FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. – A local school employee is out of a job because of a controversial Facebook post about first lady Michelle Obama. The Forsyth County School District confirmed Monday afternoon it fired Jane Wood Allen who worked at Chestatee Elementary School in Gainesville. “I’m actually appalled,” parent Kassie Siver told Channel 2’s Wendy Corona.… [Read more…]
An analyst says Twitter has “an identity crisis.” Could a change in ownership threaten Twitter’s standing as a top platform for social media thought leadership, including diverse audiences?
SAN FRANCISCO — Shares of Twitter soared on Wednesday after a company co-founder said in an interview that the social network must ponder options such as a takeover, even though he believes the company is in a “strong position.” Twitter jumped 4.5 percent Wednesday after co-founder Ev Williams told Bloomberg TV that the company has to… [Read more…]
UPDATE: Fox Searchlight Pictures is scrambling to figure out a new strategy around Birth of a Nation amid the fury over Nate Parker’s rape allegation. Variety reported on Tuesday that his alleged victim committed suicide in 2012.
Fox Searchlight has launched a highly crafted campaign to explain why they gave $20 million to actor Nate Parker for a film he scripted, directed and stars in, Birth of a Nation, despite the fact that he allegedly played a role in a high profile gang rape case during his time as a student at Penn State University.
In addition, the co-writer of the film was CONVICTED in the case and only got off because the victim refused to testify during a re-trial after she tried to commit suicide. The trial transcript paints him as a predator and a person of low character. Now the production company that bought the rights to their film is worried about the movie’s status as an Oscar contender.
Having become fully aware of those old charges in the months since it bought the film, Fox Searchlight has been looking to pre-empt any late-season bombshells that might land while voters have ballots in hand. Deadline
How did Fox Searchlight not know this about Parker before they gave him $20 million? What arrogance that he would think they wouldn’t want to know that his co-writer had been convicted of raping a woman and he’d barely gotten off? Who did the due diligence on researching this film and its creators? How did they think teaming up with TWO alleged sexual predators was going to play out?
Times have changed and the views on consent and sexual violence on college campuses have changed in the 17 years since Parker’s alleged crimes.
Fox Searchlight has reached the point in their promotional campaign where they try to convince the American people and OSCAR voters that the fact that Parker may have participated in what many would consider to be a gang rape does not preclude us from buying a movie ticket or nominating Parker for an OSCAR.
To be honest, OSCAR voters don’t have a problem voting for sexual predators. They’ve done it repeatedly in the past. (Refer to any of Woody Allen‘s movies, for example.)
The problem is that the marketing for Birth of a Nation relies almost entirely on sanctimony and Parker’s moral authority. He has no moral authority, not only because of what he did 17 years ago, but how he has decided to tap dance around the allegations as part of this public relations campaign.
Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker told Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is” — he took a long silence — “I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.” — Nate Parker in an interview with Variety two days ago.
He’s brought his mother into this. He’s hiding behind is daughters. He’s hiding being his wife. He’s using mealy mouth language to dance around the fact that he did things that many people would find morally repugnant even if a court of law decided that a prosecutor didn’t meet the burden of establishing criminality. He’s doing everything but apologizing to his alleged victim and attempting to make amends.
Now Parker’s defenders are attacking Black women who have a problem with Parker’s failure to accept responsibility for his alleged bad acts and failure to directly address his treatment of the victim in his case by calling us a “mob.” As if we have no reason to be disturbed by a man that waves his friends over so that they can engage is sex acts with an unconscious woman who eventually attempted suicide.
Parker’s defenders would have us to believe that HE is the victim!!!
Don’t fall for this mess!
Here is your response to Parker’s deluded supporters:
NOPE! We don’t don’t have to prove his guilt. NOPE. We’re consumers in the marketplace. We can choose to support or not support whomever we choose for whatever reason, or no reason at all. If Parker wants my money he needs to prove something to me. He’s got it twisted — this is not a court of law, this is the court of public opinion.
I find his response to what happened troubling. I find his language manipulative and deceitful. As a result, I have decided not to patronize his work as is my choice because the last time I checked, I’m a free woman who can do with my dollars what-EVER I please. There is no mob. Nate Parker is a powerful, well-connected C-list actor making a ton of money and being feted by Hollywood elites. Fox Searchlight gave him $20 million. He’s not helpless.
I remind you that HIS DISTRIBUTION COMPANY decided to make this a topic of conversation not US.
They chose to give Nate Parker $20 million dollars knowing about these allegations. Just because they bought his story doesn’t mean we have to.
And I’m offended that they are attempting to cast Parker as a victim. Are you serious? A girl attempted to kill herself after what he and his friends allegedly did to her. His life ended up just fine. He should be grateful and have the common sense to just apologize profusely and make amends.
Fox Searchlight should just save money on running this public reputation rehabilitation campaign for Parker by cutting Parker’s alleged victim a fat check along with investing in sexual assault awareness and assistance for victims. We want to see an apology and personal responsibility. The fact that Fox Searchlight is avoiding that tells you something about the intelligence and the character of the people who run the company.
