Powered by Blogger.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Community mural painting reunites C-U residents in Urbana

Champaign-Urbana residents got together on Tuesday to paint the “Reading is Magic” mural in Urbana. The community painting was promoted by Urbana Free Library. The goal was to get local people involved in fun activities.

Photo by Manu Ferreira

“The community was part of designing the mural, and now we are in that painting phase. We’ve already got two murals on both sides of Cunningham Township Supervisors' Office, and we are adding this third mural to give folks an opportunity to paint alongside the artist,” says Rachel Storm, the Urbana Arts and Culture Coordinator.

Participants worked with the professional muralist Langston Allston. He has been creating public art since 2017. His work comes from a process of collaboration, reflection, and working closely with peers. “The mural was conceived in a co-work with community members, and we worked out the design over a period of time,” explains Allston.

People’s engagement surprised the project organization. The whole painting process lasted for only one week and a half. “This moved very quickly because we had so much support from the community. This mural was started last week, and we are on the third part of the mural, which was an additional part,” affirms Storm.

“People seem enthusiastic about working, which is why we’re doing an additional wall. Everybody that is coming it’s been really excited about making paintings and putting themselves to work,” says Langston Allston.

Passwolf heard about the community painting online on social media and registered herself and her mom to work as volunteers. She is proud of her decision. "I love the context and the style of it, so it’s really exciting that I’ll be able to see it, drive by it, and it will be like ‘oh, I helped to paint that’.”

Rachel Storm also encourages people to apply for the 2022 Urbana Art Grants. It funds all sorts of art projects that are accessible to the public, such as exhibitions, dance, film, video, music, theater, visual arts, crafts, performing arts, and more. “We really want art to thrive in this city and to be a huge part of the city life.”

To celebrate the new mural, the Urbana Free Library will promote an unveiling and a ribbon-cutting ceremony today at 11:30 A.M. The event is open to the public.

Watch the TV story for UI7 Live:

This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/22/2022 11:18:00 AM

Global journalism ethics in a time of nationalism and populism

In order to better understand the relationship between global journalism ethics and nationalism and populism, I first looked for the definition of the “isms”. In the article “Nationalism and Populism: What is the difference? How are they connected?” by Liberties, the author defines Nationalism as a “belief and political ideology that the sovereignty, interests, and identity of one’s own nation take precedence over other states and groups of people.” Populism is described as a “political strategy of appealing to “the people” in opposition to ‘elites’ who are making the lives of ‘the people’ worse.” 

Credit: Pixabay

Understanding the meanings was important to observe how society has changed due to the use of these strategies and how they contributed to the shift in people’s attitudes towards the media. Moving forward, it was relevant to realize how global journalism ethics is necessary to help solve that issue. 

In the article “Global journalism needs global ethics”, published by The Conversation, Christopher Kremmer mentions the book Radical Media Ethics: a global approach (2015) and how the author claims that “in a global, media-linked world where stories cross borders and can inspire positive change – but also incite massive violence – we need globally-minded journalism.” 

As Stephen J. A. Ward says, new forms of communication are reshaping the practice of journalism at local, regional, national, and international levels. One of the imperatives of global journalism ethics states that journalists must act as global agents with a focus on serving the citizens of the world. “The goal of their collective actions is a well-informed, diverse and tolerant global “info-sphere” that challenges the distortions of tyrants, the abuse of human rights, and the manipulation of information by special interests.” 

That implies being objective to avoid bias, being accurate and balanced, and producing content with relevant international sources and multiple perspectives. Global journalism also asks journalists to be more conscious of how they frame the global public’s perspective on major stories. According to Ward, “Public duty calls for independent, hard-edged news, along with investigations and analysis.” 

In my opinion, the set of principles and standards for the practice of journalism proposed by Ward is the way to survive this age of nationalism and populism. We, as journalists, have to stick to the basic core and values that the profession implies: be objective, accurate, factual, and serve the public but, in addition, carry a global perspective, embracing diversity. 

Globalization and digital disruption brought us into a different world. To keep up with the constant changes, journalism ethics needs to re-invent itself. It must decide which principles can and should be preserved, while other ideas are no longer maintainable. To sum up, I agree with Kremmer when he says that “if the purposes of our work, and how it is funded, and the methods we use to perform it change, ethical principles can and do evolve to meet the changed realities.”

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/22/2022 10:53:00 AM

Friday, April 15, 2022

Film festival “Ebertfest” back to its in-person edition in Champaign

Movie lovers from all over the country will be reunited in Champaign for the 22nd Ebertfest. Starting next Wednesday, April 20th, the traditional film festival returns to its annual in-person edition at the Virginia Theater after two years.

Photo by Manu Ferreira

To celebrate its comeback, the event features award-winning movies, discussions with filmmakers, music presentations, and other unique experiences for the public.

“We usually have about 12 movies every festival. This time we have four music performances that are integrated into the festival. And a lot of the movies are about comedy or about music. So, we wanted to return with a kind of a joyous event,” says Andy Hall, the Assistant Festival Director.

The list includes “Soy Cubana” by Jeremy Ungar, “Nightmare Alley” by Guillermo Del Toro, the documentary “Summer of Soul”, and a silent movie that will be screened along with a full live orchestra.
“The Chicago Mob and Orchestra directed by Renee Baker will join us this year on Saturday morning to score the movie “Siren of the Tropics”, which is a Josephine Baker movie from the 20s,” explains Hall.
The Virginia Theater is all ready to receive the public. The space was recently renovated. “During COVID, when we were shut down, we put in a new sound system and a new climate control system for the auditorium. Both of those were pretty big projects,” affirms Mitch Marlow, the Virginia Theatre’s PR Manager.

Since we are coming back from a pandemic, producers are taking one safety measure to make the audience more comfortable. “We decided to have empty seats between groups. So, people will feel that there is still a little bit of space between them and strangers that they might meet at the event,” explains Andy Hall.

Mitch Marlow says the expectation is that the Ebertfest will be well attended. “One of the films is already sold out and the other ones are getting close.”

Despite all excitement of having the festival back, unfortunate news: the comedian Gilbert Gottfried, one of the headline guests, passed away this week.

“We are devastated. After talking to him for so long and looking forward so much to having him with us at the festival. But we are still very honored and privileged to have the movie 'Gilbert' scheduled at the event. We are excited to have the director with us still to talk about the person Gilbert was,” declares Hall.

The event’s producers also found a way to honor the comedian. “We are dedicating the whole festival to the memory of Gilbert Gottfried this year,” reveals.

Ebertfest will happen from April 20 to 23, 2022. Tickets and festival passes are available on the website www.thevirginia.gov. University of Illinois students have a special discount.

For more details, visit the website www.ebertfest.com.
Watch the TV story for UI7 Live:

This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/15/2022 09:43:00 AM

Threats to journalists and security. Who is monitoring this and what is being done?

Journalism can be a dangerous profession. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) data shows that 1,400 journalists were killed around the world in the last 30 years. In addition, 1864 professionals were imprisoned and 69 missing. And most of that happened just because they were doing their jobs. What makes it even worse is that data collected in 2021 by UNESCO reveals that the impunity rate in the killings of journalists is 87%. 

Credit: Pixabay

A survey conducted by the Radio and Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) found that in 2020 one in five television news directors “reported attacks on employees and 86% of news directors purchased bulletproof vests and gas masks and sent security teams with reporters more often.” While more than half of the attacks occurred during coverage of protests, riots, or rallies, 15% happened randomly while teams were on the field. 

Professor Marty Steffens, a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism, highlighted in an interview with CPJ how Donald Trump played an important role in the shift in police behavior toward journalists. “By fomenting the idea that the press is the enemy of the people…you really put journalists in the bullseye. Because the president pushes back against journalists and doesn’t respect them, local officials are empowered to do the same thing.” 

Those numbers do not mention the other forms of violence and intimidation, such as threats, retaliation, and persecution online, including harassment, abuse, and hate speech. In The Washington Post article “Being a journalist in the U.S. is becoming more dangerous”, Jason Rezaian says that “many journalists have endured years of online harassment and abuse in silence. The industry has become desensitized to these attacks, accepting them as an occupational hazard.” 

What is being done

When we look for who is monitoring threats to journalists, we can find some organizations that are collecting data, such as CPJ and the Press Freedom Track, a database of press freedom incidents in the U.S. It documents cases of arrests of journalists, seizure of their equipment, assaults, and interrogations at national, state, and local levels. However, is not easy to find what is being effectively done to stop the attacks and protect media professionals. 

In 2013, the UN published a plan of action on the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. It provides a framework for cooperation between UN bodies, national authorities, media actors, and NGOs to create a free and safe environment for journalists and media workers, both in conflict and non-conflict situations. 

More recently, in July 2021, Senator Ron Wyden introduced the Protect Reporters from Excessive State Suppression (PRESS) Act. The proposal establishes rules for how and when the government can use a compulsory process to obtain information about journalists working within the scope of news gathering, which includes data held by third parties like phone and internet companies. It was read and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary but, according to the Congress website, nothing has been done since then. 

Speaking of online issues, a coalition of groups including CPJ and the International Press Institute created an Online Violence Response Hub to help journalists that deal with digital hate and violence. It offers safety consultations and other resources. 

And CPJ along with the Free Press Unlimited and Reporters Without Borders have launched a People’s Tribunal on the Murder of Journalists to investigate attacks around the world. It consists of five hearings, taking place from November 2, 2021, to May 3, 2022. 

In conclusion, any efforts to raise awareness about the safety of journalists are essential. As Sissel McCarthy says in her article “What is being done to protect journalists?” on News Literacy Matters, “an attack against a journalist is an attack on you and your access to fact-based information. When journalists can’t do their job, people in power are not accountable for their actions. That can lead to an environment ripe for corruption, censorship, and even war.”

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/15/2022 08:38:00 AM

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Broadcast Video and Audio: old ways and new ways

It seems like almost all of the current issues we have nowadays come down to two reasons: money and technology. From its creation to its evolution, technology/the internet has changed everything around us. In journalism, it started with the printed newspaper’s decay and it’s walking towards a broadcast decay in the future as well. 

Credit: Pixabay

As mentioned in the Reuters Institute’s report “What Is Happening to Television News?”, TV viewing has declined by 3 to 4% per year on average since 2012, which if compounded over ten years will result in an overall decline in viewing of 25 to 30%.

The special report “Fading ratings” published by Variety in January 2022 shows that just 12 out of 124 measured networks saw an increase in average primetime audience in 2021 when compared with 2016. It means that 90% of networks experienced a decline ranging from two thousand to several million viewings. 

Variety’s report also reveals that broadcast networks have seen “tremendous primetime audience declines” having CBS as an example that has shed 3.2 million viewers since 2016. It is important to note that despite the decline, CBS still had about 5.6 million primetime viewers in 2021, which is an expressive reach, enough to lead the TV industry. However, the drop in those numbers is not a good sign in the long term. 

The audience has shrunk with the growth of new streaming platforms and video-on-demand providers, like YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and social media. Studies have shown that the majority of TV viewers now are 60+ years old, while the young generation most likely has digital media as news sources.

“There are thus no reasons to believe that a generation that has grown up with and enjoys digital, on-demand, social, and mobile video viewing across a range of connected devices will come to prefer live, linear, scheduled programming tied to a single device just because they grow older,” affirm Nielsen and Sambrook in the Reuters’ report.

Broadcast survival depends on how much and how quickly we can adapt to the changes and recalculate routes. The silver lightning is that technology can also be a solution.

What we can infer from this digital and mobile age is that is affecting the news cycle, from gathering to production and consumption. To reach younger generations, TV providers need to invest in innovation and experimentation in both formats, storytelling methods, length, and distribution strategies to remain relevant. It has to be short, visual, dynamic, and timely. 

In my opinion, the biggest challenges in terms of content are adding value to stories that have already been shared on several websites and social media, and reporting complicated stories in real-time. But it is one of the skills a journalist needs now and will need even more in the future.

I agree with Gavin Bride when he says in Variety’s article “The future of TV news won’t be on TV” that the solution for broadcast is “to knock down the walls and distribute everywhere free and ad-supported: FAST services (and not exclusively on one platform), live streaming and feeds on social media. The new consumers expect content to follow them, not the other way around.” 

I couldn't find a current estimate of the total sum made on ads, but in 2019 the CEO of Xumo, Colin Petrie-Norris, said that "on just ad-supported content with a low-end load of 15 to 17 ads per hour on average, as a channel, you can be earning between 15 cents to 80 cents an hour per viewer." 

Considering that these channels have millions of users, it's not a bad deal. Variety's 2021 report showed that Roku had 55.1 million active accounts, Xumo had over 24 million, Peacock had 20 million, and Pluto TV had 52.3 million global monthly average users.

And it keeps growing. According to data from Kantar, 18% of U.S. households now use at least one free ad-supported TV service as of the fourth quarter of 2021, more than doubled since 2020. YouTube announced it will stream free ad-supported TV shows for the first time to compete with the growing number of FASTs on the market. It is also an opportunity to reach consumers that can't afford cable TV. Another reason is that it can boost distribution and use this visibility to invite people to subscribe to other exclusive content the providers may produce.

In conclusion, journalists and news outlets, in general, must use social networks and all digital platforms available to reach the audience and get closer to them. More than distributing content, they can make this new generation more involved and engaged to express their opinions and suggest topics.


