by Hank McGrath
Several weeks ago Senator Diane Feinstein announced new legislation proposals which would not only restrict “citizen reporters” but would disqualify them from recognition as actual reporters – whether they be bloggers, journalists, independent reporters and so on. Her proposal is in sync with the US Justice Dept report governing concerns for obtaining info from reporters who are protected by a shield (see: http://www.justice.gov/ag/news-media.pdf ). Thusfar, 40 states have a shield law protecting reporters, journalists and bloggers. The Federal government seeks to pass a law called the FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION ACT OF 2013 ( H.R. 1962 ). The amendment proposed by Feinstein seeks to insure that ONLY paid reporters who are deemed professional by federal standards should be protected by the “shield laws”. She suggests that citizen reporters and bloggers should not have any protections under the shield laws.
Problem is that a large portion of news stories covered by big media originated from citizen reporters and a number of important issues and cases investigating political or government agency corruption have derived from the work of independent bloggers, whistle-blowers and citizens getting out the news. If they did not…YOU NEVER WOULD HAVE HEARD A THING ABOUT IT!
Then there is the problem with government classifying what is the requirements of a reporter… Think about that. If you do not fall into the realm of “the govt. reporter” then you can be arrested, detained, forced to give up your sources and so on…Quite like is occurring today in various countries around the world!
According to the Committee To Protect Journalists report in 2012 there was over 232 journalists unjustly imprisoned across the world. In 2013, CPJ reported an increase for the year to 211 imprisoned unjustly…simply because they are reporters and journalists. That does not include the beatings, tortures, murder, rape and disappearance of reporters and journalists across the world – FOR THE EXACT SAME REASON THE POLITICIANS AND POWER BROKERS SEEK TO SILENCE REPORTERS AND CITIZENS RIGHT HERE IN THE UNITED STATES!
NYTimes reporter Campbell Robertson, in his January 11, 2014 article “Bloggers Incarceration Raises First Amendment Question” , revealed a case involving a blogger, Roger Shuler, who has been targeted and jailed INDEFINITELY by authorities in Alabama because of his blog attacks against local and State officials for being corrupt. BIG GOVERNMENT does not want the citizens to have a voice or the freedom and liberty to exercise that voice – Nor have the freedom to uncover the truth which is a protected right under the first amendment…it is a natural process of that amendments exercise.
Reporters have released a video channel which clearly show the intent of law enforcement against reporters and journalists here in the US (See: C64BETA ). In 2013 I worked on a special project called D.U.P.A. .(Documenting Unjust Police Aggression) with local NY reporters Lisa Petrocelli and Harold Bryant – a seminar to educate those in the motorcycle culture as to how they may document and report unjust police aggression against themselves and those journalists and citizen reporters covering biker events and how to funnel the news to the media. This information proved valuable and empowering to those in the culture who suffer bias and discrimination by authorities simply because of their lifestyle and beliefs.
If given the powers expressed by Feinstein to amend the federal bill with a discrediting of citizen reporters and bloggers – those citizens in our seminar would instantly become criminals and thereby silenced from their First Amendment Right. Is that our future? Do you desire government controlled media?!
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The author is a member of iFOIA.Org with Reporters Committee For Freedom Of The Press and has been an investigative reporter with various news agencies for over 15 years and a citizen reporter and rights advocate for over 35 years(since his inception of the Voices of the People newspaper while at Junior College of Albany- Russell Sage, Albany, NY in 1976).