Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Nature of Nature Photography

The Winning Shot by Paul Sounders
Three jurors for National Geographic Magazine's annual photography contest discuss their criteria for selecting this year's winners.

The photograph that they gave top honors -- Paul Sounders shot of a submerged polar bear with the Arctic sun hovering above a distant horizon -- was a clear favorite of all three.

A photograph of distinction. And yet it looks to me like an image of a type that is all too commonplace at National Geographic and other nature photography publications. While proficient in technique, composition and execution, it's all too familiar to the genre -- an animal in its natural setting -- to be staid.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why 60 Minutes Needs a Public Editor

The New 'Black Rock'?
"The most important thing about that show is the quality," CBS President and CEO Leslie Moonves told the Hollywood Reporter last year. "They take time to do those stories."

The object of Moonves' appreciation, of course, is 60 Minutes. Given the venerable news program's recent missteps, one has to wonder whether this commitment to quality -- or even basic fact-checking -- remains strong.

On Sunday, 60 Minutes aired an embarrassing "exclusive" from inside the National Security Agency, which featured a lengthy interview with NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander. But the 27-minute report failed to challenge any of the questionable claims Alexander has made about the NSA's mass surveillance programs.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Payola Internet

Taking the Internet back to the future.
2013 could mark the end of the era of Internet openness.

If, as many expect, a federal appeals court rules to allow an Internet payola system, phone and cable companies will start to prioritize access to the few online sites and services that can afford to pay them extra.

The court deciding Verizon vs. FCC could issue its ruling as early as Christmas. The judges hearing the case in September seemed inclined to strike down the Federal Communications Commission’s ability to prevent Internet service providers from the practice of “paid prioritization,” where companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon pick winners and losers online.