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.
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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?