Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chuck Turner makes a fucking fool of self with apparent attack on first amendment


So, as you may know, I've been covering the Chuck Turner controversy here at Blog Against the Machine: Boston. Up until this point I have been an unabashed advocate for the "Stand Behind Chuck Turner" cause.

I've always admired the BALD BOLD & BRIGHT city councilor. He's a Green Party member, which I have strongly supported as an alternative to the corporate corrupted Democratic Party. Turner is not afraid to start a rally in order to smash the state or to shame private interests who take advantage of people.

Last year my good friend Derek Hawkins and I reported a long-form focus piece for the then-Northeastern News. (Hawkins wrote the thing and reported much of it, while I and another young journalist contributed information from our interviews.) It explored Turner's feisty relation's with our school, Northeastern University. Privately, we've shared laudatory remarks about a man we saw practically as Boston's most effective revolutionary around.

When this whole controversy started to unfold, Derek expressed some caution in his continued support for Turner. He cautioned me on my relentless skepticism of the FBI and my ceaseless defense of Turner.

On this blog, Hawkins commented, "I am not content to just intuit the answers to these questions based on a respect and admiration of Turner's populist legacy, nor what some suggest are inconsistencies in the affidavit. ... He deserves fair treatment and due process in this case, as anyone does, and indeed some in the media and political arena have not afforded him this."

"I also believe that Turner's constituents deserve due process in being able to know whether their longtime advocate has betrayed their trust for the sake of some lowly night club owner. In that sense, I stand behind them too."

I brushed this off as what I percieved to be an example of my friend's contrarian tendencies, which tend to fleck his generally radically progressive stance on issues. He's a circumspect guy -- what can I say?

I argued that something was out of whack. Politicians we knew to be blatantly corrupt -- like House Speaker Sal DiMassi, and, on a larger scale, Dick Cheney -- were not being stung by the Feds. DiMassi, for instance, has exhibited far greater manipulations of the public interest and, furthermore, a large waste of tax payer dollars. It was curious to me that Dianne Wilkerson, the center of the investigation, who has often been down and out legally speaking, somehow got other black politicians in the area, including Turner and State Rep. Byron Rushing (who received subpoena, but not accused of anything yet), involved in this bullshit. I still think that this is all just a misunderstanding -- eh, maybe not for Dianne.

Chuck Turner has always expressed support for communities of color when it comes to prosperity. He gives advise to his constituents and tries to lead them to success. But when one of them allegedly hands Turner a wad of cash -- wearing a wire after the FBI recruited him to take down black politicians in the area -- how is the public to decide if this is a bribery scheme and not Turner clumsily accepting what he believed to be a campaign contribution? After all, according to the FBI themselves, Turner refused a second payment and instead directed the stool pigeon to his legal, transparent campaign donation operation.

As I previously expressed, I didn't think the media was being fair to Turner. Nor did they point out contridictions in an interview the Boston Globe did with the stool pigeon, which kind of underminded his credibility in this investigation.

Well now Turner has come out of his face with this belligerent letter to the Governor in regards to the mainstream media's conspiracy with govenment agencies "to implant in the minds of the public the presumption of guilt" when it comes to his and other cases in wich condemning "evidence," or only one version of a story, is disseminated. He wrote that members of the media establishment -- including Adam Reilly of the Boston Phoenix and Joan Venocchi of the Boston Globe -- act with complicity in creating a guilty-until-proven-innocent atmosphere, by validating what could be baseless allegations.

Some said that it was inappropriate for Turner, a member of a party that is unbending in its defense of civil liberties, to voice any opposition to a completely free press, whether or not factions of the mainstream media want to collude with an evil empire.

"Funny how priorities change so quickly and dramatically with circumstances," Hawkins said in an email. "Chuck Turner, innocent or guilty (and let me say up top that I'll lay no claims on either), joins the ranks of the shrewdest and most disingenuous of demagogues in his shameless attempt to harpoon one set of Constitutional rights with another, and in doing so bleed the entirety of the Bill of Rights, all in pursuit of some terrified sense of justice. His invocation the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to restrict the First should come as extremely offensive and arrogant to more than just the legal scholar and journalist. Turner is a public official, and the public deserves justice as much as he does. What 'populist' could stoop so low?"

There has been some interesting discussion about this on the comment board at Media Nation in regard to expected responsibilities and rights of the media. Some folks, although not sold on Turner's hopes of hampering large media outlets' ability to tarnish his name with unproved allegations, aren't impressed by the local MSM and expressed disatisfaction the percieved poor coverage fo the case.

"If the media is within their legal rights under the First Amendment to publish what they have about Turner, that still leaves the question of whether they should," said Ani, in response to a blog post on the letter. "I'm assuming that's what Turner was getting at by referring to other sources on what he labels the presumption of innocence. It does sound from Walker's interview as if the prosecution's story is not coincident with Wilburn's, and if that's so, I would expect the media to pursue that, not merely be content with giving voice to the prosecution's version.

"The media have found that in at least some cases (the Duke lacrosse case, the run-up to the invasion of Iraq come to mind) that there may be more than one version of the story, and the media's reputation suffers when they look as if they don't have a mind of their own.

"So while I'm not terribly sympathetic to Turner's desire for attempts at legislative muzzling of the media, I would love to see more independent coverage of cases like Turner's."

I like that assessment.

But there is still some lingering questions concerning the balance of power bouncing through my mind. Journalism folks and media consumers alike are up in arms about the letter because they believe the 1st amendment is the golden bullet to defend democracy. Relatively speaking, it's not.

What if it is the government agencies who make knowing falsities or reckless disregard for the truth? We all know that if a media organization does so they are liable for libel. The government, on the other hand, has right to place gag orders on those who are believe to have information that is a supposed threat to national security, people like Sibel Edmonds. Who has the power to pull some strings?

We love our freedoms. Turner seems to be opining that the larger media corporations are threats to democracy because of their ability to spread damning allegations that have not been examined in court. He's seems to be trying to outline his idea that the MSM acts as a road block to a new Revolution without actually saying it. But Turner is no Hugo Chavez and this is not exactly economically depressed Venezuela in the 1980s in the throes of a countrywide coup. Turner, buddy, blame the government; not the press freedom. This is big, fat America.

So, it was pretty stupid of Turner to write this letter because it's making some of his far-left, civil liberty-loving base become wary of him. If he's going to write a letter like this his conspiracy theory needs to be far more realized and he needs to show that this is actually bigger than his reputation. I supported every part of his defense prior to this because it was furious and sharp. Now, with the letter, he messed up, again. The common man here does not clearly see his vision of state sponsored oppression of the people, at least not to that extent, through privatization and conglomeration.

I still support Chuck Turner in a special way, I pray for him, but the letter makes him seem like a fool. He's got some 'xplaining -- or, perhaps, apologizing -- to do. The First ammendment protects independent journalist in their dissent (we need it for protection!) just as much as large media organizations could use it to support fabricated government allegations.

Photo of Turner (cc) by Jonathan McIntosh and republished here through a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Open Media Boston offers social media as alternative to 'corporate media model'


Open Media Boston (OMB) is an online media outlet that launched last March to cover local "news, views, arts and entertainment" from a progressive political perspective, according to its mission statement. The "social media" publication showed up last spring and has since grown to an audience of about 10,000 viewers a month -- with some participants often opting to submit their own stories, which are posted on the website after being filtered through OMB's small editorial staff.

Open Media Boston is based out of Encuentro 5, a hub for progressive movement building in Chinatown. There, the publication's founder and editor, Jason Pramas, has held free classes in the locale's computer lab instructing newcomers how to use the OMB website.

So far, Pramas said, there are around 150 users who submit content for publication and a total of 250 users are registered. The website offers those who submit content the choice of several rights licenses to their work.

