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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Who Is Funding Broo?

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Has "Citizen Journalism" been sold to conservative or corporate interests? This great site may no longer be as free from the corporate or political influences as you may think.

I started writing for this site a long time ago.  It was within the first few months of its inception as a matter of fact. I was invited to this site from an ad on Craigslist. Does anyone else remember that thing?  The ad asked would-be authors to come join a "revolution" in journalism in which the people decide what they want seen in their newspaper. It said things like writers will no longer be influenced by special interest newspapers and editors and would be allowed to express themselves as the true voice of the people.  Needless to say I was hooked, and I quickly fell in love with the Broo. 

I didn't mind that I wasn't being paid for my unprofessional scribblings, as it was simply amazing to me that I could write things here that thousands of people would actually read. Some of them people even liked! I chalked the lack of pay up to a pro-active learning experience as well as a place to build up a modest repertoire of published articles, which I could refer people to when I applied to actual paid gigs. I have even reaped some small successes in doing just that as a matter of fact and I feel I owe that almost solely to BrooWaha. So let me first just say "Thank You" to the editors of this wonderful site for helping me accomplish a dream of mine, and making me a published writer. 

In addition I have to admit I got addicted to the comments sections as a place to enjoy a lively debate with fellow authors about a wide variety of subjects and opinions. Over the years I have battled with many different writers and fans all over my articles and in theirs as well.  I find this form of debate although infuriating at times to be quite enjoyable and when the discussions were heated I was hooked on checking back here or at my email waiting for a response to my latest comment or retort to one aimed at me. 

I am sure you know who you are out there when I say that although we may disagree on just about everything I have seriously enjoyed our wars of words. I recognize that not everyone out there is as progressive as I am and in fact my own brother is a highly successful politician in the Republican Party.  So I welcome the debate as long as we both try to keep it intelligent and as respectful as possible. 

That being said, I am seriously concerned to see advertising lately that is by no means balanced and politically fair, appearing both on my articles pages as well as on the front page headlines.  I am seeing ads such as the two above for the right wing extremist Ann Coulter and an anti-union organization called The Right to Work Foundation asking for a protest of Obama's pro-union policies as well as a great many from insurance companies who obviously have a stake in the current healthcare debate. 

I was more than a bit annoyed by these ads showing up on my articles and I voiced such a couple times in comments on the articles themselves.  However, this all came to a head when I answered an ad here for a seemingly impartial poll agency called Newsmax asking,  "what I thought of Obama's healthcare bill" or whether I "Liked Sara Palin". After answering the ads and filling out the poll, registering my email address with them in order to be "counted", I was bombarded by all these right wing emails from this organization.  A little research soon showed me that this so-called impartial poll was anything but. 

The company was founded by Christopher W. Ruddy and was, according to Wikipedia, "supported by a group of conservative investors, including the family of the late Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey." Now I realize I can be a bit paranoid at times but I was seriously concerned about the fact that I answered and registered my opinions about certain things with a company funded by the CIA.  That is especially worrisome considering the fact that I have levied some pretty harsh criticism at my former government here on this so called free and impartial citizen journalism newspaper.  In more than a few of my articles namely "Interpret This" and my very first one "On Being Retarded" I levied some pretty strong accusations at the former administration's policies. 

I am not afraid and stand confident about what I have said and placed in veritable stone here on the Internet. I am concerned, however, that organizations like Newsmax are advertising here and registering opinions voiced from this site. I am extremely concerned that this beautiful  bastion of free speech is being monitored and even influenced by advertisers that have absolute interests, which are by no means free and/or impartial. 

Now as far as Ms. Coulter is concerned let it be said that I find her face appearing in articles I wrote and encourage progressive talent agencies to look at, to be downright repugnant.  I recognize that free speech requires that she must be allowed to advertise her hate mongering. However, I am simply wondering whether she has any place advertising on OUR free and impartial community forum?  If she wants to write something here I say welcome.  But she should not be able to advertise her corporate influenced and politically biased writing on our articles here, nor do I think someone opposite her opinions should either, I might add, although curiously so far there are none of them that I have seen.

