Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Communications Forum featuring NPR's Juan Williams: "Race, Politics, and American Media"

The election of an African-American president in November 2008 has been hailed as a transforming event. But has Obama's ascension transformed anything? Many people's answer to that question changed this summer when a famous Harvard professor was arrested at his home in Cambridge. Are the harsh realities of race and class in the U.S. clearer now or murkier, following the media tsunami of Gatesgate? And has this polarizing event given greater visibility to racial minorities in the media's coverage of politics? How are race issues and racial politics covered in our national media, and what are the implications of the demise of major city newspapers for the coverage of race and politics?

Juan Williams of NPR and Fox News discussed these and related questions in a candid conversation with Phillip Thompson, associate professor of urban politics in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and David Thorburn, Professor of Literature and Director of the MIT Communications Forum. This forum is the first of two this term in our ongoing civic media series, a collaboration of the Communications Forum and the Media Lab's Center for Future Civic Media.

An audio version is also available via the CMS Colloquium Podcast in the iTunes Store.

Rick's Startup Whiteboard #2: You Need Partners, Not Employees

Welcome to Episode #2 of Rick's Startup Whiteboard (the video is at if it's not showing up above). This one focuses on the importance of working with partners -- not employees, not contractors -- when you're the pony-diving stage of a startup project, still trying to figure out the key pieces of the puzzle (see episode #1 on pony diving).

Iranian Government’s version of “privatization”

A few days ago the Iranian government completed the process of “privatizing” the Iranian national telecommunications company.

Sounds great right? Less state control, more public sector involvement, free market and all that jazz.

However, a closer looks shows that the majority stake (50% + 1 share), purchased for $7.8 billion, were bought by a consortium that is directly connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Out of the 3 groups contending, one was disqualified by the government for not having the necessary security credentials (read: probably not affiliated with the Guard).

If you are not that familiar with the Guard, here’s some background: The Revolutionary Guard, or in its full name, “Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution”, was founded right after the revolution in 1979 as an independent force loyal to Khomeini, but later became a full military force alongside the regular army.
Here’s what AP describes in their article (link below):

Newsfail: No major newspapers able or willing to cover catastrophic floods in Atlanta

With the exception of the beleaguered Atlanta Journal-Constitution, no major papers are covering the flooding currently ravaging Atlanta, Georgia. I only know about it because my mother and step-father live there---they're fine, but my mother nearly couldn't get home last night because of so many downed trees, washed-out roads, and police barricades. My step-father, being ex-Special Forces, was ridiculously well-prepared (hurricane lamps, a universal charger for multiple cell phones that hooks up to his car's cigarette lighter), but their neighbors aren't so lucky: good friends of theirs have seen their house so damaged that they expect to live in a hotel for months.


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