A Tip of the Hat to Laura Paskus at the Global Climate Change Conference in Cancun

By Tracy Dingmann

You may have heard about the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, meeting from Nov. 30 to Dec. 10 in Cancun, Mexico.

It’s a global confab of policymakers and negotiators from 192 countries who are gathering to work through solutions to the scourge of global warming and climate change. (Last year’s meeting was in Copenhagen.)

Aside from publications like the New York Times and The Guardian, news coverage of Cancun has been pretty sparse. That’s part of a trend noted by media critic Nathan Schock, writing at the blog 3blmedia, who notes that a recently-leaked memo from the Gannett newspaper USA TODAY shows that 27 reporters there cover entertainment, while only five cover the environment.

I am happy to say that New Mexicans are lucky to have one of the region’s finest freelance reporters, Laura Paskus, in Cancun gathering information for stories that will appear in a number of media outlets.

You can follow her personal blog – read one of her dispatches from Cancun here – and keep track of what longer-term projects she might be working on with the information she’s gathering from the world’s leading climate change fighters in Cancun.

If You Missed It: The Future of the Internet Town Hall

By Tracy Dingmann

If you missed Tuesday’s town hall in Albuquerque with Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Copps on the Future of the Internet, you can catch up right here with these links.

The event was sponsored by the organizations The Center for Media Justice, Media Literacy Project and Free Press.

Writing at NMFBIHOP.com, Claus Whiteacre said:

Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps spoke to hundreds of supporters about the need for net neutrality Tuesday evening at the Albuquerque Journal Theater at the National Hispanic Cultural Center.

Net neutrality is the principle that all content on the internet should be treated equally, and that internet service providers cannot discriminate between different types of content.

“When broadcast came about the corporation said ‘trust us.’ When previous FCC commissions removed limits on media consolidation we were told ‘trust us.’ With this new medium they are saying ‘trust us,'” Copps said.

Andrea Quijada, the Executive Director of the Media Literacy Project, served as the MC for the evening. She shared how an open internet is needed for the most basic of services.

“With 30 of our 33 counties being medically underserved, we know that the internet is not just about civic participation,” Quijada said. “With a state poverty rate at 19 percent we know that the internet is not just about access.”

“America cannot have a digital divide, this is an injustice for those that have been too long denied,” Copps said in his speech.

George Lujan of the SouthWest Organizing Project gave his account at ElGritoNM.org:

Perspectives from the community included single mothers explaining how the internet allows them to provide a strong sense of family; students detailing how far they have to drive just to finish nightly assignments; local artists and slam poets offering a cultural perspective; professionals trying to bring the online world to offline communities.

The point was clear- we need an open internet, we deserve an open internet, and now we demand an open internet.

Finally, those who would like to see an accounting of the entire event can visit this link to the webcast at SaveTheInternet.com.

Electronic Bootstraps: A Local Town Hall on The Importance of Keeping the Internet Free and Accessible to All

By Tracy Dingmann

Making and keeping the Internet affordable and accessible to all people is now the great equalizer in a world that increasingly depends on online communication.

People in New Mexico’s many rural and underserved communities know far too well that keeping the Internet free and open is crucial if people are to get the same educational, health, and business opportunities as everyone else.

The Internet is essential, and all of us need access to these new “electronic bootstraps” in a world where such crucial things as job applications, governmental forms and even filing a complaint with your local police department MUST be done online.

Right now, big cable and telephone companies are trying to dominate the conversation on the future of the Internet. They are trying to convince Congress and the American public that private, corporate control of the Internet is needed to insure the viability of this now public medium.

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It Ain’t Journalism, Folks

Have you noticed those Watchdog websites?

Maybe you have – New Mexico’s got one, after all. The ten state-based sites, which are funded by the free-market group The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, bill themselves as a “network of independent state-based journalists who investigate and report on state and local government.”

Since its launch late last year, many in New Mexico have noted that the reporting on the New Mexico Watchdog is thin and the motives behind the “scoops” it peddles to the  mainstream media have seemed…well…partisan at best.

But it hasn’t stopped the site’s main purveyor, Jim Scarantino, from boasting that he’s the only one with the “guts, determination and courage” to pull off his particular brand of investigation.

Yes, conservative investigative websites are now a trend – one that early on, some government watchdogs had hoped could be a way to keep investigative journalism alive in the face of a declining newspaper industry and the years of professional reporting experience that was disappearing with it.

However, a story in this month’s issue of The Washington Monthly concludes that perhaps the Watchdog clones and a number of other sites just like them could begin to perform that important function…if only the “investigating” on them was up to actual journalistic standards.

Journalist Laura McGann, an assistant editor at the prestigious Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University and former editor of the nonprofit news site the Washington Independent, takes an incisive look at the new trend in a piece called “Partisan Hacks: Conservatives Have Discovered the Virtues of Investigative Journalism. But Can Their Reporting Survive Their Politics?” (The Nieman Journalism Lab’s mission is to investigate and chronicle the changing world of journalism in the Internet age through original reporting, analysis and incisive commentary.)

McGann’s lengthy examination of the conservative investigative trend contains an embarrassing deconstruction of the “phantom Congressional district” story so widely heralded late last year by the New Mexico Watchdog.

From her story:

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Clearly’s New Look

To Our Readers:

Today we’d like to introduce a new look for Clearly New Mexico – one that we hope makes your visits to our site a bit more pleasant visually. Don’t worry – we’ll still feature the same biting commentary and socially responsible take on the issues we’ve become known for.
We did add one little thing – a weekly question – which we’d like our thoughtful readers to answer in comments we’ll publish on the site.
Thanks for sticking with us through our redesign – and tell your friends to come check out Clearly’s new look, too!

Tracy Dingmann

Huzzahs to the Best NM Political Blogs!

Congratulations to Democracy for New Mexico, FBIHOP and Heath Haussamen for making this year’s Best State Political Blogs list – an honor role produced by Washington Post blogger, Chris Cillizza (The Fix).

Between these three, we’ve gotten the whole package — penetrating analysis, unabashed activism and courageous reporting. And they’ve pursued their on-line craft with unflagging integrity. (Whew. Chewed up a lot of adjectives there.) Barb, Matt and Heath have reshaped our state’s political landscape for the better — much to the consternation of the powerful and well-connected.

And let us not fail to recognize the fourth blog that made the list.  Give Joe Monahan his due. Please. Day in and day out, he does produce THE reliable house organ for his anonymous “alligators” – the good-old-boy-lobbyist/entrenched-politico class of New Mexico.

The Twitter Debate

To tweet or not to tweet, that is the question.

PRO Twitter:  Matt at FBIHOP makes a strong case for the utility of Twitter – (How I use Twitter).

CON Twitter:  But then there’s this short vid on youtube –“Trouble with Twitter.”

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5Ff2X_3P_4&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

I tweet, therefore I am.