[chinese blood, irish heart] - DEFUNCT: March 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Internet & Journalism 5- Online Journalism=Profitable?

Advertising is one of the main driving forces behind profitable and therefore successful journalism platforms. It pays the bills including reporter’s salaries in almost all news organisations. With the advent of the internet, advertisers now have a greater choice than ever. By utilising self-serve tools such as Google’s Adsense and Yahoo! Overture, they can bypass sales staff and post their advertisements on websites directly. "There are some very large companies that have become large because of the scale that they offer and the conglomeration of that scale," said Brian Axe, product manager for Google's AdSense. "The web is so efficient that it can break up that conglomeration... and provide power to the individual who can't get that scale on their own but can get that scale through an automated [advertising] solution." The placement of ads is triggered by certain keywords and is entirely automated. It has been so successful that Google has earned over $800 million in the last 3 months of 2004. Yep, the money’s in search engines.

As for online news websites, attracting advertisers is more difficult. To be truly successful, news websites must have ‘high curiosity quotient that anticipates and predict trends that break news and offer scoops, smart analysis or irreverent commentary’- David Shook of This is the kind of high impact, original journalism that will attract advertisers. Although there are plenty of free news websites out there, subscription based sites are by default of much greater quality (although that would be fiercely debated). Just ask yourself, would you prefer to read articles from a subscription based site that employs professional journalists and has secure financial backing? Or would you rely on free alternative news uploaded by pseudo-journalists? Both have their own qualities and weaknesses but whatever your choice is, advertisers will get you!

Many media analysts such as Joe Marren states that online journalism must be profitable in order to survive. I do not agree as such because there is one genuine factor that professional journalists cannot offer: first-person perspective. In my opinion, an ordinary civilian in a war-torn country, armed with a digital camera and internet access can provide so much more given his/her emotional attachment. In this case, warblogs have been proven very popular. And take the case of Indymedia, a free publishing news site that fills the gap that mainstream news neglects. With Indymedia’s popularity, it has even asserted itself as a platform to mobilize marches and protests against unfair issues, the most recent ones in Ireland being the anti-war demonstrations and Global Women’s Strike.

Advocates of profitable journalism say that news sites multiply uncontrollably on the web like infectious agents and most are pure crap, while proper, professional news sites are the only genuine sources. Sure professional news websites can prostitute themselves to advertising and rate themselves according to the almighty profit. The quest for wealth has corrupted mankind for a *very* long time, from Judas Iscariot to God-knows-who-at-this-moment. Advertisers and all those who bow before it are the real infectious agents.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Internet & Journalism 4- Blogging

The term blog stems from ‘Weblog’ which in itself is a portmanteau of "web" and "log". Weblogs are associated with the Free Software Movement in which the profileraiton of free software has polarised copyright laws and proprietory software. Blog was phrased by Peter Merholz in 1999 in the phrase ‘we blog,’ and the rest as they say is history.

"Weblogs are often-updated sites that point to articles elsewhere on the web, often with comments, and to on-site articles. A weblog is kind of a continual tour, with a human guide [whom] you get to know. There are many guides to choose from and each develops an audience. There's camaraderie and politics between the people who run weblogs. They point to each other in all kinds of structures, graphs, loops etc."— David Winer (Blog software developer).

There are about 18 types of weblogs, including personal, topical, news and political. It was only in recent years that blogging has become truly mainstream. Even established journalists and politicans alike have created their own blogs to generate a closer audience with readers. Although many bloggers would like to differentiate themselves from mainstream and be percieved as independent minded and alternative. Irregardless, there is a raging debate whether news related bloggers can be counted as journalists. If so, do the normal journalistic practices apply to them also? This also raises the question over intellectual property, copyright etc.

Warblogs are also another new phenomenon. In the post 9/11 world and the Iraq War, warblogging is a very popular source for those hungry of war related news. There are warblogs written by dedicated followers of the war, by Allied soldiers and even by Iraqi civilians, such as
Baghdad Burning and Today In Iraq. By offering a first-person view of the war, it entices readers and boosts their popularity. But can these be accredited as journalists? Therefore should they adhere to proper journalistic practices and be protected under journalistic rights? Perhaps some don’t even want to be accredited as journalists, hence they are not pressured by rules and guidelines.

