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.

What the outcome of the 2016 election means for journalists

In response to the madness associated with the 2016 presidential debate, many Americans have been seeking comfort in Obama’s stability and dependable demeanor. Except for journalists.

While campaigning for the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama convinced millions, with his famous speeches, that the Espionage Act would be dialed back on, even Edward Snowden, according to an interview with the Guardian. Although Snowden did not vote for Obama in the election, he led to believe that things within the United States intelligence agencies would change, which caused him to hold onto the files for a longer period of time. Obama did not only lie to Snowden and the American public concerning his policy, he is now charging him with the exact offense in which he said he would change.

Not only did Obama make false promises, freedoms and liberties for journalists were encroached upon during his presidency. Under him 11 journalists or “national security leakers” have been prosecuted, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. This adds up to a total of 526 months of prison time; over 43 years.

As Obama’s presidency comes to an end and many look fondly back upon our years under his leadership, journalists cringe to see what might be their fate under Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. Of all of the topics discussed at throughout the debates, national security has been scarcely mentioned, except for the Oct. 13 debate .

At this debate, Clinton acknowledged that Snowden could have been a protected whistleblower in saying, “He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that.” Her statement in regards to his protection has been found “mostly false” by Politifact.

Moreover, she goes on to denouncing him for turning to Wikileaks, instead of elsewhere. The irony in that statement is that Wikileaks is the exact website that was credited with exposing a multitiude of Clinton’s emails. What Clinton and many other people and the political spotlight do not know is that Wikileaks does not have an agenda, they are merely an open anonymous space for whistleblowers to share information on any topic.

Following in the absurdity of trying to construct a Mexican-funded wall, Trump is quoted in saying that Snowden is a traitor and should be executed.

May the odds be ever in your favor.