Posts tagged “fear-mongering”

Wired’s guide to understanding federal wiretapping

If you have ever wanted to cut through the bullshit politicos hurl about the need to wiretap U.S. citizens inside the United States, Wired has a great piece that gets to the *gasp* facts on the matter. What a concept! Kudos to Ryan Singel for boiling this mess down to the cold, hard facts of the situation.

Sic Semper Tyrannis!

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Rupert and Roger walk into a bar in Skokie…

I somehow missed the media blitz surrounding the latest addition to the farce that is television news (Sorry Jim, I mean the others). I’m talking about “The 1/2 Hour News Hour,” the latest addition to the Fox News lineup.

I wanted to leave the editorializing on the content to the professionals like Tom Shales, but I must point out the heinous anti-ACLU propaganda contained in this show’s version of SNL’s commercials.

As a matter of full disclosure, I am a former member of the ACLU. It is a great organization, but Tony Romero’s leadership has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, hence the former. Nevertheless, Fox’ attack on the ACLU’s defense of both the first and fourth amendments is ignorant and repugnant. It plays to the most base of society, the unthinking hordes that consume television news pap and regurgitate it to their friends and family as though it were fact. This is how we end up in a world like ours. This is how we find ourselves in the domestic political turmoil surrounding us today.

These people are, of course, the bread and butter of TV news; lest we forget that TV news is a business, not a public service. Oh wait…how did they get those airwaves? Wasn’t there some consideration given for the public’s air? I know, I know, I am mixing my metaphors, going from cable to broadcast and back again, but Fox does own local broadcast affiliates, too.

I started out with a point here. What was it?

Oh yes, back to Tom Shales for a moment. If you read his review of the show, there is no mention of the fact that this “satirical look at the news” is on a “news” channel, with the Fox News logo spinning on-screen throughout. Shales’ “style columnist” status precludes him having an opinion on important matters like the state of journalism. But it wasn’t just Tommy boy that didn’t comment on this. Slate’s reviews (1, 2), the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Enquirer, even my beloved Onion A.V. Club, all fail to mention this fact. These reviews were all written by “style” types. Do the newsies not care about this?

Is it simply that Fox News is such a joke that nobody considers it a viable hard news outlet anymore? I don’t believe this to be true. In fact, I believe there are many out there who consider it the ONLY viable hard news.

So what is it then? Are these media outlets so punch-drunk that they no longer care about the disappearance of the very thin and all-too-porous barrier between news and entertainment? Am I just an overzealous defender of an ideal that is long dead?

For now, I’m banking on the former for no other reason than my sanity.

Correct me if I am wrong. See you in the comments section.

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What am I missing here?

When I started out researching news mapping, I didn’t think much of it. If you live in Old West Lawrence, for instance, and there is a spate of robberies in the neighborhood, this is newsworthy to you and perhaps even the citizens in other parts of the city. I assume this is the thought process of chicagocrime.org. Aside from a morbid curiosity or researching a neighborhood before moving, why is this necessary?

Isn’t the location of the crimes going to be reported in the news story? Aren’t you going to be aware that this is happening around you because you saw it on the news? I can’t remember the last time that I saw a story on the local news that didn’t highlight the area where the crime occurred. I know, this assumes people watch the news. But aren’t the same eyeballs looking at chicagocrime.org going to look at local news?

What good comes from having a map that shows the location of local crimes? I really don’t see the point for the person on the street. It seems to be yet another reason for people to shutter themselves into their homes at night, leaving the streets to the criminals. It is yet another tool in the arsenal of the fear mongers. To me, and lots of other people, this is exactly the wrong thing to do if we want to make our neighborhoods safer.

Should we all don the red beret, using a news map as our attack plan?

Bear in mind, this is just one element of news mapping. But this is the one that is winning awards. Am I obtuse? I just don’t get the fascination. Tell me how I am wrong, because I really do want to understand this.

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