Month: June 2012

This and That of Recent Interest

Workshop for Journalists on Getting and Using Public Records — David Cuillier, national Freedom of Information trainer for the Society of Professional Journalists, will conduct a workshop for reporters and other news and opinion writers on Tuesday, June 26, at the KQED offices in San Francisco. Admission is free for SPJ members and $10 for non-members. More Bill to Make Secret Property Records of Criminal Justice Officials Stalls — AB 2299 by Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) failed to get even a motion in the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance Wednesday, despite a platoon of law enforcement lobbyists...

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Latest Media Access to Prisons Bill Nears Finish

While the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1974 that  journalists had no First Amendment right to schedule personal media interviews with prison inmates, for the next two decades the actual policy of the California Department of Corrections was to honor media requests for interviews with willing prisoners.  But in 1996, after reports about inhumane conditions at Pelican Bay made the Wilson Administration uncomfortable, the department used “emergency” regulations to cut off the customary access, and over the years since then six bills passed by the legislature to restore it have been vetoed by Governors Davis and Schwarzenegger. The latest...

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Journalists Get to Watch Idaho’s Lethal Needlework

Our constitutional standards dictate that when the state punishes crime by killing the criminal, the act must be humane—not “cruel or unusual.”  Those states moving to lethal injection as a less brutal method of execution than, say, electrocution or gassing are thus left with only two real bases for legal challenge in this context. Do the injected chemicals themselves cause avoidable physiological torment once in the system, or does the search for an optimum blood vessel to inject involve needlessly hurtful trial and error? The latter issue can be monitored by those the state permits to witness executions only...

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The Difference between Leaks and Whistleblowing

A whistleblower is an insider who wants to right a wrong and usually tries going up the chain of command to do it before going public, which is often the only option when his or her career suffers. A leaker is an insider who wants to get political attention to a situation—to generate either praise or criticism for a policy or practice—by using a reporter as a publicity outlet, almost always without career risk. Justice often depends on whistleblowers; politics often depends on leaks. We should not forget these distinctions, says David Sirota in...

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