Kevin’s march back to the Ruddy Dark Ages

February 3, 2009

When I voted “Kevin ‘o7” in the Australian federal election I didn’t expect John Howard MarkII, but it seems that’s what we got.

It was no secret in 2007 that Kevin Rudd had done the fashionable thing and “found God” somewhere along the dark road that is Labor politics in Australia, but now his government is fixing to introduce internet “filtering” laws that the Ayotollahs would be proud of.

In fact, the Chinese regime could possibly learn a thing or two about using moral panic as a weapon against the unholy recesses of the world wide web of filth that’s endlessly repeating itself across the reaches of cyberspace.

Today, I read a disturbing piece in New Matilda which is rapidly becoming one of the few sensible voices in the Australian media wilderness.

Christian Lobby: The New Lions of Clean Feed

The news that so alarmed me is that an ultra-conservative Christian group is now dictating a national firewall policy that will have far-reaching consequences for what Australians can legally download and view over the internet.

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Catching up on the court reports

January 14, 2009

I’ve been away and while I was in London tended to neglect Ethical Martini. Now I’m home, I hope to regain my standing in the Tumeke! league table. I’ve slipped out of the top 100 and I’m not happy!

There’s work to do.

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This year, vote 1 Laura Norder

June 20, 2008

Anyone reading this on Mars might not know that it’s election season in New Zealand. According to some recent surveys here, there’s a fair bunch of Kiwis who don’t know either.

I’m not sure, myself, how you could miss it. The stink of hypocrisy is now stronger than the pong from Roto Vegas’ famed sulphur pools. There’s blood in the water too.

The political sharks are circling; any hint of weakness and they’ll surge in to bite you on the ass, or worse.

Perhaps like the feet washing up on the west coast of Canada, body parts will be floating in the Hauraki Gulf and Cook Strait before too long.

That’s why I’m voting for Laura Norder.

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The Kahui verdict – what next

May 22, 2008

Just saw the news that the jury in the Chris Kahui murder trial returned a not guilty verdict. It took them only 10 minutes. I don’t know how this decision will be interpreted, but I for one found the daily updates from the trial on Morning Report and Checkpoint very interesting. In fact over the past two days Tiffany & I have been discussing the possible outcome. We both felt that a “not guilty” verdict would be the result.

[For non Kiwi readers, Chris Kahui was charged with the murder of his three -month-old twin boys, Chris and Cru in June 2006. The boys had horrific injuries and died in hospital.] Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook and the news

January 20, 2008

Murder victim opened her heart on Facebook – Sunday Star-Times – Sunday Star-Times

In light of recent posts about Facebook and other social networking sites, I thought it time to give a brief outline of my “theory” about this. I have mentioned previously I’m currently writing a book about news in the digital age.
I haven’t settled on a title yet, but it’s likely to be something like Journalism in the Age of YouTube…. I’m not sure, but the thrust is that I am writing about how social networking sites; the internet and blogging are impacting on journalism. The types of stories; the sources and even journalists themselves are caught up in this.

I just wanted here to draw attention to the ways in which Facebook, Bebo etc are now being used extensively as a “source” for reporters. Usually in the context of horrible murders, like the one discussed in the SST article linked above. In the print edition the frontpage splash is illustrated with photos taken from Sophie Elliott’s Facebook page, including a photo of her with her alleged killer.
I wonder did the SST get anyone’s permission, presumably Sophie’s family, to use this pic, or any pic of her from Facebook? Or is the assumption that because Facebook is ‘public’, no permission is required, stuff can just be ripped from there without regard to privacy or copyright issues.

And what about potential contempt of court. A photo of the alleged killer – can this influence potential jurors?

then there’s this piece from the SST’s sister paper, Sunday News
Another horrible murder and another “news” link with social networking. In this case the brother of the murdered Scottish tourist pleading with her to come home:

Come home Karen
KRISTIAN SOUTH – Sunday News | Sunday, 20 January 2008

The brother of murdered Scottish backpacker Karen Aim had no doubt where he wanted his sister to be when he made an emotional internet plea to her just after New Year.

“Forget this glass blowing carry on at the other side of the world,” Alan Aim, 23, wrote on his sister’s page on the Bebo social network website.

“My Orkney road passenger transport ambitions have doubled and could do with a bit of extra resources pulled together!

“Don’t reply to this, just get yourself back here.”

But instead of flying back to help Alan with his tourist travel business on the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland, 26-year-old Karen stayed on in Taupo partying with friends, working in a glass-blowing gallery and settling into the Kiwi summer.

Her decision to remain in New Zealand proved fatal on Thursday morning, when she was bashed to death just 50m from her home. She told police her name with her dying breath.

The emotional tug of this is palpable. But what about the invasion of privacy? Oh, there is none. Bebo is like a public park. If you stand in the park and have a conversation, and a reporter overhears it, would you expect it to be in the next day’s paper?

We haven’t seen the end of this explosion of cheap and nasty news based on shameless plundering of Facebook etc.

It should be a warning to us all. In cyberspace, the eyes of the world are on you. This is a surveillance society, even in tragic death.

I am keen for readers of Ethical Martini to draw my attention to stories, from anywhere in the world, that take up the themes that might be interesting for my book. All tips gratefully acknowledged. The best way to do that might be just to drop a few lines into a comment on a post that catches your eye. Or you can email me driect at the address in the top right corner of the page.


Youth – the new folk devils

September 19, 2007

Media and young people – hyping up new folk devils|22Sep07|Socialist Worker

This is a link to an interesting piece by academic Mike Wayne, published in the British Socialist Worker newspaper. Wayne is a researcher in media and I’ve read his work, particularly on global capitalism and media forms. It is a good follow up my previous post about tasering students and how cops now think it’s normal to shoot thousands of volts through people who are disturbing the peace.

In this article, Mike Wayne is commenting on new attempts to demonise young people and he’s got the research data to back up his claims. In case you don’t want to read the whole piece, here’s a grab that sets the record straight about media coverage of youth. There’s no balance here just commodified celebrity role models – spend, consume, shut up – and deviant bastards – shut up, lock up.

I have been working with a team of researchers at Brunel university looking at how young people are portrayed on television news.

Our analysis covered 2,130 news items across all the main television channels during May 2006.

We found 286 stories in which young people were the main subject of the news item. Twenty eight percent of these stories focused on young celebrities such as footballers Wayne Rooney and Theo Walcott.

This mirrored the wider role that young people play in commercial culture.

The overwhelming majority of the rest of the stories, 82 percent, focused on young people as either perpetrators or victims of crime.

Violent crime made up 90 percent of these crime related stories.

Across the entire sample violent crime figured in 304 cases. And in 42 percent of these, offenders or suspects were young people.

Yet while looming large in the popular imagination as threats

to people and property, young people themselves have little voice in news world.

Young people accounted for only 1 percent of all the sources for interviews and opinions that were on offer over the sample.

Predictably, crime was the major topic on which they were asked to speak.

These results show that even television news – our most public service orientated source of information and knowledge – is in effect turning young people into non-citizens to be feared.

This is not an argument for “good news” stories about young people, although that could do little harm.

This is about the one dimensional picture of young people’s lives which the media and news offers to us.

Where are the stories about how young people are affected by problems in housing, education, health, unemployment, parental abuse, politics and so forth? And where are even the most banal indicators in the coverage of crime that point beyond the individual person or event?

This encourages fear and condemnation rather than any understanding or criticism of some of the major political and economic institutions that are responsible for the tearing the social fabric apart.

The crisis around young people will only get worse if the quality of public debate does not get better.