Category Archives: Media

NC Black Media Past and Present

With the release of Wilmington Race Riot Commission report we receive a way overdue official history of what happened on November 10, 1898 in Wilmington, North Carolina. Did you know about this bloody coup d’etat? I hadn’t until I read “Blood Done Sign My Name”. Thanks Tim Tyson. Thank you Yolanda Carrington for telling me about this report.

Over one hundred years ago armed white men overthrew the LEGALLY elected government of Wilmington, North Carolina killing many people, driving out the local Republican leadership, and terrorizing the Black community. (Lest we forget the Republican party of those days was supportive of equal rights. It was the Dixie Democrats who were the racist segregationist.) You can read more about this untold historic event in the book “Democracy betrayed: the Wilmington race riot of 1898 and its legacy” and the website For The Record.

An interesting part of this story is the suppression of African American free speech. During the attack the Daily Record, reported to be the only black newspaper in the country at the time, was burnt to the ground. Some say this action was the spark that lit the massive violence of November 10. The Commission report writes of the involvement of North Carolina newspaper editors like Josephus Daniels – founder of the Raleigh paper The News and Observer.

Involved in the conspiracy were men prominent in the Democratic Party, former Confederate officers, former officeholders, and newspaper editors locally and statewide rallied by Josephus Daniels of the Raleigh News and Observer.

– Wilmington Race Riot Commission [PDF], Summary, pg. 5

Its important to note that the beginning of many coups and military actions begin with the destruction of communications. First a rally cry to those sympathetic to the cause via racist newspaper articles. Then outright physical destruction of the source of the oppositions communications. In this case it was the destruction of a black owned newspaper.

So when the modern conservatives try and dispel this report saying it doesn’t have anything to do with people in the present, tell them, “This violence was committed in your white name. To preserve white dominance over politics and power. Help restore the damage of the past now!”

I second the recommendation of the Commission that an endowment be created for young black journalists in North Carolina.

Newspapers (News and Observer, Charlotte Observer, Wilmington Star, Washington Post, etc.) should acknowledge the role of media in the events of 1898 and work with the North Carolina black press association to prepare a summary of the Commission report for distribution statewide. The Commission calls upon said papers to study the effects of 1898 and impact of Jim Crow on the state’s black press and to endow scholarships at the state’s public universities.

Hopefully these funds will be available to all types of media makers. Not just for young men and women entering corporate media outlets. Community journalists in small magazines, blogs, podccasts, public access tv, vloggs, etc. should be included too. Fund the salaries of several committed black activists to mentor and encourage young media makers.

Read what other bloggers have to say about the report from Wilmington.
Eric Muller
Sally Green
Y. Carrington

Harnessing the Work of Bloggers

Techorati has announced a new business relationship with the Associated Press. Read more about it at Technorati Teams With The Associated Press to Connect Bloggers To More Than 440 Newspapers Nationwide.

I was once told that the real definition of a professional is someone who gets paid for what they do. We know that there is more to the definition. I bet if you were to compare bloggers with journalists you’d find we’re both professionals.

Real bloggers write and link because they love. We’re news and politics junkies. We like our info fresh and witty. This propels many of use to write like mad. So we write to give other bloggers what we want from them.

Most of us don’t do it for pay. So what happens when corporations like Technorati and AP get together to aggregate bloggers work and put it up on their websites? Pro business people are always saying nothing is free. So how is Technorati and AP paying bloggers for the services we’re providing them?

One form of payment could be the ‘Neato Effect’. This is when you see your name or something you wrote in the paper. The first couple of times its a rush. The realization that hundreds if not tens of thousands of people are reading what you wrote. For most people this rush is payment enough. What happens when you have a blog and millions of people all over the world read your writing every day? What about when a smart weekly newspaper recognizes you as an expert and pays you to write it? You become a professional. Many bloggers have become pros in one way or another. The ‘neato effect’ as a form of payment just ain’t going to do it for me. Or many of other good bloggers out there I suspect.

Another form of payment is in website traffic. If a local or national newspaper site links to your blog post whether purposely or automatically via Technorati you should get a few more hits. What is that worth to most bloggers? In dollars and cents probably not much. You need tens of thousands of unique visitors to make money on advertising. So a few more from a newspaper of two won’t make a real financial contribution. If Digg or Slashdot links to you then your hits might jump for a day or so but it’ll also cripple your site too. Your Google ranking could increase over time. This might help your ad revenue. But in the end isn’t this just gaming the system?

What if you don’t care about making money on your blog? What does Technorati, AP, or newspaper website have to pay you with then? How about respect as an subject matter expert. That’s good for some karma and community value. How about influence? Political power? Publicity for good causes? Social change? There has to be some other kind of fair trade value.

The fact is for profit groups (newspapers) and a not for profit groups (bloggers) exist with different values that aren’t always compatible. Even if you’re a blogger and want to make money doing it do you think newspapers need your blog enough to pay you well? Hell they can’t seem to pay stringers very well.

