Thursday, November 03, 2011
Last week, we reported on a proposed change to the rules governing the Freedom of Information Act. The change would essentially allow the government to lie to requesters of information through FOIA by saying that it had no relevant documents, even when it did. Transparency advocates were up in arms about the proposed change, and ACLU policy council Michael German told Brooke this undermines the spirit in which the Freedom of Information Act was drafted:
The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act request is to give the public access to government information, so that public accountability can take place. And one of the key elements of the statute incorporates judicial review in government decisions about exemptions. People have a right to know what exemption is being applied so that they can challenge that in court and a judge can make an independent decision.
According to a press release just posted by the ACLU, the Department of Justice has withdrawn the proposed rule change:
The Department of Justice (DOJ) today withdrew a proposed regulation that would allow government agencies to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests with false denials that the documents sought actually exist, when, in fact, they do. Providing such false denials has apparently been a practice at DOJ for decades, which was most recently revealed in a FOIA lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The recent dismissal of Caitlin Curran, freelancer for WNYC/PRI's The Takeaway, has generated a conversation about journalistic ethics and the participation of journalists in political advocacy. Brooke Gladstone, host of On the Media, will take your questions and share her thoughts about the issue on Wednesday, November 2nd, at 3PM, EST.
This live chat is over, but we really appreciate everyone's participation. If you would like to look at the transcript of the conversation, it's available below. We look forward to more chats like this in the future.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Jon Ronson is one of our favorite journalists -- he wrote a very good book about extremists called Them, one of his books was turned into the movie The Men Who Stare at Goats, and he's done some great radio stories for This American Life. He's working on an online documentary called Escape and Control, about people who try to control this internet.
Friday, October 28, 2011
We've reported numerous times both on the show and on the blog about Righthaven, a company that buys copyrights on newspaper stories and images and then sues bloggers who repost them either in part or in full. Recently, they've suffered setback after setback, having several cases dismissed, and being hit with attorney fees in dismissed cases, and court penalties.
As of yesterday, things have become much worse for Righthaven, as US District Judge Roger Hunt ordered the company to pay nearly $120,000 in court and attorney fees in a failed lawsuit. The Las Vegas Sun's Steve Green reports:
Friday, October 28, 2011
Today at 15:00 GMT, Julian Assange will be answering questions live on The BBC's World Have Your Say. Unfortunately, due to region restrictions, US viewers are not able to watch the program live, but if you have a question for him, you can either post it on the World Have Your Say website in the comments section, or on the WHYS Facebook page. Once the episode is archived, we will post it to our blog. EDIT - It's up now! Check below to see both parts of the Julian Assange interview that aired this afternoon.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
After the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the US was split about whether to release images of his body. With Moammar Gadhafi we had no such decision to make - dozens of videos and pictures instantly found their way around the world. Once again, we're in a discussion about how these images help, hurt, repulse, enshrine or dehumanize their subject. But this is not a new conversation.
For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about Jesse James this past week. Something in the images of Gadhafi remind me of the pictures that circulated of James after he was killed by Robert Ford in 1882: the angle of repose, the beard, the crowd.
And the way we relive the death of Gadhafi on YouTube every time we watch one of those videos -- that reminds me of how Ford relived his assassination of James night after night on stage.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I'm now in my fourth week using Superbetter to deal with a traumatic injury I sustained in a bicycle accident, and my co-workers (or at least Brooke) have been talking about how uncharacteristically sunny my disposition is. I would say that at least part of that is due to my continued use of Superbetter.
Friday, October 21, 2011
[THIS BLOG POST IS FOR MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY]
Last week, we ran a piece about bleeping out obscenities on TV. We didn't have time to include the perspective of an OTM staff member who has extensive experience in removing obscenties from radio songs. So, at the risk of pulling back the curtain too much here at OTM, I'd like to introduce Jen Munson (the show's technical director) to the blog. Jen mixes individual segments of the show as well as mixing the final product. What is mixing, exactly? It's complicated, but I like to think of the difference between a mixed show and an unmixed show as the difference between the food you make at home and the food you get in a (good) restaurant. The two meals might have the same ingredients -- but it just somehow tastes better at the restaurant. Jen makes our show restaurant quality.
