Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Review on "Study Finds Lack of Balance, Diversity, Public at PBS NewsHour" (FAIR action alert, 10/4/06)

The study done on NewsHour is rough, but FAIR. (Get it?) 

The lack of diversity of guests on a show claiming to be "the mothership of balance," is quite hypocritical. Since NewsHour is PBS's flagship show, it definitely isn't a good look for PBS, whose "service" was critiqued for letting their alternative voice die and its obsession with commercialization. And that was five years before this study. 

With more females, more races and different political views, NewsHour, and shows like it could present a more balanced representation of the US. And by the decline in diverse ideas, NewsHour essentially violated PBS's editorial guidelines to "emphasize that 'the surest road to intellectual stagnation and social isolation is to stifle the expression of uncommon ideas.'"


Review on Jerold Starr's "Happy Birthday, Public Broadcasting!" (, 12/2/01)

It's a shame after 34 years of broadcasting, the Public Broadcasting Service, or PBS, commercialized when they were originally created "not to sell products," but to "enhance citizenship and public service." Jerold Starr thinks programming has come up short on PBS; now "how-to" shows reign over the channel, taking away from more educational shows which could teach "how to dissect propaganda, evaluate policies, share their opinions with each other, and defend the public interest." 

While those type of shows are great for some, I think PBS had to do what they had to do to make money, which is just what it comes down to these days. Now, 12 years later, I'm not quite sure how PBS stands, but I feel like they could (if they haven't already) bring those kinds of shows back, and cut down on certain advertisements (like ones for fast food). So, sure, PBS isn't what it used to be, but neither are a lot of things nowadays. Except for the BBC, I suppose...

Starr has a lot of good arguments and proposals on how to bring PBS back to life, and I'm not sure what he believes now, but hopefully PBS is back from the dead.

Review on Adam Westbrook's "Thinking of a journalism start-up? Here's a checklist" (11/5/09)

"People don't buy iPhones because Steve Jobs needs to eat. They buy them because they are an innovative project which satisfies a demand people are willing to pay for," says Adam Westbrook in his journalism start-up blog post.

This is what everyone should keep in mind when establishing a start-up. If you have a great idea, don't be afraid to develop it! I think Westbrook's list brings up a lot of good points, which starts by asking, "Is it a new idea?" Well, if you're planning on starting a search-engine website, I'd say you'll never beat Google unless your algorithm is lightyears ahead of Google- which it most likely won't be. The next big aspect is obviously money. 

However, the most important aspect for a start-up, in my opinion, is to have a base of customers or supporters to get you started. If you don't have that base to begin with, people who will contribute to your first earnings and hype up your product, it will be increasingly difficult to start your start-up. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Review on "FCC Approves Flawed Net Neutrality Rule" (American Civil Liberties Union Release, 12/21/10)

Continuing my thoughts on my last blog post, thankfully, the FCC approved a net neutrality rule. Unfortunately, it wasn't all too helpful.
"The rule approved today by the FCC includes full network neutrality protections for the wired Internet, which includes cable and DSL service to homes and businesses, but provides lesser protections for wireless broadband service and may allow wireless broadband providers to block certain applications and services that compete with their own applications and services."
Why are wireless Internet users getting the freeze out? While this puts people with wired Internet services leaps and bounds ahead, wireless users are getting jipped by this rule.

According to a New York Times article, though, "nearly 98 percent of American homes now have access to some form of high-speed broadband, but " roughly 20 percent of American adults who do not use the Internet at home, work and school, or by mobile device, a figure essentially unchanged since Barack Obama took office as president in 2009 and initiated a $7 billion effort to expand access, chiefly through grants to build wired and wireless systems in neglected areas of the country."

Many people still don't have Internet, or use it. There are of course more traditional ways to stay informed or learn new things, but the vastness and convenience of the Internet today almost can't compare to going to your local library or reading your subscription to The New York Times

Review on "After Google-Verizon fizzle, FCC should force Net neutrality" (Boston Globe editorial, 8/17/10)

If only certain websites were available, or more quickly available to anyone with an Internet connection, what would happen to the world? Well, a lot of points of view wouldn't be heard. The concept of net neutrality would help all websites be able to gain equal traffic.

