I just watched the alarming video What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, which reminded me of a recent conversation I had with a total stranger about my many neglected interests (specifically, playing the saxophone). Between the two, I ended up thinking up the many ways I waste/lose time throughout the day.
Cutting to the chase: I feel increasingly frustrated with the way I consume news and information. I’m so disorganized - casually scrolling my twitter and facebook feeds, consuming random articles, then feeling annoyed that I didn’t read something more substantial.
This post is about establishing areas of interest and corresponding news sources. Rather than consume whatever the internet throws my way, my goal is to set aside time each day to read the news from a trusted group of writers and publications.
Here’s my list, by topic.
General News, Politics
- NPR (by default - I listen on my commute)
- New York Times (goal: read the daily front page)
Race, Racial Justice
- Code Switch, NPR
To be honest, there is no way I have time to read through all of these sites on a daily basis. I’ll consider covering 1-2 topics each day a success. The other aspect of this challenge is to waste less of my down time with mindless scrolling (tumblr, that includes you!)
I’ll report back in a few weeks on how this goes.
But what feels like celebration can also carry with it the undertone of condescension. Amid the hood backdrop — the gnarled teeth, the dirty white tee, the slang, the shout-out to McDonald’s — we miss the fact that Charles Ramsey is perfectly lucid and intelligent.
—-Gene Demby, Are We Laughing with Charles Ramsay?, NPR
Demby makes excellent points. This really hit home for me in reference to black Internet celebrities like Ramsey and Antoine Dodds: “They’re actually not the type of people we’re used to seeing or hearing at all.” And that is not a good thing.
Last week, Dot Earth blogger Andrew Revkin hosted a Google hangout with the Inside Climate News team, who won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. ICN’s winning project is titled The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of, and it chronicles a 2010 spill into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, along with the broader issues of pipeline regulation in the United States.
I watched the hangout during a lunch break and (embarrassingly) forgot about it, until I just now uncovered a piece of paper with my notes. These are the moments that stood out to me from the discussion:
Susan White, ICN Executive Editor:
We operate with the same journalistic standards I learned in college…You do not have an agenda, you stick to the facts…There is no difference, except we are online.
There is technology available to make pipelines much safer - why not do it?
David Sassoon, ICN Founder & Publisher:
It’s a question of what impact journalism can have on serving the public interest.
Lisa Song, ICN Reporter:
When I talked to some environmental groups about [the Dilbit spill], they didn’t seem interested. They are focused on getting Obama to reject the Keystone XL.
Obviously a lot of ground was covered. If you’ve got 40 minutes, watching the whole discussion is well worth it.
A friend of mine, David M, attends the London School of Economics. This email was just sent out to all students:
The School wishes to alert all staff and students to a serious development which may affect them personally in future. This relates to the conduct of the BBC in respect of a Panorama programme entitled North Korea Undercover, which is dueto be shown next Monday evening, 15 April.
The programme has been produced using as cover a visit to North Korea which took place from 23-30 March 2013 in the name of the Grimshaw Club, a student society at LSE. The School authorities had no advance knowledge of the trip or of its planning.
The visiting party included Mr John Sweeney, Mr Alexander Niakaris and Ms Tomiko Sweeney. In advance of the trip it was not known to the rest of the party that they were three journalists working for or with the BBC. Their purpose, posing as tourists, was to film and record covertly during the visit in order to produce the Panorama programme.
LSE’s chief concerns are twofold. First, at no point prior to the trip was it made clear to the students that a BBC team of three had planned to use the trip as cover for a major documentary to be shown on Panorama. BBC staff have admitted that the group was deliberately misled as to the involvement of the BBC in the visit. The line used was that “a journalist” would join the visit. BBC staff have argued that this lack of frankness in denying the genuine members of the group the full details was done for their own benefit in the event of discovery and interrogation by North Korean authorities. It is LSE’s view that the students were not given enough information to enable informed consent, yet were given enough to put them in serious danger if the subterfuge had been uncovered prior to their departure from North Korea.
The trial for the BP oil spill began in late February, and has continued due to the lack of an out-of-court settlement. U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier is presiding; there is no jury.
This week, Barbier dismissed all claims against Cameron International, the Houston-based company that built the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig. BP designed and selected the components of the blowout preventer, and Cameron built it to exact specifications.
The remaining defendants at the trial are BP, Transocean (owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig) and Halliburton (the cement contractor). Barbier previously dismissed all claims against M-I, the drilling fluids contractor for BP. [source]
Meanwhile, Judge Barbier will also hear a request from BP for an order to block potentially billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses that claimed losses caused by the oil spill. Settlement terms for the payouts are interpreted by court-appointed claims administrator Patrick Juneau. BP is arguing that Juneau has made unfair decisions. [source]
Research at the University of South Florida has discovered a massive die-off of foraminifera, the tiny organisms that are the base of marine food chains in the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers analyzed core samples from the bottom of the Gulf:
They found a large, dark clump of sediment from the time of the 2010 disaster. The amount registered as 300 times the normal amount of oil-based particles found on the bottom.
