Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SMN Endorsement of Local Candidate

I picked up a paper on Sunday and saw the Savannah Morning News’ editorial endorsement of Edna Jackson.  Prof. Dawers has already commented on this issue in his blog, but I had a few questions of my own:

1. Is the role of newspapers to provide support to local candidates or provide information about candidates? 

          •  I did some research on this topic, and found that many local newspapers have historically weighed in on political races, especially those for mayor.  The precedence, however, is falling out of favor and more newspapers are choosing to not endorse political candidates.  Also, it’s important to note that the company boards/owners of the newspaper often choose which candidate to support, so reporters are spared any conflicts of interest. 

2. Does the support of a newspaper actually bear any weight on the outcome of an election?

          •  On this, I’m not so sure.  I think it depends on how many people read the endorsement and are actually persuaded by it to vote accordingly.  In Savannah, I think that the endorsement does little to persuade a public mostly decided in its decision, since Jackson has received so much support from other influential sectors. 

The Savannah Morning News has a right to make known their own political leanings- they, too, are affected by the outcome as citizens – and as some of the most well-informed of citizens, the SMN should have a clear and thorough understanding of what Savannah needs.  But I think that the endorsement of local candidates is stale journalism – instead just post the candidates’ platforms, have local columnists and experts weigh in, and let the public decide.  

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Moniker Mayhem

After I got married, I wanted to change my name on everything as quickly as possible.  The DMV was painless, and the social security office was filled with creepy people, but was also an easy process.

I ran into problems – not with official documentation – but with Facebook. 

To change my last name, I was told to send in a scanned image of my marriage license to the company so they could verify my identity.  Instead, I closed down my account and opened a new one bearing my new moniker.     Imagine my surprise when I came upon this from the NY Times: “Rushdie Runs Afoul of Web’s Real-Name Police.” 

Apparently Facebook gave Salman Rushdie grief for his name as well.  Salman, I feel your pain.
The writer Salman Rushdie hit Twitter on Monday morning with a flurry of exasperated posts. Facebook, he wrote, had deactivated his account, demanded proof of identity and then turned him into Ahmed Rushdie, which is how he is identified on his passport. He had never used his first name, Ahmed, he pointed out; the world knows him as Salman.
Would Facebook, he scoffed, have turned J. Edgar Hoover into John Hoover?

Or C.S. Lewis into Clive Lewis?  Hell no!  I like to use Facebook for a variety of reasons – I can keep up with friends, connect with fellow writers, find out about social events, promote business, etc.  The site’s  usefulness is endless, but so is its power.  I’m glad that Rushdie pressured Facebook to use his pseudonym, through Twitter no less. But I’m also concerned by the amount of information this company is aggregating, how much its profiting from our every click. 
The debate over identity has material consequences. Data that is tied to real people is valuable for businesses and government authorities alike. Forrester Research recently estimated that companies spent $2 billion a year for personal data, as Internet users leave what the company calls “an exponentially growing digital footprint.”
Should we take our feet out of the mud and/or limit our online presence?  The article notes the political power of social media, and again its dangers.
And then there are the political consequences. Activists across the Arab world and in Britain have learned this year that social media sites can be effective in mobilizing uprisings, but using a real name on those sites can lead authorities right to an activist’s door.
I won’t stop using social media – it’s too vital for future business.  But I do plan on further limiting the amount of information I give out about myself and becoming more aware of the “digital footprint” that I leave behind.  In this case, ignorance is definitely not bliss.  

How should we give thanks?

My grandfather flew Chinooks during Vietnam, and as a civilian he now works with the military to teach younger Army pilots the ins and outs of the new F model.  He was lucky – the Army taught him a skill that allows him to continue to work after retirement.  But unemployment is extremely high for most ex-military and vets, and according to the Washington Post’s “Troops feel more pity than respect,” civilians have an awkward tendency to pre-judge and pity those who have served our country. 

