NYU’s Jay Rosen discusses the state of journalism

Check out this enlightening Q & A session with media scholar Jay Rosen.

Journalism is undergoing a profound (r)evolution. And, for whatever reason, many in the industry refuse to confront the problems at hand. Because that’s what they are right now: “unsolved problems,” as Rosen explains. They will continue to be problems until some kind of paradigm shift brings journalism into an altogether different realm. And we’re past the point of no return by now.

Rosen points out that one of the most significant challenges to news outlets will be determining how to efficiently finance this new wave of journalism. Information gathering will be bent more towards context, rather than the one-way street of pure content. Maintaining a level of journalistic integrity at a low cost (ideally, free of advertising) will remain a topic of concern for a while.

It’s an interesting video for anyone working in the media. And for anyone consuming news.

Viral Video Vindication: The voice of the gods

You’ve got to dig this story. Check out Ted Williams, from the streets of Columbus, Ohio. He’s the man with the golden voice, according to the media frenzy that’s scooped him up.

He’s been pursued by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are hoping to hook the man up with a job.

Williams and his success should come off as a true testament to humility. His path in life, much of which still remains unknown to the world at large, demonstrates not only the perseverance of an optimistic soul, but also the sheer serendipity and chance involved in life itself.

Good luck, Ted.

Ohio’s new governor will restrict press access at inauguration

Welcome to 2011, Ohio. It’s the year of the conservative, ushered in by such right-wing icons as House Speaker Bill Batchelder of Medina and Gov.-elect John Kasich of Westerville.

Kasich will be sworn into office Jan. 10. The official ceremony will take place right after midnight, as per the state constitution. However, in a peculiar turn of events, Kasich will be barring the media from the get-together.

John Kasich, who somehow looks even goofier when photographed next to W., will be the 69th governor of Ohio.

This is troubling news for Ohio. Kasich’s move effectively ignores the media-related precedents set by state politicians in the past. He’s treading his own path now – one that leads him away from democratic governance.

Playing the Republicans’ tune and trumpeting the almighty cause of “small government” is Kasich’s game. But now he’s using his elected office to restrict reporters and, for all intents and purposes, the eyes and ears of the people from newsworthy events.

To pull a particularly disheartening quote from the PD article linked above, it’s apparent that Kasich’s ideologies do not jive with the press at large.

At a news conference naming Ohio Inspector General Tom Charles to director of public safety, Kasich complained about questions about whether Charles’ appointment poses a possible conflict of interest since his wife and son work for the State Highway Patrol.

“I find myself tripping over the ant hills on the way to the pyramids,” Kasich said. “We have so many stupid rules and regulations that prevent us from getting the best people to come in here. You just can’t believe it. And I blame it on all of you,” Kasich told reporters. “All the transparency and conflicts and other stuff. I want to just tell you, it is a problem to get quality people to come and work in the government.”

“All the transparency and conflicts and other stuff.”?? It’s gonna be a rough year if we have to hear Kasich blathering on about random stuff and junk. Although, if he keeps up his anti-press sentiments, we won’t even be able to hear such jackassery.

Southern Sudan’s Jan. 9 secession vote predicted to be “peaceful”

The Sudanese people will cast a historic vote Jan. 9 regarding whether or not to secede and form a new nation. The referendum is a latest in the long-fought struggle for peace in the country.

The New York Times is reporting that much of the population and government officials will let the event come as it may. Whatever the result, it won’t be unexpected at this point.

Sudan’s national economy is built on oil revenue. The bulk of that product comes from the southern regions of the country. In the event of secession, oil pipelines will remain intact and the northern, Arab-dominated region of Sudan will still garner some revenue.

“We expect, after secession and the loss of oil revenue, that we will have to impose more stringent economic measures. Definitely there is going to be a setback at the very beginning.”

Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Atabani, a top adviser to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Depending on how the vote goes, the political makeup of Sub-Saharan Africa will be changed. Right now, the country and much of the international community are preparing themselves for Jan. 9. While peace seems to be resting on the horizon, this day will be emotional in many different ways and violent conflict is something to guard against.

Newspaper for the homeless hits Cleveland streets

Plain Dealer reporter Michael O’Malley tossed an interesting bit of news online today.

Apparently, a revived newspaper for the homeless community is being sold at various locations in the city.

The Cleveland Street Chronicle, a resuscitated version of The Homeless Grapevine, is being circulated by six vendors at places like the West Side Market and Public Square.

Check the story out and, if you can, throw some change their way. It’s grassroots media efforts like this than can seriously improve Cleveland – and inspire other cities to pursue this path.

EPA Offers $5 Million To Turn Golf Course Into Park

Fowler’s Mill Golf Course, located in Chesterland, Ohio, is currently in a state of limbo. The Environmental Protection Agency is offering a grant of $5 million to turn the 458 acre golfing haven into a public park. Needless to say, area golfers are pitching a fit and lamenting the loss of “one of the nation’s top public courses.”

There are plenty of advantages for a move like this. Turning the location into a more sublime park would protect nearly a mile-long stretch of the  Chagrin River. Bailing on a golf course in return for more secure water resources seems like a relatively fair trade on paper.

