The Past Week: July 19-25, 2009 (The Journalism School Named after Walter Cronkite; Poor Economy, Cash-Strapped Families = Unclaimed Bodies of Loved Ones)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

The passing of Walter Cronkite resulted in lots of solemn eulogies in TeeVee-land, and I have to say that woman I saw one afternoon on CNN exclaiming that he “wasn’t just a newsreader” made me chortle…she obviously thought SHE wasn’t a newsreader and spoke with some authority on the matter as she conversed with somebody who was reminiscing about Cronkite’s tremendous experience.  What a joke!  This young chippy chit-chatted her way through the “news” as if she were doing an infomercial…

Cronkite, of course, was the man everyone watched during the moon landing back in 1969.  And, I’m also old enough to remember his reporting on the Kennedy assassination (and Dan Rather, who was local in Dallas back then.) By accident, while noodling around the web during the moon landing anniversary, I came across the website of the Cronkite School New Media Academy | The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication which is at Arizona State University.

It produced Aaron Brown, among others. But who knows if it is really living up to the expectations espoused in the “Welcome” message. For example, the connection to ABC news doesn’t exactly inspire.  And where do really good journalism students go lately even IF they do get a decent education in journalism? (And that’s a big IF, to assume any really good journalists are coming out of journalism schools these days.)  Do they go MSBNC? CNN? NBC? FOX? etc., etc.

Don’t think so…

***

Signs of the times… From the Los Angeles Times:

More bodies go unclaimed as families can’t afford funeral costs

According to the story, “The poor economy is taking a toll even on the dead, with an increasing number of bodies in Los Angeles County going unclaimed by families who cannot afford to bury or cremate their loved ones.”

The victims of homicide and suspicious deaths are being cremated at taxpayer expense because people can’t afford services, so are leaving bodies of loved ones unclaimed.

And the L.A. county  is so much busier that they are no longer accepting bodies from the coroner. That office is now contracting private crematories to handle the load.

Apparently the situation in L.A. isn’t unique:

Coroners and funeral directors around the country say they are seeing the same trend as cash-strapped families cope with funeral costs. Just claiming a body from the L.A. County coroner costs $200. Once a body is claimed, private cremations usually run close to $1,000, Smith said. Funeral homes charge an average of $7,300 to transport and bury a body in a simple grave, according to the National Funeral Home Directors Assn.

…Can’t even rest in peace these days…

THE PAST WEEK

*By KenoshaMarge

*VOTING IN LOCKSTEP IS NOW A GOOD THING? (Not According to SOME Democrats in Congress…)

Chicago Suburb Hosts Hizb ut-Tahrir Conference; Organization Aims to Re-Establish an International Islamic State (Caliphate), Supports Jihad

The Past Week: July 12-18, 2009 (Energy-Saving Porch Project; “Full Plates Full Lives” Food Campaign; JFK, Jr.)

HULU — “An evil plot to destroy the world”: A Mainstream Media Creation (FOX, NBC et al) to Squeeze Out Independent Media Content

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

If you any doubts about how the mainstream media is playing us, then here’s the proof that they indeed are.  It’s easy to see when you take a look at Hulu. Most of the uniformed world think FOX (News Corp.) and NBC/GE are “enemies”  but we see that they’re working together to suck the air out of independent media content available on the web.

Hulu–“An evil plot to destroy the world.”  I didn’t originate this description; Hulu did. It’s in their ad which features the obnoxious Denis Leary jabbering away about TV content turning your mind to mush and snarking at a “brain dead” (those are the ad’s words) geek who’s getting a stream of green stuff passed into his ear.  Before he’s through, Leary says that the folks at Hulu are  “aliens” and then winds up with the tag line, “Hulu…an evil plot to destroy the world…Enjoy.”

The ad is up at the company blog under the title “The Evil Plot Continues.”  Go see for yourself…(and be sure to “click” to see the full ad after the initial clip is over or click here for the video without the blog post.).  This week, Hulu has released a “Video Panel widget”:

To continue to deliver on our mission to connect audiences with their favorite content wherever they are — or, as Denis Leary would say, on their “bliggety blogs, facey spaces and tweety pages” — we are releasing a new embeddable product this week: the Video Panel widget.

