Not all riots are merciless


Members of Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist art collective based in Moscow, were attacked this week while eating at a McDonald’s in Russia.

Six men wearing political paraphernalia came after two of the group’s primary members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, with paint from syringes and threw garbage at them as they were eating breakfast.

This is neither the first nor the last time the dissident members of Pussy Riot will be in the headlines for being targeted by government officials and radicals.

However, with the power of social media and video documentation, Pussy Riot has been able to make a positive, yet controversial, mark in Russia and across the Western hemisphere. It has done so by promoting an equal rights agenda through provocative musical performances.

These performances and “riots” are videotaped and spread around the Internet until government officials demand for them to stop. Only issue is, they never stop.

After this week’s attack, the women took to YouTube immediately to affirm the obscene behavior they had unfortunately encountered from sexist and prejudiced individuals. Even in 2014, the art collective continues to strike a nerve in Russia.

“It hurts! Why are you doing this?” Tolokonnikova said in the video, with green stains on her face and hands. “You don’t have the right to hurt me. Please don’t do that to anyone anymore.”

After the band members posted the video of the attack online, the global response was proliferating — and in retrospect, all publicity is good publicity for such activists. This assault is another example of the corrupt mentality plaguing Russia.

Pussy Riot is distinguished in the West as a group of courageous activists who continue to fight for the most basic human right — the freedom of speech. However, as illustrated in this post, the group’s provocative and, at times, disruptive approaches to art activism are still unappealing to the ultra conservative, “Putinistic,” eye.

Did media cause school shooting hoax?


On Thursday, March 6, 2014, around 2:30 p.m., a call was made to 911 claiming that a student at Beverley Hills High School was being held hostage by a student gunman.

After the school — and surrounding schools — were placed on lockdown and, after much investigation, it was determined that the call was a hoax.

Is it possible that the media are to blame for this inappropriate prank?

After all of the recent school shootings, such as those at Sandy Hook, many precautions have been taken at schools around the world. In addition, media attention over such situations have thrived.

Due to the increase in media attention and the extra focus on safety in schools, students may now be seeking their own personal source of attention through these events.

Because of the hyped up nature of the crime, students see the potential for the magnitude of reporting these events.

Besides the hostage hoax at Beverley Hills High School, an anonymous bomb threat was reported through social media site, Yik Yak, at San Clemente High School. This, too, turned out to be a hoax.

With the feared epidemic of school shootings, comes a possible epidemic of reported fake shootings. With the rise in recognition of the topic, comes a bigger gain of attention for each reported crime. Students know that all threats and tips will be treated with the utmost importance and seriousness.

This developing popularity, may be increasing the amount of fake tips, which in turn, can lessen the validity of future reports.

Press freedom tested in Hong Kong


Hong Kong is experiencing what CNN calls its all-time low in press freedom.

Historically, Hong Kong has served as the “window into China,” reporting stories about government criticism that mainland reporters could not or would not report.

However, Hong Kong is experiencing serious decline in their press freedom as journalists fall victim to being bullied out of reporting.

Protest organizer and veteran reporter Shirley Yam says headlines and complete pages have been removed from newspapers, columnists have been sacked, and interviews have been bought.

“We get calls from senior government officials, we get calls from tycoons, saying ‘we don’t want to see this in your paper,'” Yam said.

A prime example of oppression of the press in recent days is Kevin Lao.

Lao was editor for Ming Pao, a daily newspaper known for its coverage of human rights, before a Malaysian editor replaced him.

To add insult to injury, Lao was hospitalized Wednesday after being attacked with a meat cleaver. The source of Lao’s attack is unknown, however, many fear that if incidents like Lao’s aren’t addressed seriously and stopped, public fear will grow and Hong Kong’s press will be further prevented from running stories dealing with government and big business.

The issue in Hong Kong highlights the relationship between the press and its government. It seems there is a conundrum with the fact that journalists are supposed to serve the watchdog function over the same government that they depend on to give them the rights and safety to do so.

In the United States, we experience the luxury of a constitution that explicitly tells us there is freedom of press within the First Amendment. Checks and balances within the government makes sure this right is protected.

However, in places where the press is not so fortunate, being watchdog to the government can be dangerous, especially if the government doesn’t want to be monitored. This is the heart of the issue in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong legislative council member Cyd Yo told CNN, “Beijing is a control freak. It cannot bear any opposition.”

It seems to me that journalists and the public alike are on a long road for change in the special administrative region of China. While many are protesting now, what China needs is a fundamental change in how its government relates with the press and a change like this will need both time and passionate supporters.

Limiting racial slurs in the NFL?


In recent years, professional sports have instituted new policies to clean up the bad images they previously portrayed. For example, the NBA initiated a rule in which players had to dress professionally to attend their own games.

Now the NFL has proposed restrictions on offensive language use. I understand the NFL’s proposed rule. The league wants to rid an offensive word that is a racial slur from the field and locker rooms due to its disrespectful meaning.

