Posts Tagged ‘Freedom Of The Press’

Take A Peek At The Right To Look Today

March 21, 2015

This week, Analysis would like to revisit the right to look, something not guaranteed by the US Constitution or Bill of Rights. Looking is the most natural and spontaneous activity of the human body (a vestigial defense response still genetically imprinted for human survival?). It is not considered a right within the US representative democracy. Please, check your spontaneity at the door! The online Newark Advocate shows an “Editorial; Better late than never for Buckeye Lake (3-21-15). After the Governor’s press conference re; that damn issue, the Advocate cites the projected cost of repair – $125-$150 million (given the Corps’ track record, probably significantly more). The editorial board then does something quite extraordinary and out of character, it actually looks. “But his own Ohio Department of Natural Resources director was quoted three years ago saying the problem had grown critical and something must be done.” But (for the sake of modesty?) the board doesn’t linger in its looking. Speaking on the 3-20-15 Columbus On The Record, WOSU’s Ann Fisher unabashedly stated that three years ago the ODNR’s figures for that tier 1 critical damn repair were half of what is given today (same ODNR that issues permits for fracking). Ann exercises her unconstitutional right to look. John the governator is quick to lobby nationwide for a balanced budget amendment. Given a contingency, he is just as prone to forsake the balancing act and borrow money to keep that damn issue from bursting his presidential aspirations (the state issuing bonds is a “politically correct” way of saying “borrowing money”, as someone waaaay in the future will be paying it off). But the right to look slips into the “legislated” right to look ever so perniciously. Practically innocuous is what Michael McAuliff reports via the Huffington Post (3-19-15, “Republicans Vote To Hide Costs Of Repealing Obamacare In Budget”). In a trying bit of reporting, McAuliff reports on the convoluted effort by the Senate Budget Committee to hide the added deficit to eliminate the Affordable Care Act while including its projected revenues within the GOP’s proposed deficit busting budget (“repealing Obamcare would add $210 billion to the deficit.”). “”We have a point of order in the budget for anything that adds to the deficit, but we have a section that specifically excludes the Affordable Care Act from that,” [Senator Debbie] Stabenow said. “So think about it. This budget is conceding the fact that the Affordable Care Act has reduced the deficit, and repealing the law would increase the deficit.” Stabenow also alluded a related problem the GOP budget ignores: At the same time that it instructs Congress to come up with a repeal, it continues to count all the revenue that the Affordable Care Act is expected to raise — and which the government wouldn’t collect if the law is dismantled.” But wait, there’s so much more. After having prostituted the US congress, and pulling a George Bush “So what?” in regards to his pre election negation of a two state solution re; Palestine and Israel, Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu virtually won reelection in the recent Parliamentary campaign. As an aside re: the right to look, Harry Shearer (on le Show) ran a recording of the Bibi sitter’s address to congress back in January of 2002 when Netanyahu spelled out how much better off the mid east would be if Saddam Hussein were toppled by US military invasion. The day after his recent electoral triumph, some online pundit headlined that the US is following the lead of Israel, reflects what is happening there. How can this be, you say? The AP’s Ryan J. Foley headlines “Bills would limit access to officer body camera videos” (3-20-15). “IOWA CITY, Iowa – State legislators are pushing to make it much harder to release police officer body camera videos, undermining their promise as a tool people can use to hold law enforcement accountable. Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced bills to exempt video recordings of police encounters with citizens from state public records laws, or to limit what can be made public.” “Absent public-records protections, these police decisions can be unilateral and final in many cases.” “The Kansas Senate voted 40-0 last month to exempt the recordings from the state’s open-records act. Police would only have to release them to people who are the subject of the recordings and their representatives, and could charge them a viewing fee. Kansas police also would be able to release videos at their own discretion.” The elderly may (or may not) remember what it was like in the days prior to cameras on phones and the disruptive technology of hand held video recorders. For even a minor traffic violation, the state’s only witness needed to be the arresting officer. On the stand, whatever came out of his mouth was considered irreproachable fact. Currently several US states also have legislation pending that outlaws bystanders recording officers engaged in police activity.

“Move along now. Nothing more to see here.”

The Right To Look

March 7, 2013

February 28, 2013 at the Honda Classic Serena Williams got busted for using her phone to make an image of Tiger Woods. On 3-5-13 the Newark Advocate ran an Op Ed piece entitled Who Owns The News by Gene Policinski, vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C. In it Policinski uses the recent NASCAR Daytona race crash/YouTube video (made from a cell phone like Serena did) to introduce the notion of “owning” the news. As Gene points out, many events, places, people and products own the right to their image, to reproduction and dissemination. An image of Obama or Mickey Mouse, the recipe for KFC chicken or Chanel no. 5, the NFL design of the Dallas Cowboys star, or a Beatles’ song can be owned. Reproduce it and you are liable to be accused of theft. Policinski connects this with the freedom of the press. That the ownership of this “planned” news has limits. It does not include accounts made of “unexpected” news. His view is that unexpected news (news that is not owned) should fall under our constitutional right to freedom of the press. Policinski does not consider the various disclaimers of liability that purchasers, employees, etc.  sign that free the seller of any responsibility for “unexpected” happenings. Such an interpretation could likewise be used to insure ownership of the news, expected or unexpected.

Globally this question is considered in a completely different manner, one we Americans don’t care to consider. The right to look does not appear anywhere in our constitution. When there is a crime scene, be it one of violence to individual or property, a white collar crime or one of government abuse and corruption, the yellow crime tape goes up. It allows only those “owning” the proper credentials or press pass to enter and look. For the rest of us, the officer standing outside the tape will say “Move along now, there is nothing to see here.” As Policinski points out, the realpolitik is that “the freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns one.” But considered from the perspective of a right to look, is ownership a justification for who can look? When it comes to a community of 48,000 people, like Newark (or Mansfield), does the community have a “right to look”?

The Newark community has limited outlets that own a press pass and have the right to look. The preferred outlook, the one taught in grade school civics and government classes, is that this is so because “the market” of supply and demand makes publishing and disseminating news and information possible – ownership is what makes for possibility. Currently Newark is supplied by The Newark Advocate, and 2 commercial radio stations (WCLT, WNKO). The Advocate is not locally owned while the two radio stations maintain they are. The Advocate is owned by the Gannett Company, Inc. a publicly traded media holding company headquartered in Tysons Corner, Virginia which also owns the newspapers in Lancaster, Coshocton, etc. Outside the geographic area the Newark population can obtain local news from Columbus outlets such as The Dispatch Company which is primarily owned by the Wolfe family originally of Columbus (that also owns the CBS news affiliate), the ABC news affiliate which along with the Fox news Affiliate is owned by the Sinclair Broadcast Group in Hunt Valley Maryland and the NBC affiliate owned by Media General Communications Holdings out of Richmond Virginia. Ownership of CBS  by CBS Corporation (formerly Viacom) is murky. Wiki has “Sumner Redstone, owner of National Amusements, is CBS’s majority shareholder and serves as executive chairman.” Disney is claimed to own ABC, Rupert Murdoch possesses Fox, and GE is touted as NBC’s owner. In addition to that, residents may access “news” from outside sources such as radio, internet, subscription print publications, etc. that may or may not include news specifically pertinent to Newark.

Who owns the news? Who owns the right to look? Who owns the right to look in Newark Ohio? Does a community of 48,000 people have a right to look?