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Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Seattle Times: Opinion: Can democracy survive our media-saturated society?

The Seattle Times: Opinion: Can democracy survive our media-saturated society?

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Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Radio Station of the week: WPFW

I'm chilling in Vicky and Tim's house in Mt. Pleasant, DC. WPFW is sporting Marlena Fernandez' Latin Flavor show. No, no Kumbia Kings or Latin Lingo-- its a mix, so far, of nueva trova, fado, some Miriam Makeba, sones, and tangitos. Wow. At first, I thought she was speaking a language I don't understand; it took a minute to pick up that its just heavily accented spanish.

At Vic and Tim's, I'm staying in what is usually Raquel's room. The library in this little room alone is overwhelming-- Rushdie, Eco, Melville, Akhmatova, Borges, Joyce. Could spend a lifetime with these alone. Wendy would get deep exploring these shelves.

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Saturday, March 12, 2005

FW: Time: Why Are The Gays So Good At TV Writing?

from Defamer:
The Wired, is it on the list? (I jumped into season 2 last night.)


Time: Why Are The Gays So Good At TV Writing?

By Defamer on TV : Networks

stephen-mcpherson.jpg This week's Time magazine tackles the burning question bedeviling out-of-work breeder scribes all over town: "Hey, why are the gays so good at creating TV shows?" If you're currently toiling on one of the hit shows that is "most provocatively defining straight relationships," take a look around, for your showrunner is probably a Gay. Desperate Housewives? Gay. Nip/Tuck? Gay. Six Feet Under? Gay. And there's no relief if you're working on a show with gay themes, either: Will & Grace? Gay and gay. The L Word? Lesbian ! ABC's Stephen McPherson, whose network has been saved by Marc Cherry's [Ed.note--Yup, him too] Housewives, tries to dispel the theory that being gay grants you television-writing superpowers, but eventually succumbs to the barrel of the Velvet Mob revolver being pressed to the back of his head:

"I don't think you could say they were all told from a specific perspective that comes from being gay," says ABC prime-time-entertainment president Stephen McPherson. "But if being gay makes you that talented, I'm going gay."

McPherson avoided having his brain splattered all over the wall, but any TV exec would fuck a fern if that helped him get a show with Housewives ratings.

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Friday, March 11, 2005

Curse of the Wererabbit

The Wallace & Gromit Movie: Curse of the Wererabbit (2005)

dont know when, but W & G will hit the big screen this year

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Wednesday, March 09, 2005

NCLR Embraces Torture Supporter A.G.

from washington post.
big Eww.

what does this state about the state of the big civil rights organizations?
If you're a member of NCLR, will you think of withdrawing your membership?

Hispanic Group Puts Weight Behind Gonzales

By Darryl Fears

The National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization, embraced Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales at an awards ceremony last night, breaking with other civil rights organizations that have denounced Gonzales for his role in producing the administration memo that allowed harsh treatment of detainees overseas.

Although La Raza supported Gonzales's appointment as attorney general, last night's ceremony marked a first, highly public step in the group's effort to alter its image as a left-leaning organization, said Janet Murguia, its president and chief executive.

Gonzales's appearance at the ceremony was his first before a large Hispanic civil rights group since he was confirmed last month by the Senate. La Raza hopes the warm reception will show the Bush administration that it seeks to move to the center politically and gain more access to the White House. President Bush declined to attend all of La Raza's annual conferences during his first term, citing the group's criticism of his policies.

"We want to make sure that people understand that we are reaching out to this administration," Murguia said. "We think it is a unique opportunity when a president is in his second term . . . to get things done.

"I know there are some folks who've said maybe NCLR is leaning left in the past or choosing sides," said Murguia, who served as deputy director for legislative affairs for the Clinton White House and as a liaison between the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign and constituent groups in 2000. "I want to make a clear point: We are reaching out to all sides, we're going to build coalitions, build bridges and put our people first."

La Raza is not the only Hispanic civil rights organization employing that strategy. Another leading Hispanic rights organization, the League of United Latin American Citizens, strongly supports Gonzales.

