Monday, February 1, 2010

Director's Notes: Defending Press Freedoms in a New Media Environment

Monday, February 01, 2010

  • First Amendment defense. "The First Amendment is a wonderful and powerful thing," Associated Press president Tom Curley said in a recent speech to the Kentucky Press Association, "but it doesn't enforce itself. Perhaps the reluctance of journalists to fight openly for laws that better reflect the spirit and intent of the First Amendment was partly responsible in the years following 9-11 for easing the way for new laws that allowed government to put more and more of its activities behind closed doors." Curley also noted a topic that concerns the McCormick Foundation Journalism Program. With the severe cutbacks in news organizations, there are fewer resources to defend freedom of the press. "Whoever the angels of the First Amendment are destined to be in the Digital Age, they aren't likely to be showing up in significant force for a while."
  • The Public Sector. The Northwest Herald scolds Illinois politicians for messing with the state's new Freedom of Information Act. The General Assembly's passage of a bill that exempts teacher, principal and superintendent evaluations from public scrutiny is a slap for anyone interested in open government. The teachers' union-friendly bill was quickly signed by Gov. Pat Quinn barely two weeks after the new FOIA became law.
  • Boom in New Media Research Tools. An overwhelming majority of reporters and editors now depend on social media for their research, according to a study released by George Washington University's Program in Strategic Public Relations. Nearly 90 percent of the journalists surveyed use blogs for story research, according to a report in the Columbia Journalism Review. About two-thirds of the journalists used social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn. About half use microblogging services like Twitter. The biggest surprise was that only 61 percent admit to using Wikipedia.

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