Obama juggles baseball, diplomacy


President Barack Obama made a historic journey to our neighboring island Cuba, making him the first president in 88 years to visit the island.

He started of this trip by tweeting to Cubans using the local slang.Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 7.52.53 AM

The president had his daily scheduled filled, down the second, but many Miamians, including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, were not happy about it.

The thought of their president visiting a communist country who is responsible for the death of many fighting for freedom is what is troubling many Cuban-Americans.

“Mayor Gimenez does not believe the Cuban government has made any significant changes to respect human rights, free enterprise, free expression, or a free press, and therefore the government does not deserve the honor of a visit from the leader of the free world,” said Michael Hernandez, the mayor’s spokesperson.

Many believed he was on vacation, which is not the case. News outlets have been highlighting Obama’s attendance at the historic baseball game as if he should not be there. It seems that the general public along with news have forgotten that to make relations with anyone you must do something in common and get a general understanding of the other person.

The news media are scrutinizing Obama even further by asking how he could be attending a baseball game after the news of what happened in Brussels. But the news media should know better, he had a schedule to follow and gave it support with the Cuban people before the baseball game.

In my opinion, there is not much he can do from the Caribbean island other than send his condolences. Did they want him to go to a terrorized country and send his condolences?

It’s not like he knew this was going to happen and decided to go to Cuba to “vacation” anyway. The president made promises and intended to keep his promises but the news made it seem as if he was a heartless president. Specifically, local news made him seem like he couldn’t care less by showing protests in the streets of a heavily populated Cuban community.

I understand news is supposed to or is expected to show both sides but conversations seemed to be very one sided here in Miami.

The pain of being in the public eye


Constant public scrutiny should be added to the job description for the president of the United States. Part of being the face of the free world means being under the world’s microscope and subject to criticism for any little thing.

The latest criticism of President Obama from the news media stems from his choice to still go to a baseball game in Cuba, even as the Brussels attacks were happening.

Not long after bombs had blown up at an airport and subway station in Brussels, President Obama was enjoying a ballgame with his family and the President of Cuba, Raul Castro. The pictures of the president’s fun-filled day at the ballpark spurred controversy among Republican presidential candidates and within the news media. The main point of criticism is that President Obama should have returned home to help deal with the matter instead of continuing leisure in Cuba.

However, it is not like the president did not address the matter at all. President Obama made remarks about the terrorist attacks when he spoke in Havana on Tuesday. “What they can do is scare and make people afraid and disrupt our daily lives and divide us,” President Obama said as he explained his rationale for staying at the baseball game. “And as long as we don’t allow that to happen, we’re going to be okay.”

The real question is, what is it the critics wanted Obama to do in that moment? The attacks had already happened. There is nothing he could have done to change that and he addressed the matter through a speech, just as he would have done if he were home. There is really no reason for him to have been criticized, except that Americans need a scapegoat to criticize for everything. Being the president of the United States makes Barack Obama a perfect candidate.

The number of times President Obama’s face has appeared on the front of a magazine, newspaper, or website being criticized for doing something completely normal is infinite. The public eye is always watching and the news media always has something to say about the president’s behavior.

World terrorized following Brussels


After a week full of politics, terrorism hit the news again.

This time, ISIS, who claimed responsibility for the attacks, sent two suicide blasts on Tuesday morning; one to Brussels’ airport and the other one to the Metro station.

Even though news channels still providing updates of the situation, at the moment 30 people were reported as dead and 230 were wounded in both attacks.

After Belgian police released a notice that includes a photograph of a suspect “wanted for terrorism,” it went viral. Not only news media exposed the image with the intention of collaborating with the country but social media also used it to promote a bunch of support hashtags. #jesuisbrussels, #prayforpeace, #prayforbrussels, are just a few.

The majority of the news media attributed the attacks to links of the city to extremism and terrorist plots and the recent capture of a terrorism suspect Salah Abdeslam in Brussels’s predominantly Muslim Molenbeek quarter.

Others blame Belgium’s intelligence and the lack of sharing important information with their citizens, but CNN made a completely different accusation. In it’s claiming “ISIS noted that Belgium is ‘participating in the international coalition against the Islamic State.’ Belgian warplanes flew 796 sorties and launched 163 airstrikes over Iraq from September 2014 to July 2015, according to the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition, and were set to resume these operations this summer.”

