Russia Today Strikes Again!

On The Media and my example of Culture Jamming come together in Russia Today attempting to interview Sam Hyde about his TEDxDrexel performance! I’ve posted the TED video earlier on in the blog, and it’s truly an insta-classic; quintessential modern humor. Abby Martin was actually interviewed for On The Media, and her sonorous voice is featured in this video as well. Martin, to remind you of the OTM piece, voiced her opinion on air which was against Russia’s actions in Crimea. Now this outspoken rebel is back with a vengeance and a taste for blood. Her behavior is actually pretty sensible, but culture jammers just can’t find any love these days. Go to 6:44 to see the beginning process for the interview. Feel free to watch the beginning as well.

After you watch the video, you’ll see RT thinking that Hyde is making the interview into a joke. Ironically, they’re interviewing him about his TED performance which he also handled very facetiously. Of course no one needs to provide a platform for culture jamming or trolling, but I am still disappointed that Mr. Hyde wasn’t vouchsafed an interview.

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The Dirty Dic

After hearing my presentation, I think that the whole class now has an idea of what @TheDirtyDic is all about. The Dirty Dic(tionary) is educational, it’s satire, it’s off-color humor, it’s culture jamming. I’m hesitant to say that it is a divergent voice; because as I had mentioned in class, ribald and lewd humor is commonplace on the internet. I think that when these jokes make their way from text to voice, they beget repugnance and come across and very gauche. This type of shock humor is harder to execute verbally, and that is why I have chosen twitter as my medium. Plus if you do learn these words, use them sparingly in real life, do not abuse them. No one likes a pedant.

Here are the links of similar projects that you all should be familiar with now:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/

http://victoriousvocabulary.tumblr.com/

http://www.youtube.com/user/hotforwords‎

and read up on what some people think about this type of internet humor here –

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/magazine/18ROFL-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=1&

Excerpt: “The “for the lulz” attitude can be more broadly thought of as a rationale for the idea that everything is worth making fun of, nothing should be taken seriously, not even a guy getting punched in the face until he bleeds.” And I put this attitude to work in tweeting everyday. I try not to leave any moral stone unturned (well, maybe a few) and believe that you can find humor in almost everything. Once you put a face on it and talk about a real person who was sexual assaulted, then it ceases to contain humor. The idea of sexual assault, and bending the way we look at it or respond to it, that can create humor. The person who can laugh at everything is the happier person, and definitely is a lot smarter and happier than I. The article also touches on the debate of the internet making us dumber. Do dumb people assemble on the internet, or does the internet make us dumber, maybe it creates an environment to procrastinate in which is often associated with a lack of intelligence? There are many problems here, and the write-up is a good one, take a look.

I hope y’all can learn something and accept this project for what it is meant to be. Most of all, I hope you all learn some vocabulary from it. The idea is that if the tweet is shocking, it will help you remember the word and definition. I can think of at least one tweet that I had deliberated on removing, but I think that those tweets are the ones that will stick with people if they read it. Check me out at https://twitter.com/thedirtydic

Economic Inequality Research Paper

My research paper is on economic inequality in the United States and media coverage around it. I am proving that there is indeed a lack of coverage on the event. A chunk of my paper will go towards discussing Occupy Wall Street, a huge recent protest trying to raise awareness of corporate greed. Media coverage of it was sometimes supportive, but usually negative, and it was the indymedia online sources that really propelled this movement.

http://occupywallst.org/ is the main website for the Occupy movement, created by “various radicals at the Occupy Solidarity Network.” Besides for op-eds and various propaganda pieces, the website serves a bulletin board as schedules/maps for marches/protest using mediated mobilization. This is a very primary source on how the Occupy movement views economic inequality, and their forum discusses many different media coverage topics.

Economic Inequality and What You Can Do About It: A Primer and Call to Action by Richard Dumont is a great source for proving economic inequality exists. This is necessary because I don’t want to lose audiences when I tell them how the media is covering inequality if they don’t believe that it exists. It’s a short book that talks about the negative effects in society due to this inequality.

How The Media Covered Occupy Wall Street-And Crony Capitalism by Mark Milke is an journal article that can be found with some simple googling, it analyzes news sources covering Occupy Wall Street and if they were actually reporting on just the event or actually talking about corporate corruption/subsidies.

There are many academic journals on the subject, including #Occupy Wall Street: Exploring Informal Learning About A Social Movement On Twitter by Benjamin Gleason. It explores how OWS was discussed on twitter. Sometimes positively or to gather the troops, but sometimes critique it.

I am also looking at Russia Today (rt.com), I’m sure most of us are familiar with the site by now. They were actually nominated for an international news emmy award for their extensive coverage of the OWS movement.

In class, our Professor mentioned OWS spokesman Jesse LaGreca who can be seen here- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INsxBCtlc20 I want to look at youtube videos and analyze television news coverage of the events and underrepresentation.

Here are some more sources while I’m at it, let me know if you want to send you my full bibliography.

DiPasquale, Christina. “Media Matters on Income Inequality Coverage Ahead of State of the Union Speech | Common Dreams.” Common Dreams. N.p., 27 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2014/01/27-0&gt;.

  •  Analysis of recent income inequality news from major networks before Obama mentions the inequality in his State of the Union Address.

Kurtz, Howard. “Are the media buying into the Democrats’ ‘income inequality’ push?.” Fox News. FOX News Network, 8 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/01/08/are-media-buying-into-democrats-income-inequality-push/&gt;.

  • Is the media believing that income inequality exists, because Democrats are pushing it for ‘political points.’

Karlin, Mark. “Readers Tell CNN, “We Want More Coverage of Income Inequality”.” Truth Out. N.p., 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2014. <http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/readers-tell-cnn-we-want-more-coverage-of-income-inequality-and-get-it/18282-readers-tell-cnn-we-want-more-coverage-of-income-inequality-and-get-it&gt;.

  • CNN readers are pushing CNN to include more coverage of economic inequality. This awareness is apparently connected to the OWS movement.

 

Using Automatic News Reporting Technology

In last week’s On The Media, we heard from Nick Diakopoulos of the Columbia Journalism School on the state of bots writing news before anyone else. But the topic was on earthquakes, the devastating seismic activity that we try to detect with technology. While humans are the ones looking through data that computers have formulated, we would still be lost without them. The idea of magnitude is calculated by a computer, and I see no reason why (if possible) that computer couldn’t release the information in a dry, if dense way.

In class we talked about the problems of twitter and the quick release of information that happens to go un-fact-checked.  Where humans type news into their twitter accounts, humans are the ones programming this auto-reporting software. Of course there is definitely room for error, but it needs to be taken in different contexts. An earthquake’s magnitude (or anything scientifically measured) is less debatable than news about a local election. What the OTM piece does bring up is that bots can not only be incorrect, but can also autocorrect misinformation. While now there are two possibilities for the piece to be wrong (the human and the bot), the bot could be a cheaper version of a human fact-checker, and could save that company money in the end.

A bot writing with style and floridity doesn’t seem likely in the near-future, but if it is possible, I say pursue it. But with everything, there need to humans behind the scenes controlling it. If the writing of the bots is dry, then humans will add to it. But if information needs to be sent immediately, a bot seems like a superior alternative to human reporting. Once again, it depends on the matter-at-hand. I wouldn’t like to open to the obituaries and see that people have outsourced the writing to bots. “John Stamos is dead. His ex-wife is not.  He died in his sleep.”

One thing that I did not like that Diakopoulos mentioned is that “by telling people where the data came from, it gives them an extra sort of signal about the credibility or the trustworthiness of this thing.” Let’s not say that computers are the almighty beings of society. I don’t think that we should believe a bot more so over a human, as once again, a human made that bot. We should acknowledge it’s swiftness in reporting and convenience. It is cheaper and less involved, it is economical. But so often is technology associated with preciseness that at this stage in auto-reporting, to develop a preference for bots will result in a certain manipulation of news by those that create the bots.

I’ve never heard of Russia Today

I’m looking at rt.com/usa for the first time ever today. I’m probably not coming back. First of all the two main categories for news stories are ‘USA’ and ‘Russian Politics.’ I suppose I’m biased after listening to this weeks On The Media, but I’m definitely seeing either anti-American stories or just stories about bad things happening in America. I’m seeing lots of NSA stuff, an article on Obama’s low approval rating, more NSA and pro-Snowden news, and people from the US going on strike. Meanwhile Russia is passing a new family code to protect traditional values. No matter how tyrannical that might actually be, it sure is worded nicely! There is certainly coverage on other things, like bitcoins and a new torrent site, but I don’t think that this place offers many unique news pieces or something you can’t get elsewhere. I don’t know why I thought that this might’ve been a good idea, but I looked at the comments and they show a very cynical side of humanity.

