Thursday, November 29, 2007

Media creature Matt Taibbi sounds off

Christopher Hitchens is “a man who has had his intellectual face lifted so many times, he can’t close his eyes without opening his mouth.” acc to Matt Taibbi, a political columnist for Rolling Stone, in a recent interview.

Taibbi’s new book, Smells Like Dead Elephants: Dispatches from a Rotting Empire, collects the vigilante's takedown artistry during George W. Bush’s administration, including pieces on Hurricane Katrina, Iraq, Congress, the Lieberman-Lamont race, and the Lynndie England and Michael Jackson trials.
Jack Abramoff was branded “the young progressive’s paranoid nightmare come shockingly true: the absurd campus Republican proto-geek effortlessly transformed at graduation into flesh-and-blood neo-Nazi spook.”
He is famous for referring to journalism as “shoveling coal for Satan.”
He elaborated: "If you have no real knowledge or skill set and you’re lazy and full of shit but you want to make a decent wage, then journalism’s not a bad career option. The great thing about it is that you don’t need to know anything. I mean this whole notion of journalism school—I can’t believe people actually go to journalism school. You can learn the entire thing in like three days. My advice is instead of going to journalism school, go to school for something concrete like medicine or some kind of science or something and then use the knowledge you get in that field as a wedge to get yourself into journalism.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Electoral Disfunction: Tittletattle on the Campaign Trail, British style

Tom Baldwin, DC Bureau chief for the Thunderer (or Times of London to non-UK readers) has blogged about why he ran the piece that repeated gossip, along with other rumors, about how Hillary snatches happiness with a younger Muslim lady lover on the campaign trail. He headlined it "History according to a "Hillary confidante" (and Matt Drudge)...'

My colleague, Tim Reid, travelled down to South Carolina last week where he soon found himself up to his ankles in what he described as the "foulest swamp of electoral dirty tricks in America".

Tim wrote about some of the smears and inuendos already floating by in the Palmetto state. His second paragraph reported some of the extraordinary allegations being spread about Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Fred Thompson and, oh yes, Hillary Clinton.

The purpose of this report (read it for yourselves) was not to suggest these claims were true, but to provide a measure of their nastiness. For instance, I'm pretty sure Obama is not a "Muslim extremist".

Mattdrudge_5 Tim's article was duly picked up on Thursday by the Drudge Report and that, we thought, was that.

Then yesterday, Drudge decides to lead with:

Sun Nov 25 2007 20:45:12 ET

The TIMES of London starts 'The Ugliest Month' with a full page photo takeout on Hillary Clinton and her beautiful personal assistant.

"This does not even qualify as tabloid trash... it's ridiculous and reckless," a Hillary confidante explained over the weekend.

Drudge does not quote from the story directly, referring only to the headline, a brief mention of Clinton and a 12-word picture caption. This, if read in isolation, might wrongly give readers of Drudge the impression that The Times was giving the allegation about her even the faintest hint of credence.

A story that five days ago gave real context to the dirty fight in South Carolina has itself been quoted out of context.

So, what's really going on?

Has a "Hillary confidante" contacted Drudge to draw attention to this five-day old story? Quite possibly. The New York Times recently reported that her campaign had opened up a direct channel of communication to the mysterious Mr Drudge.

Why would a "Hillary confidante" do such a thing? The mind boggles.

Could it be to provide cover for other - alleged - activities at Camp Clinton and its surrounding outposts?

I don't know.

But last week the conservative columnist Bob Novak claimed that agents of the Clinton campaign were sitting on scandalous information about Obama. The item prompted a furious response from Obama, who challenged her to either make the information public "or concede the truth that there is none". The Clinton campaign said it knew nothing about it. This weekend Novak stood by his claim. "My source is a big Democrat - who is neutral right now, but was told by an agent of the Clinton camp who was involved in the campaign about the alleged scandal," he said. "I haven't talked to a single Republican on this. This was all strictly Democrats."

Alternatively, the Drudge story may serve the purpose of underscoring Hillary's current theme about how rivals are "throwing mud" which is backed by a new advertisement focusing on the attacks being launched on her by Republicans.

There is, indeed, a lot of this about. On November 7, Ken Silverstein, the Washington Editor for Harper's Magazine, blogged under the headline: "Not Just Republicans Spreading Rumors About Hillary’s Lesbian Affair".

But The Times is not "kicking off the ugliest month" - if that is what the next few weeks will be - we are merely doing our best to report it.