What they intended to say is that Belgium, although it is the victim right now, is also responsible in some way.

However, for me, The New York Times is the newspaper with the best coverage. Updates are uploaded within every three minutes, what proves that they are completely committed to the situation. They also created a link where people with no idea about what’s going on can enter and rapidly understand the issue. Questions such as: What happened? Was it ISIS? Where is the investigation heading? Why Brussels? are answered.

What I found really intriguing is CNN’s attempt to add the political process in this hurtful scenario.

Is this the accurate time to do this?  Do people care more about what Trump thinks about the attack than human sorrow?

Maybe they do and that’s the reason behind these attacks; there are many humans but little humanity.

Brussels and news media coverage


When I read the report on Fox News about the Brussels attack, I remembered of what I learned about source trust and how we should use our sources in journalism. First, to tell the readers about the exact number of injured people on the attack, they used as a source a CBS tweet. Shouldn’t they be asking the Belgium authorities about it instead of basing their number on a tweet of another news organization?

With that, I go to the second point where in the article is cited an “intelligence source with firsthand knowledge of the investigation” about where the attackers were focusing more the explosions and where it exactly happened.

If Fox News had a “firsthand knowledge of the investigation source” why not ask them the exact number of injured people on the attack? The name of the source is not cited on the article which makes me even more confused and suspicious about the kind of information that the text provides.

The hurry about giving the information to the readers, specially on breaking news cases, is not uncommon in journalism. But we have to be careful in those situations. News reporting is an art and it is supposed to be done in a way we can offer our readers the most accurate information we could have gathered.

In a time where news organizations are trying to have a say on a certain topic, sometimes some inconsistencies can slip and the effects are directly reflected on the journalist and on the reader that consumes this type of information.

The article has other trustful sources, from officials and new agencies, but there is still a lot of citations from other sources not related to Fox. Sources in this type of story are really important (in all types of stories) but focusing on this one, the readers want to know accurate and precise information and it would be helpful if the information was checked and crossed checked with other official sources or if they could have more warranty that the data or the quotations were taken by the journalist that wrote the piece.

The Zavantem Airport in Brussels and a subway station at the heart of the city were bombed by the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) on Tuesday morning. According to The New York Times, at least 30 people were killed in the attack and more than 230 people were wounded. Social media and news media companies are using the hashtags #BrusselsAttacks and #prayforbrussels to talk about the subject and relate to other articles about it on social media.

Millennial’s redefining ‘breaking news’


Early Tuesday morning, ISIS carried out three attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Immediately after, the news media began reporting on the details showing the world how the term “breaking news” is being redefined.

It’s no secret that the technological advances in the last 10 years have had groundbreaking effects on how news outlets function. And it’s even less of a secret that Millennials are glued to their phones.

The news media took note of this fact. And with sales of print news outlets declining, they responded with an increase in revolutionary websites and apps that can be accessed almost anywhere.

The effects of this new industry are obvious. A Millennial myself, I check my phone as soon as I wake up. This morning, I instantly noticed eight CNN notifications on my screen, an immediate signal that a major news story had broken.

At 3:29 a.m., 8:29 a.m. Brussels time, the first notification of a suspected terrorist attack was sent out by CNN to it’s mobile-app subscribers: “There are reports of two explosions at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, according to CNN affiliate VTM.”

According to a TIME report, the attacks occurred around 8 a.m. In less than 30 minutes, the entire world was notified of the actions of one terrorist group.

The live updates didn’t stop there. A number of my mobile notifications were less than one hour apart.

Furthermore, all major news outlets were also reporting on live updates, on-site pictures, videos and interviews to report on the attacks in more detail.

Magazines not typically associated with reporting on serious news stories like Vogue and People made use of the unlimited space offered on the Internet. Both had articles featuring updates of the situation in Brussels.

Social media outlets like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr showed similar responses to those seen in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last year. Most notably, Facebook’s Safety Check feature was once again activated.

The reason that all of these advances in both the immediacy and participation in the notion of breaking news are possible is because of widespread usage and dependence on technology.

Millennials are too often criticized for their dependence on their smartphones and social media. But without these markets they’ve created, these advances would’ve never been made. There simply would’ve been no need.

The truth about ISIS and women


ISIS is one of the most horrifying and inhumane terrorist groups that has come to power in the Middle East.