The ad is supposed to be a cool joke aimed at the younger crowd, but in reality, it may not just a joke!  A couple of weeks ago I happened to be watching CNBC and caught an interview with the young CEO who was talking about how successful Hulu had become and how it would be even more successful as it closes in on YouTube, which is currently the top video site.

And who’s behind Hulu?  According to Hoovers (with my bolding):

Hulu Company Description

When the rich and famous name their offspring, anything is possible. NBC and FOX had a digital baby. And they called it Hulu. Initially formed as a joint venture between NBC Universal (a unit of GE) and News Corp. (the parent of FOX), Hulu.com is a video site that features video from more than 100 content providers. Offerings include TV shows from FOX and NBC, as well as from subsidiary cable channels such as Bravo and the SCI FI Channel. Hulu also shows films from studios including Sony and MGM. Content — all total, some 900 TV series and full-length movies– is streamed on demand, free of charge the day after its broadcast debut. After a nearly five-month long beta version, Hulu.com was launched in 2008.

And, there’s another player now: Disney/ABC.

Disney Buys Into Hulu. YouTube Should Be Worried.  (4/30)

As the initial exclusivity for NBC and Fox content expires, Hulu will be adding Disney/ABC videos and TV shows to its distribution mix as well. Hulu is becoming the preferred distribution channel for the big media companies. And it is succeeding in attracting the fickle Web audience. This should worry YouTube, which is still casting about for a business model that will pay for its enormous storage and bandwidth costs. The media companies cannot ignore YouTube just yet, but by strengthening Hulu they can give it their best content first.

A couple of days earlier, this article provided some extra background:

Hulu Now The Number Three U.S. Web Video Site. Soon To Be Number Two.  (4/28)

Just last month, we wrote that Hulu had gained some 10 million viewers to become the fourth largest video portal on the web. Now, it’s slain another rival to the list: Yahoo, to move into #3 — at least in terms of videos viewed.

To be clear, the new March U.S. numbers released by comScore show that Hulu is still slightly behind Yahoo’s video properties when it comes to unique viewers. But the NBC and Fox-backed Hulu should pass it any day now in that category as well. Meanwhile, the number two player, Fox Interactive Media (which runs MySpace), is slipping just as quickly as Hulu is rising in videos viewed. It could well be as soon as this month when Hulu moves into the number two web video position.

Needless to say,  I wondered about the name. Silly me for thinking it was a take-off on “hula” or something Hawaiian. NOOOOOOOOOO, it’s actually a Chinese name! From Wikipedia:

The name Hulu comes from two Mandarin Chinese words, hulu (simplified Chinese: 葫芦; traditional Chinese: 葫蘆; pinyin: húlú; Wade-Giles: hu-lu) “calabash, bottle gourd” and hulu (simplified Chinese: 互录; traditional Chinese: 互錄; pinyin: hùlù; Wade-Giles: hu-lu) “interactive recording.”

The company blog explains:

In Mandarin, Hulu has two interesting meanings, each highly relevant to our mission. The primary meaning interested us because it is used in an ancient Chinese proverb that describes the hulu as the holder of precious things. It literally translates to “gourd,” and in ancient times, the hulu was hollowed out and used to hold precious things. The secondary meaning is “interactive recording.” We saw both definitions as appropriate bookends and highly relevant to the mission of Hulu. [4][5]

(Here’s the link to the above-mentioned blog post at Hulu with a picture of the young group (mostly of Chinese background?) who worked on choosing the name: http://blog.hulu.com/2008/05/13/meaning-of-hulu/.) (Note: For all their care, it seems that “Hulu” has some unusual meanings in other languages anyway. For a sampling, see:  Hulu Translates To “Cease” and “Desist” in Swahili. Oops.)

My next stop was a visit to the Hulu site at http://www.hulu.com/.  The “News” channel has a few sub-sections, but I just looked at the Politics section closely. Of course, it varies day to day, but it certainly is NOT a comprehensive news site…an awful lot of clips featuring unchallenged spin from the Administration and cable talk shows on the day I looked.  Hulu is entirely commercial content, so you won’t see any original “ads” or political discourse from the peons here, like you see at YouTube.

