Monday, February 28, 2011

Reflection on Voices of Revolution #2

For my extra reading I read “Educating America on the Merits of Socialism.”  This chapter highlights the dissident weekly newspaper Appeal to Reason. To be honest, I was fascinated by the ability its’ founder J.A. Wayland had in creating the circulation to almost equal that of the mass media of its’ time. Especially since there was such a backlash against anything communist in the 50s. This paper survived before a time of complete and utter hatred for a philosophy and the paper was supported by 80,000 “foot soldiers for socialism.” I didn’t realize how popular socialism was in this country or could ever be for we have fought many wars trying to prevent the “spread” of these kinds of ideals.

However, I was most troubled by Wayland’s suicide note where he said, “The struggle under the competitive system is not worth the effort; let it pass” (Streitmatter 111). I thought the whole point about being a dissident voice was struggle, competition, being the under dog and hopefully rising up? Wayland just gave into the pressures from the mainstream media. I suppose not every story can be about winning in the end. Wayland was able to influence many people and share hopes for a better work place. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Voices of Revolution" Reflection

Roger Streitmatter discusses in Voices of Revolution, the people who made rights, that are sometimes taken for granted, into laws. The dissident press in America advocated for labor laws, education and children’s rights. Newspapers like The Revolution discussed women’s rights including abortion, voting, harassment and domestic violence. Mainstream media renounced these publications. But like today independent media plays a large role in creating dialogue on issues swept under the carpet. It is their voice, which brings these issues into the open.

The Revolution opened a public forum to talk about women’s issues. They allowed the public to contribute opinions and stories engaging the people. Media today is doing the exact same thing with blogs. An article is written and a blogger can either comment right on the bottom of the page or can link to it with comments. It is an updated model of the kind of call-to-action collaboration that was done during the nineteenth century.

Independent media today is still as powerful as it once was. Jeramy Scahill brought the discussion of Blackwater and private contractors to the table of the justice system. Wikileaks showed the world images of unsettling events in the Iraq War. While even satire, like The Onion, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report are able to question the reliability of their own field into question. The dissident voices in the nineteenth century continue to be heard. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Resistance through music

After watching the clip El General, the Tunisian political issues rapper in class, I was reminded of the film I recently watched — I Love Hip Hop in Morocco. A documentary about Moroccan Hip-hop artists and the struggles they face. This kind of music goes against their way of life — their traditions, religion and laws (No one is allowed to speak ill of the King of Morocco or criticize the government). They confront much resistance as they express themselves through not only this art, but with the lyrics which discuss political issues, key events important to remember as in opposing their government, and views on the western culture. However, despite it all they fundraise and create a concert featuring all of these underground bands like Fnaire and Don Bigg. Hip-hop in the United States is about relationships, love, sex, and drugs. We all dance, sing and listen, but for Moroccan rappers music is their freedom of speech.

In September I traveled to Morocco and was determined to find a Moroccan Hip-hop CD. I was worried about finding the CDs in Morocco because I didn’t know the language and knew the music was offensive to the majority of the population. The first day, I got the courage to ask my waiter about Moroccan hip-hop, but he immediately said it didn’t exist. The next day in the market in Marrakech there was a small stand pushed between a restaurant and convenience store. At first glance I could only see the typical “Sounds of Morocco” CDs, but after asking the man and reassuring him that I really did want hip-hop music he pulled out a small box from under the counter. The CD covers were cracked, they weren’t covered in plastic wrap and the artwork looked like it was made on a home computer. I found the artists I knew and paid the man the equivalent of 5 dollars for each one.

Music is such a powerful tool and with the increase use of social media viral YouTube videos of these artists spread their message throughout the countries. 

Monday, February 7, 2011

AOL/ Huffington Post Merger

Last night the Huffington Post was bought by AOL. But what is this going to mean for the future of journalism? Will one of the most visited independent sites sill retain it's bravado? Is it even possible to still be considered or called independent with a corporate backing?

The Boston Globe reported AOL has set a plan for creating traffic to their site:

* AOL tells its editors to decide what topics to cover based on four considerations: traffic potential, revenue potential, edit quality and turn-around time.
* AOL asks its editors to decide whether to produce content based on "the profitability consideration."
* The documents reveal that AOL is, when the story calls for it, willing to boost traffic by 5 to 10% with search ads and other "paid media."
* AOL site leaders are expected to have eight ideas for packages that could generate at least $1 million in revenue on hand at all times.
* In-house AOL staffers are expected to write five to 10 stories per day.
* AOL knows its sites are too dependent on traffic from, and it wants its editors to fix the problem by posting more frequently, with more emphasis on getting page-views.

As The Boston Globe points out, AOL is does not appear to be concerned about journalistic integrity or values the Huffington Post has. In this odd merger of corporation and independent media outlet and it is yet to be seen what will come of their partnership. We can only hope for the best. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

News 21

News 21 is an impressive independent media site. Each topic covered by each institution is researched, investigated and displayed with extreme care and professionalism. This site really showcases the next generation’s talent and the use of multi-media.

This would be a great outlet for the Ithaca community to get involved with. Especially if Ithaca College students were able to invest their energy in building a page discussing a unique issue  to our region.  One feature not being discussed amongst the schools is the issue of poverty in America. It is highlighted as one of the under pinning reason for overcrowding in prisons in “Califonia’s Convict Cycle.”

Also there is the issue of sex trafficking, slavery and prostitution. Much discussion about whether is should be legalized or decriminalized. I feel the site is a great source of topics not always covered in mainstream media news and I would love to see it expanded.