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  • 05 May 11

    The English channel of Al Jazeera, which has been the subject of praise and criticism from US officials, was named Wednesday as the winner of a prestigious journalism award from Columbia University.

    Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism said Al Jazeera English was being honored with the Columbia Journalism Award which recognizes an individual or organization for "singular journalism in the public interest."

    The New York-based university said the journalism school's faculty selected the English channel of the Pan-Arab television network for the "overall depth and quality of its peerless coverage of the ongoing protests in the Middle East.""

  • 03 May 11

    As if a service with hundreds of millions of users needed to come of age, Twitter is said to have had its CNN moment Sunday night as the “place” where the news of the commando raid which killed Osama bin Laden was first shared. From a Blackberry, no less. Prior to that, Twitterers quickly spread the news about Obama’s hastily announced speech, long before one could find confirmation on Google News. And there was even a real-time account of what was going on in the neighborhood by an unsuspecting witness who complained of helicopter noise. All of this happened long before before President Obama made it official, and as news presenters on TV ran out of things to say.

  • 02 May 11

    The researcher who worked with McChesney and Nichols, R. Jamil Jonna, used census data to track revenues at public relations agencies between 1997 and 2007. He found that revenues went from $3.5 billion to $8.75 billion. Over the same period, paid employees at the agencies went from 38,735 to 50,499, a healthy 30 percent growth in jobs. And those figures include only independent public relations agencies -- they don't include PR people who work for big companies, lobbying outfits, advertising agencies, non-profits, or government.

    Traditional journalism, of course, has been headed in the opposite direction. The Newspaper Association of America reported [7] that newspaper advertising revenue dropped from an all-time high of $49 billion in 2000 to $22 billion in 2009. That's right -- more than half. A lot of that loss is due to the recession. But even the most upbeat news executive has to admit that many of those dollars are not coming back soon. Six major newspaper companies have sought bankruptcy protection in recent years.

  • 02 May 11

    Once again, Twitter carried vital information to Americans ahead of traditional news outlets. The news that American special forces had killed Osama bin Laden, perhaps the most wanted man in the world, first began to trickle out when the White House communications director posted on Twitter that President Obama planned to address the nation at 10:30 p.m. eastern time, The New York Times reported Sunday evening.

    Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks were also where people went to speculate--much of it erroneous--about what the president would discuss during his address to the nation.

    According to the Times, the first scoop didn't come from that paper, the Washington Post, ABC News or any other news organization. Keith Urbahn, once chief of staff for former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, was credited for the Twitter scoop when he posted this note: "So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot damn."

  • 30 Apr 11

    The San Francisco Chronicle is apparently in trouble with the White House for posting video of a protest against the White House's treatment of suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning. The Chronicle's Carolyn Lochhead reports: "The White House threatened to exclude the San Francisco Chronicle from pooled coverage of its events in the Bay Area after the paper posted a video of a protest at a San Francisco fundraiser for President Obama last week, Chronicle editor Ward Bushee said. White House guidelines governing press coverage of such events are too restrictive, Bushee said, and the newspaper was within its rights to film the protest and post the video.

    Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci was the designated "pool" reporter at an Obama fundraiser--meaning that her write-up would be shared with other reporters who were not allowed into the event."

  • 27 Apr 11

    More than 750 "secret" Guantánamo prisoner "assessment" files released by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks cover almost every prisoner since the U.S. military base was opened in Cuba in 2002 and reveal the United States believed many of those held at Guantánamo were innocent or low-level operatives. The Guardian published a new series of reports based on the files that show how a single star informer at Bagram base won his freedom by incriminating at least 123 other prisoners. We’re joined from London by The Guardian investigations executive editor, David Leigh.

  • 21 Apr 11

    Award-winning photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington, director and producer of the documentary film “Restrepo,” were killed Wednesday when they came under fire in Libya. Hetherington and Hondros, who had covered conflict zones around the world, were part of a group of six photographers reporting on the Libyan conflict in a particularly dangerous part of the besieged city of Misurata. We speak with Carroll Bogert of Human Rights Watch, who worked closely with Hetherington commissioning and disseminating his photos from war-torn regions. Most recently Hetherington helped photograph secret police files documenting the brutality of the Gaddafi regime. To discuss the life and work of Hondros, we speak with Christina Larson, a contributing editor to Foreign Policy magazine. We are also joined by Mohamed Dayem of the Committee to Protect Journalists, about the increasing dangers faced by reporters covering conflicts in the region."

  • 19 Apr 11

    Free speech online has come under withering attack from the astroturf lobby -- corporate front groups that are determined to hand control of the Internet to companies like AT&T and Comcast. They've joined the forces of the Tea Party with pro-corporate attack groups like Americans for Prosperity to urge weak members of Congress to betray the public interest by voting to strip the Federal Communications Commission of its ability to protect our basic freedom to access an open Internet.

    And betray us is exactly what House representatives did earlier this month, passing a "Resolution of Disapproval" (H.J. Res. 37), which is designed to let phone and cable companies block any speech they don't like, charge users anything they can get away with, and hold innovation hostage to their profit margins. "

  • 18 Apr 11

    For Facebook users, the free ride is over. Profiles, status updates and messages all include a mother lode of voluntarily provided information. The social media site is using it to help advertisers find exactly who they want to reach. Privacy watchdogs are aghast. Facebook is now tracking user activity, shooting online ads to users based on their demographics, interests, even what they say to friends on the site - sometimes within minutes of them typing a key word or phrase. For example, women who have changed their relationship status to "engaged" on their Facebook profiles shouldn't be surprised to see ads from local wedding planners and caterers pop up when they log in. Hedgehog lovers who type that word in a post might see an ad for a plush toy version of the spiny critters from Squishable.com. Middle-aged men who list motorcycling as one of their hobbies could get pitches from Victory Motorcycles. If a Facebook user becomes a fan of 1-800-FLOWERS, her friends might receive ads telling them that she likes the floral delivery service.

  • 14 Apr 11

    Pan-Arab broadcasters who played a key role reporting Arab uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are helping dynastic rulers police the gates of the Gulf to stop the revolts from spreading on their patch, analysts say. Qatar-based Al Jazeera, the leading Arabic language network, was pivotal in keeping up momentum during protests that toppled Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, both entrenched rulers who were no friends of Qatar's ruling Al Thani dynasty.

    When Al Jazeera's cameras turned to Yemen, it was as though its guns were trained on the next target in an uprising longtime Arab leaders were convinced was of the channel's making."

  • 08 Apr 11

    Democracy Now broadcasts from the National Conference on Media Reform in Boston where more than 2,000 media activists, journalists, academics and lawmakers have gathered during a time of massive cutbacks in the news industry and increasing concentration of media ownership. Comcast merged with NBC in January, and last month AT&T announced plans to purchase T-Mobile, a deal that could leave the country with just three wireless carriers. Meanwhile the Federal Communications Commission faces increasing criticism for its lack of progress on expanding the nation’s broadband system. We host a media roundtable with Craig Aaron, incoming president of media advocacy group Free Press; Sascha Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative; and Malkia Cyril, the executive director and founder of the Center for Media Justice.

  • 08 Apr 11

    More than 2,500 grassroots activists, policymakers, journalists and scholars from across the country streamed into the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston Friday for the National Conference for Media Reform, and tens of thousands more joined in through satellite TV and online through Twitter, Facebook and the Web. The landmark event, hosted by Free Press, is the largest of its kind devoted to media, technology and democracy.

    “There’s no other event like the National Conference for Media Reform, and this year is our biggest and best yet,” said Craig Aaron, incoming president and CEO of Free Press. “Nowhere else will you find so many creative people, committed activists and new ideas about the future of media and technology all in one place. The media system we have isn’t the only option. Better media start here in Boston.”

    The 2011 National Conference for Media Reform is the fifth event of its kind since Free Press started in 2003. "

  • 23 Mar 11

    A US judge dealt a major setback to Google's plans for a vast digital library and online bookstore, rejecting a settlement hammered out by the Internet giant with authors and publishers. US District Court Judge Denny Chin on Tuesday said in a ruling 13 months after the parties had their day in his Manhattan courtroom that the proposed settlement is "not fair, adequate and reasonable." "While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the (settlement) would simply go too far," Chin said in his 48-page decision."

