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Rss Feed


The Future of Student News

BH Staff

Posted:  Apr 29th 2009 10:53AM

Filed Under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, Media

Bright Hall has evolved, has a new home and a new name. We are now part of Politics Daily, "a political news magazine for the general reader updated every day, throughout the day...offering a thoughtful take on events." We're honored to be a part of this adventurous and forward-thinking site launch.

Henceforth, we will be know as The Cram, but our purpose remains consistent:

"The Cram is opinion and analysis from accomplished student writers at higher learning institutions across America, where the future of politics is taking shape every day over collegial debate and caffeinated study. Join us as we break down the news cycle with an eye on campus issues and enough energy to conquer any syllabus."

You will find your favorite writers and new faces on The Cram, as well as a beat on the topics that interest you most. This week we've covered the continued controversy over Notre Dame's selection of President Obama as this year's commencement speaker, how the New York State budget is aversely effecting the state's student population, the continued towering tuition increases at our nation's universities, an exclusive speech made by the Bush Administration official who deemed waterboarding legal, and, right now, we're tweeting live from Obama's "100th Day" town hall in St. Louis.

We hope you'll continue to follow us in our new form. We promise to deliver the same brand of insightful campus coverage that you came back for.

The Editors

Full Article »


Why Do Americans Oppose the Release of Information?

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Apr 26th 2009 5:53PM

Filed Under: Politics, Boston University, Media

Matt Negin is now a contributor for The Cram, a student news arm of the newly launched To follow his future work, click here.

In a new Washington Post poll, most Americans approve of Barack Obama's performance during his first 100 days in office.

But although the Post led its Sunday story with that finding, another response in the survey about the recently released torture memos is considerably more newsworthy. Apparently, 44 percent of the public disapproves of Obama's decision to release secret documents from the Bush administration detailing the interrogation of terrorism suspects. Fifty-three percent approved.

That key question also revealed a deep partisan divide, with three-quarters of Democrats backing the disclosure of the memos and just as many Republicans opposing the hotly debated move.

Why does access to more information fall along a partisan split? I was just as perplexed last year when I covered the Roger Clemens steroids-in-baseball hearing on Capitol Hill, and Democrats on the government reform committee harshly interrogated The Rocket while their Republican counterparts defended him. (I still can't figure out why, and Clemens has not been recorded by the FEC for any GOP campaign donations.)

But when did the issue of releasing information -- albeit from the secretive Bush administration about the sensitive issue of torture -- begin to irk conservatives? Shouldn't the availability of information be heralded by all, whether it be documents implicating a Democratic governor of New York in a prostitution ring or sexual instant messages between a Republican congressman from Florida and his congressional pages?

Full Article »

Magazine Capitalizes on Obama's Pecs

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 22nd 2009 4:30PM

Filed Under: News, Media, Notre Dame

The torture debate is getting exhausting, and it's only just begun. Did the United States torture? Was it wrong? Should people be prosecuted? Will Dick Cheney ever stop appearing on Fox News and just enjoy his retirement already?

Let's instead turn to a much lighter story. Washingtonian Magazine, which typically has such attention-grabbing cover stories as "Top 100 Dentists in the Washington Area" or "Top 30 Places to Visit on the Weekend," has put out a May cover that is getting way more attention than their April edition, "Inside 10 Great Homes."

The topic of this month's cover issue is "26 Reasons to Love Living Here." Reason No. 2 is: "Our new neighbor is hot."

To prove the point, the magazine put a picture of President Obama, clad only in a bathing suit and sunglasses, on the cover.

I know the print media industry is suffering right now, but really, Washingtonian Magazine? I didn't realize your editorial board consisted of the women from Desperate Housewives.

Full Article »

international newspolitics

Espionage: Iran's New Word for, 'We Got Nothing'

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Apr 19th 2009 8:51AM

Filed Under: Politics, International News, Boston University, Media

It's difficult to take a country's court system seriously when it convicts defendants in secret trials. It also doesn't help when the president of that country is a Holocaust denier and suspected terrorist. And it really doesn't look professional to accuse the defendant -- a journalist -- of "espionage" without providing a single piece of real evidence.

