Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Media owners may get even more powerful

What if a company that owns a big newspaper in a particular city could own/buy as many radio stations or TV stations it wanted to in that same city?

Not possible under current FCC rules.

But concentration of media ownership in America could get even more concentrated if the chair of the FCC gets his way.

The rules--they might be a changin.

But I hope not.

Monday, October 22, 2007

$ for Duke Univ. students?

Three Duke University lacrosse team students wrongly accused of raping an exotic dancer have filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against law enforcement and prosecutorial authorities in North Carolina.

But whatever they win won't be sufficient salve for the suffering they endured while this emotionally riveting case unfolded.

What a word--"salve."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oldest son, Crawford, just got married

...and here I am all decked out in my outfit for his wedding in Melbourne, Fla.

Vain I'm posting this, I know, but how many times does a guy get to wear a tux?

Larry and friend Jock Lauterer

As promised earlier, here's my picture with Jock Lauterer of the journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Jock and I presented research on community newspapers a few weeks ago at a national conference in Norfolk, Va.

He's probably the foremost expert on the community press in America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Great trip to Norfolk, Va.

A few weeks ago, my friend, Doug Fisher, and I presented research on newspaper Web archives at the 13th annual Newspapers and Community-Building Symposium (sponsored by the National Newspaper Association and the Huck Boyd Center for Community Media--directed by Gloria Freeland of Kansas State University.)

Fisher is an instructor at the University of South Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He's also an ace copyeditor and long time (former) journalist for the Associated Press. Read his blog at: http://commonsensej.blogspot.com

Also helping us: Will Atkinson, a May 2007 graduate of Winthrop University (mass communication/journalism track) major.

When the paper is posted on the Web, I'll put the link in this blog. For now, you can find the title of our paper at http://huckboyd.jmc.ksu.edu/symposium/papers.html

(Scroll down the page till you find title of our research paper.)

Soon, I'll upload a few pictures from Norfolk.

By the way, the correct prounciation of "Norfolk" is "Norfuck." (Accent on first syllable.)

Really. No kidding.

Monday, October 8, 2007

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Arlecia Simmons

I've blogged about her before--a few months ago--but I got this informative update from Arlecia Simmons, an alumna of Winthrop University, where she majored in mass comm./journalism track.

Arlecia is a Ph.D. candidate at the GREAT University of Iowa, where yours truly got his Ph.D.

The Texas cowboy preacher says it well

Heard a good sermon yesterday in church from Mike Lowery, pastor of West End Baptist Church in Rock Hill.

Lowery, incidentally, is somewhat of a "Superman" preacher; he's on duty (meaning he's combat ready) at 9:30 a.m. every Sunday at The Connection--an off-campus ministry of West End. Then at 11, you'll find him at the big main church (West End), which has grown tremendously throughout his tenure there.

At The Connection, Lowery--who came to Rock Hill from Texas about 10-11 years ago--wears jeans and an untucked in shirt. Casual looking, relaxed (have a cup of coffee and sausage biscuit with me) guy; you could mistake him for a rancher or truck driver.

He usually finishes his Connection messsage about 10:30 or 10:40 and then races, I'm sure, to the big church (about 4-5 miles ways), where he preaches at 11 (or shortly after 11) when the introductory singing is over.

At the big church, you'll see Lowery in a suit and tie.

That's why I've dubbed him the Superman preacher; the guy changes clothes and is faster than a speeding bullet.

Plus, his message might be more powerful than a locomotive.

Okay, all that aside, these are some of the main points he made in his sermon yesterday morning at West End Baptist Church.

Seven ways we can transform ourselves so that we're more in line with God's ways:

1. Focus on changing only one (behavioral) defect at a time.

2. Focus on victory one day at a time. Bible says: "Give us this day (not this month) our daily bread." Or, put another way: The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

3. Focus on God's power, not on your own willpower (which is weak.). We can't transform ourselves for the better on our own. Change can only happen through God's power.

4. Focus on what you want, not on what you don't want. Focus on good things, not bad things. Resist the temptor, not the temptation. Focus on what's good, pure and perfect.

5. Focus on doing good, not on feeling good. Be guided by the spirit and not by your need for self-indulgence. The Devil will try to get you to not do the right things. Do the right thing, even if it doesn't feel good.

