Passport

Anonymous is entering the news business

 

Anonymous, the hacktivist movement meant to simultaneously be the voice of everyone and no one, is getting a bit more institutionalized. How? They're starting a news organization: Your Anon News, a.k.a. YAN.  

On Wednesday, YAN's indiegogo campaign came to a close having raised $54,668, well over the intended goal of $2,000. Claiming to be tired of Twitter and Tumblr, "they" (a select unknown group staking a claim to the mask) want to create a media site to support independent journalists instead of just aggregating the news (the money raised this week will go to expenses like web hosting fees).

We will engineer a new website which will allow us to collect breaking reports and blog postings from the best independent reporters online. We'll provide feeds for citizen journalists who livestream events as they are taking place, instead of the 10-second sound bites provided by the corporate media. Likewise, we know it would be beneficial to our followers to exist as a community beyond simple social media interactions. Many people have asked us to establish a site that accomplishes all of this and we've decided it's time we build it.

A noble mission statement. But it raises the question: How will Anonymous remain true to nature and serve as a news organization at the same time? 

If, for example, Anonymous is going to devote time and resources to becoming a news organization, it will need to embrace some level of top-down decision-making about its coverage -- an approach that seems highly antithetical to the decentralized dogma that the movement preaches. What stories will it pay attention to? Whose voices will be heard?

For a sample of what we can expect, here's a snapshot from several hours ago of YAN's Twitter feed, which ironically focused on the very breaking news -- the West, Texas explosion, the frantic search for suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, House approval of a controversial cybersecurity bill  -- that the mainstream media was tracking on Thursday (the feeds contains more links than you might expect to the "corporate media"). 

 

At one point today, another Twitter feed simply called "Anonymous" called YAN out for lacking evidence in its assertion that there were private military forces at the Boston Marathon.

 

 

With no apparent use of independent media, little coverage of underreported stories, and speculation worthy of the New York Post, welcome to the brave new world of Anonymous news.

Passport

What prisoners at Gitmo are reading

New York Times reporter Charlie Savage recently traveled to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to cover the violent raid at the prison earlier this week. But Savage did more on his visit than just interview prison officials: On April 17, he posted his first photo of the Gitmo library to his new Tumblr blog.

The simple and fascinating blog, "Guantanamo prison library books for detainees," gives us a look at some of what's available (Savage admittedly focused on English-language sections) for the detainees to read during their leisure time. The photos display a range of options, from texts in Arabic and French to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Lois Lowry's dystopian children's novel The Giver.

Here are a few of the most striking photos Savage took.

Think this is a prisoner favorite?

Star Trek, Robinson Crusoe, and (lots of) David Copperfield:

And Larsson, next to le Carré, next to Lee:

Or how about this one, contributed by Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald:

Other notable works in the collection include seven copies of Pearl S. Buck's The Good Earth, nine copies of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, an Alice in Wonderland, the Harry Potter collection, and several Pashto-English dictionaries.

Strangely, six hours ago, Savage noted on Twitter that his Tumblr blog had been blocked by Gitmo web censors, meaning that nobody on the premises could see the photos he took. The reason given, according to Savage, was "Forbidden Category "Adult/Mature Content." This seems bizarre: If the prisoners want to delve into the more "mature" parts of The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, they don't need Savage's blog -- they can just walk down the hall.

All photos by/courtesy of Charlie Savage: http://gitmobooks.tumblr.com and @Charlie_Savage