Tag Archives: media access

“Miss Representation” Explores Media Bias

“Miss Representation” is the next in the 2011 Women’s Human Rights Film Series sponsored by the Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library and Metropolitan State University.  The film is set for Wednesday, November 9, 7:00 p.m. at Metro State Founder’s Hall Auditorium, 700 East Seventh Street, St. Paul.


The film “uncovers a glaring reality in our society…how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions in America.”  It challenges the media’s limiting and often disparaging portrayals of women.  Included in the story are stories from teenage girls and provocative interviews with influential women from Condoleezza Rice to Gloria Steinem.  The promotion material promises that “the film accumulates startling facts and statistics that will leave the audience shaken and armed with a new perspective.”


All of the films in the series are free and open to the public.  Sign language interpretation and other accommodations are available with advance notice.


Contact The Friends at friends@thefriends.org or 651 222 3242.  More information at www.thefriends.org.


Seniors Catch the Surfing Wave

Recognizing that retirees and others “of an age” did not enjoy the advantage of on-the-job computer training a number of state and local agencies are working together and with public agencies including libraries to provide learning opportunities for seniors. Senior Surf Day at the St. Anthony Library is just one example of the opportunities available for seniors who want to know more about the web, search engines, senior-oriented Internet sites and more.

There’s a Senior Surf Day scheduled for 12:30-2:30 p.m. Thursday, October 27, at the St. Anthony Library, 2941 Pentagon Drive in the St. Anthony Village shopping center. This session is sponsored by the library in collaboration with Senior LinkAge Line, the Minnesota Board on Aging and MSMP. There will be another Senior Surf Dday at St. Anthony on November 17. Questions? Call 612 543 6075.

This session is one of scores of similar training sessions scheduled for seniors throughout the region and the state. For more information contact any one of the sponsoring organizations.

Metro Cable Network – Not so much a bandwidth as an untapped resource

Sometimes I think about old stuff. This is one of those thoughts– but it’s still current.  Decades ago a metro-oriented visionary had a grand thought, of a cable system that would reach the metro region.  Channel 6 was a must-carry on every cable system that reached metro area outlets.

This was back in the day when regional thinking was a priority and the Metropolitan Council had a say about the possibilities of a regional communications system.

For many years I served on the Board of the Metro Cable Network   – a lost opportunity beyond belief.  Perhaps because there is no regional vision, or perhaps because there is no financial support for that vision, the MCN is no longer a regional voice.  Surely, the technology has changed, but the idea of thinking regional is a post-technology thought.  Technology can divide or connect the region.

I am sad.  The region needs a voice and the potential is technologically at hand, even if it’s retro by today’s standards.  Politics, finances and people have sapped Channel 6 of the potential it once had.  Of course I would like to see a more vibrant and relevant Channel 6.  Still, the fact that the technology is dated does not assume that the vision is obsolete,  just not politically popular at this juncture.

Scrubbing History, Scrapping the Facts

A recent spate of blatant examples of what I had heretofore known as “revisionist history” set me fulminating on the distortion of our past – the world, the nation, the neighborhood, the family, even venerable public institutions.   For those of us of an age, George Orwell’s 1984 spun a cautionary tale that shaped our youth.  Once we lived through that fateful year and took the mid-life plunge into the Information Age , we realized that “1984-R-Us..”

To give Michele Bachmann her due, she does put a face on the issue of historical perversion.  Her sycophants’ clumsy efforts to touch up Wikipedia to match her gaffes gave us all a laugh and a shudder, though we share a condescending love/hate relationship with Wikipedia for just such reasons,  In reality, the ill-informed Bachmann is the perky tip of the revisionist iceberg described by Steven Thomson in an April 2010 McClatchy article entitled “Not satisfied with US History, some conservations are rewriting it.”

My concern about revisionist history is quite personal and immediate.  I am personally affected by direct experience watching the legacies of institutions blithely tweaked to accommodate political exigencies.  Till very recently I was unaware that in today’s cleaned up parlance we no longer “revise” history, we merely “scrub” it!

Scrubbing is a hot topic in the media, as witnessed by this June 3, 2011 piece about the New York Times published by the WSJ under the headline “All the News That’s Fit to Scrub.”  Just last week the WSJ did a bit of its own in-house scrubbing when they made their allegations of Moslem involvement in the Oslo tragedy “disappear.”

The fact is, scouring is rife because it is so easy in the readily expunged digital age.  Whether it’s the kids’ SAT scores or the ledgers that reveal bad loans, the contemporary record is easy – and tempting – to fix.  In a tempero-centric world, who cares?

My un-scrubbed opinion, formed in a pre-Orwellian naivete, is this:

  • Scrubbing the historical record is a societal scourge that demands calling out and correction by the likes of Howard Zinn, if such there be.
  • Scrubbing the contemporary record is a pernicious reality to be monitored with diligence and curtailed with stiff sanctions, monetary, legal,  reputational if that matters.
  • Digital distortion may be innocent, benign, unintentional or blatantly malicious.
  • Scrubbing in the digital age presents complexity because we haven’t figured it out yet, but we can make an earnest effort.

Therefore, it remains to the information consumer to hone the fine art of perceptive paranoia.  Once known as “information literacy” the skill was scrubbed when the curriculum itself was reduced to the basics.  Time to dust off a good idea and give it a catchy 21st Century signature.  Though Perceptive Paranoia probably won’t sell,  the term does describe the skills and habits needed to discern that which is true.