6. Focus on people who help you, not hurt you, in making positive changes in your life. (If you don't want to get stung by bees, stay away from bees.)

7. Focus on progress, not perfection. Anytime we make steps in the right direction, God is pleased. Sometimes just taking baby steps is a good thing.

Well put, Superman preacher.

Ride 'em cowboy.

Friday, October 5, 2007

More about those brave monks in Myanmar

Here's more about how Buddhist monks and others who are not "professional journalists" use the power and reach of blogging in beseiged Myanmar.

Again, pasting this entire article into my blog window here, because I fear the Wall Street Journal link will go dead:

'Citizen Journalists'
Evade Blackout
On Myanmar News
Blogs and Shaky Videos
Find Way Into Mainstream;

September 28, 2007; Page A1

As Myanmar's regime cracks down on a growing protest movement, "citizen journalists" are breaking the news to the world.

At 1:30 yesterday afternoon, a cellphone buzzed with news for Soe Myint, the editor in chief of Mizzima News, a publication about Myanmar run by exiles in New Delhi.
[A video of the Myanmar protests on YouTube.]
A photo, provided by the National League for Democracy-Liberated Area, from Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday, the site of a protest crackdown.

The message: "There is a tourist shot down" in Yangon, the center of recent protests by Buddhist monks and others against the military junta in Myanmar, formerly Burma. Troops there were clearing the streets, telling protesters they had just minutes to go home -- or be shot.

The text message wasn't from one of Soe Myint's reporters. In fact, he doesn't know who sent the message. He believes it came from one of the more than 100 students, activists and ordinary citizens who have been feeding him reports, images and video of the violent events unfolding in recent days.

In the age of YouTube, cellphone cameras and text messaging, technology is playing a critical role in helping news organizations and international groups follow Myanmar's biggest protests in nearly two decades. Citizen witnesses are using cellphones and the Internet to beam out images of bloodied monks and street fires, subverting the Myanmar government's effort to control media coverage and present a sanitized version of the uprising. The Associated Press reported yesterday that soldiers in Yangon fired automatic weapons into a crowd of demonstrators as tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters converged in the capital. Wire services have reported the number of dead at nine, citing the state media. (See related article.)

Here are some blogs and media outlets with video and pictures of the protests in Yangon. (Some are in Burmese.)
• Mizzima News
• The Irawaddy
• Democratic Voice of Burma
• Justice & Injustice
• http://soneseayar.blogspot.com/
• http://mmedwatch.blogspot.com/
• http://ko-htike.blogspot.com/
• http://mogokmedia.blogspot.com/
• Today Burma

• Jim Carrey's Youtube call to action
• Anti-march warning broadcast from Burmese state broadcaster MRTV, via BBC.

The BBC, which has a Burmese language Web site and radio service, is encouraging its audience to send in photos, like the ones it received of a monk's monastery that had been ransacked by authorities. A shaky video, now on YouTube, shows a sea of chanting and clapping monks draped in red robes marching down a street, past Buddhist monuments. One blog features a photo showing two abandoned, bloodstained sandals.

Another blog was updated at 3 p.m. Myanmar time yesterday with a few English lines: "Right now they're using fire engines and hitting people and dragging them onto E2000 trucks and most of them are girls and people are shouting." Below the post is a blurry photo of trucks with the caption, "This is how they come out and try to kill people."

Who produced these reports -- or how the information got out of Myanmar -- hasn't been established. But that's the point in a country where people caught protesting or writing against the government risk years in prison.

The last time there was a protest of this scale in Myanmar was 1988, when a pro-democracy uprising was crushed by the military and more than 3,000 people died. First reports of that event came from diplomats and official media. "Technology has changed everything," says Aung Zaw, a Myanmar exile whose Thailand publication Irrawaddy has been covering events in Burma hour-by-hour, with reports gathered online. "Now in a split second, you have the story," says the editor.

According to the AP, on Thursday Myanmar's state-run newspaper blamed the protests in Yangon, formerly called Rangoon, on "saboteurs inside and outside the nation." It also said that the demonstrations were much smaller than foreign media were reporting.

The events are a trial by fire for so-called citizen journalists, who cover events that professional journalists can't get to. The Myanmar government has successfully kept out many reporters, some of whom are filing their stories about events in Myanmar from India and Thailand.

