When the media is the actual problem

Yes terrorism is shocking and uncalled for and heartbreaking. But I think that too often we use being overwhelmed with emotions as a reason to stereotype people. No wonder there are so many people who want to instill terror in populations when people of the same religion as them are looked down upon simply by the way that they dress.

For example, the New York Times posted an article today identifying one of the suspects in the recent London attack as Khurum Shazad Butt. The article opens with a small narrative about how he used to give out candy on Halloween and teach children in his neighborhood in Barking how to play ping-pong. The article continues to describe how he has appeared in a documentary titled, “The Jihadist Nextdoor” which profiled extremists living in Britain.

Very quickly, this article goes from seeming to lead on the innocence of this man to showing that he wanted to kill people. I understand the point of showing both sides and being un-partisan, but in the event of something like this-where there are lives on the line- is it not more important to look into why Police had not taken action when they were aware of him and his beliefs, according to the article or why PM Teresa May instilled police cutbacks even though she had been warned against it?

It is so interesting that outlets such as the New York Times and the Washington Post continue to provide news of any sort in the form of a narrative- putting their own publicity in front of the good of the public.


AfroBeauty Hack- Akili Bell

In American society today racial biases are still very prevalent and with this outlet, Akili is looking to break down some barriers. White models and actresses are plastered across almost all of the major beauty magazines. This makes women of other races feel as though they cannot be as beautiful. Additionally, specifically African American women have different hair textures and skin tones so they cannot utilize beauty products that are popular among white women. This is the problem that Akili looks to tackle with AfroBeauty Hack. She wants to develop an independent online place that will serve as the “cheat sheet for African American beauty tips.” Her content will be allocated from other places such as well-known youtube beauty stars. It will also be “user suggested” so that her audience is getting the tips that they want and need. For revenue, she will utilize advertisements from “black beauty” companies. This will give her outlet money as well as promoting and making her audience aware of products that they might not have known about before. I think that this outlet is vital to the well-being and confidence of many girls across the country. Additionally, it offers a place for girls to converse and to know that they are not alone in what they are experiencing.

Life at war.

I was born in 1996. At the age of five, the United States entered the Civil War in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks and has been at war ever since.

I have never known a life without war.

It’s an interesting concept because the generation above mine talks fondly about pre-war life such as less restrictions, no Homeland Security, no Transportation Security Administration or TSA and just an easier way of life in general. Not that life in America at the time was perfect by any means.

How can one grasp the fact that all they have ever known has been influenced by a huge war? Or the fact that we are still at war in so many Middle Eastern after so many promises that we would pull our troops out. How can our country justify so many lives lost for a war that does not even threaten our national security, rather threaten’s the countries imperialistic desires.

This month, both Aljazeera and The Guardian, among others have released articles stating that the United States “may be guilty of war crimes in Afghanistan.” Oh really? I never would have guessed.

According to the International Criminal Court, in total the US armed forces and the CIA have more than likely detained and tortured more than 80 hostages.

“Members of US armed forces appear to have subjected at least 61 detained persons to torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity on the territory of Afghanistan between 1 May 2003 and 31 December 2014,” according to the report issued by ICC.

 Additionally,The report adds that the CIA may have obtained and tortured around27 hostages in Afghanistan, Poland, Romania and Lithuania between December 2002 and March 2008.
However, perhaps the worst part of this finding is the reaction of the U.S. The spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Elizabeth Trudeau issued a statement saying that the investigation was neither “warranted or appropriate.”
This is ironic because the United States government takes it upon themselves to censor and surveil anything and everything that they can get away with but when they’re the culprit of an investigation, it is all of a sudden awful to investigate.
I do not like this life at war, I do not like that over 100,000 people have died in the Afghanistan Civil War, I do not like the current climate of the United States. We need to change it.

What in the heck is the FCC?

