The Possible Future for the Freedom of Press and Free Speech

I wrote this post almost a week after the 2016 presidential election polls closed and saved it as a draft until publishing it today, as is.


As we prepare for the coming Trump administration taking office on January 20th, 2017, there is one thing I keeping coming back to pondering. When it comes down to it, it’s the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (Source: billofrightsinstitute.org)

Some time ago, general political discussions in college concluded the key to that amendment is that it does not grant you the right to free speech as much as it says that congress cannot pass any law prohibits it. There still lies some legal ambiguity that could allow them to shorten, or abridge, your ability to freely do so, essentially having the ability to take away some but not all of your freedom of speech.

I spent time in college with some very intellectual law students who loved to spout off about, after a few drinks, what they were learning and passionate about. These were conversations they were having in the classrooms and never had any real black and white resolutions to them because the government is supposed to be comprised of mechanisms that prevent these freedoms from ever being infringed.

But the way this new presidential office is looking, and there is still a ways to go before it’s put together, it makes me ponder a few possibilities that we could see in the future. These are my red book predictions for the near future.

podcasting gear
Podcasting Gear by DaveO on Flickr

At some point, the president will talk of or try to issue an order where anyone who insults the office of the presidency will be subject to a penalty of some type

To narrow that down, I would think this would be directed at the media at the start but have the fiery potential to expand towards anyone who says or distributes anything electronically. Any tweet, status update, video, or even this blog post could be considered for some sort of slander that is “not fair”.

A wealthy, successful businessman, who this new president certainly is, doesn’t seem like he would be one to care what anyone would say or write about him, but that’s not true. Do a simple Google search of “donald trump sues” and you will find a variety of lawsuits that range from defamation to a number of issues related to his numerous business matters.

From the Republican side of this race, the media was consistently attacked in the final months of the campaign for lying and rigging the election in terms of what was being fed through various outlets. Whether that was correct or wrong, the fact is that the results of the elections reinforce that notion because it was only the pundits who correctly predicted the final outcome while a majority of other outlets mostly said otherwise.

There could be an attempt to regulate non-traditional media to reduce “fake news” outlets

While I think it’s more important to be making people have a license to operate drones, the Trump administration will make an effort to regulate media outlets, more so not acknowledging a media outlet as a authentic or trustworthy unless you are registered and approved.

Who this will be done by remains to be seen. The FCC is there to mostly enforce the transmission methods and would probably be bypassed by the administration’s special council that they will setup and regulate.

Want to have a blog and not always be labeled as “fake”? Get yourself a license.

Want to have a podcast? You’ll need a license for that.

You’ll still be able to have or maintain whatever type of outlet that you want, but unless you have that seal of approval, your outlet will not count in the eyes of this administration.

Or, this could simply revert back to the era of the Nixon enemies list or McCarthyism era blacklists, where we’ll never really know who is or isn’t respected in the eyes of the administration.

True North Media House: 2010 independent, self-accredited reporting in Vancouver

TNMH Media Badge

TNMH Media Badge by John Biehler on Flickr

One of the ways I plan to to document my experiences during these winter games in Vancouver is through the various outlets that I have available to me on a personal level. Be it my photography, writing, video, audio, and most likely Twitter, there’s a lot more to share with the world other than what you see on TV during the time between opening and closing ceremonies.

This is where the True North Media House comes in.

I’ve watched this plan hatch from an idea to a project in full motion. Somewhere along the line, and most likely of my own doing, I’ve gotten myself involved with the venture of helping it come up on a quickly approaching horizon.

In order to better explain what TNMH is, here’s a quote from the website:

The True North Media House project aims to inspire social media creation and educate about best practices for sharing content with audience. We’ll do this through a variety of meet-ups, photo walks, field trips, and outings with international media makers and aggregating Olympic culture-related content licensed with a Creative Commons license. [truenorthmediahouse.com]

True North Media HouseLet’s be honest. There are a lot of other people out there in the world who like to create the types of media that me, Rebecca, or like many of our friends do. Chances are, some of them will be coming to Vancouver to follow the adventures of their fellow men and women from the countries coming to the lower mainland.

