Tag Archives: Journalism

News group serves up hidden costs of hamburgers

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An animated short produced by the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) that’s not afraid to address the climate-altering effect of cow farts may do more for the Meatless Monday campaign than any blundering by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. (Readers may recall that the USDA recently pulled the plug on an inter-office memo that suggested employees could cut their environmental impact by choosing vegetarian options once a week.)

“The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers“, which launched last week on the non-profit’s new I Files channel, takes a detailed look at the real price of cheap beef — and we’re not just talking about Americans’ ever-expanding waistlines. The video also explores the environmental and economic costs of raising cows for industrialized meat production in a country where the average person consumes three burgers a weeks. This fast-food nation, the piece also notes, chows down on three times more meat than any other country.

In its first week live, the video has been viewed more than 58,000 times. The cartoon on cows — which got picked up by outlets from “Marketplace” to Mother Jones — follows on from CIR’s previous animated short, the award-winning “The Price of Gas”.  A 7.5-minute short, “The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers,” combines entertainment and journalism to deliver an abstract, data-heavy subject for the YouTube crowd. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley will spend up to $50K after police chief blunder

BPD Chief Michael Meehan: two outside agencies have been hired by the city after a mistake he made on March 9
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The city of Berkeley has hired a public relations firm at a cost of $24,000 to review the police department’s media policies, bringing the price tag to $49,000 for Police Chief Michael Meehan’s decision to send a sergeant to a reporter’s home in the middle of the night to ask for a change to a story.

Cornerstone Communications, located in Irvine, will audit the police department’s policies on the release of information, make recommendations to ensure the department is following “best practices,” media guidelines, and train police personnel on changing media dynamics, on understanding social media, and media culture.

The firm will talk to police management and reporters who cover the police department, and assess the police department’s reputation in recent news coverage and social media space. The contract was signed on May 1. … Continue reading »

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Executive order stymies Daily Cal’s bid to get funding

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A bid by UC Berkeley’s ailing student newspaper, The Daily Californian, to source direct financial support from the university’s student body has been felled, following an eleventh-hour decision by student government group ASUC to make student voting on the issue void.

Vishalli Loomba, president of the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC), issued an executive order this morning invalidating an initiative on the 2012 ASUC general election ballot that asked students to support The Daily Californian, saying it violated UC policy.

The VOICE initiative, which called for students to agree to a $2/semester fee being added to their general fees, would have boosted the Daily Cal’s coffers by $93,800. The newspaper is struggling financially as it is facing a budget deficit of $200,000. … Continue reading »

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Daily Californian: Blank page might be harbinger of future

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The Daily Californian has been printing news about UC Berkeley and the Bay Area for 141 years.

But Tuesday’s edition is out of the ordinary: the top half of the front page, the area colloquially known as “above the fold,” has been left blank.

The deliberate lack of news is the staff’s way of calling attention to the paper’s budget deficit, and a not-so-subtle plea to ask students to vote today on a $2 a student subsidy. (Read Berkeleyside’s article on the situation.)

Tomar Ovadia, the Daily Cal’s editor in chief, penned an editorial explaining why the staff took this unusual step:

“For 141 years, this paper has been a regular fixture on campus, informing students of the most important issues affecting our community. … Continue reading »

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Michael Pollan: New food rules, but no need to be neurotic

Copyright (c) Maira Kalman 2011. Reprinted with permission from The Penguin Press from FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan.
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Sometimes a spoonful of sugar does, indeed, make the medicine go down. Though you won’t find that catchphrase in the just-released hardcover edition of Food RulesMichael Pollan‘s best-selling little eater’s manual.

Food Rules does sport the whimsical and witty illustrations of well-known artist Maira Kalman, however. And the new book also boasts 19 new rules — many gleaned from eaters around the country that Pollan wished he had thought of and included the first time around.

Take two is again full of commonsense kitchen wisdom such as If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re probably not hungry; and When you eat real food, you don’t need rules.

The takeaway message: food need not be complicated, and the act of eating is as much about pleasure and communion as it is about nutrition and health. In other words: lighten up a little and enjoy your dinner. … Continue reading »

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Diversity bake sale brings out protestors, choppers, media

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The helicopters flying over central Berkeley today were just one sign of the media frenzy that has surrounded the announcement by Cal College Republicans that they would hold an “Increase Diversity Bakesale,” to protest  a bill that permits consideration of race and economic status in university admissions.

The arrival of Ward Connerly, the former UC Regent who backed Proposition 209, which banned  affirmative action in university admissions in 1996, was another sign that dozens of cameras were nearby.

Connerly … Continue reading »

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Did Berkeleyside err publishing a nude photo?

Cyclists convene at People's Park before participating in the Naked Bike Ride Day. Photo: Robert Mills
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Berkeleyside set off a storm of controversy on Monday when it posted a video of a group of naked bicyclists riding through Berkeley.

The shot displayed on Berkeleyside’s front page showed a naked man’s genitals and a naked woman’s breasts.

A number of readers complained, saying the photo was offensive and unprofessional, and should not have been posted. Rather there should have been a link to the video or a less graphic photo displayed, they suggested.

