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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It’s Not Me, It’s You

ann coulter speaks at usc annenberg about islamo-fascism or whateverAnn Coulter is disgustingly skinny. So, when I heard her speak last night at USC, I couldn’t help myself but to replace the word “liberal” with “fat people” — at least in my head — the dozens of times she berated the intellectually beefy. Her new book would probably be quite a hoot if only it were titled “If Democrats Fat People Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans.”

Click here to read my account of her “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week” presentation complete with photos and video at LAist.

Oh, and happy Leopard Day Mac users!

Fire Updates, Ann Coulter Coming to USC?!?

The sky is far smokier-looking than yesterday at this time, here in West LA but still no fires in the immediate area and no sign of a wind shift. The map from yesterday’s post is still being updated live by LA Times and presents a good picture of things. I’ve also posted a few stories of interest on LAist. Click to read:

Fire Evacuees are Not ‘Refugees’
Ann Coulter to Speak at USC for Islamo-Fascism Wingnut Awareness Week
Larry Himmel Reports from the Scene of his Burning Home

Viss has some amazing photos of the Witch Fire here.

LA Times Creates Google Map for California Fire Storm ’07

Updated links to media/official/citizen coverage of the fires below.

I’ve messed with numerous mapping applications — namely Mapbuilder and Platial and none are as effective, easy to maintain / update and share as this map tracking the ongoing fires in Southern California. Nice one, Times.

Map Updated 10/29

View Larger Map


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For more fire coverage: CBS2/KCAL9 has multiple live video feeds available here, ABC7 is live here. KNX 1070 is doing a commendable job, covering this story like the natural catastrophe that it is playing out to be and knowing, ala Katrina, that while many may lose power and/or have to leave their homes, they still could have access to radio. Several KNX reporters have been on the story for over 24 hours straight now, and they’ve been broadcasting commercial-free since the story broke early Sunday. Listen in here.

SignOnSanDiego is also in breaking coverage mode via their text-only Fire Blog updates. With up to a quarter million people already being evacuated from areas of San Diego County it’s possible Qualcomm Stadium could be very reminiscent of the Superdome staging area (except of course that it’s not covered and the weather ain’t nearly that bad, save for the smoke in the air).

Also, LA City Fire Department is now live with its long-incubating real-time alerts feed. Subscribe via e-mail or Twitter. For very regular updates from San Diego to your mobile device, follow Nate Ritter.

Below, The Daily news‘ less-detailed Google Map focusing on Los Angeles and the Valley and a real-time slideshow of the more incredible photos documenting the fires via flickr:
Continue reading “LA Times Creates Google Map for California Fire Storm ’07”