Uber official threatens journalists


Uber has caught the nation’s attention as a successful transportation company with its ride-sharing business. The company is an efficient and cheap alternative to more traditional transportation such as taxis and limos. However, it is a very controversial company that is in constant war with its own hired drivers, taxi drivers, city governments and even journalists.

Believe it or not, a professional, successful and fast growing ride company, considers that it should hire opposition researchers to “dig up the dirt on journalists who criticized their company” and give the news media “a taste of its own medicine.”

Uber has been heavily criticized for using “dirty tricks” to impair its rival companies, for offering rides to “hot girls” in order to promote the company and for being careless about addressing the problem of female passengers receiving undesired sexual attention.

Now, the company is being aggressive with the news media. Last Friday night, Emil Michael, the company’s vice president, told guests at an Uber dinner party in New York City, that the company should battle negative media critics by spending $1 million to get rid of the defamatory information that media created about the company and that it should also damage the reputation of journalists who slandered Uber’s public image.

According to BuzzFeed, Michael put Sarah Lacy, editor and journalist of PandoDaily who has been critical of “Uber’s sexism,” as an example of an obstructionist journalist. Michael said that he wanted to investigate a “particular and very specific detail” about her personal life in order to damage her reputation as well.

Lacy, who wrote an article suggesting that passengers are more to likely to face sexual assault from an Uber driver than from a regular taxi driver, called these comments “horrifying.”

Michael was not aware that journalists were present at the dinner, listening to every single word he used. He probably wouldn’t have said that if someone had told him journalists were there. Michael ended up damaging the name of his company even more than he thought the news media did.

Michael had no option but to apologize because he really damaged his company’s name.

“My remarks were borne out of frustration during an informal debate over what I feel is sensationalistic media coverage of the company I am proud to work for,” Michael said on Monday. “My comments don’t reflect my actual views and I regret making them,” he added.

Despite Michael’s apology, his remarks are still being discussed all over the media as shocking.

According to a BuzzFeed report, Uber gained access to a reporter’s personal travel information just because the reporter was working on an article about the company. So, does this mean that Uber can obtain access to all its passengers’ personal information as well? … Maybe the federal government needs to keep an eye on this company’s efforts to access people’s private information.

Michael’s remarks might be the toughest challenges that Uber has ever faced. People are now doubting the company’s behavior.

What happened last week tells the world Uber is an untrustworthy company. Needless to say, Uber is getting a lot of negative publicity. This could damage the company’s growth for the next years if they don’t instill the value of morality within their company.

It is not only about 43 murdered students


#YaMeCanse, which basically means “I’m tired of this already,” began trending in Mexico since 43 students were brutally murdered.

Protests in Mexico are all over the news. Mexicans are tired of corruption, crime and violence. It’s not only about what the students lived, it’s about where the country is now headed.

As most of us might heard or read about, 43 student protesters disappeared outside Iguala, a city in the Mexican state of Guerrero, on Sept. 26. The students were kidnapped by the local police and given to the Guerreros Unidos gangs, a criminal organization in Guerrero, to kill them. Not to mention, these were the commands of corrupt Mexican politicians against these innocent students.

So, why the politicians wanted to have these students disappear?

Apparently, the students’ plan was to interrupt Iguala’s annual conference of Maria de los Ángeles Pineda, local president of the organization and the wife of Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca. Likewise, students wanted to protest since they were not happy with the government’s favoritism when hiring and funding jobs and practices; students claimed government gave privilege to those students from urban colleges over those from rural institutions.

It turned out that Abarca and his wife sent the “police” to open fire on the students’ vehicles and block them from interrupting Pineda’s talk. Students that remained alive after the shootout were forced into police vehicles and handed over by the same police to the Guerreros Unidos criminals. These gunmen killed them and burned them in a mercilessness way.

Yes, drug cartels are nothing new to Mexico. However, it is unacceptable that the same politicians, who are supposed to be an example to their citizens and fight against these illegitimate drug organizations, are the ones that have close ties with drug cartels and send these criminals to kill citizens that are “an obstruction” for their political speeches.

Even ordinary Mexicans students as these youngsters, who were from poor families and had no ties to the drug trade, were victims of this politicized savagery.

It is clear that public corruption and violence within the politics have gone out of control in this country. If Mexicans don’t confront this problem, the crime organizations will be gaining more and more power, killing Mexicans who oppose to them, installing drug cartel members in political positions and even taking control of the country.

“As Mexicans, we should change our attitudes, we are always complaining but we don’t work to find a solution to this problem that is putting our country in serious risk,” said Odalis Gomez, radio newscaster of the political debate forum for youngsters of QFM 104.3 in Cancun, Mexico.



The cost of delaying immigration reform


President Obama’s decision to postpone immigration reform cost some Democrats their seats in the midterm elections.

Democrat’s performance among the Hispanic community was not as good as in previous years.

Certainly, Hispanics are not happy with Obama’s job about the immigration reform. There have been more than enough excuses to postpone this reform and nothing has been done other than deporting undocumented immigrants and separating Hispanic families.

“The ideal candidate for a Latino is one who recognizes the value of family and the importance of not tearing families apart and keeping them strong,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, CEO and president of Voto Latino. “They would be on a platform to pass immigration form and they would see it as the civil rights issue of our time. They would have a frank conversation with America saying we will not be economically viable without the immigrants and their labor and their sweat.”

On the other hand, Republicans improved performance among Latinos in Tuesday’s elections.

President’s decline to act on immigration before midterm elections also made Republicans take control of some “Democratic territories.”

Latinos make up a large portion of the United States and they have a big influence on Election Day.

Clearly, lower Hispanic votes for Democrats affected some Democratic candidates in the midterm elections, including Charlie Crist, who lost his race for governor in Florida.

Incumbent Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign focused on unemployment and tax decreases in Florida, but also criticized Crist as a political opportunist and “supporter of President Barack Obama” and certainly, not many people in Florida like what Obama is doing according to the election results.

Exit polls indicate that the Republicans had more Hispanic votes from 27 percent in 2012 to 35 percent in Tuesday’s elections.

The president’s delayed action on immigration led to Democratic positions losses leaving Obama with a Republican-controlled Senate.

“There could be civil war among Democrats unless Barack Obama uses his authority to suspend deportations of undocumented immigrants,” warned Luis Gutierrez, the U.S Representative for Illinois’s 4th Congressional district.

The NBC News political team speculated: “Given the current situation, we think the White House wishes it went ahead and issued that executive action on immigration back in the summer.”

Tuesday’s results could have been different for Democrats if the president had taken different actions regarding the immigration issues.

What will you earn as a journalist?


Since the decline of newspapers, less people watching TV and the rapid growth of digital media, journalism salaries have been falling. Today, new graduate journalists are notorious for low salaries.

If you really want to be a journalist, you must be passionate about the career and must be willing to start from scratch with “not the best expected salary.”

Federal data show that news reporters are falling further behind workers in other occupations. The mean annual salary for reporters in the U.S is below the national average for all jobs.

As it turns out, a decade ago journalist earned more money than they do now. Reporters, on average, earn $2,080 less than the national average.

Certainly, journalism is a field where the competition is immense. The competition is increasing now even more because positions in this field are less. We probably have heard about the economic issues hitting the news business nowadays. Many newspapers with financial trouble have been forced to stop hiring new journalists and even lay off journalists that already have a job in the newspaper.

Not to mention, beginning broadcast journalists earn almost the same money as a beginning reporter in a newspaper. Although the competition for jobs in broadcasting is high, if you become an important anchor in a big media market, you’re going to have a high salary.

There are undoubtedly other careers such as medicine, business, architecture and law that pay much higher than journalism. However, journalism is a wonderful profession where you are always learning new things, meeting new people, traveling, exploring new things and doing interesting things. Despite the old journalism jobs being destroyed and many people fighting for these job positions, journalism is a great career to pursue when you really love what you do.

Yes, there are scarce career opportunities in this job field, yet if you want to be in journalism, you have to be willing to work harder and harder to be better than the other journalists fighting for the job you want.

Is America prepared to handle Ebola?


Being a developed country and a world power, we are not taking the necessary steps to prevent Ebola from spreading throughout the country.

In hospitals, there is lack of coordination including the limited training of staff. Moreover, the overconfidence in American hospitals has been another issue.

One of the so-called “prepared hospitals” missed warning signs of the first Ebola patient Thomas Duncan, who first went showing diarrhea and vomit symptoms in Dallas hospital. By the time Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola, it was too late because two nurses who were taking care of him became infected even though they used the “necessary protecting equipment.”