When the Berkeleyside … Continue reading »

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Is the web skewing our world view? An author says yes

Eli Pariser Photo: jdlasica
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Eli Pariser calls himself an “online organizer and disorganizer,” and, as the former executive director of Berkeley’s MoveOn.org and founder of Avaaz.org, he’s had plenty of chances to use the web to encourage social change.

All that experience reaching out through the Internet led Pariser to start scrutinizing how we get our information.

He didn’t like what he saw.

As websites like Google and Facebook glean our personal likes and dislikes by analyzing our click-throughs, they have started to individualize search results according to our interests. That “filter bubble,” according to Pariser, means we are all getting a biased view of the world. Our attitudes are being reinforced by this “unique personalization.” … Continue reading »

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Are plastics good or bad? An author explains

Susan Freinkel
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When Susan Freinkel decided to write a book about plastic, she vowed to spend an entire day not touching the stuff. The plan lasted about ten seconds. After she woke up, she walked into the bathroom to use the toilet. She suddenly realized the seat was plastic, which meant she couldn’t sit down. Freinkel quickly changed plans. Instead of not touching plastic for a day, she would write down all the plastic things she touched in a day. The list came to 195 objects.

In recent years, plastic has gotten a bad rap, with some good reason. No one is happy about the giant garbage patches in the world’s oceans, or the six-pack rings that regularly lodge around wild animals. Yet plastics have also helped revolutionize medical care and other industries. Freinkel, a San Francisco author, explored the complexity of plastic in her just-released book,  Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. She will be talking about her findings tonight at Books, Inc on Fourth Street in Berkeley at 7:00 pm.

In Plastic, Frienkel uses eight plastic objects – the comb, the chair, the Frisbee, the IV bag, the Bic lighter, the grocery bag, the soda bottle, and the credit card – to explain the incredible popularity of the material, its benefits, and its downsides. It’s an important, yet entertaining, look at the issue. … Continue reading »

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Thousands of schools at risk during earthquake

The City Council currently meets in the Maudelle Shirek building but is looking for new meeting space.
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A team of California Watch reporters and researchers spent the last 19 months investigating how the state enforces the Field Act, a strict seismic safety law that is supposed to protect school children at public schools. California Watch is partnering with dozens of California newspapers, television stations, radio outlets, and websites, including Berkeleyside,  to distribute their findings. Berkeleyside will have a story about the hazards of the city’s schools later today.

Among the findings to be presented in California Watch’s three-part series:

  • At least 20,000 projects – from minor fire alarm upgrades to major construction of new classrooms – were completed without receiving a final safety certification required by law. A California Watch analysis determined that roughly six out of every 10 public schools in the state has at least one uncertified building project.
  • A separate state seismic inventory created nearly a decade ago shows more than 7,500 older school buildings as potentially dangerous. But restrictive rules have prevented schools from accessing a special $200 million fund for seismic repairs. Only two have tapped the money. The vast majority of the buildings remain unfixed, and the money unused. … Continue reading »
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Berkeley editor’s home vandalized for third time

Michael Lerner
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Hours after Tikkun magazine held a gathering to celebrate the magazine’s 25th anniversary, the house of the editor was vandalized.

Vandals plastered posters on the garage door of Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Cragmont Avenue home Tuesday night, according to Berkeley police.  The posters depicted pictures of a Nazi carrying away a Jew, according to a press release by Berkeley-based Tikkun Magazine.

“Lerner’s name is put on one of the Nazis and “Islamic extremists” is written on the other Nazi, and the innocent Jew is identified as the State of Israel,” said the release. “The perspective of the attackers is clear: “Rabbi Lerner is a Nazi assaulting Israel.”

This is the third incident of vandalism at Lerner’s home since March 2010. … Continue reading »

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Peggy Orenstein dissects girls’ passion for pink

Peggy Orenstein
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From her home in north Berkeley where she lives with her filmmaker husband Steven Okazaki and 7-year-old daughter Daisy, Peggy Orenstein has been opining for years for the New York Times magazine about the world of girls and feminism. Last week, her latest book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, was published and it is already climbing the bestseller list. (It will debut at #13 on the New York Times list Feb. 13) The book is both an expose of and meditation about the corporate push to market princesses and pink and early sexuality to young girls.

Orenstein just escaped the historic snows of Chicago (she got on the last plane leaving O’Hare on Tuesday) and is about to embark on the West Coast portion of her book tour. (She will be speaking Feb. 7 at St. John’s Church in Berkeley) Berkeleyside caught up with her to ask a few questions. … Continue reading »

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It’s in The New Yorker: God spotted in Berkeley

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At long last, the truth can be revealed: God has visited Berkeley. And apparently he is tall, broad-shouldered and six foot three. No word on his hair length.

This news of God’s appearance was revealed last week in the New Yorker’s Thanksgiving edition, in an article by Lauren Collins titled “Are You The Messiah?”

Apparently, a Scottish man named Benjamin Creme, who heads up Share International, a London-based religious organization with acolytes around the world, has been predicting … Continue reading »

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