The calm after the storm

Blizzard Sunset
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Post-blizzard sunset over Cherry Hill in Beverly.

Winter storage

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Sailboats on the Beverly side of the Salem-Beverly Bridge, December 18, about 10 p.m.

A North Shore view of Irene

Fallen branch by the side of Route 127 in Beverly. Click on image for more photos.

Even though we weren’t hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene on the North Shore, I thought it would be fun to drive around and take some pictures this afternoon. Nothing too dramatic. I started in Danvers and made my way to Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea and Magnolia before heading home.

The ocean off the coast in Manchester and Magnolia was by far the most visually interesting. Just slightly inland there was little wind. But by the shore it was still strong, as seagulls literally flew in place against the air currents.

I shot some video, too, but since it wasn’t as good as this, I decided not to post it.

Old ethics and new media (VI)

Howard Owens, GateHouse Media’s director of digital publishing, has responded to YouTube’s decision to remove the Beverly Citizen’s controversial video of the “Horribles” parade.

According to Owens, YouTube acted after receiving a complaint from someone whose face was visible in the video. Apparently YouTube has a privacy policy under which it will take down a video at literally anyone’s request. Owens sums it up as follows:

We simply cannot allow YouTube, or any other business partner, to subvert our editorial independence. If YouTube wants to get in the game of hosting video for established news organizations — which it is doing — then it needs to respect the editorial judgment and independence of the news professionals in those organizations. If YouTube is unwilling be a true media partner, then, at least for GateHouse, we will need to seek alternative means of distribution of our videos.

Now, it’s easy enough to say that YouTube should act as a common carrier, similar to the phone company, and carry any traffic that comes its way, regardless of content. As a free-speech advocate, I would much prefer a policy like that.

But it’s not that simple. YouTube is successful in part because it does a good job of keeping out pornography and graphic violence. It’s the PG-13 nature of YouTube that makes it an attractive venue for media companies like GateHouse in the first place.

On the other hand, Owens is absolutely right that if the folks at YouTube are going to remove news videos arbitrarily, then there’s no way a news organization can do business with them.

I haven’t changed my mind about the video — I still would have edited it to remove the eight-foot-long penis and some of the more offensive signs. But that has to be the news organization’s call, not that of the service hosting the video.

I realize this post is entirely one-sided, and I hope YouTube has something to say. Soon.

Wednesday morning update: An unnamed YouTube spokeswoman tells the Boston Herald that the video was “inappropriate,” but leaves it at that.

Old ethics and new media (V)

Looks like GateHouse Media has taken matters into its own hands.

If you go to the Beverly Citizen’s “Horribles” parade story now, you’ll see that the video featuring the eight-foot-long water-spouting penis and the crude signs is back online.

The difference: The video is now hosted by Veoh Networks rather than YouTube.

Old ethics and new media (IV)

Anyone at GateHouse want to send along the reason that YouTube gave for removing the “Horribles” parade video? YouTube might be in the running for a 2009 Phoenix Muzzle Award if it took down the video because of its allegedly offensive content.

Old ethics and new media (III)

In a weird coda to the controversy over the Beverly Farms “Horribles” parade, a source has informed Media Nation that YouTube has removed the video. Have a look at the Beverly Citizen’s story. When you click on the video, you’ll receive a message that says, “We’re sorry, this video is no longer available.”

The GateHouse Media papers, like many smaller enterprises, uses YouTube as a free, easy-to-use publishing platform. Editors upload their videos to YouTube, then embed the code on their own sites. But it looks like publishers who wish to control their content are going to have to figure out a way to do it themselves.