So what is the future of blogging? In my humble opinion, this fad is here to stay. It’s amazing how quickly this phenomenon has become mainstream. So much so that bloggers have been in the spotlight such as the Apple Leak Case and the jailing of an Iranian blogger. Some see the bloggers as an explosion of free speech, a democratic counterbalance to big media corporations, while others see them as a 'pseudo-journalist lynch mob,' hellbent on destroying the media.

After starting this blog about a month ago (out of sheer neccessity!), I can see how addictive and self-fullfilling it is. To have your own little publishing world at your finger tips for others to read & enjoy adds to one’s distinctivness. For me a blog is a place to express my thoughts, feelings and opinions and I try to keep it topical and updated as possible. I don't need the fame of Instapundit or Dailykos with their 70,000 visitors a day and financial benefit! This blog will serve as my online diary (things should get interesting once I graduate and become a carefree wanderer!) so friends, family and strangers-no matter the distance and familiarity-can know what I’ve been up to, so it's well handy. You don't need a celebrity lifestyle to have your own blog, it's just a platform in which you can present your true self.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Internet & Journalism 3- 'New News'

In this era of New Journalism and the Internet, the traditional role of journalists as information gatherers is becoming obsolete. Their task has been regulated to more as information directors: to ensure that the flow of information to the public sphere is checked, verified and not propaganda.
With the Internet and its seemingly limitless knowledge, there are many online news websites that do not adhere to proper journalistic practices such as source verification, copyright/slander and objectivity. With more and more consumers turning to the web for their news digest, online news is becoming packaged more into short, concise and sensational news bits, it is also sometimes accompanied by audio visual files that provide a more sensory interaction.
Most surveys conclude that consumers would generally scan information rather than actually take the time to read and slowly digest the information that is shown to them. This all pays tribute to the fact that our society is becoming more of an instantaneous culture and ‘present minded’. As a result, it is much more difficult for critical journalism to be represented in such a packaged and concise manner.
Online news websites have yet to achieve the same status as print journalism. The fact that an article is printed in a national newspaper holds more weight than something that has been published online. The reason perhaps being is that a newspaper is tangible and has been a solid news source for over 200 years. Not to mention its journalistic credentials.
I have always assumed there is a secret invisible war being waged between print and online journalism. In the next few decades we will see the rise of a singular news platform that will dominate the public sphere. Print journalism is severely limited in its interactive abilities and stems from 200 years of history, perhaps in this new modern age that it will soon be obsolete. In defence of traditional journalism, we should seek to preserve these journalistic practices in the domain of cyberspace.

Follow ups:

'New News' retrospective: Is online news reaching its potential?

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Céad Míle Fáilte Romhat... again!

Congratulations to all those who campaigned for 19 year old Olunkunle Eluhanle's return to Ireland from Nigeria: Palmerstown Community School, Socialist Youth, Teachers Union of Ireland, Archbishop of Dublin, Joe Higgins, Willie O'Dea and others.
Michael McDowell now grants Eluhanle a six month visa, just in time to do his Leaving Certificate. He was deported during the St.Patrick's weekend still wearing his school uniform. Abandoned in Lagos without money, he was lucky to be sheltered by the local priest. In a phone interview with RTE News he stated that he would commit suicide if his situation does not improve.
But I wonder if Eluhanle hadn't been deported in such a blatant manner and without the supplementary media coverage, would the public have cared? If Eluhanle wasn't wearing the clear green uniform of Palmerstown, I don't think he would've made front pages of the newspapers as it's not sensational enough. Hence it wouldn't have mitigated such public support. Hmm, maybe all deportees should start wearing Irish jerseys!

