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Journalism and the 'free' internet

No one believes that Fox is “fair and balanced,” but the ridiculous perversion of what is called journalism needs to cease when this sort of nonsense comes out. (Raw Story):

A simple search of Federal Election Commission records reveals that many News Corp. employees, including chairman and chief executive officer Rupert Murdoch, have made direct, personal donations to the Senator’s re-election campaign, as well as other mostly Republican candidates.

Records indicate that in November, 2005, Murdoch personally donated $2,100 to Santorum’s campaign. This wasn’t he first monetary gift Murdoch made to Santorum; the right wing media mogul shelled out $1,000 to elect the Senator in 2000.

…A review of declared donations indicates that, with few exceptions (such as Chernin’s donations to Berman for Congress and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Greta Van Susteren’s donation to her sister’s campaign for Senate) higher-ups at the “fair and balanced” cable news outlet overwhelmingly give GOP.

John @ AmericaBlog actually has a post up that addresses this fallacy of journalism being pure and devoid of political slant (on either side). It’s disingenuous to say that reporters have no political opinions, or for that matter, if you watch Faux News for 30 seconds or so, don’t express them.

The issue of objectivity, reporting and blogging is always being bandied about — what are bloggers — reporters, “columnists”, etc.? It’s a new medium and perhaps there’s no clear way to pigeon-hole the participants in the blogosphere. John:

…why are being an activist and a journalist mutually exclusive? This came up in the context of CNN’s Lou Dobbs going after the Dubai Ports. CBS News’ blog quoted a media observer making the following point:

“To me, you’re either an advocate or a journalist. You shouldn’t pretend to be both.”

Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on the history of journalism, but I did watch the movie “Good Night, and Good Luck” yesterday. It’s about CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow taking on red-scare-baiting Senator Joseph McCarthy. Now, I don’t pretend to be as great as Edward R. Murrow, though I can certainly aspire. But much of what he had to say to and about McCarthy reminded me of a lot of what we do on the blogs, and in our activism work, every day.

And to take this off of myself, how did Murrow’s public criticism of McCarthy differ in any way from Lou Dobbs’ criticism of the Dubai deal? I can’t find any difference.

The MSM itself plays dumb on this as well, preferring to pretend objectivity exists in its ranks rather than show its bias one way or the other — and declare it.

Bloggers, for better or for worse, are both activists and journalists. Most don’t claim to be wedded to one side or another. In fact, most bloggers are not journalists by any stretch of the imagination — we don’t normally break stories, we analyze, chew on the reporting of others and pass them around the virtual table to share with our readers. But that doesn’t exclude us from the capacity to break stories, check facts (or help correct them), and sometimes affect opinion or spur activism.

It’s precisely why establishment media, as well as the government, can’t quite decide how to deal with bloggers — but you get the feeling that these entities would like the genie of info sharing back in the bottle, either by attempts at regulation or controlling access.

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Control is also why you see idiotic proposals like AOL’s bright idea, Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail, designed to charge companies and organizations to send emails to their members in an effort to “validate” emails as “spam-free” and thus would pass through the AOL-approved gateway. This affects any organization, such as non-profits or grassroots political organizations as well, which is why you have entities such as MoveOn.org Civic Action, Gun Owners of America and Association of Cancer Online Resources all on board in opposition to AOL’s master plan.

This proposal is so godawful that this coalition of organizations has formed DearAOL, a site that opposes this move to destroy the free nature of the internet under the guise of protecting you from spam. It’s a slippery slope from there.

The Internet is a revolutionary force for free speech, civic organizing, and economic innovation precisely because it is open and accessible to all Internet users equally. On a free and open Internet, small ideas can become big ideas overnight. As Internet advocacy groups, charities, non-profits, businesses, civic organizing groups, and email experts, we ask you to reconsider your pay-to-send proposal and to keep the Internet free.

A pay-to-send system won’t help the fight against spam – in fact, this plan assumes that spam will continue and that mass mailers will be willing to pay to have their emails bypass spam filters. And non-paying spammers will not reduce the amount of mail they throw at your filters simply because others pay to evade them.

Perversely, the new two-tiered system AOL proposes would actually reward AOL financially for failing to maintain its email service. The chief advantage of paying to send CertifiedEmail is that it can bypass AOL’s spam filters. Non-paying customers are being asked to trust that after paid mail goes into effect, AOL will properly maintain its spam filters so only unwanted mail gets thrown away.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding