An Interactive History of Politics and the Olympics
via Council on Foreign Relations.
New Gender Options for Facebook Users -
Facebook users have been long been lobbying for gender options on their profiles beyond “male” and “female”, and the idea has been percolating at in-house for the last year. After consulting with leading gay and transgender activists, Facebook has come up with a list of 50 different terms people can use to identify their gender, as well as 3 pronoun choices, reports AP.
What it means for advertising?
At this point, Facebook targets advertising according to male or female genders. For those who change to something neutral, ads will be targeted based on the pronoun they select for themselves. Unlike getting engaged or married, changing gender is not registered as a “life event” on the site and won’t post on timelines. Therefore, Facebook said advertisers cannot target ads to those who declare themselves transgender or recently changed their gender.
Full story here.
The 545: A Single Subject Site on India’s Elections
A group of students at Columbia J-School just launched the 545, a first of its kind (in India) single-subject news site inspired in part by Nate Silver and Syria Deeply. Why 545? Because that’s how many seats there are the House in Parliament.
Think of it as a combination of BuzzFeed and Quartz— 300 to 400 word pieces with charts, graphics, visuals — to tell interesting stories tailored for online consumption. And everything will be pushed through social media.
Think of it as writing for your friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. No high-brow, jargon-led, politically-driven journalism. There are enough newspapers doing that already. TheFiveFortyFive.com will break through the clutter, delivering pieces that’ll interest even the most non-political of readers.
That means that we want to become a platform for a variety of voices — students, academics, professionals, bureaucrats, journalists and the discerning politician even — telling us what the election means to them.
This, after all, is the world’s biggest exercise in democracy. TheFiveFortyFive.com will try and reinvent how it’s reported, online.
FJP: While visually striking news sites and blogs abound in the States, India’s news ecosystem is very print focused and pretty conventional. To learn a bit about what the media ecosystem looks like there, as well issues facing the industry, see The Hoot, a media-watch site focused on the Indian subcontinent.
Today’s tween is no longer a child but not yet an adolescent; too old for Barbie dolls and Disney Junior, too young for Facebook and to understand the search results that pop up when she googles “sexy.” She is old enough to text, want designer jeans and use Instagram, but too young to have her own credit card and driver’s license. Still, she is a malleable thinker, consumer and marketing target. Each day, she is exposed to eight to 12 hours of media, depending on her age, that hones her understanding of how she is supposed to act. She spends a significant portion of her day plugged in – communicating, posting photos, playing games, surfing the web, watching videos and socializing. When TV, music, social media and the Internet are used as baby-sitters – when adults don’t ask girls questions or encourage them to think critically (and sometimes even when they do) – a dangerous scenario emerges: The media start to parent. —
Abigail Jones, Sex and the Single Tween, Newsweek.
An important and slightly horrifying long-read on pre-teen girls and media.
Related 01, and Horrifying: The YoutTube trend in which girls ask they internet if they are pretty or ugly.
Related 02, and Awesome: It’s Girls Being Girls, a YouTube Channel and Tumblr by Tessa, a senior at ASU, featuring and supporting cool, interesting, personal, inspiring content for girls by girls. Get in touch with her if you want to contribute!
Princely Hair, 1978 - 2013
By Gary Card via Slate. Select to embiggen.
How the Internet Works, Part 867, Reddit Edition
An infectious twelve-ish-year-old boy going by the name Sir Fedora posted a video on YouTube the other day celebrating the fact that the very first video he ever posted had received a like.
Not one among many or one like from someone particularly special. Just, simply, a single like. As in that first integer between zero and two. And that one like made that 12-ish-year-old happy.
So he celebrated with a new video.
Meantime, a Redditor stumbled across Sir Fedora’s video and posted this:
Incredibly enthusiastic, weird kid makes a video celebrating getting 1 YouTube like. Would be funny to get him a few subs and see his reaction.
The Internet, as the Internet is sometimes wont to do, took over. Or, at least, Reddit did.
Introducing: Operation Through The Roof.
Sir Fedora’s video celebrating his one like is now pushing a million views. He has over 70 thousand YouTube subscribers. Over on his recently started Twitter account he has over 46 thousand followers.
All because he was enthused by one like, and someone else liked that.
We all start somewhere.
Meantime, a Giant Panda tumbles about in the snow.
Image: Operation Through The Roof, via dragonboltz.
Blogs vs Newspapers: Have both already lost? -
In real life, I’m more akin to a blogger. The online version of these columns is a strange genetic offshoot that co-exists with its leaner, meaner cousins in the blogosphere (who’ve been around nearly as long) but its identity is hinged upon the dead tree media that precipitates it. In essence, it’s the Neanderthal to the blogs’ homo sapiens. They co-exist, even interbreed a bit, but eventually will kill off the other (that was the plot to “Quest for Fire,” right?).
Let the Games Begin
The Olympics kicked off yesterday with some snowboarding and figure skating qualifiers.
