Friday, December 11, 2009

© = No

After we covered the Stop Stupak rally and lobby day, we were shocked to find our pictures being used by the anti-choice Jill Stanek blog. Now, our pictures are copyrighted. And Jill Stanek had neglected to ask our permission to reprint them. What was even more "fun," was what we found on the contact page at her blog:
Reprinting WND Columns:

If you would like to reprint one of my columns, please request permission from, which owns the copyright, at

So people have to ask her permission to use her copyrighted material, but she is free to use others'?

We wrote to Jill Stanek, quoted her contact page, and asked her to remove our photos. She replied:
Dear Will,

Thank you for writing.

Please note first of all that I provided attribution and a link to your photos.

I have removed the first photo, per your request.

I am leaving the second photo of Congressperson Jan Schakowsky in place. In legal terms, this photo is “fair use” of a public figure at a public event for purposes of social commentary, which my post certainly makes.

Let me know if you have any further questions.


Jill Stanek

First off, she is right that she attributed the photo to us, and we do appreciate being given the credit. As for her removing the first photo, we are thankful that she did without any fight.

As for the second photo. Here, Jill is dead wrong. Yes, you have the right to publish photos of public figures. You do not have the right to publish another individual's copyrighted photo of a public figure. And I have precedent to make that statement. We have requested precedent to the contrary and await Jill Stanek's reply.

But what about the substance of her post? Our pictures were used to make the argument that the crowd was small.
Sum of Change Productions posted pictures on Flickr (bottom photo via SoC), and you'll notice there are no photos of the crowd.

And yes, we did not post photos of the entire crowd. This was the only lens I had for my camera that day. Not exactly capable of taking a nice wide crowd shot in a packed room. But here is the widest shot we were able to get with our video camera:
Sequence 22

The room goes farther back, this shot is from up in the press box. The room was packed, and the overflow room was, at one point, overflowing. It is simply a non-sequitur to argue that because we did not post a shot of the entire crowd that the crowd must have been small.

How about we use that same logic, against, say, the St Michael Society, who "infiltrated" this open-to-the-public event? They are openly anti-choice. They did not post a single shot of the entire crowd. By Jill's logic, they must be hiding how large the crowd was!

Jill's whole point of the article was that the pro-choice rally and lobby day had a small turnout. What Jill misses, is that this was a lobby day, and the indoor rally was truly the secondary objective. The Coalition to Stop Stupak had meetings scheduled in advance between Senators and the activists that attended the rally. That requires a lot of planning, and pulling it off for almost one thousand people from across the country is an enormous feat.

This may not have been a 9/12 rally with hundreds of thousands of people, but then again, it did not get billions of dollars of free advertising from a major, national news network.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

@Organizing 2.0

Last weekend, I attended the Organizing 2.0 conference in New York, put together by Charles Lenchner of the Working Families Party. This conference brought people together to hear from some of the greatest minds in the online organizing world. I came out of it with lots of great footage, and today we are previewing some of it. The majority of the footage, however, will be featured in our Training Tuesday series. So check back Tuesday at 6:00pm for more Organizing 2.0 footage. We are also collecting all our Organizing 2.0 footage onto one page here. But if you are reading this, then you really should find the time to watch these videos.

Whether you've been actively engaged in fighting the good fights online for years, or you are simply a lurker who visits from time to time to read, your intimate knowledge of the workings of the blogosphere makes you a valuable resource for candidates and organizations. This is a quality that is rather unique. As deeply entrenched as the online world may feel, online organizing is still brand new. You can think of it like this, Organizing 2.0 is still in beta format, and it is open source so people all over the world can develop new and exciting features.

The people you will hear from in the videos below, and the many to come over the coming Training Tuesdays, are about as experienced as we can get. They will provide you with many helpful tips and share some of their best practices.

Ari Melber, of The Nation, gave the opening speech:

That was followed by a conversation between Ari Melber and Nancy Scola, of the Personal Democracy Forum:

The last two videos we have for you today are the closing remarks. First, we have Dan Cantor, the Executive Director of the Working Families Party:

And the closing speech, or keynote address if you will, was given by Deanna Zandt, the author of "Share This!":

That's all for today, but check back at 6:00pm Tuesday for our running series of Training Tuesdays when we will introduce our first round of Organizing 2.0 panel coverage!

If you want to read more about the Organizing 2.0 Conference, check out these links: Talk: How Sharing and Storytelling Will Change the World Labor & community activists coverge @Organizing2.0 (the inspiration for my title, credit where credit is due)
Sum of Change: Musings on Ari Melber's Speech and the State of TV News
Ari Melber: Obama Campaign Organizing & New Media: Presentation to Organizing 2.0 Summit Writing for your Digital Audience

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Musings on Ari Melber's Speech and the State of TV News

There was a point that Ari Melber made at the Organizing 2.0 Conference that really struck a chord with me, and has been churning over in my head for the last couple days. It was the point in his opening speech when he brought up slide 6 in this slideshow:

We all knew this was happening, but seeing the actual numbers, that is a powerful thing. And this graph is a bad thing. Make no mistake about it, it is bad for society to be so sheltered from any subject matter of real substance. And yet, it gets worse. We expect this type of treatment. We treat it as the norm, and, in effect, we accept it as an unavoidable reality.

So that should raise this question: why can we not expect substantive soundbites? The most common answer I have heard throughout my life is, the ratings. They are giving us what we want. Right? I mean, if substantive news brought in ratings, they would give it to us? Right?

I spoke on similar grounds in previous postings about the death of newspapers. We hear from traditional news experts that the death of newspapers brings with it the death of investigative journalism. To which, I always wondered why it is that we cannot possibly expect television journalists to do investigative reporting.

It is the ratings. That is what we always hear. But there was another moment in Ari Melber's speech which made me seriously question whether or not that claim is accurate.

It was when he popped up slide number 12:

There are two things we need to see here:
1) This graph represents statistics regarding a full speech, not a sound bite.
2) The media clearly failed to make the most of it.

Youtube experienced more viewers than all the networks combined. Let us, for an instant, treat Youtube as a main stream news network (we could easily fill a book detailing whether or not it actually is). But if we treat it as a network, then Youtube, frankly, kicked the competition's ass. I mean, whooped the ever living crap out of the competition. CNN, FOX, MSNBC missed out on a large swath of the population that was clearly interested in viewing this substantive, 37 minute soundbite.

What happened with the major networks' ratings? (we're back to excluding Youtube from this category) By their ratings, the speech was successful. However, when you include the Youtube ratings, the speech is no longer successful, it is powerful. So why-oh-why were the television networks (with their powerful control over a major distribution venue) wholly incapable of matching the ratings of Youtube on this speech? I would argue that either:
1) Television itself is not designed to provide its audience with substance, or...

2) The networks are simply failing to figure out how to successfully distribute substantive coverage.

(and I would argue that the latter is more likely).

Regardless, I think Ari's speech demonstrates that the internet is clearly lacking whatever trait it is that prevents the television networks from giving us more than seven second soundbites.

We should ask why the television networks have been unwilling or incapable of providing substantive coverage. We should ask in what world it is possible. We should ask what influence caused the average soundbite length to drop so drastically. We should ask what responsibility the networks have, and we should ask what responsibility we have. In what way have we failed to hold television networks responsible? We should ask these questions (especially those of us in the media). We should understand how this history of dramatically decreasing soundbite lengths came to be, should we hope to reverse the trend.

And I will end with yet another question. If it actually is an unavoidable truth that television networks cannot achieve ratings with substantive material, should we consider abandoning television networks all together?

I pose this question for one reason only. The charts that Ari showed demonstrate that people are indeed interested in substance, when substance is available to them. And his charts demonstrate that the internet (social networking sites in specific, and yes Youtube is a social networking site) is succeeding in distributing substance, or can be used successfully to distribute substance.

We know these things are happening. We know that the television news outlets are not providing us with substance on anywhere close to the same level that the internet is. We have a ways to go before we understand why entirely.

Training Tuesday with the DFA: Fun Budget Tips

Last week, we covered the basics of managing and organizing a campaign budget. If you know little-to-nothing about campaign finance but would like to, or if you are just about to start putting together the budget for a campaign, you should definitely check out last week's Training Tuesday. Today is not for the basics. Instead, we are using this Training Tuesday to share with you four very important tips that will help you out along the way:

I hope you enjoyed those useful tips. Don't forget to check back next Tuesday at 6:00pm for another round of Training Tuesday when we will introduce our first round of panel videos from the Organizing 2.0 Conference in New York last Saturday. We posted clips from the opening and closing speeches of that conference.

Cantor predicts Republican future at The Economist summit

Originally featured on JTA's Capital J blog.

Predictions for what 2010 will bring were aplenty yesterday at The Economist’s summit in Washington, DC celebrating the release of its World in 2010 edition. The event featured several influential speakers who gave their two cents on issues of economic, political and cultural significance.

Among them was House Minority Whip Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va), who stressed that one of the most talked about topics of next year will be the “progress or lack thereof on the jobs front.”

Cantor also predicted that Democrats would lose control of the House, largely due to what he called a disconnect between the rhetoric and the actions of the White House.

“People in this country have a real sense of pessimism right now,” explained Cantor. A “very grumpy electorate,” he feels, will oust Democrats from power.

World in 2010 editor Daniel Franklin questioned Cantor’s forecast of Republican triumph in the House, asking “do you foresee it, or do you want it?”

Franklin also asked the nature of the Republicans’ game plan.

“What is the idea? ‘Jobs’ is not an idea.”

Cantor rebuffed the notion that Republicans were all talk, saying that he and his colleagues had brought several ideas to the table.

“[It’s] not that sexy of a story for the media to cover our ideas,” said Cantor.

Cantor also said that if implemented in 2010, cap and trade would cut jobs. He also expressed concern that the temporary TARP funds allocated this year would prove to be slush fund.

As for future players of the Republican Party in 2010, Cantor broke into a wide smile when fellow panelist and Meet the Press host David Gregory mentioned Sarah Palin.

He was mum on the subject, but was adamant that Republican gubernatorial successes in New Jersey and Virginia were signs of things to come.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Stop Stupak Rally/Lobby Day

Last week, we joined pro-choice activists from all across the country on Capitol Hill. They came to support health care reform and the public option, and they came to fight against the Stupak amendment and any bans on women's reproductive health coverage. The program began with rally, after which, the groups headed to scheduled meetings with their legislators. We tagged along with a group from Sister Song in New Orleans and joined them for the visit with Senator Mary Landrieu's office.

We have extensive coverage of the day's events, with plenty of full speeches.

And please enjoy this picture slideshow:

Lastly for folks that enjoyed this coverage, please check out this information on our upcoming documentary about abortion clinic escorts, tentatively titled Clinic Defense: Best When Boring.

MUSIC MONDAY: The DNA of Music: Interview with Pandora Founder Tim Westergren

A few months ago, I did an interview with Tim Westergren, the founder of Pandora and the Music Genome Project, live via Skype from his office on the West Coast. Since this was before our Music Monday feature and the current encarnation of our site, I wanted to re-post the interview and accompanying blog for all to see.

The Music Genome Project is exactly what the name describes, a focused effort to break down songs into hundreds of individual musical aspects (genes), everything from tempo and rhythm to the instrumentation and the amount of distortion used. They then catalog these 'genes', creating an accurate objective description (like a genome) of every musical aspect of the song. Collectively, the genomes build a 'musical taxonomy', an empirical explanation of the entire spectrum of music. So far, the project has cataloged over 700,000 songs of all sorts of varieties, with more songs being analyzed and added to the library daily.

After several years of cataloging, the Music Genome Project released Pandora Internet Radio as a way of bringing their research to the public. Pandora reinvents radio. Instead of having many people tune into one station and listen to whatever a single DJ decides, Pandora creates a station, or several stations for each individual user based on what the user want's to listen to. The user inputs a song or artist and Pandora searches the Music Genome Project for songs with matching musical genes. It then builds a station or personalized playlist of songs similar to the desired song or artist and streams that customized station over the internet for free.

I personally am a big Pandora fan, mainly because it allows me to easily discover and listen to new artists similar to the ones I love. It gives me many more options to listen to the kind of music that I feel like listening to at any given time. I can keep my interests broad and put in a single song or artist and listen to a wide variety of tunes. Alternatively, I can keep adding artists and songs to my station to isolate a particular aspect of music that I want to hear. It combines my two methods of listening to music. I usually either listen to an album or MP3 or tune into a traditional radio station but Pandora combines the best aspects of both. I simultaneously get to choose what I listen to, like I would listening to a recording that I own, and listen to new material, like I would hear on traditional radio.

I very much enjoyed speaking with Mr. Westergren and learning about how he helped to craft Pandora and the Music Genome Project into what they are today. For more info about Pandora and to try it out, please go to And, as Mr Westergren mentions, they are very interested in user feedback so please try it out and let them know what you think!!

You can find this and all our earlier Music Monday posts at

Connecticut for Lieberman Explains Opposition to the Public Option

This is just too good. I absolutely love the Connecticut for Lieberman Party. If you want to know more about them, you can read an old story of mine from September.

Anyways, they put out this hilarious health care video explaining Senator Lieberman's opposition to the public option: