Category Archives: Internet

Will this baby rape his girlfriend? An anti-violence crusader says it’s never too early to intervene.

This video — designed to counter a purported anti-women slant in some Super Bowl commercials — has ignited a storm and reportedly sparked death threats against its creator in Dubuque, Iowa—

Although every baby boy is precious and beautiful, some will become misogynistswomen beaters, rapists, killers.

“Violence is a learned behavior, people are not born to be violent,” says Josh Jasper, president and CEO of Riverview Center, the anti-violence advocacy group responsible for the video. “What we see [in media] are messages that are degrading and abusive toward women and children.”

Jasper hoped that parents would start a conversation with their children, that while watching the Super Bowl with their children they would criticize messages that are hurtful, such as, “When you saw that GoDaddy ad and you saw those ladies taking off their clothes, you need to know as your father that this isn’t okay, this is not okay how we treat women.”

With that conditioning, hopefully boys will grow up as portrayed in this second video (instead of as depicted above)—

Many of the comments about the first commercial, posted on YouTube and Facebook, were so hostile that Jasper contact Dubuque police.

“One of the 800 comments I’ve received in the last 24 hours is that I’m a Nazi sympathizer and I should be taken out and shot,” Jasper was quoted by WQAD. “I’ve been accused of hating all men, that all men are rapists, that I think babies are rapists.”

Why such a strong reaction?

“There are a lot of men who have a deep-seated hatred toward women,” Jasper said. “I bet I’ve received 150 messages in the last 24 hours that say it’s okay to rape women. If we’re going to end the violence, we have to start with them.”

Here’s Jasper’s first commercial, posted a couple of years ago — it’s certainly pointed, but slower-paced and less incendiary;

As for this year’s Super Bowl commercial, Jasper said, “There are a lot of survivors out there … who are now feeling empowered because people are talking about the issue. That’s exactly why I created the commercial and that’s exactly why the commercial will stay.”

In a blog post on Valentine’s Day, Jasper concluded:

Although a great deal of violence is committed by men, the vast majority of men are NOT violent. The problem is that not enough men are challenging the norm, speaking out against men that are not healthy role models for others.

My thanks to @MichaelLibbie for bringing this story to my attention.

Gersh eats dog food

What can I say? He’s pushing for another award.

For Brooklyn Paper editor Gersh Kuntzman and Courier-Life editor Vince DiMiceli (seated behind Gersh in the video) the news is born to be hyped. Here’s the Gersh-flavored promo copy that accompanies today’s weekly roundup at BrooklynPaper.com:

The Brooklyn Paper — a garden of earthly delights

Think about what we do for you — we send reporters into movie theaters in hopes that they get bitten by bedbugs; we have columnists who eat dog food; we break news stories like convicts break rocks in the big yard; we fill the pages of our weekly print edition with spirited copy and pictures that will brighten your water-cooler conversations; we report so you can decide. And what do we ask in return? Just click the headline above and start downloading our full print edition — and keep hustlin’, Brooklyn!
Yeah, that’s right. Keep hustlin’ everyone.
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UPDATE 2/18: Gersh disciple Ben Muessig wrote about Gersh’s latest adventure this morning on AOL — “Eating Dog Food: The Future of Journalism?”

SuperBowl commercials: Best [Chrysler’s hymn to Detroit] and Worst [Groupon’s tasteless humor]

My personal favorite: American industry, American workers, and the power of a great American city, by Chrysler

Groupon easily wins for the worst ad. Unless you agree that saving $15 at a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago is the equal of the cultural annihilation and genocide that’s been underway in Tibet, you might even call it creepy. What will they think of next — equating the Holocaust with one of the Second Avenue Deli’s incomparable hot pastrami sandwiches? All this proves is that having a company valued at $6-billion doesn’t mean you have a dime’s worth of common sense or an ounce of sensitivity.

Twitter exploded last night with instant revilement over Groupon’s commercials. This morning, there were plenty of angry posts by bloggers and newspaper writers. Time asks: “Did they merely push the envelope, or did they cross a line?” The NY Times wondered “whether the start-up has burned through a lot of good will.” Groupon’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, said the company “cheapened itself” when it “trivialized the oppression of the people of Tibet.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese — oppressors of Tibet — were also not happy about the spot (but, obviously, for other reasons).

