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:

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.

Is blogging killing journalism?

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone snicker when I say something about blogging, then you know that I could quit my day job and live a nice, wealthy life. That’s why the argument of blogging versus journalism tends to fall into areas of white noise to me, mostly because I’ve been taught, by journalism professors, to not care anymore.

Still, there are those days when it gets me thinking, and it is more to the fact when journalists are the ones who are raising a stink over the legitimacy of this new medium. Such is the case that you can get more details on from a post that Raul made a few days ago.

It takes me back to the short time where I was once a journalism student. Wavering in and out of studies that would give me a better grasp on an educational background in broadcasting, I found myself surrounded by professors who saw print as the only worthwhile medium that one should dedicate themselves to in the realm of media.

Now, before I start to say anything negative, there is absolute truth in the need to develop a solid background in writing, and working in radio for as long as I have, I can assure you that there are folks who have missed this step in their career ladder in broadcasting. Point number one in your journey into TV or radio should be to learn how to write, and then you can focus on looking or sounding good doing it. Some improv acting wouldn’t hurt as well, but I digress.
Continue reading “Is blogging killing journalism?”

Use new media for action, not just voice

I’m taking a cue from Adam Curry, and you can bet that he’s not the first person to be saying this. It’s just something that I heard recently on his podcast, and the sentiment is echoed in an article posted on MacNewsWorld recently.

Kenton Ngo is a policy wonk. He dissects election data using mapping software and reads transportation bills. He hosts a video podcast on his blog, one that draws as many as 2,000 readers a week.

Ngo is recognized at political rallies and has joined conference calls with Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, but he has never voted in a primary or general election. He has never paid property taxes. He is not registered for Selective Service.

Ngo is 15 years old, has a driver’s permit and braces, and is a member of the West Springfield High School debate team in Northern Virginia. [macnewsworld]

Blogs and podcasts are the new way for disseminating your thoughts and opinions about politics. I am all for that. Speak you mind, shout for the truth, and encourage people to bind together in an effort to change things.

I’m kind of sick of it. The reason being, nothing has really changed. We write away on the web only to see not much for results. This kid in Virginia has a great thing going, but there has to be more.

The methods are there. We have all sorts of ways to send out messages to the masses, so why not use it to actually do something? Less talking, more action, so to say. Use these technologies to make a run for public office. This is what I would like to see.

I admit to being a hypocrite with my own post here, but the idea is something I’m a fan of. I’m also far from being a good candidate for the effort. However, I’m all about new media and helping out.

Gannett revamps and tries to embrace new media

I find this particularly interesting because I know a variety of people who have worked or are still working for Gannett owned newspapers. So many of them have bashed the world of new media, blogs, or citizen journalism, citing that amateurs do not warrant journalistic credibility. The guys up in the corporate offices might be forcing them to think otherwise.

The publisher of “America’s newspaper” is turning to America to get its news.

According to internal documents provided to Wired News and interviews with key executives, Gannett, the publisher of USA Today as well as 90 other American daily newspapers, will begin crowdsourcing many of its newsgathering functions. Starting Friday, Gannett newsrooms were rechristened “information centers,” and instead of being organized into separate metro, state or sports departments, staff will now work within one of seven desks with names like “data,” “digital” and “community conversation.”

The initiative emphasizes four goals: Prioritize local news over national news; publish more user-generated content; become 24-7 news operations, in which the newspapers do less and the websites do much more; and finally, use crowdsourcing methods to put readers to work as watchdogs, whistle-blowers and researchers in large, investigative features. [wired]

This transition is slated for full implimentation by May, but you can be certain that newsrooms across the board are pondering what their future is going to be like. The article goes on to address the concern about this action being a cost cutting measure for the future, but staff have been told not to worry about job cuts. That is not what this restructuring is about. I find that hard to believe in its entirety, but this is a daunting move, especially in the newspaper business.

Breebop had a post some weeks ago about journalists and the ego on their shoulders, and I thought back to it immediately while reading this story. Now don’t get me wrong, I have a high respect for those I know in the business, but there are numerous times that they have frustrated me with closed mindedness. It all comes down to sources, but the element of not being a trained journalist, most often with a degree from an accredited institution, can make something invalid in their eyes.

I’m not going to chalk it up to ego as much as I will to over education. Traditional media instructors teaching traditional media in a new age. Some of this is changing, but there will always be a select few who see the new and the changing to be a waste of time and credibility.

Let’s be honest. Gannett is trying to adapt, if not trying to save their butts. You know that resistance will appear, not wanting to lend credit to citizen journalists. I’d be curious to hear what my friends in the business think, and maybe they won’t be thinking I’m so crazy for blogging now.