7/31/2009 3:00:59 PM
Did you hear the story about Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper taking communion and then stashing the wafer in his pocket? Don’t get your hackles raised yet: The faux pas apparently never happened. Over at the venerable Columbia Journalism Review, Craig Silverman dissects how such a strange fabrication could have ended up on the front page of the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.
Source: Columbia Journalism Review
Image by dtcchc, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/29/2009 7:36:04 PM
Google and other internet companies base their businesses on giving things away for free. Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired, has stepped up as the primary cheerleader for this kind of business model. For newspapers, however, this model doesn’t work so well. In an interview with the German newspaper Spiegel, Anderson admits, “In the past, the media was a full-time job. But maybe the media is going to be a part time job. Maybe media won't be a job at all, but will instead be a hobby.”
This doesn’t worry Anderson too much, however. He says, “If something has happened in the world that's important, I'll hear about it. I heard about the protests in Iran before it was in the papers because the people who I subscribe to on Twitter care about those things.”
Image by Daquella manera, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/27/2009 6:27:11 PM
Opponents of health care reform say that the Democrats are trying to impose “Canadian-style health care” on the United States. They warn of long lines, delayed or denied care, and restrictive bureaucracy. A recent attack ad features a Canadian woman claiming, “If I had relied on my government for health care, I’d be dead.”
The hyperbolic ad is proving effective at eroding support for health care reform among people of all parties, according to Media Curves. The research firm showed pro- and anti- reform ads to 611 people and found that the attack ad was far more convincing.
The anti-reform message is compelling—and entirely misleading. Maureen Taylor reported to On the Media that the star of the attack ad did not, in fact, have brain cancer. And the woman’s life was not threatened by her condition. Taylor, a health care reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, questions why the idea of Canada is so threatening. She pleads, “People, I'm not walking over a lot of dead bodies here on my way into the studio.”
Source: Media Curves, On the Media
7/27/2009 12:24:38 PM
When This American Life founder and host Ira Glass addressed the University of North Texas's fifth annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, he had a few hopeful words about the future of journalism. I keep a list here at Utne Reader of every sputtering mouth that bemoans the "death of journalism" and at the end of this year I'm going to travel the country with the world's largest role of duct tape. Everybody on my list will have their mouths covered (I promise I'll be gentle) and their hands secured behind their backs (and away from their keyboards). Ira Glass, you will be free to continue as you were.
Hmph, that was a little creepy. Apologies. Here's an excerpt from a Dallas Observer report on Glass' address:
Glass focused his lecture on the beauty of a good narrative story, but also gave some practical advice. Glass threw the journalists in the room an idea for future survival based on Jon Stewart's Daily Show. Glass imagined a future for journalism "where you would have the tone of the Daily Show—talking in normal language, but they would be real reporters."
As an example, he played a segment from his radio show where a reporter found a way to make a piece on the mortgage crises mesmerizing. The reporter recorded her attempts to find the person who was supposed to be in charge of oversight for the industry that collapsed. Each person she spoke to sent her to somebody else. Throughout the piece, she used chatty sentences to talk to the listener, like, "It sounds crazy, right?"
"I can imagine that would be a place that journalism could move towards and survive," said Glass, suggesting a casual conversation would replace the medium's more "stiff" formalities. "I feel like it's a great time, because it's wide-open."
Source: Dallas Observer
Image by Nancy Updike.
7/24/2009 12:16:50 PM
If the internet is killing books, the blog to book deal is an ironic reward for blogosphere fame, writes Sarah Hromack in the July/August issue of The Brooklyn Rail. She writes:
How strangely anachronistic is it (and yet, extraordinarily telling) that those who participate in perhaps the most monumental democratic exercise ever—and who do so daily, often for a living—would seek to tame the great, unbridled, immaterial beast that is the Internet with some high-gloss stock and two binding boards? How thoroughly odd it is that one would attempt to translate the particular digital reading experience of the Tumblr blog, or Twitter feed, or Facebook update into an analog one.
The blogger book deal also upholds the lasting value of the physical book over the fleeting nature of digital content, which is doomed to fade into the vast archives of the internet over time. The book deal may be a blogger’s one chance to prove his or her legacy to future generations. “It’s hard to deny an opportunity to see our names memorialized in a tangible, keepsake form. We can’t literally hand the Internet down to our children, after all.”
