Tag Archives: Facebook

Iran Protests- A New Day For Social Media?

There is no doubt that social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and the like) is playing a crucial role in the continuing protests surrounding the Iranian presidential election. There is no more definitive proof than the futile efforts of the government of that country to stop the flow of information such sites are providing. It’s like trying to put toothpaste back in the tube. The more the government cracks down, the more tweets, blogposts, and YouTube videos appear.

And that’s all good. This activity will show people around the world that one unintended by-product of the Internet age is the difficulty in using traditional means to censor opposition speech. In fact, one could argue that without the constant stream of worldwide coverage there might not have been a recount of some votes, nor the admission Monday that there were at least 3 million “irregularities”.

However, there are also a few caveats for this brave new world of social networking news coverage. While it’s true that US media have either had severe restrictions put on their coverage (and yes, some journalists have been detained) or have been banned outright, the reliance on social media by CNN, Fox News, MSNBC etc. comes with some risks. The news outlets say the tweets and footage they’ve aired has been fully verified. I would take them at their word on that (some might not).

Yet isn’t there something just a little off putting about gigantic news organizations being reliant on citizen journalists? If I worked for one of those outlets, I’d be nervous. Somewhere in the bowels of these big news groups is an accountant whose wondering whether this type of coverage can be used in other applications. And whether that outlet needs as much high priced talent as they now utilize if Twitter subscribers will do the work for them at little or no cost.

Think it can’t happen? Consider that back in the day, the big network news operations and major newspapers had bureaus around the world. Fast forward to now, and you see that few of them do. Oh, and those same big networks are taking a back seat in their Iranian coverage to the 24 hour cable networks. In other words, we are seeing a paradigm shift in news gathering and coverage. While it may not be a bad thing, we ought to ask if the quality of the news we’re consuming is up to snuff.

I’m not saying it isn’t, but these social networking sites can be manipulated on a number of different levels. Iran is an example where they’ve appeared to have done some good. We all ought to be aware that there could be another shoe, and one day that one may drop.

You tell me. Has social networking coverage of the Iranian protests been a good thing?

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Can a 10-year-old Beat Down the "N" Word?

Being a man of a certain age, I have a long history with the “N” word. I have heard it used in every way imaginable. That would be as a derogatory, ugly reference to my race (by wither black or white people), as a term of endearment (mostly but not exclusively by black people), and as a throwaway utterance (I didn’t mean nothin’ by it).

It’s always made me wince, no matter what the context, because I know its history.

That means no matter how rappers tried to rationalize their use of the “N” word, it rang hollow for me. Even gifted hip hop artists seem to just throw it into their lyrics as a means of gaining “street credibility”.

Now, all this having been said, it seems to me that use of the “N” word is starting to decline, at least among black people. Maybe it’s the election of President Barack Obama, or maybe linguistic fashion is changing, but I don’t hear it quite as much in ordinary conversation among young black people.

Some might argue that, as a black man of a certain age, I just don’t hear as much conversation among young black folks as I used to?

It’s possible that my perception is wrong, and that groups like Ban the “N” Word have had no impact at all.

NWord-tshirt

However, a friend sent me one of those Funspace videos on Facebook the other day. Normally, I play about 10 seconds of it and then move on, but this one was different. It’s really only after the first 10 seconds that it gets interesting.

It’s a young man named Johnathan McCoy, winner of an oratorical contest at Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple, and his words about moving the “N” word from the vocabulary of black America might just have an impact.

So, instead of continuing with this rant, I give you  10-year-old Johnathan McCoy, whose voice hasn’t even changed yet, dispensing wisdom that should command all our attention.

Many thanks to my old friend Curtis Waller for sending this to me on Facebook.

But bottom line, you tell me. Can the words of this child make people think before they use the “N” word?

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