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Archive for the ‘Censorship’ Category

The Newseum tweeted the blow infographic about the First Amendment and how well Americans know it.

I always find it interesting how people respond to the First Amendment because it’s not always correct.

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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. — The First Amendment

There always seems to be an awful lot of discussion about people’s First Amendment rights and freedom of speech being trampled on in the United States. But at the same time I wonder if people actually have read the First Amendment (see italicized text at the top).

The amendment says the government does not have the right to regulate what you say. That means your local council cannot pass a law saying we can’t have a protest on the steps of City Hall. What it doesn’t mean is that you can march into someone’s place of business and say whatever you want. You can be removed from private property.

In the online world, it means people can ban you from a website or message forum because of things you say, especially if you violate their terms of service. They’re not squashing your freedom of speech.

Think about it this way: If someone was in your living room and was saying some truly terrible things, wouldn’t you ask them to leave? Or would you not allow someone in your house who acts like that? It’s the same thing.

Also, people seem to think they can say whatever they want without repercussions. The First Amendment doesn’t say you can say anything and never have any repercussions. People are going to react to what you say and respond to you. They certainly cannot be violent because that would violate all sorts of other laws that could result in jail time. People may debate you and people may boycott you (your business, your website, your Twitter account) because of something you say. It happens, but it doesn’t mean anyone’s freedom of speech is being violated. People have just as much of a right to respond to what you’re saying in a variety of ways. Remember what Voltaire said:

 I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.

Our forefathers wrote the Bill of Rights wanting us to have public debate. They wanted all sides of an issue to be aired. I had a professor in my undergraduate years at American University who said the Freedom of Speech allows people to find the kernel of truth in everything everyone says.

And that’s what the Freedom of Speech is about: uncovering the truth. That’s what open debate is supposed to bring, finding the truth and helping us move forward as a society.

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It’s been a crazy week. I spent a couple days this week interviewing in Hoboken and New York in what seems like the never-ending job search. Are other unemployed journalists going through this same insanity? And now I have the makings of a cold. Not something you want when you need to hunt for a job. As it is, I had to skip out on a freelance writers meet-up in Montclair today because I was feeling under the weather.

Citizen Journalism Comes Of Age During Ike

I know it’s a press release, but the headline in itself made me angry. Every time there’s a major news event and citizen journalism plays a role in the coverage, citizen journalism is deemed as “coming of age.”

Guess what, folks, citizen journalism came of age a long time ago. It’s here and it’s here to stay. It’s integrated into how news agencies cover major news events today.

Screw the system. Publish your own content!

One of my favorite blogs — 10,000 words — has a great piece about how you can get your work published without using the mainstream media. No agent needed to get a book published. No editor to get a magazine article published. Some great advice and links here.

Last rites on the Rocky Mountain News’s Twittering

Rocky Mountain News editor, publisher and president John Temple has taken some heat over the newspaper’s choice to Twitter a toddler’s funeral. I’m one of the people who was critical.

But Temple contends that people want real-time news and that a funeral can be reported via Twitter in a tasteful way. I’d like to see them try because I don’t see that as possible.

Just because you have a technology to use in covering the news doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for everything you cover. Video is fine for some stories, but not all. Perhaps a photo gallery or audio slide show would fit better. The same goes with using Twitter. It’s a great tool for covering breaking news, but it doesn’t mean it’s great to use for every breaking news story.

Project Censored

Someone passed along the link to me on Twitter, and now I pass it along to you. The most censored list fueled a research paper I wrote in graduate school about the Freedom of Information Act and secrecy in the Bush administration.

Rangerland

Not media-related, but it’s where you can find some of my work. Hockey season is back, so I’m back writing the pregame coverage for the Rangers. Plus there are plenty of other people who work very hard on what is one of the most popular Rangers fan blogs. It’s a not serious look at the Rangers, so expect humor and fake interviews.

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