Bloggers freely available content is being hijacked. Technorati is helping us find each other and in return is cashing in huge. So will their partners. Main stream media needs us. We’re vanguards of the future. We write in the trenches and get dirty doing it. Its true that many pro journalists have seen the light and are innovating too. I respect old school journalists. Really!

Its the masses of people creating on read/write web that will fill the bank accounts of businesses in the future. How will individuals get in on this? The future will be a giant negotiation for digital labor. We have serious leverage. Content creators like bloggers have real value in their ability to be creative.

Until newspapers decided to admit bloggers are another kind of professional and treat us as such these new relationships just won’t be fair at all.

PhillyIMC video of Norg UnConference

Albert aka DragonBall Yee hipped me to a neat unconference in Philly that just happened. (Ed Cone is blogging about it too) From what I’ve learned in the past thirty minutes it’s called NORGS. This is the wikipedia definition. (Subject to rapid change):

Norgs are news organizations that may produce a printed newspaper, a website, podcasts, blogs or any combination of these and other news products. Norgs have certain qualities, including wide distribution of news, ethical standards, resiliency, interactivity, giving voice to the audience, aiding media literacy, and a positive cash flow. Will Bunch, a writer and blogger with the Philadelphia Daily News, coined the word in October 2005 [1]. A discussion group met in an unconference on March 25, 2006, at the University of Pennsylvania to outline guidelines for an initial Norg architecture. Usage is common on websites discussing the future of news, particularly local news. See phillyfuture [2], buzzmachine [3], and blinq [4] .

Check out Albert’s photos and watch the PhillyIMC video. I’m podcasting – vlogging – that video, btw. My favorite part of the video is Amy Webb‘s comments. Go 3min 46sec into the video to view. Basically she expresses concern about the “great digital divide” between newspaper editors and their young readers. Hearing the words blog and podcast from editors makes her cringe. It’s evidence that they still don’t get it. Because people, who editors are trying to reach, knew those words (blog and podcast) years ago.

She is also concerned about people claiming we need paper news because everybody can’t afford computers. Ten years, or less from now, she says everyone will. Paper based news is a romantic ideal that will be gone. If it isn’t completely gone in 10-20 years it will be supplanted by other deliver methods. These words are prophetic!

To make it super clear the video linked to bellow and encluded in my podcast was created by the PhillyIMC. Thank you PhillyIMC for making it and allowing the public to “rebroadcast” it. I podcast it from my server space to save them the bandwidth costs. 🙂

MOV 7m 41s 11.46MB 44.1kHz 320×240

NPR is Commercial Radio

When you think of advertising at National PUBLIC Radio you think of unobtrusive announcements. Commercial businesses donate money in exchange for a short mention. This type of promotion can have a informative air. When done properly, these promotions can be valuable to communities. Unfortunately many national and local NPR stations are playing full on ads. They have a much more commercial feel than they used to.

Have you noticed this change? Hundreds of other people have. They’ve complained to the NPR Ombudsman about Wal-Mart ads on NPR. Wal-Mart is the anti-sponsor for traditional NPR listeners. The problem is not the fact that Wal-Mart advertises itself on NPR but that they’re using the radio network to repair their image because of illegal labor practice, etc.

An article on the front page of the Friday, March 17, Wall Street Journal called As Sponsorship Sales Blossom, Public Radio Walks a Fine Line lays out the details of a big change in fund raising at NPR. (I actually read it in the paper version.)

It appears a study conducted for NPR found that listeners hate pledge drives. (Surprise! Me too.) This and a serious decrease in Federal funding, neo-cons trying to destroy the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB funds NPR), and the dot com bubble burst pushed NPR to raise money more like a commercial radio station. NPR and it’s affiliate stations are non-profits… remember!?!

I’m all for non-profits finding new ways to be self sustaining but NPR has gone to far. If NPR wants to retain their non-profit tax free status they shouldn’t be selling commercials like for-profit media.

What can NPR do to raise money and be non-commercial?

1) First realize the telephone pledge drive is dead. Get used to it. Abandon it once and for all. Quite trying to reinvent it. Have a funny mock funeral for it on air. It’ll be fun.

2) Get *really* creative about fundraising. Find new ways to engage your listeners. Give them a REAL sense of community. Make them coop owners of your station(s)/Network. (ex. REI, Weaver Street Market (Carrboro, NC), etc.)

3) Create attractive online community sites like flickr, digg, or del.icio.us. Social networking powered fundraising is where it’s at. Without a feeling of community listeners won’t give. I know many NPR listeners aren’t computer geeks. But online communities will only grow and can support you financially.

4) Hire a consultant that understands network centric advocacy. Invigorate your grassroots. Run your organizations bottom up. Not top down. Think flash mob fundraising.

5) Renew your commitment to being a non-profit community organization. Create a LARGE PR campaign to shout it loud and proud. “We are a not-for-profit community station!”

6) Publicly renounce commercial and political ads. Cancel your contracts with Wal-Mart. Tell your listeners. Create a public campaign to match the money commercial sponsors used to give you.

Try these suggestions out NPR. We love what you do – most of the time – and need your style of news now more than ever!

Video shows Bush Warned Before Katrina

The folks over at MoveOn let me know today via email about a new AP story called Video Shows Bush Was Warned Before Katrina. It discusses video footage – I’ve yet to see myself (John Stewart?) – that tha Srub and his unqualified lackeys Chertof and Brown were well aware of the potential destruction of hurricane Katrina BEFORE it hit. Even though they’ve claimed they didn’t and have worked hard to distance themselves from the ultimate responsibility of over 1,500 deaths. Outrageous! At the very least Bush and others are responsible for NOT cutting through all the government red tape and send more resources sooner to help!

Read the whole story by clicking more. (I include here under fair use.) Continue reading Video shows Bush Warned Before Katrina

NYT sues Pentagon for NSA documents

It seems the New York Times has FINALLY become more aggressive in getting to the bottom of exactly who, what, where, when, and why the National Security Agency and others spied on US citizens. This Reuters article called NYT sues Pentagon over domestic spying has more info. (Reuters says the Pentagon is the NSA’s parent organization.)

An important point they leave out in this article is that fact the NYT held onto the domestic spying story for over a year. They even consulted the government before going public with it. Bush can call the leak a “shameful act” all he wants but he allowed it to happen and knew it was going to happen way before the general public did. Why? Because Bush and his cronies want to maintain an appearance of government as usual, plausible deniability, protect a falling approval rating, etc. If they held this news any longer they’d be impeached by now.

Context is so important to news stories. Main stream media doesn’t provide context very well. You either have to be paying VERY good attention or know someone that you trust who does. This is a big reason why blogs are so important! Blogs provide context and connect the dots in the media history landscape!

Can You Digg What is Happening to Journalism?

Jeff Jarvis, Monday February 27, 2006 – The Guardian

I recently trained the faculty of the journalism school where I teach how to blog, vlog, podcast, wiki, and Digg. Actually, my son demonstrated Digg, and that was the most controversial moment of the day, as the professors fretted about second-rate stories getting on the front page. Jake showed them how the members can label a story “lame” and off it goes. He made it clear that Digg is owned by its public and that’s why it works. Shouldn’t all news organisations wish the public owned the news?

read more | digg story

The Mainstreaming of American Paranoia

Since governments first appeared on this planet citizens have worried that they were being spied upon. George Orwell’s book 1984 opened millions of eyes to a fictional dystopia. That world has never seemed so real to so many people. Until now.

In an effort to stay sane we suppressed the concept that our government would watch and listen to all that we do. This coping mechanism has helped to keep us blissfully ignorant. Sometimes we flirt with the idea that we’re being watched. It seems to be one of our favorite plots for movies and TV. The very idea that we can’t see who watches terrifies and thrills us at the same time. It is truly a post-modern modern illness.

It may not have been until now that the majority – aka “the mainstream” – of American citizens actually believe they are being spied upon. It is no longer just the hobby of tin foil hat wearing nuts. Nor is it the sole literary domain of so called mad geniuses like Philp K. Dick or Franz Kafka.

How did this come about? Why did it take so long for us the care en mass? Will we do something about it? What can you do to increase privacy in your life? What about the Internet? How do we retain our privacy there?

Right now, in the year 2006, President Bush has admitted that he approved clandestine spying on American citizens. Bush has claimed “if you’re talking to a member of al Qaeda, we want to know why.” Most Americans don’t care if the government spies on terrorist or anyone remotely connected to them. Many of us instinctually do not believe Bush. We know governments and corporations will not stop at spying on terrorist and suspected terrorists alone.

A new story at the Washington Post called “Surveillance Net Yields Few Suspects: NSA’s Hunt for Terrorists Scrutinizes Thousands of Americans, but Most Are Later Cleared” says that the US government with permission from Bush has spied on thousands of US citizens with no connection to terrorism. (That number is only in the few years Bush has been President! It doesn’t seem like a short amount of time I know…)

Intelligence officers who eavesdropped on thousands of Americans in overseas calls under authority from President Bush have dismissed nearly all of them as potential suspects after hearing nothing pertinent to a terrorist threat, according to accounts from current and former government officials and private-sector sources with knowledge of the technologies in use.

Mainstream media (MSM) is more manipulated by government than ever before. So much so we’ve become numb to all their reports. Many of us ignore them outright. But still our unconscious hears it, so we are affected involuntarily. Our absolute trust of all information is gone.

This makes it especially surprising that the MSM would report something so shocking and so damning about the President of the United States. (No prize in investigative journalism is due to the NY Times for breaking this story. They sat on it for months and told the President that they were releasing it to the public. Who knows was removed before we read it?) But is this shocking news enough to finally convince “mainstream” US citizen that they are being spied upon? Will we ALL finally question the elected officials we voted for long enough to put an end to illegal spying by any government or corporation?