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Bye Tucker

Friday, 7:29 am

By Kate




I am absolutely thrilled to the marrow to learn that CNN is booting Tucker Carlson out into the cold mean streets. No mercy. He’s gone. And so is the obnoxious program, Crossfire, on which he and his equally useless co-host, Paul Begala, did nothing to inform, but a great deal to confuse. I gave up on the program a long time ago because I couldn’t understand anything anyone said since they all screamed at each other at once.

I’m pleasantly surprised to learn that the new president of CNN referenced Jon Stewart by saying, “I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.” And that is—ranting partisan political shows on cable were “hurting America.” It was a fine day for broadcast journalism when Stewart blasted Carlson and Begala on their own program and left them slack jawed and speechless a couple of months ago.

The new CNN president believes that CNN should be in the business of reporting the news, not discussing it.

Well, we’ll see how it goes. But anyone who thinks Jon Stewart was on the money probably has his head screwed on right.


Foreign Policy Does Blogs

Monday, 11:57 am

By KateC




Web of Influence By Daniel W. Drezner, Henry Farrell. (Foreign Policy magazine, November/December 2004)—no registration required.

The article’s blurb says: “Every day, millions of online diarists, or “bloggers,” share their opinions with a global audience. Drawing upon the content of the international media and the World Wide Web, they weave together an elaborate network with agenda-setting power on issues ranging from human rights in China to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. What began as a hobby is evolving into a new medium that is changing the landscape for journalists and policymakers alike.”

And it may be one of the most realistic articles about the effect of blogs on not only the 4th estate, but foreign policy. The article doesn’t thumb its nose at blogs as we’ve recently become accustomed to reading. Quite the contrary, in fact. The section about Professor Juan Cole is a good example.

As a prominent expert on the modern history of Shiite Islam, Cole became widely read among bloggers—and ultimately journalists—following the outbreak of Iraqi Shiite unrest in early 2004. With his blog attracting 250,000 readers per month, Cole began appearing on media outlets such as National Public Radio (NPR) and CNN to provide expert commentary. He also testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “As a result of my weblog, the Middle East Journal invited me to contribute for the Fall 2003 issue,” he recalls. “When the Senate staff of the Foreign Relations Committee did a literature search on Moktada al-Sadr and his movement, mine was the only article that came up. Senate staff and some of the senators themselves read it and were eager to have my views on the situation.”

Cole’s transformation into a public intellectual embodies many of the dynamics that have heightened the impact of the blogosphere. He wanted to publicize his expertise, and he did so by attracting attention from elite members of the blogosphere. As Cole made waves within the virtual world, others in the real world began to take notice.

Then there is this paragraph, which may be the most important in the entire article:

Blogs are becoming more influential because they affect the content of international media coverage. Journalism professor Todd Gitlin once noted that media frame reality through “principles of selection, emphasis, and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters.” Increasingly, journalists and pundits take their cues about “what matters” in the world from weblogs. For salient topics in global affairs, the blogosphere functions as a rare combination of distributed expertise, real-time collective response to breaking news, and public-opinion barometer. What’s more, a hierarchical structure has taken shape within the primordial chaos of cyberspace. A few elite blogs have emerged as aggregators of information and analysis, enabling media commentators to extract meaningful analysis and rely on blogs to help them interpret and predict political developments.


Hurricane coverage

Thursday, 6:21 am

By KateC




One of the things you probably don’t know about me is that I am a long-time weather junkie. So, when a hurricane rears its ugly head, I can be found with the television remote in hand, flipping between The Weather Channel and any other channel doing a good job of coverage. Unlike others who gripe about “The Hurricane Channels” that replace the otherwise pitiful news channel programming, I’m the one who is thinking they’re finally doing something useful with our airwaves. Last night it was Scarborough Country on MSNBC and I’ll even overlook the few moments of having to listen to Halley Barbour drone on about his state’s good fortune. (I don’t like Halley Barbour).

Over and over I listened to authorities and weather persons talk about the importance of safety first and worries about damage later. True enough. Lives can’t be replaced. But that has to be small cold comfort to those who have lost everything to the forces of nature. Some folks greeted this morning, along the Gulf Coast, with their skins still intact, but with nothing else left. Unless you’re in that situation, it’s hard to imagine just what would be going through your mind. I’m not too sure I’d feel grateful, though I’m pretty sure I’d feel a little guilty for not feeling grateful on some level. But no, in facing the enormity of loss that some of the folks down there are facing this morning, I don’t think the platitudes of “be thankful you’re alive” would offer much solace.

While I watched the Hurricane Coverage last night, I found the difference between the Weather Channel and Scarborough Country striking. The imported reporters and meteorologists from the Weather Channel seemed to have little invested in the locations they were covering. Their unbridled enthusiasm and excitement over being in the hot seat showed. Scarborough, on the other hand, comes from Pensacola and Hurricane Ivan was personal. I’m not a Scarborough fan, but last night he did a good job. I appreciate the human touch he injected into his show’s coverage, but more than that, he did a yeoman’s job of pulling together his resources—critical information from critical people, from Washington to the Gulf—to keep the Gulf Coast residents informed of what was happening, what was going to happen, where the shelters were located, what the law enforcement officials in the various communities along the coast were advising. Useful information.

Having gone through a small, but frightening, Category One hurricane thirteen years or so ago, I can appreciate the personal anecdotes related to the sounds and sights of being in a hurricane—along with acknowledging the fear...and knowing there are a lot of other people out there who care. But what you really want to know when you’re about to get slammed by an enormous force of nature is what federal, state and local officials are saying, where the shelters are, what help will be there as soon as the hurricane has passed, what procedures one must follow for aid or claims, when curfews will be lifted and the like.

Scarborough delivered and I was impressed. It was one night of the year when political differences were put on hold. He didn’t even attempt to get in any political pot shots. I appreciated it.

Good luck to the Gulf Coast residents. My heart goes out to you for your exhaustion, losses, and sorrows.

Meanwhile, The Red Cross really needs some assistance. Please consider sending a donation. Hurricane season isn’t over yet and their coffers are already seriously depleted from Charley and Frances.


Project Censored

Wednesday, 7:33 am

By KateC




Project Censored 2005: The Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003-2004. I would be hard-pressed to select one story that stands out above the others, however, I might consider High Levels of Uranium Found in Troops and Civilians a contender. It’s sad reading, but it should be read.

Project Censored explains: “The Mission of Project Censored is to educate people about the role of independent journalism in a democratic society and to tell The News That Didn’t Make the News and why.

Project Censored is a media research group out of Sonoma State University which tracks the news published in independent journals and newsletters. From these, Project Censored compiles an annual list of 25 news stories of social significance that have been overlooked, under-reported or self-censored by the country’s major national news media.”

(link via Rogi: Live and Direct)


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