Statue Of Liberty Went Dark, But Just Why Was It So Symbolic?

(PCM) How is this for irony? On the eve of International Women’s Day one of the most famous landmarks in the U.S., the Statue Of Liberty went dark for a period of nearly two hours. Lady Liberty stands as a symbol of both freedom and acceptance and immediately social media was ablaze with commentary about the symbolism behind the statue losing her light.

While the National Park service claims that what occurred was an “unplanned power outage” due to repair work that was being done in the area, it didn’t stop the internet from feeling that it was definitely a strange coincidence. The timing of the “power outage” occurred just shortly before the “A Day Without A Woman” campaign in support of International Woman’s Day was set to launch.

The “A Day Without A Woman” campaign calls for a general strike of female employees across the nation. According to Jezebel.com, the organizers say the strike is to recognize, “the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system—while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity.”

Many were joking that the Statue of Liberty was showing her solidarity to the movement! We suppose you could look at it that way or maybe it actually was nothing more that a oddly timed coincidence. Either way it was definitely a sight to see and not something that occurs very often!

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Exclusive Interview! Author Larry Atkins’ Book “Skewed” Helps Us Understand Media Bias!

(PCM) When Larry Atkins set out to write about media bias in “Skewed,” he did not realize just how important, and timely, his book would become amid the current complicated political climate.

“Skewed: A Critical Thinker’s Guide to Media Bias,” (Prometheus) has been a labor of love from this established journalist, attorney and Philadelphia-area journalism professor.

In “Skewed,” Atkins, a longtime adjunct professor of journalism at Temple University, Montgomery County Community College and Arcadia University, lays out the difference between “neutral and balanced” news and advocacy journalism. He highlights the urgency for media consumers to recognize this difference.

Atkins has written more than 400 articles, op-eds, and essays for noted publications, including The Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sun, the Christian Science Monitor, the Los Angeles Daily News, the Dallas Morning News, the Huffington Post, the Washington Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The book “Skewed” is timely, given the current and ongoing debate over “fake news” versus reputable journalism. Atkins’ concern is that advocacy journalism — “a type of reporting in which the reporter gives an opinion or point of view and uses stories to advance an agenda,” — is tearing America apart.

He said that he wrote his new book, which is gaining great attention during the media frenzy surrounding the Trump Administration, because of his long interest in journalism, and “the increase of advocacy, agenda driven journalism like Fox News, MSNBC, conservative talk radio, and liberal and conservative websites has arisen substantially in the last 25 years. “

Atkins was struck by the fact that “these media outlets don’t lie or misrepresent information, but they have a clear bias, agenda, or slant, and cherry pick facts, statistics, and expert quotes that bolster their own opinion,” he added. “I’ve been teaching journalism for around 12 years, and one of the topics that the students tend to be most interested in is the topic of media bias and advocacy journalism.”

In a media landscape dominated by advocacy news networks pushing competing points of view, Atkins wants to help the average viewer/reader uncover the truth about any particular issue. His book will show readers how to separate the facts from the agenda-driven spin and selective presentation, often used by such news sources as Fox and MSNBC.

“Skewed” gives readers the tools to critique the media, to see both sides of any issue, and to become better informed citizens and voters.

PCM: What was the biggest surprise or revelation in writing your new book?

LARRY ATKINS: I was aware of the concept of news literacy and media literacy, but I was surprised that it has developed into a major area of study in universities and that there are many media literacy organizations that are trying to raise awareness about the importance of being a savvy news consumer. There are efforts to bring this education to K-12 schools, and I think that this is a good thing that should be even more prevalent.

PCM: What do you want people to learn from the book?

LA: It’s important for all of us, as news consumers, to be critical thinkers as we receive news. Be skeptical at first, and confirm information you receive by checking several sources. Break out of your echo chambers, meaning that if you’re liberal, in addition to watching MSNBC and reading the New York Times Editorial page, also watch Fox News and listen to conservative talk radio. Likewise, if you’re conservative, in addition to watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh, also read Salon.com and watch MSNBC. Also be careful about relying on information that you get from friends and family from social media, especially in light of recent hoaxes and fake news.

PCM: Why is it especially pertinent in today’s national and world events?

LA: As evidenced by the 2016 presidential election, our country is highly polarized. Advocacy journalism outlets tend to enhance that polarization. Most people tend to go to news outlets that confirm their own opinions and biases. We live in our own echo chamber bubbles and aren’t exposed to what the other side is saying.

PCM: Please tell me about the journey of the book?

LA: I proposed my idea to my agent, Maryann Karinch, when I met her at the Philadelphia Writers Conference a little more than two years ago. She was extremely enthused about the project and thought it would be timely for the upcoming Presidential election. After I developed my book proposal, it took about a year before I got a book contract in August 2015 with Prometheus Books. Since I usually teach around five or six courses per semester, it was a challenge to simultaneously teach and do the research and writing of the book. I had to get up pretty much each day at around 5:30 a.m. to work on the book, even on weekends. It was important to me that I interview many experts for the book. I was able to get 18 experts in journalism, politics, and media literacy to give me quotes.

PCM: Tell me the reaction from readers at book signings so far?

LA: The signings and appearances have gone very well. At some of my signings, I’ve seen people from high school that I haven’t seen for more than 35 years. It’s been nice to see family and friends at my events, but I also enjoy meeting new people there. I try to have interactive discussions during my book signing lectures, and people have very strong opinions on the topic. The book has received mostly positive reviews on Goodreads and Amazon.com.

PCM: What surprised you about teaching college journalism students in the present day?

LA: I was surprised at how many students tend to rely on sources that aren’t very reliable, such as obscure websites. Each semester I need to emphasize the importance of relying on respected major news sources, government websites, university websites, and peer reviewed journals.

PCM: What does it mean to the relevance of your book with the current tug-of-war going on between President Trump and the media?

LA: I think my book is even more relevant during the Trump Administration and in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Media bias, fake news, and advocacy journalism has been a huge issue during the last year and will continue to be discussed and debated. Now, more than ever, people need to pay attention to source credibility and whether a media outlet has a specific agenda. It’s important for the mainstream media to continue to do their job as a watchdog on the Trump administration, even though negative stories and articles will be brushed off and criticized by the Administration as being untrustworthy.

The post Exclusive Interview! Author Larry Atkins’ Book “Skewed” Helps Us Understand Media Bias! also appeared on PCM Lifestyle.

Did TIME Magazine Throw Shade At Donald Trump With ‘Person Of The Year’ Cover?

(PCM) It was recently revealed that President-Elect Donald Trump has nabbed the cover of TIME magazine’s 2016 “Person Of The Year” cover, however it is the way that he is depicted on the actual cover that has conspiracy theorists collectively losing their minds.

After taking a long hard look at the cover it appears that the placement of the letter “M” in the magazine’s title appears to resemble a pair of devil horns strategically placed directly on top of Donald Trumps head. Now the internet is a abuzz with everything from Illuminati theories to theories that TIME magazine did it purposefully to throw shade in Trump’s direction.

TIME is claiming that the cover photo incident is purely coincidental, however others say there is no way this is a coincidence as so much time and effort go into making sure that all the details of a cover shoot are absolutely perfect. The use of photoshop would allow the graphic designers in charge of putting together the cover to slightly adjust the image on the cover slightly to the left or right so that the devil horns would not appear so strategically placed.

Those facts certainly lead one to believe that it was not an innocent accident on behalf of the TIME magazine photo editors.  TIME is still defending the cover and cites 35 other times that the cover of their publication appeared to give celebrities devil horns. Let the debate commence!  

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Introducing Tater And Tot! The Pair Of Turkeys Pardoned By President Obama For Thanksgiving

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(PCM) One of the more odd Thanksgiving traditions is the annual pardoning of the turkeys by the President of the United States. It is said that the tradition dates back to President Abraham Lincoln back in 1863 when according to a White House dispatch report he showed clemency to a turkey in the year of 1865. Others claim that the annual turkey pardon first occurred officially occurred with President Harry S. Truman, as he was one of the first President’s to receive the gift of a turkey from a local farmer, however the Truman Library and Museum disputes this claim as they say there is no record of Truman ever officially pardoning a bird. 

The first use of the word “pardon” to describe a President showing reprieve to a turkey was when President John F. Kennedy was presented with a turkey and used the phrase “Let’s keep him going”. The actual pardoning ceremony began in 1989 with President George H.W. Bush, when after dealing with animal rights activists when he was presented with the bird and made the decision to keep the turkey off his holiday dinner table. He felt the bird look nervous and he is quoted as saying “Let me assure you, and this fine tom turkey, that he will not end up on anyone’s dinner table, not this guy. He’s granted a presidential pardon as of right now.”