This, however, is a middle ground in which the NFL improves its image without dealing with many other significant issues about race in society.

In recent years, there has been discussion of changing the Washington Redskins team name, yet no progress has been made. The NFL is worried about protecting its image, but apparently not at the expense of losing money.

The league sells Redskins’ merchandise, making millions of dollars a year without second thought.

I also wonder, if the NFL is serious about cleaning up the language used among players and coaches, why is the N-word the only one getting its own rule? There are many other offensive words that have racial undertones and are getting no attention from the league.

In today’s NFL culture, the N-word is common language amongst players. Will a referee throw a flag, if the word is used as a friendly gesture — or just as an insult?

I see the benefits this proposed NFL rule would have on the league. There are people who do not understand the harmful nature of this word. They do not understand its racial significance, and the removal of the word would bring these issues to the forefront of the news.

Even so, the NFL should step down. If the league only protects the N-word, it will make it seem other racially derogatory terms are not as important. Take more time and propose a rule that would rid of all demeaning words.

Media versus Venezuela

The recent anti-government protests in Caracas, Venezuela, in direct protest of President Nicolas Maduro, have not only taken the country by storm, but social media as well.

Social media is uncovering the truths and lies behind what Venezuelans, and Americans, hear and see through mainstream broadcast news. Recently, former president Hugo Chavez forced a slant in media coverage, making Venezuelan broadcasters report biased and political propaganda-driven news.

This has caused the new generation of Venezuelans to take action—this time, not in a physical manner.

“I don’t trust our television and radio stations at all,” said Adriana Sanchez in a brief interview with USA Today in Caracas. “The government stations just run propaganda, while the few privately owned stations are afraid to broadcast the truth. What other options do we have?”

Many Venezuelans have resorted to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay informed and to understand the discrepancy between what they see on their television screens and what they read online. While both the government and the opposition are using social media to promote their own agendas, the truth is more readily available to citizens who need it most—including journalists.

According to the Venezuelan news website,, media outlets have been victimized by protesters and police harassing journalists on the streets.

CNN reported this week that its news crew had its cameras and transmission taken away at gunpoint.

This suppressive nature of news journalism has had a tremendous impact on what major news corporations and publications from around the world are reporting. While the chaos continues to unravel in Venezuela, news outlets such as CNN, The New York Times, BBC, and Al Jazeera English, have all had minimal coverage of Venezuela due to this lack of information.

Therefore, it has been up to Venezuelans to make a stand for their rights and their country without fighting fire with fire. From the Venezuelan-Americans of Miami to the new generation of Venezuelan descendants around the world, social media has provided more ways to uncover the truth than ever before.

Is Miley Cyrus taking things too far?


What’s the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Miley Cyrus? Eight years ago, one would most likely begin to hum the tune of the catchy song “Best of Both Worlds.” As of late, however, most of us are thinking rather “what in the world is she doing?”

It’s no secret that being in constant scrutiny by the media is agonizing and unbearable for some celebrities as we’ve seen countless stars spiral into drug abuse and eating disorders, as well as rebellious stages where they become hardcore partiers.

Narrowing the category of celebrities to teen stars or Disney stars, one begins to see a recent influx of child stars gone bad.

“High School Musical” sweetheart, Vanessa Hudgens’ nudes swept the Internet while she was at her pinnacle of fame, and Lindsay Lohan’s been in and out of rehab and court more times than we can count.

Who can forget the recent events surrounding Amanda Bynes’ downward spiral that eventually lead to her being hospitalized under a 5150 mental evaluation hold?

There are too many child or Disney stars gone wrong to mention, but it seems like Miley Cyrus has been one of the biggest shockers for teenagers and adults alike.

When Hannah Montana first aired in 2006, Miley was only 13 years old. She practically skyrocketed to stardom overnight, as Hannah Montana memorabilia was everywhere and concerts were selling out around the world.

After she parted ways with the show, she began to pursue a more serious career dedicated to making music. Her 2009 performance of “Party in the USA” at the Teen Choice Awards showed her dancing semi provocatively on a pole and wearing very short shorts. This sparked incredible outrage and people were beginning to question if Miley shed her “good girl Disney image.”

It’s crazy to look back and see how outrageous this event seemed at the time, as it seems completely harmless when comparing it to her recent antics.

It all began with her revolutionary haircut when she chopped off those famous long locks. Her new edgy look wasn’t well received by all, but she still seemed like the same Miley we grew up with on the show.

The criticism she is getting lately is not because she cut her hair or because she wears revealing clothing. It lies in the fact that she seems to be taking this new persona to a completely different level. She is crossing the line between tasteful and raunchy; socially acceptable and overtly provocative and lascivious.

It seems that this sexual persona emerged and began to blow up social media internationally over the summer when she released her music video for “We Can’t Stop.” She twerked, made drug references, repeatedly stuck out her tongue (it seems to be her favorite facial expression lately), and officially waved goodbye to Hannah Montana.

