Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Weakest Link

Here they go again.

Hopefully they still receive hundreds of "Letters to the Editors" -- so that they choose to publish those that only serve to provoke and incite hatred, demagoguery, divisiveness and misinformation -- is very deliberate malice that IS the problems in Hawaii.

Otherwise, for the most part, people get along very well with one another -- harboring no ill-will with false memories of injustices planted in their heads by the media demagogues whose sole idea of fun is the partisanship, prejudices and violence that they distort with glee.

Having worked in “homecare” visits gave me an interesting insight into the minds of those who generate such epistles. One guy was even virtually paralyzed by a stroke that made it impossible to do anything else -- but make malicious phone calls 24/7 to every business and organization he could think of -- to complain and try to get everybody fired.

Shortly before, while working answering such calls for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), I used to wonder what motivated some people to spend all day harassing anybody they could still get to speak to them, thinking that the job of a public servant was to take such abuse indiscriminately and unsuspectingly.

Abusive people are abusive people -- undoubtedly products of an abusive childhood that drives them to land in positions that allow them to manipulate and abuse others with the approbation of their coworkers. That’s why these people are driven to be “somebody,” that they were browbeaten and humiliated as children to believe they weren’t.

And so the whole play of abuse, manipulation, deception and deep-seated hatreds for who knows what reason, are perpetuated as the life of the land.

GOP ensures future rule of Democrats

Being seen as the party of war against, and destruction of, the South destroyed any Republican presence south of the Mason-Dixon line for a century.

Being seen as the party responsible for the excesses of the robber barons, oppression of workers and for the economic collapse during the Great Depression ended Republican hegemony and leadership in either house of Congress for three generations.

Now the Republicans of the Senate and House, having learned nothing of history, stand behind their president in lobotomized unison, oblivious to facts, oblivious to the opinion of their own experts, oblivious to the will of the people and, sheep-like, prepare to make Republicans an unpalatable choice for voters for the duration of hostilities in Iraq, and perhaps a generation or more beyond.

As a shattered America tries to pick up its pieces of an economy destroyed by reckless Republican spending on a war of choice, coupled with tax cuts for the wealthy, and tries to rebuild its international reputation besmirched by the shame and enormity of scandals surrounding an illegal war, prisoner abuse, domestic spying, war profiteering by the vice president and the president's uncle, voters will wisely shy away from this cadre of untruthful and delusional Republican candidates. This leaves the prospect of unchallenged rule by the Democratic Party for the foreseeable future.

God help us all.

Donald B. MacGowan


At February 11, 2007 10:16 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

These letters editors and inflammatory headline writers should just do what they do best -- moonlight writing union newsletters.

At February 11, 2007 10:22 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

My major objection to such "hit" pieces, has always been the misrepresentation of the mentality of the good (most) people of Hawaii -- so that some media miscreant can sow demagoguery for their own career advancement and agenda.

At February 11, 2007 10:31 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The major purpose of the letters section, is to gain some insight into the quality of the readership of that publication/blog, and if one gets the sense that there are not the best and the brightest who are featured -- but only the worst of those nobody would willingly want to be associated with -- is the reason newspapers lose their credibility and readership and are replaced by the new and best representations of these times.

At February 11, 2007 10:36 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I think the Star-bulletin is too far gone to save one more time, but at least the Advertiser's editors are admitting they make mistakes, and no longer seem to have the illusion that their job is to tell everybody what to think -- as though nobody can think for themselves, and can tell the difference.

That's a step in the right direction.

At February 11, 2007 10:45 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

A few weeks back, the mainstream media was haranguing and harassing President Bush mercilessly, hoping to produce a Nixon moment in which he was so distracted and deranged that he couldn't think and walk straight and was compelled to resign for relief -- but then this President, calmly, coolly, masterfully delivered his State of the Union speech, which indicated they no longer had the influence they thought they did.

So now even the publisher of the New York Times has doubts that they'll still be around in the form they used to be the king of the world in.

