Saturday, November 04, 2006

For Critical Shifts in Media Systems, Ask the Reporters, Please!

Re: Gannett Info Centers

I don’t work for Gannett. I am a professional journalist, and a communications specialist by education. I have some doubts about this Gannett approach. From newspaper to information center, that’s their business. But looking at it from the perspective of legitimate communication practice leaves some doubt.

The Memo begins: “The Information Center will let us gather the very local news and information that customers want, then distribute it when, where and how our customers seek it.”

Note that it says, “want.” News is news whether we want it or not. Information is information whether we like it or not. This could be excused and counted as an inadvertent slip, but here it says again: “News and information will be delivered to the right media -- be it newspapers, online, mobile, video or ones not yet invented -- at the right time. Our customers will decide which they prefer.”

Preferred medium? This maybe doable and still expedient business-wise, but at best, these are all mere desiderata. The variety of media per se is not the problem, however, but the nature of some of these media is. When in print or online, the contents are there for reader inspection and evaluation. But when it comes to video and mobile, the reader has very little chance at evaluating objectively the presentation of news. News in these media will have become more as editorials rather than the more objective news.

I would congratulate Gannett if it were able to control and preserve the news elements when they get transformed from newspaper approach to video and mobile. Otherwise, what they would be producing is something other than news.

What obviously would compound problems in the Gannett approach? The memo says, “The changes impact all media, and the public has approved. Results include stronger newspapers, more popular Web sites and more opportunities to attract the customers advertisers want.”

The big question then is: how much representation did reporters have in the decision-making of this plan? They are stakeholders who are the very workhorses who make possible the existence of news agencies. In critical plans like this, they need to be represented because they have to be asked their commitment, how much they are willing to risk and give up and bend over and accept. For this approach, let’s face it: advertisers will hog the operations and the way “news” will be treated. This is the very reason reporters have to be asked their say. Their write-ups will constantly have to be chopped up, re-directed, changed, or embargoed altogether and they can only take so much.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Does Getting Killed Go with the Journalist's Job?

It appears so if the president of the land doesn't care.

Philippines President Arroyo to be ‘tried’ before ‘int’l tribunal’

Original link for the story

You will notice that the verdict of this tribunal is non-binding, but you can appreciate the court better if you know its nature and history. The tribunal is not a real court of any government. It will be the people who will try her. Yes, it is a reflection of angry people wanting to try her for her sins against the people.

Your attention here, please: As printed in the story –

1) “The People’s Permanent Tribunal (PPT) was founded in 1979 by law experts, writers and intellectuals;

2) The verdict of the PPT is discussed by international organizations, including the United Nations.

Therefore, although an opinion court, she will be judged by writers, too, and these get to be printed in the pages of history. This is the time she will face the persistent issue of unsolved killings of journalists in the country.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Here’s Big Media coming - to drown out minority voices

Free Press, a national organization working to increase informed public participation in crucial media policy debates, has collected some important feedback on the big media issue. The ultimate aim of Free Press is to generate a range of policies that will produce a more competitive and public-interest-oriented media system with a strong non-profit and non-commercial sector.

Generally, the comments say big media won’t bring good things to life, big media doesn’t equal better media, new rules from it may hurt diversity, most citizens are opposed to further consolidation, and that diversity is crucial in media ownership.

AT&T that sells long distance, high speed Internet service, and phone and data products and services through its online brand web sites wants to buy out BellSouth that deals with local and long distance phone service, DSL Internet, Cingular Wireless, & DIRECTV service. AT&T is seeking government approval of this buyout and many citizens are opposed to this, according to Free Press.

Reports from John Eggerto of Broadcasting & Cable said over 160,000 comments from media had been filed in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which is reviewing the media ownership issue and the initial comment period ended yesterday.

Specifically, most Americans assumed there is complete freedom of the press. Cindy Rodrigue of Denver Post claimed it's not freedom when investigative reporters for the major networks can't delve into issues of corporate abuse because the parent company owns the subsidiary in question.

The Benton Foundation and the Social Science Research Council announced the release of four independent academic studies on the impact of media consolidation in the U.S. According to Hope Yen of Associated Press, new studies said easing government rules to allow more media consolidation would push out niche radio programming such as classical, jazz and gospel music while doing little to improve local TV coverage.

Brooks Boliek, a Hollywood Reporter, quoting a new study said easing the rules that generally bar a single company from owning a newspaper and broadcast outlet in a single local market would allow a handful of individuals to dominate news coverage in many communities across the nation.

Watchdog groups that opposed further relaxation of FCC limits on media ownership concluded that markets in a dozen states are heavily concentrated, according to David Hatch of National Journal

Recently, Kristal Brent Zook of the Nation and David Hinkley of New York Daily News reported that only the Democrats alone - FCC Commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein - arrived at Hunter College in New York City to listen to a crowd of 350 citizens mostly opposed to further consolidation of the media. They both warned that further expansion for media giants is not the way to get there. David Ferris of New York City Indy Media reported the same observation.

The Bay Area Indy Media reported that these two FCC commissioners will be in Oakland, California, to hear public comments on media ownership. The FCC is considering relaxing the rules that allow corporations to own even more media outlets that determine what can be seen, heard and read.

The economic harm from the AT&T and BellSouth merger, according to Mark Cooper of Miami Herald, is not in serious dispute. What maybe harmful is the kowtowing to these monopolies, he said.

All told, these comments point out that big media has detrimental effects, and primarily because from its nature, big media has the penchant for drowning out minority voices.

The following excerpts written by Ted Turner in 2004 is as relevant as it is today for a backgrounder of this issue. Turner is the founder of CNN and chairman of Turner Enterprises:

“Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington. The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming. To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks--ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox--fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired. By 2000, it was 56.3 percent. Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent.

“Unless we have a climate that will allow more independent media companies to survive, a dangerously high percentage of what we see--and what we don't see--will be shaped by the profit motives and political interests of large, publicly traded conglomerates.

“Today, the only way for media companies to survive is to own everything up and down the media chain--from broadcast and cable networks to the sitcoms, movies, and news broadcasts you see on those stations; to the production studios that make them; to the cable, satellite, and broadcast systems that bring the programs to your television set; to the Web sites you visit to read about those programs; to the way you log on to the Internet to view those pages. Big media today wants to own the faucet, pipeline, water, and the reservoir. The rain clouds come next.

“Consolidation has also meant a decline in the local focus of both news and programming. After analyzing 23,000 stories on 172 news programs over five years, the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that big media news organizations relied more on syndicated feeds and were more likely to air national stories with no local connection.

“When media companies dominate their markets, it undercuts our democracy. Justice Hugo Black, in a landmark media-ownership case in 1945, wrote: ‘The First Amendment rests on the assumption that the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources is essential to the welfare of the public.’

“This is a fight about freedom--the freedom of independent entrepreneurs to start and run a media business, and the freedom of citizens to get news, information, and entertainment from a wide variety of sources, at least some of which are truly independent and not run by people facing the pressure of quarterly earnings reports. No one should underestimate the danger. Big media companies want to eliminate all ownership limits. With the removal of these limits, immense media power will pass into the hands of a very few corporations and individuals.

“The government was not doing its job. The role of the government ought to be like the role of a referee in boxing, keeping the big guys from killing the little guys. If the little guy gets knocked down, the referee should send the big guy to his corner, count the little guy out, and then help him back up. But today the government has cast down its duty, and media competition is less like boxing and more like professional wrestling: The wrestler and the referee are both kicking the guy on the canvas.