The die-off impacts the health of food chains, and there is a possibility the oil traces could cause genetic changes in fish populations such as red snapper. [source]
I’m proud of my dad, not necessarily because of where he is now on marriage equality (although I’m pretty psyched about that), but because he’s been thoughtful and open-minded in how he’s approached the issue, and because he’s shown that he’s willing to take a political risk in order to take a principled stand. He was a good man before he changed his position, and he’s a good man now, just as there are good people on either side of this issue today.
Over the past several months, there have been several shifts in the way the NY Times covers climate issues. This is a result of restructuring due to budget constraints, and according to editors, a response to the “shifting interdisciplinary landscape of news reporting”.
2009: NYT creates a 9-person “environment pod”, made up of 2 editors and 7 reporters dedicated to reporting solely on environmental issues.
Fall 2012: Throughout the presidential election there was much discussion of the climate silence problem, as Obama and Romney carefully avoided any substantial discussion of climate change during the campaign.
December 2012: Executive editor Jill Abramson announces the need to cut 30 positions from the news division due to decreased ad revenues. Employees were offered buyouts, but Abramson would go to layoffs if there weren’t enough takers for the buyout packages.
January 11, 2013: Inside Climate News broke the story that NYT would be dismantling its environment desk. The environmental reporters and editors would be reassigned to other departments.
- “It wasn’t a decision we made lightly…coverage of the environment is what separates the New York Times from other papers. We devote a lot of resources to it, now more than ever. We have not lost any desire for environmental coverage. This is purely a structural matter,” said Dean Baquet, managing editor for news operations.
Reactions: Journalists and environmentalists reacted with varying degrees of surprise, dismay and stoicism.
- Beth Parke, executive director of the Society of Environmental Journalists, said that while solid environmental coverage doesn’t always require a dedicated team, the Times’ decision is “worrying.” (via)
- Award-winning journalist Peter Dykstra, publisher of Daily Climate: “When you abolish a standalone beat, it sends a strong message to every career-conscious reporter and editor that chasing environment stories is not a path to advancement.” (via)
- Andy Revkin, NYT Dot Earth blogger: “The Times excelled at environmental coverage before there was an environment pod, continued during that phase, and, I predict, will do so going forward, within the financial constraints facing all journalism.”
- Bora Zivkovic, blog editor at Scientific American: “There is potential for this to be a good thing. It all depends on the implementation. (…) All the environmental expertise is still at the Times, but now outside of its own ghetto, able to cross-fertilize with other beats, and to collaborate with reporters with other domains of expertise.” Interestingly, Zivkovic goes on to discuss the increased importance of the Green Blog, as a hub where all the NYT’s environmental reporting can be gathered and shared. His blog post is even titled Why the NYTimes “Green Blog” Is Now Essential.
March 1, 2013: The New York Times shuts down the Green Blog. It was announced in a brief post on the blog, stating “This change will allow us to direct production resources to other online projects. But we’ll forge ahead with our aggressive reporting on environmental and energy topics.”
Revkin goes on to point out that NYT has “nine sports blogs; nine spanning fashion, lifestyles, health, dining and the like; four business blogs; four technology blogs (five if you include automobiles as a technology); and a potpourri of other great efforts…” Somehow, all of those managed to stay and the Green Blog had to go.
Unlike the decision to dissolve the environment pod, the termination of the Green Blog was met with very negative reactions across the board. Curtis Brainard of the Columbia Journalism Review wrote “This is terrible news, to say the least.”
In my own opinion, NYT has been a leader on environmental coverage. NYT is my primary news source on a daily basis. Despite their broad coverage, I am reluctant to rely on blogs such as ThinkProgress and 350.org. The loss of the Green Blog is a step in the wrong direction.
I joined AmeriCorps in 2009, serving at Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. It was my freshman year of college and I was determined not to spend the summer at home with my parents. I had no idea what I was getting into, but my time as a Student Conservation Association and as an AmeriCorps member was an incredible learning experience. For three months I hiked endlessly – conducting trail assessments, visitor contact hikes and more.
Now, in 2013, I am back with AmeriCorps, and new to the state of Delaware. I made the decision to take a year off from school, and chose to dedicate my time to community service. I work for Delaware State Parks on the Children In Nature initiative, developing strategies to help young children experience a connection with the natural world. Every day I truly feel that I am making a difference at my job.
AmeriCorps is an incredible program, both for the individuals who participate and the communities and agencies that benefit from the hard work of Corps members. It encourages young people to feel a sense of responsibility for the world around them. AmeriCorps alumni enjoy better job prospects and higher wages than young adults who did not participate in the program.
Despite its positive impacts, I am concerned about the future of AmeriCorps. Congress cut the program’s funding by 6 percent between fiscal year 2010 and fiscal year 2012. Sequestration could reduce AmeriCorps funding by an estimated $65 million. Even worse, the House GOP’s proposed budget for the past five years would eliminate the AmeriCorps program entirely.
As a Corps member serving in the state of Delaware, I hope more people become aware of this program and its positive influence. Tell your friends, your neighbors and your elected officials: AmeriCorps works!