The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...

The driver of tomorrow is not thinking Green...
He's thinking Classic. (click on photo)


Dec 5, 2014

Journalism and the Internet: Assimilation is the Key

The Internet has impacted the news media and Journalism industry. Media companies scramble to adjust to the changing demands of society, newspaper companies shut down and consolidate print media, journalists end or broaden their careers, news is being produced at an on-demand rate, often without accuracy.

The reality is clear: The Internet is not a passing phase and in order for Journalism to survive, adjustments are required to assimilate this powerful medium.

In 59 B.C., Julius Ceaser ordered that the Roman Empire publish a daily report named “Acta Diurna” (daily acts). These reports were published by carving the information into metal or stone and placed where the public had access to read them. Throughout human history, the release of information, reporting of news, education of the masses, and the freedom and restriction of speech through various mediums, has been a focus of governments and society. The Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech were important enough to the founder of the United States of America that they embedded it into our Constitution, under the First Amendment.

Journalism is defined today by Merriam-Webster as the “collection, preparation, and distribution of news through media.” Media is described as “pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, and books.” Originally the term was a reference to printed material; however, with the explosion of the Internet around the globe, the term was changed in the late 20th Century to include electronic forms of distribution. The Internet has brought with it positive and negative changes to the Journalism industry.

The speed in which an event can be reported is empowering to networks, and journalists. This electronic society has opened a door for reporting to every individual in the right place, with a camera or online access. First Amendment rights are being exercised to a degree humans have never experienced before. Freedom of the Press is not only extended to professional journalists and news media, but also to the citizens who are the readers. However, the empowering speed and immediate access are also a stumbling block. As the “need for speed” envelops the news media output, the ability for fact checking, accuracy, and ethics, can be easily ignored.

The evening of Monday, November 23, 2014, the country waited in anticipation for the State of Missouri to reveal the grand jury’s decision in whether to indict Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of Michael Brown. The shooting had caused local riots when it occurred in August, 2014, as tensions between the civilians and police increased. The National Guard was sent in to the area to regulate and dissolve inflammatory behavior. On November 23, the local evening news was ready. As they awaited the news conference, NewsChannel 5, reported live on The reporter advised viewers they could “stay connected” and tweet or post information from the streets to the news channels Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The news channel had just deputized thousands of citizens as reporters and the only badge they needed in their hands was an electronic device. No fact checking, no need for accuracy, no time allowed to intercept postings from the streets. In an area surrounding a highly volatile issue which caused the declaration of a State of Emergency, news reporting adjusted to the pressure of immediate online access, with what appeared to be little consideration to consequences of a citizen’s immediate feed. Instead of a reporter facilitating the news from the scene, the news media simply shared their social media sites with viewers and asked them to report the news themselves.

The Internet is a global forum. It’s creation and lack of oversight has created a massive platform and new writing outlets. Websites defined as social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, have been so successful, humans deem it odd if an individual is not connected and sharing. If an individual has something to say, they merely need to create an online blog and publish it themselves. Higher education institutions have accommodated the global change by updating Communication and Marketing Degrees to include the growing career field related to online management.

Paul Grabowicz is the Bloomberg Journalism Chair and directs the New Media Program, at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He wrote an article titled “The Internet Is Transforming Journalism.” The first transformation he addresses is “Web-First Publishing.” He describes the change that has occurred within news media publishing and news reporting where the online presence of the media outlet has become the driving force of how the news is relayed to the public, and print media has taken a backseat, also known as “reverse publishing.” He says reverse publishing “marks a major shift from the old ‘shovelware’ approach of newspapers in the 1990s, in which stories were written first for the newspaper and then shoveled onto the web, often with few, if any, changes.”

