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Caricature of Thomas Jefferson with quote:
Thursday evening, Columbia’s Journalism School held a panel discussion on “Journalism After Snowden," concluding essentially that the post-Snowden world will be even more fraught for journalist, and more so for whistleblowers.
In a larger sense, though, what information is or is not classified, and what legal protections reporters may or may not have, are beside the point—as these NSA stories have revealed. [The Guardian’s outside counsel, David] Schulz responded to [Washington Post reporter Barton] Gellman’s concerns with this frightening truth: “The technology that we have today, you don’t need to subpoena a reporter anymore. There’s an ability to find out who gave out any information,” said Schulz. “And we should all be very concerned about that, because we all need whistleblowers…. If we don’t have a mechanism that allows for whistleblowers, our whole society is going to suffer.” [...]

[Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center at the journalism school] agreed: “Where oversight has failed, a whistleblower and journalism has succeeded,” she said. “And yet the system is still wanting to punish, if you like, the one thing which has led to transparency and clarity.”

“But that should be completely unsurprising,” [The New York Times Jill] Abramson jumped in, citing the fact that the current administration has investigated seven “criminal leaks,” more than twice the number of such investigations, based on a law passed in 1917, pursued before President Obama took office. That such legal battles were still being fought by James Rosen, of Fox News, and James Risen, of the Times, were mentioned several times throughout the evening. [...]

“Instead of the position that journalists find themselves in where they’re being threatened with prosecution over identifying their sources, we are now being put in the position of something even more chilling—of being ‘co-conspirators,’” said Gibson. The accusation is now “‘You’re part of a conspiracy, possibly involving the KGB, or maybe China. Because the ordinary way of chilling journalism won’t work in this case. And I think this should be profoundly worrying, because that’s not going to stop. That is a ‘Journalism After Snowden’ problem.”

It was particularly timely that the discussion was held this week, just after Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke of journalists as "accomplices" of Snowden, a term that certainly Gellman considered to be threatening. It was his question about it that prompted the above discussion.

If journalists are feeling such a direct threat, it's not just Fourth Amendment rights for citizens that are jeopardized by the national security state. It's the Fifth Estate and the long tradition of a free press in the U.S.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 01:23 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The ultimate irony is that we are *less* secure (11+ / 0-)

    "in our persons" (per the language of the 4th) under this Orwellian regime.  So our "security" is both their imagined pretext and their actual victim, as they dismantle what's left of the Constitution.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

    by nailbender on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 01:34:37 PM PST

  •  Chilling Effect? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo, koNko


    Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us. ~ J. Garcia

    by DeadHead on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 01:39:37 PM PST

  •  but is it global or national press freedom /nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 01:46:28 PM PST

  •  You wouldn't really expect (6+ / 0-)

    a neoliberal world that considers privacy a quaint anachronism that gets in the way of the revenue stream to have much use for a free press, now would you.

  •  If the NSA is not brought under control... (8+ / 0-)

    ...we face a totalitarian system.

    Journalism is the only check to balance this new power.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 02:19:28 PM PST

  •  I hope this isn't autoplay! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    allenjo, koNko, Enzo Valenzetti

  •  Teachers, welcome journalists to the brave new (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Creosote

    world we find ourselves in.

    At least in prison they feed you. Teachers merely face vilification and losing their careers for doing their jobs.

    •  Saw this too late to rec, sorry! n/t (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, jbsoul, Lost and Found

      Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

      by corvo on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:56:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In simple terms (15+ / 0-)

    Journalism as a profession is threatened on multiple fronts in most parts of the world.

    Unfortunately, there are now just a handful of news organizations with global reach that still practice substantial, professional journalism, most of which are legacy organizations from newspapers or magazines, the best of which have some form or financial independence (for example, The Guardian).

    Now is a watershed time. If the "Post-Snowden" period marks a low point, it also presents an opportunity to reinforce the law by providing a focal point to push back in court.

    So I would urge people to support organizations such as the ACLU, EFF, Stanford Law and Columbia Journalism School, which are leading these battles.

    I'd also suggest those kossacks that think people like Glenn Greenwald are the enemy get a life and wake-up to the fact that it is exactly the journalists acting as positive irritants that preserve the freedoms for the rest.

