aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 05, 2005
It did occur to me earlier today - when I wrote in the context of FEC regulation of political speech that I’m in the bloggers are not journalists camp - to wonder, but what about bloggers and confidential sources?
We’re moving toward a system under which only the folks who are deemed to be professionals will be granted the status of journalists, and thereby more rights than the rest of us. This is pernicious in every way.
I still don’t know. Can just anyone set up a website, post a secret, and then cover themselves by saying, “hey, I’m a journalist”? Thorny, no?
I was surprised to find that I came closer to the story than I’d have thought. On Jan. 4, Apple sued a 19-year-old publisher of ThinkSecret, the site that told of the Mac mini two weeks before Apple announced it. I linked to it on Dec. 29.
UPDATE: Martin Stabe, who takes issue with me in the comments, discusses The danger of defining journalism in greater detail on his own blog. Do visit.
And from the April issue of The American Prospect, Blogged Down:
“Are bloggers journalists?” is a question that’s been kicking around for a few years, and both bloggers and journalists answer it by saying no. Journalists insist on the distinction because most bloggers don’t do original reporting or double-check information for its accuracy. Bloggers, for their part, often see themselves as polemicists and activists and chafe at being held to journalistic standards.
Yeh, that’s me.
But unlike traditional news outlets, right-wing blogs openly shill, fund raise, plot, and organize massive activist campaigns on behalf of partisan institutions and constituencies; they also increasingly provide cover for professional operatives to conduct traditional politics by other means—including campaigning against the established media. And instead of taking these bloggers for the political activists they are, all too often the established press has accepted their claims of being a new form of journalism. This will have to change—or it will prove serious journalism’s undoing.
Like the self-loathing homosexual who buys in to the anti-gay policies of an anti-gay administration, there is the liberal who believes the “perception that liberals are illiberal and nondemocratic.” Ok maybe not quite, but that’s how I reacted when I read that Peter Beinart said this today:
Bob Casey was denied the right to speak at the 1992 Democratic convention. That was an illiberal thing the party did.
Which earned him Atrios’s Wanker of the Day:
Casey wasn’t denied the opportunity to speak because he was anti-choice, he was denied the opportunity to speak because he refused to endorse the Clinton/Gore ticket.
UPDATE: Uh, Kevin Drum checked it out:
So it seems to me that the real reason Casey was prevented from speaking was because....he wanted to give a pro-life speech. Clinton was keeping a tight lid on the convention and wanted no dissent on an issue that he considered important.
I’m still inclined to wonder about Beinart but I’ll try harder to keep in check those first reactions.
Regulating bloggers’ political speech
Instinctively, I agree with Copyfight. Blogging will not be regulated by the FEC:
“This bout of bloggeristic panic does a few things, none of them productive. First, it redirects an honest debate over McCain-Feingold into an unhelpful debate over a parade of horribles associated with a questionable interpretation of one small offshoot of the act. Second, it fuels Big Bad Big Brother fears about the wrong things: go worry about the material witness statute or the driver’s licence biometric standards. Third, it just reinforces the belief that the number one thing the government, like everyone else, cares about is blogs. They’re just not that into you. And fourth, it completely ignores the ongoing role of the courts in protecting free speech rights.”
But the paragraph above, from James Grimmelmann at LawMeme, is preceded by this one:
What we’ll get in the end will be a system in which some sorts of online sites will have to register and deail their expenses and watch their tongues and some won’t. But the threshold is going to be significant, and for most Joe and Jane Blogger types, it’ll be obvious that they don’t qualify. Most journalist-pundit-bloggers, too. The line may be messy, but there will be a line. Some online stuff is clearly okay, some needs to be regulated, and so we’ll wind up drawing a line and walking away.
That “messy” “threshold” concerns me and is worth fretting over:
During the forthcoming period of rulemaking and public commentary, we must make our voices heard to insure that no barriers between blog and campaign coordination are created. Not only would doing do severely undermine the Democratic Party, but it would severely undermine the soapbox of the 21st century.
Copyfight’s way out of this tar pit by waving the magic “journalist exemption” wand isn’t appealing to me. I’m with the bloggers are not journalists crowd and though I recognize my little blog is not at issue here, granting an exemption on those grounds complicates matters for * those * who * are *
Friday, March 04, 2005
Laugh out loud
Crooks and Liars is the best thing since cable. Love them! That’s where I found Dino Iron Body - The New Reporter, a priceless Daily Show piece on how you too can become a “new journalist.” With Windows Media Player watch here. Then do visit Crooks and Liars. There’s plenty more where that came from.
Update: Wonkette’s not laughing.
Thursday, March 03, 2005
Clarence Thomas’s gifts
Although Clarence Thomas is not ordinarily viewed as pre-eminent among the justices of the United States Supreme Court, he is their leader in at least one respect: His rule as King of the Freebies is absolutely secure. The Los Angeles Times has reviewed records of gifts to justices between 1998 and 2003, and found that “Thomas accepted $42,200 in gifts, making him the top recipient.” By far. The next highest justice received less than $6,000, roughly one-seventh of Thomas’s take.
Here are the details.
