Posts from June 9, 2004



: I’m at Northwestern getting ready for the final presentation of the hyperlocal news project (go to If appropriate, I’ll blog.

: The presentation of the Hyperlocal Citizens’ Media project — aka — was great.

My favorite part came at the end when fuddy-duddy, fuss-budgety, old journalism professors fretted about things that are wrong getting onto the web site. One was “scared as heck” and the other was actually “terrified.” One of them warned that a thousand people could be misinformed. It was all quite sensationalistic.

The students shrugged at all the whipped-up fears and quickly said that the community edits itself and corrects errors. And because this medium — at last — lets the people have proprietorship over content, they take pride in getting it right and in their reputations. “The end result,” said one student, “is an informed public reporting about what they know.” Another student said, “It is a means for enacting change democratically.” I raised my right-on! fist.

These journalism students were not in the least bit scared, terrified, or reluctant to question who is a journalist and what is news. Their definition came out loud and clear: If it informs the community and enables democracy, it’s good.

They found a half dozen other hyperlocal citizens’ media sites, including,,, and They put up software — Geeklog — to get it going. They went into Skokie to sell the site. And it took off, a bit slowly but then it gained altitude. They held a contest and got 100 people to register for the site, then 200. They added photos and video and audio. They created something real and plan to keep it going after school’s out.

Other students presented a product — web with a print companion — aimed at teens in the Quad Cities of Iowa for the newspaper publisher there (I’m not supposed to give away anymore than that because they’re giving the official presentation Friday). But at the end of it all, one (forward-thinking and not fuddy-duddy) j-prof saw something that tied both these presentations together: “It strike me,” he said, “how very narrow the landscape of mainstream journalism is.”

Not if these students have anything to do with the future of journalism.

I’m going to another presentation of the Hyperlocal project in downtown Chicago tonight and will be curious to see what the reaction of the j-pros is.

Don’t let the designer door hit you in the ass

Don’t let the designer door hit you in the ass

: Herbert Muschamp, hard-to-bear architecture critic of The Times, says he’s tired of the beat…. which should have been obvious to his editors long since.

The American skyline of the future will have to get along without any more chunks of quartz, children

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: CLEAR QUISLING: Clear Channel is settling its indecency case with the FCC. The New York Times reports they will pay $1.75 million (beating the prior record Stern/Viacom settlement of $1.70 million) on top of the $495k they agreed to pay because of Bubba the Love Sponge. The Washington Post’s report here.

Clear Channel will also admit that it aired indecent programming.


If they had balls or a spine or a soul or a brain, they’d fight this as a matter of Constitutional principle, as a defense of the First Amendment, and simply as good business. For now that they have knuckled under to the FCC, there’s no telling what’s next.

: SPEAKING OF QUISLINGS: Ernie Miller reports that John Kerry has “clarified” his stance on FCC regulation of cable content.

[Kerry spokesperson] Davis suggested that Kerry was not seeking either a crackdown or a free pass for cable and satellite, but a middle ground.

Well, that’s as clear as Clear Channel.

Man, Kerry, that fence must hurt when you plop down on it like that. Or maybe you’re used to it by now.

: AND MORE QUISLINGS: Kerry would grow balls or a spine on this issue if just one thing happened: If Hollywood rose up to defend free speech and demand that Kerry defend it — or else they wouldn’t raise money for him. But Hollywood isn’t because, of course, Hollywood has not balls, spine, heart, soul, brain, or good sense. They don’t understand that once censorship starts, it only grows.

: UPDATE: Boortz says: “There is no greater threat to free speech than the government deciding what you get to see and hear.”

Weblog festival

Weblog festival

: A comment below reminds us that the Weblog Festival in Iran is on. I love that they don’t have weblog conferences. They celebrate in a weblog festival.

The day after the day after

The day after the day after

: Bored of sitting in my own little big of global warming — see post below on the malfunctioning airconditioning at the Skokie DoubleStump — I went across the street to see The Day After Tomorrow.

I don’t want to be the last person on this warm earth to give it the pan it deserves. It’s filled with career-crushing (read: Quaid-crushing) performances. It’s chocked full of laughable lines (“break out the snow shoes!”). It’s built on bad science as flimsy as the Arctic ice pack. It’s The Poseidon Adventure — but with an agenda.

But it’s more than another crappy movie. It enrages me. And here’s why:

It’s bad enough that they picked on New York to destroy. It’s bad enough that I had to watch our city being torn apart — again. But it’s worse that The Day After Tomorrow makes it our fault. This extends the horrid and offensive thinking of the age: That we brought terrorism on ourselves. This is the sick side effect of the age of victimhood: When it’s not enough to enjoy the masochistic state of being the victim it’s better to blame it on yourself. It’s Fiskthink.