On The Media mentioned (jokingly?) that hotels are the only place to see RT, and I can’t remember having seen it in any hotels I’ve been to recently. I guess I support Liz Wahl and Abby Martin opining anti-Russian views on RT. For Abby Wahl, they mentioned that the producers enjoyed the dissent because it helped ratings. And if it weren’t for these anchors speaking out, I wouldn’t have known about RT. The U.S. likes to cover anti-Russian views, so CNN surely had no problem covering the Liz Wahl story. The piece probably gave RT some new supporters; haters as well, but those against the network can’t really stop the supporters from liking it. As was mentioned in the On The Media podcast, every nation has propaganda coverage, I think we should be grateful that Russia Today is more obvious in showing its angle.

TEDxDrexel Sam Hyde’s 2070 Paradigm Shift

Please read this before watching the video. So on the topic of culture jamming, I thought I would share the go-to video to make me laugh every time. And this happened to be a TED Talks video. Now, TED Talks are educational conferences held all around the world. When someone has “ideas worth spreading,” a TED Talk is a simple way to reach a large audience with your ideas/research/anything. Official TED Talks are conducted by the TED Conferences company, but they often give out licenses for other organizations to host a TED event known as a TEDx. The video above happens to be Drexel University’s TEDx.

And under a different genre, TED may use the content of each speaker under a creative commons license that each speaker has to agree to.

So Mr. Sam Hyde (a youtube comedian) doesn’t necessarily like TED Talks. He’s been quoted saying that they are too self-congratulatory. Others have criticized TEDs as an elitist group, often referring to restricting attendance to these events with high ticket prices or the case of one guest being uninvited after they had quit a prestigious firm. All in all, Sam Hyde wanted to mock the organization and subvert this mainstream cultural institution. If you’ve seen any other TED Talks, you may know that some are very serious and fact-driven and some just boring. But Hyde made it on stage, apparently by lying about his history (just listen to his introduction). I’ve shown this video to some that didn’t think it was so funny; cringe-worthy yes, but not funny. I think it’s important to understand what is expected of TED talks to see the humor that is Sam Hyde jamming the system. But please, enjoy.

Rewriting Vietnam War History

After hearing the On The Media’s coverage of Vietnamwar50th.com, I was left quite dispirited about the government but still hopeful for society. So we hear that the U.S. is hiding or rather trying to rewrite the regrettable history of the Vietnam war through a little interactive online  timeline created by the government. This was  very fitting after discussing how heinous Russia was as compared to the U.S. Maybe I’m putting words in peoples mouths, but I’m pretty sure that we all saw their government as abominably corrupt. I mean capitalism and big businesses rule our news, but in addition to that, our gov’t is acting like those monsters across the Pacific!

So what did I think after this story? I thought first of all that one historian and record keeper of events is definitely not enough. But as the podcast mentioned, other journalists have long disproved some things previously thought true. That’s great, but this is our government after all. And I’m sure we’d all hope them to be more credible than other sources, especially since their data is ostensibly more fact-checked (thanks to NSA wire-taps) than an independent historian. The promising news was that this problem was caught and hopefully can be corrected in the future. If we are the stockholders/owners of the government, then it is our job to check-up on incumbent management, demand share buybacks, and know what the hell is going on in the business and in its past. Easier said than done, the public is more likely to sign petitions to deport Justin Beiber (https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/deport-justin-bieber-and-revoke-his-green-card/ST1yqHJL) than attack a Vietnam War commemoration site.

I also think that this is a gateway story for people to fantasize about millions of other things that the gov’t could be concealing from us. Sure, maybe it’s happening. But what do I do to uncover it? Look for leads on government timelines? Vote for the county executive that says he’ll bring down corruption? It’s like watching a man die because you don’t know CPR. You know it’s bad, but what can you do? I in no way like what the gov’t is doing, but I’m not going to run for office just to try and stop it. Where do we go from here?

Feel free to enlighten me in the comments since our professor wants us all to comment more. I’m pretty much setting you up to get a good grade, thank me later.

Wikipedia and the Democratization of Knowledge

The democratization of knowledge; I just googled the term to remind me of the definition, and Wikipedia was there like a knight in shining armor.  The spread of knowledge is ultimately not a problem in my eyes. I believe that societal progress occurs through knowledge, what’s wrong with more smart people, really? But I know we were talking about Wikipedia in class, which is a debatably accurate source.

So Wikipedia doesn’t need to say that it’s all true, it is implied. Why shouldn’t it be true? Well, maybe those that are editing it don’t actually know what they’re talking about, or trolling. As our text stated, Wikipedia had more major errors than Encyclopedia Britannica. I didn’t even know EB articles were free online. But even those had mistakes. For all I know, the experts who called out mistakes may be proven wrong in the future. I think some errors can easy be classified as careless (the bird is blue, not red). But dammit if a color-blind guy doesn’t come forward with a B.A. in studio art and  name a new color just for birds. There are a lot of fallacies here (no, I don’t know the names of them), but say with history, we don’t know if York from Lewis & Clark’s expedition, was ever freed or later rewarded for his efforts. We might find documents in the future telling us something, but until then, we’re going to say what we know. And on his Wikipedia page, it is said that they don’t know. That’s pretty good for much-hated Wikipedia, stating that we as a whole world population, don’t know something and we are not claiming to know it. Maybe we have other things wrong on that page though. I think amateurs listing the possibilities of fact and not assuming one true is one of the best possible outcomes of Wikipedia.

And what’s true knowledge? Probably the most recent fact-checked work that answers more questions than the last bit of knowledge. And right underneath in small letters it says subject to change. I like the idea of laypersons learning, and if they all come together on Wikipedia to write an article on Rocketplane Kistler, I’m going to say with a little bit of certainty that I’m better off having read it than not. How do I know it’s accurate? I don’t, I have blind faith in the matter. But experts can’t be incentivized to produce all of their writings for free. That’s where I think Wiki often comes in, taking bits and pieces and summarizing books nicely while having convenient little sources at the bottom of the page.  What rewards do Wiki editors get out of contributing? I don’t know, but good for them. I don’t like the idea of ridding the world of experts, but only because we know that there is more to anything than its Wikipedia page. But getting rid of experts? Is that really ever going to happen? What will be our professions? Show me an expert in everything and I’ll believe that we won’t need experts. Tell me, can the human brain handle that much? Being a generalist to such a high caliber seems like something a machine can be, not us. The problem is that I don’t have enough time to read a book for every Wikipedia page. Experts (the nice ones) are here to expand our knowledge of things if we desire it. If the nature of knowledge is changing, I believe that it is for the better.

If knowledge is constantly in flux (even experts can get outdated), then why don’t we just view Wikipedia with a cautious eye? I think that’s what we do anyway, and here we’re just talking about it. Tell little kids not to believe everything they read/see/hear/touch/anything and Wikipedia can be what it should be, a site where people try to tell people things, hopefully correctly. Does Wikipedia eliminate the need for experts? Is a book on astrophysics going to be denied by the publisher because the Wiki page is their biggest competition? I ‘m of the opinion that the Wiki page doesn’t eat up those sales. I might say that it helps people get into the field so that they can later read that book! I know people have the chance to be wrong on Wikipedia. But take the internet away. Now they’re wrong in real life talking to you from across a lunch table. With the internet you just received the bad information faster than having to go to a lunch date. But tell if I’m wrong, didn’t you get some right information on the internet too? I don’t view Wiki as a data dump, the articles are short and easy to navigate. It’s just humanity trying to streamline massive books (not eliminating them) and piles of information. Books are still there and in my opinion not competing with Wikipedia. And if time isn’t a problem for you, then maybe you don’t need Wikipedia, and libraries are for you. I mean what are encyclopedias for anyway?

Reaction to Russia’s (Limited) Freedom of the Press

So after listening to On The Media as well as hearing what our classmates had to say, I am still not appalled by Russia’s actions these Olympic games. One thing that’s been stuck in my head is what one student said. Of course it’s not verbatim, but the gist was that in the United States, news eventually get released (e.g. Edward Snowden), but in Russia there are way more cover-ups. First of all I thought that this mode of thinking was absolutely unsupportable. There is no way to tell if we have more secrets or if they do, because they are just that, secrets.

And as our professor mentioned in class the other day, a lot of the American news coverage around Russia and the games is negative. All of these news articles seem to have a common theme- “Look how backwards Russia is.” And fittingly, the US hasn’t had great relations with the country. I mean really, look how crazy Russia really is!

Killing Stray dogs,Tips for “surviving” their hotels like it’s the dangerous Sahara,and they hate gays! Luckily we don’t so let’s cover it while letting you know that we think these anti-gay laws are backwards.

Meanwhile, Kansas is trying to pass a law clearly discriminating against same-sex couples as seen here. Of course I’m not saying that this news didn’t get any coverage, and tell me if I’m wrong but I think Russia’s laws are receiving way more media coverage. Do I think it’s bad that we’re talking about injustices overseas? No, I guess pressuring the Russian government is good, but are we missing out on some local stories, eh? Even On The Media perpetuated this evil Russia that we love to hate. Russia covering up all these problems around the Olympics! Oh dear!

