Foreigners More Politically Aware

Last semester I took a class called Media and U.S. Policy.  This was the first time that I truly grasped the importance of public broadcasting.  Citizens in foreign countries are generally more politically aware and engaged because news shows are not afraid to push the boundaries and delve deep into the political realm. Instead of a liberal model like the United States has, most European countries hold a polarized pluralist model.  This model means that European news outlets tend to target the literary and politically focussed people.  They engage more in a process of horizontal communication among political elites than in a vertical process of mediating between elites and the mass public.  This type of communication is much more effective because it allows news outlets to incorporate the public voice, fulfilling their intended role as a watchdog since they are constantly questioning government actions.  Public broadcasting allows European news outlets to do this type of reporting because they do not feel obliged or pressured to obey by certain standards of conduct.  They are free of commercial and government control.

I find it incredibly sad that the United States form of public broadcasting is essentially nonexistent.   The study that FAIR published shows how warped the public system has become.  Relying on official sources has taken over the airwaves, and that’s incredibly upsetting because they are often not the most credited source to speak about certain issues.  In regards to Iraq, Newshour presented material almost identical to that of mainstream media.

As public broadcasting loses its independence, it is now more important than ever before for alternative media outlets to publish outright injustices and skewed governmental decisions.

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Conglomerate Control Puts U.S. Behind

Before I ready the article “American broadband infrastructure: A national embarrassment” by Sam Gustin, I was unaware that the United States lagged so far behind other countries in terms of broadband speed and coverage.  I knew that conglomeration was a big issue in the U.S., but it never occurred to me that consolidation directly impacted broadband use.  I don’t understand why the government isn’t pushing to pay for improved broadband speed and coverage.  I get that corporations want to monopolize companies to increase their profits, but doesn’t our government want to have a highly informed citizenry to compete on a global level.  Not only intellectually, but also commercially?  With faster Internet speed, business can advertise and sell their products at a quicker rate.  A new surge of innovation could rise, and the United States could increase employment by becoming an exporter instead of a massive importer.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe…

Also, without competition, what is to keep prices from becoming exorbitantly high for “crappy” service?  The Internet has become such a huge staple in many peoples’ lives that I’m sure people will feel compelled to pay the high prices.

In regards to net neutrality, if big business and the government gain the right to control what gets posted to the Internet and where it can be viewed, then the citizens of the U.S. are in big trouble.  The Internet will lose its standing as an open platform for uninhibited conversation, and instead, become a propagandistic tool for the wealthiest lobbyists.  It’s sickening.

Courtesy of "The Inquisitr"

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Breitbart’s Defense Laughable

“Somebody has to stand up to this type of bullyism that happens in the press.  The journalism is corrupt and I’m out there to the best of my abilities and with my conscience, trying to right the wrongs.” –Andrew Breitbart.

This was Andrew Breitbart’s response to CNN in regards to the ACORN scandal.  Seems like a joke right?  I feel like Mr. Breitbart’s conscience must not be very sound if he thinks digitally manipulating and twisting someone’s words is the correct way to right a wrong.  It’s scary that he has such a big following.  Breitbart attracts more than “20 million news page views each month.”  People are drawn to the sensational and controversial stories giving Breitbart more attention and power.  The Internet is his best friend because he can spread misinformation at a rapid rate to millions of people.  Also, it’s upsetting to me that ACORN lost its funding and completely collapsed at the hands of someone who had already intentionally scorned someone before.  I think Eric Boehlert, from Media Matters characterizes Breitbart well.  He thrives off of scandal and sensationalistic material, and makes a living out of trying to tarnish opponents’ reputations.  Also, I find it frustrating that Breitbart never seems to be accountable for his actions since he works for himself.

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A Picture Tells A Thousand Lies?

Technology can easily manipulate photographs and videos to portray a certain message.  However, that ability has become more powerful and influential today since the Internet can easily disseminate a tweaked message to millions of people.

This website shows the “top 15 most manipulated photographs in history.”  Most of the historic photographs have either digitally inserted or wiped out another image to give the picture a different context.  Most of the photos were used purely as propaganda.  Photograph number 10 was used to fuel fire against presidential candidate John Kerry among Vietnam War Veterans.  The photograph went viral and accomplished its mission since it angered many people.  Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham said, “When he stands up with Jane Fonda, someone that is so notorious and hated by veterans….it diminishes the service some of us almost gave our lives for, and the over 56,000 people that lost their lives —it slaps their families in the face.”  The picture was completely fake, and yet, emotions took over reason and Kerry soon had many more enemies.

I don’t think anything should be changed in a picture because then it tells a lie.  Even though removing the fence post from the famous Kent State picture may have seemed like a small change, it is still altering the image.  Any alteration reduces its accuracy and  credibility.  The cover of O.J. Simpson that Time published makes Simpson appear more menacing and dangerous.  The photographer that manipulated the image said he “wanted to make it more artful, more compelling.”  However, his attempt only misrepresents Simpson and clouds the truth.

In photograph number 6, it was almost like Lenin and Stalin tried to rewrite history by removing Leon Trotsky from the photo.  Once Stalin began to see Trotsky as a threat he tried to eradicate any evidence that they could have been connected at one point in time.

This type of digital manipulation can be extremely dangerous.  It’s powerful, and it can completely alter the course of a campaign or other big event.  People need to be careful and not always believe what they see because in this day and age, Photoshop can always make a “new truth.”

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Fowler’s Independence Commendable

I’m proud of Mayhill Fowler, and I respect her.  Journalists, both mainstream and citizen, should be praising Fowler for maintaining her integrity and independence.  Even though she wrote for the Huffington Post, a known liberal website, she did not let partisanship get in the way of reporting the facts.  The truth.  A quote written in an article by James Rainey that appeared in the LA Times sums up my sentiments perfectly.  Off the Bus project director Amanda Michel said,  “If you are going to be a journalist, you can’t favor one candidate over another.”  Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the same attitude for many journalists.  It appears that the majority of political journalists have come down with a severe case of “insider syndrome.”  They feel entitled to write only good and approving remarks about politicians if they’ve been invited to a special and private event. They don’t want to scorn the person who has granted them the coveted insider positions.  But Fowler did not succumb to insider syndrome.  The event where Obama made the remarks about small town Americans being “bitter” and “clinging to guns or religion” was closed to mainstream journalists.  Therefore, Fowler definitely must have felt privileged to be reporting at the event, but she did not let any feelings of gratification or duty to the administration prevent her from criticizing the president.  Her actions and reporting is commendable in my eyes.

In a different article written by James Rainey but published in Politics now, the writer said, “Unlike traditional journalists, she openly reported her preference for Obama (while she occasionally tweaked him for arrogance or elitism).” This statement highlights the significance of transparency and how it can propel honest and insightful journalist.

I was previously unfamiliar with Fowler breaking the story of Clinton’s nasty comments directed at Vanity Fair writer Todd Purdum.  Even though Clinton did not realize Fowler was a journalist, he should know that technology today can record his statements and upload them to youtube in a minute.  Nonetheless, Fowler said her recorder was in clear view the entire time.  What did Clinton think she was going to do with the recording?  Listen to it for her own personal amusement?  She caught a candid moment with the former president that unfortunately did not highlight his pleasant demeanor, but nevertheless all politicians must be accountable for their words and actions.

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My Sister Embraces the Power of the Internet

My 17-year old sister, Hope Murray, realized the power and potential of the Internet.  She wrote a song for Taylor Swift, performed it in front of the entire high school and had her friends tape it.

The original goal was to grab the attention of Ellen DeGeneres.  My sister hoped the famous talk show host would invite her on the show and present the “surprise” of a lifetime by inviting Taylor Swift to meet her adoring fan.  Well, that never happened.  And nothing came in the mail from Taylor Swift either.  However, her video got thousands of hits on youtube, and Hope soon turned into a local celebrity.  She had a full page article in the Wyoming County Press Examiner, which featured her performance and aspirations.  She was also invited to speak and perform on the radio station 98.5 KRZ, which streams from Freeland to Avoca, Pennsylvania.  They not only played her song the day of the interview, but many times after and she received numerous text messages from friends exclaiming that they just heard her song on the radio.  Her local fame skyrocketed and Hope definitely claimed a name for herself at Tunkhannock Area High School.  She may not have met her idol, but in the process she became somewhat idolized herself.  All from posting a video on youtube.

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Youtube Rakes in $$$

I’m not exactly sure how I feel about youtube stars making hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Personally, I don’t quite understand the fixation with silly youtube skits or shows.  It irks me a little to see millions of people watching Mr. Buckley make fun of celebrities, but won’t take the time to read about national and international issues or even vote.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good laugh but I honestly feel like my brain cells are deteriorating watching some of the most popular skits on youtube.  Also, I am definitely not saying that all youtube sensations are trash, but some are completely lacking in creativity or smarts and yet, they get paid the big bucks.

I feel like this article written by Diana Craig sums up my feelings pretty well.  How Rebecca Black pulled in $45,ooo for her song Friday baffles me.  $45,ooo dollars for these words.

“It’s Friday, Friday
Gotta get down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend, weekend
Friday, Friday
Gettin’ down on Friday
Everybody’s lookin’ forward to the weekend

Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Partyin’, partyin’ (Yeah)
Fun, fun, fun, fun
Lookin’ forward to the weekend”

I’ll never understand.

The article also mentioned the popular JennaMarbles videos.  She gets paid a lot of money to make videos about how diets work or how to get boys to like you.  Here’s one that’s titled “Things to do instead of cleaning your room.”

Her salary does not make sense to me.  I don’t think her work is funny or enlightening.

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