This is a Brain
Relaunching the News in Burma
Starting April 1, Burma will allow daily newspapers for the first time since its 1962 military coup.
How does a startup publication prepare for the date? Practice. As in, report the day’s news, write, edit, lay it out, print it out and then review it internally. Try to create a workflow that gets you on a daily schedule. And, yeah, figure out what un-censored journalism actually looks like.
Via the Atlantic:
For the last three months, the dailies have been written, edited and printed on photocopiers as practice for the day when that ban will be lifted. After five decades of military rule and strict media controls, that long-awaited day is fast approaching, and journalists around the country are up against the most exciting deadline they have ever faced: April 1, the first day in decades when daily newspapers can be sold freely. To prepare, media companies are now scrambling to figure out everything from how to write news on a daily basis to how much to charge for a daily issue.
Closed to the world since a military coup in 1962, Burma appears to have missed the news that the print media is dying. The democratically elected, although still military-dominated, government that came to power in 2010 has decided that media will be among the first areas of reform, driving massive hiring and investment in the industry. The government ended media censorship in August and soon followed by announcing that daily newspapers would be allowed in April.
The policy change will end the short-lived heyday of private weekly newspapers, commonly called journals, the most popular of which have only launched since 2000. Regulators under the military government had allowed weeklies, as they afforded censors ample time to pore over the papers for signs of dissension. A thriving group of more than 200 private weeklies arose during the last decade as the reading public sought an alternative to government-run dailies that read more like staid corporate newsletters than newspapers.
Personal Aside: This topic fascinates me. In 2003-2004, I went to Saudi Arabia with five other international journalists to run this exact same exercise. We worked with a local media organization to rebrand and relaunch its English-language newspaper.
At the time, the Saudi government was allowing greater press freedoms and our goal was to eliminate old habits (no, rewriting a press release isn’t reporting the news), instill new ones (when someone tells you the sky is purple, look up, verify, and come back with a follow-up about why they might think so) and train a new generation of Saudis on all things journalism. — Michael
Image: The Voice Weekly, by Jake Spring via the Atlantic, It’s Tough to Start a Newspaper After 50 Years of State Censorship.
Herein lies one of the most useful, but also saddest, lessons of Hillary Clinton’s career: The best defense against being labeled a raging bitch is to convince people you’re an underdog. The ability to eat shit, to suck it up and earn the affection of skeptical voters or older male colleagues or your cheating husband, again and again, is an essential skill for successful women of Hillary’s generation. A skill that is becoming less essential, sure, but one that few women would declare irrelevant.
Polish photographer Marcin Ryczek snapped this once-in-a-lifetime photograph of a man feeding swans and ducks from a snowy river bank in Krakow. The trifecta juxtaposition between black/white, water/snow, and person/animals is simply astounding. You can download a desktop sized version of the photo here, and check out more of Ryczek’s photos in his portfolio. (via stellar)
So I get why some women were angry with MacFarlane, even though he wasn’t the author of most of the jokes. (Bruce Vilanch, a gay man, has been the head writer for the Oscars since 1989 and has won several Emmys for his writing.) MacFarlane was the messenger and the message from Hollywood isn’t always a good one for women.
Yet as Vilanch said in an interview with Salon, the show is scripted, every presenter has to sign off on whatever it is they say on-stage in advance of the ceremony so it can go up on the teleprompter. Women as well as men. The only impromptu moments are the speeches of the winners.
We have shows like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation struggling to stay on every season, and shows like Two and a Half Men and Big Bang Theory having no trouble at all. Shows like the latter two, which capitalize on trivializing women and their roles or attempting to put them in “their place,” become the most popular and successful shows on TV. So this poses a grander question: Why does our society enjoy sexism so much? Or, more importantly, why is our supposedly progressing world so opposed to breaking this sexist quo? You might say that it doesn’t matter – it’s just a TV show. But it’s not “just” anything. Everything matters, especially television. Everyone enjoys television, and until that arena of entertainment can employ more ladies and create shows that demonstrate the depths of different types of characters – women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community – our society that is so incredibly susceptible to what’s on that silver screen is going to continue to inherently absorb sexism.
So when shows like 30 Rock go off the air, that precious air time is replaced by shows that still present women as sex objects, dumb blondes, nagging wives, emotional coworkers, or ugly neighbors. We, unfortunately, still live in a world where a show run by women is a landmark, but we have to hold tight to those landmarks and make sure they keep breaking down those discriminatory norms.
Fuel-economy standards work slowly, as manufacturers start selling more efficient vehicles, and people retire their older cars and trucks. That turnover takes time. By contrast, a higher gas tax kicks in immediately, giving people incentives to drive less, carpool more, and buy more fuel-efficient vehicles as soon as possible.
A great deal also depends on whether biofuels and other alternative fuels are available. A tax on gasoline makes these alternative fuels more competitive, whereas fuel-economy standards don’t. “We see the steepest jump in economic cost between efficiency standards and the gasoline tax if we assume low-cost biofuels are available,” Karplus said in an MIT press release.
And yet… all this economic research never seems to have any effect on lawmakers. Since 2007, Congress and the Obama administration have moved to increase federal fuel economy standards, now scheduled to rise to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. According to the MIT estimates, this will cost the economy six times as much as simply raising the federal gas tax from its current level of 18.4 cents per gallon to 45 cents per gallon. Yet no one in Congress has even proposed the latter option.
Can you imagine A Day Without News?
One year ago, legendary correspondent Marie Colvin and photojournalist Remi Ochlik were killed in Homs, Syria. Evidence from eye witnesses suggests that the journalists were targeted by the Syrian regime in an attempt to limit exposure of the war’s atrocities. Their deaths struck an industry still reeling from a string of tragic losses, including the deaths of photojournalists Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington in Misrata, Libya, in April 2011.
“It is unacceptable that those looking to report objectively from conflict zones around the world are deliberately singled out, targeted and murdered with impunity, with those responsible for their deaths not facing any repercussions. Without these journalists bearing witness, atrocities committed in war would go unremarked and it is an equal cruelty that their deaths go without justice. This is a situation that has to change. We are heading towards a day when it will be too dangerous for journalists to enter into or report from war zones.” - Aidan Sullivan, Vice President, Photo Assignments, Editorial Partnerships and Development for Getty Images and founder of A Day Without News?
A Day Without News?, launching today, will raise awareness of the risks faced by journalists and photojournalists in war zones, and lobby governments and tribunals to pursue and prosecute those who harm members of the news media. Many media professionals find themselves deliberately targeted when attempting to cover conflicts, and, while it is considered a war crime to do so, there has been little to no enforcement of this international humanitarianlaw. Over the past decade, 945 photojournalists and correspondents have been killed while covering conflict zones, 583 of these without any resulting prosecutions as war crimes. Ninety journalists were killed in 2012 alone, the deadliest year on record.
Please visit A Day Without News? to learn more and to add your name in support.
The people who risked life and limb to tell you about the stories you care about. Learn more about them—along with the risks involved.
The 85th Academy Awards in Numbers