  • 21 Mar 11

    The BBC World Service is to receive a "significant" sum of money from the US government to help combat the blocking of TV and internet services in countries including Iran and China. In what the BBC said is the first deal of its kind, an agreement is expected to be signed later this month that will see US state department money – understood to be a low six-figure sum – given to the World Service to invest in developing anti-jamming technology and software. The funding is also expected to be used to educate people in countries with state censorship in how to circumnavigate the blocking of internet and TV services."

  • 21 Mar 11

    While the events in Libya certainly merit coverage, the American press has unfortunately failed to provide the same detailed coverage to the events in Yemen and Bahrain, two US allies where mostly nonviolent protesters are being brutally put down by the armed forces in those countries. The lack of coverage of the situation in Bahrain and Yemen is especially alarming because both are close U.S. allies and recipients of major U.S. military and economic assistance — meaning that the U.S. actually bears a responsibility to make sure its assistance is not being used in ways that are contrary to American values.

  • 16 Mar 11

    As part of the secret state's campaign against whistleblowers and transparency advocates, U.S. Magistrate Theresa Buchanan granted federal prosecutors access to WikiLeaks-related Twitter accounts. The 20-page ruling, issued in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, upheld government demands that it be allowed to seize the Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks supporters Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a leftist member of the Icelandic parliament, computer security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and Rop Gonggrijp, the cofounder of the Dutch ISP XS4All.

    Jónsdóttir was specifically targeted for her role in helping WikiLeaks release the Collateral Murder video last year that exposed the wanton slaughter of a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad, including two Reuters photojournalists, by a U.S. military Apache helicopter crew. Two children were also seriously wounded in the unprovoked attack."

  • 09 Mar 11

    The aspen grove on Kebler Pass in Colorado is one of the largest organisms in the world. Thousands of aspen share the same, interconnected root system. Last weekend, I snowmobiled over the pass, 10,000 feet above sea level, between the towns of Paonia and Crested Butte. I was racing through Colorado to help community radio stations raise funds, squeezing in nine benefits in two days. The program director of public radio station KVNF in Paonia dropped us at the trailhead, where the program director of KBUT public radio in Crested Butte and a crew of station DJs picked us up on snowmobiles to whisk us 30 miles over the pass.

    Now that the Republicans have taken over the House of Representatives, one of their first acts was to “zero out” current funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Furthermore, Rep. Doug Lamborn from Colorado Springs has offered a bill to permanently strip CPB funding. Lamborn told NPR, “We live in a day of 150 cable channels—99 percent of Americans own a TV, we get Internet on our cell phones, we are in a day and age when we no longer need to subsidize broadcasting.”"

  • 08 Mar 11

    DAN RATHER IS EBULLIENT, more so than usual, as we hurtle north from San Diego in a rented Chevy SUV. The former CBS News anchorman is recounting a story he'd reported in 2007 about problems with electronic voting machines. "We found out that these wonderful, electronic, technological marvels were manufactured in what amounted to a sweatshop in the Philippines—the Philippines, exclamation point!" he says, in that ascending tone so familiar to generations of Americans. "The equipment wouldn't fit in its boxes, so the workers, two of them, had to put their feet on the thing and shove it into the box. They've got to get it in there, it's got to ship, and so they've got four feet in there pushing this thing." He lets out a laugh. "In some cases, the company's explanation of why these things are good fell into the category of 'If bullshit were music, these guys would be a full symphony orchestra.'""

  • 04 Mar 11

    Arianna Huffington scoffed at a group of unpaid Huffington Post contributors that announced they would stop contributing content to the site, weeks after its $315 million sale to AOL was announced. Huffington, speaking alongside AOL chief Tim Armstrong at PaidContent’s 2011 Conference in New York, dismissed the notion that all bloggers should be paid, given the wide platform HuffPo gives them. She argued that blogging on the Huffington Post is equivalent to going on Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart or the “Today” show to promote their ideas. And, she said, there are plenty of people willing to take their place if they do.

  • 01 Mar 11

    Facebook will be moving forward with a controversial plan to give third-party developers and external websites the ability to access users' home addresses and cellphone numbers in the face of criticism from privacy experts, users, and even congressmen. Facebook quietly announced the new policy in a note posted to its Developer Blog in January. It suspended the feature just three days later following user outcry, while promising that it would be "re-enabling this improved feature in the next few weeks."

    In response to a letter penned by Representatives Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) expressing concern over the new functionality, Facebook reaffirmed that it will be allowing third parties to request access to users' addresses and phone numbers."

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