Archive for February, 2011


I was shocked to hear that on Friday the Libyan government completely shut down the internet, initially confining all of its citizens from communicating with the outside world. According to an article from the Huffington Post, however, it seems that Libya’s internet is now back up and running.

This was the same strategy used in Egypt just a few weeks ago, and it seems to smack of desperation on the part of the government. It seems like a sure sign that a government is losing control when they have to restrict all outside communications via the internet.

However, the situation in Libya is a great deal worse than the protests in Egypt that led the the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Col. Gaddafi, the leader of Libya, has exercised violence against the protesters, and many have been killed thus far. Even though the protests in Libya are following in the footsteps of Egypt, the government seems to be going a decidedly different route.

Who knows what may happen in the next days and weeks? Hopefully the shutting down of the internet will be the least of the protesters’ worries. I’ll be carefully monitoring the news to hear about any of the latest developments in Libya and the surrounding nations.

Sources:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/18/libya-internet-shut-down-_n_825473.html

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I just read an article in the LA Times which stated that Fox News and Al Jazeera.net have received a large increase in ratings and unique site viewers in the US, respectively, because of the events happening in Egypt during the past week. The story went on to say that the Fox nightly news and Al Jazeera.net gained more viewers, while other news networks such as CNN and NBC news earned slightly lower ratings.

This story is a perfect example of Americans flock to news outlets in times of crisis, such as September 12th, 2001. Although the situation in Egypt was no way near as dire or close to home as the terror attacks of September 11th, the story was still large enough internationally to draw significantly audiences to reliable news sources.

However, its understandably strange why Fox News and Al Jazeera.net would become more popular, while CNN and other network news would lose popularity. Do Americans really think that Fox news is the most reliable and objectionable source for television news? I certainly don’t think so.

Whatever the reason for the increase in news viewership, for nothing else I’m glad that more Americans were interested in the turmoil in the Middle East. In a world where we have unlimited access to news, it is nice to know that at least some Americans are taking advantage of the various sources available to them.

Sources:
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/the_big_picture/2011/02/al-jazeera-fox-log-biggest-audience-jumps-during-egypt-crisis.html

I was shocked to hear this morning that Lara Logan, the chief foreign correspondant for CBS news was sexually assaulted on Friday while covering the celebrations in Egypt. According to an article posted on CBS.com, Logan was surrounded by an angry mob and sexually assaulted before a group of women and Egyptian soldiers were able to reunite her with her camera crew.

I didn’t imagine that such a senseless act of violence would occur now that Mr. Mubarak has stepped down from office, especially since most of the protestors in Egypt are now celebrating their newfound freedom. I would have expected something like this to have happened last week, when the protests were still going strong, and public opionion was more heavily split. It is a terrible shame that something like this would happen to an american journalist, and just goes to reinforce the point that american journalists covering international topics need to be extra careful when reporting on volatile situations.

Incidents like this make me question whether or not I would want to be a foreign correspondant. I understand the importance of good coverage, but is a story worth my life? In this day and age, americans have become something of a public enemy in countries in the Middle East, where the struggle for democracy is often turbulent and violent. Hopefully, conditions will continue to the point that aspiring journalists like myself do not have to fear covering foreign stories.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/02/15/60minutes/main20032070.shtml

I was shocked, as was the rest of the world, when I heard on Friday that President Hosni Mubarak stepped down as ruler of Egypt after 30 years of rule. I had expected the protests to go on for weeks, possibly even months, considering Mubarak’s decision to remain in power until the new elections in September.

The New York Times covered this event with great detail, as can be seen in their Saturday issue. In their main feature (http://nyti.ms/dOyRZq) I learned a great deal about the struggle of the Egyptian people and their eventual victory in ousting Mubarak from power.

I have to admit, the political situation in Egypt and in Yemen has remained confusing for me as I have tried to follow the daily coverage of events as they occur in the past two weeks. I finally feel that I have a good understanding of current events thanks to the articles I have been reading in the times, especially in the past two days.

I truly hope that the Egyptian people can work with the military to ensure that a peaceful and orderly transition of power takes place in the next few weeks. However, I am a little worried that things won’t go as smoothly as planned- I feel that events rarely unfold as planned in the Middle East.

I also hope that the United States is able to remain a close ally to Egypt. I feel that we can be a real aid to the Egyptian people and the new Egyptian government, as well as an example of democracy for other MIddle Eastern countries. Furthermore, I agree with the Times that the example set in Egypt by the protesters in Tahrir Square can and may have a positive effect on the people living in other dictatorships surrounding Egypt. Although the fight to remove Mubarak from power is over, there is no doubt that the political situation in Egypt will remain one of the most interesting topics in international news for many months to come.

 

Other Sources:

http://nyti.ms/f4JJFG

 

 

It was announced today that the McClatchy Co. has cut 70 jobs from its local newspaper chains, 22 of which are being cut from the Dallas based Star-Telegram. According to BizJournals.com (www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2011/02/08/mcclatchy-cuts-continue-at-star-telegram.html) the cuts at the Star-Telegram are a result of poor yearly performances in recent years. The rest of the 70 cut jobs resulted from decreased stock earnings.

The kinds of cuts being made by the McClatchy company are exactly like the type of cuts we have talked about recently in JRN 301. Once again, a corportate chain has decided to put profit ahead of journalistic integrity, thus laying off dozens of local journalists.

The problems associated with these layoffs not only hurt the journalists who lost their jobs, but newspaper as a whole. A good newspaper cannot operate without a dedicated staff who has the resources to do good reporting.