Source: The Brooklyn Rail
7/20/2009 4:18:58 PM
Twitter will not single-handedly save journalism. It’s also not silly and dumb. “The single greatest export on the internet—greater, even, than information—is hyperbole,” Paul Constant writes for the Stranger, and the reactions to Twitter have dolled out hyperbole with gusto. Constant, a former Utne Reader contributor, dissects the Twitter phenomenon, the backlash, and the backlash to the backlash, in messages of fewer than 140 characters. He also includes some great insights into internet culture. Here are some excerpts:
A great deal of time on the internet is spent finding different ways to say, "Oh, you didn't know that already? Huh. I've known for ages."
Here's another truth: Nobody has any clue what's going on. That's why sneering at Twitter is worse than blindly loving Twitter.
Historically, very little has been accomplished by being cynical (maybe some broken hearts have been prevented, but at what cost?).
Source: The Stranger
7/17/2009 12:19:46 PM
Newspapers are being written off by scores of pundits like Clay Shirky, but author, McSweeney’s publisher, and Utne Visionary Dave Eggers is standing up for them. In an interview with Salon, Eggers says the young people he teaches in his 826 Valencia writing program give him hope:
“I think there’s a future where the Web and print coexist and they each do things uniquely and complement each other, and we have what could be the ultimate and best-yet array of journalistic venues. I think right now everyone’s assuming it’s a zero-sum situation, and I just don’t see it that way.
“Our students at 826 Valencia still have a newspaper class, where we print an actual newspaper, and we do magazine classes and anthologies where they’re all printed on paper. That’s the main way we get them motivated, that they know it’s going to be in print. It’s much harder for us to motivate the students when they think it’s only going to be on the Web.
“The vast majority of students we work with read newspapers and books, more so than I did at their age. And I don’t see that dropping off. If anything the lack of faith comes from people our age, where we just assume that it’s dead or dying. I think we’ve given up a little too soon.”
Image by Erik Charlton, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/17/2009 11:01:27 AM
The facts surrounding Guantanamo Bay detentions are quickly slipping down the memory hole. “A protective order that governs Guantánamo records leaves room for the government to destroy documents, including lawyers' notes,” according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “or put them off-limits in the name of national security.”
A few dedicated archivists are fighting to make sure the Guantanamo Bay records aren’t lost forever, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports. The team is collecting as much source material as possible for a collection that will be held at Seaton Hall, New York University, and using the Web At Risk digital archiving project. Archivists have begun by focusing on first-person accounts from defense lawyers, which will soon be published in a book called The Guantanamo Lawyers: Inside a Prison Outside the Law (New York University Press).
“We know, at the time it's happening, that Guantánamo has potential for iconic and historical significance, and the truth of Guantánamo is going to be a matter of great importance," says law professor Mark Denbeaux, who heads the program. "It's been my experience that the battle to redefine these sorts of events can be lost if one side is more organized and eager to present its point of view." He adds, “It’s not a political exercise, it’s an educational exercise, and a historical one.”
Source: Chronicle of Higher Education
7/10/2009 3:26:53 PM
Singapore-based ad agency Ogilvy & Mather has completed a series of ads for Matchbox called Young Warriors. It’s a rather frightful experiment with illusion. Young, white boys no older than 5 years old pose with some of the most lethal killing machines now in play in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is militarism at its worst: children piloting machines that kill children and their families (oh yes, and terrorists). Sure, kids play soldier all the time, but they are engaging in imaginative play, not warrior fetishes.
The campaign is crass enough on its own, but a tour of Ogilvy & Mather’s website adds a new layer of revulsion, namely their advice on advertising in a wrecked economy:
The key to success will be understanding the new shopper, brand and retailer. Find out how to create ‘win-win’ shopper marketing solutions and how to turn shoppers into buyers in this recession.
Here’s more of that “win-win” vision made manifest:
(Thanks, Creative Review)
7/10/2009 11:59:23 AM
When the BBC published its series of interviews with Gaza residents talking about Hamas, they pushed the most compelling conversation (and the only comments by a woman) to the bottom of the page. It’s a conversation with Tihani Abed Rabbu. Her teenage son Mustafa, her brother and her closest friend were killed during Israel's January assault, codenamed "Operation Cast Lead."
Journalist and Middle East analyst Helena Cobban took issue with the placement of Abed Rabbu’s story. On her blog, Just World News, she protests the placement of this woman’s story:
Too frequently decision makers in the [mainstream media] simply marginalize women's experiences. But women's work in holding families together in very tough times lies at the heart of the social resiliency that can either save or break a community that's in conflict. So it is not only a compelling 'human interest' story—it is also at the heart of the big 'political' story regarding whether, for example, the people of Gaza or South Lebanon end up bowing to Israel's very lethally pursued political demands, or not. Maybe the BBC could, at the very least, elevate Ms. Abed-Rabbu's story to the top of that page?
Here’s a profoundly unsettling excerpt from the interview with Abed-Rabbu:
"I'm afraid that after I have lost Mostafa, that I will lose somebody else as well. When my children go to sleep, and I look at them, I start to think 'who is next—is it Ahmad's turn, or his brother?'
"What worries me is the safety of my family, my sons and my husband. My husband is going through a difficult time, a crazy time. He wants to affiliate with Hamas, he wants to get revenge after what they have done to us.
"How do you expect us to be peaceful after they have killed my son and turned my family into angry people—as they refer to us, "terrorists". I cannot calm my family down.
Sources: BBC, Just World News
Amir Farshad Ebrahimi
, licensed under
7/9/2009 4:53:54 PM
For less than the price of a cup of coffee per day, you can feed and clothe a newspaper professional. Even if they don’t want a newspaper, this video from Slate V encourages people to “buy one anyway.” That way, hungry and desperate copy editors can survive for at least a few more days.
For an extra layer of humor, read the call for unpaid interns that sits directly below the video on the Slate website.
7/9/2009 2:51:50 PM
You've surely encountered Dwell magazine in your travels. It's the oversized architecture and design magazine exploding with beautiful homes and objects for the fairly well heeled. We couldn’t help but have a giggle when Metropolis (an architecture and design magazine for the really well heeled) took a stab at Dwell in their blogs. Here’s their Open Letter to Dwell Magazine:
Love the magazine. As a favor, I have rewritten the Table of Contents of your July/August issue:
Cover House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 43 House with Vertical Wood Slats
Page 52 House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 58 Ice Cream Makers
Page 66 Pavilion with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 70 Philadelphia
Page 80 House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 88 House with Horizontal Wood Slats
Page 96 House with Vertical Wood Slats
I hope you find this useful.
Jeff Speck, AICP
Putting aside the vertical and horizontal slats appearing on the Metropolis homepage, it's a fair observation and a good ribbing. And not surprisingly, commenters used the opportunity to do a little ribbing of their own:
Gary @ 6:30 am: "At least the slats *are* a reason to read Dwell. No-one reads Metropolis
Herbert @ 10:37 am: "Well, at least Dwell sends me my magazine. And yes I subscribe to both."
I believe the man they called Jesus had words for dust-ups like this one: "First take the vertical wood slat out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." Oh snap!
7/8/2009 4:59:35 PM
Beautiful young women with fashionable clothing and loose headscarves dominated much of the imagery that emerged from the recent Iranian protests. Writing for Women News Network, Latoya Peterson writes that the focus on fashion and beauty may distract people from the real issues at play in Iran.
“Often times, Western feminists become infatuated with the symbolic nature of veiling,” according to Peterson, “and fail to listen to women discussing what they are actually fighting for.” The photographs of women in modern, Western-style clothing with hair cascading out of their veils fit nicely into people’s preconceived notions of modern pro-democracy forces rebelling against the oppressive regime.
In fact, the disastrous economic conditions in Iran are likely what motivated the protests, rather than the politics of beauty and clothing. Emphasizing beautiful protesters could distract people and oversimplify the message of the protests.
The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, on the other hand, may have appreciated some of the problematic attention, Alexander Cockburn wrote for the Nation. According to Cockburn, “Unlike those attractive Iranians, Tamils tend to be small and dark and not beautiful in the contour of poor Neda, who got out of her car at the wrong time in the wrong place, died in view of a cellphone and is now reborn on CNN as the Angel of Iran.” Peterson admits, “Sex sells but so does Iranian beauty, compelling even those who are disinterested in politics and current events to pay attention.”
Women News Network
Image by Hamed Saber, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/8/2009 1:41:01 PM
The pilot issue of the literary journal The New Anonymous has hit newsstands with one very striking variation from its neighbors: the entire production of the magazine, including the articles printed, is anonymous. The nameless editors screen and edit submissions anonymously, simply, as the publication’s website notes, “celebrating the text.”
Writing for BOMB magazine Brian McMullen calls the journal “an inspiring, new embodiment of democracy at its best.” He also applauds the “15 good stories and poems,” while questioning if the “nine inexplicable pages of zany fake ads” help the journal.
You can order a copy of The New Anonymous on their website.
Sources: The New Anonymous, BOMB
7/8/2009 9:53:02 AM
Running from Gas
,” a Pakistani lawyer runs from tear gas, Pakistan. © Emilio Morenatti.
Pictures of the Year International (POYi), among the oldest photojournalism competitions in the world, opens its 2009 exhibit this weekend at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. If you don’t live on the West Coast, though, don’t let that stop you: POYi allows website users to browse the award-winning photojournalism in its online winner’s gallery.
There’s something to delight everyone there, all of it beautiful. Many images have a humanitarian bent, such as Jakob Carlsen’s “Untouchables of Asia,” the winner of the World Understanding award, but there’s no limit the scope of the competition. There is spectacular sports photojournalism, the best of the 2008 presidential campaign, riveting portraiture, and the list goes on.
This is POYi’s 66th year. It is a program of the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism, which previously served as host to the exhibitions.
7/8/2009 9:42:09 AM
Despite Al-Jazeera’s international reputation for serious investigative reporting, the company's English-language station has yet to find a cable provider in either the U.S. or Canada.
The Canadian magazine This comments that “Canada can no longer afford to shun the world’s first truly global news network—especially one that is both steered and shaped by Canada’s best and brightest.” Al-Jazeera English is, after all, broadcast in more than 140 million households and in at least 100 countries. Why is North America so far behind?
Al-Jazeera isn’t giving up easily. “The network’s inability to secure cable providers in the U.S., and the highly politicized battles to undermine its effort for access across the continent, have left it embattled but not defeated.”
Only in Toledo, Ohio and Burlington, VT has Al-Jazeera English found a home with a cable provider, although not without opposition. When viewers in Burlington complained that the station is anti-American and anti-Semitic, town hall debates raged and Al-Jazeera was taken off the air. Recognizing that the station offers “alternative” perspectives, the city council eventually reinstated the channel.
In the United States you can catch up on Al-Jazeera's website or on Link TV.
Source: This (article not available online)
Image by Joi, licensed under Creative Commons.
7/7/2009 1:30:28 PM
For those of you who bemoan the slow demise of investigative journalism as we have known it, dry your eyes. Tim Cavanaugh of Reason magazine has seen journalism’s future, and it is public relations. You’ll want to get right to fighting over this, so I’ll cut straight to Cavanaugh’s vision:
Are flacks the future, or even the present, of investigative journalism? This interpretation makes intuitive sense. Important data points by which we continue to live our live—the number of jobs that were created or destroyed by NAFTA, the villainy of the Serbs in the Yugoslav breakup, all sorts of projected benefits or disasters in President Obama’s budget plans—are largely the inventions of P.R. workers.
And though it’s considered wise to believe the contrary, these communications types are not constructing all these news items entirely (or even mostly) by lying. Flackery requires putting together credible narratives from pools of verifiable data. This activity is not categorically different from journalism. Nor is the teaching value that flackery provides entirely different from that of journalism: Most of the content you hear senators and congressmen reading on C-SPAN is stuff flacks provided to staffers.
…the idea of public relations (and its many fancy permutations, from “image management” to “oppo research” to “crisis”) replacing objective journalism becomes less scary when you reflect that … frequently the most valuable information comes out just because somebody wants to make somebody else look bad.
Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.
Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!
Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of Utne Reader for only $29.95 (USA only).
Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 6 issues of Utne Reader!