RSSCategory: Media

The critical importance of complete freedom of the press (in additional to free speech)

July 15, 2013 | By | Reply More
The critical importance of complete freedom of the press (in additional to free speech)

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 […]

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More on the so-called news

July 13, 2013 | By | Reply More

Is these even news any more, that the mainstream news is filled with characters who pretend to be journalists? In this short video FAIR offers some new evidence.

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Chris Hedges and Geoffrey Stone on whistle-blowers: What can one do about the Surveillance State?

July 10, 2013 | By | Reply More

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman led a discussion also involving Chris Hedges and Geoffrey Stone, law professor at the University of Chicago Law School. Hedges supports the disclosure of government secrets to the press by people of conscience where the secrets are disclosed to the press. Stone indicates that what Edward Snowden disclosed was clearly a crime and he should be prosecuted, although the government needs to reevaluate the scope of its surveillance state. Fascinating conversation. My own position is quite close to Hedges on this issue, but I also believe that citizen journalism should be regarded as comparable to mainstream journalism in terms of protection offered from prosecution for engaging with whistle-blowers to discuss what they believe to be government wrong-doing. Elevating citizen journalists (I aspire to assume that role) to the category of the press, of course, means that any whistle-blower could talk to any blogger about any government secret and yet be protected from prosecution. This is a thorny issue, but one where work-arounds seem possible, especially given Stone’s alternative.

Stone argues that where government is acting inappropriate in realms involving classified information, the leakers should be prosecuted, even in situations involving grave government injustice. The press is immune from prosecution in this situation, based on the Pentagon Papers case. Stone’s position is deeply unsettling, however, because the issue today is out-of-control government surveillance. This rampant spying, including on reporters and sources, means that there won’t be any more revelations of government wrongdoing by the press. The current situation amounts to shutting down the press, meaning that the public will be kept in the dark. Stone’s “solution” for this is that government should seek internal solutions to its own injustices, in the dark. Stone asserts this to be a solution despite his earlier statements that governments are strongly motivated in the direction of NOT finding true solutions, but rather in maintaining and aggregating power over the citizens. My challenge to Professor Stone, then would be to offer a real long-term solutions. He pulls out the threat of terrorism card near then end of the discussion to justify what apparently amounts to the status quo approach (prosecute whistle-blowers who talk to the press, which Hedges argues will destroy the press). Hedges further disparages the concern with terrorism, indicating that terrorists communicate off the grid, meaning that the Surveillance State’s victims are ordinary people.

[Note: This discussion occurred prior to more recent disclosures that the U.S. government is collecting far more than metadata]

Here is an excerpt from the discussion:

CHRIS HEDGES: Well, what we’re really having a debate about is whether or not we’re going to have a free press left or not. If there are no Snowdens, if there are no Mannings, if there are no Assanges, there will be no free press. And if the press—and let’s not forget that Snowden gave this to The Guardian. This was filtered through a press organization in a classic sort of way whistleblowers provide public information about unconstitutional, criminal activity by their government to the public. So the notion that he’s just some individual standing up and releasing stuff over the Internet is false.

But more importantly, what he has exposed essentially shows that anybody who reaches out to the press to expose fraud, crimes, unconstitutional activity, which this clearly appears to be, can be traced and shut down. And that’s what’s so frightening. So, we are at a situation now, and I speak as a former investigative reporter for The New York Times, by which any investigation into the inner workings of government has become impossible. That’s the real debate.

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Who qualifies as a journalist?

June 30, 2013 | By | Reply More

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.

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One of the most dangerous consequences of indiscriminate government spying

June 29, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

From Moyers and Company:

GREENWALD: I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies. The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence, the idea that I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the e-mails and phone records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory that you just embraced, being a co-conspirator in felonies, for working with sources.

If you want to embrace that theory, it means that every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources, who receives classified information, is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States.  It’s why The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer said, “Investigative reporting has come to a standstill,” her word, as a result of the theories that you just referenced. 

So much for future opportunities for U.S. citizens to determine what the government they supposedly run is doing on their behalf.

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Michael Hastings was a real reporter

June 21, 2013 | By | 3 Replies More

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.

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Solution to the propaganda state

June 5, 2013 | By | Reply More

From Glenn Greenwald:

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.

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An Odd Email, and the Evolving Web

May 30, 2013 | By | Reply More

I recently received the following email from someone at aol.com to one of my regular legitimate email addresses:

Subject: What are these?

These look like dodge cars in the shape of colorful onions.

What is Buckminster and Chihuly Do Rounds?

Hmm. I get quite a few engineered phishing emails. But this one was not quite of the mold. I decided to google the phrase, and it led me to the Neighborhood Stabilization Team for the City of St. Louis home page that looks like this:

NabStabChihuly

Ah Ha! I thought. So I replied:

I had to Google the phrase to remember what you are asking about. The site rotates several images, so you may need to hit refresh a few times to get back to mine: Neighborhood Stabilization Team

The caption made more sense with the full image that they showed back when I submitted my pic to the city.

This is the pond in front of the geodesic dome of the Climatron (which showed the dome above and its reflection below the strip that they still have on display).

So the title refers to the round dome designed by Buckminster Fuller and the round glass onions designed by Dale Chihuly, with a weak medical pun about “doing rounds” or seeing what there is to see.

But the city website designer eventually chopped the aspect ratio of the banner image from 4:3 to 9:16 to 3:17, removing most of the image, but keeping the now enigmatic title.

Here’s the original:

P1020234

So what happened is that I submitted a few pix to a photo contest in 2007, and one of my shots was used as a web page banner. But as the needs changed, so did the image, until the final view little resembles the intent nor aspect of the original. And the caption that has been propagated is more absurd than intended.

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Obama Administration officially criminalizes investigative journalism

May 20, 2013 | By | Reply More

Stunning new development regarding the Obama administration’s war on journalism, and this is not hyperbole. What follows is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald’s analysis:

Under US law, it is not illegal to publish classified information. That fact, along with the First Amendment’s guarantee of press freedoms, is what has prevented the US government from ever prosecuting journalists for reporting on what the US government does in secret. This newfound theory of the Obama DOJ – that a journalist can be guilty of crimes for “soliciting” the disclosure of classified information – is a means for circumventing those safeguards and criminalizing the act of investigative journalism itself. These latest revelations show that this is not just a theory but one put into practice, as the Obama DOJ submitted court documents accusing a journalist of committing crimes by doing this.

That same “solicitation” theory, as the New York Times reported back in 2011, is the one the Obama DOJ has been using to justify its ongoing criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: that because Assange solicited or encouraged Manning to leak classified information, the US government can “charge [Assange] as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.”

[T]he point of the unprecedented Obama war on whistleblowers and press freedoms: to ensure that the only information the public can get is information that the Obama administration wants it to have. That’s why Obama’s one-side games with secrecy – we’ll prolifically leak when it glorifies the president and severely punish all other kinds – is designed to construct the classic propaganda model. And it’s good to see journalists finally speaking out in genuine outrage and concern about all of this.

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