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Poll: Blacks More Accepting of Curbs on Privacy

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Majority of Americans Say Security Is the Bigger Priority

Media Influence Clear in Zimmerman Trial Jury Selection

N.Y. Times' Keller Favors Class-Based Affirmative Action

Nonprofit News Ventures in Need of Business Expertise

Recycled Videos Tap Into Emotions, Go Viral

RTDNA to Holder: Involve Third Party in Pursuing Media

"Frontline," Univision to Jointly Air "Rape in the Fields"

Documenting Guatemalans' Quest for Justice
Short Takes

Edward Snowden identified himself as the source of leaks to Britain's Guardian newspaper. "My sole motive is to inform the public as to that which is done in their name and that which is done against them," he said. (video)

Majority of Americans Say Security Is the Bigger Priority

African Americans are more likely than others to believe that the government should have access to telephone records, monitor email and investigate possible terrorist threats even if it intrudes on privacy concerns, according to a poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center and the Washington Post.

"Fully 45 percent of all Americans say the government should be able to go further than it is, saying that it should be able to monitor everyone's online activity if doing so would prevent terrorist attacks. A slender majority, 52 percent, say no such broad-based monitoring should occur," according to the story by Jon Cohen, general manager and director of polling for Capital Insight, the independent polling group of Washington Post Media.

Among African Americans, however, 55 percent said those extra measures were acceptable, while 44 percent said they were not. The overall survey of 1,004 respondents nationwide included interviews with 128 non-Hispanic African-Americans.

Respondents were also asked, "What do you think is more important right now — (for the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy); or (for the federal government not to intrude on personal privacy, even if that limits its ability to investigate possible terrorist threats)?"

Among all adults, 62 percent said investigating possible threats was more important. The figure was 60 percent among whites, 67 percent among nonwhites and 75 percent among African Americans.

Another question asked, "As you may know, it has been reported that the National Security Agency has been getting secret court orders to track telephone call records of MILLIONS of Americans in an effort to investigate terrorism. Would you consider this access to telephone call records an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism?"

The results were 56 percent "acceptable" among all adults; with 53 percent among whites, 63 percent among nonwhites and 62 percent among African Americans.

As Cohen's story explained, "The new survey comes amid recent revelations of the National Security Agency's extensive collection of telecommunications data to facilitate terrorism investigations."

Cohen continued, "with a Democratic president at the helm instead of a Republican, partisan views have turned around significantly.

"Sixty-nine percent of Democrats say terrorism investigations, not privacy, should be the government's main concern, an 18-percentage-point jump from early January 2006, when the NSA activity under the George W. Bush administration was first reported. Compared with that time, Republicans' focus on privacy has increased 22 points. . . ."

Commentators of color had varying reactions to the surveillance revelations, granting President Obama his stated wish that the nation debate the issues raised.

The question for Rochelle Riley of the Detroit Free Press was about Edward Snowden. "So as much as I want my first questions to deal with policies of domestic spying and to what extent the government should be allowed to intrude into the lives of its citizens to keep the country safe, my first question actually is: How did a high school dropout (who later earned his GED) become a security guard and then an IT officer who had access to the kind of information whose release leads to congressional investigations and allegations of treason?" Riley asked.

The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson agreed on that point, and added, "Someone should explain why the intelligence court is evidently so compliant. Someone should explain — perhaps in French, German and Spanish — why our allies' e-mails are fair game for the agency's prying eyes.

"But here's the big issue: The NSA, it now seems clear, is assembling an unimaginably vast trove of communications data, and the bigger it gets, the more useful it is in enabling analysts to make predictions. It's one thing if the NSA looks for patterns in the data that suggest a nascent overseas terrorist group or an imminent attack. It's another thing altogether if the agency observes, say, patterns that suggest the birth of the next tea party or Occupy Wall Street movement. . . ."

Phillip Morris wrote in the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, "It was George Orwell, the English author of 1984, who warned the world six decades ago that a government was coming that would advance freedoms by eliminating them.

"That’s where we appear to be headed."

Emil Guillermo, who blogs on the site of the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, gave Snowden a nod. "Snowden's leakage of confidential information last week was nothing less than a heroic effort to alert us of the ways of our current secret government and its catch-all anti-terrorism gopher, the National Security Agency."

Tom Joyner, the syndicated morning radio jock who is staunchly in the president's corner, remained there. He wrote on his blog, "We're fighting a brand new kind of terrorism. The enemy may not be a country or even a group. Now as the last few incidents of terror have shown us, our enemy can be anyone, anywhere. So, all bets are off and all is fair — well, almost all . . . ."

Charles M. Blow of the New York Times disagreed. "Even if you trust these 'papas' — and I fully trust no politicians — what happens when they are replaced by new ones, ones you do not trust, ones with whom you do not agree?" Blow asked.

"That's the problem: beyond the present potential for abuse, these policies establish a dangerous, bipartisan precedent — spanning all branches of government — that are easily misused. . . ."

Sybrina Fulton, left, and Tracy Martin, center, parents of slain teen Trayvon Ma

Media Influence Clear in Zimmerman Trial Jury Selection

"After a methodical first day of jury selection in the Trayvon Martin murder trial Monday, one thing became clear: Even people who profess to pay little attention to the news have heard about the killing of the unarmed Miami Gardens teenager," David Ovalle wrote for the Miami Herald.

"One potential juror, a female night-shift worker who loves game shows and CSI: Miami, recalled the now well-known image of Trayvon Martin in a hooded sweatshirt.

"Another woman, a recent Seminole County transplant from Chicago and lover of reality TV shows, said she remembers 'people selling T-shirts and some kid died.'

"And a third possible juror, the rare person sans cable television at home, nevertheless remembered broadcast images of defendant George Zimmerman's head injuries — and Trayvon's parents appearing on television.

" 'I'm not sure, but is that his mom?' the woman asked, nodding toward Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon's mother, in the second row of the Seminole County courtroom.

"Monday’s brief questioning of four potential jurors underscored the difficulty lawyers will have in finding citizens who are not swayed by the unprecedented publicity that has swirled around the case since Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon during a struggle in February 2012 . . . "

Ovalle wrote Sunday, "Lawyers will select six jurors plus four alternates from a pool of 500 from Seminole County, seeking citizens who can be fair and impartial despite the vast publicity surrounding the killing of the black teen. Add the racial plot lines woven into Trayvon's case, which will be tried in a Central Florida county that is mostly white, and selecting a jury won’t be easy. . . ."

In an email interview with Orlando Sentinel editorial writer Darryl E. Owens, Kenneth Adams, a criminal justice professor at the University of Central Florida, said, "My hunch is that Zimmerman will be acquitted. I say this because Florida has a liberal self-defense statute, and because there is an upward trend in successful self-defense claims. . . ."

In his own column, Owens seemed to respond to that possibility. He wrote, "Members of Sanford's black community cannot afford to let a disputed verdict provoke a violent, self-fulfilling prophecy born of low expectations, no matter how much they are goaded or how much they perceive that the defense has tarred Trayvon's character.

"Such rashness would sabotage a city reputation still in rehab. . . ."

Lalo Alcaraz drew this cartoon in 2003 after conservative students staged an "af

N.Y. Times' Keller Favors Class-Based Affirmative Action

"As an editor, I have long believed that hiring and promoting talented minorities was not just a moral obligation but a professional imperative: to comprehend a disparate world and present it to a disparate audience, it helps to have a reporting and editing staff with a diversity of experience and perspective," Bill Keller, former executive editor of the New York Times, wrote in his Times column over the weekend.

"As a trustee of a liberal arts college, I've supported admission of black and Latino students not just as a remedy for historic injustice but because something fundamental is missing from a campus where everybody is pretty much alike. Diversity tends to make institutions more creative, more adaptable, more productive.

"But over the years, following the work of scholars like Richard Kahlenberg at the Century Foundation, Anthony Carnevale of Georgetown and Marta Tienda of Princeton, I've come to think there may be a better way to accomplish diversity: namely, by shifting attention from race to class. The idea is controversial, the execution is complicated and it doesn't come cheap, but it promises a richer kind of variety — and it is less likely to run afoul of the Supreme Court. . . ."

Among Keller's points: "One argument that doesn't get much attention is that enrolling students from poor and working-class backgrounds is likely to increase ideological diversity. Conservatives may exaggerate the extent to which universities are bastions of left-leaning godlessness, but it is fair to say that on most campuses social conservatives, the deeply religious and the children of military families are scarcely heard. As a result, the political discourse can be glib, predictable and impoverished. Class-based diversity would oblige students of different beliefs to test and sharpen their convictions.

"The biggest obstacle to class-based affirmative action, as Richard Perez-Pena pointed out in The Times the other day, is the obvious one: cost. Poor and working-class students are by definition in need of more financial aid. That is why universities have shown little interest in switching. It's cheaper to bring in students of color from middle-class or affluent families. (It also brings in kids with higher SAT test scores, which count so heavily in the obsessively watched college rankings.) Cost is the reason that even many proponents of class-based affirmative action favor what Tienda calls 'a holistic approach' — class and race both. . . ."

Nonprofit News Ventures in Need of Business Expertise

"The growing nonprofit news sector is showing some signs of economic health, and most leaders of those outlets express optimism about the future, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. But many of these organizations also face substantial challenges to their long-term financial well-being," Amy Mitchell, Mark Jurkowitz, Jesse Holcomb, Jodi Enda and Monica Anderson reported Monday for the center.

"The report finds that large, often one-time seed grants from foundations help many of these nonprofit news outlets get up and running. But as those grants expire, many organizations do not have the resources or expertise necessary for the business tasks needed to broaden the funding base.

"More than half of the nonprofit news organizations surveyed by the Pew Research Center in late 2012 (54%) identified business, marketing and fundraising as the area of greatest staffing need, compared with 39% who said the top need was for more editorial employees. In addition, nearly two-thirds of the nonprofits (62%) cited 'finding the time to focus on the business side of the operation' as a major challenge — compared with 55% who cited 'increasing competition for grant money.' . . ."

