State of the Media

Several paragraphs into this article, we discover in a parenthetical aside that three hours passed after the Safeway assassination in Arizona before any mention of it broke at the state’s largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic. Three hours, presumably because the paper has cut staff, and the murders happened on a Saturday, and what few reporters remain on-staff had to be rustled from their beds.

Pay attention, fellow news junkies, ‘cuz this is major-league mainstream corporate journalism in America, 2011.



Freedom of the Press: Good or Bad, Aren’t you glad you get some real news on the Internet?

“America’s journalists are not ‘newshounds’. They are nothing more than salesclerks, hocking the products their employers want to sell. The pretty faces that now function as most television news anchors are no different than the pretty models used to sell other products. The American “free” press is comprised of nothing more than a number of retail outlets which sell stories slanted to please their target audiences. As such, they exist merely to sell snake oil.”

Click Here for the story…

Tell PBS: Don’t Abandon Hard-Hitting Journalism

via UN Observer

2009-12-15 | Now, Bill Moyers Journal need worthy replacements

Bad news for PBS viewers: Now and the Bill Moyers Journal will be taken off the air in April 2010. Both programs stood out as all-too-rare examples of the hard-hitting, independent programming that should thrive on public television–which is why PBS should replace these programs with similarly thoughtful shows that continue this tradition. MORE

Justice Dept. Asked For News Site’s Visitor Lists

(AP / CBS)In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day.

The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Web site “not to disclose the existence of this request” unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization.

Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department’s subpoena. (The Independent Media Center is a left-of-center amalgamation of journalists and advocates that – according to their principles of
unity and mission statement – work toward “promoting social and economic justice” and “social change.”)

The subpoena (PDF) from U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison in Indianapolis demanded “all IP traffic to and from” on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to
“include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information,” including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers’ Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, and so on.

“I didn’t think anything we were doing was worthy of any (federal) attention,” Clair said in a telephone interview with on Monday. After talking to other Indymedia volunteers, Clair ended up calling the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost.

Under long-standing Justice Department guidelines, subpoenas to members of the news media are supposed to receive special treatment. One portion of the guidelines, for instance, says that “no subpoena may be issued to any member of the news media”
without “the express authorization of the attorney general” – that would be current attorney general Eric Holder – and subpoenas should be “directed at material information regarding a limited subject matter.”

Still unclear is what criminal investigation U.S. Attorney Morrison was pursuing. Last Friday, a spokeswoman initially promised a response, but Morrison sent e-mail on Monday evening saying: “We have no comment.” The Justice Department in Washington, D.C. also declined to respond.

Kevin Bankston, a senior staff attorney at the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, replied to the Justice Department on behalf of his client in a February 2009 letter (PDF) outlining what he described as a series of problems with the subpoena, including that it was not personally served, that a judge-issued court order would be required for the full logs, and that Indymedia did not store logs in the first place.

Morrison replied in a one-sentence letter saying the subpoena had been withdrawn. Around the same time, according to the EFF, the group had a series of discussions with assistant U.S. attorneys in Morrison’s office who threatened Clair with possible prosecution for obstruction of justice if she disclosed the existence of the already-withdrawn subpoena — claiming it “may endanger someone’s health” and would have a “human cost.”

Lucy Dalglish, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of The Press, said a gag order to a news organization wouldn’t stand up in court: “If you get a subpoena and you’re a journalist, they can’t gag you.”

Dalglish said that a subpoena being issued and withdrawn is not unprecedented. “I have seen any number of these things withdrawn when counsel for someone who is claiming a reporter’s privilege says, ‘Can you tell me the date you got approval
from the attorney general’s office’… I’m willing to chalk this up to bad lawyering on the part of the DOJ, or just not thinking.”

Making this investigation more mysterious is that is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there’s no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded.

EFF’s Bankston wrote a second letter to the government saying that, if it needed to muzzle Indymedia, it should apply for a gag order under the section of federal law that clearly permits such an order to be issued. Bankston’s plan: To challenge that law on First Amendment grounds.

But the Justice Department never replied. “This is the first time we’ve seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site,” Bankston said. “That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights.”

This is not, however, the first time that the Feds have focused on Indymedia — a Web site whose authors sometimes blur the line between journalism, advocacy, and on-the-streets activism. In 2004, the Justice Department sent a grand jury subpoena asking for information about who posted lists of Republican delegates while urging they be given an unwelcome reception at the party’s convention in New York City that year. A Indymedia hosting service in Texas once received a subpoena asking for server logs in relation to an investigation of an attempted murder in Italy.

Bankston has written a longer description of the exchange of letters with the Justice Department, which he hopes will raise awareness of how others should respond to similar legal demands for Web logs, customer records, and compulsory silence. “Our fear is that this kind of bogus gag order is much more common than one would hope, considering they’re legally baseless,” Bankston says. “We’re telling this story in hopes that more providers will press back and go public when the government demands their silence.”

Update 1:59pm E.T.: A Justice Department official familiar with this subpoena just told me that the attorney general’s office never saw it and that it had not been submitted to the department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. for review. If that’s correct, it suggests that U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison and Assistant U.S. Attorney Doris Pryor did not follow department regulations requiring the “express authorization of the attorney general” for media subpoenas — and it means that neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor Acting Attorney General Mark Filip were involved. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an internal investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility; my source would not confirm or deny that.;txt

Recording Industry Helps Rapper/Single Mom Get A PhD, Though It Tried To Weasel Out

via Tech Dirt

Michael sends in this excellent story of a major record label actually doing right by one of its (former) artists… though, the story really doesn’t reflect that well on Warner Music. It’s the story of Roxanne Shante, one of the first female hip hop stars, who came out with a hit song in the 80s (when she was 14-years-old), leading the way for other female rappers. Of course, like so many other artists, she found out that the big record labels weren’t so great after all. After two albums, when she realized that her label was basically stealing from her, she called it quits from music. At age 19, however, she remembered that Warner Music has put a clause in her contract, promising to “fund her education for life.” She figures they put that in as a “throwaway, never believing a teen mom in public housing would attend college.” But, attend college, she did. She didn’t just get a bachelor’s degree, but went all the way through to a PhD. in psychology.

Of course, Warner Music, already having done plenty to try to cheat her out of her contract, worked hard not to pay. But the dean at, Marymount Manhattan College, where she attended for some of both her undergraduate and graduate degrees, read over the clause and simply kept sending bills to Warner Music. Warner (so nice of them, as per usual) ignored the invoices until Shante threatened to go public with the story of Warner Music Group not living up to their contract promises on something so basic as funding her education. In the end, Warner Music had to pay up around $217,000 for Shante’s education, and she’s put the doctorate to good use, launching a therapy practice focused on urban African-Americans, experimenting with new ways to get them over the taboo associated with therapy. It’s nice to see how Warner Music actually did some good in the world, even if it had to be dragged there kicking and screaming.


NAFTA Trade Takes Record 35.4 Percent Dive

NAFTA Trade Takes Record 35.4 Percent Dive

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Photos from Mystic Garden Party

Photos from Sunday, July 26, 2009 at the Mystic Garden Party in Ashland, Oregon.