MIDTERM – The Six Questions

Source 1: The Six Questions

Link to Source: http://www.timesofisrael.com/obama-and-romney-face-off-in-the-final-presidential-debate-live/

Country of Origin: Jerusalem, Israel

Publication: Times of Israel 

1) What kind of content am I encountering?

The content is a live-blog of the US presidential debate, as chronicled from the perspectives of Haviv Rettig Gur and Sam Ser (authors) with the Times of Israel newspaper staff. The live-blog is a play-by-play that also incorporates opinion and hypotheses. Times of Israel is an online English-language, Jerusalem-based website.

The site is independent and not attached to or affiliated with any political party, according to David Horowitz, founder and editor. Horowitz says the website’s goal is be a catalyst toward informed, fair-minded, and constructive debate.

Thus, the website puts priority on journalism of verification and gives high value to accuracy and context. However, this article in particular was written live, and so it also falls under journalism of assertion, a model that puts high value on immediacy; because of this, the live-blog is a slightly passive means of information. This is reflected in the repeated use of tweets as sources (see #3).

2) Is the information complete? If not, what is missing?

Since the content was synthesized through an Israeli source, commentary about the Middle East was prioritized. The judgment of sources and information affects my determination that the account is not fully developed. Though much of the information about the Middle East here is thorough, the information about the debate itself is not entirely complete, as the writers’ perspectives – and not the facts – determined issues’ weight of importance. While the live-blog does mention other countries in question, their issues are skimmed and put on a backburner. Instead, there is an overwhelming sense of urgency placed on conversations about the Middle East.

An evaluation of the completeness of information must also be determined by both the quantity and quality of the sources cited. Quality does not just refer to credibility or expertise, but so too does it relate to diversity. The majority of sources for the live-blog were left slanting, or rumored to be so. Also, three of the sources were tweets and one source was – even worse – a tweet where the source was unknown. Also missing is the Palestinian perspective. Many Palestinians complained after the debate that the Middle East peace process wasn’t mentioned nearly enough in this final debate and the Palestinian question was the elephant in the room.

3) Who or what are the sources, and why should I believe them?

This is chronicled from the Israeli perspectives of Haviv Rettig Gur and Sam Ser (authors) and the newspaper staff. The Times of Israel is one of the fastest-growing online websites covering the region. The founder and editor, David Horovitz, formerly worked for The Jerusalem Post and The Jerusalem Report.

Haviv Rettig Gur, author and commentator throughout the live-blog, is an Israeli who served as the Director of Communications for the Jewish Agency and also worked for the Israeli government relations for SpaceIL. He is a former journalist for The Jerusalem Post and is an expert on Jewish identity.

The sources referenced in the article include CBS News’ poll from before the debate that 11% of voters are still undecided. The publication sources Josh Block of the Israel Project, who said that it’s “good to hear both candidates talking about the choices we face in Egypt.” Block is an outspoken pro-Israel activist and former advisor to the Bill Clinton administration.

Three of the article’s sources came in the form of tweets. First, it poked fun at “a tweet making the rounds, source unknown, ‘Sounds like Obama went on Birthright.’” The publication also sites Israeli analyst Chico Menashe’s tweet: “Did Obama just invoke the Holocaust to explain his travel itineraries?” The article mentions a tweet from Pew Research, an American think tank organization: “Most continue to favor quick troop pullout from Afghanistan.”

4) What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted?

Other than the sources quotes (#3), the evidence mainly comes in direct quotes from the candidates themselves. It is then presented in the context of the debate and is also editorialized in some cases.

The live-blog does not exactly test or vet facts; it does not proclaim itself to be a fact checker, especially since it is chronicling the events live, but it does share an overall disappointment with the amount of facts discussed. The article itself says this debate “is each candidate’s effort to outdo the other on support for Israel.” And, despite the emphasis on the Middle East, the article ends by saying that it is “striking that, for all the words spoken, we got very little new specifics on how either man would tackle Iran.” Gur in particular says that, despite Israel being mentioned over 30 times, real foreign policy specifics weren’t on the debate’s menu.

