Stop Media Consolidation

Watch this Bill Moyer’s video about the latest FCC attack on our media freedom. It explains the threat very clearly. Such amazing footage of the Seattle FCC hearing held recently.

More info here on Bipartisan Bill to Put the Brakes on FCC

If you are on Facebook consider joining the 100,000 by 12/18/07 to Fight Media Consolidation group. Here are some action items.

1. Invite all of your friends this group. Most of the “100,000” or “1 million” strong groups are meaningless. If we can get thousands of people on facebook to contact the FCC and their Senators there is a good chance we can actually stop this disastrous rule change.

2. Contact the FCC

3. Contact your Senators

4. Learn More
Please do whatever you can to spread the word about this. Media consolidation is one of the most overlooked issues in contemporary political discourse. Without access to diverse and distinct media sources, our Democracy itself is in peril. Make sure your voice is heard on this critical issue.

Your Comments are Valuable

Ever notice how your comments on the Chapel Hill News blog Orange Chat end up in the paper? First time I noticed my comments there I though, “Wow. That’s cool. My words in print for people to see.” Its kind of like a letter to the editor. But now I am concerned that all this user generated content isn’t being obtained ethically.

Comments on a blog are information. Information is a commodity. It has real value. To discover this value you need to know how to use it. But before you do that where do you get this commodity? You ask people to give it to you. What do you provide in return? The going “rate” is space to leave a comment and the “privilege” to have it put in front of thousands or millions of people. If you can get these returns by creating your own blog and doing some Search Engine Optimization yourself then you may be able to compete with large corporations. This is the entrepreneurial democratization of commerce. This is one way sites like Digg or are making money in the Internet age.

I am not against this practice. Its a popular form of business. But are these businesses compensating you fairly? I believe the majority of the people out there using sites, leaving comments and clicking links, are not fully aware of the resources they are creating. User generated content is quite important to democracy and community. But when we don’t understand its value we may not be equal partners in business transactions.

Our comments and letters are actually a type of free user generated content turned into profit. When you sign up to log into many sites and leave comments you can relinquishing your rights to what you write in your comments. Try reading the terms and services. Notice that little check box above a submit button? Usually there is a link there to some confusing legalese. Contained therein are words that strip you of your copyrights. (Not all sites. Comments on this blog are the exclusive property of there authors.)

Those few words you write in comments on Orange Chat may not have any value else where but they do contribute to the content of the paper. There are a ton of “free” websites that collect user generated content and leverage it to create sales from advertising online. In fact this is a main tenant of Web 2.0 business models. Take free data, represent it, sell ads, and provide premium services. aka the Freemium Business model.

The past few years has shown a real change in the relationship that journalists have with blogs. Before newspapers started blogging we wrote about local issues on our blogs. We made two way conversations possible and integrated first person stories about events and ideas. All before many journalist knew what a blog was or thought them worthy of concern.

Now we see how important local blogs are to local political reporting. Reporters read local blogs like Orange Politics to understand what some are thinking and discussing. Blog comments can be the ultimate research tool in understanding street level thought about local events. Blogs can be lead generation machines. Especially for a reporter who may not live in a local community for a long enough time to know people or the issues.

I applaud journalist use of blog and their comments for research. But recently I think some may have crossed the line. I believe our copyrights have been violated.

RE: Councilman seeks recount Front page story in the Chapel Hill News on Sunday November 11, 2007. In this story several comments left on where reprinted verbatim. Orange Politics was referenced as the source, but that was not enough to fulfill the copyright terms of the sites Creative Commons license.

The Chapel Hill News use of comments in their for-profit publication appears to violate the Creative Commons license this website uses. This license applies to the posts and comments.

The Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 1.0 Generic license that uses has the following conditions:

You are free:
* to Share — to copy, distribute and transmit the work
* to Remix — to adapt the work

Under the following conditions:
* Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
* Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.

* For any reuse or distribution, you must make clear to others the license terms of this work. The best way to do this is with a link to this web page.
* Any of the above conditions can be waived if you get permission from the copyright holder.
* Nothing in this license impairs or restricts the author’s moral rights.

Has the Chapel Hill News obtained written or verbal permission from commenters Tom Jensen or Mark Marcoplos to waive these conditions?

Has the Chapel Hill News made it clear to others the license this site uses by linking directly to this site and/or comments? (FYI, each comment on this site has a unique URL.)

Here are direct links to the comments quoted in the Chapel Hill News that appear to violate the Noncommercial condition of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 1.0 Generic license.

Tom Jensen’s Comment on Orange Politics reprinted in the Chapel Hill News

Mark Marcoplos’s Comment on Orange Politics reprinted in the Chapel Hill News

I, Brian Russell, hereby provide permission to reprint my comments or posts on Orange to not for profit publications. All other publications must obtain written permission from myself to publish any text. Thank you.

All in all I am quite happy that journalists use Orange Politics as a source. I object to their lack of direct linking to specific sources and disregard for the legal terms of websites. The people who work hard on non-profit sites like Orange Politics do it for there community, not for profit. When for profit websites like lift text verbatim they profit unfairly from there communities hard work. Ignorance of our copyright terms is not an excuse.

This problem could be fixed in several ways. I’d like to see the Chapel Hill News, and all other for profit media companies, to link to all sources inside a stories body content. (using a URL) Also they could obtain direct written permission from each copyright holder if they intend to profit from their republished comments. Finally I think all modern journalists, editors, owners and others need training in modern copyright law especially as it pertains to the Creative Commons license.

Ignore the Indy this week

When I first read the front page story of the most recent triangle Independent Weekly I though about writing a letter to their editor. (Notice how I don’t link to them?) Then I thought about not blogging about it. Now I am telling my fellow blog friends to ignore it. Not to blog about it. But its hard… So instead of writing my own FULL point by point rebuttal I’ll just say this.

I love journalist. I am a news junkie. I read a paper in my hands. I am your fan Mr. Newspaper Man and Woman. I don’t want your job. I respect your opinion. I know how amazing your talents are. Your hard work impresses the hell out of me. Especially when you defend the First Amendment. So why do you keep writing attacking screeds of fear?

I am so tired of this blogger vs journalist bull shit.

Colbert does NYT OP-ED

Has the sky fallen? Cause our fav conservative Stephen Colbert has a guest Op-Ed column in the New York Times. It damn funny too. Here is my favorite part. Being a southerner of Appalachian descent… it makes me laugh out loud.

So why I am writing Miss Dowd’s column today? Simple. Because I believe the 2008 election, unlike all previous elections, is important. And a lot of Americans feel confused about the current crop of presidential candidates.

For instance, Hillary Clinton. I can’t remember if I’m supposed to be scared of her so Democrats will think they should nominate her when she’s actually easy to beat, or if I’m supposed to be scared of her because she’s legitimately scary.

Or Rudy Giuliani. I can’t remember if I’m supposed to support him because he’s the one who can beat Hillary if she gets nominated, or if I’m supposed to support him because he’s legitimately scary.

And Fred Thompson. In my opinion “Law & Order” never sufficiently explained why the Manhattan D.A. had an accent like an Appalachian catfish wrestler.

I think I just heard Colbert claim he was “the son of a poor appalachian turd miner. The Grandson of a goat ball licker.”.

via Andy Bechtel

Why you should care about the Carrboro Citizen

Jock Lauterer has a straight to the point bit of witting in this weeks Carrboro Citizen called Why we should support our hometown newspaper. My fav part:

So why is this new paper special? How is it different from the others? And why should you care about whether The Citizen fails or flourishes?

To answer those questions, let’s go to little Yerington, Nev., where that town’s 3,700-circulation weekly paper, the Mason Valley News, bears the following unequivocal motto beneath it’s nameplate:


There you go. The Citizen is the only newspaper in the world that really cares about Carrboro. And here’s my proof: Why has there never before been a full-fledged, standalone, all-local newspaper in Carrboro?

Because historically publishers have looked at Carrboro not as a community but as a market.

