Thursday, October 19, 2006

Are Blogs the New Power of the Press?

Gallaudet University trustees are turning. I read in this morning’s Washington Post story by Susan Kinzie that Jane K. Fernandes had been asked to resign by some trustees. Fernandes had been trying to rally support, and in an e-mail obtained by the WP, she wrote, "What we are dealing with on campus is anarchy and terrorism."

One thing that’s contributing to the erosion of her support is the influence of new media. Over at PBS, Mark Glaser wrote about the impact of deaf bloggers and other new media. Glaser writes: While students work to make their voices heard on campus, protest bloggers have launched a media war on a much larger scale by harnessing online tools to organize their troops, broadcast their message, and analyze the latest developments.

While Glaser mentions several blogs, he failed to site one I ran across after one of my readers told me about it. Its called and is written by a deaf blogger named Ricky D. Taylor. He has quite a following judging from the number of comments.

To counter the pro-protestor sites, there have been some recently launched blogs such as The Gallaudet Protest: What you don’t know, but quite frankly, this blog has so few comments that it pales in comparison to the passion shown by the other side.

A few weeks ago the Chronicle of Higher Education covered the topic of blogs in a feature entitled “Attack of the Blog.” “By the time they knew the extent of the less-than-flattering Web commentary, Gallaudet officials say, it was too late for them to stem the tide,” according to the story.

So, stay tuned. This story has legs.


Jay Croft said...

"This story has legs." Absolutely. Events are moving very rapidly.

Alumni are already descending on DC. IKJ has painted himself into a corner. The faculty are conducting nightly marches on the President's House (which is a marvelous old Victorian mansion and is situated on campus.)

Last night, in the wee hours, some students got into College Hall,where the president's office is. A window was broken, but it was not by a student--just some kid hanging around with the group. The protest leaders prevailed on the group to leave.

C-dell said...

The blog is so popular and strong, because the average person can do it. You don't need a degree. The common man has some very good things to say. Now they can say them to a mass audience. This makes it easier for people express themselves.

Sheila said...

Rev. Croft,
I appreciate your link to It sounds like there is the potential for violence although I hardly think an apple thrown through a window is too much at this point. The protesters must guard against letting sympathetic outsiders garner negative attention for their cause.

As I mentioned in the post, I see no alternative to Fernandes' resignation at this point. The selection and process had to have been flawed for there to be such fervor. I don't think you can ask the Gallaudet community to give her a chance at this point. The BoT will soon cut its losses.

To c-cell,
Yes, any old crab with a computer can become a blogger. It's really very easy. And I happen to think that the average joe and jane has a story to tell. What I think, though, we are beginning to realize is that blogs and bloggers can be manipulated and used to disseminate information as well as misinformation.

While journalists are trained in social responsibility or at least we were when I was in j classes, the regular blogger may have no inkling what social responsibility is. He or she should at least be aware of libel issues.

As I post my entries I attempt to present what the opposite side is saying, but I do have a viewpoint and readers will see it. I intend to be reasonable and kind in my responses and welcome anyone to give me another view.

Thank you both for stopping by the AKS.

Don said...

Sheila, I don't blog, but I read some blogs, especially those dealing with Alabama government/politics because that's what I've been attempting to influence on my website (} for nearly 3 years now. I enjoy looking in at you when I can because your comments are diverse, intelligent, and well written.

Sheila said...

Hey Don, good to hear from you again. I appreciate your kind words. I could spend a boat load of time on Alabama politics if I had it, but I tend to get sidetracked. Maybe it's time to get local again for a bit.

Tim said...

Well, as you can see with me, I generally try to steer away from political and religious issues, as my opinions have a habit of stirring up too much dust. I try to leave those discussions for a more appropriate stage, such as a fair debate or otherwise, without the mud-slinging.

Though, I'm sure my opinions and thoughts with subject matter would bring many more visits, I write what I wish, not what is being steered by popularity or current issues. You do the same as I, including many other bloggers.

