Global Voices is an opportunity for citizens across the globe to share their local stories

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The website “Global Voices” is an international community blog that shares bloggers’ stories from all over the world. It is considered “citizen journalism” as it brings about personal contributions from citizens around the globe on a non-profit basis. In his article “What is ‘alternative’ journalism?”, Chris Atton describes citizen’s media as a “philosophy of journalism and set of practices embedded within the everyday lives of citizens and media content that is both driven and produced by those people.”

Indeed, articles published on Global Voices, such as “The ‘Woman Who Was Dragged’ and Killed by Brazil’s Military Police”  report on stories of people’s every day lives that are not seen in our mainstream media. The article, written by a Brazilian citizen, describes the horrors of a coloured woman who was shot in a favela in Rio de Janeiro by the military police.  The article describes in detail what followed the scene and even includes a graphic video of someone who caught the entire scene on tape. The post includes some Brazilian news articles that are translated in English and even some tweets from other citizens, and their concerns about the accident. This story highlights an even bigger situation in Brazil. Women of colour are still being discriminated against and there are still big security issues within the slum areas of Brazil. The article includes people’s input about these issues from Facebook comments such as this one.

“The tone was that of despair amongst many activists and users of Facebook and Twitter. Activist Rodrigo Cardia wrote that the case “probably would soon be forgotten because the victim was black and poor – like many other people who are killed daily by the military police throughout Brazil.”

Reading stories such as this one on Global Voices enables us to get a better understanding of situations going on in other countries from a local perspective. We would have never heard of this story in the mainstream Western media. Having citizen input, through these types of blogs, allows for greater openness and variety in terms of stories from around the world.

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Vice is bringing foreign news back to the States

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In Guy Berger’s piece “How the Internet Impacts on International News: Exploring Paradoxes of the Most Global Medium in a Time of ‘Hyperlocalism'”, the author discusses the lack of international news flow within the United States. Indeed, foreign news content within the U.S. is very low, and most of the time news coverage is angled in order to appeal to a national audience or is often misrepresented and skewed. These past few weeks, the only international news stories that have been covered are the cases of the missing Malaysia flight 907 and the crisis in Ukraine. Both CNN and MSNBC, major American international news outlet, are the main sources for this type of coverage. Even within the age of the Internet, Berger explains that there are many constraints for Americans to access international news sources. One of the constraints that Berger discusses is the “law of locality” which creates “gated cybercommunities”, limiting access for Americans to external news sources and favouring their own archive over content that is foreign. This is particularly worrisome in an era where the Internet is supposed to enable people to connect with the world in ways that it couldn’t have been done before.

However, there is hope. Vice magazine is here to change things. An article in Foreign Policy entitled “Can Vice Make News Hip?” by Elias Groll  explains how Vice has found new ways to attract young Americans to be interested in international coverage that isn’t necessarily shown within the mainstream media.

“If you turn on the TV right now and turn to CNN, chances are you’re going to end up getting six hours about the Malaysian airliner,” Suroosh Alvi, one of Vice’s co-founders and the host of Friday’s segment about drone strikes, told Foreign Policy in an interview. “I’m actually stunned as to the volume of coverage about this plane. It’s like nothing else is happening in the world. They are thereby making our jobs very easy to give our audience what they want, which is stories about the rest of the world.”

Vice has managed to revert the trend of shifting away from foreign coverage with their documentary-style footage to entice young Americans into knowing more about the world. And they’re here to stay.

 

Kim Jong Un’s untrue buzzcut story went viral

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This week, a story about North Korean leader Kim Jung Un spread across the World Wide Web. It was reported that the leader would force every male university student in his country to get the same haircut as his. However, today, many news sources such as the Globe and Mail, claim that this statement is false and there are no signs of this being true. This Internet rumour is a particularly interesting story because of North Korea’s completely closed-off society; there are not many ways to verify if it is indeed accurate. So how to verify if it’s true? The Globe and Mail found a plausible source:

“I was there just a few days ago, and no sign of that,” said Simon Cockerell of Koyro Tours, which specializes in bringing foreign tourists to North Korea. “It’s definitely not true.”

A serious question does remain. How does a story like this spread across media outlets around the world when it isn’t even true?

It is one of the consequences of the Internet news and one we must be aware of when writing stories. With the rapid news flow on the Internet nowadays, there is a sense of urgency and need to get the story out first, without properly fact-checking or verifying sources.

