Apr 29 2009

Congo Ignored, Not Forgotten

When 5 million dead aren’t worth two stories a year

United Nations entering the civil war--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/United Nations

The wars that have wracked the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1996, killing well over 5 million people (International Rescue Committee, 1/08) in what may be the deadliest conflict since World War II, are officially over. A peace agreement was signed in 2002, and general elections were held in 2006. But conflict and the humanitarian crisis continue. The most recent survey (IRC, 1/08) estimated that 45,000 people are dying each month from conflict-related causes (primarily hunger and disease), nearly the same shocking rate as during the war itself. And with the recent flare-up of violence in Congo’s volatile east, […]

Apr 1 2009

Hate Speech, Media Activism and the First Amendment

Putting a spotlight on dehumanizing language

In just over a month last winter, two Latino men were beaten to death in New York state while their attackers shouted racial slurs and epithets (Philadelphia Inquirer, 1/25/09). Such hate crimes, motivated by anti-immigrant prejudice and other bigotries, have spurred a media justice campaign to reveal the potential human costs of hate speech. When the FBI reported that hate crimes against Hispanics had increased by an astonishing 40 percent between 2003 and 2007 (FBI: Hate Crime Statistics, 2003 and 2007), UCLA professor Chon Noriega began to ask “whether the media plays a role in the persistence of hate speech […]

Apr 1 2009

Digital Justice for All

End of analog TV exposes digital divide

On June 12, all analog television signals will go dark, and many people will be cut off from an important information source. The cause: the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act, signed into law by George W. Bush in February 2006. This act gave the Federal Communications Commission the authority to terminate analog licenses for full-power television stations and reclaim the spectrum for public safety and commercial wireless broadband services. By the end of the transition, digital television transmissions will be in the spectrum currently occupied by TV channels 2 through 51—the “core” TV spectrum—while television channels 52-69 will […]