Singer R. Kelly walked out of an interview with Huffington Post Live Monday when the host asked about allegations that he has had “inappropriate” sexual relations with minors — a controversial aspect to his career that he is known to avoid addressing in interviews. The Grammy award-winning artist was on the show to talk about his… [Read more…]
By JUAN CASTILLO
Among the wealth of remembrances on the 20th anniversary of the passing of Selena Quintanilla-Perez is an excellent deep dive by the Washington Post on the reasons why we still talk about her mark on American culture.
It seeks to find some understanding of what made Selena so meaningful after her death at the age of 23. Yet for myriad reasons it was in life that Selena was profoundly more meaningful.
As the piece notes, author and writer Ana Castillo wrote in 1995:
Selena’s life, not death, offered joy to so many who admired her — from field workers to the urban unemployed, poor brown and countless others who elsewise may have given over to despair. Because of her example and because of the ground she broke, although exoticized, relegated to subculture status, perceived as foreign in the country of her birth yet sticking stubbornly to the language of her heart, I am certain that the void she has left will be filled with a new Selena.
The piece also reflects on how Selena could be such a superstar to so many, yet simultaneously unknown to much of America.
On that point, I’m reminded of the night of her death. I was an assistant editor on the metro desk at the Austin American-Statesman when the first news reports broke that she had been shot and suffered life-threatening wounds.
Almost immediately, the newspaper’s Life and Entertainment editor approached the Metro Desk and asked if we could take the reins on covering the story because, he said, there was no one on his staff qualified to write about Tejano music and Selena. In other words, the entertainment staff rarely if ever wrote about Tejano music. How could that be, I wondered. How in the so-called live music capital of the world could you not have a music writer conversant enough in Tejano to write about its biggest star with the understanding and attention it deserved? Why was Tejano relegated to subculture status?
It was one of those instances where as a journalist of color, you quickly realize that what can be so profoundly meaningful to one as a Mexican American can be viewed as not worthy – “foreign in her own country” — by the mainstream.
The entertainment staff went home. And because I did understand Selena’s importance, I was appointed the lead editor on the story. And because she too understood, Suzanne Gamboa, one of the newspaper’s state reporters, was dispatched to Corpus Christi to cover the story. I still marvel at how Suzanne was able to get there so quickly.
The moment she arrived at the hospital where Selena had been taken and where a large, sorrowful crowd had gathered, Suzanne and I kept in touch almost constantly by phone. I could hear the distraught crowd’s restlessness. Suzanne breathlessly dictated notes from the scene and quotes from interviews with Selena’s fans. I typed them and weaved them into the story I was culling together, using copy from the Associated Press and our own reporting. Two journalists trying to beat a fast-approaching deadline, attempting at least for the moment to put the emotion of the tragic events aside.
That night we learned that Selena had died and that the president of her fan club had been arrested. A searing memory lingers: On the phone with Suzanne I could hear the crowd’s loud reaction to the news that an arrest had been made. It was an odd mix of anger and jubilation, a righteous sense that at least justice was forthcoming.
Suzanne’s story ran on the front page the next morning. It was a fitting tribute to a star whose flame burned out much too soon. Ana Castillo wrote that a new Selena would fill the void. But I think many of us knew that night – there could only be one Selena.
Juan Castillo is an award-winning writer and journalist based in Austin, Texas. His work has been featured in newspapers, publications and media sites, including the Austin American-Statesman, The (McAllen) Monitor, Giving City Magazine and EJ-USA. Castillo is a former John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. He blogs at jcastillo.me where this column first appeared. It is republished here with permission from the author.
Google just announced that it has made significant progress in tackling copyright infringement online.
In April, Google settled copyright infringement claims brought by music publishers over the unauthorized use of music videos on the company’s YouTube website. The settlement allows music publishers to form licensing agreements with YouTube and to receive royalties. Music publishers and songwriters had complained that they have seen incomes decline because music fans download songs for free on the internet instead of buying compact discs.
As a result of the music publishers suit, and others, Google promised last December that it would attack the problem in four key areas. “We’ve made considerable progress on each front, and we will continue to evolve our efforts in all four areas in the months to come,” according to a post the company made to its public policy blog Friday evening.
Starting with Blogger and Web Search, Google says it has built tools to make it easier and faster for rights-holders to submit Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests. Federal law requires web sites, like Google’s YouTube, to remove items suspected of containing copyrighted material in a timely manner if they do not want to be held responsible for distributing pirated content. “We built tools earlier this year, and they are now being successfully used by more than a dozen content industry partners who together account for more than 75 percent of all URLs submitted in DMCA takedowns for Web Search,” the blog states. Google says its responds to requests from these content partners in less than 24 hours.
While Google states that it has always prohibited the use of its AdSense program on web pages that provide infringing materials, and terminated publishers who violated the policy, the company is now working to improve internal enforcement procedures. Google touts that it became one of the first companies to complete the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) Quality Assurance Certification program, through which participating advertising companies take steps to enhance buyer control over the placement and context of advertising and build brand safety. “In addition, we have invited rights-holder associations to identify their top priority sites for immediate review, and have acted on those tips when we have received them.”
Google also launched “Music Rich Snippets,” a program that allows legitimate music sites, including Rhapsody and MySpace, to highlight content in snippets that appear in Google’s Web Search results. The company says it hopes other authorized music sites and search engines take advantage of ‘Music Rich Snippets’ to make their preview content stand out in search results.
Finally, Google has taken steps to improve the prevention of terms that are closely associated with piracy from appearing in Autocomplete, a feature that predicts queries based on popular searches from users.
The four initiatives are central to Google’s work in combating piracy, but the company strives to make improvements in other areas, it says. For example, the internet giant has expanded its movie rental services on YouTube and launched the Google eBookstore, featuring a wide array of books from authors and publishers. Google is also working to continue improving YouTube’s Content ID system, which helps copyright owners (including song writers and music publishers) to monetize their works. Google is also working with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) on a rights registry that will help African musicians license their works.
“We continue to believe that making high-value content available in authorized forms is a crucial part of the battle against online infringement,” Google’s blog post states.