Whatever happens with police reform legislation in Congress, there is no reason to expect that protection of reporters and media will figure into the proposed “best practices” of how journalists should be treated during tense and often violent situations such as we’ve seen in the past month. Generalized protections already exist in the First Amendment, but as the brutal incidents of the past month show, law enforcement officers can recklessly bypass those enshrined barriers.
A slew of reports – some of them admittedly self-pitying – emerged in recent weeks with frightening details about how print and electronic journalists have been attacked by law enforcement officers. It appears that sometimes reporters were singled out as they sought to cover the protests and demonstrations that erupted around the world after George Floyd’s death-by-knee in Minneapolis.
Continue reading “Ending the Media Versus Police Tumult”
Amid the deadly coronavirus and unfolding social justice movement, America stands at a momentous crossroads. Following the tragic death of George Floyd at the knees of the police, a multiethnic, multigenerational mass of righteous protest is demanding police reform in cities across the nation.
Captains of industry, in response, have hedged their corporate reputations on hefty pledges to promote African-American economic equality. In stark contrast, the president remains defiant to convention and defensive of status quo law and order.
Chronicling it all in real time for the world to see has been the mainstream media. Broadcast and national cable, in particular, have experienced a renewed relevance and a reborn sense of mission as the justice movement gains more sweep, scale, and seriousness. This has been especially meaningful for local TV, which needed to burnish its credentials with American viewers. Like many in America, journalists have discovered what heretofore has been absent from countless reports of black death-by-police. Transparency. Equity. Empathy.
Continue reading “Big Media’s Now Moment”
are living in challenging times for those who depend on the work of a free
press. Every day, journalists across the
globe encounter censorship, harassment, and violence. In every part of the world, authoritarian
rulers are increasing their grip on the press, trying to prevent reporters from
holding the powerful to account.
The Washington Post
is sadly familiar with these attacks.
Our reporter Jason Rezaian was arrested and held inside Tehran’s
notorious Evin Prison for 544 days, even though he had committed no crime. We are grateful that he is now free and back
at The Washington Post, where his
writing often focuses on the importance of press freedom.
Continue reading “An Independent Press: Essential to Our Democracy”
There is a saying
that goes, “Everybody has a story to tell.”
My own NAB Show
story began a decade ago – almost to this day, in fact – when I spoke at my
first show as the new president and CEO.
On that morning, I shared the story of broadcasters’ unrelenting
commitment to always be there for their communities … to inform them … and to
It is a
deep-rooted commitment that manifests itself in many ways that often go
unnoticed – in ways that have become ingrained in everyday life for millions of
turn on the radio to find out what the weather is like before heading to work …
to learn how to help their neighbors in need … or to listen to the great
personalities who seem like old friends.
They turn on their televisions to watch their favorite local news anchor
and to get an unbiased report of what is happening in their communities.
Continue reading “Broadcasting Today: Energized by Innovation”
The news media’s
annual celebration of Sunshine Week, which takes place March 10-16, has always
called to mind the importance of access to government information, transparency
of public records, and the idea that the free flow of information is an
essential element of “good government.”
Created by the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) in 2005, the event was timed to coincide with the March 16 birthday of Founding Father James Madison, a strong supporter of the Bill of Rights. It has always been envisioned as a celebration of the Freedom of Information Act signed into law on July 4, 1966, which outlined mandatory disclosure provisions for federal documents and records.
Continue reading “Who Will Keep the Sun Shining?”
Free Speech Week has always been a time to celebrate freedom of expression. This year, however, perhaps there should be an element of somber reflection amid the festivities. It’s worth remembering, after all, that the exercise of free speech can have life-or-death consequences in certain parts of the world. How thankful we should be that freedom of speech and freedom of the press can be exercised in this country without fear of such extreme retaliation.
The sad case of Jamal Khashoggi brings this into sharp relief. The disappearance and murder of the Washington Post contributing columnist, which the Saudis now admit occurred at the hands of their own operatives, happened just three weeks before Free Speech Week, October 22 – 28. He joins a long list of journalists from around the world who have disappeared or been killed while working in pursuit of the truth, who spoke out too stridently or too frequently against corrupt government leaders and their abuses of power.