Last night's ceremony also highlighted the group's split with Latino organizations that are unhappy with Gonzales. Eugenio Arene, executive director of the Council of Latino Agencies, a Washington-based organization that represents Salvadorans, Nicaraguans and Guatemalans, and is affiliated with La Raza, said the move ignored the plight of Central Americans.

"Many of us came from Central America because of political violence and torture," he said. "We are really concerned about a Latino organization . . . taking a position to support someone with what I call manos manchados, his hands are stained. He's not clean."

Gonzales has testified that as White House counsel he disagreed with portions of a 2002 Justice Department memo that narrowly defined what constituted torture, but could not recall whether he conveyed those objections to other government lawyers at the time. He said he did not quarrel with its general findings. The memo -- which was used to formulate permissive government rules on interrogations -- was repudiated by the Justice Department after it was revealed publicly in 2004 and has since been rewritten, reaching much different conclusions.

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Site of the week

A project of Friends of the Arts, Inner City Light gives disposable cameras to kids in Chicago public housing, then helps them with printing. Some great photos, kids or no.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Laurie Garrett's memo to Newsday colleagues

Garrett is the "only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big "Ps" of journalism: The Peabody, The Polk and The Pulitzer."
She raises an issue we haven't heard explored often: the shift from working class to college-educated journalists; this heartens to Thomas Franks and others' observations on the Democratic Party.

Laurie Garrett's memo to Newsday colleagues
2/28/2005 11:47:08 AM

Dear Newsday Friends and Colleagues, On March 8th -- International Women's Day -- my leave of absence from Newsday ends. I will not be returning to the paper, largely because my work at the Council on Foreign Relations has proven to be the most exciting challenge of my life. But you have been through so much pain and difficulty over the last year, all of which I monitored closely and with considerable concern, that I don't want to disappear from the Newsday scene without saying a few words. Indulge me.

Ever since the Chandler Family plucked Mark Willes from General Foods, placing him at the helm of Times Mirror with a mandate to destroy the institutions in ways that would boost dividends, journalism has suffered at Newsday. The pain of the last year actually began a decade ago: the sad arc of greed has finally hit bottom. The leaders of Times Mirror and Tribune have proven to be mirrors of a general trend in the media world: They serve their stockholders first, Wall St. second and somewhere far down the list comes service to newspaper readerships. In 1996 I personally confronted Willes on that point, and he publicly confirmed that the new regime was one in which even the number of newspapers sold was irrelevant, so long as stock returns continued to rise.

The deterioration we experienced at Newsday was hardly unique. All across America news organizations have been devoured by massive corporations, and allegiance to stockholders, the drive for higher share prices, and push for larger dividend returns trumps everything that the grunts in the newsrooms consider their missions. Long gone are the days of fast-talking, whiskey-swilling Murray Kempton peers eloquently filling columns with daily dish on government scandals, mobsters and police corruption. The sort of in-your-face challenge that the Fourth Estate once posed for politicians has been replaced by mud-slinging, lies and, where it ought not be, timidity. When I started out in journalism the newsrooms were still full of old guys with blue collar backgrounds who got genuinely indignant when the Governor lied or somebody turned off the heat on a poor person's apartment in mid-January. They cussed and yelled their ways through the day, took an occasional sly snort from a bottle in the bottom drawer of their desk and bit into news stories like packs of wild dogs, never letting go until they'd found and told the truth. If they hadn't been reporters most of those guys would have been cops or firefighters. It was just that way.

Now the blue collar has been fully replaced by white ones in America's newsrooms, everybody has college degrees. The "His Girl Friday" romance of the newshound is gone. All too many journalists seem to mistake scandal mongering for tenacious investigation, and far too many aspire to make themselves the story. When I think back to the old fellows who were retiring when I first arrived at Newsday - guys (almost all of them were guys) who had cop brothers and fathers working union jobs - I suspect most of them would be disgusted by what passes today for journalism. Theirs was not a perfect world --- too white, too male, seen through a haze of cigarette smoke and Scotch - but it was an honest one rooted in mid-20th Century American working class values.