We are not just talking about three Ebola patients from Dallas. There are other people that have been exposed to these infected people, including a school teacher from Ohio who had contact with one of the nurses.

Wasn’t America all ready for this?

Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said “Ebola poses little risk to the U.S. general population. We know how to stop Ebola with strict infection control practices which are already in widespread use in American hospitals.”

As said before there was an excess of confidence in U.S. hospitals, which suggested nearly every American hospital would be ready to receive Ebola patients. Today, this is not what we are seeing. There are many doubts about the ability of hospitals to handle such patients here in the U.S.

Health officials are only relying on the four “specialized hospitals centers” to treat this virus.

If hospitals in the U.S. were really prepared for this illness, why the two nurses who contracted Ebola in Dallas were transferred to two of the four highly specialized hospitals here? Weren’t the hospitals in such a big state such as Texas prepared to treat Ebola? Probably not.

We should note that the four hospitals equipped to treat patients with Ebola are located in Georgia, Nebraska, Maryland and Montana. They have the capacity to treat approximately 10 patients at one time. What if this disease spreads throughout the country? Only four hospitals in one of the most developed countries in the world would be able to treat Ebola patients?

What if Americans become ill abroad and are brought here for treatment and there is insufficient space in “equipped hospitals” because of people that got infected here?

Nigeria is now Ebola-free. This is an example of a country that took the necessary measures to overcome Ebola. In contrast to the U.S, Nigeria knew it was possible that this virus traveled to their country, and that’s why health care workers received the essential training before the virus hit the country.

The nation’s largest health care workers’ union said Wednesday that 85 percent of surveyed nurses feel they are not prepared to deal with the deadly Ebola virus. These feelings of unsafety among heath workers can have consequences in the way health workers treat this fatal virus on infected people.

Based on these nurse’s responses, there is insufficient levels of preparation to handle Ebola. Some nurses said the training to deal with Ebola was limited to a 10-minute course in which they couldn’t ask questions. Other nurses said their training was from e-mails with links to the website of the CDC.

Nurses also said that hospitals don’t have the necessary equipment to ensure their safety. If we are not having the equipment needed for protection in hospitals, health workers will continue infecting.

So, what will happen? Health care workers will stop going to work because of the danger of working in a highly contagious environment in which they do not receive the essential training to deal with Ebola.

If health workers aren’t feeling safe with the equipment they are provided, Americans are not going to feel safe in hands of them and these health care workers would prefer to save themselves from being infected than from saving a life of an Ebola patient.

The CDC should be doing more to prepare doctors and hospitals. The number of biocontainment unit beds that we count on now is not sufficient enough to a worst-case scenario.

Although the CDC doesn’t want to create panic about this illness, they really need to develop better measures to protect and train health care workers; and even more when doctors and nurses in the U.S. are not used to treat Ebola. If a good training is not provided, Ebola could become an epidemic regardless of the skilled medical technologies that we have.

Biased reporting in age of objectivity


Media have an enormous power in modifying our cultural and political thoughts. Although the news media have the obligation to be accurate and fair, biased reporting occurs.

Bias reporting refers to the bias within the mass media in the way that events and stories are told.

Media can have a hostile effect on viewers, readers and listeners. We are not as smart as we think we are and we can be unconsciously convinced to view things in a certain way portrayed by the media.

Government influence, recruited staff, intended audience and the ownership of the news source are some of the factors that can lead to bias.

The things we need to consider when we read news are the source’s race, age and gender, stereotypes and the point of view in which a news story is reported.

For instance, if an article has many government sources and few sources from the community, it might be biased toward a political view.

We also need to consider the diversity of people included in the article. This includes race, sexual orientation, gender and age.

Stereotypes is another thing to consider. An article might be focusing on black people as possible suspects of a crime because “most crimes include black people.” Is the writer defending white people just because he has adopted bad thoughts of this specific type of individuals? What if the offenders were of white color?

As journalists, maybe we are not biased toward a certain point of view. Nevertheless, our story can be biased if we ignore some details and include others. For example, if someone is covering a story about a protest and ignores information about the people that are against the protest. Of course, this gives the readers a different opinion about the event.

When writing we should consider different type of sources to have a story that is influenced by the attitudes and background of different kind of people, not only by a certain group with particular thoughts and beliefs.

