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Friday, January 22, 2010

For the sake of politics, a week that changes everything

Above photo from Los Angeles Times coverage of decision.

Big week.

Supreme Court undoes 103 years of history to protect Democracy from big business and big money, giving corporations the full power to donate as much and as often as they wish overwhelming those who have less funds and those who may oppose them. Hello an age of big oil, big banks, large insurance companies, large land developers, and goodbye protections for the poor, middle income, social services, education and the basic infastructure of our people's democracy.

Voters in one state, which has universal health care for their citizens, sponsored bipartician and signed by a Repulican Governer, as good ad decide the rest of us will have to suffer without (38 million plus of us, plus pre-existing conditions, rate increases and other high cost of helath care) by electing a Republican with a "I will block health care reform" platform. The actual candidate is an unknown, having voted for health care, for abortion and other more liberal legislation when he was in state government. His campaign was the opposite, as is his promise to the national Republican party.

End of a liberal alternative to dozens of special interests financed conservative radio networks, the victim of the recession's impact on radio.

Unemployment and other indicators show no or far less improvement than was projected, with negative progress in key areas. This is going to be a long and painful recession. Thank God we elected Obama and he was able to keep us from slipping into depression. Only now loss, attack and hatred are winning and it looks as if our government will stagnate in partician polarization keeping us from gaining jobs, any health or other safety net and recovering in any real way for at least three more years (all in the name of gaining seats and the white house by a party that will not compromise, the Republicans).

Flooding throughout the west, with three years of rainfall in just two days falling on Los Angeles.

And tonight a record number of competing networks (the exception was FOX which did not participate) getting together and donating two hours of prime time to raise money with a star studded telethon for earthquake relief and the rebuilding of earthquake disseminated Haiti.

The world, or at least the United States, will not be the same after this week.

With health care and campaign finance reform casualties or ignorance and politics for the sake of politics.

In Depth Journalism and Death of Newsprint

March 29, 2009 8:27PM (First posted, reposted later for discussion purposes)

Newspapers and the loss of in depth balanced journalism

Sunday March 29, 2009: Clear and Present Danger
The Loss of a balanced journalism and the press

CBS Sunday Morning led with the same story that has dominated the Internet. Are newspapers yesterdays news? How will the death of newspapers impact how we see the world, balanced journalism, the ability to earn a living as a journalist, how society gets its information, who controls information and the very fabric of our future society? Can they be saved? Will some survive as they did the advent of radio and later post-Kennedy television news? What of the loss of local media with local paid professional reporters? Will local identity be sacrificed on the alter of the Internet and a brave new world? Are we the last print journalism generation? Will Dewey ever again beat Truman?
Who will cover local politicians, regional politics, the fabric that reinforced truely local identity?

Obviously most of the comments on the Internet favor the freedom of information, citizen “journalist” and diversity of the web. But the other view is that the media that funds the in depth coverage of issues, puts eyes on the street trained to be objective and covers foreign events with an American or even local eye will disappear with nothing to replace it. Michael Wolf, Media Annalist say that reporting and journalism as a profession may be at risk, with classified advertising taking a dive, the recession robbing the media of trillions of dollars, a population wanting constant updates and the availability of news on cell phones, web sites, radio and television.

The potential loss of the newspaper is a clear and present danger to our civic life, from local small towns to the international scene. It is the dying newspaper economic model that supported the ability for trained journalist to cover stories, dig deeper and investigate and assist in times of crisis or disaster. Without the income newspapers provided, and the incentive for in depth reporting, our work will change. We may lose local identities, the ability to think past a few quick headlines, the trained and dedicated eyes and ears watch-dogging our government, corporations and those who have direct power or impact on our lives.

The Rocky Mountain News, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, huge change for small and middle sized cities are closing their presses, going on line or at least up for sale, cheap. Many others, including major corporations and large cities, may follow. Towns that once had four or five daily papers, face the prospect of having only one, or in many cases, no local newspaper. The merging of ownership in electronic media has exasperated and accelerated the decline in trained and competing professionals on the street at all levels, from local high school basketball games to the halls of Washington DC and the streets of foreign capitals.

Can the Internet replace this or even prove to be better? And how will it be financed?

Another fact of the Internet and computers, and how they are and will change our lives lies in medicine and computerized record keeping. The Obama administration’s 19 billion dollar mandate that medical records go on-line and electronic is hotly debated in medical and civic rights circles. The advantages are clear, but the end of paper trails frightens many physicians. Hacking, such as that done by a Chinese based group, can be a real treat to patient security, and simple electronic pulses can wipe our records on a whim or by accident. Then too there is the reality that insurance companies and others may be able to find out about preexisting conditions, unauthorized treatments, genetic disposition and other patient privacy issues. Many doctors, nurses and staff find paper files preferable for access and use. Others say that the ability to access information from any workstation, remote offices, hospitals and even foreign locations while traveling, will save time and lives. Cooperation between physicians and institutions, regardless of geography, is seen as another advantage. But the potential loss of human oversight, one on one consultation and other humanizing factors have patients and doctors alike concerned.

Earth hour was a public relations success around the world, with images of the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and Las Vegas strip dimmed for an hour to make an environmental point. Aggregate information from print journalism now dominates the web, with breaking news reported by print reporters, gleaned from print editions and penned by local journalist from other media. But the stories are shorter, or no longer local in perspective. The local comes from non-journalist who are citizens reporting information without checking facts or seeking other sources. Often hearsay, gleaned information from others and opinion replaces fact checked reporting and any attempt at balance.

