Category Archives: Freedom of Speech

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.”

 

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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.”

 

Using The Term “Racist.”

Touchy subject — using the term “racist” while covering President Trump.

“Placing labels on speech by any public figure runs the risk of editorialization, and newsroom decision makers are wary of overstepping conventional norms,” writes Pete Vernon.

Bottom line: It’s time reporters do what columnists and opinion writers do, says Vernon.

Killing Net Neutrality Rules Could Hurt Students

Killing net neutrality rules could hurt students using videoconferencing and other forms of high-tech distance learning, writes Klint Finley.

The Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 14 scraped rules that ban internet providers from blocking or slowing data delivery. Rural populations could suffer most, says Finley.

Justice Department Targets Journalist Sources

Justice Department criminal investigations into sources of journalists are up 800 percent, writes Trevor Timm. Lawsuit aims to show how government is stifling freedom of speech.