Give us chance to make it right


Over the past few weeks, the longstanding built-up pressure for racial equality and justice at the University of Missouri came to an explosive point. Through protests, hunger strikes, and a boycott by the football team, students are unifying to end the hurtful racial slurs at their educational home. Their president and chancellor resigned. Students from campuses across the country are teaming up with them, posting messages with the hashtag: #ConcernedStudent1950.

The Washington Post sent Tim Tai, a photographer, on campus to photograph the students’ safe space event. However, Tai was sent away by the students and not allowed on site. The Post’s article about this offense to Tai’s journalistic right provides the story of a journalist who was unjustly shunned from Mizzou’s campus because of the past, where journalists have earned a reputation of unfairly covering racial issues.

This is completely understandable, as black students have been pushed to such a brink that they had to create a safe space and anyone who feels like an intruder probably should not be there. Also, some past coverage of race issues, such as that of Ferguson, were shown to have bias against blacks and the pain that they feel. Even though the media has a bad reputation for covering race and having a lack of empathy for black issues, the only way for there to be change is to give journalists a chance to make it right.

Denying Tai access is yet another setback in the issue of the First Amendment and free speech on campuses. The First Amendment is there for a reason, and is undeniably important. Students need to respect the law that allows Tai to cover this issue, and change their focus from punishing those who are uneducated in racial equality to one that will give these ignorant people the knowledge to realize how backwards their actions are is and how hurtful it can be.

While racial slurs and inequality of any kind should not be continued, anywhere, there has to be another way to tackle this. There will always be people who lack the knowledge to understand how detrimental racism is to society, but there will also always be people who have the knowledge to understand that racism is wrong and hurtful. Perhaps if there were more unbiased coverage of black issues and a greater understanding altogether of the well established pain that blacks feel, this issue with Tai would not have occurred.

Censorship alive in the 21st century


“I don’t think there has been a worse time for freedom of expression in Spain since the death of Franco,” said Juan Pedro Velazquez-Gaztelu, former El País journalist.

Spanish newspapers and journalist have watched the industry restructure and shrink in the past years. As debts increase, Spain’s most established papers have lost their editorial independence and have watched advertising revenues decrease under the rule of a conservative government.

Known as the “gag law,” individuals who post videos of political protests or amateur videos of public officers will be severely penalized, and in the case of journalists or papers, fired or fined.

As government control increases and revenues decrease, freedom of expression in Spain has been questioned.

“Newspapers are no longer led by their editors, but by chief executives who are worried about accounts and trying to maintain good relationships with those in power,” said Pedro Ramirez, a journalist who was fired from El Mundo.

According to him, newspapers are no longer doing their job as watchdogs, and in turn are giving in to political pressure and editorial restriction.

To think that established journalists are being censored and kept from doing their job worried me. Not only because its what many of us in class aspire to do and become, but merely for the same of the news and truth.

As a matter of fact, our generation and modern society are defined by the fast flow of information, and highly educated and aware individuals — if not that, at least the easy access to news and information. Hence, how is it possible that in a first world country, journalists are being penalized for reporting the truth?

Myanmar elections and social media


An opposition candidate in Myanmar is recovering after being attacked by men at a campaign rally.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) candidate Naing Ngan Lin was rushed to hospital with head and hand injuries from wielding knives and swords, but the party said his life was not in danger.

The Myanmar government rules its nation through authoritative practices. Since the late eighties, many Myanmar citizens have expressed extreme distaste in the violence and censorship of media.

Myanmar has fallen behind the rest of the world with new technology. The government, however, refuses to adapt to technology since it maintains a stronghold on all information relevant to the elections.

Cell phones and social media have recently become somewhat accessible for wealthy citizens of Myanmar. This allows for virtual communication among individuals, universities, governments and everything in-between.

Mobile phones pose a risk to the Myanmar government during election time because the government will lose authoritative control over content posted.

The upcoming election has the potential to drastically change Myanmar’s participation socially, politically and economically in modern-day society. If Myanmar citizens use social media, other countries will pay closer attention to what the people want.

