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Thursday, April 28, 2005

AROUND THE INTERNETS: Star Wars Review, Tabletop Star, and Juan Cole on why Blogging is Better than MSM

Update on how Hellish life still is in Iraq at Democracy Now. Dahr Jamail was not embedded, and he says Iraq not as swell as corporate media says. I guess water is wet, too.

"In the 1930s the Spanish city of Guernica became a symbol of wanton murder and destruction. In the 1990s Grozny was cruelly flattened by the Russians; it still lies in ruins. This decade"s unforgettable monument to brutality and overkill is Falluja, a text-book case of how not to handle an insurgency, and a reminder that unpopular occupations will always degenerate into desperation and atrocity."

Don't Miss Juan Cole on why blogs are better than corporate media. You can study the propaganda model or Ben Bagdikian or Robert McChesney or just read this. Short version: It's a feature and not a fault that nobody can fire me or Drudge or Atrios. Maddy Ross can't fire me, but somebody can fire her. Who is the more powerful media person? I'm poor, yes. Won't be working for ACORN anytime, yes. But censored...Fuck You. And frankly, I think that's what a sick and corrupted American Democracy needs more of: Angry Truthtelling and unbought producers of news. Here's a snippet:

If we were mainstream media we would be wholly owned subsidiaries of General Electric, the Disney Corporation, Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch, Viacom and so on and so forth. Ninety percent of cable channels are owned by the same companies that own the big television networks.

It isn't a matter of journalism being a business. How good journalism is when practiced in the service of a business depends on the owner's philosophy and economic goals. Ted Turner writes,

"When CNN reported to me, if we needed more money for Kosovo or Baghdad, we'd find it. If we had to bust the budget, we busted the budget. We put journalism first, and that's how we built CNN into something the world wanted to watch. I had the power to make these budget decisions because they were my companies. I was an independent entrepreneur who controlled the majority of the votes and could run my company for the long term. Top managers in these huge media conglomerates run their companies for the short term. After we sold Turner Broadcasting to Time Warner, we came under such earnings pressure that we had to cut our promotion budget every year at CNN to make our numbers. Media mega-mergers inevitably lead to an overemphasis on short-term earnings."

If we were the mainstream media, we would be accountable to CEOs and editors and advertisers, all of whom have motives for suppressing some pieces of news and highlighting others. You might think to yourself that this is a diverse enough group that the story would still get through. But with media consolidation, fewer and fewer persons make the decisions.

I wet myself. Oh wait. There's more:

So, yes, Matt. There is a difference between these little dog and pony shows we post from our homes, with no editor, no CEO, no boss, and no resources beyond our personal experiences, talent and acumen. If Josh Marshall's Talking Points Memo was published by mainstream media, would he still be allowed to say everything he now says? Would Tom Engelhardt be allowed to discuss the ways in which the Iraq quagmire suggests the limits of superpowerdom if he were working for the Big Six? If Bill Montgomery worked for The Weather Channel, would he be allowed to criticize Senator Rick Sanatarium for trying to keep Federal forecasters from "competing" with private weather forecasting companies? Would Riverbend be allowed to be so incisive if she worked for a big Iraqi computer firm? Remember the famous question, "Can blogging get you fired?"

And this difference, my friends, accounts for why bloggers get vilified. Journalists can be switched to another story, or fired, or their stories can be buried on page 36. We can't be fired. So if Martin Peretz doesn't like what we have to say, he will publish a hatchet job on us in The New Republic, seeking to make us taboo. If you can't shut people up, and you really don't want their voices heard, then all you can do is try to persuade others not to listen to them or give them a platform. The easiest way to do this is to falsely accuse them of racism or Communism some other character flaw unacceptable to polite society. Because of the distributed character of blogging "computing," however, such tactics are probably doomed to fail.

Related: Journalism Prof considers changing teaching methods. More related: Why kids don't read newspapers:

I hate almost everything about newspapers. I don't like the size of the paper. I don't like the way it makes everything black. I don't like that every page has to be jammed full of stuff. I don't like that the pages are not full color. I don't like that once I find something interesting, I can't do anything with it (like send it to a friend, or blog about it with a link, etc).

Clerks Director Kevin Smith wets himself after screening the next Star Wars film. I actually thought the last Star Wars movie was a very good film. Since I have cable, I judge a movie by whether I can watch 20 times and find something interesting about it. And Attack of the Clones just had a number of gorgeous looks and sounds. It was emotionally compelling on a visual level. It's also interesting seeing how Evil develops. I just wish you could adapt those visuals for, say, Bester's "The Stars My Destination" or my personal never to be finished project: A James Bond flick set in the future, possibly in the Ken Macleod universe, where different settlements have different ideologies.
Small scale room temperature fusion has been buzzing around the Internets. My God what would happen if you could scale that up? Off the grid at last...Locally, Unspace has some thoughts and a beautiful headline: "A Burning Star on Your Tabletop". More at WIRED.
Also at Wired, commentary on new stem cell guidelines.
New Neofiles is out. Features excellent interview with Ramez Naam. He also has an interview with Terry Grossman, who co-wrote Ray Kurzweils book on life extension. Related: Cory Doctorow interviews Ray Kurzweil.
I got this from boring stereotypical librul Doug Henwood: "Spread Magazine". I think it's about the sex industry. I'm listening to the episode now. The main story features evil news about Walmart, in the news recently for harassing a CMU student where they use, of course, the draconian DMCA.

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