I realize that the BrooWaha community has to earn a little ad revenue in order to function and prosper and even grow.  However, aren't these ads directly antithetical to the very nature of Citizen Journalism?  If this site was and indeed is covered with special interest advertising isn't some of the integrity of the words "citizen journalism" lost on someone who comes here for the first time exited at the prospect of a citizen run newspaper?  Surely we citizens who, although we are being offered a beautiful forum for discussion, have also worked hard to create this discussion and should have a say in who is advertising on that forum.  

Having been working as a community organiser I am well aware that a recent strategy of the corporate oligarchical power structure has been to coopt and dismantle this recent trend in citizens coming together as a voice of change and indeed very real power.  We should not let them do so here by benignly moving in with fake polls and democratic looking corporate scams or one day this beautiful paper will simply become another member of the fallen, albeit, well intentioned media organizations.

Finally, I would like to add that the fact that this bite on the hand that is feeding me, has even appeared before your reading eyes, shows me that the hope for a free press is not entirely gone, at least in this wonderful newspaper.  



About the Writer

Charles Harmison is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
Want to write articles too? Sign up & become a writer!

17 comments on Who Is Funding Broo?

Log In To Vote   Score: 5
By Digidave on September 09, 2009 at 01:29 am

Hey Charles - this is Digidave - resident editor.

The only proof we have that we have not "sold to conservative or corporate interests" is our word.

We have advertisments - but they just barely pay for our hosting and other costs.

We don't choose the adverts - they are placed on our site automatically by Google. I'm not sure how Google decides what adverts to place - but it isn't a concious decision by us - nor do we have an "ad sales person" who goes out to procure specific advertisments.

I know it's easy to look for a consipiracy - but there isn't one here.

The only other proof: We are happy to have this conversation and to publish articles that are critical or question Broo.

Rock on!

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Log In To Vote   Score: 7
By Charles Harmison on September 09, 2009 at 02:09 am

Hey Digidave thanks for writing this comment right away. And of course thanks for publishing this article as i knew you would ie my last sentence. 

Rather than not believing you requiring you to prove yourself. As i would have no reason to doubt your word.  I am simply confused. 

the media kit  states that

"BrooWaha can provide solutions targeting a particular edition of BrooWaha, or targeting certain
keywords. Please inquire at advertise@broowaha.com for more details about these targeting options."

Also the advertise on this website tab below propounds that 

"Our advertising solutions let you target your ads according to a number of criterias."

I am simply confused and i am happy to be totally wrong about this but how would you be able to make these offers to would- be advertisers if as you say

"We don't choose the adverts - they are placed on our site automatically by Google. I'm not sure how Google decides what adverts to place - but it isn't a concious decision by us"

 I recognise that Broo has operating costs and i completely understand that ads help that happen.  I have nothing against ads on the site.  It is simply the type of ads that regularily show up that concerns me.  If it is a random from someone like google surely you can contact google to control what goes up.  The Huffington Post is not gonna advertise Fox news and vice versa.

If this is simply an innocent happenstance can't we do something about it? and still maintain the revenue that comes from google. 

Thanks for helping an admitedly paranoid man sleep at night ;)

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Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By Digidave on September 09, 2009 at 12:38 pm

Charles

 In truth Ariel is better equipped to answer this question - but here's how I believe it goes.

1. We have slots for advertising.

2. If we ever sell any advertising - it is made custom and put into those slots. Our writers ad keywords to their stories (we also search the stories for keywords). And those inform the advertising.

3. We don't have an ad-sales team (or person) so we don't actively go out and get any adverts. The only times we'd get custom advertising is it if comes to us. (it is after all just me and Ariel and we both have jobs outside of Broo).

Meanwhile: If you look at the adverts in the upper right, for example, you'll see a thin line underneath them that says "ads by google."

That's how I understand it at least.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 8
By Lady D on September 09, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Well if  they are monitoring us, lets give them an earful. Maybe even make some of them think and maybe see how fear and hate are not an option.

Thanks for the article. That is why I will not do adsense.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 8
By Charles Harmison on September 09, 2009 at 02:36 pm

Just to dispel any thoughts from all you reading this as well as the comments, that I am a complete wacko I just wanna say that this article might actually have had an effect.  With permission here is a reprint of a private message i just recieved from Digidave our wonderful editor in response to me asking if I should just remove this article considering it was an incorrect assessment of the situation. 