There are a thousands stories to tell from all sorts of perspectives, and True North is what aims to bring this people together to share an understanding of how to publish, create, generate, or whatever they do with their experiences. And more so, what you should or shouldn’t do to make sure that what you have made still falls inside the guidelines TNMH promotes.

Even further to what True North Media House is, Andrew Lavigne has released this great piece from the documentary he is making entitled, With Glowing Hearts. It’s great back story that gives a better foundation from how this group came about.

WGHthemovie.ca- Webisode #2 ‘True North Media House’ from Andrew Lavigne on Vimeo.

I’m looking forward to what should be some unique experiences as well as meeting new people, local and from afar, who are anxious to see what the lower mainland will be like over these next few weeks.

How are you spending your Olympics? No matter how you roll, whether you plan to celebrate, protest, or observe, my admonition is to document the people’s history about how the Olympics interacts with our communities like historian Howard Zinn would advise. Perhaps you’re skipping out of school to see some events or explore Vancouver’s hidden gems? Good. Recluse J.D. Salinger woulda wanted you to, but wouldn’t let you know it. [Dave Olson, vancouverobserver.com]

If you are interested in finding out more about True North Media House and maybe even getting on the bus, head over to the website for all the details.

Podcasting is like recorded history

I’ve been thinking about this lately, but what is the point of having a podcast when you don’t keep your episodes archived and available over the long term?

Podcasting, in its true form, is prerecorded media that is ready for download and playback, video or audio, at any given time. Unlike traditional, broadcast media, your audience doesn’t have to be there when it’s available or remember to set their recording apparatus, because the use of VCR’s is dwindling as we speak, just so they can be in the know.

When you podcast something, you publish it for the world. It’s shiny and new, ready for the devouring crowds to eat it up. Then it gets old when you publish the next one, but a month or so down the line, someone discovers it. They share it with a buddy, post a link to it on their blog or Facebook profile, or subscribe to your podcast just because they found something in your archives from a year ago. This person even goes through everything you have ever produced just to get caught up.

I’ve been doing this myself over the past month or so. I’m an admitted listener of the Daily Source Code, but I’m not a daily listener. It piles up on me, and I’ll go back to hear the conversations just because I find personal enjoyment from the conversations on that podcast.

I even do this to everything DaveO produces, get caught up on CNet News Podcasts because even though it’s from three weeks ago, I still like to hear the tech news that I might have missed while riding the bus. Remember when Microsoft wanted to buy Yahoo? It was fun to listen back on how that one played out, and that’s just a sample of short term history.

Even though the Vancouver Giants missed their chance at a repeat for the Memorial Cup this year, you might find enjoyment to hear the audio adventure that DaveO took when they had a public celebration for the team at Vancouver City Hall. A very good piece of historical evidence for you right there.

If anything, it’s something that you made and long term proof for anyone to stumble upon. The longer it’s there, the better chance it gets to soak in the Google juice and be discovered. However, if you are going to take the media away, do your best to remove all traces. Nothing more disgruntling than clicking on a link to an MP3 and it being not found.

Bridging Media conference thoughts, way after the fact

IMG_1836

I had the chance to attend the Bridging Media conference a few weeks ago while Rebecca live blogged the whole event as a media sponsor. It’s been a little while since then, but I figure it’s better late than never to post a few thoughts about it while showing off some photos that I snapped throughout the day.

IMG_1808

The purpose of this event was to bring the realms of traditional media into the same conversation as electronic media, and it was a really good mix of methods. Print, broadcast, and film shared the same stage as online video producers, bloggers, web marketers, and so on.

Being someone who currently works in the area of broadcasting, this is something that I struggle with on a daily, personal level. How can the realms of online media mesh with the traditional, highly stagnate methods of traditional media? That’s what this conference of sorts was meant to open the conversation to, not that I have a lot of weight or say as to how these two things are indeed bridged. I’m just a huge advocate for it.

