Journalists Covering Protests Arrested, Assaulted in Ferguson

THE WASHINGTON POST’S WESLEY LOWERY AND THE HUFFINGTON POST’S RYAN J. REILLY WERE RELEASED WITHOUT CHARGES

After police killed unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown last weekend in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo. protests erupted, then violence broke out and looting ensued.

In the time since Brown’s death,  journalists have descended on the town to cover those events and protesters have continued to call for justice in the killing of the college-bound teen. Meanwhile, law enforcement has become increasingly hostile to the media and demonstrators alike.

IN A SEPARATE INCIDENT, POLICE FIRED TEAR GAS AND BEAN BAGS AT AN AL-JAZEERA AMERICA TELEVISION CREW

The most recent evidence of that hostility came Thursday with the arrest of two reporters at a Ferguson McDonald’s — near where Brown was shot and killed — and a video showing police in riot gear firing tear gas and rubber bullets at a television crew, then dismantling their equipment after they fled for safety.

In any free country the balance between providing police protection with integrity and over-zealous enforcement is delicate. It is one thing for officers to act when there is reasonable suspicion; it is quite another to abuse that discretion by chilling free speech and creating a climate of fear and distrust under the pretext of safety and security.”

Mickey H. Osterreicher, General Counsel for the National Press Photographers Association, from a letter to Chief Thomas Jackson Ferguson Police Department

Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery and Huffington Post reporter Ryan J. Reilly were both arrested at a McDonald’s near the scene of demonstrations as they tried to work and recharge their cell phones. Both media organizations condemned the arrests. And both reporters were interviewed on MSNBC on Thursday describing their violent removal by heavily armed police in riot gear.

He was illegally instructed to stop taking video of officers. Then he followed officers’ instructions to leave a McDonald’s — and after contradictory instructions on how to exit, he was slammed against a soda machine and then handcuffed. That behavior was wholly unwarranted and an assault on the freedom of the press to cover the news. The physical risk to Wesley himself is obvious and outrageous.”

– Martin BaronExecutive Editor of The Washington Post, from a statement about the arrest of reporter Wesley Lowery

Journalists have a constitutionally protected right to work without the government interference, We call on — and fully expect — the authorities to investigate what appears to be a violation of the First Amendment and to hold the officers involved to account, if necessary.”

Bob Butler, President of the National Association of Black Journalists, from a statement about the arrests of Lowery and Reilly

Lowery posted a video to Twitter showing an officer demanding that he leave the restaurant and ordering him to stop filming, prior to his arrest. Reilly posted photos of an officer he says assaulted him during the arrest — a law enforcement official Reilly also says ignored repeated requests to identify himself by name and badge number.

Compared to some others who have come into contact with the police department, they came out relatively unscathed, but that in no way excuses the false arrest or the militant aggression toward these journalists. Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers, and treated those inside the McDonald’s as ‘enemy combatants.’”

Ryan Grim, Huffington Post Washington D.C. Bureau Chief, from a statement about the arrests

Who Reads The Newspapers?

Adam F. Hutton:

I read The Washington Post and The New York Daily News. I’m not sure what that says about me exactly. But this is funny. And you should read it.

Originally posted on Chris Navin:

I’ll keep doing this every now and again, as this blog clearly stays on the cutting-edge, way ahead of the curve and way behind the eight-ball.

Who reads the newspapers?

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Brooklyn Is Now Officially Over: The Ascendance of Brooklyn, the Lifestyle, Above All Else

I joked about this piece on Facebook, but it is in fact an excellent analysis about how “Brooklyn” the brand, has surpassed Brooklyn the place. The prognosis is bleak and while I don’t always agree with Kim Velsey’s analysis — I can’t quarrel with her spot on observations: “And the borough’s cafés and bars, rather than serving as public spaces where artists and writers exchange ideas, have become ends unto themselves, temples of consumption where the conversation revolves around the provenance of the product being sold: the brewery, the roaster, the bitters. It is a celebration of consumption for consumption’s sake, consumption as an art, more fitted to the court of Louis XIV than the woodsmen and hillbillies from which Brooklynites take their stylistic cues.”

Reddit embraces its role as a journalistic entity with new live-reporting feature

Adam F. Hutton:

It’s called the front page of the Internet for a reason.

Originally posted on Gigaom:

Some critics may see Reddit as a more restrained version of the online community 4chan — a place for nerds to talk about Star Trek or whatever the latest meme is — but the site has also become a place where new forms of journalism occur, such as the reporting on breaking news events like a shooting or the war in Syria. To help make that even easier, Reddit has launched a “live blogging”-style feature that will eventually allow anyone to function as a kind of Reddit-based news reporter.

The feature, which is still in beta, is currently being tested on two very different Reddit threads or topics: one is a kind of stereotypical Reddit discussion about a fascinating game-based sociological experiment known as “Twitch Plays Pokemon,” which involves tens of thousands of people simultaneously playing an old-fashioned Pokemon game via real-time chat.

The second beta test involves something…

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Lara Logan Suspended from CBS News Over Botched “60 Minutes” Benghazi Report

logan.cbs.thismorning2Executive Director of Standards and Practices for CBS News, Al Ortiz, blasted Logan for “taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi…while continuing to report the story,” in an internal memo leaked to The Huffington Post.

In October of 2012, one month before starting work on the Benghazi story, Logan made a speech in which she took a strong public position arguing that the US Government was misrepresenting the threat from Al Qaeda, and urging actions that the US should take in response to the Benghazi attack. From a CBS News Standards perspective, there is a conflict in taking a public position on the government’s handling of Benghazi and Al Qaeda, while continuing to report on the story.

– Al Ortiz, Executive Director of Standards and Practices for CBS News

Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News, suspended Logan and her producer on the mistaken Benghazi story, Max McClellan according to a separate memo, also obtained by the Post.

davies-embassyhouseThere is a lot to learn from this mistake for the entire organization. We have rebuilt CBS News in a way that has dramatically improved our reporting abilities. Ironically 60 Minutes, which has been a model for those changes, fell short by broadcasting a now discredited account of an important story, and did not take full advantage of the reporting abilities of CBS News that might have prevented it from happening.
As a result, I have asked Lara Logan, who has distinguished herself and has put herself in harm’s way many times in the course of covering stories for us, to take a leave of absence, which she has agreed to do. I have asked the same of producer Max McClellan, who also has a distinguished career at CBS News.

– Jeff Fager, Chairman of CBS News

Social Media, free speech groups side with “The Dirty” in libel lawsuit appeal

18059_gavel-keyboardThe lower court ruling threatens online speech says journalist, professor and media critic Jeff Jarvis

On the surface, this is a story about a legal battle between a former cheerleader and high school English teacher who had sex with an underage student, and the crude proprietor of a gossip-mongering Web site. But looking past those salacious details reveals the courthouse kerfuffle could be the most important free speech case of the internet-age.

Years before it became famous as the web site that exposed the sexting adventures of Carlos Danger and Sydney Leathers, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based gossip site, The Dirty was publishing rumors about an NFL cheerleader and high school teacher Sarah Jones.

At the time, Jones was a cheerleader for the Cincinnati Ben-gals and an English teacher at Dixie Heights High School in Crestview Hills, Ky.

Her entanglement with the gossip site began with an anonymous post in 2009 that suggested Jones had sex with the entire Cincinnati Bengals roster. A second post, also anonymous, said Jones had sex with her husband in her classroom and that she had sexually transmitted diseases. Both posts came from unnamed sources and included photographs of Jones. But on the second post, The Dirty’s owner, Nik Richie added a comment: “Why are all high school teachers freaks in the sack? – nik”

dirty ben-gals

That comment led Jones to file a libel suit in December 2009. She was awarded a $338,000 judgement by a federal judge in July 2013.

Richie filed an appeal this month, and last week social media companies like Facebook and Twitter, and civil liberties advocates including the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed Amicus curiae briefs in support. At the core of the appeal is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

The Dirty’s lawyers and their supporters argue that Richie should have been protected against Jones’ lawsuit, because Section 230 says users are responsible for the content they generate on social media sites.

In the rest of this post the reader will find:

  • The complete legal brief filed by the ACLU, the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the Digital Media Law project and other free speech advocates in support of Nik Richie, The Dirty and its appeal of the libel judgement.
  • The complete legal brief filed by Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media companies in support of Richie’s appeal.
  • Selected quotes from both briefs.
  • Jeff Jarvis warning against the “danger” of stripping bloggers — yes, even gossip bloggers — of the protections of the Communications Decency Act
  • A video report from local NBC affiliate WLWT in Cincinnati on the far-reaching impact of the judge’s ruling in the suit — including interviews with University of Cincinnati Journalism Professor Jeff Blevins and First Amendment Lawyer Jack Greiner.
  • A live courthouse interview segment aired by WLWT after the verdict including interviews with Jones and Richie’s attorney.
  • Details of Jones’ rise to infamy after filing the lawsuit, in which she admitted to having sex with a 17-year-old student, lying to police to cover up the illicit affair, and then going on the Today Show on NBC with her teenage lover Cody York to proclaim their love for one another.
  • Also, this steamy photo:

sarah-jones-bengals-cheerleader-04

While some of the material hosted on its [The Dirty’s] site may be offensive, and while some of the appellants’ actions (such as subsequently commenting about offensive content) may be unseemly, they are neither independently unlawful nor sufficient to trigger the loss of Section 230 immunity.”

— A “friend-of-the-court” brief filed by the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others in support of The Dirty’s appeal

The District Court’s opinion, if upheld, would undermine intermediary immunity for other sites, threatening the existence of platforms that welcome undeniably legal though critical speech.”

— A “friend-of-the-court” brief filed by the Center for Democracy & Technology, the Digital Media Law Project, and others in support of The Dirty’s appeal

The following document is the Amicus brief filed by free speech and civil liberties advocates on November 19 in support of The Dirty’s appeal:

It is crucial for this Court to distinguish between the explicit solicitation of actionable information from users, and the general solicitation of information that might turn out to be actionable, or simply damaging to particular individuals or businesses,”

— A “friend-of-the-court” brief filed by the Public Participation Project, the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse, and others in support of The Dirty’s appeal

The following document is the Amicus brief filed by social media companies including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter in favor on The Dirty’s appeal:

Revoking a website’s protection under Section 230 because the site solicits ‘negative’ content in the abstract would threaten a wide variety of specific sites and projects that serve undeniably important public purposes by leaving them vulnerable to precisely the kind of expensive legal challenge that followed here.”

— A “friend-of-the-court” brief filed by the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others in support of The Dirty’s appeal of a libel judgement

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Katie Couric Bails on ABC News for Yahoo!

couricyahoo380Veteran television journalist Katie Couric is ditching ABC News before her contract ends to join Yahoo! as it’s global news anchor.

Couric joined ABC News less than three years ago in a “wide-ranging” $40-million contract that included two seasons of a name-branded daytime talk show, which started in September 2012, and three years with the networks news division.

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen commented on Twitter than Yahoo! is one of the places journalists go to die.

Marissa Guthrie at The Hollywood reporter broke the details about Couric’s early departure on Friday night. The network didn’t comment on the piece, but an unnamed executive praised her and hinted that the deal she made with Yahoo! wouldn’t prevent Couric from working for ABC News.

ABC News declined comment. But an executive told THR: “Katie is an incredible journalist and this was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up. Thanks to the powerful association between ABC News and Yahoo we know that Katie will continue to work closely with us and welcome her on our air anytime.”

Kara Swisher at AllThingsD, who was following the story throughout the week remarked Saturday morning that it is rare for a network personality to transition to web-only news. And the prominent exception to that rule is Glenn Beck.

No big TV name in the news arena has successfully jumped to the Web, with the fascinating exception of former Fox cable host Glenn Beck. His variety of independent effort, which he calls a “fusion of entertainment and enlightenment,” is a clear financial and audience hit. That’s largely due to Beck’s rabid fan base that pay a subscription fee for some content.