“At this late stage, media companies have grown so large and powerful, and their dominance has become so detrimental to the survival of small, emerging companies, that there remains only one alternative: bust up the big conglomerates.”

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Is ABS-CBN Interactive a legitimate media group?

Philippines - What kind of media outfit is ABS-CBN Interactive? Who is responsible for the news production of this group? What kind of training did they have? Why do they have for their “news,” Eli Soriano facing rape charges as their perpetual feed?

Is news supposed to be like that – that day in day out, the so-called rape case is THE NEWS? As far as readership is concerned – Internet or not - the date attached to the news is part of the news – not foreign to it.

Isn't this an advertisement against Eli Soriano? If it's not, why is it treated as daily fare that never goes away and it is only the date that changes?

Why is the name of Daniel Veridiano, aka Puto, changed to Daniel Pedriano this time, and his alias dropped? Were there second thoughts that perhaps putting the name of this former Ang Dating Daan member, excommunicated for cause by Eli Soriano, will also subject him to public humiliation? Is there hope that finally he knows how to be ashamed?

Despite these changes, and the nature of this piece of “news,” why does Wikipedia attach much credibility to this polluted source? This so-called rape news has become the second paragraph - inserted months ago- in the biopage of Eli Soriano in Wikipedia, if you didn’t know. Puto or Daniel Veridiano used to chair the Happy Christians gay group in Ang Dating Daan before he was excommunicated and afterwards left for the Iglesia ni Cristo, a powerful religious group in the Philippines, and an arc enemy of Eli Soriano's group. Click here:

If there is a case filed, does it mean the one charged is guilty? How much of it is truth already that it merits to be placed in an encyclopedia page? Unless proven guilty, one is presumed innocent; therefore a case being filed against somebody is not pertinent to one's story. An enemy can file against you, case after case, but it doesn’t make you already guilty with each case. But why, of all sources, did an encyclopedia honor this? According to Moriori of Wikipedia, it is because Soriano is a controversial figure. Granted, because this man carries with him great understanding of the Bible incomparable to no other man today, the very reason why he gathers enemies from those he tries to correct.

If this is news however, where is the reporter's name that he or she could stand by what was written there? How responsible was the data collection? Was Soriano ever asked about his side? Did the reporter find out about the rape cases filed earlier against Daniel Veridiano by members of Soriano’s group?

How much effort did the reporter exert in knowing about the background of this case, such as that this case was dismissed but re-filed by the Department of Justice through Sec. Raul M. Gonzalez?

Again, if a case is filed, is it open for discussion?
And why are Globe, Touch Mobile, Smart, Talk n' Text, Sun and Addict involved here? How powerful can one get!

If you are a trained writer and you know your structure principles and how news should be treated, you would know right away that this piece of "news" was only intended to ruin somebody. Foremost, it lacks pertinent information and plays with its data.

To add insult to injury, the notice, after the “news” says –
Please refrain from offensive language, slanderous statements and commercial messages.
Discuss this article on our message boards.

Watch this site – and see how the dark forces of evil do their tricks!
Jane Abao

10/17/2006 04:34

Today, ABS-CBN Interactive deleted their page about Soriano. It is not there anymore. Wikipedia was duly notified through Moriori about this. However, Wikipedia placed another reference. That shall be treated in another forum.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Website moderators who have no time for their sites

I am just appalled at moderators who have no time to check on what people are posting on their sites. To let you have a background, please refer to my story about this in

Porno peddler with man-to-man sex movies

Now, I am lucky to find at least that they care to write back. Here’s my letter to roberth and his reply. Roberth is JumpGate’s main man.

From: kota To: roberth Posted: Sun Sep 24, 2006 9:24 pm

Subject: Where are you? Hey, where are you?

Are you that busy? Don't you care for the site anymore? You see, I am concerned. Please see what that porno peddler did on the site. Please read WARNING WARNING WARNING in all the forums. Of course, Julien deleted Orion's message but only in the French forum.

Did you know I even gave your site a good review in Please mind the site. Give it some time, please.

From: roberth To: kota Posted: Sun Oct 01, 2006 5:41 pm

Subject: Re: Where are you?

Thank you for the message. I do care, but have so many projects to maintain. I will do a big remake of this site with the startdate this coming week, when it will be published is unknown, but very soon.

Those spammers who come here all over the time is a big pain for everyone and are something we have to get rid of.

Please let me know if there are anything you think we shall do to make the site better, I appreciate all suggestions Smile

PS! Thanks for the good review on Amazon !DS

/Roberth Andersson

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Fake News Reporting Encourages Fighting Teachers

Generally addressed to the matter of linking and -

To the linker of "Detention for Being Right"

Original link for the story

Please take a look into the news link titled, "Detention for Being Right."

It direly lacks data! This is not news!

Who is Adam Hilliker? Who is Alex, and where was he studying? If Alex was detained, where? Who was Alex’s father? Can you explain why the note was dated 1994 and you posted it only now? Are you posting it as history? But how?

If this is news, you should have all the details a reader needs to know. Details may be able to answer questions and explain the nuances of a situation. As it is, your title needs explanation because it talks of a right that was abridged.

The reader is entitled to know what he or she is reading. News writing follows principles. It is not child’s play. Most important of all, with just that piece of note, can you identify your source? Any reader would be asking these questions because what was linked does not pass for news or anything. What was attached was merely a file - with no identification even.

In case of complaints, you would be left holding the bag. You have no one to attribute even what you claim in your title.

That said, one couldn’t just pick up anything and post it as news. I would not dignify that note even by acknowledging the difference between kilometer and mile. There was no real incident to base this on. One highlighted sentence does not make for news - no matter how grave the teacher's error is. At best, this piece of note should be found in a principal's office for resolution. Not in media.

You have a title that courts compassion. However, you took up a reporter’s privilege improperly. As it is, you can be mistaken as fooling the readers with your lack of data. Even if you were just linking, the responsibility falls on you to see to it that what you are linking passes for news – or editorial for that matter.

You see, one danger of merely linking this note is tantamount to encouraging learners to rebel against their teachers. Put yourself in the shoes of teachers and imagine how students – after reading what you posted - would treat you. That could be the situation in haphazardly treating information meant for news.

If this is ignorance, it would be understandable. If not, and if all reporters were like you, we'd better not read anything at all.

I take responsibility for everything I wrote here.
Jane Abao

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Writing “News” dated 2008 is not Legitimate Media Work

Original link for the story

Some people take no thought of the news they link. However, not all news sources are credible. It is not enough just to pick up stories and link.

From the titles alone of these so-called news, you could see that they are catchy but misleading. However, these are calculated to be like that - to tickle your mind to read on if you are not careful.

Let's take this link newly posted as an example: “19 Year Old Diebold Technician Wins U.S. Presidency.” This means that the election is over and that this technician has already won. It is misleading, at the same time it appears legitimate. It makes people read on, but one has to have a critical eye.

The source, Avant News, “Tomorrow’s News Today,” is not given credibility by serious people. At most, this news source is a joke. It is only predictive or is making guesses and then writes “news” out of that guess – wild guess, no matter. It is making business out of news, but news that is merely speculative.

In principle, news is a reproduction of an event, hence the element of objectivity. But here, the business is to ride on an imagined future and an imagined news – so there is no objectivity. But there is money, of course.