Then came the unforgettable 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance with Robin Thicke, which made every newspaper headline for the next few days. She came out in some sort of rubber two-piece that left very little to the imagination, as she danced provocatively with Thicke while thrusting a foam finger in a very blatant sexual manner.

Her next music video was for “Wrecking Ball,” where she was completely naked save for a pair of worn-down boots. She also thought it best to provocatively lick a hammer several times.

The latest news is of her Bangerz Tour. She has truly pushed the envelope even further. Did you think the VMA performance was full of sexual innuendos? Just take a look at some of the pictures of her suggestively touching her body intimately all while donning a marijuana patterned leotard from her recent concerts.

Twerking with midgets, suggestively rubbing her body, glorifying drug use (she lit up a blunt on stage at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards), having souvenir $40 gold embellished rolling papers for pot lovers and opening her concert as she slides down a large than life version of her tongue are all in store at the 2014 Bangerz Tour should you choose to attend.

It’s reportedly so sexual and inappropriate that parents all over are calling for cancellations, and Forbes magazine reports that her salacious stage antics may be affecting ticket sales.

Overall, I don’t mean to offend anyone who supports Miley or her music. I’ll admit that her songs are quite catchy and I find myself listening to them sometimes.

She is an adult and she is at liberty to live her life as she pleases. However, she also needs to remember that she has amassed a fan base over the years of teenage girls who are looking to her as a role model. Unfortunately, it’s what comes with the fame. She can’t act like a normal girl her age without it showing up on the news the next day.

I am in no position to understand the pressures of growing up in Hollywood, but if Hilary Duff was able to come out of a very successful Disney channel show and still pursue music and acting, along with getting married and having a child, it seems as though Miley may have taken things a bit too far.

Click the link to see the provocative pics:!-image-22/

Venezuela: No voice, no democracy


Students have been out on the streets of every major city in Venezuela since Feb. 12, leaving until today six deaths, many injured, and hundreds arrested.

Leopoldo López, one of the opposition leaders from the political party “Volundad Popular,” urged all citizens to march peacefully against the regime of President Nicolás Maduro to put an end to the economic and social crisis of the country.

Maduro also summoned his followers to a manifest for “peace” in which he claimed indirectly to López, “Coward, fascist, surrender yourself that we are looking for you.”

The government issued a captive order to López for the incidents that happened at the march on Feb. 12. He was charged with conspiracy, arson, homicide and terrorism.

López turned himself to the authorities in front of tens of thousands protesters.

“If my imprisonment serves to awaken this town, so be it,” López said shortly before turning himself. “I have nothing to fear. I will always give the face.”

Even though the most serious charges (murder and terrorism) were dropped; if López is convicted he could face up to 10 years of jail.

But who is it really to blame?

According to the constitution, Venezuelans have the right to protest peacefully.

President Maduro blames it on activist Leopoldo López for calling the opposition to protest.

However, images and videos not shown by the media in Venezuela are proof that the National Guard is using arms against civilians and that they are the authors of the crimes that occurred.

Yes, military. The ones who promise the country to look for its citizens are shooting, torturing and beating students.

The protests are not only being held in Venezuela, but all around the world.

Today, it is not anymore a problem of different political ideologies, but about the safety and the millions of innocent people that die every day in Venezuela.

Students in Venezuela are risking their lives at the protests to because they want democracy, freedom of speech, safety.

As well, students living outside of Venezuela have become the voice of the country. They are effectively using social media to expand the truth and welcome people to join their struggle.

It is uncertain what the future holds for Venezuela, but protests are growing stronger and leave no signal of ending soon.

Ugandan president signs anti-gay bill


Last week was full of proud declarations of homosexuality from prominent names and an overall positive reception from the media and society.

Early in the week, University of Missouri football lineman and potential top draft for the NFL, Michael Sam, established himself as the first openly gay player to be drafted into the NFL.

Citing Michael Sam as a “hero,” Actress Ellen Page came out as a lesbian on Valentine’s Day during a speech she gave in Las Vegas.

Both celebrities have received much support from fans and LGBT organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign. Social media exploded with congratulations and encouragement.

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Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signed a bill prohibiting homosexuality.

Homosexuality is already illegal in 78 countries around the world, including much of Africa and the Middle East. Seven of these countries punish homosexuality by the death penalty. In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years in prison. Even organizations or individuals who reach out to counsel homosexual persons can face imprisonment.

President Museveni said he was persuaded to sign the bill, not out of political, but scientific, motivations. He claimed legalizing homosexuality poses “serious public health consequences” according to his scientific advisers.

Musevini’s advisers also assert that homosexuality is an “abnormal behavior” and not something a person is born with.

In the United States, the controversy of gay marriage legalization is always in the news media. It seems to be the “will-they, won’t they” issue of the century.

Whether or not same-sex marriage is legalized in our country, maybe it’s time to pause and enjoy the freedom of expression guaranteed to us by the Constitution.

Despite overwhelming support from the LGBT community, both Page and Sam undoubtedly received a backlash from certain anti-gay groups. Unfortunate though this is, at least they never have to face imprisonment, violence, or unemployment that the few openly gay Africans struggle against.

In my opinion, how a country reacts to the homosexual community demonstrates its degree of progressiveness. The support for LGBT causes is increasing in the United States today, especially with the younger generations. Although the gay marriage controversy remains murky, almost any American would at the very least agree with a person’s individual right to be gay.

Personal opinions aside, from a legal standpoint, Americans uphold all anti-discrimination rights. The matter of whether homosexuality is a choice does not even apply, because everyone is guaranteed the right to express him or herself.

President Obama said that if Uganda’s president passes the anti-gay bill, it will complicate relations with the east African nation. President Museveni decided to push through with the law, opting to uphold the country’s “morals” despite losing international allies.

How “moral” is it to alienate, penalize,and even torture a citizen for how he/she chooses to express love?

Uganda’s government’s behavior demonstrates unacceptable treatment of not just to the gay community, but any group. When this kind of expression is severely punished, it becomes an issue of human rights and dignity.

It’s too soon to tell how relations with Kenya will pan out after the bill passes. However, it seems from the outcry of international responses that most of the world is ready to defend the homosexual community and freedom of expression.

Do newspaper’s DUI mug shots work?


If YouTube has taught me anything, it’s that people like being in the news. And, if pretending to see a leprechaun in my neighborhood means I will get into the news, then I will tell you all about that leprechaun.


However, in Anderson County, Ky., getting in the news seemed to lose its charm when The Anderson News printed the headline, “HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR. But please don’t drink and drive and risk having your picture published.”

 The small paper from Central Kentucky was introducing a new editorial piece to be picked up at the start of 1998. The editorial would publish photos of all persons convicted of drunk driving in Anderson County as an innovative way to deter driving while under the influence.

Mug shots were first published monthly, and then weekly, and then limited only those living in Anderson County or surrounding areas reached by the newspaper.

Although the newspaper’s goal to reduce drunk driving was a noble one, there was no concrete evidence the policy was helping to achieve this goal and some believed the newspaper was taking too much of a toll on residents’ personal lives.

The photos reportedly caused teasing directed towards the kids of parents with their pictures in the newspaper and even an attempted suicide of one teenager who feared having his picture published.

The Anderson News stopped publishing mug shots of drunk drivers in 2008 under a new editor and the rational that it “adds a level of punishment, or at least embarrassment, beyond what is imposed by a judge.”

What makes The Anderson News’ content interesting is that starting and stopping publishing mug shots of drunk drivers has to do with issue of morality not legality.

Legally speaking, the newspaper had every right to publish the mug shots. It is not uncommon to see stories on criminal cases in newspapers and by drinking and driving the residents of Anderson County gave up their right to privacy.

When The Anderson News began printing mug shots they were attempting to serve their public interest of keeping the streets safe. They were reporting the truth, it was relevant to the community, and using their power of voice to prevent drunk driving appeared to be a morally correct choice.

What the newspaper learned after publishing mug shots for some time was that they may be inflicting harm to their community that was not outweighed by the benefits of their drunk driving coverage. As the coverage led to teasing in schools, embarrassment among community members and, perhaps at its worst, a teenager’s attempted suicide. Analyzing these effects are what motivated the newspaper to pull the piece from their paper.

The Anderson News drunk driving coverage reminds us that being a journalist isn’t solely about circulating information. A good journalist needs to be able to understand the authority that comes with their position and how they can best serve their community.

Journalists must remember that just because something falls in the legal realm of possibility does not mean it is acceptable to publish it.

Lastly, an important point to note is that when The Anderson News pulled its drunk driving coverage, it was under a new editor. This makes me wonder if the newspaper’s employees had seen the moral issues with printing the names and images before the regular feature was pulled, but did not voice their opinions to their editor. If so, this brings up another point that journalists need to not only have a moral compass, but that they need to also be brave enough to stand up for what their gut is telling them.

Sexual orientation knocks on NFL door


Earlier this week, former Missouri football player Michael Sam announced in an interview with The New York Times that he is gay.

While the progressive point of view is this should be no news at all, the reality of the situation is there has never been an openly gay player in any major American sport.

I would be more than thrilled if this had no affect on Sam’s upcoming NFL Draft stock, however, that will not be the case.

The NFL has always been the American sport to hold the “macho” title. They are known as the guys who play through concussions and broken bones, so there was no way a gay man could suit up, right?

The various owners and general managers who believe these ignorant stereotypes need a reality check. There will be those who say he will be a distraction because of the media attention, but that will be out of the way after the first week of training camp.

It is important that journalists continue their support of Sam to pressure owners into researching his football talent, not his personal life.

