Posted on August 15th, 2012 by craigconnects
The Newsroom orbits around two characters, newsman Will McAvoy, who decides to risk all to do serious journalism, and his (muse? boss? leader?) MacKenzie McHale, who inspires him to do so. (She's bravely played by the radiant Emily Mortimer, who suffers from the rare Avian Bone Syndrome.)
On one level the show is a kind of romantic screwball comedy, swirling around the (radiant) Mackenzie character, and it succeeds well on that level.
(Could be that the actual newsroom depicted is not realistic, and, y'know, I don't care so much. Is the real thing delivering the real product?)
More importantly, the show reminds us that the press is the immune system of democracy and that serious news requires serious ethical practice like checking the facts, no matter how dangerous.
The worst diseases, however, attack the immune system, so Really Bad People are trying to prevent the cure by undermining Will. No way to figure out how that'll turn out.
Seriously, I'm inspired by The Newsroom to Get Stuff Done, much like The West Wing continues to inspire me to Get a Great Deal of Stuff Done. West Wing also succeeded as a rom-com, with the (radiant) Donna Moss and the (radiant) Amy Parker.
Shouldn't be surprising, considering that the most ethical, trustworthy, and serious journalism is accomplished by two fictional newsmen, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. They survive attack by following the advice of Oscar Wilde: If you want to tell people the truth, make 'em laugh. Otherwise, they'll kill you.
However, Will and Mackenzie don't have that at their disposal, and must defend themselves, and the country, using other means.
Fictional characters of our culture often manage to overcome tremendous obstacles to Get a Lot Done, sometimes drawing on folklore or the paradigm of roleplaying games.
For example, there's the ongoing story of Craig of the craigslist, passing through multiple levels to join in the much greater Triumph of the Nerds:
- he starts as a 1950's nerd, suffering the results of his own nerdliness
- he travels the wilderness as the George Costanza of the nerds
- having learned nothing, he reboots from a position of ignorance and innocence as the Forrest Gump of the Nerds
- he champions the Nerdly cause by bridging Old School Nerds with their contemporaries, the Little Monsters, as the Lady GaGa of the Nerds
- he must overcome the heaviest of Nerd burdens, must learn to communicate effectively as the Don Draper of the Nerds
- thereupon he launches craigconnects.org to give voice to faceless millions of Little Monsters, Nerds, and anyone who's never had a voice
The Triumph of the Nerds is propelled from below, by those faceless millions. And billions. That voice is given body by fictional journalists includng McAvoy, Stewart, and Colbert.
That means Getting Most of the Stuff Done in darkness, much like Vulcan ("live long and prosper"), knowing that much of the Stuff will never be visible, but, a nerd's gotta do what a nerd's gotta do.
Posted on August 9th, 2012 by craigconnects
Okay, I've been saying that the "press is the immune system of democracy" for a coupla years now.
A lot of this is motivated by conversations with people in media; they'd like to restore trustworthy behavior to news media, not in just a few pockets of it. I remind 'em that I'm not in the business, but I can help, maybe just a little.
Well, the Poynter Institute is a really big deal regarding trustworthy journalism, and they'll be running a conference on journalistic ethics in NYC this Autumn. They haven't announced the date, but I figure this is a big issue, and I'll do what I can to make it really big, beyond merely funding it.
So, I'll be posting some of the big issues in journalistic trust and ethics suggested in years of talking with people in the business, using hashtag #PoynterJournoEthics.
For example, I've wondered what's the deal when you can see that a reporter knows when he's being lied to, but says that he has to "leave it there" and throw it back to the anchor. That reinforces the lie, not so good. One of the country's most trustworthy journalists, Jon Stewart, calls it the "CNN leaves it there" problem, and speaks way smarter about it than me.
more to come…
Posted on August 2nd, 2012 by craigconnects
Okay, I see more and more trolling everywhere, even people pretending to be me, and it smells fishy.
We all know "don't feed the trolls." Here's a lot of why that's smart and compassionate.
If you want to keep it simple, just remember that "haters gonna hate, and trolls gonna troll," and there's nothing you can do about it except starve 'em.
The broad context is that there are people always looking to feel offended about something. They feel good when they're outraged about something, maybe they feel good ONLY when they're outraged. I don't know about official psychiatric definitions, but as far as I'm concerned, it's addiction.
