Monthly Archives: December 2010

The media is not accountable

Political power is a big deal, but [media] power is a bigger deal. At least the politicians are accountable to the voters. Those who write the editorials and those who write the columns, they simply are unaccountable. They’re free to impose their cultural politics in the name of freedom of the press….

Oh my God, Jesse Jackson just said something fucking BRILLIANT right there.

Think about this for a moment. If there’s a bad politician, you can vote against her in the next election. If you don’t like a political party’s principles, you vote against their candidates.

What do you do about bad media?

I’ll tell you what. How about not reading/watching/listening to it? How about complaining (constructively) to the editors, station managers, etc? How about demanding better? How about saying: you’re not giving us the information we want and need to be better citizens. How about leading the political conversation instead of allowing someone else to set the agenda?

I can say so much more on this, but it’ll have to be done in a longer post on another day. The bottom line is: DO NOT be passive receivers of shitty media. Say something. Do something. Don’t just sit there and take it.

UPDATE: Not surprisingly, Jesse Jackson didn’t exactly come up with this idea on his own. If the comment here by “knowbuddee” is accurate, Malcom X was concerned with it as well, because he said this:

The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.

Accurate? What say you, dear reader?



The New York Times Discovers Brooklyn

Chicago voters are easy

First, take a minute to watch this video. I’ll wait.

Done? Ok., good.

Now please allow me to relay a story that immediately popped into my mind as I watched this.

I was volunteering for the Chicago Marathon back when Blago was serving his second term (and of course I use the term “serving” loosely). They needed interpreters to be on hand in case the foreign athletes wanted to talk to the media. I didn’t even realize my countrymen (and women) from Russia were such good runners, but I digress…

As it turned out, there was little for me to do and I spent my time chatting with the ABC7 cameraman who was filming the post-race press conference. As it often happens with me, the conversation turned to politics.

I was pleased to learn that Mr. Cameraman was NOT a fan of Todd Stroger. Good, I thought. Good. I then asked him what he thought of Governor Blagojevich and this is where the nightmare began.

“I think he’s ok,” he said.

“REALLY??!!” I responded.

He then proceeded to tell me that he thought the governor was a swell guy because he had done so much for breast cancer research.

It then came out that the guy’s wife had succumbed to breast cancer and they had set up some sort of a foundation in her honor and to make a long story short, the governor attended one of their fundraisers. In person. Himself. This was a big deal to this guy. Just like it was a big deal to the elderly man in the video that Rahm took an interest in him.

I didn’t say anything to Mr. Cameraman, but can you tell me who in this whole wide world is AGAINST breast cancer research? Raise your hand if you WANT more women and men to die from this disease. No?… No one? Shocker. So of course we should love a politician who supports research to deal with this disease. We should worship him in fact.

This kind of thinking had clearly not entered this guy’s mind though and it’s not because he’s stupid. It’s because he thinks politicians are Very Important People who are Very Busy and Important and if one of those people comes to his event or takes up his issue, well, he must be a great guy.

Think for a moment about what this means. Mr. Cameraman didn’t say anything about Blago’s policies, the budget, etc. The governor came to his dead wife’s fundraiser and that was enough to buy his allegiance. And “buy” isn’t even the right word. What would attending have cost Blago? Cab fare?

Our city and state of course has a long and (not quite) proud tradition of this sort of thing. Blagojevich was only the most recent large-scale example. Dan Rostenkowski anyone? Politics here is all about taking care of individual voters’ problems or at least pretending really well that you give a damn about them. And we’ve seen over and over that voters will reward corruption and incompetence with another term in office so long as they guy came to their event or fixed their sidewalk or got them a job.

It seems that Rahm has learned this lesson extremely well.

Stand up for what’s right


Image via Sodahead


I’m going to start this off with a cliche phrase you’ve probably heard a million times: there are two kinds of people in this world. Now, that is often followed by something like “people who like beer and people who don’t” or “people who like Macs and people who like PCs” or some other such banal dichotomy. So, why mess with a good thing? I’ve got one of my own to add to the pile, though I hope it’s a bit less banal.

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those who stand up for truth and justice no matter what it costs them and those who don’t. For the sake of convenience, let’s call these people Truth Addicts.

There are, I have learned, quite a few Truth Addicts running around. But as you might expect, we seem to be in a minority. Not standing up and saying something is just so much easier, so much more comfortable, so much safer. Why raise a fuss? Why cause a ruckus? Why rock the boat?

Indeed, there is a boatload of censure waiting for you if you’re a Truth Addict. You’ll be labeled an attention whore, an agitator, a bitter cynic, an angry, negative person and other things that are a lot worse than that. Why put up with all that criticism? Never mind that none of this is true about Truth Addicts. That doesn’t matter. If you are a Truth Addict, your intentions will be questioned at every turn.