I plan on closely following the election coverage from Myanmar from news outlets, but more importantly, social media.

Lego versus Ai Weiwei


Artist Ai Weiwei accused Lego of “censorship and discrimination” because the latter refused to sell its bricks to him because his new artistic work may convey a political statement.

According to Ai, Lego rejected Ai’s bulk order of bricks, saying that its bricks could not be used for any artworks that may of “any political, religious, racist, obscene or defaming statements.”

In response to Lego’s refusal, many fans and artists demonstrate their supports for Ai. Many of them donated their bricks to Ai, hoping that their donations could adding the amount of bricks to the degree that Ai can accomplish his Melbourne show. Some people also expressed their opinions on their social website such as Instagram or Twitter. One used Lego’s toy bricks to spell out the word “I support Ai Weiwei” and added a cutline that “we won’t be buying anymore.”

Ai wrote on his Instagram that “Lego will tell us what to do, or not to do. That is awesome!” to make an irony here because Lego has a slogan “everything is awesome”.

Ai was an artist known for his fierce criticism of Chinese government. Last year, Ai used Lego bricks in his art show at the former Alcatraz prison, near San Francisco, to create portraits of 175 dissidents who had been jailed or exiled, from Nelson Mandela to Edward Snowden. He intended to hold a similar art display in Melbourne.

Ai has changed the theme of his upcoming artistic show to defend freedom of speech and “political art,” due to Lego’s rejection of selling its bricks.

From where I stand, I consider that Lego’s behavior is for the sake of its future cooperation with the Chinese government. Lego plans to build a new Legoland in Shanghai. For Lego, building a theme park is apparently more profitable than selling bricks to an artist. Given that Chinese government is not welcoming Ai, Lego would absolutely not offend and annoy its future cooperator, Chinese government, by selling Ai bricks and indirectly assist Ai to demonstrate unpleasant arts to Chinese government.

Essentially, it is another story about people who stand on the tip pyramid of money and power win the game, or rather, make the rule.

Raven-Symoné and “black names”


Last week, Raven-Symoné, co-host of “The View,” jumped into a conversation, which was based on a new study at UCLA about racial bias toward “black names.” Raven-Symoné said that she discriminates against people with “ghetto names” and won’t hire anymore with a name like “Watermelondrea” and news outlets immediately caught fire.

After seeing various news articles, some being CNN and the New York Daily News, I’m content with the amount of coverage and the lack of defending Raven-Symoné’s wrong behavior.

Raven-Symoné is an American, although she disregards her African ancestry, she identifies with a unit of people who are composed of various beautiful ethnicities. The thing that is so horrible about Raven-Symoné’s comments stems from a mindset that we, as a society, need to work towards opening.

By bringing attention to how wrong Raven’s actions were we can use this and learn from it.

Though, perhaps it would’ve been more beneficial for media outlets to take a stand against her behaviors, although that would make a “fair and balanced” news source bias.

Coverage of debate may sway voters


The first Democratic Debate took place this past Tuesday, hosted by CNN and sponsored by Facebook. The debate featured Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jim Webb, Martin O’Malley, and Lincoln Chafee. According to, more people watched NCIS (a popular TV Show on CBS) as opposed to the Democratic Debate Tuesday night, with 15.3 million total viewers.

Before, during, and after the debate, people took to various social media outlets to voice their thoughts and opinions of the debate. One of the dormitories on the University of Miami campus, Mahoney Residential College, held a watch party for the debate in the one of the faculty masters’ apartment.  Therefore, I did not have to turn to social media in order to receive live commentary from my peers.

We all watched the debate, laughed at its funny moments, clapped when were all in agreement with what one of the candidates had said, and groaned when in disagreement. In between commercial breaks we held quick discussions about our thoughts on the candidates so far.

At the end, we all had our own opinions of who to vote for as the democratic candidate. However, at no point during our discussion did we declare “winners” and “losers.” We all took what the candidates had to say at face value and decided whether or not we agreed with their values.

But the next day, I was bombarded by all major news networks declaring who they thought were the “winners” and “losers” of the debate. Of course in my mind (as well as most people), I had already determined who I thought best represented what I sought in a presidential candidate, but I was interested to see and hear what the news networks had to say.

As I read and watched several news stories from various news networks, it became clear that the person I thought did the “best” or “won” was not what the news thought. As I watched more coverage of the debate, I began to question my choice: Did I pick the best candidate? I began to second guess my decision wondering if I had made the right decision.

After speaking with several of my friends, a majority of them expressed the same sentiments. After watching the debate, they had an idea of who they wanted to potentially vote for. But after watching several news networks declare the same person as the “winner,” they began to doubt their choice as it was not in agreement with the majority of news organizations.

While I think that news organizations should report on the debates, I think they should do it objectively. Declaring “winners” and “losers” of a debate that was not designed to have a winner, can confuse and sway the public. Instead of selecting winners and losers, the news should highlight each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses during the debate, providing the public with unbiased information and enabling voters to make well-informed decisions.

The Democratic Debate did not have any winners or losers. Instead, the Democratic Debate showcased the strengths, weaknesses, values, and opinions of each candidate, and coverage of the debate should reflect that.

Journalists often face danger on the job


Journalism has always been a praised and honorable profession, but to what extent can it continue serving its purpose if it implies a life-threatening outcome to those who practice it?

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council, 1,055 journalists have been killed worldwide in the past 22 years and 80 have already been killed in 2015.

Many may think that this number is due to the risky situations journalists put themselves in, however figures compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists show that journalists and reporters are murdered because of their profession.

Also known as “Death Watch” journalists, they are deliberately targeted and murdered either because of their reporting or simply because they are journalists.

The most recent death happened in Virginia recently where a former WDBJ7 employee shot dead a reporter and a cameraman for WDBJ7, a local CBS affiliate, live on air. The shots could be heard on footage taken by the cameraman before he dropped to the ground.

However, what worsens the situation is that many of these murders outside the United States and other Western nations are investigated and in almost 90 percent of cases no one is prosecuted. In other words, impunity is increasing the risks of this profession and media freedom has been decreasing with every shot fired against a journalist and/or reporter.

Despite the agreement that holds each nation responsible to ensure their journalists’ safety and the protection of media freedom, clearly journalists haven’t been acting of safe ground and daily suffer with the “death watch” label.

Not only is this a matter of respect but also of the implementation of legal frameworks to create an environment where not only journalists but any one can practice their profession in peace.

Lady Gaga releases PSA about rape


American singer Lady Gaga released a raw public service announcement for the 2015 documentary film, “The Hunting Ground,” which deals with the issue of sexual assault on United States college campuses.

According to Billboard, the music video PSA called “Til It Happens to You” was released on Sept. 17, and has more than 10.5 million views on YouTube. The music video PSA portrays a sexual assault survivor’s experience.

Lady Gaga tweeted that a portion of the proceeds from the music video will go toward a survivors’ organization. Unfortunately, Gaga is a survivor of sexual assault.


According to Marie Claire, Gaga revealed during a December 2014 interview with Howard Stern that she had been raped by a music producer at just 19 years old.

CBS Pittsburgh reported this week that a recent survey done on 27 campuses across the country concluded that one in four female students reports being a victim of a sexual assault. This startling statistic highlights the importance of sexual assault awareness for college-aged individuals.

Gaga’s new music video will definitely have a backlash due to its disturbingly honest interpretation, but will have great impact in spreading awareness. The video will encourage people to discuss the socially taboo issue.

Teen’s arrest reveals Islamaphobia


On the heels of the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, a 14-year-old Texas high school student, Ahmed Mohamed, was arrested for bringing a home-made clock to school. He was arrested by five police officers and interrogated for more than an hour. During the interrogation, Mohamed was not allowed to call his parents.

Police and officials state that Mohamed was pulled out of class and arrested because they believed his home-made clock was actually a bomb. However, as this story begins to gather more attention from the media and the public, doubts are surfacing in regards to the motives of the police and school officials.

