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1981 KRON News Clip: Electronic News of the Future

Something tells me that the guy selling papers at the end this news clip is out of a job today and that half of the people in that newspaper room are also out of a job…

I wonder if the guys at the Examiner working on this electronic news project had any inkling that this project of theirs would eventually lead to the layoffs of their colleagues in the newspaper industry today.

Thanks to Boing Boing.

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‘Dinner For One’ New Year’s Tradition

According to the 1995 Guiness Book of World Records, the most broadcast television program ever was not Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or Frosty the Snow Man, the Sound of Music or even The Wizard of Oz. It was, and probably still is (the record is no longer tracked), ‘Dinner For One‘, a 15 minute sketch filmed in 1963. The origins of the sketch date back to the 1920s, but in 1963, the sketch was filmed by the German television station Norddeutscher Rundfunk (I had originally assumed it was from the BBC) in black and white and shown on New Year’s Eve that year. Since then it has become a staple for New Year’s Eve in many countries around the world. Countries that regularly view the sketch are Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Faroe Islands, Austria, German-speaking Switzerland, South Africa, Australia and more.

Being Swedish myself, this video has been a part of my New Year’s Eve tradition for many years. The video is ageless and never loses its shine.  Enjoy!

You Too Can Throw A Shoe At George W. Bush

It was inevitable, but within hours of the incident involving an Iraqi journalist throwing shoes at President Bush during a Baghdad press conference on December 14, video games recreating the event immediately sprung up all over the internet. Most of them are pretty lame, but some of them are pretty creative.  A few examples include:

If you have thrown a shoe in outrage over the Iraq War, perhaps you should send these guys a picture of yourself.

Bring back the Federal Writers Project

Mark Pinsky over at The New Republic definitely has a great idea for the incoming president:

Barack Obama sounds like he wants to reach back to the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration to jump start the economy with an economic stimulus proposal featuring infrastructure repair. If so, it may be time for the man who would be FDR to take a look at another successful–but largely forgotten–jobs program from the Depression era: the Federal Writers Project.

This time, the FWP could begin by documenting the ground-level impact of the Great Recession; chronicling the transition to a green economy; or capturing the experiences of the thousands of immigrants who are changing the American complexion. Like the original FWP, the new version would focus in particular on those segments of society largely ignored by commercial and even public media. At the same time, the multimedia fruits of this research would be open-sourced to all media, as well as to academics. As an example, oral history as a discipline has made great strides in the past 70 years, and with the development of video techniques, the forum of the Internet could make these multi-media interviews widely available to schools and scholars, as well as to average Americans.

How would it work? Administering the new FWP as an individual grant program through community colleges and universities could minimize bureaucracy and overhead. In consultation with the Obama administration–perhaps through the National Endowment for the Humanities–and Congress, guidelines could be established and a small staff assembled in Washington to oversee the projects, in the form of grants, rather than hourly wages. Projects could be pitched locally to colleges, or suggested and posted by them, vetted preliminarily and then approved or rejected by the national staff.

I think the benefits of such a program would be tremendous, especially considering the technology available to tell these stories.  In a world where people are reading less and less, it would seem to be a great way at getting people to learn more about our less visible areas of society and culture, and also as a way to keep a large set of very talented writers and journalists occupied until they are ready to make the necessary transitions into other professions or retirement, or back into the journalistic profession, whatever that may be.

Studs Terkel – Rest In Peace

A few weeks ago, writer, actor, radio personality and unabashed liberal Studs Terkel passed away in Chicago, Illinois at the age of 96. I had always been aware of Terkel, but had never read any of his books, seen any of his movies or seen many interviews that I could recall. But now in death, I’ve been learning more about this remarkable man through television and radio retrospectives and in material that can now be found online about his long and fascinating life as well as his famous oral histories. It makes me wonder why it takes one’s death for one to be illuminated and lionized in the public eye that could not be said as strongly and clearly before his passing.

Perhaps his time had passed a few decades earlier, for Terkel was a remarkably honest individual who never wavered in his liberalism and social beliefs. In an era of Reagan, Clinton and Bush 41 and 43, when the L-word has taken on such negative connotation among people in many quarters of political life, it has been refreshing to hear such an unabashed liberal such as Terkel speak out so strongly about his political and social beliefs, regardless of the times.  He will be missed.

Here are some materials to peruse:

1.  Bob Edwards retrospective on Studs Terkel, XM Satellite Radio

2.  The Studs Terkel Program (radio)

Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic Magazine on the Colbert Report

I am a loyal subscriber to the Atlantic Magazine, and it’s a magazine that I would strongly recommend to anyone, regardless of your political persuasion.  The Atlantic Magazine Online has probably the best set of bloggers in the blogosphere, and it’s part of my daily blog-reading routine covering both sides of the political spectrum.  Jeffrey Goldberg was recently on The Colbert Report, and his interview can be seen here:

CNN closing Science, Space and Tech unit

This is an ominous sign.  After eight years of the Bush Administration’s War On Science, it only seems fitting that CNN has decided to close their Science, Space and Tech unit, with CNN deciding that Anderson Cooper’s Planet In Peril is enough coverage as it is for science and technology.  It doesn’t make sense to me to pile yet more duties on an already overworked journalist at CNN who seems to be everywhere when a news story breaks, whether it be politics, natural disasters, celebrity gossip and more.  

At a time when the country is not churning out enough scientists, and science funding is on the wane, the last thing one of the world’s largest news agencies should do is cut a division that had only 6 producers and 1 reporter, Miles O’Brien, that covered a wide array of scientific and technological stories around the world.  Unfortunately, programming about celebrity gossip and scandals bring in the big bucks, whereas stories on science and technology are seen as dry and unprofitable.

Dems vs Dems? The search for a fight is on!

The post-election era is less than a month old, and it seems that the media is in search of the next big story to cover.  After two years of covering a dramatic Presidential primary and general election, the media needs some sort of conflict to report on in order to increase its ratings.

The customary “honeymoon” for president-elect Obama is still in effect, considering the positive reviews in regards to his cabinet selections thus far, and his attempts at filling the leadership void in the current economic crisis less than two months before moving into the White House.  But I can’t help get the feeling that the media is sending strong hints about what conflicts they’ll be looking for once Obama assumes office on January 20.  Already CNN and Politico have written about possible infighting among Democrats once they take power.  Even the headlines are very similar (ie. Dems vs. Dems)  Of course, we’ve seen Democrats suffer pratfalls before, and it can happen again, right?  Is it what they want?  Time will only tell.  I will add articles to this post as they appear in the media regarding Democratic infighting.  My prediction is that we’ll be seeing a lot more of this, whether it’s stoking or reality.

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