Category Archives: In the News

Photos from Mystic Garden Party

Photos from Sunday, July 26, 2009 at the Mystic Garden Party in Ashland, Oregon.

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Appeals court refuses to unmask anonymous donut shop critics

A Maryland Appeals Court has overturned a lower ruling that would have unveiled the identity of three anonymous Internet commenters due to a technicality in the discovery process. Still, the judges offer advice on how trial courts should handle the situation in the future by respecting the First Amendment rights of the posters in question.

Read the story here

Berkeley Daily Planet launches ‘Fund for Local Reporting’

Posted by Laura Oliver for Journalism.co.uk.

In a frank article about the paper’s future, the owners of US independent newspaper the Berkeley Daily Planet admit they don’t have a solution for plugging the revenue gap in their ailing ad-supported business model.

Enter the Fund for Local Reporting, which is asking for donations large and small to keep the Planet running.

“As we explained in a recent editorial, paying salaries and benefits just for the reporters and editors who cover local news adds up to at least $250,000 a year. That doesn’t include production, rent, printing, distribution, sales etc,” reads the online payment form.

The O’Malleys, the paper’s owners, are also exploring developing the fund into a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organisation. Indeed, they’ve been toying with lots of ideas – part of a ‘reality check’, the editor says – including voluntary subscriptions and migrating to the web . They might not know what the solution is, and this might be a last roll of the dice, but they’re certainly going for it with all they’ve got.

Source: Journalism.co.uk.

Mo’ Power for Low Power

In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began accepting LPFM license applications from community groups around the country. But the broadcast lobby, including the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and National Public Radio (NPR) opposed opening up the airwaves. By the end of 2000, Congress—folding under industry pressure—passed the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act” to block urban LPFM stations, based on the radio industry’s claim that adding 100-watt, low-power stations into the FM spectrum would endanger full-power broadcasters’ signals.

Activists hope Congress will allow low-power FM radio stations in urban areas in 2009.

By Jeremy Gantz via Infoshop

CHICAGO —The Chicago Independent Radio Project (CHIRP), an all-volunteer radio group formed in 2007, will begin webcasting this winter—though millions of city residents who live close to the station won’t be able to hear its programming.

That’s because urban Low Power FM (LPFM) radio stations remain illegal.

In 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began accepting LPFM license applications from community groups around the country. But the broadcast lobby, including the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and National Public Radio (NPR) opposed opening up the airwaves. By the end of 2000, Congress — folding under industry pressure — passed the “Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act” to block urban LPFM stations, based on the radio industry’s claim that adding 100-watt, low-power stations into the FM spectrum would endanger full-power broadcasters’ signals.

However, in 2003 the Mitre Corporation, funded by a $2 million grant from the government, found that LPFM stations do not interfere with the signals of existing full-power stations. In late 2007, the FCC recommended that Congress eliminate the interference regulation that blocked LPFM stations from entering urban airwaves.

“I don’t know what more evidence they need,” says Joe Torres, government relations manager for Free Press, a media reform organization. “There is no legitimate basis for NAB and NPR to claim that LPFM will interfere with broadcast stations.”

Since 2000, more than 800 rural LPFM stations have begun broadcasting. In some cases, they provide listeners with local emergency updates and information unavailable on commercial stations.

But urban groups like CHIRP are gearing up for swift passage next year of legislation that could finally bring independent community radio to a city near you.

New tech start-ups can rise from the economy’s ashes

Facing their worst economic climate since the dot-com bust in the early 2000s, high-tech companies are treating 2009 with dread — but also with a tinge of optimism if they act smartly.

Already, a few established companies with ample cash reserves are bolstering war chests that will help them snap up innovative start-ups. Cisco Systems has $29.5 billion in cash reserves and last week sold $4 billion more in bonds. Despite 5,000 layoffs, Microsoft plans to do some strategic hiring to fill new jobs supporting Internet search. And that well could involve acquisitions to pick up talented workers.

Companies are looking to improve efficiencies with cutting-edge technology. Intel says it will spend $7 billion over the next two years to build advanced manufacturing facilities in the U.S. The plants would produce faster, smaller chips that consume less energy.

“If we want to see a return of American prosperity, we have no other choice than to invest in creating the future, not merely preserving the past,” says Intel CEO Paul Otellini.

For the rest of the story, Click here… – Source: USA Today

Charter to File Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

LOL. I just signed a 1-year contract with them…

Charter Communications Inc., the money-losing cable-television company, said it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of a financial restructuring on or before April 1.  Charter has about 5.6 million customers in 28 states… Source

Pentagon clashes with media over control of information

By CHRIS TOMLINSON, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD (AP) — The black-and-white video starts with a mini-van locked in the crosshairs and the sound of a missile launching. A ball of fire suddenly consumes the van and a palm grove somewhere in Iraq.

“Good shot,” says a voice squawking over what sounds like a military radio. Before the one-minute video clip is over, two more SUVs are destroyed by Apache helicopters.

The video is one of dozens brought to viewers around the world by Maj. Alayne Conway, the top public affairs officer for the 3rd Infantry Division. When her unit was in Iraq, her office sent out four to six videos a day to media outlets around the world, as well as posting them on YouTube.

“You want to make sure you edit it in the right way,” Conway said. “You have to go through the steps. … Is this something that is going to make Joe Six-Pack look up from his TV dinner or his fast-food meal and look up at the TV and say, ‘Wow, the American troops are kicking butt in Iraq?'”

Critics say the purpose of such violent material is not to inform the public about what the military is doing, but to promote it. Public affairs officers argue that they are in a battle with insurgents to shape the public perception of the wars they are fighting, and they will use every means available to push the military’s version of events.

The Pentagon now spends more than $550 million a year — at least double the amount since 2003 — on public affairs, and that doesn’t including personnel costs. Public affairs officers are, in the words of the military’s training manual, a “perception management tool.” Their job is to provide facts but not spin to American audiences and the American media.

Over the past two years, the number of public affairs officers trained by the Defense Information School has grown by 24 percent to almost 3,500. The military is also expanding its Internet presence from 300 to 1,000 sites and increasing its free cable programming on the Pentagon Channel by 33 percent to 2,080 programs.

Along with putting out its own messages, the public affairs arm tries to regulate what other media put out.

In recent years, as reporting out of Iraq turned more negative, the public affairs department has increased its ground rules for media who embed with troops from one to four pages.

In mid-2008, Associated Press reporter Bradley Brooks was stepping off a cargo plane in Mosul en route to an embed when he saw pallbearers carry the flag-draped coffins of dead soldiers from Humvee ambulances onto a plane. Brooks talked to soldiers, who mentioned their anger with political leaders, and wrote a story.

Within 24 hours the military had expelled him from northern Iraq. He was told he had broken a new rule that embedded reporters could not write while in transit.

In 2008, eight journalists were detained for more than 48 hours, according to cases tracked by the AP, more than in any other year since the war began. Since 2003, the AP alone has had 11 journalists detained in Iraq for more than 24 hours. And a Reuters journalist has been detained by U.S. forces as “a security threat” since Sept. 2.

“All of these journalists, with the exception of the one being held now, have been released without charge. That troubles us because it suggests that they are not able to successfully charge these journalists with anything,” said Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Pentagon officials say commanders have the right to detain anyone they consider a threat to security, and that the U.S. Constitution does not apply to foreign battlefields.

“The U.S. military is going to control the battle space in which they operate,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told a gathering of journalists in April 2007. “The First Amendment provides no right of access to the battlefield — zero, none.” Whitman’s assertion has never been tested in court, and legal opinions vary.

The public affairs department has even arranged to fly friendly bloggers to Iraq and Afghanistan, according to documents made available through the Freedom of Information Act. The public affairs office decided who could take part in special “Blogger Roundtables” with Pentagon officials in 2005, and transcripts show that those chosen were overwhelmingly pro-military and repeated the information they heard on their own Web sites without always revealing its source.

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