The FCC is “an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress, the commission is the United States’ primary authority for communications law, regulation and technological innovation,” according to their website. It regulates all forms of media throughout all 50 of the United States. It was created by The Communications Act of 1934 with the sole purpose of overseeing the media industry while also allowing the President of the United States to amend or restrict the rules set forth by the act during “wartime”.  However, it has been amended multiple times to create some sort of regulatory monster.

In 1996, it was amended by The Telecommunications Act. This act, created in order to foster competition between large companies, has only led to a larger issue.

In the article Why is American internet so slow?, John Aziz explains the actual implications that the amendment had on the American telecommunications industry.

“[It] allowed cable companies and telecoms companies to simply divide markets and merge their way to monopoly, allowing them to charge customers higher and higher prices without the kind of investment in internet infrastructure, especially in next-generation fiber optic connections, that is ongoing in other countries,” he said.

In 2001, the bill was amended again to include the USA PATRIOT Act in response to the 9/11 attacks.  This is where it gets scary. In it’s given state has the power to limit and even abolish freedom of speech. Not only does this act limit freedom of speech, it gives U.S. intelligence agencies more power and oversight over the American people.

Its funny because this agency, its charter act and the amendments made were all created in order to protect the American people, when in reality, they are doing exactly the opposite.



November 8, 2016

It began with hope. Hope that our country would choose the candidate that, although more than imperfect, would be the best fit to lead. Then hope turned to uncertainty as the voting polls began to close and  swing states turned red instead of blue. Then came doubt as Florida was won over by Donald Trump with a 49.1% to 47.8% difference. Then came sickness as my head began to throb due to the nightmares of what many happen to millions of Americans filled my head. I could not take it any longer and fell asleep before the final results were released.

I woke up the following day on November 9th with a plethora of messages from friends who were confused, unsettled and scared. Throughout the day I have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions from numbness to sadness to empowerment. I have come across friends sobbing, celebrating and ready to take on the challenge. I have witnessed an entire classroom full of journalism students break down in tears nearly simultaneously as they felt helpless under the rule of Trump.

But we are journalists. We attend one of the top rated communications schools in the country and we are prepared for this. We have pestered the shit out of people to get an interview, stayed up all night to write an article, rewritten stories numerous times and spent hours doing research. We are ready for this and we need to accept the challenge at hand.

Donald J. Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States of America. On that day we will not be sad but we will make it our mission to be better journalists then we’ve ever been. We will seek information, talk to people and educate the country. We will advocate for our brothers and sisters who have been and will be persecuted. And lastly, we will not give up.

I am a journalist and I was born for this moment.

Citizen or journalist?

A citizen journalist is defined by PressThink as “when the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.”

For as long as I have been aware of their presence in journalism, I have been a staunch supporter of citizen journalists. They have done so much good for the world by simply recording a video on their cellphones.

For example, on Aug.9, 2014 in Ferguson, MO. when Michael Brown, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a police officer. The shooting sparked the eruption of protests throughout the area and then the country for weeks. Citizen journalist, Antonio French, took footage of the demonstrations and how the police acted towards them and was arrested for this.

Dan Gillmor of The Guardian writes, “He is a citizen journalist of the best kind: a credible witness who has helped inform the wider public about a critical matter.”

French is a citizen journalist. Mayhill Fawler is not.

Fawler had been an established blogger before she became a “citizen journalist” for Huffington Post‘s OffTheBus. OffTheBus covered presidential campaigns from the sidelines without press passes, without gifts and certainly without helicopter rides. Fawler was one of the main reporters and was the one to expose both President Obama’s Bittergate and President Clinton’s Sleezygate.

As a journalist she did her job by pursuing information, which would go on to have an impact on two different elections. However, the way that she got the information was unethical. She uncovered Obama’s scandal by being a donor and having access to a private event. The status given to her by attending this event overrides the “citizen” aspect. Additionally, she released the Clinton scandal by framing a question.

