U.S., international coverage differ


Growing up, my parents always watched the news. In the morning, on the way to school, before/after/sometimes during dinner, and right before bed; it was always on.

If my parents weren’t directly sitting down watching the news, it played as background noise. As a teenager, I often awoke to the deep voice of the local news anchor reporting last night’s drama. I remember thinking, “I don’t know how my parents can watch so much news, it’s such a negative and depressing way to start and end ones day.” But, for as long as my parents watched the news, I never really questioned what was being reported.

That was, until I got to college. As I got older, I started paying more and more attention to the news before concluding that most, if not all of it, was full of crap. It always seemed as though reporters weren’t telling the whole story or at least leaving out important details as to obscure the truth.

Something always seemed to be missing, you know, the part of the story that actually made sense. As I continued to grow, I began questioning the information my own country’s media was telling me. The media seems to portray America as a target and victim and in order to prevent the invasion of evil from other countries, we must go to them first and fix their wrongdoings. In the international realm, It appears as though, America has this drastically different conceited view of itself, then that of the rest of the world.

If you’ve ever been to a different country, then you probably know that citizens in most countries strongly dislike and even hate the United States for what it has become. Many people from other countries view Americans as having a materialistic, self-absorbed, ignorant culture that consumes too much, saves too little and bullies the rest of the world. In their eyes, Americans are promiscuous, lethargic, wasteful and arrogant. They believe that Americans think they know everything, believe the rest of the world should be like them and are exceedingly uninformed about politics.

In contrast, Americans view themselves as self-righteous, confident, and moral individuals that carry a sense of nationalism, individualism and religiosity. Americans believe it their duty to overly consume so the economy remains stable. As individuals, Americans tend to be egotistical, conceited, and self-reliant. We, as Americans, believe what we look like, how we dress, and what other people think of us, are much more important than the atrocities of American and/or international politics.

For instance, take a look at these American and international versions of Time magazine covers. The American version tends to the values of American lifestyles whereas the international covers focus on important issues worldwide. Topics from the American version include “The child free life,” “The science of favoritism,” “What makes school great,” “Chore Wars,” and others such as anxiety, Jay Leno, pain, and football. The same issue’s international version of the covers involved “Germany saving the Euro to save itself,””Why Germany can’t save itself,” “Pakistan’s Despair,” “Travels through Islam,” and other topics including revolution redux, the global economy one year later, last stand, and Haiti, the aftermath, respectively. As you can see, the American issues of Time magazine are drastically dumbed down and directed towards everyday life versus keeping us informed about the global issues at hand. In fact, stories featured in the international version are often never included or even mentioned in the American one.

Just compare American news sites to International ones. If you visit Fox News, the main page is filled with stories including Mark Zuckerberg’s stance on immigration, Iran’s nuclear program deal, the longest married couple in the United States, and a postal worker who was shot and killed. Compare these headlines with those featured on an international news site like RT (Russian News) and you’ll see a huge difference. RT includes a multitude of stories involving the Iran nuclear program, and headlines include “Snowden leak reveals NSA’s goal to expand surveillance,” “Crack smoking Toronto mayor more popular than Obama,” and “IRS leaves tax payers at risk for fraud”. The website contains both Russian, international, and American news and includes many stories not found on American news sites. If they are featured on an American news site, the American story is written in a way as to obscure or leave out certain facts that the international site puts forth so bluntly. In my opinion, the international site is more informational and truthful than our own American news. I’ve found more information keeping up with the international stories than I have by keeping up with my own mainstream media.

I’ve recognized this as a pattern in American journalism. Mainstream American news tends to cover less important topics than they obviously should. Our news has drifted away from global and domestic importance and evolved into another form of entertainment. The American media keeps citizens more informed about Kim Kardashian’s pregnancy and Miley Cyrus’s destructive behavior, than on investigative reports about the real issues going on in the middle east and abroad. More importantly, they ignore what’s right in front of us-our country’s own domestic self-destructive behavior.

Our society has fallen ill from its own stupidity. If we continue on this path, we will be left only with what our American media tells us. American news has evolved into yet another form of entertainment in which stories have been dumbed down to attract viewers. The American media obscures the truth, leaves out important details, and often only tells one side of the story if they include the story at all. It is my strongest recommendation that Americans start outsourcing to international media sites in order to grasp and comprehend the whole story. International media doesn’t hide or dumb down global issues in order to entertain and increase their number of readers. They report the story as it is, with collectible facts and truth, and in its full entirety. International media includes details, left out by our own media, and reports the way American media should be reported.

If we continue believing everything the American media tells us, we will lose our capability to think for ourselves and will one day be limited to receiving news the same way North Korean’s receive theirs. We will be told only what our government wants to tell us, and will be forced to live in a false reality, completely oblivious to the outside world.

It is in our greatest self-interest to prevent this from happening.

For more visit, http://livingtheamericandreamineurope.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/how-americans-see-americans/ http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/what-the-world-thinks-of-us_n_1631833.html.

Why journalists cover natural disasters


Earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, hurricanes, oh my!

Natural disasters ravish through towns, destroy everything in their path, and leave people in devastating and life-threatening situations. Often, they happen with little or no warning and occur more frequently today, than they have in the past. When they do occur, most civilians seek shelter, run the opposite direction and pray they still have something for which to come back; yet such disasters are every journalists’ dream.

Maybe I shouldn’t include all journalists’ in this category and narrow it down to most photojournalists. And don’t get me wrong. The dream is not to experience the natural disaster itself, but rather, to capture the tragedy, damage and destruction after it has passed.

Since most natural disasters occur with little or no warning, one can’t just up and decide to go to Japan because a giant tsunami is occurring next Thursday (nor would one want to do so). Also, it is very difficult to be in the place of a natural disaster because they seem to happen on the opposite side of the world and can be hard to get to (the most recent natural disaster took place in the Philippines). And when they do happen, the last place ANYONE wants to be, is in the direct path of a tsunami (Could you imagine being on the beach and seeing a 50-foot wave coming ashore … if you did see that, you surely wouldn’t live to tell about it).

Most importantly natural disasters are dangerous. They cause destruction not only to physical structures but also to human beings. Many people endure injuries, go missing and are even killed. Natural disasters have a tendency of taking away and limiting resources as well. After a storm, resources become scarce; basic living essentials-food, water, and shelter-are hard to find and doctors are limited due to availability, limited medication and a continuous intake of injured people.

Though natural disasters are devastating and depressing, they produce jaw-dropping news stories and photographs. Stories capture the numerical data — the amount of damage, how many people were affected by it,-as well as continuous coverage of the recovery and reconstruction process. Photos, on the other hand, truly capture the impact and damage of the devastation in its greatest form; they allow you to place yourself in the midst of the destruction even if you’re a million miles away.

Think Hurricane Katrina (2005), the earthquake in Haiti (2010), the Japanese tsunami (2011), and, most recently typhoon Haiyan (2013) and the outbreak of tornadoes throughout the U.S. Midwest just last Sunday. I bet you remember more about the images you saw then the stories you read.

However, not all journalists are capable of experiencing the aftermath of a natural disaster. Natural disasters literally, physically, and emotionally destroy people. Journalists and photographers are faced with emotional turmoil, come across screaming children separated from their parents, witness people half-alive with missing limbs and walk around an endless number of dead bodies. Once someone experiences such devastating circumstances, they are changed forever. It takes a tough stomach and some serious perspective in order to cover such tragedies.

For those of us that do have the stomach (or at least think we do) to experience trauma, natural disasters are a chance to truly tell the story of hardship and devastation. Some of the best photographs have been those of war and natural disaster. With natural disaster comes the opportunity for the production of amazing, yet shocking, documentary photographic work.

For tips on covering natural disasters visit http://www.newssafety.org/page.php?page=5926

The value of celebrities in news


I often wonder why so many people obsess over celebrities and why famous people generate such high value in today’s news cycles.

I understand why entertainment magazines value celebrities and their gossip as news worthy. It is entertainment and that’s what the magazine is all about — the entertainment industry.

