GW 2008: The Year In Tech

If 2008 is remembered for anything, it will be the year new media made a difference in the lives of many around the world. From using Twitter to help a student get out of an Egyptian prison to blogging in support of LGBT rights in Jamaica, digital activism has created new opportunities to achieve social justice. However, President-elect Barack Obama’s road to the White House not only showed the power of new media, but also that that power belongs with the people from all walks of life when they come together for a common cause. All this digital activism makes us look forward to 2009!

Happy New Year!

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GW 2008 Innovator of the Year

Barack Obama will not only go down in history as America's first black president, he is also the first commander-in-chief to use new media as part of his successful campaign. Early on in the election cycle, the Obama campaign knew that if it wanted to bring "change" to American politics, they would need innovative communication to do it.

What Did We Say:

Obama used the Internet for both fundraising purposes and growing a community of like-minded voters who wanted to see the country go in a different direction than the one led by the Bush Administration. According to data from the Federal Election Commission, Obama raised over $470 million in individual contributions through October 15, compared to rival John McCain’s $200 million. Obama accomplished this by taking smaller contributions from supporters and creating an easy online giving process.

Also, his supporters got online to show their support for him on multiple social networks, including a YouTube video from pop star Will.i.am and “Obama Girl.”

The Obama campaign also used text messaging to announce the selection of VP running mate Joe Biden.

The president-elect has vowed to make technological innovation a priority in his administration, as his weekly radio addresses will also be posted on YouTube, bringing new meaning to the fireside chats. Also, for the first time, there will be a chief technology officer to help Obama "ensure that our government and all its agencies have the right infrastructure, policies and services for the 21st Century."

Here at Global Wire, we are most interested, though, in how transparent Obama will be about his policy decisions, and if he will be frank or shady about discussing his decisions in cyberspace. We recommend that he take questions from the American people and answer them in his YouTube chats if he wants to keep the momentum that got him elected in the first place. Otherwise, he will be seen as just another politician that says one thing and does another. While we love that the next U.S. president is tech-savvy, we will cry foul on any questionable decisions he makes, especially regarding the war on terrorism and the growing economic crisis.

But for now, we hold our glasses up to Barack Obama on his achievements so far!

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GW 2008 In Memoriam

Eartha Kitt was best known for her style, grace and sensuality. But only a few know that the entertainer is rumored to have made Lady Bird Johnson cry after criticizing the Johnson administration in 1968 for not putting enough resources into solving America's urban blight and perpetuating an illegal war in Viet Nam (sounds like she could be talking about the current administration...). Following that encounter, Kitt's career was essentially dead in the United States and the FBI harassed her for many years after. But she didn't let adversity keep her back; she got back up, continued her career while supporting social justice around the world for the rest of her life. And for this we salute her.

Miriam Makeba also took risks by standing up for what she believed in throughout her life. She had her South African passport revoked in 1960 when she spoke out in the United States against the apartheid regime. She would be rejected again when she married Black Panther Stokley Carmichael and moved to Guinea. Makeba continued with her activism and singing until her final performance in Italy last November.

<Aimé Césaire was best known for initiating Negritude, a political and literary movement that rejected colonialism and promoted black pride. He also served as an inspiration to Franz Fanon, one of the great thinkers of our time. I first learned about Césaire when I was in college, where I minored in post-colonial studies. He is one of the reasons I am the person I am today.

Mark Felt only did one simple act in his life that brought down a president, revolutionized American journalism and made Americans more skeptical of what their elected officials are doing behind closed doors. Will there be another Mark Felt? Only time will tell.

Speaking of journalism, if declining newspaper readership is any indication, traditional journalism is (almost) officially dead. According to an August survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, only 46 percent of Americans read a newspaper regularly, which is down from 52 percent in 2006. On the other hand, online readership has grown from 9 percent to 13 percent in two years, as reported by Editor & Publisher magazine. Out with newspapers and magazines and in with blogs and YouTube. Only one question that needs to be answered in 2009: how will the traditional media make money off of their online content? Someone needs to get paid, y'all!

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GW 2008 Book of the Year

Of course a book on one of the greatest social activists of all time is going to get top honors from us! BBC presenter and author Colin Grant may have written the most comprehensive biography of radical Marcus Garvey, beginning with his roots in Jamaica to becoming a spokesman for the black diaspora. Negro with a Hat is a must read.

