Tim Longhurst's Blog

Palin calls elected leader a dictator, AP ignores error

October 25th, 2008 · 9 Comments

Sarah Palin this week mistakenly called a democratically-elected president of a foreign state a dictator. In response, Hugo Chavez, who was in 2006 re-elected by a convincing 60% of voters, evoked Jesus, remarking, “Forgive her, for she knows not what she says.”.

So now you know the story: Chavez is not a dictator, he’s the popularly-elected leader of Venezuala. Palin didn’t know even this most basic fact about Venezuala, and yet felt qualified to threaten that country with sanctions.

The Associated Press’ version of this story does not once point out that Venezuala is a democracy. Without this significant piece of context, Palin’s innacurate assertion that Chavez is a dictator goes unchallenged.

The gaffe of Palin’s may be unclear to many readers, and the dismissive nature of Chavez’ comments may seem unfairly condecending and out of line without any clarifying statements.

Here’s the story, as it appears at this moment, (archived in full for purposes of criticism/critique):

Venezuela’s Chavez: Palin a pitiful ‘beauty queen’


CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin a “poor thing” who didn’t know what she was saying when she called him a dictator.

Friday’s verbal attack was the latest in long history of creative insults by Chavez — but was not unprovoked.

In an interview with the U.S. Spanish-language network Univision aired Tuesday, Palin remarked that “through negotiations or sanctions, if necessary, we can pressure dictators like Hugo Chavez to make it clear that they cannot mess with the United States whenever they feel like it.”

Speaking at an event to inaugurate a thermoelectric plant, Chavez said he had heard of Palin’s remarks.

“The poor thing, you have to feel sorry for her,” he said with a dismissive wave of his hand. Palin, he said, is “a beauty queen that they’ve put in the role of a figurine.”

Chavez said one must do as Christ did: “Forgive her, for she knows not what she says.”

Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate surprised the nation and prompted questions about her qualifications to serve as vice president. The McCain campaign had no comment on Chavez’ comment.

Palin, the governor of Alaska, says she would take the lead as vice president in energy policy, overall government reform and working with families who have special-needs children.

This article will almost certainly be syndicated by hundreds, if not thousands of news organisations around the world.

If such careless journalism had occured on a blog or other social media, an early commentor would almost certainly point out the complete lack of context.

Unfortunately, the Associated Press’ traditional publishing model leaves time-consuming details like accuracy or clarification at the door. Readers are not provided with so much as an email address to offer comments or express concern.

The article will be read unchallenged and unedited by thousands around the world.

Participatory Media: 1
Centralised Media: 0

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Category: Communication and connection

Transmedia storytelling – media trend / innovation

September 4th, 2008 · 8 Comments

There are lots of ways to tell a story these days: websites, comicbooks, videogames, movies are but a few… So if you’ve got a great story to tell, which should you choose? Increasingly, the answer is “as many as make sense”… Welcome to transmedia storytelling.

The Matrix is an example of Transmedia storytelling, as there is no one medium that conveys the entire world in which Neo (the central character) lives. As one professor wrote: “key bits of information are conveyed through three live action films, a series of animated shorts, two collections of comic book stories, and several video games.”.

Michael Moore is a fantastic example of someone who understands the benefits of transmedia storytelling – in the lead up to the 2004 US presidential election, Moore went to town on George W. Bush… he was attacked on Moore’s blog, in his book, Dude, Where’s My Country?, in his film, Fahrenheit 911 and during his Slacker Uprising national speaking tour. By choosing to tell his stories on multiple platforms, Moore reached diverse audiences in a manner that appealed to them, but a complete picture was only possible by experiencing each of the media in turn.

The term was introduced to me by edwardharran via twitter.

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Category: Communication and connection

Beijing Olympics: 21 edicts from the Chinese Government’s propaganda unit

August 14th, 2008 · 2 Comments

The Sydney Morning Herald has posted an article that purports to list 21 rules for covering the Olympics. Presumably these are written for Chinese journalists, but the article doesn’t actually explain the document, it just publishes it… The items (listed below) provide an insight into the international/domestic stories the Propaganda unit have anticipated in the lead-up to the Olympics.

I’ve added links to google searches for key terms, so you can familliarise yourself with the key themes of Chinese propaganda unit’s preoccupations:

1. The telecast of sports events will be live [but] in case of emergencies, no print is allowed to report on it.

2. From August 1, most of the previously accessible (sic) overseas websites will be unblocked. No coverage is allowed on this development. There’s also no need to use stories published overseas on this matter and [website] operators should not provide any superlinks on their pages.

3. Be careful with religious and ethnic subjects.

4. Don’t make fuss about foreign leaders at the opening ceremony, especially in relation to seat arrangements or their private lives.

5. We have to put special emphasis on ethnic equality. Any perceived racist terms as “black athlete” or “white athlete” is not allowed. During the official telecast, we can refer to Taiwan as “Chinese Taipei”. In ordinary times, refer to Taiwanese athletes as “those from the precious island Taiwan…..” In case of any pro Taiwan-independence related incident inside the venue, you shall follow restrictions listed in item 1.