Fox Searchlight executives are arrogant to think that they could market a film using “moral authority” with a director and lead with no moral authority. And if Fox Searchlight didn’t know about Parker’s past prior to giving him $20 million, someone needs to be fired for not doing due diligence in researching his background.
Gina McCauley is a lawyer, founder of What About Our Daughters & the annual Blogging While Brown Conference. She also chairs the Black Web Blog Awards. She writes for Medium where this column first appeared. It is republished here with permission from the author.
Journalists are usually the funniest people to watch during big political events, such as Barack Obama’s speech tonight. While everybody else is jumping from their seats in excitement, crying, yelling, or clapping, journalists remain stoically serious. Emotionless.
In other words, journalists by training are groomed not to react.
But that’s all now changing with social media. Suddenly, journalists are a bit freer to react to political speeches in ways most old school journalists did not/do not. Sometimes the reactions are just as funny as remaining robotic; other times it gets journalists into trouble.
Tonight, for the most part, journalists of color stuck to straight news reporting via their live tweets and Instagram posts. Some moments, however, were filled with humor and awe at seeing Obama’s historic presidency come to an end, and even a touch of emotion about the meaning of being on the cusp of yet another historic moment, the presidential nomination of the first woman of a major political party. And of course, many journalists compared tonight’s speeches to those made a week ago at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
We captured some social media postings of journalists of color who are covering the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia to show how they – not delegates – reacted to the night’s worth of speeches, which saw big name surrogates for Hillary Clinton describe her Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, as “insane,” “unqualified,” “a con,” and a “homegrown demagogue,” among other labels. You can view all these posts on our Twitter List.
AllDigitocracy was particularly interested in reactions from journalists of color to Obama’s speech, the last he’ll make at a Democratic convention as president. So we Storified the posts, and embedded them below for your perusal.
With 2.97 million subscribers on YouTube, political news show The Young Turks, is incredibly popular. It’s founder, Cenk Uygur already has a production deal with Univision’s Fusion, and now wants to break into legacy television, according to an interview with USA Today.
“It was totally accidental,” Uygur says of his show’s popularity among young people. “Our audience is young. But it turns out we’re older than the average YouTube audience. It’s 13 to 24, whereas we’re 18 to 34. Now that we have a big presence on Facebook, that’s made us older. We’re stretching to 45. But I want the whole spectrum. I’m interested in producing more TV shows.”
But legacy television hasn’t been such a good fit for Uygur in the past. He doesn’t use a teleprompter, which makes TV executives nervous, Uygur said.
“If I’m off the teleprompter, management doesn’t get to see what I’m going to say,” Uygur said. “They deem it to be a risk they can’t control. They’re risk-averse.”
Uygur provided political commentary on MSNBC in 2010, and became a weekend host on the network in 2011, but was replaced six months later by the Rev. Al Sharpton. He then got a show on Current TV that aired from December 5, 2011 to August 15, 2013. From 2012 to 2013, he was the chief news officer of Current TV, succeeding Keith Olbermann.
The Young Turks started off as a radio station. Now it not only has a growing audience of loyal viewers on YouTube, it also has a huge following on Facebook.
“We had a little over 1 million views last January,” Uygur told USA Today. “Less than a year and a half later, we now have 55 million to 60 million views a month just on Facebook. On (“over-the-top” video services), we are top five in minutes viewed. We’re on Comcast’s Watchable. We just did a deal with Amazon.”
Snapchat launches ‘Real Life,’ an online magazine focused on tech and modern life
ATLANTA — Following a social media firestorm that claimed the job of Christine McMullen Lindgren, a banker who posted racist comments on Facebook, media experts are being asked the question that might never be answered: Why does this keep happening? “Social media didn’t cause that woman to lose her job. Her ignorance did,” said Tracie Powell,… [Read more…]
By Sherri Williams and Tracie Powell
Hours before news agencies called the Democratic presidential nomination for Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders dismissed New York Times reporter Yamiche Alcindor when she asked him to respond to women who believe he is being sexist for staying in the race. Following the tense exchange with the Democratic presidential candidate, others online, including a Florida assignment editor, attacked Alcindor for asking the question.
Alcindor, assigned to cover Sanders, is accustomed to being attacked on social media by Sanders’ supporters; it’s been happening for weeks, and attacking the messenger often comes with the job of being a journalist. But Alcindor isn’t used to the assaults coming from fellow journalists. Jason Kelly, a self-identified assignment editor and digital content producer for Orlando’s WFTV, tweeted that Alcindor’s question to Sanders was both “unprofessional” and “dumb.”
Alcindor responded that Kelly didn’t understand what journalism is about.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 6, 2016
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 6, 2016
AllDigitocracy reached out to both Kelly and Alcindor for comment. Alcindor did not immediately respond, and representatives from WFTV gave us Kelly’s personal email. We both emailed and messaged him on social media; he did not respond. But his boss did.
Paul Curran, General Manager of WFTV, confirmed that Kelly is an employee of the station, and that he was aware of the tweets.
“The tweet came from Jason’s personal account and should not have had our call letters attached to it,” Curran said. “That tweet does not represent the station’s viewpoint. Our journalists who have Twitter accounts tweet as they see fit. Jason should not have, given his role.”
Kelly was asked to take down his tweets in order to end the confusion, Curran said. When asked whether it was appropriate to express such personal views, Curran declined to answer.
Not only did Kelly take down his tweet, he closed his Twitter account altogether after being contacted by AllDigitocracy. His Instagram account has also been closed.
It all started at a press conference Monday morning in Emeryville, California when Alcindor asked Sanders, who at the time was trailing Clinton in both delegates and the popular vote, “What do you say to women who say that you staying in the race is sexist, because you’re standing in the way of what could be the first female president?”
Sanders replied by laughing and saying, “Is that a serious question?”
Alcindor’s question prompted Sanders supporters and others to criticize her. The exchange also prompted conversations online about why reporters should address issues of gender and the need for diversity among journalists covering the presidential election.
Before Sanders answered Alcindor’s question he spoke over her and said “excuse me” five times and proceeded to skip her to address a male reporter. That kind of dismissal is bad optics for Sanders, the kind voters don’t overlook, said Mary M. Dalton, professor of communication at Wake Forest University.
“That’s the kind of marginalization that women understand and women of color understand most definitely,” Dalton said. “It’s bothersome and it’s telling.”
The way in which Sanders’ supporters responded to Alcindor’s questions illustrates problems that the Sanders supporters have not only with gender but also with race, said Gwendolyn Pough, a professor in the Women and Gender Studies Department at Syracuse University.
“I wonder if they would be so quick to call her question stupid if she wasn’t a black woman,” she said. “The question is not stupid either. Given the campaign’s problem with sexism and gender with his supporters, that was a valid question.”
Alcindor’s question is a legitimate one and the fact a woman journalist asked it demonstrates how important it is to have gender diversity among the press pool covering this presidential campaign, Dalton said.
“If you have diversity in the newsroom different stories are covered, different experts are brought in and you get perspectives you don’t get otherwise,” she said. “That’s proven by that WFTV assignment editor’s tweet.”
During the 2012 presidential election 76 percent of newspaper stories about the primary election were written by men and 72 percent of the newspaper stories about the general election were written by men, according to a Women’s Media Center analysis of 35 newspapers across the country.
It is critical to have a diverse group of reporters raise issues around gender in this election because voters need to know how politicians’ views could affect policy in the future, Pough said.
“The attacks of abortion rights, reproductive rights, equal pay for equal work, questions that we haven’t found the right answers to,” need to be asked Pough said. “We want to know where politicians stand on issues.”
Not that she needed it, but after Kelly confronted Alcindor, other journalists came to her defense including Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for The Nation, New York Times columnist Charles Blow and MTVNews correspondent Jamil Smith.
— Joan Walsh (@joanwalsh) June 6, 2016
Attack opinion ppl like me as much as you like. It’s part of the job. But leave these hardworking straight news reporters out of it @Yamiche
— Charles M. Blow (@CharlesMBlow) June 6, 2016
— Henry C.J. Jackson (@henrycjjackson) June 6, 2016
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 6, 2016
Tough day for many @BernieSanders supporters who are mad at lots of media orgs, me for asking a fair Q, HRC for having delegates & DNC.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 7, 2016
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) June 7, 2016
Massive complaints on social media spurred startups to compete againnst the lodging platform
Complaints of racial discrimination, posted on Twitter and other social media platforms, are leading two new startups to compete against temporary lodging services giant Airbnb. Whether they can survive against the industry leader is uncertain– but the rise of the new companies shows the power of social media to bring about change.
Noirbnb and Noirebnb are launching to cater to African-American travelers. The startups are separate initiatives although they have similar names.
USA Today reported that Rohan Gilkes, a 40-year-old tech entrepreneur who lives in Tampa, Fla., and Washington, D.C., began working on Noirebnb about three weeks ago after being told a vacation home advertised on Airbnb was unavailable. Then a white friend was able to book the house for the same dates.
After telling his story on social media, Gilkes began hearing from other travelers who also felt they were discriminated against on Airbnb. Many said they were denied because of race, while others cited sexual orientation or physical disabilities.
Two other entrepreneurs, Ronnia Cherry, 30, from Miami and Stefan Grant, 27, from Washington, D.C., have announced plans to launch Noirbnb. They say they were also inspired to compete against Airbnb after a bad rental experience using the service.
Airbnb has been the subject of scores of discrimination complaints, with many of the stories being shared on Twitter under the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.
My assistant told me that she sometimes books me for air bnb and the person cancels us then puts the house back online #AirbnbWhileBlack
— Boyce Watkins (@drboycewatkins1) June 4, 2016
— Paul Perry (@pauldavidperry) May 27, 2016
— Pablo Díaz Luque (@pdiazluque) May 26, 2016
Pressure from social media is forcing Airbnb to take a strong stance against discrimination. It’s a tough spot for Airbnb. Private owners list their properties for rent on Airbnb, which serves only as a booking agent.
However, when discrimination occurs, Airbnb is hit with criticism. USA Today reported that a Harvard Business School study showed rampant discrimination by Airbnb hosts against guests with black-sounding names or with pictures on their profiles that clearly showed guests’ races and ethnicities.