Angling, you say? Angling does not necessarily mean you move away from what is true. To provide an angle to news means to project one part as the center or focus of your news. However, you do not fabricate the angle. It is already part of the truth that you deal with. You only enlarge it over the others – and yet you do not falsify anything unlike what this 2008 “news” had done.

This one is pure imagination – a fiction using the real name of a real person who is an international figure, just to be able to hinge upon public attention for increased readership.

Check, therefore, what is written in there before you do any linking. If you link these items, you do a great disservice to people who expect legitimate news. Moreover, you encourage the usurpation of true media work.

Read for items like “temporally realigned” – what ever that means – as an equivalent of an excuse or disclaimer when there would be complaints in the future.

Check on the date the news is supposed to have been written. It may be two years later yet.

To illustrate, read this item -

19 Year Old Diebold Technician Wins U.S. Presidency
Temporally realigned by admin on 2006/9/25 10:49:05 (7401 reads)
By Ion Zwitter, Avant News Editor

Washington, D.C., November 5, 2008

Have you noticed the date?

This is not legitimate news. People who do this cash in on entertainment rather than do true media work.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Mangled Tapes set to make Muslims hit Christian Preacher

Pampanga, Philippines – First, it was the al Qaeda terrorists who were found to be downloading data from the Internet, altering the context by adding, subtracting, or twisting information in order to fit a desired end; finally burning them into DVDs and VCDs, and then distributing these to their people. Some days later, this would lead their Muslim brothers to attack an establishment.

Recently, a repeat of the whole thing was observed – only that it was happening in this part of the country, and only that the perpetrators were not al Qaeda but the enemies of Bro. Eli Soriano, the most controversial preacher of today.

The VCDs are believed to be the handiwork of a group openly against Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Church of God International, and are set to motivate some Muslims to confront him at the ADD Convention Center.

The compact discs bore contents profiled from the words of the preacher taken at various events to make it appear that he was disparaging Muhammad, motivating the Muslims to attempt attacking the Ang Dating Daan (ADD) Convention Center this week in Apalit, Pampanga, north of Manila.

In the convention center, they thought, was Bro. Eli Soriano, who has been away from the country for about a year already, preaching to his constituents abroad. The voices the Muslims heard were about Soriano making “sweeping and defamatory remarks” against the Muslims and their prophet Muhammad.

But once in Apalit, the Muslims had to go home - hungry and dismayed. A Muslim leader, equally bewildered, came to fetch them. They were being used, he said.

In some video footages taken from the event and transcribed soonest, Datu Amparol Ambiong, Chairman of the Muslim Peace and Order Coordination Council, was seen explaining that he had come and had to speak because he had heard some Muslims were going to stage a rally in Apalit, and that he had never heard of such an announcement from the Ulammah. Among Muslims, there must be a community consensus first before anything of this kind would be held.

If there is any rally, Ambiong said, the reason must come from the heart. Apparently, they were just gathered by a group that had promised them some financial support.

Ambiong said, he had seen some 17 buses of the supposed rallyists and had acknowledged that some of the passengers were Muslims who were even his own relatives. He said he even had wanted to slap a relative who did not want to hear reasons. When the Datu asked for their leader, he was told that he had already left, having learned that Ambiong was arriving.

They must go home, the Datu was heard telling the police. They’ve been here for quite a while already. However, the police would not let them leave. The police said, he had heard that they‘d attack the Convention Center, once they pass that way. The police had detained the buses for a while as they had no permit.

Obviously, what money was promised to be forthcoming never came. As it was, these supposed attackers had been served only sandwiches and eggs. Yet, they were to go and force their way into the ADD Convention Center.

Money promised was probably why Ambiong’s relatives refused to go home. They had come all the way to Apalit from where they came from. In Soriano’s camp, however, it is no secret who could have motivated this group. In a TV program of a rival religious group, which Soriano had been exposing for their false religious beliefs, some 2-4 TV hosts had openly been inciting Muslims to hit Soriano, giving directions as to what places he frequents.

Months before this, the Quezon City Judge Vicencio Baclig had issued a warrant of arrest against Soriano. The order stemmed from a libel complaint filed by two Muslim groups headed by Haji Mokhiar Sujail on February 21, 2005. The complainants were demanding P1.25 billion in damages.

Soriano’s explanation was that his discussion about Muslims did not intend to insult their faith. His discussions of any religious groups were honest and did not intend to insult any religious sector. It is said, the Muslim leaders understood Soriano’s explanations.

Soriano is the same fearless preacher known for his acid tongue. Whatever he sees as false, he doesn’t hesitate to correct – over television, radio, and the Internet. Known for his expertise in the Bible, he is believed to be God-sent as he can answer all questions from the Bible live. He has a program running for more than three decades now in the radio, TV and the Internet, titled, “Ask Soriano, the Bible will answer.” Recently, Soriano has been getting waves of attention from believers in the United States and Europe after being rooted in Asia, as they believe they have not heard anyone speak as authoritatively as he does.

Back home in the Philippines, he is the envy of his enemies for his great understanding of the Bible that they have filed libel case after libel case against him with the intention of devastating him. This is because Soriano had been exposing the evil in so-called “tithing laws” and other false beliefs where pastors collect hoards of money from their members but do not actually care for their spiritual needs. Their beliefs are erroneous, misplaced in time and in context, and based on personal interests, Soriano said. According to him, tithing is Mosaic Law, applicable only during the time of Moses. Now, pastors are on the run for their money should their people believe Soriano.

Soriano said he has no debate with the Muslims as they use the Koran and not the Bible and so there is no common reference to speak of.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Poverty knocking on their doors

The message was urgent. It was sent late in the night and was addressed to all, especially the women. "Be careful. When you see a child crying, take that child to the police station. Don't mind the address he is giving. It's only a ploy."

It reported the latest of capers the foolish of this world had cooked up. It explained the modus operandi even. Translated from Tagalog, it said -

A young child would be found in a corner crying as though lost. When approached, the child would provide an address. If you take that child to that address, once you press the doorbell, you would be shocked out of your senses and then dragged inside. There you would be robbed and raped. The child crying is actually a lure.

In cyberspace, a postee advertised for a baby that he was selling. "Cute one. PM me," said the post. "What? That's criminal of you!" came the reply.

Criminal is the ready name we put on all these things that we cannot readily understand. When one decides to sell his soul, or suddenly has calculated that he has enough blood for the bank, or has an organ to exchange for money in answer to the call of hunger, we simply call it criminal. The scale is said to have tipped too far, and we must look deeper.

The priest who is supposed to teach the people has his own ideas of goodness, too. Olaw, for one, can tell the world so.

Olaw is a blind woman who lives quietly in the province. She takes care of herself and whatever friendly neighbors give her is never enough for her needs, let alone the scanty attention to her condition. One day, she was suddenly found heavy with child while without a husband. Her landlord had pumped good sense into her head. She must have a child to take care of her. And so Olaw believed him. A priest who had rented a room next to hers took the proposition as fitting and proper.

Tabio was born, but just the same, got married, had his own family, and left her alone. Olaw is alone again without the child supposed to earn for her.

Dragon, a street child, has a story not any different. Street children are part of the story of the mean streets of the Philippines. They roam the city looking for answers to life. Dragon was one of them. He did not know how old he was, nor did he know his name, nor his parents' name. He readily raises the hand of every visitor and presses it on his forehead, one's heart could melt. He would dance and one would clap in approval. Like doing some magic, he flexes his right palm up, down, up, down, up. He's giving you a signal, and you should know what he means. Dragon was born a beggar. Or was he?

