Sunday, January 29, 2006

Former Green Beret blogger gains following with Iraq reports

POSTED: Sun Jan 29, 6:33 AM ET
Michael Yon: Online Magazine:

Blogger Gains Following With Iraq Reports

By MITCH STACY, Associated Press Writer

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. - He didn't have to go, it wasn't his job and nobody paid him to do it. But Michael Yon says he went to Iraq because he wanted to see for himself what was going on.

The 41-year-old former Army Green Beret, self-published author and world traveler didn't know exactly what he was going to do when he got to the war zone last year, nor did he have any particular plans to report what he saw to the world at-large. But that's what he did. After getting himself embedded as a freelance journalist with troops last year, he used his Internet blog to report on the car bombs, firefights and dead soldiers. But he also wrote descriptively about acts of compassion and heroism, small triumphs in the country's crawl toward democracy and the gritty inner workings of the military machine. Yon's dispatches have been extolled by loyal readers as gutsy and honest reporting by a guy who's not afraid to get his hands dirty. He has been interviewed and his blog quoted by major newspapers and TV news networks, and he has drawn comparisons to Ernie Pyle, the renowned World War II correspondent who shared the trenches with fighting soldiers.

Actor Bruce Willis is a fan and has said he wants to make a movie about the exploits of the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment ÿÿ aka the "Deuce Four" ÿÿ which Yon followed through battles against insurgents in Mosul. "Deuce Four is an overwhelmingly aggressive and effective unit, and they believe the best defense is a dead enemy," Yon wrote in one dispatch. "They are constantly thinking up innovative, unique and effective ways to kill or capture the enemy; proactive not reactive."

In May, a poignant photo he shot of a soldier cradling a dying Iraqi girl after an explosion in Mosul was printed in major U.S. newspapers and brought even more attention to his unpaid mission. A subsequent appeal for donations on the Web site brought in thousands of dollars.

And at one point he crossed the line from observer to participant. In August, during a fierce firefight in downtown Mosul, Yon and witnesses say he picked up an M4 rifle, reloaded and fired three times at insurgents inside a shop as two of the battalion leaders lay wounded nearby. That's a no-no for embedded journalists, and it brought a stern reprimand from the Army. "As soon I saw the rifle, I just grabbed it," he says. "It was just a reflex."

The slant of Yon's blog is unflinchingly pro-military, but he has frequently criticized Army public affairs officers in print over how news out of Iraq is managed. He hasn't shied away from describing the horrors of war, and he once wrote about an Iraqi taxi driver killed by U.S. troops during a fire fight. "They know I don't follow the party line," says the soft-spoken Yon, whose broad, solid physique makes him seem taller than his 5 feet and 6 inches. "Like when our guys get killed, I'll write about it and I'll write about it the way it really happened, which sometimes is pretty graphic."

Lt. Col. Erik Kurilla, the Deuce Four commander who was wounded in the downtown Mosul battle, says Yon was effective because he stayed with the unit longer than most embedded reporters. "Mike, by spending five months with us, understood the unit, the idiosyncrasies, the good and the bad, and how we made decisions," Kurilla says. "You don't get that from coming in for 48 or 72 hours."

A native of Winter Haven in central Florida, Yon is a professional adventurer of sorts. His tales range from establishing a vending business in Poland to tracking cannibals in India, all after serving five years in the Army in the 1980s. In 2000 he self-published a memoir called "Danger Close," which includes details of the 19-year-old Yon killing a man in a bar fight, a case later determined to be self-defense. At the urging of friends connected the military, Yon went to Iraq a year ago, began blogging a few weeks later and within a few months had a good Internet following. It really took off when he started writing about the Deuce Four in Mosul, and in the last four months of 2005 the site logged around 1.5 million hits.

"I think Michael set out to chronicle what it was like for regular rank-and-file soldiers who went out outside the wire every day in a city that has been a very dangerous place," says Richard A. Oppel Jr., a New York Times reporter who was in Iraq with Yon.

Not being a journalist by trade, Yon says he initially had trouble being an objective observer when the explosions and gunfire started. "In the beginning I would just help people, and I wouldn't get any photos," he says. "I realized that I could do a lot more with my camera and my pen than I could with my hands, and so I disciplined myself to just stay out of the way and photograph, unless somebody really, really needs me."

He felt that was the case in the downtown Mosul battle in August when he got involved in the battle. But before picking up the rifle, he shot a stunning sequence of photos of Kurilla crumpling to the ground as an insurgent's bullets pierced both his legs and an arm. Kurilla and the rest of the Deuce Four are home now, with dozens of Purple Hearts among them. Lately Yon has been traveling in the United States and interviewing them for a book about the unit and the Battle for Mosul.

He recently bought new body armor and, if all goes as planned, he'll return to Iraq later this year. "It's a very complicated world and you can't learn about it by sitting back and reading about it," Yon says. "Not the way I wanted to learn about it anyway."


The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

BLOGS/EDUCATION: New York Times report of Pew Internet study shows deep changes in how young adults consume media

January 22, 2006
A Generation Serves Notice: It's a Moving Target

The New York Times

JOE HANSON, 22, of Chicago likes to watch television, but rarely on his
TV. A folder on his computer lists an inventory of downloaded cable and
network programming - the kind of thing that makes traditional media
executives shudder.

"I've got 'Ali G,' 'Arrested Development,' 'Scrubs,' 'The Sopranos,' " Mr.
Hanson told a visitor recently at his apartment on the city's Southwest
Side. " 'South Park,' 'The Office,' some 'Family Guy.' "

From the avalanche of Nintendo games alongside his TV to his very roommate
- acquired through the online classified site Craigslist - Mr. Hanson
channels the characteristics of a generation weaned on digital technology
and media convergence.

He is an avid gamer. He tinkers comfortably with digital media - from
creating Web sites and blogs to mixing his own hip-hop music files - and
like most people his age, he has nearly constant access to his friends
through instant messaging.

In addition to thumbing his nose at notions of "prime time" by downloading
his favorite shows (without commercials), Mr. Hanson almost never buys
newspapers or magazines, getting nearly all of his information from the
Internet, or from his network of electronic contacts.

"Papers are so clunky and big," he says. If those words are alarming to
old media, they are only the beginning of a larger puzzle for today's
marketers: how to make digital technology their ally as they try to
understand and reach an emerging generation.

The eldest of the millennials, as those born between 1980 and 2000 are
sometimes called, are now in their early to mid-20's. By 2010, they will
outnumber both baby boomers and Gen-X'ers among those 18 to 49 - the
crucial consumers for all kinds of businesses, from automakers and
clothing companies to Hollywood, record labels and the news media.

The number of vehicles through which young people find entertainment and
information (and one another) makes them a moving target for anyone hoping
to capture their attention.

Advertisers and media and technology companies, mindful that young
consumers have migrated away from the traditional carriers of their
messages, have begun to find new ways to reach them. They are creating
advertising and short videos for mobile phones, for instance, cell
networks with dedicated game channels, and $1.99 TV programs to download
to iPods and PC's.

And while the emerging generation's deftness with technology is a given,
researchers say the most potent byproduct may be the feedback factor,
which only accelerates the cycles of what's hot and what's over.

"We think that the single largest differentiator in this generation from
previous generations is the social network that is people's lives, the
part of it that technology enables," said Jack McKenzie, a senior vice
president at Frank N. Magid Associates, a market research and consulting
firm specializing in the news media and entertainment industries.

"What's hard to measure, and what we're trying to measure," Mr. McKenzie
continued, "is the impact of groupthink, of group mentality, and the
tendency of what we might call the democratization of social interaction
and how that changes this generation's relationship with almost everything
they come in contact with."

For Mr. Hanson, even his new job is an Internet-based, media-intensive
labor informed by feedback.

Mr. Hanson, who earlier took time off before earning his English degree at
the University of Chicago to appear as a contestant in a reality TV show
("Beauty and the Geek"), left his ad agency internship last month to
become a writer and producer at Current TV, Al Gore's media-converging

Before being hired, Mr. Hanson and Hassan Ali, a 20-year-old junior
studying economics at the University of Chicago, were already submitting
their own digital video shorts to Current TV, which allows Web audiences
to vote content up the ranks at and, if it becomes popular
enough, onto its cable television rotation.

Their signature series of jittery "Joe Gets" films, in which the white,
diminutive and blond Mr. Hanson might, for instance, get a haircut in a
predominantly black Chicago barbershop ("Joe Gets Cut"), were voted
regularly into the TV rotation - so often that both Mr. Hanson and Mr. Ali
were offered jobs.

"This was great!" wrote one visitor to their Current TV Web page. "I deff.
feel you on this one, being a white guy who also gets his hair cut at a
black barber shop. Convos are way more entertaining. ... Plus you can't
beat the crispy fades!" Mr. Hanson and Mr. Ali had reached out to their
peers, and their peers had spoken.

Other titles produced by Mr. Hanson and Mr. Ali include "Joe Gets Inked"
(a tattoo) and "Joe Gets Bent" (yoga). "Joe Gets Slammed," in which Mr.
Hanson attends a professional wrestling school, is expected to be shown
soon online and on television.

At the Digital Edge

Karell Roxas, 24, a senior editor at, begins each day in her
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, apartment with a diet of Gmail, Hotmail, work
e-mail, ("I haven't picked up a print newspaper in forever,"
she says) and blogs, in that order. She says it is a necessary regimen for
maintaining a functional dialogue both at work and in her circle of

Ms. Roxas, who grew up in Ontario, Calif., and earned a fine-arts degree
in writing from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, says text messaging by
cellphone is the default mode of communication for her set, surpassing
e-mail, instant messaging or even talking on the phone itself.

It is all in keeping with recent research from the Pew Internet and
American Life Project, which has found that while certain aspects of
online life have become common across many age groups, it is the
millennials who live at the digital edge.

Among those with access to the Internet, for instance, e-mail services are
as likely to be used by teenagers (89 percent) as by retirees (90
percent), according to Pew researchers. Creating a blog is another matter.
Roughly 40 percent of teenage and 20-something Internet users do so, but
just 9 percent of 30-somethings. Nearly 80 percent of online teenagers and
adults 28 and younger report regularly visiting blogs, compared with just
30 percent of adults 29 to 40. About 44 percent of that older group sends
text messages by cellphone, compared with 60 percent of the younger group.

And as the millennials diverge from their elders in their media choices,
so do the ways in which they can be reached and influenced.

The preceding generation may have thought that e-mail, newsgroups, Web
forums and even online chats accelerated the word-of-mouth phenomenon.
They did. But they are nothing compared with the always-live electronic
dialogue among millions of teenagers and 20-somethings.

"What we're seeing is a whole different relationship with marketing and
advertising which obviously has ripple effects through the entire
economy," said Mr. McKenzie, who heads the Magid firm's Millennials
Strategy Group, formed two years ago to serve clients desperate to know
how to reach a new generation.

For the millennials, he said, "reliance and trust in nontraditional
sources - meaning everyday people, their friends, their networks, the
network they've created around them - has a much greater influence on
their behaviors than traditional advertising."

Magid calls it the peer-to-group phenomenon - a digital-age manifestation
of the grapevine.

"When someone wants to share it, forward it, record it, take a picture of
it, whatever the case may be, that puts it into a form of currency," Mr.
McKenzie said. "And when marketing gets to a level of currency, then it
has achieved nirvana status."

And, he added, that status has "much more influence on the acceptance of
television shows, or radio shows, or iPod offerings or jeans or whatever
the case may be."

Some researchers, like Dr. Melvin D. Levine, director of the Clinical
Center for the Study of Development and Learning at the University of
North Carolina School of Medicine, have expressed concerns about the
group-mentality dynamics that the Internet and the instant-message age may
be fostering.

"You've got a group of kids who are unbelievably, incredibly loyal to each
other," Dr. Levine said. "They are very bound to ethics and values. But in
a funny sort of way, it prevents some of them from developing as
individuals." Along with finding technological dexterity in this group,
and a highly developed ability to work in team settings, Dr. Levine said
he had encountered concerns that some young people lacked the ability to
think and plan for the long term, that they withered without immediate
feedback and that the machinery of groupthink had bred a generation flush
with loyal comrades but potentially weak on leaders.

Ms. Roxas would wholeheartedly disagree. Working at, she says
that it is all too common for older people to dismiss the "MTV generation"
as lacking concentration and wherewithal, as being team-oriented but
bereft of individual ideas, and as being hopelessly addicted to the hive.

The relentless multitasking and interactivity are "just a different way of
doing things," Ms. Roxas said, recalling that even as an undergraduate she
would often seek help and counsel among her peers through instant messages
on her computer. "I actually got more done that way," she said, "and I
always knew when to sign off and get my work done.

"It's no different than eating and watching TV at the same time."

But when asked if she might ever be able to really disconnect for a while,
Ms. Roxas paused and then laughed at herself. To really unplug, while an
attractive idea in theory, she said, would be to risk being swept aside by
a virtual torrent of information - or, worse, being forgotten.

"Say, if I haven't read what's going on every day, things are so
interconnected, you might not know what everyone's talking about," she

"It's like, if you don't check your e-mail and you turn off your phone,
it's almost like you don't exist."

Media on the Go

That existential quandary is giving marketers, media and technology
companies and Hollywood some potential openings to reach young adults.

Marketers, for instance, have signaled a broad desire to bring
television-style advertising to cellphones. As early as March, a limited
number of Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel customers may begin seeing
short video ads on their phones, in a test of consumer tolerance for the

And two weeks ago, the cellphone start-up Amp'd Mobile announced a
partnership with Electronic Arts, the world's largest maker of video
games, aimed at bringing more than a dozen Electronic Arts-brand games to
Amp'd cellphones.

The television and film industries, like the recording industry before
them, are slowly recognizing that consumers - particularly young ones like
Mr. Hanson - want to watch on their own schedules, in a variety of
formats, and at a low price.

Clearly, if the market doesn't find ways to make programming simple,
inexpensive and legal to download, millennials will continue to find
solutions for themselves.

"Downloading is the poor man's TiVo," Mr. Hanson said in e-mail message,
adding, though, that if he likes a show he generally goes out and buys it
on DVD.

As if heeding the call, ABC, NBC and cable networks have found a new
outlet by striking deals that make television shows available for $1.99 a
download on Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store, for playback on the new
video-capable iPod or on a personal computer. Steven P. Jobs, Apple's
chief executive, said this month that the company had sold eight million
videos and television shows online since October.

Still, such convergence is in its infancy. And aside from CBS's reported
plans for a short "mobisoap" video drama, written exclusively for delivery
on cellphones, original content for platforms other than television is
rarer still.

But the writing is even on Hollywood's wall.

In November, as if to nudge the entire industry, the National Academy of
Television Arts and Sciences rather hurriedly introduced a new Emmy award
for "outstanding content distributed via nontraditional delivery

"Consumers have the capability of seeing television anywhere, anytime,"
said Peter Price, the president of the academy, in announcing the new
award. "And as the technology continues to develop, it will be content -
news, sports and entertainment programming - that drives consumer demand."

Millennials in Action

Wen-Wen Lam, 23, a marketing representative at, a
professional networking site, said a colleague was bewildered by her
decision not to take her laptop home one evening. "He said, 'But how are
you going to talk to people?' " Ms. Lam recalled.

She rolled her eyes at the thought of people unable to cut the electronic
umbilical cord and added that an average day of 8 to 10 hours of time
spent online is "quite enough."

The T-shirt worn by one of her roommates, Diane Cichelli, calls out in
agreement. "Ctrl, alt, delete," it reads, for the keystrokes typically
used to reboot a PC - and also known as "the three-fingered salute," Ms.
Cichelli said.

Ms. Cichelli, 24, and Ms. Lam have been friends since they were 13. They
now share an apartment, along with a third roommate, in the upscale
Pacific Heights section of San Francisco. Scattered about the living room
and bedrooms are the indispensable totems of modern technological
privilege: I.B.M. laptops, pink iPods, multiple flat-screen televisions
and Ms. Cichelli's Treo 650, a combination cellphone and palmtop.

Indeed, the pair are cut from a marketer's millennial script. They are not
fashioning careers as filmmakers or digital artists, but they are
comfortable around digital media. They maintain blogs and create Web sites
of their own. They download music and share short videos online. They
watch their share of cable and network television, though rarely when it
is scheduled, slipping to a neighbor's apartment to enjoy the liberating
effects of TiVo.

They are avid blog consumers. They read celebrity gossip blogs like
Defamer and PopSugar and shopping and travel blogs like Luxist and
DailyCandy. And they learn of new sites through the tide of instant
messages flowing into the pockets and onto the laptop screens of millions
of young adults every minute of the day.

But popularity is often fleeting, and some of today's hot Web sites can
quickly give way to others, further underscoring the challenge for

"The period of rapid change we've been experiencing, it's just been that
much more dramatic," said Vicki Cohen, a senior vice president at Magid
and one of the leaders on its millennial strategy team. "I mean every time
you turn around there's something new on the horizon. And this group, as
we've been noticing, is kind of the arbiter, quickly determining whether
things are hot or not.

"And it's much more accelerated," Ms. Cohen added. "With the technology,
the Internet - in terms of being able to facilitate the social networking,
which is a big part of this younger group - there's just so much ability
to quickly transfer information."

Near the end of the evening in Pacific Heights, Ms. Cichelli volunteers
that she finds voice mail a wearisome time consumer.

"Why do I need to invest three minutes of my life listening to a message,"
she says, when she can just "ping" someone with an instant message or an
e-mail message?

"Ping," as a computer term, seems to go back some distance. Does she know
its linguistic derivation?

Ms. Cichelli speculates that it came from the game Ping-Pong and was
applied to high-tech communication because people send notes back and

"Let's Google it," Ms. Cichelli says.

"I love Google," Ms. Lam says.

The answer appears almost instantly: in computer jargon, "ping" was most
likely borrowed from submarine technology and the sound that sonar makes
when seeking its reflection points.

No one is surprised. The answer had already been suggested by Ms.
Cichelli's friend in Albany, with whom she had been text-messaging
throughout much of the night.

David Bernstein and Carolyn Marshall contributed reporting for this

Copyright 2006The New York Times Company


This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Google agrees to censor results give to Chinese users

Society of Professional Journalists: "Google agrees to censor results in China
Online search engine leader Google Inc. has agreed to censor its results in China, adhering to the country's free-speech restrictions in return for better access in the Internet's fastest growing market.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company planned to roll out a new version of its search engine bearing China's Web suffix '.cn,' on Wednesday. A Chinese-language version of Google's search engine has previously been available through the company's dot-com address in the United States.

By creating a unique address for China, Google hopes to make its search engine more widely available and easier to use in the world's most populous country.

Because of government barriers set up to suppress information, Google's China users previously have been blocked from using the search engine or encountered lengthy delays in response time.

Source: Michael Liedtke, The Associated Press via

Link: Google should do battle overseas too; by Clarence Page, The Chicago Tribune "

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

LOCAL: Former North Carolina daily journalist readies online news community

Published: January 25, 2006 11:22 AM ET

By Jay DeFoore
Editor & Publisher Online

NEW YORK -- With online publishing tools becoming ever cheaper and easier to deploy and grassroots journalism on the rise, a growing number of mainstream newspaper journalists are flocking to the Web to compete with their former employers.

In December we wrote about former Chicago Tribune reporter Geoff Dougherty and his ChiTownDailyNews project. Elsewhere, Debra Galant and Liz George are getting a lot of positive attention for their blog. Now former Reidsville (N.C.) Review editor Jeff Sykes is planning an online community newspaper, the Reidsville Free Press, which is set to launch in February.

Amy Kingsley, a staff writer for Yes! Weekly, an alternative paper in Greensboro, N.C., does a good job outlining Sykes' plans in the paper's current issue. Kingsley writes that Sykes will be competing not just with his former employer, but also with the Greensboro News & Record and The Neely Chronicle, an opinion paper in Rockingham County.

"The concept involves blending newspaper-style journalism with features like online diaries kept by locals," Kingsley writes. "All of it will bed presented in a format where readers can interact by posting comments to the site."

Kingsley gets to the nub of the challenge for online community journalism: "Internet publishers that eschew the printing press can save significant costs associated with production and distribution but face challenges publicizing and legitimizing their product."

Sykes resigned from Media General's Review last July after two of his reporters admitted to writing a "man on the street" column with fake names, photographs, and quotes. The incident played out in the local News & Record, not to mention Romenesko's media blog and E&P. Sykes told E&P at the time that his decision to verbally warn the journalist rather than outright fire them -- a decision that ultimately led to his demise once word spread -- grew out of a desire to give two young journalists a second chance.

Describing his idea for the Free Press to Kingsley, Sykes said, "I want to give people the opportunity to see their community in a way that isn't tainted by ineptitude, one man's opinion, or a much larger institution's condescending attitude.


Jay DeFoore ( is E&P's Online Editor.

This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

BUSINESS MODELS: Anxiety attacks traditional media as devices get smarter

PUBLISHED: January 25, 2006

Convergence: As Gadgets Get It Together, Media Makers Fall Behind

The New York Times

AMID the cacophony of the sprawling Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, the main action had little to do with electronics. Sure, booth after booth claimed to have the biggest TV screen, the smallest music player and the niftiest wireless gizmo. But that was to be expected. The real news was neither shiny nor tiny. The question in the air was what people will watch, listen to and do with these machines now that they are becoming interchangeable and interconnected.

This should not be a pop quiz. For decades, nearly every gathering of media or technology executives has defined the future in a single word: convergence. What exactly was converging remained in dispute, but most saw some combination of television, computers and an intelligent network that would give consumers much more control. For once, the visionaries were right. Video is popping up on cellphones, iPods, TiVo's and Web sites. And as for blogs, photo-tagging sites like Flickr, podcasts and the rest of the bubbling digital stew, it's clear that lots of media are coming together in lots of devices in lots of ways.

Yet for all the time that media executives - from the towers of Sixth Avenue to the back lots of Burbank - had to prepare for convergence, they are now scrambling to figure out what to do about it. "Convergence is possible now, and you are seeing the earliest breaks on the beach," said John C. Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media, who has been trying to profit from convergence for the last two decades. Now that it's here, he predicts there will trouble for many established companies.

"The 'anything, anytime, anywhere' paradigm is really going to shift the world of media," he said. "There will be a tough, grinding transition for an awful lot of businesses." Old-line media companies' fears can be lumped into three nightmarish categories:

¶Business-model anxiety. Will paid download services like Apple's iTunes, not to mention TiVo's and their ad-defying fast-forward buttons, undercut TV networks' huge advertising revenue? Or will video from advertising-supported Web sites become so rich that people will drop their cable and satellite subscriptions altogether? Or will they just steal what they want by using file-sharing software like Bit Torrent?

¶Creative anxiety. McLuhan is out. The medium is no longer the message. Anyone who wants to tell a joke, spin a tale or report the latest White House news can produce any combination of video, text, sound and pictures for viewing on a 50-inch TV, a laptop computer or a cellphone screen. No one in conventional media is sure how to manage all these options or what audiences barraged from all sides actually want.

¶Control anxiety. Since the invention of the high-speed printing press, mass media have been created for the masses, not by them. The rise of Weblogs has given everyone a printing press and even the opportunity to get income from ads that Google will happily sell. Now we can all be D.J.'s and film directors, distributing our podcasts and movies online without groveling before a studio executive. The career prospects for hit makers, gatekeepers and even fact checkers may well be in doubt.

Control anxiety may help explain why the media establishment has been so taken aback by the actual arrival of convergence. When media moguls talked about convergence, they often meant interactive television that was developed, operated and controlled by cable companies or the other usual corporate suspects. Accordingly, Comcast has invested billions to teach its old cables new tricks, like video on demand. But what really broke down the barriers in the last few years was the spread of high-speed Internet connections and the development of efficient ways to deliver high-quality video signals.

"There is this primordial soup brewing of more bandwidth, more storage, more devices and more people creating content which is inherently digital," said Ted Leonsis, the vice chairman of America Online. "The lightning that struck is that the people have rapidly adopted all this even faster than we in the industry conceived, and bypassed the traditional media."

What's new are the possibilities. Anyone can create a "mashup" by putting together pieces from any medium and any source, distributing it to anyone anywhere. Today, it's the mashup that is the message. "It becomes a game of three-dimensional chess when you are thinking of your digital audience in addition to your television viewers," said Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN/U.S. So the challenge is to overcome the fear of so many choices, and there are already people - in big companies and suburban basements - who are building information and entertainment hybrids that could be as compelling as books, movies and TV shows.

Take Daniel Myrick, a creator of "The Blair Witch Project," who is directing a new video drama called "The Strand," meant to be sold on a pay-per-view basis over the Internet. He has written a soap opera with oddball characters set in Venice, Calif. His Web site,, will link to 20-minute video episodes as well as mock interviews with the characters and back-story information that typically fits in a novel but not a TV show."You still have to have a sense of narrative, a sense of the story and characters and do it in a compelling way," Mr. Myrick said. "But we can expand the universe that surrounds the show and give you a sense of place that expands the overall experience."

Another approach to weaving different media together to tell stories, albeit true ones, is "Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone," Yahoo's first foray into news gathering. It features Mr. Sites, a former network correspondent, reporting from the scenes of various wars. Traveling alone, he uses a variety of portable devices to produce reports that contain text, photographs, audio and video.

Mr. Sites has found it confusing to figure out how to manage all these choices. "Did I need to shoot the entire thing with my video camera, transcribe it later, and take notes off of it?" he said in an interview by satellite phone from Iran. "Or did I need to put the camera down and take copious notes?"

Ultimately he focused on the text, which he found conveyed the most information, leaving the video to do what only television can - show the viewer what it is like to be in a place or talk to a person.

That does not mean every project must use every new crayon in the box. Drew Massey, the 35-year-old founder of ManiaTV, a video Web site aimed at young people, is defying the new conventional wisdom that the Internet audience wants nothing but bits of video on demand. ManiaTV is a live, 24-hour Webcast, with chipper young cyberjockeys introducing music videos, comedy segments, video game previews, offbeat news reports and discussions of online dating.

The site's single-most popular feature - freshened slightly from AM radio - is the old-fashioned request. The requests are for videos now, and they arrive by text message from viewers who could just as easily click to play whatever they wanted on ManiaTV's site or on others."People love it when their song comes on," Mr. Massey said. "Even if they can play it on demand, they love the fact that, hey it's the only thing being played now, and everyone hears it at the same time." Mr. Massey has found, however, that the request line is not enough. His viewers want to take ManiaTV's videos and mix them with other material. "So we will offer ways for kids to have their own TV shows, sort of like 'Wayne's World' on steroids."

For better or worse, the media world of the future may well be Wayne's. There is no better way to see this than to venture into, a jungle of clashing colors, blasting sounds, lurid images and banter so dense that anyone over 25 quickly becomes lost. The lesson here is that on MySpace there is no distinction between personal and mass media. A teenager can post a photo from last night's party, a poem for a lost boyfriend, buttons that play her favorite song and a clip from her favorite TV show.

It is no accident that Google's new video service ( lets users put its video clips on their own Web pages.

Here are truths about MySpace that even a septuagenarian media mogul can appreciate: In the last two years, 50 million people worldwide have created pages on MySpace, and 32 million people in the United States visit the site each month. You do not have to have a pierced tongue to know that anywhere that teenagers congregate, soda vendors and sneakermongers will pay to follow.That audience was enough to draw Rupert Murdoch and Sumner M. Redstone into a bidding war to buy MySpace last year. Mr. Murdoch's News Corporation beat out Mr. Redstone's Viacom, buying the site for $580 million.

For major media companies, buying popular properties is a time-tested strategy. The other move of the moment is simply for them to shift their programming to similar new platforms. Just as magazines and newspapers created Web editions, radio stations are churning out podcasts, record companies are offering snippets as cellphone ring tones, and TV networks have started selling downloads and putting some programming free on the Internet with ads.

The risk, as they had foreseen, was that these new distribution methods would undercut their existing businesses. A turning point came last fall when Robert A. Iger, the new chairman of the Walt Disney Company, agreed to sell versions of the most popular ABC shows for the new video iPod. So far, ratings for "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" have not been hurt. Other networks are starting to sell programs through iTunes, Google's video store and soon similar stores from AOL, Yahoo and others.

Mr. Malone of Liberty Media contends that eventually these moves will erode the networks' advertising base."The public will increasingly pay for the content it wants, and advertising will be the secondary support," he said. "You have to scratch your head and say, What will fund the creation of all this entertainment content, which has been paid for by advertising?" Initially, Mr. Malone is betting on subscription revenue. So his biggest play in convergence now depends on fees, not advertising. Vongo, a service of Liberty's Starz Entertainment Group, lets people watch movies on their computers for $9.99 a month.

So far, the media companies are finding that convergence is lifting advertising revenue because advertisers want to place commercials on Internet-based video programs.The audience is responding. A year ago, 20 percent of visitors to Disney's played a video clip at least once a month. Today, 70 percent do. A growing number - Disney will not say how many - are watching clips on cellphones. And ESPN's condensed version of the Rose Bowl was the most popular paid download on iTunes in the first week of this year. "We have been saying we are going to serve fans wherever they are, however they want to get information, on whatever time," said John Skipper, a senior vice president of ESPN. "That is moving from the rhetorical to the actual."

Mr. Leonsis of America Online says all this shifting of programming from one format to another is a necessary first stage in the development of converged media.

"It wasn't CBS News that made CNN, and it wasn't Rolling Stone that made MTV," he said. "Each new medium has its own generation of breakthrough applications."

AOL, which at 20 years old may not count as a young turk, is certainly trying to revive its fortunes by mastering the convergence of video and the Internet. It has long offered Webcasts of original concerts, and is now developing program networks for entertainment news, old TV shows and sports. Similarly, Yahoo has hired the former head of programming at ABC, Lloyd Braun, to develop new video projects. One program under development is an Internet revival of "The Runner," a drama about a fugitive that ABC introduced and canceled in 2001.

Now the media giants are thinking about how to get creative. In recent months, the TV networks have begun Internet distribution of programs that cannot be squeezed onto cable systems. NBC Universal, for example, moved its Trio network, which focused on pop culture, onto the Internet, in a service called "Brilliant but Canceled." It will also produce original series for the Web.

Mr. Malone, who introduced the idea that cable systems could have 500 channels, contends that in this new world of infinite channels, less may well be more, at least for some existing networks. Discovery Communications, in which a company Mr. Malone runs owns a controlling stake, is considering spending more money to produce fewer programs with more appeal, he said."You want products the consumer really wants to stick around and watch," Mr. Malone said, "not simply because they happen to be there."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

INTERACTIVE: Wis. newspaper gives readers a chance to vote on front page


Tuesday, January 24, 2006 · Last updated 12:53 p.m. PT


MADISON, Wis. -- Wisconsin's second-largest newspaper is letting readers help decide what to put on the front page.

In an experiment designed to boost reader interest, the Wisconsin State Journal allows readers to go on its Web site every weekday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and vote for their favorite out of five story ideas. Barring late-breaking news, the winning story typically will appear on Page 1 the next day. Tuesday's front page included the first "reader's choice," a look at Ford's plant closings and job cuts. The wire story, which received 41 percent of the 192 votes cast, beat out stories on ex-convicts who return to Madison and President Bush's eavesdropping program.

Ellen Foley, editor of the paper, said it was not shirking its responsibility to judge news because editors provide the choices and do not have to follow the readers' pick. "The smart editors of America ... all understand that interactivity is part of our future," she said. "Doing that in a credible way and in a transparent way is the trick. This particular feature is appealing because it combines both of those values."

The paper, which has a daily circulation of 90,000 and 147,000 on Sunday, launched the effort on Monday after explaining the move Sunday in a note to readers from managing editor Tim Kelley. Kelley hinted that more sports and columns could wind up on the front page because they generally are the most popular stories on the Web site,

In a test run last week, readers favored a story about two backup University of Wisconsin-Madison football players who were arrested on marijuana charges over news that Osama bin Laden had issued a new warning of attacks in the U.S. On Tuesday, readers could pick from stories on whether two municipal governments should merge, anti-bullying efforts in schools, the Senate Judiciary Committee's vote on Samuel Alito, a chain store that overcharged customers or fish oil's ability to prevent cancer.

"I think that's a great idea," said Kelly McBride, a faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a journalism training center in St. Petersburg, Fla. "If we are going to make the printed newspaper survive, we are going to have to figure out a way to make it more interactive with the audience."

Former Madison Mayor Paul Soglin gave the paper credit for trying to interact with readers but doubted whether this was the right way to do it. "Involvement is one thing; abdicating front page placement is another," he wrote on his blog. "If the readers choose Carolina Panther cheerleader escapades, is that going to trump the city council's meeting? Sorry, we still need an editor."

The paper is among the largest owned by Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises, a group of 58 daily newspapers. Brent Cunningham, managing editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, said the idea sounded reasonable because editors narrowed the selection of stories and can override the readers. "I can't think of any other paper that's doing this," he said. "But there's a lot of experimentation under way out there to try to balance this need to take what readers want into consideration while also not completely abdicating our news judgment."

The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

One editor sees golden era of journalism -- and warns newspapers to stick to basics

POSTED: January 24, 2006

Blog this: It's a brave new media world

By Steven Greenhut

The author is senior editorial writer and columnist for the Orange County
Register in Santa Ana, Calif. You can reach him at

(Orange County Register, The newspaper navel-gazers are having a field day writing about the death of the news industry, as newspaper circulation numbers are stable or falling, and as Internet Web sites, blogs (Web logs, or news diaries produced online), talk radio and cable TV are becoming the main news sources for many people. No doubt, we are witnessing a Wild West world of journalism, a far cry from the days when Americans read the same newspapers and chose between one of three liberal talking heads on the 6:30 news.

You have an opinion these days? No need to depend solely on the gatekeeper on the op-ed page to give you access. You have a breaking news story to report? No need to cajole a reporter or news director to go after it. You can opine yourself. You can cover the story yourself and post it immediately. This is the equivalent of the Protestant Reformation for the media, where every man can become his own pope, or in this case his own publisher. There is virtually no cost of entry into the Internet news world, although it's not easy to garner enough readers to have an influence on the debate.

This is a wonderful development for everyone who likes to read or who has something to say, and it is not necessarily a threat to newspapers, which can thrive in this competitive new world. Unfortunately, many members of the mainstream media (MSM, in blogger-ese) feel threatened by the competition. Instead of taking lessons from the competition (i.e., be lively and opinionated, eschew political correctness, feature tough investigative journalism, focus on diversity of thought rather than diversity of ethnicity), they are spending their time carping at the new media or making fun of their customers ("people don't read anymore"). Go to any journalists' Web site and you'll read such things. Without even knowing what was in the latest issue, I turned to the Columbia Journalism Review, and, sure enough, the cover story was a perfect example of such navel-gazing. In the story, called "A Way Out?", CJR looked at the decline of newspapers and placed part of the blame on public!
ownership. (The article was pretty good. And there's a point there. The Orange County Register, where I work, is part of privately owned Freedom Communications, and such ownership has led to a more distinctive opinion page than readers typically find in most publicly owned newspapers, where bland left-of-centerism rules.)

I wish these MSMers would stop trying to figure out what's wrong and start rolling up their sleeves and practicing good, old-fashioned, fair-minded journalism that focused on events in their local communities, that broke hot stories, that gave heartburn to government officials on an equal-opportunity basis. It's the "can't see the forest for the trees" problem.

I wrote recently on the Orange County Register's Orange Punch blog, "I like the brave new media world. I got into the newspaper business because I was frustrated by what I read in the very liberal newspaper in the city where I lived at the time. ... As a conservative/libertarian, it was rare to ever find my views expressed in the MSM." A certain arrogance and failure to incorporate a variety of outlooks provided a market for news and opinion, and when the Internet came onto the scene, news providers had a field day. A similar thing happened with talk radio and cable news, as alternative stations provided outlets for those who believed that their ideas were being ignored by the blowhards on network TV.

These days, regardless of your views or fixations, you have choices. You want conservative news, liberal news, libertarian news, paleo-conservative news, etc.? It's all there. You want a Web site devoted to Madagascar hissing roaches? I found 711 hits on my Internet search. At first, the MSM arrogantly dismissed the newcomers, arguing that the result of this wild media world will be a miasma of untrustworthy news sources. Again, I quote myself on the blog: "It's as easy to tell the difference between a trustworthy and untrustworthy blog or Internet news site as it is to tell the difference between the New York Times and the Weekly World News. Good sites earn respect. Bad ones go by the wayside. Blogs and Internet sites depend heavily on newspaper reportage, but they also break news on their own and add significant commentary."

For years everyone (whether admitting it or not) has followed the Drudge Report, which has broken some significant stories (i.e., Monica Lewinsky) and links to bizarre news events worldwide. Now we have the Smoking Gun, which did a bit of old shoe-leather reporting this month and found that author James Frey, whose "memoir" has sold more than a million copies thanks to the endorsement of Oprah Winfrey, appears to be a fraud. There is no evidence of his law-breaking exploits detailed in "A Million Little Pieces." Even locally, the news is reported instantly. Last week, I blogged an item about a local Republican politician on the confirmed list to attend a Planned Parenthood function. It was repeated on a local blog and a firestorm ensued. The story played out _ the report, the firestorm, the politician becoming a no-show at the event _ before the day's newspaper was put to bed.

I had to interrupt my writing of this column to post breaking news on our blog about a referendum on a downtown development plan. It's more work for writers, but readers get a lot more than they used to get. They get a competitive atmosphere with constant news breaking. The newspapers still provide most of the legwork and the necessary in-depth coverage of events. Opinion pages still provide in-depth insights, but the blogs offer running news and commentary with an entertaining informality. Stories are reported, updated and corrected as the day goes on.

We're experiencing new glory days for the news business, similar to the old days when competing newspapers were hawked on street corners, except that much of what publishers are hawking must now be read on a computer screen. Similar competition is infusing the broadcast industry, with the growth of satellite TV and even satellite radio. Soon enough the sky will be the limit in terms of channel choices, with an exponential growth in news competition on the airwaves. There's room for everything: a booming newspaper business providing the in-depth and local reporting, a lively blogosphere, network TV news, cable and satellite programs, talk radio and magazines. It's not the medium but what's in the medium. The key is content. Whoever offers stories the public wants to read or watch will flourish. Whoever doesn't will fade away. Competition always forces the old guard to change, but in the end it is good for everyone. The only thing that isn't good is the whining and ca!
rping from those who refuse to change. ___
(c) 2006, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).

The article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

IS THIS JOURNALISM? Interactive airport baggage screener

Niko Chauls is a UMass journalism graduate who has worked at Netscape, AOL and is now the managing editor of MSN Video, the fast-growing video news operation of Microsoft Corp. In a discussion about how journalism may be redefined by technology, he gives the following example:

"After 911, when security at airports was being beefed up big time and every single bag being scanned, it was creating massive delays. MSNBC came up with a great idea for retelling the story in a different way. They got ahold of actual footage from the Xray machines of bags going through and they took that and also got some audio of people in line bitching and moaning about how long it was taking. They rewrote it into a Flash application.

"And the set it up so that you the user had to identify whether there were explosives, knives, guns or sharp objects in a bag. And the ran it through as quickly as a screener would see them. As this audio was playing back of people saying "What's taking so long." At the end you get some kind of a score.

"Cute as it was, it was a very powerful way of telling the story that summed up all of the main points of the story that day that could have been told in six inches or a 20-second television broadcast. But it did it much more effectively and certainly around here the feeback they got was people loved it and they really understood the issues better than if it had been told in the traditional methods. I don't know how perrvasive that kind of storytelling is. But I imagine and I certainly hope we are going to see more and more of that as things evolve. That absolutely was a way in which technology transformed the story."


Niko Chauls - Managing Editor - MSN Video
t: (425) 722-2826 e:

Monday, January 23, 2006

FIRST AMENDMENT: Al Gore's MLK Day speech; video and excerpts



Reference to the Alien & Sedition Acts: at 35:00 minutes.



On Monday, January 16, 2006, former Vice President Al Gore marked Martin Luther King, Jr., Day with a speech co-sponsored by ACS, "Restoring the Rule of Law." Mr. Gore argued that the Bush Administration.s domestic surveillance program threatens "the very structure of our government." The speech was co-sponsored by the Liberty Coalition, a "transpartisan" organization whose member organizations include The American Civil Liberties Union, the American Conservative Union, Amnesty International and Gun Owners of America. Mr. Gore's address was also carried live by C-SPAN, and received coverage from a broad host of other media outlets, including both The New York Times and The Washington Post. Prepared remarks are available, as is streaming video.


"2,200 American soldiers have lost their lives as this false belief bumped
into a solid reality, and indeed, whenever power is unchecked and
unaccountable it almost inevitably leads to gross mistakes and abuses.
That is part of human nature. In the absence of rigorous accountability,
incompetence flourishes. Dishonesty is encouraged and rewarded. It is
human nature, whether for Republicans or Democrats or people of any set of

"It is often the case--again, regardless of which party might be in
power--that an executive branch beguiled by the pursuit of unchecked power
responds to its own mistakes by reflexively proposing that it be given
still more power. Often, the request itself is used to mask
accountability for mistakes in the use of power it already has."

"The Congress we have today is structurally unrecognizable compared to the
one in which my father served. There are many distinguished and
outstanding senators and congressmen serving today. I am honored to know
them and to have worked with them. But the Legislative Branch of
government as a whole under its current leadership now operates as if it
is entirely subservient to the Executive Branch. It is astonishing to me,
and so foreign to waht the Congress is supposed to be."

"Moreover, too many members of the House and Senate now feel compelled to
spend a majority of their time not in thoughtful debate on the issues, but
instead raising money to purchase 30-second television commercials."

"Moreover, there have now been two or three generations of congressmen who
don't really know what an oversight hearing is. In the '70's and '80's,
the oversight hearings in which my colleagues and I participated held the
feet of the executive branch to the fire--no matter which party was in
power. And yet oversight is almost unknown in the Congress today."

I call upon members of Congress in both parties to uphold your oath of
office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start
acting like the independent and co-equal branch of American government you
are supposed to be under the Constitution of our country.


But there is yet another constitutional player whose pulse must be taken
and whose role must be examined in order to understand the dangerous
imbalance that has accompanied these efforts by the Executive Branch to
dominate our constitutional system.

We the people--collectively--are still the key to the survival of
America's democracy. We must examine ourselves. We--as Lincoln put it,
"[e]ven we here"--must examine our own role as citizens in allowing and
not preventing the shocking decay and hollowing-out and degradation of
American democracy.

It is time to stand up for the American system that we know and love. It
is time to breath new life back into America's democracy. Thomas
Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the
public will."

America is based on the belief that we can govern ourselves, and exercise
the power of self-governance. The American idea proceeds from the bedrock
principle that "[a]ll just power is derived from the consent of the

The intricate and finely balanced system now in such danger was created
with the full and widespread participation of the population as a whole.
The Federalist Papers were, back in the day, widely read newspaper essays,
and they represented only one of 24 series of essays that crowded the
vibrant marketplace of ideas in which farmers and shopkeepers
recapitulated the debates that played out so fruitfully in Philadelphia.

And when the Convention had done its best, it was the people in their
various states that refused to confirm the result until, at their
insistence, the Bill of Rights was made integral to the document sent
forward for ratification.

And it is "we the people" who must now find once again the ability we once
had to play an integral role in saving our Constitution.

And here there is cause for both concern and for great hope. The age of
printed pamphlets and political essays has long since been replaced by
television--a distracting and absorbing medium which seems determined to
entertain and sell more than it informs and educates.

Lincoln's memorable call during the Civil War is now applicable in a new
way to our present dilemma: "We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we
shall save our country."


Forty years have passed since the majority of Americans adopted television
as their principal source of information, and its dominance has become so
extensive that virtually all significant political communication now takes
place within the confines of flickering 30-second television
advertisements--and they're not the Federalist Papers.

The political economy supported by these short but expensive television
ads is as different from the vibrant politics of America's first century
as those politics were different from the feudalism which thrived on the
ignorance of the masses of people in the Dark Ages.

The constricted role of ideas in the American political system today has
encouraged efforts by the Executive Branch to believe it can and should
control the flow of information as a means of controlling the outcome of
important decisions that still lie in the hands of the people.

The Administration vigorously asserts its power to maintain secrecy in its
operations. After all, if the other branches don't know what's happening,
they can't be a check or a balance.

For example, when the Administration was attempting to persuade Congress
to enact the Medicare prescription drug benefit, many in the House and
Senate raised concerns about the cost and design of the program. But,
rather than engaging in open debate on the basis of factual data, the
Administration withheld facts and actively prevented the Congress from
hearing testimony that it had sought from the principal administration
expert who had the information showing in advance of the vote that indeed
the true cost estimates were far beyond the numbers given to Congress by
the President, and the workings of the program would play out very
differently than Congress had been told.

Deprived of that information, and believing the false numbers given to it
instead, the Congress approved the program and tragically, the entire
initiative is now collapsing--all over the country--with the
Administration making an appeal just this weekend asking major insurance
companies to volunteer to bail it out. But the American people, who have
a right to believe that its elected representatives will learn the truth
and act on the basis of knowledge and utilize the rule of reason, have
been let down.

To take another example, scientific warnings about the catastrophic
consequences of unchecked global warming were censored by a political
appointee in the White House who had no scientific training whatsoever.
Today, one of the most distinguished scientific experts in the world on
global warming, who works at NASA, has been ordered not to talk to members
of the press, ordered to keep a careful log of everyone he meets with so
that the Executive Branch can monitor and control what he shares of his
knowlege about global warming. This is a planetary crisis. We owe
ourselves a truthful and reasoned discussion.

One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of
information has been by consistently resorting to the language and
politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda
forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. President
Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in
suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to

Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and
opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once
wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their
endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of
our country was at risk.

Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the full
Bill of Rights.

Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the
British Army was marching on the Capitol? Is the world more dangerous
than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of nuclear
missiles ready to be launched on a moment's notice to annihilate the
country? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide
fascism on the march--when the last generation had to fight and win two
World Wars simultaneously?

It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much
on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they did.
And yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to
do the very same thing.

We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' rights, not only to
life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore
vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to
safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the
intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the
President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

I endorse the words of Bob Barr, when he said, and I quote, "The President
has dared the American people to do something about it. For the sake of
the Constitution, I hope they will."

A special counsel should be immediately appointed by the Attorney General
to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from
investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the
President. We've had a fresh demonstration of how an independent
investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence
in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown
neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch
has violated other laws.

Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the
bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of this
special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by the warrantless
wiretapping of Americans by the President, and it should be a political
issue in any race, regardless of party, section of the country, house of
Congress, for anyone who opposes the appointment of a special counsel
under these dangerous circumstances when our Constitution is at risk.

Secondly, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established
for members of the executive branch who report evidence of
wrongdoing--especially where it involves abuse of authority in the
sensitive areas of national security.

Third, both houses of Congress should of course hold comprehensive--and
not just superficial--hearings into these serious allegations of criminal
behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the
evidence wherever it leads.

Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its
proposal to extend and enlarge the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act should under no
circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and
enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the
American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been

Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government
with access to private information concerning the communications of
Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist
their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of
American citizens.

Freedom of communication is an essential prerequisite for the restoration
of the health of our democracy.

It is particularly important that the freedom of the Internet be protected
against either the encroachment of government or efforts at control by
large media conglomerates. The future of our democracy depends on it.

In closing, I mentioned that along with cause for concern, there is reason
for hope. As I stand here today, I am filled with optimism that America
is on the eve of a golden age in which the vitality of our democracy will
be reestablished by the people and will flourish more vibrantly than ever.
Indeed I can feel it in this hall.

As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it
is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be
sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond
the darkness that seems so close around us."

TV: Did the end of regulation cause the demise of quality news?
posted: January 21st, 2006 @ 8:26AM

MediaCitizen by Timothy Karr

Lemann: Regulation Fostered Murrow-Style Journalism

Nicholas Lemann, Dean of Columbia.s School of Journalism, has written a
6,000 worder to lede off the January 23-30 issue of the New Yorker.

In .The Murrow Doctrine: Why the Life and Times of the Broadcast Pioneer
Still Matter,. Lehmann praises Edward R. Murrow.s impassioned work while
criticizing the present-day nostalgia for a bygone era of harder-hitting
broadcast journalism.

It's pole position in one of the nation's most respected magazines is
impossible to ignore. Please take note of the underlying theme of Lemann's
article, for it touches on a point that many are reluctant to admit: a
good regulatory structure fostered the type of aggressive journalism that
we now mourn.

Lemann states that the corporate dismantling of this structure -- and not
the dearth of modern-day Murrows -- has mired broadcast journalism in a
sinkhole of infotainment, sensationalism and softball pitching.

It's difficult for many to come to terms with this as it seems that
meaningful government oversight is anathema to our understanding of
independent, hard-hitting journalism.

Lemann makes a good case against this. The story is not available online
but I have typed in Lemann's conclusion below. Coming from one of the most
respected figures in contemporary journalism, it should not go un-noted
(my emphasis and links added):

It shouldn.t be surprising that, half a century later, the standard answer
among journalists to the problems Murrow saw in broadcasting is, in
effect, .Bring back Murrow!. Nostalgia has even set in about the old press
barons, whom journalists took pleasure in detesting back in Murrow.s day .
better to have a Paley or a Luce, or even a William Randolph Hearst or a
Roy Howard, calling the shots than hedge fund managers. The formula is a
kind of romantic dream: larger-than-life heroes backed by public-spirited
owners whose prime consideration is not profit.

The better way to ensure good results in any realm of society, is to set
up a structure that encourages them; we cant rely on heroes coming along
to rescue journalism. The structure that encouraged Murrow, uncomfortable
as it may be to admit, was federal regulation of broadcasting. CBS, in
Murrow.s heyday, felt that its prosperity, even in survival, depended on
demonstrating to Washington its deep commitment to public affairs. The
price of not doing so could be regulation, breakup, the loss of a part of
the spectrum, or license revocation. Those dire possibilities would cause
a corporation to err on the side of too much .See It Now. and CBS
Reports.. In parts of the speech which aren.t in the movie, Murrow made it
clear that the main pressure on broadcasting to do what he considered the
right thing came from the F.C.C. The idea that, in taking on McCarthy,
Murrow was .standing up to government. greatly oversimplifies the issue.
He was able to stand up to Senate committee chairman because a federal
regulatory agency had pushed CBS and other broadcasters to organize
themselves so that Murrow.s doing so was possible.

It isn.t possible anymore . not because timid people have risen to power
in journalism but because the government, in steady increments over the
past generation, has deregulated broadcasting. The Fairness Doctrine no
longer exists. Regulation, license revocation or reallocation of the
spectrum are no longer meaningful possibilities. The advent of cable
television brought a new round of debates over government mandated public
affairs programming. With the result that private companies were granted
valuable monopoly franchises in local markets; in return, they were
required only to provide channels for public affairs, not to create
programming. That.s why cable is home to super-low-cost varieties of
broadcast news, such as C-SPAN, local public access channel, and national
cable-news shout-fests, rather than to reincarnations of the elaborately
reported Murrow shows from the fifties. The rise of public broadcasting
has freed the networks to be even more commercial.

On network television no news star would openly disavow Murrow.s legacy.
The standard today is to have smart, competent, physically magnetic people
who do straight news gravely and celebrity interviews emphatically, and
who occasionally, strategically, display moral passion and then retreat,
as Anderson Cooper, of CNN, did during Hurricane Katrina. Everyone
suspects them of being lightweights when they first ascend, and then, when
they retire, wonders if we.ll ever see their like again. If being in the
Murrow mold entails occasionally editorializing on the air, and letting it
be known that you aren.t getting along very well with your superiors,
there are only a few Murrow legatees . Ted Koppel and Bill Moyers come to
mind, and left network television.

News that makes money is alive and well; the incentive to present news
that doesn.t, like all of Murrow.s great work, is gone. It is difficult
for journalists to grapple with the idea that pressure . from government
officials! . could have been responsible for the creation of the superior
and memorable journalism whose passing we all mourn. But look what has
happened since it went away.


