Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Press On

Congrats to the House for passing, by a landslide, the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. We can only hope that the Senate follows suit. This is crucially important legislation, make no mistake, but this is not the end of the road either. Regardless of where there is a Republican or Democrat at the helm, as long as government is allowed to manipulate which stories editors publish, and can censor that which is less than flattering to them, we place freedom of the press in jeopardy.

Moreover, as long as reporters are concerned about thoroughly investigating, and/or reporting a specific event for fear of editorial reprisals, then freedom of the press is in jeopardy. Too many journalists have been sacrificed at the altar of self-censorship, in recent years, in their coverage of the war in Iraq, as well as another all but inevitable military confrontation with Iran.

It's high time that the newspaper, and media industry stood up to the Redactor-in-Chief, and his Static Department, not only to protect the confidentiality of their sources, but to assert that they are more than propaganda-delivery vehicles for the White House.

A federal shield to insulate members of the press from prosecution for adhering to their professional standards is an important first step, but it is precisely that, the first step, and far from the last one.

The days of rolling over when senior members of any administration pay a visit to editors-in-chief of major newspapers, for the purpose of discussing how best to market an unpopular war, are over; starting now.

We must press on for openness, accountability, and honesty in government.