Skip to comments.You are the Free Republic—Enhancement and Initiative Announcement
Posted on 05/08/2012 3:35:15 PM PDT by Admin Moderator
We cant rely on the media, even the alternative media. Free Republic is announcing a new initiative that gives you a platform. We want to leverage the most powerful minds on the right to make a difference. To do this, we want to bring a new level of activism, the citizen investigator. In the spirit of 1750s The Pennsylvania Gazette published by Ben Franklin and of Andrew Breitbart.
For the longest time, our primary focus has been on looking at what the media presents and investigating it or discussing it. We have been missing something, YOU!
Jim has created a new news category, FReeper Editorial (freepered) for you to post your investigative reports. We are working on getting this promoted to a sidebar and other ways to promote your work but here are the basics.
No longer will quality vanities posted in this topic be frowned upon. Free Republic needs to become about you. We are tired of waiting for the media to come around to us, it is time we take our many, many members and become an army. What was once was your vanity is now your megaphone.
To do this right, we need your help. Initially, we are trying to have this as a smooth launch, and creating the new news category is a baby step towards something big. We ask just a few things.
Stay tuned for more change, enhancements, and opportunities that go along with this. - Your friendly neighborhood Mod Squad with blessings of the big dog himself. We are not quite legion, but we are a bag of kittens.
I like it! As we in the TEA Party movement have made huge strides up here in Western New York but no one really reports on it, they ignore us.
We have events, candidates, open candidate forums, protests etc.... I personally have unearthed mounds of information around the corruption in New York State government in Albany that stretches to the small communities.
This is a great idea!!
Yep. Sarah Palin has a lot of folks looking out for her on FR.
Bump for later
UPS requires photo ID now. . .that's news to me.
I think your comment suggests a new category....a concise "reference thread" for collecting information that is relevant to conservative issues. Large threads with lots of comments are interesting if one has the time to spend, but a reference thread could be short enough to read through, and only then add information that is missing (i.e. not the normal comment format where anything goes).
Your suggestion of a thread listing all instances where photo ID is required is relevant to the voter ID issue. A thread to list all instances of where we are taxed would be useful.
An example of a reference thread would be the copyright list thread (although it is over 700 replies now).
I’ve done a LOT of animal rights/environmentalism stuff in the last few years.
Jim, I've already said this is a great idea. I'm pinging this to Onyx and Kristinn due to their longstanding roles in Free Republic, and since I've seen their comments already on this thread.
I do, however, want to echo the comments from RicocheT and others — libel is serious business. Once people move out of the realm of opinion and start reporting, many of the legal protections that apply to “fair comment and criticism” no longer are in play.
Reporting isn't rocket science, but there are rules, and the consequences of breaking them include legal bills which can be devastating.
I believe the requirement that people have some level of prior approval to start posts in this new section may be critical, not only for quality reasons but also for legal reasons. By requiring some level of prior approval, you can avoid somebody deliberately posting libel to get you sued. On the other hand, there are also legal implications involved once you start approving specific articles or approving specific people to post articles, as opposed to being a largely unmoderated forum — but you already know that from the long-ago lawsuit on copyright issues.
Jim, I'm assuming you have an attorney on some sort of volunteer retainer system and lots of legal advice already went into this. California law will be key and I have no idea what specific land mines may be out there in your local legal environment. That's what lawyers get paid to know.
I do know this is a great idea and I'd love to see it go full speed ahead — just as long as it doesn't hit a land mine that blows up Free Republic.
Here are some general principles which apply across the board regardless of jurisdiction which I routinely give to freelancers and new reporters who don't have formal journalism training. Unfortunately, I sometimes have to retrain people on the basics if their focus in the past has been on fluffy features rather than hard news. An even worse problem is that sometimes reporters had a bad editor who didn't understand basics of libel law and let people get away without basic fact-checking, or (more commonly in small newspapers) had an overcautious editor who was more afraid than he needed to be.
None of what follows will be new to anyone with any significant experience in full-time or regular freelance reporting for a well-edited daily newspaper. Most of this is basic entry-level J-school stuff. However, not all newspapers are well-edited, some journalism professors aren't doing their jobs, and today there are lots of people out in cyberspace who don't understand that there's a massive difference between posting opinions as a comment on an article and doing original reporting.
This is a complex and continually evolving area of law, but the short version of the difference is that truth is an absolute defense against libel based on the First Amendment. It makes no difference how hard you hammer someone, or what your motives are, provided that you can prove your facts are right. Also, for the last century since the “Cherry Sisters” vaudeville play review case, opinions which cannot be proved true or false are almost always okay no matter how severe the terms of criticism. (Of course, any facts stated in an opinion piece have to be true.)
In addition, for reporting as opposed to commentary, in the last few decades since New York Times v Sullivan there have been pretty substantial protections for people writing about public officials, public figures, and limited public figures. Those are categories of people who, unlike the average citizen, have effective means to fight back against media abuse, or in the case of elected officials, are people who should not be allowed to use the courts to harass those who are trying to hold them accountable for proper performance of their public duties. If the reporter makes an honest mistake covering an elected official or candidate at a political event, he'll probably be okay as long as the mistake is immediately corrected and the courts don't find that he acted with actual malice and reckless disregard for the truth.
Where things get really nasty is when people writing an article 1) make a false statement against someone who the courts decide is a private figure, or 2) fail to use basic standards of fact-checking to the point that they and the newspaper for which they wrote can be reasonably accused of “reckless disregard for the truth.” That last item is where the “citizen reporter” issues get **REALLY** nasty. Editors and journalism schools exist for good reasons, and teaching people how to spot errors and do fact-checking are among the most important of those reasons.