At the weekly OMB editorial meeting, held at the Holyoke Center Arcade in Harvard Square, Pramas could be found eating a big, floppy piece of pizza while bouncing ideas between his two editors -- David Goodman and Jesse Kirdahy-Scalia -- about how to improve their news service. Pramas is 42 years old, with shaggy dark brown locks and long eyes. He, like his two compatriots, have to work in non-journalism jobs to get by. They all say they make sacrifices but believe that publishing intellectual property should produce capital.

"Creators should expect to be paid," Pramas said. "And so you’ll notice a very important part of our site is all the different rights licenses we make available for people to choose. We do not take people’s rights to their work at all. We only take their rights to display it on our site and to store it on our servers. That’s it. So people can choose copyright, people can choose various Creative Commons licenses, the Free Art License, the GNU FDL license and others. That’s very important to us. We want to train people to expect to keep their rights in an age where media conglomerates make creators sign galactic rights contracts.

"That’s what they're actually called," he emphasized, with a chuckle.

OMB, however, is taking in less than $200 in ad revenue a month and is not able to provide income to any staffers at this point. But, Pramas said, "We want to pay people for participating in our media outlet as soon as we can."

Now, the fledgling OMB staff members believe they need to garner support and earn trust in the community. To improve upon its news cred, OMB joined the New England Press Association in August.

“We are building a news publication," Pramas said. "Whatever our editorial policies and our politics, which are to the left, we’re trying to get back to the old school world of news publications where, yes, publications, at least ostensibly, believe in fairness and accuracy. But the conceit of objectivity where papers are supposed to be somehow entirely neutral -- even papers that push this the most have an editorial policy. The New York Times comes down on the side of Democrats and enlightened capitalism -- and what we call a neoliberal editorial line. We come down left of that; but the broad left. We aren’t saying we’re the Greens, or Socialists, or Communists, we are anarchists, or whatever. What does that even mean in this day and age?

"We have a left editorial policy but at the same time we have a news section that’s a news section," Pramas said. "I mean it’s doing AP-style, just-the-facts-man journalism. But, our editorial policy steers us to cover particular stories that we don’t feel are getting covered by anybody else."

In practice, Pramas said, that means OMB reports strongly on the the nonprofit and labor sectors. Carving out a niche, Pramas and his compatriots said they believe the mainstream media does not understand how to cover protests.

"Every year there's this truck that leaves Fenway Park to deliver equipment down to the players in Florida during spring training," said Goodman, news editor for OMB, who also produces "Radio With a View," broadcast from MIT. "Every year [Boston Globe Sports Columnist] Dan Shaughnessy writes a story about it. It’s the same story every f’ing year. But they won’t cover a protest every year. They say if it happened once already that's pretty much the story. Well, what about First Night? It's the same thing every year and you cover that the same."

Now, the progressive, antiwar, poor people-loving realm of leftist online independent journalism in Boston has had some presence way before OMB ever came on the scene. For years, there was Boston Indymedia, the local bureau for the pioneering national collective of grassroots journalists who publish under a unifying domain on the Internet.

But Pramas came at odds with what he thought was Boston Indymedia's unsustainable infrastructure and undisciplined, or misguided, coverage of social movements, in which grassroots reporters participated in the events they were writing about. Pramas said he had been involved in Indymedia a bit but the first thing he disagreed with was how they handled a presidential debate.

"Nine out of 10 Indymedia journalists [outside the a presidential debate in 2000 held at UMass Boston] were not only covering it, but many were with the protesters and inciting the police," Pramas said. "I had a fight with them about that. Over time you won’t just have people of good will participating in a project like Indymedia. You have people of not good will."

(A representative from Boston Indymedia was not able to respond to Pramas's critique through email; the boston.indymedia.org website had been down throughout the reporting for this post; and the number listed at Indymedia.org for the Boston bureau has been disconnected when a reporter called it during two weeks of reporting. The Boston Indymedia website rebooted, with a message noting "serious problems" with the website that are being fixed, and that they thank users who continue "making the media." A second email address listed on the Boston bureau's website was contacted with no response as of Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. If any members of the Boston Indymedia staff read this post, please, contact me at marc.p.larocque@gmail.com and I'll gladly insert your response.)

It was with this in mind -- and then seeing a gap in overall news coverage -- that Pramas decided to take it upon himself to enrich independent online journalism from a leftist stance by introducing OMB. He remembers in July, 2007, believing there was a "media vacuum" in regards to local news and felt that Boston Indymedia was not filling it.

"Coverage of Boston itself is really getting worse," Pramas said. "Newspapers and news channels -- all the local TV channels -- are less and less able to cover their beats, the city, what’s going on. A lot communities, too, disenfranchised communities we call them, poor communities, often communities of color, or immigrant communities -- like Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester -- although they do have some local media in them, they don’t get covered very well. The community papers do their best. They do a good job but they don’t get much play outside of their neighborhoods. Which is kind of too bad."

Pramas said that some of the strength of OMB comes from its editorial strictures. One substantial way OMB has moved from the Boston Indymedia model, so as "not to reinvent the wheel," Pramas noted, is through its efforts to rein in profligate user comments and through its policy to restrict submitted content with no perceived news value.

"Anonymous people can’t submit to our site," Pramas said. "You have to come on a site and get an account, which is free. Anyone can do it as long as they put their real name down and a little bit about themselves. [Boston Indymedia's] thing is that, first of all, anybody can publish, no matter what, right to the front page of their website. We have an editorial board that vets content, that filters submissions."

Pramas points to VoiceOfSanDiego.org and the New Haven Independent as examples of successful independent news services that have burgeoned in recent years.

"Voice of San Diego, which started in 2005, by some younger mainstream journalists, they, and the New Haven Independent, started over the last few years saying, 'Well, we don’t really see our communities getting covered and are not able to have staff employment at newspapers consistently," Pramas said. "We now have the technology for people like me to go out and get a content management system."

Pramas noted that, there is now a demand for progressive literature and that it can be satisfied on a professional level with the "content management systems," software to organize a website, instead of the elaborate HTML coding required in yesteryear.

"In a day and age," he said, "when a majority of the population is certainly against the War in Iraq, wants to be able to have a national health care system, a majority of people want peace and prosperity and don’t want corporations to run amok and destroy our prosperity, by shooting small we don’t gain anything. If there’s going to be a challenge to the corporate media models out there they cannot be small challenges. We cannot just sit there and criticize them if we are not willing to do what their doing and to do it better."

Pramas recruited a team of volunteer website developers in August 2007, and the developers took until March 2008, to launch the beta version of OMB. Within two months it was full launch.

For funding, OMB turned to the Media Working Group (MWG), a nonprofit based in Kentucky that offers funds along with other services to nurture nascent media and arts projects.

"Jason is a veteran journalist," said Jean Donahue, president of MWG. "He is pretty brilliant politically so we wanted to see him get his journalistic vision out there because Boston doesn't have one like that. It's a very important niche for information."

Pramas came to OMB after years of involvement in anti-war and anti-apartheid activism alongside studying journalism. He was editor at his high school newspaper in Peabody. He worked at the Boston University Daily Free Press (before being thrown out of school for erecting faux shanty towns on campus in a demonstration calling on the school to divest in apartheid South Africa). He floated around through a few alternative college newspapers, like the Gadfly at the University of Vermont. Then he founded New Liberation News Service, a revival of a college-based wire service supplying alternative news bulletins on social movements. He even created a national magazine, As We Are, aimed at working young people -- not the privileged elite -- with a circulation maxing at 10,000.

Dan Gillmor, director of the the Center for Citizen Media, though offering caution to activists involved in journalism, had only words of encouragement for social media outlets like OMB.

"The issue about activists is a really important one," Gillmor said. "It's not one that tends to get described in the best ways. What I mean by that is it's perfectly cool with me that activists do their own media. A lot of the best journalism has fallen under the category of advocacy journalism and I have no problem with that. The key thing that that with advocates that do journalism need to think about is to apply all of the principles of journalism including fairness and transparency to the work they do. Advocates are generally transparent about their world views; their not always entirely fair to those that disagree with them. They can be more effective if they do that. There's lots of market place for all kinds of people to participate in all kinds of ways. People are going to have to decide for themselves on what they can trust and rely. Each site needs it's own rules of the or road."