Friday, March 25, 2005

Forty Foot Fever

Heading out to the Forty Foot in Dun Laoghaire to help do a Grace O'Malley production, I prayed that the weather would hold. Apart from some overcast and drizzle-shizzle, we managed to catch a brief moment of the sun.
Interviewed Gary Coyle, a long time swimmer at the Forty Foot and photographer. And out of nowhere, Frank Kelly (Father Jack) shows up! We'd be pragamatic and not ask him for an interview as he apparently gets real pissed off. But I would've done it just to hear him yell 'FECK OFF!!'
With much courage, Grace *eventually* gets into the wet-suit and tests the 4 degree water. After a brief 20 second swim, she emerges from the water with a piece-to-camera: 'That was cold!!' Brrrrr... I see she won't be following in the footsteps of our infamous 16th Century pirate queen of the same name (Gráinne Ni Mháille)!
We also vox popped some male swimmers and I never in my life have interviewed anyone in the nude. I was quite amazed by their dedication, it seemed like a cult they had going on here. I salute ye brave men (and women)!


Monday, March 21, 2005

At the Olympia

Yesterday was probably the most tiring day I've had in ages yet it was also the most productive! Started filming our short movie early in the morning before heading out to town. Saw the anti-war protest march from the windows of McDonalds, thought I'd take some pictures but by the time I finished by quarter pounder it was too late to catch up!
Did my video at the Olympia yesterday, I was asked to do a featurette/press pack for the band 66e and I figured that I'd do my documentary for TV class aswell. Got to use the Canon XL1 camcorder so I looked real professional! But it was one heavy right shoulder was completely red after resting that heavy bastard on my shoulder for hours. The seating area looked incredibly different from the stage, I've always thought it was spacious but it was actually quite small. Checked out the dressing rooms were the Prodigy, Air and Groove Armada stayed in. It's an amazing venue and the it was certainly a dream come true for the band.
I also managed to catch the Skyfest in between shoots. Had to squeeze through the Welsh infested streets of Templebar before I settled on a spot just opposite Custom House Quay. But it wasn't very spectacular and I didn't expect much anyway and since i was alone I left 15 mins after it started. Walking back, the loud bangs were even more satisfying as it reminded me of a warzone. Yes i'm a war junkie. Hoorah!!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Paddy's Day

Hope y'all had a wicked St.Patrick's Day! The weather was excellent in the afternoon and as usual Dublin city centre was crammed. After mingling through the crowds and trying to find a good spot to watch the parade, I eventually got the courage to show off my expired NUJ card (since Sept '04) to the Gardai and what luck they let me inside the barriers! Grace eventually came and I even managed to get her in too, even her NUJ card was expired 2 years ago, and you're calling me jammy?! Check out the rest of my photos on my photography website in the links section.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mmmmm, dog.

Me as a baby. Nah just kiddin, I never wear pink.

Internet & Journalism 2- Speed check on critical journalism on Information Superhighway

In this new information age as characterised by the rise of the internet, critical journalism is becoming ever more obscured and being made redundant. The increasing individualisation and segmentation in communication will shift journalism’s traditional task from collecting information to directing the social flow of information and public debate. With the development of satellite broadcasting technology, audiences can access uncut reports of world events at the click of a remote. But this is reducing the reporter to a mere purveyor of facts as the need for critical journalism is no longer necessary on his/her part.

Media researcher and editor of Media, Ritual and Identity Elihu Katz states that "The combination of information management, instant news, empty analysis, and the best of intentions threatens the future of critical journalism, and our own." The internet and other related interactive communication services has given rise to expectations that in the future journalistic intervention in political communication will no longer be necessary. These developments in technology have a two-pronged effect: Will they [journalists] become redundant, will the advance of direct registration of news smother the journalism that seeks to explain its background? Or might it be the other way around- Will individuals lose their way on the ‘information superhighway’ and feel a greater need for journalistic direction?

Can web journalism achieve the same status as professional print/media journalism? No doubt that more and more people are turning to the web for their daily digest, but it still does not meet the same standards when reading from a newspaper or watching it on TV. With the Sunday Tribune launching the country's first e-newspaper, it's a first step towards 'digitising' the print media industry. As new technology unfolds, eventually news will be availible 24/7 on the web in full visual & audio glory. The question now is whether critical & objective journalism can keep pace with this increasingly instantaneous and 'present minded' society.
(Above: The Sunday Trib in full digital glory)

Sunday, March 13, 2005

'Avoid like the plague'- Harold & Kumar go to White Castle

The only reason why I bothered watching this film was because it's the first Hollywood movie of this category to feature two Asian leads(or so i'm told); A Korean and Indian character. And no I didn't pay to see it in the cinema, I bought a counterfeit DVD from China for 2 euro on my usual impulse buying runs and it's been sitting around for months.

So here we are, another stab at the American Pie genre featuring the usual attire of sex, drugs and general misdemeanor. But one big difference with this is, other than the two Asian leads is that 'White Castle' burgers actually exists, since 1921 I believe. So before you say anything, this is a blatant commercially driven movie to promote the White Castle franchise.

To be brief, the story is about two roomates who get the munchies to go to White Castle and have wacky adventures along the way. If this is a film that seeks to break the stereotyped image of Asians in the US it falls really short: Harold (Korean) is a banker, obviously good at math. While Kumar studies to become a doctor.. So ok that's established. Then there's the racism as perpertrated by White punks and redneck cops. I'm sure the filmmaker was just out to poke fun but I found it deeply disturbing and only seeks to imbed itself into American culture even more: "Fuck you Apu- thank you come again!" We've all heard of the term 'nigga' as applied to black people, would 'chink' or 'paki' be applied to Asians sooner or later?

The bloody film wasn't even funny, it even wasn't 'dumb' funny. It plays on overused elements already seen on American Pie, Road Trip and Dude where's my Car and other crap. I would seriously doubt the film's effectiveness in promoting racial harmony- Hollywood will remain biased towards Asians. But then again the Asian film industry is booming anyway, who needs Hollywood for a little Asian screen time right? Back to the film, I guess if you don't take it seriously and just want a bit of harmless laughter then this'll whet your appetite (if you really need to). I'll be interested to see how well it's rated here. But seeing how well it was recieved in the US (unsurprisingly) it scored as a major publicity stunt for White Castle.
(note: It's called Harold & Kumar get the munchies in Europe)

'Remember'- Hotel Rwanda

First of all, I wholeheartedly recommend this movie to anyone. It is one of the best dramas I have seen in a long time, coupled by superb performances by Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo and Nick Nolte. The Rwandan genocide in 1994 is still fresh in people's minds and serves as one of the more darker spots of the 20th Century compared to horrific events such as the Nazi Holocaust. I did feel iffy about Hollywood being at the helm as they are infamous for taking reality out of such stories and blowing it all out of proportion, need I remind you of Black Hawk Down? I was also suprised at the film's 12's certificate (or PG-13 in America), the producers probably wanted to find a balance between the horrific violence and educating young people about the genocide. The film dosen't really reflect nor explain why the events happen as they did, the genocide more or less acted as a background, while the story revolved around Paul and his family.

Cheadle plays the role of Paul Rusesabagina, a true life person whom I have a new profound respect for. I did feel iffy at first about Cheadle's accent (have you heard his British accent in Ocean's 11-12?) but he seemed to pull it off great. His acting is top notch and this is undoubtedly his breakthrough role. Cheadle is far from a household name, so casting him as the lead was quite refreshing. I can't really think of any other black Hollywood actor that would be fit for it. Nick Nolte was great too, I hadn't seem him in anything since that infamous drink driving portrait! If his role as the UN Colonel Oliver was just a little longer I think he'd be up for Best Supporting Actor in whatever award.

The Western powers were portrayed poorly in the film and deservedly so. As Colonel Oliver puts it clearly to Paul: "you're not even a nigger, you're African," pretty much sums up the West's view on the Rwandan situation. However the Canadians and French were portrayed a little better led by Nick Nolte and Jean Reno respectively. Nevertheless, it does make us ask why 'we' didn't help out in Rwanda, why Bill Clinton didn't do anything like he did in Mogadishu. As a reporter once asked in a White House spokesperson: "How many genocides does it take for it to be a genocide?" Needless to say their PR machine was at full capacity.