Who’s running Hulu for NBC, FOX, and Disney?

The CEO is one Jason Kilar. From Business Week:

Jason Kilar serves as Chief Executive Officer of Hulu, LLC. Mr. Kilar has been Chief Executive of online video joint venture of NBC Universal, Inc. and News Corp., since July 9, 2007. He serves as Special Advisor of KBL Acquisition Corp. IV*. He served as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Application Software at Amazon.com Inc. since May 2003 and was responsible for Amazon’s Marketplace business. From February 2002 to May 2003, Mr. Kilar served as Vice President of Worldwide Application Software of Amazon.com Inc., where he joined in May, 1997 as a Product Manager. From October 2001 to February 2002, Mr. Kilar served as Vice President of Marketplace of Amazon.com Inc. and served as its Vice President of Books, Music, and Video & DVD from February 2001 to October 2001 and serves as its Vice President. He began his career with The Walt Disney Company, where he worked for Disney Design & Development. He serves on the board of Management Leadership for Tomorrow. He has been Director of AdReady, Inc. since November 28, 2007. Mr. Kilar received his M.B.A. from Harvard Business School…

The company is providing  investment capital for Hulu is Providence Equity. Of course, there’s a “global presence”:

Working collaboratively from offices in Providence, New York, London, Hong Kong and New Delhi, our 74 investment professionals pursue opportunities as a unified team across North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. Our sector focus and international mandate enable us to dedicate our full resources to building global leaders in the media, entertainment, communications and information industries, regardless of location.

The large “team” running this firm has some interesting names on the roster.

Michael K. Powell, now a Sr. Advisor for PE, formerly FCC chairman during the Bush Administration

In addition to Kilar, there are a lot of people with Harvard ties, work history with some of the large investment banks (with a number of them with a history at Morgan Stanley), and other interesting backgrounds. Here’s a sampling of some of the names I peeked at…there are many others with similiar ties on the long list of “the team”:

  • Chief Compliance Officer Fred Franklin (who “served for ten years as Assistant Director of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement”)… from Bear Stearns

So, it looks like the total capture of the minds of the younger generation by the mass media will be complete if most of them gravitate to Hulu.  If YouTube can’t survive, will the creative video we see there dry up or become fragmented across many smaller sites?

Hulu is just another piece of the puzzle as the media “clamps down” to control what media content users see.  Scary, very scary indeed.

***

*KBL Acquisition Corp. IV is involved in “miscellaneous”  investment services but is a big player in the healthcare industry (also KBL I, II, III)

Hulu Company Profile.

GE media holdings (From Columbia Journalism Review site)

News Corp. media holdings (From Columbia Journalism Review site)

Disney media holdings (corporate site)

Post-Obama TV Orgy OPEN THREAD for Watchers/Non-Watchers and THE CHICKEN BUTTON

This is our first-ever OPEN THREAD.  After the response to Grail Guardian’s post yesterday warning about what Obama would be trying to do, we’re interested in hearing comments from those who took heed of her call not to watch…and from those who braved the performance!!  And feel free to discuss anything else that’s on your minds….

Go for it…

PS…did you see the CHICKEN BUTTON ad??? GO to http://www.neverfindout.org/ and look down to the second line of videos from the bottom…the one on the far right of that line!

It’s a fabulous ad calling out Obama on his “Present” votes….AKA…the CHICKEN BUTTON!

The Intrusion of Obama: Propagandized at the Mall and Trapped on the Treadmill

~~Posted by InsightAnalytical-GRL

Yesterday, after a doctor’s appointment, I headed over to the Mesilla Valley Mall to get my new eyeglass prescription filled. On the way I out, I passed a clothing store called “ZUMA.”   Apparently, it is not part of chain, because I did a search and came up with a computer game, a shower tile collection and a few bead shops and other operations with the name.  But, there was no chain in sight with that name…

And I’m glad there isn’t. The shop seemed to be one of those dark “caverns” appealing to “youth.”  There were shirts and other things hanging all over the place.  I was nearly past it when I something hit me–

One of those clothing racks which has “arms” and  holds several items on each bar was sitting nearly outside the store and hanging from it were a number of white tee-shirts.  I squinted a bit and guess what I saw?  A stenciled portrait of Obama, probably lifted from one of those “1930’s German Reich” posters his campaign seems to favor, filling the whole front of the shirt, outlined in bold black strokes.  At the top, across the collarbone area, was one word:  OBAMA, in capital letters.

