The new year is not off to the rosiest of starts for News
Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch. On Saturday five senior journalists at his London
tabloid the Sun were arrested and
charged with bribing
public officials for information. This spate of arrests is the latest
development in Scotland Yard’s ongoing investigation into News Corp.’s
ever-expanding corruption scandal, which led to last summer’s closing
of the tabloid News of the World,
home to phone hacking and other underhanded approaches to sleuthing the news.
What happens when a journalist is
arrested? How do we account for the stories that don’t get told, or the issues
that don’t get covered because the press was restricted or behind bars? How do
we measure the intimidation journalists feel, and the chill that police
intervention places on freedom of the press? One gauge might be the U.S.’s
recent drop in global press freedom rankings, down to number 47 worldwide.
President Obama succumbed late Monday to the dark logic of the Super PACs, instructing top West Wing staffers to help raise money for the so-called "independent" groups that have been successful in picking winners and losers thus far in 2012.
Before the Web blacked
out to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act
(PIPA) — the Internet-censorship bills that faced massive opposition online —
there was another SOPA blackout. This one came courtesy of the TV news
networks, which almost uniformly
ignored SOPA and PIPA until it was impossible not to.
Matters report showed that in the run-up to Jan. 18, when Wikipedia,
Google, Reddit and other big sites joined millions of Internet users in one of
the biggest online protests to date, only CNN mentioned SOPA and/or PIPA in its
nightly news coverage.
Great news. Last
night, thanks to the rapid response of Free Press activists, Arizona State
University lifted its blocking of student access to Change.org.
We hope ASU understands that it must put the free speech rights of its students first. Free Press has asked the university to scrutinize its Internet-use policies to ensure they don’t compromise these online freedoms.
After arresting more than 20 journalists in New York City,
and threatening press in various other ways, the New York City Police
Department has admitted
that it has reprimanded only two of its officers for their actions.
UPDATE: Today marks the beginning of a local media
monopoly in Tucson, Ariz. Exploiting loopholes in the Federal Communications
Commission’s ownership rules, Raycom Media has taken control of three local
stations: KMSB, KOLD and KTTU. The stations are now co-branded as “Tucson News Now” and they operate out
of the same studio (about 40 employees lighter than before).
Last November Free Press released On
the Chopping Block: State Budget Battles and the Future of Public Media,
an inventory of dramatic state-level funding cuts to public broadcasting. Our report,
co-authored by Josh Stearns and Mike Soha, documents how state support for
public broadcasting has plunged since the economy took a nosedive in 2008. What’s
more, the report notes that politics — not financial considerations — have
driven much of this budget cutting.