Monday, October 30, 2006

Irate Ali vs. Pissed off Aussie on YouTube

There is a video posted on YouTube produced by standwithus.com. In the video, Amir Abdel Malik Ali addresses the Hezbollah-Israel conflict during a speech at the University of California, Irvine. Ali scolds Israel for being the “oppressors” and for attempting to destroy Hezbollah. This speech is clearly anti-Israel, with the ending being the most shocking part.

During the question and answer section of the outdoor speech on campus, a Jewish man in the crowd was vocalizing his agreement with Ali. He said “I want to say thank you because you’ve inspired me to do everything in my power to protect the state of Israel.” He then invited Ali to his family’s house in Israel for Shabbat dinner. The man said couldn’t wait until Muslims and Jews could live together in Israel peacefully.

But, instead of Ali agreeing with this man, he responded to this invitation by saying, “If history is any indication, there will be peace when you’re gone and when we’re in control again.”

After watching this video, I was surprised to see that a 1 minute, 57 second video below it entitled, “Israel Lebanon Conflict,” had 11,068 views, when the 5 minute, 37 second controversial Ali video only had 1238 views. The video below it is basically a pissed off Australian using the “F” word multiple times per sentence while talking about the newspaper coverage of the Middle East conflict. Why would the Aussie’s video have more hits than that of the one produced by Stand with Us?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Homecomings?

The Globe did a story on the 450 Reservists that returned from Iraq on Thursday. A Globe reporter said in a video clip that “their homecoming was complete.” But, was it really complete? Doesn’t the government or somebody in the military have a responsibility to follow up on how these marines are functioning in society after war times?

I have known a few soldiers that have returned from Iraq who are in a complete state of chaos, and unable to move forward from their traumatic experiences on the front lines. We certainly should celebrate their homecomings and thank them for the amazing work they have done protecting this country, but we should also make sure these men are functioning and getting help if they need it.

The cheering shouldn't stop when they come home. We need to take care of our soldiers.

It troubles me to watch the footage of these happy reunions and then hear about stories of ex marines who in very extreme and limited cases go as far as killing their wives and themselves because they have mental problems stemming from war trauma.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that a Fort Carson soldier who returned from Iraq in August of last year killed his wife and then himself. This happened only nine days after his homecoming in which according to the Gazette, “Stephen S. Sherwood, 35, came home to cheering crowds at a welcoming ceremony at the post near Colorado Springs.”

It is also troubling to watch cinematic depictions of men who can’t separate themselves from war in films such as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 “Apocalypse Now.” This remake of the Vietnam War portrays soldiers who simply can’t re-integrate back into society because they identify themselves just as soldiers. Another film that shows this is Michael Cimino’s 1978 “The Deer Hunter.”

These examples are fictional accounts of men permanently scarred by the Vietnam War. Iraq is a completely different war in a different era, but we still have to deal with the issues of taking care of our soldiers when they come back to us. How much attention has been given to this subject? Am I overacting?

To watch the video clip that corresponds with the Globe story, click here.
To see the "Homecoming at Devens" Globe slideshow, click here.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Joyce Kulhawik, from CBS4 to Northeastern University

Joyce Kulhawik, arts and entertainment anchor at CBS4, came to speak at the Northeastern University campus yesterday. She encouraged students, mostly undergraduates, to go for their dreams and not let obstacles stop them from getting what they want. The successful and well known anchor said that she had no clue as to what she was getting herself into when entering the business, but stuck with what she loved and ultimately obtained her goals. The three time cancer survivor talked openly about her personal and professional life. "You can survive," she said when discussing her experiences fighting cancer.

She also talked about her fight against other news networks. “It’s all about competition. It's a business and we are all colleagues in the field,” she said.

Kulhawik voiced her opinion on how technology has changed journalism-based television. She says that because we have so much technology, it gets things moving more quickly. She expressed that there is a desire to use it even when it’s not needed, so people are simply getting the news rather than making an effort to get it right.

“The line between reality and fiction is erased. You have to wonder if people are just performing for the camera and if it is staged,” she said.

New media is not only affecting print and online journalism, but television as well. With news stations constantly shouting out their URL’s on their broadcasts, viewers should remember to question the footage they see on TV.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Podcast Against Blogging

After listening to a podcast from L.A. Times columnist Michael Hiltzik called, “Fog in the Blogs: Many blog critics of The Times seem more interested in making political points, than doing real criticism of the journalism,” I was left with many questions.

In this podcast, Hiltzik criticizes bloggers such as Patrick Fry, accusing him of writing 11,000 words of propaganda and distorting of the L.A. Times. He says that Fry has a liberal agenda, which he thinks to be a commonality amoungst other political bloggers. Hiltzik says that Fry’s techniques include short hand slurs and quoting the Times' articles selectively. He then compared these methods to the ones used during the times of Stalin in the 40’s and 50’s.

However, this scenario is quite the opposite. Hiltzik has it all wrong. Blogs do not hold the same prestige as a publication such as the L.A. Times, even though the Times’ readership is down and they seem to be in a steady downward decline. Blogs have the freedom to be biased. They do not have the same responsibility as newspapers do, whose main goal should be to distribute the news.

Hiltzik speaks in vague terms without quoting what the bloggers are writing. This podcast would be more helpful if I could access it in a print version. He says that bloggers don’t have experience in daily journalism but that doesn’t disqualify them from writing blogs. Hiltzik says that they couldn’t do real reporting if their lives depended on it. Is he taking into account journalists who write blogs on their free time?

It doesn’t matter if they are real reporters. People are listening and reading blogs so much that even reporters from the L.A. Times are dedicating entire podcasts to them. Hence, they do matter. People do listen, and the bloggers are heard.

Hiltzik uses fancy prose saying, “Let them embower themselves in their sedulously sought ignorance, if they can keep it.” Hiltzik’s column, “Golden State,” runs in the L.A. Times every Monday and Thursday. His podcast on this topic was recorded on January 4.

To hear this podcast click here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Frightening Video

There is a disturbing video posted on both a radical Islamic website and the websites fighting against it such as, investigativeproject.org. To see the video click HERE, and scroll down to choose which multi-media player you want to use.

This video is sickening on many levels. It is also ironic because the radical Islamists that are trying to encourage others to hate and destroy the West are using American rap music as the background for their video. Why aren’t they using Arabic music if they hate everything that the West and the free world stand for?

I have watched this video before, but am curious to know if others have seen it. So, if you want to watch it click on the link above.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Big Brother is Watching You!

There is an interesting article titled, “Teen Questioned Over Online Threats Against President Bush” on foxnews.com. The story is about 14 year old freshman, Julia Wilson, who posted a comment, “Kill Bush,” atop a picture of President Bush, with a dagger stabbing his outstretched hand. Wilson replaced that image after learning it was a federal crime. I was shocked to read on that Federal agents pulled her out of her eight grade biology class to interrogate her. The agents brought her to tears and shook up her parents.

Was this young girl really such a priority to Federal agents that they needed to pull her out of school to find out if she was a serious threat to the president? This feels a bit “big brother-ish” if you ask me. This story makes me want to take down my MySpace page because I feel threatened that the government is looking at my images and reading my comments. The Fox news article also reported the text messages that Julia and her mother exchanged when the agents first demanded her for questioning.

The Associated Press reported, “Kirstie Wilson sent a text message to her daughter's cell phone, telling her to come straight home: ‘There are two men from the secret service that want to talk with you. Apparently you made some death threats against President Bush.’ ‘Are you serious!?!? omg. Am I in a lot of trouble?’ her daughter responded.”

After the story there was an interesting statement that said, “MySpace is owned by News Corp., which is the parent company of FOXNews.com.” Is this part of the article? If so, why is it there? I cannot help but feel uneasy about this story and the fact that we are all being watched online.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What you see is not always what you get

In an email from honestreporting.com today, I received an eye-catching image. It is not a surprise that the New York Times skewed a caption because the reality of life and journalism is that people do make mistakes.

