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.

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Terrorist Attack or Plane Malfunction?

It is funny how still today, even after how much we brag about technology advances, a plane transporting 239 people, can just disappear out of thin air. Personally, it is not the air piracy aspect of this issue that inspired me to write about it, but the way the media is portraying the situation. For some news reports, the pilot is the terrorist, for others, the Iranian’s with the stolen passports. It reminds me to the situation with Knox case of the girl who went abroad. Every news broadcaster sees what they want to see, and most importantly, what they want to sell, and report it as truth.
This specific news has changed so much over the past few days that you would have to stay updated by the hour to keep up with all the new information. First it was reported that the plane supposedly feel off the sky when it went off the radar. They basically used this story to make up for the fact that they had lost the plane and had no idea what had happened to it. Fuel was found in the ocean near to were the plane was supposed to fly by and this reinforced the theory that it was a plane malfunction.
After a couple of days we learned that the plane was actually sending pings for at least five to seven more hours after it went off the grid proving that it did not just fall of the sky. This new information led them to change their search plan completely.
Only after this was learned by the public did the media start with the conspiracy theories about who took over the plane and what will happen to the 239 passengers that were traveling on the plane.
It was very alarming on how fast these theories were changing and how drastically the theories would be. It shows how much can we really trust the media after all.

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.

You Don’t Even Go Here.

It is alarming to realize the reality of our Homeland Security and Border Patrol officers. Personally it is offensive to hear of news like these in the radio. To think that the rights of born americans, naturalized, or residents, are just shattered the second they look different than the common belief of what an American looks like is not unexpected but plain wrong.
The United States has one of the most diverse cultures in the world and this makes the concept of, “what does an American look like,” an impossible thing to grasp. If the United States has people from all over the world like Ireland, France, Italy, India, Pakistan, Russia, Uruguay, Panama, Cuba, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic, then who decides how an American looks like.
An American should look like the documents they are able to provide. If they are in the country in legal terms, they should be able to be free and enjoy all the same rights as other’s who look like “Americans” and might not even be legal. It is an ignorant belief to think that because you look like you are from somewhere around the world where going to the United States would be a step up, that you are either an illegal immigrant or on a partial visa.
I remember being in high school and having my teacher tell me that what makes a person from a specific country is not where you were born, or how you look like, but nationalistic ideas. It has to do with the idea of where you think you belong and what country you are willing to fight for. If people have to go through the very extensive process of being naturalized, swearing that they would give their lives for the American people and the greater nation, and getting their citizenship, then with what right does the border patrol think they can just stop me because I look different to what the ideal American.
I am Dominican and the amount of jokes that I hear from fellow students about how my visa will expire soon or how all I want in life is a green card, is just appalling. What no one cares to ask is if I am American, how could I be American, right? Well I was born in Manhattan, New York. I lived illegally in the Dominican Republic for sixteen years until my parents actually did the paperwork to double my nationality and I am now back in New York for school. I am both American and Dominican and no one would have ever known.

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.

The Brain Behind the Composer?

In this article we are introduced two people; The composer of beautiful music that has transcended to be a part of a very impacting event in Japanese history, and the poser. This all started when the Olympian Japanese skater,Daisuke Takahashi, was planning on using a very beautiful and symbolic piece thought to be written by Mamoru Samuragochi. Shortly after we learn that Japanese media has been living under a twenty year hoax and that Samuragochi has not been composing all this music. His story is a classic hero romantic story because of how he overcame his hardship of being deaf and even then continuing to compose music when he might not even be deaf, or so is reported.

Samuragoshi, who has been compared to Beethoven because of his hearing impairment, turns out not to be hearing impaired at all. Takashi Niigaki, the brains behind the music, came clean before the big skater’s performance in Sochi because he didn’t want to make Takahashi, the skater, an accomplice to such a big lie.

The most important issue is the fact that the piece that was lied about was originally composed for the victims of the Hiroshima nuclear disaster. This makes the news be even more controversial. How can they trust a man, Samuragochi, who has lied to the whole country’s face?

Then came the question of how did no one find this out before? It was said that because classical music had been losing following in every single part of the world, to find someone like Samuragoshi, whom was portrayed and styled as a pop star, was special. For Japanese meadia it was not even worth looking into his credibility and then again, why would someone fabricate such a lie in the first place?

I found this report to be very alarming because of how little people care about knowing who these starts are, they just care about their fabricated fame. It is the same as the Mathew Mills debacle from last week. Journalism is losing credibility and it is just shocking sometimes to realize how little of the truth is really reaching the audience.

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.

Knox Found Guilty… Again!

Every college student dreams about studying abroad at some point and for Amanda Know that was her Junior year when she went to Italy. Her abroad experience could not have turned more wrong.I found this news to be quite interesting and at the same time alarming because of the inconsistency of the Italian, British and American media.

Amanda Knox was first found guilty of murdering her roommate she had only known for three weeks, Meredith Kercher, seven years ago when she was only twenty. After serving five years in prison she was set free only to be condemned guilty again this past month after two years of freedom. What I found interesting about this story is how the media twisted the story to make it interesting. Rudy Guede, a suspect whom was found later on in the investigation and had his prints all over the crime scene and his DNA was inside the victims body, was given a quick trial and put in jail for even less time that the young American girl set to be a devil with an angel face. The media continued to publicize that Amanda Knox and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, had taken Meredith’s life in the midsts of a sexual game or maybe even satanic act when there was no evidence to link them to the crime. They were speculated to have cleaned the murder scene and manipulated Rudy Guede to do all the dirty work and leave the evidence behind.

Being a college student myself, about to enter her Junior year, and interested in studying abroad, this news is very alarming and scary. The faults on our legislative system and the pull the media has on the image of a person can change someones life forever. Amanda Knox convicted of murderer because of her bizarre reactions to her roommate’s death and was linked to the murderer because of her faulty memory about the night before. If this are reasons to cause someone of murder, especially an experimental college student, then most of the college students around the world could be found guilty as charged every sunday morning.

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).

Reaction to Zadie Smith Class Discussion

After our discussion in class, I realized that most of us shared the same opinion concerning our thoughts on social media. Each of us are living in a society that is almost completely reliant on technology. As a result of this, we are affected more by technology than earlier generations. There was point made in class about how we rely on technology to communicate and how it is unrealistic. This is something that is going to negatively affect our generation concerning interactions in the work and school place, as well as every day interactions. When a person is responding to  an e-mail or text message, it is not a realistic scenario because the person responding has time to think about their response. This time difference is going to be problematic for people surrounded by technology concerning person to person interactions.

The idea of Mark Zuckerberg’s version of us is something really interesting because it is true. I think people find the need to put themselves into categories especially with social networks. People on Facebook can easily put themselves into different categories in order to identify with others like them. However, this raises the question of our social media presence coming into our every day life. I think this makes people feel required to be the person they portray on social media which may conflict with their life outside of social media. Another interesting point brought up in class was that some jobs require you to have social media in order to promote their business. This example shows how important technology is in today’s society and how younger generations may have an advantage over older ones. A person’s social media and actual human presence are almost being forced to mesh in an instance like this where they are supposed to promote their employer. However, I think this is problematic as well because some employers use social media as a way to decide on hiring someone or not. Therefore, if there is something that will harm a person’s chances in the work world, then social media is something that needs to be avoided. Social media is still developing and reaching different generations which is causing it to be problematic in different instances.