Media Justice

Jennifer Pozner on reality TV: Reality Bites Back

Anne Kingston, Maclean's

a conversation with Jennifer Pozner on the fakeness of reality shows, how ‘the dumb bimbo’ is cast, and why actresses are shrinking

Jennifer Pozner is the director of Women In Media & News in New York City, and the author of Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV.

Q: Why do you say it’s “bulls–t” that viewer demand has created the deluge of reality TV?

A:Michael Hirschorn, the brain trust behind VH1’s Flavor of Love and Flavor of Love: Charm School and basically the guy who is responsible for bringing the modern minstrel show to television, has said in an interview that – this is the quote, “If women don’t want those shows they wouldn’t get made,” That’s what I call bulls–t, because what reality producers and what the entertainment press sells us is this notion that we, the public, have just demanded via massive ratings that they give us this bottom-feeder low-quality reality TV fare, and this is just a big lie. It’s true that some reality shows—American Idol, The Bachelor—have gotten high ratings, but many others languish with paltry ratings and they get to stay [on air] because these shows are really cheap to produce. It can cost about 50 per cent less—sometimes even 75 per cent less—to make a reality show than to make a quality scripted program.

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Telecom firms' donations to minority groups criticized as FCC considers net neutrality rules

Jennifer Martinez, LA Times

Some leading minority advocacy groups long have supported AT&T Inc., Comcast Corp. and other major telecommunications firms in the industry's efforts to win approvals for mergers, get rid of old regulations and avoid new government rules.

And the telecom firms, in turn, have poured millions of dollars of donations and in-kind services, including volunteer help from the carriers' executive suites, into charitable groups in the communities they serve.

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Civil Rights 2.0: NAACP should officially reverse position on net neutrality

Sable Verity, The Fresh Xpress

As people of color we know beyond a shadow of a doubt the way we are portrayed in the media is more about stereotypes than truth. It’s not just news media but entertainment media as well. Those in control of the images and information we consume don’t care to accurately portray people of color, or see the importance in empowering said people to help paint the fuller picture--something the NAACP has historically battled against.

The internet on the other hand, is different. Sites like the FXP and its vast network of Black writers share perspectives, opinions and truths the consumer couldn’t get anywhere else. Ask yourself how you would feel if your internet service provider decided it didn’t like such sites, and prevented your access. What if we couldn't find online:

The Oscar Grant shooting video.

Video of military abuses overseas.

Voter registration information.

Access to family planning clinics.

This is why the debate over net neutrality is so important--and why the NAACP should rethink its stance on this important civil and human rights issue.

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They don’t speak for all minorities on Net Neutrality

Craig Settles, The Hill

In the net neutrality debate, several leading civil rights organizations have come down heavily against net neutrality, as have some members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Do not assume that they speak for all people of color or for all low-income individuals in urban or rural areas.

I do not belittle or demonize those champions of many noble battles past and yet to come. However, I vigorously disagree with their position on this particular issue, and adamantly reject the assumption that it’s in minority constituents’ best interests for Congress to oppose net neutrality. As a minority business owner who also specializes in broadband strategy, and has spent years assessing the efforts of people working directly with those abandoned across the digital divide, I have a valid perspective.

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Urban Internet inequalities reinforce social inequalities

Marcos Martinez, Seattle Digital Justice Coalition

The message couldn't have been more clear last month when FCC staff sat in a crowded Seattle conference room with about 80 local folks, gathered to share our opinions on preserving a fair and open Internet. Even in the tech capital of Seattle, urban communities need broadband access that is more fair, more affordable, and more reliable—and we need consumer protections from Internet providers who would keep many of us stuck in Internet slow lanes rather than treating us all fairly.

In Seattle, our local Digital Justice Coalition, led by Reclaim the Media and other MAG-Net member organizations, is calling for both local and national solutions for expanding digital rights. We're pushing our city government to build a publicly-owned fiber broadband network, in order to provide affordable, fast broadband to every home/office in Seattle. But for the long term, federal policies are needed to protect our digital rights--not just in tech centers like Seattle, but in all urban and rural communities. That's why MAG-Net member organizations across the country are continuing to push the FCC and our elected officials to enact policies that make high-quality broadband access truly universal, maintain a fair and open Internet, and encourage all people to become fully engaged participants in our digital democracy.