Casting the most doubt for most people is the fact that if police and school officials truly believed that Mohamed had a bomb, why didn’t they evacuate the school? Why didn’t they call the bomb squad?

Mohamed’s parents immigrated from Sudan and are Muslims. Mohamed’s parents believe that their son was targeted due to his race and religion. And people on social media agree as well. After Mohmaed’s arrest, the hashtags #IStandWithAhmed and #EngineersForAhmed were retweeted and included in hundreds of thousands of posts and tweets.

Adding more flames to the fire, at a rally held by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, one of his supporters stated that the current president, Barack Obama, is Muslim. Instead of correcting or disputing the supporter’s claim, Trump only shook his head in agreement. The supporter then went on to perpetuate negative stereotypes against people practicing the religion stating that there are Muslim people building camps to kill us all.

Negative sentiments against those who practice Islam and are of Middle-Eastern or African descent cannot be traced to one source. However, for most Americans, Islamophobia (dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims) stemmed from the 9/11 attacks in 2001. And the fear of Muslims is still being propagated and perpetuated among several news organizations. With the rise of ISIS, fear-mongering has increased on several news platforms, in particular Fox News.

As journalists, we have a responsibility to report what is going on in our world. However, I believe that several news organizations have crossed the line between objective reporting and fear-mongering. Inaccurate coverage of terrorism has lead people to fear all Muslims, which is a detriment to society. Mohamed is a bright young man who has the potential to contribute something great to our country. Yet instead of embracing his talents, we assumed that because he is Muslim, he must also be a terrorist because of what we have been programmed to believe.

Jailed over a Facebook post


I recently wrote a post about how I dislike the idea of using Twitter because of the repercussions it could have on my image and how perspective employers might judge me from that. Overall, I didn’t believe the that the benefits of Twitter outweighed the negative repercussions.

For me being cautious about what I post is about prospective employment and nothing else. However, for some around the world being cautious is based of a whole other ball game. I read recently that a 19 year old in India was jailed over a Facebook post. As a Third Culture Kid from India, I never really experienced the dangers of being outspoken in a country such as India, simply because I really didn’t live there for a very long time.

How can a teenager be arrested over a Facebook post that didn’t threaten or allude to violence but merely expressed distaste? Well, this isn’t the first time this has a happened. In November 2012 two young Indian women were jailed overnight for a Facebook post they had made regarding a supposedly great (evidently corrupt) politician. They expressed their distaste regarding the fact that the city of Mumbai was treating him like a great leader that he really wasn’t.

I think that jailing someone based solely upon their opinions is ludicrous and, from what I have learned in the few months that I have lived in America, it would not be tolerated here. Having the freedom to say what I want to say as long as I’m not actually threatening anyone is something that I now see as gift. However, the freedom to say what I want when I want especially on forums such as Facebook should not be a privilege, the teenager in India deserves this right as much as I do.

Is media coverage too free?


Although freedom of speech and personal expression are undoubtedly celebrated in the media by the wide range of topics covered, the recent execution of Japanese journalist and ISIS hostage Kenji Goto lead me to wonder whether certain topics should be covered?

The late Kenji Goto was a freelance video journalist who covered topics such as wars and conflicts, poverty, AIDS and child education around the world. Goto was captured by Islamic State militants only a day after entering Syria to try and rescue Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, despite being warned not to.

ISIL released a video on Jan. 20 demanding $200 million from the Japanese government for the release of Goto and Yukawa. A few days later, another video was released with Goto holding a photo of the decapitated Yukawa and audio saying they would exchange Goto’s life for the return of Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, a suicide bomber. When ISIL realized the exchange would not happen, a video was released of Goto’s beheading.

In another story of a journalist being held hostage, a New York Times journalist, David Rohde, and two of his associates were kidnapped by the Taliban while in Afghanistan doing research for a book in November 2008. Their kidnappers were quick to make contact with many American news outlets including The New York Times. Their ransom: the release of Taliban prisoners being held in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay and millions of dollars. The men were held captive for seven months before Rohde and Ludin made an escape.

