Time to Reinvent the Local Media?

It can’t be easy to be James Rainey, the L.A. Times meta/media-critic, who writes from the bunker on Spring Street. Today at USC Annenberg he said that despite the fact that the Times covers hardly any of the 88 cities in the county, the news in L.A. just doesn’t happen without the Times, as everyone, bloggers included just rip and read. Surprisingly — nobody stepped up to disagree to this demonstrably wrong sentiment.

A couple people defended mentioning LAObserved, one said a bunch of the hyperlocal blogs such as Gothamist (or LAist, to which I’m a contributor) as offering fresh and uncribbed content.

The nugget was his offbeat comment that the inside word from a Times researcher — not a scare tactic — is that in 3 years the newspaper’s profit would sink to ZERO. This cynicism from an actual staff writer on media? I guess the Internet really is killing newspapers then, or something, eh?

Rainey added that it’s regretful that the Times is pressured to appease Wall Street and therefore can only focus on short-term fixes as opposed to advanced content development and dedicated Web innovation. But this says nothing about how they blew a chance for major traffic this week when they mis-posted the Schwarzenegger audio (their Political Muscle blog was quick with the transcripts, but good luck finding the 20 or so blogs via the latimes.com homepage), or why when I check LAT on my cellphone in the middle of the night it still says USC leads UCLA at half when the game has been over for hours. Where’s the “quick fix” there?

Where’s some non-corporate skepticism from the likes of a Tim Rutten when you need it, as opposed to the extended bullhorn of the man — complacent in supposedly being the only real news source in town.

Elsewhere in broke and struggling Tribune Company news: Q4 Profits up 80% on same quarter last year. Fools. I don’t get it. Let’s take over!

Video Mashups & Subvertising

Thinking back on the “good ol’ days” of the early 21st century when I lived in Chicago, and was witness some of the greatest independent creations / multimedia commentaries / videos / and zines of this century. The best series of all is the Select Media Festival, a collaborative project that included some incredibly provocative video mashups and animations in the direct aftermath of 9/11 and continues, each Fall.

Check out the hilariously unfortunate G.I. Joe PSA’s here.

Other goodies can be found there, as well as at Version Fest — which takes place April 19-May 6 in Chicago. Lumpen is ground zero for the classic free zine and is in some way or another connected to each of these events as is GNN, whose original Guerrilla News Network broadcasts brought shock and awe into the home with critical responses to the War on Terror (Ian Inaba, an early contributor to GNN, recently produced the acclaimed “American Blackout” and is one of three people behind the Video the Vote project.

Also worth checking out is this short clip in which John Ashcroft reveals a new policy to deal with Illegal aliens.

Did Murdoch Admit to Iraq Propaganda at Davos?

Bob McChesney, Robert Greenwald and others have well-documented News Corp’s calculated efforts to mirror President Bush’s policies (especially on Fox News) without being critical of its flaws and failures.

But, as Mark at News Corpse blogs, Rupert Murdoch’s statement below can be read as the first straight admission of News Corp’s collusion with the Bush Admin. Earlier in the discussion, Murdoch superficially admits to News Corp.’s alleged “’loss of power’ due to the ascension of the Internet and other new media.”

Murdoch was asked if News Corp. had managed to shape the agenda on the war in Iraq. His answer? “No, I don’t think so. We tried…. We basically supported the Bush policy in the Middle East… but we have been very critical of his execution.”

Audio/Video of the panel Murdoch sat on “Who Will Shape the Agenda” is available here.

cross-posted at DigiPoli Blog.

How Does it Feel?


To better understand the Web 2.0 world, one must be in touch with the specific feelings across online content-generating demographics at a particular point in time and place.

Enter WeFeelFine.org, the excellent real-time visualization of the above, created by Internet artist Jonathan Harris and Google personalization tech Sep Kamvar.

Basically, WeFeelFine aggregates and searches the blogosphere for phrases like ‘I feel…’ or ‘I am feeling…’ One of 5,000 predefined feelings is associated with each post and the demographic attributes are tagged on. Their mission statement describes an “artwork authored by everyone”:

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine’s Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

We’d love to hear about any other new and up & coming online tools for understanding audience, culture, society or just having fun.