Monday, March 2, 2015

Family of Woman Film Festival: #chicagoGirl

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 10:13 AM

Ala'a Basatneh: "I'm always online." - MARCIA FRANKLIN
  • Marcia Franklin
  • Ala'a Basatneh: "I'm always online."
Ala’a Basatneh didn’t do much sightseeing during her visit to Sun Valley this past weekend. Rather, the 22-year old used all her spare time doing what she does almost every hour of every day: checking social media for the latest on the civil war in Syria.

“I’m always online. Always. I wake up in the middle of the night and check on my accounts and I go back to sleep. It’s just nonstop,” she says.

But Basatneh, the focus of the documentary #chicagoGirl, which screened Feb. 28 at the Family of Women Film Festival in Sun Valley, doesn’t just monitor the situation in the country where she was born. From a suburb of Chicago, she also coordinates rallies by anti-regime activists in Syria and sends video of the protests, as well as footage of human rights violations, to media outlets all over the world.

It’s a life documented by director Joe Piscatella, and it’s one that has taken on increased urgency with the actions of the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), which has grown since #chicagoGirl was finished.

Basatneh said the brutality of the group has drawn attention away from the mission of the original revolutionaries she supports, who want to see the downfall of President Bashar al-Assad.

“Because the media finds the story of ISIS sexier, and all they’re covering is ISIS, activists like me and expatriates have to double up their work,” she said. “We have to work harder and longer hours online to spread awareness and to show that as we speak right now there are TNT barrel bombs dropping on top of civilian neighborhoods.”

Basatneh can’t forget the images she’s seen on clandestinely uploaded videos, including one recently of a boy eating cardboard boxes because he was starving. She sent the footage to news outlets, but it wasn’t carried.

“And then a couple weeks later, I get a message from one of the activists that the kid was sniped and killed,” she said. “So he’s dead. And the world is going just day by day, not acting. It’s depressing. But I don’t let it bring me down. Because if I stop, and every expatriate stops, and every activist stops, then we are betraying the blood of the people that died.”

She wishes the international community would do something, whether that be boots on the ground or enforcing a no-fly zone. Any action, she maintains, would help the rest of the world in the long run.

“We don’t want to see the chaos and the extremism from ISIS in our backyard. So by helping the Syrian people, we’re actually helping ourselves; we’re helping Europe,” she said.

In the documentary, Basatneh is shown briefly visiting Syria, which her parents left in 1992. She went one other time, but can’t go back until the country is safer.

“Not only have I gotten threats from the Syrian regime, but now I have threats from the extremist groups” like ISIS, she said. “Through activists, they sent me verbal messages that if I were to go back to Syria, “not good” things would happen to me.”

The name of the film, #chicagoGirl, came from an online threat Basatneh received.

To the young girls now joining ISIS, she would say, “Seek help and try to talk to family members about it. Syrian people and girls their age are struggling for freedom. They should be on the right side of history.”

Basatneh hopes more people will see #chicagoGirl and realize that the Syrian people are the ultimate victims of the civil war.

“I love the film. I love it,” she said. “And I want the children of the martyrs and children of the victims and the activists that died 20 years from now to see this documentary and think, “Oh, my God, my dad and my mom have suffered so much for me to live in such a free country and a democratic country.'”

For her part, Basatneh wants to use her freedom to get a Masters in international human rights and work for a global agency helping children.

“Since I was very little, my dad always said that the greatest weapon I could have is a degree,” she said.

She believes that in the end, Syrians will live in peace. 

“We’re walking in a very dark tunnel, but at the end of the tunnel we see the light," Basatneh said. "We just don’t know how long that tunnel is."

Ala'a Basatneh: "We have to work harder and longer hours online to spread awareness." - MARCIA FRANKLIN
  • Marcia Franklin
  • Ala'a Basatneh: "We have to work harder and longer hours online to spread awareness."

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Video: Where in Idaho Can You See 'The Interview' on Christmas Day?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 24, 2014 at 10:18 AM

It's not expected to be the best film of the year—not by a long shot—but it has certainly become the most talked-about movie of 2014. The Interview, which triggered an international incident that sucked in everyone from the president of the United States and the FBI to the U.S. State Department, will indeed be shown in a select number of cinemas on Christmas Day.

The Interview, starring James Franco and Seth Rogen as journalists who assassinate North Korean despot Kim Jong-un, was initially slated to open on tens of thousands of screens on Dec. 25. But after a massive cyberattack on the Sony Corporation and multiple threats led U.S. movie theater chains to pull the R-rated film, Sony relented earlier this week, saying several hundred theaters would instead show the movie.

Here in Idaho, The Interview is slated to screen at the Village Cinema in Meridian, Magic Valley Cinema 13 in Twin Falls and the Bonner Mall Cinemas in Ponderay.

