Friday, May 13, 2011

Osama's Vanity

This NPR report on the capture of Osama bin Laden and the videos the Pentagon released on him, contained something really interesting. 

"In one of them [the videos..],  which runs more than a minute, bin Laden is under a rough-hewn blanket wearing a woolen cap. His beard is unkempt and streaked in gray...

In another of the clips, bin Laden appears with a very dark clipped beard. Officials said that video was part of a propaganda message bin Laden intended to send to the U.S. entitled "Message to the American People." 
They [officials] were quick to point out the vanity bin Laden must have had to dye his beard for the video. Officials had said earlier that hair dye was one of the things they found in the bin Laden compound."
While NPR might call it vanity, I think it's way more than that.  Bin Laden needed to look younger to appear strong and immortal.  It's just funny to think that our leaders do the same exact thing...  

Friday, May 6, 2011

University Politics

This post is about more local, smaller politics, which I will attempt to connect to the media, sorry if it seems like a bit of a stretch...

This week, CUNY's board of trustees decided to rescind the honorary award that they had been planning to give to Tony Kushner.

The reason? Well, apparently Jeffery Wiesenfeld, a trustee, convinced the rest of the board that Kushner was anti-Israel, and therefore his work deserved to not be honored.
I read somewhere yesterday (and now I can't find the article so maybe I'm making this up...) that Wiesenfeld was basing his decision on something that Kushner wrote online.

It will be interesting to see what happens now that the news is all over this- there are numerous facebook pages, editorials, articles crying out against this- and calling for Wiesenfeld's resignation.

YU's very own Professor Schrecker who was also honored with the same award a couple of years ago on her work on academic honesty, is mentioned in this article (she's returning her award in solidarity).


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The White House + Social Media

The 1978 Presidential Records Act states that White House staffers must preserve all presidential records-- but does that include Twitter messages? Facebook posts? Emails?

Next Tuesday Brook Colangelo and David Ferriero will testify before the House over how far the 1978 Presidential Records Act extends.

As this WSJ blog post states, it makes sense that with the increase in communication outlets, these rules need to be clarified.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Thoughts on 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners

This week the winners of the Pulitzer Prize were announced and a couple of things struck me as interesting.

1. The first award was given for non-print (ie online) reporting to ProPublica's "The Wall Street Money Machine"


2. For the first time there was no award given out for local reporting of breaking news (even though there were four finalists in the category).

These two things show that online news is considered credible enough that it is deserving of a Pulitzer, and that there is something lacking in local reporting.  I think that it is very significant that there was no prize given out in that category.  They could have given the prize to any of those finalists, but they chose not to.  Any other thoughts on this?

(see list of other winners here)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Female Reporters

I think someone posted about something similar last week, but I saw this article in the Washington Post and wanted to post on it as well. 

Emily Wax writes about being a female correspondent overseas in light of the sexual attacks on Lara Logan and Lynsey Addario. 

Wax makes the point that these women need to be trained in how to deal with the dangers that they are susceptible to in these war-torn countries.

While maybe one can make the argument that women should not place themselves in situations in which they could be in danger, women reporters, unlike men, are able to connect to the women in these countries and hear stories that male reporters may be unwilling to report on (women in the Congo who needed vagina reconstructions due to violent gang rape, for one example).

The answer to the safety of these women reporters is not for them to not be in these places, but for their editors to train them in how to stay safe in these situations.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

The WSJ Wrote It Best: "Here's an Tale: Gadhafi Does on the Internet"

Unbeknownst to many, the .ly internet domain name is actually owned by Gadahfi.  

Many people like to use web services like and which enable them to shorten domain names and the .ly is especially popular because of the memorable domain names they can create ("For those without their own adverb indexes, the company helpfully posted a list of "8,742 words ending in ly." While, and are taken,, and remain available, the company said."- read the entire Wall Street Journal article here).

In fact, most of the users of .ly are not actually Libyans, 43% of .ly users come from the UK, US and Canada. 

This, naturally, has created a small scandal for those who do not want to be supporting Gadahfi, not that the $75 is costs to create a .ly is his main income source, but it's the priniciple. 

(Side point- everyone needs to get together and decide on one way to spell Gadahfi (WSJ) Qaddafi (NYTimes) Gaddafi (Washington Post) etc. etc. What's up with that?)  


Thursday, March 31, 2011


The New York Times published this article a couple days ago about how Facebook is looking to hire Robert Gibbs, the former White House Press Secretary, to help manage their communications.

Facebook is doing this because of their increase in popularity and want to be able to communicate better what their policies are and who they are.  Additionally, Gibbs would seem like a good choice because of his Washington experiences and his communication credentials.

Also, Washington is still trying to figure out internet privacy issues and security, and Facebook probably thinks that Gibbs would be a perfect go-between with all his government connections.

This Washington Post quote brings up a different side, “Facebook has grown too big too fast and needs to be closely watched,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. “All Gibbs would be doing if it is true he is going to Facebook is selling his connections to the White House while it is in the crosshairs of privacy concerns around the world.”  

Thursday, March 17, 2011

More on NPR

The House voted 228-192 today to stop federal funding for NPR.  Only Republicans voted for the bill, many of whom are opposed to the liberal leanings of the radio station and feel that it should pay for itself.  

One of the reasons many oppose the bill is because federal funds let public radio operate in really remote places.

Chances are, this Bill will not pass in the Democratic controlled Senate.

Doesn't it make sense that at this point NPR should be funding itself, not using government funds? They would still be able to use federal funding for operating expenses, so it's not as if they would be cut off entirely.

More here.