Archive for the ‘Media’ Category
After British authorities detained the partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald for nine hours and forced the Guardian, where Greenwald works, to destroy its computers, The Columbia Journalism Review declared this a “DEFCON 2 journalism event” — a reference to the code used when the country is one step away from nuclear war.
And they weren’t alone. A number of leading journalists have weighed in over the past week arguing that we have reached a crisis moment for global press freedom. Amy Davidson, in The New Yorker, writes that the events of this week remind us that we are “lucky in this country to have a press with a better shot at avoiding prior restraint.”
However, she argues, both the Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden cases raise doubts about that “better shot.” Indeed, many saw Manning’s 35-year sentence, handed down this week, as yet another effort to chill the newsgathering process. All of this comes on the heels of a long string of press suppression and intimidation that came to light in the United States this summer. Taken together, argues Davidson, these cases show “why it’s worth pushing back, and fighting.”
That sentiment was echoed by Philip Bump at the Atlantic Wire: “In the battle with the security state, those who might commit acts of journalism have three choices: acquiesce, push back or step away.”
On Saturday, Time Senior National Correspondent Michael Grunwald tweeted, “I can’t wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange.”
He has since deleted the tweet, but the ugliness behind it lingers. Around the world journalists are facing threats, intimidation and violence.
In a few unfortunate cases, these threats come from other journalists like Grunwald. More often they’re attacks from outside the profession.
Just days before Grunwald’s tweet appeared, three journalists were killed in Egypt.
A few days before that, the New York Times reported that “[a]bductions of journalists inside Syria have increased sharply this year.” At least 15 journalists have gone missing in the country in just the last six months.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders dubbed 2012 the deadliest year for journalists in recent memory. 2013 hasn’t been too great either.
On Sunday, British authorities detained the partner of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist at the center of the recent NSA revelations, for nine hours at Heathrow and questioned him under a British anti-terror law.
Having a journalist like Grunwald musing about violence against someone else is concerning. It’s particularly troubling that the target of this journalist’s violent imagination is a person whose work has enabled critical reporting at newsrooms around the globe. Read the rest of this entry »
The American experiment is premised on the idea that an informed public is central to self-governance and a functioning democracy. But today that fundamental idea is being challenged, at times by the very people – journalists and the media – who should be its staunchest defenders.
In a new post, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen traces how the debate over Snowden and the National Security Agency has sparked what amounts to a de facto effort to “repeal the concept of an informed public.” This is a critical point, and I want to draw a few more threads into the debate.
“My sole motive,” Edward Snowden told the Guardian in his first public interview, “is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them.” Rosen describes Snowden as “the return of the repressed.” He writes: “By going AWOL and leaking documents that show what the NSA is up to, he forced Congress to ask itself: did we really consent to that? With his disclosures the principle of an informed public roared back to life.”
However, since that moment, there has been a profound effort by politicians and even some journalists to close down that debate. This opposition has taken many forms. Journalists and politicians have attacked Glenn Greenwald and tried to undercut the legitimacy of the Guardian. They have tried to write off NSA programs as balanced and well within the law. And most of all they have used fear and the threat of possible terror attacks to argue that any real debate about the details of America’s surveillance programs is simply a “discussion the public cannot afford to have.” Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, Bradley Manning was acquitted of “aiding the enemy” for leaking 700,000 classified government documents, including a video of an American airstrike in Baghdad that killed 12 civilians, among them two Reuters journalists.
While aiding the enemy was the most serious charge he faced, Manning was still found guilty of numerous counts of espionage and other charges, which could land him in jail for the rest of his life.
And while many journalists are breathing a sigh of relief about the aiding-the-enemy decision, we shouldn’t forget how hard the government pushed for that particular conviction. Read the rest of this entry »
According to the First Amendment Center’s new survey, freedom of speech is Americans’ favorite First Amendment right.
Press freedom, however, came in dead last.
The notion of ranking our rights is a bit contrived, given that — as the director of the First Amendment Center notes — “our core freedoms, regardless of their relative popularity, complement and reinforce one another.”
That said, press freedom’s standing in this survey, paired with recent events around the country, reveals a troubling disconnect. Read the rest of this entry »
The future of public media journalism is collaborative.
That is the big take away from a new report from J-Lab at American University which studied the growth of journalism partnerships between public broadcasters and other local nonprofit and commercial newsrooms. The report, a series of in-depth case studies by Jan Schaffer, reinforces a vision of an expanded public media sector as a critical component to community news.
“While legacy news organizations increasingly erect paywalls in front of their journalism,” writes Schaffer, “these local public broadcasters are tearing down walls to reach out to partners – both nonprofit and commercial – to co-produce or share original content and to give longer tails to the best journalism in their areas.” Read the rest of this entry »
At their big developer conference this week Google introduced a slew of new features for Google Maps, but one caught my eye more than any other. Google suggested that the future of maps would be personalized. On their blog they asked, “What if we told you that during your lifetime, Google could create millions of custom maps…each one just for you?” They expand on the idea:
“In the past, such a notion would have been unbelievable: a map was just a map, and you got the same one for New York City, whether you were searching for the Empire State Building or the coffee shop down the street. What if, instead, you had a map that’s unique to you, always adapting to the task you want to perform right this minute?”
This led Emily Badger at Atlantic Cities to wonder if Google’s new maps might take the “filer bubble” experience into the physical world, “We may never know what we are not seeing.” While, I share Badger’s concern, I also think that we are always already rewriting the maps we use to navigate the swiftly changing world around us. The question we should ask is do we trust the maps made by Google’s algorithm more or less than we trust those made by our hearts and minds.
In the fall of 2006 Rebecca Solnit published an essay called “Maps for the Year Ahead” in Orion Magazine. The piece offers a number of striking observations about space, place, and land in the wake of tragedy. Looking at events like the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco and hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Solnit draws a connection between urban sprawl and the power of natural disasters to make us feel disoriented and, in a very real sense, ungrounded.
This reminded me of a friend of mine who led rafting trips. He once told me that each year, and after big rain storms, river guides have to re-learn the river because the river bed changes so dramatically. Solnit’s discussion of displacement and mapping made me wonder how often we have to re-learn our landscape and how quickly it can change. Read the rest of this entry »
[Adapted from my remarks at "Filling the News Gap in Cambridge and Beyond: Citizen Journalism and Grassroots Media" sponsored by Cambridge Community TV.]
In moments of profound change and transition we tend to reach back to old clichés and familiar metaphors to help make sense of the tumultuous world around us. Debates about the future of journalism are no different.
I’ve heard this moment described as trying to leap between two moving trains, as one slows down and the other one speeds away. This is journalism as a leap of faith.
I’ve heard this moment described as trying to move out of one house and into another, as the old house falls apart and the new one still isn’t finished being built. This is journalism as a fix-it upper.
And I’ve heard it described as the dying of an industry and the rebirth of a network. This is journalism as a Phoenix, rising from the ashes.
Each of these metaphors capture a piece of the incredible change we are witnessing in our media, but none quite does it for me. All of these descriptions portray the changes in journalism as something happening to us, a force outside our control – moving trains, collapsing houses, engulfing fire. We are left with no agency and no responsibility to create the future of media in these scenarios. Read the rest of this entry »
NPR used to be a morning ritual for me. Wake up, make coffee, turn on NPR. But for the last few months I have vacated that part of the radio dial, tuning in only occasionally, often when I’m alone in my car.
I was at the Boston Children’s Museum with my family on December 14, when I learned about the Sandy Hook shooting. Checking Twitter absent-mindedly while waiting in line, I saw the first tweets and news reports filling my stream. I looked up from my phone to a cacophony of kids laughing and playing around me, many of whom were the same age as the kids who were killed just minutes earlier.
On the drive home that day my wife and I were careful not to turn on NPR in the car with our two boys in the back seat. Since then, we’ve listened to a lot less public radio in our house. The Sandy Hook shooting coincided with my son turning four. While I’m sure he’s been aware of the media and discussions around him up to this point, recently he’s been a sponge for everything he hears.
For a lot of us who have children around the age of the Sandy Hook victims, that tragedy shook us to the core. But the endless media coverage of the event created new challenges as we tried to shield our kids from news of the tragedy.
This morning when I woke up, I made coffee and turned on the radio – it was tuned to NPR. My son was already eating his breakfast in the kitchen and before I could reach the dial words like “explosion” and “dead” came tumbling out. The devastation of Boston was brought into our little house so quickly. I changed the channel, I don’t think he noticed, but I don’t know. When I went to get the newspaper on my front steps images of the Boston marathon tragedy filled the front page. I folded it up and hid it from view. Read the rest of this entry »
When the New York Police Department raided the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011 they arrested more than 10 journalists and threatened or harassed many others. However, they also destroyed an enormous amount of equipment that local journalists had been using to livestream from Occupy Wall Street.
In a settlement released this week, New York City agreed to pay the livestream collective Global Revolution TV $75,000 for damage done to their equipment and an additional nearly $50,000 to cover the livestreamers legal fees. (Notably, the settlement also calls for NYC to pay $47,000 for books that were destroyed when police dismantled “the people’s library” in Zuccotti Park.)
Global Revolution TV was one of the most active livestream groups covering Occupy Wall Street and found themselves targeted by police on more than one occasion. Just a month and a half after the Zuccotti raid, Global Revolution TV’s Brooklyn studio space was also raided. Six members of the Global Revolution TV team were arrested at the time for refusing the vacate the building they were using as studio space.
While livestreaming has been an important part of protests and movements for at least half a decade, Occupy Wall Street took livestreaming mainstream. Over the last two years with the rise and spread of Internet connected phones and cameras, more and more people have taken up livestreaming from sporting events to political rallies. Read the rest of this entry »
Shells has created a series of official-looking street signs quoting rap lyrics that mention parts of the city – intersections, buildings, parks and other landmarks. He then posts the quotes at those locations, grounding the lyrics in the place that inspired them and creating a hip-hop geography of the city. Read the rest of this entry »