I’m of the opinion that the Olympics are definitely not good for the local community hosting the event. Were they ever said to be? Read This. There are short-term economic boosts, but the economy doesn’t get better after the games. The above article mentions Greece’s now abandoned Olympic arenas, that’s real good for the neighborhood. The American media coverage for the 2000 Sydney games didn’t change how people thought about Sydney. Americans came in with their own views, found things to reaffirm those views, and reported it.”Given that there was no Sydney 2000 media coverage that served to fundamentally challenge already-held images and attitudes, American perceptions, not surprisingly, remained largely constant before and after the Sydney Olympics.” And I think that this is happening with these Olympics as well. Russia’s not the Soviet Union anymore, but look they hate gays, those blackguards!

Is Russia hurting the environment a good news story in my opinion? Yeah, we’re all focusing on these games, we want to know what’s going on, and we like to hear bad news. But this constant onslaught of terrible Russian story after another surely has me thinking, is there a ton wrong with Russia, or the American media coverage? Maybe both, but I think the latter is persuading us quicker than we realize. I’m not advocating some of these Russian policies, I’d assume that constructing the games with less negative environmental impacts is costly and that Russia took the cheap way out here. Trying to prevent that truth from being released goes against our American freedoms and is tyrannic. But this constant negative national coverage will do nothing but convince Americans that Russia is just plain ol’ evil. And to each their own judging what is and what is not evil.

So how much is Russia covering-up? More than we’d like. How much is everyone in the world covering-up, probably more than we’d like as well. That doesn’t make Russia’s position necessarily correct, but I think we might be too quick to judge since it’s all relative. And I think that the Olympics are a very expensive endeavor and an Olympics without cover-ups is way too good to be true. We already havethis news about the Rio games. And for the record, the government controlling news isn’t much different in my eyes than big shots owning a news corporation.

Joint Liability and the Case of Amy Unknown

So here we are, another aberration confusing our legal system because of the tangled web of laws. The following is a response to a podcast that can be heard here: http://www.onthemedia.org/story/new-frontiers-child-porn-law/

Here’s a fun fact that was excluded from the podcast: Amy’s rapist paid $6,325 in restitution and served only 10 years in prison due to production of child pornography(Source: http://www.atg.wa.gov/uploadedFiles/Paroline%20v.%20Amy%20Unknown%20and%20United%20States.pdf).

I must be missing something here, charged for production of child pornography? Does that somehow include rape in it? Sound like Amy’s lawyer really dropped the ball on this one. Did they not catch that he distributed this as well? I suppose that revenge (involuntary) porn laws would actually be effective here. Regardless, payment of just therapy seems like pretty meager compensation. What happened to emotional compensation? Especially considering her “condition drastically deteriorated when she learned that her child sex abuse images were widely traded on the Internet,” it’s clear in hindsight that the future wasn’t carefully projected.

I suppose that Amy can’t charge her uncle with the same offense again, but is distribution of child porn a different charge, would that fly? My ignorance of law prevents me from going much more in depth here unfortunately. As far as On The Media‘s coverage of the event, it’s leading me to believe that Amy can quantify her loss as an opportunity loss of income. The more she takes time to seek restitution, wouldn’t her needs increase?

I am not a lawyer, I do not know the exactly how joint and several liability works. “When many people jointly commit a crime…” On The Media reports, joint and several liability may be exercised. To me, they didn’t jointly commit this crime. Did they meet in a basement and all take turns looking at this photo? These persons acted individually, they committed the same crime possibly on a different coast, and yet they are responsible for each other now? As much as I’d love for these people to pay restitution to Amy, I would think that a law should not connect them. But on the other hand, Amy has one emotional burden for the photos being online,and quantified her loss. If she got her full restitution from say five rich individuals, that’s it? Those rich personages paid off the hundreds of others that viewed their photos? That doesn’t seem right. And a manhunt going on for years doesn’t seem very efficient either.

The gentleman at the end of the podcast mentions the current laws in place to limit “the legal system to prevent the abuse of those accused of crimes.” That is a very scary thought, being wrongly accused of something and now in debt having to seek out those that committed a crime like a damn hitman. But doesn’t the joint and several liability clause already make that possible? Paroline already pleaded guilty, so he might get all of this burden, I guess that goes to show you that child porn doesn’t pay (enough restitution).