Jack Fuller on Free Expression Theory and the Tribune’s ‘Waterboarding’ Blunders

When Jack Fuller pens an op-ed in the Tribune criticizing the media, it’s worth taking note. Fuller was the president of Tribune Company’s publishing group until late 2004 after working his way up through the reporting ranks and editing ranks over 30+ years at the Tribune.

But I couldn’t help but note the irony today, that soon after listening to On the Media‘s lead piece examining newspapers’ definition of “waterboarding” — I stumbled upon Fuller’s “News sells more opinion, at cost of sincerity” in the Trib.

“The concern with large news media corporations has been that they would stifle diversity of political opinion,” wrote Fuller. He picks on MSNBC’s and FOX News’ commercialization of political opinion slanted “toward whatever attracts a crowd.”

Now, with the fragmentation of media and audience, there is no clear commercial argument against presenting the news with a point of view.

But there remains an atmosphere of politicization and “stifling” in print, take for example the Chicago Tribune’s definition of “waterboarding” as explained on the aforementioned On the Media very uncomfortably and definisively by deputy editor Randy Weissman:

Our official definition is — effective today — “an interrogation technique that simulates drowning a prisoner, comma, creating the sensation of imminent death.”

OK. Just as inefficient a definition as the New York Times (“simulated drowning”) or the LA Times (“an interrogation technique simulating drowning that dates to the Spanish Inquisition”) but its his awkward defense that seems to reveal political motivation behind using “simulate” and “sensation.”

Weissman:

Simply put, if you look in Webster’s, drowning is death, and waterboarding would only fit that definition if, if the prisoner died. Ask most people if a person drowns what happens, you — I would be willing to bet you that they would say he died.

Even after On the Media host Brooke Gladstone reiterated that drownING is the gerund and surely someone who is drowning can still be saved, Weissman blamed the politicization of the Trib’s semantics on Webster’s (where the gerund is not defined):

Well, I will go along with Webster’s New World Dictionary, which says “to die by suffocation in water or other liquid.”

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Latest Broadband Penetration Data: Average Speed Up, Coverage Flat

The OECD Broadband Portal has been updated to reflect data as of June 2007. The enhanced and increased data makes the U.S. look a little better but U.S. high speed internet penetration remains in the bottom quarter of the 32 OECD countries, as it has since it’s ranking dropped 25 percent earlier this year. The U.S. is on par with the OECD average, however, when broadband penetration is calculated in terms of landmass populated by 50% of the population, perhaps a more fair measure, considering the U.S. does 30% of broadband subscribers in the OECD survey, but also covers a vast and sparsely populated area.

speedmattersTake a look at the main press release re: these latest penetration data. Of note:

The strongest per-capita subscriber growth over the year was in Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Luxembourg. Each country added more than 5 subscribers per 100 inhabitants during the past year…. Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea and Norway and Iceland lead the OECD in broadband penetration, each with over 29 subscribers per 100 inhabitants.

Full press release below:

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Google Announces Android OS

From Andy Rubin:

We have developed Android in cooperation with the Open Handset
Alliance, which consists of more than 30 technology and mobile leaders
including Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC and T-Mobile.

Will the concept of Open Handsets coincide with the opening of mobile networks, etc? All essential in the building of trust in a neutral net. Can the GOOG be trusted remains to be seen.

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Facebook Vulnerabilities

Noticing some weirdness today in Facebook. Earlier this morning, I was unable to login, getting an error=105.

Then I was told that I “annoyed someone,” which apparently entailed using some “poke me” application. I neither have said application, nor was I online at time of said annoyance.

And now, the top item in my Facebook “news feed” claims that 5 of my friends posted the new Eagles video, which I highly doubt. Anyone else noticing weirdness on FB lately?