In a case with implications for investigative journalism in the Internet age, a Canadian mining company has successfully used British libel law to shut down part of a U.S.-based Web site.
In a recent memo titled "Talking to the Press," Polk Laffoon, Knight Ridders's VP for corporate relations, laid out some media relations "rules of thumb" for the company's executives, publishers, and editors. In the memo, which was leaked to the Philadelphia Weekly, Laffoon writes: "Reporters who want to do take-outs on the company virtually always have an agenda. If the agenda isn't friendly (often the case), we muster whatever facts and figures we can to refute or blunt it. Although it would be rare that a reporter changes the agenda based on what we say, we can have an impact.
Many eyewitness reports have come in regarding the July 22, 2001 police raid on the Independent Media Center's office in Italy, where journalists were gathered to report on mass protests against the G8 meeting by a broad spectrum of groups seeking economic, environmental, and social justice. At least a hundred fully-armed riot police raided the office, looking for film and photographs in the possession of demonstration organizers. They kicked and clubbed people as they lay on the ground, even when an officer yelled at them to stop.
This website for journalists provides a forum for anonymous griping about newsroom downsizing, profit-hungry shareholders, useless editors and other afflictions of the modern media.
When Henry Kissinger turned up for a recent speech at the National Press Club, he was concerned about the question-and-answer segment. The moderator accommodated his wishes and withheld probing questions.
This mock commencement speech by Norman Solomon addresses the graduates of today's "communications" schools, which mingle training in journalism with training in public relations: "You have studied how to write news articles and contrive news releases; how to dig for truth and how to obscure it; how to produce journalistic sensations as well as public relations; in short, how to unspin and spin. Like many others around the country, this school of journalism imparts vital skills of reporting and distorting."
Surveys of working journalists have found that they experience pressure from powerful interests to push some stories and ignore others, and to shape or slant news content. The sources of pressure include the government, corporate advertisers, and media owners themselves. Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting prepared this special report.
Journalist Mike Reilley has put together his own website which contains hundreds of helpful research links for professional journalists, organized by topics such as federal and local government, business, science/environment, medical/health, sports, crime/courts, phone directories, finding expert sources, history, writing with numbers, journalism organizations, etc.
The prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize has been awarded to Jane Akre and Steve Wilson, TV journalists who researched the potential health risks of rBGH (recombinant bovine growth hormone), the genetically modified hormone injected into U.S. dairy cows to stimulate milk production. The hormone is one of the first genetically modified products approved by the FDA. It is banned in Europe, Japan and most other industrialized nations. The story by Akre and Wilson proved too hot for their local Fox TV network affiliate for which it was produced and ultimately led to their firing.
Powerful corporations routinely throw their weight around in the local and national media--and get away with it. Before running a piece about Micron Technologies, the Idaho Statesman sent a review copy to...Micron Technologies. The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal got a scoop on a big airline merger, under the condition that they not talk to any critics of the deal. In their Fear and Favor 2000 report, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting document these and many more examples of the media caving in to corporate spin.