Using anonymous sources in reporting


For a long list of reasons, it is better to use the names of sources that are willing to be quoted in an news article. However, sometimes sources don’t want their names to be revealed because they have fear of the valuable information they’re giving.

As an ethical rule, journalists should not reveal a person’s identity unless that person gives consent. Nonetheless, frequent use of anonymous sources has become a controversial issue.

If, for example, you are reporting a story on a city mayor who is stealing money from the city and you find a knowledgeable source that works with the mayor. The source tells you everything the mayor does and reveals he or she is stealing money. Then, the source gives you details about the mayor’s corrupt activities but tells you to keep his identity secret because otherwise he would get fired.

If you want to be a professional journalist and keep your job, you must be willing to keep that promise of not revealing the source’s name even if you confront extreme pressure to reveal this confidential information.

When a journalist wants to uncover a big secret and produce a good story of public interest, anonymous sources are often key for revealing these quality stories.

Nevertheless, the protection of source’s identities can result in journalists facing jail and paying fines for contempt of court charges. If journalists want to avoid jail or fines, judges can make them reveal information even when it has been promised to keep the secret.

According to the Society of Professional Journalists, the legal protection provided to journalists to protect confidential sources is not 100 percent secure. “Judith Miller, a New York Times journalist, for example, spent three months in jail for refusing to identify the source of the leak that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA.”

The right of journalists to use and not reveal confidential sources is being debated. Some police officers and judges tend to argue that journalists have no right to make people anonymous and protect their information when these sources are subject of crime investigation.

Anonymity is a serious matter in journalism. Journalists are being more pressured than ever to reveal secret sources. As future journalists, we have to resist this pressure in order to maintain our ethical standards in this profession.

Earning money from a six-second video


Vine is a video-sharing website, owned by Twitter, where you can share videos that are up to six seconds long. You may ask yourself how such short videos can attract people to use this app? Well, the answer is that the limit of time on its clips is appealing to people.

People that make videos on Vine are called “viners.” Believe it or not, viners can tell a whole story in six seconds and these viral videos can result in big earnings. This app lets people “revine” videos, which is like retweet on Twitter, and like videos as well.

With Vine, you can become an Internet celebrity or make your product famous. Viners are mostly teenagers and some of them are earning big amounts of money as a result of their posts on this website.

For a teenager that has funny videos and lots of followers on Vine, $1,000 isn’t hard to come by.

With 9.5 million followers, 16-year old Nash Grier has earned one of the top places of famous people in this website. Incredibly, he is ahead of famous people such as Snoop Dogg and even Justin Bieber on Vine. Besides the money he is paid for his vines, this Vine star can receive $25,000 to $100,000 for advertising a major brand product in a six-second video and sharing it with his Vine followers.

Locally, we have many college and high-school viners that are becoming famous with this website and also that are benefiting economically from their vines.

Marcus Johns, a 21-year-old junior at Florida State University, is making lots of money by doing vines. He has considered dropping out of school because he makes so much money on Vine.

Marcus’s brother, Cody Johns was an aspiring actor and by doing vines, he got his college tuition paid.

Here in Miami, we have Lele Pons, which is another celebrity on Vine. She is known in Miami and throughout the world as a crazy, hyperactive and also one of the most popular viners. She is the first person on Vine to reach over a billion loops.

Advertisers are also on Vine. Companies such as Urban Outfitters, Trident and Dunkin’ Donuts have promoted their products by making mini ads in a six-second vine. Additionally, other companies have used Vine to promote events, such as Burberry promoted its shows in the New York fashion week. If you have a lot of followers, and you revine posts to share a sponsored brand, you’ll probably earn money from an advertiser.

There may even be news potential in the site, particularly for broadcasters and Web sites looking for clips to turn into feature stories or video from breaking news events.

Since Vine was released in January 2013, many people have made good living from Vine alone.

So, if you have good vines, receive many revines and likes and become famous on Vine, you won’t even need to worry about getting a job. Just “Do it for the Vine!”





Consumerism: A social problem


The addiction to acquisition has become an everyday thing in American’s lives. Why Americans overspend? Is it the new ways of advertising? Or maybe the cultural shift toward American materialism?

Believe it or not, we have a culture that drives us to buy more and to have the latest products in order to fit in the society and feel “a better person.”

