Democracy Now!

October 19, 2008

No, the title isn’t a personal rally against injustice, it’s the name of a spectacular independent news program.

With the media becoming ever more corporate and income-driven, Democracy Now! is there to give the people perspectives and stories rarely covered by huge news organizations such as Fox, and CNN.

Their website states they offer “independent and international journalists, ordinary people from around the world who are directly affected by U.S. foreign policy, grassroots leaders and peace activists, artists, academics and independent analysts.”

In light of dangerously corporate-sponsored media, this is a blessing.

Every news station today claims they report on the truth, the deepest dirt that the people need to know! Leave no stone unturned, no political mystery unearthed! TRUTH TO THE PEOPLE!

…Oh, except if it gives our corporate sponsor a bad name…or expresses the disgust from the American people about the war…

Luckily for us, Democracy Now! isn’t sponsored by some cannibalistic corporate big-wig. You do get the truth and you do get a detailed analysis of government policies you wouldn’t normally even be informed about.

Democracy Now! goes above and beyond to honor their duty to the people -providing the truth.

The organization is completely viewer, foundation, and listener supported, they do not accept advertiser, corporate, or government funding to avoid straying to the darkside like the previously mentioned news teams.

Of course, one of Democracy Now!’s faults may be that it is obviously left sided. BUT I believe that having that small persuasion does less damage (if it is providing the truth and exposing the hidden) than if an organization was “unbiased” and only reported things they were allowed to.

The idea of the fact that corporate news organizations must be allowed to report on an issue still blows my mind. The American people should not be spoon fed an agenda deemed fitting to its sponsors, they should be served everything that they could possibly want to know about.

So here’s to endless pats on the back to you, Democracy Now!. Continue independently and steadfastly serving the public with truth and perseverance. You are the last slice in the corporate pie.

Please visit Democracy Now! here


Keeping it Simple, Stupid?

October 18, 2008

CBS has a weekly feature every Friday night that is called Assignment America. A reporter named Steve Hartman reads emailed requests from viewers across the nations about the stories they want to hear and picks the best one to do a short report on at the end of the broadcast.

Some of these broadcasts have been stories about: A drive-in church, care packages for soldiers, a vacuum boy and his obsession…vacuum boy and his obsession? Yes, you heard me correctly, the report that ended the evening news July 27, 2007 was about a boy’s obsession with vacuums.


Apparently Kyle Krichbaum has over 165 vacuums today

Why is this news? And why does America want to see this on their news? Is it because we have become so apathetic to “real” news that we want anything and everything to entertain us?

Why aren’t American’s writing in to Steve and telling him to profile the 17-year-old who started her own charity organization? When is the story about impoverished, resource-lacking schools going to be aired?

And why is Steve actually choosing these stories to air? After all, he is the deciding factor in what stories are “newsworthy.” Could it be that Steve is doing the minimal, and appeasing the beast that is his viewers?

Steve is keeping it simple, stupid.

It may be because he wants to keep ratings high. It may be because his viewers never offer him any other stories of substance.

Whatever the reason is, I think in his job as a national news reporter, his efforts should be narrowed in on concerning, provoking news.

Please humor yourself and watch the video here.

Photo Manipulation

October 6, 2008

Pictures are worth a thousand words. Pictures are frames in time. Pictures capture reality..well most of the time.

A good picture can enhance a story or feature ten times. They give the reader a clear visual and launch them to the scene as if they were there. Many journalists, photographers, and government officials stay true to media ethics and post untampered pictures, however, thanks to the rise of digital photo-manipulation, there has been an increase in altering pictures to a desired effect.

This isn’t new and can be traced back to when photography was invented, but the problem is becoming more dire due to the immediacy that news can received around the world. Any altered picture can effect millions of people in the blink of an eye.

The most problematic alterations are the ones of course that embellish a scene enough that they change the context, and possibly affecting the public’s views.

This first photo alteration is from a pamphlet for the University of Wisconsin at Madison which was supposed to portray its diversity.

The image on the left is the altered image with an African American student's head inserted. The image on the right is the original image with only white students.

The image on the left is the altered image with an African American student's head. The image on the right is the original image with only white students.

Or in a more severe text, when the U.S. Army released photos of two deceased soldiers at Fort Stewart in Georgia in September, 2008, seen here

The man on the left is a composite of the right man's body and his own head.

The man on the left is a composite of the right man's body and his own head.

Then there are less severe photo alterations that don’t necessarily hurt anyone or change someone’s perspective, but still morph reality none the less. Here is the cover of a National Geographic in February of 1982. The Great Pyramids of Giza were squeezed together to create a more aesthetically pleasing cover.

It’s common knowledge that many magazines alter their models with an airbrush and other tools to the extent that they don’t look like themselves, and this seems to be allowed…unless it is a famous person, then the magazines are accused of not portraying them as their true selves. It’s acceptable for models, but not “real” people?

In addition, often, after a print company publishes a photoshopped picture, they will write on the inside cover an exclaimer letting readers know that the photo has been digitally altered. Is this acceptable?

That is a tough question. I say that pictures are meant to capture the truth. Any alteration of any kind is a distortion of reality. But what if your camera doesn’t capture the colors the way they were and you want to enhance the blue sky?

It’s a tough call to make about the limitations of photo manipulation. My final say is that as a photographer, journalist, or any kind of media official, it is your responsibility to deliver the truth to the public. Alterations should not be made unless it is an unofficial type of graphic design media or a personal media to express your creativity or humor.

You can visit the photo tampering site I got my pictures from here