OMB has a clear policy when it comes to its editing and institutional will. When it comes to "unitary decisions," Pramas said, he is "where the buck stops."

"With the Indymedia type of organization," he said, "with a collective editorial board that doesn't even vote on decisions -- it makes them by consensus -- they are going to take a really long time to respond to crises."

Asked if he had faced any crisis thus far, Pramas said no. But there have been portents of potential problems, he said. Pramas points to a recent encounter with Red Mass Group, a conservative blog based in Massachusetts.

A user of Red Mass Group had called -- at least jocularly -- for an investigation into Pramas's financial connections with controversy-embroiled City Councilor Chuck Turner. Pramas quickly responded on the OMB blog, brushing off the writer as a member of the "junior division of the Republican attack machine," and the encounter as a "sort of a benchmark" for the developing publication.

Kirdahy-Scalia, tech editor for OMB, joined the crew in June as an intern and was promoted to his current position in August.

"I’m actively pursuing articles, trying to get friend and colleagues to write on tech issue, to scare up some video game reviews," Kirdahy-Scalia said. "It has been fulfilling. It’s different from academic writing. The only writing I had been doing before was academic. A lot of the academic writing I did was on social media. I think it’s tremendously important and really has the potential to shift how we name things and understand things in our society. And so I was excited to have a platform to write and to have someone [Jason Pramas] who would be on my ass weekly for something."

"I’ve really liked it," Kirdahy-Scalia continued. "The coolest thing is to see the tracking to see who is referring the page and to see that I’m the top result on Google News. I wrote a vegetarian alternative article for the holidays. To see that my article was translated into German and is being linked to comment on some German blogs was great."

In the ambitious plan for world domination, Pramas said, "Open Media" groups would sprout in small cities across the country before building a State House, City Hall and Washington bureau. But first things first: He wants to work up to 10,000 website visitors per day within a couple of years.

At the end of a recent editorial board meeting, Pramas said it this way: "You start with a very stripped down, streamline concept. You putter along as best you can with the resources you have. But you always try to be as professional as you possible can with the product. Over time you turn it into a Cadillac, a Lexus. You make the little go-kart into a nice, sleek, ultimately, electric kind of solar-powered hover craft, you know, with the jacuzzi and everything else. That’s where we’re at. We’re building a community."

In the spring, Pramas said OMB is collaborating with teenagers in Roxbury at Mandela Homes to train them on how to create content for the website.

"You can train people with some basic literacy who can talk to people without getting too shy about it," Pramas said. "You can do that. As we do it we bring new communities online and if we continue this to it’s logical conclusion, we will end up with a news publication that can really cover the city broadly, maybe even to the point that the mainstream media may not have been able to do it. And this is not a political statement. A right wing publication can do this. A centrist publication can do this. The technology does allow this.

"When we’re talking about building a modern news publication, you're talking about building a community. It’s a long curve to ascendancy. We’re achieving take off velocity. And to do that we have to prove our concept. We have to show that this is going to work. Now we’re getting pretty sure it’s working. Now we have to monetize it. Now we have to take it to the next level."

Update: This is version 2.0 of this blog post. There were corrections for style and spelling. The post presented at the original time stamp changed slightly into this report filed at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15, 2008.

Go beyond the blog text and get into the Open Media Boston editorial process through this photo slide show.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chuck Turner is innocent as charged and the Bay State Banner spells it out for y'all

Yo newspaper people: This is why we need the Bay State Banner to counter balance the sytemically racist mainstream media. Telling it how it really is.

Gaffin gets down to business of blogging


Last week, Adam Gaffin, of Universal Hub, visited the Reinventing the News team for a lecture on blogging. The man is a machine -- once dubbed the "Master of Hub Hits," by the Boston Phoenix -- when it comes to the hyper-local blogosphere, offering offbeat musing and hard-hitting news. (Just today Gaffin demonstrated his ability to break news, albeit minor, with this photo of a car crash on his street; and yesterday he spotlighted another local blogger's bitching about an excess of Panera food in her house as the result of her daughter's employment there: "I know, what a terrible thing to complain over. Boo hoo hoo.")

I was interested in the economics of blogging. We all know the apocalyptic rhetoric about newspapers: that they are going down as all the money in media is going to the Internet, which is generally a weak outlook, but whatever.

Gaffin told me that he makes $15,000 a year off of Universal Hub using Google Ads as a source of revenue, with more than 3,500 users visiting his site each day. "Which is pretty good because I do no marketing," he said. (Emphasis added by me because, Gaffin went on to explain, if Universal Hub had a strongly coordinated outreach for local advertising clients he'd make more money than with the Google service.)

"Unfortunately for me I kinda' of suck at advertising," Gaffin said. "When I'm buying a car I bring my wife because she's really good at negotiating things."

For Gaffin, the website buffers the income from his day job. "You're not going to become a millionaire at this unless you work really hard," he said.

That means building up a ton of blogs in your RSS aggregator and being vigilant about combing all resources for news on developments within the community. And it means thinking of clever or provocative headlines, like "Alleged tools charged with stealing tools," "Looking for love in the BPL reading room" and "Flaming manholes of death attack Brookline."

"It's a niche market," he said. "People read Globe stories from all over the world. We're able to sell [advertisements] at a lower price for a niche market. ... One of the things you gotta' think about: 'What's your niche?' You can't compete with the Globe as a general newspaper."

There is a growing market for online publications that offer convenience and links galore that you may adore for their explanatory value. Gaffin takes it to a new level by utilizing a Flickr account to harbor pictures, grasping Twitter to disseminate postings and a custom Google search for users to navigate the UH archives.

Keep it up, brother. Your an excellent model for many community bloggers to come.

Photo featured above is of Adam Gaffin. I took the picture with my lil' Kodak Easyshare, suckas.

Tweeting on Twitter is not just for nitwits


I was first turned on to Twitter last spring while watching Basic Black, a talk show about the African-American community focusing on arts, media, economics and politics, broadcasted by WGBH-Boston. Guests discussed how the black community was behind in their utilization of social networks on the Web, with a lack of access to computers seen as one obstacle to get connected.

"I really think that this is the future," said Dr. Patricia Hill Collins, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, speaking of social networking communities like Facebook and Twitter. "The whole notion of being untethered from the actual location where you are, if you live in a really bad neighborhood, or are in a bad family or on a bad block -- if you have access to a computer, you can actually participate in cyber communities with people who are like you across here in this country, or across the globe.

"I did a teaching situation once where I talked with a young woman who was a rap artist and she was telling me how she was in contact with her counterpart in South Africa ... [She] was networking with this poet in South Africa and they were forming relationships and getting ideas. It is truly a very interesting medium to think about social issues and to think about political issues."

It was at that point that Hiawatha Bray, the Boston Globe's go-to technology guy, pulled out his cellphone explaining that he could "tweet," or publish a microblog post at that very moment, to get whatever message he wanted out there in cyber space. Meaning, not only is it a tool of unity and empowerment, you could actually break news with this stuff!

With a community of reporters using Twitter, it can be construed as an effective information gathering service. Though it's content, I believe, should always be vetted and edited before reproduced. You don't always know who is behind the postings.

While Bray uses Twitter a lot of the time as a tool for his journalism work (e.g. "Looking for video gamers who are cutting back because of the economy...buying fewer games, cancelling WoW, that sort of thing. 12:26 PM Oct 17th"), he also uses to post the mundane minutiae of his everyday life: For instance, "It's bagel-eating time. 9:46 AM May 7th," "At Peoples Baptist Church 12:40 PM May 18th" and "Got me a haircut. Now I'm ready for my closeup tomorrow ... 5:22 PM Jul 2nd"

He also posts some of his stories there and other articles that he finds fascinating.

Another active "Twit" -- I just made that up, even though I think the proper term is "Tweeter" -- is Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU. I like how he uses Twitter to just blast his musings and quick, cringing critiques about the mainstream media's hypocrisies, conflicts of interest, uneven reporting, etc. He now has 3,455 followers.