But such is the perplexing case of Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American reporter who was convicted of spying by Iran's shady court this week. The prosecutors accused the 31-year-old journalist of passing along secret information to U.S. intelligence agencies.

Spying is a pretty serious career choice, not to mention time-consuming. For Saberi to successfully spy on the Iranian government, she would have to maintain a cover, make contacts and stay under the radar for most of the six years that she's lived in the country (at least, according to the Spy Museum tour I took in D.C.).

So if suspected spy Saberi was supposed to lay low, why was she filing dozens of stories each month for news organizations like the BBC, NPR and Fox? In June 2007, she was on the front line in Tehran when Iranians burned down gas stations in opposition to fuel rationing. And she was on the scene when the Islamic country banned women from soccer games the year before, too.

Either Roxana Saberi is a terrible spy, or she's not a spy at all.

Full Article »



Tea Parties: Conservatives' New Media Launch?

Joshua Sharp

Posted:  Apr 19th 2009 12:20AM

Filed Under: US Elections, Politics, USC, Media

The "tax day tea parties" this week marked arguably the most visible sign of a conservative uprising since before Bush 43's presidency, with over 300,000 estimated attendees across nearly 350 cities nationwide.

But the larger impact embodied by these protests is a bit more subtle: It shows that conservatives have discovered new media in a very powerful way.

Political campaigns of all ideological viewpoints have long gathered e-mail lists of supporters and built professionally-designed websites to serve as their online presence. But only recently has the Internet evolved to serve as a global town hall, with activists uploading pictures and videos from events held around the world, and networking tool, with registered organizers pooling resources and sharing plans.

In the last election season, both Barack Obama and John McCain created social networking sites and event registration tools in addition to Facebook pages and a YouTube channel. The Obama campaign was more successful with these tools for a variety of reasons (younger base of supporters, ridiculous talent on staff), but the online media landscape is changing so rapidly that conservatives have a real chance at surpassing the most impressive techniques of the '08 cycle.

Beyond the ideological debate behind Wednesday's protests, the fact remains that hundreds of events, sometimes thousands of miles apart, were linked together by the power of social media, as organizers coordinated events online and exchanged pictures (video, stories, etc.) afterward.

More on new media after the jump...

Full Article »


Actress: Tea Protestors Were Redneck Racists

Joshua Chaney

Posted:  Apr 17th 2009 11:17PM

Filed Under: Politics, Culture, Media, Muskingum College

Don't like high taxes or runaway government spending? You're a dumb, redneck racist.

That's essentially what liberal actor Janeane Garofalo said on MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night. She was prompted to give a response on the Tea Party protests after Olbermann ranted on about the protesters "seething with hate." This from Olbermann, who essentially built an entire show around an hour-long, hate-filled rant about then president George W. Bush.

Olbermann still rants about Bush in a daily segment each on his show - 100 days after Bush left office, mind you. At what point is he forced to give it up? Still somehow - after Olbermann had finished his numerous immature references to male genitals, which he evidently thought were funny - Garofalo upstaged Olbermann on who could be the nuttiest hypocrite on stage.

"You know there is nothing more interesting than seeing a bunch of racists become confused and angry," she led off with. She went on to describe how none of the protesters could tell what the speakers were saying, or knew history at all.

"Let's be very honest about what this is about: It's not about bashing Democrats, it's not about taxes, they have no idea what the Boston Tea Party was about, they don't know their history at all. This was about hating a black man in the White House," she said pointing her finger. "This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of tea-bagging rednecks and there is no way around that."

She couldn't just leave it at that, no way! She had much more hate left before she would be ready to give up the floor.

Full Article »

Interrogation Memos Reveal Rough Treatment of Detainees

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 16th 2009 9:00PM

Filed Under: News, Media, Notre Dame

The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday released four Office of Legal Counsel opinions that describe interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency during the Bush administration.

Politico reported that White House senior adviser David Axelrod said President Barack Obama spent a month trying to decide whether to release the memos about the techniques.

In a letter to the officers of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), posted on the agency's Web site, Obama thanked them for their service to the country. He said he made the decision the night before to allow the Justice Department to release the memos.

"I did not make this decision lightly," he wrote in the letter. "As you may know, the release is part of an ongoing court case. I have fought for the principle that the United States must carry out covert activities and hold information that is classified for the purpose of national security and will do so again in the future. But the release of these memos is required by our commitment to the rule of law."

Obama said that while he has prohibited use of the interrogation techniques described in the memo since he took office, he and Attorney General Eric Holder would "protect all who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that their actions were lawful." Holder affirmed this in a Thursday news release from the Department of Justice.

The individuals in the CIA who carried out the harsh interrogation actions will not be prosecuted, or so Obama says. Will anyone?

Full Article »

How the News Is Fooling You

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Apr 16th 2009 1:43AM

Filed Under: Boston University, Media

Conventional business theory tells us that if consumers want a product, and if they can afford it, then they'll buy it. For the best items, there's no need to trick people into thinking they should spend money on something they don't need -- like OxiClean or Snuggies.

But gone are the days of conventional business. Now, companies are experimenting more and more with a type of advertising that is at best morally questionable, and desperate at worst. That technique is the fake news story.

The best example of this appeared April 9, when an advertisement dressed as a news story appeared on the front page of the Los Angeles Times. The ad, which had the headline, "Southland's Rookie Hero," under a small NBC logo, was a plug for a TV show about police officers. But it was written as if a Times reporter had gone out and done his own reporting on the fake setting of the show. The first paragraph of the advertisement reads, in part:

"This is the story of one such day when this reporter got a chance to ride along for a rookie's unforgettable first watch."

The ad, no doubt a huge cash grab for the Times (owned by the bankrupt Tribune Co.), was boxed in its own column adjacent to a real news story. The paper's reporters, upon seeing the ad that bumped some story to Page 3, petitioned the sneakiness of the ploy and said it "has caused incalculable damage to this institution. This action violates a 128-year pact with our readers that the front page is reserved for the most meaningful stories of the day. Placing a fake news article on A-1 makes a mockery of our integrity and our journalistic standards."

Full Article »


Tea Parties Planned for Tax Day

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 15th 2009 8:25AM

Filed Under: Culture, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame

The Internet has been buzzing lately all about parties happening on Tax Day. Tea Parties, to be exact.

I never got an invitation, but I'm more of a coffee drinker. It'd be a bit of a pain to purchase tea bags just to dump them in a body of water.

Like the great pre-Revolutionary War colonists who came before them, American taxpayers are up in arms and want to protest "higher taxes and out-of-control government spending," according to a column in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday. It's hard to tell who exactly started this movement, but the columnist asserted that this is not the work of a "right-wing conspiracy," but rather, average Americans who are using the expanding power of the Internet to organize an imitation of an event that took place in 1773.

According to the Wall Street Journal column, the protests began in mid-February with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., then grew when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli delivered his now famous rant against President Obama's policies, advocating that people organize a tea party in Chicago on July 4.

From that rant, a movement was born. Now these flash mob protests are apparently planned across the country on Tax Day. The Tea Party movement is one of the top trending topics on Twitter, and on Facebook a group called Nationwide Tax Day Tea Party has more than 35,000 members.

I'm always up for a party. And those are big numbers. I'd love to fly home to watch protesters dump a million tea bags in Lafayette Square in Washington D.C, as the protest organizers say they will, according to a Washington Post story.

Imagine if we took that tea and, provided it was caffeinated, gave it to American workers. Think of the productivity we'd see on Tax Day!

Full Article »


Will Bright Hall Win a Pulitzer?

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Apr 8th 2009 2:48AM

Filed Under: Politics, Boston University, Media

First, to answer the question: Probably not -- but only because the Pulitzer Foundation refuses to accept blog entries.

Still, nobody knows for sure, because this year, the list of Pulitzer finalists has not been leaked. Usually, the chief of Editor & Publisher, Joe Strupp, names them on his media-focused website after Pulitzer jurors slip him the nominations anonymously. This lets journalists and readers debate over who they think deserves which prize for which scoop, and it can be fun.

Not this year. "They all shut their mouths," Strupp told Roy J. Harris Jr. on Romenesko. "It's the tightest it's been for leaks in years."

There's still about two weeks left until this year's best-in-journalism prizes are announced, and anyone and everyone is eligible. For those of you upset that March Madness is over and want to play some pick-'em games, that's what the "comments" section is for.

Here are some starters, brainstormed in the spirit of Joseph Pulitzer, a sensationalist yellow journalist who threw wild accusations around in his papers during the Spanish-American War:

Full Article »


Aaron Schock Adds Sex Appeal to Republican Party

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 7th 2009 10:19PM

Filed Under: Politics, Featured Stories, News, Media, Notre Dame

The Republican Party keeps getting sexier.

They've had an uphill battle. In the fall, John McCain had to compete with the sex appeal of Barack Obama (those abs!) and Joe Biden (those teeth!), but McCain proved he had more sexy in reserve than America has oil in reserve offshore when he introduced Sarah Palin (those legs!) as his running mate.

But Americans voted "Yes, we can" instead of "Drill, baby, drill," and Palin retreated back to Alaska, so the Republicans were left with a sexy deficit (except for when Palin family scandals pop up in the news once a week).

That deficit has been filled. Aaron Schock is in the House.

Of Representatives, that is. Schock represents Illinois' 18th District, and at 27, he is the youngest Member of Congress and the first to be born in the 1980s. He's not just a pretty face, hair and body. Not surprisingly, Schock is your typical over-achiever. He graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. with a B.S. in Finance, a four-year degree, in two years.

In his early teens, he began working after-school jobs and invested the money he made, making his first real estate purchase at age 18, according to his official House Web site. He entered public service by serving on the Peoria School board starting when he was 18 years old.

When he was 23, he was elected to the Illinois House, where he shared the 2007 award with then-Senator Barack Obama from the Illinois Committee for Honest Government for his "Outstanding Legislative and Constituent Service." He spoke at the 2008 National Republican Convention, and now that he is in Congress, he is sitting on three committees: the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Small Business Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He's also been named Deputy Republican Whip.

And, perhaps most notably, he's been named "hottest freshman in Congress" by the readers of the liberal blog site Huffington Post.

Full Article »


North Korea Launches Rocket, Prompts Famous 3 a.m. Phone Call

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 6th 2009 12:06AM

Filed Under: Politics, Breaking News, News, Media, Notre Dame

Hillary Clinton saw this coming.

President Barack Obama got his 3 a.m. phone call, albeit at 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning in Prague, Czech Republic, when North Korea launched a long-range rocket. That's a sudden way to remind someone that being president isn't all about the economy.

Last year, when Obama and Clinton were still vying for the Democratic nomination, Clinton put out an ad saying she was the best one to answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because she had the experience. Obama replied to her political advertisement with a nearly identical one that said he should answer the theoretical 3 a.m. phone call because he had better judgment.

The scenario became reality Sunday when North Korea launched the rocket they'd been threatening to launch for several weeks. The North Korean government said they had conducted a successful, peaceful launch of a satellite into orbit, CNN reported. But the United States and South Korea characterized the launch as a "provocative act" and said the rocket's payload failed to enter orbit, instead falling into the Pacific Ocean near Japan.

CNN quoted a State Department spokesman as saying the launch was in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea's weapons program, which prohibits the country from conducting ballistic missile-related activities.

