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Can We Really Call the AFSCME the "Big Dog?"

PR Watch.org - Fri, 10/29/2010 - 20:48

A variety of media outlets are reporting that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal, Employees (AFSCME) is spending $87.5 million on election activities in 2010, making it the “big dog” in spending for the campaign season. The Center for Media and Democracy is a nonpartisan organization, and encourages voters to be skeptical about campaign messages from outside groups regardless of whether they are supporting Democrats or Republicans. However, we feel it necessary to point out that AFSCME’s spending does not equalize the playing field.

First, although AFSCME may be the single biggest spender, the “big dog” title is a little disingenuous, as the corporate-funded interest groups supposedly outspent by the union are numerous and coordinated. Karl Rove’s organization, American Crossroads, is spending $65 million, and it shares office space and harmonizes its activities with American Action Network, which is spending $25 million.

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Millionaire Insiders Hide Behind Group Attacking Feingold

PR Watch.org - Wed, 10/27/2010 - 04:02

An activist group called SpeechNow.Org is running ads against Senator Russ Feingold. It blames him for the deficit and claims that clean election laws he spearheaded are “attacking free speech.” But who’s really behind SpeechNow’s folksy, cartoon attack ads?

The Money Bags: One funder is multi-millionaire Fred Young, the heir of the Young Radiator fortune in Racine. He sold his Wisconsin company for over $70 million in 1998 to a group that quickly merged with Wabtec Corporation, a multinational with a history of outsourcing jobs to make goods in China and elsewhere. But even before Young sold the company, he worked to ship well-paying Wisconsin jobs out of state. Back in 1991, Young Radiator closed its Racine plant and fired 120 Wisconsin workers in order to boost his profits by outsourcing work to Iowa and Tennessee plants that did not give union-negotiated benefits. Young donated over $100,000 last month to fund attacks against Feingold, constituting the bulk of the funding. With millions in profits from helping to sell out Wisconsin’s industrial base and time on his hands, Young has become involved in Washington, D.C.-based groups, like SpeechNow.

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Special Report on Outrageous Election Spin and Misinformation

PR Watch.org - Wed, 10/27/2010 - 01:51

Doesn't it seem like there are more negative political campaign ads than ever before?

It's difficult to watch almost any TV without being bombarded with repetitive ads "paid for" by some group that claims to be just like you, or like someone you want to be, like "Americans for Prosperity" and its so-called "Prosperity Network." But you can help fight back.

With most everyone else tightening their belts as the economy staggers back from the meltdown caused by Wall Street gambling, who can afford to blanket our airwaves with scary "independent" political ads? Wall Street. But these fat cats are trying to hide their role in this obscene wave of mid-term election spending by funneling their profits through front groups. Together we can shine a light on their efforts to take control of our democracy.

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The Ubiquitous "Too Much Big Government" Theme

PR Watch.org - Tue, 10/26/2010 - 18:55

We hear it everywhere this election season. Candidates, ads and TV pundits say we have "too much big government!" Virtually any attempt to regulate or tax any industry is a government intrusion into our lives. Candidates say they want less government. What's up with this ubiquitous, anti-government theme?

The "Government intrusion" argument is a powerful propaganda theme that has been around for a long time, and one that big businesses often use to manipulate public opinion. As with so many other corporate-derived propaganda tools, the anti-government theme originated largely with the tobacco industry, which has relied on it for decades to get its way in public policy.

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What Can Indie Film Learn from Indie Music?

Center for Social Media - Tue, 05/18/2010 - 19:26
On May 7, I led a discussion at the Maryland Film Festival  of what independent film can learn from the upheaval in the music business. At the festival's "Filmmakers Taking Charge" conference, music manager and promoter Jason Foster talked about the value of providing free downloads of songs, in order to make money at live events and with direct sales, often at those events. (He also noted that it was a lot cheaper to make music than to make movies.) Promoter Cullen Stalin talked about the challenge of dealing with industry behemoth Live Nation/Ticketmaster, which has a lock on many venues and on promotion as well. Both said that promotion via social media was absolutely key to their work; giving…

Fair Use Question of the Month: Can I post recordings of me playing a video game?

Center for Social Media - Tue, 05/18/2010 - 14:27
QUESTION: Dear Center for Social Media, I have a question that touches on point four of the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Online Video. I own and play a game called Audiosurf. The game uses songs as a base and creates game levels based on the properties of the song such as BPM, pitch etc. Each level is the length of the song chosen and the player plays it in a Guitar Hero like game play, with varying game modes changing how it's actually played. Due to the difficulty of making a repeat performance of a perfect play in some levels, I make it a habit of recording my play sessions. These recordings then include not just…

MYMM presentation: New Models for Impact Assessment

Center for Social Media - Wed, 05/12/2010 - 19:32
Jessica Clark: Making Your Media Matter 2010View more presentations from Jessica Clark.