This Google and Verizon story is very fishy with all of its loopholes. When you say there should be a difference between wireless and wired broadband, it's creating a huge problem. I have no idea how many people have wired vs. wireless Internet, but I feel like a majority of us often connect to wireless Internet more often than wired, in the age of "Free Wi-Fi" and smart phones.

What Verizon proposed to do definitely inhibits a lot of Internet access in terms of video streaming websites. Without the FCC's help in regulating net neutrality, it would leave "American Internet users without a federal agency keeping their service providers honest."

Review on Christian Coalition of America's Position on Net Neutrality

I find it kind of strange the Christian Coalition of America, a religious group, stands for net neutrality. For a religious group to support to "maintain a free, open and vibrant Internet," I find it strange because aren't there A LOT of things on the Internet their religion may not support?

Well, the reasoning behind it makes sense. It all comes down to money, because, "consumers could possibly have to pay additional fees to have and maintain websites. The cable/telephone monopoly will then divide the Internet into a 'fast track' and 'slow track' for speed of service."

And after the money aspect of it, that "slow track" could affect organizations like the CCA, as their website may load slower than others, leaving people to pass it by because it didn't load fast enough. 

That's a great reason for the CCA, or any other organization, to support net neutrality. What would happen if half of today's websites were not viewable to the public?

Review on Sam Gustin's "American broadband infrastructure: A national embarrassment" (, 8/26/09)

When I first read this article, I thought to myself, "Wow, if you just changed 'U.S.' to Ithaca College, or more specifically, the Roy H. Park School of Communications, referring to the broadband, or Internet service..."

MINI RANT: We're a COMMUNICATIONS SCHOOL and we can't get good INTERNET service? Almost everything I do for classes, clubs, etc relies on a good Internet connection. This website gives the rankings of how bad it is. I've literally left the building because the lack of Internet service prohibits me from doing homework.

But to solve our problem, we need to solve the larger problem at hand, which is the U.S. broadband service. Now, this article was written in 2009, and I'm not sure what the progress is on Obama's spending plan for broadband is. But at the pace we're going, "the U.S. won't catch up to South Korea -- the nation with the fastest broadband speed, at 20.4 mbps -- for 15 years." WHAT!

Review on Jeff Jarvis's "Entrepreneurial lessons" (, 12/10/07)

Reading Jeff Jarvis's Entrepreneurial Lessons is getting me excited to pitch my own independent media start-up in two weeks. Jarvis brings up good points about what to consider when pitching a start-up. The concept of the elevator pitch is really important. If you're not able to get your idea across in a short amount of time and leave with people fully understanding it, you need to rethink your approach.

Something else to keep in mind is competition, and even if you think your idea is brilliant and one-of-a-kind, it's probably been done before, or will be soon after your company launches. Standing out is important, which brings me to my next point. If you're going to launch a website, it better be a good one; clear, easy to navigate, fun and different than what's already out there. For example, if you're launching a news website, how will it be different than Huffington Post or CNN?

A marketing and advertising plan is important, though most will probably have no experience with formulating one. I think Step #1 would probably be to hire a marketing/advertising expert.

Jarvis said, "Journalists entrepreneurship is not an oxymoron." Funny, but I suppose the evidence is right in front of us, with many independent bloggers who have become successful, and in some cases, mainstream.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Review on Zachary Tomanelli's "Sherrod Hoax Exposed, but Breitbart's ACORN Fraud Lives On" (FAIR, 7/23/10)

Ah, the wonders of video editing. After reading this blog post and watching Rachel Maddow's explanation of the whole hoax, it's crazy people can get away with stuff like this so easily.

Maddow did a great job showing viewers the subtle details in the video that proved it was a hoax, in addition to revealing the entire unedited version.

However, other media persons were not so quick to doubt the truthfulness of this video. As Tomanelli points out, Associated Press and Slate believed and praised Andrew Breitbart's big scoop on ACORN.  (The Associated Press link is no longer available.)

It's not to say journalists should be skeptical of every story they read, video they watch or audio clip they hear, but at the same time, always be skeptical, because if it's too good to be true, it probably is.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Review on George Curry's "Shirley Sherrod: Anatomy of a Smear Campaign" (, 8/2/10)

This whole story aggravates me. I tried to watch this "video proof," but I'm not sure I know that the video has been edited. I was looking for that jump cut or obvious cross fade...but I didn't see it. I suppose I now know why it was so easy for media outlets to believe it, but that's the thing- if it's easy to believe, or "too good to be true," it probably isn't. However, it was true that Sherrod said everything she said, Breitbart just selectively edited Sherrod's speech and showed us something taken extremelt out of context.

