March 30th, 2012
The New York Times reports that 300 newsroom employees “signed a public statement insisting that the new owners agree not to alter the news coverage to reflect their ‘private or political interests.’”

Background:The Philadelphia Media Network, publisher of The Inquirer, The Daily News and, has been on sale with a primary purchasing group lead by business and political leaders from Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Another way to put it: The centers of power that Philadelphia’s news organizations are expected to cover are buying the company that owns the newspapers and the region’s primary Web site.

During the sales process, some reporters claimed that stories about the potential new owners have gone unpublished. And the worry, of course, is that there will be editorial meddling if the sale does go through, which, the New York Times reports, is likely.

Reason for Pennsylvanians to worry? Ed Rendell, former Philadelphia mayor, Pennsylvania governor and former leader of the purchasing group dismisses the idea in comments to the Inquirer,

“You’d think this was the first time some political people owned a newspaper.”

Paul Nussbaum, reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer states, “It could change my job, I guess. I could end up as greeter at Walmart next week,” responding to news that the subject of his recent investigative reports is now part of a team that is buying the company that owns the newspaper.  [Source: The Future Journalism Project]

Read More:

New York Times, Philadelphia Newspapers Set to Be Sold to Local Leaders.

NPR’s morning edition ran a short piece exploring the issues and people surrounding the purchase in February 2012.

March 7th, 2012
Chris [Blattman] posts a letter he wrote to Invisible Children’s Mission Director explaining his discomfort with the project. He makes the point that their work is (a) kind of obsessed with glorifying the filmmakers, (b) based on a creepy, White Man’s Burden-y savior complex, and (c) taking up resources that could be occupied by “intelligent advocacy.” …

- Worst Idea Ever? [2009] 

[The following text is an excerpt from the article Wronging Rights: Worst Idea Ever? by Amanda and Kate]

*Photo taken by photographer and total rockstar Glenna Gordon on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Team not-so-invisible-children poses with the SPLA& and their weapons.

  • Photo taken by photographer Glenna Gordon on the Sudan-Congo border in April 2008. Team not-so-invisible-children poses with the SPLA… and their weapons.

We completely agree and offer this photo (above) of the three founders of Invisible Children in support of the “who is this about anyway?” critique. We also have a couple of related concerns:

  • First, organizations like Invisible Children not only take up resources that could be used to fund more intelligent advocacy, they take up rhetorical space that could be used to develop more intelligent advocacy. And yeah, this may seem like an absurdly academic point to raise when talking about a problem that is clearly crying out for pragmatic solutions, but, uh, the way we define problems is important. Really, really important. Choosing to simplistically define Congolese women as “The Raped” and Ugandan children as “The Abducted” constrains our ability to think creatively about the problems they face, and work with them to combat these problems.
  • Second, treating their problems as one-dimensional issues that can be solved by a handful of plucky college students armed only with the strength of their convictions and a video camera doesn’t help anyone. These gets back to something very simple and very smart that Alanna Shaikh wrote a few months ago:
“Bad development work is based on the idea that poor people have nothing. Something is better than nothing, right? So anything you give these poor people will be better than what they had before.”

By the same token, any old awareness advocacy you dream up doesn’t necessarily constitute “helping.” And while we’re on the subject of what does and doesn’t help, maybe don’t get photographed fondling big (former) rebel guns. Just saying.

April 4th, 2011

What’s in a word? Quite a lot, actually.

Andy Budd on Ethics and Terminology: “There are undoubtedly good people in the [SEO] industry, just as there are good people in the banking world. In fact I’d say that the majority of practitioners fall into this category. I just struggle to accept an industry which exists in the same continuum as blog spammers and which is forced to label its members as “white hat” and “black hat”. After all we don’t talk about “black hat” doctors, “black hat” hairdressers or “black hat” designers. So by using these terms, the industry is knowingly complicit in the problem. In fact there exists an almost adolescent glee that they are involved in something slightly naughty.”

Andy Budd::Blogography (via 2105)


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