I was taken aback, but it wasn’t over yet.  I glanced around and saw more Obama shirts hanging to my right, also practically in the path of passerby; more up higher on the wall, more dead center…

They were all over the place.  I sure didn’t see any of John McCain as I quickly moved past. It was if “The Messiah” had his own private apparel store…

Nothing like feeling like you are being propagandized as you stroll through a shopping mall…

Continue reading

SHILLING and CHURNING–the State of the Media and the “Mass Production of Ignorance” (A Double Post by kenosha Marge and InsightAnalytical-GRL)

The two pieces in this post are intertwined. First, there is “American Media Shills for Obama” by kenosha Marge.  Then, check out “Flat Earth News–The State of ‘Churnalism'” by InsightAnalytical-GRL, an introduction to the acclaimed journalist Nick Davies and his courageous expose’ about the “news” business.

American Media Shills for Obama

~~By kenosha Marge

Has the time finally come when ordinary citizens stop listening to the drivel coming from the mouths of multi-millionaire pundits? Have we really gotten mad as hell and aren’t going to take it any more?

Going back as far as William Randolph Hearst it is easy to see that media moguls were always about money and power, not journalism. It was in fact Hurst’s engaging in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer‘s New York World which led to the creation of “yellow journalism“–sensationalized stories of dubious veracity.

There was a time between Hearst and the Current Millionaire Media Morons that infest our newspapers and airwaves today when some actual journalism occurred.

Having been raised with the Huntley-Brinkley Report and Walter Cronkite what passes for journalism these days is wretched. Certainly Edward R. Murrow, must be spinning in his grave knowing that a hack like Keith Olbermann, is using his signature line, “Good Night and Good Luck”.

It is interesting that Murrow gave a speech before the Radio and Television News Directors Association in Chicago in which he blasted TV’s emphasis on entertainment and commercialism at the expense of public service. That was on October 15, 1958. I suspect he would be appalled to see how far down that road the media has traveled.

Today’s media gives us such stalwarts as Charlie Gibson of ABC who sneered his way through an interrogation disguised as an interview. Gibson tried to embarrass and demean Governor Sarah Palin. Instead he embarrassed himself and the occupation he represents so poorly. We really aren’t interested in whether you like Governor Palin or not Charlie, we just expect you, as a professional to conduct an interview that allows us to make our own decisions based on what WE perceive to be the truth. Your opinion Charlie is irrelevant.

This election cycle, like many before has shown us a media increasingly less interested in reporting the news than in making it. We expected that the Clinton-hating media would attack her relentlessly without regard for truth, fairness or integrity. We didn’t expect their blatant misogyny and their slobbering preference for Obama. There wasn’t even a pretense of fair coverage.

Now John McCain is being treated in the same way. Must be a surprise for him since he is used to being the media darling. He is learning that media, like jackdaws, are attracted to the newest shiniest object to enter their sphere.

Oprah Winfrey had the honesty to admit being an Obama acolyte. She is just a talk show hostess so her opinion is just that, her opinion. She might better occupy her time recommending Diets or Authors but then she’s missed a few times on those issues too.

Chris Matthews is a silly, sexist, twit. Had Matthews forthrightly admitted to being in the tank for Obama you might at least have respected his honesty. His pretense of being neutral was absurd. The tingle up his leg is probably a sign of poor circulation and not enough blood getting to his brain.

The list of Obama fans in the press is nearly endless. Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, and Chris Cillizza are press agents for the Washington Post. Like many papers its circulation is dropping and will likely continue to drop as readers find themselves faced with fewer journalists and a proliferation of cheerleaders.  Were it not for Dana Priest and Thomas E. Ricks the Post wouldn’t be worth reading.

Frank Rich, and Bob Herbert love them some Obama for the New York Times. The Times should no longer be allowed to proclaim itself a newspaper of record. Professional and unbiased? Were it not for Paul Krugman the current Times would only be useful for the bottom of my parrot cage.

Only on the right is Obama not fawned over like the second coming. Even there he isn’t pummeled with the fervor to which a democrat is typically subjected. If Corporate Left and Corporate Right likes someone, that someone might not be the best choice for all us little peons out here that don’t have media contracts worth millions.

Our media has decided that they want Obama to be president. In pursuit of their wish that such a thing come to pass they are willing to slime anyone, tell any lie, spin a few words into something unrecognizable as from the truth and show us their true, corporate colors. There may be a few, a very few, honest, decent, hardworking journalists around. But real Journalists don’t work on cable “news” programs and they seldom show up on the pages of the top newspapers in the country. Like common sense, integrity and honesty are becoming less common all the time.

MSNBC has become the Obama network. I believe the “M” stands for misogynistic. CNN has become the loving Obama all the time network. CNN was once a respected news channel. Now there is more blather than news and more opinion than fact. Jumped the shark a while back. FOX, to everyone’s surprise has been the most unbiased of the 3 cable “news” network. Whoever would have believed that would come to pass?

Few people respect or believe media. Seven out of 10 voters (69%) are convinced that reporters try to help the candidate they want to win, and this year by a nearly five-to-one margin voters believe they are trying to help Obama. What does that say about how voters view the integrity of the media?

As if the misbehavior of the media were not enough they sneer down their exfoliated noses at the rabble for being “low information” voters. They do not do their job to inform us, then insult and demean us for NOT being informed.

Who, what, when, why and where as journalistic ideology? Gone with the snows of yesteryear…

*****************************

“Flat Earth News” The State of ‘Churnalism'”

~~by InsightAnalytical-GRL

While listening to the BBC World Service months ago, I heard an interview with author Nick Davies, an acclaimed investigative reporter from Britain (see bio below). Davies, who had written a book entitled “Flat Earth News” (published in February 2008) lambasted the present state of journalism. In the book, Davies “exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.” Check out his website of the same name.

The part of the interview that has stayed with me these many months was his discussion of what Davies calls “churnalism.” If you scan the reaction by the journalists who have commented on the book, you’ll see the frustration of many of them who have experienced the process of taking press releases that have been rehashed and passed off as real news gathering and those who have been forced to rely on “automated news-sifting services” because they are no longer given the time to investigate stories or check their facts. In other words, as one comments, most news “isn’t original anymore.”

A video of a more recent interview with Davies on “churnalism” is available here at the BBC site and is well-worth watching!

Here’s a synopsis of the book from Davies’ site:

“Finally I was forced to admit that I work in a corrupted profession.” When award-winning journalist Nick Davies decided to break Fleet Street’s unwritten rule by investigating his own colleagues, he found that the business of truth had been slowly subverted by the mass production of ignorance.

Working with a network of off-the-record sources, Davies uncovered the story of the prestigious Sunday newspaper which allowed the CIA and MI6 to plant fiction in its columns; the daily newsroom where senior reporters casually refer to ‘nig nogs’ and where executives routinely reject stories about black people; the respected quality paper which was so desperate for scoops that it hired a conman to set up a front company to entrap senior political figures. He found papers supporting law and order while paying cash bribes to bent detectives and hiring private investigators to steal information.

Davies names names and exposes the national news stories which turn out to be pseudo events manufactured by the PR industry and the global news stories which prove to be fiction generated by a new machinery of international propaganda.

He shows the impact of this on a world where media consumers believe a mass of stories which, in truth, are as false as the idea that the Earth is flat – from the millennium bug to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, tainting government policy, perverting popular belief.

He presents a new model for understanding news. With the help of researchers from Cardiff University, who ran a ground-breaking analysis of the contents and sources for our daily news, Davies found most reporters most of the time are not allowed to dig up stories or check their facts – a profession corrupted at the core.

Read All About It. The news will never look the same again.

An extract from the book is here.

Needless to say, this book has raised the hackles of many in the established media.  A paperback edition will be published in early 2009.