However, as with everything, out-spoken bloggers can get stereotyped by a handful. I hope the larger population doesn't judge us all by a "small" bag of skittles.

Sheila said...

As always Tim I like to see what your thoughts are. While I have written about politics and religion, I hope I have done so without being too unkind to those who may disagree with me. I do so with the hope that we can discuss rather than name call. We have let ourselves get pulled down into that mode of debate all too often. As Johnny Cash sang, "If I have been unkind, please forgive me."

And to your point about writing what we wish. I do a lot of that too. Anyone who waded through my Oxana from Kazakstan bit about the new Borat movie must think I'm
slightly off-kilter.

Yet, in my writing I love to see connections. They may be odd ones, but that's a part of my style. Like life, I feel we are all connected. I celebrate that.

Before "you know what" happened to me, I hated to raise a stink or upset too many applecarts. However, in the last two years I have thrown caution to the wind (well, not entirely but perhaps more than I should have). My motto has become a quote from Admiral David G. Farragut: "Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!"

P.S. I hate licorice too. Go read Tim's blog if you want to see what I'm talking about.

Tim said...

Why, thank you Sheila, and thanks for the thumb over to me. ;)

I didn't think you were off kilter with Borat, I was just unaware of the comedian and movie parody of Kazakstanians. Then I saw a documentary last night on a Swedish show I watch occasionally. I'm not sure what to think of it yet, but so far I am on the fence.

I may be "damning the torpedoes" more in the days ahead, as I've been paying more attention to current issues. I took a vacation from it for a time because too many of them were close to home, and there was so much going on at home for me to properly voice my opinions. In other words, I didn't have the time.

But I can assure you, the ole "Timosophy" is going to increase a little, and I might even receive a little "flack", especially from some of those that lean a little past the right, since they consider people such as me "unpatriotic" and "no true American citizen". I don't connect with many of the freethinkers, or that such hated word, "@/$£ist", but I am so vehemently many of the things happening in the U.S. the past 5 - 10 years.

Sheila said...

Hope as your wife's health improves and classes allow, you'll be able to give us some "Timosophy." You've given me my "topic of the day."

The Borat movie is coming to Norway in November, but I don't know if you'll get it where you are. You are on an island, right?

Ridor said...

Hi Sheila, I must thank Rev. Croft for tipping me about your article. I tend to be very defensive when one talks about my blogsite but when I read your entry, much to my surprise, I agreed with what you said.

Few things to mention:

One female protester from Austin, Texas chortled, "How ironic!" few minutes after the window was shattered by an apple. She signed wildly, "Rotten apple!" That was funny but certainly not relevant to your comments.

I was threatened with a defamation suit twice in the past, I dared them to go ahead and do it -- because I will NOT libel anyone else without gathering evidence (interviews, documents and so on). Suffice to say, both individuals dropped the threats. And Gallaudet will NEVER sue me because I'd have the courts to force Gallaudet to provide the documents which would destroy Gallaudet.

Another thing, Joe Shapiro of National Public Radio interviewed me yesterday about the impact of blogging in the Deaf Communities across the world. Joe asked me if it was something that we need in our communities.

For a second, I was bit offended by that so I said, "Wait a minute, Joe, can YOU be honest with me on this -- have you ever met a journalist, cameraman, editor, anchorman who is completely Deaf and uses ASL all the time in CNN, MSNBC, WSJ, NY Times, NPR and all that? The truth is that you do not because you prevent Deaf people from having an opportunity to work in the media. We were denied of our perspectives and when they attempted to explain OUR perspectives, they always got it wrong."

Joe said, "One needs to have experience to work in that field."

Joe is right but the problem is that we were denied of an opportunity to work in the media field in order to gain experience.

So what do Deaf people do? We create our media, we have to rely on ourselves to defend ourselves against the misconceptions, false information and all that ...

Ahh, I think I talked too long now ... but I hope what I said makes sense.



Ridor said...