But it seems absurd, (at least to me) that CNN, Fox News, and so many other worldwide news organizations take the time to inform viewers about the lives of celebrities or, at least, contribute to the gossip about them.

So how did entertainment news and gossip become world-wide valued hard-news stories? And why are people more interested in the lives of celebrities than what’s actually going on in the world?

Celebrities represent people who are much prettier, better dressed and much wealthier than the average person. From a young age, we are predisposed to celebrities by watching TV shows and listening to music. We develop an appreciation for these artists and we become obsessed with our favorite people. Because we love our favorite actors or musicians we become eager to learn more about them and what goes on in their lives and less about our own. We focus more on when the next Britney Spears album comes out and less on doing homework and which college we’d eventually like to attend.

When we develop an interest for the characters we watch, and the actors that play them, we become obsessed and want to know everything there is to know about them. Entertainment news and gossip provide insight into the lives of everyone’s favorite celebrities. Many people consider celebrities to be their friends and, thus, want to know more about them. They show that celebrities, too, are normal people just like us who also experience heartache, destruction, and disaster.

The rise of the Internet, the invention of television and radio, as well as a slight decrease in education have all contributed to the role celebrities play in our mainstream news.

Regular news is often boring, negative, depressing and often hard to follow. Most people don’t take the time to follow or keep up with the news because it makes them feel bad. Celebrity news is entertaining, comical, relaxing and makes people feel good knowing that celebrities go through tough times just like we do. Celebrity news gives people a chance to break away from their own lives and into the lives of someone else.

But while entertainment news is interesting and provides a relief from our own everyday lives, when put into perspective, all celebrity gossip and entertainment news has done is dumb our society down by making Miley Cyrus more important and newsworthy than Congress or the president.

It seems outrageous that our news feeds would be filled with news of Kim Kardashian’s due date and Kate Middleton’s baby name than on our continued involvement in the Middle East or the ever-increasing interest rates of college loans and growing student debt.

In the long run, both beauty and fame fade (and it happens fast). By focusing and including celebrity gossip in our mainstream news, we are sending a message to younger generations that nothing matters as long as they’re famous and pretty.

But, as many of us know (at least I hope many of us know). life is not defined by how beautiful or famous we are, it is defined by the impact we make on society and the love we spread.

Being smart and intelligent is much more valuable than being famous and/or beautiful. Beauty and fame are easily disposable. Cultural significance and positive change last longer and are much more respected.

With this, I propose a change in celebrity gossip and the value they hold in our news. If the news reported on how political policy affected those in the social elite rather than just their physical appearance and wardrobe, then their coverage would be legitimately solidified. We live in a society that holds physical appearance as the only important value; if we are not beautiful or skinny, then we are not important. We need to re-evaluate and re-focus news on the things that matter — such as education.

Sure, the news holds negative and depressing stories, but that’s because our world is filled with such things. We are only hurting ourselves and our value of intelligence by dumbing ourselves down and distracting ourselves with the lives of celebrities instead of trying to improve our own.

For more please visit http://askville.amazon.com/people-interested-lives-celebrities/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=4760919 http://www.centralfloridafuture.com/opinion/coverage-of-celebrities-should-not-overpower-newsworthy-reporting-1.2830619#.Un6kHhaRTCEt

Conspiracy theories and the media


Recently, conspiracy theories have become very popular.

A conspiracy theory can be thought of as the belief that authorities and government officials are responsible for some type of (destructive) unexplained event and that the official explanation or story cannot be trusted. Often, those who believe in one conspiracy tend to believe in others.

Those who believe in conspiracy theories are often characterized as irrational, unbelievable, and/or all around nuts. An intelligent, very well-liked person with credibility can quickly and easily become irrational, disliked, and lose their credibility just by being labeled a conspirator in mainstream media.

The easiest way for officials and the media to brush something off is by labeling it a conspiracy theory. When conspiracy theories do arise, officials and media outlets are extremely quick to dismiss certain types of views, point fingers, and label anyone who believes in this “outrageous idea” a conspiracy theorist.

