Thursday, December 06, 2007

Media Notes

A few days ago I wrote about meeting Marcy Burstiner, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication at Humboldt State University, who also writes the Media Maven column for the North Coast Journal. I noted that she was expecting some big news about the Eureka Reporter to be announced on Sunday. Sure enough, here is the announcement:

Please come and see The Eureka Reporter's new ePaper.

The ePaper is a free, exact replica of The Eureka Reporter. Readers can log onto any computer with Internet access and view all the text, photos and advertisements exactly as they are printed in the daily paper.Please take a moment to register to access the ePaper.
Elsewhere in the paper, Publisher Judi Pollace revealed that the Reporter will stop publishing on Mondays and Tuesdays when 2008 arrives, remaining a free publication five days per week. Burstiner's Media Maven column this week is called "Pray for the Reporter!" Some excerpts:
For those who like to bash the Reporter, consider Humboldt County without it. When a newspaper goes from publishing seven days a week to five, that's a sign of hard financial times. There are others. Its reporters are disappearing and more articles in the paper now carry no byline than stories that do carry a byline. (Generally that means that what you think is an article is just a printed press release.)

(snip)

But don't write off the paper yet. It eliminated paper publishing on Mondays and Tuesdays, but it recently added a fourth member to its editorial board: Peter Hannaford, a key adviser to Governor Ronald Reagan and a former partner to former Reagan adviser and lobbyist extraordinaire Micheal Deaver.

It makes for some interesting dynamics on the paper. The way editorials used to work involved a majority vote from the members of the three-person team. That led, at least once, to managing editor Glenn Franco Simmons writing a separate column opposing the paper's stand. If they still use the voice vote, I'd like to see how they get out of a split.

I like having the Eureka Reporter around. It gives jobs to my current and former students. And it prints any opinion out there. For those who see it as a bullhorn for Arkley, they ignore how it prints columns by Amy Goodman, Dave Berman and others. It gives a forum for the 911 Truth folks — those pushing to reopen the investigation into the collapse of the World Trade Centers — who can't get their voices into the North Coast Journal or Times-Standard. My stand isn't whether I support the opinions or not. What I support is the forum for expression. (emphasis added)
I got name-dropped in the North Coast Journal by the Media Maven, in the same sentence as Amy Goodman no less (even though she is a left gatekeeper). I'll take that as a feather in the cap, right next to the Journal's January 2006 comment that my previous blog GuvWurld was "gaining some stature in the larger blogosphere."

As for the ePaper, it is labeled as Beta which means kinks are still being worked out and perhaps some features have yet to be added. My first experience was that I needed to increase magnification so much to read the text that the portion of the text displayed was a fraction of an article. It took me a while to figure out that if I click and drag the image of the paper I can move it around to reveal parts not visible when zoomed in enough to read. It looks kind of snazzy but I'm not sure I like it any better than the regular Reporter site.

Back to Burstiner again. The credits listed above are taken directly from her Media Maven column and omit her role as faculty adviser to the Humboldt State University student newspaper, The Lumberjack. One thing this paper has been steadily following is a faculty-driven "no confidence" campaign directed at University President Rollin C. Richmond. When I met Burstiner last week she encouraged me to submit letters to the Lumberjack and so I saw this all too obvious connection. This week's paper contains a letter I wrote, reprinted in full below (the paper's website is woefully outdated):
The Lumberjack, December 5, 2007, Vol. 91 No. 14, Page 22

Voter confidence should count

Dave Berman
Letter to the editor

Dear Lumberjack Editor:

All this talk about a no confidence vote on President Richmond reminds me that many HSU students may be unaware of another no confidence vote that made news here a few years ago.

On July 20, 2005 the Arcata City Council adopted the Voter Confidence Resolution (VCR). This is a statement outlining election conditions around the country, primarily the fact that election results have become unverifiable. From this, the VCR concludes that there is "no basis for confidence" in the results reported. We are instead forced to "trust" the government using secret vote counting machines that produce results we must accept with blind faith.

Votes on a ballot are tangible and should be countable and recountable, indefinitely, reliably producing the same results over and over. Government legitimacy is derived, according to the Declaration of Independence, from the Consent of the Governed. Elections that can't be recounted and results that can't be questioned mean that our Consent is being assumed and taken for granted, rather than sought and freely given.

The Voter Confidence Committee of Humboldt County is committed to improving local election conditions to create transparency, security, and verifiable accuracy as a basis for confidence in the results. We aim to do this by persuading the County Supervisors and Registrar of Voters to get rid of our secret electronic vote counting systems and instead use voters to hand-count paper ballots in the precincts on election night.

This is one of many recommendations in our "Report on Election Conditions in Humboldt County," based on an intensive eight month study of the situation. Readers can find this report, as well as the VCR and many other materials related to our campaign for hand-counting in Humboldt, at www.VoterConfidenceCommittee.org.

If you are registered to vote in Humboldt, please use the sign up form on our site to let us know you are willing to join in the counting. It is important we show the skeptical local government there are in fact enough of us to get the job done. We estimate it will only take about 1% of registered voters.

Dave Berman is the co-founder of the Voter Confidence Committee

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We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

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"Give a damn about the world you live in? Give a damn about what you and I both know is one of the most shameful and destructive periods in American history? If so, do something about it. You can start by reading We Do Not Consent."

— Brad Friedman, Creator/Editor, BradBlog.com; Co-Founder, VelvetRevolution.us


"If in the future we have vital elections, the "no basis for confidence" formulation that GuvWurld is popularizing will have been a historically important development. This is true because by implicitly insisting on verification and checks and balances instead of faith or trust in elections officials or machines as a basis for legitimacy, it encourages healthy transparent elections. It’s also rare that a political formulation approaches scientific certainty, but this formulation is backed up by scientific principles that teach that if you can’t repeat something (such as an election) and verify it by independent means, it doesn’t exist within the realm of what science will accept as established or proven truth."

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"Dave Berman has been candid and confrontational in challenging all of us to be "ruthlessly honest" in answering his question, "What would be better?" He encourages us to build consensus definitions of "better," and to match our words with actions every day, even if we do only "the least we can do." Cumulatively and collectively, our actions will bring truth to light."

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"Dave Berman's work is quietly brilliant and powerfully utilitarian. His Voter Confidence Resolution provides a fine, flexible tool whereby any community can reclaim and affirm a right relation to its franchise as a community of voters."

— Elizabeth Ferrari, San Francisco, Green Party of California


"This is an important collection of essays with a strong unitary theme: if you can't prove that you were elected, we can't take you seriously as elected officials. Simple, logical, comprehensive. 'Management' (aka, the 'powers that be') needs to get the message. 'The machines' are not legitimizers, they're an artful dodge and a path to deception. We've had enough...and we most certainly DO NOT consent."

— Michael Collins covers the election fraud beat for "Scoop" Independent Media


"What's special about this book (and it fits because there's nothing more fundamental to Democracy than our vote) is the raising of consciousness. Someone recognizing they have no basis for trusting elections may well ask what else is being taken for granted."

— Eddie Ajamian, Los Angeles, CA


"I urge everyone to read "We Do Not Consent", and distribute it as widely as possible."

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