Some bans don’t work
Thomas Hawk is in the midst of a 4 part interview with Microsoft’s Media Center bloggers. I like the goals of Media Center and its functionality is the future. Fortunately or unfortunately, this (from Part 1) is the present:
As an industry, we still have a lot of work to do. Setting up any DVR is still too complex and for a mainstream culture that still jokes about the blinking 12:00 on your VCR, we can and will do better.
In Part 3 (posted today) the topic is blogging. Microsoft encourages personal blogging by its employees. Charlie Owen, a Microsoft Program Manager, comments:
I would say the culture at Microsoft is encouraging to those who wish to blog, but it’s a bottom up thing rather than a top down thing. My manager definitely encourages me to blog, and many co-workers blog as well, so it’s nice to get a peek into their daily lives / jobs without so many meetings.
Not all companies are supportive. I’m reminded of this story about the consequences of blogging at work, which ends with the tale of the fired Google blogger. Via Joe Gandelman at Dean’s World, who reminds us all that words count.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
The cover of Newsweek is not a photo and not an illustration; it’s a “photo illustration.” Martha Stewart’s head (shot “not within the last five months") on someone else’s body ("she was unavailable to us"). All Things Considered’s Robert Siegel talks with Lynn Staley, assistant managing editor at Newsweek, about the “intent to amuse.” Her only regret? “We were a little too successful.”
The Parent’s Permission to Participate Bill
When I was a kid you had to get a permission slip to play sports. Here in Georgia the “Parent’s Permission to Participate Bill” specifically promises to exempt sports. So what kind of activity will you need your parent’s permission for? Participation in extracurricular activities and clubs in schools.
“This would be devastating to the kids that want to participate in gay-straight alliances at their schools, especially the kids who aren’t out yet and would have to come out to their parents in order to get permission to join,” said Chuck Bowen, executive director of the statewide gay rights group Georgia Equality.
Tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. the Georgia State Senate Education and Youth Committee will hold a hearing on the Bill. Georgia Equality is urging action.
Bring back the draft
When I saw the cover story of the Washington Monthly, The Case for the Draft, I expected arguments about the social inequality of the current system, that the “stop-loss” emergency measures amounted to a back door draft, and that in deciding whether or not to go to war a military drawn less disproportionately from America’s lower socioeconomic classes would better reflect and more proportionally impact the broad electorate. There was that too, but the thrust of the argument was this:
America’s all-volunteer military simply cannot deploy and sustain enough troops to succeed in places like Iraq while still deterring threats elsewhere in the world. Simply adding more soldiers to the active duty force, as some in Washington are now suggesting, may sound like a good solution. But it’s not, for sound operational and pragmatic reasons. America doesn’t need a bigger standing army; it needs a deep bench of trained soldiers held in reserve who can be mobilized to handle the unpredictable but inevitable wars and humanitarian interventions of the future. And while there are several ways the all-volunteer force can create some extra surge capacity, all of them are limited.
After a discussion of the “Five bad options”, the authors, Phillip Carter and Paul Glastris, propose:
The federal government would impose a requirement that no four-year college or university be allowed to accept a student, male or female, unless and until that student had completed a 12-month to two-year term of service. Unlike an old-fashioned draft, this 21st-century service requirement would provide a vital element of personal choice. Students could choose to fulfill their obligations in any of three ways: in national service programs like AmeriCorps (tutoring disadvantaged children), in homeland security assignments (guarding ports), or in the military. Those who chose the latter could serve as military police officers, truck drivers, or other non-combat specialists requiring only modest levels of training.
I’m for it.
Full disclosure: I never served. I didn’t dodge, I just missed the Viet Nam era bullet. Looking back I think the military would have been good experience for me.
UPDATE Thursday 3/3/05: Kevin Drum says Phil Carter and Paul Glastris will be on Lou Dobbs live at 6 pm Eastern tonight.
The one area where I had some doubts when I posted this the other day was the example of the lesbian reporter. Today, upon reflection and in response to Basil’s comment, I conclude that yes, I am saying that because the hypothetical reporter is a closeted lesbian she should only work for a paper that *supports*, reports, or is quiet about the topic, or risk being outed. (Basil’s use of the word “promotes” is consistent with the religious right’s characterization of equal rights for gay and lesbian people as “promoting special rights” and “promoting the gay lifestyle.” I’m not buying.)
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Democracy & GDP
From Fareed Zakaria’s The Future of Freedom, page 69:
The simplest explanation for a new democracy’s political success is its economic success-or to be more specific, high per capita national income.
The most comprehensive statistical study of this problem, conducted by political scientists Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, looked at every country in the world between the years 1950 and 1990. It calculated that in a democratic country that has a per capita income of under $1,500 (in today’s dollars), the regime on average had a life expectancy of just eight years. With between $1,500 and $3,000 it survived on average for about eighteen years. Above $6,000 it became highly resilient. The chance that a democratic regime would die in a country with an income above $6,000 was 1 in 500. Once rich, democracies become immortal. Thirty-two democratic regimes have existed at incomes above roughly $9,000 for a combined total of 736 years. Not one has died. By contrast, of the 69 democratic regimes that were poorer, 39 failed-a death rate of 56%.