Back in the day, the mainstream media served as a watchdog for government, exposing and uncovering hidden secrets (Think Nixon and the Watergate scandal). To many people today, it appears though, that the mainstream media only tell us what the government and big corporations want us to hear. Most people consider the media to be the biggest conspiracy of all, lying to society about what’s really going on overseas and/or in our own backyard.

So if we can’t trust our very own news media for answers or to further investigate questionable scandals then who can we trust? Many people turn to conspiracy theories for answers because it appears that those conspiracies provide answers to many of the questions the mainstream media often avoids.

Many conspiracy theories hold some value of truth but more often then not they hold an extremist viewpoint and can be considered false. But what happens when these conspiracy theories turn out to be true? As we know, the media tends to get a lot of things wrong and blur questionable facts. When the mainstream media labels something a conspiracy theory and then later, it turns out to be true, does this further discredit our very own media and give more credibility to conspiracy theories? Let’s take a look.

Remember Fukushima, the nuclear power plant that erupted in Japan? Back when it happened, the mainstream media coverage insisted that the nuclear radiation was nothing like Chernobyl and that many residents could soon return to their homes. Overall, the media declared Fukushima ‘no big deal.’ Many “conspiracy theorists” called this one — declaring Fukushima uninhabitable due to nuclear radiation. As it turns out, a few months later The New York Times released an article in which “broad areas around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could soon be declared uninhabitable, perhaps for decades ….”

How about the U.S military attacks on Libya? At the beginning, those who saw this coming and spoke up about it were called kooks and whack-jobs. (The majority of Americans never saw this coming) Even recently, the mainstream media still denies that NATO is currently arming and training Libyan rebels. In order to be less responsible for the bloodshed and still achieve their goals, the U.S and EU have developed, trained, and equipped “rebel groups” within the country and have used them as the ground forces for this campaign. The New York Times admits ” the learning curve for the rebels, with training and equipping, was increasing. What we’ve seen in the last few weeks is these two curves have crossed.” Now, many prominent officials are already calling for the U.S and EU to provide occupational forces.

How about the popular conspiracy that the increasing amounts of fluoride in our water is actually bad for us? For the first time in 50 years, the feds have just now reduced the “recommended amount” of fluoride in our drinking water. A CNN article reported that the federal government is now saying that high levels of fluoride in the water have now officially been linked with fluorosis-a condition that causes spotting and streaking on teeth.

How about the idea that cell phone use can cause cancer? Startling scientific research has now found a connection between the two. A recent CNN article states, “At the highest exposure level — using a mobile phone half an hour a day over a 10-year period — the study found a 40 percent increased risk of glioma brain tumors.”

This last example involves the conspiracy that the U.S government provides weapons for Mexican drug cartels. This idea has been around for a long time, yet nobody has taken the time to listen to or investigate the theory. Now, it is a matter of public record. The government has, indeed, facilitated the transfer of thousands of guns into the hands of Mexican drug cartels.

A CBS News report discusses the opposition that many ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) agents admitted to allowing thousands of guns to be given into the hands of Mexican drug cartels. “One Project Gunrunner source told us just how many guns flooded the black market under ATF’s watchful eye …. For months, ATF agents followed 50-caliber Barrett rifles and other guns believed headed for the Mexican border, but were ordered to let them go.”

It’s hard to determine whether these are just common mainstream media mistakes or if the media actually hides the truth for as long as they can until the government (or unavoidable research and explanation) allows them to admit such truths.

The mainstream news media never hesitates to label an absurd theory as a conspiracy-and those who believe in it-as conspirators. The label alone is enough to discredit anyone-no matter how smart, intelligent and credible they really are. But these examples have shown that conspiracy theorists have often times been correct, even if the media has not admitted or accepted these theories right away.

So does this mean we should discredit the mainstream media and credit conspiracy theories instead?

Not necessarily.

All I’m suggesting is that the mainstream news media seem to be quick in labeling theories that discredit the government as conspiracies. By doing this, the majority of people discredit these theories and sometimes these theories turn out to be true. Of course, not all conspiracy theories are true and, quite often, most of them are absurd. But the fact remains, that there seems to be some layer of truth in conspiracies that arise and instead of discrediting them because the mainstream media has told us too, we should further investigate and come up with our own conclusions.

As these examples have shown, when the media is quick to disbelieve and discredit someone as a conspiracy/conspirator, it is in our best interest that we do our own investigating for the truth.

For more on conspiracy theories and the media please visit http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/14-conspiracy-theories-that-the-media-now-admits-are-conspiracy-facts

Immediate news is likely bad news!


Breaking news is a tough thing to cover. When a shooting takes place or someone tries to run down the White House, or a terrorist event such as 9/11 takes place, media outlets are quick to rush reporters to the scene.

But to what extent does the effect of immediacy play on the role of factual evidence?

There was once a time when news reporting was all about factual evidence. A story couldn’t be reported or published  without having all the facts and have them correct. If some facts were questionable, it was wise not to include that part of the story. If the story was controversial or facts came from unreliable sources then, the story most likely didn’t get published.

But today, the mainstream media is all about immediacy. When a breaking story takes place, such as a shooting or terrorist attack, each media company rushes to get their reporters to the scene first. Once the reporter is on the scene, the camera turns on and the stream of false information begins.

For instance, 9/11 endured countless errors. To be short,  one error said that the Pentagon had been bombed, when in fact, a plane had crashed into it. Another error indicated that Capitol Hill had been bombed when it hadn’t.

The JFK assassination is another example. Many reports went back and forth declaring Kennedy dead, then alive, then in critical condition. Another report said that Lyndon B. Johnson had been shot, though that was false. NBC radio even made the first unofficial ‘official’ announcement declaring Kennedy dead well before it was publicly known.

Another example involves the sinking of the Titanic. Fake telegraphs indicated that the ship had not actually sunk.

The last example involves the Truman election. Following the 1948 election, the Chicago Tribune front-page headline said, “Dewey defeats Truman” though the opposite was true.

So what does all this mean?

Personally, I would rather read about a breaking news story AFTER all the facts have been gathered. There’s nothing worse then stringing people along by either, not having accurate information or not having any information at all.

When media outlets release false, incorrect reports it does nothing more than harm their reputation and their credibility. When they make mistakes, reporters either have to clarify, correct or retract their story in order to protect the media company’s reputation. You would think, after having a few incorrect stories, or releasing stories with false information, that media companies and reporters would be more inclined to double check their facts before releasing future stories.

But this is not the case.

In fact, more media companies and even more reporters are so concerned with being the first ones on the scene, that they forget to check the quality of their facts or they simply lose focus on finding accurate evidence. They would rather interview someone on the scene that knows absolutely nothing about what’s going on, report about it, and then update or correct their previous statements.

When media companies do this, I lose interest. I’d rather wait to hear about a story with all the CORRECT, factual information, then to keep following a story (for days, weeks, or even months) to figure out what’s really going on. When reporters keep changing their information, it becomes that much harder to keep up with what reports are true, what reports are false, and what reports are somewhere in between.

In order to fix this, I think media companies should go back to the basics. They should allow the amateur reporters to release false information on Twitter and Facebook, while they collect the facts and focus on releasing stories with factual evidence instead of being the first to report it. If just one company did this, that company would be seen as the most credible. They may not be the first ones to release the story, but at least they would be the only ones releasing the story with hard, factual evidence, thus making them, the only media source reliable, and credible enough to believe their story.

For more information please visit http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2013/09/media-was-always-bad-reporting-breaking-news-brief-history/69464/

Photojournalism’s future uncertain


Cameras are everywhere.

They fit in our pockets, they’re installed in our computers and even attached to our phones. What was once an expensive hobby has now become an affordable necessity. Because of the affordability and the availability, everyone who owns a camera considers themselves a photographer.

A professional photographer is someone who has spent his or her entire career as a photographer and has earned a living by taking pictures. A freelance photographer is a person who sells services (in this case images) to employers without a long-term commitment to them. An amateur photographer is a person who engages in photography as a hobby versus as a profession. In other words, they take pictures for fun.

A photojournalist can be defined as someone who communicates news through photographs. Think National Geographic. Until recently, a photojournalist was a full-time, paid position involving being sent out on assignment to cover a story similar to a reporter in  broadcast.

Now-a-days though, many magazines and newspapers have laid off their photography departments and switched from using full-time salaried employees to using freelance and amateur photographers instead.

So what does this mean for the future of photojournalism?

Well, in order to have a future it must have a present. The day “digital” became useable and affordable marked the death of photojournalism as we know it. Why pay an employee to rush over to the scene of investigation when an amateur is already on site? Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper to pay the amateur for the use of the images than the salary of the professional?

Photographers, like myself, who are looking to start a career in photography / photojournalism, see this as a terrible consequence of the digital age and social media.

However, others see this as liberating and evolutionary. They see the amateur photographer as liberating the professional from the role of documenting mundane, ordinary, and unexciting newsworthy events, thus allowing the professional to reiterate the true meaning behind being a photojournalist — to document and tell stories.

It is not the professional photojournalist who has died out, only the means of how they get their stories and where they publish them. Instead of reaching out to a magazine or newspaper for work, the professional photojournalist should instead become a freelance photographer and invest in a self-financed story that has not been covered in mainstream media. Then he or she can publish the work via social media outlets with the possibility of publication at a later date. Because mainstream media outlets chase provocative and sensational stories in order to drive in readership, the quality of the work has taken a backseat thus forcing professional photojournalists to self-publish.

The professional photojournalist should not cringe at the amateur photographer but should instead thank them for picking up tedious, unimportant news stories and allowing the professionals to instead, return to the art of their profession. The art of photojournalism is to document and tell stories, often hidden stories, ones mainstream media outlets tend to ignore.

For more information, visit http://www.tribemagazine.org/4/post/2013/08/the-future-of-photojournalism-part-1.html.

We’re a nation wired for negative news


Why does the media tend to focus only on negative news?

Why do we hear more about murders, war and corruption more than we do about friendly neighborhood festivities, peaceful revolutions, and acts of kindness?

In fact, continual bad news can stimulate depression, work people up emotionally, and even make people more likely to make bad decisions.

So why are we drawn to it?

One theory suggests that humans seek out dramatic and negative events. Since we evolved from a hunter-gatherer mind set, anything dramatic must be attended to immediately. Therefore, we are drawn to any negative, dramatic event because it requires our immediate attention.

Another theory suggests that we tend to care more about the threat of bad things than we do about the prospect of good things. Since we tend to be more fearful than happy, our negative brain tripwires are much more sensitive than our positive ones.

The last theory relates to probability. The probability of something bad happening in a small town is much smaller than something bad happening in a large town. This is why local news tends to have less bad news. But most people watch nationwide and worldwide news where the coverage is widespread thus making the news more negative.

All theories point to the same conclusion. We are internally wired to seek out negative and dramatic events, and when we find them, we share them.

So how do we fix this?

It seems the only way to fix the negativity of news is to change the negativity in our views. When we change our habits, and see through a “glass half full” lens, our brains develop a positive perspective that can spread to other people like a virus.

By applying a positive perspective to our attitudes and behaviors we can encourage our news media to present a balanced and multidimensional point of view rather than just reinforcing a negative one.

For more information visit http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201012/why-we-love-bad-news.

Media don’t seek positive side of festival


CHATTAHOOCHEE HILLS, Ga. — Despite much of the negative news media attention directed towards the EDM — electronic dance music — scene, America’s new music festival TomorrowWorld, brought over from Belgium, turned out to be a huge success.

One of the biggest concerns with the festival was obviously drug use. After two deaths and many hospitalizations at Electric Zoo, a music festival held in New York, many news media outlets directed even more negative attention to the rave scene and music festivals.

Sisters Miriam and Olivia Nervo, better known as NERVO, play their set at TomorrowWorld on Sept. 28 (Photo by Melissa Mallin).

