Posts tagged with 'Facebook'
Local coverage and diversity are in short supply in today’s media landscape–especially when it comes to broadcast and cable TV. But there is hope. In markets like the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles, Low Power TV (LPTV) has emerged as a viable alternative to network and cable TV, offering 24-hour programming and locally-produced news shows for ethnic communities in their own languages.
While LPTV offers incredible opportunities for ethnic communities, as I reported here and here for New America Media, these stations face considerable challenges, including an unfriendly regulatory landscape and the weighty influence of the big-bucks telecommunications industry, which just wants LPTV to go away so it can claim the full digital spectrum.
Moreover, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers LPTV a secondary service with no legal protection from interference or displacement by broadcasters – which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for LPTV to thrive, since its future is uncertain.
Localism Lacking, FCC Study Says
Ironically, the very same FCC that is preventing LPTV from gaining a stronger foothold recently issued a report, titled “The Information Needs of Communities,” which lays out how localism has suffered from media consolidation. In her analysis of the FCC study, Truthout’s Nadia Prupis found that “Local journalism has not been able to keep up with a changing media landscape, leading to a significant drop in quality in-depth reporting.”
Shared News is Bad News for Localism
Futhermore, according to Free Press, a nonpartisan media advocacy group, “Across the country, hundreds of TV stations have quietly merged newsrooms, circumventing the Federal Communications Commission’s media ownership limits at the expense of independent, local journalism.” As noted in the FCC study, almost one-third of local news airing on full-power TV stations is actually produced by other stations. According to Free Press, there are nearly 80 markets “where these deals are in place, involving more than 200 stations.”
Free Press’ newest campaign, “Change the Channels,” includes an interactive map highlighting eight markets where this practice is especially egregious.
Echoing Corporate Media-Speak
AlterNet’s Don Hazen spotlights products of the right-wing echo chamber—and how those messages impact public conversations. Hazen gives two examples: “The first message is: ‘We must raise the retirement age or the economy will collapse.’ And two: ‘Social security is bankrupt.’ These two statements have been repeated thousands of times in and on American media. Yet there is not one scintilla of evidence that either one is accurate. But they have lodged themselves into the mainstream of American thought, constantly repeated by corporate media, as if they are obvious truths.”
The men behind the curtain are the Koch brothers, conservative billionaires who have usurped America’s political agenda by using the media as an echo chamber – themes that are explored in a new documentary produced by Brave New Films.
More Scrutiny For AT&T Merger
State agencies are increasingly concerned about the potential harm the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger would wreak on consumers. As Public News Service’s Mark Scheerer writes, “In a filing with the Federal Communications Commission, New York’s Public Service Commission (PSC) has asked the government to ‘carefully evaluate’ whether it will harm the public interest by stifling competition.”
A PSC spokesman says this is a “significant” concern to the agency.
Less competition, Scheerer explains, “could lead to higher rates or a lack of incentive to improve wireless broadband service.” The article also notes that the merger is under investigation in three states, including New York.
Merger Supporters Paid Off With Corporate Cash
AlterNet’s David Rosen and Bruce Kushnick analyze GLAADgate, which erupted after GLAAD’s president Jarrett Barrios was forced to resign after signing a statement of GLAAD’s support for the AT&T/T-Mobile deal with the FCC despite GLAAD’s board voicing opposition to the merger. After the statement was released, it was revealed that AT&T contributed $50,000 to GLAAD in what’s looking like a quid pro quo.
But that’s just the tip of the cash-for-shills iceberg. Rosen and Kushnick note that AT&T has leveraged more than 300 nonprofit groups, including “labor unions, trade associations, state and local politicians, and private corporations” into supporting the merger. These groups include the American Foundation for the Blind, National Conference of Black Mayors, National Puerto Rican Coalition, United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The Communications Workers of America and the AFL-CIO. The NAACP, for instance, received over $1 million from AT&T in 2009 alone.