Credit: Pixabay

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/09/2022 09:11:00 AM

Friday, April 8, 2022

COVID-19 second booster available in Champaign-Urbana

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded eligibility for an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for certain individuals. People that fit in the pre-requisites are eligible to take the second booster.

Photo by Fred Zwicky | Illinois News Bureau

“Boosters are safe, and people over the age of 50 can now get an additional booster four months after their prior dose to increase their protection further. This is especially important for those 65 and older and those 50 and older with underlying medical conditions that increase their risk for severe disease from COVID-19,” says CDC’s announcement.

The vaccines are available upon registration at Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Promise Healthcare, Carle Health, OSF HealthCare, Christie Clinic, and Pharmacies. Visit the website www.vaccinefinder.org to schedule appointments at local pharmacies.

As important as getting vaccinated is to get tested in case of having any symptoms. People who need to take a test in the state of Illinois can order At-home rapid tests or head to one of the SHIELD saliva-based test locations.

According to the Deputy Administrator and the Epidemiologist of the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD), Awais Vaid, people who are fully vaccinated still have to take some precautions if test positive. “If you tested at home and the result is positive, if you have symptoms or if you don’t have symptoms, you should still isolate for a period of 5 days,” recommends.

All the instructions on what to do once a person tests positive are posted on the Public Health District website. “If you have any questions, you can always call or email Public Health. We still have case investigators and contacts that can talk to you,” says Vaid.

Residents can contact CUPHD by phone at 217-239-7877 or email: coronavirus@c-uphd.org. For other information, visit the website: https://www.c-uphd.org/champaign-urbana-illinois-coronavirus-information.html

This article was published on the UI7 Newsroom website.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/08/2022 02:33:00 PM

Monday, April 4, 2022

New business models for journalism: profit, nonprofits, and hedge funds

One of the reasons used to explain the crises in the journalism market is profit – or lack of it. We have to agree that it’s hard to compete with giant tech as Facebook and Google when it comes to advertising, which has been the main revenue resource for media outlets for years. 

Credit: Pixabay

However, if everything has been consistently changing due to technology, the key to survival is to change and rethink the business models to find an applicable alternative to make a profit meeting communities’ needs instead of laying off journalists and shutting down newsrooms. It's known that when local newspapers disappear, the society responds with less civic engagement, more polarization, misinformation, corruption, and dysfunction. 

As Steven Waldman and Charles Sennott say in their article on Report for America, “we need a radical shift in our thinking about local media models, including a different attitude toward the role nonprofits play in journalism.” Non-profits are as innovative as commercial outlets, with the addition of quality content rather than sensationalism and quantity of views. 

Nonprofit news is often more representative, responsive, and more closely tied to local communities. Since they don’t pay taxes on their income, their activities must serve the public and not the interests of owners, shareholders, or politicians. 

I was pleased to find that many non-profits are creating and investing in new business models and that they are doing well despite all difficulties. The co-op, in particular, seems to be an outstanding option for me. The idea of having readers as part-owners and having them participate in editorial and business decisions is very interesting. It’s a way of compelling the audience and making them feel an active part of the whole news process. 

Another engaging model has been used by Chicago’s City Bureau on the project called “The Documenters”. It trains people to collect information from their communities and neighborhoods. They can participate in government meetings, and enhance their knowledge, relationships, and capacity to create a new information resources. 

Engaging the audience is also important to have them advocating for the local news cause. One instance is what happened in New Jersey. With a push from Free Press and the public, the State created the Civic Information Consortium, which will give grants to collaborative projects that improve access to information, storytelling, and newsgathering. 

In the article “Nonprofit journalism finally builds scale” published by NiemanLab, Jim Friedlich says that in 2022 several nonprofit news organizations are accelerating their growth. He mentions that The Texas Tribune has continued to grow and inspire other organizations, and Spotlight PA now distributes its content to over 75 newsrooms in Pennsylvania reaching over 35 million visitors monthly. 

Other enterprises plan to launch with corporate resources and commercial models rarely seen in nonprofit news. Such as The Baltimore Banner, which will be launched with an annual budget of $15 million and will sell subscriptions to support its operation, and Chicago Public Media, which will be completely acquired by the Chicago Sun-Times. 

To sum up, I agree with Friedlich when he says that nonprofit news has created meaningful new reporting capacity for journalism, but its long-term success and impact depend upon it becoming a much larger and smarter business. “Enlightened new capital, business acumen, and a capacity to build at scale are required to truly rebuild — indeed, reinvent — American local news.”

*This article was submitted as a memo assignment for the course "Current Issues of Journalism" at the University of Illinois.

Published: By: Manu Ferreira - 4/04/2022 09:22:00 AM