The Verge website was the first to report that select theaters would show The Interview, and published a list of cinemas that are planning to screen the film.

CNN reported this morning that YouTube has tentatively agreed to distribute The Interview on its website on Christmas Day, but the deal was not exclusive, meaning the film is expected to surface on several video-on-demand platforms over the holiday period.
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

North Idaho Media Conglomerate Announces Departure of Longtime Publisher

Posted By on Wed, Dec 10, 2014 at 9:23 AM

  • Hagadone Corporation
The North Idaho media landscape is experiencing a major change this week as the Hagadone Corporation announced Dec. 10 that longtime publisher David Keyes would be leaving the company to “pursue other opportunities.”

Keyes, who had come up through the company as a reporter and editor, was publisher of the Bonner County Daily Bee, Bonners Ferry Herald and Priest River Times since 2000.

“It is hard giving up the best job in the world,” Keyes wrote in a Facebook post on the evening of Dec. 9, “and as I look back at 28 years of newspapering (and interneting!?!) in North Idaho I have nothing but positive memories of tremendous, bright and hard-working co-workers and the thousands of people I have met.”

Jim McKiernan, of Moses Lake, Wash., has been tapped to replace Keyes. McKiernan owned and published the Snoqualmie Valley Record in Snoqualmie, Wash., from 1996-2008 and worked short stints as advertising director for the Columbia Basin Herald and Idaho State Journal. Most recently he worked in agricultural sales and construction.

“Jim is a great leader and comes with a strong marketing background. Having owned and operated his own newspapers in the past he understands what it takes to produce the complete multimedia newspaper product,” stated Hagadone Communications President Brad Hagadone* in an announcement published by the Hagadone-owned Coeur d’Alene Press.

"A newspaper is no longer just a newspaper, we have to become a media and marketing franchise. School and sports news, community information, visitor information and breaking news need to be constant, unbiased and complete," McKiernan stated in the announcement.

The Coeur d'Alene-based hospitality, marketing and publishing company owns publications in Hawaii, Montana, Washington and Wisconsin, as well as daily and weekly papers in Coeur d'Alene, Kellogg, Sandpoint, Priest River and Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Keyes could not immediately be reached for further comment.

(*No direct relation to this author.)
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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Andrus Center Conference on Women and Leadership Now Available on Podcast

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 12:06 PM

(Left) Olympic swimmer Mike Bruner, Karen Crouse and coach Bill Rose holding the eighth-grade magazine project that launched Crouse's life of writing. (Right) Crouse, and her signature pants, in Boise. - DOUG MILLS, THE NEW YORK TIMES/HARRISON BERRY
  • Doug Mills, The New York Times/Harrison Berry
  • (Left) Olympic swimmer Mike Bruner, Karen Crouse and coach Bill Rose holding the eighth-grade magazine project that launched Crouse's life of writing. (Right) Crouse, and her signature pants, in Boise.

If you missed the Conference on Women and Leadership at Boise State University in September, the Andrus Center has your fix.

The Andrus Center has put key moments from the conference onto podcasts, which are available on the Andrus iTunes channel

From the audience singing along with Morgan Stanley Vice Chair and Managing Director Carla Harris to former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor roasting moderator David Adler, good times were had at the conference, but also insights into sexism in the workplace and the emerging culture of women in positions of power.

During the conference, Boise Weekly got a chance to sit down with New York Times sports reporter Karen Crouse, who discussed male-only sports clubs, how to write about sports that appeals to women, humanizing athletes and why she sometimes wears "crazy pants."

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

AP: Balukoff Outspending Otter on TV Ads

Posted By on Wed, Sep 24, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Democratic contender for governor A.J. Balukoff has outspent incumbent Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter on television ads, Kimberlee Kruesi of the Associated Press reports.

The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity released an analysis of political television ads Wednesday that concluded that Balukoff had spend more than $500,000 on some 2,800 statewide television advertisements by Sept. 8. During the same period, Otter spent almost $121,000 on more than 500 political television ads.

The analysis determined that the ads have not attacked the candidates' opponents. The report did not include information about radio, online or direct mail ads, nor did it include information about money spent on local cable channels or production costs, and full political ad spending may be much higher for both candidates. 

According to the report, spending on television ads is sharply higher this campaign season than it was in 2010, when Idaho gubernatorial candidates spent a total of $161,440 for 1,391 ads.
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Idaho Statesman Reporter Dan Popkey Joins Raul Labrador's Office as Press Secretary

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Former longtime Statesman reporter Dan Popkey, shown here discussing the Legislature at a 2011 meeting of the City Club of Boise. - CITY CLUB OF BOISE VIA FACEBOOK
  • City Club of Boise via Facebook
  • Former longtime Statesman reporter Dan Popkey, shown here discussing the Legislature at a 2011 meeting of the City Club of Boise.

