The News, It Is a-changin': bin Laden and the Mass Media


 

by Walter Brasch

 

It was a little before 9 a.m.

 I was chatting with two students.

 Another student came in, and asked if we had heard a plane had hit a building in New York City.

 We hadn't, but I assumed it was a light private plane, and the pilot had mechanical difficulty or problems with wind turbulence.  

 A minute or so later, another student came in. It was a passenger jet, she said.

 The first student had read the information in a text from a friend, who had received it from another friend, who may have heard it somewhere else. The second student had read it while surfing a news site on the Internet. In a few moments I became aware of how news dissemination had changed, and it was the youth who were going to lead the information revolution.

 A half-hour later, in an upper division journalism class, we were flipping between TV channels, and students were texting with friends on campus and in other states.

 By 12:30 p.m., the beginning time for my popular culture and the media class, every one of the 240 students heard about the murders and terrorism that would become known as 9/11. Most had not seen it on TV nor heard about it from radio. There was no way I was going to give that day's prepared lecture. The students needed to talk, to tell others what they heard, to listen to what others had heard. To cry; to express rage. And, most of all, they needed to hear the conflicting information, and learn the facts.

 For the first century of colonial America, news was transmitted at the pace of a fast horse and rider. But even then, most citizens read the news only when they wandered into a local coffee shop or tavern and saw the information posted on a wall. The first newspaper, Boston's Publick Occurrences, lasted but one issue, dying in 1690. The next newspaper, the Boston News-Letter, wasn't published until 14 years later. Fifteen years passed before there was another newspaper. By the Revolution, the major cities along the eastern seaboard had weekly newspapers, with news from England taking up to three months to reach the American shores and be printed. News from one colony to another might take a couple of weeks or more. All of it was subject to censorship by the colonial governors.

 By the Civil War, reporters in the field could transmit news by telegraph—assuming that competitors or the other side didn't cut the wires. Even the most efficient operation took at least a day to gather, write, transmit, and then print the news.

 Radio brought World Wars I and II closer to Americans. Photojournalists—with film, innumerable developing chemicals, and restricted by the speed of couriers, the mail service, and publication delays—gave Americans both photos and newsreel images of war.

 Television gave us better access to learning about wars in Korea and Vietnam.

 And then came the Persian Gulf War, and the full use of satellite communication. Although CNN, the first 24-hour news operation, was the only network to record the destruction of the Challenger in January 1986, it was still seen as a minor network, with audiences of thousands not millions. The Persian Gulf War changed that, along with the nature of the news industry. CNN built an audience during Operation Desert Shield, from late Summer 1990 to Jan. 16, 1991. On that evening, the beginning of Desert Storm, CNN was the only American-based news operation in Iraq. From the al-Rashid Hotel, its three correspondents and their teams transmitted news and video as the U.S. sent missiles into Baghdad.

 Two decades later, individual media have almost replaced mass media as sources for first information. Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, and innumerable ways to text message now link individuals and groups. Individuals can also transmit photos and video from cell phones to You Tube and dozens of other hosts, making everyone with a cell phone a temporary reporter or photojournalist. It also leads to extensive problems in discerning the facts from rumors and propaganda. The media—individual and mass—have united a world's people.

 In Iran, Tunisia, and Egypt, it was Facebook and Twitter, not state-run mass media, that gave the people communication to launch their protests that would lead to the fall of two authoritarian governments.

 On May 1, in a nine-minute television address beginning at 11:35 p.m., EST, President Obama t old the world that Navy SEALs had successfully completed their mission to kill Osama bin Laden. Those not at their radio or TV sets learned about it from messages and video on their cell phones or computers.

 It is still be the responsibility of the mass media--of radio, television, newspapers, and magazines--to give in-depth coverage and analysis of the events. But, for millions worldwide, it is no longer the mass media that establishes the first alerts.

 

[Walter Brasch is an award-winning syndicated columnist, the author of 17 books, and a retired university journalism professor. His latest book is Before the First Snow.]

 

 

Pollster.com Looks at Cellphone Only Voters

Pollster.com is out with analysis suggesting that by the fall of 2008, 25% of voters will only have mobiles, possibly making it more difficult to get accurate polling data. I was really surprised by the statistic that the number of cell phone only americans is increasing by over 20% every six months! If I decide not to study for my exam tomorrow I'll update with more in depth analysis. Until then, enjoy!

http://www.pollster.com/blogs/cell_phone s_and_political_surv.php

There's more...

Weekly Mulch: Would You Eat Bugs to Fight Climate Change?

By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Maybe it’s time for environmentalists prioritize do-it-yourself climate fixes instead of looking to politicians. There are all sorts of options, including, for those dedicated enough, switching to an insect-based diet, as Change.org reports.

But in the private sector, inventors, corporations, and small businesses — farmers in particular — are finding more palatable ways to scale down their environmental impact. In short, politicians aren’t the only ones with the power to make high-profile statements and strong choices on climate change.

No solar on the White House

Environmental crusader Bill McKibben had already given up on Congress; now the White House has disappointed, too. McKibben and other leaders in the climate change movement are eschewing lobbying on legislation in favor of pushing for more visible, direct action on climate issues. To that end, McKibben, along with three students, asked the White House last week to reinstall one of Jimmy Carter’s solar panels on the roof. The answer was no.

McKibben describes the Obama administration’s response to his request as “uncool…Asked to do something easy and symbolic to rekindle a little of the joy that had turned out so many of us as volunteers for Obama in 2008, they point blank said no,” according to Truthout.

The administration officials that they met with, though, wanted to make sure that the climate activists knew something was being done to improve the country’s environment. They touted the president’s initiative to green the federal government—federal buildings in particular. One official, McKibben says, spoke more than once about a Portland, Ore., building that would soon have a “green curtain,” likely a hanging garden.

It’s not that McKibben disapproved. “Actually, it’s kind of great,” he wrote. “Still, I doubt many people are going to build their own vegetated fins.”

The talking cure

That’s the ultimate question: What will people build on their own? Solar panels could be one answer, although they haven’t quite caught on yet. There are all sorts of technologies, though, that could help us minimize our carbon footprint. Grist’s Ashley Braun checks out one new idea: drawing energy from sound waves:

Using that standby found in sunscreen, zinc oxide, to turn sound waves into electricity, these scientists have heard the bells of success starting to ring in their ears. Similar to other technologies aimed at harvesting energy from walking or dancing, this concept could also turn the roar of traffic into the hum of low-carbon electrons. How sweet the sound of renewable energy.

Scientists are considering using this technology in cell phones, creating, ideally, a device that would never have be plugged in, assuming, of course, that its owner used it frequently enough, and used it as a phone, rather than an e-mail/web-surfing/GPS device.

Go private?

Another option for climate reformers could be focusing on the private sector. Corporations have gotten the message that consumers buy green products, and more are churning out sustainable, climate-friendly offerings.

Care2’s Emily Logan points to Nestle, eBay, and Sunny D as three companies that have heard the green gospel. Nestle is investing in sustainable coffee; eBay is pushing out reusable shipping boxes; and Sunny D, the beverage company, met its zero-waste goal three years ahead of schedule.

“Of course, like most large corporations who are making efforts toward sustainability, some of these companies have a long way to go,” Logan writes. “But giving credit where credit is due is increasingly important when it comes to the environment.”

You are what you eat

The farm sector is one private industry that deserves more scrutiny and pressure. Recall that agriculture interests ran one of the most successful campaigns to be exempted from the cap-and-trade bill, when it was working its way through the House. Even among liberals, the industry has its defenders: local, sustainable agriculture just won’t work to feed the masses, the argument goes.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that we still haven’t seen how large sustainable farms can grow. Take Joel Salatin, the crusading farmer made famous by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Salatin has been running a successful operation, Polyface Farm, for years while relying on organic and sustainable methods. As David E. Gumport reports at Chelsea Green, Salatin’s farm has only grown:

Standing in front of a group of about 50 romping pigs, [Salatin] proudly revealed that Polyface has hit the the $2 million annual sales level, while sticking to Salatin’s policy of not shipping food outside a 100-mile radius. The effect, he says, has been to strengthen local businesses–everything from a local breakfast diner serving visitors to his farm to local feed and supply companies.

Salatin is convinced his methods can be used to feed the entire population. What’s certain is that there is room for more of this sort of growth in the agricultural system.

Here, too, would-be reformers run back into politicians: Salatin’s food safety practices are not exactly FDA-approved, and to reseed his methods elsewhere, the government would need to relax safety standards for smaller, alternatives operations.

But for now, this sort of effort, and others outside of Washington seem to be making the largest impact.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The AuditThe Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Mulch: Would You Eat Bugs to Fight Climate Change?

By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Maybe it’s time for environmentalists prioritize do-it-yourself climate fixes instead of looking to politicians. There are all sorts of options, including, for those dedicated enough, switching to an insect-based diet, as Change.org reports.

But in the private sector, inventors, corporations, and small businesses — farmers in particular — are finding more palatable ways to scale down their environmental impact. In short, politicians aren’t the only ones with the power to make high-profile statements and strong choices on climate change.

No solar on the White House

Environmental crusader Bill McKibben had already given up on Congress; now the White House has disappointed, too. McKibben and other leaders in the climate change movement are eschewing lobbying on legislation in favor of pushing for more visible, direct action on climate issues. To that end, McKibben, along with three students, asked the White House last week to reinstall one of Jimmy Carter’s solar panels on the roof. The answer was no.

McKibben describes the Obama administration’s response to his request as “uncool…Asked to do something easy and symbolic to rekindle a little of the joy that had turned out so many of us as volunteers for Obama in 2008, they point blank said no,” according to Truthout.

The administration officials that they met with, though, wanted to make sure that the climate activists knew something was being done to improve the country’s environment. They touted the president’s initiative to green the federal government—federal buildings in particular. One official, McKibben says, spoke more than once about a Portland, Ore., building that would soon have a “green curtain,” likely a hanging garden.

It’s not that McKibben disapproved. “Actually, it’s kind of great,” he wrote. “Still, I doubt many people are going to build their own vegetated fins.”

The talking cure

That’s the ultimate question: What will people build on their own? Solar panels could be one answer, although they haven’t quite caught on yet. There are all sorts of technologies, though, that could help us minimize our carbon footprint. Grist’s Ashley Braun checks out one new idea: drawing energy from sound waves:

Using that standby found in sunscreen, zinc oxide, to turn sound waves into electricity, these scientists have heard the bells of success starting to ring in their ears. Similar to other technologies aimed at harvesting energy from walking or dancing, this concept could also turn the roar of traffic into the hum of low-carbon electrons. How sweet the sound of renewable energy.

Scientists are considering using this technology in cell phones, creating, ideally, a device that would never have be plugged in, assuming, of course, that its owner used it frequently enough, and used it as a phone, rather than an e-mail/web-surfing/GPS device.

Go private?

Another option for climate reformers could be focusing on the private sector. Corporations have gotten the message that consumers buy green products, and more are churning out sustainable, climate-friendly offerings.

Care2’s Emily Logan points to Nestle, eBay, and Sunny D as three companies that have heard the green gospel. Nestle is investing in sustainable coffee; eBay is pushing out reusable shipping boxes; and Sunny D, the beverage company, met its zero-waste goal three years ahead of schedule.

“Of course, like most large corporations who are making efforts toward sustainability, some of these companies have a long way to go,” Logan writes. “But giving credit where credit is due is increasingly important when it comes to the environment.”

You are what you eat

The farm sector is one private industry that deserves more scrutiny and pressure. Recall that agriculture interests ran one of the most successful campaigns to be exempted from the cap-and-trade bill, when it was working its way through the House. Even among liberals, the industry has its defenders: local, sustainable agriculture just won’t work to feed the masses, the argument goes.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that we still haven’t seen how large sustainable farms can grow. Take Joel Salatin, the crusading farmer made famous by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Salatin has been running a successful operation, Polyface Farm, for years while relying on organic and sustainable methods. As David E. Gumport reports at Chelsea Green, Salatin’s farm has only grown:

Standing in front of a group of about 50 romping pigs, [Salatin] proudly revealed that Polyface has hit the the $2 million annual sales level, while sticking to Salatin’s policy of not shipping food outside a 100-mile radius. The effect, he says, has been to strengthen local businesses–everything from a local breakfast diner serving visitors to his farm to local feed and supply companies.

Salatin is convinced his methods can be used to feed the entire population. What’s certain is that there is room for more of this sort of growth in the agricultural system.

Here, too, would-be reformers run back into politicians: Salatin’s food safety practices are not exactly FDA-approved, and to reseed his methods elsewhere, the government would need to relax safety standards for smaller, alternatives operations.

But for now, this sort of effort, and others outside of Washington seem to be making the largest impact.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The AuditThe Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Mulch: Would You Eat Bugs to Fight Climate Change?

By Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium Blogger

Maybe it’s time for environmentalists prioritize do-it-yourself climate fixes instead of looking to politicians. There are all sorts of options, including, for those dedicated enough, switching to an insect-based diet, as Change.org reports.

But in the private sector, inventors, corporations, and small businesses — farmers in particular — are finding more palatable ways to scale down their environmental impact. In short, politicians aren’t the only ones with the power to make high-profile statements and strong choices on climate change.

No solar on the White House

Environmental crusader Bill McKibben had already given up on Congress; now the White House has disappointed, too. McKibben and other leaders in the climate change movement are eschewing lobbying on legislation in favor of pushing for more visible, direct action on climate issues. To that end, McKibben, along with three students, asked the White House last week to reinstall one of Jimmy Carter’s solar panels on the roof. The answer was no.

McKibben describes the Obama administration’s response to his request as “uncool…Asked to do something easy and symbolic to rekindle a little of the joy that had turned out so many of us as volunteers for Obama in 2008, they point blank said no,” according to Truthout.

The administration officials that they met with, though, wanted to make sure that the climate activists knew something was being done to improve the country’s environment. They touted the president’s initiative to green the federal government—federal buildings in particular. One official, McKibben says, spoke more than once about a Portland, Ore., building that would soon have a “green curtain,” likely a hanging garden.

It’s not that McKibben disapproved. “Actually, it’s kind of great,” he wrote. “Still, I doubt many people are going to build their own vegetated fins.”

The talking cure

That’s the ultimate question: What will people build on their own? Solar panels could be one answer, although they haven’t quite caught on yet. There are all sorts of technologies, though, that could help us minimize our carbon footprint. Grist’s Ashley Braun checks out one new idea: drawing energy from sound waves:

Using that standby found in sunscreen, zinc oxide, to turn sound waves into electricity, these scientists have heard the bells of success starting to ring in their ears. Similar to other technologies aimed at harvesting energy from walking or dancing, this concept could also turn the roar of traffic into the hum of low-carbon electrons. How sweet the sound of renewable energy.

Scientists are considering using this technology in cell phones, creating, ideally, a device that would never have be plugged in, assuming, of course, that its owner used it frequently enough, and used it as a phone, rather than an e-mail/web-surfing/GPS device.

Go private?

Another option for climate reformers could be focusing on the private sector. Corporations have gotten the message that consumers buy green products, and more are churning out sustainable, climate-friendly offerings.

Care2’s Emily Logan points to Nestle, eBay, and Sunny D as three companies that have heard the green gospel. Nestle is investing in sustainable coffee; eBay is pushing out reusable shipping boxes; and Sunny D, the beverage company, met its zero-waste goal three years ahead of schedule.

“Of course, like most large corporations who are making efforts toward sustainability, some of these companies have a long way to go,” Logan writes. “But giving credit where credit is due is increasingly important when it comes to the environment.”

You are what you eat

The farm sector is one private industry that deserves more scrutiny and pressure. Recall that agriculture interests ran one of the most successful campaigns to be exempted from the cap-and-trade bill, when it was working its way through the House. Even among liberals, the industry has its defenders: local, sustainable agriculture just won’t work to feed the masses, the argument goes.

The problem with that line of reasoning is that we still haven’t seen how large sustainable farms can grow. Take Joel Salatin, the crusading farmer made famous by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Salatin has been running a successful operation, Polyface Farm, for years while relying on organic and sustainable methods. As David E. Gumport reports at Chelsea Green, Salatin’s farm has only grown:

Standing in front of a group of about 50 romping pigs, [Salatin] proudly revealed that Polyface has hit the the $2 million annual sales level, while sticking to Salatin’s policy of not shipping food outside a 100-mile radius. The effect, he says, has been to strengthen local businesses–everything from a local breakfast diner serving visitors to his farm to local feed and supply companies.

Salatin is convinced his methods can be used to feed the entire population. What’s certain is that there is room for more of this sort of growth in the agricultural system.

Here, too, would-be reformers run back into politicians: Salatin’s food safety practices are not exactly FDA-approved, and to reseed his methods elsewhere, the government would need to relax safety standards for smaller, alternatives operations.

But for now, this sort of effort, and others outside of Washington seem to be making the largest impact.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment bymembers of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The AuditThe Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

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