They told us in journalism school that it all boils down to the basic elements: who, what, when, where, why and how. But can something be considered newsworthy if one or more of the five “W’s” doesn’t immediately come into play?

Well, sort of. Take Christian, for example, the lion raised in London by two Englishmen, released back into the African wild at his entrance into adulthood. Christian’s reunion with his former owners in a poignant Internet video has touched the hearts of millions in the past month.

The catch? The events happened nearly 40 years ago.

It’s the when and the why. Why has this story been treated like a new, current event, when it is, in fact, decades old? Emotionally speaking, people love a good tearjerker that tugs at the heartstrings; Christian’s tale reaffirms that the bond between man and beast is closer than we think, and the differences between us and our animal brethren few. Plus, there’s always been a timeless quality to heartfelt tales. We know what the outcome will be, but we seek them out because they remind us of our vulnerabilities, our need for human connection and interaction. So, it doesn’t matter when they take place.

Rationalities aside, there’s another explanation. Technically – or rather, virally – speaking, part of the phenomenal YouTube success owes itself to the proliferation of “viral videos”: those little video tidbits posted online innocuously, randomly, only to become a surprise hit, literally, the world over. Think “Star Wars Kid” and all its variants. (By the end of last week, the Christian video generated over 20 million hits, not to mention the dozens of alternate videos made by other Internet users, and coverage on the “Today” show.)

The video clip of Christian’s reconnection with his caretakers was culled from a 1970s documentary titled “Christian, the Lion at World’s End.” But, because it is another unfortunate example of a thought-provoking movie that time has forgotten (at least at the hands and eyes of the mainstream), it is treated like new “news” when reintroduced to the light of day.

Personally, I think it is great when old, rare film gems are revived and embraced by a new generation. But is this an example of the public’s dependence on the media to present them with the aural, visual and literary, neatly and conveniently packaged, when people can dig deep and seek such stuff out themselves?

Christian’s story has been renewed thanks to the power of technology. But that shouldn’t prevent us from looking towards other areas of inspiration, even if it is a dusty book, old scratchy, out-of-print LP, or anything else not deemed popular at the moment.

After all, there has to be an old VHS copy of “Christian” somewhere at a video rental store that is catching someone’s eye right at this very moment.


Who says bloggers don’t get no respect? Well, there’s been no Rodney Dangerfield-ing going down at the Democratic National Convention in Denver this week, where, according to a story published on the Web, we – with a capital W.E. – bloggers are being taken very seriously in coverage of this election season’s event, going so far as to have provisions of a “bloggers lounge.”

So what does this all mean? If blogging, a medium just taking hold in the 2004 elections, can demand such authority and respect in 2008, imagine where it will be at for the 2012, and 2016, presidential elections.

Soon it won’t be the “new” media any longer … but “the” media. With a capital T.H.E.

These intrepid twin brothers share more than just a fraternal bond, but a zeal for eating, sleeping, and breathing photojournalism, particularly the kind that involves speeding down the freeway at all hours to get on video that aftermath of a gang shooting, car accident, or the like … in Los Angeles, no less.

The L.A. Times grabbed an interview with these unique media men. Read it here:,0,4479339.story

You’d think the organizers of a hackers’ conference would be a bit more understanding that one of their own hacked into a computer in the annual convention’s press room.

Think again. Three reporters working for a French Internet security publication were promptly escorted out of the proceedings for hacking into the private media’s computer system there this week.

Hackers wear the black hats in this setup. Hackees? Their security breaches are aired out for all to see on the conference’s “Wall of Sheep.”

Read more about it here:

It looks like reporters covering the Olympic games in Beijing have their work cut out for them. CNN reports that journalists overseas in Asia are experiencing a bit of techno-culture shock; apparently, Web resources are severely limited for them on account of the Chinese government’s objections to certain Internet content.

Authorities there, according to the report, have in place a computer filter system reporters jokingly refer to as the “Great Firewall.”

