Category: Media

Brandy Doyle

Expansion of Community Radio Means More Opportunities for Ethnic Media

By Brandy Doyle, Nov 30, 2012 9:25 AM

Today the Federal Communications Commission announced that for the first time in more than a decade, community groups will be able to start small, local radio stations. The FCC will take applications for new low power FM radio stations in Fall of 2013.

James Tucker

The Passing of Bob Armendariz

By James Tucker, May 11, 2012 12:00 AM


With the passing of Robert “Bob” L. Armendariz, tireless Hispanic community activist and humanitarian, Cinco de Mayo celebrations throughout Southern Colorado region will not be the same. The voice of a giant has been quieted. As founder and editor of Hispania News, Bob circulated his first issue on Cinco de Mayo in 1987 at Monument Valley Park. He was raised in a farming family in Sugar City, Colorado. First and foremost, Bob was a great citizen who proudly served his country in Vietnam. After his Vietnam service, Bob served as a Public Information officer at Fort Carson in the seventies. Following a career in the military, Bob worked in a variety of capacities at KKTV and in Colorado Springs.

Kristian Ramos

Latinos Leading the Smartphone Revolution

By Kristian Ramos, May 2, 2012 1:00 PM


Latinovations

My tia received an I-Pad last Christmas which, of course, led to my abuela and 7 year old prima fighting over the toy. My abuela has never turned on a desktop computer and has a fuzzy understanding of what the internet actually is, but when she gets going on Fruit Ninja the expression of bliss on her face must be seen to be believed. My prima, on the other hand, learned to type on a touch screen, is far better at Angry Birds then I ever will be, and interacts with the internet more on her mobile device then she ever will via a desktop computer. This experience is a microcosm of the changes facing the country and telecom industry in response to the profound shifts in technology and demography.

Pablo Manriquez

Bilingual Is Why A Strong NAHJ Is So Important For American Journalism

By Pablo Manriquez, Apr 7, 2012 11:57 PM

Last year the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) faced a budget crisis, moved out of the National Press Club offices in Washington, D.C., and watched the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) leave the Unity Conference over conflicting interests in the conference's structure. By all accounts, the NAHJ seemed doomed to follow innumerable professional advocacy organizations down the Great Recession's toilet. I did not renew my membership.

Now, NAHJ President Michele Salcedo (Associated Press) reports, "NAHJ ended 2011 strongly in the black for the first time in three years following a number of painful but necessary austerity measures. According to our final financial numbers, NAHJ finished 2011 with revenues of more than $111,000 over expenses, leaving us with more than $104,000 in investments at the end of December." I swell with ethnic pride.

Salcedo's results are remarkable, and her presidency the finest since I've been a member. I joined NAHJ in 2009 at the National Press Club, paying an intern named Pablo my membership dues in what looked like the chaos of a political campaign's command center. When NAHJ moves back to the Press Club, and I have every faith in Salcedo and the Board to win this comeback tour, I think the office rented should be tidy, and be well-crafted with powerful interior design, that it may relay the thriving American success stories of Hispanic careers in media that it creates and accelerates.

Why is a strong NAHJ so important for America? While I find no data to prove that NAHJ members are overwhelmingly more likely than any other professional advocacy organization for media professionals to be bilingual in English & Spanish, I'd bet pounds to pesos that we are. In Washington, we read Washington Hispanic and watch Telemundo and Univision. The Spanish-language press in Washington covers immigration with immigrant zeal, and amplifies the our gruesome policy negligence on the issue Southward.

However, politicos on Capitol Hill can ignore Univision and Telemundo much easier than they can any major news network broadcasting Washington politics in English. Outside of Washington, as America knows, politicos on Capitol Hill can ignore everything failing to donate to their reelection campaigns. Immigration advocacy organizations fail to bribe our Congress with enough to take seriously obvious legislation like the Dream Act, which like all immigration reform is disproportionally critical to the American future of Latinos.

Spanish is an essential skill to responsibly cover immigration in the United States, whether on Capitol Hill or out in the field. Eighty-one out of every 100 undocumented immigrants and 97 out of every 100 deportees is a Latino. I'm guessing Kirk Semple of the New York Times is not a Latino. On 27 July 2010, the Times published "Illegal Immigrants Caught on a Yacht, in a Web of Maritime Laws", a story about Ralph Lauren fashion designer Gaea Rich's boyfriend, an undocumented immigrant discovered on Ms. Rich's yacht during a routine Coast Guard inspection off Long Island Sound. Rich reports in the 2nd paragraph of his story that "two passengers -- a Guatemalan caterer hired for the day and Ms. Rich's boyfriend, David Quinn, an Irishman who had worked for years as a horse-carriage driver in Central Park" were detained and faced deportation. That's all we hear of the Guatemalan caterer, who disappears, never to be mentioned again, in final 24 paragraphs of Rich's story about the Irishman.

