Friday, March 31, 2017

Early You Tube Stars Earned Real Income

What the Buck? Here's Michael Buckley's "My You Tube Story." According to a Dec 2008 NY Times report, "You Tube Videos Pull In Real Money," Buckley earned over $100k in the previous year from his YouTube video-commentaries or rants about celebs. 

Since she was about 14, my now-20-year-old daughter's main source of daily news was, for years, Philly D (of "The Philip DeFranco Show"), who offers his take on current events and celeb news. (Should I have been monitoring my daughter's online activities better?)

Cory Williams and his smpFilms hit the big-time with "Hey Little Sparta" (aka "The Mean Kitty Song" -- over 86 million views). He told the NYT in 2008 that he was earning over $200k per year, partly from (ugh!) product placements in his videos. 

The rise of The Young Turks (TYT)

The Young Turks is a web TV phenom,  and YouTube played a major role in its success; here's a Turksvideo on media censorship. (Cenk Uygur is sometimes "Mad as Hell"; it's the title of a doc on Cenk and TYT. Here's the original "Mad as Hell" excerpt from the 1976 movie Network.) A 2014 London daily profiled Cenk. And the doc "All Governments Lie" featured Cenk and TYT. Yours truly was interviewed by TYT about media coverage of candidate Bernie Sanders. 

Brave New Films' "McCain's Mansions" played a role in the 2008 election campaign, thanks in part to YouTube. Ditto for this citizen journalism video about the then-dictator of Tunisia.

AOL's Journalistic Values

Soon after AOL announced its merger with HuffingtonPost in February, 2011 Business Insider (followed by the Boston Globe) published leaked AOL documents offering a glimpse into that company's journalistic approach -- not one that Arianna Huffington would endorse. Indeed, it's an approach that violates journalistic ethics. (H/t to former indy media student Leah T, for posting the Insider's summary of AOL's guidelines.)

Activists trying to save Net Neutrality . . .

. . . and the Internet as we've known it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Web censorship in China

After Yahoo provided info to China's government that led to 10-year prison sentences for two Chinese dissidents beginning in 2003 and 2005, the families of the victims (Wang Xiaoning and Shi Tao) sued Yahoo. As a result, Yahoo announced in 2008 that it had established a fund for people persecuted or jailed in China for posting political views online. Too little, too late?

In response to demands from China's government, Google agreed in June 2010 to quit automatically switching its users in China to Google's uncensored Hong Kong search site. But there's a tab users can click to be switched. Should Chinese citizens feel safe when hitting that tab?

Web censorship in the USA

In 2008, the media reform group Free Press highlighted media and telecom corporations who'd recently been caught censoring web or cellphone traffic.

Inner City Press was delisted by Google News not long after its founder/leader asked anembarrassing question of Google at the United Nations.

Trump's tweet on Net Neutrality. Any more accurate than his tweet on global warming??

Another needless death . . .

in a U.S. prison -- and why are mentally ill people imprisoned and not treated for their illness.

Friday, March 24, 2017

"The Internet is my religion," says cofounder of Brave New Films

Intensely personal 2011 speech from Brave New Films' Jim Gilliam (who was raised a conservative Christian evangelical) discussing how the Internet offered him salvation and literally saved his life.

Editorial cartoonist Tom Tomorrow

The chaining and corporatization of alternative weeklies can undermine alternative cartoonists like "Tom Tomorrow"/Dan Perkins.

A victory for bloggers access to courtrooms

In March 2012, a Massachusetts court ruled that bloggers deserve the same privileges in covering courts and trials as traditional media.

Can pay walls save newspapers?

No, said Arianna Huffington, as she testifies on "The Future of Journalism & Newspapers" before the U.S. Senate in May 2009 (at 59:02). (A former indy media student complained about Boston Globe's paywall around the Globe's editorial.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Crowd-funding/ pre-funding of journalism and documentaries

A fascinating experimented called, which lasted three years until it closed up shop in October 2016, pre-funded freelance writers and indy media by seeking donations from the public for specific articles or topics. The platform reportedly raised several million dollars in total for journalists. is "a funding platform for artists, designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, explorers..." A key aspect of Kickstarter and some other funding platforms is "All or Nothing funding."
On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.
Here's a documentary movie project that I was a part of, which used Kickstarter successfully.

Before Kickstarter was launched, the Robert Greenwald documentary on war-profiteering (Iraq for Sale) was PRE-funded mostly by small donors -- an example of grassroots financing of a work that had real impact.

Media start-ups can be flukes . . .

. . . such as 

Students' historic papers focused on . . .

. . . The People's Friend / L'Ami du Peuple / Jean Paul Marat . . . Freedom's Journal . . . The Revolution . . . Woman's Journal . . . The Woman Rebel . . . Pacifica Radio . . . The Realist and one of its famous posters . . . Ramparts . . . Come Out! . . . Ms. magazine and Gloria Steinem's 1990 tell-all article about the problem of ad revenue: "Sex, Lies & Advertising"

Author Kurt Vonnegut said that Krassner's intent with "F**k Communism" poster was to show "how preposterous it was for so many people to be responding to both words with such cockamamie Pavlovian fear and alarm." (H/t Isabella)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

2011/2012: Cops vs journalists covering Occupy Wall Street movement

HARASSMENT OF JOURNALISTS COVERING OCCUPY: A citizen journalist with a video camera taped himself apparently getting shot by police rubber bullet while covering a seemingly peaceful moment during Occupy Oakland (CA) protests.  At Occupy Nashville, a reporter for the long-established weekly Nashville Scene was arrested for violating a curfew imposed by Tennessee's governor (a night judge questioned whether that's legal), was threatened with a "resisting arrest" charge, and was ultimately charged with "public intoxication." Nashville's big daily reported on the dubious arrest.

Between Sept 2011 and Sept 2012, more than 90 journalists (both independent and mainstream) were arrested while covering Occupy protests in the U.S. Removing journalists and citizen journalists from the scene seemed to be a strategy because acts of police brutality -- when recorded by citizen journalists and ubiquitous cameras & cell phones -- led to more sympathy and activists for the movement: for example, in NY City and at University of California, Davis. Like in the 1960s, the federal government built a large surveillance apparatus to spy on Occupy activists. 

And the surveillance of social movements continues into the present

"THE MAYOR'S AFRAID OF YOU TUBE": In October 2011, hours after New York City authorities made a last-minute decision NOT to clear protesters from the original Occupy Wall Street site in Lower Manhattan, filmmaker Michael Moore said this to MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell (begin 2:54 for context): 
"One cop down there actually today. I asked...'Why don't you think the eviction happened?' And he said, 'Cause the Mayor's afraid of You Tube.'...The power of the new media, the media that's in the hands of the people -- that those in charge are afraid of what could possibly go out."

Harassment of Indy Media at 2008 Republican Convention

Since the 1960s when the FBI and local police engaged in violence and continuous harassment against "underground weeklies," repression against dissenting U.S. outlets has decreased. But it never ended. Case in point: the 2008 Republican Convention in Minnesota. Three years later, the journalists' suit against the police was settled, with $100,000 in compensation being paid by the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments and the Secret Service. The settlement included an agreement by the St. Paul police to implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the 1st Amendment rights of the press and public, including proper procedures for dealing with journalists covering demonstrations.

Journalists harassed at Standing Rock by N.Dakota law enforcement

Charges against Amy Goodman for the crime of journalism were dismissed, but . . . 

Excerpt from a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report:
[Jenni] Monet, who contributes to outlets including Yes! Magazine and the PBS NewsHour website, wrote about her experiences in an article for the Oneida Nation owned Indian Country Media Network. In the piece, she said that despite showing police her media pass and walking away when instructed to do so, she was arrested, strip searched, and held in jail for 25 hours before being charged.
Jihan Hafiz, an award-winning Egyptian-Samoan journalist who also faces charges, told CPJ that she thought reporting in North Dakota would be "a walk in the park." Hafiz, who has covered conflict in the Middle East and police brutality in Brazil for outlets including The Real News Network and Al-Jazeera America, said she was surprised by what she described as heavy-handed police tactics . . .
Hafiz, who published an account and video footage of the mass arrests on October 22 in  The Intercept, said she told officers she was a journalist and pleaded with them not to arrest her. "We were subjected to strip searches, which is humiliating. People who looked native or were not white were targeted and told to spread body parts or jump up and down," Hafiz told CPJ.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Two stars of 1960s "radical media"

"DR. HIP": Syndicated widely to "underground weeklies," Dr. Eugene Schoenfeld dispensed blunt and humorous advice about sex (and drugs). That legacy is carried on by Dan Savage's "Savage Love" column in today's alternative weeklies. Savage started the "It Gets Better" project.

RAMPARTS: One of the most explosive indy magazines of the 1960s, Ramparts published photos of the impact of U.S. napalm (a chemical weapon that eats away human flesh) on Vietnamese civilians in its Jan. 1967 issue. Martin Luther King, Jr. credited those photos with being the spark that got him to break his silence and speak out loudly against the Vietnam War a few months later.  Besides its investigative scoops and vivid writing, Ramparts was known for its cover art, shown here and HERE.

Indy outlet breaks sexist Marine Facebook scandal

The indy outlet The War Horse, collaborating with the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting, broke this story. (H//t Isabella)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Movies about I.F. Stone . . .

. . . include the 90-minute feature documentary All Governments Lie (Disclosure -- I co-produced it), an educational movie on his legacy (Disclosure -- I helped produce it) , and an original black and white doc from 40 years ago (which helped change my life).

Citizen Abbott

Publisher of the earth-shaking Chicago DefenderRobert S. Abbott.

Margaret Sanger, flawed hero

Sanger's first publication was called 
Woman Rebel. Her later, less "red and flaming" publication was called Birth Control Review, shown here and here. She is proof that heroes, including heroes of indy media, are often flawed. This article from Women's E-News discusses her flirtation with eugenics-oriented arguments in support of birth control in the early 1920s.