According to Honest Reporting, the caption from a photo by Tyler Hicks from the New York Times was supposed to say, “TYRE, LEBANON. WEDNESDAY, JULY 26, 2006: Israeli aircraft struck and destroyed two buildings in downtown Tyre, Lebanon Wednesday evening. As people searched through the burning remains, aircraft again could be heard overhead, panicking the people that a second strike was coming. This man fell and was injured in the panic to flee the scene. He is helped by another man, and carried to an ambulance.”

Instead the caption ran, “After an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building in Tyre, Lebanon, yesterday, one man helped another who had fallen and was hurt. Cars packed with refugees snaked away from the town.”

This was misleading because it led readers to think that the people in the photo were injured in the airstrike, when in reality they were injured in the aftermath.

I keep thinking back to YouTube and all of the video feeds it publishes and pictures that people look at every day. It kind of scares me at how many images are thrown out there and how many people will not question them.

Honest Reporting said, “Photographers are also reporters, and writing a correct caption is as important as taking an honest picture.” To the same effect, the publishers of a website are not just business people, but they are editors, and should be responsible for the content of their websites.

How can images be regulated and ethically judged? Is there a criterion for us to follow? Even if there are no answers to these questions, we should all keep them in mind when putting things out there, whether they are going on the worldwide web or a print publication. The smallest details can make the biggest differences.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This Weekend: The death of a journalist and birth of a massive Internet partnership

This weekend Google purchased the 2 year old YouTube website from a couple of young male entrepreneurs. At first I was fascinated that these two guys, not much older than me, could make 1.65 billion dollars for posting video feeds onto a website.

Then, I came across an L.A. Times article that compared the shooting death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow to the transaction between Google and YouTube. Although these events have nothing to do with one another, the Times made some good points.

“IT IS HARDER TO quash the millions of citizen-journalists armed with photos and videos and blogs than it is to silence a single, bothersome reporter such as Politkovskaya,” Susan D. Moeller and Moisés Naím said.

Moeller and Naim also said, “YouTube, Google, Flickr and many other websites offer valuable tools for keeping the world informed. But they are not a substitute for Politkovskaya and her colleagues.”

So this weekend, a famous journalist died, and massive media Internet coagulation was born.

Click here for the L.A. Times article

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Conversation with Naomi Jacobs

In a conversation with Naomi Jacobs, author of The Builder’s Daughter, a book recently published that chronicles her Jewish European ancestry and multi-faceted life journeys, she discussed with me the changing world of writing and journalism. As a longtime Los Angeles native, she is an avid newspaper reader and cspan watcher. Jacobs is one of the few readers left who sits aside their breakfast table, opens up the paper, and like a good book reads it cover to cover.

She responded to one of my blog entries on the changing world of the media and newspapers. “The media, newspapers and journalists—that is the key subject of our times. The newspapers are in trouble—they blame everyone, but they are doing a terrible job,” she said.

Jacobs has seen newspapers evolve from the late 1920’s to the current 21st century. I think that getting feedback from people in her generation is invaluable to our understanding of newspapers and the reader’s desires and needs. Sure, it is important to strive for convergent journalism and find a niche to attract readers, but isn’t it still important to reach out to those who are used to good old fashion hard hitting journalism? Shouldn’t journalists and newspaper folk try and help people who aren’t so quick to adjust to the citizen journalism boom? Don’t we have a responsibility to provide our grandparents with the necessary tools to keep up with their Internet savvy grandchildren?

These questions cannot be forgotten while newspapers run alongside blogs and live journals, trying to reach that finish line with them, but leaving their dedicated but slower counterparts behind.

Jacobs says that current newspapers are advertising mediums and not news informants or news analysis or even investigative reporting. She said, “The news if you can find it is on page 9 in the LA Times. No wonder so many people have cancelled their subscriptions. The television stations and newspapers are not independent anymore and are owned by large conglomerates. It used to be that television had to devote so much time free for news—not anymore. The only advertiser free programs are c-spanl and c-span2, which are owned by the cable companies and provide public service programs.”

This mother/ grandmother/ author/ playwright/ active member of the Jewish community, among other things, gave me her opinion on the changing business of journalism. Jacobs expressed, “The internet is providing competition because it is immediate, but the newspapers can still survive if they expanded the news rather than limiting it. Journalists are in for a rough time. That it why so many reporters are writing books about their experiences.”

According to Jacobs, journalism is necessary and vital for the continuance of an educated and informed society. “The journalists are keeping free speech and thought alive in this country because they try to get to the truth---they are the real heroes.”

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

You can have your wine and drink it too!

I come from the West coast, so I am use to wine and hard alcohol being sold in grocery and convenience stores. Personally, I don’t think that a law being passed in Massachusetts allowing this to happen will increase the number of DUI’s (driving under the influence.) I think that it simply makes it more convenient for people to purchase alcohol and will give smaller stores a chance to make a bigger profit.

So, when I saw the article on boston.com, “Critics of wine in food stores cite fear of more drunken driving,” I was intrigued. According to the Globe, “Kim Hinden, a spokeswoman for supporters of the question, said the liquor stores are trying to whip up public fears when the issue is really economic for them and an attempt to quash competition.”

I would be interested to find out if the DUI’s in Massachusetts are higher than that of California. I think that giving this alcohol in grocery stores thing a try is worth the potential risks. The Trader Joe’s in Coolidge Corner is doing just fine and I think others will follow.

Newspapers teaming up with citizen journalists?

In the process of researching newspapers that are attempting to integrate themselves with blogs and citizen sites, I came across Editorandpublisher.com. Steve Outing had some interesting things to say. “Given the state of decline of the newspaper industry, perhaps it's past time to give online leaders a chance to take the reins of newspaper companies and try out some radical ideas for publishing in the Internet age,” he said.

On the Los Angeles Times website under their “sponsored links” one link is keepmedia.com, a seemingly citizen journalist run website. But, in order to read more articles you have to subscribe.

In a February 20 article by Heather Green titled, Great Online Expectations Bayosphere wanted to reinvent journalism. Here's how the dream died, she said, “As services such as Craigslist have drained away classified ad revenue, papers have increasingly been deprived of the resources to cover local news.”

For the midterm article, it would be interesting to research big papers around the U.S. that link to citizen journalism pages. Are these papers trying to grab onto this new trend so they don’t get lost in the cracks of the Internet news revolution? Who pays these citizen journalists? Are they getting paid? Is this all part of a strategy to keep newspapers in business?

Sunday, October 01, 2006

What would we do without email and hard drives?

I found an interesting AP article by Jeannette J. Lee titled, “Family Believes It’s Found Missing WWII Sub.” Lee investigates 60 year old submarine, the USS Grunion, lost near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Lee’s lead is, “Underwater sonar images of a black shape against a background of grainy monochrome are safely stored on two computer hard drives at Bruce Abele's home in Newton, Mass.” Lee continues on about the sub and the relatives of 70 lost crewman who are still looking for any information.

The line that got me interested in this article was, “Four years ago, a man who had heard about the Grunion's disappearance e-mailed Bruce the links to several Grunion Web sites.” Now, this reminded me of the posting I wrote about Yad Vashem website and how Holocaust survivors are being re-united by websites compiled with names and information about people who were seemingly lost in the war.

Through email and images saved on hard drives, families now have hope of finding information on their relatives who were lost crewman on the Grunion.

Click here for information about the Grunion with the names of the 70 lost crewmen.

Click here for a website with a short article about the Grunion and links to photo archives and Grunion crew photos. This site has many helpful links relevant to the lost sub and links on how to find more info.

Click here for a pdf of the lost crewmen’s families names and contact information.