Does Kirk Semple speak Spanish? Was a Latino editor at the New York Times involved at all in the newspaper's immigration coverage? Does a bilingual edit immigration coverage at the New York TImes today? I hope so. If not, it would behoove The New York Times Company to immediately call Michele Salcedo and find the right hire, that the crimes of Guatemalans and all Latinos be absorbed on an equa-lingual playing field in our nation's journalism.

Kristian Ramos

Could Hispanic Mobile Media Usage Be Hurt by 'Spectrum' Crunch?

By Kristian Ramos, Apr 6, 2012 11:35 AM


Latinovations

Hispanics are interacting with mobile media more then ever, but a looming “spectrum,” crunch — the exhaustion of radio waves necessary to provide voice, text and internet services to mobile phones and tablets — may derail the gains that this community has recently made.


Paul Kleyman

David Brooks' "Aristocratic" Presidency: A Tale of Two Romneys

By Paul Kleyman, Jan 16, 2012 1:25 AM

 
SAN FRANCISCO--No one should be surprised by the news that presidential candidates are necessarily millionaires. But last Friday, Jan. 13,  New York Times columnist David Brooks, in his thinly veiled support of Mitt Romney--anointed another class of those Americans should expect to occupy the White House. Call it the Aristocratic Presidency.

As Romney slogs toward Saturday’s South Carolina primary--through a thicket of distrust about his wealth and a briar patch of his own gaffes (“Corporations are people,” “I like to fire people”)—Brooks (“The CEO in Politics")  attempts to reconstitute Romney by enumerating the qualities of a successful United States president.

Heading Brooks’ list of the prime presidential attributes successful presidents have shared are that they tend to be “emotionally secure” and “often raised in an aristocratic family.”

The erudite pundit concludes by declaring Mitt Romney’s performance at the private equity firm Bain Capital to be “largely irrelevant to the question of whether he could be a good president.” Good character, you see, may be its own reward; never mind what those on high have actually done.

Life’s Experiences (Including at Prep School)

Brooks asserts that “the real question” is whether Romney, the son of an industrial leader who became a governor and GOP presidential candidate, has absorbed the traits “from his upbringing and the deeper experiences of life” that would manifest later as greatness.

It can’t hurt if some of Romney’s early experiences and those of past presidential successes , suggests Brooks, “were infused, often at an elite prep school, with a sense of obligation and responsibility to perform public service.”

Certainly, the advantages of wealth and position often clear a path to the top, such as for Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy. And Brooks’ column also gives nods to the emotional security evident among “military leaders like Dwight D. Eisenhower, and in serenely successful movie stars, like Ronald Reagan.”

Historians can argue over Brooks’ discussion of meritorious presidents, serene movie stars in politics and their attributes. But somehow the genteel commentator doesn’t quite count Romney’s decades of business practice among the factors most would regard as central to his life experience.

Mitt’s Real Rival, His Dad

The genuine question is not how Mitt Romney’s business practices and the values they reveal stack up against Gingrich, Paul and Santorum, but how well he compares to the one he can be most sharply measured against–his father, George W. Romney.

On his way to business and political success, George Romney’s leadership qualities were annealed by mien family circumstance in the Depression and a tough course at the prep school of hard knocks, where by all reports he learned the meaning of a day’s work.

The senior Romney emerged as the CEO of American Motors Corporation (AMC), and there he revitalized a struggling company by reviling Detroit’s “gas guzzlers.” He proved there was an American market for smaller, more efficient cars, notably the Rambler. George Romney rolled steel off assembly lines; he didn’t push companies and their workers off the financial edge of his desk.

George worked closely with labor, although he’d certainly bumped heads with them. And he was among a breed of CEOs who understood that it is unseemly to fract the company’s coffers for personal riches, thus sowing resentment down on the line.

During Mitt’s bid for the 2008 GOP nomination, Brooks’ New York Times colleague David Leonhardt wrote in reported that George Romney “voluntarily turned down $268,000 in pay over five years when he was chief executive, which was equal to about 20 percent of his total pay during that time.”

In 1960, the senior Romney refused a $100,000 bonus after persuading the AMC board that no officer of the firm should make more than $225,000 a year (equal to about a million and a half dollars today).

