Sea of Noise

Fri, 01 Oct 2004


How did I miss hearing about INdTV when a group of investors headed by Al Gore bought Newsworld International? (N.B.: dateline of article has the wrong year) Sounds like it could be very good or very bad when it's launched in 2005...

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Sun, 08 Aug 2004

Ted Turner on Big Media

Ted Turner has a beef with Big Media (and a proposed solution):

At this late stage, media companies have grown so large and powerful, and their dominance has become so detrimental to the survival of small, emerging companies, that there remains only one alternative: bust up the big conglomerates.

[via metafilter]

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Sat, 24 Jul 2004

Journalists Should Post Their Sources

Ernest at Corante asks, "why don't news organizations post these documents on their websites?" Indeed. Joi Ito agrees and so do I.

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The New York Times Makes Itself Irrelevant

Adam Penenberg asks, "How can the mighty New York Times, which considers itself America's paper of record, be the paper of record in cyberspace when its articles barely show up on Google?" Indeed. I seldom link to the Times even when I bother to read it; the required registration is a hassle and not really worth the loss of privacy, either. With so much good content on the web, why read or direct my readers to a site that doesn't really welcome us with open arms? Get a clue...

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Mon, 19 Jul 2004

FCC Continues Playing Gotcha With the F-Word

Corante summarizes the FCC's new position on indecency this: "F-Word May Still Be Used, But We Won't Explain When". Heck, no, we're not unconsitutionally banning the word outright . . . gotcha!

Maybe the answers will all be revealed in Michael Powell's new blog...

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Thu, 15 Jul 2004

Presidential Campaign Commercials

'Tis the season, so the American Museum of the Moving Image brings us The Living Room Candidate, an archive of Presidential campaign commercials going back to 1952. [via metafilter]

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Sun, 11 Jul 2004

Court Blocks Implementation of New FCC Ownership Rules

The 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals blocked implementation of media ownership rules approved by the FCC a year ago, stating that the FCC failed to support the change with analysis. [via metafilter]

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Tue, 29 Jun 2004

Pirate Radio iPod

Fun ideas for extending the range of your iTrip and using it creatively. Almost makes me want to buy an iPod. [via heyblog]

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Sun, 27 Jun 2004

The A-Infos Radio Project

The A-Infos Radio Project is a grassroots media project that seeks to support and expand the movement for democratic communications worldwide. It archives free-for-use radio programs donated by independent producers.

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Tue, 08 Jun 2004

In Praise of XM Satellite Radio

William Powers says, "The people behind satellite radio understand the dreadful quality of traditional commercial radio":

The NAB has complained to the FCC, and legislation has been introduced in Congress to block XM and Sirius from offering the local services. What's odd about all of this is that the very industry touting localism, old-line commercial radio, is the same one that has effectively destroyed localism by making American radio such a homogenous product, with increasingly indistinguishable programming coast to coast.

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Wed, 02 Jun 2004

Community Radio

Indymedia UK has a nice summary of community radio projects in the UK and worldwide.

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National People's Radio?

FAIR has published the results of a study conducted in 1993 examining NPR's claims to "speak with many voices" and air "alternative points of view".

FAIR finds, essentially, that NPR overrepresents points of view that are white, male, and right-of-center. They arrive at this conclusion primarily by cataloging the sources used on-air. For example, President Bush was the top source during the period they studied, which they count as representing a white, male, Republican point of view. Given FAIR's ideological slant, neither the approach nor the conclusion comes as a shock.

Much of FAIR's criticism rests on the venerable error of the left that conflates the color of person's skin and what's between their legs with the contents of their brain. While I'm sympathetic to the claim that there isn't a dime's worth of difference between Bill Clinton and George Bush, it's not because they both happen to be white men. Nor is someone's political party affiliation, at least as between Republicans and Democrats, a reliable indicator of their point of view on a particular issue, and FAIR doesn't tell us what opinions were expressed on any given issue.

Nor is it clear that the point of view of the source is as important as the way in which that source is used. NPR hasn't earned the sobriquet "National People's Radio" because of where they get their sound bites, but because of what they do with them. If we hear the voices of President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld (the top two sources during the period studied), does that mean the stories in question advance the administration's position? Regular listeners of NPR's news programs know that's not the case--not by a longshot.

Nevertheless, some of FAIR's criticisms are worth considering. Consider, for example, what they call "the elite majority": government officials, "professional experts", "corporate representatives", and the like. These sources made up 64 percent of all sources and, among this group, current and former government or military officials accounted for 31 percent. This is at least symptomatic of a bias in NPR's reporting: that the actions of the government and its political partisans are what constitutes "news".

Simlarly, seven percent of all sources were journalists, and at least 83 percent were "employed by commercial U.S. media outlets". Whatever the viewpoints these sources represent, this does call into question NPR's claim to be the alternative to mainstream, commercial news reporting.

In the end, FAIR's study generates more heat than light. That's a shame, because there is a case to be made for the claim that National Public Radio does not, in fact, represent the public or its interests. NPR creates the best mainstream news programs in the US, but in the end they differ from commercial programs more in professionalism and willingness to examine issues in-depth than in the points of view expressed. Like commercial broadcasters, NPR affiliates are the beneficiaries of FCC policies that promote "big money" interests over small, independent, community-based radio. That NPR gets some of its money by begging on the air and tax-deductible donations from the same companies that support commercial media through advertising is barely a difference that matters. If FAIR were more concerned about true "diversity", that's a point they'd be making more vigorously.

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Tue, 01 Jun 2004

Undercover Marketing

"It's real-life flippin' product placement!" [via Disinformation]

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Mon, 31 May 2004

FCC Move Could Shut Down High School Radio Station

As if we needed another example of the ways in which the FCC serves "industry" interests at local communities' expense... [via Disinformation]

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Fri, 28 May 2004

Gossip Wants to Be Free

It seems I'm not the only one getting sick of hearing media insiders bemoan their loss of control over the dissemination of news. As Matt Welch writes this month at Reason, "The New York Times and Matt Drudge may despise each other, but if they both do their jobs well, we all win".

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Tue, 14 Oct 2003

Modern Television

Phillip Patiris turns a critical, satirical, yet nostalgic eye toward Modern Television.

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