The police found Dragon just walking the streets and begging for food. He was brought to the Youth Center in Cagayan de Oro City, south of the country, no address, and no name. The blackboard at the entrance of the Center, however, had details about him: Dragon had a case and it was scheduled for hearing.

Sis Nene took to liking Dragon, aged 4 or 5. Once out of the Center, she bought him food and new clothes and brought him home to show the cute child off to her sister. The following day, they went out together to buy a pair of new shoes. The moment Sis Nene turned her back, Dragon was gone - back to sleeping on cold concrete floors in the city. It was the only life he knew. Dragon was not missed at the Center, however. It is already saddled with 75 more young boys to feed, to teach, and to care with the little that the government could give.

At one end of the Youth Center, a young man, well dressed, and half-blind, sat quietly and appeared waiting for someone. The guard said he had been visiting for almost two months already but seemed not to be getting what he was coming for. “He needs to buy cornea. Would you be selling yours?"

The inmates at that Youth Center are young and frivolous, but at their age, no one is foolish enough to think of selling one's own cornea. This was the guard’s assessment. Although most of these boys at this Center are offenders, some are said to be victims of parental abuse and neglect and would prefer to stay rather than go home. Now that they are there, people think they could give up some of their body parts.

There are many Olaws and Dragons among us, including the child luring victims to doors with shock effects, the man selling a baby he may or may not own, the one who tries to calculate how much blood he could sell for today’s portion of rice. They got to live, each to his own style.

No one talks about what they have but they know it. Indeed, it has been with them for as long as they could remember. Whatever logic is there that one is at the top, another one is at the center, and they at the bottom, maybe for balance. Heck, it’s not something worth thinking about - when the stomach churns from hunger.

Aren’t these things natural? They have long cradled deprivation like some do their teddy bears. And no one is asking why. And so the story goes.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Are terrorists more creative with media?

In a research I’m doing now on al Qaeda and cyber terrorism, there were found to be as many as 5000 websites involved in cyber planning, but about 25 are being watched on a daily basis. The numbers can change everyday but that media products come in the form of poetry, pictures, songs, jokes, cartoons, drawings, stories, symbols that have been profiled for their own campaign. These may have come from true events, pictures, stories, and statements of politicians but were downloaded from the Internet and manipulated or altered and then burned into DVDs and tapes and distributed to recruits, supporters, and sympathizers to fulfill campaign plans.

Upon the testimony of three researchers called contractors from Rand corporation, a poetry or song was used to taunt US soldiers as background music; pictures of events where soldiers were waking away were used to mean defeat; and pictures of female soldiers whose back are turned were made to appear that they are male, taking advantage of Muslim women.

Symbols of the Israel flag with lines up and down were exploited to mean the destiny of grabbing their lands. The name Fatima (symbolizing daughter of Prophet Muhammad) was used as the name of a letter-sender of one being raped in a stockade to force assault and raid on this establishment six days later. The statements of President George Bush and other leaders were used in connection with some events but twisted in context. These and some other similar kinds of products were found in more than 5,000 hostile sites.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Research claims taller people are smarter

Original link for the story

I would think twice before concluding about taller people being smarter than others – completely. I have read this 53-page research report done by Anne Case and Christina Paxson and funded by the National Bureau of Economic Research of Massachusetts. More research along this line should be undertaken to validate the findings.

There is somewhat an over-generalization in its abstract and introduction -
“It has long been recognized that taller adults hold jobs of higher status and, on average, earn more than other workers." They begin their list of sources with a research done in 1915. In 1915, researches done during that time may be as crude as time could tell, not to mention research findings that have contexts some worlds apart from our context 90 years later.

To be fair, the two women researchers (both tall) recognize some limitations in the research. They mention Tanner (1979) as saying that the precise links between height and cognition are still not well understood. James Tanner is the author of “A Concise History of Growth Studies from Buffoon to Boas.”

They also said, “If our hypothesis is correct, it is possible that employers with incomplete information about the cognitive ability of their workers practice height-based statistical discrimination.” Clearly, therefore, height is only an indicator and not a cause of being smart – as the title of this news story may suggest.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Soriano, the Great Communicator, Will Not Budge

Left: Bro. Eliseo Soriano preaching in one International Thanksgiving at the Ang Dating Daan Convention Center in Pampanga, Philippines.

NOW THIS GOVERNMENT WATCHDOG is at it again – hounding one who would be of more use to society than most others would.

The watchdog coming in the name of a censors board is after this man, hot copy for fearless preaching, he doesn’t spare anyone

"Most others" including those who sell their votes for influence in the government cannot silence him.

Vote buying in the Philippines is not news. Isn’t this an open secret? National candidates up to presidential positions court a so-called church group that promises the votes of its congregation. After elections, you find their members in the most lucrative positions in the government, including law enforcement agencies like those of investigation and justice! The most lamentable consequence is that the enemies of this group are being hounded for every minute thing said against them. But why doesn’t government look into this vote-buying thing? Because no one in government is interested in stopping it.

If it is any measure at all, Eliseo Soriano, Presiding Minister of the Church of God, International, heads a congregation of over a million Filipinos in the Philippines and abroad. Because of his teachings, those who would have been liabilities to society have been reformed and are now being taught how to live properly. You can listen to the testimonies of these people. One was a thief, another one a murderer, another a swindler, another a good-for nothing bum who was good at scams, another one a godless creature worshipping a stone or a piece of wood, yet another one looking educated and well-off to the eyes of this world, but with a soul so corrupt he wouldn’t acknowledge there is a creator. The stories can go on and on. Aren't other churches peopled with these kinds? Of course, there are those you could call good, but they, themselves, acknowledge that they are not – by God’s standards. All of these stereotypes of people in the Church of God have changed and still are changing – thanks to this man who is loving at the same time fearless.

In teaching his members, Soriano uses what most people nowadays, desecrate: the Bible. And he uses it totally – not selecting just the verses to apply. If it is God who says them, he uses those words properly – from one end of the spectrum to the other. Meaning, there are words for agreeing and there words for disagreeing. When you disagree because it is sin you are talking about, you use words to that effect. You get angry. Doesn’t the bible have words to express anger? This is where people who don't like to be told of their sins would hound Soriano, even to the extent of suggesting that the Abu Sayyaf go hunt for him. This is where they suggest that when he comes home from his foreign missions he will be met with a casket free for him.

For speaking out the truth, which is part of his commission, Soriano gets the flak. What did Soriano say this time that made the watchdog suspend his Ang Dating Daan program for 20 days lately? For being suspended again and again from airing his Program, Soriano may make it to Guinness as the most suspended communicator for all times.

But Soriano will not budge. He will not omit one word from God’s words. That is apparent - judging from the 43 years he had been handling God’s words. Indeed, his mind is fixed on fulfilling a commission. So how is that now? The width and breadth of his speaking is covered in the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 26, Verse 2 where a preacher of God is required not to omit a word – as instructed by the owner of those words.

Judge him then from there .

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Justice is for Everyone, Vote or no Vote

Manila, Philippines - Followers of Preacher Soriano protesting before the Commission on Human Rights.

A church that sells the votes of its members is able
influence government - resulting in the persecution
of others like Bro. Eli Soriano of Ang Dating Daan.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Arrogant Big Media

Re: "We The Media: Rise of Citizen Journalism"
Dan Gillmore, OhmyNews (internews)

Arrogance of big media, yes. And they so project dominant or power groups that those marginalized become more marginalized.