Full Article »

What's Really Funny About Tribune's April Fools' Prank

Matt Negrin

Posted:  Apr 3rd 2009 3:11AM

Filed Under: Breaking News, Boston University, Media, The Economy

The bankrupt brains at Tribune Co. sure had a laugh Wednesday. After filing for bankruptcy, shrinking their papers' Washington bureaus and firing hundreds of employees across the country, Tribune thought it could make it all better with a joke.

So on April Fools' Day, they issued a press release -- accompanied by a mysteriously well-designed homepage -- that boasted the creation of something called the "Accelerator," some kind of super-communications thingy that threatens to make the Internet obsolete in a year. It uses nanotechnology, it displays holographs, it has voice recognition in every language, and it has a plutonium battery. All this (and so much more) is detailed on Tribune's release and website, which looks like it took hours, and maybe days, to perfect.

When crafting this prank, Tribune's idea men -- Sam Zell, Lee Abrams and Randy Michaels -- must have put a lot of effort into it, maybe even working overtime. Michaels, the chief operating officer, says in the fake news release that the Accelerator team "put in long hours, many of them sober. And this marvelous device is the result -- The Accelerator(TM) will mean billions in revenue, and the end of the extremely competitive advertising environment in which we've been operating."

Nobody laughed very hard upon reading this. And given Abrams's propensity for writing "think pieces" full of misspellings, ALL-CAPS DECLARATIONS and stream-of-consciousness ideas from a dream-like state, it's no surprise that the Tribune team made its highest priority for April 1 wiping out its website to promote a product that isn't real. (Abrams's style is not representative of the papers his company owns; in addition to not proofreading, he also doesn't check facts, which is evident in this January blast about a quote from Mariah Carey that she never said.)

Full Article »


Who's Leading the Republican Party?

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 2nd 2009 12:03AM

Filed Under: Politics, Media, Notre Dame

I'm rooting for Michael Steele.

Partly because the chairman of the Republican National Committee is the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, my home state. And because one time I saw him campaigning at my local grocery store, and he handed me a flyer, so I feel some sort of connection to him.

But mostly because the Republican Party needs a strong leader now that the Democrats are running the show in Washington. Let's bring back the two-party system.

Steele hasn't had a strong start. I was impressed when he tried to put conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh in his place, but Steele quickly backed down and praised the bombastic radio personality instead. He made another mistake when he contradicted the Republican stance on abortion a few weeks later.

But let's take a look at the other options for the Republican Party.

Full Article »

national newsculture

FOX News Launches FOX Nation

Kaitlynn Riely

Posted:  Apr 1st 2009 1:00AM

Filed Under: Culture, National News, Media, Notre Dame

Conservative commentators on FOX News may have argued against the election of Barack Obama during the campaign, but they can't deny that four -- or eight -- years of an Obama administration will be good for their business.

FOX News Channel, which has long been the No. 1 cable news operation, extended its lead over CNN and MSNBC in recent months, the New York Times reported. Bill O'Reilly's show, The O'Reilly Factor, reached a milestone in March of 100 consecutive months as the most popular program on cable news.

FOX recently launched a new Web site, The FOX Nation, which the AP described as a "Huffington Post-style" site, a reference to Arianna Huffington's left-leaning blog site.

Though FOX is a leader on television, it falls behind on the Internet, the AP said, with 16 million unique visitors in February compared with's 41 million viewers and's 36 million.

The new Web site features one of the most grandiose introductory letters ever posted on a Web site. The letter lauds America as the "city on a hill," and says FOX Nation is dedicated to the people of America who have made it great.

And I thought FOX Nation was just a way to boost traffic to their online product at a time when the government, particularly Obama and Democrats in Congress, are doing a lot of things to irk conservatives.

Of course, these are hard times, FOX Nation says, but Americans have always risen up to face challenges and will again.

"How, exactly, should we assure life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?" the letter says. "How do we perfect our union? How can we make certain that children of all races are fairly judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character?"

Full Article »

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