Friday, February 29, 2008

Journalism out of touch

Reuters headlines the story: "More Americans turning to Web for news" to report that.
Nearly 70 percent of Americans believe traditional journalism is out of touch, and nearly half are turning to the Internet to get their news, according to a new survey.

While most people think journalism is important to the quality of life, 64 percent are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities, a We Media/Zogby Interactive online poll showed.

McClatchy Q4 $1.8 Billion Loss

McClatchy is reporting a Q4 $1.4 Billion Loss. What a surprise. It's an "impairment charge" on the value of their newspapers. Specifically, in the value of those papers acquired from Knight Ridder. McClatchy has written off half the value of the $4.4 billion blockbuster purchase of Knight Ridder in the summer of 2006.

McClatchy stock has lost more than half its value since the Knight Ridder deal.

The sale of Knight Ridder was always an odd deal.

Newsday cuts jobs (again)

Newsday will be cutting about 120 jobs that includes 25 in the newsroom - on top of 13 vacant positions that have not been filled - pressroom reduction of 24 union positions and 5 drivers in the transportation bargaining unit.

Dennis Grabhorn, president Local 406 of the Graphic Communications Conference/International Brotherhood of Teamsters, didn't agree with the cuts or the newspaper's lack of growth.
"I just don't understand how a newspaper being the only daily newspaper on an island with more than 3 million people can have a circulation of less than 400,000 readers," Grabhorn later added. "I find that hard to accept. I don't understand why Newsday cannot sell on this island and that just tells me that Newsday is not putting effort into growing circulation."
It's because those drivers quit backing up to dumpsters to deliver papers, Dennis. We can't be certain that Newsday even has 400,000 readers. With newspapers allowed to claim subscription credit for deeply-discounted papers or giveaways to hotels and coffee shops, it's hard to say how many people pay to read Newsday. Or even browse the paper, let alone let it into their homes.

There's a reason for that, too. The newspaper slavishly follows the union take on politics, in their coverage and in their editorials, which hardly makes them unique reading. The circulation fraud stories, however, were fascinating.

Newsday Circulation Fraud Pt IV
Circulation Fraud
Newsday Continues to Slide
Newsday Publisher arrested for child porn
Newsday Fraud Arrests
Newsday Circulation woes tip of iceberg
Newspaper circulation scandals continue
Newsday Pt 5
Newsday circulation scandal escalating
The numbers game
Newspaper circulation scandal grows
Just another partisan crowd of journalists)
Circulation figures, excuse me, fraud

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In the shadow of the dead

You might have missed this. In fact, you might have missed the death of 800,000 people, the rape of hundreds of thousands of women and girls, the 99 days of killing.
A Belgian journalist jailed for inciting Rwanda's 1994 genocide was handed over on Thursday to police from Italy, where he will serve the rest of his sentence.

Georges Ruggiu, 50, is the only non-Rwandan convicted by an international court in Tanzania that is trying the architects of the slaughter. It jailed him for 12 years in June 2000.

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) said the transfer followed an agreement between the United Nations and the Italian government, and a recent ruling by a Rome court that allowed ICTR sentences to be enforced in Italy.

Ruggiu, a former school teacher whose father was Italian, was a presenter on Rwanda's Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM) during the genocide and an infamous voice behind what became known as "hate radio".

As soldiers and ethnic Hutu militias butchered some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days of bloodshed, he and others at the station exhorted the killers to greater efforts.

He fled Rwanda afterwards but was arrested in Mombasa, Kenya, in July 1997 and transferred to the ICTR in northern Tanzania.

He pleaded guilty to charges of direct and public incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity, and later testified against his former boss and others at RTLM. He also converted to Islam while behind bars.

In was not immediately clear where in Italy Ruggiu would serve out the rest of his jail time. In its sentencing, the ICTR said his time in custody since his arrest should be taken into account, meaning he could be eligible for release in mid-2009.
Georges Ruggiu has a Wikipedia entry.

Rwanda formally protested the lenient sentence, a story that when the BBC reported it, they put "lenient" in quotation marks. Ruggiu will likely be released next year.

A Voice of America story when he pleaded guilty gives more background on him. So does this story on RTLM propaganda. Ruggiu likened the killing to the French Revolution.
On 30 June, Georges Ruggiu, referring to the 'furious population', stated: 'Has Robespierre not done exactly the same in France?' (Chrétien 1995: 204).
It isn't likely that anyone in Rwanda will be able to protest moving Ruggiu to Italy. The formal sentencing includes this little proviso.
RULE that imprisonment shall be served in a State designated by the President of the Tribunal, in consultation with the Trial Chamber, and the said designation shall be conveyed to the Government of Rwanda and the designated State by the Registry;
The United Nations International Crime Tribunals are more than a disgrace. They deliberately work to mask the role that Belgium and France played in the tragedy.
Among the reasons why the ICTR has been criticized as ineffective is the fact that so far only 14 cases have been ended with a final verdict, despite the fact that the Tribunal has been working for almost a decade and the 872 employees have had a budget of almost 180 m US$ at their disposal for the years 2002 to 2003.
Also see Rwanda Initiative , a self-congratulating symposium crippled by a "tight timeline" that seems obscene considering they were talking about 800,000 people who died in nine-nine days. The role of the media - always referred to a "hate media" during the genocide "demonstrated how the power of the media could be used to destroy." Only lightly skimmed over was the role of international media that not only evacuated at the first sign of violence, but who have ignored the massive killing every since in a reprise of their role in Cambodia under Pol Pot.

