Who is a member of the media? Terry Heaton argues that an appeals court has set the parameters, in a case on witnesses with cameras:
The issue advanced significantly on Friday with a stunning Federal Appeals Court ruling affirming the First Amendment right of citizens to photograph or create videos of police while they’re on duty. Police agencies in some communities were using an odd interpretation of wiretap laws to confiscate the camera phones of bystanders, and the court rightly found that to be unconstitutional.
The decision has far-reaching implications that go beyond the mere taking of pictures at crime, disturbance and accident scenes. By granting everyone this “right,” this ruling redefines “the press” in this country by shattering the myth of privilege associated with working for a so-called “legitimate” news organization. Some will cry that it opens Pandora’s Box, because a clearly defined “press” helps the machine of modernity function. This decision is potential chaotic, for example, to those cultural institutions who have a vested interest in keeping their “news” in the hands of a professional class (that can be manipulated). Think of an agency holding a press conference, for example. If press freedom applies to everybody, then that agency cannot restrict access to only those who work for a news organization.
The decision should make anybody in a traditional newsroom shutter. As we’ve been saying for years, the personal media revolution — what Jay Rosen calls “the Great Horizontal” — IS the second Gutenberg moment in Western civilization.
The full piece is worth a read.
Meanwhile, there’s great empirical evidence that public relations is doing more than coming of age. A New York Times reporter is quoted there, saying “the muscles of public relations are bulking up—as if they were on steroids.”
One of the buzzwords in the business is engagement. Old fashioned engagement still works, as this Canadian example demonstrates:
Not long ago, the Winnipeg Free Press’s social media editor hosted an online chat from her desk at the paper’s downtown news cafe. She had done it many times in recent months but something unexpected happened.
People had taken up the paper’s social media invitation to “join us” in a chat about Google+ with guests including GigaOM’s Mathew Ingram. But audience members started showing up at the cafe in person saying, “I’m here for the chat!”
“I looked at them and thought, ‘Oh…okay. That’s my mistake there. I didn’t promote this the right way,’ said Lindsey Wiebe. “But that’s also a good sign,” she added. “They’re thinking of this cafe as a hub where our events are held.”
Two speeches: This one by a Cronkite School of Journalism professor and news veteran, Tim McGuire, to the Society of Features Editors. He’s calling for a change of mindset in the industry. Baltimore Sun editor and Loyola professor discusses his first day of class speech. It’s a great read.
The Washington Post is closing all but two of their local bureaus. This is almost always a series of unfortunate events. Less coverage is never a good thing. The reasons why might surprise you.