Tag Archives: media

Farewell to Asian Pop

Jeff Yang

Ouch.

Long time friend of the blog, Jeff Yang, has just lost his far reaching and influential column, Asian Pop. He writes in today’s farewell post:

So this is it, I guess: The final installment of “Asian Pop.” After nearly eight years beneath the masthead, the Gatekeepers have decided that “the economics of our business have changed in a way that doesn’t support online-only columns.” (And maybe not offline ones either: These are parlous times for the news biz.) [...]

As you might guess from its title, Asian Pop began with a focus on Asian media and entertainment, treating “Asianness” as something alien to the American experience, and “pop” as a reflection of passing fancies and ephemeral trends.

Over time, however, with the encouragement of three successive terrific editors, the column moved beyond those original boundaries, transforming Asianness from a spectacle into a perspective, and making “pop” shorthand not for popular but for populi.

Last week, I accompanied Doris Truong to drop Jeff off at the airport, one his way to a retreat to go walk up a mountain and think about things. Knowing Jeff, he will come back bursting with excitement and ready to embark on a bunch of new projects. But this decision by the powers that be to kill his column (and all other online-only long form columns) is heralding more bad business to come. I’ve been engaged in journalism work for the last two years, ever since Poynter made the decision to make me a Sense Making Fellow. In many ways, I’ve had a front seat to watching the freefall of legacy media. Diversity was one of the first values on the chopping block as expendable. Continue reading

Baratunde Thurston on Donald Trump, Obama’s Birth Certificate, and the Degradation of Americans

By Andrea (AJ) Plaid

With all of the jokes about “Birthers” and Donald Trump’s toupee as well as the leftysphere excoriating the mainstream media for not taking Trump to task for his antics, Jack and Jill Politics’ Baratunde Thurston breaks down what we lost due to Trump’s BS.

Transcript after the jump.

Continue reading

Aiyana Stanley-Jones, South Philadelphia High, and Solving the News Problem

by Latoya Peterson

Earlier this month, I was mulling over a piece in The Atlantic about the decline of the news, and Google’s attempts to assist the ailing industry. I found this tidbit fascinating:

“If you were starting from scratch, you could never possibly justify this business model,” Hal Varian [Google's chief economist ] said, in a variation on a familiar tech-world riff about the print-journalism business. “Grow trees—then grind them up, and truck big rolls of paper down from Canada? Then run them through enormously expensive machinery, hand-deliver them overnight to thousands of doorsteps, and leave more on newsstands, where the surplus is out of date immediately and must be thrown away? Who would say that made sense?” The old-tech wastefulness of the process is obvious, but Varian added a less familiar point. Burdened as they are with these “legacy” print costs, newspapers typically spend about 15 percent of their revenue on what, to the Internet world, are their only valuable assets: the people who report, analyze, and edit the news. Varian cited a study by the industry analyst Harold Vogel showing that the figure might reach 35 percent if you included all administrative, promotional, and other “brand”-related expenses. But most of the money a typical newspaper spends is for the old-tech physical work of hauling paper around. Buying raw newsprint and using it costs more than the typical newspaper’s entire editorial staff. (The pattern is different at the two elite national papers, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. They each spend more on edit staff than on newsprint, which is part of the reason their brands are among the most likely to survive the current hard times.)

Krishna Bharat (Distinguished Researcher at Google) puts an even finer point on the problems with the existing news model. Bharat runs Google News, the aggregator that sifts through “25,000 sources in some 25 languages” daily. And considering he has watched the type of news trends that receive coverage, his next comments are old news to many of us dissatisfied with how our communities are portrayed in the mainstream media, but hopefully illuminating to those in the industry:

In this role, he sees more of the world’s news coverage daily than practically anyone else on Earth. I asked him what he had learned about the news business.

He hesitated for a minute, as if wanting to be very careful about making a potentially offensive point. Then he said that what astonished him was the predictable and pack-like response of most of the world’s news outlets to most stories. Or, more positively, how much opportunity he saw for anyone who was willing to try a different approach.

The Google News front page is a kind of air-traffic-control center for the movement of stories across the world’s media, in real time. “Usually, you see essentially the same approach taken by a thousand publications at the same time,” he told me. “Once something has been observed, nearly everyone says approximately the same thing.” He didn’t mean that the publications were linking to one another or syndicating their stories. Rather, their conventions and instincts made them all emphasize the same things. This could be reassuring, in indicating some consensus on what the “important” stories were. But Bharat said it also indicated a faddishness of coverage—when Michael Jackson dies, other things cease to matter—and a redundancy that journalism could no longer afford. “It makes you wonder, is there a better way?” he asked. “Why is it that a thousand people come up with approximately the same reading of matters? Why couldn’t there be five readings? And meanwhile use that energy to observe something else, equally important, that is currently being neglected.” He said this was not a purely theoretical question. “I believe the news industry is finding that it will not be able to sustain producing highly similar articles.”

I’ve been thinking about this in light of the Stanley-Jones tragedy, and in light of South Philadelphia High School. Continue reading

The Lady Is A Tramp: Aiyana Stanley-Jones at the Altar of the Media

by Special Correspondent Andrea Plaid, originally published at Bitch Magazine

I’m taking a moment from my usual sexing-it-up posts because of the little girl pictured above.

