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Local Chicago news paints four year-old black boy as gun-lover

h/t to the Maynard Institute for bringing this to light.

A Chicago television station story about the shooting of two teenagers that used video of a 4-year old boy saying he did not fear violence and wanted his own gun, has raised concerns with journalism educators and others. “We have long been worried about the ways in which the media helps perpetuate negative stereotypes of boys and men of color, but this appears to be overtly criminalizing a preschooler,” said Dori J. Maynard, President of the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

The kid responded to the question of what he was going to do in light of this gun violence by saying he wanted a gun. The station cut the clip there, but moments later the boy explained it was because he wanted to be a cop. I guess that didn't fit the gangbanger-in-training stereotype they were going for. Oops. The station has since apologized.

I wonder how many lives will be endangered because of that clip as aired, with the image of a little black boy planning to add to the cycle of violence with his own gun. And while the idea that he wants to fight gun violence with the badge of law enforcement on his side makes it better, the little kid has still learned the broader lesson from society that you fight guns with guns.

I kind of wish the little dude had a crazier imagination. Instead of wanting a badge and a gun, why couldn't he have wished for the power to turn all guns into donuts? That would have been a disarmingly delicious and creative desire.


Where Do You Find New Music? A Twitter, Facebook And FriendFeed Survey

This is the question I posed to my social networks (twitter, facebook and friendfeed) Saturday evening. I asked folks to be specific. Here are the Top 20 sources I got back as of 7pm ET Sunday February 8, 2009: I got 76 total responses. If one person mentioned three sources, that is three responses. Radio was very, very low on the list as I expected. Several folks mentioned music blogs in general or specific sites. The blogs cited were OkayPlayer, Gorilla vs Bear, Che Sing The Cool and Brooklyn Vegan. Some interesting comments that accompanied a few of the responses (names redacted):
  • pandora, friends, 101.9 RXP in NYC, and oddly enough if i like a song enough from a commercial to wanna track it down i will
  • I'm finding new stuff from the DJs at Cafe Wellstone on Second Life - works, too
  • When I'm starting a new genre, I find's articles incredibly helpful. Their subdivisions are pure music geekery: you get sample lists of key albums for, say, Chicago blues, jump blues, Delta blues, piano blues, acoustic blues, and on and on...and that's just blues.
  • OK - I may be 100 years old compared to y'all - but did you notice that only one of us mentioned radio? I am old enough to remember when radio was THE place to hear a new song. Funny...
  • typically for music - use to like Pandora but that was before they had to geotard themselves
  •, Friendfeed, and opening bands at concerts. And, sadly, iPhone commercials
  • iTunes/Genius. Books good, TV bad (except Lost & BSG - WOM)
Why is this on my mind? I don't listen to music on the radio anymore, except for whatever is blasting out of a car driving past me. Of course, my friends play a big role, and for a while, my subscription came with regular mp3 packs that were awesome, but they've stopped doing that. I also would get the occasional promo playlist from iTunes for members of the Apple Facebook group/fan page. I've found some of my best music via TV shows. The O.C. introduced me to Imogen Heap, and Gossip Girl brought me MGMT. My posting this question was part of a larger interest I have in how the explosion of media choice, social media tools and distributed network technology affect us. I used to think these thoughts for a living and still love to philosophize about our networked future. On Friday, I was interviewed by a NY Times reporter for a story about people who've canceled their cable in favor of an all-online video diet. That's another big blog post, but I'll give you a hint: Boxee made it possible. Back to music for now though. So I've been thinking on all this and realize that our technology has dismantled the former aggregation model for music. We used to have record labels, radio stations, music reviews and sage wisdom from record store clerks (and our friends) to help us make sense of the world by limiting, vetting, categorizing or explaining the wide world of music. Now, we have new points of aggregation: our iPods/iTunes and various other online services. We've dismantled the old world, but the new one is still under construction. Massive choice with incomplete filters makes for a confusing market. For example, iTunes is my primary music interface. However, it is closed to the world of trusted curators and music advisors in my life. I'd love to have an iTunes experience that is filtered or influenced by OkayPlayer, the music my wife likes and Pandora's music genome engine. But I can't do that. I've got to go through different interfaces to access these curators though the technical ability to do what I want is (nearly?) possible. I'm done rambling for now. More thoughts on the future of media in the future. Meanwhile, you can get full access to my raw unscientific music source survey data via this Google Spreadsheet. As I was about to post this, someone on FriendFeed pointed me to Adam Lasnik's Google Spreadsheet which provides a directory of online music services. If you're on FriendFeed, you can join the discussion (sadly, twitter and Facebook make it impossible to point people to a specific conversational thread).

