Posts from April 14, 2004

Citizens’ media in Iraq

Citizens’ media in Iraq
: U.S. Marines in Iraq are raising money to equip seven TV stations in Iraq to be owned and operated by Iraqis. From the Spirit of America site:

News broadcasts in Iraq can be biased, inaccurate and incomplete – to put it mildly. Your contribution will create a television alternative owned and operated by Iraqis. This will provide better information, counter efforts to provoke and help reduce tensions….

It is essential to success of the Marine Corps’ mission in Iraq that the Iraqi people understand our sincerest desires to help them rebuild their country and lay the foundation for a viable and free democratic society.

This is wonderful on a few fronts: See how our soldiers are working hard to help the people of Iraq. Operation Give brings gifts to children. Soldiers are helping rebuild the nation after years of neglect. And now there is this effort to help Iraq. Note that contributions are being raised as a memorial to the soldier just killed in Iraq — one of three sisters there — and it is being given to benefit Iraqi orphans. Our soldiers care about the people of Iraq.

On another front, it’s great to see the recognition that putting the tools of media in the hands of people will be good for democracy (and let’s hope we don’t shut down these stations as we shut down a paper). I’ll be saying more about how we can all help to do this online as well soon. [via Armed Liberal]

Really Simple Something

Really Simple Something
: Jason Kottke says what I’ve been saying for some time — but much better: that RSS isn’t really about syndication. It’s a higher form of content distribution because it’s smarter; it knows more about itself (e.g., what’s a headline and what’s body text and when it was written and how much there is) and the readers are smarter than plain old browsers (they know what I’ve read).

As I get ready to implement RSS at my day-job sites — and work with a few vendors on RSS readers — I keep facing this same problem: What is it? How do we describe it? How do we tell readers why they should use this and what it will do for them? What the hell do we call it?

What RSS really needs is a marketing product manager. [via Ross Mayfield]

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: DARE YA: Ernie Miller dares the FCC to call Howard Stern profane, not just indecent — so they can define what the F they mean by profanity.

: DAMNED ON HEARSAY: Miller also takes the FCC to proper task for its recent decision against Chicago jock Mancow. They didn’t rule on the basis of a tape or transcript but instead on the say of a stalker who has filed 66 complaints against Mancow (only six resulting in fines) and whom Mancow is suing because of this harassment. So the FCC fined Mancow on the basis of hearsay alone. He also notes that the discussion fined is worse in the FCC’s eyes because it occurred with a porn star, meaning that some professions get less protection under the law and meaning that the speaker is a factor as much as the speech.

Not only is the FCC maximizing fines against broadcasters, they are lowering the evidence bar and effectively shifting burdens of proof. Additionally, they now consider it appropriate to discriminate against and presumptively find guilty members of certain professions.

: DEAD MAN WALKING: Eric Boehlert at Salon, who has been doing a good job staying on the FCC and Stern story, has a new installment today, saying that it is likely that Stern will be off the air soon because the FCC is going after him with a vendetta.

“The indecency debate is traditionally a pendulum that swings — there are reactions and overreactions,” says Stuart Shorenstein, a communications attorney and partner at Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen LLP. “But this is clearly unprecedented. It’s a witch hunt. In 2001, FCC chairman Powell said the government is not my nanny. Well, the nanny is back.” …

“At the present time I don’t understand the rules, nor can anybody else. They’re obscure,” complains Reed Hundt, who served as FCC chairman under President Clinton. “I don’t defend Howard Stern. But I am saying in the absence of any kind of clarity of rules it looks like a political exercise. Even Howard Stern deserves some element of fairness. Because for the first time in decades the FCC now has enough power to put stations and people out of business and can do it on a whim. And it’s not true that once you unleash government in an arbitrary manner [to monitor speech], you can confine it to the topic of indecency.”

Read it all. The story echoes some of the points I made in the magazine story I wrote (which may yet see the dark of print… more on that later).

: ET TU, MEL? Media Life asks how long Viacom and Stern supporter Mel Karmazin will stick by his jock. Oh, they’re sticking together.

Yesterday morning, Stern said he wishes they would take the delays and bleep-buttons off his show and just let him do what he has been doing, for every time they hit the button it is as if they are agreeing with the government that the show did something wrong. And Stern wants to push the issue and cut to the chase and get kicked off rather than worry about every word he says.

When the threat of fines grows too big, Mel and Howard will come to an agreement about moving on, I’ll bet.

A wish

A wish
: The one thing I hope comes out of the 9/11 commission hearings — besides fixing our intelligence operations and preventing future terrorist attacks, but that’s getting to be besides the point, isn’t it? — is seeing John Ashcroft as a sacrificial lamb.

Oh, I know, the odds are slight — nil, actually. But the man didn’t care enough about terrorism. He runs an agency that all agreed is really f’ed up. He is the poster child for the much-reviled Patriot Act. He’s spending more effort going after boobs than bombs. He is the embodiment of the far right-wing of the Bush administration.

If Bush were running a sane campaign, he’d steal the beat from the commission and announce a sweeping overhaul of intelligence, starting with a new head of Justice. If he were running a sane campaign, he’d play to the center of the country and amputate his far right, getting rid of Ashcroft.

But, of course, he is instead playing to the far right with the litany of issues you already know. So Ashcroft won’t go.

But a citizen can dream, can’t he?