Meanwhile, Taylor Griffith reported Friday for American Journalism Review, nonprofit news outlets are suffering, sometimes fatally, due to a long backlog of applications at the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status.

The Chicago News Cooperative, for example, began publishing content in November 2009. "It was supposed to take six months," James O'Shea, one of the founders, said. "But by 2012, which was two years later, we still hadn't been approved, and we couldn't see when [the IRS was] going to approve it. So we just stopped everything. . . ."

The recycling of an ABC-TV "What Would You Do?" segment, showing the varied reactions of onlookers as people of different races and genders stole a bike, was intended to demonstrate the persistence of racial profiling. (video)

Recycled Videos Tap Into Emotions, Go Viral

A three-year-old segment of ABC-TV's "Prime Time" suddenly went viral over the weekend as an example of racial profiling thanks to Upworthy, a site dedicated to recirculating stories it believes have social impact.

The site "is leveraging emotional data to become the fastest-growing media site in history," Anya Kamenetz wrote Friday for Fast Company.

In the piece that went viral, which aired on May 7, 2010, "Prime Time: What Would You Do?" "recreated a bike theft in a neighborhood park to see what ordinary people would do if they witnessed a bike being stolen by a young teen — who if asked would confess," in ABC's words. First the theft was shown with a young white actor, then with a black one.

The Upworthy headline was, "Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops."

"Like any media startup today, Upworthy is known for its use of data to drive growth, testing up to 16 different headlines for a single story," Kamenetz reported. But emotion is a key part of the selections. A video about a teenage musician who died of cancer has garnered more than 9 million views on YouTube.

"What Would You Do?" continues to air, though without the "Prime Time" name, on Fridays at 9 p.m. Eastern time.

RTDNA to Holder: Involve Third Party in Pursuing Media

Reporting on a meeting Friday of about 20 journalism organizations and educational institutions with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, said he made specific recommendations on how the Justice Department should revise its guidelines for collecting information related to leaks of classified national security information to reporters of these organizations.

"While officially an 'off the record' session, we agreed (as did the group earlier) to be able to report, in general terms, the concepts and concerns we discussed," Cavender told RTDNA members on the organization's website.

He added, "I specifically voiced concerns about, among other things, the importance of much more specifically defining — and then following — the already-in-place notification requirements to the news media. News organizations must be told, in advance, of the government's interest in obtaining such information as phone and email records from individuals and news companies, which are operating in their day-to-day capacity of reporting the news. Following this mandate will enable discussions and even negotiations to take place between the two parties before such records are accessed.

"But I added that such notification must be combined with clearly defined 'third party' recourse, such as review by a federal judge of these requests, in the event the two sides can't come to an agreement on how to proceed. Again, these protections are addressed in the original guidelines — but have not been applied as they should be. . . ."

Meanwhile, Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Student Press Law Center, said the House version of a proposed federal shield law could be bad news for students. "The House bill says that you have to be earning income from your journalism to be covered. That's not going to protect half the college journalists out there and certainly none of the high school journalists," LoMonte explained, according to David Schick, reporting May 30 in USA Today. "He adds that the House bill's definition for journalist is too narrow and would even leave out some freelancers who are 'bona fide' journalists. . . ."

"Frontline," Univision to Jointly Air "Rape in the Fields"

PBS' "Frontline" is partnering with Univision News for "Rape in the Fields"/"Violación de un Sueño," "to uncover the hidden price that many migrant women working in America's fields and packing plants, especially those who are undocumented, are paying to keep their jobs and provide for their families," the two organizations announced.

"The abuse of undocumented women isn't on anybody's radar," correspondent Lowell Bergman said in a news release, "and it should be."

The release added, "The investigation will air as Rape in the Fields on FRONTLINE on Tuesday, June 25, at 10 p.m. (check local PBS listings), and on the Univision Network as Violación de un Sueño on Saturday, June 29, at 7 p.m. Both broadcasts will be accompanied by original, multiplatform content from all partners. . . ."

 Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt was dwarfed in Guatemala City last month by the press an

Documenting Guatemalans' Quest for Justice

"Daniel Hernández-Salazar is used to waiting," David Gonzalez wrote last month for the New York Times Lens blog. "Two decades ago he abandoned his photojournalistic career to devote himself to documenting the search for justice in the wake of Guatemala's 36-year civil war. He stood at exhumations alongside indigenous Maya, as they waited to spy a bracelet or scrap of muddy fabric that would allow them to finally locate the bones of a loved one. More recently, he stood among them in a Guatemala City courtroom as the former dictator, Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, was sentenced to 80 years for genocide and crimes against humanity.

"When the verdict was read, he could barely comprehend it. . . ."

The photographer's relief was short-lived. A constitutional court threw out the decision and ordered a repeat of all trial proceedings that took place between April 19 — when Ríos Montt was briefly left without a lawyer after the one representing him stormed out in protest — and May 10, when the 80-year prison sentence was handed down. On Monday, it said a retrial would not begin until April 2014, David Iaconangelo reported for Latin Times.

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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