Archive for April, 2009
The New York Times ran a story a couple days ago about how CNN is losing market share to MSNBC and to FOX, primarily on prime time, explaining that coverage tilted to extremes on the right (FOX) and left (MSNBC) has captured more ratings than moderate balanced coverage.
It is a real and serious challenge that moderation and balance tends to incite less excitement. Partisan coverage can capture passions and appeal to core audiences. I have written about this challenge before, studying how people are programmed for "affirmation" instead of "information – and how lack of critical unbiased thinking is a challenge for society; analyzing FOX coverage of Obama; and exploring how the internet could redress this. Indeed, that is part of why OneVoice’s work is necessary.
But in CNN’s case, the problem seems to be a far simpler one: their prime-time programming and formatting suck! (sorry, I tried first to use "are terrible" instead of "suck", but it didn’t ring as true)
It is incredible that nobody in management at Time Warner has figured out how pathetic their coverage is. They keep introducing more bells and whistles, with interactive screens and charts, and literally DOZENS of people in the newsroom, as if they will command authority and respect by just filling tables with more talking heads.
But there is the problem: other than some excellent commentary from seasoned experts like David Gergen, the vast majority of commentators have no idea what they are saying or doing, or even if a couple others are good, they just dilute one another in such ridiculous formats.
During election night coverage, you could argue that their Board of Directors table format was authoritative. "Hey, let’s watch CNN because they have more ‘experts’", you could imagine people thinking.
But the next day after elections, I tuned to CNN and, alas, it was like a hangover brunch. All these unknown and uninteresting commentators were hanging around to express their opinions in communal commentary formats. Oh, and CNN also felt compelled to share with us comments on every issue from average people, plus unscientific interactive meaningless "polls." Is that really what people looking for "news" want?
Ok, I guess you could understand the 20 commentators the day after the election – or even the week after the election – because a historic election had just taken place. But what is the logic of keeping this party format 4 months later? What is the "event" that warrants having the grandmother of the producer’s cousin’s brother sitting alongside all these other pundits to share their two cents on every issue?
All CNN needs is a compelling anchor that can probe into issues with sincerity of purpose. In the meantime, there is NO news program I know of that provides balanced, interesting, deep, consistent coverage.
Incidentally, the New York Times suffers in analogous ways. Their editorials are either patronizing or fixated on rehashing the obvious. They lack innovation, personality, persuasiveness and pizzazz: a good editorial should have at least two of those elements. I may disagree with the Wall Street Journal editorials more often, but they have more personality and are better constructed. Is it that hard to write compelling and fresh arguments?
From OneVoice Communications:
TWO STATE SOLUTION REMAINS ACCEPTABLE RESOLUTION
FOR VAST MAJORITY OF ISRAELIS & PALESTINIANS
74% of Palestinians willing to accept Two State Solution
78% of Israelis willing to accept Two State Solution
MAJORITIES ON BOTH SIDES SUPPORT A NEGOTIATED PEACE
71% of Palestinians & 77% of Israelis feel Negotiations are ‘Essential’ or ‘Desirable’
ONEVOICE LAUNCHES TOWN HALL MEETINGS SERIES IN ISRAEL & PALESTINE
TO ADDRESS FINAL STATUS & MUTUAL RECOGNITION ISSUES
22 April 2009 / Jerusalem / Despite growing fears that the “Two State Solution” is losing purchase on the ground in Israel and Palestine, today the OneVoice Movement (www.OneVoiceMovement.org) released the findings of a new poll which demonstrates that the two state solution remains the only acceptable resolution for the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians.
OneVoice is an international grassroots collective using civic engagement to mobilize citizens and their leaders to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a mutually-acceptable two state agreement which ends the occupation, guarantees the security of Israel, and establishes a viable, independent Palestinian state at peace with Israel.
The poll was commissioned by OneVoice in collaboration with Dr. Colin Irwin of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool (www.peacepolls.org), and in conjunction with Dr. Nader Said of Arab World for Research and Development (AWRAD) in Ramallah and Dr. Mina Zemach of Dahaf Institute in Tel Aviv. The methodology, which had been piloted by Dr. Irwin in Northern Ireland and subsequently used in places as varied as Sri Lanka and Macedonia, involved a questionnaire designed through a series of interviews with civil society leaders and political figures on each side. The field work was conducted by Zemach in Israel and by Said in Palestine during February 2009, in the wake of the Gaza war and the Israeli elections.