This all made me think that 140-character blogging tool would be an excellent weapon in my arsenal of peace making tools. (As it is now, though, I see Facebook as far more prevalent, and it does have it's own "status update" device, which publishes little snippets in a similar fashion. Needless to say Facebook and Twitter can be synchronized, but I've had trouble with this: I can only get my Twitter posts on Facebook, not vice versa, and sometimes the Twitter Sync application to do this just stops functioning altogether.)

Although I'm not much of a social butterfly, usually; when it comes to social justice, however, this is just another outlet for my delight, humor and frustration.

Screenshot framed above is from my Twitter profile. Click here to explore my tweets.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

City Councilor Chuck Turner told Fenway News he was 'preparing' for the system to 'swing back'; He's 'overjoyed' to use arrest as teaching opportunity


Four years ago, Democracy Now! called Chuck Turner, who has represented District 7 as its City Council member since he was elected in 1999, "one of the city’s best known dissenters." He has seen some awesome social action, by lying across Columbus Avenue to prevent construction that dispaced poor minority neighborhoods; occupying the Mayor's office in 1991 with a dozen others forcing The Man to make key concessions concerning the hiring of minorities on city construction projects; and suing the city in 2004 for not allowing protesters to march to the Democratic National Convention held at the Fleet Center.

So as you might have heard, Turner was arrested on Friday, Nov. 21, 2008, for allegedly accepting a $1,000 "bribe" from a local businessman named Ron Wilburn, and then "repeatedly" denying that he was "ever being offered the money," according to an FBI affidavit. Turner has since come out on BNN-Channel 9's "Talk of the Neighborhoods" and said if any mistake was made, it was a "campaign finance violation" and that there was no "probable cause" for his involvement in this investigation. The whole thing started to unfold when the Feds unveiled their case against Diane Wilkerson, and the probe seems to be expanding from her. Wilkerson was the first black woman elected to the state Senate. These leaders of of color have presided over a constituency largely composed of minorities.

The Boston Herald reported: "Turner says he’s innocent. 'I did not extort money from Mr. Wilburn,' [Turner] said."

Well, the Boston Herald, the Boston Globe, all TV stations, et al. of the imperialist MSM in the area generally have been crucifying Turner in their coverage -- except for the Globe with what might of been a euphimism for a headline "Turner raises questions about Wilburn interview," when in it was more like "Turner attacks Globe for its failure point out inconsistencies in an interview with FBI informant who lacks credibility." (But there are some reasons maybe the Globe has to treat Turner like a chump.) Oh, I like this letter. But this is for real so lets drop that stupid stuff; and, seperately, we don't have to blindly trust the FBI all the time.

While Turner is boisterously on the defensive with the local MSM, he got all nice and cozy with The Fenway News, a small monthly newspaper with little online presence, and their reporter Aqilla Manna, who also spearheads the newspaper's distribution. She presented a short explanation from Turner about his situation in the context of the greater struggle for social justice. Turner reflected:

"[M]any people have expressed their condolences for my being in this kind of situation -- have expressed how unfair it is, and how difficult it must be for me. What I'm trying to help them understand is that if your objective in life has been to challenge the system, that is similar to someone poking a bear with a stick. When you poke a bear with a stick, you'd be a fool to think that the bear isn't going to swing back. And so your whole life your practice is to figure out how to duck the swings of the bear so that you may have another opportunity to try to bring him down through poking him in the stomach.

"So what's happening is my wife and I have been preparing for this day. We knew this day was going to come if we kept up an effective level of work because their practice is not to allow people who won't submit to their will ...

"They set up a situation that will take you down. So what's happening is not surprising -- it's draining in terms of energy, but it's not even troubling. I know I'm innocent. I'm an organizer. I know how to organize my defense. I've been advocating for people for over 40 years. So if I can advocate for other people for 40 years, I certainly am not concerned with being able to advocate for my self ...

"In fact, in some ways, I'm overjoyed that it's happened, which seems strange, but meaning I'm at the time that I have to realize that every breath I take could be my last. So for me, what I really yearn for is the opportunity to be able to see that my people can understand clearly and see how the system functions. ... The fact of this situation gives me the opportunity to really help teaching critical thinking, help teach how to not to be misled by the psychological warfare that's used to demoralize us as individuals as well as people.

"So for me, God had given me just a wonderful opportunity to help my people understand the viciousness of the system that we had been oppressed by for 400 years."


Of course, we all know there's something pretty fishy about this. Does the FBI allow only crotchety, old black guys like Ron Wilburn to get revenge only on their fellow African-American figures in the community in these skeezy, sneaky ways. Is it all to neutralize The People and keep them complacent, without hope for better pay or, furthermore, change in the white power structure that dominates American society? Or are we all allowed to try to set up our politicians? Or do we have to be Whitey Bulger or something?

Ron Wilburn said their was more people going down or, basically, it wouldn't be right. Either he's just collaborating with a systemically racist system or he's ignorant in getting this simple smalltime revenge.

Besides the Turner story and the sidebar interview by Manna on the cover of The News there were election results and a photo feature. The picture showed a longtime neighborhood activist and former city councilor Rosaria Salerno being recognized for a lifetime of achievements as a founding member of the Fenway CDC. In the image, she embraced with State Representative Byron Rushing.

Ron Wilburn, the cooperating witness in the Turner and Wilkerson case, said their should be others arrested or it wouldn't make sense. I've heard eyes are on a State Representative. Rushing, watch out!

Photo (cc) by Jonathan McIntosh and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Monday, November 24, 2008

On a hunt for stories with News Trust

Last Wednesday my Reinventing the News class and I were introduced to News Trust.

With guidance from Mike LaBonte, the class was split into groups and we all evaluated one story using News Trust. The Independent, of London, printed this piece by their environment editor, called "A 'Green New Deal' can save the world's economy, says UN."

After scanning through the article a couple of times, my three group mates and I began to scrutinize it using the News Trust supplied evaluation sheet. Becoming a member of the website allows you to submit these judgements on articles and any other multimedia news posted on the Internet.

For the Independent piece we were unimpressed by the analysis of the proposition at the center of the article. We saw the piece and realized that it was one-sided -- basically cheer leading -- with only one or two sources who were proponents of the cause.

Normally, people throw aside articles that are not well sourced and don't have conflicting voices. So we gave it a bad score, a 2.3, noting that it's "hard to understand the source of data and projections voiced in this piece."

Through News Trust we have a record documenting the perceived quality of different publications.

As an exercise on Friday, I went on a "news hunt" for three different articles somehow pertaining to the global economy.

First I stopped at an article in the Guardian about how Venezuela is doing throughout this global financial crisis. I felt like the article had a pro-Capitalist bent to it because it offers criticism of Venezeula's style of government without explaining. I gave the article an overall 2.3, with low grades for context and depth. I said in my notes that "I just don't like how Venezuela is 'considered' one of Latin America's riskiest credits without backing up this statement with anything else but a blanket condemnation of socialism, solidifying investor's unqualified fears."

Next I went to India, where leaders are assuring the poor that they will be unaffected by the global financial crisis which was caused by "profligacy" or rich nations. It was not a broad story and was rather boilerplate quotes from India's leaders. I gave it a 2.7. In my notes I said: "It's nice in the sense that we are given the Indian perspective on the global economic crisis. But I feel like there should be more analysis than this pre-packaged allaying of financial fears."

Last I decided to behold the gold. In times of economic turmoil you always have some nutcase yelling at you to stock up on gold because the dollars is dying. Now's a time to get hooked up with some stats. This article offers some recent prices of gold and shows a bit how it's fluctuated over the last year. But it hardly gives me an understanding of the subject.

Many buyers, Edwards said, are figuring that global governments’ unprecedented efforts to pump money into the financial system will inevitably lead to higher inflation down the road -- even if the immediate concern of central bankers is deflationary pressures as consumer spending slumps.