Sisters Miriam and Olivia Nervo, better known as NERVO, play their set at TomorrowWorld on Sept. 28 (Photo by Melissa Mallin).

We’ve all heard about those unfortunate souls who have gone to a music festival such as Electric Zoo, EDC, and Ultra, and have overdosed and died or have been  hospitalized in critical condition.

So how did TomorrowWorld, held in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga., near Atlanta, eliminate such atrocities?

To start, the festival raised its age limit to 21-plus. There were no tickets. Festival-goers received bracelets, which had to be activated in order to enter. IDs were closely checked and scanned and bags were eagerly examined. Police also walked dogs around the premises to try and sniff out illicit substances.

Precautions were taken and once fans entered the festival they disappeared into a confounded world of music and love. Investigative journalists from MSNBC bought tickets and joined the festival in an investigation to find out just how easy it was to get drugs and find “Molly.” They found many fans openly walked around offering it and many others looking to find it.

D.J Kill Paris plays an hour long set at TomorrowWorld 2013 on Sept. 29 (Photo by Melissa Mallin).

D.J Kill Paris plays an hour long set at TomorrowWorld 2013 on Sept. 29 (Photo by Melissa Mallin).

But despite the fact that, yes, drugs are very easy to come across at a music festival, the festival was one of the most successful ones ever to  be produced in the United States.

Out of the 140,000 people from more than 100 countries that attended, there were absolutely no fights, few arrests and, most importantly, no deaths.

Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts praised the festival for being an absolute success. He cited both the economic impact and the good behavior of the attendees by stating that the festival had an “unimaginable” impact.

He also announced that Fulton County has agreed to an 8 to 10 year contract with the festival and it will most definitely be coming back.

You may be wondering why this is newsworthy?

After attending the festival myself, it pains me that the news media only follows EDM after a music festival and only reports on deaths and illicit drug use that openly takes place. What the media fails to recognize is that music festivals bring people of all cultures, from a variety of different backgrounds and different languages, together through music. Yes, there are drugs but not everyone uses them. In fact, most people go there sober, have a couple of beers and just rage.

But this is not enough to be newsworthy today. Today’s news often requires a negative element.

The news media could find meaningful and interesting feature stories by looking at the fan base and how fans prepare for such festivals. Many festival goers spend hours making Kandy (beaded bracelets) to wear and pass around to other people. When handing out bracelets they make a peace sign, a heart for love, they clasp their hands together for unity, and they pass on a bracelet out of respect. This ritual symbolizes the festival motto: PLUR — Peace, Love, Unity, Respect.

A festival goer (Photo by Melissa Mallin)

A festival goer (Photo by Melissa Mallin)

Many people also spend days trying to put together the most outrageous and sexiest of outfits. A music festival is like Halloween for three days where everybody dresses in neons, fishnets, crazy hats, short shorts, pasties, skimpy tops, fuzzy boots, body suits and so on.

It truly is a sight to be seen and could be an interesting story if the media covered the costs of buying such outfits, or simply the costs of going to the festival itself. There are so many other aspects of a music festival the media could cover besides the drug use and the negative imperfections that go on with such events.

But, again, the positive side of the music culture today does not seem to be newsworthy.

It would be nice to see media outlets recognize music festivals for what they are — a generally safe place for people to gather, socialize, dance, and ultimately experience one of the most amazing feelings in the world. It is one of the very few places where you can truly witness and experience “world peace.”

With all the hate expressed in the world today, a music festival is one of the few places where people from around the world can gather and share an experience. The love produced in these festivals is purely an epidemic that needs to be brought into the real world.

Alvin Risk playing his set at TomorrowWorld on Sept. 29 (Photo by Melissa Mallin).

Alvin Risk playing his set at TomorrowWorld on Sept. 29 (Photo by Melissa Mallin).

Music festivals, are honestly one of the most peaceful, happiest places you could ever have the chance to go to. It’s not all about drugs unless you make it all about drugs. For the most part, people go, dance,  experience love, and it is one of the happiest places in the world, if only  for a few days.

It’s the best way to escape from work and reality basically because you walk right into a new world. Your work becomes your dance and your reality becomes the stages and the beautiful installations that go with it. When the festival ends and you’re on your way home, it is indeed heartbreaking because your alter reality is over, (at least until next year) and it is time to return to the real world yet again.

For more information, visit these sites:

Violence against journalists in Mexico


Reporting can be a dangerous job.

Ask any reporter who has reported from Mexico recently and they will tell you the same thing.

Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for reporters. Last year, there were at least 172 confirmed attacks on the media in Mexico.  Press Freedom Group Article 19 claims that public officials are responsible for more than half of the attacks. Most, if not all of the attacks, have involved journalists reporting on the Mexican drug cartel.

These attacks have involved death threats to journalists, kidnappings, and even deaths.

Even though Mexico has recently passed a law making it a federal crime to attack reporters, violence often goes unpunished and murders are often not investigated. Now, there are very few crime reporters in Mexico and those who do choose to report crimes are forced to use pseudonyms or use social media.

This is a prime example of how  corrupt government can create a chilling effect for reporters. Nobody wants to report from Mexico because nobody wants to get killed for doing their job. Many reporters who received death threats didn’t take them seriously and then wound up dead. When almost every reporter shows up dead or goes missing, That’s enough to send the rest of the reporters out of the country.

As much as I would like to report on the Mexican drug cartels and be the one to uncover the truth, I don’t think I would be willing to lose my life over it. That goes back to how much a reporter is willing to sacrifice in order to tell a story. Clearly, when choosing to cover a story that ultimately results in death, you become a lot less likely to cover that story.


Asking questions can result in trouble


A reporter’s job is to ask questions.

But what happens when you’re in a different country and you ask too many questions? Or questions about issues nobody wants to talk about or admit? What happens when asking questions leads to incarceration and interrogation by government officials?

Thats what happened to journalist Leah McGrath Goodman (along with MANY other investigative reporters).

Goodman was locked up and interrogated for more than 12 hours by British authorities before being thrown out of the country after disclosing the subject of her work in 2011.

Her work focused on the island of Jersey, a cosseted tax shelter in the Channel Islands controlled by the British Crown, whose government repeatedly ignored the atrocities of nearly 200 children since 2008 who were abused by the hands of government officials.

Upon arriving at Heathrow  Airport near London, Goodman walked through passport control and was asked to answer a few questions. She was then escorted to a windowless room in the basement of the airport. At no point was she told why she was being taken into custody.

Officials treated her like a common criminal. She said they gave her no information as to what was happening and locked her in a room for hours. Officials rummaged through her belongings and she was not allowed to speak to a lawyer. She described the interrogation process as being “demoralizing and hostile.”

Once the officials were done rummaging her things, she was banned from the country for two years and given no precise reason as to why.

Her crime was researching a topic that the British authorities preferred she didn’t.

You don’t hear about it too often, but many journalists are being wrongfully held in other countries and interrogated. It seems, today, that many issues needing light are being covered up and silenced.

There are certain stories that once they get out can destroy an entire nation. I idolize the journalists that actually go out and try to investigate such stories. I believe more people need to go out and uncover such dark truths, however, the problem lies with how much a journalist (and his/her employer) is willing to sacrifice in order to tell a story? Are they willing to sacrifice their rights? Their credibility? And even themselves?

I’ve often asked myself why certain things don’t get covered. Why do we hear so little about global genocide happening all over the world? Why is Miley Cyrus news? Instead of covering celebrities and intruding on their lives, why don’t we report on all the evil and wrongdoings going on elsewhere in the world and why don’t we spend our resources trying to fix them?  Instead of worrying about chemical weapons in Syria, why can’t our government worry about feeding the hungry or sheltering them? Or at least just reporting about it!

For the longest time, I just figured nobody cared. Now, however, I realize authorities are just silencing the people trying to uncover the truth, which in itself is a great atrocity to journalism.

For more information, go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leah-mcgrath-goodman/david-miranda-uk-detention_b_3844480.html and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leah-mcgrath-goodman/how-much-is-too-much-to-sacrifice_b_3931755.html.