Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I'll be launching a new business/marketing focused blog in the next few days...keep you posted!

Monday, February 26, 2007

WGAW Members get compensated for writing webisodes

The Writers Guild of America West has scored a big one for folks who produce content strictly for the web (and against NBC Universal TV.) While the WGAW suit against NBC Universal TV has to do with web writing for what would be essential tv-type productions, it could set a precedent for writing for various kinds of Internet-based content distributors who also have no model for compensation for their work. Could this include "citizen journalism" initiatives on TV affiliates and at various newspapers across the country? Read on...

As explained in Red Herring, NBC Universal announced plans to produce "webisodes"--short content made for the Internet--for some of its most popular shows. But there was nothing that explained pay and compensation for "webisodes"--so the WGAW "encouraged" its members not to write the webisodes until they reached an agreement on pay and compensation.

Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? Webisodes are short in nature, are not network television, and therefore are something completely different--like most content that's created for the web (word, audio or video.) And if it's not spelled out in the contract what a "webisode" is, and what is fair pay/compensation for work on it, then there is the potential for a writer to not receive adequate pay/compensation.
“Here’s a new medium [internet-based tv-style shows] that, if not supplanted, will become equal in importance to classic television and movies, yet there’s not one answer on how to compensate for the work,” said Steven Weinberg, an intellectual property and entertainment lawyer at Greenberg Traurig in Los Angeles.

What Weinberg is talking about is a problem with *everything* that's on the web--whether it's a kind of TV show, something written like an article, or a "podcast." My sense is that there is a concern that what's done for the web is in some way less than professional, and doesn't need to be compensated in the exact same way...

This idea, though, leads me to think more about "citizen" content--whether it's written, audio, or video. Will "citizen" content be used as a substitute for professional content--with the reasoning that, because it is online, it is somehow "less than"?

Red Herring goes on to explain that some inside and exclusive deals are being made between writers and producers, but that there needs to be an industry standard. The industry standard is necessary to ensure everyone--from the rookie writer to the seasoned professional--is treated fairly:
On one hand if you’re a hungry young writer, working on webisodes is a great way to break into the business because the cost of production is fairly low,” said Robert Phillips, a freelance television producer for many Stephen King productions, such as Kingdom Hospital, Rose Red, and Storm of the Century.

“On the other hand you have a bunch of existing writers who have experience working on the show,” he added. “But you better know there are many producers out there willing to get by with paying slave wages.”

I would say there may be a parallel between the producers in this case and publishers in the case of newspapers. Everybody wants something for nothing, and if the Somebodys can convince the Little Nobodys that their work is serving a "greater good" or that they'll get "discovered" and then anointed Professional, then the Nobodys are ripe for the "harvesting"...

Unless all those Citizens and People and Rookies are somehow protected by a union...or get smart enough to fight and protect themselves.

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Monday, February 19, 2007

Friday, February 16, 2007

For some reason Google has dropped this blog from their index and I am, to say the least, freaking out. I can't believe it. I don't know what happened, or why it happend. It also happened to my friend Ron Miller. If anyone knows why that happens with Google, let me know...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Santa Rosa TV Station Forces Citizens to Become Journalists

In a stunning move of utter insanity (or is it blatant cynial selfishness) by big media broadcast outlet hog Clear Channel, the news staff of KFTY-TV in Santa Rosa have been sacked and the citizens have been told to have at it...

Apparently, it was the advertisers that weren't happy with the nightly news broadcast that made Clear Channel's Steve Spendlove decide to dump the whole shebang in the lap of the community...

Some are calling this a "bold experiment" in citizen journalism.... or is it more just an outsourcing to low-paid labor to make the pockets Clear Channel a bit deeper? Spendlove said the "business model" of the station wasn't working with a professional crew, but when asked about the business model for the citizen journalism effort, Steve said it hasn't determined whether residents who submit programming will be paid, or whether the station will feature hard-edged investigations into corruption or scandals... Clear Channel's going to ask citizen to do the jobs of professionals and probably/perhaps/more than likely not pay them anything for their efforts. After all, isn't seeing one's name on the tv screen enough??

So, what does Spendlove really think of citizen journalism: "I have my own silly little term," Spendlove said. "Local content harvesting."

Gives me the feeling of a being a piece of journalistic Soylent Green...

