December 20, 2012

"The First Amendment affords a publisher - not a reporter - absolute authority to shape a newspaper's content."

Says a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to the dismay of AlterNet:
Rather than uphold their rights both to unionize and to speak out against bad editorial practices, the federal court instead said their dismissals were protected by the publisher's First Amendment Rights to print whatever she wanted.

The dispute began in 2006, when nearly all the top journalists and editors at the Santa Barbara News-Press quit because the paper's owner and publisher Wendy McCaw was interfering in the editorial content.
If a business employs people to do the work of writing, it gets to direct the work it's paying for. How could it be any other way? I'm only talking about the law — the extent to which courts should interfere. Obviously, there's endless room to criticize newspaper owners who demand biased or bad journalism. That's more speech in the speech marketplace.
"The First Amendment affords a publisher - not a reporter - absolute authority to shape a newspaper's content," Judge Stephen Williams wrote for a three-judge panel.

As the Santa Barbara Independent notes, the court's judges are overwhelmingly conservative — a bias clearly reflected in this ruling.
Clearly! Nonsense.

CORRECTION: I'd mistakenly identified the court as the 9th Circuit. (The events took place in Santa Barbara.)

46 comments:

Synova said...

I have an internship writing copy... I will write what my employer wants me to write, the way she wants me to write it.

How could it be any other way?

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
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SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Obviously, there's endless room to criticize newspaper owners who demand biased or bad journalism

"Obviously"!

What if they don't have to "demand" it, because they already know the writing biases and journalistic "standards" of those they hired? Think NYT, WP, etc.

Give them a pass?

Robert Cook said...

I find it astonishingly naive of the newspaper's editors and reporters to not realize it's the owner who has final say on what his or her paper or television or radio station will report and how it will report it.

If the owner wants to leave it to the judgement of his hirees, employed for their experience and professional expertise, fine; if the owner wants to dictate the content and the slant, that's clearly his or her prerogative.

Ambrose said...

I haven't followed this case, but based on the description of the case, I am surprised it got all the way to the Circuit Court. Seems such an obvious result.

EDH said...

Leftist today like to say they're not socialists because, technically, they don't advocate the state owning the means of production.

They just want to control the means of production.

Who needs all that responsibility and messy risk taking?

Hagar said...

I think I remember reading, some decades ago, that in France it is the law that the publisher may not interfere with a newspaper's editorial staff.

YoungHegelian said...

@EDH,

....They just want to control the means of production.

And where have we heard that idea before?

That's right, it was called fascism.

wyo sis said...

What the government demands for itself it plans to deny its people? How could this happen?

bpm4532 said...

Hey, your newspaper, you didn't build that!

Mitchell the Bat said...

The unexpectedly good news is that the schools that teach journalism actually accomplish something.

Big Mike said...

Yeah, that's one of the more objectionable traits of conservative judges -- their naive belief that the law ought to stand for something.

Pettifogger said...

SomeoneHastoSayIt asks: "What if they don't have to "demand" it, because they already know the writing biases and journalistic "standards" of those they hired? Think NYT, WP, etc."

What about them? I'm no fan of the MSM and largely ignore it, but I would not have the government step in to correct it. In what universe would that improve things?

Quaestor said...

As the Santa Barbara Independent notes, the court's judges are overwhelmingly conservative — a bias clearly reflected in this ruling.

When those same judges rule against the plaintiffs in Pickup v. Brown, will AlterNet think the same right-wing bias is operating?

Larry J said...

When I was stationed in Germany (78-80), I met a reporter for "Stars and Stripes" and asked him what he thought the function of the press was in a free society. His answer was surprisingly blunt: "To make money for the publisher."

He was right. That was the most honest thing I've ever heard a reporter say.

Bob Ellison said...

Aw, another post from the Professor to which I have nothing worth reading to add. D'oh!

The Gold Digger said...

"To make money for the publisher."


Larry, I went through the same thing with the PR guy where I used to work. He asked a group of us what we thought the function of a newspaper was.

Several people answered, "To report the news."

I am cynical. I said, "To sell advertising."

John Burgess said...

Oddly, neither linked piece offers links to the actual court decision. It can be found here as a 14-pg PDF.

The decision spells out what issues were really being decided, something that the AlterNet piece particularly glossed over.

Kit said...

I would have assumed this.

Chuck Currie said...

Even a stopped clock...

Cheers

McTriumph said...

All journalism schools need to show "Citizen Kane" once a semester.

edutcher said...

I guess the Mayans are right.

gerry said...
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gerry said...

They just want to control the means of production.

That makes them Nazis more than anything else.

And the Ninth Circuit is conservative?

Riiiiiiight.

John said...
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John said...

Gerry said:

They just want to control the means of production.

That makes them Nazis more than anything else.


Or, as they almost always referred to themselves "National Socialists"

Italian "Fascism" (note caps) was also avowedly socialist. Mussolini, founder of the Fascist Party was a lifelong socialist.

John Henry

Peter said...

""To make money for the publisher."

Perhaps someone should tell Arthur Ochs 'Pinch' Sulzberger Jr that.

pogo101 said...

Ann, Gerry,

It's the D.C. Circuit that issued this decision Tuesday, not the 9th Circuit (although the second linked article states that the new decision is consistent with a 9th Circuit ruling in 2010).

http://www.thestate.com/2012/12/18/2560821/appeals-court-sides-with-newspaper.html

Like Gerry, I was puzzled that anyone would describe the NINTH Circuit as conservative, and so I started poking around.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

To the aptly named Pettifogger:

You could not have misunderstood my post, more.

Rabel said...

pogo101,

A gold star to you for doing your homework.

DC affirmed a decision by the 9th.

David said...

Interesting that the NLRB admin law judge had no problem with holding for the plaintiffs. The NLRB once again proving that it is not an actual court, but a governmental agency enforcing pro union policies.

Tim said...

Boy, the Newspaper Writers Soviet is gonna be really pissed about this...add three more names to the list of reactionaries to be put up against the wall.

n.n said...
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n.n said...

The First Amendment constrains the authority of Congress. It neither grants nor removes individual or cooperative rights with respect to the States.

Now I see. The Fourteenth Amendment, specifically "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States", implies that Constitutional constraints of Congress's authority, equally constrain the States' authority. At least with respect to individual citizens.

It's worth noting that the United States Charter, "The Declaration of Independence" (wherein rights are endowed from "creation", not birth, not feasibility), and the Constitution, specifically the Fourteenth Amendment, does proscribe elective abortion. It directs that no State deprive any person of life without due process.

It's interesting to observe the selective malleability of our Constitution to appease special interests. Welcome to the wild, wild West! Where rights are preserved through the Second Amendment.

damikesc said...

HA HA!

Progressive union lovers love unions in theory, never in practice. Nobody will kill a union movement quicker than a Progressive who might have to deal with it.

Ken Mitchell said...

"Freedom of the Press" is for the person (or entity) that OWNS the printing press. If they want to exercise their First Amendment rights, buy a press. Or at least a good copier...

ErnieG said...

What Ken Mitchell just said.

To quote Mark Twain, "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel." Or woman, in this case.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

garage mahal said...
Enough about dead kids. How are we going to starve seniors?

You are one despicable piece of shit garage. It's bad enough that Obama attempts to use the tragedy in Connecticut to push through his continuing spending madness combined with job killing soak the rich tax increases, but at least he is somewhat subtle about it.

Did having hundreds of thousands of people seeing you get shown to be a stuttering idiot on instapundit push you over the edge?

Seriously, I wish nothing but the worst upon you. May karma pay back your vile typings with interest.

Fuck you.

Alex said...

Smells like Communism to me.

traditionalguy said...

This sounds like Occupy Media.

The first target in a revolution is always the Media.

The second target is the private property of the bourgeoisie.

I think buying another 1000 rounds of 30 cal. is in order

The 40 cal. wadcutters for Glocks are all on back order by our Federal Government agencies stockpiling hundreds of millions of rounds... supposedly for target practicing.



Alex said...

Sounds like a scenario in Dark Knight Rises.

damikesc said...

Time for conservatives to buy media properties. The more the merrier. And to withhold university donations until the extreme prejudice against conservative faculty ends.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Just a simple application of the Golden Rule: He who has the gold ( or signs the paychecks ) makes the rules.

Robert Cook said...

"Time for conservatives to buy media properties."

Has Rupert Murdoch left any media properties available for other conservatives to buy?

Robert Cook said...

"Time for conservatives to buy media properties."

Has Rupert Murdoch left any media properties available for other conservatives to buy?

Sam L. said...

The publisher buys the ink, the paper, the equipment, and will be the first person sued for what's in the paper.