Cowabunga: Surfer Dude and the theory of Everything

What's he been smoking?
The bald thinker, Garrett Lisi, aka as 'Surfer Dude', has apparently figured it all out while snowboarding the slopes of the High Sierras and riding the waves in Hawaii, top scientists tel the Torygraph. For a fascinating post on philosphy, cosmology, and everyday survival....and its follow-up commentary from blokes who like to think about such things, check out London's Daily Telegraph. Hollywood is already banging on this guy's door. The E8 geometric figure, which resembles the science fair string projects popular in the 60s, is pictured above and below, next to the genius of cool.

and the nominees are...

Who should be named 2007 Media Person of the Year?

Polling is on for "I want Media"'s phenom of the year.
You can add your voice by clicking here.

The nominees are:

*Conrad Black


*Perez Hilton

*Don Imus

*Joanne Lipman

*Rupert Murdoch

*Rosie O'Donnell

*Arthur Sulzberger Jr.

*Writers on Strike

*Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook Boy)

Monday, November 19, 2007

US Army seeks criminal case against Associated Press shooter in Iraq

US Plans Case Against AP Photographer


NEW YORK (AP) - The U.S. military plans to seek a criminal case in an Iraqi court against a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press photographer from Fallujah but is refusing to disclose what evidence or accusations would be presented.

An Associated Press attorney on Monday strongly protested the decision, calling the U.S. military plans a "sham of due process." The journalist, Bilal Hussein, has already been imprisoned without charges for more than 19 months.

A public affairs officer notified the AP on Sunday that the military intends to submit a written complaint against Hussein that would bring the case into the Iraqi justice system as early as Nov. 29. Under Iraqi codes, an investigative magistrate will decide whether there are grounds to try Hussein, 36, who was seized in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on April 12, 2006.

A public affairs officer notified the AP on Sunday that the military intends to submit a written complaint against Hussein that would bring the case into the Iraqi justice system as early as Nov. 29. Under Iraqi codes, an investigative magistrate will decide whether there are grounds to try Hussein, 36, who was seized in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi on April 12, 2006.

Dave Tomlin, associate general counsel for the AP, said the defense for Hussein is being forced to work “totally in the dark.”

The military has not yet defined the specific charges against Hussein. Previously, the military has pointed to a range of suspicions that attempt to link him to insurgent activity.

The AP rejects all the allegations and contends it has been blocked by the military from mounting a wide-ranging defense for Hussein, who was part of the AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning photo team in 2005.

Soon after Hussein was taken into custody, the AP appealed to the U.S. military to either release him or bring the case to trial — saying there was no evidence to support his detention. However, Tomlin said that the military is now attempting to build a case based on “stale” evidence and testimony that has been discredited. He also noted that the U.S. military investigators who initially handled the case have left the country.
“While we are hopeful that there could be some resolution to Bilal Hussein’s long detention, we have grave concerns that his rights under the law continue to be ignored and even abused,” said AP President and CEO Tom Curley.

“The steps the U.S. military is now taking continue to deny Bilal his right to due process and, in turn, may deny him a chance at a fair trial. The treatment of Bilal represents a miscarriage of the very justice and rule of law that the United States is claiming to help Iraq achieve. At this point, we believe the correct recourse is the immediate release of Bilal.”

Reporting from the point of view of the insurgents- is this tantamount to abetting the enemy? The military appears to think so. Watch this space.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blogger wins Prestigious reporting prize

Wael Abbas, an Egyptian, is the first blogger ever to win the Knight International Journalism Award. With 30,000 hits a day, Misr Digital is one of those powerful alternative voices that can make a difference, and goads the country's mainstream media and public to follow up.

“It is not the best time for the media and the blogging community,” he said, since the regime is cracking down and trying to tarnish the bloggers' reputations by accusing them of treason and acting on behalf of those outside Egypt.

In February, 22-year-old blogger and student Abdel Karim Nabil Suleiman was sentenced to four years in prison because Egyptian authorities claimed his posts insulted Islam and President Hosni Mubarak.

Egytian blogger behinde bars
However, Abbas said Egypt's bloggers have built up credibility with the public because they have broken stories the mainstream media would not publish, often using video and photographs submitted by the public to back up their reports.

He said Egyptian citizens, often using cell phone cameras and other hand-held devices, tend to give the bloggers their material exclusively since they know it is less likely to be censored.

ICFJ also awarded Burma's May Thingyan Hein with the Knight Award, paying tribute to her perseverance with the country's media censors that led to the dissemination of information on avian flu and HIV/AIDS to the Burmese public.

The Knight Award, given annually, recognizes individuals who have raised media excellence standards in their countries.

Friday, November 16, 2007

CNN to hire more foreign correspondents

CNN plans new operations worldwide, writes Steve Clark in Variety.
Publishing in Hollywood's favorite trade paper muddies the question, is CNN news or entertainment? But the empire from Atlanta definitely is growing.

CNN is pumping $10 million into what it claims is the biggest expansion of its international newsgathering activities in 27 years.
The newsie is beefing up its number of international news correspondents, bowing a regional news hub in the United Arab Emirates, and investing in a London-based digital production unit.

New operations are also planned for Afghanistan, Belgium, India, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland and Vietnam.

Tony Maddox, executive vice prexy and managing director of CNN Intl., said the move was designed to ensure the company owned enough content in the fast-emerging digital era.

"These new resources will have a huge impact across all of CNN's networks and platforms," he said. "Owning the content we broadcast, publish and make available to affiliates and other platforms is the backbone of this business."

Two correspondents are being hired at the combo's Johannesburg bureau, while an extra reporter will be taken on in both London and Istanbul.

Additional coin will be put into CNN's Hong Kong hub, and there are plans to assign new correspondents in China, Indonesia and Pakistan.

In online, CNN is creating a digital production unit based mainly in London. This will provide content for CNN Intl.,, CNNMobile and new broadband sites.

In Mexico, CNN en Espanol is to tool up by hiring an anchor and correspondent plus an extra editor based at the operation's Mexico City HQ.

CNN en Espanol will increase the size of its editorial team in Atlanta.

The expansion comes as the number of news channels continues to mushroom around the globe, and online news becomes increasingly important.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Are reporters doomed?

In the rush to embrace new media we risk destroying the soul of traditional reporting,
argues David Leigh in the Guardian. In the race for quick hits on sex, celebrity and scandal, slow (old school)journalism may be fazed out in favor of the bottom line, he laments, and warns against the demise of powerful news outlets.

There are several reasons for this. The mass media can shine a light. Or they can reflect back light. The Daily Mail and Fox News, for example, are highly profitable businesses that make their money out of telling people what they think they know already. They reflect back their audience's existing beliefs. They reassure them by hammering the world into a shape that suits their prejudices. This is less an information service than a form of cheap massage.

Too much interactivity, commentating and blogging can end up inadvertently doing the same thing. It is cheaper and excitingly faster, but it is not always
a source of light. People shout past each other. They enjoy the sound of their own voices and confirm their own prejudices through the delicious experience of self-publishing. Paradoxically, more becomes less.

I'm in favour of the future, of course. We all have to be. It is coming to get us, whether we like it or not. We have to come to terms with what is going on. More than come to terms — we have to embrace it. But we should spend less time fretting about platforms and more about the loss of honesty in our trade. There is yet to be a proper accounting for the disgraceful loss
of journalistic integrity on both sides of the Atlantic that cheer-led us into the Iraq war on a false prospectus.

The Godfather vs God (10 Commandments from the Almighty)

Latest news is that Italian police uncovered a mobster code of conduct at a Sicilian Mafia hideout. BBC compares and contrasts the rules from mobsters with the ones from Moses.

The Mafia's "Ten Commandments"

1. No-one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
2. Never look at the wives of friends.
3. Never be seen with cops.
4. Don't go to pubs and clubs.
5. Always being available for Cosa Nostra is a duty - even if your wife's about to give birth.
6. Appointments must absolutely be respected.
7. Wives must be treated with respect.
8. When asked for any information, the answer must be the truth.
9. Money cannot be appropriated if it belongs to others or to other families.
10. People who can't be part of Cosa Nostra: anyone who has a close relative in the police, anyone with a two-timing relative in the family, anyone who behaves badly and doesn't hold to moral values.

The original Ten Commandments

1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me
2. Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol
3. Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God
4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
5. Honor thy Father and Mother
6. Thou shalt not murder
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery
8. Thou shalt not steal
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
10. Thou shalt not covet

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Vajayjay Monologues for cunning linguists

The New York Times Style section published a feature on the rise of the term
"vajayjay" to describe female genitalia.
"The reason that vajayjay has caught on, I think, is because there is a black--Southern especially--naming tradition, which is to have names like Ray Ray and Boo Boo and things like that," said John H. McWhorter, a linguist at the Manhattan Institute. "It sounds warm and familiar and it almost makes the vagina feel like a little cartoon character with eyes that walks around."
Euphemism rears its pink little head.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Obama mocks Clinton on SNL Halloween show

Silenced Uzbek Voice of Alisher Saipov

The local stringer/fixer, often unsung and vital to any foreign correspondent's beat, sometimes pays the price for seeking the truth. Read this about the execution of young Alisher Saipov and weep.