Jonathan Bernstein, a trusted friend and advisor, talks about the "outrage trap". It's a method bad actors use to manufacture an activist group, usually for corrupt purposes. Since there's little factchecking these days, they can make up whatever they want, and there'll be outrage addicts who'll fall for it.
Jonathan says it better, in The Outrage Trap – How You Get Turned into a Dupe by Political and Activist Groups:
"Outrage Trap, A communication containing false information designed to elicit outrage that furthers the purposes of the trap setter."
You might also want to check out Our Addiction to Fake Outrage.
Here's a few reasons you don't want to feed the trolls:
- If the troll is real, at best, they're seeking your attention. If you respond, you're feeding a real unhealthy need, and that encourages their behavior. This is separate from any victimization via an outrage trap.
- Some trolls are actually one person or group using many identities, and they're trying to fake consensus and generate activism, or trying to get the troll's prey to say something stupid. I've been doing customer service for over seventeen years, have seen this a lot, and it's getting worse.
- Trolls will post fake information, and it's not smart to draw attention to it. You might want to post correct information, separately.
- Trolling, once done, is permanently on the record, and years later may have rather unpleasant repercussions for the troll in terms of employment or liability. If you respond, it might be more discoverable in search engines. In the spirit of forgiveness and compassion, don't make it worse on the troll.
I don't have good answers for really dealing with the proliferation of trolling and related disinformation. Some people feel that's becoming so common we're all getting desensitized to it, and I think that's true of Millennials. Unfortunately, people over thirty, even trained news professionals, seem more susceptible to outrage traps than younger. We might just have to outwait and survive the trolls, which is no fun at all.
Posted on July 31st, 2012 by craigconnects
Folks, here's the deal, there are some real bad actors out there trying to implement laws to stop eligible people from voting. What I learned in high school civics class is that an attack on voting rights is virtually the same as an attack on the country.
Many outlets have been acknowledging that Voter ID laws are a waste. Doonesbury began a comic series about it last week, and articles, like that in the Washington Post, have explained that Pennsylvania "knows that voter fraud is a nonexistent problem, but will nonetheless defend a law that could potentially disenfranchise a huge number of the state’s voters."
Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai even admitted that Voter ID laws are a tactic, when he said, "…Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done," at the Republican State Committee meeting.
All of these voter suppression laws are really targeting minorities, students, the elderly, as well as voters with disabilities. We need to prevent bad legislation from preventing people to vote in the 2012 U.S. election.
There's no real need for Voter ID Laws. It's just those bad actors trying to stop people they don't want voting from doing so. They really are solving a nonexistent problem with more government and more expense. Voter ID laws could cost taxpayers $65.8 million in 4 states: PA, IN, NC, MI. All of these states had huge budget shortfalls in 2011.
Protecting the Vote explains that between 2000 and 2007, there have been 352 deaths caused by lightning, 32,299 reports of UFO sightings, and only 9 instances of possible voter impersonation. As Rock the Vote says, "You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than seeing voter fraud."
Real efforts will come when one can talk Google, Facebook, and others to get involved with Voter Protection and Voter Registration.
To get more involved, check out our Voter Protection resource list, and remember that National Voter Registration day is September 25th.
Posted on July 20th, 2012 by Craig Newmark
Hey there folks, here's the deal: a couple back we had a friendly competition, with @common_squirrel, to help raise money for the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), an org who is doing real good work and really has their boots on the ground.
Initially I offered to give $1 each time someone mentioned #squirrels4good up to $5k, but the campaign became so popular (lots of squirrel-lovers out there), we reached that goal really fast. I decided to make a bargain with folks and said that if folks continued sharing, I'd donate up to $10k to NWF for each mention of #squirrels4good across networks.
We saw #squirrels4good squirreling its way across Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, blogs, etc. Those urban survivors are quite sneaky, and for that matter, I've been told I can get a little squirrelly, and more than once…
Recently, one had gotten brave enough to invade our house. It likes to dig in the plant closest to the door. It hangs out on my desk. I'm very happy it didn't leave a surprise on my keyboard. It can even open the small metal trash can with the bird seed.
Folks all across the country really got passionate about their backyard squirrels, and between my count and NWF's, we had well over 10k mentions of #squirrels4good. Even the NWF asked, what do squirrels need? And proceeded to look into just what a squirrel wants.
The squirrels, and myself, really thank all of you for helping raise money to support NWF.
Take a look at the squirrels invading suet palaces across the country:
Thanks again, folks! Keep on squirrelling. #Squirrels4Good