The results indicate that 74% of Palestinians and 78% of Israelis are willing to accept a two state solution (an option rated on a range from ‘tolerable’ to ‘essential’), while 59% of Palestinians and 66% of Israelis find a single bi-national state ‘unacceptable.’ Additionally, according to the data, 77% of Israelis and 71% of Palestinians consider a negotiated peace ‘essential’ or ‘desirable.’ Ninety-four percent of Palestinians and 74% of Israelis think that the people must be continually informed on the negotiations process.
The poll also reveals that consensus still needs to be built. The findings imply that mainstream Israeli and Palestinian populations still have yet to acknowledge the significant priorities and fears on the other side. While the issue of greatest significance for Palestinians is freedom from occupation (94% deem it a ‘very significant’ problem in the peace process, ranking it the primary issue on the Palestinian side), only 30% of Israelis find it to be ‘very significant,’ ranking the issue 15th on the Israeli side. Similarly, the primary issue on the Israeli side is stopping attacks on civilians (90% rate it a ‘very significant’ issue). This issue meets with 50% approval on the Palestinian side, and ranks as 19 in a list of 21 issues. Significant gaps in public consensus persist as well on the issues of settlements and refugees – two issues on which there was no single proposed solution which met with majority approval on both sides.
To address the critical gaps that still exist on some recognition and final status issues, OneVoice is launching a Town Hall Meetings Series in Israel and Palestine to present the findings of the poll and discuss the various issues – from mutual recognition to settlements, refugees, and Jerusalem – that both sides will need to confront in order to reach a two state agreement. Progress at the negotiating table is only one step in the process of reaching an agreement that can be implemented. An end to the conflict will only come when the leaders come to an agreement that their peoples are ready to understand, accept, and support. The series will be launched in May and will be implemented throughout the rest of 2009. It will use the findings of the poll as a starting point for discussions.
Five hundred interviews were completed in Israel and six hundred in the West Bank and Gaza to produce representative samples of both populations in terms of age, gender, social background and geographical distribution. As the polls were conducted during a particularly difficult time on both sides – immediately following the Gaza war and the Israeli elections – the continued insistence of both sides on a negotiated and mutually-acceptable resolution could offer significant legitimacy to political leaders looking to push for negotiations toward a two state agreement.
About the OneVoice Movement:
The OneVoice Movement is an international mainstream grassroots movement with over 600,000 signatories in roughly equal numbers both in Israel and in Palestine, and 2,000 highly-trained youth leaders. It aims to amplify the voice of Israeli and Palestinian moderates, empowering them to seize back the agenda for conflict resolution and demand that their leaders achieve a two-state solution guaranteeing both the end of occupation and the establishment of a viable Independent Palestinian state as well as the safety and security of the state of Israel – allowing both people to live in peace with all their neighbors. OneVoice counts on its Board over 60 foremost dignitaries and business leaders across a wide spectrum of politics and beliefs, joining as OneVoice for conflict resolution. Learn more by visiting www.OneVoiceMovement.org
With OVI and OVP Youth leaders
At dinner wearing OV pin
With Mika Almog and Lior Shlain
Avi Cohen, the "godfather" of humor in the Israeli TV, learns about OV from Gil Shamy
Noa and Mira Awad, friends and supporters of the OneVoice Movement, are representing Israel in the EuroVision contest. Here is a glimpse of their inspiring song:
Sometimes when baby Romy is on my lap, I can’t tell if my phone is ringing or Romy is farting.
One of the best efforts I have seen at explaining the way we are consuming and living beyond sustainability in this world comes from The Global Footprint Network. At the Skoll World Forum a couple weeks ago, Mathis Wackernagel handed me a business-card sized brochure that very poignantly and clearly explains how consumption in the developed and oil-producing world is depleting our globe in measurably dangerous ways. You should visit the page tracking human development growth and related ecological footprint growth. Their solution, not easy to implement but succintly showing the only way forward, is to aim for sustainable human development.
You can take a quiz to establish and track your own human footprint.
The holy grail for environmentally conscious manufacturers and consumers is truly bio-degradable effective packaging. While the biggest threat is in plastic bottles and packaging materials that overwhelm our landfills, even small wrappers add up.
The challenge to manufacturers is that the very things that make wrappers good – impermeability, sealing out oxygen to prevent oxidation and decomposition – are also what makes the wrappers hard to decompose. And if you try to use corn-based bio-degradable wrappers, exposure to moisture can make the wrapper protection degrade and be ineffective. At KIND we keep looking for solutions that could enable us to use bio-degradable wrappers but have yet to find the answer (if anyone has any technology or ideas, please let me know).
Frito-Lay just announced that the outer layer of its Sun Chips will use compostable packaging. That is nice, but what is really interesting is their commitment that within 1 year, they aim to also use compostable packaging for the bags’ interior. If they really achieve it, that will be a remarkable step.