Media Mash: Covering the Broken Election, Nominate Your New Media Heroes!

Dec 11 -- Covering the Broken Election

It seems as the onion gets peeled, this country might never be the same. The strange karma that caused the virtual tie in Florida (a "tie" that Gore would have won by more than 20,000 votes with a proper recount, according to analysis by the Miami Herald) has provoked a deep search into our election system that increasingly seems racist to the core.

In the end it won't be a pretty picture. Yes, it's likely we'll have a country hugely polarized. But we also just might have an electorate more up in arms than it has been in quite some time, with brother Jeb Bush sitting on the hot seat.

Overall, the press is doing a pretty good job probing the Florida election mess. The Miami Herald, the Washington Post and the LA Times have done some quality stuff. However, many of the best articles are being posted to the Black Radical Congress listserv, where the Masher always finds excellent and provocative content. To subscribe, send them an email with the words "subscribe brc-news" in the body of the email (make sure your signature is turned off). But be warned, there can be 8-10 postings a day.

Michael Moore is on top of the Florida Fracas too. Go to michaelmoore.com to sign up for his almost daily newsletter.

Finally, if you haven't read it yet, check out one of the Masher's favorite election pieces, "The Structure of White Power and the Color of Election 2000" written by Bob Wing of ColorLines magazine.

A Masher Invitation: Nominate Your "New Media" Heroes

AlterNet has had a long tradition of recognizing people who are fighting the good fight against the media cartels by designating them "Media Heroes." After a short hiatus, the award is back in a slightly different guise. It's now the "New Media Heroes," awards for people who are communicating in the public interest via the Web most effectively, or fighting those who think the Internet equals a shopping mall or a reason to steam roll your privacy. You get the picture.

Some media mavens have already nominated a few great people. But why not get more worthy nominees? If you want to nominate someone send an email to info@alternet.org with a few lines about the deserving person. After we've gotten together a hearty nominee list, we intend to give you an opportunity to vote for those you think are the most worthy. The awards will be announced in January on AlterNet.org.

To give you an idea, here are some of the nominees thus far:

Dan Merkle, Indy Media Centers
Josh Karliner, Corpwatch
Nipun Mehta, CharityFocus
Josh Knauer, GreenMarketplace/Envirolink
Sam Smith, Progressive Review Online
Becky Bond, Host of Radio For Change's Fast Forward show
Bill Pease, developer of the Environmental Defense Fund's Scorecard.org
Mark Ritchie, online coordinator for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy at the WTO protests in Seattle
Leif Utne, Utne Daily Webwatch
James Garica, Editor of Politico, the Magazine for Latino Politics and Culture
David Irons and Tom Schmitz, Ascribe the Public
Mark Rottenberg, Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Jeffrey Chester, Center for Media Education (especially for his fight against the AOL-Time Warner merger).

A note for all you historians out there: Chester received a Media Hero Award in 1991 (featured in the May/June 1992 Utne Reader) along with Ralph Nader, "warning of the dangers of a new phase of media deregulation." There wasn't a "new media" to speak of in '91, but Chester has hung in there and consistently been on target.

Others who received the award those 9 long years ago: Susan Faludi for "Backlash;" Joel Bleifuss and Doug Ireland for keeping the "October Surprise" story alive (OK, who remembers what the October surprise was?); Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR); and the Billboard Liberation Front.

Topless Sex, Bush Style, and the Rumor Mill

Amidst the avalanche of information on the "Broken Election," there has been very little about sex. Maybe the gravity of not knowing who the president will be or the discovery that Supreme Count judges are no less partisan political animals than anyone else has distracted the bottom feeders ... so let the Masher step in!

One of the most interesting factoids from the election is found in David Corn's latest AlterNet column, "The Right-Wing Election 2000 Scandal Machine." The essence of the story is this: a short time before the election, Jeb Bush's 16-year-old son John (aka Jebby) was arrested for making out with a 17-year-old girl, who was naked from the waist up, in a shopping mall parking lot. A report was filed, but Jebby was never charged. Sure, the kid shouldn't get busted for being stupid, but as Corn wonders: Did dad have anything to do with how the case was handled?

