October 10, 2004
Italian TV Hires Blogger
More Phony 'News' from Bush Administration
You expect this kind of sleazy stuff from the White House. But the people who deserve even more condemnation are any TV stations that run these press releases in news programs without making clear what they're doing.
AP: Bush Ad Surfaces As News Story on Schools. The Bush administration has promoted its education law with a video that comes across as a news story but fails to make clear the reporter involved was paid with taxpayer money. The government used a similar approach this year in promoting the new Medicare law and drew a rebuke from the investigative arm of Congress, which found the videos amounted to propaganda in violation of federal law.
More on the Indymedia Disk Seizure
It is clearly perfectly possible for their operations to be crippled without warning, without their being told what it is they've done, and without explanation. Depending on whether the authorities (under the international MLAT regime this could be many, many authorities) want something you've got or just want to stop you doing something, the crippling could be pretty extensive and pretty long term. If they want you to stop doing something then they'll quite likely want your backups as well, and if you've no servers, no backups, and no idea when/if you're getting them back, two photos is going to be the least of your worries.
Howard Stern, Satellite Radio and Freedom
Reuters: Howard Stern to broadcast on Sirius Radio in 2006. Howard Stern, one of the most popular U.S. radio personalities, on Wednesday said he will broadcast his show on Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. beginning in 2006, after being dropped earlier this year from several stations that objected to his often off-color humor.
How big is this news? It's huge.
I don't care for Stern's crude humor, but I care a lot for his free-speech rights. And with luck, his move represents the beginning of the end for the traditional radio oligopoly, and the end of the beginnining for the alternatives that one day will make the Clear Channels of this world irrelevant.
With luck, it'll also be the end of the FCC's congressionally mandated war on "indecency," which has turned into a war on common sense and free speech. But now watch Congress move to censor satellite, too. If they succeed, then the First Amendment will die once and for all. Let's not let them.
UPDATE: I don't want to suggest that satellite radio is the only answer to the current system. Podcasting, the MP3-delivery method that Dave Winer, Adam Curry and others are creating these days, is another smart response.
It looks to me as though the solution will be found both above (satellite) and below (podcasting) the current, rigged marketplace that Clear Channel and its compatriots have so thoroughly ruined. There's plenty of room for both.
New Mercury News Blog
My colleague at the Mercury News, pop music critic Marian Liu, has launched a new blog -- "Backstage with Marian" -- that I predict will attract lots of readers and commenters.
Chilling Speech: Where Are Big Media?
If this had happened to a "mainstream" U.S. news organization, the wires would be melting with the news.
Sydney Morning Herald: FBI seizes Indymedia servers. The FBI has issued an order to hosting provider Rackspace in the US, ordering it to turn over two of the servers hosting the Independent Media Centre's websites in the UK, a statement from the group says. Rackspace has offices in the US and the UK. Independent Media Center, which is better known as Indymedia, was set up in 1999 to provide grassroots coverage of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) protests in Seattle. Rackspace complied with the FBI order, without first notifying Indymedia, and turned over Indymedia's server in the UK. This affects over 20 Indymedia sites worldwide, the group said.
Indymedia isn't always my cup of tea from a journalistic standpoint. But this seizure has the smell of intimidation, not law enforcement. I hope journalists closer to the scenes in the U.S. and U.K. are jumping on this story.
Discussion of Book and Grassroots Journalism
October 05, 2004
Evan Leaves Bloogle
Evan Williams, a co-founder of Pyra Labs, the blogging outfit that became part of Google, is leaving. He says it's all amicable and I don't see any reason to question that. He's a pioneer, and he's still young; we'll be hearing more from him, and I'm sure it'll be interesting.
October 02, 2004
Reminder: Speaking Monday Evening in San Jose
I'll be doing a Commonwealth Club talk Monday evening in San Jose, at the new public library. Topic: "The Emergence of Grassroots Journalism" -- and it's free and open to the public. It's also sponsored by the Journalism & Mass Communications Department at San Jose State University.
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