I find Clear Channel's move to be wickedly cynical--not a bold experiment. As stated, the citizens were not clamouring to interact with the station--it's the advertisers who were unhappy with the programming. The citizens weren't saying they hated the news broadcast--it was the advertisers. The advertisers really don't speak for the citizens, they speak for themselves. Maybe there was more to the newscast that needed refurbishing--maybe it needed to be more, not less professional...or maybe it's in an area that is so media saturated that it was becoming ineffective for the advertisers to be positioned there. But for a huge mega-controlling company like Clear Channel to let go of the reins and tell citizens to run the thing--without any clear business model or even any plan to perhaps guide folks in the ways of visual news reporting--just leaves me with an awful taste in my mouth...

Further reading: At his Digital Deliverance blog, news vet Vin Crosbie calls the press on their frenzy to incorporate citizen journalism:
Yes, too many newsroom have become remote from, and condescending to, readers. Letting readers comment or converse in newspaper (web)pages is a much needed remedy. Yes, it's great when citizens who posses a particular expertise help report stories about that topic. Likewise, when citizens who witness a news event contribute their first-hand experiences. And, yes, it's heartening to believe that citizens themselves might be capable of reporting a significant portion of the news. Don't get me wrong: The concept behind 'citizen journalism' is noble, much like Karl Marx's vision of pure communism or Jean-Jacque Rousseau's vision of natural goodness or Ayn Rand's vision of objective individualism.

However, I live in the world of real people. It's hard enough to find a professional journalist who can sit through 52 weeks of zoning board hearings and write intelligently about that, nonetheless finding an amateur who doesn't have a vested interest or axe to grind and who can sit through and objectively write about those hearings.

Too much of what's being cloaked or prattled about in our industry as 'citizen journalism' isn't journalism at all and a lot of it is simply b*llsh#t. I'm sorry, but I'm tired of all this groupthink. We need objective reporting about this topic, too.

Yes, I'm sick of it too, Vin. I'm sick of the hype that says citizen journalism is "all the rage" when only a handful of people across the country are doing it, and only a subset of that are doing it as a concerted and journalistic effort. I'm sick of cynical news agencies wanting to "harvest" user generated content, absorb online discussions to try to make them into "news" for some other reason than including people in their conversaion. I'm sick an industry that doesn't want to develop people into top-notch journalists like it did in the old days that it loves to allude to so very much....

Further, the People have just begun to express themselves online, to have conversations out in the open and among more than a few friends at the bar, diner, or kitchen table. We are only now learning how to use media. Some folks are good at it, some aren't. We need time and the freedom to develop our own projects, learn to use media on our own timetable, not be forced into it by news agencies--both print and broadcast--because of some kind of hype and falling revenues.

Perhaps the worst thing to happen to journalism was corporate ownership. First, it dismanted local bureaus and rendered most newspapers irrelevant to local readers. Now, it's dismantling the newsroom, piece by employable piece, and and farming its work out to underpaid or uncompensated sub-contractors, all the while trying to make the subcontractors--citizen journalists--believe they're needed to keep afloat something that doesn't even exisit any more (the local newspaper.)

Think about it.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007 shoots self in foot, kills Blinq blog

In a bold and stunning move of journalistic and marketing stupidity,'s popular blog Blinq has been killed by what appears to be a combination of its blogger realizing his own ambitions and its inability to earn sufficient revenue for the paper...

Amy Gahran will have more details about the revenue side of this in Poynter's E-Media Tidbits column--which I'll add the link to the post when it appears--but for now we have Blinq blogger Daniel Rubin's own words on the matter, and they say quite a bit...
What I'm moving on to is the metro desk, taking a crack at being a local columnist. Talk about your old media.

Yes, stunningly old media, but also what many a journalist/blogger (or is it blogger/journalist?) might be hoping for--to move ahead, to be taken seriously by the Powers that Be (for whom print still carries much weight), to be able to make a great buck from what we like doing: telling others about our worlds and voicing our opinions.

In journalism, only a Columnist earns the right to have an opinion in print.

By blogging, Rubin says he learned that "Blogging for a Philly audience is a contact sport."

Dan, blogging is a "contact sport" for anyone who's out here doing it with any modicum of seriousness and desire to connect with others. It's got nothing to do with Philly per se.

Yet that statement, to me, speaks to the myopia and disconnect of most Big Media newsrooms. The People are somewhere Out There, and the newspaper blogger/columnist is above them all. If you continue to read Rubin's words about his blogging, they sound as if what he was doing was toil--that he may have hated blogging, even though it brought him in touch with the unwashed masses of the blogosphere in a way he never expected. (UpdateRubin adds in comments that he enjoyed his work at Blinq--I appreciate that he took the time to leave the comment and hope he will not be limited from commenting once he is officially moved up the food chain.)

Yet the decision to simply not continue with Blinq is really bad from a marketing standpoint. From what Gahran found (and I'll link to later) Blinq wasn't cutting it when it came to contributing to's bottom line. Thus, it was probably more cost effective to move Rubin inside the office, to a column, rather than have him languish as a discontented blogger.

Blinq became a burden because it was an under-performing property for

Didn't matter that it was building brand loyalty...

A takeaway from the marketing cons I've attended is that building brand loyalty is a hugely important. As it's stated by marketers, products want to form bonds with consumers. Companies that make products want people to connect with the products and make those products part of their lifestyle.

Blinq was part of people's lifestyle and was thus helping build brand loyalty to

But I guess that wasn't what the paper wanted. Maybe they want brand loyalty to the dead-tree product. Which seems a bit retro....

Yet there's a point about blogs and brand loyalty I'd love to point out to from what I know, I don't believe that GM's Fastlane blog has done a great deal to increase GM's bottom line. But what Fastlane has done is build brand loyalty via corporate transparency--which creates loyal customers which leads to sales that GM may not have realized otherwise, even if those sales aren't enough to make a dent in its flagging bottom line.

Thing is, for as many people as we believe are online right now, things like blogs and the whole notion of social media are fairly new. They are still the province of early adopters, despite all they hype that everybody's doing it. There are still problems with access to the 'net in the U.S., as there is a problem with information overload and time management. But the folks who are involved in the Internet, who love the interaction, are the leaders. A whole generation, the Millennials, will be using the Internet in a way that will outpace (by sheer numbers as much as orientation toward the Internet as a means of communication) their older Gen X counterparts (who are the early adopters/adapters.)

Killing Blinq might prove to be unwise. Another option could have been to pass Blinq on to another blogger (I think Gahran talks about this option.) Blogs are sometimes different from columns--they can be stand-alone name brands without a particular person attached to them. Blinq as a brand is known--and it could possibly be a brand that could have been maintained. It was a "home" for a small community of interacters and lord knows how many lurkers. Because it was established, Rubin might have thought to pass it on to another blogger (then again, an option he might not have had.) That would have been an interesting experiment: could a branded blog be passed on to another and maintain its readership?

Maybe, though, it's not about experiments of that sort. Maybe it was about having some bragging rights: "ok, we tried that blogging thing. we've now got a columnist who knows the blogosphere. He can write about it, so let's just move him up to the newsroom where he belongs and kill the blog."

I don't know. I can't intuit the minds of Big Media any more than I can prognosticate the New England weather....but I do know that something like brand loyalty is a tough thing to build...marketers worry about it all the time...and when you've got it, it would make sense to try to keep it.

Post-script almost a year later: Perhaps what's even more important than the whole brand loyalty thing is that Dan Rubin learned who's readers happen to be. They are, indeed, the folks who congregated around Blinq. Who else could they be? Who else would be so interested in commenting on a blog connected to a newspaper--and one that had a hyperlocal focus? Rubin is one of the scant few journalist who learned to communicate with his audience in an online environment. A rare, and quite wonderful thing, and a very valuable (yet under-appreciated) skill.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

"Interactive": Notes on the dual sense of the word

Back from We Media Miami with lots of thoughts about the state of media today...yet this morning the one thing that sticks out in my mind is what, exactly, do we mean when we use the word "interactive" when we're talking about the world that exists here on the Internet.

There are, essentially, two different meanings. One focuses on interacting with a site, while the other is interacting with people in a kind of ongoing conversation.

I started thinking about this as I went over some thoughts on the last panel at We Media--and how many of us have the feeling big media isn't getting it Now, there are lots of reasons for this--most notably a need to be above or "objective"--but there may also be just a different understanding of interactive.

Sites that provide a certain amount of interactivity offer video, audio, and slideshow presentations. They have mechanisms for sending email and maybe even forums or message boards. But how often to individuals associated with the corporate end of the site actually respond to people? Sure, if you have a complaint, you may get a response. But do email routinely receive responses? Do people involved in the enterprise ever get involved in conversations online--and can they afford to?

To me, the true interactivity isn't just in beautifully designed flash sites that offer outstanding visual presentations that one can explore.