Over the weekend, we, the Associates, thought about what new media tools Marcus Garvey would use today if he were alive. Here are our thoughts and why:

Talia: Marcus Garvey would be a dedicated blogger. He would probably be blogging about the injustices incurred by Hurrican Katrina, the undevelopments of Africa and the continuing struggles of black people worldwide. Not only would the Field Negro have a run for his money, but Garvey's blog posts would probably have more comments than W.E.B. Dubois' blog.

Marjane: Twitter would be his tool for activism because he used to organize his mass rallies, sometimes on short notice, and he would need to contact as many attendees as possible. He would also use Google Maps to map out social injustices around the world.

Philip: Marcus Garvey would be a Facebook addict. He would easily attract thousands of Facebook friends like overnight and raise crazy money like Obama for the Black Star company.

Maria: YouTube, podcasts and Ning would be his tools. Marcus Garvey used to give powerful speeches, and viral video and audio, more people could have seen and heard him in action. I think he would have had a Ning because he believe in his supporters being their own activists, and they could have used Ning to start their own social networks.

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GW 2008 Film of the Year

We actually called it nearly a year ago, so it is no surprise and it is very much our honor to give Persepolis film of the year.

What Did We Say:

...Persepolis is one of those coming-of-age films that you don't usually see come out of Hollywood because it is actually good. The film is based on Marjane Satrapi's four best selling graphic novels of the same name, which chronicles her everyday life during and after the Iranian Revolution. We see Marjane living under the repressive regime of the Shah and later Islamic fundamentalism. The film also deals nicely with Satrapi coming to grips with her identity as an Iranian and a female in Iran and in the West. The animation is simply amazing; not even a Pixar film can stand up next to this. What I liked most about the film was that it said true to the original books. The film easily get the Oscar for Best Animated Film this year...

While Persopolis didn't win the Oscar, we are hoping that another film, Frost/Nixon, which came in a very close second, will take away top honors this award season. A great film about political corruption and the beginning of "infotainment journalism" to see if you haven't already. Kinda makes you wonder what the real Richard Nixon would think of Frank Langella?

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Christmas and Tech Innovation

Back in 1898, film director G.A Smith made 'Santa Claus,' a short film seen today as being technically ambitious for its time. It uses pioneering visual effects in its depiction of a visit from St. Nicholas.

From British Film Institute:

A former magic lanternist and hypnotist, Smith was one of the first British film-makers to make extensive use of special effects to create fantastical scenes. It comes as little surprise that Smith corresponded with the French pioneer Georges Méliès at about this time, as the two men shared a common goal in terms of creating an authentic cinema of illusion.

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Cubans petition for human rights online

Repression of human rights has been a long standing issue in Cuba. Activist Yordis García Fournier is a member of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy (CYMD), an organization of students and young professionals that advocates for academic freedom, university autonomy and respect for human rights. He is also director of the independent newsletter, Porvenir. He joined young people from all over Cuba, along with opposition activists from various pro-democracy organizations, to publicly present the first 5,000 signed petitions of the University Students without Borders initiative, which calls for university autonomy, to an audience of diplomats and the media. Because of his activism on various issues, he has been in prison since Oct. 11, where he has been on a hunger strike. Now Cuban activists are rising to the occasion to help Fournier.

Raices de Esperanza is asking Internet users to use their emails to take action. On their website, there is a sample letter (in Spanish), addressing key Cuban officials about Fournier’s plight and seeking his expedient release. Email addresses of these officials are also listed with instructions on how to email them.

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Racial strife continues in NOLA


And thanks to The Nation on this piece of great journalism. Read the full article on this here.

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Media Ethics Lesson: Deep Throat

America’s most famous anonymous source, Mark Felt, or Deep Throat as he was better known to the world as, died yesterday at the age of 95.

From Washington Post:

As the second-highest official in the FBI under longtime director J. Edgar Hoover and interim director L. Patrick Gray, Felt detested the Nixon administration's attempt to subvert the bureau's investigation into the complex of crimes and coverups known as the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

He secretly guided Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward as he and his colleague Carl Bernstein pursued the story of the 1972 break-in of the Democratic National Committee's headquarters at the Watergate office buildings and later revelations of the Nixon administration's campaign of spying and sabotage against its perceived political enemies.

By the way, All the President's Men is a slamming movie, as is Frost/Nixon, which I will speak more about in a later post. But I digress.

Woodward and Bernstein promised to not reveal Deep Throat's identity until after his/her death or the person gave consent to be revealed. According to his book, The Secret Man, Woodward speculates on Felt's reasons for keeping silent about his identity as Deep Throat for so many years. Following the Watergate scandal, Felt was seriously investigated by the F.B.I. for possible illegal activities that he had committed as an agent during the Hoover years. In 1980, Felt was convicted of the felony of violating the civil rights of people thought to be associated with members of the Weather Underground by ordering FBI agents to search their homes as part of an attempt to prevent bombings. He was ordered to pay a $7,000 fine but was pardoned by President Ronald Reagan during his appeal.

During the time he was being investigated, Woodward says, Felt needed to preserve his law enforcement ties. He would have placed these ties in serious jeopardy if he had revealed his role as Deep Throat. After Felt's 1980 conviction, Woodward reports, he called Felt and asked if it would help Felt's appeal of the conviction if Woodward were to spread Felt's secret. Felt took exception to his suggestion, under the pretense that if he were revealed as Deep Throat, it would have a pernicious effect on his appeal.

Here are my questions:

Do you think it is ethical for journalists to keep their sources anonymous for an undetermined amount of time?

Yes, I think it was correct for Bernstein and Woodward to protect Felt's identity. While I am a big supporter of transparency, there are times when it is necessary to protect the source from any backlash.

Is it possible for sources to stay anonymous in the age of new media and 24-hour cable networks?

Probably not. Even if a reporter did try to protect its source, the blogosphere would pick up the story anyway. Remember, Felt had been rumored to be Deep Throat for over ten years prior to his revelation. Some blog (maybe mine!) would have found out the truth.

Your thoughts...

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Zim Journalist Abducted

I have grown wary of Robert Mugabe; so much so that I really just can't talk about him anymore. At this point, what can you say about someone who denies that a cholera epidemic is killing the population?

But I still feel obligated to speak out about lacking press freedom in Zimbabwe. The International Women's Media Foundation is also doing their part on this pressing issue.

From IWMF:

The IWMF sent a letter to President Robert Mugabe concerning the Dec. 3 abduction of a former journalist in Zimbabwe. Jestina Mukoko, a former broadcaster at the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation who now heads the Zimbabwe Peace Project, was taken from her home by a group of men, some of whom were armed. The reason for the kidnapping is still unknown, and police have refused to comment. The IWMF advocates for a free press and asks that Mukoko be released.

Read the full letter and sign a petition here.

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BET goes African?!

Black Entertainment Television (BET) will not stop until it has totally dominated the world with its buffoonery. First it was the UK. Next stop: Africa!

From BET:

BET Networks announced today that it is now offering BET in 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa on multiple platforms, expanding the channel’s international reach that already includes the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and the United Kingdom. Through the GTV agreement, BET will be seen in 21 countries, and with the agreement with MultiChoice, BET will initially launch on DStv in 11 countries.

Available via DStv’s Premium and Compact bouquets, as well as GTV on both English-language bouquets G Plus and G Choice and French-language bouquets G Choix and G Grand, BET will provide consumers in Africa access to the network’s top-rated and critically acclaimed shows, including 106 & PARK, COLLEGE HILL, KEYSHIA COLE: THE WAY IT IS, BALDWIN HILLS, REAL LIFE DIVAS, THE BET HONORS, BOBBY JONES GOSPEL, and many more.

“Expanding into Africa is an extremely important, exciting and rewarding move for us,” said Debra L. Lee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, BET Networks. “With our launch in Africa on both GTV and DStv, BET Networks is continuing to build on our commitment of providing high-quality content to international audiences.”

“We’re so excited to establish a presence in Africa, as these key partnerships give us valuable scale in the region,” said Michael D. Armstrong, Senior Vice President and General Manager, BET International. “Africa makes great strategic sense, and we’re confident that we’ll continue to grow and deliver content to viewers across the continent who are eager for the programming we offer.”

