I decided to examine ownership of media outlets by looking at the newspapers list for Berkeley, because of my interest in newspapers, the fact that I spend most of my “media time” with print and online newspapers, and because of their long history in democratic participation in the US. I found that some of the local papers had been locally owned and directed for over a hundred years, such as the Daily Cal and the Berkeleyan, and others had their starts in the 60’s, founded out of idealism, such as the East Bay Express and SF Weekly, but then in the 90’s were purchased by a national media group, The New Times. The New Times was founded out of outrage over the Kent State shootings, and so while they may have similar ideological leanings as their acquisitions, they still own 12 weeklies, and have additional online classified holdings, located around the US and are responsible for the collective investment in those media outlets. Other papers, such as the Chronicle, purchased in 2000 by Hearst Corporation, are part of huge media conglomerates. Berkeley may be unusual in that it has a couple of locally owned and operated newspapers, but those sources of information appear tiny in comparison to the outlets that are nationally owned and presumably directed such as the Chronicle, the Oakland Tribune, and even the East Bay Express and SF Weekly. The mergers and acquisitions of media outlets is something I have related to more on a national level, and I was surprised to find such small local papers owned by larger national and international economic entities.
I looked at NY Times International page articles centering around events in the Middle East primarily, and the World Economic Forum. The articles were about terrorism in Israel, peace, Iran, economic and oil interests, tourism, and Clinton speaking at the World Economic Forum. Overwhelmingly, articles cited world leaders and the US President, US government officials including the heads of departments or agencies as well as high-level underlings, and foreign government agency officials. Only a few professionals, academics, business and labor leaders and other “knowns” were cited, and very few average citizens were quoted. Cite totals include both direct and indirect cites. However, like the Gans chapters from Deciding What’s News relate, reporters seem to look to official sources for information. The few terrorist and other world opposition groups not officially or diplomatically recognized were often indirectly cited. This might be due to the fact that with illegal status, they aren’t likely to have PR people or have make themselves known or present at any particular location. However, the articles overwhelmingly looked to official sources, which left the impression that the official point of view was right and correct.
3: narrative form articles
I looked at five articles on the FBI warning of a terrorist attack, all from February 12th, 2002. The first three are from the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times. They are all derived from an Associated Press article, but the Washington Post goes a little further in gathering and reporting information, and the LA Times goes quite a bit further. The next two articles are from the The Times (Britain) and Tribune India.
I decided to try out the SAM: script applier mechanism, to try making a Terrorist Alert script, as well as the method of listing location, action, terrorist, target, evidence and other information. It seems like the second method would be much more difficult to implement successfully, than the first method. A computer program might have an easier time picking out names, actors, verbs and objects/nouns against a list of these words and then cross reference the words with other patterns, to determine what has happened and then aggregate the information into a script, from several different news sources, verses trying to pick out whole sentences and place them into categories of action. I think this because each of the articles chosen has dramatically different styles of writing, and often uses passive, lengthy and compound sentences, or sentences that are so convoluted, that a program might have difficulty determining what the actions are and who is performing them.
Assignment 4: personalization and reading spaces scripts
I used the scripts from two articles found last week from the NY Times and the Tribune India and then linked various information. However, since these two articles were general about a terrorist alert put out by the FBI, I chose to use related information about the geography of Yemen or about terrorist activities. The NY Times articles makes reference to American statistics, and the Tribune India article references Indian statistics.
Assignment 5: ideology, myth and metaphor actors
I tried to find articles describing the current perceptions about the “war on terrorism” and found articles from India, Iran, Pakistan and the US that expressed opinions that were politically charged. There are a variety of perspectives, but generally, the US and those who agree with the US refer to terrorists as “shadowy people”, “henchmen”, “radical”, “extremist” or “wrong”. Axis of Evil countries and terrorists refer to the US as creators of “tyranny and evil hostility against people”, “blind … supporters of Israel”, and “unilateralists”.
Basically, according to the perspectives in the articles, the US side believes that the terrorists and axis of evil countries are irrational baddies that need to be stopped, and the only entity to step in to create order and peace is the US. This goes for all the various conflicts in the Middle East including Israel and Palestine, as well as Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. The US is portrayed as the savior of peace as well as those victims that experience violence in one form or another and the “traditional role of an American president” is to get involved in seeking Middle East peace.
The other side believes that the US is acting unilaterally to persecute people, who are just trying to defend themselves, against a third party (Israel) that has been persecuting them. Also, they see Israel as having “blinded” the US to its cause, and so while the US has might, it is susceptible to manipulation. The US is also a bully. They also see themselves as defending against US culture and dominance and think they are justified morally because the other Arab/Islamic nations (Saudi Arabia) have been duped by the US for economic reasons.
Assignment 6: translation and culture: occidental v. oriental
Assignment 7: language and nationalism examples
Assignment 8: objectivity Here is the Boston Globe article that appears first on Lexis-Nexis about 9/11. After this article, many others follow over several hours, showing how the news goes from a position of questioning the facts to assuming the facts within a few hours. By reviewing 15 Boston Globe articles posted between 11 am and 5pm on September 11th, 2001, I observed information originated as questions, such as which airline’s planes had been taken by terrorists to which locations, change into facts as the stories were repeated, and verified explicitly or implicitly. A couple of statements were later shown to be incorrect. The incorrect infomration was briefly stated and then never addressed again, while other information, over the course of the day, became fact within a few hours, partly due, it seems, to other news sources stating the same information as fact and partly due to what appeared to be the Boston Globe’s own process of verification and repeating of information until it became a fact.
Assignment 9: international differences: news diary
Assignment 10: audience: weblogs and newsgroups I looked at a story on Metafilter.com about Google and advertisements, self-described by Christophe Bruno, in April 2002 where he decided to try google.com’s ad system in order to promote poetry. He would place “ads” on google.com which were little haiku poems he had composed, and would reference different words. Google.com’s automated system figured out that his use was not for advertising, and kicked him off. Christophe Bruno in effect becomes a self-publishing news source. Metafilter.com’s site, and Kafei as first poster bring the news to an audience which comments on the original article.
Final project description: I took a second look at Assignment 3, which involved five articles on the FBI warning of a terrorist attack, all from February 12th, 2002. The first three are from the NY Times, the Washington Post, and the LA Times. They are all derived from an Associated Press article, but the Washington Post goes a little further in gathering some additional information, and the LA Times goes quite a bit further. The next two articles are from The Times (Britain) and Tribune India.
For Assignment 3, I tried the SAM: script applier mechanism, to make a Terrorist Alert script, as well as the method of listing location, action, terrorist, target, evidence and other information. It seemed like the second method would be much more difficult to implement successfully, than the first method. A computer program might have an easier time picking out names, actors, verbs and objects/nouns against a list of these words and then cross reference the words with other patterns, to determine what has happened and then aggregate the information into a script, from several different news sources, verses trying to pick out whole sentences and place them into categories of action. I think this because each of the articles chosen has dramatically different styles of writing, and often uses passive, lengthy and compound sentences, or sentences that are so convoluted, that a program might have difficulty determining what the actions are and who is performing them.
Of further interest was how George Lakoff’s method of relating metaphors to media stories might change this way of looking at the news and aggregating stories for future reference and understanding, using the script applier mechanism.