Many moons ago, it is said there was a magical time when million dollar bureaus, private planes, fancy dinners, cigar smoking in corner offices, security details, and even tanks (at least according to a former news magazine editor I had breakfast with) were de rigueur for any news reporting outlet worth it’s salt. This was in an age where millions of people had no choice but to pay for their news and advertisers no choice but to plead for people to buy their goods. What were people going to do? Steal newspapers? As we are all aware, those days are long gone thanks to the age of the Internet. Are we to just abandon all coverage of news that doesn’t happen in our backyard? Rely on those already sprawling wire services? Make partnerships with foreign news outlets? If you attended the well attended “What In The World?” panel at the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute on Wednesday evening, none of these Plan Bs were even mentioned.
Amy O’Leary of the New York Times moderated a panel featuring Louise Roug [Mashable], Miriam Elder [Buzzfeed,] and Jason Mojica [Vice News]. These are three of a group of up and coming media darlings that their peers can’t seem to stop talking about due to their relative success charting the way in the murky swamp that is digital news and, more importantly, revenue streams.
I recently picked up a book at a thrift store on the Upper West Side called “Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckly” by Jennifer Fleischner for a cool $2.00. The book is a dual biography that goes between the lives of Mary Lincoln and Elizabeth Keckly. The former being the wife of our 16th President and the latter being a freed black woman who became close to the Lincolns as a caretaker and dressmaker. The book is good, I definitely recommend it to any history or Lincoln fans, but there was one part that caught my eye in relation to current events, specifically the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
may or may not should know, the conversation on race relations in America has flared up again after 18-year-old Ferguson resident, Michael Brown, was shot by police. Missouri has a long and fraught record when it comes to the treatment of African-Americans that goes back hundreds of years. Take 1847, the year Elizabeth Keckly arrived in St. Louis, Missouri. By this year, the state assembly had passed laws “outlawing schools ‘for the instruction of negroes and mulattoes in reading or writing'”, preventing free (and presumably better educated) blacks from entering the state, and barring all forms of assembly. On top of all this, the slave trade was extremely present in St. Louis with slave traders being “noted for…barbarity” by a mixed-race slave named William Wells Brown, who would later become an antislavery activist and writer.
Yea, it can be easy to forget that this happened. It was officially 4 years on April 20th when this tragedy happened that kept us on edge the whole summer. Whatever the validity of claims from either a pro-oil/corporate or environmentalist standpoint, there is NO way that over 200 million gallons of oil (a toxic substance by the way) can leak into the Gulf of Mexico and that everyone is totally fine now. People and animals are sick or have died from exposure to oil or chemical dispersants. I hope that we can at the VERY LEAST learn from this and not easily go into things for short term gain (think Keystone XL Pipeline) without truly listening to residents and the environment.
Deepwater Horizon oil spill timeline – Al.com
BP: Four Years On, No Restoration in Sight – Truthout
The Deepwater Horizon Threat – New York Times
Deepwater Horizon: Cleaning up – Financial Times
Airbnb Worsens City’s Affordable Housing Crisis, Harlem Pols Say
Clearly there needs to be a revamping of law. It’s only natural. New services pop up and take advantage of old laws. It’s always been this way. Lawmakers need to make sure that Airbnb protects users by making sure renters are following leases to prevent evictions. They need to pay taxes. Airbnb shouldn’t be dealing with supers or building managers who are hoarding apartments for their own benefit. This service can be of great benefit to users who need a little extra money to pay their rents. Not just in Harlem but all over New York.
My first night out in lovely Harlem from a great vacation was the first time I have ever been threatened in my life. A man purporting to carry a gun and saying he just got out of a ten-year jail sentence asked me for train money. The first time, I gave him more money than I’ve ever given anyone in 6 years of living in New York. He then followed me again telling me what a “monkey ass” I was and how I should give him more. He needed $4, not $2.
I proceeded to give him more even as he continued to point to his “gun” and ask for only quarters. Thank god I had some dollar coins in there. I am so blessed to have exited this situation unharmed and only down 4 dollars. I hope I’m the last person he ever threatens like that if he did in fact just get out of jail. I hope he tries to straighten out his life. Most of all I hope he has a nice Christmas. I didn’t think to tell him that because I was too busy getting myself away from him.
After getting off at my stop on the train and almost ready to publish, I saw NYPD help a woman get her stroller up the stairs. Then I helped. Then someone else helped. Just goes to show what a city of contradictions this can be. I still love Harlem and I still love New York. I do not love how sweaty I am in December. Merry Christmas!