Recently, The New York Times published an article stating that ISIS captures unaffiliated women and keeps them as their sex slaves.

In addition to this, the terrorists force the women to take birth control in order to satisfy commandments of the Islamic law so that they can continually rape them. The Times states “It is a particularly modern solution to a medieval injunction: According to an obscure ruling in Islamic law cited by the Islamic State, a man must ensure that the woman he enslaves is free of child before having intercourse with her.”

Women would be circulated through different houses for different men to have their way with them. Men would often give these slaves as a gift, so once they were satisfied they would give the women to their friends for their pleasure.

Before each encounter, women would take the birth control in front of the man before they would proceed. The men sometimes got so hysterical about the potential of a woman being pregnant they would take them to a hospital for a pregnancy test. If the woman was found to be pregnant they would physically abuse them until they consented to abort.
In the interviews The New York Times had with women who escaped, the women stated that despite the situation they were happy that they were forced to take birth control.

Although pregnancy would have been their only relief to the constant abuse, the women stated “No one wants to carry the child of their enemy.”

More than 700 individuals have been reported as rape victims of ISIS terrorists, but each woman has been raped an uncountable amount of times.

Although articles like this are indescribably sad, heavy and difficult to read, it is important that the American audience has some exposure.

The media does a good job covering how we are battle ISIS, but we are often deprived of the details that encompass the horror of their acts.

While too many articles like this one would make readers cynical of the media, I do believe it is essential to have some understanding of the actions of this terrorist group in order for us to truly comprehend why we need to help those affected by them.

It is the media’s job to inform the public of worldly affairs, and while much of the world is filled with horror, we should be conscious of these actions so that we as a people can have awareness, empathy, and a passion to fulfill justice.

National security and news media


This week, Americans were able to finally see results of the United States constant struggle against ISIS when the U.S. Special Operatives forces detained their first assumed ISIS prisoner.

But the success is clouded in secrecy, leaving the news media with little information to publish and the public with many unanswered questions. With the war on terror seeming to only become more intense, this sparks the debate as to what balance the news media should take as the fight wages on. How much information should the public demand?

At a press conference earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that “I can’t discuss the details of any missions, particularly when it comes to risking operational security.”

The withheld information included the detainee’s identity, the location of the interrogation, the U.S. officials who spoke to the press, as well as whether or not he has cooperated with interrogators.

This information is arguably not critical knowledge for the American public and the sensitivity of the matter is clear. But a trend towards acceptance of information pertaining to groups that threaten the U.S. public from the media and the American people could be dangerous.

While national security must always come first, the news media will soon have to make harder decisions as to when to push to release more information that the public may need to know and when to decide to respect the government’s decision to withhold information.

Seeking truth in the Middle East


My grandmother believed that we, the people of the “technological era,” are very fortunate. “You have access to every piece of information you want, INSTANTLY!” she said and she was right. What she didn’t notice was that sometimes the news media build a completely wrong image of something and mislead millions of people.

Sadly, this is a common problem when reporting on the Arab-Israeli conflict. We have to admit it is a very difficult thing to understand, but that can’t be the excuse to portray inaccurate and misleading information.

It seems as a routine, anywhere in the world the news of a terrorist attack is always on the victim when the terrorist attack is in Israel news is about the terrorist dead.

CBS News report on Feb. 3, 2016, wasn’t an exception. “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on,” read the distorted headline, without mentioning that they were killed after attacking and killing a 19-year-old female officer.

Although they were shot dead at the scene as a matter of defense, readers of the news site will surely think Israel is at fault of the death of three “innocent” men, who were actually terrorists.

After causing a storm on Twitter and thousands of complaints, the headline was changed to: “Israeli police kill 3 alleged Palestinian attackers.” That’s definitely a better headline for the story that followed it, but it was insufficient to satisfy the police narration, which stated that the Palestinian men planned to use guns, knives and explosives during an attack near a holy site.

Surprisingly, this time, other news sites recognized for posting anti-Israel news, such as BBC, had neutral headlines: “Israeli border guard shot in Jerusalem attack.”

CBS didn’t issue any statement or response over the headline, however, the unsatisfied readers accomplished their goal victoriously and opened our eyes to make us realize that if the news media can’t choose the side of facts, we can make sure that the true story is told.