In addition, Wikipedia notes, George "was one of only a few Michigan corporate chiefs to support passage and implementation of the state Fair Employment Practices Act."

Times have changed along with what Leonhardt termed “cultural norms and basic economics.” He wrote that before Mitt left Bain in 1999, he owned 100 percent of the company’s voting stock, thereby earning “the hero status conferred on executives.”

Unlike his father’s old-fashioned model of domestic manufacturing for the mostly American market, Mitt rode an international wave of “new financial instruments like junk bonds, borrowing money to make big bets and, when they paid off, big returns.” One might add subprime mortgages, derivatives and other exotic instruments that contributed to today’s economic gulf between rich and poor—not to mention the financial collapse.

George certainly was among the super rich of his day, not merely a member of the 1 percent (or 1 in 100), but of the top 0.01 percent (1 in 10,000) in annual earnings. However, explained Leonhardt, that group absorbed 1.2 percent of all income in the United States. By 2005, the wealthiest of the swells sucked up over 5 percent of U.S. earnings.

Leonhardt praised Bain for transforming some firms and building up some companies. Mitt gets credit for developing Staples, for instance, and also Dominoes Pizza.

George Welcomed MLK, Hit Goldwater’s “Racist Campaign”

In politics, George, like any public figure, did not serve a governor of Michigan without controversy. History credits him as a champion of civil rights, welcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., to the state with an official endorsement of King’s 1963 march in Detroit. When Romney was sharply criticized by a top Mormon leader for proposing a civil rights bill, Romney stood his ground.

In 1964, as a proud leader of the now-clipped liberal wing of the Republican Party, George “picked a fight with supporters of Senator Barry Goldwater by suggesting he planned a ‘racist campaign,’” according to a 2007 Times article by David D. Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick reported that while the father had kicked off his 1968 presidential campaign “with a tour of slums,” son, Mitt, in 2007, was “courting Christian conservatives and anti-tax activists” for their support.

True, George also handled Motor City’s 1967 riots poorly. But overall he's remembered as a man of integrity. On another issue as Michigan governor he promoted a tax-increase to improve Detroit schools--while his son now advocates for private universities, especially one that contributes to his campaign. And George led the way for a new state constitution to make raising revenue easier.

Of course, in South Carolina this week, Mitts opponents are vilifying him as a “moderate.” (Imagine Bernie Madoff calling Willie Sutton a moderate because he only robbed one bank at a time.) But it would be difficult to conceive of George, who built his reputation as someone who could get things done on a bipartisan basis, coming hat in hand to the Tea Party and swearing to repent his past sins--in the way that Mitt has with universal health coverage, among other flip-flops to the right.

Time will judge whether, if elected, Mitt Romney will nobly acquit himself as a successful president in the Brooksian mold. But in considering Brooks’ ruminations on presidencies from the base to the aristocratic, readers last Friday didn’t have to do more than shift their gaze to the left, of course, for a differently informed viewpoint, that of Paul Krugman.

A Whiff of Gordon Gekko

Yes, yes, Krugman is dismissed by some as a shrill liberal, while many read Brooks for his seeming philosophical equanimity. But Krugman’s 2009 Nobel Prize for advancing economists understanding of the global economy should count for something in evaluating a candidate who claims his business experience as his chief qualification to occupy the White House.

Krugman’s instructive column questions whether Mitt “understands the difference between running a business and managing an economy.”

As to Mitt’s business acumen and his character, though, Krugman cuts to the cold heart of the issue. Referring to the “greed is good” character in the film Wall Street, Krugman writes, “There is at least a whiff of Gordon Gekko in his time at Bain Capital, a private equity firm; he was a buyer and seller of businesses, often to the detriment of their employees, rather than someone who ran companies for the long haul.”

You know, a company like his father’s AMC.


Marisa Treviño

New Latino Literary Magazine Breaks Ethnic and Gender Stereotypes

By Marisa Treviño, Dec 15, 2011 7:21 AM


LatinaLista

How many Latino writers are there in the United States?

It’s a question that many of us would answer with two hands since it seems that it’s only a handful whom mainstream publishers continually recognize as having any talent. Yet, there are so many more talented Latino and Latina writers who, try as they might, just can’t break down the glass walls of mainstream acceptance.

Peter Schurmann

Lessons from the Hiker Saga

By Peter Schurmann, Sep 22, 2011 10:02 AM

Ed. Note: The following is a brief Q&A conducted with Joel Simon of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York on the release of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal after two years in an Iranian prison. Bauer had worked as a correspondent for New America Media prior to his detention.