"What I hear from [investors] is that they think deflation is a short-term issue," Edwards said.


That's the basics. Supply and demand.

I wanted more. My urge for more substantive understanding led me to give the story an overall 2.4, giving it a low score for lack of enterprising quality.

Now let's all demand better quality journalism through the persistent scrutiny of our entries in News Trust!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Mapping out coffee shops to percolate minds



Brigham Circle Diner is a mainstay for workaday folks during the week and for frantic local college students on the weekend.

I stopped by today to participate in a Google Mapping assignment for class. I ordered a cup of coffee for just $0.99, and I also ordered a few scrambled eggs, some potatoes and wheat toast to go with it.

The waitress poured the black bean brew. She asked if I wanted cream or sugar but I like it straight-up, no sugar-coating. She plopped this thick, off-white ceramic mug on the counter for me, still steaming. I grabbed a cup of water out a pitcher in the corner while I let it cool for a minute. Halfway through sipping down my coffee while catching a few headlines in The Globe -- Obama now allows lobbyists to work in White House? -- my food was up on the counter. Surprisingly, prompt service from a two-person staff: The ruddy chef in his apron swirled around the kitchen chopping stuff up while constantly frying as the waitress flickered from doing dishes, taking orders, wiping up tables and more.

The grub, suffice to say, was delicious! -- that gritty breakfast of champions, but not overly greasy, doused with hot sauce.

I took my time and grabbed another black coffee. I suspect a Columbian blend. It was not strong, but it certainly got my body going. I felt like I could have approached the counter and had the girl pour me cups all morning. I've found it to be a real friendly atmosphere.

That's all I got. They won me over. I'm easy but I know this place is quality.

As a supplement, here's an excerpt from a Boston Phoenix "Cheap Eats" column that came out in October, 2002, shortly after the store was founded:

There aren’t any big-haired waitresses, but the men behind the counter embody the surly-yet-sweet mix. The first cup of coffee was presented unceremoniously — plopped on the counter, not brought to the table — with a cursory, " Your coffee. " The second and third (the mugs are small) required approaching the counter and asking for refills. But then, after cup three, the man behind the counter walked by our table and paused. " How ’bout some more coffee? " he asked. I hesitated, thinking I’d had my fill. " Go on, " he said, smiling persuasively. " It’s cold out. " Surly had turned sweet.


Brigham Circle Diner, located at 737 Huntington Ave., is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mapping and New Media

Five years after the horrors of Sept. 11, 2001, the Boston Globe set out to explain the resulting war in Afghanistan from the ground. To accompany the full story by Charles Sennott that appeared in the paper they created a flash map of the area.

The map, produced by Scott LaPierre and T.S. Amarasiriwardena, of Boston.com, plots Sennott's journey from Islamabad, in Pakistan, to Asadabad, in Afghanistan.

Each stop, when you click on it, gives you a little multimedia presentation: an audio clip, a slide show, and/or some text that pops up.

For instance, zoom in on Jalabad, noted as the number 7 point in Sennott's journey, where his flight to Kabul is detailed. Sennott explains: that this is where "it is believed that the US had bin-Laden cornered in December 2001. He managed to escape, according to US, Pakistani, and Afghan officials, because of a lack of US troops on the ground and flawed intelligence." I'm sure it was a mistake to let bin-Laden go.

Regardless, this is just one fine example of how maps can be utilized to redefine the news. For next Reinventing the News class we'll be utilizing Google Maps for reporting purposes.

An American police state experience


This weekend I submitted a column to a local newspaper about my experience being assaulted by a police officer in Boston. He conducted an unwarranted search of my person and possessions, completely violating my Fourth Amendment rights. God bless America! There were a few key facts that were unfortunately left out of my narrative, which I wrote from the second-person perspective of the cop. So, here is the raw version of the story in all it's awful glory:

At the corner of Newbury Street and Charlesgate East, you stand in the midst of midday traffic on Saturday sporting your dark blue uniform and fluorescent orange vest. Three college-aged boys walk down Commonwealth and take a turn at the intersection, stopping nearby at a grassy area featuring two concrete patio-like sitting spaces next to a calm creek and a small building that may be an old generator house.
The kids start milling around, chatting amongst themselves. They must be up to no good.
So you start towards them and one of them sees this. As you get near, what appears to be the oldest one, this scruffy punk with a bomber jacket and black hair, steps forward.
"Now get your story together," you say, staring at him, swaggering ahead.
"What's going on?" he says.
"You know what you were doing over here," you bark back.
You grab the kid by the elbow and start pulling him toward the swatch of ground they were standing around. "What's wrong? Are you arresting me?"
Heh-heh. Who does this kid think he is?
The other boys follow.
"You were drinking over here. Admit it!" you yell, scanning the ground for any illicit material.
"No," he says. "I was just having a cigarette. You have no right to detain us like this for no reason."
This pisses you off. You wrench his backpack from his arms.
"You can't look through that," he says. Well then – you wonder why – what could be in it?
Rifling through you find four bananas and four pears; a pair of headphones; "The Complete Stories of Truman Capote," a bunch of papers; and a reporter's notebook. No dice.
"Show me what's in your pockets?" you demand, in a rising tone.
He pulls everything out: keys, a cell phone and a pack of Marlboro Reds.
"Again, if you're not going to arrest me," he says. "I'd like to leave. I have things to do."
This infuriates you. You charge the kid gritting your grimy, jagged teeth, huffing with bulging eyes, locking your mitts on his shoulders and knock him down onto the hard steps of the generator house a foot or so behind him. And then you stomp on his foot for good measure.
"You're assaulting me," the boy says, scrunching his face with anger.
"Ya. I am assaulting you. ... And I have a right to do a field interrogation," you say, reaching for a notepad to write down their identification information.
The boy settles into a stolid stare. Suddenly, he looks up, taking his cell phone from his pocket.
"I'm going to have to call a lawyer," he says. You quickly snatch his phone and furiously look back and forth.
"Oh, wait, what's this," you say, giddily, picking up what appears to be an empty pint of cheap Peppermint Schnapps.
"Are you kidding," the kid says, wincing. "That looks like something a homeless guy left there. C'mon. I'll take a Breathalyzer test. You're just being a bully. You're infringing on our civil liberties."
No. You are doing your job. But there's not much left to do with these schmucks. So you appeal to their respect for protection of property.
"You know, we've had a lot of car break-ins on this street."
You start walking away, still fuming, feeling somewhat defeated. So you turn back, lurching back toward the kids and yell, "If you had a pair you'd fess up! Grow a sack."
At one point, you recall, the outspoken boy says: "I'm going to have to report you to the police."
Chagrined, you say, "I am the police." Your name is Officer Schueller.

* * *

Throughout the night this incident, I tried to empathize with Schueller, to see it in his shoes. Why was he so hostile, and then violent. Were my words crude? It was just a little truth to power.
Conversely, by the end of the ordeal, this cop was coaxing me to confess to a crime I did not commit by means of emasculation. I felt compelled to report him.
"We can assure you that this won't happen again," said Sergeant Michael McCarthy. "We sat down with the officer and he told us his account and it matched yours. We believe you. He shouldn't have conducted himself like that. We hope your next experience with the police is a good one."
Not all officers act this way. I deal with police regularly at work and they have been outstanding gentleman. But this experience offered me a glimpse into what may have been the overly aggressive ethos harbored by police who handled the Celtics championship reveler David Woodman at the time of his arrest and subsequent death. In more general terms, it was my first personal encounter with an overbearing nanny state that won't let people alone with their privacy when they are doing nothing illegal; and it was the first time my Fourth Amendment right was blatantly violated. My hopes are that police would continue to protect and serve while maintaining respect for the community.

Boston Globe Multimedia Reporter Emily Sweeney Presents

When I was working at City Weekly for the Boston Globe last may I remember the editor mentioning an upcoming section front regarding Boston slang. The idea amused me, being from the area, and so I wondered how it would come out.

The article was O.K. But it needed something else. A video to compliment the text would bring the story to life.