Today saw the really big show: Opening Ceremonies.
For those watching tonight, SBNation helpfully provides rules for an Opening Ceremony drinking game. Be careful though, you’ll be drinking for bear costumes, bad Russian techno and ballet (with additional sips if accompanied by Stravinsky or Tchaikovsky). And you’ll drink again if a country’s wearing silly hats.
Grantland has a rundown on six must see sports to watch. Yes, we’re happy that curling makes the list.
Meantime, Russian officials are fingering Western news organizations over “biased” coverage, specifically Time, The Economist and Der Speigel… along with Google, which has a rainbow Olympic doodle in support of the LGBT community. They’re probably not happy with @SochiProblems either.
NBC, which paid $4.4 billion for US broadcast rights through the 2020 Olympics, plans to stream 1,000 hours of events from Sochi, reports Advertising Age. Livestreaming is part of an overall online and social strategy to tackle the nine to twelve-hour time difference between Sochi and the east and west coasts of the United States.
Security, of course, is and has been an issue at global sporting events. Here’s a great backgrounder on the particulars of the Sochi Olympics from Mother Jones. For online threats, try The Christian Science Monitor. Take the near hysteria around the hackers in waiting stories with a grain of salt though. As Robert Graham of Errata Security explains, a similar story from NBC Nightly News doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.
All that said, bring on the games. Here’s your day-by-day schedule.
Image: A very fashionable Norwegian Curling Team, via Haaretz.
JOB: Internet Cat Video Festival Coordinator -
"The Internet Cat Video Festival is a celebration of online cat videos that has received national and international recognition since its inception here at the Walker in 2012. For our third edition, this years festival will be a free event on the Walker’s Open Field on Thursday, August 14th 2014.
"We are seeking a dynamic, well organized and capable individual to coordinate and support production and logistics for this amazing event.
FJP: Don’t say we’re not watching out for you. Apply away.
War on Anonymous: British Spies Attacked Hackers -
NBC News reports that British intelligence engaged in a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Anonymous:
A secret British spy unit created to mount cyber attacks on Britain’s enemies has waged war on the hacktivists of Anonymous and LulzSec, according to documents taken from the National Security Agency by Edward Snowden and obtained by NBC News.
The blunt instrument the spy unit used to target hackers, however, also interrupted the web communications of political dissidents who did not engage in any illegal hacking. It may also have shut down websites with no connection to Anonymous.
According to the documents, a division of Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), the British counterpart of the NSA, shut down communications among Anonymous hacktivists by launching a “denial of service” (DDOS) attack – the same technique hackers use to take down bank, retail and government websites – making the British government the first Western government known to have conducted such an attack.
Writing in Wired, McGill University’s Gabriella Coleman says the British government tactics are an extrajudicial danger that affects us all:
Whether you agree with the activities of Anonymous or not — which have included everything from supporting the Arab Spring protests to DDoSing copyright organizations to doxing child pornography site users — the salient point is that democratic governments now seem to be using their very tactics against them.The key difference, however, is that while those involved in Anonymous can and have faced their day in court for those tactics, the British government has not. When Anonymous engages in lawbreaking, they are always taking a huge risk in doing so. But with unlimited resources and no oversight, organizations like the GCHQ (and theoretically the NSA) can do as they please. And it’s this power differential that makes all the difference…
…But here’s the thing: You don’t even need to believe in or support DDoS as a protest tactic to find the latest Snowden revelations troubling. There are clearly defined laws and processes that a democratic government is supposed to follow. Yet here, the British government is apparently throwing out due process and essentially proceeding straight to the punishment — using a method that is considered illegal and punishable by years in prison.
FJP: Read that last line again. So, for example, a hacker fined $183,000 and put on probation for participating in 1 minute of a DDoS attack. And here’s a search across the FBI’s Web site for its prosecutions for DDoS attacks.
The story, even if it is a good story, is not the most important thing. —
Maria Headley in Sinatra’s Cold is Contagious.
Headley writes in reaction to Caleb Hannan’s Grantland story, Dr. V’s Magical Putter, which has become something of a case study in journalism ethics since it was published on January 15.
On the Media recaps here:
Last week, ESPN’s Grantland ran a remarkable story titled “Dr. V’s Magical Putter,” a journalistic odyssey that began with curiosity about a supposedly revolutionary golf club, and ended by focusing on the chaotic life of its inventor, a woman named Essay Anne Vanderbilt. The reporter, Caleb Hannan, discovered that Vanderbilt was transgender, and he revealed his knowledge of this fact to Vanderbilt. Shortly after, Vanderbilt committed suicide.
The piece subsequently made its rounds on the web, sparking outrage and raising a discussion on transgender rights in media, and the ethics of outing.
Vice takes us through Hannan’s reporting process and what he ultimately decided to publish:
He tells us “everything he knows,” which is definitely not the same thing as “everything that’s relevant.” He refers to Dr V as “he” and publishes her old name. He discusses her life before she transitioned to female. He tells us she was married. And that she’d tried to kill herself once before, a few years previously. Never mind that she was clearly vulnerable, it was all just another fantastic twist in the plot for Caleb. “What began as a story about a brilliant woman with a new invention had turned into the tale of a troubled man who had invented a new life for himself.” And never mind that faking her scientific credentials had nothing to do with being transgender. Caleb, who has been found guilty of sloppy journalism before, was simply recycling a media narrative that casts trans people as liars and fakes.
Grantland’s Editor-in-Chief Bill Simmons has since publicly apologized for the story, taking the blame for his writer’s mistakes and lamenting that he failed Hannan as an editor. Simmons admitted that the Grantland staff was not sensitive enough with the story and uninformed on transgender people’s rights, high suicide rates among trans* people, and even correct pronoun usage.
FJP: As Headley points out, there are a few things that should come before the all-important story for a journalist. Right after “Seek the truth and report it” on SPJ’s Code of Ethics comes “Minimize harm — Ethical journalists treat sources, subjects and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect.”
Who Controls The Media? Who Controls The FJP?
Let’s take this in order: Who controls the media?
If we’re talking traditional, corporate media it typically looks like this:
They all own way more than this, and I’d also add Clear Channel to the equation since it owns the majority of radio stations throughout the United States.
But you can’t talk about “owning the media” without talking about who owns cellular and Internet pipes. That includes companies like AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable.
Online sources remain remarkably diverse despite reliance on upstream providers. People can reach and enjoy them despite the depth and breadth of overall marketshare of the properties mentioned above. That said, recent Network Neutrality rulings threaten our ability to access, interact with and enjoy this online diversity. Take, for instance, this AT&T patent application that would let it discriminate against online content and gives us access (or blocks access) accordingly:
A user of a communications network is prevented from consuming an excessive amount of channel bandwidth by restricting use of the channel in accordance with the type of data being downloaded to the user. The user is provided an initial number of credits. As the user consumes the credits, the data being downloaded is checked to determine if is permissible or non-permissible. Non-permissible data includes file-sharing files and movie downloads if user subscription does not permit such activity.
Similarly, you can’t talk about owning and influencing the media without paying attention to how our technology companies operate within the ecosystem. Namely, how our interaction with information and communication is mediated by the code created by the likes of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple. As CUNY’s Lev Manovich has written:
Software has become a universal language, the interface to our imagination and the world. What electricity and the combustion engine were to the early 20th century, software is to the early 21st century. I think of it as a layer that permeates contemporary societies. If we want to understand today’s techniques of communication, representation, simulation, analysis, decision making, memory, vision, writing, and interaction, we must understand software.
So, that is more or less who controls American media.
Second question, who controls Future Journalism Project?
Ask a question, get an answer: meet the power behind the throne.
Most days though it’s me and Jihii. — Michael
The Olympics Are Coming
Welcome to Russia.
Committee to Protect Journalists: Media suffer winter chill in coverage of Sochi Olympics
In the run-up to the Sochi Winter Games, official repression and self-censorship have restricted news coverage of sensitive issues related to the Olympics, such as the exploitation of migrant workers, environmental destruction, and forced evictions.
Index on Censorship: A complete guide to who controls the Russian news media
In early 2000s various state agencies took financial or managerial control over 70 percent of electronic media outlets, 80 percent of the regional press, and 20 percent of the national press. As a result, Russian media continued to be used as tools of political control but now these “tools” were no longer distributed among competing political parties and businesses, but remained concentrated in the hands of a closed political circle that swore loyalty to President Putin.
Radio Free Europe: Russian Media Tests Boundaries Of State Censorship
It’s not easy being a journalist in Russia, where attacks against reporters have made it one of the most dangerous places to work, and the government has sidelined much of the free press. Still, some media outlets remain highly critical of the authorities. Their journalists say their main difficulty isn’t so much that they’re not able to report about the country’s problems, it’s that no one’s listening.
Freedom House: 2013 Russia Country Report
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech, vague laws on extremism grant the authorities great discretion to crack down on any speech, organization, or activity that lacks official support. The government controls, directly or through state-owned companies and friendly business magnates, all of the national television networks and many radio and print outlets, as well as most of the media advertising market. Only a small and shrinking number of radio stations and publications with limited reach offer a wide range of viewpoints. In December 2013, Putin abolished the state-owned news agency RIA Novosti, which had developed a reputation for objective reporting, and folded it into a new entity called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today), which would be run by pro-Kremlin television commentator Dmitriy Kiselyov and Margarita Simonyan, the head of RT, the Kremlin’s propagandistic international television network. The Kremlin has also increased pressure on formerly outspoken outlets, such as the business newspaper Kommersant, which is now considered to be a progovernment publication.
Image: Cover, The Economist. The Triumph of Vladimir Putin.
In a dictatorship, independent journalism by default becomes a form of activism, and the spread of information is essentially an act of agitation. — Hossam el-Hamalawy