Kathy Griffin vs. The Evil Hubby

I’m a big fan of comedian Kathy Griffin and her show. Probably the only non-gay male fan. So when I discovered that her husband allegedly stole $72,000 from her, an alleged event that allegedly caused their now-official divorce, I was interested and mortified. But this was an event that pointed out, again, the real problem with the so-called mainstream media.

While no one sane would expect the gossip rags to do real reporting, I think you do have a right to expect it from allegedly real journalists at places like Forbes, CNN, the Chicago Tribune, and others. You don’t get it from them of course. They pulled a trick that by this point is practically antique. They do no research, no investigation. They report unsupported accusations and do no real journalism by covering a non-event. In this case, they “reported” on Griffin’s appearance on Larry King (another bulwark of journalism).

The only quote any of them got out of Griffin’s ex-husband Matt Modine (and, shock of shocks, it was the same quote, repeated; in other words most of them were “reporting” on a quote given to one of the others) was that he wasn’t making public statements.

Shitty journalism. Again.

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Bloggers Get Legal Precedent for Press Protection

Via Media Bloggers Association:

In what the EFF called a “major victory” for bloggers and citizen journalists, The Sixth Appellate Court of the Court of Appeal of the State of California rejected Apple Computer’s attempt to force disclosure of sources by two blogs (AppleInsider and PowerPage.org) by ruling that bloggers and citizen journalists are entitled to the same legal protections as journalists working for corporate media entities. Specifically, the bloggers were entitled to protection under the California reporter’s shield law.

I’m glad to hear this, having registered an opinion in this matter before. (Link to old CPB site; latest one has had its posts blocked after I ended it.)

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Interactive News Map

Via Sokari at Black Looks, I came across a very cool global News Map by Muti in South Africa.

News Map is a mashup of Google Maps and Yahoo Search. You click on a regional tab and a map is displayed. Click on a country on that map and the latest news headlines appear in a clickable list on the side. They even sub-divide in such a way that you can click individual states in the United States map, which is great, especially if, like I do, you live in The Greatest State in the Union.*

I wish, however, that they would provide a plugin that would allow you to post the mashup in your sidebar. What an excellent alternative to straight news feeds.

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*Oregon, of course. Sheesh.

Curt Hopkins Shares Wisdom of Ages with Foreign Policy Readers

Today my “Expert Sitings” bit came out in Foreign Policy magazine. I wrote it in…I think it was 1982. But I stick by my sage opinions.

I recommended Zimbabwean Pundit, although Zim has since then transfered over to the editorial seat of our Enough is Enough site. Well, it’s not ours anymore, it’s his and theirs.

I recommended Back Seat Drivers, an Ireland-based European site, as an alternative to the wonked out Fistful of Euros.

I recommended Ammar’s Amarji site. I don’t think American thinkers are nearly dramatic enough. Ammar is.

Finally, I called Awful Plastic Surgery the apotheosis of blogging. Since then I’ve come to believe that Baghdad Girl‘s kitty blog is more perfect. But anything that spends all its energy making vomiting noises at celebrities is still pretty beautiful.

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OSF in LA Times

My latest is out in the Los Angeles Times. It’s a travel feature about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, and its environs.

From the article:

SNOWFLAKES the size of quarters filled the air of the Bear Creek Valley and felted the grassy hills above Ashland with white. Nature, Shakespeare said, mirrors the affairs of man, and this snowstorm was no exception. The first play of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s 2006 season, opening Friday, was to be “The Winter’s Tale.” And at that moment last month, the whole of the town felt as still and breathless as the wronged Hermione.

I have had a long relationship with this corner of southwest Oregon; my grandfather and uncle served as mayors in two neighboring towns. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, running this year to Oct. 29, always provided me with an acre or two that felt like my own, where I could meet proverbial kindred spirits. The festival attracts not people looking to fill a Saturday night but theatergoers with an abiding love of drama. It is not an ivory tower. It’s a wooden one. Where nature and artifice meet.

See what I did there? Did you see that? Genius.