The only place you could read about this item was the London Mail. It was leaked to the Florida papers, but none of them bit. That's a lot of self control in the Clinton era! It's just one more of the dozens of "what if" scenarios that could have brought the election decisively to Gore.

A bigger press bite would have to do with the rampant rumors about whether daddy Jeb did or didn't get together with Katherine Harris. That one could be chalked up as a silly one, but as rumors go, it has serious legs.

Hammering Huffington

Arianna H. has good sources and works hard. How else to explain a continuous string of great columns on the Broken Election? Check them out at her site: www.overthrowthegov.com.

This week, she exposed what's going on under the radar of business in usual in D.C. Seems that Clinton has signed a new law that gives away more than $60 billion in tax breaks to some big-time campaign donors like Boeing and General Electric, each of which contributed $1.5 million in the 2000 election cycle alone. The law -- "The FSC Repeal & Extraterritorial Income Exclusion Act of 2000" -- allows American companies to avoid paying taxes on 15 to 30 percent of their export profits. All the Masher can say is yuck.

Information Anxiety Revisited (From Dec 7)

More than a decade ago, the Masher discovered an interesting book "Information Anxiety." Written by Richard Saul Wurman, the book captured a fundamental issue about information at that juncture: that information was valuable and sought after, even though there was a sense of wanting less data and more information.

This week "Information Anxiety 2" is being published and the world has changed in the intervening ten years. When content streams 24/7 from multiple channels, the rules change, and so do the challenges of information architecture. Wurman notes that now, information is "regarded more like crabgrass, something to be kept at bay." Exploding quantities of information have left us with the fundamental question: How can we find what we want and tune out the rest."

According to Wurman, "Information anxiety is the black hole between data and knowledge. It happens when information doesn't tell us what we want to know." Wurman continues: "Misinformation and mayhem are rampant. Information anxiety is also produced by the ever-widening gap between what we understand and what we should understand." Important words of wisdom for all of us in the information providing business.

If you are considering looking into "Information Anxiety 2," you will be rewarded by reading "Understanding USA," also produced by Wurman. This is an incredible and beautiful compendium of information, data, charts, graphs and visuals about every important issue we face as a globe. If Wurman's name is familiar, it may be because he is well known for creating the Access Travel book series, e.g. London Access, LA Access, as well as Dog Access, Baseball Access, etc

While Wurman may have ignored some of his own ground rules in "Understanding USA" -- no table of contents for example -- the book would make a wonderful gift for young and old. The Masher has spent many hours immersed in Understanding, finding new nuggets every day. If you want to pass on the book itself and just get at the data, go to www.understandingusa.com.

Salon Keeps Rolling On

You have to hand it to Salon.com, the feisty on-line magazine. Like the Energizer Bunny, Salon keeps going and going....

Despite the NASDAQ's value being sliced in half and a number of content companies being relegated to the dustbin of history, Salon is making a go of it. It has launched 24 hour Salon Audio, claims that 530 companies have advertised on its content sites. Its traffic numbers -- 2.6 million unique audited visitors in September 2000 -- continue to be very impressive.

Salon's coverage of the Florida voting fracas has been first rate, and recently they won the On-line Journalism Awards top prize for excellence in web-original journalism. In addition, Salon writer Dan Forbes won the category of Enterprise Journalism: Original to the Web for his investigative piece "Prime-time Propaganda." The piece, which who got Forbes verbally lambasted and blackballed by the DEA, revealed that TV networks were cutting financial deals with the White House Drug Office to place anti-drug messages in shows like "E.R."

The Masher congratulates Salon and the intrepid Forbes, who also writes for AlterNet, where the award winning story was syndicated. (Please excuse the Masher, who usually avoids tooting the horn of those in the AlterNet family.)
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