TED Talk on Mainstream Media – Human Rights

I was clicking around YouTube looking at a TED talk to watch and I came across this interesting video.

In it, Harry Fear, an English broadcast journalist discusses the realities of the mainstream media. He says, “When we turn on the news, we are often presented by an image of reality that is lacking in depth, clarity and humanity.”

He discusses his transition from a “media critic” in his teenage years to a “media maker” in his twenties. He comments that in the mainstream media is lacking passionate journalists and that passionate newsmakers are necessary in the current media landscape.

Something that he said in the beginning of the talk has resonated with me:

“Journalists should be biased for human rights.”

The statement made me reflect on everything I have learned about independent media over the past several months. When media outlets slant in the direction of power, rather than in the direction of human beings, there is a problem.

For example, in situations of war, when a mainstream media outlet is reporting the war and is clearing slanting in favor of military action and civilian lives are not considered, the media is doing a disservice to the people.

Journalism was created in order to challenge authority on these issues, not to support them in favor of monetary gain. It was created to protect the rights of humans and somehow it is not doing that anymore.

Maybe that is the root of media problems today. Journalists are slanting away from human rights.

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TED Talk on Mainstream Media – Human Rights

Media Landscape and Freedom of Expression in Spain

After learning about the realities of corporate funding of public broadcasting in the United States and seeing the amount of funding for public broadcasting in the US compared with that of other countries, I was shocked. Maybe I was naive to think that public broadcasting was safe from this type of strong influence, but in the US, not only is public broadcasting undervalued, but it has corporate ties as well.

After studying in Spain last semester, I was curious to see how public broadcasting is valued there, this little investigation ultimately brought me to information about the freedom of expression in Spain.

This 2014 article discusses the lack of public broadcasting in Spain . It discusses the joining of several Spanish organizations to evaluate the presence of freedom of expression in Spain.

The Platforma en Defensa de la Libertad de la Información (PDLI), or The Platform for Freedom of Information, works to gain these rights for freedom of information and expression. Spain recently passed a law restricting public protest. The law puts restrictions on when and where a public demonstration can take place. There are also fines for not notifying the authorities that a demonstration is going to take place, and for “disseminating” photographs of police officers.

Spainiards have been protesting against the bill, saying it is a violation of human rights. With protests common during the current  economic crisis , this bill will likely cause public unrest and continued resistance.

This article published by the PDLI breaks down this “Ley Mordaza,” or Gag Law. The article begins with a quote by Virginia Pérez Alonso, stating that the law is one of the worst violations of fundamental liberties in Spain since the Franco era. The article explains that the law is allegedly being put in place to protect the citizens, especially from acts of terrorism. The article also takes a position stating that the implementation of this law is a clear violation of the freedom of expression and the right to protest.

I will absolutely be continuing to follow the path of this law and I may even contact some of my Spanish friends about it. Having lived in Spain, I know that public demonstrations are an extremely common occurrence. There were demonstrations in front of the government buildings in Sevilla almost every day, and there were several days of classes that were canceled for a student strike. This bill could seriously harm these forms of public expression.

Media Landscape and Freedom of Expression in Spain

Reflection on the Izzy Awards

I am happy to have had the opportunity to attend the Izzy awards yesterday. Naomi Klein and David Sirota are representations of the modern investigative journalism that many young journalists should aspire to produce.

David Sirota’s acceptance speech was very well crafted. What stood out to me was his discussion on the difference between media and journalism. He talked about how a career in media involves working for a news organization and going through the motions of being a mouthpiece for a certain ideology. It is a safe path. By contrast, however, a career in journalism a career in journalism involves the risky work of exposing things that the public should know. It is about critiquing those in power and guarding your credibility. He also discussed how guarding credibility is the most important task for an independent journalist. When a journalist is counting on his or her name being a brand, rather than the name of a news organization, accuracy is essential. The speech overall was effective in explaining what it means to be an independent journalist today.

Naomi Klein mainly focused on her book, This Changes Everything, and did a wonderful job connecting with the local, Ithaca audience. She discussed the importance of being thorough in her research, fact checking and taking the time necessary to publish something. Her hard work as an investigator has payed off in her book, which exposes the realities of climate change. She received applause from the audience multiple times during the speech and tapped into the climate activist spirit of Ithaca.

During the Q&A before the award ceremony, Sirota and Klein both discussed the importance of reporting on what is available to the public. It solidified the fact that the average person is not going to search for and interpret public documents, and it is the role of journalists to do this in service of the people. Independent journalists get to the root of journalism by exposing corruption and misconduct of people in power, as well as in societal patterns. These are the people who are going to make a change. Klein and Sirota were great examples of people doing this groundbreaking journalistic work.

Reflection on the Izzy Awards

Entrepreneurship as an outlet for millennial journalists

The millennial generation has been the subject of research and analysis over the past several years as these young people, born between 1980 and 2000, make their way into the workforce.

This Forbes article breaks down this study by Bentley University. 67 percent of the survey respondents said that their goals include starting their own business.

This past summer, I put together a research project for an internship about millennials in the workplace. It served to show my older colleagues how our minds work and how we will fit into the working world. During the course of my research, I came across a trend that millennials are creative and independent. We want to set our own course, hours and rules. Answering to someone else in order to spend our whole lives moving up in a company is far from appealing.