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Fri Jan 31, 2014 at 10:50:40 PM PST

    •  This, I think, is key: (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost and Found, corvo, koNko, Pluto, lotlizard
      Unfortunately, there are now just a handful of news organizations with global reach that still practice substantial, professional journalism
      Given how much of what is called "journalism" these days, in this country and elsewhere, is really stenography, those few who actually do journalism stand out that much more, and can therefore that much more easily be targeted.
      •  It's a complex problem. (0+ / 0-)

        For a majority of major traditional print media, the loss of ad revenue has been a slow, lingering death only a few with national standing or loyal local following have managed to survive. Now broadcast media is in the same sort of death spiral.

        But before bloggers bash the media with too much glee it worthwhile for us to consider how much we actually depend on traditional media for basic news, how often it is selectively quoted to support our viewpoint when convenient and what we would do without it.

        I'm still a pretty significant paid consumer of some print and online media (including an online subscription to The Guardian), and although not everyone can afford to do so, those that can should or perhaps not complain so much about what they get for free.

        And I'd note at least a couple of the better front pagers here have a background in print journalism, and it shows in a positive way in terms of writing content and quality.

        If you watch the video of this panel discussion here, the opening remarks as well as one of the interesting questions from the live audience addresses the growing gap between traditional media and bloggers.

        Suffice it to say virtually no independent blogger or site would have had the capacity or resources to manage this particular case, which challenges even the resources of the major organizations (The Guardian, The WaPo, The NYT, Pro Publica) collaborating on this, an issue discussed in depth by Gibson (Guardian) and Abramson (NYT).

        I'd highly recommend watching the video, it covers the subject well from various angles.

        No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

        by koNko on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 07:39:16 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah. This thing is just going to have to play out (5+ / 0-)

    For my part, I'm cheering for one side -- and betting on the other.

    “The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had.” ― Eric Schmidt

    by Pluto on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:07:09 PM PST

  •  Nearly no one here likes to talk about it (9+ / 0-)

    but it is Obama who is going after Snowden so hard. Obama is no friend of an open government and an open society.

    Snowden is a freaking hero and Obama wants to lock him up and throw away the key.....

    "There's no ideology [t]here [on the right]. It's just about being a dick." Bill Maher, June 22, 2012.

    by caseynm on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:26:11 PM PST

    •  The site has been something of a disappointment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lost and Found

      … in terms of the people with the most clout failing to stand up for whistleblowers and civil liberties, without equivocation.

      And at least one writer with a regular front-page feature has made a point of insulting those who have stood up for them.

      The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

      by lotlizard on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:00:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Clapper is a proto-totalitarian (6+ / 0-)

    And so are many in the intelligence/industrial complex.

    If unchecked, these people will make 1984 look like a pic-nic.  Journalism and courageous whistle blowers are the only line of defense between us and this ugly possibility.

    1984 photo 1984-george-orwell_zpsa09203c5.jpg

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:43:59 PM PST

  •  Fourth Estate, not Fifth. Fifth was the movie. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Mogolori

    ... there is always an easy solution to every problem -- neat, plausible and wrong. - H. L. Mencken

    by renbear on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:46:38 PM PST

  •  The Fifth Estate has a lot to answer for (3+ / 0-)

    It's not just that they're finding themselves targeted now - it's the way they've allowed themselves to be co-opted by the government time after time.

    Consider the whole Ken Starr 'investigation' of Clinton where they were falling over themselves to grab every selective leak Starr wanted to put out, without consideration of the source or the context. Consider how the NY Times and so many others in the media became cheerleaders for the run-up to the Iraq War.  Look at how the Pentagon turned them into 'embeds' to control the narrative.

    Look at how much 'fair and balanced' journalism reduces everything to false equivalencies. When all sides of an issue are treated as interchangeable, there's no 'right' side left to be on.

