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Archive for July, 2010

It’s insane to me the amount of coverage the BP oil spill has overseas when supposedly in Nigeria, spills like this happen often and have ruined many parts of the environment along the coast. Coverage on Africa has always been limited and polls often suggest it’s the least wanted international news, except for maybe when the World Cup is there. 

It’s incredibly sad to me that spills like this happen and never really get reported to the rest of the world. I want journalism to be able to cover everything, not just what people’s tastes want. I hate that money has to be in control of journalistic content to an extent.

In this business, we need ratings,  and to get ratings,  we need good stories that people want to see and give them the information they care about. It’s too bad that money is cut from international news and sending people abroad.

In the case of Nigeria, it took a US oil spill that got lots of attention to get theirs even a little noticed. This shows the impact of US news and media on the world. Its powerful and can bring to light situations in other countries.

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G20 protesting has never really been completely free of violence and damage and this year is no exception. It seems the masked anarchists are at it again. Their black masks covering their face and their seemingly free-of-police actions to turn parts of the city up-side-down. In Seattle the same thing happened when the WTO met.

While most groups were peacefully protesting, a group of masked people went through and destroyed lots of property for about an hour without police getting them. Some say it’s almost as if they have a deal with police to not catch them. Then after all the turmoil, the police have an excuse to round up peaceful protesters who are angry.

 Journalists caught up in the mix are easily arrested because they have no more rights than your average citizen. If police hold and arrest an entire city block of people, you can bet there will be a few journalists as well as people just walking through the area stuck in cuffs.

This I think pulls up another question. Why can police arrest large groups of people with out singling out probable cause before doing so. Don’t we have rights to not get arrested if we are documenting events or just passing through as regular citizens? I think we should. Police should not be able to “just arrest” someone. You should have to break a law to be in jail. It’s a surprise cities even want to hold these large events with so much negative press and drama that comes with protests. There were just as many stories on protests as there were stories on what was happening at these meetings. Often the stories give local police a bad name. I think for journalists there are many questions to ask though and we must check into conspiracies such as the anarchists causing problems to justify police action. You never know when something may turn out to be true, even if it doesn’t seem right.

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Google vs. China.  It seems to be in the news a lot lately. They just can’t seem to agree on, once again, content.  China wants Google to comply with censorship laws. Google, as a private company, believes they don’t have to comply if they don’t want to. It’s a classic tale of countries not agreeing on what should and shouldn’t be controlled and by whom if it is on the internet. In the US, private companies can basically control what they want. In China, well,  not so much.

When we all have different ideas of what is culturally acceptable and what free speech is and how it should be used, we run into these issues. The Internet is still so young that all these content laws are still being decided and because content transcends borders, it’s a matter of what can be international law.

Take, for instance, leaks of information that could be potentially threatening to a country’s security. Again, then who is to say what is threatening to national security? What are the guidelines?

My professor told us about this site called “wikileaks” I believe. Countries are already searching to find its founder because of all the leaked information on it. There are hardly any boundaries to the Internet, but where should they be? I think the next 20 years will be crucial in spelling that out.

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Pakistan internet

I just read an article about how Pakistan wants to control the content of their Internet to keep anti-Islam ideas at bay. This is too bad, however, I don’t think they are going to be able to do it very easily. The Internet is so vast and people have access to it in soo many different ways. It seems strange to think they will be able to control it that much. (Maybe I am mistaken.)

However this idea may not be entirely far-fetched. We, in the US, delete certain content in the US if it contains libel information or things like child pornography that is not culturally appropriate. That Pakistan wants to control something to protect their extremely dominant religion doesn’t seem so strange. It’s something many of them culturally believe in, however, many, most likely, do not believe in it.

However, it’s possible this blocking of information may also mean the people will get much more irked, especially the young people that may look towards the West. As people were pushed around in Tehran, they lashed out but then were beaten by police in some cases.

This ban, I read, has put blocks on web blogs, pornography and social media sites.  Can you imagine the US suddenly not being able to log onto Facebook. Oh the terror! All hell would break loose. Sites like Facebook are extremely popular worldwide.  The thing I don’t get is that this sort of information (I think) cannot be kept a secret.  The government may be able to slow down the spread of ideas but definitely not stop them.

How many pushed buttons will it take to get Pakistani people to protest? Let’s (unfortunately) find out.

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Recently, I did a story that covered the funeral of a soldier who died while fighting overseas.  Press was not allowed into the funeral service itself but there was a tent set aside at the burial for media. At KOMU 8 TV, we have a policy to not “intrude” in funerals and to tell the story a different way other than showing funeral video.

What I did for my story was talk to other veterans in the community and to one of this soldier’s friends on camera before the service and to the Patriot Guard riders that lined the way to the funeral. I think it turned out well and covered the news without interfering.

Other papers in town showed photos from the burial and on “Views of the News” , a local radio show, they talked about KOMU’s strict policy to not use funeral video. They said the policy was outdated and that very few news media hold this policy, but my question is should we take these photos?

I think, if the family cares that we are there, then we shouldn’t. If they want to share the funeral with the community then I , personally, think we should cover it. Why not? However I don’t necessarily believe in showing bodies, but coffins? Mourners?  My vote is as long as they don’t mind, then shoot it! Often when a young person like this dies, or the funeral is public, the community is also mourning and we can’t ignore this but we also shouldn’t take it too far. If we are not wanted there, we can cover it a different way and still tell the story.

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Free speech. Here’s another topic countries don’t seem to agree on. Should it be allowed? Does it help a democratic society? How do you define free speech? What can NOT be considered free speech. These were some of the questions we are looking at in my communications law class this summer.

I like to think about the different cases. As I mentioned in another blog, a man in Germany who runs nakedpeople.de is demanding that Apple let him have an application for the Iphone. He says just because his site isn’t in okay in the USA, doesn’t mean they should block it in Europe where his site IS okay and culturally normal.

I know this is a matter of a private company controlling speech and not a government entity, but it’s scary to think how much content could potentially be controlled by  private companies like Apple who have total control over content on your computer or phone. Should that be right? A company in another country controlling what you in your country can and can’t access? 

In the US at least, the government cannot control what a company allows or doesn’t allow.

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As I’ve been starting to work at Newsy.com and searching for stories, I’ve been learning how different everyone can tell the same story. I love the international political stories, which I have pitched and worked on every time so far. As I’m researching for different views I’ve learned I can almost always count on Russia Today  to have alternate explanations and opinions, especially when it comes to stories involving communism.

For example, after the North Korea sinking of the South Korean ship, I found most videos talked about the investigation and the international view that the North did the act. Russia Today, however, also reported there was little evidence to make that claim and mentioned the whole ordeal could be a conspiracy against North Korea.

It’s so interesting to me how every country can tell history differently, their news differently and have such different level of standards. This makes it hard to work with journalists across borders.  Working with a journalist from Lithuania was different from working with one from the Netherlands or London. Even how we get out information is so different. What we print is different. There is no one simple solution to how journalism should work around the world because everyone believes something else.

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