Time Machine: Finally A Production Does Something Interesting On YouTube

I'm always interested in how creative people will take advantage of new means of production and distribution. Our networked infrastructure and ever cheaper and more powerful processing power have upended business models and changed the relationship between artists and producers. However, most early examples of the impact of new technology are uninteresting. It's dominated by people who just see a new way to distribute the same content. Examples include those who use Twitter to carry their RSS feeds or YouTube to post their broadcast video content. A higher level of evolution comes when people take advantage of the new means of production or distribution to enhance interactivity. Perhaps they allow and engage with comments or crowdsource the financing of their projects. But the most interesting is when the content itself, the production, changes because of new capabilities. The first TV shows were just radio host talking. It took a while to really take advantage of the visual medium. I've just found the most interesting example yet of this change in the art itself on YouTube. It's a "forking" or choose-your-own-adventure style series whose conclusion is up to the viewer. At the end of each clip, you face a decision about how the plot is to advance. It's a very old and simple concept, but until now, we haven't had a way for people to employ it on a large scale. The people who've been promising "interactive TV" said this would come a long time ago, but their implementation depends on mass upgrades of cable boxes across hundreds of millions of households adopting a common standard. Meanwhile, a few months ago, YouTube added features allowing producers to embed video links within a clip, and these guys have run with it. Check it out. Now think of all the interesting technologies and social media tools out there and how the art itself will adapt to the new capabilities. Let me know if you've found some interesting examples.

i'm back, and i humbly thank you

cross-posted to jack and jill politics One week ago, I wrote one of the most depressing posts of my blogging career. Having seen what I wrote, a friend told me, "you can't post that. It's so... depressing." Taking her advice, I revised the post and published something slightly less forlorn under the title "How Does Obama Do It?" Yes, what I posted last Wednesday was the cheery version :) In that post I basically expressed my campaign and Hillary fatigue. I'd been giving 110 percent for several months, burning the candle at both ends and from the middle, and my body gave out. I was mightily sick, having contracted the notorious Hillary virus and had no shortage of anger at feeling like I've been making the same set of arguments for weeks: Obama is the nominee; Hillary is a kamikaze candidate; Obama is the nominee; Hillary is insane; Obama is the nominee; OMG the right wing was right about The Clintons, etc. etc. etc. My plan was to take a break from writing about the campaign while I restored some balance to my physical and mental lives. I wasn't sure how much time I would need: a week, a month, more? After about a week during which I increased my intelligence by a factor of two by watching no cable news, ate well, slept better, conversed with friends (thanks for the weekend, Boston.) and tried pretty effectively to avoid the noise of the blow by blow campaign machinery, I am back. I read every single comment on that post, and I owe every member of this community a heartfelt thank you. You all lifted me up beyond my wildest expectations and contributed to the healing process. In August of 2006, Jill invited me to be a part of this then-new blog that would contribute thoughtfully, humorously and bitingly to the political conversation from a black perspective. We have grown beyond any of my own expectations thanks to new writers dnA and rikyrah, an exploding community of commenters (and lurkers!), the incredibly inspirational Afrosphere movement and the timing of events well beyond our control. We have something special here at Jack & Jill Politics, and I feel extraordinarily proud and privileged to be a part of it. Thank you. As I thought about how I'd return to battle -- have no doubt, this is battle -- I decided I would lay out some principles of operation for myself. These don't necessarily extend to the other writers here, but are my own rough guidelines made public now to help keep me straight while I have a moment to reflect. Here's what, on the best day, I hope we accomplish: Provide thoughtful, honest and hopefully original commentary on the racial themes emerging in this presidential campaign and broader political environment. I can never underestimate the value of explaining that which I think is obvious. It's become clear that conversations of race in this country are woefully handicapped by a colossal gap in the lived experiences of various Americans. I can't tell you how many times non-whites write expressing their gratitude for seeing things from a black perspective. There is literally a lag of several months before most white bloggers and the press realize some of the things we and fellow black bloggers have been throwing down. Many of you describe JJP as a beacon of light, and I hope we remain that. Stay grounded. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the best thing a political blogger can do is unplug from the media noise machine and incessant polling and get out in the street. While my canvassing for Obama in VA, TX and PA was to help him, I got much more out of it than he did. I am reminded of the diversity of the country and the depth of its challenges and the small, basic needs of its people every time I head out. Prevent Hillary Clinton from stealing the nomination or destroying the nominee. I struggled over the past few days with what to do with my feelings toward Senator Clinton. She has fallen so low in my esteem that I considered not ever uttering her name much less writing about her. She's practically dead to me. But my silence would not really help my cause. I will continue to attack her ideas and her tactics when I feel they do harm to the people and causes I hold dear. The greatest revelation to me has been watching my own understanding of The Clintons evolve. It's been ugly, but it's been necessary, and I'm glad that I see the truth of their ugliness, late though I am. Address the distractions thoughtfully without becoming or amplifying them. One thing I worry about is getting caught up in a media narrative or agenda that is not of my choosing nor in the interest of what I believe to be best for this country. These questions that dominate the news like "Why can't Obama close the deal?" rest on the most false of premises. As with Hillary, ignoring them is an option, but I think the better response is to address these noisemakers as the distractions they are and flip the script as best as possible, highlighting the absurdity of it all. The latest example is the chickenhead relay of people saying "Obama's relationship with Wright proves he can't be trusted to negotiate with foreign leaders." Uh huh, so what do Clinton and McCain's judgment to launch foolishly into an unnecessary, illegal, immoral and provocative war say about their judgment. If his pastor judgment is so offensive, how offensive is Hillary's choice to allow the continued use of cluster bombs in civilian areas? Please. Remember that, for the most part, the media organizations manipulating this election do not have the people's best interest at heart. I wouldn't be much of a blogger if I didn't bitch about "mainstream media" on the regular, but there is substance to the critique. We've all watched as the real story got subjugated by Miley Cirus or Britney or William Ayers. The ABC debate was a more obvious flash point for many, but we've been living in a vast wasteland of journalism for quite some time. This is not new, but it is getting worse. As I scream at my television (why does Dan Abrams exist?), it's worth remembering that the institution responsible for mediating our political discourse is woefully under qualified for and structurally unable to rise to the task. This is the same media that thinks when the stock market goes up, the economy is doing better. This is the same media that is closing down foreign bureaus at a time when nations are more interconnected than they have ever been. This is the same media that pushed this country, yes pushed us headlong into a war without batting an eye. They helped murder people. The institutions are corrupted and their incentives are for their own market expansion and survival, not a healthy democratic society. When they get it right, accolades are due, but when they get it wrong, well I cannot be surprised. I can just call them on it and try to provide an alternative. Raise critical issues As a part of not getting caught up in bullshit narratives, I want to be a part of highlighting legitimate issues. This country is long overdue for a discussion of a realistic energy policy (hint: a summer gas tax reprieve is stupid). We are long overdue for an honest accounting for the mounting chronic disease whose origin is no mystery. We don't need crazy ass drugs. We need to restructure our lives so we don't sit on our asses all day shoving poison into our faces because Monsanto and Cargill benefit. We are long overdue for a discussion about our rather insane drug and imprisonment policies. I'm not foolish enough to think myself an expert or possessing of enough time to write meaningfully on all of these and more issues, but the world of ideas is vast, and we live in the world of embedded media and hyperlinks. The knowledge is out there, and I'd like to be a part of bringing it to you. You can look forward to fewer links that feed the beast of CNN and more to alternative media and fellow bloggers holding it down for journalistic integrity. Take action. You should stay tuned for some of the upgrades we have planned here at JJP, but suffice it to say that "blogging" or "writing" is the tip of the iceberg. The Clinton Attacks Obama Wiki scratches the surface of the type of activism we can be a part of. Yall saw the impact bloggers could have in a case like Jena. That's what's up. Even if we're just bitchin about what some network did, we should try to accompany those words with a call to action. Whether fundraising, calling advertisers, organizing meetups and protests (Denver!) or building tools of collective knowledge, we don't just have to sit here and complain about what's wrong with the world. We can use these tools to help create the world we want to see. Sound familiar? There's more to say, but that's enough for now. Thank you all again for being an incredible community. Every time I come here, it feels like coming home. We'll be doing a more formal request for your ideas on the future of JJP, but feel free to comment here or write us any time. Fired up! And once again, ready to go.

Iraq 5 Years Later: How The Media Helped Get Us Into This War

cross posted to jack & jill politics Thank God for Democracy Now. Amy Goodman had on Greg Mitchell, editor of Editor & Publisher. His has a new book out called, So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits—and the President—Failed on Iraq. In all the retrospective coverage going on covering the five years of this unnecessary war, few in the media have bothered to look in the mirror and take the due blame for driving this country to war. We had the largest demonstrations in the history of the planet trying to stop this madness, yet few listened. The newspapers and broadcast and cable news outlets almost universally banned any voice that challenged the idea that Iraq was something we needed to do. Media outlets and personalities that fancy themselves critical of the war or the administration now, were the worst kind of journalists when we really needed them. It's easy to criticize Bush now. It's the hackiest thing you can do. It's easy to criticize the war, but when it really counted -- before we sent people in -- most of these idiots had nothing to say. They created a very hostile environment for our politicians to do the right thing, and for this complicity in war propaganda, they need to be held forever accountable. We should remember that these same media outlets are the ones driving the coverage and narrative of our current election. In general, they cannot be trusted. Their agenda is not our agenda. If they could help pull off the overthrow of a government, leading to the collapse of a society, the death of hundreds of thousands and the draining of the treasuries of two nations, what interest do you think they have in a substantive mediation of this presidential election? That's right. None. I'm as guilty as anyone of continuing to prop up these grossly negligent entities, but they've not learned their lesson, and I will try as much as possible to avoid validating them. This means more linking to alternative and perhaps local media, for example. Charlie Rangle made news years ago for proposing a military draft, as a way to spread the burden of this war more widely across society and, in so doing, end the war. I offer a more modest proposal: a military draft for elected officials and the media. If it were their kids and family members going off to commit crimes against another people, going off to get disfigured by an unjust and wasteful effort, you can bet we would not be where we are today. Check out Goodman's interview with Mitchell below. Tell us what you think.