For those who don’t know, her name is Aiyana Stanley Jones. And she’s dead. Her family just buried her this week.

She didn’t die from leukemia or in a drunk-driving accident or at the hands of an abusive or negligent parent or guardian.

She died for the sake of entertainment. Continue reading

Racially Divisive Press Mars Discussion of South Philadelphia High School

by Latoya Peterson

south philadelphia high

I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop in the matter of South Philadelphia High School. And it did.

Reader Carleandria points us to an article in The American (the American Enterprise Institute’s Journal) which wastes no time with the headline: “Are Some Races More Equal Than Others?

Readers, if my eyes rolled any harder, they would be stuck permanently at the top of my brow.

Abigail Thernstrom and Tim Fay feel like they understand the real reason why South Philadelphia High School isn’t getting any play from the press:

Will the Obama administration act aggressively to ensure Asian rights to a public education free of intimidation and actual violence—surely a basic civil right? Or will such action be taken only when blacks are the victims rather than the perpetrators? If the administration acts in the interest of the Asians, black students will be singled out as racially hostile troublemakers—a conclusion that neither the Department of Education nor the DOJ will welcome, if Duncan’s announcement means what it says. [...] Continue reading

Crack and Hip Hop Politically Underdeveloped Young People

by Guest Contributor M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

On a fluke a few of weeks ago, I picked up a dvd about the Black Panthers and the student and employee strike at SF State that created the first Black Studies department in the country.

It was in watching this video that realized that both crack and hip hop politically underdeveloped young people. Much of this statement comes out of my reading two or three books a week along with five or six articles last month, while simultaneously watching the fall out from Sasha Frere Jones’s post about the end of hip hop and a post about rap critics. Blog posts, long blog posts take a lot of work. At least coherent ones do.

Reading and writing is labor and I am thinking about to which ends, those of us who are in our twenties and thirties, are reading and writing.

While watching the responses percolate, I wondered what would happen if we invested the same time in rap blogs in making politics to address our lives?

What is our investment in a music that has made it clear that it doesn’t give a fuck out us in a time where we live in an unsustainable world?

For the folks who say that hip hop is related to a political project, I would say, place a link in the comment section. By political I mean a group of people organizing to serve a communally determined group agenda. This doesn’t mean that it hasn’t served as a conscious raising tool, in the past, but Post Chronic or even Post Blueprint, the music has ceased being for itself and currently exists for Black respect and White dollars.

Given that this is the case, what does this mean for Black people and what does it mean for Black music? Continue reading

On Media Reform and Hate Speech

by Guest Contributor Hannah Miller

The media reform movement is an offshoot and part of the civil rights movement. It was born in 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King and Rev. Everett Parker of the United Church of Christ initiated a lawsuit against white-owned TV stations in the South for consistently portraying African Americans in a racist manner, while refusing to show any coverage of the civil rights movement.

Because of their pressure, the FCC shut down a Mississippi TV station, stating that the power and influence that media companies have gives them the responsibility to operate with the broader public interest at heart – with special consideration given to oppressed minorities.

Since then, political pressure has been brought to bear against the FCC and Congress on a wide variety of issues: female and minority ownership of stations and publications, the dangers of consolidation of the media, the need to build public communications infrastructure like cable access stations or city-owned Internet networks, and the need for everyone to have broadband access.

The percentage of our time that the American public spends with media has been steadily climbing for 40 years, and with that, its influence over our lives. The media is our environment, and the battle I am engaged in is over the nature of this environment: whether it is an environment in which ordinary people have a voice – or whether we are to passively absorb content controlled by a small number of people and corporations. Whether the media is democratic, and reflects a variety of voices.

Continue reading

Us and Them

by Guest Contributor Missives from Marx originally published at Sociological Images

A month or two ago I commented on the New York Times Upfront magazine for high school kids. I recently came across their latest, which features a cover story titled “What We Eat.” The story is really just an interesting collection of photographs of families from nations all over the world, but with each family sitting with all the food in their house, like this family from Kuwait:

kuwait1

However, although the title of the article inside the magazine is “What We Eat,” the title listed on the cover of the magazine is “What They Eat.” The picture selected for the cover is not one of the family photos, but is, instead, a photo apparently selected to elicit the maximum negative visceral response possible from American kids:

what they eat

So the cover separates an “us” and a “them,” and shows the American high school students how gross and weird “they” are.

Check out the issue that preceded this one by just two or three weeks:

gun

Here American high school students learn that people around the world with dark skin are violent, dirty, and poorly dressed.

No wonder American kids grow up to be American adults whose voting habits reflect the view that American foreign policy should be paternalistic.

Note from Sociological Images:

This reminds me of some of Catherine Lutz’s and Jane Collins’s arguments in their book Reading National Geographic, in which show how that magazine represents other cultures in ways that reinforce the idea of the non-Western world as the Other. These images would be a useful accompaniment to the book and a discussion of how we represent people from other countries and what those representations justify, obscure, or challenge.