Commenting on the launch of the channel, MultiChoice Africa CEO Eben Greyling welcomed the new addition to DStv. “Our general entertainment line-up has grown over the past decade to include the world’s biggest and best channel brands and the addition of BET to this line-up completes our multi-channel general entertainment offering and means that our subscribers will get the greatest selection of channel choice on DStv.”

“We’re delighted to have BET on board,” said Julian McIntyre, Founder and Managing Director of GTV. “Our service continues to break new ground in multi-platform content distribution and this partnership reflects our commitment to bring the best tailored content to our viewers at the most competitive costs. This announcement demonstrates again the strengths in content and innovation that position GTV well for sustained growth.”

I can see it now: Keyshia Cole: Africa Edition!

But being serious for a moment, isn't it bad enough that there is a negative image of African Americans in the motherland already? The last time I traveled to Africa, I meet someone who actually said to me "You're a good black who can speak proper English," meaning that I am not the "stereotypical" black American generally portrayed in the international media as criminal, poor and uneducated. Apparently, I am the only educated, middle class black person without a criminal record in the United States!

One would think America's most watched black television network would step up its game, and put out a better product that would represent ALL black people in a better light internationally. Not only would this be an opportunity to set the record straight about African Americans, but to also show that Africa is not a basket case of HIV/AIDS, war, famine and political corruption. Believe or not, there are black Africans who are also educated, middle class and not out to kill people with spears, bows and arrows.

But I guess that is asking too much from Debra Lee's minstrel empire.

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Afghan blogger wins free speech award

While many in the traditional journalism world wonder about the future of its industry, the emergence of new media has created innovative opportunities for reporters who want to go deeper into the stories that would otherwise go underreported. In recent times there have been a surge in journalists from countries where free speech is repressed getting their own blogs to challenge their governments and grow grassroots support.

Afghan journalist and blogger Nasim Fekrat was given an award for the freedom of expression by Information Safety and Freedom (ISF), which was presented to him in Italy last month. Fekrat founded the blog Afghan Lord “to highlight the problems of my society in an independent manner, without fear and in a non-partisan manner in regards any group or political interest in Afghanistan.” He is an accomplished freelance journalist who has been published in the Associated Press and BBC, and created an online newspaper, Afghan Press, in two languages, Farsi and English. He is also the founder of the Association of Afghan Blog Writers, which has created a community of Afghan young bloggers.

“Presenting Afghanistan through [the] digital world is a job for [the] new generation, not for those were involved in war, for those who were involved in massacres, those who plant opium but this the new generation that can tell to the world the reality what they believe and streaming in their live[s] daily,” Fekrat said. “They are the sources of truth and honest, they are tired of war, they are not the generation of suicide anymore.”

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Social Media on Celluloid

Attention Aspiring Filmmakers/New Media Evangelistas:

Make Your Media Matter 2009

How can media makers connect their ethical and aesthetic values with their financial needs?

The Center for Social Media invites established and aspiring filmmakers, non-profit communications leaders, funders, and students to our 5th annual Making Your Media Matter conference. This is a perfect opportunity to learn and share cutting-edge practices for creating media that matters.

Where: American University’s Katzen Arts Center4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington, DC 20016

When: February 12-13, 2009

Click here to register.

Registration is $100, with a $50 price for students. Please note that a student ID will be required upon check-in.

Join filmmakers, distributors, outreach specialists and an impressive cast of media pioneers for a series of panel discussions on the latest tools and trends in creating, distributing, and fundraising for social issue media.Keynote speakers include: Gordon Quinn and George Stoney.

Yes, I will try to hop down to D.C. for this event. A couple of my business partners might also come, pending my financials. (Damn this economy!) And you should go as well because this is a great opportunity for those of your interested in innovative communication for social change.

Source: NBPC

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Bush and Shoes

Wasn't it President Bush who just said that everything is just dandy in Iraq.

From Al Jazeera:

George Bush, the US president, has had a pair of shoes hurled at him at a press conference during his last surprise visit to Iraq before leaving office in January.

An Iraqi reporter called Bush "a dog" and shouted out "this is the end" at Sunday's news conference in Baghdad, before throwing his shoes at the US leader.