Having a high status and knowing how to frame a question to get the answer you want are not qualities of a citizen journalist. Being a bystander and recording a video of police brutality is citizen journalism.


The dividing factor between mainstream and independent

Objectivity in journalism is defined by Iowa State Journalism professor, Michael Bugeja, as “seeing the world how it is, not how you wish it were.” In contrast transparency means “to take responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decision to the public,” according to the Society of Professional Journalist’s Code of Ethics.

In the SPJ Code of Ethics, there is an entire section titled “Be Accountable and Transparent” and nothing on objectivity. It actually does not mention the word once.

As a journalism student it has been ingrained in us through several journalism courses and hours and hours of writing and editing that we just be objective in our reporting. Although in a different world this may be a possible goal to achieve, in the world we live in, it is not.

It is nearly impossible to remain unbiased in your writing and reporting, as David Weinberger writes in his blog post “Transparency is the new objectivity.” In my opinion, Weinberger hit the nail on the head.

He writes,”Objectivity used be presented as a stopping point for belief: If the source is objective and well-informed, you have sufficient reason to believe. The objectivity of the reporter is a stopping point for reader’s inquiry.”

This quote is one of the factors that separates mainstream and independent media. Mainstream media outlets have been prevalent for so long that they do not need to prove themselves as reporters or their credibility as a station. People who religiously watch these stations, believe every word that they are fed and believe it all to be objective. These people are often within the generation of my parents and grandparents. They would never trust news from a website from which they’ve never heard of.

Although independent media outlets have also existed for decades, more often than not they do not last due to issues with revenue. We are just now coming into an age of media where strong indy outlets are taking hold and look as though they will not be taken down.

The difference between mainstream and indy is that one claims to be objective in their reporting and one pursues transparency in their reporting. Guess which is which?

Everyone wants to be a millionaire

In the article, “Arianna Huffington’s AOL deal sparks accusations of a political sell-out” refers to the selling of the blog heaven Huffington Post in 2011 for $315 million dollars to AOL. Arianna Huffington, creator and editor in chief of the site sold out to a major corporation, but can you blame her?

In founding the site, Huffington’s mission was to provide an independent liberal outlet to combat corporate media outlets such as Fox News, after having divorced her staunchly Republican husband. At he time of its founding nearly anyone could write for the site, however the catch is, they’d write for free. This was very appealing to many bloggers who were nearly invisible at the time, because now they would get noticed.

A few years after the website was launched, they were reaching 26 million unique visitors per month, an outrageous number. This traffic quickly became very overwhelming for Huffington and she was running out of money. That is when she sought out Tim Armstrong, chief executive officer of AOL. Once Huffington decided to sell her company, thousands of her bloggers were enraged. Now, instead of blogging for free for Arianna, they were blogging for free for AOL.

Jack Lule, journalism professor at Lehigh University, was quoted in the article saying, “She [Huffington] betrayed the ideals of a lot of people who were happy to work for nothing because they thought it was for a cause.”

In retrospect, I do not see the difference between writing for free for an independent or for a corporation. The outlet is still fairly liberal and still allows bloggers to write about nearly anything they would like. Additionally now,  some bloggers are able to get paid for their blogs. In order to get paid for your blogs it is essential to be an avid reader/sharer of HuffPo articles, to become connected with an editor and several prominent writers and to send them a pitch as well as information about yourself.

It is not always easy to get paid for your blogs though, but by blogging for the website, it is possible to eventually get noticed and paid by linking to other blogs and by sharing, sharing, sharing.

The situation comes down to whether it is more important for a journalist to stay true to their mission and keep their independence or to gain revenue from their writings. In my opinion, Huffington was not wrong in selling her outlet, everyone wants to be a millionaire.

Janine Jackson and the ongoing media battle

When Janine Jackson, Fair Program Director and Counterspin Producer and Host, came to speak at Ithaca College on Tuesday Oct. 25, my view of the media was not changed but rather reinforced.