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NAACP calls for hate crime charges after police beating caught on film


The head of the Seattle chapter of the NAACP on Tuesday called a videotape, showing a Seattle police officer stomping on and using racially charged language toward a Latino man, evidence of a hate crime.

James Bible says the NAACP is calling on the King County Prosecutor's Office to file malicious harassment and assault charges against Det. Shandy Cobane.

"Anytime, when civil rights are violated, when human rights are violated of any person within our county, within our city and within our nation, we must take a stand," said Bible.

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Who will defend the rights of people of color to an open Internet? We speak for ourselves.

Malkia Cyril, Huffington Post

In every competition, there's a winner and a loser.

The open Internet protections being debated by the Federal Communications Commission right now will determine who wins and who loses in the fight over whether big companies or regular people will control the Internet. I want everyday people to win.

In the fight over who will control the Internet, big companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are hoping they will win a pass on FCC oversight and public interest protection leaving them free to make as much profit as they can even if the service they provide is gated and discriminatory. Some civil rights groups are legitimately concerned that protecting the public from discrimination online -especially the poor and people of color- from the proven abuses of Big Media companies will result in those companies refusing to build out high speed broadband to rural communities and poor urban communities. Media companies have said as much, claiming that public interest and consumer protections that ensure that the Internet remains an open and true source of innovation, otherwise known as "net neutrality", will cost too much and deprive them of revenue for deployment of broadband to the communities that need it most. Threatening to withhold buildout of this critical national utility in poor communities if there are consumer protections attached is called digital redlining, and it's wrong.

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The Open Internet debate: Redlining 2.0

Jamilah King, RaceWire

If you’re anything like me, the words “net neutrality” and “open Internet” don’t exactly get the party going on your computer screen at lunch. At a convening of ethnic journalists yesterday in San Francisco, media justice activist Malkia Cyril compared the discussions around net neutrality to “talking about the galaxy: Who cares?” Sure, it’s important stuff. And yeah, we know it’s out there. But aside from policy wonks and gadget geeks, who really pays attention?

If you’re not, you should probably start. Soon. The FCC is set to release its long-awaited National Broadband Plan on March 17, which could help more than 93 million people get online. But the question isn’t just who’s connected to the Internet, but how, and why telecom companies are making poor communities choose between fair representation and access.

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Minority groups ask FCC to vote on 'dozens' of ownership proposals

John Eggerton, Multichannel News

A collection of 23 minority-targeted organizations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to get off the stick and vote on some of the "dozens" of minority ownership proposals that have been put in front of it.

That came in a letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, with copies sent to key legislators and filed as comments in various open FCC dockets. They gave the chairman a shout-out, but had more than one bone to pick.

"From your eloquent letter of January 5, 2010 to Henry Rivera, Chair of the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age, we know that you share our concern for the fact that minority ownership and employment in our industries are de minimis and in many respects nearing extinction," they wrote.

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Tennessee mosque vandalized after irresponsible local TV report on 'homegrown jihad'

Amanda Terkel, Think Progress

Last year, the right-wing Christian Action Network and PRB films produced a “documentary” called “Homegrown Jihad: The Terrorist Camps Around U.S.” It claims to expose 35 “Islamic terrorist training compounds” devoted to “radical Pakistani cleric, Sheikh Mubarak Gilani.” (Watch the trailer here.) In February 2009, CBS News reviewed the film and dismissed it as nothing more than “sensationalistic” fear-mongering:

Officials describe the film to CBS News as “sensationalistic” and without any real foundation. According to one official, it is strictly designed to upset and inflame people and does not present a true picture of any so-called “homegrown Jihad” danger. No current intelligence exists to suggest any threat connected with this group, which officials describe as “wannabes” and not terrorists.

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