Use your voice!

Generalizing galore in Paris aftermath


I, like most people, have been deeply saddened by the recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Beirut, and saddened even more by the reaction from the news media and my friends.

Social networks like Facebook and Twitter were buzzing with everyone adding their two cents to the situation. In the past few days everyone has heard the sentiment, Americans need to calm down, be mature, level headed and stop generalizing all Muslims based on the actions of an extreme minority.

I agree with the sentiment of the statement, but the irony is palpable. The statement at its core conflicts with itself. It has turned into: Do not generalize Muslims based on the actions of a few, you giant collective of dumb Americans.

The United States has had an admirable reaction to the terrorist attacks. An outpouring of support for France and Beirut, and a constant reminder of how to appropriately react to the tragic events that have come to pass. While the media is focusing on the angrier, more visceral reactions, the majority of people are not generalizing or making bigoted remarks.

It is obvious that ISIS is attempting to splinter Europe and create a Muslims versus everyone else mentality. This is the only way they can make moderate Muslims feel alienated enough that they would want to join ISIS’ cause. Now more than ever it is important to stay unified and show solidarity among one another because that is truly more powerful than any weapon.

The ugly truth about the conflict


On a recent PBS Frontline, the impending chaos of ISIS was shown. While the current situation is grim, a new longstanding threat is being made. Children as young as three years old are being taught jihad and the violence that comes with “defending the faith,” like how to shoot guns, throw grenades, and behead “infidels.” The documentary gave viewers a firsthand look at the crisis that is being passed onto another generation.

With the recent Paris attacks and the hinted threat to Washington D.C., ISIS has generated the momentum that they want in terms of media fame. They want to be recognized as a threat, and are proving just that with these terrorist attacks.

Journalists live dangerously, as Najibullah Quraishi risked his life to give us this story. Journalists must have a wide variety of adaptable skills, as shown by Najibullah’s determination to get this story to us. Camped out in an ISIS controlled community, he narrates the story of these young children being exposed to all of the violence so early on.

The news media have the power of unleashing the ugly truth, but it is what we need to see in order to realize what is going on. Many people may be unaware of the whole situation and only recently heard of this threat when the Paris attacks occurred. This is why the media needs to show the hard truth in order to illicit a response that can multiply into awareness and eventually bring on change.

The Frontline documentary, in which a journalist went on site into an ISIS dominated community and saw how jihadists were teaching young children how to use weapons and fight, provided a look into the future, as the passing of this ideology makes one think: will this terrorism ever stop?

Outrage for the rest of the world?


Last week, late Friday night, reports of terrorist attacks in France killing more than 100 people. Every local, national and international news network covered the story from the moment the attacks happened and every update that has taken place since then.

It seemed as though all of my Facebook friends changed their profile pictures with the semi-transparent overlay of the French flag. Almost four million people, gathered to march in support of France. Several world leaders flew to France to show their support and speak on the issue and express their nation’s solidarity with France.

Support for France and the outcry against the attacks was expressed worldwide via social media, news coverage, and public marches. Many people raised the question: Where is the outcry for the attacks in Nigeria? Where is the support for the people of Syria? Where is the outcry for Lebanon?

In Nigeria, it is believed that Boko Haram orchestrated a terrorist attack killing 32 people and injuring more. Thousands of Syrians are fleeing from their own country in fear of ISIS. In Lebanon, 40 people were killed and left more than 200 wounded victims of bombs at the hands of ISIS.

Where are the flags for these countries on people’s Facebook profile photos? Where is the international outcry for the victims of these attacks?

People on social media have called out several Western news networks for the biased coverage of terrorist attacks happening all around the world. In response to the claims presented on social media, CNN responded during a segment of their morning show “New Day.”

Michaela Pereira, a “New Day” co-host, raised the question if the West should be doing more to fight Boko Haram. One of the show’s guest speaker, James Marks (a military analyst and executive dean of the University of Phoenix), stated that the reason the West isn’t doing more or showing support to countries such as Nigeria or Lebanon is simply because, “they are not a priority.”

Marks also stated that, “The United States, unilaterally, could do anything it needed to do to root out Boko Haram. It would be a long-term effort, but it could be done. The U.S. has the capability…but it is not a priority—that’s the problem.

Marks went on to say, “‘Black’ West Africa is not a priority. If we were to see Boko Haram appear in ‘White Africa’, which is North Africa, we would be alarmed.”

But is the mass coverage of Paris in comparison to other countries simply a race issue? The Washington Post thinks so, but they also think several other factors are a part of the issue as indicated in their recent article, “This is why the Paris attacks have gotten more news coverage than other terrorist attacks.”

The Washington Post lists the following reasons contributing to why the attacks in Paris received mass coverage as opposed to other terrorist attacks.

  1. France is an unusual target.
  2. Paris is a top global tourist destination
  3. Random civilians were targeted using shocking tactics
  4. Are we seeing a new battleground for the Islamic State?
  5. This was a complex, coordinated attack. And that’s worrisome.

The Washington Post wrote, “The Paris attack shocked the world for many reasons. It’s true that terrorism in less-developed countries is worth our attention as well. Crises, such as the Syrian civil war, deserve much more media coverage and policy focus.”

To conclude, I agree with The Washington Post. There are several other reasons that contributed to the mass media coverage that the Paris attacks received, other than race and urbanization. However, I do believe that because France is not a Third World country, they received more coverage. The prioritization of what is considered to be news to the West is problematic, because one could conclude that the amount of coverage a nation receives indicates their level of importance and whether or not they, and their lives, matter.

Media coverage of ISIS stokes fear


Terrorists live among us? According to CBS12, U.S. National Security officials said there are more than 900 active ISIS investigations in 50 states — including Florida. After the terrorist incident happened last week, news coverage was full of  ISIS’ s recent status, they said that they were in South Florid, in the Washington, D.C., in the Massachusetts.

“They are amongst us. Believe me, they are amongst us here in South Florida,” Chad Jenkins told CBS12. Jenkins is a former counterterrorism agent with the FBI and a former US Army Ranger who served in Iraq. He also said that the reason terrorists chose South Florida were the weather and international makeup.

Moreover, Emily Miller, the chief investigative reporter for Washington, D.C.’s Fox 5 publicized an internal police document about the Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD) seeking information on four men who appear to be Middle Eastern engaged in “suspicious activity” on D.C.’s rapid transit system on Nov. 18.

The news quickly spread and is drawn attention on internet about danger in the Washington, D.C., area. After then, the Metro Transit Police proved the police just did a routine check and the news sparked unnecessary concerns about danger.

“The kind of document is shared internally with law enforcement every day and that doesn’t necessarily mean there is anything of concern for the public and caution any reporter that the individuals here are not suspected of any criminal activity,” said Dan Stessel, chief spokesman for Washington’s Metro Transit Police.

The latest news from CNN said that new ISIS video warns of attack on United States and makes threats against New York. Mayor Bill de Blasio responded promptly that NYPD was prepared to respond to up to 24 incidents simultaneously and the people will not live in the fear. However, social media spread the attack and raised fear about an Islamist terror attack in D.C. and New York, and even made derogatory comments about Syrian refugees.

Stoking fear is the goal of terrorist organizations, however, some media coverage just abet it.

Newsworthy or racism?


It was heartbreaking to hear the news that terrorists bombed a concert in Paris last Friday and killed more than a hundred people.

News media coverage instantaneously responded to the tragedy. The criticism of the terrorism, condolences from international leaders and follow-ups on Paris keeps popping up on different media. Soon many people on Facebook added a French flag on their Facebook profile as a way to demonstrate that they expressed their sorrow to France.

At the same time, many people criticized that news media are biased and racism because at around the same time Japan experienced a 7.0 earthquake and a subsequent tsunami but received almost zero media attention.

I think news media have their own standard of evaluating whether a piece of information is newsworthy or not. Audiences have heard about a lot of outrageous terrorist activities in the Middle East and are conditioned to associate the region with terrorism and get used to receiving this terrorism news from those places.

But in France, in Paris, which people fantasize as a place of romance and fashion not terrorism, was actually under attack of terrorists. The unexpectedness and rareness would attract more attention.

Japan is an island country that constantly under threats of earthquake and tsunami. It is reported that Japan would go through more than 10 earthquakes a year, ranging from some earthquake people may never feel about to some big ones that may trigger tsunami. Considering no casualty has been reported, the Japanese earthquake might not be equally newsworthy as the bombing in Paris.