December 1, 2005

Federal Govt Doesn’t Want Press to Photograph the Dead in New Orleans

Posted by Eric Jaffa
September 7, 2005 @ 9:22 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press

From Editor & Publisher:

Forced to defend what some critics consider its slow response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said on Tuesday it does not want the news media to take photographs of the dead as they are recovered from New Orleans.

FEMA, which is leading the rescue efforts, rejected requests from journalists to accompany rescue boats as they went out to search for storm victims, Reuters reported.

A FEMA spokeswoman told the wire service that space was needed on the rescue boats and assured Reuters that “the recovery of the victims is being treated with dignity and the utmost respect.”

“We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media,” the spokeswoman told Reuters via e-mail.

On Wednesday, journalist groups protested the move.

“It’s impossible for me to imagine how you report a story whose subject is death without allowing the public to see images of the subject of the story,” Larry Siems of the PEN American Center told Reuters.

Rebecca Daugherty of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said: “The notion that, when there’s very little information from FEMA, that they would even spend the time to be concerned about whether the reporting effort is up to its standards of taste is simply mind-boggling. You cannot report on the disaster and give the public a realistic idea of how horrible it is if you don’t see that there are bodies as well.”




Are Media Consolidation and Indecency Natural Bedfellows?

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 7, 2005 @ 11:00 am
Filed under: Media Watch

At a panel discussion tomorrow, the good folks at The Center for Creative Voices in the Media will reveal a study that details the links between media Murdoch-ism and “indecency.” The discussion will include participation from CCVM leader Jon Rintels, FCC commish Michael Copps, free press scholar Robert McChesney, and a representative of the Parents Television Council.

Here’s how the CCVM explains the problem in an email:

Since passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, ownership of our nation’s radio and television stations has become increasingly concentrated. Over the same period, many citizens and policymakers have expressed concern over a perceived rise in the broadcasting of offensive material. In response, the FCC levied nearly twice as many fines for broadcasting indecent content from 2000 to 2003 as it did in all of the 1990s.

As the FCC again prepares to loosen rules on media ownership — and Congress rewrites the Telecom Act — the relationship of ownership concentration and broadcast indecency deserves far greater scrutiny. A new report by Jonathan Rintels of the Center for Creative Voices in Media and Professor Philip M. Napoli of Fordham University offers compelling evidence of a link between media consolidation and indecency. Speakers at Thursday’s press conference will comment on the report and discuss how to better regulate indecency on the airwaves without trampling the First Amendment.

While the goal of non-censorious regulation is commendable, methinks it might be one of those ideas that works better on paper than in practice.

Can’t wait to hear their plan, though.




Will Must-Carry Save Our Children?

Posted by Amanda Toering
September 7, 2005 @ 10:52 am
Filed under: Media Watch

The digital must-carry tennis match has pitted broadcasters against media consolidation foes against Right-wing activists against… well, you get the picture.

Media watchdogs worry that must-carry will increase big broadcasters’ control of the airwaves, leaving independent entities out in the digital cold. Here’s what our friends at The Center for Creative Voices in the Media have to say:

We believe the public interest requires that if the FCC allows digital must-carry, then it must at the same time require the broadcast networks to air independently-produced programming on these added digital channels, as well as other public interest programming. The transition to digital broadcasting should create a golden opportunity to enhance independent creative voices and viewpoints on television, not further eliminate them.

The Right is weighing in now with their own spin: Must-carry may well save our kids from filthy cable smut!

From Broadcasting & Cable:

Religious Broadcasters have come up with a new argument for requiring cable to carry all of the channels broadcasters can fit into their digital spectrum allotment: At least they won’t be cable channels.

“The cultural and moral dimensions of legislation are sometimes obscured by a debate that focuses solely on economics,” said a group led by National Religious Broadcasters President Frank Wright.

That dimension, they argued in a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, is that their stations could be bumped in favor of cable channels that “will not be subject to federal indecency standards.”

“Without this action on the part of the Congress,” they said, “we will continue to see what some members of the FCC have called “the headlong race to the bottom” in television programming.