Last Call for Webby Voting; Love that BBC

Webbys Alive and Kicking

This is the year that many people think the World Wide Web tanked. But think again. More people are moving to the Internet and more good things are happening online than ever before.

One little sign is that there is hot and heavy voting for the Webbys People's Voice Awards this year -- the popularly voted favorites. Many sites relish this victory more than the one by the official judges, as it usually means more traffic and viral buzz.

The contest in the zine category is neck and neck between the sexy Nerve (http://www.nerve.com) and the harder hitting Mother Jones Magazine (http://www.motherjones.com). In Goverment and Law there is a very close race between Your Congress (http://www.yourcongress.com) and Nolo Self-Help Law Center (http://www.nolo.com). And in the fashion area, the write in site HotOrNot.com is zooming ahead of the more established competition. Public voting is over end of day July 4th, so if you want your voice heard, get to www.webbyawards.com now.

This year the Webbys are being held in the San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House -- where the huge building enables the Webbys to hustle some public tickets for the heretofore invite only event. While the ducats are a little pricey, the Masher can attest (four years running) that the Webby party is a major bash -- great food, booze, music, costumes. You even get to sit through the awards ceremony, where the victors are required to accept their award by using only seven words ... or is it eight? See you there.

How Do I Love Thee, BBC?

While hardly an Anglophile, the Masher will admit a lusty amour for the BBC. Let me count the ways: their average news story is 20 seconds longer than CNN's, they break stories American media conglomerates somehow skim past, and they have the guts to produce hard hitting documentaries. A recent one on Israel's prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has created a firestorm -- but chances are you didn't read about it in the U.S. press.

In "The Accused," the BBC explores war crimes that Sharon committed twenty years ago. It looks into the Israeli investigation that found him indirectly responsible for the massacre of hundreds of unarmed Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatlia refugee camps, crimes for which he was forced to resign from the cabinet but was never indicted.

Needless to say, not everyone is so enamored by the BBC's coverage. Several Israeli spokesmen have accused "The Accused" of anti-semitism, and the Israeli Foreign Minister promised to use "every means available to a democratic regime, via the media ... to underline the injustice of (the documentary)."

What about the injustice of the Sabra and Shatlia massacres? The Masher wonders who in the media, besides the precious BBC, is looking into that. While American media outlets clamor after grainy shots of Milosevic in handcuffs, their reporting of Sharon's war crimes has been limited to a few short columns.

To learn more about "The Accused," check out the documentary's Web page.

White Male Conservatives Offer "Fair and Balanced" Opinions

"Fair and balanced," trumpets Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Channel with pride. "We report, you decide."

And here to present open-minded, unbiased coverage is a diverse group of white, conservative-to-arch-conservative men -- mostly Republicans.

According to a new study by FAIR, if you are fed up with the lefty-liberal media (CNN and the New York Times), Fox News is for you. Fox is devoted to the conservative cause. Only Republicans need apply for a job there; top news anchor Tony Snow openly endorsed Bob Dole for president and even gave a spontaneous speech at the 2000 Republican convention that inspired Tent Lott to endorse him for president. Guests on the top political shows were 89 percent Republican (also 91 percent male and 93 percent white). On Fox's debate show, one can watch comradely discussions between pundits of the right and the way-right, with an occasional center-right thrown in for comic relief.

Left-leaning leaders do have a place on Fox as well, though: since 1998, one out of every 12 episodes of the O'Reilly Factor has featured a disparaging story on Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Fox News wants to provide media space clear of liberal stories that are "all mushy, like AIDS, or all silly, like Head Start," according to one Fox bureau chief. So, if you want to feel good about your president and remember the Reagan era with a fond nostalgia, don't touch that dial.

Brugmann Basking with Egg on His Face

Bruce Brugmann, owner of the SF Bay Guardian weekly newspaper, is San Franciso's best known bully -- in part based on his billboard campaign with his huge, Mao-like photo shouting: "Read My Paper, Dammit!"

Lately, Brugmann has been basking in the glow of one of the greatest "I told you so's" in San Francisco history. With blackouts rolling across town and electricity prices soaring, people now understand the wisdom of his 30-year crusade for public power in San Francisco. The perpetual (and in the past, largely futile) battle against Pacific Gas and Electric has finally found a well of public support. The formally leftist, now reactive crumedgeon Warren Hinckle, has suggested in the SF Examiner that Brugmann should run for Mayor. And Alex Cockburn sings Brugmann's praises in the July 16 Nation as "a long-range populist thinker."

But just when the hosannas were crescendoing, the Bay Guardian's archenemy -- the SF Weekly -- revealed that Brugmann has been renting a live/work loft above his offices for business purposes, without having any one living there. For those who have heard (or read) Brugmann's complaints about the "illegal use of live-work lofts," this was quite a note of hypocrisy.

To further complicate the matter, SF Weekly author Peter Byrne notes that something mysterious happened "downtown," and the building in which Brugmann is a tenant is significantly underassessed in terms of taxes. In other words, Brugmann may have received a great rent deal, due to the paltry amount of real estate taxes the building's owner was paying.
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