(Above is the real life couple Paul & Tatiana Rusesabagina)

Oddly, the UN had never characterised the Rwandan genocide as actual 'genocide.' So therefore it did not authorise involvement but instead regulated itself to, as Colonel Oliver puts it as "we're peacekeepers, not peacemakers." But perhaps now the Western powers are starting to learn from this lesson, as highlighted by increased peacekeeping missions in Africa, not to mention our fighting men & women currently in Liberia!

I admit I hadn't shown much interest in Rwanda since I've seen this film (and I suppose for lots of others too) which leads me to ask 'does it have to take a Hollywood blockbuster for us to start showing interest?' Not to mention that it's already 10 years too late? I'm sure there are similar horrific events happening now in the world as you read this and probably not reported in the mainstream news. But even if it did, I think a large majority of us would be passively sympathetic as we in the Western world are too preoccupied by mundane activities and maintaining social lives to really involve ourselves into intervening. As one character said: "we will watch it on TV, say that it is terrible, and go right on eating our dinner." Sadly true.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Glimpse Magazine

Finally my photography work is getting some recognition! Glimpse Magasine, an international e-zine, published an article using a photo I took on the fateful day of May 1st 2004 during the MayDay protests.
Check it out here

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Cars + girls= $$$

While checking out the webby awards 2005, a commercial website known as 'Car Stuck Girls' ( won the best category for 'Weird' webby award.
Basically it's a company that sells videos & pics of gorgeous models... who get stuck hopelessly with their cars in mud, snow etc and try to break free, whilst wearing conveniently sexy outfits.
It's some kind of twisted sanitised porn that's best confined to those weirdos who own the company.


Internet & Journalism 1- Alternative is the new mainstream

No one can doubt the impressive knowledge to be found all across the Internet spectrum; from the most up to date global news to the most contrived & irrelevant. Needless to say, it provides an ever increasing amount of knowledge and resources to arm the professional journalists of today. But the internet also grants the ability for everyday Joe/Josephine Bloggs to bypass the need for journalists and top news organisations, effectively *becoming* their own journalist.

With the startling amount of alternative sources of information such as
Rense, Commondreams and Indymedia, professional journalists and ordinary people alike are able to publish their stories online. It is possible for anyone to write a story with research acquired solely from the Internet, which empowers ordinary people to be virtual or 'Superhighway' journalists. More and more readers are turning to the internet and these alternative websites for their daily news digest. Their main attraction is that a large majority of these stories, as well as complementary media, don't appear in the mainstream media. One such example is the revelation of the stark realities about the assault on Fallujah (Iraq). Rense revealed gruesome images of the fighting and of horrific casualties sustained by both sides. The mainstream version on Fallujah was sanitised and at times biased towards the US forces, which is why alternative news websites are gaining popularity. During the last US presidential elections, over a third of voters got their news from the internet. Additionally, it was acknowledged that those voters were generally more knowledgeable than those who got their news from mainstream sources (but fat lot of good that did eh?)

Its impact on professional or mainstream journalism is still debatable. Professionals will undoubtedly be held in higher regard and will most certainly be paid more, however when one works within the corporate structure their work will inevitably be tainted or misused by superiors to suit their agenda. Top media organisations such as News Corp and Time Warner with their billion dollar profits need not fear the likes of
Indymedia. However, as free alternative news sites gain in numbers & popularity, it will be harder for the establishment to exert their political agendas via mainstream channels without being scrutinised and challenged by those in the virtual realm and hence via the public sphere.

Fuck Valentine's Day

I know, it's a bit late for Valley's Day bashing but I came across this website called 'Fuck Valentine's Day' so here's some images that'll make you think..
Personally I think Valentine's Day is the most tackiest ever, just like Christmas. It's the last desperate cling to romanticism that's already been commercialised to the max, like Christmas again. Only few types of people give in: the unimaginative ones, the hectic lifestyle types, and of course the desperate. And i'm certainly not one of those 'everyday should be valentine's day' types, pssshhh get real. Love should be symbiotic & fullfilling, not contrived- yes just like Christmas

Friday, March 04, 2005

Kyoto Protocol: "You talk the talk, but...

