Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blogs of The New York Times and Constraints on the First Amendment

The New York Times has always been a constant dominating force in the news industry. When chosen to present over an aspect of the news industry, I immediately thought of this iconic newspaper and its rich history. I decided to narrow my topic of the New York Times even further and focus on a new upcoming trend in the news world: blogs. Blogs have proven to be not only relevant sources of information on specialized topics and a much more efficient way for citizen journalists to share their content, but also very influential in regards to certain current events and discussions. The New York Times' many specialized blogs prove its constant adaptation to new media trends.

In response to this week's question, which was "What are the constraints on free speech and the First Amendment for the news industry?", I first listed content not protected by the First Amendment, which includes defamation, libel, slander, obscenity, copyright violation, and child pornography, and how blogs and citizen journalists are not immune to these first amendment exceptions. Likewise, the blogging world can make punishing unprotected content difficult due to anonymous sources and the vast internet users spread out over the world. However, the blogging world, as shown through the New York Times blogs, enables more free speech due to use of commentary on blogposts, a feature not enabled on their regular news articles. By allowing commentary, these blogs enable internet users to have open discussions, share ideas and opinions, and even interact with writers of the blogposts. However, there is mild censorship of comments from the New York Times and this newspaper's use of blogs could ultimately help them regain more power over news content, which was power gained by the citizen journalist bloggers when they became the content providers. These two red flags should be carefully monitored because they could potentially constrain free speech in blogposts and commentary posts.

After my presentation, discussion began about commentators tendency to "troll" or post their comments repeatedly without offering any relevant information or opinions. Another student remarked on how other commentators would often post comments that went on tangents that were unrelated to the actual topic of the blogpost. Both students insinuated that this type of commentary should be censored and removed. Another student responded to my question about whether blogs will be run by citizen journalists or major news corporations in the future by stating that the amount of citizen journalist blogs have increased but barriers to entry prevent them from gaining more followers as opposed to the New York Times, a corporation that has money to promote their new blogs.

Links relating to the case study: -New York Times Blogs -History and current information about blogs -Study discussing whether blogs are becoming tools for major news corporations

47 U.S. Code § 230 - Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material. (1996, January 1). Retrieved October 6, 2014.
Balkin, J. (2009). The Future of Free Expression in a Digital Age. Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository.
Cohen, H. (2008, January 9). Freedom of Speech and Press: Exceptions to the First Amendment. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from
Drezner, D., & Farrell, H. (2004, August 1). The Power and Politics of Blogs. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
Meraz, S. (2009). S There an Elite Hold? Traditional Media to Social Media Agenda Setting Influence in Blog Networks. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14(3), 682-707.
Straubhaar, J., & LaRose, R. (2012). Print to Digital Newspapers. In Media now: Understanding media culture and technology (8th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth.
Reynolds, G. (2007). Libel in the Blogosphere: Some Preliminary Thoughts (Final Version). Washington Law Review, 84, 1157-1157.

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