This from the article:
“America has unwittingly accepted the idea that its warriors are victims,” Lt. Col. John Morris, a chaplain for the Minnesota Army National Guard, told the Rotary Club of St. Paul in August.
Morris visited the Rotary Club to encourage business leaders to offer internships to veterans who face an unemployment rate that is almost twice the state average. “Why are we unemployed, after we have done one of the greatest things in our lives, and that is serve our nation in combat?” he asked. “I think it is because America has bought into the notion that we might be damaged goods.”
And this:
Troops who eat out in uniform are routinely treated to free food by fellow diners. Lt. Col. Mark Weber joked that he recently “scored a twofer” while dining out in uniform. Two sets of anonymous donors picked up his $20 lunch tab. Weber used the extra cash to leave a giant tip. 
“It’s kind of bizarre,” said Weber, who has a master’s degree from Georgetown University. “People want to help, but they don’t know how. They feel powerless.”
To some soldiers, who are better-paid and -educated than many Americans, the charity can strike the wrong chord. The giveaways can seem like acts of atonement, designed to make up for many Americans’ indifference to the wars and their reluctance to serve.
“Don’t thank me for my service, don’t give me 5 percent off my Starbucks, don’t worry about yellow ribbons,” Lt. Col. Michael Jason, a battalion commander at Fort Stewart, Ga., wrote on his Facebook page on Memorial Day. “Do me this one favor: tell your children that there is another calling out there. . . . Talk to your kids about serving their country and their fellow citizens.”
I thought this was a great article outlining a social attitude that permeates the entire country.  Articles like this are interesting and I would expect difficult to write, because it deals with an abstract concept.  It was a great editorial choice to include voices from different states, and the anecdote about the “twofer one” was strong.  

But the article doesn’t really answer the basic questions it raises: for those of us who don’t want to serve, how do we give thanks to the military without the pity, without the condescension?   And not all troops hold degrees, never-the-less Master’s degrees from prestigious universities, or have the capacity to go to college.  So how do we go about equipping those soldiers with the skill-sets necessary to land a civilian job?  Do giving soldiers jobs and giving thanks go hand-in-hand? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cain Update

This post is for those who want more information about the Herman Cain issue we talked about in class today.  One of the Cain accusers (still unnamed) now wants to come forward with her version of events. The Washington Post released the information on their website. Check out the full article.   
Here’s a comment from the woman’s attorney:
“It is just frustrating that Herman Cain is going around bad-mouthing the two complainants, and my client is blocked by a confidentiality agreement,” Bennett said. “The National Restaurant Association ought to release them and allow them to respond.”
The Cain camp is also claiming hurt feelings. Here’s a short statement from the Herman Cain official webpage:

Inside the Beltway media attacks Cain
Fearing the message of Herman Cain who is shaking up the political landscape in Washington, Inside the Beltway media have begun to launch unsubstantiated personal attacks on Cain.
Dredging up thinly sourced allegations stemming from Mr. Cain's tenure as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, political trade press are now casting aspersions on his character and spreading rumors that never stood up to the facts.
Since Washington establishment critics haven't had much luck in attacking Mr. Cain's ideas to fix a bad economy and create jobs, they are trying to attack him in any way they can.
Sadly, we've seen this movie played out before - a prominent Conservative targeted by liberals simply because they disagree with his politics.
Mr. Cain -- and all Americans, deserve better.
This also from Cain’s website, under the Newsroom tab:
Iowans appear ready to give Cain benefit of the doubt on sexual harassment allegations
Monday, October 31, 2011
Iowa conservatives appear unready to jump off the Herman Cain train — unless damning evidence emerges that proves the presidential candidate was less than truthful Monday when he denied allegations of sexual harassment.
On CNN’s homepage was a button link to more Cain news. On the link was the following:
Cain: 'This is a smear campaign.' Herman Cain says he didn't change his story over sexual harassment allegations. 'Able to gradually recall.'