Bloggers as journalists: Who is protected?


Shellee Hale

In recent weeks, the debate over whether bloggers should receive the same legal protection as journalists has intensified.

After Gizmodo tech blogger Jason Chen wrote about a stolen next generation iPhone, police searched his home and seized his computers. Under state and federal law, police can’t issue a search warrant to confiscate the property of a journalist. Gizmodo’s parent company, Gawker Media, demanded the computers be returned, saying Chen is a journalist and qualifies for legal protection. The company is considering filing a lawsuit against police.

Closer to home, a Bellevue entrepreneur, blogger, and mother of four is battling a recent court decision that denied her protection under journalism’s shield law. [Read more...]


Should journalists testify in public on topics they’re covering?

A rendering of the proposed Chihuly museumAt a recent public hearing on the proposed Chihuly glass art museum on Seattle Center grounds, two journalists spoke out against the idea.

The first, Stranger reporter Cienna Madrid, stated the newspaper’s position against the museum and asked why it needed to be on public land.

Another journalist, Crosscut editor and publisher David Brewster, spoke against the museum proposal on behalf of a nonprofit group he helped found four years ago. Friends of the Green at Seattle Center, which has no connection to Crosscut, has been advocating for open space at the Center.

Madrid and Brewster approached the hearing in different ways. [Read more...]


Deborah Amos of NPR and Judy Woodruff of PBS



Charm Fans at Murrow Symposium Lunch

SEATTLE — Journalism today “is trusted about as much as Congress,” lamented Deborah Amos, National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent.

She and Judy Woodruff, Public Broadcasting System (PBS) co-host and correspondent, spoke at Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow Symposium lunch at Town Hall. The event was co-sponsored by CityClub.



(Disclosure: The Washington News Council was a co-presenter and hosted a table of 10.)

The packed downstairs room was filled with NPR/PBS fans. True, public broadcasting is generally more trusted than other news media, but is also sometimes accused of political bias (i.e., leaning leftward).

I asked Amos if Transparency, Accountability and Openness – the “TAO of Journalism” – might help increase public trust in journalism. I shamelessly displayed my “TAO of Journalism” T-shirt. (Almost everyone at our WNC table was wearing one too.)

Public broadcasting, I noted, already follows those three principles. Shouldn’t all journalists be transparent about where they’re coming from, accountable if they make mistakes, and open to other points of view?

That’s what journalists demand of those they cover. Isn’t it a two-way street?

“That’s great,” Amos said: “Maybe that is part of the answer. Those that aren’t transparent, accountable and open will fall by the wayside.”

[Read more...]


Symposium’s Main Event at WSU’s Murrow College Draws Hundreds of Students, Academics, Journalists, and Public

MurrowPULLMAN — “Would Murrow have tweeted?”

That question from a member of the audience at the Edward R. Murrow Symposium’s evening event drew a big laugh from the large crowd. The panelists – Deborah Amos of NPR, Robin Fields of ProPublica, and Judy Woodruff of PBS – weren’t sure how to answer it. None admitted to being active on Twitter.

But Lawrence Pintak, founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, had opened the 36th annual Murrow Symposium on April 20 with this question: “How does Murrow’s legacy fit into the new media landscape?”

In between, there were many hours of panels, workshops, networking, chatting and debating about the chaotic and uncertain future of what used to be called the “news biz.” [Read more...]


Spot.Us brings new journalism model to Seattle

Seattle’s newest media player opens for business today.

Spot.Us, which allows community members to fund civic journalism projects, has expanded to Seattle. Journalist David Cohn started the network in San Francisco in late 2008 and added on a Los Angeles site early this year. He sees Seattle, as a third major west coast city, a natural fit.

“Seattle has a really robust journalism community,” Cohn said.

David Cohn, founder of Spot.Us

David Cohn, founder of Spot.Us

With Spot.Us, readers decide what stories they want to fund. Journalists and news organizations post story proposals with an estimated cost to report and research on the Spot.Us site. Anyone interested in the pitch can pledge a donation. If the pledges reach the necessary amount to fund the story, the money is collected.

“I’m a big believer that the public should be able to participate in journalism,” Cohn said.

So far, two-thirds of stories pitched on Spot.Us have reached their funding goal. [Read more...]


30-something v. 60-something: Blogging across the demographic divide

photo by Jay Cox :: of the week: Do you still subscribe to a printed daily newspaper?

by Washington News Council’s Heidi Dietrich and John Hamer

About Heidi DietrichNO! by Heidi Dietrich, age 30

This winter, for the first time since college, I stopped subscribing to a daily newspaper.

It pained me to phone in the cancellation to the Seattle Times’ circulation department. I kept the subscription going for the past couple of years because I couldn’t stand to contribute to the sad decline of the print newspaper business. It’s a problem that hits close to home. After seven years at the Puget Sound Business Journal, I was laid off last April due to sinking revenue.

It also hurt because I grew up in a newspaper family. My dad worked first for The Columbian in Vancouver, and then for The Seattle Times as I was growing up. The newspaper was a part of daily life. When my sister and I were young, my father read the comics to us at the Sunday breakfast table. Later, we read the articles on our own, vying for the Sunday travel and lifestyle sections. As an adult, I looked forward to spending a few moments with the newspaper and a cup of coffee in the morning.

But in the last few years, the daily newspaper began to change. Thanks to shrinking revenue, the paper itself grew smaller and smaller, with less in-depth features and enterprise reporting. Sections were eliminated or combined. Letters to the editor were relegated to a small part of the page.

And, most importantly, I’d already read the articles. I’d seen the news appear on my Twitter feed and gone to a number of online news sites to get the stories. By the time the paper landed on my doorstep, it was old news. More and more, keeping the subscription felt like a charity case.

I’d held out far longer than most of my peers. Most of my friends never even started subscribing to a daily newspaper, since they could already rely on the Internet after graduating from college. Others subscribed for a time but abandoned the practice as online news became more and more prevalent. Most newspaper subscribers I knew were my parents’ and grandparents’ age.

It’s been a few months since I stopped receiving a newspaper, and it’s interesting to see how my news consumption habits have changed. I read just as much news as before, but less from The Seattle Times, as I’m more apt to link to a variety of news sites. I regularly check national papers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, neighborhood news sites such as MyBallard, and niche web sites such as TechFlash or Cliff Mass’ weather blog. Beyond the serious news sites, I visit blogs on cooking, running, the outdoors, and music.

I’m just as likely to browse an article at 9 p.m. as at the breakfast table. I learned about the Lusty Lady closing and a modern downtown Seattle highrise being torn down yesterday afternoon on Twitter. I find I most often first hear about breaking news via Tweets and Facebook posts, and then link to the actual articles on a news site.

What about you? Are you still subscribing? Leave a comment here.

About John HamerYES! by John Hamer, age 64

This morning, like most mornings, I walked out to the end of my driveway and picked up The Seattle Times.

I laid it out on the kitchen counter, poured myself a cup of coffee, filled a bowl with cereal, sliced a couple of strawberries on top, and began to read my morning newspaper.

Front page. Editorial page. Northwest section. Comics. Sports page. OK, I just skim some of it, but I always find something interesting and worth reading. And I usually glance at the ads, especially the full-page ones.

Am I part of a dying breed? Sometimes I feel that way.

But when I moderated a panel at Seattle Rotary a couple of weeks ago on the future of newspapers, I asked for a show of hands: How many people still read The Seattle Times on paper? Of the 500 Rotarians present, at least three-fourths of them raised their hands. OK, there was a lot of grey hair in this crowd….

Then I asked: How many also read The Seattle Times online? More than half of those in the room raised their hands. (David Boardman, Times executive editor and one of my panelists, began to applaud.)

But as the blog by Heidi Dietrich on this page makes clear, many younger people have stopped subscribing to newspapers and get most of their news online. (BTW, welcome to Heidi, who will now be blogging regularly on this page about media issues and ethics.)

Newspapers used to have a kind of monopoly on the news, but in the Internet era those days are gone. People have many more options for news and information, and the mainstream newspapers are struggling to adjust to the “new news ecosystem.”

We’re clearly in a transition period where some people (like me) still like the touch and feel of newsprint in our hands and others (like Heidi) prefer to get their news electronically, whether on a laptop, Blackberry, Kindle, iPhone or iPad or other device.

Granted, I also read at least a half-dozen other news websites online, however, including some that gather stories from dozens of news sites all over the world. Today, news junkies can mainline online until they virtually overdose on news.

Still, there’s something about having that newspaper with my coffee in the morning. The crinkly feel of newsprint. The faint scent of ink. The full-page color ads.

How about you? Comments welcome! Leave a comment here.