This change has forced professionals within the journalism industry to put down their pens, turn off the typewriter, step away from the landline, swivel in their chairs and grab computers, laptops, smart phones, tablets as quickly as the electronic world produces the newest gadget, in order to be prepared to connect and report at a moments notice. Professionals, who have spent years, perhaps decades, in print media have been forced to either assimilate the new medium or retire from their career. The Pew Research Center (PRC) reported in its 2014 annual “State of the News Media” that 2013 was an explosive year for the digital world. PRC reports, “BuzzFeed, once scoffed at for content viewed as ‘click bait,’ now has a news staff of 170, including top names like Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Schoofs,” and that “Jim Roberts, New York Times’ former assistant managing editor, moved over to Mashable, and Ezra Klein of Washington Post now works at Vox Media.” These are not companies who have created a digital department, but are all companies who are digital brands. Digital is what they do. And therefore, PRC reports that while the digital realm has created entrepreneurs and the industry is showing 5,000 full time professional jobs, and the printing industry is decreasing due to job cuts related to the change in focus for news production.

The reciprocal contact between media outlets and its readers has broadened. Media content that provides comments for reader’s feedback and another new outlet called “live blogging,” give readers a platform to respond to the news. The reader no longer has to type up a letter and mail it to the editor. Instead, with a few clicks, the reader can engage other readers and perhaps the writer, in an instant response stream or discussion forum. Paul Grabowicz says one drawback to an online comment feed is that “a few people also will post comments that are offensive or disruptive, quickly turning an intelligent discussion into an online food fight.” Live blogging is conducted by a writer, who blogs a current news story and allows readers to discuss it, while the writer continues to moderate and respond within the discussion.

Matt Wells is The Guardian’s US blogs and network editor in New York, and also created their audio department. He wrote an article titled, “Live Blogging Is Transforming Journalism,” and while he claims to have a “personal interest” in this new forum, he declares positive and negative facets exist. As already discussed above, these online forums support the rising demand for instant news. Matt writes: “Live blogs give the ability to post significant developments quickly—more quickly than editing and re-editing a news article. They also allow us to link out to other coverage, to include comments from Twitter and Facebook, to display multimedia.” It’s a quick, direct and to the point forum. The negative side stems from the lack of a timeline to the story reported, the ability of the comments to continue far beyond the original news posting and the writer’s need to moderate and reintroduce the original story content. Paul Grabowicz reports the ability for a live feed of comments to deteriorate has caused some news companies to discontinue reader participation entirely, in order to protect the company’s reputation.

Facebook, originally created to allow people, or “users,” to connect with each other online for personal reasons, has become another medium for news reporting. Amy Mitchell, Director of Journalism Research, published a report in 2013 titled “The Role of News on Facebook.” While the research does not show that users access Facebook for the purpose of obtaining news, it showed that 78% of those polled read news while on Facebook. The research also showed that of those polled who are not news readers, 47% used Facebook as their only source of news.

Enter, Citizen Journalist. In 2008, Liane Hansen of “Weekend Edition Sunday” interviewed Jacob Saboroff, original host of HuffPost Live and co-founder of YouTube Nation. The two discussed the new blogging trend and an incident with Mayhill Flower, an elderly blogger, who attended two political functions that were closed to the Press and “off-the-record.” Mayhill scooped the entire nation’s media by reporting on her blog certain comments made by then Senator Obama and President Clinton during these events. Hansen and Saboroff discuss the ethics involved with journalism that didn’t seem to pertain to citizen journalism. Professional traditional journalists’ viewpoint is that it remains unethical to not identify oneself as a journalist or representative of the press when initiating contact for an interview. However, citizen journalists do not operate under the same professional codes of conduct and can act without oversight due to the ease and immediate access of posting via the Internet. Therefore, the Internet has forced the culture to assimilate another change. Soboroff states in the interview: “I think we will see a shift where politicians and campaign workers may approach these events differently going forward.” Hansen confirms: “In other words, approach them as if everything they say is on the record.”

Soboroff portrays some hope that codes of conduct will be applied to the citizen. He says, “I wouldn't be surprised soon if we see some sort of Internet ethics petition where citizen journalists and bloggers can sign up and have a code of their own.” It has been six years since that interview and the ethics petition of citizen journalist is yet to be circulated. The Internet movement has obliterated “off-the-record” for not only politicians, but also every citizen on the planet.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of “assimilate” is to “absorb and integrate (people, ideas, or culture) into a wider society or culture.” The journalism industry has progressed to assimilate the Internet. The Earth’s population has assimilated the Internet. Or perhaps the reality is, the Internet has assimilated us. Technological change is a given in every future, and so is loss. Time brings with it change and often in order to assimilate change, old traditions must abdicate to new traditions. The written news moved over for the radio. The radio shared with the TV. The TV abdicates to the Internet. And all mediums race to keep up with the changing tide, or be retired for good. Throughout history, humans have navigated change with perseverance, good and evil seemingly found within each progression.

The answer: Resistance is futile.

Nov 12, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court Called to Action

A recent letter to the editor of our school newspaper, "Student papers should not have a say in political issues such as . . . gay marriage (which I think should be [sic] band).” The writer was disappointed with the news staff for pursuing stories that were based off campus, such as movie reviews, community events and political issues.

Our government was created in part to provide American citizens a voice and to participate in policy. Therefore, each newspaper, as a media source, has an obligation to inform the students of topics that directly relate to their lives. This includes same-sex marriage; in order that they can be informed on issues they may vote to support – or ban.

We educate and employ both same sex partners and Washington State voters. The school is also temporary home to students who are registered voters in other states. The issue of “gay marriage,” or same-sex marriage, is a matter close to many student hearts, regardless of their sexual orientation. It may be safe to assume many of the students, if not most, have a vested interest in what is happening in politics, which effects their lives wherever they choose to live.
Same-sex marriage has been on the forefront of U.S. national news lately, as gay married couples have appealed to the federal courts by filing lawsuits against the states where they live, which have bans against same-sex marriages and refuse to recognize marriages.

The result has been, as of the date of this article, 30 states within the United States are now allowing same-sex marriage. Many of these state decisions are a direct result of federal courts determining state bans against same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. The only two districts that have not joined the movement are the 1st and 8th judicial circuits.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2006 that Nebraska State’s Measure 416, prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages, was NOT unconstitutional – stating, "laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples ... do not violate the Constitution of the United States," and reversed the lower state court judge’s ruling striking the ban.

The 1st Circuit has yet to hear an appeal case relative to this issue. However, on Oct. 22, 2014, USA Today reported that a federal district judge in Puerto Rico upheld that territory’s ban on gay marriage. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez based his decision off of a precedent setting case and explained, “This court is bound by decisions of the Supreme Court. Only the Supreme Court may exercise the prerogative of overruling its own decisions." The plaintiffs will be appealing to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

Where does Washington State fit into this issue? Our state voters decided their position by legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012, while many other states in the U.S. still hold to a “one man, one woman” definition of marriage, with state bans still in place.

On October 7, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, of which Washington State is one of 11 states and territories, also ruled that bans on same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. The state of Alaska is still attempting to fight the decision so they can continue to impose their state’s ban on gay marriage.

The decisions of the circuit court of appeals have broad ramifications. Dan White, one of EdCC’s law professors, explained, “It’s important to realize that each circuit court has jurisdiction over multiple states. So when one case decision from one state is appealed to the federal level and a decision is handed down, it doesn’t just affect that particular state. It affects ALL states within that circuit. So when we have 16, 20, now 30 states where same-sex marriage is allowed, it doesn’t mean the states have decided to accept it, but rather that there is a new rule of law in town.” This means that some states are being forced to allow same-sex marriage.

And, why is that? White proceeds: “It’s been determined that the states have the right to define marriage. However, when state laws are viewed as infringing on a person’s civil rights, it becomes a [U.S.] Constitution issue and that needs to be reviewed at the federal level, not the state level.”
In response to the federal court’s decisions, five states - Indiana, Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, located in the 4th, 7th and 10th circuits respectively - filed their own appeal to the Supreme Court.

The goal? The Supreme Court review and reverse the lower court’s decision, upholding each state’s right to both define marriage within their own state lines and enforce the marriage bans.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals.

Scott Haddock is EdCC’s Program Director for the Paralegal Department, a civil rights attorney and professor of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Law class. Haddock commented, “The Supreme Court is not stupid. They know that by not accepting the appeals it would result in the overturning of many state bans on same-sex marriage. It’s hard not to believe that this is all unfolding exactly the way the majority of the Court expected it to.”

