Two videos: 1, the New York Time’s “Truth” ad, which itself stands as mockery against the Times, then 2, the NRA’s rebuttal to the NYT ad.
‘The Same NYT that Just Ran a Self-Congratulatory Ad About How Devoted to ‘Truth’ They Are Stealth-Deletes an Inconvenient Lie from an Article, Then Refuses to Explain Themselves’
Beijing’s Draft Ruling on Oath-Taking for Hong Kong Legislators ‘So Detailed it Amounts to a New Law’Posted: November 5, 2016
Constitutional expert says interpretation sets dangerous precedent for Beijing to interfere when it does not like a law, but Bar Association chairwoman believes it will have limited impact.
Joyce Ng reports: The Beijing draft ruling on how lawmakers should take their oath appears so elaborate that it amounts to making a new law for Hong Kong, lawyers say, though they differ on how much the intervention will affect the judicial system.
One professor says the ruling could set a dangerous precedent for Beijing to issue its own interpretation if it does not like a Hong Kong law or does not trust local judges in dealing with a sensitive issue. The Bar Association chief says the decision could provide clarity for lawmakers about oath-taking.
The draft interpretation, set to be voted on Monday, is likely to prescribe the format and conduct for legislators taking the oath and the consequences of non-compliance, as well as defining words like “allegiance” in Article 104 of the Basic Law, according to Basic Law Committee members who have been consulted by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.
But Johannes Chan Man-mun, an expert in constitutional law at the University of Hong Kong, said such details should not exist in or be added to a document like the Basic Law.
“It is acceptable Beijing wants to define words like ‘allegiance’ and ‘uphold’, but to add in so much other detail is not interpreting the law but making a new law, which the Standing Committee cannot do,” he said.
The controversy erupted when two localist lawmakers used derogatory language about China when taking their oaths. The chief executive and secretary for justice then launched a court bid to disqualify the two, Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, from taking their Legco seats.
Under Article 18 of the Basic Law, if the Standing Committee wishes to apply a mainland law to Hong Kong, it must first consult the Hong Kong government and add it to annex 3 of the Basic Law. Chan said the Standing Committee arguably bypassed this procedure by way of interpretation.
Another possible point of the interpretation is to confirm that the Legislative Council’s secretary-general, who is in charge of administration issues, has the power to invalidate oaths.
Chan said it would be ridiculous to elevate the status of the secretary-general and put him in the constitutional document, giving him too much power. Read the rest of this entry »
Journalists Can’t Pose as FBI Agents, but Heck Yeah, FBI Agents Actually Can Pose as Journalists, Inspector General SaysPosted: September 16, 2016
The FBI also did not violate policy when an agent impersonated an editor with the Associated Press in 2007, the Inspector General found.
Alan Neuhauser reports: FBI agents may impersonate journalists while conducting undercover investigations, and an agent who posed as an editor with the Associated Press during a 2007 investigation did not violate agency policies, the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General found in a report released Thursday.
“The Associated Press is deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s findings, which effectively condone the FBI’s impersonation of an AP journalist in 2007. Such action compromises the ability of a free press to gather the news safely and effectively and raises serious constitutional concerns.”
— Associated Press Vice President Paul Colford, in a statement
The conclusion sparked consternation across social media by journalists, civil rights groups and some legal experts, who have argued that the practice – by its very existence – threatens to heighten public mistrust of reporters, damage journalists’ credibility and have a chilling effect on sources and whistleblowers who may fear that their contacts in the media are actually undercover agents.
“The Associated Press is deeply disappointed by the Inspector General’s findings, which effectively condone the FBI’s impersonation of an AP journalist in 2007,” Associated Press Vice President Paul Colford said in a statement. “Such action compromises the ability of a free press to gather the news safely and effectively and raises serious constitutional concerns.”
The inspector general’s report acknowledged that the practice calls for “a higher level of approval” by FBI supervisors than was in place in 2007. Policies on impersonating journalists at the time were “less than clear,” it found. However, a new interim policy adopted this June – one that permits agents to pose as journalists so long as they get approval from two high-ranking officials and an undercover review committee at headquarters – meets that requirement.