In Natalie Fentons’ article “News in the Digital Age”, she describes the way reporting is done in our era of new media: “speed it up and spread it thin.”  She continues by saying:

“Researchers describe how established news organizations are encouraged by the speed of the Internet to release and update stories before the usual checks for journalistic integrity have taken place. The increasing emphasis on immediacy in news coverage is frequently satisfied by news agencies to the detriment of reportage.”

Indeed, the urgency to be the first to make news may not be the best for our source of news. How do we know when something is true once we see it as breaking news on Twitter?

In this case, the source of the story came from a report from Radio Free Asia, which cited unnamed sources that had this information. Most news stations took this source with confidence, without properly verifying with North Korean sources. But then again, it is North Korea. It probably would have been very difficult for news agencies to get a fact checked in North Korea. This case is particularly interesting in that sense.

However, journalists should always be careful when spreading the news, and shouldn’t have to rush to be the first to break a story when that information can be false.

U.S. Media overlook Venezuela’s troubles

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An opinion piece by Lauren Carasik entitled “The US should respect Venezuela’s democracy” , featured on Al Jazeera’s website, calls out the U.S. media coverage of the recent protests anti-government protests in Venezuela. Western media has portrayed Maduro’s regime to be violent towards Venezuelan protesters. Tensions are high and at least 13 people have died amidst the demonstrations. Carasik argues that western media are discussing the Venezuelan protests without challenges or questioning. She says that the crisis in Venezuela is far more complicated than the U.S. media suggest it is. The U.S. media refer to it as a popular revolution to overthrow Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro and his administration. However, Maduro still is very popular among most Venezuelans, and the media forgets to mention that.

Carasik claims it is difficult to really know who is responsible for provoking the conflict and inciting the violence, and that US Media, such as this article featured in the New York Times, systematically tacitly blames the political system, that for a long time has been not in sync with the US political views.

We all know that the US has not been favourable of Venezuela’s politics for more than 15 years now. Even after Chavez’s death, many hoped for a change of paths for the elections of its upcoming political leader. Even when Maduro, Chavez’s successor, won the 2013 elections, the U.S. government contested Maduro’s victory, a sign of the continuation of Chavez’s populist anti-U.S. policies. The New York Times failed to investigate all sides of the protests occurring in Venezuela because of the influences of political orientation of the United States. Major US media companies fail to understand or analyze in their stories the complexity of the protests and automatically accuse Maduro’s administration, because of their government’s history and relationship with Venezuelan’s anti-U.S. policies. Carasik makes interesting points about Venezuela’s democracy that the US media failed to point out. Maduro won the elections in a fair and democratic election, with popular support by the Venezuelan people. Although the country faces economic troubles such as high inflation, crime and shortages of food, the narrow focus the US media takes on these points masks the country’s progress in poverty reduction and democratization.

I agree with the author that the U.S. media should focus on Venezuela’s progress and take a deeper look into the challenges Venezuela has faced, rather than blaming the government for the unrest.

Why does Bieber Take Over Front Page News?

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“Canadian pop star Justin Bieber was arrested in Miami for a DUI.”

“Justin Bieber surrendered to Toronto Police Division 52.”

These are the headlines of some of the the main news stories that were on the front page of the CNN website this past week.

Meanwhile, more important news stories were happening. Last Friday, when the article about Justin Bieber’s arrest in Miami headlined the front page of CNN.com, massive protests in Ukraine had escalated outside of the capital of Kiev. There were even some fatalities among the protesters. However, this major international news story was nowhere to be found on the front page of CNN.com.

Celebrity news, or infotainment,  seems to be of utmost importance to the general public for big news organizations such as CNN. Indeed, putting celebrity news on the front page of  websites and announcing such stories as breaking news will bring about more hits, and therefore more money for the company.

In the introduction to his book Rich Media/Poor Democracy, Robert McChesney explains that the rise of neoliberalism and the process of deregulation has enabled the rise of media corporations to grow and become wealthy. Since CNN is an independent media corporation, it has the power to publish any type of news that it wants. The type of news that it has been publishing this past week, the constant infotainment, rather than information, can gather a lot of hits by the general audience. The head of CNN can control whatever is being said, and what information is being put out as long as it gets many views. It does not necessarily deliver information that is for the general good of the audience. It cares about generating revenue from advertisers rather than publishing news stories about more serious issues going on around the world.

Media corporations rely on infotainment to generate greater wealth, as they know that the general audience consumes all that is celebrity related. However, they deprive them of more serious information such as newsworthy events that are happening worldwide.

The Onion got it right. This article is all truth: http://www.theonion.com/articles/let-me-explain-why-miley-cyrus-vma-performance-was,33632/