jonathan's blog

All the News That's Fit to Sell

All the News That's Fit to Sell: How the Market Transforms Information into News
by J.T. Hamilton [Princeton]

It's a truism among media activists that business factors influence news coverage on TV, radio and newspapers alike. But how does this happen, and what are structural solutions for the media mainstream? Hamilton attempts to develop an "economic theory of news" based on voluminous research and candid assessments about what people want to read and watch, as well as a principled view of the importance of a critical press for democracy. Useful and thought-provoking. -jl

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Voices of the New Arab Public

Voices of the New Arab Public: Iraq, al-Jazeera, and Middle East Politics Today
by Marc Lynch [Columbia]

How are electronic communications and populist satellite networks like Al-Jazeera changing political participation in the Arab World? Lynch examines in critical detail the various factors contributing to the contemporary Arab public sphere, including pro-democracy elements, pan-Arab nationalism, and the enduring power of Saudi elites. Lynch's central focus on Jazeera and the Iraq war provides the best-yet of the channel's significance. -jl

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Envisioning the future of great radio in the Northwest

Community radio: we’re not Clear Channel; we’re not NPR. Our broadcasts, though local and ephemeral, are the wild beating heart of North American radio today. But what if we formed a network of our own - a grassroots, cooperative network of community stations in our region?

Stations across our region are organizing to help each other make great(er) radio. On May 22, 2005, Reclaim the Media and KBCS hosted an initial planning meeting at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Community and college radio broadcasters came together from as far away from Ashland, OR, Moscow, ID and Vancouver, BC to brainstorm about the possibilities of working together; by the end of the day we made it official: forming together the Northwest Community Radio Network.

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Envisioning the future of great radio in the Northwest

Community radio: we’re not Clear Channel; we’re not NPR. Our broadcasts, though local and ephemeral, are the wild beating heart of North American radio today. But what if we formed a network of our own - a grassroots, cooperative network of community stations in our region?

Stations across our region are organizing to help each other make great(er) radio. On May 22, 2005, Reclaim the Media and KBCS hosted an initial planning meeting at Western Washington University in Bellingham. Community and college radio broadcasters came together from as far away from Ashland, OR, Moscow, ID and Vancouver, BC to brainstorm about the possibilities of working together; by the end of the day we made it official: forming together the Northwest Community Radio Network. Read on for details.

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Speak out on Seattle's cable deal with Comcast!

SPEAK OUT on Seattle's proposed franchise deal with Comcast! The city's single public hearing on the franchise, which will set cable service standards for the next ten years, is scheduled for March 30. Learn about the issues on RTM's website and by attending our March 27 preparatory meeting. Here's the information:

MONDAY, March 27, 5:30pm
Panama Hotel, 605 S. Main, Seattle (www.panamahotel.net):

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Media Environment Workshop: Politics, Activism and Reform

from our friends up in Bellingham:

Media Environment Workshop: Politics, Activism and Reform
Saturday, April 8, 9am-5pm
Fairhaven College, Bellingham

Admission free, lunch provided.

This daylong conference will include four workshops: Race, Politics, and the Media (with Naomi Ishisaka, ColorsNW Magazine); Media Activism (Susan Gleason, YES! Magazine); Media Reform and Policy (Michael Karlberg, Brad Howard, WWU) and a freelance journalism workshop (Silja Talvi). Jonathan Lawson, Reclaim the Media will present the keynote address.

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The Venezuelan Revolution

The Venezuelan Revolution: 100 Questions - 100 Answers
by Chesa Boudin, Gabriel Gonzalez and Wilmer Rumbos [Thunder's Mouth]

A helpful rough guide for those seeking a quick primer on Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution. The topical Q&A format makes it easy to find quick answers: Why do the poor support Chavez? What is the government's development philosophy? The American and Venzuelan authors are generally sympathetic to Chavez but also acknowledge and contextualize criticisms from left and right. Includes a good, if brief discussion of the Venezuelan mass media and media policy/freedom of expression under the new constitution. -jl

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NWCRN: The story so far...

What's the deal with the Northwest Community Radio Network?

After an initial planning meeting in spring 2005 (see below), various station representatives and media activists around the northwest have continued thinking and talking about collective next steps toward building a network that can support our region's local, nonprofit radio stations in doing better what we already do well, and strengthening the sphere of people-powered community radio. We contacted and surveyed the needs of stations from Alaska, BC, Washington, Idaho and Oregon, and established a (low activity) organizing email list (signup at left).

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Censoring Culture

Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Free Expression
ed. by Robert Atkins and Svetlana Mintcheva [New Press]

With highly readable essays divided into sections on economics, the Internet, protecting children, hate speech and self-censorship, this volume is a tour de force critical examination of the multiple forms of censorship in the arts today. Considering together censorship based on government regulation, market pressures, well-intentioned hate-speech policies, the volume will enrich many discussions on ceneorship and the arts. The editors have assembled essays, brief reflections and interviews from an unusually wide range of voices, including artists, authors, activists, scholars, journalists, students and other cultural workers. Highly recommended. -jl

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Tragedy and Farce

Tragedy and Farce: How the American Media Sell Wars, Spin Elections, and Destroy Democracy
by John Nichols and Robert McChesney [New Press]

This satisfying contribution from media reformers McChesney and Nichols recounts the US mainstream media's dismal performance during the buildup to the Iraq War and the 2004 election season. The book offers an informative critique of the national media's apparent bias towards powerful interests, its magnetic attraction towards often-misleading consensus frames for debate on significant issues. A great read; includes an interesting examination of mainstream coverage of the Howard Dean presidential campaign. -jl

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey