Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Journalists Can't Accurately Report False Statements

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to to hear Troy Publishing v. Norton, thus leaving stand a lower court ruling that journalists and their publications can be sued for accurately reporting false statements made by others. That is, if somebody makes a false statement about somebody else, and a newspaper accurately reports what was said, the target of the false statement can sue the newspaper, in addition to possibly suing the person who made the statement.

Among other things, this means a politician can sue a newspaper for reporting false statements made by political rivals. This is exactly the scenario which brought the case before the high court. William T. Glenn Sr, a councilman in West Chester, Pa. reportedly called Mayor Alan Wolfe and Councilman James Norton "liars" and a "bunch of draft dodgers", and well as questioning their sexual orientation. The targets of Mr. Glenn's comments sued him and the West Chester Daily Local News. After working its way up through the appeals courts, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, effectively handing a victory to the defamed politicians.

One wonders if John Kerry can sue Fox, CNN, MSNBC and others for repeating any false charges made by the Swifties.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Phoenix Tow Trucks

So, what is it about Phoenix, AZ and tow trucks. A couple of weeks ago there was this posting about a tow truck driver who seemingly damages a vehicle, and then gets very upset when he sees someone taking photos. But then today we hear of tow truck drivers pushing legally parked vehicles into tow-away zones. But that's not all! Today's Arizona Republic has a story about how the Phoenix City Council is considering raising the fees these companies can charge by over 16 percent. The kicker though is this paragraph:

Subcommittee members said they also wanted to look at possibly crafting an ordinance that would prohibit towing companies from posting false rates on their signs. Observations of 39 private-property tow warning signs found that all contained a different maximum rate than allowed under the city code, according to a report from the City Auditor Department. The majority of signs claimed the towing fee was $500. All but five signs listed tow rates of $100 or more.

Get that? The City Auditor finds that All 39 signs contained false rates, yet the politicians want to consider possibly prohibiting towing companies from posting false rates!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Who Needs Journalists Anyway? Part 3

In Newton Mass. School Superintendent Jeffrey M. Young has proposed a budget for the school district which would eliminate 29 teaching positions, dozens of teachers aides, and would leave several elimentary schools without librarians. Included in the cuts will by the position of literacy specialist in four schools, including Day Middle School, which has been publishing the Daytime newspaper for nearly 25 years. If the plan goes through, Robert Provenche, who oversees the production of the newspaper, will become a full time English teacher, and won't be given the time to produce the school's paper. Provenche has proposed a plan which would split his day between the paper and teaching English. But if that doesn't happen, the last day the school paper will publish will be June 8.

Who Needs Journalists Anyway? Part 2

Arizona State Representative Russell K. Pearce has attached a footnote to the House Appropriations Committee's state budget recommendation which would eliminate state funding for all student newspapers. Democratic Representative Steve Gallardo reportedly said Pearce included the footnote because he did not like some articles in The State Press. Pearce is apparently offended by some topics. "Public money shouldn't be used for sex surveys" he reportedly said.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Who Needs Journalists Anyway? Part 1

It looks like Oxnard College is shutting down it's Journalism Department. The two campus newspapers will cease publication, which means for the first time in over 80 years the Ventura College Press won't be printing a paper. The District plans to lay off 15 people this week, with more than 100 other faculty positions being eliminated by the end of June.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Long ago I was asked if I had any heroes. I thought a long time (and have ever since) and could only think of two, outside of my father. One was Gandhi, and the other was Nelson Mandella. Both for reasons I may write about later. I always knew I had others, but could never call their names to mind.

Today, while watching American Experience I realized another one is Ansel Adams. In a way both simple and profound, he is transcendent. There are others, many others who are worthy, even if we stay within the genre, but he's the one. For more than a few years, when I thought about what I wanted to do with my life, I thought about this image, or this one. Perhaps I still do.

Fun with Street Boxes

This kind of decoration should really be required, instead of soul crushing appearance these things normally have.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Newsweek Does Photoshop

Newsweek has stuck Martha Stewart's head on a model's body for the cover of their latest edition. Apparently a stock photo wasn't good enough and they wanted to illustrate a "thinner, wealthier and ready for prime time" Martha. Assistant managing editor Lynn Staley insists readers won't be fooled and will immediately realize that the photo is faked. They "disclose" this by referring to the cover as a "Photo Illustration" on page 3.