Ruggiu is the only European convicted. He was convicted of direct and public incitement to commit genocide for his broadcasts. He was a journalist and producer with the “Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines S.A. (RTLM) and worked in Kigali. Founded in 1993, the RTLM broadcast the ideology and the objectives of extremist Hutus throughout Rwanda until the end of July 1994.Georges Ruggiu worked for the RTLM between January and July 1994. He is white.

RTLM was founded in 1993 by two wealthy Rwandan businessmen and with the aid of the German Seidel Foundation. 1 Radio equipment was supplied through Bavaria. In 2002, the U.S. State Department offered a $5 million reward for the capture of former RTLM President Félicien Kabuga. He is believed to be in Kenya.

During the killing months, Lieutenant-General Roméo Dallaire called for the radio to be jammed, an action opposed by the French and the American governments. That would be Bill Clinton, in case the media fails to tell you that salient fact.

1 Scherrer, Christian P., Genocide and Crisis in Central Africa: Conflict Roots, Mass Violence, and Regional War, p 130 Footnote 10.

Previous stories on Rwanda. Here Here RTLM was broadcast in French.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Better off in Cuba

A recent mayor of Oakland is now the Attorney General for the state of Calfiornia.

"Homicide Rate Overwhelming Oakland Police"
There have been 21 homocides in Oakland since the start of the year. The police announced a gun buy-back program and the line stretched for several blocks. Police ran out of money and had to hand out IOUs. Now the cash-strapped department is reportedly on the hook for $170,000.

The latest slaying comes after a weekend that saw six people killed in 10 shooting incidents and a popular college instructor killed at his Oakland Hills home. [That killing was not random but may be due to the mentoring relationship between the killer and the instructor.] There's a map of homocides in 2007-2008.

State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, who was carjacked at gunpoint in December was the first to hand in his handgun. "He gave police the handgun he bought 15 years ago after receiving death threats during his fight to ban assault weapons." Perata is under investigation by the FBI. He's likely to be the next mayor of Oakland. The buy-back was political theatre at best. Even the police chief said that gun buy-backs don't have much effect on crime.

It doesn't say if he took the $250 per gun given out by police in the three-gun per person buy-back. Enterprising gun dealers from as far as Reno, apparently, accepted the money - for guns still bearing a $35 price tag, according to the story. That's just kind of typical of the type of ill-considered policies that abound in Oakland.

The current mayor of Oakland is Ron Dellums. He's described as "the first openly socialist Congressman since World War II" in a Wikipedia entry. He was elected twelve times as U.S. Congressman for the Oakland-Berkeley district.

We better hope that Ron doesn't do for other American cities what he has helped happen to Oakland under his careful watch in Congress and before, and since. He was named national chair of Hillary Clinton's Urban Policy Committee in 2004.

See Special election musical chairs

Education in Oakland would be a joke if it was not so tragic.The state took over Oakland public schools in 2003 and bailed out the district to the tune of $100 million. (A fact not mentioned in the Oakland Wikipedia entry.) To this date, the board still don't have full control. (See Teachers and Trash Education on the Oakland school board antics.) Only 20 percent of students performed at least "proficient" on the English section of a 2005 STAR test for a population that isn't English deficient.

See on the district performance. For which taxpayers pay $9,019 per pupil.

Ghetto doesn't begin to describe Oakland, California. It's an internment camp where even basic education is denied.

People in Oakland would probably be better off in Cuba, a country Dellums open admires and visits often.

There's no end to how many opportunities there are to exploit the vulnerable in Oakland.

There's a new "popular new hair salon" in Oakland called the NitPixie. They specialize in head lice removal.
Clients undergo three, hourlong treatments. A family of three, such as the Whitneys, would rack up a bill of at least $900.
The cost is a concern to a health officials.
"Lice-removal businesses might give families peace of mind, and that's great for those who can afford the service, said Julia Graham Lear, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. But it probably isn't necessary, she said.

"[Lice] is disgusting, but it can be treated simply and relatively inexpensively," Lear said. "For anyone to spend that kind of money because they think that's what they need to do to be a good parent — that's what I worry about."
We all ought to worry.