...can you walk the walk?"

Let's face it, global warming is happening. Melting polar ice caps are weakening the North Atlantic Drift that provides Ireland with the warmth that literally plays hard to get. The sea is slowly eroding the Irish coast. Yes we know Ireland is quite 'brrrrr' at this time of the year, but it also chills me to know that my future kids will probably have to wear eskimo gear just to avoid catching a cold. Dr. John Sweeney of the NUI calculates that our situation will deteoriate significantly in the next 40 years according to current CO2 levels. By the end of the century, Ireland could hit a new ice age, so make sure to buy your grand kids skis for Christmas.

The Kyoto Protocol came into effect on February 19th, the so-called D-Day for climate change. It is indeed a victory of environmentalists, albeit a small one. It does really have a more style than substance kind of thing. As for its effect, it dosen't really matter how many countries joined since the Yankers (Yanks+wankers, get it?) have opted out, while booming China & India are exempt. Why??!! Both countries account for 1st and 3rd leaders of worldwide car sales respectively (US is second). And what really grabs me by the balls is that the US can use this opportunity to out-do other nations with its non-restrictive industrial capacity, particularly to those in Europe. Russia who at first rejected Kyoto, scrambled to ratify the protocol after EU negotiations allowing it to sell its 'emissions credits' to other countries. And we know how desperate the Ruskies are in selling; Ak-47s, uranium, Russian brides...

As for our li'l 'ol green emerald isle that's slowly becoming more brown, we have agreed to limit our CO2 emissions to 13% of 1990 levels by 2012. I asked Ciaran Cuffe TD Green Party and Pat Grian of the Green House Action Network (GRIAN) if we can meet our targets in time. Both duly suggested a big no-no. My God, what ever will we do? "The protocol *allows* you to miss your target----you just have to buy enough credits in the emissions trading marketplace to make up your shortfall. This is pretty much the current government's strategy," says Pat. Ah so I see where Russia comes in. Quite an ingenious money making scheme. Putin must be sitting on a leather arm chair stroking his furry white cat Boris by now. A Carbon Tax scheme was introduced but recently scrapped due to intense pressure from the elite business minority groups. I guess I see where their priorities lay. Each step forward is another two steps backward. Ironically I once did a mock press conference in college for the launch of the scheme. Probably one of my biggest regrets. Oh well at least I got a good grade.

Back to square one I guess, what crazy scheme will the bigwigs think of now? Whatever it is, you can bet your top euro that it's gonna sink deep into your coin purses. So what about recycling and sustainable uses of our energy as shown by just that guy and horny aul one from the 'Reduce Reuse Recycle' ad campaign? I mean their heart's in the right place but I believe that it will never get enough public consensus. Just look at the rubbish situation on our streets, I mean if people can't be bothered to but their garbage in the bins then how can we rely on their ability to 'RRR'? Alternative energy sources such as wind power could be a key solution. But if I remember correctly, some wind power stations were protested against by some villagers because they 'looked ugly' and might damage tourism. WTF? Oh we're really sorry for building clean energy sources now that it might affect your sales of minature cottages to tourists!

I was going to finish by a rousing soliloquay about changing our ways and stopping the damage done by neoliberalism & industrialisation. But we've heard this song way too many times and frankly it's beoming one of those annoying tunes you can’t get out of your head. So maybe we should just accept our inevitable fate of much colder and turbulent weather in Ireland for years to come. Just a few pointers, I suggest we build much more durable houses, have flood warning systems installed, build underground shelters, more indoor sports complexes and buy those neats hats with umbrellas attached to them because frankly I hate carrying them.
Kyoto will simply slow down the Global Warming train a little. It can never be stopped. Instead we should prepare and buckle up for the long haul.

Read more criticism about the Kyoto Protocol from this sanctimonious Yanker
(This article also published on Indymedia: )