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FUTURE/PAST: BBC's top news exec compares blogs to pamphleteers

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/01/20 11:04:06 GMT

EXCERPT: "News organisations do not own the news any more. They can validate information, analyse it, explain it, and they can help the public find what they need to know. eBut they no longer control or decide what the public know. It is a major restructuring of the relationship between public and media. But it will affect politics and policy as well. People can now address politicians directly, and politicians can reach the public without going through the media any more. Public discourse is becoming unmediated."

HEADLINE: How the net is transforming news

By Richard Sambrook
Director of Global News, The BBC

Richard Sambrook took part in a panel discussion on the relationship
between the British press and politicians, and the changes that new
technology and citizen journalism might bring to the news industry at the
Oxford Media Convention on Thursday

The impact of the internet on news has the potential to transform the interaction between politics, media and the public, beyond recognition, argues the BBC's Director of Global News, Richard Sambrook.

Picture a world where rumour is rife, where established media are focusing on unfair and unsubstantiated allegations, where government has to dedicate its efforts to fighting off and correcting slanders and trying to control the press.

No, I'm not talking about bloggers, or the world of the internet. This was England in 1695, when the licensing of pamphlets and newspapers came to an end and for hundreds of years afterwards a partisan press was the norm.

Tensions between the establishment and news organizations are not new. There has never been a time when politics and the press were in perfect balance. From those early political pamphlets we have had a vigorous and opinionated press. Strong debate and challenge are deeply embedded in British culture and are a source of strength.

One has only to travel to parts of the developing world to appreciate the benefits of an open, free and muscular press. Having said that, there, of course, are problems associated with what many see as a dysfunctional relationship between British politicians and the press. They live side by side in what is known as the "Westminster bubble", mutually dependant, but eyeing each other with deep-rooted distrust.

Many believe that distrust contaminates the public discussion of policy and legislation, and prevents people getting the information they need to make informed decisions about their lives.

Pressing issues

It may be that the explosion in sources of information in a multi-channel digital age, and the insularity of some of the political-media classes means that the influence of the press has become over-inflated. The information revolution is in its earliest stages. But it has the potential to alter the dynamics of public debate, and the interaction between politics, media and the public, beyond recognition.

Some people suggest regulation might be a way to restore trust and raise standards. The regulation of British broadcasting requiring editorial impartiality has, in most people's view, kept the standards of broadcast journalism high.However to regulate the British press would almost certainly undermine those aspects of it which the public love.

The unpalatable truth for those who are concerned is that the tabloid newspapers most often complained about are the most successful in the country. They understand their readership intimately and market themselves skilfully and relentlessly. As a result, they are profitable and popular.

However, in many ways these are the problems of the old world of news and information. What is fast coming upon us is the new information revolution which, in the long term, may transform the relationships between press, public and politics.

News is free

Just as the printing press and later the end of licensing produced a seismic shift in public debate 300 years ago, the internet is having a similar impact now. Information, knowledge and public access are being redistributed, with consequences we have only just begun to feel.

The news business has been based on a model of limited information gathered by select organisations with the resources to do so, and then distributed in ways controlled by the media or the regulators.That world has gone. We now have unlimited information available - it has been commoditised and democratised. Thanks to the internet, the role of media gatekeeper has gone. Information has broken free and top-down control is slipping inexorably away.

For 70 years the BBC World Service has broadcast programmes around the world using studios, lines and huge transmitters. Today the same thing can be done with just a laptop and an internet connection. Google News uses an algorithm to do what it used to take a newsroom of dozens of people to do.

New roles

News organisations do not own the news any more. They can validate information, analyse it, explain it, and they can help the public find what they need to know. eBut they no longer control or decide what the public know. It is a major restructuring of the relationship between public and media. But it will affect politics and policy as well. People can now address politicians directly, and politicians can reach the public without going through the media any more. Public discourse is becoming unmediated.

As a consequence the roles of all professionals are changing and if journalists are becoming people who help manage information, perhaps NHS Direct is an example of health professionals becoming people who help individual manage their own health. The availability of information and the pressure for transparency is raising new political issues which we have not had to confront before.

The recent debate about the resettling of sex offenders in the UK is one example. Ten years ago the same issue existed, but no-one had the information to confront it.

The information revolution is in its earliest stages. But it has the potential to alter the dynamics of public debate, and the interaction between politics, media and the public, beyond recognition.


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Jeff Jarvis posts on what newspapers must become

Source: Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine

Writes Jarvis:

"Here's another in a very occasional series of posts suggesting how to change newspapers, all tagged and headlined "NewNews." ... In this post, I'll look at what newspapers do not need to be; in a future post, we will look at what they do need to be. Newspapers waste too much money on ego, habit, and commodity news the public already knows.

In an era of shrinking circulation, classified, and retail ad revenue -- and in the face of shrinking audience and increasing competition -- papers have to find new efficiencies and cut these expenses to concentrate instead on their real value (which, I'll argue, is local reporting).

Newspapers also have to have the guts to stop trying to produce one-size-fits-all products that serve every possible reader and interest in one edition. When they were monopolies, newspapers tried to have something for everyone so they would attract the largest possible audience and assure their status as the marketplaces in their markets. But today, that can be terribly inefficient: What is the real cost of maintaining stock tables for the few readers who still use them in print? More on that below.

And newspapers have to take an even more frightening step: They need to start driving readers from print to online.


This article above is copyrighted material, the use of which may not have specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The material is made available in an effort to advance understanding of political, economic, democracy, First Amendment, technology, journalism, community and justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' as provided by Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Chapter 1, Section 107, the material above is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this blog for purposes beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

ASSIGNMENT: Read final report of "Can Trust and Quality Save Journalism?" conference

The final report (PDF) of an Aug. 9, 2005, conference in San Antonio, Tex., entitled: 'Can Trust and Quality Save Journalism?' is now available at the website operated by Leonard Witt, a journalism professor at Kennesaw State University outside Atlanta. The conference was: 'Journalism and the Public: Restoring the Trust.' Witt's comments at the outset of the conference, about how to restore trust, are instructive."

The report is 53 pages and is a PDF:

ASSIGNMENT: Are bloggers the pamphleteers of this century?

LINK TO MSWORD DOWNLOAD OF Ty Resch's PAPER onAnthony Haswell (required reading for Thursday)

In colonial America, most printers were also publishers. They would produce broadsheets or pamphlets, and these became the way news traveled throughout the colonies. They were opinionated and local -- and often challenged authority. And it wasn't hard to publish.Today, America's political 'bloggers' are similarly opinionated and local -- or topically specific. And they are beginning to have a profound impact on politcs and public policy, just as the pamphleteers of the 1700s and early 1800s. What lessons can today's bloggers learn from their pamphleteer brethren? Two scholars will discuss this question at 7 p.m., on Thurs., Jan. 26, in Bowman 101, at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, Mass.

-- Tyler Resch, librarian at The Bennington Museum, former editor of The Bennington Banner, prolific author of Berkshire and Bennington county historical papers, and an expert on the imprisonment of 18th-century Vermontpamphleteer Anthony Haswell for violation of the Sedition Act.

-- Norm Sims, professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, an expert on 'literary journalism' who has studied the pamphleteer style of writing for courses and papers.

To compare the Alien & Sedition Acts to the USA Patriot Act, optionally follow these links:

PATRIOT ACT: A good link for info about the act and secrecy
PATRIOT ACT: ACLU claim of misuse of act for secrecy purposes
PATRIOT ACT: No way of knowing what's going on?
FIRST AMENDMENT: Connecticut libraries lose round in Patriot Act suit

For an excellent paper about the origins of First Amendment protection optionally see this link:

Links to First Amendment analysis sites (giraffe)

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