Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review on "Google bows to China's censorship demands" (The Sydney Morning Herald, 7/21/10)

What's the use of Google in China if users can't search and find everything they ought to be able to see?  Well, I'm not sure of what other search engines are available in China, and if they are as good as Google, so that's somewhere to start. 

When Google was banned in China for directing them to a mainland site in Hong Kong that was unfiltered, they only came back four months later, agreeing to all of China's demands. Google had promised to abide by the Chinese government, as well as "avoid linking to material deemed a threat to national security or social stability."

As I suspected, Google doesn't make nearly as much money in China as it does in other countries. The Chinese market accounts for "an estimated $US250 million to $US600 million of Google's projected $US28 billion in revenue this year." However, it is feasible that without "the China platform," Google would not be able "to profit from the expected future growth of the market." 

Review on Jane Macartney's "Dissident Chinese professor to sue Yahoo! and Google for erasing his name" (London Times, 2/6/08)

It's not really a surprise that certain things won't appears in search results on the Internet in China. However, it is surprising that it was the United States that blocked Guo Quan's name from Yahoo! and Google in China.

However, Google and Yahoo! aren't just doing this for no reason. Google stated that they were in compliance with Chinese law. And since Google or Yahoo! don't have a legal identity in China, Quan went to sue the "parent company" in the United States. Makes sense.

Either way, Quan is going against the Chinese government and does not seem to stand a chance in the near future, and I'm not sure what happened since this article.

Quan states one thing as his mission: “Through this I hope that the world will become more concerned to resolve human rights issues in China. The freedom of the internet should be realised all over the world.”

While the freedom of the Internet worldwide may never happen, human rights issues in China is a good place for Quan to start. 

Review on Michael Park's "Journalist Who Exposes U.N. Corruption Disappears From Google" (Fox News, 2/18/08)

"I think they said, 'If we can't get this guy out of the U.N., let's disappear him from the Internet,'" Lee said.

That's a good way of putting it. Matthew Lee's articles from his news blog Inner City Press, were banned from Google News after he suspects someone from the United Nations Development Programme spoke to Google about him. Lee's letter from Google News said they could no longer include his blog in their listing as it would not ensure a high quality experience for their users. 

Lee's blog became an outlet for whistleblowers inside the U.N., and on multiple occasions, exposed abuses and lack of concern for global issues like poverty. 

While Lee may or may not have violated Google News's terms for what constitutes a true news organization (i.e. having more than one employee), that doesn't discredit all of his reporting. While his website appears on Google News today, it is concerning that it took "several weeks" for Google to resolve the issue and that the U.N. may or may not have gone to many lengths to cover him up. 

Review on "Big Brother Is Blocking" (The St. Louis Dispatch, 1/23/08)

The idea of "Big Brother" always watching you is one that creeps me out. It's almost as if anything you say, do, speak or read via modern technology will come with 'someone' watching over your shoulder. 

Verizon's incident with blocking the pro-abortion group NARAL's subscription service text message is all too telling of this "Big Brother" phenomenon. While it's good that phone companies block spam texts, this service was one that people definitely had to go the extra step to sign up for.  
"Verizon cited its policy against services that 'promote an agenda or distribute content that, in its discretion, may be seen as controversial or unsavory to any of our users.' This is the phone company acting as your mother."
 While abortion is always a hot topic for politics and elections, if phone companies like Verizon have a say in it, where does it end?

Similarly, but less politically motivated, Comcast was found to block access for file-sharing software like BitTorrent. Internet service providers companies like Comcast suggest that softwares like BitTorrent will slow bandwidth, or Internet service for customers. While using software like this isn't like exercising the right to freedom of speech, it's not illegal, and ISP's shouldn't be blocking them.

The article ends as such: "The commission [FCC] should make it clear that the information superhighway is not a tollway."


Review on Paul Harris's "Arianna Huffington's AOL deal sparks accusations of a political sell-out" (The Observer, 2/27/11)

I just don't get why Arianna Huffington would sell out to AOL, of all the companies, and lose control over The Huffington Post. As a result, she's been called a "political sellout and someone who made a personal fortune from the labour of thousands of bloggers who write for no pay." She's already rich enough! Why does she need more from the AOL deal? If anything, I would assume her reasoning for doing the deal would be to pay contributors, but since that hasn't happened, she's just collecting profit after profit. One blogger's comment, "Arianna not only sold her soul as well as her ship of slaves, but sowed the seeds of her demise with this act of greed and exploitation." Ok, a bit dramatic, but I get their point. Freelance writers or bloggers like this one hold the most anger, but for a very good reason. Many of them are trying to do exactly what she has (before selling out to AOL), but since they don't have the name or status, simply can't do it, or at least as easily as she has. 

