Tag Archives: journalism

"Je Suis Charlie"

There was a time when I wished I was born in another era. I had romantic dreams of journalism as a youth, and still do. I believe media changes the world.
I know there are bad journalists and there are corporate entities fucking it all up, but if you talk to the average news journalist, they’re genuinely in it to tackle things they see wrong in the world. They’re in it to spread truth, challenge corruption, and effect change.
Journalists are always people I hold in highest regard. And rightly so.
Je Suis Charlie at AFP Paris

Night has fallen in Paris and the streets have been taken over by protestors and those wanting to pay tribute to the fallen members of Charlie Hebdo, the satirist paper that has never shied from controversy. They brandish pens in the air, shouting “Charlie! Charlie!”
Apparently Parisians have failed to realize they’re supposed to be terrorized in the wake of this attack. This is what happens when you attack what is arguably the birthplace of modern democracy as we know it.

Somehow, when life takes a turn for the evil, the horrible, or the immeasurably stupid, I seek a moment of beauty or humanity to remind me that it’s all going to be okay again.
Evil, inhumanity, these things aren’t modern inventions. They’re part of what mankind is, and we’ve had evil and badness among us since time began. Look at slaughters in Ancient Egypt, invasions by the Mongol Hordes.
We’ve simply improved efficiency (yay, guns!), and media is omnipresent, ensuring these events seldom go unheard today.
These shootings, slaughters, murders, and more — they’re going nowhere. Neither are the bad guys. You may dream of that day, but good luck coping with the inevitable truth that it’s simply a part of our (in)humanity. Nature is a beast, after all.
The animal kingdom does it too. Lions eat their young. Dolphins can commit infanticide with intentional impact injuries. For whatever reason, this ability to act with ultimate cruelty is stamped in DNA across species.
With 7.2 billion people on the planet, perhaps killing each other has been partly of biological/environmental necessity, but our ethical code teaches the majority of us that, even if our survival depends on population cull, it’s not something that most of us are capable of committing or ignoring. We’d rather be in it together with a compromised planet than witness mass loss that might save ourselves.
Look at the hundreds of thousands dead in the tsunami of 10 years ago. It felt like a gaping wound was ripped into the planet. We all felt the loss and horror of their adversity.

So days like today, when 12 people are killed because of one evil organization’s intent on squelching the freedom of the press, it’s strangely affecting. Just 12 people, out of 7 billion, but it’s 12 people who died for a reason that no person should die — because they wanted to challenge ideas, inspire dialogue, and push the envelope.
There is no sense to be made of this. Aside from spreading the news, not allowing it to happen in a vacuum, what else is there for us to do?
Admittedly, I’m a newshound. I follow these stories like a dog on a scent. It’s what I do. But I also walk away. Go back and find all the incidents of terror and mass shootings — outside of America, that is, because mass shootings in America have grown tragically all too common — and you’ll find 90% of the time I’ll take a long walk or bike ride to remind myself that the planet is largely beautiful, most people are kind, and it’ll remain that way most of the time.

The sunrise this morning, what I chose to seek after getting the news of this senseless slaughter. The world is beautiful. This trumps the evil of a few.

The sunrise this morning, what I chose to seek after getting the news of this senseless slaughter. The world is beautiful. This trumps the evil of a few.

Still, it’s a sad day. A horrible crime. A terrible thing to die for.
It’s a day that reminds me why I’m so outspoken, why I don’t censor myself. My language, the news I circulate, the opinions I raise like a flag, all these things are because I believe we need to speak truth to power — every one of us. Change happens on a personal level before it can take hold in society.
If you are too timid to say what you think, too scared to stand up to power, too apathetic to get involved — then the terrorists, the corrupt governments, the bad people, they all win.
Remind yourself that it’s a beautiful world. It’s worth fighting for and standing up to speak your truth. Otherwise why did these 12 people die?
Like the publisher gunned down today once said — he’d rather die on his feet than live on his knees. I like to think he was standing when those motherfuckers opened fire.
Today, my heart is with all those journalists and editorial cartoonists who feel emptier and less safe after this terrible attack.
But they’re just one small part of the fabric of humanity, and we good guys have strength in numbers.

The End is Nigh: What Journalism's Selling

I graduated with a journalism degree back in the mid-90s, when this little “internet” thing was just taking off.
I don’t think any of us then could have fathomed a world where news could travel instantaneously from not just professionals, but amateurs with fancy cellphones.
Today, I wish the ethics class I had taken then was mandatory for all users of social media, and a refresher course available for all working journos. In the heat of the moment, even I can be guilty of kneejerk retweeting, because I naively believe the news sources wouldn’t DARE misinform us about something as dire as, like, nuclear meltdown.
How wrong I am.

Journalism & social media today.

Times like these, I worry it’s the blind-leading-the-blind news scenario that’s most detrimental to us.
Out there, panic. Apparently we’re all going to be stricken with radiation, then cancer and certain death as a nuclear meltdown abso-fucking-lutely will be laying waste across the world. Potassium iodide sales are skyrocketing. IN THE USA AND CANADA. Hello, there’s 7,000 kilometres minimum between our coasts, let alone travelling inland.
Get yer tinfoil hats on and stock up on duct tape, kids — North America’s in JEOPARDY!
Um, no, no meltdown, no nuclear boom. Not yet, kiddos. And, the thing is, the news is so sensationalised by just about everyone right now that I can’t even watch it. I just can’t.
Being terrified isn’t helping. And it’s insulting to the Japanese who are living with this shit within their borders.
And, furthermore, these constant death totals — the media had no business reporting deaths on day 2, 3, 4, etc. We know they’re going to escalate rapidly, and the foolishly low numbers reported early in the tragedy are just irresponsible — as if the tragedy is WORSENING because the numbers are rising.
No. It was that bad to begin with. You just had to watch it unfolding live. I’ll never forget how that felt. “Hundreds” of deaths? So naive.
I remember the low numbers reported for the first few days of the Indonesian tsunami that resulted in 230,000 deaths. I fear the numbers in Japan. I loathe the endless watch as the number creeps up with increasing speed as recovery efforts escalate. From false hope of “oh, it looked worse” to the ever-rising gloom of knowing that’s so much more than “just a number” as it gets amped up by thousands.
And, then, elsewhere in the world, Gaddhafi is effecting a brutal crackdown on his protesters, as the western leaders twiddle their thumbs. Bahrain is killing its protesting citizens, too.
CNN? Barely even knows the Arab World exists this week. And people are dying while our heads are turned away.
That is the media’s job. To prevent us from being blind to these things.
They’re failing.
They’re scaring us.
They’re reporting inside an echo chamber, putting people who don’t understand the topic in charge of educating the masses, they’re ignoring blood being shed for democracy, and none of us are the better for it.
To the few journalists who are really trying to present information without sensationalising it: Thank you.
To the rest of ’em: Get a real job.

RANT: BDSM Films are "Torture-Based" Porn?

One of the most offensive things to me is when journalists — people who are paid to get messages right — get things wrong.
Like here, in the San Francisco News, where they describe fetish films with bondage and sado-masochism as being “torture-based” films.

Talk about an economic stimulus. California taxpayers have paid $46,791 so that employees of the San Francisco pornographer Kink.com might produce more perfect web-based depictions of motorized dildo impalements on www.fuckingmachines.com; do a better job displaying women as they’re bound, gagged, and repeatedly electrically shocked on www.wiredpussy.com; and more effectively transmit images of, well, people doing pretty much what you’d imagine they’d be doing on www.whippedass.com.

That’s right: California’s government has been subsidizing torture-based pornography.

I’m going to ignore all the content in the article about government funding and who’s right and what’s wrong, because the only thing that matters is clarity right now, and on that count, SF News, from a city who KNOWS about kink, calling a little sexual brutality TORTURE is way off the fucking mark.
Torture is what happens to you against your wishes.
AGAIN, let’s remind the whole world how the kink and BDSM community work: It’s consensual. People not only agree to be beaten, bound, gagged, and whatever else makes your little conservative cockles shrink in fear — they BEG for it, DESIRE it, and SCHEME to get it.
THAT is not torture.
Let’s remember that language exists to allow us to communicate. It’s there for us to put to words what springs from our minds. WORDS matter. Precision counts. Especially in a motherfucking newspaper.
When we denigrate someone’s sexual preferences as being a fondness for “torture”, you belittle actual incidences of torture in places like Abu Ghraib, China, and wherever else inhumanities occur.
Mary getting paddled while in leather restraints on film as she squeals and moans is hardly akin to high-value prisoners being water-boarded and deprived of basic human rights while off-the-record and on the hush-hush.
So let’s open our fucking dictionaries, editors & writers of the world, because what’s a blase and catchy little term for YOU is something that’s subjecting whole demographics to judgment and ridicule. Learn a little professionalism. It’s the least you can do.