Why is this? Is it because many people simply can’t understand the drive to defend what’s right and decry what’s wrong no matter the cost? I think that this is what it boils down to. Just as it’s sometimes impossible to explain why you like a certain food or a type of music, this too is ineffable. And just as it’s pretty easy to recognize a fellow fan of sushi or metal music, it’s pretty easy to find fellow Truth Addicts in your midst.

They will be the ones who will JUST NOT LET SOMETHING GO while you’re wondering what the fuss was to begin with.

They will be the ones who stay up nights to write lengthy screeds to their newspaper’s Letters to the Editor or post on their blogs or send impassioned e-mails to their friends.

They will be the ones who not only forward you a donation appeal for a charity or political organization, but write an intro first explaining why you MUST DO SOMETHING.

They will be the ones who send you a news article prefaced by something like “THIS is exactly what I’ve been saying!!!”

They will be the ones who take an unpopular position in their professional, gender, ethnic or racial group that runs counter to what others in that group usually believe.

They will often be the ones who write letters to their elected officials. Real letters. Not those canned ones you just sign your name to.

They might be the ones to start new philanthropic organizations to address a need they feel is overlooked.

In short, these are pretty amazing people. You might find it tiresome or difficult to be around them, but let me assure you that they are the ones you want in your corner when something goes awry. You might find their constant agitating annoying, but they are the ones who will tell you before anyone else that something is amiss in your local government, your company, etc. You might find them insufferable at parties, but throughout history these are the people who have stood up to dictators, genocide and more.

So the next time you find yourself annoyed by one of us Truth Addicts, take a moment to think about this and try to be kind.

God bless the Brits. My Blackberry Is Not Working!

Got raped? It’s your own fault, you filthy whore.

Listen up, sweetheart: You buy the ticket, you take the ride.

You made your choice when you picked the guy, who is going to run his standard modus operandi on you, just like he ran it on the last three-dozen hoes he played.

If you tumble into a random hook-up with no prior knowledge of the guy’s reputation and he turns out to be a selfish brute whose standard modus operandi is repulsive, dangerous or painful, in what sense are you a victim of anything except your own stupidity?

This at least seems to be the opinion of Robert Stacy McCain, a popular right wing blogger.

Much more color here including a slight backing down from these remarks by McCain and a response from Feministing’s Jill Filipovic. Please read the entire thing:…

I’d like to hear some explanations now on why anyone should ever read another word this disgusting misogynist ever pens. I know I won’t.

Better curation in 2011?

This will be the year when collaboration finally, truly, really takes hold. Smart legacy media leaders will determine what they and they alone can do best, then ally themselves with others who can supply the rest. Radio, TV, web-based publications, print publications, bloggers, international and national news providers, journalism schools, nonprofits, and commercial media — the smart ones will figure out their niche and how to partner (strategically) with others to be sure their work is seen. The public will be the biggest beneficiary.

Please God, let it be so.

We are people of tech

  1. We are people of tech.

  2. We live and work everywhere.

  3. We value our own freedom, the freedom of people who use our technology and freedom in general.

  4. We think there is no meaningful distinction between WikiLeaks and the news organizations covering the stories in cooperation with WikiLeaks.

  5. We urge all governments to respect freedom of the press, whether the news originates online or offline.

  6. We apply these principles in our work and they are embodied in our technology.

Where do I sign?

The method is transparency. The goal is justice.

Another key point from the transcript:

Our initial idea — which never got implemented — our initial idea was that, look at all those people editing Wikipedia. Look at all the junk that they’re working on. Surely, if you give them a fresh classified document about the human rights atrocities in Falluja, that the rest of the world has not seen before, that, you know, that’s a secret document, surely all those people that are busy working on articles about history and mathematics and so on, and all those bloggers that are busy pontificating about the abuses in Iraq and Afghanistan and other countries and other human rights disasters, who are complaining that they can only respond to the NY Times, because they don’t have sources of their own, surely those people will step forward, given fresh source material and do something.

No. It’s all bullshit. It’s ALL bullshit. In fact, people write about things, in general (if it’s not part of their career) because they want to display their values to their peers, who are already in the same group. Actually, they don’t give a fuck about the material. That’s the reality.

Bloggers: What do you think?

Journalism for the poor? I certainly hope so.

My wild prediction: 2011 will be the year of media initiatives that serve poor and middle-income people.

For 20 years, almost all native Internet content has been made for the niche interests — often the professional interests — of people who make more than the median household income of $50,000 or so. But one of the best things about the mobile Internet is that it’s finally killing (or even reversing) the digital divide.

Poor folks may not have broadband, but they’ve got cell phones. African Americans and Latinos are more likely than white people to use phones for the web, pictures, texts, emails, games, videos, and social networking. As hardware prices keep falling, we’ll see more and more demand for information that is useful to the lower-income half of the population — and thanks to low marginal costs, people will be creating products that fill that need. It’s about damn time, wouldn’t you say?

Click through to see the entire list of predictions for media on 2011.