The difference between the stories of Goto and Rohde were how much the media covered their capture. The capture of Goto was widely publicized on international news outlets all the way down to local station across the world. On the other hand, when Rohde was captured, the media barely covered it.

That is not to say one life was more important than the other. Rhode’s capture was not widely publicized because The New York Times requested a media blackout of the abduction in order to maximize Rhode’s chances of survival.

This difference in story coverage could lead to the question of whether it is ethical for journalist to hide a story when it is their obligation to report timely events. I personally think the difference in coverage really just shows the balancing act and difficult choices the media must sometimes make: informing the public or potentially further endangering the life of someone.

Although each hostage case is different and many factors must be taken in account, it is hard not to wonder whether Goto’s story could have ended differently.

Kuwaiti journalists often restricted


As my father once said “Where will studying journalism take you? What will your job be, once you graduate?” “Kuwait and the Middle East don’t appreciate journalists the way the West does!”

Being a journalist in Kuwait means including yourself in a narrow tunnel that is suppressed by the government. It is a tunnel surrounded by rules and regulations of do’s and don’ts. One would just have the chance to work in newspaper or magazines since we don’t have a wide range of media genres in my country. This leaves our society to be private and secretive.

Reporting should be part of freedom of speech and expression. Media surround our lives everyday, from listening to the radio to viewing one’s Snapchat. This media outburst weakened the power of breaking news and announcements. Snapchat now can help someone to enjoy news in a different manner. Journalism and broadcasting organizations should also take into consideration these changes and allow news to appear more often onto these popular apps that are constantly used and abused by millions.

From Snapchat to Instagram and to Twitter, one must be up to date with all of these media products to view what people enjoy and take in. Just so, journalism is now revolving around and transforming to become part of these products, new and up to date.

Being brought up into a closed-minded society, journalism, reporting and broadcasting are monitored by the government leaving the people wondering whether what was said was true or false.

Censorship shouldn’t be included in Kuwait’s media and maybe this may change in time, but one shouldn’t be watched and judged for what he or she may have to say. What’s the point of journalism when there’s false news behind the screen? Why does media in Kuwait feel the need to sensor? Is it because to hide the shameful news. Is the media being bias and choosing a side or is it because they the want to not cause any conflicts? Falsely reporting may cause a larger conflict, instead.

I believe people in Kuwait should have the right have to follow up with media and journalism one should have the right to view what is exactly happening at any given event.

Citizens in nations become clueless and naïve due to the rules enforced by the government that control what to say or report. Because of my Islamic country, some issues, such as the “Charlie Hebdo” images, are extremely sensitive and delicate. Insulting and disrespectful, we believe that some journalists and columnists should take into consideration the respect of religion and drawing the line between news and disrespect.

Drawing the lines in journalism may be hard to do since each and every person may have a different opinion of what is right and what is inappropriate and wrong. Media should always take into consideration all the different opinions and beliefs of all the different kinds of people around it. Having to be filtered and clarified; is okay but, it does not mean to leave out what is vital and important.

What she wrote here might surprise you


For modern-day Internet surfers, the above headline structure probably looks very familiar. And as a fellow Internet surfer … I’m so sorry that is the case. These days, we all seem to be inundated with what the Internet wizards have dubbed “clickbait” — and from sources that might surprise you.

Oops, I did it again.

Clickbait is exactly what it sounds like: material that baits people to click it. Because every click gives a website ad revenue, the sole goal of clickbait is money. Perhaps I’m giving it a hard time, and maybe the issue is not so plain and simple. But when websites begin sacrificing content for an abundance of catchy headlines—as websites like BuzzFeed have been increasingly known to do — that’s when these websites have fewer defenses.

Publishing material with a focus on making money is not deplorable in itself. Everything is a business; even the most respectable publication needs to make money. And whether for money or not, every publication desires to increase its readership.

Historically, publications have tried doing so through jaw-dropping headlines and rumor circulation, for just two examples of many, and so clickbait is just a modern version of what has been going on for years. But clickbait is tailored toward the Internet, an expanding market, which actually makes clickbaiters pretty smart. Looking at it from this angle, the intentions and strategies of clickbaiting should not necessarily be condemned.