In one local media, for example, you often see terms in print media like “Muslim bandits,” “Muslim thief,” “Muslim rapist.” Muslims then feel constrained to complain. Nowhere in media, they say, do you find terms like “Christian bandits,” “Christian thief,” “Christian rapist.” Why is it that when perpetrators are Christians, the adjective fails to act up?

Traditional media more than divide people. They compete to the point that they manufacture news even. No one knows which is true, and yet they thrive with all the advertisements around - which, in turn, do their part to function negatively towards a more helpless society. Kudos to Citizen Journalism!

We The Media: Rise of Citizen Journalism

Victory for Communication

Re: “Netizens Are Critical to Citizen Journalism
Ronda Hauben from the U.S. (OhMyNews International)

I am also happy for having discovered the contribution of South Koreans in the field of communication. I am a communications specialist and so I look to the turn of events as victory for communication. It is something really that we have to take care of. Communication today is not becoming effective in the way we had expected it.

I think that we share the same excitement that OhMyNews is doing. I am also a netizen and I am doing my part in the same direction as OhMyNews. It is only that I center my efforts in the field of communication. I maintain my own blog to do this thing.

I am also doing my own writings here and there - guided by the principles of Citizen Journalism. Remember, I had only recently stumbled upon this concept a year ago, and I would back up its ideals.

Netizens Are Critical to Citizen Journalism

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Art Without Parameters

Every piece of communication has a social responsibility. It does not end with just transmitting a message and leaving it there. Communication thrives in a system and in that system, there is a message to be sent and an effect to be considered.

There was a poem defining a situation where some secret had long been held from the poet and he felt so bad. The poem ended with a threat. Then another poem detailed a situation where he was raped, graphically presenting the incident – move for move. Still another poem depicted stammering while one spoke and with it that slap, slap, slap to “slow down the mind so he could speak out the words properly.”

Viewed from the point of view of art, the poem is unique. The poet is very resourceful and imaginative. The output is not common; it is extra-ordinary and would reap the highest praises from some quarters. A snippet from the piece (with all due courtesy for the poet) –

A m-means of s-s-saying w-w-we’re th-th-through… or th-that w-wh-what c-cu-could’ve
(Slap, slap…, slap, slap…, slap…, slap, slap…, slap…, slap…, slap, slap, slap, slap)
B-b-been c-cu-ccould’a b-b-been m-m-meant f-f-fu-fuc-for me, s-s-so-so-oo b-b-be-ee
(Slap…, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap…, slap, slap, slap, slap)
Ps-p-s-p-p-patient and w-waa-weigh-wwait a bi-b-b-bit,--
(Slap, slap, slap, slap, slap…, slap, slap, slap, slap…, slap, slap, slap)
Th-th-th-hat-that s-s-st-stu-s-stuff i-i-i-in h-h-hee-h-hhead denies a kingdom
(Slap, slap, slap, slap, slaps…, slap, slap, slaps…, slap…)

Viewed as a communication piece, however, what does it intend to achieve? Beauty in the artform, but it ends from there. It ends from where the poet has achieved a masterpiece of producing a unique art. However, beyond the poet, what? Where does that leave the source now for which the poem was made? For what is all these beauty in the artform that is a poem? Where does that lead her?

In all the wonderings of the poet, she had produced a work of art from a relative, turning the defect into something useful. It had produced poetry that people can read and enjoy. Enjoy because they can laugh – perhaps in disinterested innocence, not minding the defect, but the funny play of the poem.

The poem now becomes a document - enshrined for eternity under the category, UNIQUE, NEWLY DISCOVERED TECHNIQUES. Poets will follow the example and with alacrity look to people with more defects - relative or not - to surpass the earlier feat.

Alas! Perish the thought that next time, we shall have poetry enshrining all the defects of people and highlighting them.

Today, we talk about rights and empowerment. If one conducts a research and leaves the participant dis-empowered, then that research is not valid as consent is violated. The same is true in producing poetry out of someone’s predicament.

The question is, who owns the data gathered for this poem? Are they the poet’s only? How much of the “message” was supposedly the poet’s and how much, the subject’s? If he knew – and if all people of his kind knew – that out of their predicament a beautiful poem was made - how would these people react? Wouldn’t they feel some of their rights were violated?

Although an artform, poetry comes under the umbrella of communication. The consent of the rightful owner of data must be ascertained first. As it is, poets don’t have more rights than others in communicating. If they did, then anybody can go to war just with poetry. It is then like saying anything you want as anyway, it’s just poetry.

Doesn’t this ring familiar? Didn’t Novelist Dan Brown of Da Vinci Code say, “It’s just fiction”? He simply gets Jesus Christ and marries him off to Mary Magdalene, and he escapes just like that!

As discussed by Robert Traer (1 December 2003,, Dan Brown uses the character Teabing, who speaks as an expert, and claims, that “almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false." (p. 235). Another one, “The plan of Jesus was to have Mary Magdalene carry on the work of the church. He intended for the future of His Church to be in the hands of Mary Magdalene." (p. 248)” Etcetera and etcetera.

As it is, Dan Brown escapes all attacks. ”It’s just fiction!” And anyone who counters this is a fool.

The question that comes to mind then is: Is science supposed to be with parameters, and art, none?

© Copyright 2006 janeabao (UN: kota at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Slang and Chatspeak: Where They Belong

It is good to form good habits of writing by not using slang. There is a proper time to use this and it is when one is trying to characterize one’s subject through level of language. It is when language is used as a tool to convey something about the character. This is mostly done in short stories or novels.

One can use slang to convey something like tone, mood, emotion, but it is not to be used as a norm. We may find it cute using slang - or chatspeak for that matter -but it is always a good writing habit not to be sloppy with language.

There are age-old principles to follow in writing and it is best to respect them for their wisdom. Therefore, we do not defend use of slang or chatspeak – when it comes to learning good writing.

Some writers concur with me. The following transcripts may lend some insights -

I had recommended a budding writer here - one whom I told to stop using slang and chatspeak and to use formal language as a good habit of writing. I told her she could develop here. I told her there is use for these kinds of communication - in a short story or novel where one is characterizing a subject. But, it is not the norm, I told her.

Instead of saying "yeah," for example, she should use "yes." Instead of using "u," she should spell it out as "you."

Unfortunately, I see slang and chatspeak sometimes in the posts.

I agree that instant messaging abbreviations have no place in writing. However, there are instances where slang can be used in dialogue. In order for dialogue to appear natural, the writer should write, as their character would actually speak were that character an actual person. I don't use chatspeak or messaging abbreviations in my writing. I don't even make a habit of using it in my replies to other people's work, but it is used so commonly that people sometimes forget this is not proper for writing.

I do use yeah in dialogue because it is so common in speech. There are other instances. Street lingo would only be appropriate where a book or a short story is set in that setting.

If you're writing a formal letter for employment or such, slang, neither chatspeak, or street lingo would be appropriate.

I totally agree. I think slang and chatspeak as you call it have to be separated even though they can evolve for similar reasons. In both cases, they are substitutes for normal or proper language, but at least in the case of slang, most people can understand the context more often than not. Slang can also filter into normal everyday conversations. But chatspeak is very limited. I think it's mostly used by teenagers to have a cute way of writing to each other and in that sense, it's immature. When I find a web site or message board that uses chatspeak, I leave immediately! I can't take anyone seriously that writes in chatspeak.