Etsy is a web site that sells hand made goods. In 2005 it sold $60,000. 2008 $88,000,000. The goods are made by third world companies and by CEO’s of major corporations, by mothers in Maine and communes in Oregon. There are major designers who sell through Etsy exclusively.

I do need, and in some cases we need, to learn how to dispel, shape, restore and take care of clothing to appear professional when we have no money, which is where we stand and stand to do far worse.

In Rome, Berlin, Paris, London and Warsaw protesters took to the streets to demand a major change in how the world’s economies operate and how business controls too many lives despite international borders. They are calling for an increase in the social safety net their countries offer instead of the stimulus to business being advocated by the US and the Obama administration. Protesters say funds are best spent with government, not by government. Protesters are demanding tighter regulations of the financial market. This week world leaders hold the G20 summit in London.

A tradition older than the Great Wall of China may come to an end. In Beijing (Peking) men walk the streets getting exercise and exercising the caged birds by gently rocking the cages as they walk. Bird flue, general sanitation and regulations about the sale of birds threaten to end this millenniums long practice. Just as the government is tearing down the traditional shanty housing, they are imposing the end of the birdmen of Beijing. NPR did a colorful story on the passing of this tradition at the hands of modernization and medicine.


i have been on the periphery of events that were reported in local newspapers three times. those 'professional' reporters were so ineffectual that the loss of their services will not be greatly missed.

classified advertising is already making the change to the web, very successfully. i have suggested elsewhere that reporters will syndicate their services and specialize in areas either topical or geographic.

editorial/opinion writing will be blogged, and won't pay much. so the truth will be more often told.

the only losers are liars, who need a disciplined and money oriented organization. the republican national committee comes immediately to mind, but all politics will get harder with information rich media available.

some kind of journalism will continue and may flourish, it'll just be different. i expect religion felt the same dismay at the appearance of the printed bible.

In The Sahara was a water seller... His family had been selling water for generations.... They made a good living.


It started raining and raining and raining..... Horrified he called on governments and people to stop this incessant rain....

But it did not stop.. Eventually his business went broke - but people still had water - plenty of water.

I think you need to innovate or die....

The e-book (or similar) is a normal page size reader... You can download "x" number of books into it - it is thin and light.

Newspapers need to embrace something similar and have people subscribe to their newspaper, delivered to them daily in electronic form.

It needs to be inexpensive (the hardware) and the subscription affordable.....

It would be nice to sit in a cafe and read the "newspaper" whilst sipping a coffee...

Just my 2c worth....

But who will pay and how much?
Professionalism has a cost.

First published March 29, 2009

Is Journalism a Profession?

Years ago a professor taught me that journalism, as a profession was limited to the central part and latter days of the 20th century. His reasons lie in the fact that while calling themselves a profession there were not standards or checks and balances found in other professions. Freedom also leads to the ability to manipulate, change and even practice without any repercussion. His predictions in the mid 1970's were a decline in the pay, number and outlets for balanced professional journalism while a geometric or even faster increase in outlets for those who have an ax to grind, feel they are the keepers of the truth, or who have a vested financial interests in manipulation. He predicted that ratings, popularity, entertainment and the ability to make people mad or get them fired up would win over reporting the truth through any sort of professional filter.

Where are the test, accreditation, minimum education requirements, apprenticeships or other methods on a supervised honing of the craft given today's economy and the public's greed for scandal, ammunition to hate or mistrust others and to be mushrooms living in a cocoon where events on the other side of the world are of no importance unless they impact our pocketbooks where we live and work?

Can any form of trust in the media and in journalist be restored as long as we have a profit, ratings or subscription, hits or direct response capitalistic system for determining what is news?

What will happen to our free society if the fourth estate disappears or is trusted far less than the society and government they are expected to report on and watch in our interests?

And, who will pay for it all, for what motive and to what impact?

CSN president's town hall announcement

Court gives country back to the Corporate Robber Barrons

"The founders of this nation warned about the dangers of corporate influence. The Constitution they wrote mentions many things and assigns them rights and protections — the people, militias, the press, religions. But it does not mention corporations.

In 1907, as corporations reached new heights of wealth and power, Congress made its views of the relationship between corporations and campaigning clear: It banned them from contributing to candidates. At midcentury, it enacted the broader ban on spending that was repeatedly reaffirmed over the decades until it was struck down on Thursday."

Highlight from a New York Times editorial on how far reaching a US Supreme Court Ruling yesterday may be, striking down limitations on corporate and business involvement in our elections through direct funding of advertising and campaigns to influence an election, congressional votes and public policy. It changes a law 103 years old and undid a century of reforms to protect the individual from being outbid, sold a corporate " bill of goods" and having their democracy taken over by large business interests.

Today's corporations are the equivlent of the "robber barron" of the 19th Century the laws were enacted to keep from ending us into wars (Spanish American War) for corporate profit, taxing the poor, covering up the hiring of private armys, breaking environmental laws and ceasing property from its rightful owners.

How different are Wall Street and our current corporate citizens from their Robber Barron forefathers, now that the protection of our electoral system has been nullified?

And why do people put up with it?

History was made by the court, and it is not a positive change, unless you are conservative special interests groups and Republican politicans, who can now buy election thanks to their corporate partners.

Oil companies, big banks, insurance companies and other industries now have complete fredom in passing on any rumor or incomplete fact as truth and guiding the path of our nation's public opinion a they see fit.

of course there are those who are celebrating. Those who stand to profit, for example the interactive advertisers (all advertisers) and those seeking such things as a tiered pay per use Internet, drug companies, insurance monopolies,  political action compacts, and those who are against unions (unions won the same "power" as corporations but do not represent near the political money Republicans claim and could maybe stand up to one smaller company, not the combined power or industry and their special Republican interests groups).