But it’s no joke to the powers-that-be, where the establishment of a so-called Internet Police still fosters the oppressive attitude of China’s lawmakers. For example, says the article,  journalists found restricted access to Web sites like Amnesty International, or anything with “Tibet” in the title.

It gets worse … even two Japanese reporters were assaulted by police for their troubles, prompting a surprising and rare apology from officials.

Read on:

BEIJING, China (CNN) — For many overseas reporters now in Beijing, covering the Summer Games has turned into an Olympian task.

We go through tedious security checkpoints to cover events and conduct interviews even as we deal with bureaucratic and linguistic barriers. But we face one particularly irritating issue: China’s limits on Internet access.

Despite Beijing’s earlier promise to allow open reporting and unfettered access to information, Internet access remains erratic and unpredictable. “It’s so counter-intuitive to find the Internet restricted, even if only selectively,” one western journalist told me in Beijing.

Last week, colleagues working in the Media Press Center faced a blank computer screen whenever they clicked on sites deemed sensitive to the Chinese authorities — like Amnesty International and Falun Gong.

That is attributed to China’s sophisticated filter system, also known as the “Great Firewall.”

Why the paranoia? Pro-democracy activists, as well as advocates for Tibet independence and the spiritual group Falun Gong, have Web sites carrying information and views that the Chinese authorities deem “subversive.”

These sites reinforce Beijing’s worst fears about cyberspace.

China has groomed “Internet police” to patrol its networks and is constantly upgrading software to filter sites. Under Chinese law, using the Internet to “harm national interests,” “spread rumors” or “leak state secrets” is punishable by stiff prison terms.

Journalists and politicians alike cried “foul” but other critics turned their criticism on the International Olympic Committee (IOC.)

When Beijing submitted its Olympic bid seven years ago, the Chinese promised: “There will be no restrictions on journalists in reporting on the Olympic Games.”

The U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which monitors human rights and rule of law issues in China, has compiled documents that show that International Olympic Committee agreements with the Chinese government, from the start, were based on abiding by China’s domestic laws.

Those laws, the commission says, give authorities a lot of “wiggle room” to define actions that might “endanger state security” or “disrupt social order.”

Chinese regulations, for example, include a “service guide” for the foreign media. That guide notes the regulations apply to “the coverage of the Beijing Olympic Games and the preparation as well as political, economic, social and cultural matters of China by foreign journalists, in conformity with Chinese laws and regulations.”

China’s “Provisions on the Technical Measures for the Protection of the Security of the Internet,” which went into effect in 2006, note the regulations are aimed at “promoting the sound and orderly development of the Internet and safeguarding the state security, social order and public interests.” Learn more how China monitors the Internet »

Last week, foreign journalists discovered Internet access to Web sites such as Amnesty International or sites with Tibet in the address were still restricted. After a media uproar, China seems to have relented.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said: “If there are some needs to adjust on the Chinese side, we will do that.” Amnesty International’s site, for example, has been accessible since August 1.

However, the site of Falun Gong remains taboo. Andrew Lih, a new media expert based in Beijing, says that “unblocked sites are still subject to the sophisticated keyword blocking system of the GFW (the Great Firewall of China.)”

China has also tightened its grip on other media sources. The English version of Time Out, the monthly listings and entertainment guide, has been told to close.

Freelance journalists are finding it hard to renew Chinese visas and accreditation for smaller, niche publications have become virtually impossible. Even a writer from Saveur, a food magazine, was denied a visa.

Last Tuesday, relations between journalists and Chinese authorities soured again after police in the frontier region of Xinjiang roughed up and detained two Japanese reporters who were sent to cover a suspected terrorist attack. They suffered minor injuries and their equipment damaged during the scuffle.

“This is utterly unacceptable any time,” says Jonathan Watts, president of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China. “It’s particularly reprehensible just days before the Olympics at a time when China has promised complete media freedom.”

The incident has prompted a rare apology from the local police, who also offered to pay for the damage and medical bills.