Continue reading “Free Speech Week: Celebrating, Reflecting”
Something quite remarkable – unprecedented, actually – is scheduled to take place on Aug. 16. More than 100 newspapers across the country will mount a coordinated editorial response to President Trump’s increasingly frequent attacks on the media. Responding to a rallying cry from the Boston Globe, papers ranging from large metropolitan dailies to small weeklies will publish editorials defending freedom of the press and their critical role in this democracy. They will be joined by members of the broadcast media as well, with the strong support of the Radio-Television Digital News Association.
These editorial writers will be reacting to the constant stream of messages from the president, in tweets and speeches, that the mainstream media are “the enemy of the people,” “fake, fake disgusting news,” “fake news media,” and so forth.
One school of thought has held that replying to such charges is pointless because the president’s pronouncements are either hollow rhetoric or impulsive ramblings or political fodder for his base – or some combination of the three. Furthermore, since the First Amendment guarantees freedom of the press, and the courts are willing to uphold that freedom, the president’s words can have no real effect on the media. Thus, this line of thinking concludes, the act of replying to hollow assertions becomes a hollow act itself.
Continue reading “Speaking Up for a Free Press”
The “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act,” introduced amid great fanfare on Nov. 2, has now been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives along an essentially party-line vote. The Senate’s version, introduced Nov. 9, is still undergoing intense scrutiny as groups from every quarter weigh the bill’s proposed cuts in tax rates versus the elimination of certain deductions, credits, and other tax breaks.
As ideas for reforming the tax code were tossed around in recent months and even years, one proposal – or some variation of it – would surface from time to time. This was the idea that the tax deduction for business advertising expenses should be eliminated.
This has always been an ill-considered idea (as we shall discuss below), and thus we were relieved that it did not find its way into the new tax bills of either the House or Senate. But since these bills are only the opening salvos in the difficult battle to revise the tax code, it would be worthwhile to examine why this ad-related provision should not be a part of the measure that finally reaches the president’s desk.
Continue reading “Advertising Deductibility: For the Sake of Speech”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed the most reasonable of actions: repealing or revising 40-year-old media ownership rules that long ago outlived any marginal usefulness they might’ve once had.
This should be a no-brainer. But, Washington being what it is, entrenched interests and politicians bent on maintaining the status quo for their own purposes have pilloried Pai for trying to do something that should’ve been done decades ago.
First, the facts. On Oct. 26, Chairman Pai released an Order on Reconsideration and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This proceeding seeks to accomplish the following:
- Eliminate the Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule;
- Eliminate the Radio/Television Cross-Ownership Rule; and
- Revise the Local Television Rule to eliminate the Eight-Voices Test and to incorporate a case-by-case review provision in the Top Four Prohibition.
The proceeding would also seek to eliminate the attribution rule for television Joint Sales Agreements; retain the disclosure requirement for commercial television Shared Services Agreements; keep the Local Radio Ownership Rule; and create an incubator program to encourage new and diverse voices in the broadcast industry.
Continue reading “Repealing Media Ownership Regulations: It’s About Time”
Free Speech Week is upon us. Or, as the headline of a story about the week written by Amy Mclean in Cablefax puts it: “What a Time for Free Speech Week.” What a time, indeed.
Just last week we saw the president raising the specter of whether the government should revoke television licenses based on the content of televised news coverage. The same president has wondered aloud (via Twitter, of course) whether the National Football League should have federal tax benefits revoked if owners continue to allow players to kneel during the National Anthem.
Speech on college campuses continues to be stifled in a variety of ways, from disinviting controversial guest speakers to relegating the expression of opinions by individuals to out-of-the-way “free speech zones.” On some campuses, students are supposed to be warned by professors before controversial topics are discussed in class, lest the students be traumatized. Continue reading “Free Speech Week: Much To Celebrate”