Archive for February, 2011


February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Because the Internet still has relatively few regulations, issues of law can be confusing and many lines are blurred between what is acceptable or not. Our textbook gives the example of Facebook and how privacy settings were changed without users knowing. Facebook might not have had a legal obligation to inform their users of these changes, but once users found out they made it clear that they were unhappy. Facebook realized that to keep the trust and support of their users they had to maintain a higher level of transparency in their actions. This resulted in efforts to make users aware of the privacy and security options on Facebook, so that everyone could better regulate their own profile. This kind of transparency is important in the online world because it is so easy do things like Facebook did and use people’s information without their knowing. The only way to have a workable site is to maintain some sense of trust through transparency.
It is also incredibly easy to spread false or questionable information on the Internet. For example if you go to the library and read a traditional encyclopedia, you can probably trust that information to be accurate because it has been through the process of being researched and published by respected sources. However if you go to Wikipedia you have to realize that while it is generally accurate, you can be getting any information since anyone can edit the page. It is important that Wikipedia has transparency, such as being able to track changes that were made to the page, and being able to follow the sources that contributors got their information from.
Similarly, online anyone can publish a story on a news blog, give advice on a forum, etc. Whereas in traditional media, people can trust news more easily because of the credibility of a known source, online it is much more up to users to discern where information comes from. In print news, photojournalists are held to strict standards that their work must not be manipulated, so that readers know they are seeing the “truth.” But online it would be easy for someone to manipulate a photo and for it to become widely circulated, spreading misinformation. It is more important to question the information found online, which is why transparency is more necessary online than in traditional media. We need to be able to track information and find out where and who it came from before we can trust it.

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Final Blog: Transparency

February 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Chapter 9 highlights the importance of transparency in the online social media world. The book describes how shifts in privacy policies “have produced similar audience backlashes” by referring to a Facebook upset that occurred in early 2009 (Pavlik, 2011). A change in their privacy policy, which went unnoticed, caused an enormous uproar by users and caused a threat by the Electronic Privacy Information Center. In order to to come around from this incident Facebook created a group where users could discuss future privacy policies. Although this was an affective group, the book notes how Facebook would have been much smarter if they had a group like that to begin with. That way they wouldn’t have had the reaction they did when changing policies. This shows how it important it is to be careful of what you put on the internet and realize that many companies often reach of the lines of privacy, whether you know it or not. The online world is tricky because there is no clear line as to what information cannot only be found out about you from the digital trail that you leave, but what companies know and may or may not use against your own knowledge.

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Final Blog – Transparency

February 25, 2011 2 comments

After reading chapter 9 in Pavlik’s book, Converging Media, we examine the issue of ethical and legal issues with social media. Whether it is privacy or transparency, social media is in a struggle. “The need for transparency is becoming increasingly important with social media – a fact that individuals and organizations forget at their peril” (Pavlik 276). The book uses an example from a popular social networking site, Facebook. In 2009, Facebook had changed their privacy policy without much publicity. When the public found out about the new policy, Facebook was on the spot light. They were receiving threats from the Electronic Privacy Information Center and public outrage. Users of social media in the 21st century want to be as transparent as possible; however, “transparency often works against strategy making and planning by companies, as they do not want to give away secrets to competitors (Pavlik 276). Many companies describe social media as controlled chaos because of all the information floating around the World Wide Web. It is scary to think something you posted ten years ago on Myspace can still be accessed today. When people post information, they want to know as much things as possible about the company. By not being clear on the privacy policy or what the social media plans to do with the information may make the author not content. Transparency is more important in the online social media world than the offline world. You are more vulnerable online than offline and therefore transparency is not as big of an issue. Overall, transparency is more important online than offline because of the vulnerability and the amount of people that have access to that specific information.


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Reports on Infant Deaths at Fort Bragg

February 24, 2011 6 comments

144 Groesbeek Street

11 Infants have mysteriously died at Fort Bragg, three in the same house! Tainted Drywall or coincidence?   Read more…

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Italy’s Berlusconi Scandal: The American Free Press and MSNBC

February 24, 2011 6 comments

Our main man Silvio at his best.

Big international news stories like the Berlusconi scandal in Italy are covered from many unique angles by different media outlets. Though none of the press has been positive for Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, it has ranged from “standard” journalism to more radical content with an obvious agenda. We will be examining the views of the American Free Press compared to a larger media outlet, MSNBC. Read more…

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Global Voices Empowers Bloggers

February 24, 2011 4 comments

Global Voices is an online alternative news source that provides an important resource, and an example of a new direction news is taking in a world where newspapers are starting to look like a thing of the past.  Keep reading! Read more…

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Final Edit-Indictment of Bush

February 24, 2011 4 comments

A protester stands in the hearing room as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testifies at the start of his US Senate confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington on January 6, 2005. Photo from HRW. Copyright 2005 Reuters

According to John V Pelvic and Shawn McIntosh, the function of newspapers in modern-society is surveillance, by informing the public of important information about the processes loans, events, and other developments in society. The second function of the newspapers is correlations. This is the way that the media interprets events and issues and ascribes meanings that help individuals understand their roles within the larger society and culture. Finally, newspapers serve as a form of entertainment. There are two forms of news media; Alternative news sources and Mainstreams news sources.

pastedGraphic.pdf Human Rights Watch is a international non-governmental alternative news source that focuses on human rights activism. The company was founded in 1978 and highlighted abusive governments. Publications of human rights violations in the Soviet Union contributed to the democratic transformation of the region in the late 1980’s. The company focuses on basic human rights including capital punishment, sexual orientation discrimination, torture, military use of children, political corruption, abuses in criminal justice systems, abortion, and freedom of religion and the press. The reports are used to draw attention to the abuse and suffering that is happening in our world today. The company also gives money to to writers who are being prosecuted for their work. Playwrite Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett created the Hellman/Hammett grants that raise international awareness of activist who are being silenced for speaking out in defense of human rights.