Bush, who had been giving a joint press statement with Nuri Al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, ducked behind a podium as the shoes narrowly missed his head.

He was reported to be unhurt after the attack by Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadiya television, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The outgoing US leader had just told reporters that while the war in Iraq was not over "it is decisively on its way to being won," when al-Zeidi got to his feet and hurled abuse - and his footwear - at the US president...

And to think: everyone is worried about assasination attempts on Obama, when its Bush who should be worried. Watch the whole shoe incident here.



Media Ethics Lesson: Oliver Sipple

Recently, I got out to see the new Harvey Milk film. Sean Penn’s portrayal of the late San Francisco politician could easily win him an Oscar, unless Frank Langella has anything to say about it. But I digress.

After reflecting on the movie, I realized that a major part of Milk’s life was left out of it – the second assassination attempt of President Gerald Ford. I don’t know if the filmmaker left that historical aspect out for some legit reason, nonetheless, I thought it plays an important role in not only gay rights today, but also in journalistic integrity.

A quick history lesson: Oliver Sipple, a Viet Nam war veteran, is widely known for saving President Ford’s life on Sept. 25, 1977, when he lunged at Sara Jane Moore’s gun and the bullet veered in a different direction. Sipple was portrayed as a hero by the media. However, Harvey Milk leaked the news that Sipple was gay to the San Francisco Chronicle. Although he was openly gay to his circle of friends, Sipple pleaded with the media to keep his sexual orientation private, as he was not out to his family back in Detroit.

Several days later Chronicle columnist Herb Caen exposed Sipple’s sexuality. Sipple received major media attention, but faced rejection from his family. President Ford sent Sipple a thank you note for saving his life, but Milk said that Sipple's sexual orientation was the reason he received only a note, rather than an invitation to the White House.

Sipple ended up filing a $15 million invasion of privacy suit against Caen, seven named newspapers, and a number of unnamed publishers, for publishing the disclosures. The court dismissed the suit, and Sipple continued his legal battle until May 1984, when a state court of appeals held that Sipple had indeed become news, and that his sexual orientation was part of the story. He would spend the rest of his life dealing with alcholism, mental and physical anguish caused by the outing, and die alone at the age of 47 in his apartment.

Okay, I am assuming that since the makers of Milk wanted to do a film that portrays the politician in a positive light, they may have conveniently left the Sipple situation out the script. While Sipple said later in his life that he held no ill will towards him, Milk is clearly to blame for Sipple’s self-destruction.

While I admire Milk’s openness about his own sexual orientation at a time when the thought that homosexuals were mentally ill was mostly commonplace, outing someone is generally wrong in my book, unless the person is a hypocrite, as discussed here before. It is one thing to be open about one’s sexuality to your circle of friends; it is a whole other thing to have your sexual orientation splashed on the front cover of a newspaper. Furthermore, there are many reasons gay AND straight people keep their bedroom behavior on the QT, ranging from fear of discrimination to, well, it’s just not your business.

In the case of Sipple, it was not ethical for Milk to out him to the Chronicle. In turn, the media should not have outed Sipple, as it wasn’t relevant to the story at the time. I found this great video that goes more in-depth on the media ethics of this issue, but I am also interested in what you all think about this. When is it okay to out a gay person?



Online youth want peace

It is said that the future of the world is left in the hands of the youth. More than ever, young people are using the Internet as a tool for advancing social change. Recently, a coalition of youth-oriented nonprofits got together and demanded that they have had enough of extremism worldwide, and are now putting those who use violence as a method on notice.

Pioneering leaders of youth movements from around the world, and other prominent attendees, met for the first time at the Alliance of Youth Movements Summit in New York City last week to share and discuss how to change the world by building powerful grassroots movements. Their website features videos from how to launch a human rights blog to how to practice passive resistance. They are currently using their Facebook group to organize a worldwide march January 17, 2009 to protest the recent Mumbai terrorists attacks and all other forms of extremism.

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Standing Up By Sitting Down

From Counter Punch:

...The combination of economic pain and rising awareness of corporate culpability has created a tremendous opportunity for workplace and community organizers interested in transformational change. This is our time: time to step up the intensity of our outreach and organizing around demands which challenge the dominance of the corporations in our lives.