What lessons can we take from the two-year detention of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal in terms of protecting journalists in the future?

The circumstances of Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal's arrest and detention are highly unusual. Neither was on assignment when they were arrested, and they were not targeted because of their journalism. It's therefore very difficult to draw any lessons other than the obvious one: The Iranian justice system is cruel and perverse. We should not forget the dozens of Iranian journalists who remain in jail and who are subject to regular abuse.

How do you think Bauer's being a freelance journalist impacted the course of events surrounding the hikers' detention?


I don’t see any impact. My understanding is that they were on a recreational hiking trip in Kurdistan when they accidentally strayed across the border into Iran. We spoke on Bauer's behalf to dispel accusations that he was a spy. Shane was -- and is -- a well-established journalist who was living and working the region.

How would you describe American attitudes toward the case of Bauer and Fatal?

No question that it was a struggle to get Americans to understand their situation. Most Americans do not go hiking in Iraqi Kurdistan. But if you live and work in the region, and Shane did, you know that Kurdistan is a scenic and safe area.

Do you agree with those who say that America's detention of journalists, most notably that of Al Jazeera reporter Sami al Haj, has set a precedent for governments or non-state actors to use members of the media as pawns in international maneuvering?

The unjust detention of Sami Al-Haj at Guantanamo represents a blot on the U.S.'s press freedom record. But I don't think it played any role in Shane and Josh's prolonged detention, which was based primarily on the political calculations of the Iranian government.

In light of Bauer and Fatal's release, what advice would you offer journalists looking to enter into conflict zones or other potentially risky areas?

Again, it's impossible to generalize from Shane and Josh's experience since as far as we know they were not on assignment and were not detained for their journalism. Obviously, journalists need to exercise caution and prudence when covering stories that involve danger. At the same time, we need to recognize that covering certain critical stories requires risk and we need to support journalists who put themselves in harm's way to bring us the news from the frontlines.

Andrew Lam

Asian Pacific Americans of Conscience on the Impending Execution of Troy Davis.

By Andrew Lam, Sep 20, 2011 6:53 PM

 A last-ditch clemency appeal by Troy Davis, who is set to be executed in a high-profile case on Wednesday for the murder of a police officer,  has been denied by a Georgia parole board on Tuesday.

In 1991 Davis was convicted and sentenced to death row themurder of off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in Georgia two years earlier. Though a number of witnesses have recanted their testimony, the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Tuesday denied Davis clemency.

On facebook as well as twitter and other social media his cause is being championed by various individuals, and organizations like Change.org, NAACP and Amnesty International are waging a campaign to have as many people to use text to sign their pettitions asking for the stay in execution. 


Below is a statement by Asian Pacific Americans of Conscience on the Impending Execution of Troy Davis. 

Georgia's State Board of Pardons and Paroles has recently rejected Troy Davis' clemency petition. Davis continues to face execution on Wed., Sept. 21 at 7 pm EDT. The killing by execution of Troy Davis must be stopped. The most compelling reason for this is that there is ample evidence that points to factual innocence. Decades ago an innocent Korean immigrant teen was unjustly imprisoned and almost faced death in California. Chol Soo Lee's life was spared because of the untiring efforts of journalists, lawyers, and community members who unearthed critical information missed by trial lawyers in that case. We have seen that the system is imperfect...over a hundred times in death penalty cases. There are options that can be exercised to save an innocent life. Therefore we must voice our experience and share the wisdom of that experience today. We all share in the act that appears to be imminent due to the failure of our justice system in the Davis case.

Troy Davis may be out of options in the justice system but he is not out of options in the realm of humanity and common decency. A life can still be spared and whatever standards or criteria are required by the justice system can be made more humane by way of an executive decision. Executive action is needed now, not an execution.

We urge that the Board reconsider its decision and that Chatham County (Savannah) District Attorney Larry Chisolm seek a withdrawal of the death warrant and support clemency himself. We urge everyone to do what they can to stop the execution of Troy Davis.

More information on how to take action can be found at:

http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=6oJCLQPAJiJUG&b=6645049&aid=516533.

Signed,

Angela Oh
Helen Zia
Maxine Hong Kingston
K.W. Lee
Jessica Hagedorn
Don T. Nakanishi



Frank Gómez

Spanish: A "Foreign" Language?

By Frank Gómez, Aug 31, 2011 6:07 PM

The respected Pew Hispanic Center in Washington recently released an exhaustive report on Hispanic media. Fine report, great data. The conclusion: "Hispanic media" are doing well - better than English language media in terms of revenues, circulation and number of media companies.

Eming Piansay

The Chick Flick Comedy Diaspora

By Eming Piansay, May 17, 2011 2:52 PM

When the first wave of teaser trailers for Judd Apatow’s Bridesmaids hit the airwaves offering the world a female version to the hilarious, drug induced Hang Over series all I could think was: finally!

Finally, Hollywood got with the program that women have a raunchy side that doesn’t necessary include getting in touch with our emotions 24/7 or running around in airbrushed leather outfits.

Andrew Lam

YouTube Co-Founder Honored by Northern California Asia Society

By Andrew Lam, May 3, 2011 11:49 AM

 
Steve Chen, who co-founded YouTube in 2005, is being honored by the Northern California Asia Society in San Francisco May 5 at the Four Seasons. According to Asianweek, Chen is “credited with developing the company’s massive data centers and helping build YouTube into a premier entertainment destination and one of the most popular Web sites on the Internet today.”

Another local Asian-American entrepreneur being honored by the Northern California Asia Society is Dr. Naren Gupta, co-founder and managing director of Nexus Venture Capital and SF Hep B Free. Nexus Venture Capital “invests in innovative companies to serve both the Indian and the global markets,” according to the Asia Society.

SF Hep Free, the Asia Society notes, “has put San Francisco at the forefront of the nation in fighting chronic hepatitis B, a disease that disproportionately affects Asian Pacific Islanders.”

The annual dinner is ASNC’s most prestigious event and largest fundraiser of the year, notes Asian Week, and is attended by more than 350 distinguished guests including leaders in business, academia, the diplomatic corps, and media. Featured speakers of past annual dinners have included Madeleine Albright, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Mayor Gavin Newsom, and Nobel Laureate and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

Mayor Ed Lee has been invited as keynote speaker to this year’s dinner.

Sponsorships begin at $5,000. Individual tickets are available for $275. 

Andrew Lam is author of "East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres."

Paul Kleyman

WAVELENGTH: Net Neutrality Battle Rages On

By Paul Kleyman, Apr 18, 2011 2:00 PM


Here’s the link to the latest bi-weekly Wavelength e-news by Eric Arnold from The Media Consortium. This blog rounds up the latest in media policy news, including the ongoing debate over Net Neutrality, the fight over keeping the Internet open and free. It also contains highlights from the National Conference for Media Reform, new concerns about the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger, and new charges of possible antitrust violations by Google.

This issue features content and reporting from:

* Mother Jones
* Truthout
* Oakland Local
* New America Media
* GRITtv

Wavelength is completely free for any organization to repost or link to.



Elena Shore

America's 'National Suicide' - The Brain Drain of Skilled Immigrants

By Elena Shore, Apr 12, 2011 1:16 PM

After working for a year at a Massachusetts startup, 33-year-old Lakshminarayana Ganti decided to take a quick trip to visit his family in India. Instead, he entered a "bureaucratic nightmare that would cost him his job, his car, and his life in the United States." Ganti's Orwellian journey through the bureaucracy of the U.S. immigration system -- recounted in an article by Ted Alden on the cover of this week's Newsweek International -- is emblematic of a larger problem, Alden writes: the brain drain of skilled immigrants from the United States, which New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dubbed “a form of national suicide.”

Paul Kleyman

WAVELENGTH: What's Original Reporting Worth? Plus AT&T & More

By Paul Kleyman, Apr 4, 2011 12:10 AM


Editor's Note: New America Media (NAM) is pleased  to bring you this summary of  the second issue of "The Wavelength," a new biweekly blog of news  from the front lines of media battles in the United States. It is published by The Media Consortium (TMC), of which NAM is a member. Here is the link to the full issue of "The Wavelength."

How Original?

Last week, the New York Times debuted its long-awaited paywall, and blogger Nate Silver used the launch as an opportunity to explore the value of a news organization based on the amount of original reporting it produces. While Silver’s rankings could be a valuable tool for news organizations, Mother Jones‘ Nick Baumann finds Silver’s methodology wanting.

“The results, as you might expect, made the Times [paywall] look like a pretty good value,” Baumann writes. But the real problems are in how Silver ranks “original reporting”– namely that online citations don’t always identify the outlet, and that larger, established news organizations sometimes get credit for breaking stories when smaller orgs actually had the scoop first. Rankings are valuable, but they need deeper exploration, maybe via funding from the Knight Foundation, Google.org or others.