The way the story spun out of control reminds me of when Joe Paterno's death was reported too early. He died, then he wasn't dead (just kidding!), and then he later died. The media spun out of control, reporting the wrong facts, tweeting them out, deleting and later apologizing.

What this should teach us as journalists is that fact-checking and sourcing is of the upmost importance. If there is no source for the information you're getting, you can't be quick to believe it. If there's no source to back the source you're getting the information from, you still can't believe it. Don't just run something to get good ratings or get the story first, run it because you know it's factually sound and ready for the public to consume.

Review on Sidney Blumenthal's "Why Kerry should sue the Sun" (The Guardian, 2/18/04)

And this is why I've never seriously read the Drudge Report and never will:
"'Screw journalism! The whole thing's a fraud anyway,' Drudge once proclaimed. Though he calls himself an "information anarchist", he is anything but independent. He is a reliable submissive to his partisan "sources". One independent study of his "exclusive" stories determined that only one-third were true. His latest "intern" revelation is the sound of his master's voice at the beginning of a campaign Republicans fear losing."
How do people still read The Drudge Report if the above is true? I guess for the same reason that people pick up the tabloids you see as you're waiting in line at the grocery store.

Since there's an abundance of evidence proving Matt Drudge's "exclusive" report false, I wonder if people will believe this story about John Kerry if they stumbled upon it today, or a few years ago. Even more interesting, I'm shocked (sort of) this story made it out of the US and over to London. Since spending last semester in London, I know that The Sun is one of those grocery store tabloids not to be trusted. So why should people believe it?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Review on "Should journalists be truth vigilantes? Hell, yeah!"

I'm not quite sure if the link to the story we were supposed to read exists anymore, but I was directed here when I typed it in.

Obviously, journalists should report the truth, but this article kind of confuses me. Yeah, we should find the truth...isn't that what we're doing already?

I suppose what this blogger means is we shouldn't just report the news because we hear it. We should challenge what we think is the truth, and seek that it is  in fact the truth. Like the saying, "Don't trust anyone," I suppose, is a good one to follow if you're a journalist. 

I also agree we shouldn't "make nice" with our sources, but only to some extent. We need the information for a reason, and I never want to burn any bridges to inhibit my access to information. Yes, we have to be pushy, but as polite as possible until it's absolutely necessary to be less than polite. We should fight for the truth, but we also shouldn't fight too hard. 

Review on Matt Drudge's "World Exclusive: Woman Names Bill Clinton Father of Son in Shocking Video Confession" (DrudgeReport, 1/6/99)

So I couldn't actually view this video, but I was able to read the transcript. Just reading it, the story sounds outrageous. What happened to this story? I looked it up...can't find anything. All the stories I did find don't have any links or appears to be a hoax. Also, the fact I've only just heard of this scandal makes me all the more skeptical. The things I did find regarding this "story," were conspiracy websites and gossip stories, comparing Bill Clinton side by side with Danny Williams...sorry, they don't look anything alike.

I'm not sure where this whole story came from, but this doesn't seem sincere, especially when Drudge says, "What becomes immediately obvious to the viewer watching the videotaped confession is that this is clearly not gossip, rumor or anonymous charges being maliciously directed at a politician....And there is something sad and lonely about the woman's story the way she tells it." 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Review on Alex Koppelman's "Vanity Fair piece about Bill Clinton controversy" (Salon, 6/3/08)

Alex Koppelman of Salon provided great insight regarding the Bill Clinton controversy and Vanity Fair piece. He's right that Fowler's ethics are questionable. She didn't identify herself as a reporter, and she also slammed the Vanity Fair writer as having done a "hatchet" job. I agree though, that if she had identified herself as a blogger for OffTheBus, Clinton probably wouldn't have answered. And I don't think that would have worked anyway with the way she went about getting Clinton's attention. In the heat of the moment, I don't know if either Fowler or Clinton realized Fowler was a reporter, let alone a blogger. Fowler was just a normal citizen, making a statement.