The Globe, like lots of other major newspapers, are infusing video into their online product more and more everyday. You gotta' have sound and moving sights for this one.

That's where Emily Sweeney comes in. She sat down with the writer Billy Baker, recorded some narration, scrapped together some animation as well as file photos and let the Beantown vernaculur shine.

Sweeney visited the Reinventing the News class on Wednesday.

On her website, SpikeyEm, she links to this really inspiring video for an article she wrote in 2006 about John McClay, who was a former Mr. America contender, adapting to life in a wheelchair. He was hit by a car while jogging in 1985 and that left him disabled below the waste.

The video is structured nicely. We have a dynamic interview in scene -- the gym -- that we start with and end with. We have body building b-rolls and pictures spliced in from the prime years in his career. And we have edgy rock music. Let's roll!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

BlogAgainstTheMachineBoston experiments: first time YouTubing

Check it out. The first YouTube video from BlogAgainstTheMachineBoston.



Editor's note: It's my first time. But it was fun. Some of these pictures are just famous some are from Flickr. But I'll get around to citing them all.

BlogAgainstTheMachineBoston Watches Votes

Check it out. It's my little Polling Place Photo Project slideshow I participated in through the New York Times. Just three pictures of the voting festivities where I was. After I got yelled at, which you'll read about in one of these captions, I got scared. But afterwards an elections worker said I could of YouTube'd my vote. Whateva maybe next time.

And hey, hey! on this historic election night Media Nation gave BlogAgainstTheMachineBoston a historic shoutout. Word.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

BlogAgainstTheMachineBoston Votes

So today Mr. BlogAgainstTheMachineBoston went to the ballot booth for Ward 10 Precinct 6 at the Kennedy School in Boston and here is what he picked: Cynthia McKinney, of the Green Party, for President of the United States. Sonia Chang-Diaz, for state senator (even though her opponent socialist William Leonard showed at the antiwar rally while she was absent). They're both power-to-the-people pols who aren't going to be bought off by anyone.

For the initiated state statues on the ballot he voted No on Question 1 because it's tempting but just too rash and plus, his mom said, the property taxes will just go up; Yes on Question 2 because criminal laws against marijuana are systemically racist leaving it to police discretion on when to arrest never mind the fact that alcohol is far more dangerous yet remains legal; and lastly No on Question 3 because we need jobs so forget dogs they're fine anyways.

For the rest of the candidates, including Mike Capuano, his Democratic U.S. rep to the House, he voted No Confidence to send a message that he's unsatisfied by their service. He did not vote for the U.S. Senate seat and instead wrote No John Kerry! and blackened in the circle.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Palin calls for new investigation into 9/11

Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin proclaimed that she is a 9/11 truther.

Responding to a question from a We Are Change member at a rally in Ohio last week, she said she would support the victims -- dead, injured and ailing first responders along with their families -- whose lives were impacted by Sept. 11 in regards to their pleas for a new investigation into the events of that chaotic day.

“I do because I think that helps us get to the point of never again," Palin said. "And if anything that we could do could still complete that reminder out there," she added, in a quick rising pitch.

In the past her counterpart, Republican Presidential hopeful John McCain, has spoke out against calls for a new investigation. He even wrote the foreward to a book denouncing anyone who questions the Bush administration's account of the tragic day.

I found this through infowars.com where Paul Joseph Watson pondered into the mentality of the Alaska governor. Watson seems surprised by and suspicious of her candor.

Of course, one would have to be incredibly naive to think that Palin, at best a befuddled Republican poster child and at worst another establishment Neo-Con, would follow through on her support and back a new 9/11 investigation should John McCain snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and take the White House. ... For most people, Palin’s expression of support for a new investigation seems to be borne out of a desperate attempt to say anything to get votes as McCain slips further behind Obama in the polls on a daily basis with the election just five days away. Other politicians who have been confronted on 9/11 by chapters of We Are Change have either ignored the question altogether, or in the case of Bill Clinton, gone on the offensive and verbally scorned 9/11 truth activists.
But I kind of had an inkling -- she's one of these paranoid, proliberty, anti-Fed types at heart -- despite her insistence that the War in Iraq is a "task from God." Those secessionist tend to espouse some pretty radical ideas.

The military-industrial university

In my latest column for the Huntington News, I upset the whole Northeastern community for condemning their close corporate ties with "merchants of death" -- my phrase -- who Eisenhower portended would corrupt our society destroying our ability to ensure that "security and liberty may prosper together."

For your amusement, here's select criticism left on The News comment board.

From Bob: Defense contractors provide good jobs. The person who wrote this is an idiot. The defense companies in the area do a lot of high tech research that do great things for everyone.

Moberg: As soon as I read the title of the article, I knew it was you, Marc.

Bruce Kaufman: Ahhh...liberal idealism at its finest. Maybe we shouldn't build any weapons to defend ourselves and shoot flowers at the terrorists!

Matt: Judging by the picture of this kid in the Huntington News and his general demeanor, perhaps he should work at one of Northeastern's biggest co-op employers--Gillette. Then he could manufacture the very razors he uses to slit his wrists every night.

Liam: I am a veteran of the war in Iraq. The editor conveniently left that crucial bit of info out of the article. For the misinformed guy who commented about needing to defend ourselves from terrorists and therefore justifying raytheon and other war corporations ("defense contractors") as integral to our "safety," I would point out that in the last 10 years it would be VERY generous to say 10,000 Americans were killed by terrorists. In that stat I am including the nearly 5,000 soldiers and Marines killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, let me tell you from experience, are being killed mostly by regular people who don't want their countries occupied by foreign troops, they are not terrorists. Compare that to almost 5 million deaths from heart disease in that timeframe. Hmmm? The U.S. spends over $600 Billion per year for raytheon and companies like it thrive from war, and we spend less than $3 billion per year to address a problem that has killed millions of people? Terrorists do not deserve that much of our tax dollars or attention because they are not even close to a significant threat to us. In 2004 you had a better chance of dying of peanut allergies than from terrorism! The government needs to make you scared by telling you these boogiemen are out there so people will consent to all this money being forked over to the weapons industries while they steal our rights. Fear makes us easily manipulated. Don't let ANYBODY, news anchors, politicians or activists scare you into believing terrorists are the people to worry about. In the Marine Corps they gave us a definition of terroriism: "The use of violence or threatended use of violence to intimidate civilian populations to further political, ideological, religious or financial objectives." Guess what!? That is what the war in Iraq is? Our government is a terrorist organziation by ANY definition. And Raytheon is who these terrorists go to for weapons and advice. How can we tacitly support this as students of this university? It is morally dispicable for an academic instituion to openly marry itself to a war profiteering racket. Does anybody think that Northeastern is inclined to teach political or economic students the critical perspectives of these war profiteers if they have such a cozy relationship with them? They would be crazy to threaten their relationship by teaching their students that these industries help perpetuate war. So... not only does NEU's tie to Raytheon allow them free access toour fellow student's for recruitment and research, but we are in effect paying to be lied to instead of receiving education worth teh name. So, make fun of "liberal idealists" all you want, but please examine your own logic, because your rationale is tantamount to "status quo idealism" which expects that we can keep doing this insane shit which has justified the worlds largest military budget, and blatanly fraudulent and illegal wars in hand with the world's largest debt. Who is being idealistic? Him for thinking it is clearly unsustainable to fight wars based on lies and paying these conmen to do our intellectual dirty work, or you for thinking war solves problems without creating 10 more? And for the guy who called the author of this article an idiot and the one referring to Gillette. That is frustratingly childish to resort to that type of discourse. On top of the ad hominen attacks that do not address the issue at all, your arguments consited of "mercanary firms pay well." Great! So did being a slave owner! So too does being a mafia hitman! If it poivides good pay then it must be good? Does that make your argument sound? If you value money that much, you should be worried that our government has put us in the most debt any nation has ever been in and if we don't do someting about this system you and the next 10 generations will be slaves unable to escape taxes, loans, and gas prices. Peace.

