I started fiercetalk as a project for grad school in 2006. I really enjoyed blogging about whatever the hell I wanted. It was satisfying. But I always felt like, so what? Who cares? But I’ve come to realize that blogging and making it happen ON YOUR OWN is really the only way writers and journalists are going to make it in the future. I must be industrious. So, on that note, I’m going to start blogging here again. Starting now…..

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John Edwards is running a campaign like you’ve never seen- and he’s got the tools to do it. He’s getting his hands dirty in the homes of voters.

While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are senatizing themselves and raising money, Edwards is in Pennsylvania, making videos and posting them on youtube and his blog. One Corps, the nationwide people-helping-people program he founded, is a grassroots coalition of American citizen volunteers. Edwards was with one of the groups working to make a woman’s home more energy efficient.

Is this the future of campaigning? Instead of photo op’s and planned media events, the politician makes the media (in real situations, with his own editors), and then distributes it on the Internet. Off the TV and into the computer.

does anyone else think the “game” of politics has gone a little too far? i mean- come on. the democratic primary is more than a year away and already the nominees are going full speed ahead. and they aren’t even jockeying for positions on important issues or trying to gain voter support. no, it’s not time for that yet. what comes first is what will really determine who’s on the ballot in ’08- $$$.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, the supposed “front-runners,” are in a mad dash to see who can get the financing from major contributors. Clinton is feeling pressure from her base givers, some see more star power in Obama.

And what about star-power? Is charisma the only thing voters look for in candidates? Obama- certainly a man with a huge future and massive potential, seems to be little more than an inexperienced senator with big dreams.

Everyone agrees that politics in Washington needs reform. Maybe this is a good place to start. Is it really necessary to spend years campaigning? (Especially when you’re a member of the Senate and you actually have a job to do…but that’s another issue.)

The whole “conversation,” which Hillary initiated and Edwards followed in the footsteps of, is a ploy to make voters think they have a real say in what issues the candidates take on. Maybe the candidates will listen- i’m no cynic. But i can’t see a correlation between raising millions to finance campaigns and caring enough to hold online “chats” with the people.

Man- oh man. If there’s anything I don’t want to hear (besides Carlotta Gall being detained, beaten and intellectually stolen from, see below) it’s that Rolling Stone magazine, already the homogenized rag that it is, is now working with MTV to produce a reality show where contestants compete for a contibuting editor position at the magazine. The 1/22 issue of The New Yorker has an interesting article by Tad Friend on the subject. He details the amatuerish subjects and questions why Rolling Stone would ever hire any of them, as if Rolling Stone ever hires anyone these days. He details the poor writing of each contestant, and shows why the best writer of them all, “Russell,” will probably not make the cut. “The process of prose composition is fairly boring to watch, and shows like this prize drama and charisma- the old high school values.”

Aha! So if I can bring “drama” and “charisma” to my daily dealings, I can make it? Yet again, an example of American popular culture telling the young that it’s not tough out there- if you’ve got the ‘tude. Work for something? Never….

As one girl, Krishtine, says, “I’m trying to, like, make myself known on the scene as Rolling Stone’s hip-hop celebrity.” What scene? Does this girl care about music criticism?  Friend concludes,  “She won’t get the job, but she couldn’t care less.”

Carlotta Gall has a detailed story about the Taliban resurgence on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan on page 1 of The Times today. The article continues on page 12 with the above title in a box. Gall explains in the first person how she and her photographer, Akhtar Soomro, were physically harmed, stolen from and detained by “plainclothesmen” who had been following them. As if that wasn’t horrifying enough, she said they learned that data had been copied from their seized computers, notebooks and phones. This is a dangerous field- journalism. I remember watching Calvin Skaggs documentary, “Democracy on Deadline: The Global Struggle for an Independent Press,” and being inspired and GRATEFUL that Gall had so much gumption. It’s clear to me how important it is that people like her exist, and can withstand 2 punches in the face, and then write about it. I can only hope that one day i’ll be able to say the same thing about myself and my fellow classmates.

I am not the person of the year, as Time Magazine so cleverly suggested. And neither are you. How could anyone be THE absolute person? Maybe my cat considers me the person of the year, and maybe my dad considers my mom the person of the year. It’s subjective. How could a definitive list be put together, especially in the age of internet individualism and never ending choice!? That being said, here’s my list…

(Keep in mind this is seriousness mixed with fluff.)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: for obvious reasons. He’s a hero and a frightening foe, all the while looking sort of like a J.Crew model. (he was also Time’s first pick…)

Angelina Jolie: for being the most popular and talked about person on the planet…for no good reason.

Bob Dylan: for still kickin’ out the jams. Everyone should take a hint.

Hillary Clinton: she’s not my favorite, but the woman kicks some serious butt.

Jeff Jarvis: for innovation and bright ideas about news in the blogosphere.

YouTube: not a person…but certainly a revolutionary force in global culture.

Al Gore: for moving the all-important show off the road and onto the big screen. and scaring the shit out of everybody.

best music of 2006

December 26, 2006

albums:

RAYS: hipster candy

the go! team: thunder, lightning, strike!

the evens: get evens

jenny lewis with the watson twins: rabbit fur coat

bob dylan: modern times

sonic youth: rather ripped

shows:

sonic youth at mccaren park, brooklyn

the go! team at the paradise, boston

JP05 at the abbey lounge, somerville (i think in march?)

the billy ripken fuck face card everywhere, everywhere

the lemonheads at irving plaza, nyc

vietnam at the academy of music, northampton and irving plaza, nyc

the shakes at the lompoc, bar harbour

Today’s Week in Review section of The New York Times features a good story by Adam Nagourney on whether Americans are ready for an African-American or female president. Too bad the copy editors slipped up: the sixth paragraph reads “Over the past of the past eight years…” Now, i’m very forgiving usually, but come on. This is one of the most looked forward to sections of the week and is written by one of The Times’ best.

Perhaps the editors are stretched too thin? I’m sure they are, and it’s very sad. The reporting from The Times is top notch, and they are creating new posts for reporters in Spain among other places, according to Jill Abramson at a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Thursday night. But good reporting looks sloppy without good editing.

Some may say i’m going a little overboard here, but i’m just pointing out that even The Times is feeling the heat of economic pressure.

If I were Nagourney i’d be upset.

The Future of News

December 8, 2006

Yesterday was a big day for my interactive journalism thoughts. It doesn’t need to be said (again) that the web is the future of everything and most certainly the media. But, how will journalists react and what can we do to ensure quality and above all, accountability? As Geneva Overholser said last night at the Future of News panel at a meeting of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, journalists need to continue to work in the public interest, in the midst of change.

Debbie Galant of baristanet.com visited the school (CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, duh) yesterday to speak to budding interactive students, or rather, smart, forward-thinking media minds. She was an infectious guest-funny, engaging and almost inspiring. Her blog, or community news website (whatever you want to call it), is a model that has inspired many similar websites, including one of my favorites, newhavenindependent.org.

Galant’s site is hyper-local, and that’s what makes it successful. Local businesses advertise, and everything covered takes place within the same three towns in New Jersey. The reach of her site is therefore minimal, but no less important to her readers. It fills, as she says, a niche. Baristanet works in the community it serves, but it doesn’t serve the same purpose, (and it doesn’t want to), as national or international news organizations.

Covering those national and international issues, and reaching wider audiences while still raking in profits, is a whole other issue. The panel discussion last night at the Time-Life building attempted to address it. Those who sat on the panel are esteemed media professionals: Jeff Jarvis, my professor and the founder of Buzzmachine.com, Jill Ambramson, Managing Editor of The New York Times, Jonathan Klein, President of CNN/U.S., Geneva Overholser, Chair in Public Affairs Reporting at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and John Carroll, former editor of the Los Angeles Times and lecturer at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University. Norman Pearlstine, Senior Advisor at The Carlyle Group, moderated.

Jarvis is a proponent of what he used to call “citizen journalism,” but now refers to as “networked journalism.” He says we need to be “more collaborative, more open” in the age of convergence, and believes that a conversation between the readers and those producing content is absolutely necessary. “It’s incumbent on us to work together,” he said.

The monetary issues (how do we pay those that report the news?!) is the big issue- no one can deny it. What is the business model of the future? Abramson said The Times was not defined by a business model, but rather by their quality of journalism. “I’m not going to join the chorus of doom-sayers,” she said. “I see a great future, economically.”

But The New York Times stands alone, most other papers and news outlets are not in as comfy a position. As Abramson said herself, the average income of her readers is $90,000 and the average age is 45. Not exactly the norm.

But what about the public interest? Investigative journalism and uncovering buried information that the government doesn’t want you to know about is hard, and expensive. As Abramson said, a blogger may not have been unable to uncover and clearly report the NSA wire-tapping scandal. All on the panel said long-standing pillars such as The Times and The Washington Post need to exist in order for blogs and interactivity to also prosper.

A solution? No, of course not! A start? Yeah. The old media and the internet have met and one will either engulf the other, or a plateau will form where both can exist. Overholser said it well. “The avid consumer is offered more and better options. We traditionalists would do well to embrace it.”

(By the way, I usually type like e.e. cummings, all lowercase, but the lovely joy bergman asked me to change my crazy ways. this is my first attempt.)

today is election day, 2006. i’m sitting in the lamont campaign headquarters in meriden, ct and a teenage girl just leaned over and asked an older volunteer, “does ned lamont have a myspace?” he responded, “probably!”

the campaign of lamont was born in the blogosphere. it’s there that angry CT voters gathered first in opposition to incumbent joe lieberman. it’s there that his support is still strongest. it makes sense too. the future of news, technology, jobs, etc. is online. why shouldn’t the future of politics and campaigning be online too? whether lamont and his foreward thinking media campaigners take office and help pave the way for the government on the internet remains to be seen.

the folks here, volunteers and workers alike, are optimistic. they have to be.