Tuesday, July 30, 2013


New Zealand is denying a report that the United States helped it to spy on a journalist.

How many journalists do you think the United States government is spying on?   How is the United States government examining the communications of American journalists?    When we used to live in the United State of America, a country of, by and for the people, that wouldn't have been allowed.   And if discovered, the press would have been outraged.   But in the post Cheney America where the rights provided by the Constitution no longer matter;  following the law no longer matters.   This is a country that allows torture, allows rendition, allows government by secrecy.    NOW, to find out what is happening in America you have to read a British newspaper, the Guardian.

I know creationists and a fairly sizable segment of the Congress does not allow this, but for this exercise let's just try to use logic.   We have an administration more concerned with leaks than ever before.   Often, leakers provide information to reporters.   It's not hard to pinpoint the reporters who are actually reporters instead of cheerleaders when it comes to national security.  If you're an agency like the NSA wanting to know absolutely everything about who is saying what and you don't have to worry about ever being found out because everything you do is classified and is approved by a secret court on rulings that can never be reviewed in public, what would happen?

Would the NSA spy on journalists?   Of course.

Who would the NSA be examining?   Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian?  Of course.   Are journalists at the New York Times and Washington Post and NBC and CBS and ABC concerned with the NSA spying on journalists?    Excuse me, let me rephrase the question.  Are the human microphone stands at the New York Times and Washington Post and NBC and CBS and ABC concerned about the government spying on journalists, the Washington reporters who appear to be more outraged with Snowden telling the truth than with the director of national intelligence James Clapper lying to Congress?

To find out, go to the respective news sites and examine the stories examining that question.   Examine the questions they've asked of the NSA and the Obama Administration on this issue.    Examine the FOIA requests submitted (by the way, a FOIA request is worthless because national security is an exemption and in the current world everything the government wants to do that violates the law is simply a matter of national security and the American press doesn't object).

When journalism fails, bad things happen.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Georgia - Country of Reading Robots

For television, we write as we talk.   Television (video) is a conversational medium.    A superb example of excellent delivery is Arwa Damon's on her Return to Benghazi.   Her phrasing and emphasis are first-rate.   Great writing, great reporting that's poorly delivered gets lost.   Delivery is essential to effective communication.

Watch television news (talk shows aren't like this) in the Republic of Georgia and you encounter an unusual speech pattern.   The anchors and reporters talk fast and the faster the better.   They talk in a monotone.   They read every story the same.  Watch Rustavi, watch Ajara, watch Channel 1, watch any of the regional stations and you'll hear the same rapid-fire monotone read-it-all-the same delivery.

From a communications standpoint, reading it all the same and reading it fast makes no sense.   It's harder to understand.   But when you suggest the journalists change their delivery, I get the same response this year that I got ten years ago, "No, this is Georgia."

Unfortunately, many of the journalists have been trained to read that way by outside trainers.

Watch Georgian Television news and much of it looks ten years out of date.  The problem is the same: resistance to change.

I just finished work at Odishi Television in Zugdiddi.

                                                  News Studio at Odishi TV - Zugdiddi

The monitor for its editing computer appears to be the same monitor that was there a decade ago.   When I demonstrate simple graphics, the editors say they can't do such things; they don't have the technical capability.   They edit on Adobe Premier Pro; they can do all the things I've demonstrated.   But like in most of the regional stations I've visited the past month, the editors use a tiny fraction of the editing program's capability.   Reporters don't even think of graphics when planning their stories; they don't think of utilizing multiple frames.

The main impediment to improving the look and sound and quality of television news in the Republic of Georgia is not technology or lack of resources or money.   It's attitude.   As long as the attitude persists of, "No, we don't do that, we don't use reporter's questions, we don't shoot reversals, we don't use lav mics for interviews, we don't use graphics, we don't do that because this is Georgia," the product will not improve.

Georgian TV stations will significantly and immediately improve the look and sound and quality of their news programs as soon as they decide to change their attitude about change.    Once they do that, reporters and anchors will start talking to their viewers instead of reading to them like robots.  

I would encourage Georgian journalists and news managers to click on some of the videos in Arwa Damon's report on Benghazi.   It doesn't matter if they don't know English.  Just LISTEN!  Listen to Arwa's phrasing, pacing and emphasis.  She's talking, she's COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY, something reading fast in a monotone doesn't do.