We all know that mainstream media sometimes make horrible mistakes, and due to huge cutbacks in the editorial staffs, those mistakes are becoming more common.
That's not the point. The point is that a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who screws up has a corporate lawyer backing him up because the newspaper knows it needs to be willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars to avoid losing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a libel lawsuit. The result is libel lawsuits are rarely filed against major newspapers even when they make major mistakes, and when they are filed, they're usually settled out of court if the reporter obviously blew it.
Small print newspapers can't afford that and need to practice defensive journalism, and the same is true for almost all internet operations except the very largest.
The good thing is that new technology helps prove an honest reporter was telling the truth, so some cases which years ago would have gone to the jury now can be thrown out of court by a judge or never filed at all. It is much harder today than it once was for a wealthy and abusive person in a position of power to abuse a newspaper if the reporter's lawyer can play a tape back to the judge and ask that the case be dismissed since the person filing the lawsuit was obviously quoted correctly.
Two basic reporting tools that in the modern world are both simple and effective include carrying a recorder and digital camera to **ANY** meeting where you plan to report, being **ABSOLUTELY** sure to verify every quote you print with the tape, and having photographic documentation available when relevant. It should go without saying that keeping documents is critical. File folders and big file cabinets are your friend. Becoming a pack rat prevents becoming poorer than a church mouse after getting sued and not being able to prove what you wrote was true.
As I've told reporters working under me or with me for many years — think before you write, ask if you can defend yourself on the witness stand if challenged on what you've written, and make sure to document everything you'd want to know if you were a member of a jury trying your case.
Bottom line: if you don't think like a lawyer, sooner or later you're going to be hiring a lawyer to defend yourself.
Well, they’re not reporting as “reporters.” They’re posting their own opinions or interpretations. That’s why I labeled it “FReeper Editorial.” Was originally thinking of “FReeper OP-ED” but that didn’t really fit either as FR does not have its own editorial page or editorial staff. No news staff either. All such non-sourced posts are actually individual opinions or as one poster labeled his own post, an individual editorial, ie, FReeper Editorial.
Here's an example of what you probably won't need to worry about, but that newspapers need to worry about constantly. Successful libel lawsuits typically involve minor stories that weren't properly edited, not the big stories that get reviewed many times before they get published. Obvious examples include misidentifying the name of a drunk driver with the result that a local businessman suffers due to a screwup because an editor didn't catch that “John Q. Public, 54, of Anytown, Calif.” is not “John O. Public, 54, of Anytown, Calif.” That sounds minor until Mr. John O. Public goes to court alleging that he lost thousands of dollars in his taxi driving business and has five current and potential clients willing to testify that they stopped using his taxi service because they thought he had been arrested for DWI. We don't usually hear about such lawsuits because the newspapers know they'll lose so they settle out of court, but things like that get reporters and editors fired, give publishers ulcers, and keep lawyers busy.
Back on track...
Several people commenting have noted that Tea Party and other conservative events are being ignored. I've seen complaints elsewhere on Free Republic that conservative candidates for state office and even congressional districts are not being questioned, and requests have been made for better information on who's who from a Freeper perspective. Garbage claims are being made by leaders in government and elsewhere about things on which some people on Free Republic have professional expertise, and those FReepers could be refuting the garbage.
We can call that reporting, op-eds, or some other name, but things like that need to be done, and if Free Republic is able to do it, fantastic!
I'm not an uncritical fan of what some call “citizen journalism” — I am painfully aware of the problems — but if the traditional media can't or won't do things, Free Republic could provide a real service.
I'll look forward to seeing what happens!
I see you didn't really get a straight answer. Maybe it means this:
In the 1950s we would have said "hubba hubba, wotta dame!"
The "citizen journalist" thing sounds good. If done well, the best writers could form a core group like Pajamas Media. If not done well it could turn into something like Newser or maybe HuffPo, where the most prolific posters display special badge icons to show how special they are. [shudder]
Re: the new FReeper Editorial page referenced in this thread. . .Would you like to add a list of all the new Freeper Editorial articles to your Main FR page? O.K. How to do that...
Go to the new FReeper Editorial page...
Just under the last FReeper Editorial shown, click on "Add to My Page".
That will take you to the page called "Manage Blocks" (My Page Layout). Look for the line FReeper Editorial (News/Activism) and choose the location where you would like a list of FReeper Editorial articles to be displayed on your main FR page.
When finished choosing, click the Modify button at the bottom of the page.
You can change it back or further modify it anytime on the My Page Layout page, just click Account at the top of your main FR page...then click Manage Blocks.
You can also click on the words "Configure Sidebar" found on the right side of the Main page under the Sidebar. This also takes you to "My Page Layout" where you can choose your personal preferences and add content to the Sidebars (Left, Right, Top, Bottom) on your Main FR page.
WOW! Bump this. I was lucky that JR allowed one of my articles to be published in breaking news. Now I can write some more. This is fantastic! Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Will you add this one to our new category?
Governor Romney’s Housing Crisis (FR Exclusive)
Thank you for posting that information. It’s embarrassing not to know those things after having been here for a while.
OK to have mod's review, even bounce back for edit, but limiting to the good old boys and those who contribute sounds a lot like today's republican party nomination process...not like a good means of encouraging thought or gaining creds.
That said: We ('though I have no idea how I can contribute) need to do everything possible to turn this into a lever for the changes that should have followed 2008 but fell short.
Should that be translated as "resist" or "resistor"?
Not sure if this would have qualified for the new category. (It was linked all over the Net at the time.) It wasn’t an editorial. It was more like investigative reporting. Thoughts?
JournoList: 157 Names Confirmed (With Organizations)