Review on Mike Allen's "Hartford Courant Buys 5 Weeklies, Tabloid Offspring Of 60's Voices" (4/15/99)

I had no idea that this happened. Who would have ever thought that a very well to do daily newspaper like the Hartford Courant would buy out five alternative weeklies? This move definitely represents "a novel extension of the control over local voices enjoyed by publishers in one-newspaper cities." 

I'm not surprised that "some readers reacted with alarm to The Courant, seen as reliable but bland, adopting the lively Advocate chain. The local arts community treated today's announcement like a death in the family."

Either way, I'm glad the publications remained separate, and that The Courant's publisher believed that the alternative press would "play an important role in keeping all media, including The Courant, on its toes." I don't think the publications that were bought would have agreed to it any other way. 

Review on "Don't stamp out brainy mags" (Boston Globe editorial, 4/27/07)

It's no wonder no one subscribes to magazines or newspapers anymore- it's too expensive! By the United States Postal Service's "rate shock," small magazines like The Nation is almost a death sentence. Price protection for publications like this are crucial, as they "add politically and socially diverse voices to the public arena." And as The Nation's president said, mailing out subscriptions plays a huge part in how small magazines like them make their money. Though they still publish online, that is merely supplemental to their published print edition. The USPS's move essentially did suppress the freedom of information, as many people won't pay in the first place, and definitely won't pay for more. I agree that we need a better system that will allows our country to gain access to as much information as they can, and at a good price.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review on Sarah Lazare's "Senator's Attempt to Define 'Real Journalism' Blasted By Journalists" (Common Dreams, 8/2/13)

Real journalists? Yikes! When Senator Diane Feinstein said that Wikileaks employees and nonsalaried reporters "don't count" under a bill protecting reporters and their sources, it really hit journalists hard.
"The 'shield law' under debate in the Senate Judiciary Committee would protect journalists and their confidential sources from court orders and subpoenas."
Language is very tricky, and Senator Charles Schumer was sure to explain:
"The world has changed. We’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected, WikiLeaks and all those, and we’ve ensured that," said Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y). "But there are people who write and do real journalism, in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded from this bill."
In an age where journalism jobs, or paid jobs in general are harder to find, journalists nationwide are angry at this new bill, and for very good reason. Unpaid reporters, or independent journalism is more popular than ever, and sometimes break major stories before mainstream news does, and as Lazare says, "plays a key role in exposing the truth and holding power accountable."

Review on Yuxing Zheng's "Bloggers might be excluded from Oregon's executive sessions" (Oregonian, 10/4/08)

Are bloggers members of the media? This is what one political blogger in Oregon put into question after being denied from sitting in on a City Council meeting. 

I agree that trying to define the media when it comes to non-mainstream outlets is tricky. With today's modern technology, can't we all be considered bloggers? Where does the line between blogger and journalist stop? And what's the difference between blogger and citizen journalist? Is there a difference?

Judson Randall, president of Open Oregon, brings up other important questions: 
"Who defines news?" he asked. "If somebody writes a column, is that news? Is there information in there that is newsworthy you wouldn't consider news? There's all kinds of shades in there. If I were a city council, I wouldn't want to be in a position to decide that."
But something very important to note is,
"State legislators who devised the statute in the 1970s never anticipated the Internet and its empowerment of individuals to blog or disseminate news from their personal keyboards." 
 A simple solution would be to create an amendment that would clarify the older language used in the 1970s, like we have throughout history by adding amendments to the Constitution.

Taking a look at

Legal insurrection is defined as "a rising up against established authority; rebellion; revolt" or "in conformity with or permitted by law," by

LI has been around for five years this October, and has since expanded to other blogs like College Insurrection. Taking a look at some of the posts, it is very obvious that this is a conservative political blog in nature. 

The top post this morning is "His voracious reading habit is historic" A tweet from LI simply said, "Barf" in response to an article about President Obama's readings habits and favorite columnists. LI got a tweet back from their College Insurrection blogger, Aleister, saying, "If Obama has a 'voracious' reading habit, why didn't he know about all of his scandals? Oh right, he reads the NYTs."

Other posts are geared towards the Obama administration, specifically regarding 'Obamacare.' One post, "Losing your health plan was baked into Obamacare regs," is charged at how Obamacare is built on empty promises. Jacobson says, "Democrats are downplaying the disruption to 14 million people." He cites NBC News, saying they "republished the [Obamacare] story at a new url, and removed one key paragraph without explanation."

The move NBC made is overtly sketchy, and Jacobson was clearly not the only one to notice. The article removed about 80 words, but as of this morning, that paragraph has been restored. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review on "Nonprofit Journalism Comes at a Cost," Jack Shafer, Slate (9/30/2009)

ProPublica is a great example of how philanthropists have put faith in nonprofit journalism, and  However, there are some downsides to nonprofit journalism, just as there are with for profit journalism.
"For-profit newspapers lose money accidentally. Nonprofit news operations lose money deliberately. No matter how good the nonprofit operation is, it always ends up sustaining itself with handouts, and handouts come with conditions."
And with that, they face the same obstacles besides money.
"Just as commercially supported journalists often find themselves dispatched to investigate the owners' hobbyhorses, nonprofit newsers are frequently assigned to "chase after the idiosyncratic whims of funders." 
Historically, the longest running and most successful news outlets have been commercially owned and operated. However, commercial run news is almost always influenced by money, while nonprofit news is obviously not. The success of nonprofit news is measured "in terms of influence, not audience, because their customers are the donors who've donated cash to influence politics, promote justice, or otherwise build a better world."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review on "1,000 True Fans"

"A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce."

Having 1,000 true fans would prove to be quite successful as an upcoming journalists. And more than just 1,000 likes, follows or 'friends,' but actually people who are genuinely interested in seeing something I produce. However, converting those "lesser fans," into the 1,000 true seems almost more difficult than finding the 1,000 in the first place. 

When I read the section about those younger artists like me, though, I was more at ease. "You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there."

As one person, I would think maintaining 1,000 true fans would be difficult, but as a larger corporation, it seems much more easy. Either way, it's good to know that the "there is a place in the middle, that is not very far away from the tail, where you can at least make a living. That mid-way haven is called 1,000 True Fans. It is an alternate destination for an artist to aim for."

But then I saw that it actually is easier to get these fans as one person... There's lots to think about when you start producing a product that people are interested in and want to purchase, or want to follow. Now, with social media, there's no excuse not to have a hardcore fan base. 

I think that as an independent journalist, it's definitely something to consider if you're selling a product like your documentary on DVD and need to make up for production costs. But if you're simply just a journalist to help inform people, does it really matter? 

Review on "His Fans Greenlight the Project-Robert Greenwald Tapped a New Funding Source: The Audience" William Booth (Washington Post, 8/20/06)

"They got $267,892 in 10 days."

Wow. Jim Gilliam and Robert Greenwald must have a lot of people that like them enough to generate that kind of money...from the Internet!

Though the pair did generate larger donations, like $100,000 from an anonymous philanthropist and $82,000 from a medical equipment entrepreneur, "the rest, $185,000, came from 3,000 small donors giving an average of $62 each."

While the Internet has sometimes caused more problems than solved them, this is an instance where modern technology like the Internet is actually just a wonderful thing. Not everyone has Internet connections where they live, but most have access to it. And we're not just talking about the U.S., but on a much more global scale.

I'll admit, I don't think I've ever gone to see a documentary at a theater, or even bought one on DVD. However, once controversy ensues, I'd probably find a way to watch it if the topic interested me enough. The other thing about this is, while some people are totally against war, Iraq and a lot of political decisions, still, so many choose to stay in the dark about what's really going on. We've seen this so many times in history, whether it be Vietnam, the Holocaust, or 9/11, that people choose not to know, because they don't want to know how bad a situation truly is, or they even go as far to deny that certain events in history just never happened.

Anyway, I haven't seen Iraq for Sale, but it was uploaded to YouTube in 2010. The video has nearly 300,000 views, but that's 100x the amount of small donations that were given to create it! Baby steps.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review on John Tozzi's "Bloggers Bring in the Big Bucks" (Business Week, 7/13/07)

John Tozzi's Business Week article was enlightening, to say the least. It's crazy to think "a personal obsession can turn into a popular favorite and maybe even a full-time job." 

That's how the I Can Has Cheezburger meme and website started, anyway. However, it's maintained its success by allowing its readers to be involved. I suppose that's kind of how a lot of websites work- allowing readers to contribute or comment keeps them actively engaged in the website. At Ithaca College, a similar meme website (Facebook page) was set up, cleverly named Ithaca College Memes. Conveniently set up during midterms, the Facebook page's likes grew drastically, hundreds of contributions per day were being made and no studying was done. However, after a few weeks, the site died down, and hasn't been touched since 2012. 

Since Eric Nakagawa was smart, he knew he had to "constantly tweak the site to see what draws readers and what leaves them cold." Nakagawa also knew they had to "try to time their new posts with when people are most likely to be reading: in the mornings, on their lunch breaks, or in the evenings."

The slideshow we viewed in class shows more websites that I never knew about and how they got their start, or how successful they are now. Websites like Boing BoingKottke, or Gothamist are a few to mention. Gothamist in particular is part of a larger website community that expands to cities as far as London. Gothamist is specifically about all things New York City- politics, culture, news, food and more. It had immediate success that allowed its expansion. 