AT&T can do this because they have “deep pockets,” as Rosen and Kushnick explain:
In 2009, the AT&T Foundation doled out over $60 million to nonprofits and other causes. In addition, in 2010, AT&T paid out nearly $20 million to influence the political process and legislative decisions; it contributed $3.7 million to America’s two major political parties (56% to Republicans) and another $15.4 million to lobbying activities. During the first three months of 2011, AT&T spent $6.8 million on lobbyists and in to lawyers related to the T-Mobile deal.
But, Rosen and Kushnick write, a larger question remains: by taking AT&T’s cash, and then singing the company’s praises, are these organizations violating guidelines which state a tax-exempt entity “may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities”?
Is Facebook Censoring Political Speech?
Social media network Facebook has been widely praised for its role in Arab Spring—the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt that have brought political change to the Middle East—but it may be engaging in censorship in the United Kingdom.
As Mother Jones’ Nick Baumann reports, “Labor unions and student activists in the United Kingdom are organizing a massive strike of public workers to protest cuts planned by Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative-led government. They’re hoping to draw tens or even hundreds of thousands of supporters into the streets to join the workers in an across-the-pond version of the Wisconsin demonstrations that captured national attention in March.
“But over the past few days, as activists worked to promote their plan, they ran into a problem: Facebook… was blocking the strike organizers’ website, www.j30strike.org.”
Facebook has since responded with an official “oops, we didn’t mean it.” But, as Baumann points out, “as an increasingly important means of communication and social and political organizing, it’s important—for Facebook and its users—that the company be seen as a neutral party in debates over political issues.”
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about media policy and media-related matters by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. To read more of the Wavelength, click here. You can also follow us on Twitter.
A proposed program to cover counseling sessions for seniors on end-of-life care has risen from the ashes of health care reform and found a new life in Medicare regulations, Jason Hancock of the American Independent reports.
In August, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin started a rumor via her Facebook page that the the Obama administration was backing “death panels” that would vote on whether the elderly and infirm had a right to live. In reality, the goal was to have Medicare reimburse doctors for teaching patients how to set up their own advance directives that reflect their wishes on end-of-life care.
Patients can use their advance directives to stipulate their wishes for treatment in the event that they are too sick to make decisions for themselves. They can also use those directives to demand the most aggressive lifesaving interventions. (more…)
Media Consortium Blogger
As we are days away from ushering in a new president, hopes are high that relief can be had in federal immigration law. Yet, the Bush administration has made last minute changes to immigration law, reminding us once more of the incompetence in which we have been living for eight years.
New America Media’s highlights the gross willful negligence that is Bush’s trademark in Immigration Contradiction.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey determined that those [immigrants] tried in immigration courts had no right to challenge the outcome of their cases based on their lawyers’ performance. At the same time, the attorney general defended the policy of not guaranteeing legal representation to those appearing before immigration judges since these are civil cases and the Constitution does not consider this right under such circumstances.
In short, those detained for immigration violations are treated as criminal when it comes to invading their privacy by obtaining their genetic material. Yet, their cases are considered civil when arguing that they have no right to counsel.
When we answer genuine human need and national crisis with antics like this, we are in serious danger of losing our national soul. Or maybe just faith in our government. After all, as Feministing.com reports in Unions Win at North Carolina Plant, the workers seem to have retained both their souls and their faith, if only in each other:
When immigration agents raided Smithfield Food’s huge North Carolina slaughterhouse two years ago, union organizer Eduardo Peña compared the impact to a “nuclear bomb.” The day after, people were so scared that most of the plant’s 5,000 employees didn’t show up for work. The lines where they kill and cut apart 32,000 hogs every day were motionless. “Workers think it’s happening because people were getting organized,” said Vargas at the time.
