9/25/2009 4:27:16 PM
A new, yet-to-be-named, local website will be forming next year to fill in the gaps left by regional newspaper shutterings in the Bay Area. The nonprofit site nabbed a hefty donation—$5 million—from San Francisco businessman F. Warren Hellman, and its expertise and manpower will come from “KQED-FM, which has a 28–person news staff, and the 120 students of the University of California, Berkeley’s graduate school of journalism,” the New York Times reports.
Source: The New York Times
9/25/2009 10:57:42 AM
A typical fighting season in southern Afghanistan begins in spring and continues through fall. This photo essay by photojournalist Louie Palu in the summer issue of Geist documents last year’s fighting season. It finds the region’s Pashtun people, who know little of life without seasonal warfare, living day to day on the fringes of battle.
As the 2009 fighting season began this past May, Palu returned to Afghanistan to capture what could be the worst season the Pashtun have seen. He writes:
The longer I stay in Afghanistan and the more I see, the fewer answers I have about what is going on there and what the future holds. Back in Toronto I can’t even talk to anyone in a bar, because conversations with people who think they understand Afghanistan just end as heated arguments on the sidewalk.
Image by Louie Palu.
9/25/2009 9:51:40 AM
Reporters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, and other hostile places around the world face the daily threat of being kidnapped. Knowing how to be kidnapped can increase a person’s chances for survival—or at least that’s the theory behind the Centurion Risk Assessment Services’ Hostile Environment and First Aid Course. Trainers stage a mock abduction using “theatrical pyrotechnics to simulate such things as mortar fire, machine gun crossfire, mines and booby traps, etc. (all kept at a safe distance from the delegates) to simulate a hostile environment.”
The American Prospect’s reporter Tara McKelvey attended the course and picked up some useful tips: “Stay in hotels that do not have underground parking garages (where car bombs can be placed). Bring along a doorstop and jam it under the door in your room. And never argue with checkpoint guards.” Considering that at least 30 journalists were killed last year for doing their jobs, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, the two, three, or five day course might be worth the time.
The American Prospect
(excerpt available online)
, licensed under
9/24/2009 3:21:01 PM
Al Jazeera English broadcasts to 150 million households in over 100 countries—with the exception, until very recently, of North America. As the news service makes headway in the United States and is poised to break into Canada, The Walrus takes an in-depth look at the history and challenges facing Al Jazeera English, “a network that much of North America still considers Terror TV.”
Source: The Walrus
9/24/2009 12:25:32 PM
The economy is not “unhealthy” right now. It’s neither “ailing” nor “suffering.” The economy is not an autonomous entity like the human body; it’s made up of people taking actions that have an effect on other people. Anat Shenker-Osorio writes for New Deal 2.0 that talking about the economy like a living, breathing thing deemphasizes the actions of people—including irresponsible bankers—and makes efforts at regulation more difficult.
Most people don’t need external interference until something goes wrong. The same is not true of an economy. But when people say, “the economy shed jobs,” they’re reinforcing the idea of the economy as an autonomous thing. It’s better to say, “more people are unemployed,” or “companies laid people off.” Shenker-Osorio writes:
We personify the economy to our peril. Even as our overt messages insist the economy requires consistent external oversight, our language conveys the economy is an autonomous, self-regulating thing. The more we imply that the economy is something that exists and functions on its own, the less credible are our arguments that there’s no such thing as an unregulated free-market.
Source: New Deal 2.0
Image by Photos8, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/15/2009 4:27:14 PM
For some people, photos on Facebook of wheelchair users having fun, dating, and living a normal life is enough to dispel stereotypes of people with disability. Writing for New Mobility, Jean Dobbs profiles the ways that people with disabilities are using Facebook to date, promote disability organizations, and to advance their careers. Artist Carolyn Stanley Anderson tells the magazine, “It makes us visible in a way that wasn't available before.”
Source: New Mobility
9/15/2009 10:47:03 AM
An arresting photo essay about the city of Janesville, Wisconsin, published in Mother Jones, serves as a stark illustration of the troubling numbers released in the new national poverty reports. For nearly four generations, the town was home to one of the oldest General Motors factories in the country. The plant abruptly halted its assembly line in December 2008.
The somber photos, taken by Danny Wilcox Frazier, capture Janesville’s remaining residents living like ghosts amid the ruins of a once-booming company town, where a defunct strip club has become a venue for Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and empty hotels don’t bother leaving the light on for anyone.
Source: Mother Jones
9/11/2009 3:42:58 PM
Subprime loans are often blamed as the basis of current financial crisis. Thats unfortunate, according to Elinore Longobardi in the Columbia Journalism Review, because subprime describes only the borrower, in unflattering terms, and has nothing to say about the lender.
