Monday, September 23, 2013

Review on "Bearing Witness 2.0: You Can't Spin 10,000 Tweets and Camera Phone Uploads" (Huffington Post, 7/13/09)

Whenever I read about other countries simply shutting off the Internet or phone service, I absolutely cringe. For someone who clings their iPhone for dear life and uses the Internet daily, I cringe at the thought. Then again, I guess that was life for anyone born before the Internet and mobile phone existed.

"It [the Chinese government] slammed the door in the face of new media -- and offered traditional reporters a front row seat."

It makes perfect sense. The "new media" know what's really going on, while the "traditional reporters" have no idea. Not to say they're clueless, but with the efforts the Chinese government go to block the Internet, the government is getting exactly what they want. Ironically as I write this post, a former classmate of mine who is now living back in China just posted this on Facebook:

"there's really no ethics in news writing in China. I was just doing some initial research about the Chinese farmer's market in Chinese news report, and realize that so many articles are written by coping/pasting a few original report's content and one source, and not even giving credits to those few original sources. SERIOUSLY??"
If the Chinese government don't want the media to know what's going on, they appear to go to any length to hide it. But the title of this article remains true- though the government can do all they want to try and censor and block comments from people, the amount of content posted going against the government daily is too much not to notice. 

Review on Maha Azzam, "How WikiLeaks helped fuel Tunisian revolution" (, 1/17/11)

Quite the opposite from the Foreign Policy reading, "The First Twitter Revolution?," this CNN opinion piece gives responsibility to WikiLeaks- not Twitter- when it comes to ending the regime of Ben Ali. 

"Anyone doing business in Tunisia, be they local or foreigner, would have been aware of the power and control of the Ben Alis, the Trabelsis and the coteries of power that surrounded them. However, the WikiLeaks revelations added to the "disgust" that many Tunisians had already been feeling at the chasm in wealth prevalent in Tunisian society, a country where unemployment runs at 30%."
WikiLeaks firmly attributes the responsibility, though with the help of Twitter, the success of the Tunisian revolution great. 
"Today's technology provided them with channels that despite their government's restrictions, proved invaluable in spreading information and support for the protests, while WikiLeaks merely further exposed an already discredited and reviled regime."
Azzam is definitely right in making claims that today's technology was beneficial in making progress in Tunisia. Today, social media like Twitter connects anyone through a simple hashtag, and makes newsworthy information stand out. After all, with only 140 characters, either you'll get the picture or click a link for more, ultimately informing yourself about something you may not have known otherwise.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review on Nathaniel Flannery's "Mexico's revolution will not be televised" (Global Post, 6/21/12)

I had never heard of this uprising, but then again, why would I have? 

Nathaniel Flannery starts out this article "On a recent Sunday," leaving me only to assume that because of this lack of television coverage, it was unclear what Sunday it had occurred on! Either way. 

“The people, quiet, will never be heard.” Well not after this article, and I'm sure the others that followed. It's hard to believe that a television station is so biased they wouldn't even cover presidential debates, a surefire way to boost ratings and gain an audience. 

The fact that the debate was broadcasted over YouTube truly speaks to our generation and how technology has advanced our thinking. 

The other thing about this article that shocked me was this quote: 
"Some 95 percent of homes have a television in Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy. While Mexicans have a host of cable channels to choose from, cable only reaches 30 percent of all households, according to a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Emilio Azcarraga Jean, the billionaire owner of Televisa."
Cable only reaches 30 percent of all households?! 

And reading further, "Governor Peña Nieto was paying for favorable TV coverage," and allegedly adding up to $3 million? The corruption and injustice remains to astound me. 

It was good that this story ended on a positive note, that the 132 movement actually made significant changes. Mexico should have the right to know who they're voting for. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review on "Staying Alive" by Jodi Enda (AJR, 9/5/12)

"The journalism is the easy part. Supporting it is hard."

This quote from "Staying Alive" sums up what journalism nonprofits struggle with daily. 

As if being a journalist isn't enough of a financial burden, running your own business- a journalism nonprofit- can't be that much easier, at least at first. 

For projects as huge and eager as a journalism nonprofit, sources of revenue definitely need to be constantly flowing in, which is why multiple benefactors are important. ProPublica is a great example of a journalism nonprofit success story. To have the money first was a smart idea, though I'm sure most journalists are impatient and just want to report what's out there, now. 

More importantly, journalism nonprofits "are providing a haven, if only for a small percentage of refugees. More important, they are providing the means for journalists to produce significant work."

Staying alive is only the second hardest step; the first is being born. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Review on Net/Indies' impact on 2008 election: Jeff Cohen, "Big Election Winner: Indy Media" (, 11/5/08)

I definitely have to agree that without the contributions from independent media in the 2008 (and 2012) election, the results may have been drastically different. I do have to say, I was less politically in tune in 2008. Social media has fully blossomed by then, but I'm pretty sure I was still on MySpace.

