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  • Gerrit Eicker 09:43 on 3. January 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , Confidentiality, Crystal Cox, , Editing, , , First Amendment, , , , , , Journalistic Practices, Journalistic Protection, Journalistic Standards, , , , , , , , , Professional Standards, , , Qualification, , , , , , ,   

    Bloggers: Journalists? 

    Are bloggers journalists? The case of Crystal Cox heats up the never ending story; http://eicker.at/BloggersJournalists

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 09:44 on 3. January 2012 Permalink | Reply

      CP: “On November 30, United States District Judge Marco A. Hernandez of the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, Portland Division, ruled against a blogger, Crystal Cox, who had represented herself before the court in a defamation case in which she was the defendant. In the end, the judge ordered Cox to pay $2.5 million in damages to the plaintiffs. …Judge Hernandez suggested that bloggers could only sometimes count as journalists, based on a multi-factor test he set forth. … Judge Hernandez also ruled that, under Oregon law, Cox did not have the right to protect her sources. … In sum, Judge Hernandez should have taken a functional approach, and read the terms of the two statutes to encompass methods of publication that were closely analogous to those listed in the statute. Doing so would have meant that blogs, including Cox’s, were included. … On one hand, Judge Hernandez was surely reasonable to include factors referring to practices such as fact-checking… But on the other hand, it may not be fair to include the factors of journalism education, institutional affiliation, or proof of credentials… Yet, to establish such a credentialing body might prove to be a double-edged sword. One of the very points of blogging is that anyone can do it, and that is also one of its great virtues. Thus, this issue may be one in which either bloggers’ independence will be sacrificed a bit, or the legal protections journalists enjoy will continue to be withheld from bloggers.

      Hernandez: “Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of (1) any education in journalism; (2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity; (3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest; (4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted; (5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources; (6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others; or (7) contacting ‘the other side’ to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not ‘media.’

      Forbes: “In case involving self-described ‘investigative blogger’ Crystal Cox, Judge Hernandez ruled that in order to qualify for basic First Amendment protections like state shield laws, freelance journalists have to meet a rather stiff set of criteria. … On page 9 of a 13-page ruling, Judge Hernandez last month set out these requirements to qualify as a journalist… ‘Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not ‘media,” the ruling says. Obviously, the judge – an Obama appointee – doesn’t understand either media or the First Amendment. His ruling also went much farther than the case before him required. … Hernandez’ qualifications suggest that only ‘news reporting’ is journalism. … Does this mean I think everyone who publishes a blog qualifies for whatever ‘journalistic protections’ exist? Hell no. My opinion is that Crystal Cox isn’t committing journalism on the two blogs I’ve seen associated with her – this one and this other one. I am not taking sides, but her writing and sites would get most ‘real’ journalists fired. This is an example of where journalism and pornography are both hard to define, but I know them when I see them. … Judge Hernandez missed the point in several ways, but he is right that no single attribute can define who qualifies for special journalistic protection and who does not. The First Amendment applies to all, but the law can help journalists in cases of slander and libel, protection of sources and access to news events.

      NYT: “Everyone knows that you no longer need to buy ink by the barrel to be considered a publisher. Your grandmother can do it with a laptop. But can anyone be considered a journalist? That is the focus of the Cox ruling. It suggests that a journalist may need to act on a set of professional standards to be recognized as a protected member of the tribe. – So who is a journalist? A journalist – good or bad – possesses a hunger to pursue the truth and to share it in compelling ways. Yet some of the best journalists have had no academic training in the field. – Blogs compete with mainstream media every day. In some cases, they have become more trustworthy as sources of information than some old school practitioners. … The First Amendment is not just for journalists. It affords all Americans the right to unfettered speech. We should celebrate how technology lets us express more speech than ever before – without discriminating against the ‘non-journalists.’ That doesn’t mean that online publishers should not be judged according to an evolving set of standards and practices.

  • Gerrit Eicker 07:45 on 14. December 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , European Union, First Amendment, , Google Finance, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Search Neutrality, , , , , , , WebMD,   

    Google Self-promotion 

    WSJ: Google increasingly is promoting some of its own content over that of rival websites; http://eicker.at/GoogleSelfPromotion

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 07:45 on 14. December 2010 Permalink | Reply

      WSJ: “The Internet giant is displaying links to its own services – such as local-business information or its Google Health service – above the links to other, non-Google content found by its search engine. … Critics include executives at travel site TripAdvisor.com, health site WebMD.com and local-business reviews sites Yelp.com and Citysearch.com, among others. … The EU received a complaint from a shopping-search site that claimed it and other similar sites saw their traffic drop after Google began promoting its own Product Search service above conventional search results. … The issue isn’t entirely new. The company for several years has used prominent links to services such as Google Finance and Google Maps to boost their popularity, with varying results.

