Saturday, April 7, 2012

Vignettes: The last refuge of the thematically challenged

Random thoughts, complaints, musings, etc., condensed for your safety and convenience to a maximum of three sentences each:

1. As peace journalists, we need to become increasingly watchful of social media. While SM have proven to be a powerful tool for positive change (Arab Spring), they also have an unprecedented potential to spread official propaganda and incite hatred and even violence. Remember, ““Social Media is mightiest for the mightiest, not the oppressed.” (Morozov, The Net Delusion)

2. There are two Americas, white and black, according to a recent Newsweek/Daily Beast poll that finds that an overwhelming majority of whites (72%) and blacks (89%) believe the country is divided by race. Tellingly, only 19 percent of whites say that racism is a “big problem” in the U.S., while 60 percent of blacks say it is. The Trayvon Martin case is exposing those racial fissures, as 35% of whites say Martin’s death was racially motivated, while 80% of blacks think race motivated the shooting.

3. Shallow, pointless consumerism isn’t limited to the West. A 17-year old Chinese high school student recently sold a kidney so that he could buy an iPad and iPhone. (see story) Question: what role did the media play in inciting this insanity?

4. Since we now have an unofficial Republican presidential nominee, let the mud-slinging begin. As media, we can’t control what the candidates and their surrogates say, but we can control how we do our jobs. This year, as peace journalists, let’s avoid reporting especially hateful mudslinging. But if we must report inflammatory language, let’s at least hold the candidates accountable for language that divides, incites, inflames passions, or appeals to the lowest common denominator.

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