Rather, Interaction truly begins when people connect through media.

just my $.02...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Will be managing some social media at We Media Miami Take a look at the list of attendees. Should be a very interesting time indeed.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Search Wikia to be the first real open source challenge to Google's hegemony

Information Week reports on Jimmy Wales' announcement of progress on Wikia Search, the new open-source search engine that will, he believes, launch its first beta in a couple of months....
He said search should be open, transparent, participatory, and democratic. He said Search Wikia would be free, "as in speech, not as in beer." Though Wales said, "I love Google," at least three times during his talk at NYU, he hopes to create something more meaningful, more transparent, and ultimately better than Google.

"People want to know how these searches are being determined," he said. "I love Google. I love Yahoo. I don't think they're doing anything evil."

Wales said he also loves the court system because people can go in and watch the proceedings. He wants to deliver the same transparency to search. Contributors will publish, test, research, and modify the algorithms.

Beginning with Lucene and Nutch (two open source and Java search engines based on the Apache Jakarta Project), programmers will be able to copy, modify, and redistribute code. Others can provide feedback. A search for Ford should yield Ford Motor Co., as the correct first answer, Wales said.

"After that, it's pure, editorial decision-making," he said.

Given the right people, this *could* help to refine and make search better. There are downsides though, in that entries could be left out of search for personal or "political" reasons. Thus is the nature of human endeavors.

Although I will say I put a certain degree of faith in human-edited aggregators for particular kinds of blog-search: most notably Placeblogger and BlogNetNews (hyperlocal and political blog searches.) But how people--who may have a special interest--might tweak certain algorithms....well....

I think it's worth a try though. Google's hegemony on search, and its cache'ing of information is also a bit disturbing--and much less transparent than what Wales is proposing.

It will be fun to watch what happens with Search Wikia--from how the algorithms develop to who it is who ends up propelling the positive changes. The human element, after all, is always the most fascinating...

Monday, February 05, 2007

Feel like taking a Zogby poll?? Go here and register!

Links 2/5/07

Some of my friends are in the news today:

from Christian Science Monitor: Bloggers can make money, but most keep day jobs My friend Steve Garfield is quoted :-): Steve Garfield, one of Boston's earliest video bloggers, doesn't see a YouTube ad model working for him, since he's more interested in forming personal connections.

"I've gotten so much from giving and sharing my videos for free," says Mr. Garfield, whose vblog is at "I've made so many friends from all over the world."
Steve does admit to getting perks from vlogging...that's kind of the crux of it for lots of us. What we "make" may not be totally sustainable income (not yet anyway) but we *do* get something for our efforts. Note that "media expert" Jeff Jarvis only makes about $1,000 a month from his blogging--and he's an A-lister.

From NPR: Bloggers Join Frenzy at Media-Saturated Libby Trial Lists all the bloggers who are blogging the trial--friends Bob Cox and Aldon Hynes (who I met at MediaGiraffe) are litsted there (yes, I got the press release on this from Bob--but didn't write sooner mea culpa.) Curiously, Tom Pierce cites Wonkette weighing in on FireDogLake's commentary (I won't say another word--not about to get embroiled in another mess--the column speaks for itself.)

Scott Kirshner with some perspective on blogger ethics: Bloggers' choice: Free agents or infomercials? Scott highlights some of the low points and connundrums on blogging for bucks So it shouldn't be surprising that marketers and public relations firms are now trying to sway people who publish blogs, produce podcasts or post video clips on the Internet. Shortly before Microsoft and AMD doled out free laptops, a company that customizes the interior of private jets flew a Lear-load of bloggers and vloggers (video bloggers) to Washington state for wine tastings and a dinner. Last year, in an attempt to counteract negative coverage of its employee health care offerings, Wal-Mart funneled rebuttals to right-leaning bloggers -- some of whom posted the material without noting its source -- and later surreptitiously helped fund a pro-Wal-Mart blog. (Scott gets all the details on the Wal-Mart "flog" stuff right--few articles explain the nuances of that connundrum)

So, I'm thinking: When someone with as high traffic as Jeff Jarvis can make only $1,000 a month from his ads, then how are individual bloggers to make a buck? If they take perks, should they disclose? Absolutely. But marketers shouldn't think that just because they give products to a blogger, that the blogger is beholden to say something good about their product. Do they hold other "review sites" to the same standard? or are marketers expecting more from bloggers than they might from, perhaps, CNet? Yes, bloggers should disclose--but marketers should be realistic and less sensitive to a blogger's (perhaps) less-than-rosy review of their products. If they want rosy, they should just stick with p/r flacks.