    As Charles P. Pierce has right on his blog at Esquire,

    This blog is about politics, which, according to Aristotle, a truly veteran scribe, is the result of humans being the only herd animals capable of speaking to one another. Or shouting at one another, or giving to each other the ol' bazoo, for all of that, although there is no translation for "bazoo" in the ancient Greek. Thus, for our purposes here, this blog will be about politics in its most basic form — to wit, how we speak to each other for the purposes of governing, or choosing not to govern, ourselves as a small-r republican political commonwealth. It will be the policy of this blog not to treat ignorance with respect simply because that ignorance profits important and powerful people. It will be the policy to operate on the principle that, while there may be two sides to every question, rarely are they both right. If this blog sees a man walking down the street with a duck on his head, it will report that it saw a man walking down the street with a duck on his head. It will not need two sources for that. It will not seek out someone to tell it that what it really saw was a duck walking down the street with a guy on its ass. It will be the belief of this blog that, as Christopher Hitchens once said, the only correct answer to the question, "Is nothing sacred?" is "No." And there will be fun.
    emphasis added

    The day the press gets back to those fundamentals is the day they'll go back to doing their job as the founders intended.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 06:49:06 PM PST

    •  Bullshit (0+ / 0-)

      Not bullshit that it isn't a general problem, but bullshit it applies here.

      Can you please explain in detail, how the news organizations directly and indirectly involved in this case have failed and have been guilty of what is suggested in your comment?

      Not all media are equally mediocre and the main protagonists here, The Guardian, The WaPo, The NYT, Pro Publica as well as a host of other lesser known specialist publications such as Foreign Policy have done an excellent job, a point underlined by The Guardian's Gibson in the talk, who contrasts how well the US (and I would add German) media have done in this case verses the UK media (except Guardian) who have acted like sheep.

      In fact, in the talk, one audience question that parrots yur hypothesis falls flat in light of the facts.

      Up-thread I comment on the demise of traditional media in a couple of respects I need not repeat here, but I have to say I have hundreds of links to excellent reporting by traditional media on this that suggest it is not dead even if it is ailing.

      By the way, did you mean Fourth Estate journalists (I assume so) not Fifth Estate journalists (bloggers, etc)?

      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:01:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not bullshit. The New York Times has been horrible (0+ / 0-)

        … on anything having to do with the Middle East, for example. Their current lead correspondent, Anne Barnard, is an ignoramus. How does she get the job of reporting on Arab countries when she is unable to speak or read Arabic?

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

        by lotlizard on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 02:11:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  My point was about the Snowden case (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Not in general.

          In fact, major US publications and opinion-maker publications have done a really good job on this case, so I don't think there is anything wrong with defending them here.

          That is not to say they aren't found wanting in many respects, but credit where credit is due.

          And in fact, the NYT and WaPo did some good foundation reporting on this during the Bush administration, so they have been on the story since before Snowden was involved.

          If you go back to Dkos diaries around 2005 when the Telco wiretaps became public, it was NYT who broke the story based on investigative reporting not a whistle-blower leak.

          No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

          by koNko on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 01:28:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  You're right - meant 4th, not 5th estate (0+ / 0-)

        Change that, and I stand by the rest of my comment.

        Although there are plenty of bottom feeders blogging as well. There are always those who are going to suck up to power, whether through mistaken self-interest, naive trust, or stupidity.

        "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

        by xaxnar on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:11:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  What I'm saying here (0+ / 0-)

          Is in this case - the Snowden leaks and what followed - major US publications have done a pretty good job, and in case of the NYT and WaPo, have actually been reporting on the issue since the Bush wiretap revelations (broken by NYT) so I don't see a problem giving credit where it is due.

          To understand it better, you could look at how the UK press has handled it; except for The Guardian (which has corporate independence and a history of investigative journalism), the UK press has ignored or even stonewalled the story.

          Sadly, the BBC has hardly reported on it to extent merited, and whether that is out of loyalty or subservience to the UK government that funds it, or just a measure of how far it has slipped, it's pathetic.

          I now have over a thousand links for stories related to this, and when it comes to mainstream news, the rank order is like:

          (original reporting)

          The Guardian
          Der Spiegal
          Democracy Now!
          USA Today (yes, surprisingly)

          (feature stories and commentary, some with original news)

          Tech Dirt
          Ars Technica
          Foreign Policy
          New York
          Mother Jones

          In the first group, the first 4 are partners to a greater or lessor degree on reporting the Snowden dump so it's not remarkable they have lead, but I'd say the quality of reporting has been good.

          In the second category, I would note Ars, Wired and Foreign Policy have put significant resources into reporting back stories and issues that surround the topic, and in the case of Foreign Policy's Shane Harris, you have a reporter that has been on the NSA and security community as his beat for a couple of decades as well as authoring books; ditto the work by James Bamford for Wired (less frequent).