Focus on Sam’s accolades, such as co-SEC defensive player of the year. Winners of this award since 2004 include David Pollack, Patrick Willis, Glenn Dorsey, Eric Berry, Rolando McClain, Nick Fairley, Morris Claiborne, and Jarvis Jones. Another thing these players have in common, they were all first round picks.

While I understand collegiate success does not always translate to the NFL, there are players who have actual issues related to drugs or violation of team rules. When the media examines these problems, teams use answers such as “we thought the reward outweighed the risk.”

I can tell you that also holds true here.

An anonymous source at Missouri who interacts with players on a daily basis said, “that over the season, he barely thought about Sam’s sexual orientation.”

If college students who are not yet fully matured can embrace Sam, this should be no problem for an NFL team.

The news media needs to focus on the idea that this is a game. The ESPNs of the world harp on the SEC being far and away the best conference in college football . Well, Sam was the best defensive player in the best conference of football. If that does not prove enough to move past this issue, I do not know what will.

Michael Sam and the media


Earlier this week, former Missouri defensive end and NFL prospect Michael Sam came out as gay, and will likely become the first openly gay NFL player following the draft in April.

Since Sam’s announcement, the news media, especially ESPN, has covered the story non-stop. Articles on Sam have filled the pages of, stories about him have been covered by Sportscenter, and his NFL draft stock has been constantly analyzed.

However, while most media sources have been highly supportive of Sam, the question remains; are they really doing him any favors by constantly featuring the story? Or are they actually hurting the cause of the player that they claim to embrace?

Since Sam has come out, certain NFL executives that wished to remain anonymous have stated that his draft stock will likely fall following the revelation. Some would say that this only reinforces the macho, misogynist stereotype of the NFL.

However, most teams that pass on Sam in the draft will not do so out of hatred or homophobia, but a desire to avoid the media circus that will inevitably follow Sam throughout the season.

NFL teams are well known for trying to avoid “distractions” at all costs. Any type of story that attracts severe media coverage is seen as a threat to the team’s on-field performance.

A recent example that exemplifies this idea is the ongoing saga of former Miami Dolphins players Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. When the story first broke of alleged bullying in the locker room, the team was above .500 and contending for the playoffs.

After the story made national headlines and became a “distraction” to players, the Dolphins lost their last two games to division rivals New York and Buffalo and missed the playoffs.

The point is, networks such as ESPN claim to be fully behind Michael Sam, but constantly adding to the story will only reinforce the idea in executives’ minds that having Sam on their team could potentially cause a distraction in the locker room that could manifest itself on the football field.

If the news media really want to help Michael Sam succeed as a professional, they should limit their coverage of the story and allow him to be seen first and foremost as a very, very good football player with NFL talent who happens to be gay, rather than simply the gay player.

Sports equality: Gay athletes in sports


It seems as though we are living in the “Age of Equality.” Gay marriage is being passed in many new states and countries, and more and more celebrities are embracing a “don’t hide who you truly are” attitude.

It’s cool now to be out of the closet and most of the world, in this progressive Age of Equality, is accepting of those who choose to announce to the world their sexual orientation.Yet while Hollywood has embraced ‘coming out,’ one sector of pop culture seems to be still hidden deep in the closet and less accepting of gays — the world of sports.

Seen as a testament to one’s manhood that dates back to the testosterone-heavy first-ever Olympic Games, sports are often a sign of heterosexuality. It’s a common misunderstanding that a boy involved in sports can’t be gay, which is why many parents suspecting of the sexual orientation of their sons feel that the “cure” is sports like football.

With the recent announcement of Micheal Sam, a young NFL prospect hailing from the University of Missouri who came out as gay, the sporting world has been in shock. Not often does a football player shed his macho image and come forward about his sexual orientation. He stated, “I am an openly proud gay man,” in a New York Times piece, but his teammates have known since August. If Sam is drafted and earns a spot on a team roster, he will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.

Still, eight NFL staff and coaches that were polled by Sports Illustrated believe that Sam will drop in the draft due to his announcement. Backlash isn’t uncommon for gay athletes. Tweets often contained strong language. Two examples: “So, message to Michael Sam and those like him: Nobody wants to hear about a man who likes to suck cock. Get back in the fucking closet” (@icanhasbailout) and “Michael Sam first openly gay athlete in the NFL??? that’s freaking disgusting!!!!!! should be kicked out if the NFL and the USA” (greyclark24).

Sam’s announcement is coming off the heels of British diver Tom Daley’s coming out, which he did via a YouTube video a few months ago. The Olympian was shown massive support, which could be due to the fact that diving is seen as a “gay” sport versus the masculinity of football. Another sport that is often labelled as “gay” is men’s figure skating. Still, American men’s figure skaters are encouraged to not announce their sexual orientation for the purpose of appealing to the American public and judges.