They need to do some serious soul-searching -- and invite in those who might be able to tell them what in the world is going on -- rather than fighting to shut them out.

At February 11, 2007 11:44 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Hatred and bigotry are combated not by responding in kind to epistles of demagougery but in just being aware of these deceptions and manipulations -- in this case, of the newspaper editors using other people to spread their own message of hate while proclaiming complete innocence in just allowing others their own freedom of expression -- while of course, suppressing and denying all the voices of goodwill, rationality and truthfulness, as their "freedom of the press."

At February 11, 2007 11:51 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Preferably, the people of this "profession" police their own -- and purge themselves of these disgraceful elements among them -- but in a contracting industry, ruled by the iron hand of union seniority rules, they have no means of getting rid of the most malicious among them, and the interns are exploited for as long as they can before realizing no positions will open up to them because those at the top of scale have no intention of retiring -- and will in fact, be double-dipping so as to make money for new hires even scarcer.

At February 11, 2007 12:06 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

That's the problem with all the union jobs now -- the lack of fresh new blood and ideas because they are committed to rewarding seniority and the status quo in industries that are already having great difficulty meeting the challenges of the new -- and why they don't stand a chance.

A lot of these types will try to make the switch to "open" forums (blogging) -- which means being vulnerable and taking on the total intelligence of the world, and not being able to control it to their liking so that only they appear to know something.

When everybody gets to play, the level of the game rises as high as the talent in the total (universal) gene poll and is not limited just to the self-designated few to retain an advantage and preclude more competent people from participation.

It's a great crisis for the old style publications -- so used to being able to control, manipulate, distort. In the new world, nobody has that exclusive control -- as much as their initial reaction is to institute it. Then they just have a preposterous situation of trying to maintain the old status quo with new tools, that exist to eliminate them.

At February 11, 2007 12:34 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

These people in quasi-professional fields like journalism, education, etc., have to make up their minds on whether they want to be professionals or unionists -- valuing seniority over merit and ability.

They demand to be paid as much as the governor or Tiger Woods -- with tenure, no less, so they can never be fired or even held accountable.

There's nothing stopping teachers from competing against Tiger Woods and Shaquille O'Neill to get that 10 million dollars they think they are also "entitled" to.

At February 11, 2007 4:00 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Demagougery is so much more fun when they can convince people to strap explosives to their bodies before wandering among the "enemy" -- thinking that if they don't do it first, the other side will do it to them.

Meanwhile, the instigators and perpetuators can find no "justification" for such "senseless" acts of violence in their pious "objectivity."

That's really been the only thing that holds Hawaii back -- the malice promoted as "good fun."

At February 11, 2007 4:28 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The beginning of the end: The future of journalism.

San Francisco Chronicle
Tonight at 11, news by neighbors
Santa Rosa TV station fires news staff, to ask local folks to provide programming

Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Steve Spendlove realizes that after last month's layoffs of most of the news-gathering staff at tiny KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa there will be less local coverage. The Clear Channel executive overseeing the station knows there won't be reporters to investigate local scandals, let alone do those fluffy woman-turns-100 features that make TV anchors cock their heads and smile at the end of a newscast.

But Spendlove said that the station's "business model" hadn't been working for years, and that "covering one-eighth of the Bay Area" is neither a moneymaker nor even an operation large enough to be measured by Nielsen ratings.

So the next step in Channel 50's evolution will be a nationally watched experiment in local television coverage. Over the next few months, the station's management plans to ask people in the community -- its independent filmmakers, its college students and professors, its civic leaders and others -- to provide programming for the station.

Will they be paid? That's being worked out. Who will cover the harder-edged stories? Some will be culled from local newspaper and TV online sites, Spendlove said, and "other sources" that are still being discussed.

"There will be a loss in local coverage, I'm not going to lie to you," he said. "But there are a lot of other places to get most of that information."

