Why investigative journalism is so important

Originally posted on Plato on-line:

salon.com-greenwald_snowden_poitras-620x412‘Bloggers appear to have filled a void particularly in political commentary. A key difference between bloggers and traditional media is that bloggers have little or no reputational risk or editorial objectivity in what they comment on.

‘Apart from libel laws they are largely free to say what they want with little commercial constraint.

‘But real investigative journalism is crucial to a well-functioning democracy. Unfortunately it is a costly endeavour for media outlets struggling to survive. This leads to a tendency towards descriptive reporting rather than investigation. This reduces the accountability of politicians and other powerful entities in our society…’
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Why The Poor Pay $1,400 for Old iPads
‘Would you pay $1,439.28 for an early model iPad? Some who can’t afford it do. In some ways, the predatory lending to the poor that threw America into a tailspin in 2006 has moved on to smaller items like iPads and couches…

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Cartoon Network Seeks Filipino 3D Artists

wikipedia-indexIn 1993 when 3D animation isn’t popular yet, Walt Disney subcontracts our office Tokyo Animation in Manila. Lion King was just one of the movies we created scenes of.

‘Silas Hickey, Cartoon Network’s creative director for animation development in Asia Pacific, said the country is loaded with skilled animators in 3D.

‘“We do a lot of lab work in the Philippines because a lot of people love to draw. You are much aware that Johnny Bravo was developed by a Filipino artist based in the United States,” he said during his talk with Top Draw Animation Inc. animators and students held at Tektite Tower, Pasig City.

“’We want to grow the next generation of storytellers in Asia Pacific,” Hickey pointed out…’
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The Abusive Campaign of Gamergate
Lazy coverage of Gamergate is only feeding this abusive campaign
‘Gamergate’s self-image of itself as ‘crusaders for ethics’ isn’t supported by its actions, so the media should stop describing it as such

‘For any traditional protest movement, a front-page story in America’s leading newspaper linking it with death threats, harassment and terror threats should be a death knell.

‘But this may not be the case for “#gamergate”, an online movement started in August as a harassment campaign against a little-known indie game developer which has now widened to include nearly all games industry feminists as its target…’
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This Artist Is Also a Robot
‘Between 2004 and 2008, I worked as a video editor in Hollywood. This description comes with plenty of qualifiers: It wasn’t a job with any artistry or excitement (it was, as I described it to curious/confused parties back then, “industrial editing”). The motto of the company I worked for was “Know Better,” and its logo looked eerily like an Illuminati eye; it sold itself as a way for corporations/PR companies/freelancing-citizens-full-of-vanity to amass knowledge about their place in the business world through the monitoring of media. To do this, it recorded TV and radio broadcasts from around the country, and resold commercial-free chunks of said broadcasts to the as-yet uninformed. Need to see how your opposition is being perceived by CNBC’s Jim Cramer? We got what you need. Want a shot of you catching that foul ball at the game? Give us a call…’
theawl

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The Four Psychological Functions of Great Literature

brainpickings-books‘The question of what reading does for the human soul is an eternal one and its answer largely ineffable, but this hasn’t stopped minds big and small from tussling with it — we have Kafka’s exquisite letter to his childhood friend, Maurice Sendak’s visual manifestos for the joy of reading, and even my own answer to a nine-year-old girl’s question about why we have books today.

‘In this wonderful animated essay, they extol the value of books in expanding our circle of empathy, validating and ennobling our inner life, and fortifying us against the paralyzing fear of failure…’
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Is H.P. Lovecraft’s Legacy Tainted?
‘Laura Miller recently wrote about the backlash in a piece for Salon.com. She says that objections to the use of Lovecraft as the face of the award began to surface when Nigerian-American writer Nnedi Okorafor, who won the WFA for best novel in 2011 for Who Fears Death, wrote a blog post about her discomfort with the trophy after she read a racist poem that Lovecraft wrote in 1912.

‘The issue this raises for fans of Lovecraft or any other artist is how much you can separate the artist and their beliefs from their work. Miller says many fandoms struggle with this when something unflattering is revealed about someone they admire…’
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Do Writers Need Media Training‏?
‘In September, Charles Bethea wrote an article for The Freelancer titled “I Went on Good Morning America, and It Was Far from Lights, Camera, Action.” Bethea’s piece was entertaining, to be sure, as he peeled back the curtain on what happens when the broadcast media interviews a journalist who isn’t used to being on camera. According to his account, the overall experience wasn’t great.

‘In my opinion, two words could have changed everything for Bethea: media training.

‘Media training helps you, the writer, transition from the interviewer to the interviewee by teaching you new skills that boost your confidence once the cameras start rolling. I would know—I’ve received media training, and now I train others. Getting help in this arena is probably more common than you’d think…’
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Remember ‘No Child Left Behind’? So what happened?
The Bill was signed into law in January 2002 by George W. Bush, with the liberal lion of the Senate, Ted Kennedy, by his side.

‘The law set a simple if daunting goal: All of the nation’s students would perform at grade level on state tests. Every single one. 100 percent. Or as the name of the law put it, there would be No Child Left Behind.

‘So here it is, 12 years later, 2014. And the law, NCLB, is still in effect. All children, under federal law, are supposed to be at grade level…’
Spoiler alert: They’re not.

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The Most Expensive Typo in Legislative History

priceonomics-typo2
When I was a public Internet manager, a client brought a handwritten affidavit who wanted it to be word processed. While I was doing it, I came across a sentence saying, ‘…I jumped ON the van…’ I told the client that this was an affidavit and should be precise. I asked him if he really meant ‘on’ and not ‘inside’. He thought for a moment then said ‘on’ is ok (I began to suspect some deception).

‘In 1872, one misplaced comma in a tariff law cost American taxpayers more than $2 million, or $38,350,000 in today’s dollars.

‘In the middle of a 1969 interview, writer E.B. White paused, smiled, and declared what he loved most about the publication he wrote for: “Commas in The New Yorker fall with the precision of knives in a circus act, outlining the victim.” An avid grammarian, the Charlotte’s Web author thoroughly enjoyed this routine.

‘Unfortunately, the United States government doesn’t share the magazine’s zeal for punctuation — and sometimes, it costs taxpayers money. Curious about the most expensive legislative typo in American history, we dug into the matter…’
If you’re anything like E.B. White, what we found will rile you up:

The Unsung Heroes of Innovation
The Role of the Critic-Curator in How Ideas Spread
“Those who bring attention to valuable ideas, then, are themselves vital agents of change, without whom the inventors and their creations would slide under the cultural radar and into obscurity. Editor Ursula Nordstrom did this for a young and insecure Maurice Sendak. Publisher John Martin did it for Charles Bukowski. Ralph Waldo Emerson did it for young Walt Whitman.” -John Gardner

‘Gardner returns to the underappreciated, vital role of the critic-celebrator in amplifying the ideas that improve society and precipitate progress:

“We tend to think of innovators as those who contribute to a new way of doing things. But many far-reaching changes have been touched off by those who contributed to a new way of thinking about things…”
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Three Rules of Writing and Four Elements of Style
Timeless Advice from Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch 1914?
“Literature is a nurse of noble natures, and right reading makes a full man in a sense even better than Bacon’s; not replete, but complete rather, to the pattern for which Heaven designed him. In this conviction, in this hope, public spirited men endow Chairs in our Universities, sure that Literature is a good thing if only we can bring it to operate on young minds.” -Quiller-Couch

‘Acknowledging that “some doubt does lurk in the public mind” as to whether writing and the art of literature “can, in any ordinary sense, be taught,” Quiller-Couch counters:

“That the study of English Literature can be promoted in young minds by an elder one, that their zeal may be encouraged, their tastes directed, their vision cleared, quickened, enlarged — this, I take it, no man of experience will deny.”

‘He goes on to outline three guiding principles that make this quickening and enlargement of vision possible…’
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Why People Don’t Like Paying Writers
‘…It’s interesting, because most people who ask me for free writing are the most cunning of business people. They always seem organized, relentless and ready to conquer the world. Many of them already have thriving companies with lots of cash flow. But once they start looking for a copywriter or blogger, that money is nowhere to be found.

‘This isn’t to say that everyone is a cheap skate, but tons of job listings ask for free submissions prior to hiring. I mean seriously? Let’s say I’m pitching to four or five companies for blogging positions. If all of them wanted a free 500 word sample, I would end up working an entire eight hours for free.

‘Since most writers want to get paid to write, this started turning my mind wheels. Why is it that writers, and other artists, are so often seen as free labor, while any simple data mining worker would always get their due?…’
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Amazon Labels’Tom and Jerry’ Racist

metro.co-mouseTom And Jerry cartoons depict ‘ethnic and racial prejudice’, warns Amazon
‘Without mentioning specific examples, the Amazon blurb reads: ‘Tom And Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.’

‘The official line from Warner Bros, which now owns the animated series, adds: ‘While the following does not represent the Warner Bros view of today’s society, these cartoons are being presented as they were originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming that these prejudices never existed…’
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The Perils of Publicity in Creative Work
“But publicity — particularly interviews, profiles, and public appearances — has another, perhaps even more perilous demand: It distracts the artist or writer from the very work that sprouted the demand for such interviews, profiles, and appearances in the first place and takes him or her away from both the contemplative space and the dogged dedication that produced that work.” -Maria Popova

“I think publicity in general is a very destructive thing, for any artist… It always is a problem. Because even if it’s good, the extent to which you get all this attention is an extra thing for you to take account of. You start thinking about your work as an outsider — you start being aware of… what other people think of you. And you become self-conscious… It’s taking your attention away from your own business.” -Susan Sontag
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The Psychology of Cryptomnesia
How We Unconsciously Plagiarize Existing Ideas
‘In the altogether illuminating 1994 volume The Psychology of Writing (public library) — which also gave us the conditions of the perfect daily routine and ideal creative environment — cognitive psychologist Ronald T. Kellogg defines cryptomnesia as “the belief that a thought is novel when in fact it is a memory” and examines how it arises.’

‘”Much of what a writer knows, particularly discourse and sociocultural knowledge, exists only in tacit form. For example, sentence patterns as well as cultural beliefs are shared by members of the same discourse community and are drawn upon freely by all, without conscious awareness. The same sort of unconscious copying may also occur with specific sentences, facts, and arguments — forms of domain-specific knowledge. When it does, however, the author is subject to the charge of plagiarism… [Cryptomnesia] can lead to inadvertent plagiarism if a writer fails to acknowledge unwittingly an earlier source due to the failure to recognize his or her own thoughts and words as unoriginal.” -Ronald Kellogg
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William Faulkner on Writing
My favorite comment about writing:
“It’s the most satisfying occupation man has discovered yet, because you never can quite do it as well as you want to, so there’s always something to wake up tomorrow morning to do.” -William Faulkner

‘In 1957 and 1958, the period halfway between his two Pulitzer Prizes, Faulkner served as a Writer-in-Residence at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. On the last day of his residency in May of 1958, he read from his favorite novel, The Sound and the Fury, at an event open to the general public. After the reading, he answered questions — wonderfully Southern-drawled questions — from the audience. The surviving recording, found in the University of Virginia’s Faulkner archives, is of questionable audio quality but makes up for it in sheer richness of insight into Faulkner’s views on writing and the project of art…’
Transcribed highlights below

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Primitive Retro-Hair Trend

Originally posted on Plato on-line:

tribalartasia-HEAD HUNTER
Notice the hair? Same as the teen trend now isn’t it? That man was a tribal head-hunter during the 1940s. Add the ‘caveman’ short pants which is below the knees and the trend now too and we have primitives and cavemen

Harry Potter Plagiarized Again?
Christian Mom rewrites Harry Potter sans the “magic”
‘The woman in question – a conservative Christian who goes by the name of Grace Ann – has already published the first seven chapters of her opus on Fanfiction.net, claiming she is rewriting the book for her children in a bid to keep them from the dark side.

‘She explains: ‘My little ones have been asking to read the Harry Potter books; and of course I’m happy for them to be reading, but I don’t want them turning in to witches!

‘‘So I thought….. why not make some slight changes so these books are family friendly?…

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Robot Writers Are on the Rise, but Do They Work?

thenextweb-monk‘If you’ve spent any time reading on the web the past week, odds are you’ve read something written by a robot—and you didn’t even realize it.

‘Robot writers are algorithms that collect and analyze data and then turn them into readable narratives. Many news sites like the Los Angeles Times and Forbes are already using them. Even Wikipedia has articles that weren’t written by humans.

‘Reception to robot journalists has been mixed: Some see how robots can be useful, while others take this as another sign that creative professionals are being devalued.

‘To see for ourselves whether these robot writers can be useful or how they might impact creative work, we can start by getting to know one of them…’
Meet the robot journalist that writes for AP and Yahoo

Authors United should admit most books are consumer goods like any other
‘…But wait — isn’t that exactly what Amazon is doing with Hachette, by using a variety of retailing tactics to send a message to the publisher that it is charging too much for its books and/or not giving Amazon enough of the proceeds? It sure is.

‘So then how could the authors’ group claim that Amazon shouldn’t be able to do the same thing with Hachette that it does with every other product? Simple: because Authors United argues that books are not a consumer good like any other. Books exist in a special category, and that category of products should not be open to traditional negotiating tactics used by retailers…’
As the letter says:

Is Concision a definitive virtue?
“We have deemed all these words necessary in order to explain that we have been traveling more slowly than was predicted, concision is not a definitive virtue, on occasion one loses out by talking too much, it is true, but how much has also been gained by saying more than was strictly necessary.” -Jose Saramago, The Stone Raft
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The marketing tools you need for any self-published book
‘Tactics that game the system also tend to stop being able to game the system fairly quickly. So by the time you’re reading about it, it’s already too late to use it.

‘And keep in mind, if you simply try every piece of advice out there on marketing your book, you’re going to spread yourself way too thin to be effective.

‘Marketing your self-published book involves a lot of focused work, typically as much work as it took to write the book in the first place. And there are no guarantees. But without marketing your book, no one beyond your friends and family will read it…’
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