Many websites started from just personal obsessions or passions came out to be quite successful, and while some host many ads in order to maintain financial stability, others have just gained a following large enough to make them great on their own. 

Review on Josh Marshall's talk "The Growth of Talking Points Memo" (Sept. 2008)

Talking Points Memo was something quite successful to come out of the Florida recount situation in 2000. Josh Marshall's discussion about how TPM started brought up three good points.

The first point being that TPM relied heavily on the community in order to be successful. People donated money, which was obviously helpful, but more importantly, people contributed their own research to help TPM in what Marshall described as "collaborative journalism."

Second, Marshall pointed out that TPM raised $100,000 from fundraising, but not in large chunks of donations. These donations were small; $50 were maybe the largest amounts people were donating. This only goes to show that TPM received many donations in order to hire new, young journalists. In the age of pay walls on websites like The New York Times or Newsday, less and less people want to pay for news, but rather for the hiring of new journalists to report it. People want free news, but they don't believe in it enough.

Lastly, Marshall says, "The point at which we succeed, we also lose the story," meaning that when the independent journalists have gotten the mainstream media outlets to notice and the story gets too big, it's not their story anymore. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means it's harder for Marshall's two investigative reporters "to make much headway."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: "Breaking Through The Information Blockade" by Gene Hyde

Espresso and journalism. Sounds like a great (and pretty typical) combination to me. I can only imagine what it was like in 1999 to be a journalist, let alone a journalist with less than amazing Internet. The creation of the Independent Media Center, an online alternative to corporate media was how journalists before the millennium started "to break through the corporate information blockade that results from corporate control of news reporting." The rapid growth of these IMC's shows just how much media backlash there was (and still is). Now more than ever, reporting is highly corporatized and much journalism is profit-driven. It's good to hear that Indymedia "will continue to research their stories, cover issues aggressively, and take time to report on issues shunned by the mainstream press;" good journalism is not dead yet. 

Review: "Press Critic George Seldes Leaves a Legacy of Courage" by Jeff Cohen, Norman Solomon (7/12/95)

George Seldes is probably one of the coolest journalists to have ever lived, and not just because he lived for more than a century! He truly did leave a legacy of courage; his resume boasts impressive scoops, stories and coverage of things far beyond what any reporter in his day was doing. The fact that he so boldly wrote about historic figures like Lenin and Mussolini and "pulled no punches," is something that deserves a lot of recognition. If I were a journalist in that day (forgetting that I'm a woman), it would take a lot of guts to risk my life for reporting on such historic figures as Seldes did. I haven't received a death threat yet, but I suppose if I do, I know my journalism must be pretty good! (Jokes.) Seldes' blatant disregard for what people think is something that few journalists have these days. His way of reporting may not be the best way to go about it these days, but to some extent, would be refreshing. I think every journalist should bear Seldes' words in mind, that "uphill battles" are "intrinsic to doing good journalistic work." The average journalist may not face nearly as many as Seldes did, but it makes me think we should definitely complain a lot less about the minor setbacks that do come along. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Robert McChesney- Corporate Dominance of Media and the Internet (Q&A Session)

Robert McChesney (left)  answers questions as Jeff Cohen (right) moderates the Q&A session. 
Last night, the Park Center for Independent Media brought Robert McChesney to campus for a talk about "Corporate Dominance of Media and the Internet." Aligning quite well with our class discussions in Independent Media, the auditorium was full of Independent Media students, anxious to pick McChesney's brain.

I'll talk about one of the questions in particular, as it is something that I have recently been fascinated by.

Some context: when I knew I wanted to pursue journalism, I obviously started paying attention to the media more closely, following as many stories as I could. My family grew up watching our local FOX affiliate, but once I got to college, I learned that FOX was bad, or at least didn't align with my views. CNN was my favorite, but I think it might have just happened because it was always on in Park, the dining halls and anywhere else IC has a television. I wanted to do broadcast journalism, and I was so sure I wanted to have my own show on CNN, or do something with them.

After watching for so many years, and being exposed to so much more new media, I'm not so sure. Getting back to last night, I'm not sure of what the question was, but it was something on the lines of what McChesney thought about mainstream media like CNN, MSNBC and FOX.

"They don't do journalism; they're just talking heads," said McChesney, "you're just going to watch the person you agree with."

And then it hit me. For so long, CNN is 'who I agreed with,' but after observing them, they're just who I've had the most access to! Is there ever original reporting at places like CNN anymore?

McChesney said that corporations are getting out of journalism, and getting our of paying reporters to cover things. He talked about how conversely, there are about four PR people for every journalist, and about 80-90% of the media reported has been spun. There is no original journalism.

I don't want to be a talking head, and I don't want to report something (or not report something) because it makes my company money. Corporations shouldn't control journalism, but journalism also shouldn't control corporations.