          If you are talking about CNN et al, sure they consistently suck, but if that is the only media one follows (probably the case for a lot of people), yes, your head will be full of crap.

          No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

          by koNko on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 01:49:34 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Broadcast TV from the old Big 3 is not good (0+ / 0-)

            Though I get the impression it is slowly improving as it begins to sink in just what the government has been up to.

            But a lot of them still can't get their heads past the fact that Snowden ended up in Russia! He must have been working for them all along!

            It's also how they focus on Snowden violating his contract - and never seem to wonder what kind of oversight the contractor who hired him was providing. In some ideal world, you'd think people working in a highly restricted program would have to deal with a little more…stringent work place.

            Of course, once reporters start digging into how much of our security state has been contracted out...

            "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

            by xaxnar on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 05:53:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't live in the USA and don't watch much TV (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              But when I do, I'm usually disappointed. Mostly when I see US news broadcasts it's CNN International, which is good for background noise but very annoying and stupid if you actually listen. And even the BBC has gone downhill a lot.

              But if we consider "print journalism" or the modern equivalent, I think there is still a lot of good reporting and commentary to be found, and obviously some serious blogs run by persons connected to the journalistic or academic communities, whether they a generally or narrowly focused, have become important sources of news or commentary.

              Frankly, I don't expect a CNN driven by ratings and advertising to do much more than pick low hanging fruit and provide chatter, and maybe my expectations are too low since this is how a significant fraction of the public gets news, but if you say the word "journalism" I won't associate it with that, LOL.

              I want to apply the standards to the other group, that I consider to be at least slightly independent and slightly serious about the role they have to play (and it is a special role as long as they enjoy privileges).

              And in this case, I think American journalists have actually done a good job and used their legal status, resources and position to do the job, so credit where it is due.

              Judging by Jay Carney, the Obama Administration is not amused, but that is his fucking problem so let him handle it.

              No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

              by koNko on Tue Feb 04, 2014 at 10:58:40 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Technology (0+ / 0-)

    Yes, we have made ourselves more vulnerable to snooping. However, there are already a number of technological solutions available and in the works, along with (or at least it seems so) a greater reluctance of software and hardware manufacturers and internet hosting companies to be accommodating to the government eavesdroppers.

    None of this is perfect, of course. And individuals, not just journalists, have to be ready to not be so willing to trade privacy for convenience [e,g,, you can surf anonymously, but then websites won't welcome you back with your stored preferences].
    [these last two from technologically sophisticated writer, but radical libertarian site].

  •  I don't think any of the networks today have (0+ / 0-)

    journalists’, they have announcers only.
    Any real Journalism is done in blogs or local papers.

    •  Exactly ! (0+ / 0-)

      Bloggers quoting commercial media to support their talking points are always better informed and more awesome than traditional media, the subject case perfect example of the abject failure of major media actors like The Guardian, WaPo, NYT, Der Spiegal, etc.


      No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

      by koNko on Sat Feb 01, 2014 at 08:07:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Confronting the president (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Lippman

    I would hope the White House press corps might decide to confront the president on these issues face to face and with some unity at a press conference, not just one or two questions but a steady flow of questions: does he agree with Clapper that journalists could be co-conspirators? what safeguards can there be that privileged conversations won't be monitored by the NSA? And so on.

    I would love for the president to have to respond and see how he does it.

  •  Of course, you have to remember... (0+ / 0-)

    ...that most of the fascination with the Snowden documents in the press was the Snowden/Greenwald promoted idea that the government itself was involved in a conspiracy that had nothing to do with fighting terrorism or national security. That was supposed to be the scandal, not that there were complex legal controversies surrounding the Patriot Act.

  •  It seems (0+ / 0-)

    pretty clear to me that we are nearing a place in time where we become, or have become the "Evil Empire" many of us learned about in grade school. Then it was the USSR.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:17:02 AM PST

  •  If anything (0+ / 0-)

    These are all entirely good justifications for creating a state owned and controlled media in its entirety and eliminating this silly so called 'private' aspect of it. We need to know what our Dear Leader tells us.

  •  I could not help but think of this: (0+ / 0-)

    "And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."

    The Masque of the Red Death, Edgar Allen Poe

    Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest. Denis Diderot

    by Asmodeus2012 on Sun Feb 02, 2014 at 07:25:31 PM PST

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