Christopher Knighton: Thank you for writing this article. As an undergraduate engineering student at Northeastern, I was very upset to find that many of the most encouraged coop positions were for these so called "defense contractors." Raytheon is probably the company that is most promoted by this school for engineering coops. At nearly every coop related event there is a spokesperson from Raytheon. It's rather sad. There are crucial problems that exist today and supporting aggression and war profiteering, which Northeastern so promonately does, is disgusting. I have not once heard any discussion in my three years here about whether or not working for these companies is a moral thing to do, but I am certainly told "Raytheon is a good job, it'll be a good experience, you should do it, you'd learn a lot," just about everywhere I look. Even when applying for coops, I specifically told my advisor that I DID NOT want to work for any company involved with the military, but I was still recommended for some of these "defense contractors." I don't think people realize what "defense contractor" really means. Oh and while I was writing this.. I just got another email about a wonderful event brought you us by the likes of GE and Raytheon where they will be displaying the latest in homeland security technology. Don't we have better things to be studying for than war? It's a shame these corporations are on our campus.

Katie: Marc, I appreciate your article. A lot of the employees from Northeastern that work at Raytheon are engineers. I am not an expert of the ethical codes of all the branches of engineering, but I do know that the M.E. code explicitly states that nothing that an engineer works on should cause any known harm to fellow humans. This has seemingly fallen through the cracks, as defense contractors not only hire a lot of Northeastern co-ops, but offer their co-ops permanent positions when they graduate. It would be beneficial to the Northeastern community if instead of taking Raytheon jobs, engineers tried to get into the burgeoning renewable energy sector. I am an alumni of the class of '08 living in California and the solar energy producers cannot keep up with the demand they are receiving (which means jobs!). Biofuels and wind are two sectors that need minds willing to help solve this problem, as well. If only a small percentage of engineers used their brain power to start solving the problem of how America receives and uses energy, we could eliminate many of the problems causing our need for ridiculously large defense contracts. An independent renewable energy sector spells out great success for our economy with the promise of many new and permanent jobs. Unlike the tech bubble, an American-run energy industry is highly sustainable. Hardly "idealism." If you didn't notice, the War on Terror isn't all that sustainable of an economic policy....unless you're Raytheon.

BK: So reading over this, I just want to say while Raytheon is a defense contractor... not everything they do is military related and I suggest people reading their history books as many of today's technology comes from military research (some of it even done at *gasp* University such as NU). Next time you use that microwave to make your mac+cheese, cruise the internet to check your email, or use your cell phone for wireless communication remember one thing, much of the technology that started the basis for alot of that came from military research. Also last note, remember our country was founded by war and not everyone who works at Raytheon is building bombs. I think that needs to be cleared up. I have friends there that are IT people. They fix computers for people. Also, don't blame people for taking money when they can at a defense contractor. Some people have to pay bills, I don't blame them for that. Grow up kids, get out of your dream world.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Steve Garfield: The man with a fancy phone that serves as a live news crew


Steve Garfield, video blogger of SteveGarfield.com, came in to class the other day and showed off his citizen journalism skills and gadgetry.

Garfield is renowned throughout the country for his ability to capture news footage without making a big production out of it. It's a one man band for Garfield as he takes advantage of Internet journalism tools: Twitter, Flickr, Myspace, Facebook.

But what I was really intrigued with the cell phone that he showcased. The Nokia N95 is like a video news production crew in your pocket.

When Garfield needs to, like when he was on the streets of New Hampshire during the primary season, he grabs his phone and starts recording to produce news. With the touch of a button he shoots video with the phone that is beamed lived to Qik.com.

For example, he showed us a Qik video produced during the primaries, in which he interviewed Duncan Hunter with the N95 and effectively scooped the mainstream media. Garfield got the Republican presidential hopeful on his way to be interviewed by CNN to lash out against ABC News and Fox News Channel for excluding him from a debate.

Though such Qik access does have a price. The phone is $468. Eek.

(Garfield recently discovered that the $200-dollar iPhone is live-stream enabled.)

But the price is not bad considering the use Garfield gets out of it. He's uploaded 302 videos since Dec., 2007. That earned him 46,805 page views. Pretty impressive.

Garfield uses the videos for other media outlets. He sends them to CNN iReport, the media company's site for citizen journalism. He even got the attention of the BBC for his offhand remarks that were broadcast live from his living room during the recent U.S. presidential debates. I wish I could do that and go of on my own tangent -- a raging one, that is.

He showed use just how it works by pulling out the N95 giving me and my fellow students tips on how to keep the phone steady while recording. It would be great if everyone could learn to use this tool to achieve social justice and fight back against oppressive states.

"I am videoing you as your videoing me," said my teacher, Dan Kennedy, as he filmed Garfield filming. Very meta. Cool!

(Click on the picture of Garfield to see an archived report of him as he's seen in action, below, broadcasting live from our classroom to the Internet.)


Both of the pictures above we're taken at Northeastern University by me using the Lil' Kodak Easyshare.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Slideshow: Opportunity to increase worldliness


Northeastern University, a school of 15,339 undergraduates, evolved since it's inception in 1898 as an evening school, through the early- and mid-1900s as a commuter school, to now as a national research university. But it has also added an emphasis on the international community to further students understanding of the world -- which I think is a dire need in this age of War on Terrors and global financial crises.

For Northeastern students interested in getting in on that international experience, they can visit Northeastern's study abroad office to explore opportunities to take a semester overseas or in Mexico, Canada or somewhere South America.

However students may become disoriented when they discover that the study abroad office is not longer at the heart of campus at 301 Ell Hall. Now students must take the T to the Symphony stop or walk a little more than a half a mile to the new location.

At 101 Belvidere Street, in the Christian Science Plaza, I entered the office during walk-in hours to gain some understanding of the program. I was able to talk to Lily Chryssis, coordinator at the study abroad office, about the whole thing. She told me Northeastern has a diverse offering of 33 countries to allow students this experiential education. I'm actually interested in studying in Egypt to immerse myself in an Arabic speaking culture. Her estimate for my prospective study abroad: $20,400 billed to my student account, which is expensive but we'll see what financial aid is available later.

I asked her how many students are involved in the program now that it has blossomed since its inception in the late-80s.

"We're sending around 240 students for the spring of 2009," Chryssis said. "Our semester programs our growing but not as much as our faculty-led [cultural dialogue] programs."

In order to participate in a study abroad program one must attend an info session. At 6 p.m. last night one was led by Andrew Berry, a student who took elementary Arabic along with me. With a Power Point slide show to accompany him, Berry told about 30 students all they needed to know before submitting an application to become a Northeastern student at-large, as well as what they should be prepared for in making such a cultural transition.

"If you're in a conservative Arab-speaking country," Berry said, "don't walk around like a hoochie mama. Use your common sense. Represent Northeastern well."

Speaking of slide shows, I've linked a slide show with some more information on the study abroad program and its new office and some reporting on the info session. Either click on the link in the previous sentence or click the picture above to view the complete production.

Photo of Solomon Laditi raising his hand to Andrew Berry, seen above, as well as all photos featured in the Flickr slideshow that's linked to it were shot by Yours Truly with that lil' Kodak Easyshare.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Internet didn't kill the newsradio star


The world is changing.

People want information faster. They want it at arms reach everywhere. They want a convenient and comfortable exchange.

Tangentially, opulent people achieve to start their car engine in the winter without leaving the house. Right now, there are drive-thru liquor stores all throughout the South. In the future, I predict, we'll all live in an i-Pod house, have an i-Pod car and all of life's activities will be organized by Google. And we'll all be calm and there will be order and smiles will come easier.

New media is all about that. That fluid transfer of info at leisure. That all encompassing and engaging report or story that finds you at the precisely perfect time of your day ushering terror, sympathy, sadness or delight.

For Robin Lubbock it's his day job. He works to provide a more complete platform for WBUR radio to reach news consumers at home and at work -- not just when their on the road.

Of course WBUR.org allows listeners to tune in live and offers its radio content online as audio files, it also allows for interaction. There is a Listener Photo Project they made with flickr encouraging listeners to send in pictures, play with their Twitter and offers a message board to interact with the station about stories.

With the Web, there is much more opportunity to expand on a story that necessitates a visual component, Lubbock says. The station is now able to share photo slide shows and video.

Lubbock explains the management of the radio press corp and how the paradigm modified itself since the induction of the Internet.

"The analogy I give our reporters," Lubbock says, "is in the old days we expect to you to know certain things -- we give you a recorder and a microphone, and we expect you to be able to go out record some audio, get it on your microphone, get it into your recorder, get it on to your computer, cut it up into little segments, decide which bits your want to use for your story -- and then there comes a point in where it gets to complicated. ... At that point we provide what we call a B.R.T., a broadcast radio technician, who's an engineer, basically, and he can take the journalist and sit down at the table with cuts and make it sound beautiful."

Nowadays, the responsibilities are still shared, but are evolving.

"I expect the same on the Web, Lubbock says, "I expect you to be able to write a story. I expect you be able to use the tools, the tools like Wordpress or Blogger. We've all done it cuz' we all have Yahoo mail and Gmail -- we can all fill in a box and get published. I expect them to be able to take a picture and download it onto their machine. I would like them to look at them and decide which pictures are good and which are bad. But somewhere along that line we get to a point, where, for example, putting a slide show together, like the one I showed you, "From Jailhouse To Penthouse," the jail house and the penthouse, that's clearly way beyond the charge for the everyday journalist. So we would add an engineer at that point."

I took the photo of Robin Lubbock with my lil' Kodak Easyshare.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Democracy Now! kicks ass online like a Venezuelan dictactor

Last week in Reinventing the News I introduced democracynow.org to my classmates.

Democracy Now! is this progressive radio show that started in February, 1996, in New York City where it continues to be broadcast from and old converted firehouse building in the Chinatown section of town owned by the Downtown Community TV Center. It's hosted by this lady from Maine, Amy Goodman, along with a dude named Juan Gonzlalez. Since its low budget inception, DN! has gone visual, as well as getting wired into college radio and NPR. Buttressing the over 700 stations that broadcast the show through radio and TV, Democracynow.org, was established in Sept. 1999. "It is definitely one of the major ways people get DN!" said Silky Shah, an outreach organizer for the program. The website offers all different file types for the radio and television version of the show. And DemocracyNow.org boasts that its DN!'s podcast is one of the most popular on the Web.

All the while DN! has prided itself on being "funded entirely through contributions from listeners, viewers, and foundations," according to democracynow.org. It continues, "We do not accept advertisers, corporate underwriting, or government funding. This allows us to maintain our independence." Goodman's tagline for the program is, "The Exception to the Rulers" and she often refers to her underlying agenda: "To go where the silence is." So what made me a little apprehensive about selecting this as a source of online news is that the site has zero interactive ability. Goodman maintains a weekly blog but doesn't offer the ability to shoot back with your own info and ideas.

But this doesn't make me skeptical about DN!s ability to remain in tune with silent majority in the world. I figure they probably just don't have the energy to deal with likely inundation of rightwing garbage and FBI COINTELPRO.

Where else can you get the truth about Afghanistan before the MSM really wakes up to it? Where else can you go for exclusive interviews on conspiracies to spy on military members and kill journalists in Iraq? Where else can you get a more objective view of U.S. relations with our Latin American amigos? Where else can you get an interview with a former U.S. president that scarifies with the politics of power to the people?

Photo (cc) of Democracy Now! headquarters, a.k.a. the fire house studio, seen above was taken by Mr. Jordan Lewin, of Vancouver, and republished here under Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wired let's me get weird


So I just uploaded three photos to this new social networking website for journalists: Wired Journalists.

First, we have the wacky pack of LaRouche cult members spreading their alarmist propaganda on a corner at Northeastern University across the street from the Marino Center (rhetoric seen above). I like the Google mapping feature that Wired offers for it's photo sharing because we can pinpoint exactly where these crazys are wasting everyone's time trying to convince them -- ehem, scare them, and/or take advantage of their insecurities -- to join them in the creepy PAC and not really contribute anything to the wellbeing of society but instead a lot of cash to a rumply, crazy old white guy who has besmirched my French Canadian heritage. I entered the coordinates so check it out CIA and FBI.

Well, let's be fair. Members of the fringe group, as demonstrable in some YouTube videos, might take umbrage to environmental alarmists also trying to enlist impressionable young college students around the freshman residence halls and leach them for their money.

Nevertheless, I can say with confidence that what is contributing to community is Wired Journalists. It allows me to share information about all these photos.

But it's primary function is to act like a sort of Facebook just for journalists. So if you know a journalist whose on the Web -- and who the heck isn't! -- tell them to get with it and let's share intel.

Ya, I took this picture with my Kodak EasyShare CX7300 digital camera, which can gather 3.2 megapixels or whatever.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Boston blog roundup on the bailout

Just glimpsing into the local blogosphere here:

Hub Blog links to a Slate article that attempts tries to decipher the devilish derivitives -- something called a martindale -- behind the current financial crisis. (The Hub Blog's Technorati Authority: 30.)

Elsewhere, on Tuesday, Kevin at the Pundit Review laid his blame at Wall Street speculators, the Democrats, and, to a lesser extent, at the GOP.

He pointed to Democrats like Barney Frank who a few years ago when Bush called for more regulation deferred.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

In the end, Kevin at the Pundit Review (Technorati Authority: 69) conludes "Everyone is to blame, but some more than others." Oh, boy.

To offset his conservative agenda there we're going to link to the Massachusetts Liberal, who rants and raves about who believes are the culprits: the Gingrich Kamikazes of the Clinton years and the "many in the clique of Minority Leader John Boehner threw the monkey wrenches into the works in the name of John McCain, whose last-second parachuting into the deal caused almost as much havoc"

The Massachusetts Liberal, published at baystateliberal.blogspot.com, has a Technorati authority of 30.

Apparently, there's been a lot of racism going around town on Twitter in regards to the reasons for this financial crisis I guess we're going through. margalit fills us in on the details:

I'm really disappointed to be reading some of the remarks I've seen on Twitter regarding the bailout. I don't quite understand how the bailout became a way to make racist remarks about how "they shouldn't have lied on their loan applications" and "they shouldn't have been allowed to borrow money they can't pay back" and "they couldn't ever have gotten a real mortgage without lying to the banks."

Of course we know who "they" are. It's apparent by reading these comments that the twits are referring to minorities that were caught up in the predatory lending schemes. But the facts are that the predatory lenders went after minority applicants who were TOTALLY prepared to get conventional loans and talked them into getting into the subprime market. And it's also a fact that the vast majority of people caught up in the foreclosure situation are white, middle-class Americans who were lied to by Countrywide Finance and other predatory lenders. They were people who thought they could handle the loans they took out, and then when the payments ballooned unfairly after a couple of years, were unable to meet their mortgages which had doubled or tripled seemingly overnight.

There is no "they". There is us. All of us.


(margalit's "What was I THINKING" blog's Technorati authority: 48).


Lewis Forman says 'Let the Companies Fold.' Forman had pointed to an AP report of a fraud investigation surrounding Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, insurer American International Group Inc., and said, "So our $700 Billion life jacket to the markets would just be a convenient cover up for the way that these companies screwed themselves and the country. Is the government going to come and rescue a little [emphasis mine]company that folded due to poor management? I don't think so... "

Forman (whose blog Webster Street Minutes has a very low Technorati authority of 5) believes that regardless there is an economic recession that the U.S. is going to have to deal with. But he looks to the bailout plan as unsettling and is "sure we'll hear in 6 months that the executives at these companies were given a $10 million severance package while all the lower level people got nothing. Just a box for their belongings and a "good luck" on the way out the door."

I agree that we should let the companies take a hit and reinvest that $700 billion in something positive, like community development or infrastructure rejuvenation.