When the newspaper closed, this town library started one

Librarian Aroostine Brown, left, and library director Michael Sullivan, right, fold editions of the "Weare in the World" are stacked for distribution at the public library in Weare, N.H., Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Updated 06 February 2018
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When the newspaper closed, this town library started one

WEARE, NEW HAMPSHIRE, US: Weeks after Weare’s only newspaper shut down, a resident in came to librarian Mike Sullivan with a proposal: Why doesn’t he start one?
Sullivan jumped on the idea and, for the past year, has been producing Weare in the World.
The four-page publication comes out every week and is heavy on community events and calendar listings. The front page of one paper had a short story about an elementary school Lego team, a police association scholarship and details on a local bar’s Super Bowl party. There is also a popular crossword puzzle that has clues for local businesses or other landmarks in the town with 9,000 residents.
The goal is to create a sense of community and local pride, more civic engagement and “more energy around things that do happen around town,” said Sullivan, who produces 200 copies of the newspaper by himself in his tiny office crowded with boxes of donated books and several guitars he uses for music lessons.
He estimates each issue costs the library about $25, not including staff time.
The newspaper is the latest example of a library stepping into what Sullivan describes as a news desert to cover community news.
David Beard, a journalist who is finishing up a Harvard University research fellowship and has written about the paper for the Poynter Institute, said similar projects have been undertaken elsewhere. In South Dakota, there is the Black Hills Network that takes information from 13 libraries. NOWCastSA , which describes itself as public television for the Internet, is run out of a San Antonio, Texas, library.
“It’s more like a first step — listing and covering events, town histories, showing what makes a place unique and distinctive,” Beard said. “So many places in America don’t even have that now. If it stokes the need for greater news coverage in the town, all the better.”
But some suggest library newspapers are a poor substitute for the real thing, since they often lack fully reported stories, actual reporters and independence from town institutions.
Tommy Thomason, director of the Texas Center for Community Journalism, said the trend reflects residents’ desire for information but also exposes the unique role that newspapers play in gathering it.
Librarians are experts in curating information that is already out there, not going out and getting information, he said.
“I can’t see a library ever sending someone to cover a school board meeting or a City Council meeting,” he said, “or, ‘Hey, there is a fire on the other side of town. We need to roll a librarian.’“
Sullivan is quick to acknowledge the shortcomings of his newspaper — call it a newsletter if you want, he says — but insists it is providing a much-needed public service. The quarterly that served the town, the Weare Free Press, closed last year and reporters from nearby dailies and weeklies rarely cover the town, he said.
“This has an awful lot of similarities to the early, early community newspapers,” Sullivan said. “It is a bit of a throwback and it’s meant to serve the people who don’t get their information through Facebook” or other online sources.
Boosters of the paper, including many town officials, said it is the only place residents can get information on events such as the annual Christmas party, the Weare Patriotic Celebration or town meetings. They say attendance at such events is up since Sullivan’s paper started publishing.


Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

Updated 16 August 2018
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Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

YANGON: Facebook has been “too slow” to address hate speech in Myanmar and is acting to remedy the problem by hiring more Burmese speakers and investing in technology to identify problematic content, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The acknowledgement came a day after a Reuters investigation showed why the company has failed to stem a wave of vitriolic posts about the minority Rohingya.
Some 700,000 Rohingya fled their homes last year after an army crackdown that the United States denounced as ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya now live in teeming refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“The ethnic violence in Myanmar is horrific and we have been too slow to prevent misinformation and hate speech on Facebook,” Facebook said.
The Reuters story revealed the social media giant for years dedicated scant resources to combating hate speech in Myanmar, which is a market it dominates and where there have been repeated eruptions of ethnic violence.
In early 2015, for instance, there were only two people at Facebook who could speak Burmese monitoring problematic posts.
In Thursday’s statement, posted online, Facebook said it was using tools to automatically detect hate speech and hiring more Burmese-language speakers to review posts, following up on a pledge made by founder Mark Zuckerberg to US senators in April.
The company said that it had over 60 “Myanmar language experts” in June and plans to have at least 100 by the end of the year.
Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images and videos denigrating and attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims that were on the social media platform as of last week.
Some of the material, which included pornographic anti-Muslim images, has been up on Facebook for as long as six years.
There are numerous posts that call the Rohingya and other Muslims dogs and rapists, and urge they be exterminated.
Facebook currently doesn’t have a single employee in Myanmar, relying instead on an outsourced, secretive operation in Kuala Lumpur – called Project Honey Badger – to monitor hate speech and other problematic posts, the Reuters investigation showed.
Because Facebook’s systems struggle to interpret Burmese script, the company is heavily dependent on users reporting hate speech in Myanmar.
Researchers and human rights activists say they have been warning Facebook for years about how its platform was being used to spread hatred against the Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar.
In its statement on Thursday, Facebook said it had banned a number of Myanmar hate figures and organizations from the platform.