Market obsession is the problem with media in general. Too much concern about profit and not enough about good journalism. Profit and good journalism aren’t mutally exlusive. But service is more important than gigantic paydays.

I’m going to snag that nameplate for a bit after I modify it to suit my needs. 🙂

Town of Carrboro Charter Printed in The Citizen

In this weeks Carrboro Citizen you’ll find the Charter of the Town of Carrboro. You may wonder who besides a politician or bureaucrat would enjoy reading this document? Well me for one.

Why? Because within this ancient legalese lies answers to why things happen in Carrboro. Time and time again here on OP people ask why a Town does this or that. Most, but not all, answers to these questions can be found in this document. Barring interpretation and enforcement of-course.

Now I may not sit down and read the whole thing at once. But I will digest this document in small chunks. Plus I’ll use it as a reference. Its so much easier to read a big paper folded long ways like a city bus rider than a 8 1/2 x 11 PDF IMHO.

I am particularly impressed by The Carrboro Citizen’s willingness to use so much valuable space in their paper. In my mind its a important duty of media to educate the public. Now that The Citizen has set the stage I hope they refer to this document often as they explain and editorialize. May they find many creative ways to help people learn about local government.

So I’ll end this post with a question. What would our local democracy be like if everyone in Carrboro knew this document inside and out?

Cross posted from OrangePolitics

Buying the War

Bill Moyers has a great new piece called Buying the War. All the video is online here. I’ve only gotten through chapter one but I can already tell how very important this documentary is. History will be kind to the view that the main stream media was hoodwinked by the Bush administration. What an awful break down of the freedom of the press. At the cost of so many lives… What will media owners do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Sadly profit may blind people and prevent safety measures from being developed or even talked about.

This is such an amazing comeback considering the details of Moyer’s rousting from PBS by right wing hatchet men at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. His now famous speech at the National Conference on Media Reform is amazing! Its called Take Public Broadcasting Back.

Welcome back Mr. Moyers! We’re so happy you’ve returned!

Thanks to Anton for blogging this. It reminded me to look for the vid online. 🙂

Carrboro Citizen Arrives

We got a Carrboro Citizen newspaper on our doorstep yesterday evening. Its really nice to have it delivered for free. ESPECIALLY when it doesn’t sit rotting in our parking space like the Chapel Hill News.

This Citizen’s paper design reminds me of my Grandparent’s home town paper The Hickory Daily Record. I think its because its small, full of local ads, and beautifully less sophisticated. I remember the Hickory paper having some sans serif fonts in the 80’s. More sans serif fonts Carrboro Citizen. PLEASE. Très Modern!

I would read the Hickory paper on my Gradparent’s old couch and feel like I was in a foreign country. I didn’t know the issues, the businesses, or the people. But in Carrboro in the complete opposite. I know the writers, the topics, the events, and the issues. I feel part of this bit of newsprint. Not sure how exactly considering I’m a digital dude to the core. Its probably Kirk and Jocks fault. 🙂

The Citizen’s website is based on the wonderful blog platform WordPress. This is an excellent demonstration of how WP can become just about anything. Not just a blog.

The site looks really wonderful. Clean, readable, and elegant. Just what a good website should be. A real contrast to most of the horrible website designs newspapers have out there. I remember talking with Kirk Ross about the idea of digital first and print second. The concept, to me, was about using browser based applications to enter and edit text. That text would then end up in a database. In return a print designer could grab that text content and lay it out for the press. I wonder how the Citizen is handling it workflow. I imagine its a work in progress like any other startup. To me using modern work flow at a newspaper could be a HUGE competitive advantage. Not just because its easier than old ways but because it could save money.

Its all thanks to Ruby and all the wonderful people she’s introduced me to. Its thanks to them I know all of this. I’m involved. Committed even. Its a new thing for me. I’ve never lived in a small town like Carrboro. Even though I technically live in Chapel Hill I feel incredibly close to Carrboro. Carrboro is where my heart is.

Guess this is part of settling down. Finding your happy niche and growing roots. Nice to have the Carrboro Citizen follow me along for the ride. May it be a long one we share together.