"Subject: Re:my last article

Charles

 There might be a way to filter the Google Adverts. I assume we aren't the first to have this problem - so maybe there is a way to click on adverts we don't want to see and have those not show up. In truth - it's a question for Ariel who, as you might have noticed, works much longer hours than I do and rarely has time for Broo lately.

:(

But - we are totally open to the conversation and suggestions.

Best

David"

Thanks so much David you guys rock and I was much more apt to believe it was simply an oversite rather than any intentional conspiracy.  :)

I am still a nut I know.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By M.J. Hamada on September 13, 2009 at 06:35 pm


Similar ads will appear alongside my upcoming article "Ann Coulter Is a Replicant," no doubt.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 5
By Charles Harmison on September 14, 2009 at 10:50 am

Craig and Digidave--It would seem that JJFCPA changed his profile to take out that line you quoted about him being an "investor and active partner" in broowaha. In fact he does not even mention that he has any influence in broowaha at all anymore. That is extremely curious.

Considering his latest article, although a reasonably calm analysis of Obama's circumstances, does betray an extremely conservative viewpoint.  I am growing a bit more suspicious about this situation.  What I really find puzzling is that the ads that are showing up are all conservative in nature and there are none that are from progressive agencies. 

If i can follow this logic out it is not conspiratorial to think that a conservative seizure of this site may have taken place.  JJFCPA claimed, in his own words that he is now covering up, that he is an "investor and active partner" in Broowaha. He is also clearly very conservatively biased as proved by his latest piece.  Therefore if he has any control over the content as he once claimed on the website, it isn't too much of a stretch to expect that that influence would place conservatively biased content on the pages of this site. 

By no means, I am not calling you a liar David rather you may be ignorant to what is going on here behind the scenes. The type activity of an "investor and active partner" could be precisely the act of procuring the advertisers to this website especially given the background that he claims to have.  The fact that he has now covered up his activities for broowaha is the most indicative of some kind of guilt here. 

I think Ariel seriously needs to weigh in my friend.

As always with nothing but respect to you and to Ariel

-Charles

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Log In To Vote   Score: 4
By Digidave on September 14, 2009 at 12:26 pm

Charles

In fact - there is no conspiracy. The content on this site is created by folks like you. So even if there was some kind of conserviative agency - they wouldn't be able to change the content that comes out of your keyboard. As proof: You are accusing Broowaha and we happily published. I know - that's a bit "I think therefore I am" of an argument - but if you sit and ponder it - the logic holds.

As for the adverts. They are all Google Adsense. Google chooses them by looking at the discussions going on and places them. Maybe Google is run by conservatives ;) Right now I see an advert for AOL andUniversity of San Francisco. I see all kind of adverts on Broowaha all the time.

I'm not really sure what to tell you. I have spoken with Ariel (who is French... and you know what that means.. as liberal as they get). I am a San Francisco digi-hippie. Also very liberal. I have spoken with John - but we never really went into politics. Even if he is on the conservative side - he's only ever displayed himself as a person who is level headed and even keeled.

Nothing much else I can say about it. This is my side-gig. I don't really have time to try and uncover a conspiracy that isn't there and I'm not sure what hoops you'd have us jump through to prove otherwise.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 6
By Charles Harmison on September 15, 2009 at 12:08 am

I agree, lets just blame it all on Google.  ;)

I think rather than a direct conspiracy from anyone this recent boost in conservative advertising is much more likely the result of a greater push from the extreme right given the current political situation in this country. I would be willing to bet that a great deal of money is being pumped into these forums from the extreme right in order to push back against a general tide of discontent with the Republican party.  After all they have lost pretty much all control of the government and the trend is such that more and more of this extremist minority is becoming more and more marginalised even within their own party. The recent tea party march and the outburst at the joint assembly speech is a perfect example of these trends.  The moderate wing of the Republican party seems to want less and less to do with the fringe of their base. If they are ever gonna gain back any sense of respect in this country they have got to get there priorities back in line.

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By Charles Harmison on September 15, 2009 at 12:15 am

I think in my next article i am not gonna  mention anything to do with politics, obama, or anything else that will trigger Google ads and see what happens.  It will be hard but i am curious to see the results of the experiment. 

I do still hope we could fliter a little the Google Adsence keyword machine.  But perhaps that is much harder than it seems.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 5
By Theresa H Hall on February 06, 2010 at 11:19 pm

I saw you were upset (in the newsroom chat), and decided to come over to lend support.