Honesty and tenacity (and for that matter, the working class) seem to have taken backseats to the sort of "snappy news", sensationalism, scandal-for-the-sake of scandal crap that sells. This is not a uniquely Tribune or even newspaper industry problem: this is true from the Atlanta mixing rooms of CNN to Sulzberger's offices in Times Square. Profits: that's what it's all about now. But you just can't realize annual profit returns of more than 30 percent by methodically laying out the truth in a dignified, accessible manner. And it's damned tough to find that truth every day with a mere skeleton crew of reporters and editors.

This is terrible for democracy. I have been in 47 states of the USA since 9/11, and I can attest to the horrible impact the deterioration of journalism has had on the national psyche. I have found America a place of great and confused fearfulness, in which cynically placed bits of misinformation (e.g. Cheney's, "If John Kerry had been President during the Cold War we would have had thermonuclear war.") fall on ears that absorb all, without filtration or fact-checking. Leading journalists have tried to defend their mission, pointing to the paucity of accurate, edited coverage found in blogs, internet sites, Fox-TV and talk radio. They argue that good old-fashioned newspaper editing is the key to providing America with credible information, forming the basis for wise voting and enlightened governance. But their claims have been undermined by Jayson Blair's blatant fabrications, /CONTINUED BELOW

Laurie Garrett's memo to Newsday colleagues/2
2/28/2005 11:41:02 AM

Judy Miller's bogus weapons of mass destruction coverage, the media's inaccurate and inappropriate convictions of Wen Ho Lee, Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill, CBS' failure to smell a con job regarding Bush's Texas Air Guard career and, sadly, so on.

What does it mean when even journalists consider comedian John [sic] -- "This is a fake news show, People!" -- Stewart one of the most reliable sources of "news"?

It would be easy to descend into despair, not only about the state of journalism, but the future of American democracy. But giving up is not an option. There is too much at stake.

I would remind my Newsday colleagues that during the bleak period that commenced with the appointment of Willes, and persists today, some great journalism has been done at the paper. A tiny, dedicated team of foreign correspondents has literally risked their lives to bring readers fresh, often ground-breaking news from the battlefields of Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Newsday readers are on top of details about the sorry state of fiscal governance in Nassau County, scandals in Suffolk County, Bloomberg's plans for the west side of Manhattan, and the sad state of politics in Albany. We still have some of the best film and performing arts criticism in the country, an aggressive photo department, tough sports columnists, under-utilized specialty and investigative reporters and a savvy business section.

So what is to be done?

I have no idea what Tribune corporate leaders in Chicago have up their sleeves for Newsday, the LA Times, Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune and the other media outlets under their control. Despite rumors that are rife in the newsrooms, you are also in the dark. And you should remember that. During times of hardship as extreme as those we have experienced at Newsday it is easy to become paralyzed by rumors, unable to think clearly about the work at hand. After all, people have lost their jobs, and some were removed from the building by armed guards, with only moments' notice. Every Newsday employee is justified in his or her concern about just how lean Chicago plans to make the newspaper machine.

But rumors only feed fear, and personal fear is rarely stimulus for good journalism. Now is the time to think in imaginative ways. Salon and Slate have both gone into the black; in nations like Ukraine and South Africa courageous new forms of journalism are arising; some of the blogs that clog the internet are actually quite good and manage to keep politicians on their toes. Opportunities for quality journalism are still there, though you may need to scratch new surfaces, open locked doors and nudge a few reticent editors to find them. On a fundamental level, your readers desperately need for you to try, over and over again, to tell the stories, dig the dirt and bring them the news.

Les Payne has often correctly pointed out that Newsday's problems have never been rooted in the institution's journalism: Rather, they have been business issues. We have never been accused of fostering a Jayson Blair, a bozo who accepted $250,000 from the Bush Administration to write flattering stories, an investigative reporting team that relied on a single source for a series that smeared the life of an innocent man, acted as a conduit for the Department of Defense for weapons of mass destruction disinformation, or any of the other ghastly violations of the public trust that have recently transpired. Newsday's honor has, by its own accounts, been besmirched by a series of lies committed on the business/advertising/circulation side of the company. (And few news organizations have covered on its pages their own shortcomings as closely as has Newsday.) All of us have been forced to pay a price for those grievous actions. But nobody has charged that Newsday's journalistic enterprise has failed to abide by the highest ethical standards.

Newsday has always had more talent than it knew how to use. So go ahead, Talent: Show them your stuff. I'll be reading. (March 8th may be my last day as a Newsday employee, but it won't mark the end of my readership.)

I thank each and every one of you who have been my friends and colleagues since I joined Newsday in 1988. I hope that we will stay in touch over coming years. Make me regret leaving, Guys: Turn Newsday into a kick ass paper that I will be begging to return to.

Bye for now,
Laurie Garrett

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The UnGoogle is going Hollywood

MediaReview: The UnGoogle is going Hollywood

Bill Gannon of Yahoo had some interesting things to say at last week's Niemann conference.
Here are some excerpts from Michael Malone's piece on Yahoo in the March Wired.

Because they're only a click away from countless distractions, Web users are, at least in theory, incredibly mobile. But they're also creatures of habit; they settle in quickly and become comfortable, whether online or off. Once you take the time to set yourself up on a site, change can be difficult - you have to notify your address book, copy your stock portfolio into a new table, reload your travel destinations. This pain-in-the-ass factor saved Yahoo! from disaster....

A comScore Media Metrix study puts it even more bluntly. In the second half of 2004, Yahoo! increased its share of the search market from 27 percent to 32 percent, while Google dropped from 37 percent to 35 percent - putting the two companies in a virtual dead heat. These findings, along with the fundamentally different approaches to business, would seem to point to an epic clash between Yahoo! and Google.

Yahoo! is going Hollywood. Late last year, the company announced the opening of a new entertainment division, run by former ABC television exec Lloyd Braun. The division, based in Santa Monica, California, incorporates the company's movies and music services along with games, news, sports, and finance.

What does Yahoo! have to offer Hollywood? It's a new distribution channel. Semel imagines Yahoo! delivering rich content to any Web-enabled device at any time, a vision that could make Yahoo! the obvious next step in Hollywood's Internet strategy. "I can easily see using my credit card to pay Yahoo! to watch a first-run movie on my computer in five years," says UBS Warburg analyst Ben Schachter.

Semel doesn't just want to deliver movies. He's intent on making Yahoo! more personal. Customizing the site down to the neighborhood level will make it more appealing to users and indispensable to advertisers. "If you are looking for a plumber or a pizza parlor, you don't want one 3,000 miles away," Semel says. "You want your search to be customized just for you."

As a 10-year-old Yahoo! looks to the decade ahead, there are powerful forces driving the business. Technological change and further customization will be constants. But there's another factor that excites cofounder Jerry Yang enough to keep him coming into the office every day: the network effect. "All those things we talked about in the early days of the Internet are just now starting to come true," he says. "Access isn't sufficient. It's not enough to search. You also have to find - and then share with others. That's where this company is going and I want to be there to see it."

But what motivation can Semel, the mastermind behind Yahoo!'s turnaround, find to keep making that 700-mile commute every week? Simple. If he can keep Yahoo! rolling on its present course, he'll go down as the studio-exec-gone-tech who built the long-imagined bridge between Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

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LPHS in Congress

The US Senate, via my main man Dick Durbin, praised my alma mater.
Recognizing Lincoln Park High School for its educational excellence, congratulating the faculty and staff of Lincoln Park High School for their efforts, and encouraging the faculty,...

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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Leaving cambridge

I can't get online from the airport, but I can work the thumbs to tell about my walk along the Charles. The current was fighting through the ice and a crew team was serving as an icebreaker. It was cold, a fraction of the snow compared to the jan blizzard. I could feel spring pushing its way through. Fotod to come.
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

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Saturday, March 05, 2005

Classic cartoon themes as MP3s

from boing boing

Cory Doctorow: Mike's Classic Cartoon Themes and Images has downloadable music from cartoons old and new -- just snagged Doug, Josie and the Pussycats in Outerspace, Jabberjaw, Star Blazers and several more! Link (via MeFi )

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Friday, March 04, 2005

Green tea mojito

I can't write about libations and vittles as well as the esteemed wenD, but I did sample a tasty treat at Henriettas Table at cambridge's charles hotel. (Alas, it may be my last visit, as Elora and alok insisted that I stay with them in dorchester next time.-- they trated me to a magic hat beer.) I also had duck for the first time since like 82. Yummy.
Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

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Beatallica.org shut down, from Sony

Beatallica.org shut down, more Sony nastygrams fly

By Xeni Jardin

Xeni Jardin: David Dixon, "Webmaster of Puppets" for Beatles/Metallica parody-mashup act Beatallica , says:

Beatallica.org has been taken down by our ISP:

"Even though we have received your counter notice, we are required by law to disable access to the infringing material. However, we are going to restore that in 10 business days from the date we received the counter notice (February 24, 2005) unless required under the DMCA to do otherwise."