The article emphasizes that Obama makes first reference to Israel – “a true friend” and America’s greatest ally in the region. This is where Gur’s editorializing comes into play. Gur says that Obama’s mention of Israel a third time as a red line on Egypt is a smart move: “Obama is very smart tonight. Using ‘red line’ on Israel. Noting that Qaddafi is second only to Bin Laden in killing Americans. He came prepared.”

The live-blog notes Obama’s declaration to “stand with Israel if they are attacked” and also reports Romney said, “If Israel is attacked, we have their back.” The live-blog makes a clear distinction that Romney says “militarily” if necessary.

When Romney attacks that when Obama toured the region, he skipped Israel, the live-blog takes Obama’s side. “I didn’t take fundraisers. I went to Yad Vahsem the Holocaust memorial. I went to Sderot and saw families who showed we where missiles had fallen from Gaza,” the publication reports Obama saying. The article then calls Obama’s counter-attack “powerful.”

5) What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?

Incorporating more solid sources and the Palestinian perspective would have enhanced the reader’s understanding. Times of Israel competes with other Israeli news sources, including Haaretz, which is known for its staunch left-liberal stance on American-Israeli and Middle Eastern relations. Haaretz insinuated that Romney exaggerated worries about the prospect of a nuclear Iran to amplify concerns about Obama’s leadership. Looking to alternative takes from the same country shows other alternative explanations or understandings from the same region. Haaretz is not alone in its support of the left; former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy is in favor of Obama’s handling of the Iranian conflict and says Romney’s policy leaves only a military option. Another interesting element to this content and the Israeli take on the debates is the fact that Israel doesn’t have debates to speak of; the article editorializes for a moment: “Watching these debates through Israeli eyes has underlined the wonderful simplicity and accountability of the US election process. It may not be perfect, but it’s a lot better than ours here.”

6) Am I learning what I need to?

That brings up the question: what does a reader need to learn in the foreign policy debate? The answer to this would most likely be each candidate’s stance; however, in a debate that – as Gur said – focused little on specifics and much on rhetoric, that is nearly impossible. Since the debate was more about self-presentation than position, the reporters were faced with a challenge, and the question then changed to: what does a reader need to learn ABOUT the foreign policy debate? The live-blog shared what happened, the context for their rebuttals, and told readers when pivotal moments occurred.

Analysis: I think it’s very difficult to say whether this source was credible or objective because it’s near impossible for a viewer and reader to divorce themselves from their subjective beliefs. As I attempt to derive meaning from the article, it’s difficult to separate my own personal values – particularly my support as a Pro-Israel Zionist – from the bare foundation of facts. That being said, the source was credible in terms of the play-by-play. The source didn’t blatantly distort facts, but it did determine emphasis in a biased manner with a pro-Israel slant.

Source 2: The Six Questions

Link to Source: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/740060.shtml

Country of Origin: Beijing, China

Publication: Global Times

1) What kind of content am I encountering?

       The Global Times is a daily Chinese media outlet that focuses on international issues under the sponsorship of People’s Daily. The Communist Party of China owns the Daily, but the Times has a reputation for being more populist, although critics do say that it attracts a strong nationalistic fan base with a pro-government slant. However, the English-language version, which I am referencing, has been said to take a less staunch approach. Because the newspaper has distinct ties to Communism and a set fan base, it falls into the category of journalism of affirmation, as it’s a source that people follow primarily to affirm and reinforce their own beliefs. The article in question, “China an adversary” supports a particular ideology – the support of China and national pride – and agenda – the critique of US candidates who don’t support China. Editorializing takes place routinely throughout this article. Strong, opinionated phrases like “China bashing” and “harsh rhetoric” dot the article.

2) Is the information complete? If not, what is missing?

The information about the majority of the foreign policy debate is missing, since the publication focused on what was important to its readership, Chinese affairs. As aforementioned, to evaluate completeness of information, I feel quality, quantity, and diversity of sources must be evaluated. There was a sufficient quantity of real (not tweets, this time) sources, but the quality of those sources left room for improvement. CNN was a solid source, but Clinton’s reference lacked context. Ni Feng and Ted Dean both have nationalistic ties. Because the article is government-supported, it skirts China from any wrongdoing and glazes over some real issues at the heart of the debate. Missing is information on where the American/Chinese issues and so-called “China bashing” originates. Many policies practiced are not considered fair, hence why both the American GOP and Democratic candidates agree that China does not always play by the rules.