IMG_1847

It’s really tough for me to break down each and every conversation at this point, so I really encourage you to read through Rebecca’s live blog to get a better sense of what was discussed.

IMG_1807

What I took away from this conference is that there is a lot to learn about how each side of the coin can work together in order to enrich media content as a whole. From education to story telling to information sharing to the way that marketers let you know about neat, new things, there are a lot of methods that have strengths and weaknesses which can only be helped through sharing the load.

In this world of electronic media, it’s tough to say that one form of distribution is better than the other. Each method has the way it delivers its message, and that message gets to a particular audience based on interest as well as the method. To me, it says that the only way to really strengthen your distribution is to have more ways to put out your message.

In radio, there is the old adage of saying it enough times and someone is bound to hear it at least once. But not everyone listens to the radio, and not everyone owns a TV. So it comes down to getting your message out to as many outlets that you can, and then doing it well. That’s what I think Bridging Media is trying to do, all the while opening new doors for traditional media to try out.

IMG_1878

And finally, congrats to Megan and Erica for pulling together a really great event. It was a great day that really left me feeling inspired and full of great ideas.

Duane does the 2008 Junos

My good friend Duane Storey has done some amazing coverage of the 2008 Junos this past weekend. He flew out there like a new media ninja and tossed out a lot of blog posts, videos, and photos from the media access he was granted for the whole event.

Michael Buble at the 2008 Junos, Photo by Duane Storey
Photo credit: duanestorey on Flickr

Have to say that I’m very impressed that he was able to do what he did. His level of access was on par to the big name players, and dare I say that it was better than what traditional media usually feeds you. Feel free to check out some of his posts here.

Registration is open for Northern Voice 2008

MooseCamp session run down 6 Registration is now open for Northern Voice 2008!

This is the fourth, annual new media conference that I had the opportunity to attending last February for my first time. The deadline for speaker submissions has come and gone, so the next step is opening the event up for attendees. NV is in February again this year, and the dates have been set for the 22nd and 23rd. Single day registration is $40, and it is $60 for the entire conference, per person.

Also worth mentioning is the pre-conference party that will be happening on the Thursday night before the event at the Tiki Room. It was last year’s party that introduced me to a lot of people who are common friends and faces, so it’s certainly worth attending. Just don’t call it a “networking thing”. That’s so lame.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s conference. With my day job, getting back into the fray of blogging and podcasting can be a bit of a challenge. That’s doesn’t stop me with doing my best to pay attention to what’s going on with the rest of the world, or Vancouver for that matter.

NV07 - Blogging 101 #6

So much has changed in the world of new media, social media, online communities, and so on, just since last year. Last year, Twitter was all the rage. Now we have Facebook. What new things will people be talking about? What has stayed the same?

Still, the forces of blogging and podcasting are still driving hard. Always looking forward to what other people are doing to breathe new life into something “old”.

Where blogging fits in with traditional media

I was having a conversation with a co-worker the other day about how new media and blogging interacts with today’s, traditional media. Fascinating topics for discussion, I know, but the interesting fact is that we are two people who currently work in the realms of radio broadcasting. Obviously, I’m a proponent of the medium, and the other person is one who is hesitant.

NV07 - Blogging 101 #2 It broke down to the way bloggers and those who read blogs will hold such truth and validity with everything that is put into the blogosphere. I had to agree that it is concerning, if not scary, how this can be true is some circumstances. However, I also reminded her that there are those people who will do nothing but rely on mainstream media, paying attention to only certain outlets. Of course, the easy examples of this would be someone who only watches FoxNews opposed to the variety of TV news outlets that are available to most cable television subscribers.

They had a tough time disputing that, so I broke down my thought on this premise even further. I explained how it should be our job, as bloggers, to instill an element of checks and balances upon traditional media so that many viewpoints and aspects to a story can be examined, if not built upon.