Chatspeak is for the illiterate. At least it seems that way, and unfortunately, people who use it a lot sometimes forget how to spell. Believe it or not, I've come across it in nursing notes - which are technically legal documents. They shouldn't be there. Hate it. Slang speech is ok in writing though as it can help define a character

True enough. Your own character, Shark Johnson, is a great example of using slang to define a person. In the beginning of the series, he uses it quite a bit, as he is still rather rough around the edges. As he matures and educates himself, he uses it less and less.

I personally find chatspeak illiterate, and when people start writing stories using chatspeak, it shows how unseemly the whole thing is. It also shows how if people don't practise writing properly they begin to forget how to spell, and start writing in chatspeak everywhere. I hate seeing people writing or typing chatspeak, it reminds me of how society is slowly slipping away.

As for slang, there's nothing wrong with using it in dialogue, in fact I think it's great to use in dialogue. It gives character to your...well characters. But it's unwise to use it outside of dialogue, but not unheard of.

Learning Many Languages Makes One More Human?

Learning other languages can make one express oneself very well – better than the native speaker at times. It can be akin to "people watching gorillas or ants 24 hours a day." However, learning many languages is an altogether different issue

Why do people need to learn so many languages? To rule the world?
What do people want to do with the many languages they’ve learned? Why don’t they just aim for one international language that almost everybody understands? Or go simplistic with just two or three, and stop from there?

Obviously, there is effective communication when both source and receiver are homophilous or have a common frame of reference. Beyond this, however, what motivates one to keep on learning many, many languages?

Whether they make sense to one or not, people learn languages for a multitude of reasons. With them, not all reasons have to be economics-driven.

One said, the more languages one knows, the more times one is human. However, not everyone agrees, where one noted that those who knew several languages tend to be very proud and took every chance to display them.

"Human" was explained as giving one a better understanding of humanity as a whole. Still, it does not necessarily follow that the more languages one knows, the more one becomes human, because then it implies that language learning should have solved the many problems that plague society at this time.

One international language would be a nightmare for me, one said, as it would be a bit boring. Diversity is something that should be embraced, not shunned, he said. "Using nothing but English would make the world a very boring place and I can't see why we should overlook languages spoken by millions of people just because they aren't 'international' enough," he continued.

The reasons given for learning many languages were: to be able to talk to people, read newspapers, magazines and books in the language one has learned; write e-mails, and letters, listen to particular music, write little stories with them, and make translations. One is also able to study in a university, move to a place, impress other people at parties.

However, language learning is not always a leisure activity but can be a must sometimes. For example, one had to learn a particular language as an obligation to relatives and nationality, to enhance one’s career prospects, to work on an on-line translation dictionary, and in order to get a slick international job.

French, believed to be dead, is still "a pretty widespread international language" for one. People keep studying it because of its language’s features. Irish was one’s choice because "I felt I had an obligation to my relatives and my nationality." One had to learn Chinese or Korean because he might find himself walking along in a Chinese border town bordering North Korea.

Here’s one multi-language speaker who saw world affairs in language learning -
"A Persian proverb states that 'har zabaan-e-digei, zendegi-ye-jadidi e' - each language is a new life. Although I do not have much practical use for many of the languages that I have learned, (what practical use is there anyway for any language other than English and Spanish in Southern California?), every language that I have learned has taught me how to react with other citizens of the world better, as well as give me a new perspective on how to understand other people and to be 'quick on my feet' when speaking. Middle Eastern languages have given me a unique perspective about world affairs. For example, it is surprising how much power women really have in countries like Iran."

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Owners of Data

Honesty is a value lost in most of us. Honesty in what should have been revealed, however, takes qualification. If what should be revealed solves something, gives added benefit to most, then by all means reveal it and be relieved from keeping it.

Personal secrets do not need to be revealed if it does not help, however. They may be mistakes that are part of growing up. One writer wrote of being relieved after telling her secrets, which she said, made her a prison all her life. This included revealing her mother’s being an alcoholic and not knowing who her father was. Certainly, one must be selective in choosing whom to reveal secrets.

Messages like these have to be handled carefully. As it is, the data about her mother belongs to her, and without her consent, she may not just tell anybody. The data about not knowing who her dad is belongs to her and it is up to her how she may dispense with it. There are so-called owners of data and this should be respected.

Before feeling obligated to communicate secrets to anybody, what one must consider is what the situation needs, and that is acceptance of those secrets – by oneself. Then and only then will one be able to look at them honestly. This is where honesty first applies, before getting things complicated on the level of having to tell others. As earlier pointed out, communicating secrets may involve some risk if not handled properly.

The reality is that not everybody knows how to handle information passed on to him or her.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

OhmyNews’ Version of Citizen Journalism

I had the opportunity to join a website where it says it was practicing Citizen Journalism. I didn’t understand what the term meant. Later, I discovered that professional journalists were working together with unschooled journalists which rather intrigued me. Then I happened to read of Steve Outing’s write-up of different levels of Citizen Journalism. As feedback to that Poynter Institute article, I read that the site where I joined claimed to be practicing a mix of two levels. Now, I had a name for what we were doing: Citizen Journalism.

I wrote an opinion piece in that site endorsing Citizen Journalism all the way. It was able to garner 53 recommends (minus 11 decommends) and 86 comments. The story stood there as top story for more than a week. As we discussed the CJ we were doing, I slowly believed that we were not doing it right - or faithfully, in terms of social responsibility.

First off, I tried to defend our site by saying CJ had many faces after I saw a screenshot of our writers’ site in OhmyNews printed side by side the photograph of George Bush. Using Altavista Bable Fish to translate the Korean language used, I got the impression that we were being critiqued. For what, I tried to decipher.

Not by the criticisms of OhmyNews on that site but by what slowly unfolded, eventually, I lost steam in my efforts to contribute my share. Initially, I got inspired by Indian writers doing their share as writers, just by photographs with social significance.

I found many news items there needing editing. Sure, it’s democracy at work if they refuse to be edited. One could also block another member from touching one’s work as in commenting or editing, although one could recommend or decommend one’s story by pressing on the arrows going up or down.

What disconcerted me is the practice of scoring. Sure, it can urge you to work harder although there can be no money involved, but the effect is strongly psychological. You just would not allow your name to be down there in the dumps. For a while, it was challenging, but eventually, one would find out there’s no logic in how the scores come about. Also, they tend to veer away from content. News is about content – not about scores.

But here come news links. Majority of supposed Citizen Journalists were merely pasting on news links from other sources. Yes, paste on news links! The second thing they mostly did was recommend news links of others, and presto! They got scores to their name.

Steve Outing said OhMyNews is popularly known for Citizen Journalism. I tried to scan the web and I found out the South Koreans were able to influence the Presidential elections in 2001 on account of Citizen Journalism espoused by OhMyNews.

Yes, there has to be success to measure in implementing Citizen Journalism.

Reading OhMyNews’ version of CJ makes me think it is the purist kind worth emulating.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Encountering Citizen Journalism

The first time I found myself in I was entertaining other thoughts. I found myself mixing with would-be journalists who I doubted of their ability to write - just judging from the way they constructed their headlines. I said to myself, “Yuck! Why did I have to come here?"