At Making Your Media Matter: Two new CSM reports examine emerging models for media impact assessment

Center for Social Media - Wed, 05/12/2010 - 11:00
At today's Making Your Media Matter conference, the Center for Social Media is excited to release two reports that examine new models for assessing media impact: Investing in Impact Throughout the spring, the CSM and The Media Consortium (TMC) drew together dozens of leading public interest media makers, funders and researchers in Chicago, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Boston for a series of Impact Summits. These convenings—which asked attendees to describe how they measure reach, relevance, engagement, inclusion and influence in their work—informed a new analysis co-published by CSM and TMC: Investing In Impact: Media Summits Reveal Pressing Needs, Tools for Evaluating Public Interest Media. In Investing in Impact, we outline the major arguments for…

Talking about Documentary Ethics—Among Friends

Center for Social Media - Mon, 05/10/2010 - 19:30
What keeps filmmakers from having a sure sense of what’s acceptable, in an environment where every day the demands for entertainment, sensationalism, and extremism are ratcheted up? Fear of talking about the problems they encounter, according to conversations members of the Washington, D.C. chapter of Women in Film and Video (which also by the way includes men) had at dinner meetings throughout the city and at WIFV’s Wednesday One. Filmmakers risk reputation and contracts if they share doubts, conflicts and questions they have about the best way to get their work done. All of WIFV’s hosted conversations, including Wednesday One, were off-the-record and unrecorded. WIFV organized informal, intimate conversational spaces precisely to overcome the very real problems that filmmakers face…

Fair Use Online at IFP Chicago

Center for Social Media - Thu, 05/06/2010 - 19:23
On a splendid sunny spring day, Chicago-area filmmakers got together at Columbia College and resolutely faced away from the art college’s magnificent eighth-floor view of the lake. They were too busy learning about changing business models, how to use social networking to promote their work, and about fair use. Filmmaker Gordon Quinn and I hosted a panel on fair use in a digital environment for filmmakers, with the MacArthur Foundation’s John Bracken, who brought his brand-new iPad for everyone to play with. Gordon Quinn talked about the balancing act of copyright, which offers both limited monopoly and the right to access copyrighted material. He showed clips demonstrating how he had cut out material that should have stayed, before he understood…

The FCC’s Future of Media Inquiry: Copyright, Public Media, and more

Center for Social Media - Thu, 05/06/2010 - 19:14
The Federal Communication Commission has tackled the gigantic job of providing some policy direction on the turbulent world of media. It has launched an inquiry into the future of media and put lots of great material on its pretty cool (for a government website) blog site Reboot.fcc.gov. It has asked the public for input on dozens of questions. Today was the deadline, but the FCC will be accepting followup comments and blog posts till about mid-summer (when the FCC scribes will start writing), on its blog site Reboot.fcc.gov or, for longer and more formal filings, at its portal for submissions. The Center for Social Media has filed two separate comments. On copyright questions, Peter Jaszi and I suggested that making…

Media That Matters Film Festival in June

Center for Social Media - Wed, 05/05/2010 - 20:07
As presenting partners, we're thrilled to announce Arts Engine's upcoming Media That Matters Film Festival in June. If you're going to be in New York, don't miss the premiere of the eight jury-selected films on June 2nd, as well as a workshop on June 3rd which addresses impact issues. Also you can pre-order your very own copy of the films to host your own screening.

FCC Future of Media Workshop Explores New Public Media Structures, Functions and Funds

Center for Social Media - Mon, 05/03/2010 - 13:11
On Friday, the FCC's Future of Media project held an all-day workshop on "Public and Other Noncommercial Media in the Digital Era.” Center for Social Media Fellow Ellen Goodman served as one of the day's moderators, quizzing noncommercial media executives and academic experts on new forms of public media, the role of noncommercial outlets in addressing the journalism crisis, and the rise of networked structures for producing, distributing and engaging audiences via public media. A few clear themes emerged: local journalism is currently the most glaring market gap; much more refined standards are needed in order to bring emerging public media experiments into the taxpayer-funded fold; collaborations are a hot topic, but protocols for establishing them are still shaky; and…