The incredible power of the multi-national corporations is the fundamental driver of misery in our world today from rampant poverty and environmental degradation to mass incarceration and war. Real change, that is change which necessarily involves a direct conflict with corporate power, has not and will not come from politicians, “socially responsible” corporations, or trade union bureaucrats. Authentic change has come and will continue to come from the rank and file, the grassroots...

While President-elect Barack Obama says he supports the workers for standing up against corporate corruption, when does he stand up against political corruption in his home state?

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It's a wrap for OJ

I guess the glove really DID fit this time around.



Online terrorism is no joke

While we love the world of social media here at Global Wire, we're simply not down with the idea of online social networking for promoting global terror.

From Metro US:

Mumbai’s attackers were reportedly well-versed in modern technology. They have plenty of company: Today most rebels and terrorists are masters of the online universe.

Ten years ago, when Dr. Gabriel Weimann, a communications professor at the University of Haifa, started monitoring terrorist Web sites, there were 12. Today there are at least 6,850.

“In the past such Web sites were very simple; now they’re often extremely sophisticated,” says Weimann, currently at American University in Washington, D.C. “Terrorists are using Western technology to fight Western modernity.” In addition to posting messages on Facebook and YouTube, terrorists now run virtual training camps on the internet and use Google Earth to coordinate actions.

Rebel groups in developing countries are Internet experts, too. The Muslim Brotherhood has a Web site; so do the Tamil Tigers and the Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice in Niger. The Sudan Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is battling the Sudanese government over the Darfur region; its Web site is available in several languages.

“We’re not in a position to do what President Obama did with the Internet because we don’t have the resources,” says JEM spokesman Gibriel Ibrahim, “and because a very small portion of our population has access to the Internet. Nonetheless, our Web site is the place where we can freely express our views and communicate with the world.”

According to JEM, people from 85 countries have visited its Web site, www.sudanjem.com, which also has a chat room.

But there’s a war over Web sites, too. Says Gibriel Ibrahim (a nom de guerre): “JEM is a party at war with a notorious ruthless regime which is relentlessly trying to top the operation of our Web site and get rid of the people who run it.”


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Dopey White Folks Get By

Conversation topics like sex, politics and religion are usually frowned upon at social gatherings. But, you all know me - I got to bring the pain everywhere I go.

So, last week I went to my high school reunion, and got into a conversation with a white schoolmate who now lives in Texas. She started talking about how in the Lone Star state everyone just LOVES Sarah Palin. I was not surprised, since this was the same state that gave the world George W. Bush!

I posed the following question to my friend: did she think Texans would still love her if she was a ditsy black woman.

"Not a chance," she said. "Maybe when hell freezes over."

My point exactly - how does a woman as dumb as the Alaskan governor get by in life?

Here's my opinion: Sarah Palin has gotten by because she is attractive, witty, charismatic and, most importantly, white. Beautiful people have always gotten the better hand in life, but being white gives one an additional shield of protection from scrutiny. We are mentally programmed in this society to always trust the white people, no matter what.

I continued to say to my friend that there is no way on this planet a black, Latino, Asian version of Sarah Palin would even be allowed to have a career in politics, let alone become governor and a vice presidential nominee. That woman of color would just be laughed out of town - and rightfully so.

Following the election, all the political pundits wondered aloud why Palin didn't have the "judgment" to know that she was too incompetent to take on the second most important job in the world. (And notice how many times incompetent was used to describe Palin. If she were a different color, she would have been called straight up stupid.)

Of course she has no "judgment;" she's a beauty queen! I bet this woman has been surrounded by people all her life, so overwhelmed by her prettiness and wittiness that common sense went out the window while encouraging her political aspirations.

I can imagine what some sectors of the Alaskan Republican party think of her:

Sarah, you should run for mayor/governor/vice president, even though you wink like a vapid moron and possibly don't know that Africa is a continent. But who cares, you're great! You shoot moving objects from planes and hate gays. That's good enough for us.

Even when more of Palin's "knowledge gaps" were discovered after the election, some people still wanted to defend her, including Fox blowhard Bill O'Reilly, who actually said that she could be "tutored on issues" like Africa. Excuse me, Mr. O'Reilly, but if a 44-year-old grown ass woman who has aspirations to run for national political office doesn't have the intellectual curiosity to learn about countries around the world, then why bother getting tutored at this point in her life?

