Wednesday, March 28, 2012

reductivism of news

One might argue it's good to read the news, but what is news and which of it should we read?
On that latter question I mean that there are many different types of news, their differences essentially as a matter of either scope, content or quality.

I expose myself to rather narrow content and don't much want to discuss the utility of different types of content. Rather, I think mostly about the scope and quality of news, however now I want to work out a bit why the scope of the news concerns me. Scope concerns statistics.
Many will be expected to read on the minutiae of celebrities' lives, though any feasible utility in assimilating that information apply only to social situations. Certainly societies acclimating to this content will produce superficial and hollow social interactions, therein relationships.
Likewise, in much news focusing on so few, the circumstances of the many lie hidden from public consciousness. Newspapers commonly present the machinations of insignificant polls as being representative of reality, and religiously cite government statistics assuming they make use of reasonable methodologies. Bureaucracies and the esoteric tax system developed for them allow methods of accounting, spiting public ignorance, inaccurately presenting the organization's health and dealings. These kinds of information, while sometimes dolled out in general news, find most use in professionals relying on accurate reporting of the legally binding prices and actions of organizations. These professionals, unlike fans of gossip, use the data to profit from the often limited possible outcomes in financial dealings. General audiences are subject to less precise news, but as before won't benefit from it.

The intended demographic for news provides interesting notions of scope. Corporate bureaucracies provide news content for all manner of consumer. US general news content is mostly national or regional. The news is often compiled by graduates of accredited journalism programs. Writers have editors who guide and focus their work; they both have limited knowledge of and access to what's going on and so rely on the channels that have been legislated to homogenize the acquisition of information.
But while accredited and sanctioned journalists are privy to certain privileges (press pass), can that be enough to sufficiently provide news to the public? This enters territory which begs for content to be considered, but rather I remain on scope.
The regional newspaper may provide a leaflet with the local corporate market's prices, but does that same paper also educate on what affects those prices, where those products come from, and what impact that company has on that community and others?

Journalism is not entertainment, but when it embodies noble service, like a good teacher, will captivate.
Captivating, relevant journalism will foster a powerful community. Citizen media offers the potential for the community itself to produce that journalism. The success of social networking demonstrates a strong supply of information, but the paradigms for this content do not suffice to establish reasonable citizen journalism. Therefore the market for citizen journalism platforms is open.
Means of acquiring, organizing, and accurately organizing information are vital. Separate is how processed information is retrieved by citizens. Google News provides a strong example of these efforts, but there are many reasonable criticisms of that service. Blogs, forums and more recently journalism allows a correspondence between those taking responsibility of providing information with those relying on and consuming it.
Citizen journalism can fulfill this role, and using social networking make journalism interactive and transforming.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

the death of a local (Miami) cyclist,

The recent death of 37 year old Andy Cohen, a recent example of an ongoing trend in Miami of terrible unfortunate hit and runs involving cyclists dying. Local bicycle blog Miami Bike Scene drummed interest in the death with an impressive moving memorial.
With a large focus after the unfortunate death of Christophe Le Canne, and the subsequent detention in punishment for it, demonstrate in the interim that retribution is not a sufficient method for deterring accidents involving vehicles hitting cyclists.
The rights of people to use roads at their pleasure have been protected--even if only superficially by laws and regulation. But these laws alone and without a concerted effort focused at deterring the circumstance, rather than condemning its occurrence, surely persist it.
Having personally witnessed promises made about the very road of this more recent bicycle death on the Rickenbacker Causeway, I recognize the frustration of those in the community who would publicly demand the living rights of all people. Bicyclists, though a perceived nuisance to drivers, represent a legitimate and growing demographic of transported people. Public transportation and a personal car are not always sufficient and necessary means of meeting our transportation needs.

If the community gathers to demand justice in response to this recent of various bicycle deaths, it would do best though to focus not on response, rather sharply at the inability of the ongoing approach to adequately or noticeable promote the safety of that community.
The answer is not simple, but do we even ask the right questions of those who act in our names? It is unreasonable for government to approach problem solving by the paradigm of costly studies and lofty schemes promoted by public funds seeking firms.
While drivers mostly advance the conventional wisdom that bicycles belong on the sidewalk, any bicyclist worth their damn uses the streets to get places otherwise far away.  They would tell you the impracticality of relying on the sidewalk.

There are probably many ways to get the idea in the minds of Miami drivers that bicyclists should be respect. (everyone should be respected) Some cheesy in part of me like sharrows; others like bike lanes. More ubiquitous exposure will certainly have its place and unfortunately so too will the accidents.