Vladimir Putin Honors Critical Russian Journalist’s Birthday with a Celebratory Gunshot Wound to Journalists’s HeadPosted: August 29, 2016
Alexander Shchetinin found dead with a gun near his body after friends tried to visit him at home.
The body of Alexander Shchetinin, founder the Novy Region (New Region) press agency, was found at his flat after friends tried to visit him on his birthday.
A police spokesperson said Kiev forces were alerted of Ms Shchetinin’s death at around midnight on Saturday. He is believed to have died a few hours earlier, between 8 and 9.30pm.
Officials have speculated that his death was caused by suicide, after a gun was found near his body along with spent cartridges, and the door to his apartment was said to be locked. Read the rest of this entry »
“I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news.”
Michael Nunez reports: Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network’s influential “trending” news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site’s users.
“It was absolutely bias. We were doing it subjectively. It just depends on who the curator is and what time of day it is. Every once in awhile a Red State or conservative news source would have a story. But we would have to go and find the same story from a more neutral outlet that wasn’t as biased.”
Several former Facebook “news curators,” as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially “inject” selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren’t popular enough to warrant inclusion—or in some cases weren’t trending at all. The former curators, all of whom worked as contractors, also said they were directed not to include news about Facebook itself in the trending module.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending. I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”
In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom, reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation. Imposing human editorial values onto the lists of topics an algorithm spits out is by no means a bad thing—but it is in stark contrast to the company’s claims that the trending module simply lists “topics that have recently become popular on Facebook.”
These new allegations emerged after Gizmodo last week revealed details about the inner workings of Facebook’s trending news team—a small group of young journalists, primarily educated at Ivy League or private East Coast universities, who curate the “trending” module on the upper-right-hand corner of the site. As we reported last week, curators have access to a ranked list of trending topics surfaced by Facebook’s algorithm, which prioritizes the stories that should be shown to Facebook users in the trending section. The curators write headlines and summaries of each topic, and include links to news sites. The section, which launched in 2014, constitutes some of the most powerful real estate on the internet and helps dictate what news Facebook’s users—167 million in the US alone—are reading at any given moment.
“Depending on who was on shift, things would be blacklisted or trending,” said the former curator. This individual asked to remain anonymous, citing fear of retribution from the company. The former curator is politically conservative, one of a very small handful of curators with such views on the trending team. “I’d come on shift and I’d discover that CPAC or Mitt Romney or Glenn Beck or popular conservative topics wouldn’t be trending because either the curator didn’t recognize the news topic or it was like they had a bias against Ted Cruz.”
The former curator was so troubled by the omissions that they kept a running log of them at the time; this individual provided the notes to Gizmodo. Among the deep-sixed or suppressed topics on the list: former IRS official Lois Lerner, who was accused by Republicans of inappropriately scrutinizing conservative groups; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; popular conservative news aggregator the Drudge Report; Chris Kyle, the former Navy SEAL who was murdered in 2013; and former Fox News contributor Steven Crowder. “I believe it had a chilling effect on conservative news,” the former curator said. Read the rest of this entry »
PANIC: German TV Network Inflames Refugee Debate by Depicting Angela Merkel as a Chador-Wearing MuslimPosted: October 6, 2015
Justin Huggler reports: ARD television was inundated with complaints after it broadcast a mocked-up picture of Mrs Merkel wearing the garment, known as a chador, against a backdrop of the Reichstag surrounded by minarets.
“This is not constructive journalism. Ugh! The mood turns because of such defamation and propaganda. So yes it’s true: integration cannot succeed.”
— A Facebook post
The image was shown during a debate on the refugee crisis on Report from Berlin, a Newsnight-style programme, and was intended to be satirical, the broadcaster claimed.
“Of course it was also the of this artwork to provoke and polarise opinion. We consider this satirical form of representation to be in keeping with our journalistic values. We reject any insinuation that we would operate Islamophobic propaganda.”
— ARD television, defending its use of the controversial image
But many viewers accused the programme-makers of Islamophobia, and said they were deliberately provoking anti-Muslim sentiments.
“This is not constructive journalism. Ugh!” read one comment on the programme’s Facebook page. “The mood turns because of such defamation and propaganda. So yes it’s true: integration cannot succeed.”
