Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

Report For America

Report For America: Nellie Bowles updates status of nonprofit Report For America, aiming to put a thousand journalists in understaffed newsrooms by 2022.

Applicants “want to try to save democracy,” says a founder. Fellowships last one to two years and pay about $40,000.

“I felt like I needed to give something back to a place that has given a lot to me,” says one of the first reporters selected. “And journalism is the way for me to do that.”

 

 

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Sinclair Learning Moment

A Sinclair learning moment: “The controversy surrounding Sinclair is about more than partisanship, media consolidation and government oversight,” writes Pete Vernon.

“It’s about the very manner in which the American public understands where their news comes from and how it’s made.” Sinclair is perfectly capable of doing good news, a source tells Vernon. “But if consumers see things that offend them, they need to show it,” says the source.

Right To Be Forgotten

Right to be forgotten: Chava Gourarie writes about two British men who sued to keep their past crimes out of Google search results.

“As the first case to test the ‘right to be forgotten’ in England’s High Court, its outcome will likely set some ground rules in the roiling debate between personal privacy and freedom of expression on the internet,” she writes.

Thriving On Rejection

Thriving on rejection: Jackie Spinner writes about an Illinois Associated Press reporter who finds stories in Freedom of Information request rejections.

“Report on outlandish denials or those about significant public issues,” says the reporter. “Access to actions by public bodies is a huge issue and denials need to be exposed.”

 

Law Lifts Restraints On Student Journalists

A Washington state law lifts prior review on student journalism by school officials, writes Rachel Sun.

In 2018-19, Washington state student journalists at public schools and colleges are free to publish what they want without interference by school officials.

Student journalists are journalists and deserve to have their rights protected, says a student. They are tomorrow’s professional journalists.

Shunning Hacked Emails

The case for shunning hacked emails: Nathaniel Zelinsky calls for a “responsible journalism pledge” to prevent Russian from meddling in U.S. elections.

“Most reporters distance themselves from questions about the origin of information, so long as it remains verifiable, while tech companies tend to believe no one should restrict access to information on the internet,” he writes. “But at this particularly dangerous point in our nation’s history, reporters and Facebook alike just might be willing to embrace a new ethical obligation out of a sense of civic duty.”

The Internet’s Central Villain

 

The Internet’s central villain: Farhad Manjo asks what is the driving force behind much of the chaos and disrepute online?

“This isn’t that hard,” he writes. “You don’t need a crazy wall to figure it out, because the force to blame has been quietly shaping the contours of life online since just about the beginning of life online: It’s the advertising business, stupid.”

 

Crusading High School Journalists

Crusading high school journalists: Students learn that a popular history teacher is fired for misconduct, writes Eli Rosenberg.

The story is deleted from the newspaper website by school leaders. The students created their own website, the Herriman Telegram, and republished the story. Their slogan: “Student run. No censorship.”

 

European Free Speech and Press Advocates Worried

European advocates for free speech and press are worried, writes Mathew Ingram.

“France, Germany and the United Kingdom are all either discussing or are already in the process of implementing requirements for social networks to take measures to remove or block online hate speech, harassment and so-called ‘fake news'” considered threats to social order.

America’s First Amendment protects even hateful speech.

Quoting a Foul-Mouthed President

Journalists typically avoid reporting vulgar language, but they were tested over how far to go in repeating President Trump’s comments about “shithole countires,” or words to that effect.

Michael M. Grynbaum surveyed media and found they differed, some explicit while others nuanced. In this case, the profane quote was not incidental to the story, it was the story.

The reporting appears to follow the direction of a cultural shift to coarse language.

Observers note that Trump’s remarks follow others that forced journalists to consider their standards, like “pussy.” They also note that Trump is not the only president to use offensive language. President George W. Bush used an expletive to describe a New York Times reporter.

A generation of so ago, words like “hell” or “damn” were not seen in daily newspapers, or heard on radio or television, much less the F-word. These appear fairly commonly now.

President Lyndon Johnson often used colorful language, sometimes off-color. In 1965 Johnson ordered U.S. military intervention in the Dominican Republic, and reportedly said, “Those people couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if they had instructions on the heel!” The disparaging remarks could have upset U.S.-Latin American relations if they had been widely reported.

President Gerald Ford fired his agriculture secretary, Earl Butz, in 1976 for highly offensive remarks quoted in Rolling Stone Magazine about why African-Americans don’t vote Republican.

In the ongoing discussion of what to report or not, retired journalism professor Robert Buckman offers this thought from from Arthur Brisbane, American journalist, editor and author: “A newspaper is a mirror reflecting the public, a mirror more or less defective, but still a mirror.”