A better option is to point the finger at predatory lendingthe crooks who made bad loans to vulnerable populations like minorities and the elderly. The press used the term subprime somewhere between seventy or eighty times more frequently than the term predatory lending, according to CJR. That statistic points to the abject failure of the press in predicting the financial crisis, and it places the blame for the crisis in the wrong place.
Source: Columbia Journalism Review (Article not yet available online.)
Image by woodleywonderworks, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/8/2009 10:34:29 AM
Got space for thousands of zines? The Papercut Zine Library—which lends an unusual collection of 7,000 zines, indie books, periodicals, and audio/visual materials in addition to hosting community events—is looking for a new home in the Boston/Cambridge area. The collective-run, free lending library lost its space in Cambridge’s Democracy Center on August 15. It had operated there since May 2005.
As outlined on the collective’s Myspace page, Papercut is looking for at least 180 square feet of space in an accessible area. Joining an existing community/arts/organizing space is an option, and so is renting low-cost commercial space. There’s just one absolute: “that the freedom to make decisions about the library’s internal operation stay within our collective. That is, we are not interested in another library absorbing our collective if it means the collective will not be involved.”
Anyone who has ideas or tips should get in touch with Papercut.
Source: Papercut Zine Library
Image by gruntzooki, licensed under Creative Commons.
9/4/2009 12:15:28 PM
Iranian bloggers who went online to protest the disputed election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad owe a debt of gratitude to the spiritual dissident group, the Falun Gong, according to Eli Lake in The New Republic.
Falun Gong practitioners working with the Global Internet Freedom Consortium were instrumental in developing an anti-censorship tool called Freegate, which was designed to hide internet activity from the watchful eye of the Chinese government. All mentions of the Falun Gong are heavily censored in China, because, Lake reports, “the Chinese government views the Falun Gong almost the way the United States views Al Qaeda.”
Iranian internet users were able to use the software for a short time to protest the disputed election results, until the tool’s popularity in Iran overwhelmed the group’s servers and they were forced to shut it down.
Freegate is not the only tool that dissidents use to skirt censorship on the web. Lake also mentions the software Tor, profiled in the September-October issue of Utne Reader, an anti-censorship program that is funded in part by the U.S. government. The Falun Gong has urged the United States to fund Freegate, too, but support has not been forthcoming.
As good as programs like Freegate and Tor are at stymieing government censorship, China, Iran, Russia, and other countries are working feverishly on technology to fight back. Lake writes, “the race to beat the Internet censors is a central battle in the global struggle for democracy—a cat-and-mouse game where the fate of regimes could rest in no small measure on the work of the Falun Gong and others who write programs to circumvent Web censorship.”
Source: The New Republic
, licensed under
9/3/2009 4:22:18 PM
What would Buffy do—if the beloved (and powerfully feminist) vampire slayer encountered the Twilight series’ Edward Cullen? Video remix artist Jonathan McIntosh has crafted an answer in a beautifully edited video mash-up: Buffy vs. Edward (Twilight Remixed).
Writing on the blog Rebellious Pixels, McIntosh explains that his video remix is more than “a decisive showdown between the slayer and the sparkly vampire.” His piece of transformative storytelling—protected under fair use doctrine—dishes out a “
pro-feminist visual critique of Edward’s character and generally creepy behavior.”
“Seen through Buffy’s eyes, some of the more sexist gender roles and patriarchal Hollywood themes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed in hilarious ways,” he writes. The remix also functions as “a metaphor for the ongoing battle between two opposing visions of gender roles in the 21ist century.”
Watch for yourself:
Source: Buffy vs. Edward, Rebellious Pixels
9/3/2009 3:34:12 PM
It’s been an exciting but bumpy ride for the independent press in Eastern Europe in recent years. In the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, things got a bit bumpier this summer: The editorial staff of the Riga-based Baltic Times, an English-language newspaper that covers all three countries, quit en masse in late July because they hadn't been paid in four months and say they were being forced to write articles that favored advertisers, reports Latvians Online.
The encouraging thing is that they did what used to be nearly impossible: They launched a rival publication within weeks.
“Baltic Reports, which was officially launched today [August 25], is an independent online media portal established by former staff of the Baltic Times,” editor Kate McIntosh wrote in an e-mail to supporters.
“We had a disagreement with Riga staff journalists” was the understated characterization of the dispute by Baltic Times managing editor Sergey Alekseyev in an e-mail to Latvians Online. Alekseyev said the publication will continue.
In announcing their resignations, the ex-staff at the Baltic Times acknowledged financial pressures played a role in the drama—but so did journalistic standards: “While we appreciate that these are hard times economically for business and companies, we felt that it was no longer possible to continue to produce a professional product under such circumstances.”
Sources: Latvians Online, Baltic Reports
Image by PhylB, licensed under Creative Commons.
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