3) Who or what are the sources, and why should I believe them?

The Times is under the auspices of a Communist Party-owned paper, but it is not closely affiliated with the government, albeit it’s sometimes regarded as a tabloid. The author of the piece is Wang Zhaokun, a professional journalist.

The sources it references include America’s CNN, which called the debate remarks about China “counter to the general trend in Sino-US relations.” It also references American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who “had earlier refuted those who defined China as an adversary.” The article does not say when Clinton made this counterargument. Upon further independent research, their source was valid, as Clinton said in Nigeria. She said it in this context: “China is not our economic adversary in Africa, but simply a competitor like any other country. But when we do business overseas, we do it in an open and transparent manner.”

Another source is Ni Feng, vice director of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The academy is considered the highest academic research organization for philosophy and social sciences in the People’s Republic of China; it is affiliated with the government State Council.

Ted Dean, Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce, is also cited as saying that China and the US need to work harder to better each other’s understanding. Here, Dean is misrepresented if an uninformed audience is reading this. Dean is chairman of the “American Chamber of Commerce in China,” often called the AmCham-China. The Chamber of Commerce is not an agency or affiliate of the US government, but rather it is a non-partisan lobbying group based in Beijing that represents the interests of many businesses.

4) What evidence is presented, and how was it tested or vetted?

Most of the evidence presented is in the form of direct quotes from the presidential debate, such as when Obama said: “China’s an adversary, and also a potential partner in the international community if it’s following the rules.” Romney was quoted as calling China a “currency manipulator” and continuing his “harsh rhetoric.” The article also seemed to appreciate Romney’s “new, conciliatory tone on China.” They quoted him saying: “We can be a partner with China. We don’t have to be an adversary in any way, shape or form. We can work with them, we can collaborate with them, if they’re willing to be responsible.” Other evidence presented was mainly from Chinese government-affiliated representatives.

5) What might be an alternative explanation or understanding?

Incorporating other reactions (other than the nationalistic point of view) to the debates would have been beneficial. Also, it is missing why the US is “China bashing.” In comparison to other Chinese media, this article was tame. Relations between China and the US have been particularly rocky lately, and the delicate balance of conflict between the top two largest economies in the world is pivotal to both nations. Readers who have read other Chinese outlets may understand the article differently and see that it’s not nearly as biased or harsh as China’s state newswire’s message. China’s state newswire carried a commentary showing that their patience is wearing thin. The commentary said that, after accusations about unfair Chinese economic practices during the debate, America should be warned that targeting Chinese products or currency could risk a trade war. The publication of this commentary on a government newswire showed a harsher side to the debates; the papers put how they see it plain and clear – their patience is fraying in the face of all this “China bashing” and blistering criticism.

6) Am I learning what I need to?

The reader of an article about the Chinese discussion in the presidential debate should learn what both parties in the debate about China and the candidates’ general feelings about China. While the reader does learn this information, they learn it with distortions and biases. This is to say, they get the foundation of facts, the information, and they also get a whole new set of prejudices and pathos they’ll have to separate themselves from to have a credible, balanced, and impartial perspective.

Analysis: Objectivity was lost because the media outlet practices journalism of affirmation, reiterating a particular point of view and ignoring any facts that don’t fall into its agenda. The sources used in the article outside of direct quotes from candidates were tied to pro-government sentiments if not tied directly to the government itself.


Bolivia’s Press Freedom




Carlos Quispe Quispe, a journalist for the government-run Radio Municipal, was beaten to death by a mob demanding the outing of the local mayor. The mob called him “the mouth of the radio” and attacked with rods and whips. Quispe died at a hospital two days later.


Seventeen Bolivian newspapers published October 7, 2010 front pages with the sentence “Without freedom of expression democracy is in danger.” The newspapers were protesting a new law that was designed to prohibit racism or discrimination against indigenous Bolivians. The law could be used to fine or imprison the media for broadcasting instances of racism and discrimination, even if the media was not endorsing the behavior.


Compare/Contrast – Latin American Music

The Latin American musical genres have many similarities. Brazil’s “samba,” Uruguay’s “candombe,” Ecuador’s “pasillo,” and Bolivia’s “diablada” all have homes in the carnival scene and historical significance. Additionally, each are icons of their respective nation’s cultural identity.

The Brazilian Carnival heavily features the  “samba,” and, in Uruguay, the largest display of the “candombe” occurs during the annual Carnival. Ecuadorian Carnivals, including the Carnaval de la Vida, feature performances of the “pasillo.” The city of Oruro in Bolivia, where the “diablada” originated, is famous for the Carnaval de Oruro. Because of this huge event, Oruro is called the Folklore Capital of Bolivia.

The Latin American countries’ musical forms have rich histories. Former slaves invented the Brazilian “samba.” This story holds true for Urugay. Slaves were brought into Uruguay during the country’s early colonization period, and they found a way to express themselves through drumbeats, leading to the emergence of the “candombe.” The “pasillo “originated from the Viennese waltz and became associated with Ecuadorian nationalism. Like the “pasillo,” Bolivia’s “diablada” incorporates nationalism by blending traditional Andean religious ceremonies with religious theater brought from Spain.

The “samba” is a cornerstone of Brazilian culture, with historical traditions including food, dance, clothing, and art. The “candombe” too is now a staple of Uruguayan culture, with “candombe” drum groups still playing in the streets of the capital. The “pasillo” became a cultural icon and an international sensation with Julio Jaramillo’s rise to fame. Similarly, the Brazilian “diablada” is considered a lifestyle, with a dance all its own.

On the other hand, the Latin American countries’ music genres also have their differences. A major difference is in their evolution. Brazil’s “samba” led to the emergence of “bossa nova,” a genre with origins in samba but influenced by impressionist music and jazz. “Candombe” has also blossomed into modern genres, particularly “candombe beat.” The Ecuadorian “pasillo” shifted from a festive tone to a gentler, melancholic genre in the beginning of the 20th century. However, in contrast, the “diablada” has stayed pretty true to its origins.

Bolivian Coverage of US Presidential Debate


Name of Source: El De Ber

Name of Article (Translated): Obama accuses Romney of lying of having lied during the first debate

Country and City/State/Province: Santa Cruz, Bolivia

URL (original version): http://www.eldeber.com.bo/obama-acusa-a-romney-de-haber-mentido-durante-debate-/121004142955

URL (translated version): http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.eldeber.com.bo/obama-acusa-a-romney-de-haber-mentido-durante-debate-/121004142955&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dromney%2Bobama:.bo%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26cr%3DcountryBO%26safe%3Doff%26as_qdr%3Dall%26biw%3D1150%26bih%3D652%26tbs%3Dctr:countryBO%26prmd%3Dimvns&sa=X&ei=1p9wUKCTKoqLiAL7-YGoAQ&ved=0CFwQ7gEwBA

Summary: Obama accused Romney of lying and joked about the lack of “real Mitt Romney” in the debate, mentioning that the Romney on the stage said very different opinions than what Romney had said in the past.

Screenshot of translated text:


Name of Source: La Razon

Name of Article (Translated): Obama defends himself after debate before Romney

Country and City/State/Province: South La Paz, Bolivia

URL (original version): http://www.la-razon.com/mundo/Obama-defiende-derrota-Romney_0_1700229966.html

URL (translated version): http://translate.google.com.au/translate?hl=en&sl=es&u=http://www.la-razon.com/mundo/Obama-defiende-derrota-Romney_0_1700229966.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3DUnited%2BOR%2BStates%2BOR%2Bpresidential%2BOR%2Bdebate%2BOR%2BRomney%2BOR%2BObamasite:.bo%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26cr%3DcountryBO%26safe%3Doff%26biw%3D1150%26bih%3D652%26tbs%3Dqdr:w,ctr:countryBO%26prmd%3Dimvns&sa=X&ei=Mp1wUP3QCqbEigLyjICADQ&ved=0CGcQ7gEwCQ

Summary: Obama went on the offensive after debating Romney, saying that Romney was putting on a façade. Bolivia reports that American media says that Romney finally turned this into a real US election, and Obama was mediocre.

Screenshot of translated text: