Free Press reports on the new DOJ guidelines:
Last Friday, the Justice Department released revised guidelines governing the Department’s interactions with the press. President Obama had ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct the review in response to the news earlier this year that the DoJ had obtained the phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors and the emails of a Fox News reporter.
One of the main issues is whether citizen journalists (e.g., many serious writers/reporters/investigators who run their own websites to report the new) will have any protection at all. This article warns that the federal government is moving in the direction of declaring an “official press,” deeming who is a journalist and who is not. This, in the digital age where citizen journalists are making a tremendous impact on news gathering.
The president of Associated Press is warning that reporters’ sources already are drying up because of the threat posed by the Obama administration’s grab of news agency telephone records.
In a report by the news wire, AP President Gary Pruitt said the Justice Department’s seizure of the records was unconstitutional, and ultimately Americans may be uninformed or misinformed about their government as a result.
The Death and Life of American Journalism (2010), by Robert McChesney and John Nichols, is an extraordinary book detailing A) the historical and jurisprudential foundation for freedom of the press (specifically granted in the First Amendment, separate and distinct from free speech), and B) the need to declare journalism as a public good and substantially […]
Who qualifies as a journalist? Margaret Sullivan of the New York Times explains:
A real journalist is one who understands, at a cellular level, and doesn’t shy away from, the adversarial relationship between government and press – the very tension that America’s founders had in mind with the First Amendment. Those who fully meet that description deserve to be respected and protected — not marginalized.
Tribute to Michael Hastings at FAIR, by Jim Naureckas:
Hastings, a reporter for Rolling Stone and BuzzFeed who died in a car crash in L.A. yesterday at the age of 33, didn’t see it as his job to maintain “good media/military relations,” or to decide what is “necessary to report.” To the contrary–he told CounterSpin (1/27/12) that one of his golden rules for reporting was, “What does everybody know who’s on the inside, but no one’s willing to say or write.”
Hastings never forgot that journalists’ loyalties are supposed to be with the public and not to the government officials whose actions they cover–and that approach distinguished him not only from Burns but from most of his colleagues. BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith (6/18/13) recalled in a tribute to his reporter:
Michael cared about friends and was good at making them; it visibly pained him when, late in the 2012 campaign, the reporters around him made little secret of their distrust for him. But he also knew…he was there to tell his readers what was going on.
Many news outlets around the world, in the age of the internet, have struggled to find an economically sustainable model for supporting real journalism. The results, including for some of the largest, have been mass lay-offs, bureau closures, an increasing reliance on daily spurts of short and trivial traffic-generating items, and worst of all, a severe reduction in their willingness and ability to support sustained investigative journalism. All sorts of smaller journalistic venues – from local newspapers to independent political blogs – now devote a substantial portion of their energies to staying afloat rather than producing journalism, and in many cases, have simply ceased to exist. . .
As governments and private financial power centers become larger, more secretive, and less accountable, one of the few remaining mechanisms for checking, investigating and undermining them – adversarial journalism – has continued to weaken. Many of these large struggling media outlets don’t actually do worthwhile adversarial journalism and aren’t interested in doing it, but some of them do. For an entity as vast as the US government and the oligarchical factions that control it – with their potent propaganda platforms and limitless financial power – only robust, healthy and well-funded journalism can provide meaningful opposition.
For several years, I’ve been absolutely convinced that there is one uniquely potent solution to all of this: reader-supported journalism. That model produces numerous significant benefits. To begin with, it liberates good journalists from the constraints imposed by exclusive reliance on corporate advertisers and media corporations. It enables journalism that is truly in the public interest – and that actually engages, informs, and inspires its readers – to be primarily accountable to those readers.