The broadcaster defended the use of the image. “Of course it was also the of this artwork to provoke and polarise opinion,” it said in a statement.
“We consider this satirical form of representation to be in keeping with our journalistic values. We reject any insinuation that we would operate Islamophobic propaganda.”
But many viewers complained that the image was similar to posters produced by the anti-Islam and anti-immigrant movement Pegida, or Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West. Read the rest of this entry »
Using the video
A number of journalists have asked me if I thought it was ethical to use the video of the shooting on air and online. My answer is, “it all depends.” It depends on why you are using the video and how you will use it and how long you will use it.
We know now that the video itself is news — not just because it shows the shooting but also because it appears to show the shooter. That is reason enough to show the video in some way.
But consider alternatives. In the early hours after the shooting, the video (complete with horrific audio) was news because the “what” of the story was still unfolding. As the story turns to “why,” the graphic video becomes less newsworthy.
So you have a few options:
- Use the video unedited with audio.
- Use the video up to the moment that screaming begins and cut the audio but continue the video.
- Use the video with no audio.
- Use still frames and no video.
- Use none of the images.
What about the shooter’s video?
The shooter, Vester Flanagan, recorded his own actions and posted the video on social media while on the run from police.
That video is, once again, news because it is evidence.
Why air it? The extremely graphic video is a firsthand account of what happened. It shows how close the shooter stood while the crew was on the air. He pointed the semi-automatic pistol at Parker while she continued the interview. He backed off for a few seconds, then raised the weapon again and began firing point-blank.
And it is too graphic to use.
Journalists can be justified in airing or publishing graphic images when the images resolve disputes about what occurred. In shootings involving police, for example, when there is a question about the justifiable use of force, video, even graphic video, can clear or indict the shooter. There has to be a journalistic purpose to justify the graphic image’s use. Read the rest of this entry »
Aisling Brennan reports: As part of the PEN World Voices Festival, the international press freedom organization scheduled an event this afternoon titled, “Finding Security in Unsafe Passages: United Nations Event about Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Rights.” The panel, according to PEN’s website, will “delve into the wide range of risks journalists face every day. Experts will offer safety tips, share advice for protecting sources and copyrights in all types of media and address cybersecurity risks.”
“The press is no longer able to attend this event. There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.”
— Festival spokeswoman Kyla McMillan, by email
But on the morning of the event, a spokeswoman for the festival, Kyla McMillan, notified the Observer that we had been denied entry. “The press is no longer able to attend this event,” said Ms. McMillan by email. “There has been an issue with press authorizations through U.N. security.” Read the rest of this entry »
Brendan Bordelon reports: As journalists worldwide reacted with universal revulsion at the massacre of some of their owxn by Islamic jihadists in Paris, Al Jazeera English editor and executive producer Salah-Aldeen Khadr sent out a staff-wide email.
“Please accept this note in the spirit it is intended — to make our coverage the best it can be,” the London-based Khadr wrote Thursday, in the first of a series of internal emails leaked to National Review Online. “We are Al Jazeera!”
“I guess if you insult 1.5 billion people chances are one or two of them will kill you.”
— Mohamed Vall Salem
Below was a list of “suggestions” for how anchors and correspondents at the Qatar-based news outlet should cover Wednesday’s slaughter at the Charlie Hebdo office (the full emails can be found at here at NRO).
“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well.”
— Salah-Aldeen Khadr
Khadr urged his employees to ask if this was “really an attack on ‘free speech,’” discuss whether “I am Charlie” is an “alienating slogan,” caution viewers against “making this a free speech aka ‘European Values’ under attack binary [sic],” and portray the attack as “a clash of extremist fringes.”
“What Charlie Hebdo did was not free speech it was an abuse of free speech in my opinion, go back to the cartoons and have a look at them!” Salem later wrote. “It’ snot [sic] about what the drawing said, it was about how they said it. I condemn those heinous killings, but I’M NOT CHARLIE.”
— Mohamed Vall Salem
“Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile,” Khadr wrote. “Baiting extremists isn’t bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response—however illegitimate [sic]—is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it’s pointlessly all about you.”
His denunciation of Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed didn’t sit well with some Al Jazeera English employees.
Hours later, U.S.-based correspondent Tom Ackerman sent an email quoting a paragraph from a New York Times’ January 7 column by Ross Douthat. The op-ed argued that cartoons like the ones that drove the radical Islamists to murder must be published, “because the murderers cannot be allowed for a single moment to think that their strategy can succeed.”
That precipitated an angry backlash from the network’s Qatar-based correspondents, revealing in the process a deep cultural rift at a network once accused of overt anti-Western bias. Read the rest of this entry »
Reporters Released by Islamic State Say They Spent Several Months With Beheaded Journalist
PARIS – David Gauthier-Villars reports: Former French hostages in Syria said they spent several months in captivity with James Foley, the American journalist whose beheading was videotaped and posted on the Internet this week, and had shared the information with U.S. authorities.British Broadcasting Corp.
Didier François, a reporter with French radio Europe 1 who was kidnapped by Islamist insurgents in Syria in June of last year, said he shared a cell with Mr. Foley from September 2013 to April, when he was released by the group that calls itself Islamic State.
“He was an extraordinary man, an impressive journalist, an extremely strong man who never cracked down despite the incredibly difficult conditions.”
Mr. François told Europe 1. Upon his release with three other French reporters, Mr. François said he contacted Mr. Foley’s family, as well as U.S. authorities, to share information about the American correspondent.
U.S. Special Operations forces mounted an unsuccessful mission inside Syria earlier this summer to try to rescue Mr. Foley and other Americans held by the Islamic extremists, senior Obama administration officials have said. Read the rest of this entry »
Gavin McInnes on Fact Rape: ‘I’ve personally been through this false narrative meat grinder a million times’Posted: June 27, 2014
For Takis Magazine, Gavin McInnes writes: Ever notice that when you read an article on something you know a lot about, they’ve got 50% of the facts wrong? Whether it’s a story about your hometown or your favorite band, it’s always shocking how half-assed the journalists are. Apparently, lots of people have noticed this. Last week, we learned of a Gallup poll that said confidence in the media had plummeted to 22%. In 1979 it was 51%. This is because we’ve gone from investigators hitting the pavement to ideologues pounding their keyboards. A reporter used to go where the story led him. Now he starts with the story and crams in facts until it fits.
“It’s easy to assume everyone is a racist, sexist homophobe when you only talk to other liberal journalists.”
This may be because the demand for news outpaces the supply, so they blurt out, “Uh, the guy who hit Tracy Morgan was up for 24 hours because Walmart,” since it sounds good. It may be because print ads are dead and income is increasingly based on the number of clicks a web article gets—hence the term “click bait.” Another far more sinister possibility is the vast majority of reporters are basically Marxist liberals and they use the news as a propaganda tool for the “greater good.”
“A reporter used to go where the story led him. Now he starts with the story and crams in facts until it fits.”
I suspect it’s the latter. There are too many fake stories that fit the liberal narrative for it to be an accident. It seems like every time we see evidence of the left’s hateful worldview, we learn it’s a hoax. Remember when KFC demanded a disfigured girl leave their restaurant because she scared the customers? That never happened either. How many times have we found “Faggot” and “Nigger” scrawled on a wall only to discover later it was done by the same non-hetero-normative person of color who claimed to be a victim? Is there anyone in the country who isn’t convinced every journalist outside of Fox is in the tank for Obama?
“…Another far more sinister possibility is the vast majority of reporters are basically Marxist liberals and they use the news as a propaganda tool for the ‘greater good.’ I suspect it’s the latter.”
I often wonder … wait; “wondering” is a hate crime. When Cliven Bundy dared to wonder if some blacks were better off during slavery he was vilified.Fuck it. I’m going to wonder. I often wonder why these journalists want America to be a hellhole full of prejudice. I think it’s because their academic years consisted of far-left professors telling them the entire country is a Klan rally and they had better devote their careers to untangling this mess.
When they get a job at MSNBC, Media Matters, Raw Story, or Daily Kos, they look around and see a bunch of totally reasonable white males saying “Hello, how do you do?” Their war on hate quickly becomes a war on a vacuum, so they start randomly grabbing detritus to fill the hole. Read the rest of this entry »
The program aired on Tuesday on the “Seven Stars” satellite television channel.