Spendlove is loath to dub what's coming next to Channel 50 as "citizen journalism," the industry buzz term that is journalism's equivalent of user-generated content online. Broadly defined, citizen journalism means tapping into the wisdom and creativity of the audience and enabling nonprofessionals to become part of the news-gathering process. Media analysts believe there may be 700 citizen journalism outfits reporting on geographic nooks of the country and countless other bloggers doing various versions of the local news.

Many of them are self-funded "fusions of news and schmooze" sites "that don't produce finished stories like you'd see at traditional journalism outlets," said Jan Schaffer, who heads J-Lab, a citizen journalism think tank at the University of Maryland.

In a J-Lab survey released this month, many citizen journalists felt they were "a success" not because they had tons of readers, but because they had called attention to local problems overlooked by larger media outlets.

Some citizen video journalists, particularly outside the United States, have had a larger impact.

When last year's coup in Thailand shut down traditional local media outlets, images downloaded from citizen journalists to CNN's "I-Report'' were the cable giant's only window into the action. And much has been told about how the first images of the July 2005 London terrorist bombings were recorded by cell phone cameras. The genre's runaway success story is OhmyNews in South Korea, which not only has tens of thousands of citizen contributors but is profitable.

"Traditional journalists, even the very best ones, can only tell a story from the outside looking in," said Mitch Gelman,'s executive producer. "What you get from citizen journalists is a view from the inside looking out. It is a complement to our coverage."

Trust is an issue

As the media landscape shifts, traditional television executives are figuring out how comfortable they are in letting the audience express themselves. The potential army of cheap news gatherers poses a dilemma: While editors love the idea of receiving images from a coup in Thailand hours before their news crew arrives at the scene, many editors don't totally trust the public, especially when it comes to reporting hard news stories.

"People come to CBS News because it's a trusted source of information that they know has been vetted," said Mike Sims, director of news and operations at "That's why we've been slower to move into citizen journalism."

Still, Sims said CBS will in the next few months unveil more ways to involve viewers. TV news operations and their online partners can't ignore the YouTube-driven interest in user-generated content -- or how those efforts can help build a loyal audience.

So with names like "I-Report" (CNN), "You Witness News" (Yahoo-Reuters partnership) and "Moving Pictures" (a feature begun this month at Bay Area NBC affiliate KNTV), TV news is slowly exploring ways to involve the audience in its productions.

"Everybody is trying to catch lightning in a bottle trying to figure out a way to interact with citizens," said Spendlove, a senior vice president for the Western region of Clear Channel Television who works in Fresno. "We're hoping to find a new way to compete in an area where the big boys couldn't afford to do it."

"I have my own silly little term," Spendlove said. "Local content harvesting."

If that sounds a bit too agricultural for Fourth Estate purists, you should hear Spendlove talk about "renewable content" programming -- a steady stream of offerings from a single source. Although he expects some cost savings from Channel 50's changeover, he anticipated that the station may have to employ more editors to thresh all the harvested content.

Memoirs of a journalist

That's the one universal among citizen journalism efforts: Nobody quite knows what type of user-generated content will work best on a traditional news site -- except that it won't be the Mentos-in-a-Diet Coke bottle fodder that made YouTube worth $1.6 billion to Google. That's too random for a news site.

Yet personal essays are what viewers submit most often. Viewers flooded CNN's "I-Report'' with remembrances and images after Steve "The Crocodile Hunter" Irwin died.

"This is the beginning of something, so I'd be very suspicious of anyone who said they had figured it out yet," said Deputy Editor Tom Brew, who will begin training next week on a rebranded citizen journalism site.

The technology is there -- anybody with a camera-equipped cell phone who happens to be in the right place at the right time can become a citizen video journalist. But not everyone is poised for action. For example, there's no shortage of weather photos -- snow shots are especially popular -- but Brew said, "I don't think we're to the point where somebody in Florida just survives a storm and says, 'I'm going to upload some video to' "

That will change as viewers in their teens and 20s come of age, said Scott Moore, head of news and information for Yahoo Media Group, which has been beta-testing a citizen-journalism effort with Reuters for two months. "This next generation is much quicker about flipping open their cell phone if they see a bus crash happen in front of them and uploading the video," Moore said.