Jackson has been working at the media watchdog group Fair since she was an unpaid intern. She never looked back. Now, she runs the radio show which is broadcasted on more than 130 stations in the United States and Canada. Jackson’s show focuses on corporate media news coverage with a focus on the language that they use in their reporting. She also highlights important ongoing issues that are rarely covered and often ignored by the mainstream outlets.

In her speech, Jackson argued that there is no longer an unbiased media and that journalists should no longer strive to accomplish that. Rather, journalists should strive to be accurate and transparent. She pointed out that most independent media outlets today do have an agenda and they should not be scared to call themselves advocacy journalists. It is however important that the reader/viewer is aware of the present biases.

Although upcoming independent media outlets are almost always the most accurate sources to consult, many people are not aware of the biases that they hold. This leads to a similar issue to the one that is plaguing the mainstream media. People are simply unaware or choose to ignore the fact that outlets such as ABC, CBS, CNN and Fox News are funded by large corporations and therefore only report stories that align with that company’s ideals. However, the difference lies in the fact that independent outlets state their biases, if you know to look for them. Democracy Now!, for example, has tabs on their homepage for Jill Stein, the Dakota Access Pipeline and Climate Change.

Jackson believes that the best way to make people aware of media outlet biases is by showing them data. For example, there was a study released by the Tyndall Report about ABC’S coverage of the 2016 election. It states that the outlet’s nightly news show World News Tonight devoted less than one minute of airtime to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders while Donald Trump was allotted 81 minutes of time throughout the entire year. By making more people aware of this issue, they will become more critical of the media that they are digesting and will therefore seek information from alternative sources.

Some independent media outlets that Jackson recommended in her speech, other than Democracy Now!, are The Nation, The Guardian, Truthout and Common Dreams.

Link to The Ithacan’s Q&A with Janine Jackson: https://theithacan.org/news/qa-media-critic-janine-jackson-to-visit-college-oct-25/ 


Bloggers are journalists

Journalism is defined by Oxford Dictionary as the activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast. According to this definition, bloggers are indeed journalists.

In the article “Bloggers might be excluded from Oregon’s executive sessions” written by Sieon Roux, it is outlined that in 2008 Lake Oswego, Oregon was taking steps toward defining “news media” and therefore filtering who is able to sit in on city executive meetings. This debate was fueled by Mark Bunster, author of the political blog “Loaded Orygun“. He insisted that he was a part of the news media and could attend a Lake Oswego City Council meeting. I do not think that he is in the wrong. I also do not think that a city government has the ability to restrict bloggers. By starting this controversy, Bunster was exercising his First Amendment rights as well as getting a conversation going.

Executive meetings in Oregon were already open to journalists, so what harm will a few more have? I understand that it could become overcrowded, but Lake Oswego could avoid this by issuing press passes on a circulating basis so that journalists could take turns attending meetings.

The proposed new definition of news media was “institutionalized” “well-established” and at least 25 percent news based. Doesn’t the adjective institutionalized go against everything that journalism was created to refute? That is why today’s world needs bloggers.

Wendy Culverwell, the president of the Oregon state SPJ chapter said it best when she said, “It just went to fairly long extremes to define media, to require people to provide fairly lengthy documentation. That’s just not appropriate for a city government to be doing.”

Although this situation took place in 2007, it is similar to the North Dakota Pipeline case in which the government and the pipeline company tried to censor Amy Goodman and cease her coverage of the construction and its impact on the community. Instead of attempting to define her title, they issued an arrest warrant for her. She owns the media outlet Democracy Now!, she is not a blogger, but both situations are unfair and go against the First Amendment. In Goodman’s case, she won but bloggers do not have the same media influence that she does. Because of this Bunster’s blog is now inactive.

“The government shouldn’t be controlling the media,” he said. “What it gives, it can take away,” said Juston Randall, president of Open Oregon.