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Anderson Cooper responds to critical tweets while covering the Israel-Palestine conflict

CNN reporter Anderson Cooper recently lashed back at critics on Twitter.
Picture taken from NYDailyNews.com and captured on Nov. 27, 2012.

The centuries old conflict between Israel and Palestine has reared its ugly head in the main stream media again.

The conflict began in the late 1800s when a group from Europe, known as the “Zionists,” decided to colonize a section of Palestinian land. This group represented a small minority of the Jewish population, approximately 4 percent, in a country where 86 percent of people were Muslim and 10 percent were Christian.

Through the years, the Zionists have formed a small army, with help from Israel, and have taken over almost 80 percent of Palestine.

The current problem stems from issues that are  hundreds of years old. Israelis and Palestinians are fighting for the same land. The current crisis has led to terrorist attacks, limited food and water supplies, beatings and murders.

This crisis fits the mold for the “motives of the user” because it satisfies the “uses and gratification approach.” Such an approach suggests readers consume the media to fulfill a particular purpose. With this story, a reader may feel more educated about worldly happenings, and in turn, enhance “the water cooler effect” and talk about it to peers and colleagues.

With the explosion of journalism on the internet, it isn’t surprising that the story has been closely followed by social media sites. When a journalist goes on assignment, they will often post live updates via Twitter and Facebook. This rapid-fire news delivery establishes a personal relationship between the writer and reader.

Anderson Cooper, a well-known CNN reporter, has been covering the current uprising of the Israel-Palestine conflict. While reporting in Gaza, Cooper posted several tweets describing action as it happened.

For example, he tweeted, “Outgoing rockets from #Gaza City moments ago,” with an attached picture of the rockets emerging into the sky.

Journalists who cover such stories can only expect to receive criticism when it comes to their reporting or delivery styles.

Recently, Cooper got himself into a bit of trouble when he fired back at Twitter followers who made such criticisms.

A woman, @Pamela_Weiss, asked Cooper to “Report a fair story. Report facts. Why not talk about the rockets being fired FROM Gaza?!?” To this, Cooper replied, “ummmm…. I just did that and have been doing that repeatedly on twitter and on tv. Do you actually think before you tweet?” and “@Pamela_Weiss perhaps spend less time tweeting about coconut flan and more time actually following the news.”

In a separate instance, @Rabbi_Sykes tweeted, “May just stop watching #CNN. Now @andersoncooper almost apologized for #Hamas dragging a dead ‘Spy’ for #Israel & yelling God is great! Oy!” Cooper again responded inappropriately and said, “@Rabbi_Sykes excuse me, but how am I apologizing for Hamas by reporting them dragging a body through the streets? That is deeply offensive.”

Then a third time, a critic named @RetireLeo attacked Cooper’s sexual orientation and posted, “Didn’t Cooper admit he was gay, if so let’s let the Paelstians know and see what happens.” Cooper retaliated, “wow, tough words from an anon Internet troll. why not use your name and photo, coward? Have some more fritos and keep typing.”

After the whole ordeal, Cooper tried to justify his crusades and said, “Last night I was up for many hours so I think I maybe got a little mean.”

Although Cooper’s defensive remark after being slammed for his sexual orientation is understandable, the other two were just plain unprofessional. When a journalist finds him or herself under the light of fame, criticism has to be expected. There is no possible way for everyone to like your writing.

It is arguably unprofessional to even respond to critiques on Twitter or other social media sites. A journalist has a job to inform the general public about news stories, and the emergence of social media has made this job faster and easier. This new technology does not erase a journalists duty to remain professional.

Paywalls and journalists, sinking or swimming?

Image taken from runawaytrader.com

The future of traditional news outlets has been a topic of controversy for several years. Until recently, news companies, especially newspapers, have watched the internet suck up content for free.

However, these companies are now fighting back by introducing paywalls, which require readers to pay for articles and stories.

The Times of London was one of the first publications to block content behind a paywall in July 2010. The entirety of the site is restricted for readers who pay to see it. This is known as a “hard” paywall.

Since 2010, American publications have followed suit with The Times of London, but many sites do not completely block off readers.

The New York Times for instance, allows readers to view 10 stories before the paywall will go into effect. This is known as a “threshold” paywall.

Writer Clay Shirky discusses the benefits and downfalls of a paywall in his piece titled “Newspapers, paywalls, and core users.” He argues that 2012 may be the year newspapers drop the idea of treating all news as a product and all readers as customers.

Paywalls have introduced a feud between the newspaper and the reader that no one could have ever predicted. Writers are struggling to keep food on their tables, while readers insist they shouldn’t have to pay for something that has been free in the past.

An activist group, called Anonymous, has openly expressed anger over paywalls, specifically the one put onto WikiLeaks. The group, that had once coincided with WikiLeaks, has claimed  paywalls are unethical.

Anonymous released the statement:

“Regardless of any workarounds, the fact remains that a meretricious page is placed for the majority of visitors that cannot be closed. The obvious intention is to force donations in exchange for access. This is a filthy and rotten, wholly un-ethical action – and Anonymous is enraged.”

Shirky more or less agrees with Anonymous and argues only a select group of devote readers will pay for content. He said those who pay for access on a news site see the source as a vital part of society. These people are willing to read anything produced by the site’s writers.

Due to the fact that these committed readers make up such a small percentage of general population, many news sites have seen severe dips in readership rates.

Going back to the Times of London, it experienced a reported loss of 4 million readers after the paywall was implemented. That’s a conversion of only 14 percent of readers who were made into subscribers.

Paywalls have also taken a hit with advertisers. Advertisers want their content to be seen, and a paywall significantly cuts out the number of eye balls affected by an ad.

It has been argued that the combination of paywalls and advertisements simply doesn’t work. Ads need to be conveniently placed in front of consumers, not blocked behind stone walls where only a small number of subscribers can access it.

Mike Masnick, of techdirt.com, stated that putting on a paywall is “suicide” for a news site. He said the only reason the New York Times has gotten away with it is because it is one of the biggest newspapers in the country. It is also extremely “leaky,” he added.

When the Times first introduced the paywall, it allowed readers access to 2o stories a month before they were required to pay. To the average reader, this is a large number of articles that will rarely be exceeded.

If they do happen to overstep the threshold of allotted stories, readers can access an unlimited amount of stories via search engines or social network sites. So the question remains, why would someone pay for something they can easily get for free?

However, as with everything, there are positives incorporated with paywalls.

The New York Times Media Group has reported approximately 454,000 paid subscribers to its digital products. These dedicated readers are providing funds for writers and editors that were never there before the paywall’s appearance.

There are many speculations that the Time‘s revenue will only keep growing. Fredric Filloux, of the guardian, even said traders who sold their NYT stocks after the paywall were mistaken in doing so.

There are even optimistic points of view when it comes to advertising. By requiring readers to register to pay, the news site will have access to information about the reader, which positions it to target the individual subscriber more effectively.

Paywalls, whether hard or threshold, and the news outlets that implement them, still have many unanswered questions to account for. No one can predict the future of the news media, but it can be said something needs to be done if journalists’ incomes hope to stay afloat in a sea of free news content.

Romney becomes next in line for political Google bombings

A screenshot taken from FoxNews.com of an article that describes Romney’s Google bomb scandal

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has found himself in a “Google bomb”  scandal.

A Google bomb is a manipulation of the search engine’s algorithm to make a word or person link to unexpected websites.

This trick was first made possible in 2001 by Weblogger Adam Mathes, who linked the phrase ‘talentless hack’ to a friend’s site.

Historic Google bombings involved politicians Rick Santorum and George W. Bush.

In the case of Santorum, a sex columnist named Dan Savage decided to protest anti-gay comments the former senator made. In part of the “anti-Santorum” drive, Savage  created an alternative meaning to his last name, which involves having anal sex.

Santorum responded by contacting Google in order to erase the new definition of his name. This action only made the issue bigger in the media.

Former president George W. Bush has faced similar issues with Google’s search engine.

Members of the online community chose to link websites involving Bush to the words, “miserable failure.”

Now, during the 2012 presidential election, Mitt Romney is facing issues with Google bombing, or is he?

When typing “completely wrong” into a Google images search, countless images of Romney will appear. Google, however, has refused this is the product of a bomb. The company instead has issued a statement saying this search is a natural effect of the algorithm.

After a secret video of Romney talking about the “47 percent” of Obama supporters who don’t want to pay income tax was revealed on Mother Jones.com, he was interviewed by Sean Hannity, Fox News host.

“Clearly in a campaign, with hundreds if not thousands of speeches and question-and-answer sessions, now and then you’re going to say something that doesn’t come out right,” Romney said. “In this case, I said something that’s just completely wrong.”

This statement was quoted by several news outlets, and this is what Google is attributing the search result to.

In hindsight, Romney, instead of the general online community, may have Google bombed himself.

Obama vs. Romney: Disagreeing to Agree

  1. During the first presidential debate, the candidates argued over six different “pods.” The most controversial topics included social security and the economy.Obama accused Romney of devising a plan for over $8 trillion in tax cuts.
    Romney refuted these accusations and said, “you can keep referring to it, but that’s not my plan.” He said he doesn’t plan to change any taxes that would further increase the deficit.
  2. CNNMoney
    Debate left many questions unresolved. But Romney tried to answer one unequivocally: He won’t cut taxes for the rich http://cnnmon.ie/SuPHCP
    Thu, Oct 04 2012 15:15:00
  3. Romney said he plans to cut spending by holding all programs to a certain criteria. He will measure if they are essential enough to keep borrowing money from China.
    Among the programs to be axed, Romney said he will cut Obamacare and PBS. He had to explain his hit against PBS since the moderator, Jim Lehrer, was a former news anchor on PBS NewsHour.
  4. HuffPostHill
    Don’t worry, Jim Lehrer, it gets better. #stopbullying
    Wed, Oct 03 2012 19:15:44
  5. “I’m sorry, Jim, I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. I’m going to stop other things. I like PBS, I love Big Bird.”
  6. CNN
    Fact check: Will Romney send Big Bird to the unemployment line? http://on.cnn.com/REn5Es
    Thu, Oct 04 2012 13:57:46
  7. During this part of the debate, Obama proposed to tax the rich. He said it isn’t unreasonable for the country to ask those, including himself, who have done very well in life to contribute to America’s revenue.
  8. On the point of social security, Obama made it very clear he does not agree with the idea of a voucher system. He said this would leave the elderly in the hands of insurance companies.
    Romney fired back and said it wasn’t originally his idea, it came from Bill Clinton’s presidency.Both candidates did agree, however, that voters need to decide the future of social security.
  9. Many other topics were discussed over the course of the hour and a half debate. However, the discussion became heated and tense when the candidates talked about social security and the country’s budget.

Mother Jones releases secret video of Mitt Romney

A screenshot taken of the original article about Romney’s secret video posted on Mother Jones.

On Sept. 17, 2012 Mother Jones revealed a secret video of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaking to an audience at a private fundraiser event.

In the video, Romney heavily criticized supporters, which he argues are 47 percent of all voters, of President Barack Obama by calling them freeloaders who don’t pay income tax and expect the government to take care of them.

According to the original story by Mother Jones, Romney said, “[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Keeping with the topic of Obama supporters, Romney said voters who voted for Obama four years ago are afraid to admit they made the wrong choice.

“Those people that we have to get, they want to believe they did the right thing, but he just wasn’t up to the task,” Romney said. “They love the phrase that he’s over his head.”

He later strayed away from bashing voters and moved on to Obama himself, claiming his heritage takes priority in the minds of voters.

“Had he been born of Mexican parents, I’d have a better shot of winning this,” Romney said.

Critics also capitalize on Romney’s comments about the “Palestinian problem.” He told supporters, “I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.”

This statement is being interpreted as a lack of action and awareness on Romney’s part to establish peace between Israel and Palestine.

In an updated article, the Huffington Post, whose editors claimed they were the first to release the video, reported Romney stood by his statements in the video about Obama’s supporters to Fox News’s Neil Cavuto.

“We were of course talking about a campaign and about how he’s going to get half the vote,” Romney said. “And frankly we have two very different views of America.”

The secret video left audiences wondering who the mysterious recorder was.

Originally, editors of  Mother Jones said they wouldn’t release the time, date or location of the event in order to keep the recorder safe.

Now, however, publications such as Philebrity.com have disclosed that the event was held this past May in Marc Leder’s, co-owner of the 76ers, home located in Florida.

Other critics have indicated the exposure of the video has actually helped the Romney campaign because it took focus away from his controversial criticism of Obama’s view on the “Libya crisis.”

Several conservatives have argued the speech was manipulated and had two minutes erased from it. Benny Johnson, of The Blaze,  wrote that Romney’s statement, “We do all these polls — I find it amazing. We poll all these people to see where you stand in the polls but 45 percent of the people vote for the Republicans and 48 or 49–,” was cut out of the video. Johnson said this statement was made to justify Romney’s view of the 47 percent.

Romney is not only receiving flack from Democrats over the video, he has also lost support from Republicans because they feel his statement about the 47 percent only further prove he is out of touch with the struggling economy.

As a consequence, voters have been reinforced to believe Romney is out of touch with the average American.

Besides the general public, elected officials and candidates have also weighed in to scold Romney for his statements in the secret video. Former Wisconsin governor and current U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson, R-Wis., has actually blamed Romney for his own dip in the polls.

“The presidential thing is bound to have an impact in any election, whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican,” Thompson said. “If your standard bearer for the presidency is not doing well, it’s going to reflect down the ballot.”

Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said Romney has proved he is more concerned about the wealthy instead of the middle class and doesn’t care to win over the 47 percent of voters who don’t pay income taxes.

Baldwin argued Democrats understand, “the best way to build the economy is from the middle class out, not the top down.”

On the other side, however, many media officials released statements of praise for Romney.

“Oh, Romney doesn’t much care for those who benefit from the system without contributing? Good. Me neither. I think I’ll vote for him,” Brady Creemens, a writer for the Right Sphere, said.

In comparison, Fox News’ Todd Starnes tweeted, “Mitt needs to speak in public like he speaks in private.”

With all of the buzz this video has created, the person who originally recorded it has yet to be identified. Many are also wondering if, once identified, he or she will face legal troubles. CNBC reported Floria is a two-party state, which means both parties involved in a conversation must give permission to be recorded.

According to Florida Attorney Marc Nurik, because Romney was unaware of the fact that he was being recorded, the person who taped it could face a third degree felony under the two-party consent laws.

Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with news organizations releasing this video. Sure, the person who recorded the video secretly should’ve thought twice before doing so, but once the deed is already done why should the media feel remorse for releasing it?

Voters absolutely have the right to view this content once it has already been recorded.

As an editor, I don’t think I would be the first to publish a story of this magnitude, but I would publish a story about the fact that Mother Jones released the tape. This may be seen as a cop out, but I would just make sure my publication was out of legal fire.