From then on the tradition of the annual pardoning of the turkeys continued. This year, Tater and Tot are the two turkeys that will be pardoned by President Obama for Thanksgiving. The two birds will now get to live out the rest of their days at “Gobbler’s Rest” which is a farm in Blacksburg, Virginia. The White House jokingly made profiles for both Tater and Tot which were posted on the official White House Twitter account. 

While both turkeys will be officially pardoned the White House is also conducting a fun poll to see which turkey will officially be named the “National Thanksgiving Turkey”.  So far team Tot is in the lead! According to WhiteHouse.gov, the tradition of pardoning two turkeys instead of one started when Sasha and Malia begged their dad to spare both birds during his first turkey pardon back in 2009. Since then, he has spared many pairs of turkeys who have been adorably named Apple and Cider, Mac and Cheese, and Carmel and Popcorn.

 

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Did The Cast Of Broadway’s ‘Hamilton’ Go Too Far In Calling Out Vice President Elect Mike Pence?

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(PCM) The cast of Broadway’s “Hamilton” recently stirred up quite a bit of controversy when they made the decision to call out Vice President elect Mike Pence, who was attending a performance, on some issues they had regarding his election platforms. When Pence first entered the theater there was a mixture of both cheers and jeers, but that is not that surprising, however many feel that Pence should not have been put on the spot in such a way.

During curtain call perform Brandon Victor Dixon (who plays Aaron Burr in the show) noticed that Pence was about to make his exit from the theater and stopped him with a message from the cast. Dixon explained to Pence that the cast of “Hamilton” represents a very diverse group of individuals that tell this particular American story. He reiterated that they were alarmed by the income administration, people of all colors, creeds, and orientations—and urged him to uphold their “inalienable rights.”

Many felt that this was neither the time nor the place for Pence to be called-out, so to say, on these types of issues, while others feel that the “Hamilton” cast took a brave step exercising their right to free speech. Dixon told Broadway.com,”It was a message from the producers the creative and the cast. If you have differences, say something! What better place than on this stage telling this story with these people? I hope he thinks of us every time he has to deal with an issue or talk about a bill or present anything.” On the other hand, it is hard to even begin to imagine what Pence much have felt like in that moment, as it could be viewed as a form of public harassment. 

President-Elect Trump was not pleased by the entire ordeal and took to his Twitter account to urge the “Hamilton” cast to issue an apology to Mike Pence. Some Trump supporters were even calling for a boycott of the “Hamilton” show.  Pence himself released a statement saying “I know this is a very disappointing time for people that did not see their candidate win in this national election. I know that this is a very anxious time for some people. My daughter and I and her cousins really enjoyed the show. Hamilton is just an incredible production and incredibly talented people. It was a real joy to be there.” He also went on to say that he “wasn’t offended” by the cast’s statement at the curtain call, or the audience’s booing as he entered the theater: “I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like”. 

“Hamilton” actor Dixon appeared on CBS This Morning to further address some of the controversy saying there was nothing to apologize for and the statement was important to them and they wanted it. He further commented “Art is meant to bring people together, it’s meant to raise consciousness. And when you have a platform…I told [Hamilton producer] Jeffrey Seller after the show, I said, ‘I applaud you all for not throwing away your shot, for taking a moment to spread your message of love and unity.” They have also invited President-Elect Trump out to see a show, as they feel it is truly important for everyone to see a show like theirs, as it’s power in truly undeniable. Sounds great, if we could ever find tickets!!  

Do you think that the cast and crew of “Hamilton” went too far by putting Vice President-Elect Mike Pence on the spot, especially in front of his children and loved ones?  Or do you feel that the cast of “Hamilton” used their platform wisely to get a point across?  

 

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Everyone Agrees That This Political Ad Is The Best Of Election Season

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(PCM) For once both Republicans and Democrats can agree that this re-election ad for Republican Gerald Daugherty for the position of Travis County commissioner in Texas is the best they’ve ever seen. It is absolutely hilarious and Daugherty’s wife Charlyn completely steals the show!

Gerald Daugherty is the current commissioner of Travis County and he would very much like to stay in his current position. When viewing the video we also learn that his wife Charlyn also, REALLY, REALLY wants him to keep his position as well! She hilariously shows just what life would consist of by having him stuck around the house all day long.

It is about time that we see someone making light of election season and whoever put together this ad is nothing short of pure genius. We think rather than candidates slinging mud at one another in political ad’s we need to see more candidates taking the higher road approach and adding a bit of humor and raw honesty. Those types of ad’s are certainly way more memorable, so major props to the Gerald Daugherty campaign for a smash hit!

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