Thursday, October 27, 2011

"We Are the Fourth Estate"

Amy Goodman talks about Democracy Now! arrests and the settlement she and her producers received for their September 1 unlawful arrest at the Republican Convention.

The videos of the arrest became the most watched YouTube videos within the first two days of the Republican Convention. They went viral and because of the major grassroots response, they were released from jail.The lawsuit claimed a violation of the First Amendment rights of Amy and her producers as well as unlawful arrest under the Fourth Amendment.

There was no probable cause or legal basis for the arrest, but most importantly the violation of the First Amendment right of journalists to cover the news. You can't get news if journalists aren't there to cover it.

Goodman said: "We are not there for the state, we are the fourth estate. We are not there to cover for power, but to cover power and to cover the movements that create static and make history. And we've got to get out there on the front like and we cannot be inhibited from that."

Strength in Empowerment

As we've seen from other civil movements, the corporate system does not like when the people confront them as flawed. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now said, "Corporate America has a problem when so many people have been disempowered and left out of the system...they see all of these issues as linked." Therefore, the extent to which the Occupy Wall Street movement has grown, she said resembles that of a civil rights movement.

Goodman said, "These people are very clear about what they want, and what they want is an end to the corporate coup d'etat that has been carried out...people work by consensus, consider issues and decide what to do next."

She related this coming together of people in the Occupy Wall Street movement to the unity that was created by Asmaa Mahfouz in Egypt. One person's plea amounted to a civil revolution that ousted Mubarak from Presidency. Similarly, the empowerment that Occupy Wall Street is giving its people has the potential of amounting to an American Revolution that could change the role of corporate America in our lives forever.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaddafi's death sends media into a 'frenzy'

Interesting article by the Huffington Post posted today about the different approaches taken by media outlets in the reporting of Gaddafi's killing. While major news conglomerates held off until NATO and Libyan sources confirmed the statement of his death, Al Jazeera was seemingly the only big outlet to say definitively that Gaddafi had been killed. By 8a.m. ET Al Jazeera was running a banner that read, "GADDAFI KILLED." It wasn't until an hour later, that The New York Times began running the alert.

Also in the reporting of his death, the footage varies. MSNBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC News and the larger outlets all chose images that captured the celebration of the Libyan people and/or an image of Gaddafi prior to his death. Few outlets, like Al Jazeera and New York Post displayed the graphic images of his death.

Whether one image was better than another, however, isn't the argument. Major news sources waited to go with the story until it was broken by a competitor, meanwhile Al Jazeera was already showing video of the dead body. One tweet read, "Will others go with story now that NYT says it has confirmed #Gaddafi death? CNN still holding off slightly."

Al Jazeera really took the lead on the reporting of this event giving viewers content that no other outlets were providing... so kudos to them!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Enslaved Women

It took one brave woman, compelled to free women of the conventional childbearing obligation, to spark a movement that would liberate woman for generations to come. Despite opposition, Margaret Sanger stimulated women to think for themselves by advocating the prevention of contraception.

Her publications, Woman Rebel and Birth Control Review were seen as filthy and obscene because a woman preventing herself from becoming pregnant was considered a violation of the laws of both God and Nature at the time. Law officials ceased her publication and exiled her from the country, but her dissent magazines instilled a term into its readers minds that would be passed on for over a century to come: birth control.

Introduced in 1914, this umbrella term means any technique or method used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at different stages. Now, in the year 2011, birth control has for the most part lost the negative connotation it once held. Abortion, however,  still lingers in legal, ethical and religious debate. Contraception is still banned in several states and there is still a stigma against women who end a pregnancy through abortion. 

Sanger fought for working class women who often had no idea how to avoid becoming pregnant. Nowadays, women have the options at their fingertips. Places like Planned Parenthood offer contraception, education, services and examinations to any women who seeks their help, even teens. Planned Parenthood receives about $350 million each year in government grants and contracts on the local, state and federal levels, which allows women to take precautionary measures against pregnancy. 

Sanger sparked the movement for birth control, witnessed changes being made and watched the movement succeed, but the fight for women was hardly over. There are now organizations like NOW (The National Organization for Women) who take action to further solidify the accomplishments made by Sanger. With 500,000 contributing members, the organization exists to strengthen women equality, and more specifically, to secure abortion, birth control and all reproductive rights. With the actions they take, such as calling out the Department of Human and Health Services, they encourage members to "take action" themselves by donating or writing a letter to further enforce the work they do.

NOW even has a section criticizing women representation, or lack there of, in the mainstream media titled, "NOW's Media Hall of Shame." In one post about Columnist Dan Savage and comedian Marc Maron, NOW's analysis said: "Political topics and satirical humor have always gone hand-in-hand, but joking about the sexual assault of anyone is in no way amusing. Savage and Maron made it very clear that they have different political views from Bachmann and Santorum, but that gives them no right to fantasize about these candidates being the targets of aggressive, unwanted sex."

NOWs founders address the impact of the media on women's lives and for this reason, fight for media justice for women.

In sum, the legacies of Sanger's accomplishments in the Birth Control Movement and toward women empowerment live on in progressive feminist outlets that exist today. Like Sanger did, these sites don't just get mad, they take action!