For nearly 30 years reporter Dan Popkey has been pounding the streets of Boise and haunting the halls of the Statehouse, covering politics and the Legislature for the Idaho Statesman. That career started on the police beat, but led him to such high-profile stories as the sex scandal surrounding former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig—which earned him a Pulitzer nomination in 2007—and, more recently, taking on a larger role as a commentator on Idaho politics.

According to an announcement from Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador's office Aug. 29, Popkey, 55, is moving on from the Statesman to serve as press secretary for the Republican House member, known for frequent appearances on national television programs. As of July 6, Labrador has appeared nine times on NBC's Meet the Press.

Making note of Popkey's long experience as an observer of state politics, Labrador stated that "Dan will help me better communicate my message to constituents and the media."

For his part, Popkey applauded Labrador's "independence, integrity and fierce commitment to setting our nation's fiscal house in order," and said he is "thrilled with the opportunity to apply what I've learned to help advance our state's priorities in Washington."

Popkey will remain in Idaho, running Labrador's national press operations from the congressman's office in Meridian. According to the Statesman, Popkey's resignation from the paper is effective immediately.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Atlantic Gives BW Some Link-Love on Ag-Gag Reporting

Posted By on Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 4:38 PM

  • Adam Rosenlund

In the weeks since Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed SB 1337—the controversialALEC-inspired "ag-gag" bill—into law, the rest of the country has responded with shock, culminating in a multi-party lawsuit filed against Otter and Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden on March 17.

Boise Weekly has been doggedly covering the issues of food safety and animal treatment in Idaho agricultural for years before "ag-gag" started grabbing headlines, and national magazine The Atlantic has taken notice.

In a piece posted today on the magazine's website (and one posted March 12 on The Week), writer Andrew Cohen referenced BW's 2011 award-winning investigation into antibiotic use at Idaho dairies, as well as our 2012 report on animal abuse occurring at Bettencourt Dairies in Hansen.

"It was this investigative work that caused one concerned lawmaker to lament recently not the cruelty, or unclean food, but the injustice of these farm operators being 'tried and convicted in the press or on YouTube,'" Cohen wrote.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Netflix Tinkers With Its Subscription Plans

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Netfllix, which saw record usage and critical acclaim in 2013, is trying something new for 2014: subscription fees based on the number of users per account.

According to an offer posted on its website, Netflix is offering some new customers plans that provide access on as many as four screens, letting household members watch different shows at the same time. The monthly prices range from $6.99 to $11.99.

In essence, Netflix is looking for ways to curb account-sharing, which chisels away at Netflix's revenue stream from is approximate 40 million subscribers.

Currently, standard Netflix streaming costs $7.99 per month.

But Netflix runs the risk of a number of its customers downgrading to one-screen for $6.99 a month.

“If consumers who would have taken the $7.99 plan now sign up at $6.99, that all comes out of their profit margin," media business analyst Richard Greenfield told Bloomberg Businessweek. "This is not the next pricing move investors were expecting.”

Netflix was the top-performing stock in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index for 2013, nearly quadrupling its value while seeing record subscriber growth.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Facebook Outage Prevents Updates, Comments

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 9:29 AM


It's not you. It's them.

Facebook suffered another systemwide outage this morning, preventing users form posting status updates.

On its desktop platform, users were hit with the following message when trying to update statuses:

"There was a problem updating your status. Please try again in a few minutes."

Users of the Facebook iPhone app didn't receive an error message, but status messages were never published.

According to, "this one seems global—we've tested it from several IPs and received the same message."

During the outage, Facebook users were unable to share webpages or content with one another, nor could they upload photos or create photo albums.

By mid-morning, the errors appeared to be fixed, but that didn't prevent users from complaining on Twitter.


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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Statesman to End Anonymous Online Comments

Posted By on Sun, Sep 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

One of Idaho's most fertile troll habitats just became critically endangered. Idaho Statesman Vice President and Editor Vicki Gowler announced this morning that her paper will no longer allow anonymous comments online. 

Gowler wrote that the Statesman has long struggled with how best to regulate online comments but, "often the conversations have deteriorated into name-calling and abusive attacks." Quoting a recent letter writer, Gowler added: "Trolls are ruining whole online communities."

In the case of the Statesman, that may be an understatement. Gowler admitted that comment threads on the paper's website had gotten so vile as to deter online visitors: "I know many of you have stopped commenting online, or even reading comments online, because of these kinds of anonymous posts. A platform that encourages interactivity and can create a virtual town hall has instead driven many of you away."

Starting Sept. 15, commenters on the Statesman's website will need to log in using Facebook—a system modeled on one used by the Miami Herald, where, Gowler wrote, "editors found a sharp improvement in the quality of the conversation but fewer comments."

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