Thursday, May 6, 2010

Musings: A Few Observations

I don’t miss going to Council meetings, except every now and then the newspaper reports on something downright weird that happens there, like Chair Kaipo Asing’s comment that a quote pertaining to high diabetes rates among Native Hawaiians was racist.

But even weirder was Thomas Noyes — aka Mr. Path, and the treasurer of Councilman Tim Bynum’s re-election campaign — claiming that Kaipo’s comment “may have been an indirect attack on Bynum’s bid for re-election.”

Huh?

As the song lyrics go: “paranoia, it strikes deep….”

I was also interested to read the comments left in response to yesterday’s article on the recent Green Harvest operation. They were almost entirely opposed to Green Harvest, which was correctly viewed as a waste of time and money. One person summed it up:

My guess is way more California-grown weed is smoked on every public school furlough day than Green Harvest nets in a month.

And I was pleased to get an email from former TGI reporter Michael Levine announcing that Peer News, renamed to Honolulu Civil Beat, had officially launched. I’ve been curious about this new adventure in journalism, so I followed one of the links he provided, which was supposed to provide a “free preview.”

It did — two paragraphs worth. But to read the rest, I had to either join, at the special rate of 99 cents for two weeks, or sign in with my pay pal account. I checked out the sign in and felt uncertain. If I logged in, would I be charged without realizing it and then have to go back in there and cancel to avoid future charges?

It just seemed humbug and slow, and so I didn’t bother, especially since I wasn’t even sure I was especially interested in stories about Honolulu’s homeless and the rail project. I understand they want to make money, but it seems to me that when you’re starting out, you might want to offer access for free (without any registration process that links to one’s bank account) to build interest and readership, and then if it’s worth it, folks might want to pay to stick around.

I’d like to see an alternative approach to news gathering and reporting succeed, but this "gateway approach," which Larry Geller’s expands on at some length at Disappeared News is a bit off-putting.

And then there’s the Honolulu-centric coverage. The big dailies, now about to become a big daily, have already cut off their coverage of what Oahu folks like to call the Neighbor Islands. It’s too bad that we’re again being shut out.

I’d also like to see a bit more personality shine through from Civil Beat’s “reporter hosts.” The stories are edited to create a sameness in tone that feels too bland and safe for something as electric and eclectic as the Internet.

I wonder as well how they’re going to maintain content worthy of $20 per month (the regular price) with just six reporters. It ain’t easy to crank out thoughtful pieces and interact with commenters, and frankly, most reporters aren’t used to working that hard.

But as the editor says, it’s just the beginning, so I’ll check back every now and see what’s happening, mostly because I like Mike and am interested in what he's up to.

Finally, as a friend who is visiting, and was reviewing stuff on his I-phone as I typed away on my blog, noted:

"It's funny how much of life is virtual these days."

Indeed.

30 comments:

Mike said...

Thanks Joan. Sorry the sign-in scared you away. Those free links I sent, which also go out via twitter constantly from all of our reporter-hosts, do require you to sign in with paypal, but you are not charged unless you sign up for either a trial period or full account. As I understand it, the free links allow each person to look at a limited amount of full content without paying; you would not have to come back and cancel any future charges. After your clicks run out, you would have to sign up to have full access.

Thanks for your other thoughts, we always appreciate thoughtful feedback. As I told you via e-mail, I expect that we'll be covering issues that have a statewide impact, and I'm confident we'll be writing things that Kauaians find of interest. We think people will be willing to pay for a service of value. I hope you'll check in to see how we're doing.

Ed Coll said...

As much as I hate the words "paradigm shift" we are in one. The value of pay media is dying and almost dead. Citizen journalism is much more effective if you really want the news. Case in point. I posted the Wikileaks video "Collateral Murder" on FB 48 hours before the NYT or DN were even aware of the story. How? 1) following Wikileaks on Twitter and 2) following Birgitta Jónsdóttir, member of Icelandic parliament on FB. Birgitta posted the Youtube video upon release and I (among many others) re-posted it on FB. More than half a million people saw the video before mainstream media knew dip! Viral spreads news faster than mainstream outlets, and bittorrent is a more efficient distribution model than the centralized broadcast model (more democratic as well for the more people using it the faster it gets!)

The scant coverage of former GI editor Adam Harju's death in Cambodia is yet another prime example of for pay media not being worth the money.

The primary reason for the death of for-pay mass media is a near total lack of investigative reporting. In the new world citizens have become empowered to do their own reporting from wherever they are worldwide.

"Professional" journalists will voice many objections about the "training" and "quality" of such reportage (yes we must all become our own editors), but as any honest person who has actually worked in the media as a "professional" journalist will tell you it is not "professional" (i.e. no qualifications required) and you basically write (and cover) what management tells you to cover or you leave voluntary or are fired. (See Herman-Chomsky propaganda model
1. Ownership of the medium
2. Medium's funding sources
3. Sourcing
4. Flak
5. Anti-ideology)
= distortion

Time will tell and if successful "Civic Beat" may prove me wrong, but it appears citizenship must involve more than occasionally voting and move into anonymous whistle-blowing and citizen reporting. Fortunately the average (US) citizen has a 4 hour-a-day time slot available to devote to their new civic duty by simply stop watching TV and start making multimedia.

I saw this "Paradigm shift" occur about twenty years ago with the death of documentary film. It is almost impossible to earn a livelihood today if you choose documentary film (or investigative reporting) as a profession. The same is now true for journalism.

Today if one wants to be informed one need but put together their own news service thru observational proxies, and RSS feed integrators.

Finally a comment on YouTube and other attempts to monetize the Net (Ning being the latest). It may work for the lame and gullible but open source, P2P, anonymous, server-less, darknet protocols are genies that cannot be put back in the bottle.

The internet is a multi-jurisdictional swamp inhabited by crypto-anarchists, apparently beyond the reach of tyrants intent on maintaining power through the control of information and knowledge.

Ed Coll said...

BTW- My money that used to go to pay media and "community" media PBS, KKCR, DN, etc. I now give to Wikipedia, Wikileaks, open source programmers, and other entities that shall remain anonymous by request. I encourage others to do so as well.

Anonymous said...

That's waaaaay to deep into "news junkie"-ism for me. Obsessive, really.

I just stick to a few catchy headlines and the first 1 or 2 paragraphs once in a while.

But I do like bittorrent...my main source for movies.

Anonymous said...

whatevaz. al jazeera / npr / pbs / the economist / atlantic monthly / bbc etc pretty much cover it all just fine


dwps

Anonymous said...

dwps - "whatevaz. al jazeera / npr / pbs / the economist / atlantic monthly / bbc etc pretty much cover it all just fine"

u r joking right?

Anonymous said...

The BBC is under the UK Official Secrecy Act and is pre-censored.

Anonymous said...

I like foxnews.com and news.yahoo.com.

That's about it.

And dilbert.com, of course.

For local, a little starbulletin and west hawaii today.

Anonymous said...

And for the liberal funny papers, this website, of course, and michaelmoore.com

Anonymous said...

the daily beast

Anonymous said...

moorewatch.com

successfully poking holes in the fat man's tripe for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Haven't you noticed how The Garden Island newspaper showcases Tim Bynum in many of its stories? He got a whole article to "clarify" his position on how he voted on an issue a couple of weeks ago. Today's comment by Noyes seems to continue the trend. Journalism?

Anonymous said...

He's got a lot of 'splainin' to do.

Anonymous said...

no wonder the council can't think straight, they have 2 diabetics that loose their common sense, that splains it, tim and jay

Anonymous said...

The "news" sources of the aninnymouses explains a lot about the level of commentary often found here. In Sweden we value literacy and education.

Sassa

Anonymous said...

Hey...I put all those "sources" up and I have a master's degree and am a rich, retired management consultant.

Literacy and education, my ass.

Lots of literate, educated people use those "sources".

And generally dislike libs.

Anonymous said...

Well I am young, speak six languages and frugal enough to vacation all summer here on Kauai. Only 2 of the six sources you cited required any literacy at all. What is a "libs"?

Sassa

Anonymous said...

"libs" - short for "liberals".

My political views are somewhat to the right of Genghis Khan.

Anonymous said...

ps - I admire your frugality. We were frugal enough to not spend my earnings on unnecessary things, allowing for debt-free retirement on a 6 acre estate on the Kona Coast.

I hope you achieve whatever dreams you have.

Anonymous said...

""libs" - short for "liberals"."

Thank you. Does libs mean people who believe in democracy? If so you would not like me because according to the Economist Sweden is the most Democratic country in the world, and I really like doing what I want.

Sassa

Anonymous said...

Both liberals and conservatives believe in democracy...just different definitions, I suppose.

My flavor is a democratically-elected oligarchy.

Being in the top 3 percent, it's natural that I would like that.

Anonymous said...

I love doing whatever I want, too.

Ain't it cool?

Anonymous said...

Top 3% of what? Certainly not wealth. Otherwise you wouldn't be concerned with concepts like frugality and retirement and you wouldn't be bragging about a mere six acre "estate" on the Kona Coast.

Anonymous said...

Frugality allowed retirement at age 50, debt free with my 6 acre estate here on the Kona coast, plus (since you pushed the issue) a villa in Tuscanny and a nice little home in the West End of London (we love the theaters).

All are debt free. Bought 10 yrs ago. We pay cash for everything. Rotate our living among these 3 places for the last 10 years now (we're 60 now).

How'd you do?

Anonymous said...

"u r joking right?"

-- not at all


dwps

Anonymous said...

60? Ewwww!

Kooko said...

Really you should see how silly you commenters' one-upsmanship looks. Geez.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the anonymous blog, where you can invent any life or identity that you can imagine.

Dawson said...

"Frugality allowed retirement at age 50, debt free with my 6 acre estate here on the Kona coast, plus (since you pushed the issue) a villa in Tuscanny and a nice little home in the West End of London (we love the theaters)."

An amazing conflation of the morbidity of narcissistic fantasy, the miracle of the internet, and the mercy of non-reflective monitors which prevent such posters from being affronted by their own faces as they write.

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