Updates from August, 2010 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Sylvia Moore 12:38 pm on August 30, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , business, class, , , , , ktla, , , , , , SEIU, , , , workers   

    Janitors Protest: A Rally Against Economic Injustice or A Public Nuisance? 

    Last Thursday, hundreds of activists staged a protest in Century City outside of the JP Morgan Chase-owned Century Plaza building in support of 16 janitors who were laid off in a company cost-cutting move. The Service Employees International Union organized the demonstration, including a hunger strike – part of a series of actions that ended on Friday. Thirteen protesters were arrested after they sat down in the middle of a street intersection in an act of civil disobedience.

    These protests were just the latest expression of outrage among the working classes across the country, who have suffered massive job losses and wage stagnation, while failing bank behemoths who wrecked the economy got bailed out to the tune of billions of dollars. The day of the janitors action, I wondered how much local news coverage it would get – if any at all. The protest did get the media’s attention, probably more so because of what it did (caused traffic jams), rather than what it represented (economic inequality and distress).

    All five major local news stations – CBS2/KCAL9, NBC4, ABC7, FOX11 and KTLA – had stories about the protest. Most had videos on their web sites, along with a print version. NBC4 was the only site without video, but you can read its account here. What was fascinating was the different tone each newscast took, what they chose to focus on and whom they chose to interview.

    KTLA’s coverage was by far the absolute worst in terms of corporate bias and tone. The narrative was just downright snarky. The station, which is owned by the struggling Tribune Co. (parent of the Los Angeles Times), broadcast two reports – one during the actual protest, and a longer report later on. Most of the focus was on how motorists were inconvenienced, and less on the grievances of the protesters. It’s as if the producers were more concerned about wealthy entertainment and banking executives who work at Century Plaza being aggravated, rather than whether the janitors were getting a raw deal. Watch the broadcasts below:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.
    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    FOX 11 was more sympathetic to the janitors, choosing to focus on a woman who participated in the hunger strike. But inexplicably, the focus then turned to an interview with TV sports commentator and former basketball star, John Salley. Salley just happened to be in the area, but what does the point of view of an athletic personality add to the story?

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    ABC7 and CBS2/KCAL9 did the best in terms of fairness and tone. Each station interviewed more of the protesters, in addition to obtaining statements in response from the janitorial firm. It was good to see that both broadcasts allowed the participants to clearly get their messages across, and that both noted the rally was peaceful. Interestingly, though, ABC7 chose to talk to the police, whereas CBS2/KCAL9 did not. CBS2 doesn’t allow for video embeds on blogs, so you can watch the video by clicking here. The ABC7 video is below:

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    It was great to see a workers protest covered in the news and across multiple outlets. Labor news gets short shrift in the mainstream press nowadays. But I wonder: Would the media have showed up at all if no one was blocking the streets?

  • Amanda Shaffer 11:47 am on August 5, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: acme, action coalition for media education, , , media education foundation, media literacy, media ownership, mef   

    LAMRG’s Jim Rhyne: “Comcast Distracts with Corporate ‘Goodwill’” — Media Literacy is Key 

    As a follow up from an Sylvia’s earlier post about the Chicago hearing on the Comcast-NBCU merger , LAMRG’s former leader, Jim Rhyne, was able to attend one of the hearings and offers this report back:

    “As large media conglomerates grow bigger, individual voices are increasingly left out of any meaningful dialog—even at a “public” hearing.  You might think it’s a great opportunity to speak truth to power, but you’d be mistaken. The same money and power that allow corporations to control the public airwaves is also painfully evident in their ability to control the tone at a public hearing.”  Read More>>

    Jim argues that in our increasingly commercialized and corporatized media system, media literacy is the key to engaging citizens to demand better media that truly informs our democracy.

    A similar argument is made by the Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) the nation’s only media literacy organization that does not accept  funding from Big Media:

    “No matter what one’s cause, media reform is crucial for the success of that cause, and since only those who are media-educated support media reform, media education must be a top priority for all citizens and activists…”  –from the ACME Mission Statement

    So what can we do to advance media literacy?

    1.) ACME has a lot of free tools for teaching ML.

    2.) The Media Education Foundation offers study guides with their topically relevant films that employ many of the tenets of media literacy.

    3.) Free Press is calling for ideas for its April 8-10, 2011 conference in Boston, and ACME is having a 1-day pre-conference on April 7, 2011.  Now is the time to tell Free Press you want workshops and speakers to address media literacy.  Become a fan of ACME on Facebook to receive the latest updates on the National ACME Conference.

  • Sylvia Moore 2:46 pm on May 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , mediafail,   

    Free Press Launches Media Watchdog Site: mediaFAIL 

    Ever watch a segment on your local TV news or read a story in your local newspaper that you felt was badly sourced, underreported, misleading or just plain dumb enough to even be considered news? Usually, your only recourse was to call the station and complain, write a letter to the editor (which the newspaper may or may not print), or contact the publication’s ombudsman (if it even has one). Well, now’s your chance to vent about bad news stories anytime you want before the whole world. The national media reform organization, Free Press, has just launched a new website called mediaFAIL.

    Unlike other media watchdog sites like Media Matters for America or Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) where content is chosen by their staffs, mediaFAIL is a user-generated site, allowing news consumers to submit and comment on stories they find that represent the worst examples of mainstream media sensationalism, lies or outright irresponsibility. Users vote on, or “FAIL,” the examples of bad reporting, and those receiving the highest number of FAILs are featured on the site’s main page. Once you set up a free account and submit “failed” stories, you can share those stories with friends. The site also features links to actions and campaigns by Free Press and other media reform groups working to improve our media system. Not surprisingly, as of this posting, the journalistically-challenged FOX News topped the FAIL list, but CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and even NPR also got taken to task.

    MediaFAIL looks like an important and useful addition to the many ways we can hold the media accountable. But because the site is dependent upon users – not professional media experts – there’s still some subjectivity involved, so people can look at the stories themselves to see if the complaints are justified. Unfortunately, since we Americans no longer gather around a news outlet or news anchor that we all agree gives us the facts – like the Walter Cronkites and Edward R. Murrows of yesteryear – someone’s FAIL may be someone else’s gospel.

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