This fear of being gay in sports is something that should not exist in the coming years. Sexual orientation does not change the athleticism of great athletes, nor does it diminish their accomplishments. For this year’s Olympics in Sochi, where being a gay athlete is abhorred, the world’s athletes responded with the utmost support for LGBTQ rights. Germany walked in the opening ceremony wearing rainbow snowsuits, Greece’s athletes had rainbow fingertips on their gloves, and Blake Skejellerup, an openly gay New Zealand speed skater, wore a rainbow pin.

With the bravery of both Michael Sam and Tom Daley, hopefully more athletes will feel safe coming out of the closet and the Sochi Olympics will open the eyes of the world, especially Russia, that discrimination of gay athletes is not something to be tolerated in our ever evolving world.

Batkid makes national headlines


This week the Make a Wish Foundation went further and beyond to fulfill a five-year-old boy’s dream of saving the world right next to Batman.

Miles Scott is a recovering leukemia patient who asked the charity for a memorable day assisting his favorite super hero.

Friday, the city of San Francisco, transformed into Gotham City, received the most evil villains ever imagined. But there was Batman and his Batkid ready to take action on the Batmobile.

More than 11,000  people came not only from California, but also from other states to show support to the little super hero.

The city was hit by a wave of crime all at once, requiring Batman’s and his assistant’s help. With the help of the “big guy,” Batman, Miles was able to save the day.

For the first time, since its more than 30 years of history, Make a Wish organizers say they didn’t have to request volunteers. They would come and sign up to be part of this amazing adventure in big amounts.

Even a San Francisco newspaper published a special edition announcing the big event that captured the eyes and hearts of millions.

Saving a woman taken as a hostage, tied up to cable tracks and a “bomb” and imprisoning the evil Riddler who attempted to rob a bank, were among the victories that only Batkid could achieve.

In fact, super heroes do get hungry, so they had to make a short stop to have some lunch and recharge the batteries.

But it doesn’t stop there. The legendary Penguin horrified everyone when he abducted Lou Seal, the Giants’ baseball team mascot.

This indeed mobilized the whole city in a battle between the good and evil.

Batkid! Batkid! Batkid! Screamed the enthusiastic crowd that was thirsty to see more from Miles.

As everyone was expecting, doing stunts, tricks and using intelligence, both Batman and Batkid saved Lou Seal from the Penguin’s clutches.

The five-year-old hero was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, underwent chemotherapy treatment and is now in remission.

For a moment, everyone who witnessed Miles’s victories forgot about the tragic side of the story. In fact, for many it meant hope that good things can happen during a tragically episode in life.

My question is why is it that our nation doesn’t get involved more often to promote peaceful events like this one? Why is it that violence is what conquers our hearts rather than good actions?

The answers to these questions are hard to find because we live in a nation were guns are so common and death so frequent we have become insensitive to it.

As a news media journalist, I just don’t see this story as a happy one. I see it as a heart-touching one and it has taught us all that dreams are never impossible.

China cracks down on foreign reporters


Reporting news in China has always been a sticky situation but even more recently, there has been in influx of rejected visas for foreign journalists who report within the country.

Even journalists who have worked in the field for years in China are now receiving rejections towards renewed visas. This is forcing people who have been living there for their journalism profession to leave and find new jobs elsewhere.

This issue is also forcing many journalists who have not had their visa renewals rejected to reconsider how they report news. Most have decided that they need to take part in self-censorship, but is that really reporting the news? There have also been reports of death threats towards foreign journalists who are reporting things that are not necessarily agreed with by citizens of China. This can also affect how journalists report news with accuracy.

Local citizen journalists have always been restricted in what they report. Freedom of the press in China is very limited and it has been known that foreign news coverage has always had more freedom to report than Chinese journalists. But nowadays it is becoming more evident that both foreign and local reporters are becoming one in the same.

During the past 10 years, many Western media companies have increased their coverage of China. Companies like The New York Times and the BBC have created blogs strictly dedicated to the country. This investment reflects China’s growing significance as an important country in international affairs. China requires attention from the media. But as a result, this has given China more leverage over the foreign media than it once had.

One of the main reasons for this type of crackdown on foreign coverage is that China does not want the world to know about the relationship its big business and politics have with each other. In the end, it’s all about money. But it is argued that in doing so, China is harming its ties in foreign affairs. If China is kicking out journalists from other countries for unfriendly reporting, it causes those countries to question China’s relations with them.

As China gains more wealth, it is becoming more and more apparent that other things, like foreign news coverage, do not matter because the Chinese leaders know they have leverage over other countries. This is bad news for journalists who have ties in China when it comes to reporting.

Questions within a national story


We’ve essentially been beaten to death by the Miami Dolphins scandal involving Jonathan Martin and Richie Incognito. I’ll spare the details in order to get to the journalistic side of the story. This story raised several questions and kind of put a dent into the integrity of sports journalism, or at least some are saying that.

When the story broke, everyone went into a bit of an outrage, whether they were taking Martin’s side or Incognito’s. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone. That’s where problems begin to brew. Yes, everyone has the right to their own personal opinion. But when that opinion is thoroughly thrown across everyone’s faces, the thin line of professionalism is crossed.

As journalists, we can’t allow that to happen.

This story wore that line even thinner. Sportswriters began to draw conclusions hours after the initial story was told. Most didn’t care that there were infinite amounts of questions to be answered by all different kinds of sources. As journalists, we are told to report the truth. And though these journalists may have just been tweeting out their thoughts, they needed to be aware that they are the guides for the masses. Everything they say is taken into account by the public that is reading their thoughts. Stating your opinion on a subject that is incredibly premature in nature defies all counts of logic that journalism entails.

In addition to that, journalists were beginning to take sides without even considering the personal aspect that the story consisted of. Bullying is a very serious topic, one that should not be taken lightly by anyone. Not everyone has been bullied, and I myself can’t speak on the subject, but writers were talking about the people in the story as if it was a joke. As if Martin was a big crybaby and Incognito was just a product of his employers.

No one really knew what had happened or what was going on. Still, many journalists found  themselves knowledgeable enough to speak their thoughts without thinking of the repercussions. This story easily raised more questions about journalism than it may have solved.

Misunderstanding others’ opinions


On Tuesday, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen faced allegations that he himself made a racist comment, when in fact he was expressing the views of some of the subjects of his article.

The exact quote he used was that “people with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children.”

The problem is that Cohen was trying to convey the sentiments of a particular group of people separate from himself, but readers confused this with a statement of his own opinion.

This is one hardship of journalism.  If we are writing about controversial topics, we are going to have to express others’ opinions that we do not share (or that we do share but do not wish to disclose).  How do we avoid being called “racist” or “sexist” when we are only retransmitting someone else’s message?

The task is not an easy one.  Some readers automatically perceive what they read to be the opinion of the author.  These people might be stubborn and hard to convince otherwise, no matter what you do.

With people who don’t jump to this conclusion, journalists can be overly clear that they are not the ones with the thoughts they are writing or speaking.  Stress your sources.  In situations when you might be tempted to write “many believe that” or “some think that,” reconsider this.  Instead, wherever possible, insert the identity of the party, such as the name of a group or a specific individual you are quoting.  This should take as much suspicion off of you as possible.

Still, no matter how hard you try, it is difficult to tell how readers will view others’ opinions you write about.  People, like journalists, are always looking for drama.  The more scandalous an issue, the more scandalous it would be for you to express your own unpopular beliefs.  People tend to see what they want to see, which is not always what is actually there.  Unfortunately, to maintain your professionalism, you cannot write in block letters “I DO NOT AGREE WITH THE STATEMENTS THAT I QUOTE IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE” at the top of your story.

Just as fiction authors do not necessarily share the same experiences as their narrators, journalists do not always hold the same opinions as their articles’ subjects.  As the saying goes, don’t shoot the messenger.

Lack of protection for a reporter


The Washington Times is preparing a lawsuit after federal agents invaded the Maryland home of award-winning investigative reporter, Audrey Hudson, and confiscated her notes.

The agents had a warrant, but it was for unregistered firearms that belonged to her husband. Only after they left did Hudson realize that some of her notes, which included interviews with confidential sources, were missing. The notes pertained to her reporting on problems within the Department of Homeland Security’s federal air marshal service.

During the raid, a Homeland Security agent asked Hudson if she was the reporter who had written the air marshal stories for The Times.When she was interviewed, she said, “There is no reason for agents to use an unrelated gun case to seize the First Amendment protected materials of a reporter. This violates the very premise of a free press, and it raises additional concerns when one of the seizing agencies was a frequent target of the reporter’s work.”

The Coast Guard, which orchestrated the raid, says there was no wrongdoing.

The Times says the search and seizure was unconstitutional because the warrant was specifically for firearms and communication related to the acquisition of firearms. The damage is done, however; the department had Hudson’s notes for more than a month.

School violence, media, stolen lives


In less than a week, two U.S. students are accused of murder and two teachers are dead.

Violence around the nation has spread inevitably leaving sorrow among families from both sides. The suspects’ families do not seem to understand why their kids dirty their hands with somebody’s blood. While the victims’ relatives look out for answers to help them build a clear explanation of what really occurred.

Monday, tragedy struck a middle school in Sparks, Nev. A 12-year-old boy opened fire against two other students and killing 45-year-old Michael Landsberry, a popular math teacher and member of the Nevada Air National Guard.

But the brutality does not stop there. Tuesday, two calls reporting two missing people, one a student and the other one a teacher, erupted a massive search. Wednesday morning Danvers Police Department in Massachusetts found the dead body of Colleen Ritzer, a 24-year-old math teacher. Philip Chism, a 14-year-old student remains behind bars accused of manslaughter for Ritzer’s death.