Andy Baio (waxy.org) and Matthew Haughey (music.metafilter.com) both still have Beatallica mp3's up on their sites. I've emailed them to get their okay on linking them up, as they'll likely be getting a ton of traffic (and possible Sony C&D's) as a result.

Also, I just received, via Certified Mail, a cease-and-desist letter of my own! It's directed at me personally, not the website or the band. It basically says the same things as the one our ISP got last Thursday, but also that I must *immediately*:

- cease exploiting Sony/ATV Compositions and all derivative works thereof;
- provide Sony/ATV with information regarding any and all audio and audio-visual product, merchandise and written material (electronic and otherwise), and any other product that incorporates or uses Sony/ATV Compositions yadda yadda
- provide Sony with an accounting of all sums received or earned in connection with the exploitation of the Sony/ATV Compositions... as well as the operation of the Sites
- compensate Sony/ATV in an amount to be discussed

I have ten (10) days to comply. By the way, our message board is still active, as is the online petition (now up to nearly 3000 signatures), if Boing Boing readers want to send some kind words our way.

Previously: Sony nastygrams Beatallica.org , Beatallica fans respond to Sony nastygram , Lars Ulrich of Metallica steps in .

Update Scott Matthews says:

Regarding Beatallica:

1) their site is still available via Archive: Link

2) Matt Haughey is running the audio here: Link

Song titles include "Blackened the USSR," "Got to Get You Trapped Under Ice," and "The Thing That Should Not Let It Be."

And BB reader andy points us to this torrent of the whole heap of Beatallica tunes: Link

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eBay item 3878104697 (Ends Mar-06-05 17:00:00 PST) - STAR WARS LANDSPEEDER
mikey torres, this is for you

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StumbleUpon Reviews

StumbleUpon Reviews: "StumbleUpon is a network of people and pages. It is a free tool which helps you browse, review and share webpages while meeting new people....StumbleUpon is backed by a community of members who explore and review sites they like. These reviews help everyone discover the best sites and meet like-minded people. "

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Frank Rich: Gonzo Gone, Rather Going, Watergate Still Here

The New York Times > Arts > Frank Rich: Gonzo Gone, Rather Going, Watergate Still Here: "Gonzo Gone, Rather Going, Watergate Still Here

Published: March 6, 2005

TWO weeks ago Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide. Next week Dan Rather commits ritual suicide, leaving the anchor chair at CBS prematurely as penance for his toxic National Guard story. The two journalists shared little but an abiding distaste - make that hatred in Thompson's case - for the Great Satan of 20th-century American politics, Richard Nixon. The best work of both was long behind them. Yet memories of that best work - not to mention the coincidental timing of their departures - only accentuate the vacuum in that cultural category we stubbornly insist on calling News"

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Jackson's Junction: Video: Daily Show w/ Jay Rosen

Jackson's Junction: Video: Daily Show w/ Jay Rosen

some thoughts related to this harvard conference on blogging, from the jon stewart show

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Tuesday, March 01, 2005

"Whose News?"

I'll be back in Cambridge this week-- hopefully I'll miss the blizzard.
this is some of what's on the agenda:

The three dialogs

  • Mainstream Media (MSM) in the connected society: Will the traditions of professional journalism survive? Should they? What are the implications for society?
  • Technology, humanity and the global datastream: What’s going on? How will it benefit society?
  • We Media, the culture, and the common good: How we know, how we learn, how we trust in the emerging ecosystem of participatory, always-on media.

The story

We’ll create a story about the dialogs. Story makers have been assigned to each of three discussions. They’ll capture the proceedings with video and still cameras, recordings and notes. Key ideas will be projected on a screen as they occur. The story makers will share their findings, follow up with participants and decide how to present the story.