The AP, Reuters and other media have been retransmitting photos and reports given to them by exile media organizations like Mizzima, Irrawaddy, and the Oslo-based Democratic Voice of Burma. Those outfits are acting as a clearinghouse for images and reports produced by people in Myanmar.

Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, which had its own reporter in Myanmar on Wednesday, has also been airing 65 clips and pictures from tourists and Myanmar residents sent in via its "ireport" citizen-journalist system.

"When traditional methods and professional journalists can't provide footage, and personal safety allows, citizens rise to the challenge time and again, often with remarkable material," said Ellana Lee, the managing editor of CNN Asia Pacific in an email. "Even in countries like Myanmar, the spread of the Internet and mobile phones has meant that footage will always continue to get through and the story will be told, one way or another."

Still, working with inexperienced journalists can be a challenge for news organizations that want to publish credible, balanced information. Reuters, which has a reporter stationed in Yangon, says content from citizen journalists is rigorously checked for accuracy.

Speaking of his correspondents, Aung Zaw, the editor of Irrawaddy, says, "They are doing their job on the ground, and nobody is even giving them the assignment. It is our job to check again with our sources, to see how close to the truth it is."

For example, he says his staff had a long discussion on Wednesday night about how many deaths had occurred during that day's bloody protests. The government was reporting one death, but his sources were saying possibly three, six or seven people died. In the end, after counting known specific cases, Irrawaddy made the "very difficult call" to say there were six deaths, says Aung Zaw. "We also said this number couldn't be confirmed."

After Mizzima's Soe Myint received his text message about Thursday's tourist shooting, he asked one of the 10 reporters who work for him in Myanmar to verify the claim. An hour and a half after the initial report, Mizzima reported on its Web site that a 30-year old foreigner was injured in gunfire, and that an American flag was found with his bag. Security people also seized his video camera, the report said.

Soe Myint says his grassroots reporting system is in place because his organization has been building a base of supporters in the country for years: "This is not the work of one day. We have been getting ready for this for the last nine years. People know our work and how to reach us."

The safety of everyone trying to report from Myanmar now is cause for concern. Yesterday, a Japanese photojournalist was killed, and another foreign reporter was injured, according to reports. State media yesterday reported 11 people were injured in Yangon on Thursday, but it didn't specify who they were.

One blogger dubbed "Moezack," whose photos and descriptions of the protests -- sometimes posted minutes after events occurred -- were picked up by the international press, had stopped blogging. His "Today Burma" blog is currently empty, and his whereabouts are unknown to several international groups, though he might be blogging under another name.

The Paris-based group Reporters Without Borders says that many of the people sending reports out of Yangon are former journalists and activists, some of whom have at some point been jailed for their work. "They do it because they are part of the struggle," says the group's Asia program director, Vincent Brossel.

Myanmar is hardly a technological hub. Cellphones are expensive, and the Internet penetration rate is less than 1%. Even before the recent clash, the government has taken serious steps to censor Internet content, blocking access to popular foreign news and email services. A 2005 report by the Open Net Initiative, run out of several universities, said that Myanmar's State Peace and Development Council has implemented "one of the world's most restrictive regimes of Internet control."

Yet activists and students in Burma have become particularly skilled at using technological tricks to bypass those restrictions -- some of them borrowed from China, where the government also censors the Internet. These include using proxies, which create a hole in the censorship network by connecting directly to one computer outside the country.

Reporters Without Borders says that at 3 p.m. yesterday, authorities disconnected most of the country's cellphone lines, preventing journalists and demonstrators from reporting on events. Authorities have also closed some Internet cafes in Yangon, effectively shutting down many blogs and Web sites.

The Internet has slowed so that it has been difficult to send out photographs and video. It took several hours for pictures to emerge of Wednesday's shootings, says Mr. Brossel.

So now groups determined to get news out are turning to costly but independent satellite phones, which can't as easily be monitored by the government.

Irrawaddy's Aung Zaw remains confident. "The more they try to suppress information, the more will come out."

Write to Geoffrey A. Fowler at geoffrey.fowler@wsj.com

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Internet in Myanmar turned off

I don't usually copy and paste an entire article into my blog, but I feared the link to this story, from yesterday's edition of the NYT, might go dead after a few days.

It seems the people of Myanmar (used to be called Burma) are challenging an extremely repressive regime; the power structure in that small country (which borders China, I believe) has thus shut down the Internet.

Freedom of expression: It's precious. Don't believe that? Ask the beleaguered citizens of Myanmar.

Also: Here's a link to a blog about what's going on in Myanmar: http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/03/searching-for-internet-age-meaning-in-myanmars-crackdown/index.html?ref=asia

BANGKOK, Oct. 3 — It was about as simple and uncomplicated as shooting demonstrators in the streets. Embarrassed by smuggled video and photographs that showed their people rising up against them, the generals who run Myanmar simply switched off the Internet.

Until Friday television screens and newspapers abroad were flooded with scenes of tens of thousands of red-robed monks in the streets and of chaos and violence as the junta stamped out the biggest popular uprising there in two decades.

But then the images, text messages and postings stopped, shut down by generals who belatedly grasped the power of the Internet to jeopardize their crackdown.

“Finally they realized that this was their biggest enemy, and they took it down,” said Aung Zaw, editor of an exile magazine based in Thailand called The Irrawaddy, whose Web site has been a leading source of information in recent weeks. The site has been attacked by a virus whose timing raises the possibility that the military government has a few skilled hackers in its ranks.

The efficiency of this latest, technological, crackdown raises the question whether the vaunted role of the Internet in undermining repression can stand up to a determined and ruthless government — or whether Myanmar, already isolated from the world, can ride out a prolonged shutdown more easily than most countries.

OpenNet Initiative, which tracks Internet censorship, has documented signs that in recent years several governments — including those of Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan — have closed off Internet access, or at least opposition Web sites, during periods preceding elections or times of intense protests.

The brief disruptions are known as “just in time” filtering, said Ronald J. Deibert of OpenNet. They are designed to quiet opponents while maintaining an appearance of technical difficulties, thus avoiding criticism from abroad.

In 2005, King Gyanendra of Nepal ousted the government and imposed a weeklong communications blackout. Facing massive protests, he ceded control in 2006.

Myanmar has just two Internet service providers, and shutting them down was not complicated, said David Mathieson, an expert on Myanmar with Human Rights Watch. Along with the Internet, the junta cut off most telephone access to the outside world. Soldiers on the streets confiscated cameras and video-recording cellphones.

“The crackdown on the media and on information flow is parallel to the physical crackdown,” he said. “It seems they’ve done it quite effectively. Since Friday we’ve seen no new images come out.”

In keeping with the country’s self-imposed isolation over the past half-century, Myanmar’s military seemed prepared to cut the country off from the virtual world just as it had from the world at large. Web access has not been restored, and there is no way to know if or when it might be.

At the same time, the junta turned to the oldest tactic of all to silence opposition: fear. Local journalists and people caught transmitting information or using cameras are being threatened and arrested, according to Burmese exile groups.

In a final, hurried telephone call, Mr. Aung Zaw said, one of his longtime sources said goodbye.

“We have done enough,” he said the source told him. “We can no longer move around. It is over to you — we cannot do anything anymore. We are down. We are hunted by soldiers — we are down.”

There are still images to come, Mr. Aung Zaw said, and as soon as he receives them and his Web site is back up, the world will see them.

But Mr. Mathieson said the country’s dissidents were reverting to tactics of the past, smuggling images out through cellphones, breaking the files down for reassembly later.

It is not clear how much longer the generals can hold back the future. Technology is making it harder for dictators and juntas to draw a curtain of secrecy.

“There are always ways people find of getting information out, and authorities always have to struggle with them,” said Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University and the author of “A History of News.”

“There are fewer and fewer events that we don’t have film images of: the world is filled with Zapruders,” he said, referring to Abraham Zapruder, the onlooker who recorded the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Before Friday’s blackout, Myanmar’s hit-and-run journalists were staging a virtuoso demonstration of the power of the Internet to outmaneuver a repressive government. A guerrilla army of citizen reporters was smuggling out pictures even as events were unfolding, and the world was watching.

“For those of us who study the history of communication technology, this is of equal importance to the telegraph, which was the first medium that separated communications and transportation,” said Frank A. Moretti, executive director of the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning at Columbia University.

Since the protests began in mid-August, people have sent images and words through SMS text messages and e-mail and on daily blogs, according to some exile groups that received the messages. They have posted notices on Facebook, the social networking Web site. They have sent tiny messages on e-cards. They have updated the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

They also used Internet versions of “pigeons” — the couriers that reporters used in the past to carry out film and reports — handing their material to embassies or nongovernment organizations with satellite connections.

Within hours, the images and reports were broadcast back into Myanmar by foreign radio and television stations, informing and connecting a public that hears only propaganda from its government.

These technological tricks may offer a model to people elsewhere who are trying to outwit repressive governments. But the generals’ heavy-handed response is probably a less useful model.

Nations with larger economies and more ties to the outside world have more at stake. China, for one, could not consider cutting itself off as Myanmar has done, and so control of the Internet is an industry in itself.

“In China, it’s massive,” said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project and an adjunct professor at the graduate school of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

“There’s surveillance and intimidation, there’s legal regulation and there is commercial leverage to force private Internet companies to self-censor,” he said. “And there is what we call the Great Firewall, which blocks hundreds of thousands of Web sites outside of China.”

Yet for all its efforts, even China cannot entirely control the Internet, an easier task in a smaller country like Myanmar.

As technology makes everyone a potential reporter, the challenge in risky places like Myanmar will be accuracy, said Vincent Brossel, head of the Asian section of the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders.

“Rumors are the worst enemy of independent journalism,” he said. “Already we are hearing so many strange things. So if you have no flow of information and the spread of rumors in a country that is using propaganda — that’s it. You are destroying the story, and day by day it goes down.”

The technological advances on the streets of Myanmar are the latest in a long history of revolutions in the transmission of news — from the sailing ship to the telegraph to international telephone lines and the telex machine to computers and satellite telephones.

“Today every citizen is a war correspondent,” said Phillip Knightley, author of “The First Casualty,” a classic history of war reporting that starts with letters home from soldiers in Crimea in the 1850s and ends with the “living room war” in Vietnam in the 1970s, the first war that people could watch on television.

“Mobile phones with video of broadcast quality have made it possible for anyone to report a war,” he said in an e-mail interview. “You just have to be there. No trouble getting a start: the broadcasters have been begging viewers to send their stuff.”

Mike Nizza contributed reporting from New York.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

How to work more effectively and waste less time

Don't we all want to waste less time and get our work done more efficiently?

Here are strategies to reclaim two hours of your life every day from Jerry Bellune's self-study course on Time Management. Bellune, a retired community newspaper publisher/editor, is head of The Bellune Company, 131 Swartz Rd., Lexington, S.C. 29072. He's also a member of the executive board of the S.C. Press Association. His Web site is: http://www.jerrybellune.com/

1. Get organized. Quit wasting time looking for things you’ve hidden from yourself.

2. Buy an appointment book. There are a number to choose from at any office supply store.

3. Choose one with a two-page calendar for each month so you can see your schedule a month at a time.

4. Make sure your choice of appointment books also has a daily sheet for each day for you to jot down projects and appointments and a way to prioritize each by importance.

5. Make it a habit at the end of each day to go over your schedule for tomorrow, adding any projects that you were not able to complete today and prioritize everything in order of importance.

6. Turn off your cell phone (or leave it on at only certain times during the day/night.)

7. Have a regular time (or maybe two times) each day that you check and respond to e-mail.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Keyboard shortcuts on the Mac

No link to this blog entry, as I'm copying and pasting it from a blog post written by Nancy VanderBrink, a student in my Media Writing class this semester.

Thanks, Nancy, for sharing these keybd. shortcuts:

Hi everybody,
I forgot to publish this before now, but I figured since I had a minute to spare, I would indeed post.

Some of the things we noted were a few useful commands I have discovered by accident.

One useful one I think is: Apple (Command) D- use this in Mictosoft Word.
This key command brings up the dialog box where you can change the font attributes, ie: size, style, etc.

It is a good key command to use after apple A, which selects everything on the page. Follow this by apple D and you have all the font selected and can change the font attributes.

Another interesting MsWord command, is apple #1, and apple #2 (on the number row).
These two key combinations change the spacing between the lines instead of having to click with the mouse.

I know for a fact that the PC equivillent for apple D, is Control D. This does the same things and it works. As does the spacing equivillent, Ctrl 1 and 2.
1 is for Single spacing between lines on both Mac and PC, and 2 is for double-spacing.

These are just a few quick, easy, time saving key commands that anyone can use whenever there in MsWord.

Good luck and happy surfing!