Category Archives: Media

Media Muslim depictions foster intolerance


Back during our first year of posting here at esnl, we took an in-depth look at the demonization of Muslims in America’s films and television shows, the subject of the insightful documentary Reel Bad Arabs.

Back when esnl was a kid in the days just after World War II, screens large and small were dominated by villains who either spoke with German accents [“Vas ist das, dumbkopf?!“], pseudo-Japanese accents [You know very rittle, Amelican!”] or in Hollywood’s version of how Native Americans spoke [“How,” being the greeting, often followed by “Me big chief.”]

But these days, thanks to the massive blowback from the armed petro politics of Bush I-Clinton-Bush II-Obama/Clinton era, screens large and small are dominated by villains who pray toward Mecca and say things like “Time for you to die, infidel!

If you suspect that all those negative portrayals of Muslims might be having an adverse impact, you’d be correct.

From Texas A&M University:

What if most or all you know about Muslims is from what you see in the media — terrorists depicted in movies and TV shows, news reports on suicide bombings and mass shootings. What would your perception of Muslims be? Would you have stereotypical beliefs and negative emotions about them, and would you support policies that are harmful to them? Very likely, according to research co-authored by a Texas A&M University professor.

In “Reliance on Direct and Mediated Contact and Public Policies Supporting Outgroup Harm” [$6 read-only for 48 hours, $38 to read and print out], published in the Journal of Communication, Srividya Ramasubramanian, associate dean of liberal arts and professor of communication at Texas A&M, and her co-authors, used multiple studies, surveying non-Muslims on how much they relied on direct contact with Muslims versus media-based contact. Then they measured participants’ negative emotions toward Muslims, perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, support for civil restrictions against Muslims, and support for military action against Muslim countries.

“We observed that almost on a daily basis, media depictions of Muslims are extremely negative,” Ramasubramanian says. “Almost without exception, they are portrayed in stereotypical ways as violent, criminal and extreme. Islamophobia is on the rise and even some American political leaders have expressed hateful sentiments towards Muslims.”

The researchers found a correlation between people who rely on media depictions of Muslims and having negative attitudes, versus those with direct interactions who were less likely to view Muslims negatively.

“Our findings show that individuals who rely on the media for information on Muslims have greater negative emotions toward Muslims and increased perceptions of Muslims as aggressive, which in turn leads to support for civil restrictions against Muslims and military actions against Muslim countries,” says Ramasubramanian, who studies media psychology and cultural diversity, especially the effects of media stereotypes on users’ attitudes, emotions, and policy support towards marginalized groups.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

John Oliver nails the crisis in U.S. journalism


The latest edition of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver offers a most brilliant, incisive picture of everything that’s wrong with American journalism in our brave, new digital age.

Its both hilarious and tragic, and incorporates many of the themes we’ve been featuring here at esnl.

And most importantly, the segment hammers on one of our favorite themes: The bedrock roll played in all journalism by the community newspaper.

Oh, and, yeah, without that foundation, corruption flourishes.

The segment also features the Las Vegas Review Journal, the paper where we got our start in daily journalism, and Sam Zell, the former Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune owner [among others] who is now the biggest apartment owner here in Berkeley.

From Last Week Tonight:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Journalism

Program notes:

The newspaper industry is suffering. That’s bad news for journalists — both real and fictional.

Hollywood seeks a kill switch on your videos


Following up on today’s earlier Headlines of the day, Cory Doctorow of Boing Bong documents the latest corporate move to track and control your media use:

20 years ago, Congress ordered the FCC to begin the process of allowing Americans to buy their pay TV boxes on the open market (rather than every American household spending hundreds of dollars a year renting a trailing-edge, ugly, energy-inefficient, badly designed box that is increasingly the locus of networked attacks that expose both the home LAN and the cameras and mics that are more and more likely to be integrated into TVs and decoder boxes) — now, at last, the FCC is doing something about it.

Right from the get-go, the entertainment industry has hated this: the pay TV companies want to keep that sweet $200+/year/customer paycheck rolling in, and the studios want to keep DRM intact, allowing them to continue to restrict the features in your home theater, far beyond anything that copyright allows (and since removing DRM, even for legal reasons, is legally fraught, these restrictions gain the force of law, even though Congress has never passed a copyright law giving rightsholders the power to control those uses).

Now, the Copyright Office (one of the most thoroughly captured agencies in the federal government) has jumped into the fray, taking the legally nonsensical — and drastically anti-public-interest — position that copyright gives the rightsholder the power to minutely control the public’s conduct while they are in the presence of a copyrighted work.