Your article is very well written. What I enjoyed most is that it is flavored with heartfelt concern and appeal. I commend you on your analogy and fierce intent on holding onto what you believe in. I certainly hope you decide to remain here at BrooWaha, for it is growing, changing ... and perhaps together, we may redirect it to a happy medium whereby, most everyone will feel comfortable and able to create their tiny masterpieces.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By Jack Bates on February 07, 2010 at 08:50 am

I too answered that Craigslist add so long ago. I signed up and found the site a bit unpolished. I found other avenues for my online energies and soon forgot about BrooWhaha. Recently I recieved an email update from BrooWaha about their new layout other features. I came back and was amazed at how BrooWaha has "grown up". The look and feel of this site is much more professional. This is only going to expand BrooWaha's audience.

On the adsense comments, yes, you can control the types of ads that are shown to a certain extent. To tell you the truth I hate ads and have several tools I use in my browsers to remove all flash, ads, and format the text to my liking. I had to turn all that stuff off to see what you were talking about. Seeing "little republican Annie" all over is disturbing, but she is everywhere and spending $$ to get seen all over the internet. Again, there are ways to not have her mug show up.

That said I think if we have people working on editing as a side job I would volunteer to work on advertising as a side job. There are pleanty of sites out there that do this in conjunction with adsense and eventually some even replace the google ads because they make more $$ by selling space directly.

Thanks for the heartfelt and insightful peice that has sparked a very interesting discussion.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 5
By Bonnie Wilson on February 07, 2010 at 02:41 pm

Interesting. David writes that "The content on this site is created by folks like you." That is true. But that is not all the story. This site doesn't publish all content created by folks like us.

I also read Chalre's thoughts in the Newsroom here. I also would be dissapointed to not read more of Charles' thoughts. In other words, Charles, I think that you are letting "them" overcome by your choice to walk away instead of keeping poking away as you have done. It's a Free Speech issue.

Charles, write on.

BrooWaha, publish on.

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Log In To Vote   Score: 3
By Speedbump on August 07, 2010 at 04:12 pm

This is a great article Charles. My hat’s off to you watchdog's who dare speak the truth and spit in the eye of those who think they are in charge. It's the people who are in charge.

Ok, this is one blog that has seen better days in terms of pageviews which is why I was gone for so long. Pageviews here are still not where they used to be before Tom Lewis who has also changed his profile here and removed his photo. Charles here does his usual effective and thoughtful work examining this most critical issue.

(Gadfly: a person who arouses lazy citizens from apathy and ignorance with never-ending and ubiquitous watchdogging.

Watchdog: a successful gadfly.)

Indirectly, this “circumventuous” flapdoodle is right on the mark, as in-the-know citizens well understand.

And what's the lousy cheap low deal with the Broowaha shirts to Bill Friday and Morgana? Broowaha promises each a Broowaha shirt. Promised them a long long long long long long time ago. But, no damn Broowaha shirt for either. Rubbish! Just so the powers to be here get it I'm questioning and critizing not flaming. It's called Free Speech. Get used to it as it's been around more than a couple hundred years here in America.

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By TonyBerkman on August 07, 2010 at 04:43 pm

Speedbump, BrooWaha has been funded in part by BlogCatalog, the site that AngieA, JJCPA and I own. There have been some personal disagreement recently as to the direction of Broo. Funny that Alan has chosen to leave, as the direction he wanted to take Broo, is much more of where it will go.

Traffic has started to go up. It will continue to go up. That's what I do. I am not a writer. I am a web guy who runs communities -- or in fact they run me. I listen, I then respond to the desires of the community.

So while, not everyone's wish will come true on here. I wish I could make it so. I listen. Hear where the pain spots are, and respond by making changes. It's a simple formulae.

It does not mean that people will never leave. They will. It's the nature of communities. Everyone has different needs and sometimes, the need to leave and feel as though they made a decision that meets some sort of human need, overrides whatever you or I can do.

So, as someone once said, "the buck stops here." Funding the site is limited. If you are interested in funding faster development, let me know. It's a capitalist driven society and we need revenues to support costs. Right now they dont.

My first objective is to grow the community of writers. Everyone should get exposure provided their work is not porn, spam, fraud, or sloppy..... i.e. part of the normal reasons why you'd expect an article not to be approved.

I hear that many writers feel like they have "sold out" if they happen to make money from their writing. I feel like I have sold out if I don't provide community members with value for their contribution and time spent here.

If you go to your account settings, you will notice a place to include you own adsense code. If you have adsense, you can drop the code in there, and all revenues from your articles will be earned by you. It's a choice. You don't have to.

T Shirts will go out. Morgana is missed. Traffic is what I do best. And if the community isnt bigger and stronger will more writers in the next 6 months, then I will step down and hand the reigns of this site to the member best suited to run it.

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By Speedbump on August 07, 2010 at 05:15 pm

Hey Tony, glad to read ya talking here!

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By TonyBerkman on August 07, 2010 at 05:30 pm

@morgana, Im going to reply to what you wrote. It's not digidave style, though digidave and I, for the most part agree on community and where broo should go. Up to now the blogcatalog team has failed to deliver what we promised.

Your points make a great outline for examining where we are and what needs to change.

RINSE AND REPEAT

let's do that. we are going to rinse and repeat often. though from time to time we'll also add new things. This place needs to be a writer's driven community.

DIGIDAVE

Frankly the guy is totally in the zone when it comes to a site like Broo. He has the name and he understand this game. There's not shame here, as DigiDave will still be at the reigns. The idea of "community savvy" resonates with me and DigiDave has that.

CEASE & DESIST

Pages will go up. That is my word to you. The Broo home page has already been changed so that it flows in a stream and that there is no preference given to how long you've been with the site or not.

We will come up with other ways to show long time, committed community members recognition. There is no reason why you should not be able to edit your own article, if you have been on the site and actively participated. This change will be made in the next week.

Regarding suits. I wear flip flops and go to work late. No one at BC wears a suit and most people who work for me are under 30 and act closer to 12; including myself. We get community. It's what we do. I don't know what the cease and decist thing is. Is it in one of the new emails?

WHY MORGANA STUCK WITH CLASSIC BROO

I learned from coke not to go back and call something Classic. Let's just go back to the formulae that worked and continue to improve it based on feedback.

I am not about being boring. I love the dynamic of warm, bold, friendly, interesting, charming, innovative and ruthless in our lack of bias. Every article is approved unless it clearly just is a lazy attempt at spam, or no effort was put into it.

The algorithm part needs some tweaking. While algorithms are sometimes tricky, personally if you are part of the community, participating, helping other members your score should go up. With that you should receive benefits. However, if you don't use it, you lose it. I think life provides good rules for this.

So while there won't be a name change. The changes we made already, reflect your sentiment. More are to come.

JUST SAY NO TO ENTERTAINMENT PASSING AS TODAY’S NEWS

the value of broo is to be a place where writers from around the world share their views and news while building a portfolio, if they like. The warm community feedback seems to be here. Though to many this place is cold without you.

RINSE & REPEAT

we'll get the mojo back. if not, in 6 months, I'll give up the position of deciding what broo should do, and someone from the community can take my role.

PEACE & CHEER

As Lennon said, "Give Peace a Chance"

GIVE OR TAKE A LIE OR TWO

let the chips fall where they may

GROOVY

"Melville always expressed with groovy eloquence his respect for the written word to tell a story."

This value is one that I hold to be utmost important.

SAVVY MATE?

Savvy Mate? Im going for it with you if you want.

ALL RIGHT, LET US PUT IT THAT WAY. IT’S CENSORSHIP

Free Speech is another value that I and you and eveyone here hold with the highest regard While a private forum, where personal attacks are made, vulgar remarks that would shock the ordinary person, or lies and frauds perpetrated; these will be removed and not be protected by any freedom of speech arguments. Even free speech is subject to human decency.

A CENSURE ISSUE VERSUS A CENSOR ISSUE

Based on how you present what happened, I would agree that the reaction was over the top.

THE ANSWER IS 42. SO LONG & THANKS FOR ALL THE FISH

I believe in karma too?

KEEP PUNCHIN’ CHAMP FOR ALL THAT WE SHOULD BE PAID

Conduct is always charged with consequences. / Right

DON’T PANIC.

No reason to. Delays are not denials. Sometimes things of real value take longer than expected.

Savvy Mate

Peace & Cheer

Repeat

:-)

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