In addition to the Tibet spot, Groupon prepared two other commercials:

In a bid to illustrate that it understands that the problems of Tibet, the Brazilian rainforest, and high seas whaling are indeed serious, Groupon created a web page that invites viewers to contribute money to aid these causes. But even here, Groupon is on slippery ground. Under Cuba Gooding Jr’s video about whaling, there’s a “urgent message” and a “donate” button in which viewers are urged to donate $15 to Greenpeace — and get a $15 Groupon credit in exchange: “Your essentially free donation will go to help end commercial whaling.” Greenpeace is hardly a universally admired advocate. Meanwhile, no kickbacks are offered for contributions to Tibet, the rainforest, or building schools “in some of the world’s poorest villages” (the schools video was not yet up).

The attitude conveyed by last night’s commercials might have been predictable — it’s reflected in this commercial that was prepared by Groupon when it was just getting started, in early 2009 [WARNING: the following video may not be suitable for young children] :

You’ll find all of the SuperBowl commercials through a link at YouTube.

Gersh Kuntzman and the future of journalism

Gersh Kuntzman, a standout community editor, was running with a Flip before Al Gore invented the internet (I exaggerate, but so does Gersh — usually to good effect). Any reporter who completes the Graduate School of Journalism that he runs at The Brooklyn Paper can swim with confidence in the uncharted waters of New Media.

Gersh knows that media in the future will not mirror media’s past, and that journalists must adapt or die.

He was my editor when I sold The Brooklyn Paper to a division of NewsCorp in 2009, and he’s continued under the new management to good effect.

Here’s a double scoop sampler, fresh this week, of video a la Gersh

Want more? Here’s Gersh taking a dump for a storycovering snow on a budget; riding a new bike lane, and immodestly accepting the SNA’s Editor of the Year award (start video around 1:17).

Meanwhile, video is just one part of Gersh’s exposition. He’ll rarely pass up an opportunity to personalize a news story (for example, inserting caffeine suppositories; reporting each of the many times his bicycles were stolen, and covering the night he posed nude for an art class of hipsters).

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Gersh would not suggest that he has all of the solutions to Old Media’s woes, and it’s not clear that his formula will pay off in the long run.

But the old prescriptions will no longer work: Readers won’t take the medicine old-line editors would like to continuing doling out, and staff-short newspapers will be unable to fill them in any event.

If newspapers are going to survive in print or online, they’ll need to adapt to the kind playful experimentation that Gersh can’t suppress.

UPDATE: Click to link to followup.

Groupon, iPad and Twitter: Not so fast!

Alan Mutter has an excellent post in which he seeks to moderate some of the wild projections surrounding Groupon, the iPad and Twitter.

Newspapers and the iPad: Publishers are pleased that the iPad is beloved by “exactly the sort of wealthy, middle-aged men who read newspapers,” says Mutter. Unfortunately, “58% of iPad users think the device is such a good substitute for print that they are ‘very likely’ to cancel their print subscriptions in the next six months… [Meanwhile] newspapers have yet to find a way to extract as much advertising revenue from the digital media as they can from the print product.” Mutter concludes: “An alternative to porting the daily paper to the iPad is to use the platform to develop new and differentiated products to serve new audiences and advertisers.”

Groupon’s problem: “Instead of attracting new long-term customers for merchants, Groupon is bringing in one-time bargain hunters who take the deals and run… Some consumers feel ripped off, too, when they are unable to redeem the prepaid certificates they bought for massages, dinners, classes and other goods and services. In an online survey at HubPages.Com, 44% of consumers called Groupon a ‘scam’ and 28% thought it was ‘very good’. The balance of respondents were neutral.”

Twitter: “Although Twitter will tell you that it has 175 million registered users and investors reportedly deem it to be worth $3.7 billion, fewer than 20 million American adults actually use the service [and while a] quarter of users avidly check for the latest tweets several times each day … a fifth of the registered users never use their accounts after they open them. This indicates that Twitter, at best, may be effective in reaching only the limited cohort of consumers who crave a steady diet of 140-character News McNuggets.”

Read Mutter’s entire post at http://newsosaur.blogspot.com/search?q=Groupon%2C+iPad+and+Twitter%3A+2+much+2+hope+4%3F

Think you know the answer? Don’t be so sure. (And what if reading is NOT fundamental?)

Those who present contrary views are sometimes written off as cantankerous cranks. But with accepted formulas so regularly being discredited, those who stand against the grain might be our truth tellers and prophets.

What if, for instance, rather than lamenting the decline in serious reading among young people, we embraced their ability to learn more and learn faster through quick-paced technology that encourages multi-tasking? What if books are, like newspapers, yesterday’s news, and that’s okay?

Jeff Jarvis, an outspoken champion of new, hyperlocal and social media, asks simply, “Who says our way is the right way?”

Reacting to Matt Richtel’s long piece in Sunday’s New York Times, Growing up digital, wired for distraction, Jarvis says that the apparent inability of youngsters to make it through a book is not, prima facie, a problem, only a challenge:

Is this new generation distracted or advanced? How can they best learn? How can they teach? What tools can we use today besides books? What new opportunities do all their tools present? That’s what educators should be asking.

The Times sets up its piece in a predictable fashion: “On the eve of a pivotal academic year in Vishal Singh’s life, he faces a stark choice on his bedroom desk: book or computer?” We quickly learn Singh’s choice.

On YouTube, Singh explains, “you can get a whole story in six minutes. A book takes so long.”

The Times report, which cites studies on the use of technology by young people, is largely displeased with this. “Downtime is to the brain what sleep is to the body,” said Dr. Michael Rich of Harvard Medical School and the Center on Media and Child Health. “But kids are in a constant mode of stimulation.”

Back to Jarvis:

A group of Danish academics say we are passing through the other side of what they wonderfully call the Gutenberg Parenthesis, leaving the structured, serial, permanent, authored, controlled era of text and returning, perhaps, to what came before the press: a time when communication and content cross, when process dominates product, when knowledge is distributed by people passing it around, when we remix it along the way, when we are more oral and aural. …

Gutenberg scholar Elizabeth Eisenstein reminds us that for 50 years after the invention of the press, we continued to put old wine in this new cask, replicating scribal fonts, content, and models. That’s what’s happening now: We are trying to fit our old world into the new one that is emerging. We’re assuming the old way is the right way.

Predicting if Murdoch’s iPad Daily will be the salvation of newspapers is a crapshoot

The board on which the news media plays is constantly moving and the only certainty might be that most newspapers are toast and that whatever we predict today will be history tomorrow.

So it’s curious that Rupert Murdoch — who’s in the process of purposefully eliminating his newspapers’ online audiences — is banking a chunk of NewsCorp’s future on a newspaper, albeit an electronic one.

NewsCorp and Apple are reportedly set to announce details of a jointly developed project — a daily newspaper built expressly for iPad-like devices. No print version, no Web version (but “The Daily,” as it’s being called, is likely to be heavily promoted, and its features teased, on both platforms). NewsCorp is said to have invested $30 million in the launch, and has assembled a staff of 100, including five-star journalists, so that The Daily will feature mostly original content (plus, presumably, at least some Fox video).

With each day’s Daily expected to cost 99 cents at the iTunes store, its sales scheme replicates the single-copy hawking of newspapers on newsstands. The product will publish once a day with just minor refreshing between “press runs” (a departure from the Web’s frenetic minute-by-minute updates).

Mediaphiles should have learned by now not to bet against Murdoch in any game, particularly the newspaper game for which Murdoch has a special fondness, and there are sound arguments on both sides.

In a Mashable post on Sunday, Ben Par asks, “Is Rupert Murdoch’s iPad-Only Newspaper the Future of Journalism?” His conclusion: “Murdoch Gets It”:

While I may not like some of Murdoch’s ideas, (see Murdoch: Take Your Google Ball and Go Home), I give credit where it’s due. Murdoch’s commitment to a digital future for journalism is commendable and forward-thinking. He realizes more than his competitors that the future of news isn’t in propping up print publications, but creating truly immersive digital experiences. He may very well be creating the template that brings other newspapers into a profitable digital age.

Meanwhile, David Carr in today’s NY Times is less enthusiastic:

If you want a good look at the past and future of the News Corporation, compare the Web site of The New York Post — surely one of the ugliest, least functional in the business — with its snappy new iPad app. It’s a charming product, one that well reflects and amplifies the spice and excesses of the mother brand.

The night-and-day bifurcation is understandable given that Mr. Murdoch has never entirely trusted the Web, with its terrible advertising economics and brutal fight for revenue from consumers.

If nothing else, the arrival of The Daily early next year will likely push me into the legions of iPad-totters (while I’m a reasonably early adopter, I try to wait at least until Apple’s first post-launch hardware revision before buying).

Meanwhile, I await speculation on The Daily’s prospective impact on the 2012 elections. FoxNews revolutionized television news and helped set the tone and slant of political discourse for all media; can we expect The Daily — itself a revolutionizing vehicle — to do any less?

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Click here for additional reporting from The Guardian UK.