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Friday, February 02, 2007

Note: Over the past couple of weeks I've met some amazing bloggers--guys who write on journalism, a few marketers, some cool women who write on lots of stuff etc...will be updating the blogroll shortly :-)

Links 2/2/07

NYTimes takes from the citizens and gives bupkis in return....eWeek ad deal crosses ethical line(again)....Viacom's hissy fit over GooTube..."These were clearly not guerilla attacks. This was guerilla marketing."

From Red Herring: New York Times to post user-generated content why? because they're bloody cheap!
"Speaking in a panel discussion at the SIIA Information Industry Summit in New York City, Times executive Nicholas Ascheim said that developing video content is costly." Is it the role of the citizens to be stoking the New York Times with our content and probably getting nothing in return? Oh, if that isn't a giant middle finger to the American public...

Perhaps they want to take our content because nobody cares about their content: The Times launched a video player in November 2005, he said, and now has eight video journalists. Still, he [Ascheim] acknowledged that amassing an audience for video has been daunting.

Paul Conley writes on eWeek's use of Intellitxt ads yeah, you know what those are--those weird little things that kinda look like links, only they're maybe double underlined or a weird color (like green or orange) that lead you to an ad somewhere. Paul sez: "So let’s be reasonable – selling IntelliTXT ads isn’t going to do anything to help turn the company [struggling Ziff Davis] around. There just isn’t that much cash involved in these things. Selling IntelliTXT ads won’t even provide enough of a short-term lift to help boost the price of the company. This is an absurd and offensive practice that won’t help a troubled company."

from Terry Heaton: pissy Viacom demands GooTube take down video There are a couple of things to note here. One, Viacom and Google have been in negotiations over this, and talks — according to Ad Age — have “broken off.” This likely a tactic in negotiations.

Two, one of Viacom’s properties is iFilm, a youTube competitor and a place that got at least some of its fame for running the famous clip in which Jon Stewart made a fool of Crossfire’s Tucker Carlson. Crossfire, of course, used to run on CNN, which is owned by Turner. Now perhaps Viacom had a deal with CNN, because Stewart is one of “theirs,” but…

and Steve Safran on the Boston's lite-brite night-mare: By early afternoon, as the surrealism started to hit its peak, my pal Scott Baker IMmed me: “It’s a Mooninite bomb!” Now, I can honestly say, I didn’t know what he was talking about. I don’t watch “Aqua Teen Hunger Force.” Baker cracked the case. I got the glory. (As a journalist, I am used to this.)

Bake sent me a couple of Flickr links showing the devices in other cities. At this point, neither of us had seen a picture of the Boston devices – because the media kept pixelating the damn things. But we had a pretty good idea, based on the descriptions, that the “bombs” were a marketing ploy. These were clearly not guerrilla attacks. This was guerrilla marketing."
Please Note:this blog recently switched to the new Blogger and I think it's screwed up my feed. annoyingly so.

Baristanet Sticks it to The Man!

Got an email from Liz George at Baristanet--y'all know who theyare...that bunch of evil citizen journalist stirring up the pot and making it bad for The Press in Montclair, NJ...

So, here's the dirt: out in Glen Ridge, there's a bond referendum calling for the astroturfing of a public park (geeze! only in NJ would they think of paving and plasticating a park! great pic-nic'ing on 'turf!)

The folks at Baristanet wanted to know what The People thought about this. You'd think the Star Ledger would want to know, too, right??

Well, maybe not so much...

Baristanet's got some great connections--one of them is SurveyUSA, a company that can easily conduct surveys on questions like "do you want your kids to be playing baseball on carpet?" (I'm oversimplifying--more detail here)
So, SurveyUSA did a telephone poll to find out what people thought about the astroturfing referendum...and Baristanet published the results here.

Now, Baristanet wanted to share the results of the poll with the Star Ledger, the local paper for the area (corporate owned, I might add--I used to live in NJ and watched the SL go down the tubes). But the Ledger declined. Debbie Gallant wrote about it in this post which got some feedback from the Mayor himself!

There are great things going on here: Baristanet is a credible, transparent, well-organized citizen journalism effort (*with* an editorial model.) They are credible enough that the Mayor has left comments and is part of their conversation. Yes, this is something Mayors *should* be doing--no matter what means of media their constituency uses, they should be in touch and in contact. And especially in a state where there is no local television nor other local media coverage! When there is no local television coverage, and no local newspaper coverage, the Mayor must respond wherever he finds credible people talking about the issues--regardless if they're using blogging software or building it on Dreamweaver.

Diddy wa/P left the following amusing comment on Baristanet:you surveyed 131 people. maybe there are more people like myself who are pro turf but saw your name on caller id and passed on your silly little poll. i'd say its more likely the anti turf people answered the call because they are so crazed about the issue. i'm all for turf but won't lose any sleep over it if it fails. end of the day i'm still stuck in nj watching my property tax go up so somebody can get my income back in a property tax break scam. and that is the crux of web 2.0. Diddy might be right that there are more people who are pro turf. But if they're taking a moral high road and not answering the calls, and not using the media, they're voices won't be heard. It will be the people who are "crazed about the issue," who engage in civic discourse and make their voices heard, who will change the issue.

And I guess Diddy never heard about how Kansas became a bastion of the right wing because nobody cared about the little things...and didn't bother to voice their opposition...

Note: I cannot stress enough the dire situation of lack of media in the state of New Jersey (or any place that lacks local media.) Living in the shadows of both New York and Philadelphia has left New Jersey with no broadcast tv signal to latch on to so that they might create local news programs. Growing up there, I never saw a local high school football game on TV, or of five-car pileups on Rt 1; never heard of murders in my town or the race riots in New Brunswick. Our lives centered around New York (and Newark, when things got too hot.) Our local paper was our lifeline to our community--and a ricky-ticky local radio station. But when the paper got bought by a Corporation, which then shut down local bureaus and started giving us more wire service coverage and coverage of towns more than 20 miles away, we started to rely on word of mouth. Case in point: after the Rodney King trial, there were rumors of riots in New Brunswick. Friends from across the river were calling me to find out if anything was going on because we had no coverage of any kind--newspaper or tv. This was the 1990's, before the ubiquity of the net. We knew tv would not be there--we knew radio, which had gone over to Clear Channel, wouldn't be there, we knew the press wouldn't be there. My then-husband and I went out into town to find out what was going on, then came back and called everyone we knew, who then called others to tell them there were no riots and everyone was safe.

In a media saturated time, we had to rely on word of mouth.

Do you now understand why we need citizen journalism on the Internet?

Thanks, Baristanet, for sticking it to The Man....who left Town a very long time ago...

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Multi-Media Death of Soldier Raises Ethical Questions

From CJR Daily: Bloggers Enraged By Times Images of Soldier's Death It's not just the bloggers that should be enraged--but pretty much all of us.

What's the Times up to here? Why might a publication like this show this sort of multi-media presentation of the death of an American soldier? Was it to just get more eyeballs to their site? Were they doing it to stick it to The Man and show the true gritty, unrelenting nature of war?

Somehow, in a time when most newspapers are struggling not only with profits but with the ideas of how to relate to the public in this new age of social media, I'm inclined to take the more jaded and jaundiced view and not give the Times the benefit of any doubt. They've got all these wonderful new fancy-assed toys, and there's nothing that says they can't cross the lines of respect and dignity for the family of a dying soldier just to make their shareholders happy.

This is far different than the fabulously gruesome pictorial of Southeast Asian brothel life that Nick Krystof put together....equally as horrifying, with the intent to inform as well as outrage. But there was consent on that story.

Who consented to show the death of Army Staff Sergeant Hector Leija ? Did he sign a release? Was his family notified? (no!)

This is also quite different from a very grainy photograph of the murder of a man on a rooftop in a Dutch city (something that came up in a discussion on a list I am part of. Nothing about it in English) This is a story that has not made the American press, but is making a stir in the Netherlands. From what I know of the story, the film which was shot with a cell phone and then put on some websites known for showing gruesome stuff. There was some questions on the veracity of the video. But once it was verified, and the family of the murdered man found out about it, they were supportive of showing the video, and hoped it would help find the murderer.

Now, it could be argued that a film like this could prejudice a jury trial. But also, the tape would have to be verified, would have to be shown it was not tampered with, that it was not a hoax in order to ensure that there would not be a false conviction.

But this goes back to the Times piece, where they did not get any permission from the family. As I said, it's one thing to stick it to The Man, another to respect the wishes of a family. And in this case, they didn't even bother to find out about the wishes of the family.

There are many reasons why the family wouldn't have wanted to show the video--maybe they don't want to be part of some either high or low minded press agenda. Maybe they feel humiliated. Maybe they support the war. Maybe they wanted the chance to grieve and sort out their feelings *first.* We don't know. A family's feelings about the death of a loved one in wartime vary so much that it's hard to know for sure what they might be thinking...

We'll never know because the Times took it upon themselves to show the video without even contacting the family. That, in itself, goes beyond callous an plays straight to the idea that maybe, just maybe, the Times had another less noble agenda.

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