AT&T/T-Mobile Merger still a very bad idea

Free Press’s Tim Karr weighs in on the mega-merger with five reasons why it’s not so great for consumers. According to Karr, “Consolidation on the scale being proposed by AT&T resembles the old railroad and oil trusts of the 19th century.” Karr also notes that the merger would erode competition, result in higher prices and fewer choices for consumers, eliminate many jobs, stifle innovation in the tech sector, and threaten free speech. [And that’s only when the glass is half full. Gulp!]

The disappearance of T-Mobile could have a huge impact on communities of color, which rely on unrestricted text and Web plans, especially people who don’t own computers. At Colorlines.com, Jamilah King notes that  blacks and Latinos are among the biggest users of mobile technology. If unlimited data plans end, and prices for wireless service rise for current T-Mobile users--if and when a merger is completed--the digital divide will almost certainly widen.

Buying Anti-Net Neutrality Votes

Crunchgear had an eye-opening article outlining how over the last four election cycles Internet service providers spread $868,024 to the 15 members of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology who opposed Net Neutrality—the idea of keeping the Internet from becoming costly gatekeepers of information and likely censors.

New Study Details Women in Media Globally

In “It’s Still a Man’s World, Especially at the Top,” Inter Press Service’s Andrea Lunt reports on a new study of media in 60 countries by the International Women’s Media Foundation showing that gender inequality in the media sphere has been institutionalized. There is good news, though: The gap appears to be closing, especially at the executive level, where women have more than doubled their presence in the past 15 years.

Paul Kleyman

THE WAVELENGTH: What Proposed AT&T/T-Mobile Merger Means

By Paul Kleyman, Mar 21, 2011 3:25 PM

New America Media (NAM) is proud to bring you this first in a series of dispatches from the front lines of media battles in the United States. Over the next four months, via NAM's membership in The Media Consortium (TMC), we will publish a series of news bulletins and in-depth articles on the state of the new media, and how developments in controversial areas, such as Net Neutrality, will affect Americans.

TMC is a network of the country’s leading, progressive, independent media outlets set on amplifying independent media’s voice, increasing the public policy clout of independents, and, especially, engaging the public in complicated, but vital issues of media access and freedom. The issue of  Net Neutrality, for example, is about preserving the internet as an open carrier of information, not as a paid-access service with commercial or other information gatekeepers. Other pieces will probe the wild world of Internet regulation -- and more.

Here is the link to the inaugural issue of "The Wavelength," a biweekly blog by Eric K. Arnold, about the latest trends and developments in national media policy. This week, the focus is on major mergers, holding telecom giants accountable, and the revolving door at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The top story is on AT&T's announcement that it has reached an agreement with T-Mobile to buy the mobile phone service provider for $39 billion. As reported in the New York Times, the deal would “create the largest wireless carrier in the nation" and promises to reshape the industry.

Arnold writes:

The immediate upshot is that the number of nationwide wireless carriers would drop from four to three, with Sprint Nextel running a distant third behind AT&T/T-Mobile and Verizon. Another impact could be higher rates for current T-Mobile customers. Advocates of the deal suggest it could improve AT&T’s oft-criticized service, resulting in fewer dropped calls. However, critics note that the roughly $3 billion in projected annual cost savings will likely come at the expense of workers at the hundreds of retail outlets expected to close, if the deal goes through.

Click on "The Wavelength" link above for this issue.





Paul Kleyman

Where Are We the People? Human Impacts vs. Budget Battles

By Paul Kleyman, Feb 25, 2011 4:18 PM


What happened to “We the people?” One would think, from the red-state rotundas of Wisconsin and Indiana to the blue governorships of New York and California, that Lincoln had declared at Gettysburg the binding principle of government of the budget, for the budget and by the budget.

Don’t get me wrong. This old new lefty focuses a sharp eye on ballot measures with price tags, especially related to pensions and benefits for public employees. But then again, I’ve had to call the fire department in the past, and my daughter did go to public schools here in San Francisco.

As for my grown-up daughter, I tried to get across to her that money isn’t everything; it’s a tool and a resource the use of which should be guided by what’s important in life. It’s one element, but not the principal one. That comes in finding and working toward goals, goals motivated by dreams, sustainable ones. That’s where practical things like money come, but driven by what one wants and needs for a good and balanced life.

So what happened to America’s dreams for a good and balanced life? How is it that every level of government now routinely puts a price—in the form of line items--on life?

You don’t need to remind me that the tussle between guns-and-butter is the classic balancing act of public spending and taxation. But how is it that “bipartisanship” has come to pit those on both sides of the political aisle against pretty much the rest of us? How did the current debates reflect a recession of conscience, a lapse in loyal opposition that has placed every aspect of American life proudly on the budgetary table, as if the people involved are incidental to the dream that has sustained America?