The New York Times is a mainstream daily American news paper. The company is owned by the Ochs-Sulzberger family, and the New York Times Company and is headquartered in New York City. The NYT is also broken up into sections; News, Opinions, Business, Arts, Science, Sports, Style, and Features. The company was founded in 1851 by Henry Jarvis Raymond. The company has grown immensely since then, and is now one of the top read papers in the world. The paper is read by liberal middle to upper-class intellectual people with a very strong local base to New York City, a key part to it’s demographic. The NYT has expanded their market to by allowing access to the paper via the internet, smart phones, as well as a NYT app for iPhones and iPads.

On February 7, 2011 the two news sources reported on a preliminary indictment against George W. Bush on torture charges. Bush’s authorization of torturing terrorism suspects has caused an uprising from political groups across the world. Recently, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights filed this indictment against the former-president, stating that if Bush leaves the United States, complaints will be filed by the groups.

As compared to the New York Times article, the article written by the Human Rights Watch does a much better job legitimizing its stance on anti-torture. The main ways the HRW legitimizes the story is by using an extensive amount of details. Compared to the vague NYT article, readers will be better informed by reading the news from the alternative news source. HRW attracts its audience, in part, by exploiting the corruptness of the government. The HRW provided specific details in their report which allowed the audience to become more connected to the piece. By providing information about who the victim was and the type of torture that was used, HRW readers are able to draw the horrible picture of a man being waterboarded in their minds. These images that readers paint in their minds helps HRW gain support for human rights activism.

The second way the news source legitimizes the story is by including facts about past court cases for similar crimes. They address the idea of international treaties and “universal jurisdiction,” and how the US applied this jurisdiction when they successfully prosecuted the son of Former Liberian President Charles Taylor for torture in US Federal Court. By drawing the connection to this past case, the HRW makes it seam as if the US government is trying to protect Bush. Readers who catch on to this will most likely side with the HRW, as the government is supposed to be ethical, and clearly is acting in an unethical way according to the article.

Human Rights Watch wrote their article to draw attention to the indictment of Bush, with the goal of gaining support from readers on human rights issues like this one on torture. The NYT however, can not afford to be accused of indicting Bush. The NYT is read by millions all around the world, and the company focuses on providing the news to these people without any bias. The racy descriptive article written by the HRW did provide much more details on the case, however one may interpret this as a way for HRW to gain more supporters. The NYT’s article was much more cautious and restrained, most likely, to avoid any sort of accusations.

The HRW provides three key details that the NYT leaves out. These details provide further understand to the reader. HRW addresses the type of torturing Bush is being accused of. The NYT’s leaves neglects to address the type of torturing. HRW presents this information by informing readers that the US government has prosecuted waterboarding as a war crime for over 100 years. The HRW considers Bush’s authorization to waterboard the victom illegal, and uses the US’s past history of prosecuting waterboarding to back up their claim. HRW also identifies the victim of the alleged crime. According the the article, two Guantanamo detainees suffered beatings, shackling in stress positions, prolonged food and sleep deprivation, and extremes of heat and cold while in US custody. HRW also addresses why the US is obligated to prosecute Bush. The article draws attention to the US’s membership to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, inhuman or Degrading treatment or Punishment. Because of this membership, the US is obligated to bring cases of alleged torture before the US court for prosecution whenever a suspected offender is in their territory, or extradite the accused to another jurisdiction where he will be prosecuted.

The Hufington Post verifies the stories from both the NYTs and the HRW. In an article published on November 11, 2010, and later updated on January 11, 2011. Journalists describe the process of investigating whether former president George W. Bush violated federal statures prohibiting torture, and the impact it has had on his new book tour. In his book, Decision Points, Bush admitted to giving CIA director George Tenet permission to waterboard al Qaeda mastermind Khalif Sheik Mohammed.

Earlier coverage of the topic is consistent with the more current article. An article published by the Human Rights Watch in December, 2010, reveals other accounts of torture, as well as the torture lead by the Bush administration. They also draw on Obama neglect for prosecuting such crimes. Obama has made it clear that his administration will not prosecute CIA agents who committed abuses authorized by Bush’s top justice department lawyers. Because of this, it is highly unlikely that Bush will be prosecuted. Obama’s neglect is discussed in both this article and the latter, however the second article provides evidence with foreign nations prosecuting Bush if he leaves the country.

Whether or not Bush is actually prosecuted is up to the Obama administration. As the story continues to expand in the future, both news sources will continue to keep the public updated, however it is in the publics best interest to understand where their news is coming from.  The news from the NYT will be less biased compared to the news from the HRW that writes with the goal of gaining supporters.



Converging Media: A New Introduction to Mass Communication

John.V.Pavlik-Shawn McIntosh-Oxford University Press-2011</a>

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