Fair Use, Piracy and Good Data

Center for Social Media - Wed, 04/28/2010 - 16:16
How dangerous is piracy in intellectual property? Despite everything that the MPAA and RIAA say, and the dire suggestions that downloaders will wreck the economy, the real answer is: we have no idea. The General Accounting Office reviewed the existing estimates, typically grounded in reports by large copyright holders and their associations. The GAO concluded that industry reports typically kept their methods and assumptions private, and therefore the conclusions, without the ability to look at data or methods, were not verifiable. Oops. The GAO points out many ways that piracy can be bad, but calls for more transparency and better data. The report, “Fair Use in the U.S. Economy,” issued Tuesday by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, does reveal…

Fair Use at the Broadcast Education Association Convention

Center for Social Media - Tue, 04/27/2010 - 20:07
On April 15th, educators and media makers had more interesting things to contemplate than their taxes at the Broadcast Education Association's annual convention in Las Vegas, because they were talking about fair use! For the BEA's Documentary Workshop on Fair Use, I got together with two of the Center's long-time collaborators, documentary filmmaker Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films and Michael C. Donaldson, an entertainment lawyer who specializes in fair use and independent film, to present on how filmmakers lost and have since re-gained their right to claim fair use on copyrighted material. Gordon got us started with film clips that showed how he and other filmmakers in the 60s and 70s used to make use of copyrighted material that they…

CSM convenes the Public Media Working Group

Center for Social Media - Tue, 04/27/2010 - 14:27
In mid-April, the Center for Social Media organized the first meeting of its Public Media Working Group (PMWG), comprised of innovative leaders from across the sector with a demonstrated commitment to increasing users' access to and engagement with public media. Building on the recommendations in our 2009 white paper, Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics, the PMWG will work with CSM staff to identify emerging research priorities, incubate public media 2.0 projects, and develop cross-platform and cross-sector collaborations. WGBH hosted the group's first day-long meeting, which revealed a continued need for shared definitions, policies and pipelines to support the creation of a networked, inclusive public media system. While energized by the promise of new experiments—such as the CPB's recent announcement…

Going beyond the Copyright “Wars” in Wisconsin

Center for Social Media - Tue, 04/27/2010 - 13:55
When I spoke on “Beyond the Copyright Wars” on April 21 at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, it was gratifying to dialog with several librarians at the university. They are frustrated by challenges in interpreting fair use, and volunteered to share information as we research the problems of librarians (enabled by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant.) Thanks to Prof. Lew Friedland, who asked me to speak! I continued to “Law and Interdisciplinarity,” a conference held at the Center for International Education (CIE) at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Attendees’ research was extraordinarily diverse, exploring everything from the definition of borders in undocumented immigration to how national states are trying to contain and control communication flows across the Internet.…

Hitler Hates Fair Use – Downfall Meme Comes Full Circl

Center for Social Media - Tue, 04/27/2010 - 13:00
The Hitler brouhaha on YouTube shows the importance of understanding your fair use rights. It started with Downfall, a German film about Hitler’s last days in power, which has generated an elaborate meme in the online video community. Remixers took a scene that features Hitler having a meltdown with his key staff, and have re-subtitled the scene. One features Hitler screaming about how he has been banned from X-Box Live; another has him upset that his friends won’t join him at Burning Man, and a host of them deal with politics (peaking during the 2008 elections). The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video provides the reasoning by which unlicensed use of Downfall is legitimate fair use:…

Hitler Hates Fair Use – Downfall Meme Comes Full Circle

Center for Social Media - Tue, 04/27/2010 - 13:00
The Hitler brouhaha on YouTube shows the importance of understanding your fair use rights. It started with Downfall, a German film about Hitler’s last days in power, which has generated an elaborate meme in the online video community. Remixers took a scene that features Hitler having a meltdown with his key staff, and have re-subtitled the scene. One features Hitler screaming about how he has been banned from X-Box Live; another has him upset that his friends won’t join him at Burning Man, and a host of them deal with politics (peaking during the 2008 elections). The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video provides the reasoning by which unlicensed use of Downfall is legitimate fair use:…

Public Media Meets Public History: CSM at the Organization of American Historians meeting

Center for Social Media - Mon, 04/26/2010 - 20:11
Public history is a practice in which "historians and their various publics collaborate in trying to make the past useful to the public.” It happens in places where academic expertise meets public engagement: museums, archives, and media spaces, and shares many of the tools, concerns and aims of public media production. Earlier this month, Center for Social Media Director Pat Aufderheide and I were delighted to be invited by our American University colleague Kathleen Franz to present at the Organization of American Historians annual meeting at a workshop titled "New Media, Old Media: Historians and the Media." There, we discussed a series of case studies and scenarios designed to help public historians use social media for participatory research and collaborative…
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