Then my white friend said that current cowboy-in-chief, W., isn't attractive and not particularly witty.

"No, but he is white," I said. "Again, it was same rationale people used for him. Everyone wanted a president they could have a beer back in 2000."

I think someone said once, maybe Chris Rock, that the only way a black man who had a grade C average in college would get into the White House is if he was the janitor. When you think about that, it's true. Some people might say many things about the president-elect, including his lack of experience. But nobody can say that Obama lacks intelligence.

Maybe Obama's election is a sign that Americans really want smart people for once running the show, no matter what their race is.

Recently in a ABC World News interview, Bush said the following:

"I'm sure some people voted for Barack Obama because of me."

No sh*t, Sherlock. At least you are smart enough to know that.

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Third Clinton Administration Term?

Quote of the Day:

"As President-elect Barack Obama continues to fill key cabinet spots with Clintonistas, including his former rival Sen. Hillary Clinton for the nation's top diplomatic post, it was announced today that Obama will appoint Bill Clinton president next week. Although the New York senator lost the battle, she may have won the war."

- In a joking e-mail message from a coworker

Change I can't believe in...

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Black journalists, bloggers discuss the future of news

By Talia Whyte

Originally published in the Bay State Banner

WASHINGTON — With newspapers across the nations watching their circulations decline, many black journalists find themselves re-evaluating the next steps in their own careers.

During a conference last month hosted by the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), reporters and bloggers assessed the coming inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama, who has vowed to make technology a priority in his administration, and considered how black journalism might fit into the new digital era.

If the statistics are any indication of print journalism’s future, more readers are getting their news from new media tools like blogs and YouTube — and the industry’s demise could be just around the corner.

According to an August survey released by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, only 46 percent of Americans read a newspaper regularly, which is down from 52 percent in 2006. On the other hand, online readership has grown from 9 percent to 13 percent in two years, as reported by Editor & Publisher magazine.

The drop in print readership has also affected the nation’s approximately 200 black newspapers, leading many to reconsider how to stay competitive.

Zenitha Prince, Washington bureau chief for the Afro-American Newspaper, was one of very few members of the black press to follow Obama throughout his presidential run. The Afro-American, which primarily serves readers in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area, published Prince’s campaign reports daily on its Web site in addition to the coverage in its weekly print edition.

At the recent NABJ conference, Prince said that while reporting on the campaign trail from a black perspective created unique opportunities, it also revealed significant disadvantages, particularly in the area of online competition.

“Because we are a weekly newspaper, we are able to do more in-depth reporting on issues affecting our community,” she said. “But because we have limited resources, it was difficult sometimes to compete with everything going on online.”

Weekly community newspapers have always had to compete with big-city dailies, but in recent years, the emergence of the blogosphere has created even stiffer competition for readers. According to blog search engine Technorati, there are over 110 million blogs for Web surfers to choose from, many of which are run by and for African Americans.

While many blogs exist purely to entertain readers, the black blogosphere has also become an information source and outlet for discussion of issues underreported in the mainstream media, as well as a motivator and organizing place for social activism.

Last year, an estimated 20,000 people gathered in Jena, La., in support of six black teenagers accused of attacking a white teenager following a number of racially-motivated events. The case of the so-called “Jena Six” gained momentum in the national press only after a grassroots movement developed online to bring attention to the students’ plight.

“Blogging is the new NAACP,” said Gina McCauley, founder of the feminist blog What About Our Daughters. “Blogging is about love, community and social justice. It’s beautiful.”

McCauley, an Austin, Texas-based lawyer, said she started her blog last year to address negative media portrayals of black women and girls. Since its inception, What About Our Daughters has taken on everyone from the Rev. Al Sharpton to Black Entertainment Television executives. McCauley is also the founder of Blogging While Brown, the only international conference for bloggers of color, which convened for the first time in Atlanta this past July, and runs a group blog called Michelle Obama Watch, which aims to present balanced information about the first lady-in-waiting.

“Some of the top black bloggers are women,” McCauley said. “There are a lot of great, smart black people in the blogosphere today.”

