Secrecy

Posted by Sheldon Rampton on August 13, 2008

"The former spokeswoman for Arlington National Cemetery says the facility's No. 2 official has been calling military families to try to talk them out of media coverage of their loved ones' funerals, despite his denials that he does so," reports William H. McMichael.

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Posted by Diane Farsetta on August 11, 2008

As reporters and researchers know all too well, releasing information isn't necessarily the same thing as releasing useful information.

Pentagon pundit Ken AllardCase in point: the Pentagon's military analyst program. In early 2002, the Defense Department began cultivating "key influentials" -- retired military officers who are frequent media commentators -- to help the Bush administration make the case for invading Iraq. The program expanded over the years, briefing more participants on a wider range of Bush administration talking points, occasionally taking them overseas on the government's dime.

In April 2006, the group was used to counter criticism of then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The apparent coordination between the Pentagon and the pundits piqued the interest of New York Times reporters. Two years later -- after wresting some 8,000 pages of internal documents from the Defense Department -- the Times exposed the Pentagon's covert attempts to shape public opinion through its so-called "message force multipliers." A few weeks later, the Defense Department posted the same documents publicly.

It wasn't the high-octane data dump it first appeared to be. Sure, paging through the emails, slides and briefing papers is interesting, and occasionally you come across something noteworthy. But the documents are formatted in such a way that systematically exploring them via keyword searches is impossible. A cynic (or realist) might think the Pentagon was doing damage control by putting the documents out in the open, while making it near-impossible to find crucial needles in a very large, chaotically-compiled haystack.

Posted by Sheldon Rampton on August 02, 2008

If you're looking for "real reporting" these days, Glenn Greenwald thinks a lot of it is coming from whistleblowers and advocacy groups rather than from journalists.

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Posted by Bob Burton on July 31, 2008

Melissa Sweet, a freelance Australian health journalist, reports that she recently received an email from a staffer with the private intelligence company Hakluyt.

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Posted by Diane Farsetta on July 31, 2008

Readers of the book "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You" may remember the name Mary Lou Sapone -- a corporate spy who, while secretly in the employ of U.S. Surgical, infiltrated animal rights groups.

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Posted by Diane Farsetta on July 30, 2008

When China submitted its bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, it promised that journalists would have "complete freedom to report" from the country. However, "sites such as Amnesty International or any search for a site with Tibet in the address could not be opened at the Main Press Center [in Beijing], which will house about 5,000 print journalists when the games open Aug.

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Posted by Sheldon Rampton on July 27, 2008

Zoriah Miller, a freelance photojournalist who published images of marines killed in a June 26 suicide attack in Iraq, has been forbidden to work in Marine Corps-controlled areas of the country and may be barred from all United States military facilities throughout the world. His case "has underscored what some journalists say is a growing effort by the American military to control graphic images from the war," write Michael Kamber and Tim Arango.

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Posted by Judith Siers-Poisson on July 23, 2008

Both the Democratic and Republican conventions are bringing in millions of dollars in corporate sponsors, but there is no reporting requirement for either the political parties or the companies. There are a reported 146 organizational and corporate donors, but less than a quarter have chosen to disclose information about their donations.

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Posted by Anne Landman on July 16, 2008

homeless manThe Colorado Coalition for the Homeless plans to hand out free movie tickets, free passes to the Zoo, Denver's Museum of Nature and Science and other cultural attractions to homeless people during the Democratic National Convention August 25-28. They will even provide free bus tickets for the homeless to visit attractions that are beyond walking distance.

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