Since there were buttons for editing options, I began correcting some outputs. I felt that by doing so, I was also contributing to some people's attempts at getting published. Most of these were captions of photographs from developing countries and they do have a lot to tell. I noticed that they knew how to project social implications just through these captions, especially the Indian writers. I am touched by most of them.

I found myself lamenting the fact that I cannot touch other people’s work for correction. While the site recognizes the liberty of one to edit other people’s work, it reserves the right of the writer to deny such editing.

I also found myself wanting to have something published that would normally never see print in my own country. I see that I am able to do it in without fear of reprisal. From here, I began to realize the significance of citizen journalism.

Before I came to, however, I didn’t have a name for this practice. Mixing the work of unschooled journalists with those of professional writers was unheard of before. Until one day, I read of Poynter’s piece.

Steve Outing wrote about “The 11 Layers of Citizen Journalism” in Poynter Online. Poynter Institute is a school for journalists. In this article, Outing discussed models of this mixing practice being adopted by many news websites. I also happen to have come across the feedback of Liz Lee who said was “loosely following models #6 and #10, from Steve's article.” I began to check.

Steve Outing said Model #6 is the stand-alone citizen-journalism site, edited version. This is the news-oriented website that is “comprised entirely or nearly entirely of contributions from the community.”

Outing also said Model #10 is integrating citizen and pro- journalism under one roof. Outing described it as "a news website comprised of reports by professional journalists directly alongside submissions from everyday citizens."

From there, I began to understand the mixing, and am quite happy for this development in the field of journalism. I am not sure, however, how everybody views this practice. But, of course, why shouldn't every citizen be able to speak?

I support Citizen Journalism all the way. I am also with those who think that formal journalism has its strait-jacket becoming too tight for modern journalism.

And may I add: In a country where there are structures that do not permit the voice of some sectors, Citizen Journalism comes in handy – especially in cyberspace.

[World] Citizen Journalism: For Every Daring Write

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Isn't Patchwriting Plagiarism?

Not everybody knows what everybody calls plagiarism.

Three studies may lend insights into accusations of plagiarism in student write-ups.

Rennie & Crosby’s study on medical students published in the British Medical Journal is a take off from a survey conducted in 1980 on 428 American students that found that 58% reported cheating during medical school. A researcher-designed questionnaire was distributed to 676 medical students in all year levels at Dundee medical school The questionnaire had 14 scenarios in which a fictitious student, ‘John,’ engaged in dishonest behaviour. Students were asked to give their views on informing faculty about misconduct and signing a written declaration.

The researchers found that students consider dishonest behaviour to be wrong and would not engage in it. Most students replied that most of the scenarios were wrong. The proportion of students reporting that they had engaged in or would consider engaging in the scenarios varied from copying answers in a degree examination to copying directly from published text and only listing it as a reference. About a third of the students reported that they had engaged in or would consider engaging in the behaviour described in four of the scenarios: chatting about an objective structured clinical examination, writing ‘nervous system examination normal’ when this hadn't been performed, lending work to others to look at, and copying text directly from published sources and simply listing the source in a reference list.

However, that some students did report engaging in dishonest behaviour is seen as important and worrisome. Fewer students consider it wrong to reference published text incorrectly compared with copying in exams, submitting a senior student's work, or copying another student's work.

The responses for some of the scenarios involving plagiarism may indicate students' lack of understanding regarding referencing text appropriately and also a need for clear guidelines. Large proportions of students were also unsure whether exchanging information regarding an objective structured clinical examination was wrong. This may reflect confusion concerning the acceptability of swapping information and a lack of guidance given to students about appropriate behaviour. The researchers concluded that explaining to students what acceptable behaviour is, is important when trying to reduce dishonesty. Also, medical schools should take this matter seriously as it may cast doubt on the validity of qualifications.

An ERIC study by Love & Simons focused their study among graduate students in a college education. This qualitative study on cheating and plagiarism utilized six first-year masters students recruited from three different programs at Middle State University.

These three resource persons thought there might be specific behaviours related to plagiarism about which the students might be unaware. Although cheating and plagiarism seemed to be occurring, the respondents were uncertain about the sanctions for these behaviours. Factors noted as contributing to cheating included: pressures related to grades, the number of assignments, and running out of time; leniency of professors and their tendency to avoid addressing these issues; lack of awareness of the rules of plagiarism; and personal attitudes such as wanting to avoid hard work or lack of interest in the topic. Factors noted as inhibiting cheating and plagiarism included fear, guilt, personal confidence, positive professional ethics, and the desire to work or learn.

The researchers found that graduate faculty avoided dealing with these issues, either in communicating with their students about appropriate or inappropriate behaviour on in confronting the behaviour when it does occur. The fact that there have been relatively few studies of cheating and plagiarism at the graduate level further substantiate the conclusion that until faculty understand and overcome issues of discomfort, studying and confronting cheating and plagiarism among graduate students will probably continue to be avoided and ignored.

Another ERIC study by K. Klompien examined several research papers written by students who took part in summer bridge program at California State University.

Findings show that many of the strategies that students have used in the past in order to incorporate different texts are not only inappropriate in the university but could lead to accusations of plagiarism. Findings also point to possibilities that when making research or a paper, many instructors assume that students will be able to create an original text in which they are in clear command of the material.

When a writer attempts to adopt or apply what she has read to a given topic, according to M.M. Bakhtin (‘Problem of the text’), she is working with a ‘heteroglossia,’ or a multitude of different voices at once. In order for students to incorporate ‘alien’ words and ideas of others into their essays, they are expected to master the conventions of quotation and paraphrase.

Klompien cited Glynda Hull & Mike Rose (‘Rethinking remediation. Toward a social-cognitive understanding of problematic reading and writing’). In ‘Written Communication’ which explores a phenomenon called ‘patchwriting,’ Hull and Rose accordingly see this as a stage of development in which students are exploring different ideas but have not absorbed them thoroughly enough to put them into their own words. They, therefore, include ‘patches’ of text from outside sources without paraphrasing. Hull and Rose describe this technique as ‘making slight modification to the original, changing a word here and there but copying the whole chunks verbatim.’

Klompien also cited Rebecca More Howard (‘Standing in the shadow of giants. Plagiarist, authors, and collaborators’) who says that all writers patchwrite, but some are just more successful to it than others.

Klompien found that some ‘patchwriting’ was used in all five of the research papers studied. ‘Patchwriting’ as earlier described sees students still exploring ideas without yet having absorbed meanings. The study notes that it is helpful for many students to use these techniques as they start writing at the college level in order to try to understand what the authors of their text believe and to begin to take on the language of the discourse community.

Analysis showed that the research paper is particularly difficult for the basic writer. To complicate matters, the atmosphere in the University often is one of suspicion and blame when it comes to any appearance of plagiarism, instead of one that encourages risk-taking and growth among its students.

Finally, Klompien concluded that the challenge of bringing in and successfully incorporating outside authorities can be overwhelming for students. The students need, therefore, their instructors’ help to learn to respond in ways that keep them from being susceptible to accusations of plagiarism.

The Unequal Fight for Injustice: Beat Within vs. Mother Jones

Publications may come in many forms and purposes. Two published journals, The Beat Within and Mother Jones are not any different. On the surface, these published journals have striking similarities, but on the whole they have more differences than similarities. Aside from the outright difference in the age of their writers and the type of write-ups and contents, there is more to be said between these two publications.