For example, I was once in a digital TV DRM standards meeting where the MPA’s rep argued vehemently for a flag that would cause a set-top box to switch off any outputs that led to a remote screen (for example, a wireless retransmitter that let you watch TV that was being decoded in your living room on a set that was in your bedroom). He argued that “being able to watch a TV show in one room that’s being received in another room has value, and if it has value, we should be able to charge for it.” He made similar arguments about limiting the length of time that a viewer could pause a show, arguing that while a 15-minute pause to go to the bathroom could be had for free, longer pauses (say, to settle a crying baby, cook dinner, or helping your kids with their homework) should be monetizable.

This is the view that the Copyright Office has endorsed. It’s wrong as a matter of law — copyright does not give rightsholders the privilege of “minutely specifying” (Hollywood’s term!) the experience of viewing, listening, reading or playing. It’s also a disaster as a matter of public policy. The Copyright Office should know better.

Read the rest.

Headline of the day: Charges of battery to ensue?


From the Guardian [more here]:

Your battery status is being used to track you online

Battery status indicators are being used to track devices, say researchers from Princeton University – meaning warnings of privacy exposure have come to pass

UPDATE: Another piece of technology that’s equally ominous, via the Intercept:

Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial Expressions at Political Rallies

  • At one exhibit, titled “Realtime Crowd Insights” a small camera scanned the room, while a monitor displayed the captured image. Every five seconds, a new image would appear with data annotated for each face – an assigned serial number, gender, estimated age, and any emotions detected in the facial expression. When I approached, the machine labeled me “b2ff,” and correctly identified me as a 23-year-old male.
  • It interpreted my facial expression as “neutral,” with a bit of “surprise.”
  • “Realtime Crowd Insights” is an Application Programming Interface (API), or a software tool that connects web applications to Microsoft’s cloud computing services. Through Microsoft’s emotional analysis API – a component of Realtime Crowd Insights – applications send an image to Microsoft’s servers. Microsoft’s servers then analyze the faces, and return emotional profiles for each.

Chart of the day: The message of the medium


From Tivo Research, partisan televisual preferences:

BLOG Pol TV

Mexican NGO created to save journalists


A Mexican non-profit has been launched to protext one of the nation’s endangered species — its own journalists.

It’s a job Mexico’s government has been unwilling — or worse — to provide.

The story from Agence France Presse:

When photojournalist Ruben Espinosa felt harassed by the authorities in eastern Mexico, he fled to the capital. Without protection, he was shot dead in a case still unsolved a year later.

Now, a group of journalists is about to open a secret shelter in Mexico City to protect colleagues like Espinosa in one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a reporter.

“It’s a house where we want them to have food, with all the basic services, where they are safe and they have psychological help,” Judith Calderon, president of the House of Rights of Journalists, told AFP.

Journalists who face threats can request government protection in Mexico, but the hideout will give another option for those who don’t trust the authorities, who sometimes are the tormentors.

The organization refused to reveal the shelter’s location for security reasons, but said that it will be able to house a dozen people when it opens in the coming weeks.

The group already has a waiting list.

More from teleSUR English:

A recent report by Article 19 found that attacks on members of the press took place approximately every 22 hours, while another report by the organization found that 23 Mexican journalists had been forcibly disappeared since 2003.

Mexico is widely considered one of the most dangerous places for journalists. Often the threats come from individuals with ties to the state itself, leaving few options for those who fleeing for their lives.

>snip<

Journalists often relied on informal networks when fleeing credible threats, choosing not to rely on government assistance due to mistrust of public officials.

>snip<

The federal government created a special program to purportedly protect journalists, though results have left many wanting.

Mexican journalist Pedro Rosas Tamayo, who specialized in police reporting, was killed outside his home earlier this month, despite having state-sponsored protective measures.

In its report, Article 19 specifically criticized the Mexican Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes against Freedom of Expression, for having actually “fomented impunity,” rather than having help secure justice.

Steve Breen: The Donald, bombastic bombardier


From the editorial cartoonist of the San Diego Union-Tribune:

BLOG Breen

And on the subject of Trumpian bomb-dropping, from Politico:

Donald Trump suggested that his campaign may take away press credentials from The New York Times, his latest attack on the media over the course of his presidential campaign.

At a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, the Republican presidential nominee called the Times’ coverage of him “very dishonest” and suggested adopting the same ban on the newspaper as he has on The Washington Post. Trump revoked the Post’s press credentials in June after the newspaper published an article critical of Trump’s statements about a mass shooting in Orlando, Florida.

“It’s gotten a little better,” he said about the Post’s coverage. “I should do it with the Times.”

Over the course of the election, Trump’s campaign has banned nearly two dozen news organizations from campaign events, including POLITICO, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Univision and The Des Moines Register. The bans, which have been criticized on First Amendment grounds, have been enforced unevenly. Trump has told CNN that, if elected president, he would not interfere with the White House press credentialing process.