      Google: “When someone searches for a place on Google, we still provide the usual web results linking to great sites; we simply organize those results around places to make it much faster to find what you’re looking for. For example, earlier this year we introduced Place Search to help people make more informed decisions about where to go. Place pages organize results around a particular place to help users find great sources of photos, reviews and essential facts. This makes it much easier to see and compare places and find great sites with local information.”

      SEL: “The question of Google’s right to refer traffic to its own sites is once again in the center of policy debate. The European Commission is looking at this issue as part of its larger anti-trust investigation against Google. It’s also a question at the heart of the federal regulatory review of the ITA acquisition. … What are or should be Google’s ‘obligations’ to third party publishers? This is the central question it seems to me.These are all very difficult issues and become extremely problematic at the level of execution. If regulators start intervening in Google’s ability to control its algorithm and its own SERP it sets a bad precedent and compromises Google’s ability to innovate and maybe even compete over time. … It has also been held by courts that the content of SERPs is an ‘editorial’ arena protected by the First Amendment. So hypothetically Google could only show Google-related results and still be within the law. … Google’s dominance of the market may decline in a few years. I’m not a laissez-faire, free-market lover but the market may take care of itself. Facebook and others are working on ways to discover content that don’t require conventional search-engine usage.

      TC: “Displaying local results this way is a little less in your face, but the end result is the same. In both cases, the main link still goes to the businesses’ own websites, but the Google Places links are also prominent. Either way, the message is clear to local businesses: list your profile in Google Places and you will have a better shot at appearing at the top of the first search results page. – Are these results better for users? It depends on how good are the Google Places listings. Some of them are very good, I will admit. But try any local search and I bet you will consistently get Google Places results, sometimes taking up most of page – not always at the very top, but always as a block. They can’t all be better than results for businesses which don’t happen to have a Google Places listing. Remember, Google Places is still fairly new and developing.

  • Gerrit Eicker 09:50 on 11. December 2010 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , Checks and Balances, Counter-democracy, , , , First Amendment, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , State, , , , ,   

    WikiLeaks: Pros and Cons II. 

    Shirky: Wikileaks should not be able to operate as a law unto itself [but] we need to keep [it] alive today; http://eicker.at/WL

     
    • Gerrit Eicker 09:50 on 11. December 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Shirky: “Like a lot of people, I am conflicted about Wikileaks.Citizens of a functioning democracy must be able to know what the state is saying and doing in our name, to engage in what Pierre Rosanvallon calls ‘counter-democracy’, the democracy of citizens distrusting rather than legitimizing the actions of the state. Wikileaks plainly improves those abilities. – On the other hand, human systems can’t stand pure transparency. For negotiation to work, people’s stated positions have to change, but change is seen, almost universally, as weakness. People trying to come to consensus must be able to privately voice opinions they would publicly abjure, and may later abandon. … In the US, however, the government has a ‘heavy burden’, in the words of the Supreme Court, for engaging in prior restraint of even secret documents, an established principle since New York Times Co. vs. The United States, when the Times published the Pentagon Papers. If we want a different answer for Wikileaks, we need a different legal framework first.Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency – Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change. If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow.”

      Gillmor: “Of course, the New York Times, Washington Post and many other news organizations in the U.S. and other nations have published classified information themselves in the past – many, many times – without any help from WikiLeaks. Bob Woodward has practically made a career of publishing leaked information. By the same logic that the censors and their media acolytes are using against WikiLeaks, those organizations and lots of others could and should be subject to censorship as well. … Media organizations with even half a clue need to recognize what is at stake at this point. It’s more than immediate self-interest, namely their own ability to do their jobs.Like Clay Shirky, I’m deeply ambivalent about some of what WikiLeaks does, and what this affair portends. Governments need to keep some secrets, and laws matter. So does the First Amendment, and right now it’s under an attack that could shred it.”

      Sauter/Zittrain: “Everything You Need to Know About WikileaksWho is responsible for redacting the documents? What actions did Wikileaks take to ensure that individuals were not put in danger by publication of the documents? – According to the Associated Press and statements released by Wikileaks and Julian Assange, Wikileaks is currently relying on the expertise of the five news organizations to redact the cables as they are released, and it is following their redactions as it releases the documents on its website. (This cannot be verified without examining the original documents, which we have not done – nor are we linking to them here.) According to the BBC, Julian Assange approached the U.S. State Department for guidance on redacting the documents prior to their release. One can imagine the State Department’s dilemma there: assist and risk legitimating the enterprise; don’t assist and risk poor redaction. In a public letter, Harold Koh, legal adviser to the Department of State, declined to assist the organization and demanded the return of the documents.”

      Madrigal: “How to Think About WikiLeaks – In the days since WikiLeaks began releasing a small percentage of its cache of 250,000 cables sent by State Department officials, many people have tried to think through the event’s implications for politics, media, and national security. – Writers pulling at the knot of press freedom, liberty, nationalism, secrecy and security that sits at the center of the debate have produced dozens of fantastic pieces. We’re collecting the very best here. This page will be updated often. New links will be floated near the top of this list.

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