If you do harbor hope that more people will wake up to the critical need for humane immigration reform, it can be daunting to read through too much of the mainstream reporting on the issue. Everyday, the undocumented are met with legal manipulation and sly criminalization. And many media outlets focus on punishment and sensationalize fear and danger. And of course, the ABC network is craven enough to make a reality show out of it.
New America Media reports on the new television show called “Homeland Security USA and the Facebook Group called “Take ‘Homeland Security USA’ reality show off the Air!” that rose up to protest the show. (Disclosure: I belong to this group.) And Raj Jayadev doesn’t mince words in Homeland Security Show Misses the Real Drama.
The program “Homeland Security USA” fails because it only shows part of the reality. Why not give a camera to a family crossing the border, to capture the horror of being chased down in the desert, surviving only through the desperation of an imagined American life? Or a workplace raid at a meatpacking plant in the Midwest, where workers flee agents who are armed like they are entering a war zone? Why not go to Eloy, Ariz., where sprung up out of the dirt in the middle of nowhere, like a mirage, is one the largest detention centers in the country –where detainees ask for deportation because the conditions are subhuman, and elderly men die of dehydration? [...]
While the program clearly shows the enormity and omnipresence of the mega-security agency, all this does is beg the more interesting question: How do ordinary civilians stay out of their clutches? How does an undocumented immigrant carve out an American life – work, go to school, build a family, plant roots – all while this multi-million dollar machinery called Homeland Security is stalking them every moment of the day? Drama is with the rebels, not the empire.
In Wiretap online magazine’s Advocating for an Identity, we get a closer look at one of these “rebels.” If you are imagining a wild-eyed Zapatista behind a bandanna, I’ll have to disappoint. For most of Stephanie’s 22 years, she had no idea that she fit into the often-despised category of “Illegal.”
Coming up on her eighteenth birthday, Stephanie pestered her mom to go with her to the DMV to finally get her California ID as an adult.
For the first 18 years of her life, Stephanie had no idea she was in the United States illegally, and she finally found out as she stood at the brink of adulthood.
In the same article, 25-yea-old Tam Tran pleads for the public to understand the importance of passing the DREAM Act:
“Without the DREAM Act, I have no prospect of overcoming my state of immigration limbo,” Tran said in her testimony. “I’ll forever be a perpetual foreigner in a country where I’ve always considered myself an American.”
She also talked about her experiences as an undocumented student a few months later in an October 2007 USA Today article. Later that month at work, Tran received a collect call from her mother.
Her family had been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
And that is the very fear that is haunting Yolanda Guevera, a United States citizen and member of the Army Reserve. You see, her husband is undocumented. In Deployed And Deported — Immigration law hurts military families, New America Media reports on Yolanda’s predicament.
Guevara is a rear detachment commander for her Army Reserve unit, which has already been deployed to Kuwait. It’s a matter of time before she would have to leave her husband and three children in North Carolina to join her unit. [...]
“He works part time but whenever I have to go out … he’s there for me,” Yolanda says. “I don’t think I could be in the military without him.” [...]
When Guevara explained her situation to the immigration officer, the response was less than helpful. “I told him, ‘My unit is going to be deployed, so I’m afraid— what if I’m gone and I’m stationed over in Iraq or Kuwait, and my husband’s [status] expires?’” she says. “What’s going to happen to my kids?”
She says the officer responded, “You worry about that when that happens.”
Without the dreams, hard work, risks, and ingenuity of immigrants, we would not be here. I know I would not. Nor would so many of our massive institutions of commerce, which began as nothing more than a humble and small business. It is as if we get comfortable and forget our own histories. The tales of struggle and dreaming and working and persecution—is this not America? Are these not our stories? Would we throw our own past into prison?
Let us hope for real change and more than that, let us keep working and fighting for it.
This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration. Visit Immigration.NewsLadder.net for a complete list of articles on immigration, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy and health issues, check out Economy.NewsLadder.net and Healthcare.NewsLadder.net. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of 50 leading independent media outlets, and was created by NewsLadder.