I think it is really unfortunate that the McClatchy co. has decided to make financials their top priority over good journalism. However, I’m not at all surprised by their decision; this kind of business has been going on for years, and will probably continue to occur until corporations realize that they are only hurting themselves by slashing journalists off of local papers. If these corporate execs would just realize that good reporting is done by well staffed newspapers, they may be able to recover their losses in recent years and turn a bigger profit on their newspapers than ever before.

This morning’s announcement by AOL and Arianna Huffington about the merger of AOL and the Huffington Post has dominated the day’s headlines, and remained a constant topic of conversation throughout journalism classes in Stony Brook University.

What seems strangest to me is the seemingly different political points of view of the Huffington Post and AOL. As discussed in my JRN 301 class this afternoon, AOL has managed to remain apolitical, while the Huffington Post is a left leaning online newspaper. The New York Times ran an excellent article on the merger (see sources below) that really helped me to understand the impact of this media merger and the possibilities it could have for the future of AOL and the Huffington Post.

However, I am concerned that the influence of AOL on the Huffington Post may change the political standing of the newspaper. I believe that Arianna Huffington will do a good job of maintaining her political stances and not bowing to investor pressure, but AOL’s businesslike approach to journalism and advertising is a lot more commercial than the ideals held by most traditional journalists.

Even though I am not a gigantic supporter of Huffington’s leftist views (I sometimes find her to be a little too liberal) I hope that the pressure of being a part of a major media corporation will not change the way Huffington and the writers of the Post report on the news. The Huffington Post has been a bold experiment in web journalism, and it would be a major blow to the journalism industry.

Sources:

http://kara.allthingsd.com/20110206/youve-got-arianna-aol-buys-huffington-post-for-315-million-in-cash/

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/07/business/media/07aol.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper

Today marks the launch of Newscorp and Rupert Murdock’s iPad-only daily newspaper, simply titled The Daily. In an article from the LA Times, Murdock hopes that with The Daily he can begin to return the media back to a payed for service, as opposed to the free access to news that consumers have enjoyed in recent years.

In my opinion, I don’t think that The Daily will be initially successful. People in today’s economy are not interested in purchasing something that can be gotten elsewhere for free, even if what they are paying for is better than the free service. I think the Daily will appear attractive to those who demand a certain quality and style of news from their news sources, but will be largely ignored by the general public. The reasons for this are twofold: firstly, the iPad remains a luxury that most people cannot afford to buy, and secondly, that there are so many other news outlets who are willing to offer the same or similar content for free. This generation of news consumers, including myself, has come to expect that things will be free on the internet, most notably information. While the Daily is affordably priced, I don’t know how quickly people will be willing to sign up for a paid subscription when they can go to the New York Times website for free.

That being said, in the long run the Daily might come to be seen as the founding father of the digital newspaper subscription model. Since many news outlets on the internet intend to put up paywalls in the coming years, affordable news outlets like the Daily may begin to appeal to more people. Furthermore, if Murdock allows the Daily to be read on other devices other than iPads, such as cell phones or even iPhones, the Daily could reach a much wider audience.

The Daily reminds me in a way of some of the earliest penny press newspapers to hit the market during the early 1800’s. While the 1 cent newspaper ultimately became the business model to beat for over 100 years in the newpaper industry, early ventures in the penny press failed entirely. While Murdock’s Daily certainly isn’t the first digital subscription newspaper, it is the first to be released solely on Apple’s iPad. Only time will tell whether the Daily helps to harken in a new digital subscription business model, or simply acts as a precursor for more well-developed ideas to come.

Sources:

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ct-newscorp-20110202,0,2418993.story

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny_press

The past few days have seen some extremely interesting changes in the political landscape of Egypt, especially since President Mubarak announced today that he will not be running for office this coming September (http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/egyptian-president-hosni-mubarak-wont-seek-reelection-12814812).

While many people are glad to see Mubarak leave office, including President Obama, others are concerned with the implications his absence may cause in the Middle East’s political sphere. These doubts are compacted by the fact that the opposing group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is responsible for the death of Anwar El Sadat in 1981 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/october/6/newsid_2515000/2515841.stm).

I honestly didn’t know much about the situation unfolding in Egypt until the past few days. I also had no idea that Egypt plays such a crucial role in Middle Eastern politics, considering its removal from what the news media typically classify as the Middle East. However, I have to say that the implications of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Egypt could be quite dangerous for the political environment of the region. Jack Mirkinson’s article from the Huffington Post about Anderson Cooper’s visit to Egypt on Sunday really helped me to visualize the chain of events that is unfolding as more the tension grows over Mubarak’s decision not to run for reelection in September (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/31/anderson-cooper-in-egypt_n_816506.html).

This article also exemplified the power of journalism to expose the lives and stories of average citizens. In the Huffington Post article, Cooper speaks about the willingness of the Egyptian people to be filmed by CNN. Journalism’s ability to connect citizens across the world and alert/inform others of important current events and the struggles of others has clearly being exercised during this historic uprising. I look forward in the coming days to see the new developments that will be revealed as the story continues to develop, and other instances of journalism helping average people to get their stories out to the wider international community.

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog!

It’s my first time blogging, but I’m really interested to see what this is all about and share my opinions with the world. Hopefully you find it interesting! As always, feel free to share your opinions and comment on my posts. I’m always looking to improve my writing.

 

Thanks, and happy reading!