The downsides, however, are numerous as well. The course’s clubhouse, around 7,500 square feet, would be used at the Munson Township Board of Trustees meeting hall. Now that’s an element of the package that’s about as arrogant as any golf player could only hope to be. Another ridiculous facet of the deal is the money being passed around. Chardon attorney Todd Petersen bought the golf course of $3.3. million in late 2009. Although Petersen denies any foresight in regards to this grant money, the whole profiteering angle seems incredibly disingenuous.

Fowler's Mill Golf Course Clubhouse - The Possible New Meeting Place For Munson Township's Board of Trustees

Providing an interesting contextual background, David Griffith, tournament director for the Northern Ohio Section of the PGA, highlighted the fact that throughout the nation, “there are more golf courses than there are golfers and here in Northeast Ohio, we have a larger number of courses than most areas in the country.”

Griffith is on to something here. Golf courses are often much larger than other sports’ counterparts. The Golf Course Superintendents of America estimate that there are over 2 million acres of land devoted to golf in the US.

Losing one golf course doesn’t seem like a big deal – and, really, it isn’t – but there is a certain amount of historical legacy associated with Fowler’s Mill. Famed architect Pete Dye designed the 27-hole course, which opened for play in 1971. Some laud Dye’s work as a masterpiece among public courses. The Northern Ohio Golf Association has held US Open qualifiers at Fowler’s Mill in the past. Various rounds of the popular Northeast Ohio Amateur Invitational are sometimes played there as well.

The ultimate decision will be made later in the year – most likely coming around October. Until then, tree huggers and divot duffers alike will be waiting desperately for the news. Maybe Cleveland’s WKYC will run its own special edition “Decision” episode?

Then again, nothing is worth that amount of media hype.

So, on a semi-related note, here’s George Carlin ripping apart the uppity country club crowd with his alternative plan – and it’s a pretty sound one at that. RIP GC

BP Bungles PR Bundle

This week in The Misadventures of BP: Top execs have found themselves forced to admit to their company’s newfound penchant for Photoshop. Recent photos of BP “taking care of business” were revealed to be nothing more than sloppy software editing and misguided PR.

BP's second doctored image, bearing no relation to reality

The idiocy of this company is surely astounding…

A spokesman for the oil behemoth said that the company would “refrain from doing cutting-and-pasting.” Personally, this takes the cake as the quote of the week. This cat sounds like a senior citizen circa ’97 trying to open MS Word. Who gives these people access to technology, anyway?

The second of two doctored images (in as many days) shows a couple of helicopter pilots perusing the gulf cleanup operation. A closer look would reveal to the chopper-savvy that the helicopter is, in fact, not flying. Rather, it’s the victim of yet another Photoshop project gone wrong. Apparently, the helicopter’s door and ramp were left open pre-photo-op, and the parking brake was engaged. Nice one, BP.

For all the hooting and hollering one can find on sites like Reddit and Facebook, this is really just another speed bump on the road to madness. And for a company that placed its CEO in timeout last week, the sky is the limit as far as blunders go. Although none of these missteps will ever eclipse the hundred million gallons or so of oil that annihilated the Gulf of Mexico, the surrounding ecosystems, the related food chains or the innumerable facets of life that were interrupted by this atrocity.

Al-Shabaab in Kampala

A terrorist force is brewing ever so violently in lawless Somalia. The group isn’t new, but Al-Shabaab and its ties to Al-Qaeda represent a sharp and volatile increase in the terrorist presence in East Africa.

The group has claimed responsibility for the July 11 bombings in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. The attacks left 76 people dead, of which the mainstream US media are quick to add one was an American citizen. Scores of others were brutally wounded.

Essentially, the “reasons” for this attack go back to 2006, when Ethiopia invaded Somalia. That most recent leg of the Somalian Civil War demonstrates an even more distinct decline into tribal governance and warfare throughout Somalia. Al-Shabaab, with its radical Islamic backing and its vicious recruitment tactics, carries heavy political weight in the region.

The group is gaining global ground in recent years, as well. Somali-Americans are being targeted for recruitment. Minneapolis has one of the highest Somali populations within the US  and many young men from the area have been brought on board with Al-Shabaab’s violent strategy.

Following the attacks in Kampala, Al-Shabaab has gone on to threaten Bujumbura, the capital of nearby Burundi. Both of those targeted countries have maintained peacekeeping forces within Somalia, along with the African Union’s presence.

The recent events from East Africa highlight the incredible need for unity in the region. It seems imperative that leaders of the more “democratic” states in the region do not back down in the face of militant and arbitrary aggression.

On a related and more personal note, my interest in Uganda is incredibly high right now. I was scheduled to go to Kampala for much of the summer until these attacks occurred – a mere 10 days before I was to travel there. Besides the devastation of having an amazing trip like that get canceled, I can’t help but feel an even more inflamed sense of injustice from the outside world. There can be no tolerance here, people. Threats in East Africa from a group like Al-Shabaab can easily translate into threats against democracy from terrorist groups throughout the world.