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And That’s The Way It Is…Dangerous, For Bloggers Too

In Clyde Haberman’s column in the New York Times today, “And That’s The Way It Is…Dangerous,” he ends his lionization of the brave men and women of the Armoured Press Division by distinguishing them from the contemptible fools of the blogosphere.

Journalists. There’s a word that has been stretched almost beyond elasticity. It now extends to the fact-free bloggers offering little more than attitude.

As both a blogger and a journalist, I took exception to the characterization and told him so in an email.

I think you do a disservice to both bloggers and journalists when you indict the former, in whole-cloth, as “fact-free.” Further, I’m reasonably certain that the governments who have interrogated, tortured, lashed and imprisoned these bloggers don’t think of them as having “little more than attitude.”

Certainly among bloggers there are plenty of boobs. However, having worked as a journalist (as a “real” journalist — I have a piece coming out in the LA Times on the 12th) off and on for over a decade, I’m quite certain that the boob-free newsroom has yet to see the light of day. I’ve endured my share of under-educated, talentless nits (with valid SPJ cards!) who offer little more than their own exaggerated sense of self-regard to a public they serve with increasing contempt. Nevertheless, as irritating and omnipresent as these sorts are, I hesitate to tar all journalists with the same brush.

In an era of decreasing foreign coverage by traditional news sources I think we can legitimately “stretch” the definition of journalist to include, for instance, The Zimbabwean Pundit, who gathers information, presents it (along with occasional analysis) to a mass audience in a country with no free press and no resident foreign journalists. That sounds like journalism to me, or pretty close anyway, close enough not to reduce the “elasticity” of the definition.

Also, please note that Mr. Vincent was a blogger in addition to being a journalist. Another blogger, Bob Zangas was killed in Iraq in March of 2004. Among the bloggers covering that conflict is Christopher Allbritton. You probably know him as Time magazine’s correspondent. I knew him first as a blogger.

Haberman responded:

I was referring only to those bloggers who are indeed fact-free and all-attitude. This was in no way an indictment of everyone, except in the eyes of those who choose to see it that way.

If I understand Mr. Haberman’s statement correctly (and it’s so strangely phrased I’m not sure I do), I, by merely seeing an indictment, have inexplicably chosen to do so. In other words, it was the reader who was in error, not the writer.

I think Mr. Haberman’s contemptuous flick of the wrist toward bloggers and dramatic praise of journalists speaks for itself, and is a fair degree clearer than his explanation.

Again, as a journalist and a blogger I get fairly impatient with the poo-flingers from either side. Not every journalist is an arrogant idiot–some prevail against fairly difficult circumstances in today’s media world–and not every blogger is an unreasoning fulminator. But that’s a more difficult story for both sides to write.

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Seeking Spanish Journalist

Norbert Niediek, a veteran German journalist covering southeastern Europe and the Balkans from Graz, Austria, is seeking a native Spanish-speaking journalist to join a nascent correspondents’ bureau. which currently consists of him, a French journalist and (soon) a native English-speaking journalist.

The idea is to gather four (or three or five) journalists who supply the big news markets in Western Europe and overseas with reports from South East Europe: one who writes in English, one in German, one in French, one in Spanish. The reason for this sort of distribution is that on one hand their jobs are similar, on the other hand there is no competition between them…

What we can share is contacts, information, experience, and we can travel together.

Contacts: Politicians usually accept the idea to be interviewed by journalists from different countries at a time. One of us can easily introduce another one to an informant. Especially in the Balkans, personal knowledge is still much more important than official functions.

Information: It depends on each of us how far he or she accepts information given by one of his/her colleagues as true and objective. Nobody will simply translate an article one of the partners has written. But you might use a quote that has not been given directly to you but to one of your bureau partners. A very rewarding (and definitely not smelly) kind of cooperation is to share taped interviews in foreign languages for the radio…

Experience: One or the other partner will develop a preference for one or two countries in the area and soon become an expert. Another one might contribute with a more general expertise, e.g. on computer programs or interview techniques – whatever.