So, how does this fit in to journalism.

This reflection by Jeff Jarvis discusses an entrepreneurial journalism class at CUNY. He discusses the group of students who had the opportunity to sit in front of a panel of potential donors and pitch their ideas. One highlight of his observations was that all of the young journalists in the room had real intentions of starting their own businesses.

The millennial attitude of independence and creativity fits together with entrepreneurial journalism as an alternative to the traditional journalistic route. In the past, a journalism career consisted of starting at the bottom of a news organization and slowly earning credibility to become an editor.

Now, young journalists are looking to defy this norm and the rules attached to working for a traditional news outlet. And independently created outlet can bring new, fresh perspectives to the media landscape. These progressive minded young people can bring journalism back to its routes by creating publications that investigate the truth, criticize the government and bring forward new innovation. We see these changes happening now but they will likely progress in the next few years. Millennial journalists will likely transform journalism as we know it.

Entrepreneurship as an outlet for millennial journalists

Potential for Ethical Misdoings in YouTube’s Partner Program

This 2008 New York Times article  discusses YouTube’s partner program, in which the most popular YouTubers have the opportunity to get paid by YouTube to produce content. This article uses celebrity gossip vlogger Michael Buckley as an example. He began making videos because it was something he enjoyed and his audience grew enough for him to begin making money from YouTube.

This pattern of successful content creators turning a hobby into a career initially seems like a win-win situation. YouTube gains a steady stream of traffic to their site and the YouTubers earn a living from doing what they love.

When analyzing the situation more deeply, however, several questions arise:

What if the views of the YouTuber clash with the views of Google (who owns YouTube)?

It is clear that higher quality cameras and equipment are necessary to make a nice-enough video to get noticed. So, don’t wealthy YouTubers have an advantage?

Do some people cater their content to become a YouTube partner rather than to get their voice heard?

Are paid video bloggers still considered “independent” if they are being payed by Google?

These questions sum up the potential for ethical misdoings in the partner program. Stories such as Michael Buckley’s, who started making YouTube videos because he enjoyed it and eventually gained money, are the stories we hear about the YouTube Partner Program. But they certainly do not all play out like that.

Technically, these YouTubers are small examples of independents who are now being payed by a large corporation. Like any independent outlet being bought up by a larger entity, they need to be viewed with skeptic eyes.

Overall, the YouTube partner program does have the potential to be positive. It is paying, mostly young, creatives who would like their voices to be heard. As the program continues, however, it is important to step back and be aware of potential ethical misdoings. As it stands with larger media, when money is involved, things can get sticky.

Potential for Ethical Misdoings in YouTube’s Partner Program

Vloggers

I have only recently begun to explore the world of vloggers, a word which stems from “video bloggers.” I have always been much more interested in reading blogs, and still am, but I do enjoy watching the occasional vlog.

One of the most compelling vloggers I have watched is Ze Frank. Below is an example of one of his videos…

Clicking around the vlog world, it is apparent that many people try to make it as vloggers. With so many people attempting to make successful video blogs, I began to think about what makes a vlogger successful.

Looking at Ze Frank, it is apparent that he is interesting. He has a unique voice and overall look about him. He is well spoken and there is an artistry to the way he puts words together. He also has that not-blinking quirk going for him.

If a vlogger has a series of unique characteristics that make him or her interesting, he or she is more likely to connect with an audience. That seems to be what sets successful video bloggers apart. They use their personality and interests to connect with an audience.

Video blogging can become a useful asset in independent media. Vlogging creates an illusion of having a conversation with the blogger and it creates a new type of intimacy. It is a step closer to face-to-face interaction in the internet era. As independent continues to have a goal of creating community, video blogging on news organization websites could draw even more readership.

Vloggers

Defining “Journalist” – A Matter of Societal Trust

The influx of independent journalists and bloggers into the media landscape have prompted conversations about the definition of the title “journalist.” It is being debated how much access an independent should have to events that mainstream journalists are able to enter easily.

An example of this debate was sparked when bloggers were being denied access to the Oregon executive sessions. The host city wanted to require that media was “institutionalized,” “well-established” and produced at least 25 percent news content. This would have excluded bloggers from the situation.

Thinking about the issue, it is difficult to define when a blogger becomes a journalist, and how a blogger can prove his or her credibility. It takes a lot more work for a blogger to be established enough to gain access to exclusive events. Where as a reported employed by a news organization instantly gains credibility. It appears that the brand attached to your name is more important that your ethics as a reporter. When considering this reality, it becomes clear that a blogger must take the time to brand his or herself in order to gain trust.

This trust is a fundamental element in the difficulties that bloggers may face. When pursuing a story and gaining sources, it is much easier to get people to talk to you if you have a known news brand attached to your name. If not, people may question your intentions and credibility. In order for bloggers to be considered part of the journalistic pool, there will have to be a fundamental societal change in the way that journalists are perceived. This change in mindset may take time, but will eventually come as society becomes more comfortable with trusting independent bloggers.

Defining “Journalist” – A Matter of Societal Trust