The headline on read, “Same-sex marriage gets tacit victory from Supreme Court.” The article quotes Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, as stating, “Today's decision by the Supreme Court leaves in force five favorable marriage rulings reached in three federal appellate courts, ensuring the freedom to marry for millions more Americans around the country.”

Couples rushed to their local licensing offices to obtain marriage licenses. All court stays on same-sex marriages had been lifted. States where there didn’t seem to be an outcry for equality, suddenly were awarded the freedom to marry, as a by-product of location within the jurisdiction of its federal court.

Throughout the stories, an underlying message appeared: The Supreme Court supports same-sex marriage.

Not so fast. Is that what the court’s refusal means? Not entirely. According to The Aspen College Legal Research and Writing, “Approximately 8,000 petitions are filed with the United States Supreme Court each year.” How many of those cases are granted review? Approximately 100.

The book quotes an unnamed historian as stating that the decision of which cases to grant review is “arguably the most important stage in the entire Supreme Court process.” The literature states that just because the Supreme Court had denied reviewing a case, the denial does not mean the justices have researched the issue and agree with the lower court decision. It simply means the justices control their caseload by denying to review most of the appeal requests.

Haddock offers an explanation for the Court’s rationale: “The ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act’ was an example where opposite decisions were being made all over the country. The Supreme Court had to review the appeals. Military personnel were allowed to serve in say, California, but not in, Wyoming. Here but not there. Haddock continues, "The Supreme Court did not have to make a final decision. Legislature repealed the act as they didn’t want the Supreme Court making a broader, sweeping decision about marriage. The Supreme Court does not want to be responsible to decide heavily controversial issues. They would prefer a larger voice to make the decision, and the Court is okay with how the Federal Appellate Courts across the country are resolving this issue in favor of marriage equality.”

Whatever the reason for the Court’s denial in hearing the state appeals, what happens in the meantime, while this issue remains in limbo, without a final national decision? What happens to the gay citizens in the 1st and 8th circuit who continue to live with marriage inequality, and what could possibly happen to their peers who are unifying and celebrating in 30 other states?

For those who’s marriages won’t be recognized: Their children are denied recognition as children of married parents. Same-sex married couple’s relationships are denied validation. They are forced to file a joint federal tax return but separate state tax returns. Property acquired and owned by the married couple is not recognized as a marital asset.

Same-sex married couples are not free to move wherever they want within the United States of America. They are restricted to live only where their marriages will be recognized; otherwise their union is labeled “illegal.”

For those who’s marriages are recognized by their residential state: The Supreme Court has sovereign power, which means that its decisions outrank and overrule all other courts of our nation. Those who pursue and consummate same-sex marriage run the risks of having their unions disintegrated if at a later date, the high court makes a final decision the opposite of the lower court of appeals.

This is concerning when reading in the Aspen College Series, “In its 2012-2013 term, the Court continued its practice of overturning lower court judgments in the vast majority of the cases that it fully reviewed. Approximately 72 percent of the time.”

The circuit court appeals process can and has taken years to be decided. The California Proposition 8, a 2008 ban against same-sex marriage, was not resolved and overturned until all final appeals were completed in 2013. Five years later.

There is an outcry surrounding the issue. Fox News Politics reported that advocates state, “Justices have an obligation to settle an issue of such national importance, not abdicate that responsibility to lower court judges.”

Wolfson continued to say, “We are one country, with one Constitution, and the court's delay in affirming the freedom to marry nationwide prolongs the patchwork of state-to-state discrimination and the harms and indignity that the denial of marriage still inflicts on too many couples in too many places."

It seems simple. The Supreme Court needs to make a decision.

If the compelling reasons for an appeals review in the Rules of the Superior Court are:

“a) a United States court of appeals has entered a decision in conflict with the decision of another United States court of appeals on the same important matter; (b) a state court of last resort has decided an important federal question in a way that conflicts with the decision of another state court of last resort; and, (c) a United States court of appeals has decided an important question of federal law that has not been, but should be, settled by this Court,”

– then it is clear. The United States Supreme Court is called upon to act and solidify this issue for the nation.

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