Sunday, September 24, 2006

On Press Freedoms in the United States

In as much as the highway scribe writes all this stuff for free during the few cracks in time his extremely lucrative career affords, today's entry will be the same one requested by the "Washington Post" and its "GlobalChat" offering.

The question being entertained over there today was the following:

Lead: China has just passed a restrictive new press law; the mullahs
in Iran recently closed the country's leading liberal newspaper; a coup in
Thailand threatens press freedom there. And around the world, journalists
who challenge power face personal and professional danger.

Question: How free are journalists in your country? Even where there
isn't outright censorship, how much self-censorship goes on? How can
journalists work together to protect each other and our common goal of open

highwayscribery's response went thusly:

On the Aug. 22 post at “highwayscribery” entitled, "The Bush Government: Your Friend" we took it upon ourselves to reprint a press release from the American Society of Journalist and Authors (ASJA) requesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) permit residents of Katrina trailer parks in Morgan City and Davantt, La., to talk with reporters, because they had prohibited them from doing so.

Earlier, March 5 to be exact, we did another post entitled “Reporters on Trial” recapping an article by “The Post’s” own Dan Eggen regarding investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation into possible leaks relative to the now infamous secret CIA prisons abroad and the National Security Agency’s domestic spying program, and the Bush administration’s plans to charge reporters under espionage laws.

“highwayscribery” noted at the time, “That’s absurd, of course. It is the journalists duty to keep government honest. Calling that spying because of the tiresome and weak argument that we’re ‘at war’ is the height of irresponsibility.”

Last week the highway scribe read in the “San Diego Union-Tribune” that the Department of Justice was opposed to a Reporter’s Shield law trudging it’s lonely way through Congress, the reason for which is unimportant here because it’s the DOJ's opposition itself that speaks to the larger question.

To top it all off, the two guys who wrote the book about Barry Bonds and his steroid use are being sent to jail for refusing to reveal sources.

So you be the judge as to what’s happening to reporters' freedoms here in this ostensibly freest of countries.

FEMA backed down when wind of the ASJA’s campaign reached it. So binding together in unions and trade associations that actively defend our rights to write can work. As long as we can write we must make the issue an important one. We draw up the story board, not Karl Rove and that’s the ultimate power and responsibility.

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