Any other journalist would never bash another reporter's work to preface a question. Well, hopefully. But Fowler isn't a traditional journalist; she continues to push the boundaries with Huffington Post as a "citizen journalist." Can she be trusted? Well, I suppose we'll have to hear her tape recorder to know for sure.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review on Mayhill Fowler's "Bill Clinton: Purdum a "Sleazy" "Slimy" "Scumbag" (The Huffington Post, 6/2/08)

I'm glad I read the LA Times articles about Mayhill Fowler before I read Mayhill Fowler's article. While the audio of Bill Clinton has since been removed, the text is largely still there.

Fowler provides great narrative imagery, but her article lacks substance. More than 50 percent of the text are quotes from Clinton. While I suppose that's the point, and not much more necessarily needs to be said, the quotes are too lengthy. She may has well have just provided the transcript of her audio and given a brief background paragraph.

The other thing is, reading this article many years later, I had no idea why the Vanity Fair article was such a big deal. That information should have been provided closer to the top.

I don't want to totally bash this article, because even though I'm a senior Journalism major, I still have a lot of work to do in the writing department. Fowler did a good job at getting the facts out she thought were important, and the public were informed. Job complete.

Review on James Rainey's "How Mayhill Fowler got online scoops on Obama and Bill Clinton" (LA Times, 6/7/08)

It baffles me; yet again, Mayhill Fowler got a great scoop, though she is "a self-described 'failed writer' and amateur Web journalist."Indeed, "an unpublished novelist 'with absolutely no journalism training' can alter the national debate."

Fowler attributes her successful scoops to dropping the 'journalist' from citizen journalist. I have to say, Fowler is bold. She doesn't care about thousands of angry emails, because she has nothing to lose. And while Fowler definitely acted as an ordinary, American citizen when talking to candidates like Bill Clinton, the way in which she made the effort to break the story and let the public know what candidates like Clinton are really like, is what makes her a journalist. 

Review on James Rainey's "'Citizen journalist' broke Obama story" (LA Times, 4/15/08)

The Huffington Post, and other websites alike, are a great outlet for bloggers and citizen journalists with big stories to get noticed. Mayhill Fowler did exactly that. While her ethics are shaky, she found a great story and did what she thought she had to do as a journalist.

Since The Huffington Post is one of the most visited websites, Fowler's story got picked up, and support for President Obama went down (to some extent). However, Fowler didn't gain that much support either. She was challenged as a real journalist, and her ethics in reporting were put into question. Was it ok that she went to Obama's event that was deemed "closed" to mainstream journalists, but then wrote about it as a "citizen journalist?" Maybe if she had posted it to her own blog, and then it was picked up, but even I am questioning if what she did is right or wrong.

Either way, Fowler uncovered an important story that mainstream journalists would not have otherwise covered. And maybe that's why her ethics don't matter, because she technically was not employed as a journalist, anyway.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Blog Update...

So if you're a regular reader of my blog, you may have noticed it looks a bit different. Starting today, this blog was approved for Google AdSense. Leading up to the days of my independent media class project, I'm doing a little experiment to see how much Google AdSense really contributes to a blog or blogger's income.

So what did I have to do to get Google AdSense? Easy if you have a blogger/gmail account. All you do on Blogger is go to your dashboard, click earnings and connect Google AdSense. You click which Google account you want to select (if you have more than one), as well as which blog URL you want the ads to appear on. Once you've been approved, you'll get an email and you can choose if you want ads to appear in your sidebar, below posts or both. Right now, it's both. The ads seems slightly relevant to my blog; I keep seeing ads for Columbia Journalism School, so we're on the right track.

Another thing to note, if you track your page views and where they come from, it really is interesting to note everyday and then track how much you're making on AdSense. If I had been approved yesterday, when for some reason I got 97 page views in a few hours from Malaysia, I would be making a lot of money already...maybe.

If you think the ads are distracting, want to know more, etc, feel free to comment below! I'll be posting updates on how this is working in the upcoming weeks.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Review on David Carr's "Journalism, Even When It’s Tilted" (New York Times, 6/30/13)

The line between journalism and activism is a thin one.
“We are beginning to realize that journalists come in a variety of shapes and sizes and come with a variety of commitments,” said Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at New York University.
Rosen goes on to say that just because someone is an activist, it does not mean they are not a journalist. Agreed. Glen Greenwald, for example, has reported some of the strongest journalism and broken some big stories, but just because he advocates for certain things, does that make him any less a journalist, or credible? No.

