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Author: asciutto

Starving for Hope in Los Angeles County

On a crisp November morning in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park, dozens of scattered bodies stir to life. Woken by families setting up picnics and the whistles of tamale vendors, the homeless rise from beds of dirt with aching stomachs. A new morning has arrived with hunger, along with the fear that another day will pass without a hot meal. Kara Smith, a 25-year-old Westlake apartment manager, is doing her best to feed them a little hope. One Sunday a month, she organizes a free community meal in the park. Volunteers come from across LA County and beyond to serve platters…

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LA police department uses “Chinese Twitter” to boost civic engagement

USC Annenberg’s hyperlocal, trilingual news site Alhambra Source launched a groundbreaking social media partnership with the Alhambra Police Department earlier this month. Using Weibo, a Chinese-language micro-blogging site often compared to Twitter, the agency created a digital platform through which the San Gabriel Valley community’s large Chinese immigrant population can interact with city officials. “The long-term goal is to help the Alhambra Police Department establish something to help more Chinese immigrants, especially the newer ones, become more assimilated and engaged in the civil process,” said Walter Ma, an Alhambra Source community contributor. To read the full article, click here.  

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USC Annenberg professor comments on GTA V release

Ed. Note: Communication Professor Dmitri Williams is an expert on the social and economic impacts of new media and video games. Below, Williams spoke with us about this week’s record-breaking release of “Grand Theft Auto V” and his work with startup Ninja Metrics. Asciutto: “Grand Theft Auto V” released Tuesday to a record first-day sale of more than $800 million. What about this specific game caused it to steamroll its way into the history books? Williams: GTA is the “Star Wars” of video games. The developers could roll out of bed and their next game would make a fortune. Having said that, this is a studio…

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Run

I put on my shoes and started south down my block, blasting “Enema of the State” to drown out the lull of helicopters and sirens. I sprinted and let it all out of me. I ran from my pitchless stories, my guilt and fears. I ran from my indecisiveness, my apathy and self-inflicted wounds. I ran until my back ached and my legs couldn’t take it anymore, then I stopped. The forgotten on Jefferson, packing their carts with bottles from the lavanderia. Two gordidos, no older than 7, scooting down Raymond on skateboards, their mothers watching from inside barricades of…

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Why Americans aren’t revolting: Government owns the media

Marty Kaplan, director of USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center, appeared on Moyers & Company to explain why Americans aren’t following the path of Brazilians to seek political reform. “We have unemployment and hunger and crumbling infrastructure and a tax system of whack and a corrupt political system,” he said. “Why are we not also taking to the streets is the question.” Kaplan said that present-day American journalism’s focus on “infotainment” distracts the public from paying attention to issues of high national importance. “The stuff that is being reported on the news tends not to be the kind of stuff that we need to…

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Traveling the South Pacific

It’s taken me a few days to sit down to write. When you realize the end of a life-changing journey has arrived, it’s difficult to digest. The people with whom I’ve shared some of the highest and lowest moments of my young life will be out of the picture in five days. “Temporary” goodbyes become more permanent with each passing day, and promises to stay in touch prove to be nothing more than coping mechanisms to dull the pain of the present fading into the past. This is where I now stand. I am lucky to have spent the past week…

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Media Education in the South Pacific: Problems Facing the Industry

The South Pacific, rich in cultural, linguistic, political and socioeconomic diversity, is home to an incredibly complex media landscape. Though well-established in New Zealand and Australia, the media industry is continuously evolving to meet the challenges of national development and political instability throughout the Pacific Islands. Across the board, insufficient resources, government restrictions and a deficiency of formally trained journalists plague regional media. “Criticism in the region focuses on lack of professional training of journalists, poor educational standards, lack of knowledge of the political and social institutions, cultural insensitivities, and a questionable grasp of ethical issues,” wrote Professor David Robie,…

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NZ Trade Mission to PNG Highlights Economic Growth Between the Pacific Nations

A group of 30 New Zealand representatives with public- and private-sector interests is visiting Papua New Guinea for a week-long trade mission. For the fifth time in the last two years, the New Zealand Papua New Guinea Business Council has organised a mission that reflects the growing economic relationship between the Pacific nations. This delegation — a joint venture between the NZPNG Business Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise — will largely focus on infrastructural development. Read more here.

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Censorship and press regulations in the Pacific

Across the Pacific, advocates of media freedom hosted many World Press Freedom Day celebrations this year. Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands were among the countries to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the UNESCO event on May 3, which focuses upon securing freedom of expression in all forms of media. According to UNESCO, more than 600 journalists have been killed globally in the last decade — 121 died last year alone. “All these journalists had one thing in common,” says Tim McBride, deputy chair of New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO communications sub-commission. “They…

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Letting the world change you

It’s always difficult to come home from a vacation, especially when you’ve got mounds of work to finish. I suppose my last act of procrastination, and the last leg of my holiday, will be here at the keyboard recounting my week in the South Island of New Zealand. On the 23 of April, a group of us set out from Auckland to Queenstown at 4 AM. The misery of that bus ride is indescribable. When you get into Queenstown, you’re greeted by this tiny city surrounded by breathtaking mountains and lakes. It’s small, pretty squared off but packed with restaurants,…

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