It featured journalists Shaker al-Johari and Mohammad al-Jayousi talking about the 3-year-old war pitting rebels against President Bashar Assad‘s government, a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people. Read the rest of this entry »
And the Obama Administration Wants to Identify, Isolate, Harass, Audit, Wiretap, Investigate, and Imprison that Remaining 7%Posted: May 6, 2014
Percentage of journalists identifying as Republican falls from 26 percent in 1971 to 7 percent in 2013
From “The American Journalist in the Digital Age,” by professors Lars Willnat and David H. Weaver
A newly released study on American journalists in the digital age found that only 7.1 percent of journalists identified as Republicans in 2013, a sharp decline from 18 percent in 2002 and 25.7 percent in 1971. Read the rest of this entry »
Detained since December 29: Peter Greste. Photo: AP
“Few of us would have the courage to practise true investigative journalism in places like Mexico, where your head can end up next to your laptop on a road as a message to others.”
— Investigative reporter Nick McKenzie
He says his case has become an emblem for the need for freedom of press worldwide.
In a message read by his parents in Sydney on Friday, Greste said the irony of his sending greetings from Mulhaq Al Masra Prison hardly needed mentioning.
“Yet here we are, the Al Jazeera three, facing our 126th day of detention and a seventh appearance before an Eygptian court on charges of terrorism,” he said.
Greste, a reporter with the Al Jazeera network, and television producers Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed have been detained since December 29 on charges of helping terrorist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood. They will make their seventh request for bail on Saturday.
Greste said many local journalists were also in jail because of what Egyptian authorities described “as their own war on terror”.
His parents Lois and Juris Greste were “panic stricken” when they heard that nearly 700 members of the Muslim Brotherhood had been sentenced to death. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Rehearsal: White House Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing – Debunked?Posted: March 20, 2014
Catherine Anaya, from Phoenix’s KPHO-TV, says she was mistaken for saying members of the White House Press Corps submit questions to press secretary Jay Carney before the daily televised press briefing. Read more: nydailynews.com
The Weekly Standard reports: A CBS reporter from Arizona reveals that President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, receives questions from the press in advance of his daily press briefing. In fact, she says, the reporters often receive the answers in advance of the briefing, too.
“…unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.”
If a reporter falls in the forest, and…
This item from KUTV comes with this memo:
*Note* KUTV Reporter Brooke Graham is one of our hardest workers. She is doing fine following this instance and has given us permission to post the video on her behalf. She is seeking medical attention to look into what caused her to pass out. Anchors only heard her laugh and say she slipped and fell, they were completely unaware she fainted until after the live shot.
The court has ruled that New York’s Shield Law applies to New York reporters no matter where they go to gather news.
Judith Miller reports: One vote. That’s how close Fox News reporter Jana Winter came to being sent to jail for doing her job by protecting her sources.
Thanks to Tuesday’s 4-3 ruling by New York’s highest court, Jana Winter, an investigative reporter, will not be forced to appear in a Colorado state court this January.
She will not be forced to divulge the sources of her reporting in the murder trial of James Holmes, the man charged with 166 felony charges in the movie theater massacre at a midnight showing of “Batman, The Dark Knight Rises.” Twelve died and over 55 were injured in that attack in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012.
By deciding in her favor, the New York state Court of Appeals has ruled, in effect, that New York’s “Shield Law,” which prevents journalists from being forced to reveal the identities of confidential sources of their reporting, applies to New York reporters no matter where they go to gather news – to any of our 50 states and the District of Columbia, almost none of which offers reporters comparable protection. Read the rest of this entry »
Raison d’être: why your job matters. Reporters, keep reporting. Bloggers? Keep blogging! Anchor-people, keep..anchoring. News writers, keep writing! Why?
Because that’s how the president finds out about stuff.