However, the issue arises when the business side of publishing completely eclipses content value. When money and clickbaiting and page views are the ultimate goal of a publication and other goals become secondary or even nonexistent, we have a problem.

When these things are the sole objective of a publication instead of a side strategy to help bring content to readers, then publications are losing sight of their mission. The very Constitution of the United States protects the existence of these publications because they have a purpose and duty. If they were merely another form of business, then they would not receive special protections under the law, above what normal businesses receive.

Not convinced that things are getting a bit out of hand? Well, when Gawker writes an article called “The ISIS Babies Are Freaking Adorable,” in my humble opinion, someone is violating something.

As for what can be done about this epidemic of catchy headliners and lacking content, I wouldn’t claim to have the wisdom to say. But I can hypothesize that business should dictate the future of clickbait naturally, and it seems the tide is already turning. As people get more annoyed by clickbait’s empty promises, companies like Facebook are already responding for the sake of business. So the force that gave birth to clickbait in the first place—business—will hopefully be the same force that finally puts it to rest.

Military move to deter news media


According to the recorded telephone calls obtained by the Associated Press, Ferguson, Mo. police officials admitted the no-fly zone was put in effect to dissuade the news media from covering the Mike Brown protests.

Originally, police claimed the order was for the safety of the city. Now, word has come out that it was actually intended to prevent news helicopters from covering the protests that have been shadowing Ferguson.

The protests have been a hot topic in the news media for a while. It has been four months since the shooting of Michael Brown and news is still coming out about the issue in the news media.

Constantly, the news media have been scrutinized for the way they have handled the situation, but this new discovery could take some heat off the media.

If the law enforcement had issued the no-fly zone to purely restrict media coverage, it is an undeniable violation of the rights we are guaranteed under the First Amendment.

So far, government officials haven’t responded to these allegations, but the clear violation of basic constitutional rights, denied by the people who are trying to protect us, is clearly very troubling.

The FBI impersonates news source


It was recently discovered that, back in 2007, the FBI created a fake news story impersonating the Seattle Times. The bureau’s reasoning behind fabricating the story was that they used a link to the article to catch the suspect responsible for multiple bomb threats to a local high school.

The Seattle Times is now claiming that it is “outraged” by the FBI’s actions. The question on the table now is: Is this matter of dealing with someone’s First Amendment rights?

The FBI did not stop the Seattle Times from printing whatever they choose to, which is typically the issue I always thought the First Amendment was there to protect. However, the key word in that sentence is choose. The Seattle Times did not chose to publish or have their name associated with that story. Instead, the FBI put words into the mouth of the paper.

Should it now be included and made clear that the press has the right to post, or not to post?

It’s questionable whether or not the FBI’s actions infringed on anyone’s First Amendment rights. What is clear, however, is that this information of the FBI’s involvement could impact reader’s opinions of the Seattle Times, and has the potential to discredit the reputation of the news source.

Taking it a step further, if the FBI could so easily do this with one news source, why couldn’t they with other sources?

I don’t believe this incident will lead journalists to begin questioning all sources of news. Still, I think it will raise questions about how the general public knows what is legitimate or not when it comes to news sources and this might make some journalists’ jobs harder.

Press-government relations turning sour


James Risen’s thought-provoking analysis of the United States’ approach to war and the face of American democracy today lends itself nicely to discussion of journalism in today’s political climate.

As the U.S. becomes increasingly committed to fighting a war on terror, despite a lack of consistent and clear motives from a mutable enemy, American reporters must become increasingly aware of the risks associated with reporting against the government.

Despite the noble nature of journalism, the purity of the ideal journalist’s motives leaves them open to corruption. The goals of disseminating truth and educating the public are so easily affected by outside forces that anything from money to fear could affect a reporter and warp the presentation of news. As the U.S. places more importance on public safety and the goal of protecting the nation from a terrorist attack, we lose the already established rights of freedom of speech and press. The inverse relationship between the two is unsettling to say the least.

