Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Limits of Freedom

The limits to freedom, is also the limits to thinking. In a place that many consider paradise, what is peculiar about the "culture" and some (dictatorial) personalities, are these people who want to act as the limits to thinking by requiring that everybody else must think only what they say should be the limits to thought and behavior. It is the authoritarian (totalitarian) control/dominance mentality of human relations and society.

Following is a fairly typical "published" letter to the editor of the Honolulu Advertiser -- which among all the letters they receive, very deliberately chooses those which are the most shortsighted and guaranteed to promote divisiveness, conflict and ill-will within the community -- as their perverted sense of “community service” -- while suppressing, oppressing and repressing the only thoughtful, insightful and intelligent letters they receive.

TRAFFIC (Solution)

In car-crowded Honolulu, bicycles would be a welcome alternative to cars were it not for our narrow streets — and the often arrogant, ignorant attitude of bicyclists who hold up traffic in their lane, especially on main thoroughfares during rush hour.

Bicyclists need a designated lane and prohibitions from using busy roads like Ala Moana, Nimitz, King and Beretania during peak traffic times.

Laws are needed when aloha and common sense are ignored.
Mark Yasuhara

Why don’t we just ban all cars during the rush hours?

A favorite tactic is to get one hopelessly embroiled in these "straw man" arguments rather than into the the original discussions of the larger ideas of intelligence, freedom, justice, credibility, integrity, etc. -- and bogged down into the endless quagmires of pettiness, published almost exclusively in the mass media these days as what we ought to be concerned with.

It’s a power trip just to see that one can control the dialogue (thinking) in this way. So instead of discussing the actualities of transportation success in Hawaii, it is about how successful other public transportation systems in the world are -- although it is a shame that people there, they don’t use theirs enough either, or that the only thing separating Honolulu from preeminence among all the cities in the world is (whatever) they want us to think -- and they should control all the information on what to think.


At August 04, 2007 1:02 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

There's a reason the people are canceling their subscriptions to the mass media in droves -- and they can't simply convert to leadership in the emerging new media. No need to worry what happens next. Something better always fills the void in its own wondrous fashion.

That doesn't mean all blogs or new innovations will be good. But unquestionably there will be more choices, alternatives, styles than the one Associated press would like everyone to conform to -- as though they had a right to control these things for everyone.

They do as long as people allow them to; sometimes that is with good cause, but has to be earned and merited, and not abused just to demonstrate one's arrogance.

Otherwise, there's always a right and a reason to find (express) a better way.

At August 07, 2007 7:49 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Coming to the Honolulu Advertiser and Star-Bulletin in the next 20-30 years -- but by then both will be defunct -- but their retired staff will be double-dipping for not producing a newspaper, no doubt.

Bronstein Launches New 'Journalism of Action' After Big Cuts

By Joe Strupp

Published: August 07, 2007 10:00 AM ET

NEW YORK With its massive newsroom staff cuts essentially complete, the San Francisco Chronicle is embarking on a new approach to coverage that Editor Phil Bronstein likens to that practiced by William Randolph Hearst.

"Journalism of Action," the phrase being bandied about in the Chronicle newsroom since last Thursday, will take the paper’s regular coverage of an event, topic, or issue and expand it to include ways that readers and others can seek changes and improvements.

"How does the story affect people? What can they do about it?" Bronstein told E&P in explaining the approach. "There has been a bit of a tradition of saying, 'Here is the information -- good night, see you tomorrow.' We will deal more with the solutions, get involved and tell people what they can do.”

Bronstein, who recently finished overseeing the staff cuts that ended with the departure of about 90 people from his 400-person newsroom, met on Thursday with those who will remain and directed them to take the new approach into daily news coverage. "It is more about solutions, helping them understand what they can do about things," he said. "Yes, there are murders in Bayview, and Muni is broken down. But what can you do about it?"

The editor compared the approach to the paper’s popular ChronWatch feature, which focuses on specific government-related problems such as potholes, broken stoplights, and the like, and follows the progress of efforts to fix them.

"I’m not saying in every circumstance, but to look at stories from that aspect, you can direct people to learn what they can do to help,” Bronstein said. He cited the death of a hiker in June at Half Dome in Yosemite National Park as an example of a story that could be expanded.

While the Chronicle reported on the statistics of deaths related to the attraction -- and the opinions of safety experts -- it may in the future take such a story further. "the comments online you had some of the solutions," he said of the reader-reaction posts. "You have the use of technology and even an editorial crusade to get things done.”

Scott Proctor, deputy managing editor/news, said the paper took such an approach earlier this year when there was a trash company lockout in Oakland, which resulted in replacement workers being brought in by Waste Management Inc. During the 20-day lockout, he said the Chronicle covered the story, but also sought to focus on specific neighborhoods and how the lockout was affecting them.

"We identified places that were not being picked up, put pictures in the paper and followed them," he said."We had a garbage watch everyday, picked a place and tried to see if we could get Waste Management to respond." He said the paper eventually found that the poorest neighborhoods were among the most neglected.

Proctor also pointed to a column by C.W. Nevius on homelessness in Golden Gate Park. He said the column was prompted after an outcry related to a coyote attack on a dog in the park. Nevius’ column stressed that homelessness in the park was much more severe and common than coyote attacks. "It drew hundreds and hundreds of comments and made it an ongoing story," Proctor said.

Bronstein said other approaches might include bringing an issue or problem to a public official, such as a law enforcement leader or mayor and pinning them down for answers and a plan of action.

"You have all of these multimedia aspects to it," he said, noting the use of Web, print and video or audio. "I am not saying it will always work, but it is something you can try."

Noting William Randolph Hearst’s historic use of his papers, including Bronstein’s former employer, the San Francisco Examiner, to bring issues to light, he said the Chronicle could do so today. "Every newspaper is talking about watchdog journalism," he added. "That is different from advocacy, which is telling people what to think."

He said the paper would also focus the effort on specific areas, but said they had not been chosen yet. He noted, however, they might include "green living," real estate, politics, and technology. "Beats will be realigned based on that," he said. "There will probably be some physical shifts within the building."

He said the paper may even create a "central nervous system," where representatives from departments such as news, photography, features, online and others will be based to react immediately on all fronts to some stories. "The basic departments who are in on the discussion from the get-go."

Adds Proctor, "when you cut down as much as we have cut down, every paper has cut down, you have to look at what you have to do fabulous work."

Joe Strupp ( is a senior editor at E&P.

At August 07, 2007 8:07 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

That's probably the biggest change in the cultural/intellectual landscape in the last ten years -- the evaporation of the control of mainstream media as pretty nearly the exclusive enclaves of the entrenched status quo.

That alone is the most encouraging development for the prospects for life in the future -- as well as the present. With all the information now available, relying on your local media outlets as exclusive providers of information (mostly rumor, innuendo and useless information while reinforcing this sense of hopelessness that things can only be done by government rather than informed and aware citizens), is the problem of these times.

When people are fully-informed, and not just told "what to think," a lot of problems disappear -- but exist because of the insistence to withhold and control information that is helpful to all.

It's like the old television commercial of the Internet Service Provider forcing everybody to drink up the ocean of information through a small straw they own.


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