From Gov. Moonbeam to Gov. Sunset

On Presidents Day, I was shoveling through a Minnesota-sized snowdrift of paper that mounded up on my kitchen table. It’s the weekly recycling chore that would take much less time were it not for the discoveries, the ones only mildly reminiscent of my Upper Midwestern youth in the dead of winter. (Hence, my last four decades in California.) I can still feel that cringe I’d get from that incessant scrape of shovel along concrete. And now and then a forgotten toy or missing pen would plop out as I turned the snow shovel on to a sooty drift.

What plopped out of my paper drift this week was my misplaced printout of the governor’s proposed budget. Paging through its spare prose I could see Medicaid doctor’s visits cut by $195.5 million next year, another $176.6 million trimmed by eliminating adult day heath programs for impoverished seniors and people with disabilities, jumps in premiums and copays for very poor families with children, and the axing – excuse me – the “savings” -- from the elimination of or drastic reductions in programs that often enable families to care for their youngest or oldest members.

This was not a document of budget-frenzied Republican freshmen in Congress or of red-state schizophrenia, as exhibited by Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker. What I underlined and circled was the proposed budget of California Gov. Jerry Brown. It might just as well have been PDF ready from New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo or any partisan political figure from Left Coast to Right.

News pages run daily with the dismal prospects of immanent budgetary collapse and pledges of sharing the “pain” and “tough choices,” favorite refrains of California’s one-time Gov. Moonbeam transmuted into today’s Gov. Sunset.

The harangues and counter-railing over economic imperatives and fiscal follies goes on daily. But what struck me as I paged through Gov. Brown’s leadership-devoid budget plan was that all of the arguments beg the red-blooded American question: Where are we the people in these debates?

How did the civil society Americans have built since the shameful days of poorhouses and debtor’s prisons come to a point at which government balance sheets have so easily placed a price on human lives declared as “savings” for our grandchildren’s future?

Make no mistake about it: Budget cuts, such as Arizona’s savings by denying impoverished patients certain organ transplants or many states’ limiting of the number of prescription drugs one can fill per month, will result in deep distress or death for many people.

Why must we non-budget items be consigned to sitting on our thumbs, while our health, housing, environment, education, our very future, are held hostage to narrowly drawn line items on federal, state and local balance sheets. Never mind that many actual or proposed cuts will result in greater costs through such likely developments as accelerated emergency-room visits or premature institutionalization.

Let Your People In

Politicians at each governmental level get away daily with declaring dire consequences for the American way of life, but never seem to connect the dots between them (except for the all-important federal matching funds for this or that program)? The sheer isolation of government budgets from one level to the next – and then to genuine human needs, potential and aspirations, even from the human capital required for maximizing America’s place in the global economy – should be maddening enough for people to encircle every capitol rotunda shouting, “Let your people in.”

And letting the people in is exactly what I have in mind. Accuse me of snow-blind naivety, if you like. But why not compel our leaders to file every budget with a human impact report? Americans are well aware of the need for environmental impact reports enabling them to assess or at least debate about the effects of building projects. Only a week or so ago, I heard a business fellow on NPR’s “Marketplace” propose a Regulatory Impact Report that would reveal what bureaucratic roadblocks capital chaps like himself might run up against when they try to stoke our economic engines.

So, what about “we, the people?” My simple proposal is to impose on our political process a bit of policy analysis – to go with standard budget analysis – that I call the Human Impact Report.

WHY: Our budget-obsessed economy and political culture insist on down-to-the-penny numbers that always prove inaccurate or questionable in the long run, and on budgetary twists that now abjure revenue as politically unfeasible, as in, “No new taxes.”

WHAT: Officials proposing changes in government programs or regulations should have to include a comprehensive Human Impact Report showing exactly who would be affected, how and at what potential other cost. (Examples might be, emergency room visits stemming from ill-considered cuts to preventive measures; estimated losses in future tax revenue due to escalating raises in college tuition.)

Congress already asks for a budgetary impact report called “CBO scoring,” referring to analyses by the Congressional Budget Office to show whether and how much any given proposal will cost in tax dollars. If a bill would cost anything at all, the sponsors must show an “offset,” which is Washington-speak for demonstrating where else money can be found to pay for the program through savings or cuts.

The Great God Budget and the Satanic Tax Increase are the principal manifestation of American short-termism: sound bites instead of debates, campaign seasons instead of leadership, “bottom lines” falsely calibrated by quarterly business cycles, gains in year-to-year test-scores as a proxy for effective and appropriate education, attacks on immigrants when we need them to keep our culture and economy vibrant and – yes -- competitive.

