I’ve been following this thread for a few years now. The FEC has been getting this right for some time now, correctly positing that free speech is free speech, even when it’s political, and that speech doesn’t count as a political contribution. That seems pretty clear, but this ruling confirms it yet again. via @journerdism this time.
This month’s Carnival of Journalism question, posed by Doug Fisher, asks — more or less — what the law can do for journalism.
My answer? As little as possible.
Keep the frontier wild.
Photo by Ushlambad on Flickr.
One of the more striking parts of the Media Law class I took a surprisingly long time ago in grad school (which I’m still in, technically speaking) was the progression of U.S. Supreme Court cases addressing libel in different media. The rules, regulations and liabilities for content producers are not the same everywhere.
For example, broadcast television and radio are highly regulated due to the limited spectrum space and the high barriers to getting a license and publishing your own program on the air.
Cable TV is a bit looser, given the size of the dial.
Newspapers? Even harder to win a libel suit against them, because anyone can write something on a piece of paper and nail it to a door somewhere. The price of entry is low (photocopies, staples, etc.) although it can take some time to build up a mass audience.
And that brings us to the Web.
The wild, wild Web, if you will.
Low barrier to entry, no barrier to publication once you have Internet access, and more importantly, the potential to completely level the playing field when an individual meets up with mass medium.
And so, I ask that the law keeps its hands off the Internet.
It doesn’t need the law’s help.
Even when it comes to Net Neutrality, I’m pretty sure that if the keepers of the bandwidth push hard enough, their local near-monopolies will fall apart as their customers flee to small businesses, rooftop wi-fi repeaters, and whatever comes next, whether it’s hacked WiMAX or iPhones on a string.
The truth is, the network balances out the imperfections in the process. That means that spammers will be filtered out, content-copy-machine splogs will approach a profit margin of zero, and trolls will be outed as such, and ignored to death when possible.
So keep the frontier wild. There’s an unlimited amount of territory out here, enough for everyone who has something to say to find someone to listen.
Uh, yeah, trying to stop j-school students from posting a video on YouTube is probably not the best way to control campaign coverage.
Not as great as it sounds. Basically says that bloggers are journalists IF they make money “or livelihood” — if they take ads. Not sure how detailed the language is, because my blog has certainly been a factor in getting “livelihood.” via Dave W.
“WPRI-TV, Channel 12 reporter Jarrod Holbrook had his White House press pass snatched after he shouted “Mr. President!” twice as President Bush greeted Air and Army National Guardsmen gathered on the tarmac at the Air National Guard base in Quonset.”
Talking about Tianamen in a Chinese classroom…
Let’s be clear, here: There are trolls everywhere.
On the letters to the editor pages of our newspapers, on every daytime television talk show, not to mention most hours of cable news, at the table next to us at the coffee shop, the halls of Congress, and yes, in the blogosphere.
These trolls are people who want our attention, and will say nasty things to get it, even if it is negative attention.
This is not breaking news.
And yet, after an episode of what I will only describe as an online display of malice beyond what many people say they find acceptable, regardless of what they watch on television, there is an outcry for a “Blogger’s Code of Conduct.”
To which I say, thank you kindly for thinking of all us little folk out here in the wilderness living nasty brutish lives in an online state of nature, but we can figure out for ourselves how to be nice to one another. The marketplace of ideas on the Web is vast enough that anyone looking for malice can find it if they choose to, and anyone looking to avoid it can do the same.
So take your code of conduct, your rules for civility, your attitude, and your badges, and politely shove them back in the regulatory cave of conduct.
I’ll be out here in the real world, without a badge or a license or a rulebook, communicating freely.
“There was a weird, semi-celebratory jitter going around the China blogosphere for much of the past two days. Sometime Wednesday, BlogSpot came back from the Net Nanny’s netherworld and into the off-blue light of the free-ish Internet.”
A Columbia University new media class is looking for editors for a wiki about free online speech and the law. Specifically, it’s about bloggers getting sued, so if you’ve got the recent law chops, chime in and help these students demonstrate what a wiki
Free speech and student-government business policy butt heads here, and free speech wins by a nose.