Internet: Content vs. Profit

Daily newspapers might be a thing of the past with more newspaper chains opting to use the internet. (morgueFile)

A decade ago, the internet was a foreign platform for most newspapers. Editors and newspapers feared that shareholders would backlash over the notion of free online content. According to Clay Shirky, newspaper chains were concerned with their content being shared openly online. The resistance of content sharing by newspapers via the internet was based on the idea that scarcity is valuable.

 Newspapers could not predict that the internet would grow as much as it did, but many, as well as Shirky, claim, “The ability to share content wouldn’t shrink, it would grow.” Wikileaks is an example of how of media outlets have been successful with journalism-free content.

“What we are seeing is an era of specialization of content where new media is the sharp end of the lance in newsgathering, said Jeffrey Dvorkin, a professor at University of Toronto’s journalism program. “Not-for-profits are doing the investigative aspects and contextualizing of journalism; and newspapers and MSM are reverting to being “sense-makers” of it all.”

Since the late 90s, newspapers in North America have been publicly traded to companies with obligations to shareholders rather than their readers.

 “In that culture clash, the shareholders won and the newspapers were forced to return larger and larger profits,” said Dvorkin. “This was done by cuts, efficiencies, a diminishing of excellence and a search for a monetized product.” Just recently one of the most recognized independently owned newspapers, The Huffington Post, sold their company to AOL.

Ivor Tossel, a freelance writer for the Globe and Mail, agrees with Shirky’s comment, “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism” and society pays for the journalism. With the introduction of online, traditional journalism has become devalued. Newspapers are no longer dishing the money out for good valued journalism. As Tossel said, “I love being paid.”

Source: Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable

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Cholera Outbreak in Haiti

A malnourished child sleeps in the arms of a nurse, in Cité Soleil. (UNICEF/Marco Dormino)

Since the outbreak of cholera was declared in late October, the Ministère de la santé et de la population of Haiti has reported a total of 3,790 deaths and over 180,000 sickness-related cases.

Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, was struck by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake last January that killed over 200,000 people.

Even before the earthquake, sanitary conditions in Haiti were poor.

According to the BBC, there has been no documented outbreak of cholera in Haiti since the 1960s.

Cholera is a bacterial illness, which affects the intestinal system. The illness is caused by drinking contaminated water, and it can cause profuse watery diarrhea, a high fever and vomiting, leading to death due to rapid dehydration.

At a clinic , patients are screened for diarrhea and dehydration, Port-au-Prince ( Gerald Martone/IRC)

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), only 12 per cent of the Haitian population receives treated tap water and  17 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities.

The CDC’s agenda involves controlling the outbreak, so that fewer people die from cholera. “The reality is that we have a serious problem here,” CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell told CNN.

Haitian authorities and aid agencies are emphasizing drinking and using clean water as the current outbreak continues to spread. Infected individuals could easily spread the illness further by preparing food without proper hygiene.

“We expect we will be working very hard for many months to come,” CDC epidemiologist Jordan Tappero told CNN.

Source: CNN Health

Related Links: Cholera Update

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Africa’s Largest Country May Split

After years of war and fighting, southern Sudan has reached a crucial moment in their 55 year history of ethnic violence, a referendum on independence.

Sudanese women at a refugee camp in Chad.(Michael Wadleigh/Physicians for Human Rights)

Southern Sudan, Africa’s largest country, has scheduled their declaration of independence for July. In the 1920’s Sudan was divided into Northern and Southern Sudan. Since their succession from the British in 1956, the north and south have been in civil war.

Although the North and South have been in war for decades in the past six months, there has been almost no major ethnic violence. All signs point to the Muslim-North and the Christian-South dividing.

The South has suffered from decades of civil war and marginalization.
With their existing issues many are worried South Sudan could be the next Somalia, destroyed by ethnic violence and civil war.

According to Oxfam, only one in seven children who live past their first year die before the age of five.

According to New York Times, ethnic fighting swept the south with several thousand people killed in military-grade attacks in 2009, fueled by longstanding ethnic rivalries and a sudden, suspicious increase in high-powered weaponry.

If the South surpass the 60 per cent of registered votes needed to ensure the outcome’s validity.

Source: New York Times

Related Links: Voter Turnout Passes 60%

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