The Beat Within is a San Francisco literary magazine that started in 1996 and is published by San Francisco’s Pacific News Service. It comes out weekly and includes essays, poems and art done by young people in prison. Readership of The Beat Within is primarily composed of the kids who produce them, and each issue would carry a page called “The Beat Without,” featuring an essay of a former juvenile hall detainee. The Beat Within started as a four-page newsletter when a mentor named Tupac died and the impact was so great, the children needed something to express their feelings on.

A reading of the stories would show a continuum of emotional standing from acceptance of fate and a more relaxed view of life with readiness to change, to an understanding of the past as some childish accident or inevitable part of growing up, to a resigned misgiving about a world and its thinking not yet properly understanding them. The last is expressed by Pure Dragon, a 7 year old boy who left China for America.

“When I think back on it, it all seems like a bad dream that has no future in it. But this ain’t no dream, this is my life. If I keep getting caught up in this system, I already know how my future would be, but I don’t want that future. I would like to go back to school, back to my family, to find me a job. I think the purpose of the hall is to change us one way or another. They have programs, counselors to talk to us, but they don’t know what we’re going through, so it is not helping us. Maybe if I stayed in China, a lot of things wouldn’t have happened to me.”

The stories are outrightly therapeutic for the children, allowing them release of the past. Their works are presented sometimes as slices of their lives in a paragraph or two These are embedded with articles from the staff or management generously supporting these bits of expressions, as for example this one from a boy left by his father to hang on a tree –

“I didn't cry out to my father, because he believed in punishing even more severely those who cry, so I just dangled in the wind trying to pull the unforgiving rope away from my neck as my father tied his end of the rope to the chicken coop, double-checked the knot, then walked back into the house.”

Meanwhile, Mother Jones may be said to be a journal of angst by activists, taking its name after a United States community organizer named Marry Harris Jones. Jones had remained a union organizer until she died. Founded in 1976, Mother Jones is published bimonthly out of San Francisco with a circulation of about 250,000. It is considered to be a left-of-center periodical whose investigations are used by people working for social justice. Mother Jones is run under the auspices of the Foundation for National Progress (FNP). The magazine is said to work directly with politicians, educators, advocates and social change organizations.

The background of these two publications may shed light into their personalities as crusading journals. The Beat Within was borne out of a need for some children in prison to express their grief for a dead friend. It is barely a decade old but speaks from an earlier beginning which is the environment a child comes upon. On the other hand, Mother Jones’ fight is with a quantitatively bigger world out there, institutions that have juridical personalities that can do their bigger version of injustice especially when organized.

Readership of Mother Jones is extensive, and can be said to be for the global village, having now its online version. Target readership is the B-C crowd or middle class groups who have much stake with the affairs of government. The contents are of investigative journalism and whose results are used by agencies, both government and private.

Meanwhile, the readership of The Beat Within are the wards themselves, although it has expanded to include immediate concerned groups. The contents are personal essays and artworks as expressions of their experiences. The circulation is local and non-commercial and the contents are experienced-based that have a lot to do with these people’s being incarcerated. They strongly express the workings of the mind of the wards who wrote them. One remarkable thing observed among the incarcerated children is their craving to be heard even by just one man.

Comparing the fight for injustice of these two, The Beat Within is still tougher than that of Mother Jones.

5 Steps to Becoming a Credible Reporter

To be credible is very important to a writer as nowadays charges of manufactured "news" are being found in whatever medium. In fact, complaints after complaints have been written about this. Credibility is defined in the dictionary as "the believability of a statement, action, or source, and the ability of the observer to believe that statement."

Every communicator is expected to have this quality as it has much bearing on his message. If a reporter lacks credibility, it is also most probable that his message may lack credibility in the presentation.

First, a writer or reporter must know the principles involved in any piece of writing. It does not take degrees to be able to come up with a good one. For instance, the Internet is full of instructions that can help a budding writer. As basic as knowing the necessary elements of news, for example, is important.

Will Richardson of The Georgia NJ Connection named ten of which he said a story only needs a few: oddity, emotion, consequence or its effect on the reader; proximity, drama, human interest, prominence, progress or technological advance; conflicts like man versus man, man versus nature, man versus machine, and man versus himself; and timeliness or the recency of the news. Surprisingly, he did not mention objectivity, which is considered very important in reporting.

Another important principle aside from using news elements is the use of data in reporting. One cannot be presenting news in general terms. Avoid saying, therefore, "According to reliable sources," "Some sectors observe," and the like, unless you have to protect your source. Name who, and tell what. With the subject named, mention the designation of the person relative to the news report. The source must have something to do with the data presented. For example, is he the officer-in-charge? Is he the spokesperson for the group? What is his personality in relation to the information?

Second, provide as much data as possible and check for facts. Robert F. Abbott, in writing for "Data Delivers Credibility," recommended using very specific information. He said, "Often, the more specific you can be, the more credibility you have."

Reviewer Brent Raynes, in evaluating writer/researcher Michael Grosso for a popular new book said, "He is a thorough and credible writer/researcher who assembles his case carefully and clearly. He weighs out the pros and cons, the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence for [his topic]. He knows the arguments and he is well versed and familiar with the histories and sciences surrounding the issues explored herein." Would that we can all be like Grosso.

This means it is always best to look into what environment has to say about your topic. Citing authorities can be very enhancing. In a news report, for example, after the lead, the second paragraph usually begins with the words, "According to." The same is true with any research material. When one cites many leading authorities in one’s topic, one is actually resorting to the practice of looking into the state of the art.

In handling data, be extra careful. In a critical part of one country in Asia, some reporters intentionally misspelled names as a way of escape when confrontation for data is most probable. Double check on names, dates, figures. If you are not sure, try to call those concerned and check. As long as there is still time, edit your own story to make it more presentable. Nothing is ever final as long as it is still possible to make necessary changes.

Third, do not exaggerate. For example, if there were only 10 people you saw in the area, you must not say 100 to make the picture impressive. If the rank of the person involved is only a private, do not promote him to captain to make the story sensational. If the subject was only saying his stomach ached, do not write of that as pregnancy. If the person is gay, do not say he is a hermaphrodite. There are differences - great differences - especially if you knit all these into one story that becomes fiction at the end.

There was an enterprising news hen of a local newspaper in Asia who had exaggerated almost everything in her story. She wrote about a hermaphrodite who had a captain for a boyfriend and now the hermaphrodite was pregnant. Her paper ran the story for more than a week it "developed." The foreign news had taken notice of it and sent representatives of the World Health Organization as this was a "first of its kind." Before they could arrive however, the reporter said the hermaphrodite went into hiding. Needless to say, the reporter’s credibility was put into question. She had to make a public apology later on.

Fourth, as much as possible, keep your own opinions from entering into the picture. If you say "allegedly," for example, who alleged? Stick to facts. As much as possible, present all sides of your story to project an objective stance. News is supposed to be impartial. Bringing into the picture the fruits of one’s own selective perception gives only half of the picture or just nearly all of the truth. "Nearly" means some of the data may have been suppressed. If one habitually does that, he becomes insensitive to what is true and what is not.

As a source, whether in speaking or in writing, one must be credible. It is not surprising that among law enforcement agencies, whenever one has to give his statement, his credibility as a source is evaluated first before his message is ever considered. Sadly, this quality can be lost just by being careless with facts and by being found dishonest in reporting.

Fifth, a reporter should keep educating himself even after he earns his degrees. The world is changing fast in many aspects, just as the world of communication is. Every reporter worth his salt is expected to continue learning on even after he hangs his diploma. That much, he owes his readers.