Tuesday May 12, 2009

Multiple Sources and Simple Gadgets

At North Hall, professors constantly remind the students of the importance of multiple sources in getting to the story.

Some 6 years ago, soon after I installed our Free-to-Air (FTA) stallite dish and box, the remote control to the set top box broke. Without a remote control, it was impossible to "program" the box and I had to rely on factory settings for channels and occasional updates through a pre-canned search of the channels.

Last week, I had a brief moment to order a new remote control by phone. It arrived yesterday, and I "programmed" the box yesterday evening to receive FTA channels Press TV (Iran) and Russia Today (Russia). These are both English channels hosted by professional journalists, with quality productions of a whole range of forums and views one rarely finds in British or American mass media. I'm not sure if these channels are also available through community cables.

These days, among other topices, Press TV reports on Iran's presidental elections, 2009. RT is currently broadcasting a whole range of reports, including some from Moscow's Eurovision 2009.

I am also able to receive Al-Jazzira in English and a wide range of Arabic TV. I have had to adjust and search about 4 different satellites for these FTA channels.

A simple little tool, like a proper remote control, can do wonders to one's capabilities to get to things.  Without the remote, it was impossible for me to edit satellite transponder settings.

Friday Nov 10, 2006

A Persian Blogger Comes of Age

 The Power of the Press

If you know Persian, occasional viewing of Hossein Derakhshan's Persian weblog might benefit you. He also has an English weblog and a photoblog worth a visit for a cultural study if nothing else. The Washington Post carries another regular blog of his.

Derakhshan's recent piece analyzing current politics of Iran might be a good lesson for those Persian speakers who have a tendency to provide knee-jerk analysis of the Iranian history of the last 30 years. The title is a bit odd but clear "چرا با براندازی حتی نرم هم مخالفم" ("Why I'm opposed to regime change of even the soft variety"). I've not included the link to this particular entry of his but you can search for it on his Persian blog if you're interested. If you don't know Persian, you can turn to his Washinton Post blog, mentioned above, for a taste of his writings.

Athough Derakhshan takes the job of the journalist somewhat seriously and does quite a bit to expose double-standards everywhere he can see it, his failing (if any) seems to be related to an exaggerated view of the role of the journalist in modern society up to a purist theoretical limit beyond any dreamed up by common Western journalists in Europe or North America. One may also detect an exaggeration with respect to the actual (as opposed to either the theoretical or the subservient) capability of a journalist to transform society, which in practice tends to remain limited because of subtle realities of human life that stand beyond and above opinions of one sort or another. To his advantage and credit, Derakhshan insists on remaining at least self-consistent unlike some of his peers who go as far as advocating false concepts such as judicious double-standards.

In his "History of American Journalism classes," professor Thomas C. Leonard of UC Berkeley used to ask whether journalists, under the Fourth Estate, had perhaps evolved into a new type of priesthood (The Power of the Press: The Birth of American Political Reporting), and Kierkegaard would have hated that very aspect of modern times, The Present Age, and Ayn Rand tried to capture it all in her Fountainhead. This perspective, focusing on the leveling effect of the journalistic approach to understanding our moral place in the world, while full of modern rings, goes back all the way to Socrates and his dislike of the rhetoricians of the courts who could make anything sound right or good. Hence, his repose into dialogs

Who is right? The confusion continues, and perhaps, the disintegration of authentic communities of moral practice tend to give rise to priestly elites who busy themselves with "useful" justifications (of torture under "rules," e.g., by Alan Dershowitz: here, here, here; here and here) instead of advocating well-established and crystal-clear moral concepts having to do with human beings and their due integrity and honor, and also, to journalists who play the missing priests--to use professor Leonard's reluctantly-drawn  but apt analogy.




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