One more thing -- I think I got a huge loyal readers of BECAUSE I was right after all. Two years ago, I predicted that the IKJ Administration would attempt to usurp Fernandes to take over and that the protests would explode. People thought I was nuts. After May 1st (the day that Fernandes was announced as the next President), people started to see that I was right all along.

These days, I averaged 25,000 hits per day. But too bad it does not translate into money for me. Ha!



Sheila said...

Well, I know you are a busy guy Ricky. So, I thank you for your comments. I hope I did justice in what I said. Glad Rev. Croft steered you my way. I had read the Chronicle of Higher Ed story before the most recent protests but hadn't connected the two until I reread it. I applaude you for gathering your evidence. It's all too easy for us to get emotional without realizing just how important this step is. It's one thing to suspect shenanigans and another to get the goods.

Good luck to the people who love Gallaudet. I'll be following along to see how this weekend goes. Rev. Croft said a lot of alumni were in town despite IKJ's efforts to dissuade them from coming. And good luck to you. That's a huge amount of interest to generate. Someone somewhere will realize that.


Jay Croft said...

One interesting fact, often overlooked, is that the 1988 Deaf President Now protests were probably the first non-violent protests following the bloody uprisings of Kent State, Columbia University, Berkeley and elsewhere.

I was in seminary in NYC at the time of the Columbia University protest in 1967. Since UNion Theological Seminary is affiliated with Columbia, we were affected, too. It's quite a sight to look out one's window and see hundreds of police cars, plus mounted cops, just ready for trouble.

It's sad that IKJ resorted to hiring a goon squad to supplement campus security officers, and to order the arrest of protesters.

Sheila said...

I was a high school senior looking forward to graduating in a few days when the news about the Kent State shootings came. The Vietnam War unified students like nothing since. Students were so passionate in those days. I guess that angle of the story was part of my interest in the Gallaudet protests. How out of the ordinary!

With Gallaudet, if the Board holds onto its resolve to keep Fernandes, she is going to face such a hostile environment that it will be next to impossible for her to accomplish much. The Washington Post editorial this morning is one view, but to look behind the protestors' anger and see the reason they are so upset provides a different picture.

Tim said...

Now, Sheila . . . just because I live on an island, doesn't mean we're isolated from Norway or the rest of the world. It just takes a few hours longer than the rest. :D

Honestly, though, often we get movies and / or shows before the U.S. does, so either it's already been here and I didn't notice, it's not far behind, or it just wasn't popular enough. I'll check on it and have a "look see".

Anonymous said...

Today I get to drop a a real surprise bomb on you deaf bloggers.

Stefan Heller is the real threat to deaf culture not Jane Fernandes. It's so funny see you all spending your money, directing your anger at, and even flocking yourselves toward Gallaudet University when you all should be going after Stefan Heller of Stanford University. Jane is only trying to be a leader of a deaf university while Stefan has the means to wipe deafness off the face of this planet quite soon.

The deaf militants and their followers should be going WEST not EAST to deal with the real threats to deaf culture.

Doesnt this say something interesting about the narrowminded leadership of the old deaf guard and their apostles like Ryan Commerson, Ricky Taylor, Jared Evans, Brian Riley, David Eberwein, Genie Gertz, Joey Baer, just to name a handful. It seems their undying love for deaf culture and deafhood had made them too blind to see where they're really going and they actually ended up in the wrong side of the United States.


Richard Roehm

Sheila said...

Thank you anonymous (Richard Roehm) for your comments.

As a hearing person, I was originally attracted to the events at Gallaudet because of the issue of governance and how Jane K. Fernandes was selected. Only after reading some of the blogs from the “old deaf guard” as you call them, did I start to understand their passion. Whether they are fearful of change as you charge or unhappy with the selection/process, I think you might agree that Fernandes would be off to a rocky start as president if the board sticks with her. In an on-line interview yesterday with the Washington Post, she herself said that she would employe “neutral mediators” to help her communicate with those who had opposed her presidency. Surely, there is the person out there who can pull all of those who love Gallaudet together to fulfill the university’s mission and vision.