Tuesday, May 09, 2006

NYT: Reporters under pressure to give up the 'roids sources (Adam Liptak)

In the latest effort by the government to learn the identities of reporters' confidential sources, the United States attorney in Los Angeles issued grand jury subpoenas to The San Francisco Chronicle and two of its reporters on Friday.
The relative ordinariness of the case, which arose out of reporting on steroid use in baseball rather than on covert operatives, domestic eavesdropping or secret prisons, may make its outcome instructive.
As a practical matter, the case will answer whether, after a series of recent setbacks, reporters retain any rights to protect their confidential sources in federal court.
Phil Bronstein, the editor of The Chronicle, said the paper would move to quash the subpoenas.
Whether it succeeds will turn in large part on which of two competing approaches the courts adopt. Both were represented last year in a federal appeals court's decision that sent Judith Miller, then a reporter for The New York Times, to jail in an investigation centering on the disclosure of the identity of Valerie Wilson, an officer of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The above is from Adam Liptak's "U.S. Subpoenas Newspaper for Sources in Steroid Case" in this morning's New York Times. The war on the press was not conducted in secret (nor in silence). The mainstream media can whine all they want (and embarrass themselves with statements re: "assertions") but critiques are not attacks. After six years of being attacked by the current administration, they might want to stop whining about the internet and get really concerned what's actually been going on?

At this site, we supported Miller (and the Times) in the right to challenge the court order. But the only reason it came to that for the paper was because they were a willing lapdog. And they weren't alone. From repeating spin without question to accepting the administration's terms, they've done very little actualy reporting (and, for the paper of record, what reporting they were forced to do, they've largely disowned). So now the feds want to nose around in Jack Anderson's papers and it's getting so bad that even steroids are a topic that the authorities must, simply must, have information on. They've brought it on themselves with their collective actions. That doesn't justify the legal actions, but it's a truth they might want to examine if they can ever get past the fact that the public's trust in them has fallen so greatly. (Something else they might want to examine by looking inward as opposed to pointing fingers outward.)

On the topic of the media, Eddie notes Danny Schechter's "The Media Shift from Them to Us" (BuzzFlash):

Finally, some of the mighty voices of media authority and their know-it-all gatekeepers of content are realizing they don’t have all the answers and that maybe, just maybe, their viewers and listeners have a right to be heard and have something to say beyond sending in eyewitness video or catchy camera-phone pix.
My own voyage of exploration in this media shift has taken me, in just a few months, to what seems like a non-stop global talkathon of endless conferences, forums, workshops, panels and debates in places like Slovenia and Copenhagen, from one side of London to another and the wild east of Kazakhstan, with a pit stop in Newark, New Jersey. In all of these locales, I have been doing some speaking but more listening.
As the frequent flyer miles pile up undermined by the jet lag, I find myself engaged in this same search, asking what can we who want a better and more democratic media system do differently to keep up with fast moving trends of change. How can we attract audiences and build a movement for change?
The discourse is not academic or contrived. Necessity remains the mother of invention. Wherever I go, I carry my critique on what's wrong with modern journalism in the form of books and videos in my luggage but some of it already feels tired or obsolete as if we are already in a post-journalism age where millions want to hear the sound of their own voices much more than my own or those of other "professional" practitioners and pundits.

Remember to listen, watch or read Democracy Now! (and if parts of it are pre-empted by fund raising on the outlet you usually go to for the program, remember you can listen, watch or read in full at the DN! site online).

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.