Media Wars: #Ferguson, American Hypocrisy and a Hint of Spring

This was originally posted on my professional blog.

America has experienced an ugly spotlight reversal with the eruption of popular discontent into violence in its own backyard. Just a few weeks ago, international media was buzzing with reports of ISIS steamrolling the Iraqi military and Russian-supported separatists in Ukraine shooting down passenger airlines. Now, the US squirms uncomfortably under international scrutiny of Ferguson, Missouri, where the shooting of a young black man by a white police officer has once again raised the specter of racism and police brutality.

Obviously, the incident itself is complicated. Eyewitnesses – who have given conflicting testimonies – are the only window into what happened, since there was no dashboard camera. The initial description of Michael Brown, the victim of the shooting, as a “gentle giant” about to start college clashed with video footage of him stealing a box of cigarillos from a convenience store. Commentators have drawn parallels with the case of Trayvon Martin, whose mother has now reached out to Brown’s mother. Peaceful protests have given way to violence and looting, reporters have been arrested, and witnesses have complained of excessive use of force by the police.

Social media, which played a major role in bringing media attention to Ferguson in the first place, has played host to the battleground of ideological responses to the incident. The primary complaint from conservatives is that the uprising in Ferguson, and the underlying racial tensions it has exposed, don’t deserve our consideration because some of the protesters have been looting and vandalizing stores…



…including a few gems that actually blame the community for the excessive force used against it.



Meanwhile, people used the Twitter hastag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to spar over which photos of Brown were used by traditional media (wearing a cap and gown vs. striking a “thug” pose) and post their own side-by-side pictures. Still others are expressing frustration at the fact that the vandalism and looting has been used as a straw man to distract from ongoing widespread racial profiling and policy brutality against blacks, including one refreshingly blunt protester at a rally in DC:


What has been the most interesting to me is the global shock and horror at the incident and resulting fallout. The international community sees what many Americans are apparently missing: that the protests and unrest in Ferguson are the manifestation of a minority group sick of being oppressed and ignored. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights drew parallels to South African apartheid, while several countries have been using the situation to take shots at America’s own human rights record when we so often criticize other countries. One might expect Iran and Russia troll the US over civil unrest, but as one friend of mine pointed out on Facebook, “When Egypt calls you out for human rights abuses, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.”

American police brutality, and the unwillingness of many police departments to be held accountable for their actions, have also been focal points. What happened to Michael Brown will unfortunately always be shrouded in mystery, since the Ferguson police department apparently prioritizes riot gear and tear gas over cameras for officers or police cruisers. They also seemed to have forgotten the meaning of “free press,” as they arrested and harassed several reporters who were trying to cover the protests. Interestingly, Obama was quick to condemn the bullying of journalists “here in the United States of America,” despite his own administration’s secrecy and aggression toward the press, including prosecuting a journalist who refused to identify the source of an intelligence leak.

Indeed, many observers have been quick to point out America’s hypocrisy at fingering human rights abuses outside our own borders when we have threads of discontent, similar to those found in the Arab Spring and other global protest movements, woven throughout our own society. A lovely little piece of satire from Vox portrays how American media might describe the events in Ferguson if they happened in another country.

When everything is said and done, America doesn’t look so much like a shining beacon of democracy and human rights – we just kinda look like everybody else.

Jimmy Carter, New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof, and Carter Center’s Donald Hopkins To Cover Global Health Challenges in New Conversation on Google+ Series

The following is an announcement about an upcoming social media event hosted by the Carter Center.

On Sept. 10 at 3 p.m. ET, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, New York Times Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, and Carter Center disease eradication expert Dr. Donald R. Hopkins will hold a special video chat, “Global Health: How We Can Make a Difference,” to kick off a new Conversations on Google+ series that is launching later this fall.

Leading up to the event, from Sept. 4-10, President Carter and Mr. Kristof will participate in online discussions on the social media platform Google+ about the challenges of eradicating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) when the world is focused on security issues and offer their ideas for progress.


Anyone can join the conversation, Sept. 4 – 10, 2013, when President Carter and Mr. Kristof will post discussion questions on global health to members of the American Public Health Association’s Google+ Public Health Community (direct link below).

Anyone on Google+ can join this Community and share their health-related comments with Carter and Kristof. Participants with the most insightful and thoughtful comments will be selected to join a special Conversations on Google+ online broadcast with President Carter, Mr. Kristof, and Dr. Hopkins live on Sept. 10.

Sign up for Google+, a social media platform, by visiting

Google+ users can join the Public Health Community by clicking on the “join community” button at the following link:


Tune-in on Tuesday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m. ET for a live broadcast of a Conversation on Google+ hosted by The Carter Center and featuring President Carter, Mr. Kristof, Dr. Hopkins, and selected participants from Google+’s Public Health Community.

Conversations on Google+ allows everyday users the opportunity to engage global experts in discussions on the issues that matter to them. The Conversations on Google+ series will continue with other high profile speakers later in the year.

Anyone can watch the event live or in archive from several locations online:

TWEET WITH US: The Carter Center will be live-tweeting the Sept. 10 event from @CarterCenter using the hashtag #CarterConvo.


NTDs are a group of 17 illnesses that affect more 500 million children and more than 1 billion people worldwide. Often found in the world’s most disadvantaged communities, NTDs can cause severe disability, robbing people of the opportunity to improve their own lives. Children suffering from NTDs often cannot attend school and adult sufferers may be less able to work, harvest food, or care for their families. The Carter Center is a leader in the eradication, elimination, and control of neglected tropical diseases, fighting six preventable diseases — Guinea worm, river blindness, trachoma, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria — by using health education and simple, low-cost methods.


  • President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, founded The Carter Center in 1986 in partnership with Emory University to alleviate suffering worldwide. A long champion of campaigns to wipe out neglected diseases, in 2002, President Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development” through his work with the Center.
  • Nicholas D. Kristof is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning Op-Ed columnist of The New York Times, best known for writing about poverty, disease, and marginalization around the world.
  • Dr. Donald R. Hopkins is the Carter Center’s vice president for health programs and a former interim director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A medical doctor, he is internationally recognized for his work on NTDs and disease eradication, including smallpox and Guinea worm disease.

About Google+ :

Google+ is a sharing and communications platform that brings your real-world friendships and relationships online for a fun, interactive experience—as well as lets you make new friends and connections with people who share your passions and interests. Much more than a social network, Google+ makes it even easier to use other Google products, share content, and use integrated text and video chat—all for free.

About The Carter Center:

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Follow Nicholas Kristof on Social Media:

APHA’s New Networking Platform

IH Section members: This post was originally posted in December of last year. However, APHA has recently made some changes to the platform, so I am re-posting it with updated information.

Happy Holidays, IH Section members! Hopefully this holiday season finds you all happy and healthy, with whatever projects you are working on going well. The purpose of this post is to introduce you to a new networking and communication platform that they have introduced. It is APHA’s Online Community, and it is integrated into your APHA membership profile. The purpose of the community is to encourage members of APHA to connect and discuss shared professional interests and information about events relevant to you and your colleagues. The platform was just recently opened to the general membership, so I have taken some time to explore its different features and thought I would share them here. Please note that you can click on any of the screen shots below

In order to access the community, visit and use your APHA membership ID and password to log in. If you don’t have this information, just go to APHA’s website and request that an e-mail with the information be sent to you (About Us > Membership Information > Update Your Member Profile, then click the link that says “Forgot Your Username and Password?”).

login screen

After logging in, you should come to the following screen. From here, you can access your Member Profile, the groups you are a member of, and your e-mail delivery settings.

welcome screen

The first thing you should do is set up your Member Profile so that other members with similar interests can network with you. If you go to edit your profile, you will come to the following screen:

edit profile

Here, you can edit your name, your photo, your academic background, where you work, tags (keywords that allow other members to search for you based on your interests), address and phone numbers (only if you choose to make them available to other members), a short bio, and any social media profiles you have (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.). Once you have input all of this information, you can view your profile as others see it.

view profile

The main focus of the community, however, are the discussions that APHA is encouraging members to have within their professional sections. When you go to access “My Groups” (the link is in the upper right-hand corner of the screen), you will come to a screen that looks like this:

my groups

From there, you can access the group that corresponds to the section(s) of which you are a member.

IH section group

Within each section’s group are the tools for communication and networking with other members. Here, you can search the section membership, access e-mail listservs, put events on the calendar, post to the bulletin board (essentially a message board), upload documents to the library, and post content to the wiki.

This tool has great potential to increase communication and networking among members. I strongly encourage you all to log in, set up a profile, and have a look around!

(Still) Seeking a Video Editor for the IH Blog!

This position is still open, so I thought I would bump it to the top of the blog. If you are interested in getting involved with our blog, or know someone who is, please contact me at jmkeralis [at] gmail [dot] com.

Attention IH Section members and blog readers! The Communications Committee is seeking a volunteer to serve as a Video Editor for the IH Blog. We are not looking for someone to make and/or edit videos, but simply to find relevant and interesting videos available on the internet and post them here to the IH Blog.

While this is a volunteer position, the time commitment is minimal – we are looking for someone who can find relevant videos and write a short description and provide commentary for them. You can do this in any format you’d like: either post the videos as you find them, or compile a weekly digest for the blog. The work can be done from anywhere in the world with a reliable internet connection.

There are several great reasons to get involved with IH section communications:

YOU WILL BE VISIBLE. The IH Blog gets around 800 hits per month, with traffic from all over the world; our Facebook page has over 100 fans and is always growing. Actively contributing to the blog for the IH section, which has over 1,500 members and is a loud voice for international health in a professional society with over 50,000 professionals, is a great way to put your name out there.

YOU WILL NETWORK. You always hear about the importance of networking in building a career. Ever feel awkward about striking up conversations because you need something? A better – way to network is by offering your services – you will be much appreciated and remembered for a whole lot longer.

YOU WILL LEARN. Not only will you contribute to the field and get noticed for your contributions, you will learn so much by being exposed to the disussion: news, politics, analysis, industry trends and problems.

If you are interested in this position, please contact Jessica Keralis, the IH Communications Committee Chair, at jmkeralis [at] gmail [dot] com for details.

IH Section Members: Help us to better communicate with you!

Attention IH section members! The IH Communications Committee has developed a survey to learn how its members use and benefit from it communications platforms. The survey comes in two parts: the first asks about the section’s traditional communications platforms (i.e. the website, newsletter, and monthly e-mails), and the second is about the section’s social media tools (Facebook, LinkedIn, and this blog). Please take a few minutes to complete the survey – we value your feedback and want to know how to better communicate with you!

The two parts of the survey can be accessed from the following links:
Traditional Communications
Social Media

Thanks in advance!
-Your friendly neighborhood Communications Chair