend had a job there.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

From student blogs

TJ noticed this ad paradox on Bill Jacobson's blog.

Google-bashing video (h/t Colin).

MissRepresentation video on sexism in news coverage (h/t Andrea).

Website giving visibility to homeless people (h/t Susannah).

Newspaper urges its reporters to approach businesses and sell ads (h/t Evie).

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Big Bucks to You Tube Stars

What the Buck? Could Michael Buckley really have earned over $100k in a year from YouTube videos. . .and then a development deal from HBO?

YouTube star Lisa Donovan or "LisaNova" has real talent IMHO. Like Tina Fey, she likes to play Sarah Palin, including in the famous McCain/Palin rap. I wonder who she's hoping will run for prez in 2012.

Cory Williams and his smpFilms hit the bigtime with "Hey Little Sparta" (aka "The Mean Kitty Song", nearly 40 million views!). He told the NYT in 2008 that he was earning over $200k per year, partly from (ugh!) product placements within his videos.

PhillyD is my 14-year-old daughter's favorite YouTube star, offering his take on current events, tech and celeb news. That's where my girl gets her news. Shouldn't I be monitoring her better?

Become a YouTube Star and appear in a hugely popular music video with Weezer or the earlier one from Barenaked Ladies.

"Where the hell is Matt?" became so popular, the guy has long had his travels paid by corporate sponsors.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blogger/columnists can be independent . . .

. . .or they can be overly partisan. Even partisan hacks of the kind that have bickered with each other for decades on CNN. Here is some critical commentary from the conservative National Review Online within hours of John McCain selecting Sarah Palin as his running-mate in April 2008.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog tidbits

When magazines become a relic of the past, will we need instructions on how to use them? (H/t Andrea)

The Story of Stuff website presents environmental issues in short videos, like this one on bottled water. (H/t Susannah)

Data caps will crimp content producers/consumers.(H/t TJ)

Kickstarter helps creatives raise funds online for their projects.(H/t TJ)

Online outlet battles to keep press pass

Reporters Committee for a Free Press reports on the S.F. Sentinel, an online outlet, and its threatened lawsuit against S.F. police. (Written by I.C. student. H/t Melissa Gattine)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Google and Yahoo in China

Google agreed last June to quit automatically switching its users in China to Google's uncensored Hong Kong search site. But there's a tab users can click to be switched. Is it safe to hit that tab?

AFTER Yahoo provided info to China's government that led to the imprisoning of two Chinese dissidents in 2002 and 2004, the families of the victims sued Yahoo. As a result, Yahoo announced in 2008 that it was establishing a fund for people jailed in China for posting human rights views online. Empty gesture?

Web and wireless censorship

The media reform group Free Press highlights media corporations caught censoring web or cellphone traffic.

Inner City Press, a monitor of Wall Street and the United Nations, temporarily is delisted from Google News. The de-listing happened soon after Matt Lee of Inner City Press questioned Google's commitment to free expression.

In 2007, consumer rights groups mobilized to tell the Federal Communications Commission: "No More Media Consolidation." CommonCause was blocked from placing an anti-consolidation ad on My Space, which Rupert Murdoch had bought in 2005. The banned ad featured a photo of Murdoch and the caption: "This is the face of Big Media." Is it "My Space" or "Murdoch's space"?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Will Pay Walls Around News Content Work?

No, says Arianna Huffington in May 2009 U.S. Senate testimony. And here's "Life After the Pay Wall" nightmare scenario from Advertising Age.

And is the New York Times asking too high of a price? (H/t Andrea B)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Women Musicians Building Community/Following...

...through Facebook, reports Laura Sydell for NPR.

Talking Points Memo

Ten months after appearing in Ithaca, TPM announced major expansion. Even today, TPM asks its well-informed-readership for research help...and gets it. (On google, I saw the link asking the world for examples of rightwingers saying Palin as president would be a step down.)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Harassment of indy journalists

Since the 1960s when the FBI and local police engaged in violence and harassment against "underground weeklies," repression against dissenting U.S. outlets has greatly deceased. But it has not fully ended, as in Minnesota during the 2008 Republican convention.

Or as in Alaska, during last year's election. An online reporter was handcuffed and detained for asking questions of the Alaska Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Joe Miller. The reporter -- a well-known journalist in the area and founder of Alaska Dispatch -- was handcuffed by Miller's security personnel after a dispute over his questioning of the candidate about his role as a former part-time city attorney. Here's Alaska Dispatch's version of the detention. The critical reporting on Miller's past -- and this heavy-handed incident -- contributed to Miller's defeat in the November election.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dinner with Amy

The socialist Appeal to Reason newspaper offered yachts, fruit farms and motorcycles as premiums to bring in revenue and subscriptions. Democracy Now! has offered "Dinner and a Show" with host Amy Goodman.

After meeting Amy at a dinner party, Regis (and Kelly) acknowledge their TV show is about "nothing." (Is that a parody of Morning Latte skit on Saturday Night Live?)

Ida B. Wells Anti-Lynching Legacy

In last dozen years, Northwestern University journalism students and their professor have been instrumental in proving the innocence of many prisoners, several of whom had been sentenced to death.

Lynching prompted the classic Billie Holiday song, "Strange Fruit," which she recorded in the late 1930s over the objections of her record company: "Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze, Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

First Indy Publications -- NOT Reader-Friendly

Check out the crowded layout of William Lloyd Garrison's abolitionist publication, The Liberator: here and here. Not exactly HuffingtonPost. No half-naked actors. Cady Stanton's/Anthony's feminist publication, The Revolution, was a tiny bit less dense. Content was king (or queen) back then.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Tunisian rapper El General....

...put out this widely-circulated song and video attacking Tunisia's U.S.-backed dictator Ben Ali and urging folks into protests in the streets. El General was arrested for it. Soon after, the dictator fled the country. (H/t to Steve Zunes.)

After Tunisia dictator fled, the bizarre allied dictator in neighboring Libya, Qaddafi, made a speech denouncing the Internet, WikiLeaks, Twitter and Facebook, which he blamed for Tunisia events.

Back in 2007. citizen journalists/bloggers had documented the tourism/shopping trips of the dictator's wife aboard the presidential plane. (H/t Global Voices)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Why is U.S. Public Badly Informed?

A 2008 academic study compared the level of public knowledge about current events in Denmark, Finland, England and the U.S. It found that the countries with TV/radio dominated by public broadcasting -- Denmark and Finland -- were the best informed. Our country, dominated by corporate media, was the least informed. The study's authors suggest that differing media systems play a role in those results.

In a related item: A 2003 study of U.S. public knowledge of facts related to the Iraq War found that misperceptions were greatest among those whose primary info source was Fox News, least among those whose primary info source was public broadcasting. (A Pew poll taken in Aug. 2010 found that almost 1 in 5 Americans believed President Obama to be a Muslim; only 34% knew he is a Christian. 43% chose "don't know.")

French President to Citizen: Get Lost, You Idiot!

President Sarkozy caught on Net video. French politicians having difficulty tolerating the scrutiny from new media, Internet, YouTube -- especially compared to coverage they'd received from traditional media. A conservative cabinet member was videoed dancing with young folks to Black Eyed Peas tune. Our ex caught on video.

Video & Blogging for Human RIghts

The nonprofit group, Witness.org, distributes video cameras in hopes of minimizing human rights abuses. Their slogan: "See it. Film it. Change it."

Vancouver Film School students created an inspiring video, "Iran, A Nation of Bloggers", and put it online months before the tech-fueled protests over Iran's disputed 2009 election.

Global Voice Online

Global Voices offers interesting news from other countries posted by bloggers/others who live or hail from there. In protest, Chinese professor (and blogger) offers himself up as a slave. Bloggers in Nicaragua advocate for same-sex marriage.

Egypt: Bloggers/Net laid groundwork for today's uprising

With the state in control of all major media in Egypt, brave Egyptian "citizen journalists" have risked imprisonment and torture to blog or tweet about human rights abuses. Renowned Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas interviewed annoyingly by elitist BBC anchor. Over the years, Abbas has been harassed, censored and assaulted by authorities, and was briefly detained during the current demonstrations.

I've been showing this fascinating 2008 video (with not-great English translation) -- "Internet Freedom in Egypt" -- since it appeared online.

Last June, 28-year-old Khaled Said was beaten to death in public for the crime of Internet use. His martyrdom inspired protests and Internet organizing that sparked some of the current uprising. Google exec and activist Wael Ghonim is believed to have set up the powerful Facebook page "We Are All Khaled Said."

Blogger Marwa Rakha, born and raised in Egypt, posted about a mass detention of bloggers, including Wael Abbas, who tried to cover the aftermath of a massacre of Egyptian Christians.

"Rantings of a Sandmonkey" blogger -- who recently revealed himself to be Mahmoud Salem -- had also posted videos of police torture (along with Wael Abbas and others). The icon on his blog doesn't quite resemble blogger.

One of biggest voices in U.S. media...

...explains Egypt, and how an Islamic Caliphate is ready to take over much of the world. GLENN BECK excerpted on Daily Show. Fuller Beck excerpts here. Beck in full on Egypt and the coming global insurrection.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Voices That Must Be Heard

Various ethnic media flourish on this website, giving voice to people and issues often ignored in mainstream -- a good source of article ideas for journalists in urban or multiracial locations.

Monday, February 7, 2011

AOL/HuffingtonPost merger

I haven't been this personally saddened by a corporate merger since Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream was acquired by the Unilever conglomerate. I'm stunned that an independent visionary like Arianna -- with such strong personal and political sentiments about societal reform -- would push her child into a marriage with another corporation.

A fairly optimistic take on the merger is offered by TJ Gunther in this well-argued post.

An angry reaction to the merger -- "Why I've Removed My Journalism from HuffingtonPost" -- comes from drug war expert and legendary journalist Al Giordano, formerly a HuffPost blogger.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Izzy Award-Winners Glenn Greenwald and Amy Goodman

Soon after accepting their Izzy Awards in Ithaca, NY, Greenwald and Goodman were interviewed about independent media by Bill Moyers.

Nonprofit local online news sites . . .

. . .are sprouting up as local dailies shrink or fold. These nonprofits include
well-funded, well-staffed VoiceofSanDiego.org and Baltimore's much smaller InvestigativeVoice.com.

Egyptian Bloggers...

...including the briefly-detained Wael Abbas, blogging/vlogging from Tahrir Square in Cairo, as reported by NY Times.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Beware Internet Hoaxes

Are young people, raised on the Internet, LESS likely to be taken in by hoax emails such as Obama as "radical Muslim" than Jon Stewart's 80-year-old aunt?

A You Tube Star Is Born

"Juju's Message to Mubarak" (H/t Carly S.) Let's hope Juju or her dad are not arrested by Saudi government, Mubarak's ally.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Indy Video Short Impacts 2008 Election

This 2008 Brave New Films video short "McCain's Mansions" (with over 600,000 views) boiled up through the media food chain to become part of the mainstream diet. It impacted the campaign, as shown by the behind-the-scenes promo video, "The Making of McCain's Mansions."

Need for access to newsmakers...

...undermines truthful, unfettered journalism, says indy TV host Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks. The L.A. Times quoted Uygur as saying his web-based TV show brought in a million dollars in revenue last year.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Maverick Blogger Launches Big Controversy

Former IC journalism student Chris Lisee tells an important story about the impact a single off-key journalist can have.

Dancing Too Close With Your Source?

Here's video from 2007 Radio-Television Correspondents Association Dinner. While these are social events where journalists and newsmakers are expected to have some fun,is this symbolic of too much coziness?

A You Tube video....

...ends the political career of a powerful Republican.

"Independent Media in a Time of War"

Video made by indy collective based on speech delivered by Amy Goodman in April 2001, when many in mainstream media were cheering what they saw as a quick, clean, successful Iraq invasion.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

End Times

The Daily Show's savage 2009 look at the struggles of the New York Times...and its "aged news." Made me unusually sympathetic to the Times.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Purpose of Rock: "Stickin' It To The Man"

Do rock & roll and independent media share a purpose? In the movie "School of Rock," a substitute teacher (played by Jack Black) explains the purpose of rock and roll to his 5th grade students.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

U.S. Government: Ellsberg Good, WikiLeaks Bad

At the same time the U.S. government is trying to find a legal pretext to prosecute WikiLeaks, the U.S. State Department is promoting a documentary hailing WikiLeaks' biggest supporter, Dan Ellsberg. AP reported that oddity here. Ellsberg, who leaked the classified Vietnam War-era Pentagon papers, not only supports WikiLeaks, but has referred to Bradley Manning, the imprisoned corporal alleged to have leaked materials to WikiLeaks, as a "hero." Now widely considered a hero (even by some in the State Dept. apparently), Ellsberg was hunted and hounded as a traitor by the U.S. government 40 years ago.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Indy journalist digs out key stats

In the dozens of hours of mainstream media (MSM) I've consumed about the Tuscon massacre, I had not seen these important statistics and analysis provided by AlterNet's Josh Holland in "Arizona Has Turned into a Gun Lover's Paradise -- and That's Why It Ranks Among the Highest in Gun Deaths."

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Spring 2011 syllabus for "Independent Media: Issues and Challenges"