Good measurements are important, but as guidelines and indicators. Yet, what our shortsighted system has done is replace meaning with metrics – often not even very good ones.

WE PEOPLE: If debt drives our social and political culture more obsessively into the costs of “freedom” (the American carrot) and “national security” (the fear-monger’s stick), then why don’t we have a measure required for genuine citizen security? Increase the war budget (now a separate appropriation from the Pentagon) only after the public can see – and debate about – the Human Impact Score: How many people will die, families will be affected by deployments, and so on. Presidents may well invade or deceive, as they always have, but let the human price hang openly for all to see.

Governments, of course, will balk at this, but organizations have been effective in getting such things started. For instance, the Annie E. Casey Foundation releases an annual Kids Count report card on things like the health, education and poverty among children. Another version is the Nuclear Clock put out for years by, I believe, SANE.

I believe that media organizations or advocacy groups could work with respected academics to come up with a kind of template many could adapt to measure the impact of cuts--or leave big, red question marks exposing the current knowledge deficit exposed by a given proposal, say, to cut Social Security benefits or children’s health programs.

WHO WOULD USE THESE: Besides legislative bodies, everyone, across the political spectrum would try spinning their Human Impact Reports. That would be just fine and democratic. The point is to get people thinking in up-close-and-personal terms, not merely default to human effects as a secondary factor in dollar calculations.


Sandip Roy

DOMA and Obama - Time to Leave Nuance Behind?

By Sandip Roy, Feb 24, 2011 1:43 AM

 Once President Obama’s most appealing asset was his grasp of nuance. Now he often feels like a prisoner of it. He has directed his Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. But the White House also clarified he is still opposed to same-sex marriage and supports civil unions. His views on same-sex marriage are apparently still “evolving”. Perhaps the president needs some cover before he does a u-turn from his campaign trail stance on the issue. Or perhaps it’s really about nuance. But sometimes you have to be red or blue, not just an evolving shade of mauve. Sometimes you lead by example, not by nuance.

Andrew Lam

More Than 10,000 Sign Online Petition to Boycott Limbaugh

By Andrew Lam, Feb 8, 2011 2:48 PM



Sen. Leland Yee is not about to let bygones be bygones, not when it comes to Rush Limbaugh’s recent comments about Chinese President Hu Jintao. On Jan. 26, 2011 Yee launched an online petition on his website to condemn Limbaugh’s mocking of the Chinese president’s visit to the White House.

Various local ethnic media organizations have signed onto the petition in protest, including the Fil-Am Star,
Hecho en California Radio 1010, Marcos Gutiérrez Productions, and Philippine News.

Civil rights groups, from the Anti-Defamation League to Chinese for Affirmative Action, have also signed the petition.

According to Nichibei Weekly “The petition calls on Limbaugh to apologize for mocking the Chinese
culture and asks his sponsors to pull their advertisements.”

“Other leaders have also condemned Limbaugh including Congressman David Wu, Congresswoman Judy Chu, California Assemblyman Paul Fong, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and New York Assemblywoman Grace Meng,” reports Nichibei Weekly.

Limbaugh, while covering Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit, offered a mock translation of Hu’s words, adding his own, "Chin chong, chin chong cha...," reported the World Journal. After the senator protested Limbaugh’s remarks, Yee received death threats via racist, expletive-laden faxes that contained a graphic of an American flag-adorned pickup truck dragging a noose.

“We should never allow such racist vitriol to go unchallenged,” said Yee. “It is unfortunate acts like these that demonstrate why we must continue to be vigilant against hate and intolerance.”

As of Jan. 30, more than 10,000 people had signed the petition on Yee’s website – www.senate.ca.gov/yee – and the number is growing.

Also check out the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors comedy team's take on  Rush Limbaugh's silly mockery of Hu Jintao on youtube.


Andrew Lam is the author of
East Eats West: Writing in Two Hemispheres and Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora.

Paul Kleyman

TOUGH LOVING THE NYT #2: Japan's "Generational Roadblock"

By Paul Kleyman, Feb 2, 2011 3:12 PM

While the Middle East is fighting for its democratic life, Martin Fackler of the New York Times would like you to think that Japan is in a slow battle between its young and old citizens.

Writing at length about Japan’s economic woes, Fackler fell into the recurring Ground Hog Day syndrome common to economics writers of repeatedly blaming a broad demographic group for ruining the fortunes of another--thus threatening the whole society.

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