6. For those ethnic Chinese coaches and athletes who come back to Beijing to compete on behalf of other countries, don’t play up their “patriotism” since that could backfire with their adopted countries.

7. As for the Pro-Tibetan independence and East Turkistan movements, no coverage is allowed. There’s also no need to make fuss about our anti-terrorism efforts.

8. All food saftey issues, such as cancer-causing mineral water, is off-limits.

9. In regard to the three protest parks, no interviews and coverage is allowed.

10. No fuss about the rehearsals on August 2,5. No negative comments about the opening ceremony.

11.No mention of the Lai Changxing case.

12.No mention of those who illegally enter China.

13.On international matters, follow the official line. For instance, follow the official propaganda line on the North Korean nuclear issue; be objective when it comes to the Middle East issue and play it down as much as possible; no fuss about the Darfur question; No fuss about UN reform; be careful with Cuba. If any emergency occurs, please report to the foreign ministry.

14. If anything related to territorial dispute happens, make no fuss about it. Play down the Myanmar issue; play down the Takeshima island dispute.

15. Regarding diplomatic ties between China and certain nations, don’t do interviews on your own and don’t use online stories. Instead, adopt Xinhua stories only. Particularly on the Doha round negotiation, US elections, China-Iran co-operation, China-Aussie co-operation, China-Zimbabwe co-operation, China-Paraguay co-operation.

16.Be very careful with TV ratings, only use domestic body’s figures. Play it down when  rating goes down.

17. In case of an emergency involving foreign tourists, please follow the official line. If there’s no official line, stay away from it.

18. Re possible subway accidents in the capital, please follow the official line.

19.Be positive on security measures.

20. Be very careful with stock market coverage during the Games.

21.Properly handle coverage of the Chinese sports delegation:

A.don’t criticise the selection process

B.don’t overhype gold medals; don’t issue predictions on gold medal numbers; don’t make fuss about  cash rewards for athletes.

C.don’t make a fuss about isolated misconducts by athletes.

D.enforce the publicity of our anti-doping measures.

E. put emphasis on  government efforts to secure the retirement life of atheletes.

F. keep a cool head on the Chinese performance. Be prepared for possible fluctations in the medal race.

G. refrain from publishing opinion pieces at odds with the official propangada line of the Chinese delegation.

Will be interesting to see how many of the above issues are covered by foreign media while China is on the world stage for 17 days. It’s hard for me to gauge what’s being covered back in Australia from here, but I’m wondering if sports results are drowning out any political coverage; I suspect is the hope of the people who prepared the above list.

Thanks to Laura F-P for posting the article on this blog’s wall!

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Category: Media Mayhem

News – LIVE from 2015, 2050, 2070, 2100 – coming this fall from ABC America

June 1st, 2008 · No Comments

earth2100.jpgABC News (USA) is preparing for what may be their most important ever newscast – and they’re accepting submissions from citizen journalists around the world.

Our biosphere is offering us multiple signals indicating the systems on which we rely are under stress. There are hopeful signs that there is a willingness in the world for major technological innovation and cultural changes, but what if we ultimately settle for business-as-usual? What will 2015, 2050, 2070 and 2100 look like?

Embracing the trend of user-generated content, ABC News’ Earth 2100 website explains how you can get involved:

You, our reporters from the future, will invent short videos from the years 2015, 2050, 2070, and 2100.  The ideas and events in your videos will be combined with the projections of top scientists, historians, and economists to form a powerful web-based narrative about the dangers of our current path.

The most compelling reports will also form the backbone of the two-hour prime time ABC News special: Earth 2100, airing this fall.

I’d love to know your thoughts – let me know if you’d like to submit a video – I’d love to track your progress.

Thanks to Stephen McGrail for the tip.

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Category: From the frontlines of the future

From Network TV to the Human Network – Mark Pesce on Media 2.0

May 16th, 2008 · No Comments

Ever shared information with others via email, text messaging and other social media? According to Mark Pesce, this behaviour “dates from the time when sharing information ensured our survival.”

The three F’s of “finding, filtering and forwarding” information allow us to reaffirm our place in social networks, and reminds recipients that we’re still there and we still care.

Forget television programs watched by everyone that speak to no-one: with social media messages only travel as far as they are salient… A photo from an earthquake posted to the web from a mobile might travel to millions… A text message to friends alerting them that you’ve been arrested in Egypt will probably travel far enough to at least get you legal assistance!

The shape of our culture – our news, activism and entertainment are all being transformed, spreading virally, often with less than 140 characters at a time.

Pesce concludes:

“Broadcasters, who spoke to millions, are replaced by the Human Network: each of us, networks in our own right, conversing with a few hundred well-chosen others. The cultural consensus, driven by the mass media, which bound 20th-century nations together in a collective vision, collapses into a Babel-like configuration of social networks which know no cultural or political boundaries.

“…In these fragments and shards of culture we find an immense vitality, the protean shape of the civilization rising to replace the world we have always known. It all hinges on the transition from sharing to knowing.”

Read the whole 2500 word post: Sharing :: Hyperconnectivity. [editor’s note: unfortunately this resource is no longer available online and we have therefore removed the link]

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Category: Communication and connection