Tuesday, December 13, 2016

First Amendment freedoms et. al

Hello neglected journalism blog.
It was always my intention to update this blog with important issues, links and stories regarding our industry, but somehow I have neglected it, but I hope to rectify this moving forward into 2017.

Things are progressing at a good pace at The Willits News. Today I put the pages together, working with our designer in Chico for the first time, without much supervision from our managing editor who as of tomorrow will be on Christmas break until the end of the year.

After covering my first meeting of the Little Lake Fire Department, I trekked my way to the Brooktrails Township board meeting, which was no small feat considering Mendocino County is under a flash flood warning until Friday. We are expected to get anywhere from 3-12 inches of rain in the next few days, so I was extra careful driving down those windy roads leading back into town this evening.

Dec. 15 (coming up later this week) marks an important anniversary for democracy and for our industry. It is the anniversary of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which among other freedoms grants us the freedom of the press. I plan to write my first editorial for Friday's newspaper on this topic, but as a bit of preview and research, I found this article by the Newseum Institute to be very enlightening and important to all journalists and journalism students alike:

The State of the First Amendment survey, conducted by the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center, tests Americans’ knowledge of their core freedoms and samples their opinions on First Amendment issues of the day.
The results of this year’s survey show most Americans favor free speech, even over speech that offends, and support religious liberty, even in the face of terrorism. However, 39 percent of Americans could not name a single First Amendment freedom: religion, speech, press, assembly or petition.
The annual survey, which began in 1997 and this year was conducted in late May, showed that 86 percent of those responding in the national survey favored “protecting speech,” while just 10 percent favored limits aimed at “protecting people from hearing things that offend them.”
There also was strong support for free expression on college campuses: 57 percent said college students should be able to speak freely. The results dropped to 35 percent for students in high school.
Also, a follow-up survey done after the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando showed support for First Amendment protection for all religious faiths, regardless of how extreme or fringe the survey respondents might consider the beliefs of those faiths, actually increased, despite anti-Muslim rhetoric and reports of an ISIS connection that followed the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Here is a link to the full report if any of you would like to read it.

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