One of the creepiest things about the No NATO protests in Chicago in late May had to be the city buses. Not the fact that the CPD used them to transport their paramilitary forces across town, but that instead of the LED signs on the front displaying a destination, they read: CHICAGO IS / MY KIND OF TOWN. They just flashed it over and over again. Chicagoans I spoke with had never seen that before.
Famous journalist Oleg Kashin, who works at Russia’s leading business newspaper, Kommersant, and lives in my neighbourhood, was badly beaten over the weekend in Moscow. So badly beaten – that doctors as of yet have nothing definitive to say about his chances of a proper recovery. This is the sort of incident that immediately makes you want to question everything – fate, God, justice, society, the future of journalism in Russia, the future of Russia in general.
In trying to come up with a proper response to this outrageous event, I looked to the blog of another Russian journalist – Alyona Solntseva. Solntseva wrote about how such violence is pretty much a “normal” part of our lives: Continue reading
Last week, an article in Slate entitled “How Black People Use Twitter: The latest research on race and microblogging” caused a bit of a stir and some moments of sheer hilarity on Twitter and in the Black blogosphere. The piece’s incomplete research and (unintentionally) racist and insulting tone was noted and brought to the attention of the author himself both on Twitter and on personal blogs. Author Farhad Manjoo’s 6-month surveillance of the Twitter habits of young Black people smacked of virtual cultural tourism. (By the way, Manjoo defended his article, stood by his theory and flawed research, and as of this write-up, hasn’t changed his tune one whit. )
Adding insult to injury, Manjoo’s piece featured a brown redux of the classic blue (but possibly racially White, apparently) Twitter bird as a brown, oversized-cap wearing bird holding a mobile device. Continue reading
My last article for Global Comment explored how we have lost our common architecture of activism that created and guided mass movements of the past. I argued that the individualistic modern world makes it difficult to create broad-based activism because our detached and self-referential modern pose means that we have few cultural symbols around which to rally masses of diverse people.
I want to build upon that today by looking at Internet organizing within the context of changes in public life and public space. The architecture of activism has suffered because people have left public spaces for the privacy of their homes. Creating Internet communities has overcome some of the consequences of people’s retreat into privacy. But Internet organizing has its own limitations which prevent it from developing the broad-based activist movements that created progressive change in the past. Continue reading
Let me be the first to say this to you: Welcome to the American working class.
That was Barbara Ehrenreich, addressing the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism this year. In a country where daily newspapers are in what one of my own graduate journalism professors called a death spiral, laying off thousands, and TV seems to have given up the idea of doing journalism entirely, Ehrenreich’s warning might even sound overly optimistic. Continue reading
CBS has traditionally maintained a ban on advocacy ads, but when the network announced their intent to relax this restriction, Focus on the Family took the opportunity to create an anti-abortion ad. Super Bowl commercials are assured to receive a high rate of viewership, not to mention the fact that football is generally a bastion of patriarchal masculinity.
The ad itself features the story of Pam Tebow, who was allegedly told by doctors during her pregnancy with Timothy Tebow that she should abort because she had a medical condition that threatened her life. Like all pro-life advertisements, this is framed as a “choice for life,” but the ad neglects to mention that Ms. Tebow made this so-called decision in the Philippines, where abortion has been illegal since 1870. Can a choice really have been made under these circumstances? And what to the meaning of the choice to become a parent in general? Could we be missing something important here? Continue reading
The future of journalism: it’s the subject of books, panel discussions, and countless blog posts and news articles, most of which revolve around the ways we can fund media after the shift to the Web. Tracy Van Slyke is the former publisher of In These Times magazine, and is the project director at The Media Consortium, where she works to connect and strengthen progressive voices in the new media age. Van Slyke co-authored, with Jessica Clark of American University’s Center for Social Media, the book Beyond the Echo Chamber: Reshaping Politics Through Networked Progressive Media, where they examine how the age of the Web has opened up opportunities for media makers to not only continue to produce quality journalism, but expand their reach and impact to effect political change.
She took some time to talk to Sarah Jaffe about the progressive media in the age of Obama, media’s role in social justice efforts, and the changes she still hopes to see. Continue reading
It has been a busy year in Irish politics – and hectic to say the least: first the never-ending revelations into Catholic sex abuse finally implicated the state, then the public was treated to the ‘budget from hell’, after which the finance minister was diagnosed with cancer – and the media assaulted for reporting it. But the most significant events have been those surrounding the leadership of Sinn Féin: the always uneasy world of post-conflict Northern Irish politics has been thrown into a tailspin after allegations that Gerry Adams, the president of the Sinn Féin and de facto leader of Irish republicanism failed to act sufficiently when his niece accused her father Liam, Adams’s brother, of repeatedly raping her from the age of four onwards. Continue reading
After ten years of marriage, Jon and Kate Gosselin of “John & Kate Plus 8″ game filed for divorce. Any family separating after years of sharing their lives together would be a sad sight. Yet for the Gosselins, this has become a terrible media circus.
From “Larry King Live” to “The View,” Jon and Kate have both told their side of the disaster that this divorce has become. Both have thrown allegations and expressed their outrage and anger. A hiatus was proposed when the divorce was announced. Jon and Kate requested privacy to work out the issues that the family faced, but instead of a time of quiet reflection, a media extravaganza took place.
Jon and Kate are both adults and are responsible for their own actions, but how far has the media gone to escalate an already difficult situation? When TLC announced that it was going to change the show to “Kate Plus 8,” Jon immediately responded with a cease and desist order demanding that all filming of the children stop. He stated:
The horrifying connection between incest and rape continues to dominate headlines across the world this year. Mackenzie Phillips, a popular child TV star of the 1970s, has come forward with allegations of extensive drug use, sexual abuse, and rape by her father, singer John Phillips of the American vocals group, The Mamas and the Papas. In her just-released memoir, High on Arrival, Phillips details the extensive incest rapes of her adolescence and adulthood at the hands of her father. American tabloids are scrambling to provoke readers with outrageous headlines and conjecture about Phillips’ motivations in coming forward with her story of incest rape today.
Celebrities are not the only ones who are coming forward this month with allegations of long-term incest and rape. An Australian man was reported last week to have raped his daughter for more than three decades and siring four children with his daughter. The abuse was reported by the survivor in 2005 and again in summer of 2008, yet police took no action. In Victoria State, the unnamed man has now been charged with five counts of rape, five of incest, two of indecent assault and one count of common assault.
The Australian case represents one of several high-profile cases throughout the globe involving crimes such as incest rape, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. A 56-year-old British citizen is currently serving a twenty-seven year sentence for the rape of his two daughters from 1980 through summer of 2008; his erratic, violent sexual assaults resulted in nineteen pregnancies and seven living children born to his two daughters. The presiding judge described the case as “the worst I’ve ever seen.” In a case of eerie similarities, Austrian man Josepf Fritzl held his daughter captive for twenty-four years in a concealed basement dungeon within his family home; he beat and raped her daily during her imprisonment, resulting in his daughter’s delivery of seven children and a miscarriage.