- ‘Implausible Deniability’: The Bystander President (itmakessenseblog.com)
- MSNBC plays montage of Obama as the ‘bystander president’ (therightscoop.com)
- GOP slams ‘bystander president’ (msnbc.com)
The internet’s welcome transformation of public debate
Nelson Wiseman writes: Last December, my colleague at the Ottawa Citizen, a Parliament Hill reporter named Glen McGregor, wrote a blogpost entitled “Toward a Dogme95 of Political Reporting.” It was a trim little call for a return to journalism’s basics: pick up the phone, work sources, get stories. It asked reporters to stop filing easy stories skimmed from the froth of partisan posturing or from social media, and to be more judicious about quoting the always-voluble “senior party sources.” It was fine advice. But the first bullet point of McGregor’s manifesto caught a lot of people off guard:
No more quoting political scientists: It’s lazy and signals the reporter couldn’t find any other apparently neutral or objective source to talk. These people work in academics, not politics, so I’m not interested in their opinions on anything but their own research.
This caused quite a ruckus in the cosy Canadian politics neighbourhood of the Twittersphere. A number of professors took the comment as a raised middle finger to their presence in Canadian journalism. It probably does not matter that McGregor’s intention was to criticize journalists, not academics, and was less about telling professors to stay out of journalism than it was about telling reporters to stop relying on professors to pad out their stories and launder their political views. Like most serious misunderstandings, it served the useful function of shedding some light on the relationship between journalism and academic work, and how -technology-driven shifts in our conception of status, influence and research itself called that relationship into question.
More importantly, what McGregor’s post did was call the bluff of the entire social animal known as the “public intellectual.”
By DONNA CASSATA – Associated Press – WASHINGTON – A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure defining a journalist, which had been an obstacle to broader media shield legislation designed to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal their sources.
The Judiciary Committee’s action cleared the way for approval of legislation prompted by the disclosure earlier this year that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed almost two months of telephone records for 21 phone lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press and secretly used a warrant to obtain some emails of a Fox News journalist. The subpoenas grew out of investigations into leaks of classified information to the news organizations. Read the rest of this entry »
By GLENN HARLAN REYNOLDS
Sen. Dick Durbin thinks it’s time for Congress to decide who’s a real reporter. In The Chicago Sun-Times last week, he wrote: “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”
How do you decide who is a journalist? Essentially, he says, it’s someone who gets a paycheck from a media organization: “A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined ‘medium’ — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news Web site, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.”
Does it really? Everyform?
Because, as I write this, most of the information I’m getting from Egypt is being tweeted and blogged by Egyptians and American expats in Egypt. The media organizations are usually hours behind.
Personally, I think a journalist is someone who’s doing journalism, whether they get paid for it or not.
And Durbin is a constitutional ignoramus if he thinks that when the Framers talked about freedom of the press, they were talking about freedom for the press as an institution.
Journalism is indeed an activity, not a profession, and though we often refer to institutionalized media as “the press,” we should remember that James Madison talked about freedom of the press as “freedom in the use of the press” — that is, the freedom to publish, not simply freedom for media organizations.
In Madison’s day, of course, the distinction wasn’t as significant as it became later, when newspaper publishing became an industrial activity. It was easy to be a pamphleteer in Madison’s time, and there was real influence in being such.
But that changed with the increase in efficiencies of scale that accompanied the industrial revolution, and “the press” in common parlance became not a tool of publication but a shorthand for those organizations large and wealthy enough to possess those tools, much as the motion-picture industry has come to be referred to as “the studios.”
Yet now technology has changed things up again; the tools of Internet publication are available to anyone, however modest his or her means. (There are even homeless bloggers; I’ve met one myself.)
The ability to publish inexpensively, and to reach potentially millions of people in seconds, has made it possible for people who’d never be able to — or even want to — be hired by the institutional press to nonetheless publish and influence the world, much like 18th century pamphleteers.
Over the past few years, a lot of big scoops have come from people other than the institutional press — from James O’Keefe’s exposés of ACORN and voter fraud, to Edward Snowden’s release of NSA secrets via Glenn Greenwald, who talking head David Gregory suggested is not a “real journalist.”
Durbin’s pontifications about who’s entitled to press freedom were uttered in the course of promoting a federal “shield law” that would allow those “real” journalists to conceal their sources. I oppose such laws in general, but to the extent that they exist, they should protect everyone who’s doing journalism, regardless of where their paycheck comes from.
I wouldn’t trust Durbin (or most of his Senate colleagues) to baby-sit my kid. I certainly don’t trust them to decide who counts as a “real” journalist — and, more importantly, who doesn’t.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the University of Tennessee.