American culture has had a huge change with regards to our way of perception about goods. We live in a consumer society where materialism is dominant. Goods and services are obtained not only to fulfill human’s basic needs, but also to have a special identification in the American society.

Consumption and consumerism are two different things. Consumption is based on satisfying our basic needs; shelter, food, health and education. On the other hand, consumerism is more about materialism; things that drive us to satisfaction, self-actualization and self-esteem.

We live under social pressure, which instills us the definition of overspending in luxury brands, cars and technological devices as a natural thing that we as a culture do.

Think about the iPhone 6. In the same day this iPhone was launched, Americans went to the stores desperately to get Apple’s latest product. The need to have the newest product was higher than the fact of having to be hours in a line.

Additionally, the demand has been so high in the U.S that if you want to get an iPhone 6, you will have to wait three to four weeks until it even ships.

With the release of iPhone 6, we can see how our dependence on material things is increasing. The number of iPhones 6 sold in the first day of its release was the double of the number of iPhones 5 sold two years ago.

It must be noted that our consumerism is also linked with economic issues.

People will do almost anything to obtain the means to consume and this portrays Americans working for long hours in order to indulge themselves with products that aren’t necessarily worth buying. The fact of having more than needed also leads Americans to dept and economic issues.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce and personal bankruptcy, American’s personal savings rate has dropped from 11 percent to below zero since 1982.

This compulsive spending is not only affecting high classes, it is also affecting lower classes. It is common to see a middle class American with a pricey car or brand-name shirt, because they spend most part of their income in “status products.”

We have created this mentality and it is difficult to resist it because it is now part of the culture and what all of us unconsciously do. Although there are products that make our world a little better or faster, we have to control ourselves and think about what is really useful and what is just unnecessary and not worth spending.

Journalism: One of the most dangerous jobs


What comes to mind when we think about the most dangerous jobs in the world? We may think of firefighters, astronauts, bodyguards, men working for the military or perhaps fishermen, but few of us would believe that journalists face greater dangers for reporting the news.

According to the United Nations, “Journalism is one of the most dangerous professions in the world.”

Journalists go out to the streets to explore and report what is happening. Unfortunately, in this profession, the stories covered may result in kidnapping, assault and even death of journalists and their staff.

Nowadays, journalism is more dangerous than ever. The cruel beheading of South Florida native Steven Satloff and James Foley in Syria are great examples of this risky job. Covering a war is obviously a dangerous task, but being brutally killed in front of a camera just for saying the truth and reporting the news, is unacceptable.

In the recent years, Syria has shown to be the deadliest country for journalists to operate. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), at least 70 other journalists have been killed and more than 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria, some of which cases are not publicized. CPJ estimates that approximately 20 journalists are missing in Syria and many journalists are still believed to be kept by the Islamic State.

Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said “journalists report on human rights violations and bad governance, give voice to the victims and the oppressed, and contribute towards raising awareness of human rights issues, and this service deserves better protection.”

Sadly, journalists have less protection than any other risky job. People don’t realize this until they see innocent journalists that have been arrested, kidnapped or murdered.

In these years, the death of a journalist is usual. Last year, at least three dozen reporters were murdered in their jobs. They didn’t have a uniform or carry a gun, they were simply doing their job; asking questions, looking at records and reporting the truth.

Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, Somalia, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia have been considered the most dangerous countries for journalists in the last years.

In 2014, an aggressive fire killed more journalists than American soldiers in Afghanistan. In the same year, three Al-Jazeera journalists were convicted and sentenced to prison for seven years with terrorism-related charges in Egypt.

Another shocking case back in 2001, was Jose Luis Ortega Mata, an editor of a weekly newspaper in Mexico. He wrote an article on drug traffickers funding the election campaigns of Mexican politicians. Too much coincidence that days after his article was released, someone fired two bullets into his head without any reason.

Cases like this occur on a daily basis. Some are published and some are not and it is hard to make justice over these journalist’s deaths.

Reporting requires curiosity, written and verbal communication skills, objectiveness and passion for the truth. But what it mostly requires is courage.

Reporter’s work is to inform the citizens by telling the news, which is the material we use to think about the word’s happenings beyond ourselves. As any other job, journalism doesn’t deserve threatening to those who practice it. Needless to say, people with a journalism profession deserve more protection for informing the world.