Risen is a reporter familiar with the U.S. government’s encroachment on press rights. After publishing his book “State of War” in 2006, Risen has been hounded continuously by the U.S. Justice Department to reveal sources and testify against a variety of people who leaked government secrets.

To his credit, Risen has firmly protected his sources and has refused to break the trust afforded to him by his profession. Despite threatened action of varying degrees of severity by the U.S. government, Risen has stayed strong and protected a key aspect of reporting.

By guaranteeing confidentiality to a source, journalists are able to access deeper pools of information, as well as facts and rumors that would not have otherwise seen the light of day. These benefits allow reporters to simply do their job better, and explore and expose various organizations with a greater degree of nuance and success.

The U.S. government’s crackdown on reporters bodes poorly for the future of freedom of speech. By prioritizing round-the-clock safety, the rights the U.S. was founded on suffer, and citizens not only lose essential, inalienable powers, but also a sense of history and identity as Americans.

At the risk of placing journalists on a pedestal, this group of professionals represents the front line of protecting basic rights. It has become crucial for reporters to weigh their professional action against their patriotic instinct and it is job where the line between right and wrong is almost completely blurred.

Crackdown on China’s journalists


Journalism is a scary field of work — there’s no doubt. The beheadings, the war zones, the crossfire, these are all frightening aspects I’ve discussed before. But it’s been a while since I’ve thought about what journalism is in other countries. Learning how to become a journalist in the United States has made me blissfully unaware of the fact that media control is still prevalent today — and just as scary as other aspects of the job.

China is currently facing stricter laws in news media control, forcing some journalists to go underground. Before the days of the open-door policy, China’s ignorance was a blessing and a curse. Nowadays, with access to social media and essentially foreign news and controversies, leaders are yearning to go back to the way it once was.

The recent protests taking up the front pages of every notable newspaper are about China’s imposing limits on voting reforms in Hong Kong. This summer, China began imposing strict regulations on what journalists can and cannot post on social media in an attempt to isolate domestic media from the rest of the world. The latter is most concerning.

A journalist for the monthly magazine, China Fortune, was forced to quit when he violated the government’s new rule by writing commentaries for Orient, a Hong Kong-based news website. His name was Song Zhibiao. Previously, he was forced to resign from an affiliated newspaper when he questioned the government for the 70,000 people who died in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Song criticized the government’s construction of school buildings that may have been the cause for so many children’s deaths and was booted from Southern Metropolis Daily.

Song is not the only one. There are countless other cases that the Committee to Protect Journalists are fighting for (the link provides these outrageous cases: And where is the rest of the world’s media standing on this issue? China, a leading state in today’s world, is cracking down on its journalists. In a time where they most need representation, the rest of the world’s media does not properly cover the issue. Journalism, as a way of expression, needs to be protected — no matter the place or time.

So what do we know? The Chinese government fears public opinion. They are successfully trading freedom of expression for control of information. And for a job so heavily dependent on the ability to communicate and criticize openly, I just wonder when the role of the journalist will be null, when the jail cells will be filled with those who’ve been silenced, and most importantly, when the media will say enough is enough.

Twitter gives stars platform to fight back


For the past few years, Twitter has been a main source of news for young people. They find out about breaking stories and everything relevant in current events. In a way, Twitter could be viewed as a young person’s newspaper.

However, with the rise of Twitter, celebrities have been given an easy platform to get their thoughts and opinions across, no matter how offending, or if it makes a major brand look bad. Twitter cuts out the middleman, and lets celebrities interact with fans directly.

This new direct contact between celebrities and fans can be problematic, however. In the recent case of Cee Lo Green, one stupid comment can ruin a celebrity’s whole image and, in the recent cases of Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna, uncensored criticisms can ruin the image of a major company.

Earlier this month, Cee Lo Green tweeted controversial statements about rape, one of which claimed rape isn’t “real” unless the victim remembers it. This moment of ignorance on the famous singer’s part cost him a huge loss in fan base, even after deleting the tweets and making a public apology.

In the case of Green, we can see how easily it is for public figures to reach their fans and how quickly a public image can change.

This also happened in the case of Shonda Rhimes and Rihanna. Although they didn’t ruin their own images, they used Twitter as a platform to fight back against attacks from big corporations and voice their own opinions.

Shonda Rhimes is the creator of many shows, like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Recently, she was described as an “angry black woman” in a New York Times feature, after which, she took to Twitter to give her own thoughts. After voicing her displeasure, other figures such as Kerry Washington criticized the Times writer too. The Twitter backlash proves that the growing popularity of Twitter certainly changes the way the media can criticize celebrities – because they will not get away with it anymore without a fight.

A similar case happened recently with singer Rihanna, after CBS pulled her song from “Thursday Night Football” following the Ray Rice domestic violence incident. Initially, CBS pulled the song the week immediately following the release of the second Rice video, because they felt Rihanna, a famous victim of domestic abuse from Chris Brown, would give the wrong message.

Rihanna reacted through Twitter, writing, “CBS you pulled my song last week, now you wanna slide it back in this Thursday? NO, Fuck you! Y’all are sad for penalizing me for this.” CBS then had to deal with the disapproval of many Rihanna fans, which ultimately led them to pull her song for good.

These recent events involving celebrities shows just how impacting social media can be, especially as Twitter gives stars a chance to bite back at the media.

Make room for obscenities in journalism


A recent phone conversation was leaked involving United States Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland saying “F*** the EU”.

Nuland was referring to the European Union and her belief that in order for a solution to occur in Ukraine, they will need to be of assistance.

I am not concerned on Nuland’s views, but why it is still necessary to replace profane language in journalism?

The barriers of using offensive language have broadened in society, yet journalism lags behind with no intention of change.

Yes, there are some situations in which explicit language is unnecessary. However, it is often essential in understanding the context of the message.

The actual visibility of an obscene word allows us to understand the message better than filling the space with asterisks.

Euphemisms and other similar tactics do not provide justice to the reader in seeing the honest story.

Many blogs and more progressive outlets allow their writers to publish content with obscenities. If we want mainstream journalism to continue it must keep up with the changing of society.

When New York Congressman Michael Grimm threated to throw a reporter of a balcony, much of his language had to be bleeped out.

Although we were able to understand what was said, the videos and recordings do not do justice to the fearfulness the reporter must have felt.

So please mainstream publications, start writing what you actually mean and put an end to patronizing your audiences.

America’s not-so-Secret Service


Recent antics of the U.S. Secret Service are no longer so secret ….

Three agents from the Secret Service were sent home from Amsterdam after one was found passed out drunk in a hotel hallway. And their activities have become international news.

An investigation is underway and the agents are blamed with “not doing more to prevent another embarrassment” for the Secret Service, as two years ago they suffered a scandal in which agents brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Cartagena.

Among protecting high profile figures such as the president, the secret service also investigates crimes like counterfeit and credit card fraud.

White House Spokesperson Jay Carney said, “Generally, the President believes … that everybody representing the United States of American overseas needs to hold himself or herself to the highest standards.”

Thus, the three Secret Service agents were sent home as a disciplinary measure. Rightfully so, since their actions were somewhat shameful to the country.

However, isn’t it also a tad shameful for the news media to blatantly broadcast the incident? If America is really concerned with protecting the reputation of the Secret Service, it seems to me that they would like to keep the disciplinary measures “on the down-low.”

The federal government and president could’ve likely dealt with the three agents privately in order to avoid drawing attention to the scandal (that is, if one could call it a scandal compared to the one in Cartagena).

Of course, journalists are all for exposing the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so it doesn’t surprise me that this story came out. That being said, I do think that exposing the weakness in a prestigious government agency might be unwise in a climate of international political unrest. It is suspected that the recent disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines flight may have been an act of terrorism.

I’ve usually leaned towards abridging some rights when safety is involved, but I realize how fine that line is.

Perhaps exposing the scandal will force the Secret Service to clean up their act. Freedom of press can often have a “watch dog” effect on the government.

And now that I think of it, I don’t want a sloppy Secret Service.