Why is there so much violence in our kids nowadays? How is it that young kids embed their minds with bloody thoughts? Does TV or other news media have an influence on them? Do video games make up a great part of the problem? Could a legislation aimed to restrict gun acquisition ease violence?

Believe as you are reading these questions to yourself, you must also be thinking that most of the answers should call a yes. But unfortunately, the solution does not depend only on us.

For instance, different gun legislation has been battled in the Senate and House of Representatives. However, legislators seem to not find a solution in which all of them agree with.

As a matter of fact, it is not just a legislation aiming for fire gun restrictions that would calm down the nation. It also depends on the parents who buy their kids brutal video games. Kids who are exposed to domestic violence at home are in danger of becoming bullies or bullied by somebody else. As you read this, many young people are still seeking for their inner entity and when they finally find it their parents would not be there.

Why? Ask yourself that question.

Venezuelan press endures tough times


“In a public hearing before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights, journalism organizations called 2011 the worst year for the Venezuelan press because of the rise in attacks against reporters and news media, reported the AFP,” according to the Journalism in the Americas Blog, under the article titled “Venezuelan journalists declare freedom of expression situation as “critical.”

Journalists in Venezuela are going through a difficult time. Freedom of expression and the citizen’s rights are being violated on a daily basis. Furthermore, television news shows are being shut down by the government. With little support and alarming things happening in the country, journalists have to be now more than ever careful in what they write about and who they address their stories to.

TV news show are being controlled by the government, because it wants to control the news they provide for the Venezuelan community, that way the information the government doesn’t want to share will stay in secret.

The article also states the fact that last year 203 violations of freedom of expression were recorded and of these, two-thirds were related to attacks and threats (many of which have gone unpunished, like it generally happens).

In The Media and the Citizen, by Boris Munoz, he let us know a little bit of the extreme situation in which Venezuela has been in: “In April, 2002, in the midst of the most intense period of confrontation between the opposition and the government, media barons actively supported a coup against Chávez by creating a media blackout. The screens of the most important private TV outlets would run only old cartoons; some of the national newspapers didn’t circulate, thus preventing the public from knowing what was going on in the country, or even about the president’s whereabouts.”

During the last three months, the government has taken programs off the air that had most manifestly criticized the government. Globovisión, the last remaining independent TV station in Venezuela was sold to government allies earlier this year. Like the article titled “Globovisión: The Latest Casualty in Venezuela’s Assault on Freedom of the Press” expresses:

“This unfortunate development shows that the threat to freedom of the press—and to all other civil liberties in Venezuela — will not go away with the death of Hugo Chávez.”

Censoring freedom of expression


When we try to think in a country without freedom of expression, we normally think of dictatorial countries, such as Cuba and North Korea. However, these countries have been like this for many years.

Nowadays it is almost unimaginable to think that a democratic country will censor freedom of expression, and therefore freedom of the press just because some of the news organizations and journalists don’t share the same ideas as the government.

Unfortunately, Venezuela has been dealing with the censorship of freedom of the expression because of the political problems existing at the present time in the country.

When Hugo Chavez to office, he claimed to be a democratic president. But, during the time he has been in office, he created his own movement called the socialism of the 21st century. At this moment, people who were in favor of a democratic country became to realized that Chavez was leading the country to a dictatorship.

Suddenly the country separated in two sides. “Chavistas” who were in favor of Chavez, and the opposition who are against the government.

Chavez saw the opposition as a threat and he started closing private entities as well as the media that put in evidence the government acts.

Journalists have the important job of reporting information as it really happen, without being subjective or leaning to a preferential side. However, it is okay for a news organization especially in politics to be sympathizer with one political side, as long as they report accurate and truthful information.

In paper, Venezuela claims to be a democratic country, but in practice they are as close as possible to be a dictatorship like Cuba.

In 2007, the Chavez government closed RCTV. For the first time, one of the major national channel was closed for exposing horrible but truthful acts of his government.

After that, he used the channel for governmental matters where he will put programs that will taught the country about his socialism and will brutally attack the opposition.

More channels, radios and newspaper closed for not sharing the same ideas that the government has, and with this more protest in favor of the freedom of expression started to happen, however; it was useless.

Just two months ago, during Maduro’s term, Globovision, which was the last opposition channel standing, was forced to be sold to the government.

The only channel that was still fighting to speak the truth and freely express opinions was taken by the government.

This occasioned the resignation of the entire crew of journalists that were against the selling and the new morals of the channel.

The channel was practically empty, as empty as the country was of journalist that weren’t afraid to speak about the government in broadcast and print.

Thankfully, social media and Internet access isn’t prohibited yet. Now prominent Venezuelan journalist inform through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blogs. Also there has been a rise of web programs that can be seen through any device with Internet access.

Nowadays, it is really hard to censor an entire country just by taking away channels, newspaper and radios. Social media has become the voice of a country and its almost unstoppable, even in countries like Venezuela where speaking the truth is a matter of life and death.