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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
First Amendment To The Constitution Of The United States
When The Guardian Broke the Edward Snowden-NSA leaks story last May I promised our contributors that whatever was to follow was likely to become the biggest news story of the year — if not the century. It would not be an ordinary story, in my view, because of its complexity and entanglement with governance, politics, law, public policy and constitutionally guaranteed rights. If we were going to cover such a major story Newsroom Magazine would have to do some of the heavy lifting — not in breaking the story, but in helping to give it context, foundation, relevancy — all on an historical timeline.
Newsroom Magazine’s Senior Editor, Jeffrey Slee, began to organize content relevant to terrorists and terrorism. A few days after the Guardian newspaper published leaked NSA documents we began to publish those materials, for their news value and historical significance, in a new content section Richard Parsons named Governance & Privacy.
Our editorial purpose for establishing a new content section, Governance & Privacy, is to publish what readers need to know about what is published as leaked documents, what officials and government agencies say or reveal, and tangential materials that help to clarify or confirm or to question what is said about the issues, not what’s entertaining.
Under Jeff Slee’s leadership, Newsroom Magazine has already gathered a substantial historical collection of documents, speeches, articles, legislation, court decisions and analytical content from many sources. All of the related materials, including our own commentaries, essays and editorials are grouped together and easily navigated along the timeline that began with the FISA Court documents last May. I can personally assure readers that no other online publication has the equal of Jeff Slee’s broad swath content collection on the NSA story and it’s logical constituent parts and foundations.
Our editorial purpose for establishing a new content section is to publish and make easily available what readers need to know about what happened, when it happened, and what was in or said about about leaked documents, contemporaneous with what government officials, politicians and others have chosen to reveal.
Our strategic plan is to assemble a body of content about the issues and disclosures that reflects all points of view on an easily navigated timeline that is contemporaneous with the events and news and suitable for permanent storage of historical quality.
No other medium is as well suited to this task as is online publishing. Today, our readers can explore all of our Governance & Policy content by clicking on the section link on any G&P article, [ Governance & Privacy ] atop every thing we publish. People can search Google to open our G&P section using this search string: [ newsroom-magazine governance & privacy ].
Newsroom Magazine coverage is intended to inform, not inflame or spin. Our content is different than what is to be found in most major media, for except for editorial or opinion materials, which like this Reporter’s Notebook article are clearly marked, Newsroom Magazine content is intentionally non-adversarial. Our readers don’t need us to tell them what’s valid or credible — they can easily do that for themselves.
Adversarial journalism, the model behind the New York Times and other responsible news sources, is deeply rooted in American culture and politics. Its origins arose from the inherent imbalance between the rights and responsibilities of citizens and the immense power of government.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that adversarial journalism, practiced by responsible citizens, was a necessary predicate for democracy. To protect the right of non-governmental institutions and persons to question or challenge government the U.S. Constitution was amended to specifically protect freedom of the press — the only means of information dissemination at the time — from governmental interference.
The right to publish without prior restraint and to openly and publicly challenge government does not, however, require that all information be derived by adversarial means. Since the civil war-era American newspapers and other news outlets have published a wide spectrum of news content that ranges from totally adversarial to totally passive.
In general, the closer content is to a newspaper’s front page the more likely it is to be substantively adversarial. Big news, the important stories about governmental actions and policies is often the result of questioning, interviews and research. Non-policy stories about governmental decisions, actions or data tend to be non-adversarial to the degree that the information was voluntarily released by government.
For example when the FDA approves a new drug the announcement is treated as news even though it was not the product of reportorial diligence or questioning. Accordingly, while a report on whether or not a drug ought to have been approved might be adversarial in origin, the news that the drug was released to market falls into a non-adversarial area of news sometimes described as realities.
The economic dislocation that has adversely impacted the newspaper business in the last decade has resulted in a substantial reduction in non adversarial content of every type. Both hard news and features content has been sharply curtailed in an effort to contain costs and focus resources. The days of leisurely thumbing through a 125 page daily newspaper to explore a large daily dose of non adversarial news is all but gone.
Given that today’s Internet and broadcast news is largely published for its entertainment value, Newsroom Magazine management consciously decided to enlarge our hard news content to accommodate national non adversarial news produced for and by governmental departments, agencies and other bodies.
Some government generated new is well prepared, documented and written. Most is not. What’s in such content is not always true, may be incomplete for undisclosed reasons, or may be fabricated and made to look like news when it is puffery, filler or embarrassingly self-serving.
Whenever you have the time to examine the NSA leak stories, you’ll find our Governance & Privacy section chock-full of carefully selected documents accompanied by precedent, related, cited and support documents that range from FISA Court to the Supreme Court decision that defined personal privacy, and contemporaneous comments and essays.
Newsroom Magazine contributors follow the full breadth of the NSA story 24 hours a day.
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