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Press On...
Thursday, 18 October 2007 12:11
by Jayne Lyn Stahl

Congrats to the House for passing, by a landslide, the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. We can only hope that the Senate follows suit. This is crucially important legislation, make no mistake, but this is not the end of the road either. As long as government, whether it has a Republican or a Democrat at the helm, is allowed to manipulate which stories editors publish, and redact that which is less than flattering to the powers that be, we place freedom of the press in jeopardy.

Moreover, as long as reporters are concerned about thoroughly investigating, and/or reporting a specific event for fear of editorial reprisals, then freedom of the press is in jeopardy. Too many journalists have been sacrificed at the altar of self-censorship, in recent years, in their coverage of the war in Iraq, as well as another all but inevitable military confrontation with Iran. It's high time that the newspaper, and media industry stood up to the Redactor-in-Chief, and his Static Department, not only to protect the confidentiality of their sources, but to assert that they are more than propaganda-delivery vehicles for the White House.

A federal shield to insulate journalists from prosecution for adhering to their professional ethics is an important first step, but it is precisely that, the first step, and far from the last one.

We must press on for openness, accountability, and honesty in government.

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Comments (2)add comment

Jimmy Montague said:

Jimmy Montague
FOI by itself means nothing.
FOI is worthless if we do nothing to address the issue of press ownership. The question "Who owns the press?" is basic to all other reforms. Until we force the likes of Rupert Murdoch to sell their holdings, until we force diversification of ownership, everything else we do is a sham. In a similar vein, we should bar those who own interests in defense, in energy, and other key industries from acquiring financial interests in journalistic enterprises. Ways to keep the influence of advertisers from tainting newsroom operations must be considered, as well. FOIA is fine, laudable, even necessary, but as long as journalists have to dance to the tune of Money, FOIA won't mean much. Stories written from info garnered through FOIA are so much wasted effort if they can't be disseminated. So it's necessary to bust up conglomerates in book publishing, as well, and steps simply MUST be taken to guarantee untrammeled freedom of speech on and unrestricted access to the Internet.
October 18, 2007
Votes: +0

Jayne Stahl said:

Please note: the House passed the Free Flow of Information Act not the Freedom of Information Act. Sorry for the typo. As founder of Writers-at-Large, a California writers' advocacy group, nearly three years ago,we worked very hard to see the day when the Free Flow of Information would be more than an abstraction, and Congress would confront the need for a federal shield law to protect journalists.
October 18, 2007
Votes: +0

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