Journalist Amy Alexander is also looking to join that number. Alexander is a 2008 Alfred Knobler Journalism Fellow at The Nation Institute and is working on a book about race and the media. She is now blogging for the Nation and the online magazine The Root, while developing her own blog, which she said she hopes will uphold old-school journalistic standards.

“It has taken an adjustment for me to blog,” Alexander said. “Blogging has given me more freedom. However, my blogging is opinion informed by research and traditional reporting.”

Lester Spence, assistant professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and writer of www.blacksmythe.com, may be the first black academic blogger. He said he sees a host of new freedoms that new media can present.

“When you talk about democratizing the media, you have more voices and less boundaries,” he said.

With more writers blogging and more readers consuming online content, the $64,000 question has become: Should the traditional media call it a day? The answer, according to Doni Glover, may be evolution.

The former editor of the Sandtown-Winchester Viewpoint, a Baltimore-based black newspaper, Glover may have created a template for the future of traditional black media. In 2002, he started www.bmorenews.com, which has become one of the country’s few black-oriented, hyper-local online news outlets.

The Web site combines video, photos, news and blogs targeted to the black communities of Baltimore and Washington. Its focused business plan has paid off — since its inception, Glover said, www.bmorenews.com has received over 600,000 unique hits and has reached readers from more than 65 countries.

Perhaps most important, from Glover’s perspective, is that by running his own site, the buck stops with him.

“[I] was tired of doing the same work for others and not getting my due,” Glover said. “Besides, [I have] always been bitten by the entrepreurial bug. ‘God bless the child [that’s got] his own,’ said noted singer Billie Holiday.

“So [my] take is that if you are going to stay in the game, you’d better have your own venue. That way, the only one giving out pink slips is you.”

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Online activists want Indigenous rights protected

Protecting the rights of indigenous people has always been a thorny issue for the international community. Indigenous peoples and their interests are represented in the United Nations primarily through the Expert mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous People. Last year the U.N. General Assembly adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a non-binding declaration outlining the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to identity, culture, language, employment, health, education and other issues. Most countries – 143 of them - voted for the declaration, while 11 nations abstained and 34 nations didn’t vote at all. Four countries – the United States, New Zealand, Canada and Australia – voted against the declaration. Now, online activists are trying to get the leaders of the four industrialized countries to change their votes.

Indigenous rights activists worldwide have form a Facebook group to agitate President-elect Barack Obama to adopt the declaration. Users can also read articles and view images and videos relating to Native issues. Group members are currently under discussions to start a second Facebook group to petition Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

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A Day Without Gay

The gay community is not going down without a fight.

From Boston Phoenix:

...On December 10 — International Human Rights Day — gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, and their straight allies are encouraged to turn off their computers, shut down their businesses, and call in "gay" from work. Additionally, participants are asked to refrain from making purchases or spending money in any way, so as not to contribute to the economy. (Yes, the economy is about as stable as radioactive decay, but a single day of fiscal cockblocking isn't likely to plunge us further into collective financial distress. It's about making a political statement, not screwing the entire country out of fistfuls of Benjamins.)

In the wake of the Election Day Prop 8 debacle, and the subsequent worldwide protests over the yanking of marriage rights from under the feet of LGBT West Coasters, "A Day Without Gays" organizer Sean Hetherington is hoping that the efforts behind his strike/boycott will exhibit a blanketed stance against homophobic legislation, and anti-gay attitudes in general.

Instead of just reveling in a gay day off, Hetherington, a stand-up comedian and personal trainer who conceived of the protest day with his boyfriend, Aaron Hartzler, is urging supporters to participate in charity and volunteer work on December 10.

"When people stay home from work and don't spend money, like it's a gay Yom Kippur, that's sitting in gay shame," he says. "We thought, what if we show America how much service gay people can provide and we re-mobilize our community though volunteer work and service?"...

Well, I'm more interested in what some in the gay community will do for "community service." I hope some of the people taking the day off next week will actually use their time in a useful manner. Hey, here's a novel idea: maybe the gay community should actually spend their time reaching out to African Americans about their strong objection to gay marriage. Or even better, the white gay community should spend the day reaching out to LGBT people of color for once. Sponsoring a town hall meeting with gays and blacks in the same room. It probably would have been more useful if the gay community did this before the vote.

I mean, you know, its just a thought...