Though I still followed the election, I was not the news junkie I am today. I never knew about all of these contributing factors in the 2008 election, like the one you mention. However, now that things have obviously changed and I have been exposed to independent media, I'm grateful it's out there. Before, I merely thought Obama won the election because of his fresh perspective, diversity and social media presence. And I really didn't even know Drudge Report was a thing until a few years ago.

Independent media's presence has become a game changer in political races, elections and news in general. Without the Mitt Romney 47% video from Mother Jones, would Obama have won re-election in 2012? But the title for this article remains true- independent media is the real winner.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Review on Carnegie-Knight Initiative on the Future of Journalism Education

At first glance, the News 21 website catches my eye. The bold color choice, big font and picture of what one can assume is a student. Immediately I want to relate to this website, as I too am a student journalist. I noticed any journalism student can actually contribute to News21 (applications are due Nov. 1!) and that News21 offers their content to anyone for free.

Their projects don't look like college students developed or worked on them. That being said, I'm sure some people probably don't even read the front page of the website and have no idea that college students run this site. I also noticed there are no advertisements hosted on the website, which is quite refreshing! I think I'll be adding this page to my bookmarks!

Review "Aaron Swartz's Last Gift: Site Launches Whistleblower Safe House" (Common Dreams, (5/17/13)

Here's an article about something I haven't even heard of! (I clicked the link, but it appears to be broken at the moment...or out of business?) Aaron Schwartz's "one last gift to journalists and whistleblowers worldwide and the open-source internet community," appears to be exactly like WikiLeaks in essence. After so much uproar about sites like WikiLeaks, it's not surprising that newsrooms are calling for more security. The anonymity that sites like Deaddrop will allow is essentially a journalist's dream; the ability to write freely, but to avoid persecution and other threats. And not just journalists, but sources too? Obviously it's better for sources not be kept anonymous, but if it means the difference between an important story not being published, this website could help a lot of people!

Review "WikiLeaks and the Global Future of Free Speech" Michael Moore and Oliver Stone (NY Times, 8/20/12)

This op-ed is an interesting read! Filmmakers Michael Moore and Oliver Stone's support for WikiLeaks totally makes sense, as they claim that we, the news media, often fail to inform the country of "the uglier actions of our own government." WikiLeaks' mission is exactly the opposite.

Though WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange isn't really around to supervise, WikiLeaks is still in full throttle, producing more secret government documents for the country to see all the time. I wouldn't say Assange is a "high-tech terrorist," but I do understand why the government is calling him that. WikiLeaks can't win. Either they don't post documents and the public isn't aware of "the uglier actions" of their own government, or they do post them and are actually putting the public's lives in danger!

A bigger problem that is discussed in the op-ed is what would happen if Assange was prosecuted in the US:

"If Mr. Assange is extradited to the United States, the consequences will reverberate for years around the world. Mr. Assange is not an American citizen, and none of his actions have taken place on American soil. If the United States can prosecute a journalist in these circumstances, the governments of Russia or China could, by the same logic, demand that foreign reporters anywhere on earth be extradited for violating their laws. The setting of such a precedent should deeply concern everyone, admirers of WikiLeaks or not."

Free speech for the entire world sounds like it could be so easy if Britain and Sweden cooperated, but it's much more complicated to obtain, and is most likely to never happen at all.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Review "Real News from Beyond the Front Page" Eli Pariser (NY Times, 10/22/12)

Eli Pariser's New York Times opinion piece immediately start out spot on. As a journalist, and someone who lives and breathes for hard-hitting news, it disheartens me when stories like Pariser mentioned about Syria receive less attention than entertainment related articles like the Jerry Seinfeld letter to the editor. Not only that, but the Syria article was an A1 story, and the Seinfeld letter was A26, hence the title for Pariser's opinion piece, "Real News Will Come From Beyond the Front Page of the Newspaper." And even though I read the news often, I'm guilty of how Pariser says that "more traffic is coming to news sites "sideways" -- via direct links to articles and videos, rather than via the front page."

I think Pariser's wager that by 2016 "high-quality, public issue-focused content online" coming from social media is a fair assumption to make. Currently existing nonprofit and advocacy groups already have a huge following, and it is only safe to assume they will grow. Pariser ends by saying, "the only thing worse than hearing one view on an important issue is hearing none at all." That alternative is a scary one that I'm sure all journalists can agree is the worst case scenario, and one much worse than a Jerry Seinfeld article getting more clicks than one on Syria.

Saturday, September 7, 2013


My name is Alexandra Leslie and I am a senior Journalism major and Politics minor at Ithaca College. This blog will be used for my Independent Media: Issues and Challenges course this fall. I'll be discussing articles for class, as well as posting anything else pertaining to independent media! Enjoy!