Rebecca wrote about a post a few weeks ago about an article by Chris McCosky of The Detroit News when he said, “Bloggers just aren’t journalists“.

Bloggers and personal, non-journalistic Web sites are starting to tick me off. Look, I appreciate and respect that in America, everybody has an opinion, especially on sports. And I respect everybody’s right to share their thoughts with anybody who happens to own a computer via blogs.

But people, let’s not confuse what random fans and wanna-be pundits are tossing out there with legitimate reporting. The line is getting way too blurry now between Internet noise and actual journalism. It’s actually getting to the point now where some (too many) of the bloggers are using cyberspace to discredit the legitimate media.

Now I am not saying all legitimate media or every reporter is 100 percent credible. Nor am I saying every blogger is out to discredit legitimate media. But the distinction between the two must be clearer.

Journalism employs trained professionals. We actually have to go to school for this stuff. We take our jobs seriously. There are rules and standards that we are beholden to. There are ethics involved. We actually talk to, in person, the people we write about. [detnews]

Session: For the record, I’ve studied a little bit in the ways of journalism school, and there are elements from that schooling that I maintain today. However, I’ve known people who have walked away with journalism degrees that whole heartedly scare me as to their journalistic integrity and the ability to do their jobs respectably. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it certainly gives me reason to question those who have the duty of telling me everything it is that I need to know.

I take my news from a variety of mainstream media sources, such as, but not limited to, the BBC, CNN, Guardian, Reuters, AP, New York Times, and, yes, even FoxNews. I like to see stories from multiple angles and derive my own conclusions, not just what “trained journalists” are trained, and told by their editors, to report on.

I’m also familiar with the structure that certain journalists use to report the news. There is your standard formula with the way you structure your intro, presented a certain set of information to setup your story. After that, you have to get your quote from someone close to the story. Toss in a deadline to a reporter and the number of people in the pool to get that needed quote gets a little slim. After that, there’s the extra back story at the tail end to give insight and let you know if there is more to tune into for next week.

Certainly there is need for delicate training for how one refines themselves to achieve this mastery, and I say that non-mockingly. However, in this era of big media where less means more, the small amount of journalists out there have a very large world to cover.

After that, blogs offer something deeper than the facts and figures of a story. They bring out qualitative information, as well as the quantitative, that provide various viewpoints that a journalist might not be able to provide. On top of that, bloggers can serve as way to watch journalists to make sure they are doing a worthwhile job in their reporting.

The Crazy Canucks on CKNW talkin' bout Podcasting
Photo credit: miss604 on Flickr

As a blogger, I am a source, but I’m hardly the source. Journalists are exactly the same thing. If you argue your viewpoint on an event, you have to consider where you got your information. it’s no different than a game of telephone where the facts and details can change as they are relayed and published.

Trust me, I’ve been there and seen it so many times on a personal level. Last spring when The Crazy Canucks got a lot of press coverage, the information that I would provide to journalists were stretched or mistaken for half-truths or something completely opposite. It’s human nature to make errors, and I believe that as a collective group, feedback can help put the information back together into something that is much more factual than what a very select, few people can tell you.

It’s not as much about discredit as it is making sure that what is said is a valid statement. Even more so, it’s about having a voice, and I’ll be damned if I or anyone should have to go to school to be able to have that.

Blogs are just another realm in the vast world of media

Josh Wolf made a post on CNet titled, “Like television, radio and print, blogs are just a medium“. The whole read is a good summary of the things I tell people when I start talking about blogs and podcasting in relation to what traditional media does in the time of new media.

When radio was first pioneered, print journalists were quick to dismiss it as inferior. This same scenario repeated itself with the advent of television and again with the rise of technologies that allowed solo journalists to produce their own stories single-handedly. As blogs and other community media become more popular and more relevant, the assault on this new medium continues to grow.

Michael Skube’s recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times provides a reasonable critique on the blogosphere but neglects to look at the larger picture. He points out that many blogs are nothing more than commentary and suggests that many of these blogs are “noisy with disputation, manifesto-like postings and an unbecoming hatred of enemies real and imagined.” While I can’t argue with this conclusion, his analysis misses the fact that blogs have broken a number of important stories in recent years and fails to mention the non-news that the establishment media finds itself focusing on with alarming frequency. [cnet]

In the last few years, I’ve had a lot of discussions on this topic. It’s really difficult for some people to grasp onto the notion of there being worthwhile content that can be derived and coexist with what traditional media does, if not enhance it. What pains me more is the dismissal of new media as being not worthwhile. To that, it really becomes a matter of not knocking it until you try it.

Be sure to read the rest of the post. Wolf takes on the old with the new, explaining strengths and weaknesses to both sides of the coin.

Real world uses of Ustream, and it’s not for just being geeky

I’ve been aware of the whole Ustream phenomenon for a time now, and there have been a few opportunities to get my mug into the action with some of the live streams of the Canucks Outsider that Dave put on, with the help of Roland. Outside of that and what Chris Pirillo does with the service, I haven’t given much thought about Ustream’s capabilities or uses. At least, I know that I can use it, but what would I use it for? (Do you really wanna watch me read my RSS feeds, do some geeky web-programming-podcasting-blogging stuff, and drink coffee?)

Robert Scoble dropped by Ustream’s offices and did one of his patented interviews with the people behind the scenes. After watching it, it opened my eyes to what they are doing, how it works, and, more importantly, what the real world can use Ustream for.

The bulk of what I’m getting at comes towards the end of the interview. Since Ustream is embeddable nearly anywhere you can dropped the code, there are a variety of uses for this. With a webcam(that has a good audio source) and a decent internet connection, you can stream anything you want, live and for free. It’s that simple, and many computers are built with this capability off the shelf. You just have to set it up with Ustream and broadcast what the camera sees.

City council meetings could be open to the public with no need for local access cable channels. Company meetings can get posted on internal, corporate sites that only employees can see. Or maybe you have those events that you want to get out to the public and wish that the local news station would give you more coverage than just a fifteen second mention on the six o’clock news? Now you can bypass that worry and broadcast what you want to the world, but still invite the “media” in case they want to come down. The options are endless.

It makes more sense to me now. Ustream is looking to expand what they are doing by upping their services in a variety of ways. I’m certainly looking at them with a different perspective.

Generation gaps in blogging

The simple matter of fact is that some people get blogging and others don’t. When you start point the finger at generation gaps, that gets even more sticky.

This comes in reference to a series of posts that Arpit Jacob wrote about in this post.

Check this post here by the so called usability Guru Jakob Nielsen on his website (I refuse to call it a blog, if you can’t comment then its not a blog) were he is typically saying blogging sucks. Lately he’s either been out of touch or he is getting too old. My dad can’t understand what a blog is or why I spend so much time after coming back home from work even though I am tired. My mom once saw my Orkut profile and she asked me if it was my Website. I think Jakob Nielsen belongs to the same generation. Sure he was once a respected usability guru. But if he writes any more silly articles like the one above I might have to label him an old Grandpa. [clazh]

I can say first hand that some of this is true. It’s tough for some people to grasp on to new techniques or methods while holding on to the roots that have been instilled via education and experience. Even though one person can stand to gain so much with the world literally at their doorstep, there is hesitation to step out of what is known. You can only spend so much time learning new things as well, but here is where folks like us, in the trenches, come in to help out.

Blogging gets a bad rap because it being so equated to spilling our personal guts out onto the Internet. While some of that is true for some, it’s far from that for others. It’s a presentation of what you want out there, professional, personal, hobbies, sports related, cat related, etc. It’s whatever you want it to be.

Still, helping anyone see the light in all the tools that are out there is tough. I’m fortunate to have a family that understands some of this, but there are some days that you want to pull your hair out when it comes to others, especially when it’s a fresh college graduate who equates blogging to email. Eh… What can you do?