Moyers’ ‘Buying the War’

Bill Moyers is back on PBS tonight with ‘Buying the War’. In 2005, then-Corporation for Public Broadcasting president Ken Tomlinson bent over backwards for the Bush Administration and hired media researchers that would determine an “imbalance” in PBS’ programming. He repeatedly accused Moyers of “liberal bias” on his popular show “Now with Bill Moyers” and soon enough, the esteemed Moyers said buh-bye. Around the same time, Congress cut funding to the CPB, the primary funder of PBS and NPR, by 45%. (Annenberg’s own Ernie Wilson currently serves on the CPB board).

‘Buying the War’ airs tonight at 9 PDT and may be available online afterwards — as usual, the PBS site is already chock-full-of extra interviews, a blog, etc.

WaPo’s TV critic Tom Shales wrote:

Tonight’s edition of ‘Bill Moyers Journal’ on PBS is one of the most gripping and important pieces of broadcast journalism so far this year, but it’s as disheartening as it is compelling…. In this 90-minute report, called ‘Buying the War,’ Moyers and producer Kathleen Hughes use alarming evidence and an array of respected journalists to make the case that, in the rage that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the media abandoned their role as watchdog and became a lapdog instead.

More to come after it airs (9 PDT out west) Meanwhile, here’s a glimpse at bloggers’ reactions around the Web:

UPDATE: Moyers is great, as is Rather, who is featured throughout (and to whom I gave much love last month). I’ve been hearing these same references — Landay/Strobel, etc — it makes me cringe. Surely, the refrain will ring out long after this war is behind us. Larisa, who feared Russert was about to go all fetal-position, posted a succinct, 8-point review of the program here.

U.S. Broadband Ranking Drops 25%

photo by Scott Beale/Laughing SquidStressing how little has happened to bridge the broadband divide in the past year, FreePress admonished the gov’t regarding the OECD’s recently released (tho dated December 2006) data on global broadband penetration. According to the latest data, the U.S. — which was 12th in June ’06 — has been leapfrogged by the likes of Japan, France, and Luxembourg and is now 15 (out of the 30 OECD nations):

“We are failing to bring the benefits of broadband to all our citizens, and the consequences will resonate for generations,” said Ben Scott, policy of director of Free Press. “There is no justification for America’s declining status as a global Internet leader. Instead of more excuses, it’s time for true national broadband policy that will put America’s digital future back on track.”

Scott will lay down the disappointing facts before the Senate Commerce Committee today, according to Katie @ GigaOm.

At SavetheInternet it’s time for action.

According to the OECD, less than 20 percent of the U.S. population has broadband access. It didn’t take this long for TV to gain such widespread usage and, in my opinion, broadband Internet access is paramount in importance in today’s world.

Nearly 400 cities and counties have developed or are planning muni wi-fi broadband. But in many cases — especially in larger cities such as Philly and SF — the task is insurmountable thanks to a lack of government initiative (or complacency w/ telecom duopoly and policy gridlock).

Congress MUST pass a bill in the vein of the McCain / Lautenberg 2005 Community Broadband Act and create and pass a new telecom bill as soon as possible.

Additionally, settle The Center for Public Integrity’s lawsuit (filed months ago) demanding data on broadband deployment from the FCC. What’s to hide?

UPDATE: Ben Scott’s testimony (.pdf).

photo by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

The Politics of Online Content

It’s often striking to note that the same rules and laws, from libel to copyright, apply online as they do in print. Until copyright laws are updated to reflect the Internet’s spirit of sharing, everything that is posted online is copyrighted by default. In backwards fashion, one must be *proactive* to indicate that sharing/lifting/reprinting of content, videos and photos is acceptable and *not* all rights are reserved.

The attitude of many publishers towards the Web, no thanks to Google/YouTube, is — “if it’s not fair use, what, are we gonna get sued?” And when a takedown notice comes through, the image, video, or other content is removed and usually the conflict is resolved. In other instances, however, a photographer is completely entitled to send a bill to a for-profit publication or organization that uses a photo or video without the creators permission. In the old days of print, I believe they called it “plagiarism.”

There are exceptions, of course. When user-generated content (UGC) is submitted through a module or service that requires agreeing to terms (i.e. checking a box without realizing what exactly you’re doing), the original producer of the content typically often signs off their rights completely on a non-exclusive basis.

In the case of Jamal Albarghouti’s infamous cellphone video of the Virginia Tech shootings, CNN contacted Albarghouti minutes after his submission was received to negotiate exclusive rights (for an undisclosed sum. Surely the creator was aware of the key terms and the key opening clause — submitting content meant no payment from CNN or its affiliates in exchange, automatically, for “a non-exclusive, perpetual, worldwide license to edit, telecast, rerun, reproduce, use, syndicate, license, print, sublicense, distribute…” (emphasis mine). Yahoo!/Reuters YouWitness News has similar terms, as do other sites, although to see a YouTube “exclusive” on CNN would probably be a first. In other words, no other UGC provider likely had the breadth of worldwide video distribution outlets (and cash) as did CNN (a Time-Warner company).

I wonder if any outlet has ever “bluffed” a claim of exclusive rights to user-generated content and/or how competitors could confirm the nature of their exclusive arrangement, but then again, the distortion of the term “exclusive” (not to mention “breaking news”) throughout the media is for another blog post / conference.

How do you know what you can post and what *might* get you in trouble? I use a Creative commons license or badge to indicate content that I’m happy to share for non-commercial use with proper attribution. In other instances, I’ll gladly accept cash or PayPal. NowPublic, AP’s UGC partner, was friendly enough to send me a message via flickr asking permission to use CC-licensed photos of mine on a couple occasions. Is a CC license legit? Well, your work is copyrighted whether or not you ever file or register a copyright and — after only 5 years of operation, there are over 140 million pages with CC licenses. Where can you find CC-licensed content? They’ve got a search tool.

* C-SPAN’s CC-style license.
* BBC’s Creative Archive Licence Group.
* Poynter’s David Shedden’s guide to copyright & fair use.

Originally posted in the Digital Political Communication class blog on April 20, 2007