Check out Nick Davies’ site for updated posts on recent media distortions and for many links about the book and reactions to it, as well as media-monitoring sites, including:

http://www.flatearthnews.net/links

http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/wire/2040

****

Nick Davies’ Resume

“Nick Davies has been named Journalist of the Year, Reporter of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year for his investigations into crime, drugs, poverty and other social issues. Hundreds of journalists have attended his masterclass on the techniques of investigative reporting. He has been a journalist since 1976 and is currently a freelance, working regularly as special correspondent for The Guardian. He also makes TV documentaries; he was formerly an on-screen reporter for World In Action. His four books include White Lies (about a racist miscarriage of justice in Texas) and Dark Heart (about poverty in Britain). He was the first winner of the Martha Gellhorn award for investigative reporting for his work on failing schools and recently won the award for European Journalism for his work on drugs policy.”

The “Meaning” of America

~~Posted by kenoshaMarge

The “Meaning” of America

Presented As Nothing But My Opinion

The meaning that I am talking about is the mean-spiritedness that is rampant in the United States and perhaps around the world for all I know. I can only speak of what I know and see. I am not well educated enough to write some scholarly dissertation about it. I articulate how it looks from my perspective. It’s
just my opinion folks and if it doesn’t jibe with yours I accept beforehand that I should be boiled in oil or stood against a wall and shot.

No day, no hour, hell no minute goes by that there isn’t some nasty little twit on television, radio or on some blog tearing into someone for some real or imagined offense. The pile on commences and before long some clumsily expressed thought has a metamorphosis into full-blown conflagration.”How dare he/she say that,” the pundidiots and blogsnots thunder; while conveniently ignoring that he/she didn’t say thatt all.

Television on Friday the 8th of August 2008 is a prime time example of the lunacy perpetrated upon us. Cable “news” was in full-blown hyperventilation over the John Edwards affair. Oh the horror of it all. Hour after hour CNN and FOX wasted our time with this nonsense. Tell what happened and move on. We don’t
need nor want to know what every pinhead in teevee land thinks about another story about another politician that couldn’t keep his pants zipped. Not like he’s an endangered species.

MSNBC may have done the same but since I never watch their sleazy channel I cannot honestly attest that they did. Good heavens right there I am more of a journalist than anyone on their payroll. I don’t presume to report without facts. Never get the big bucks that way Marge.

Maybe it’s just that we love to be pissed off. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the blogosphere. Safely ensconced behind our keyboards we can venture forth to do battle with those that we find unworthy.  All too often that simply means those with whom we disagree. Lest I get smacked down because “you” don’t do that, let me say, if the shoe doesn’t fit…

It seems to me that there is a tone to our interaction that is in many instances just plain nasty.  I am not one of those sweet little old ladies that think we should all get along. I am not, in fact, a sweet anything. I can swap expletives with the best and them and will continue to do so in the future. I simply try to find a balance and try not to head out with all my artillery blazing to shoot down a trifle.

I do not want to play nice with bigots, liars and ignoramuses. I can get mean, nasty, insulting when confronted with idiocy. Mostly, why bother? I have better things to do with my time.

Trolls are vermin that should be eradicated whenever possible and ignored when not. Fact, mean-spiritedness or both?

Converse with an Obama supporter? Why? They love him; I loathe him, what conversation? Obama supporters like to frequent Obama Loathing blogs to hijack a conversation or insist on going over arguments hashed, rehashed and long decided by both sides. Insults are traded, they’ve hijacked a post and they won.

I wish we could get from the blogosphere what we need to get from our dysfunctional media. Facts. Just facts. For the most part information is so well hidden that most of us have to search out our facts like a damn snipe hunt.

And pieces like this? My opinion. Take it for what it’s worth.

Pundidiots like Olbermann, Maddow, Matthews, Cafferty, Blitzer, O’Reilly, Hannity, Colmes, Martin, Limbaugh, Rhodes and others of their ilk that infest our airwaves should never be allowed to get away with pulling words outa their ass and passing them off as facts. A big bold disclaimer should flash across out screen or be repeated hourly on radio wherever these pundidiots are free to roam. “THIS IS THE UNBRIDLED OPINION OF AN OVERPAID IDIOT.” Or is it too mean-spirited? Is my pot meeting my kettle?