A passer-by shot still cell phone images of a fiery car crash in San Francisco's Castro neighborhood in April and sent it to CBS 5-TV. And the Bay Area's KTVU broadcast citizen cell phone video shot last month of a plane crash in Concord and of an armored car fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains. But those submissions have been rare, station officials said.

"If there's breaking news, we want to hear from people," said CBS 5-TV News Director Dan Rosenheim. "But beyond that, we want to rely on our own people. It's a quality control issue."

A hybrid model

At KNTV, editors are trying a hybrid model as a way to test user-generated coverage. Last month, they gave digital still cameras to a dozen viewers, including an injured Iraqi war veteran and a gravedigger. Editors and reporters at the station reviewed the photos, then returned to interview the subjects and tell a "Moving Pictures" story based on the still images.

At first blush, some photos seemed odd -- like the picture of a footbridge sent by a Richmond teen.

"But when we went back to interview her, she said, 'This is the only place I can feel safe from the violence around here,' " said KNTV Assistant News Director Mark Neerman, who conceived of the "Moving Pictures" idea. "Now that's something that we probably wouldn't get in a traditional news story."

What's next for citizen-shot video? CNN's Gelman sees citizen journalists attending a house party in Iowa with a presidential candidate. Yahoo's Moore sees more high school sports coverage.

But what about bias? What if the citizen correspondent conveniently overlooks that the quarterback -- who happens to be her son -- threw five interceptions that cost his team the game?

Moore foresees such stories evolving wiki-style -- referring to the technology used by the publicly created encyclopedia -- edited by a community of writers who would pounce on such gross bias.

That said, Moore said, "I don't expect to see ordinary citizens reporting from the White House briefing room in my lifetime."
Two views

"Traditional journalists, even the very best ones, can only tell a story from the outside looking in. What you get from citizen journalists is a view from the inside looking out. It is a complement to our coverage."

-- Mitch Gelman, executive producer

"If there's breaking news, we want to hear from people. But beyond that, we want to rely on our own people. It's a quality control issue."

-- Dan Rosenheim, CBS 5-TV news director

E-mail Joe Garofoli at

At February 16, 2007 9:00 AM, Blogger Dr. Donald B. MacGowan said...

For someone who bills himself as: "The "World's Writer" --, writing consultant -- 'when it has to be the best.'" to write a sentence such as: "…is very deliberate malice that IS the problems in Hawaii (sic)” is hilarious in the extreme.

It’s also hilarious that you’d choose to make tarty comments about my childhood based on a few paragraphs I dashed-off as a letter to the editor…maybe, if you’re that into analyzing me (why, I cannot imagine, but you certainly had a lot of negative things to say about me) you should try Googling me and see what I’m really about, rather than by pure fantasy and transference.

No, I don’t expect you will—I’m not that interested in you, either…but if you really ARE the World’s Writer and you really believe you’re the best to call “when it has to be the best”, perhaps you’d be best served by spending less time taking other people’s personal inventories and more time concentrating on proper verb conjugation.

Dr. Donald B. MacGowan

At February 16, 2007 10:17 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Actually I wasn’t really criticizing you as much as I was criticizing those editors who would exploit your moments of indiscretion and frustration. My point was that the job of the good editor was to prevent the worst sentiments and impulses from a wider audience -- instead as they do now, feature them prominently to inflame hatreds, bigotry and prejudices -- while suppressing the rational voices of conciliation and integration in society.

So people think the only way their letters and other commentaries will ever see the light of publication is if they pander to the most outrageous and inflammatory statements as a gauge of sentiment of the public, which most people who have actual dealings with “well-connected” people know is not the case.

I did Google you. Your writing is this familiar pattern of putting everybody down -- as proof of your superior scholarship and intellect. You play right into the hands of demagogic editors who fuel the conflicts of society as their bloodsport.


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