Greenwald is an example of a reporter who, while an 'activist,' reports the facts "and is extremely careful about getting it right."

It is a journalist's job to report the truth, but according to Carr, "activism — which is admittedly accompanied by the kind of determination that can prompt discovery — can also impair vision. If an agenda is in play and momentum is at work, cracks may go unexplored."

Review on Jeff Cohen's "Snowden Coverage: If U.S. Mass Media Were State-Controlled, Would They Look Any Different?" (Huffington Post, 6/26/13)

This article is absolutely right that mainstream news coverage is taking the government's side, rather than discussing the issue itself. The NSA 'scandal' is a good example. By calling it a scandal, that's already taking the side of the US government. The public should have the right to know this is happening, but has any coverage expressed that what Snowden did was a  good thing? I'm not sure, but I'd guess probably not, or not as much as they should be. And if they did, that would be a good start at trying to be 'objective.'

However, older reporters may not have the same views as younger ones. And "adversarial journalists" are not something that more traditional journalists may understand. When Andrew Ross Sorkin said he thought blogger, Glen Greenwald should be arrested on live TV, wasn't that advocating as well?

I'll say that the line between advocacy and journalism is a thin one, but as long as you're reporting the facts, I think it's acceptable.

Review on "Transparency is the new objectivity" (, 7/19/09)

I completely agree with the first paragraph of this blog. Objectivity is something that when I came into school as a freshman, thought was just what journalists always practiced, kind of like their own journalism religion. Well, now I'm a senior and I've seen how hard it is to stay objective. How can we be, when we already have our own set of ideologies, whether we like it or not? No one is really a blank slate, unless, I suppose, they've never set foot outside, turned on a TV, surfed the Internet or read a newspaper.

While I am still more likely to trust a newspaper before some blogger on the Internet, you can't always be so sure. That's why transparency can be better. But then, wouldn't that just mean you're writing an op-ed? Where is the line between fact and opinion? 

"Objectivity without transparency increasingly will look like arrogance. And then foolishness. Why should we trust what one person — with the best of intentions — insists is true when we instead could have a web of evidence, ideas, and argument?"

Why should I even trust this blogger?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Review on Will Bunch's "A Landmark for Bloggers -- and the Future of Journalism" (AlterNet, 2/20/08)

Josh Marshall's Polk Award win was monumental for bloggers.

Marshall's win was thanks to his model of Talking Points Memo, and tells us why blogging is important for the following reasons:

1.) The idea of cooperation rather than competition and how important that has been for indy media bloggers for the past few years. For example, there was a Washington Post story about veteran mistreatment after returning home from war, but it wasn't mentioned in other big outlets for more than a week.

2.) Crowd-sourcing, distributive reporting. For Marshall and Talking Points Memo, "coverage of the U.S. attorney firings on TPM was propelled by tips from readers, some of them emailed to the bloggers and some posted as comments on TPM sites."

3.) Incremental blogging- when blogs dig up new tidbits they can report it, but bigger outlets don't utilize these as easily. The "nuggets are ideal for a blog, which is the perfect format for a steady flow of information 24/7, so to speak."

This win shows us how and why (in some cases) blogging is still solid journalism, and how sometimes, it's even better than what mainstream news is producing. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review on Brian Stelter's "YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money" (NY Times, 12/10/08)

Before YouTube, home videos were simply for preserving memories for a small group of people, maybe just limited to family. Now, 'home videos' are being made to make money, entertain millions and to have the satisfaction of "going viral." 

Michael Buckley's job sounds like the dream; he's self-taught, self-employed, makes at least $100,000 from YouTube advertisements- hopefully more than enough to help him escape his previous credit-card debt. However, it took him a while to get there. 

I had no idea that only 3 percent of of the videos are supported by advertising, as it seems like every time I try and watch something on YouTube, there's a 30-second mandatory ad, or an ad that I can skip after five seconds.

The truth is, "Everybody’s fighting to be seen online; you have to strategize and market yourself.”

And similar to first-time bloggers who have realized they can gain revenue from something they started for fun, Buckley said, "I didn’t start it to make money, but what a lovely surprise.”