But long before she took to improving public radio shows she worked in the music business. Jen used to take obscenities out of pop songs. She was, in fact, a pre-eminent de-f**kalizer. I talked with Jen about how she got into that line of work.
Friday, October 21, 2011
In my second entry on Superbetter, I discussed my confusion about the usefulness of a couple of aspects of the game - achievements and resilience score. After using the game for a few weeks, I wanted to post a short update about my feelings on the utility of these two aspects of the game.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Moammar Gadhafi is dead, and there are pictures to prove it. Gruesome video and photographs of the Libyan dictator’s body being dragged through the streets have emerged and spread like wildfire online and on cable news.
As you’ll recall, in the aftermath of the death of Osama bin Laden there was heated conversation in this country and elsewhere about whether the photographs of his body should be made public. This show covered that topic on May 6th with Paul Waldman of The American Prospect and Phillip Gourevitch of The New Yorker. Full audio is above, it's worth another listen, and here's the transcript.
Waldman supported the release of the Bin Laden photograph:
While Gourevitch opposed it:
To be clear, the circumstances around the Gadhafi death and photos are quite different. We don't know if Gadhafi was captured before he was killed (some of the videos floating around suggest he was). The White House is not controlling the distribution of these pictures. And this is, ultimately, Libya's moment, not ours. That said, the contrast gives us a chance to reflect on how we felt about the bin Laden photographs. Have you changed your opinion about whether these types of photographs should reach the light of day?
We've reached out to Waldman and Gourevitch for follow-up comments, but for now feel free to start posting your reactions.
UPDATE: Paul Waldman writes us:
This is a very different situation from the Bin Laden question. First, in that instance there were very few pictures of Bin Laden, and so an image of his end would be all the more important. Second, any photograph the U.S. government released would have been carefully composed to represent the American victory over him. In Gadhafi's case, the images are from cell phones -- they're much more spontaneous, chaotic, and violent. They don't display the considered decisions of a government, but the actions of a mob (no matter how justified). If the new Libyan government has difficulty making an orderly transition to a new system, these images could come to have symbolic meaning, representing something not about Gadhafi but about what replaced him, the chaos and violence of the transition. I suspect that in the end, that will determine how much persistence these images have. The more successful and stable the Libyan government is, the less important these violent images will be over the long term.
[[Warning: after the jump we've included a video that shows Gadhafi's bloody body.]]
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I'm now entering my third week using Superbetter, a game desgined to help people who have been injured or are trying to reach health goals, to deal with an traumatic injury I sustained in a bike accident. If you missed the previous articles and the story on the show about it, click here for our archive of Superbetter stories.
Since my last post, I've dispensed with all the setup and explanation, and I've recruited several of our listeners as allies in the game. Thanks to my allies, I'm starting to see the great potential of using this game to aid in my recovery.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I've now spent roughly a week using Superbetter after a traumatic injury I sustained in May, and I'm coming to understand the game mechanic a little better. In my last post I detailed the seven missions that I needed to complete in order to set up my "secret headquarters." In this entry, I'll share some details about how I've been using the game, as well as some information about my secret lab, and about the achievement and resilience scores.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
On the Media is currently looking for interns for our winter internship period, which runs from December through February. If you're interested, and you are a student or recent graduate, please follow the instructions below to apply!
Thursday, October 06, 2011
For the past almost 28 years, I have been calling "1984" the best commercial ever made. Not that this is a controversial position; Ridley Scott's Super Bowl tour de force is often so cited, because it so dramatically defined the new Macintosh computer and the entire Apple brand. The IBM PC was hardware for the masses of conformists and brainwashed drones; the new Mac was a tool of liberation for the heroically independent thinker. The message, in essence: Pick a side -- you can be under the thrall of some hectoring, bellicose Big Brother, or you can join the partisan struggle with that chick in the track shorts and t-shirt.