It may seem like fast-moving technology that’s undermining traditional news outlets. But for WatchDog Opinion, it may be more about the notion of news as property, rather than a public good. Could nonprofit newsrooms — many of which cover energy and the environment — be a better model? And is there a funding mechanism that would support them sustainably … and permanently?
A recent gathering of Nobel laureates in Washington, D.C., including Filipina journalist Maria Ressa (pictured, left), highlighted the growing risks of disinformation — including on efforts to combat climate change — but also the rising sense of hope that comes from those who pledge to stand up to its challenge. This month’s WatchDog Opinion column shares a perspective from the event.
Attacks of all kinds on U.S. journalists clearly hamper a free press. And environmental journalists are not spared such aggressions, especially when covering contested places like pipeline construction sites. WatchDog Opinion outlines the problem and explores how journalists might be spared from such violations, including with a prospective law explicitly protecting journalists from assault.
Not only did the huge legal settlement in the Dominion Voting Systems libel suit against Fox Corp. help reinforce media libel protections set out decades ago in New York Times v. Sullivan. It also served as a reminder for environmental journalists that the “actual malice” standard is a bulwark for their own (often negative) reporting on big corporations. WatchDog Opinion explains.
For journalists of all stripes, the central pillar of libel law protecting them from damaging defamation suits is Times v. Sullivan. And while at least a couple of Supreme Court justices have indicated an openness to reevaluating the decades-old decision, WatchDog Opinion warns that the real risk to defamation protections may come in the form of legislation, such as from states like Florida.
A law that protects journalists from being compelled by courts or other federal entities to disclose protected information has long been on the wishlist for most journalism organizations and newsrooms. WatchDog Opinion examines why, even in these polarized political times, it’s actually possible that the U.S. Congress could, at long last, pass such a measure.
When the Trump-era Environmental Protection Agency changed regulations governing freedom of information requests, journalists worried they were making it easier for political appointees to interfere with disclosures. Now the Biden administration is proposing a rules revision. But, as the latest WatchDog Opinion argues, it’s missing an opportunity to rid the regime of those critical flaws.
A scandal at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over regulatory capture of some toxic chemical officials has surfaced another serious issue — the EPA says it can’t provide related phone text messages. But it’s required to do so by law. And for environmental journalists, access to such records is key to holding the agency to account, argues WatchDog Opinion.
The Department of Justice’s new regulations around reporter’s privilege — the protection of journalistic sources and notes — is a noteworthy advance. But the WatchDog Opinion column calls for more: a federal shield law that is less vulnerable to weakening by subsequent administrations. A take on the new regs, the state of current law and prospects for congressional action.
A new quarrel over climate reporting, prompted by an editorial charging “censorship,” has the WatchDog troubled by the difficulty of finding a path for transparency. The latest WatchDog Opinion takes a look at the dispute, how online platforms like Twitter fit in and the limits of the laws on disinformation in the United States and Europe, all as part of an effort to chart a path forward for journalism.