Travel together: Travelling by car is much cheaper than by plane, given the fact that airline prices are still very high in the area. With a car, you are much more flexible once you have arrived in your country of destination. Two or more colleagues can attend parallel appointments or press conferences…

 

From Austria you can cover the countries of the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy, which is still a common thing to do for many correspondents from all over the world. These countries are Austria itself, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and in some sense also Romania (Transilvania used to belong to the Habsburg monarchy)…

The main focus of interest of western media is in the former war theatres in the Western Balkans: Kosovo, Serbia, to a lesser extent Bosnia, Croatia, and Macedonia. Financial departments in big national newspapers are particularly interested in economic stories from EU accession countries. Austria is of special interest above all for Germany… In most of the area there is much stuff for exotic reportage…

Graz has an airport with a daily Ryanair connection to London Stansted (€ 30 to 50 one way). From Stansted you can reach many destinations in France and Spain: Almeria, Bergerac, Biarritz, Carcassonne, Girona, Grenoble, Jerez, La Rochelle, Limoges, Montpellier, Nîmes, Pau, Perpignan, Poitiers, Reus (Barcelona), Rochefort, Rodez, Santander, Santiago de Compostela, Sevilla, St-Etienne, Valencia, Valladolid and Zaragoza. There is a direct flight from Maribor (45 min from Graz) to Paris, which, however, is still pretty expensive.

If you’re a Spanish-speaking journalist and are interested in this kind of an undertaking, contact Norbert at mappes(dash)niediek(at)magnet(dot)at.

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Crackdown on the Scorpions

South Africa’s Scorpions, whom I’ve called a modern-day Untouchables, are starting to feel the heat. The Directorate of Special Investigations, as they are officially known, have investigated high-level alleged criminals, such as Deputy President Jacob Zuma and 54 parliamentarians. They enjoy broad support in South Africa. Now, according to Commentary, governmental officials are trying to eviscerate the directorate by placing them under the authority of the much more politically-vulnerable police.

No good deed goes unpunished, especially in South African law
enforcement. Here’s Brigitte Mabandla, Minister of Justice, attempting to
explain why one of the country’s most effective law enforcement agencies needs
to be shut down “reintegrated with the police”, as paraphrased
by the Sunday Independent:

She said that there had been “a real decline in the
level of some of the serious crimes that have caused public fear and
anxiety…”. “It is my submission that the threat from serious crimes, whilst
still requiring attention, has significantly diminished to the extent that it is
now opportune to reconsider the location of the DSO.”

…Everyone knows that the current effort to bury the Scorpions inside
the restrictive bureaucracy of the SAPS has very little to do with the crime
rate or the government’s new-found reverence for the constitution, which might
have been more believable had they discovered it before they introduced
floor-crossing legislation. The truth is that the Scorpions were just getting
too uppity. If only they’d stuck to busting crack lords, none of this would be
happening. Instead, the got this wacky idea that rule of law applies to the
government as well as the citizens, and started taking down corrupt politicians.
Well, I guess this is payback time for the pols. That’ll teach the Scorpions to
bite the hand that feeds them.

Hopefully, those with an interest in a safe South Africa (safe from its politicians as well as from its pushers), will keep this from happening. The Scorpions are one of Africa’s success stories.

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They Want to Work!!!

I heard a story on Marketplace radio today. Well, not a story. They don’t do stories anymore. It was a “piece” and in this “piece” one reporter was interviewing another. The second reporter kept talking, in almost tearful tones, about how all the people displaced by the hurricane from New Orleans were grateful for everyone’s generosity but what they really wanted was jobs. He kept on and on about how they wanted jobs, giving examples and anecdotes to back up his assertion. Eventually, I found myself asking, what in the hell is it with this guy? Of course they want jobs, they don’t have any money and you get money by getting a job. WTF?

Then suddenly, with the force of revelation, it dawned on me: They’re black! That’s why he was talking about it as though it were news. Despite all the lip service he paid at cocktail parties over the years to the notion of equality, blacks wanting jobs was news to him and, he presumed, to all the other people who listened to public radio — white people, like the ones at the cocktail parties, the ones he talked to about how blacks were super. But now he was grateful, so grateful. Blacks wanted to get jobs.

Later on, at home, thinking about it again, his eyes welled up with such tears that he could barely make out his silk screen of Bob Marley. So relieved.

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