Monday, December 18, 2006

Time "Person of the Year 2006" - YOU

Hooray for us! Bloggers and YouTubers became subject of concern in my journalism classes this year, which I suspect is true across the country. Why? Traditional journalist "gatekeepers" can't control the grass root reporter, and in my observations, you broke more stories more accurately more often this year (or at least more meaningfully) than big media.

Time Magazine announced last week: "...for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you."

I'm proud of you, and proud to join the effort.

Keep it accurate, keep it real, keep it up!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

James Kim, CNET editor, a hero

James Kim died alone of hypothermia after hiking 15 miles in the wilds of Oregon in a desperate attempt to get help for his wife and two small daughters stranded in their car on a logging road blocked by snow and ice. I feel a bond--I'm from the Pacific Northwest and have traveled a similar route with my husband, trying to get from I-5 to the Oregon Coast. It's not easy. I'm also a parent and can imagine my family getting lost on a dark snowy night with tired children in the backseat.

And yes, I've had to deal with my impatience toward James--why, oh why, didn't he turn the car around sooner? (He drove approximately 15 miles into the wilderness on Bear Camp Road, then approximately another 15 on the fateful logging road spur, before they stopped to rest but got snowed in.)

This story is heartbreaking. I applaud the self-sacrificing efforts of the regular citizens--like the cell phone employees, Eric Fuqua and co-worker Noah Pugsley, and John Rachor, the helicopter owner--who all invested their personal time and resources to help find this family and provided key information. But I shake my head at officials who failed to find James because of assumptions, lack of sustained urgency, and failure to get heat-seeking National Guard helicopters in the air. Read what happened: "Confusion hampered search for Kims: Gaps in communication among agencies and leadership shortcomings proved costly."

It's a difficult read. I've followed many articles related to this story from various news sources, finding some less accurate than others. So I kept reading, looking for the confirmed and verified details.

Now it's tempting to assign blame, which I don't enjoy--but different officials and searchers assumed the Kim family didn't take that spur off the the road to the right and that someone else had checked out that spur. Their assumptions cost James his life.

I hate assumptions.

To read an uplifting piece about James Kim, CNET senior editor of technology, click here.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Don't read this (it might warp you)

When my Honors English professor announced last week that we must watch Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, for discussion in class next week, my heart sank. I posted my response on the class blog, and then decided to share it here, too.

Borat on YouTube was enough for me to "get it." But when the movie became an assignment, I did some research. (If you don't know about this movie, read a conservative review at PluggedInOnline.)

And I chose not to go. So what if it's meant to be funny? Just reading the reviews felt like sliding through sewer sludge. Blech. I have better things to do with my time and money, not to mention my mind. Life is too short.

I think I've hit on a new slogan: "BE BETTER THAN BORAT." How? One of the best ways to influence people's biases isn't to make fun of them, but befriend them (if they'll let you)--or do something kind for someone else to make our world a better place. So what if unselfish acts don't make the news or earn lots of moolah--what a difference it makes for those to whom we are kind or generous or supportive.

As for lawsuits, I just read an article about the villagers used in the opening scene of the movie: "They claim film-makers lied to them about the true nature of the project, which they believed would be a documentary about their hardship, rather than a comedy mocking their poverty and isolation."

Okay, so let's Be Better Than Borat. Who did you help--or befriend, or encourage, or be kind to--today?