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Daily Democracy

Ryan Blethen discusses the press, media and democracy. Daily Democracy is part of the Democracy Papers, a series of articles, essays and editorial opinion examining threats to our freedoms of speech and the press.

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June 26, 2008 2:24 PM

Broadband's reach, or lack there of

Posted by Ryan Blethen

A coalition is working to do something about America's dismal broadband penetration, which has been well documented. InternetforEveryone.org wants to connect every American to the Internet with an affordable fast broadband connection. The effort, which is being spearheaded by Free Press, launched its campaign Tuesday.

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June 26, 2008 12:52 PM

Say no to immunity

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The U.S. Senate has wrapped up its long debate about a surveillance program used to spy on Americans. This means the Senate will soon, possibly today, vote on the bill, which the House passed last week.

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June 24, 2008 5:03 PM

Enough already!

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Tired are they who create content of making others money. The folks at news-outlets have long watched their work get scooped up by companies like Google, who turn around and package it with adverting.

Last week a news-outlet did something about it. The Associated Press put the screws to bloggers using AP stories. Brier Dudley had a good column on the AP vs. bloggers story in Monday's newspaper. He followed up the column with a post on his blog looking at what others in the industry are doing about content being used by others for a monetary gain.

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June 21, 2008 8:14 AM

Having it both ways

Posted by Ryan Blethen

Given the grave threats that we face, our national security agencies must have the capability to gather intelligence and track down terrorists before they strike, while respecting the rule of law and the privacy and civil liberties of the American people. There is also little doubt that the Bush Administration, with the cooperation of major telecommunications companies, has abused that authority and undermined the Constitution by intercepting the communications of innocent Americans without their knowledge or the required court orders.

This is how Sen. Barack Obama's statement on his support of the amnesty for telecos bill begins. Wired's Threat Level again has the story.

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June 20, 2008 11:41 AM

The House passes amnesty for telecoms

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The House of Representatives passed the domestic spying bill that grants amnesty for telecommunication companies that helped the Bush administration spy on Americans. Wired's Threat Level blog has a good summary with a nice quote from Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island.

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June 20, 2008 7:50 AM

Shame on Congress

Posted by Ryan Blethen

That is as much as I am going to write today about Congressional leaders caving to the White House's domestic spying program. Will post more on the topic Monday when I get back to the office.

Until then it is worth reading Ryan Singel's post at Wired's Threat Level blog. Then head over to Wetmachine.com and read Harold Feld's fiesty take on why the Democrats shamefully agreed to give immunity to the telecommunications companies that helped the White House spy on American citizens.

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June 19, 2008 10:18 AM

Away from the blog

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I am back from Belgrade and on vacation for the next couple of days. I will try and post some wrap-up thoughts about IPI's Congress. If not Daily Democracy will be back Monday.

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June 17, 2008 9:40 AM

Are profits killing news?

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - That question was addressed by a panel of media executives from Europe and Turkey. The panelists - Vuslat Dogan Sabanci, CEO of Hurriyet; David Montgomery, CEO, Mecom Group; and Michael Ringer, Chairman of the Board of Ringler AG - sounded upbeat about their companies and the future of news in Europe and Turkey.

I am an optimist, but had trouble accepting some of what they were shoveling. Of course American newspapers were bashed. Ringer the most forceful when he said that Americas regional newspapers are terrible. A very broad and easy statement for somebody to make, especially somebody whose newspaper company dominates Switzerland. He went on to say that similar European newspapers are much better when compared to American newspapers. Sure there are some bad American newspapers, just like there are plenty of bad European newspapers. It would have been helpful if he used some examples of why American newspapers are not good. He did not. Instead the statement was left to dangle as the conversation moved on.

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June 16, 2008 6:16 AM

The press in the Balkans

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - Two speeches and a panel at the International Press Institute's Congress did much to answer questions I had about the press's role in the Balkans. The speeches and panel also raised many questions.

The Congress began in Serbia's House of the National Assembly with welcoming statements from the host committee, IPI's director, and the Serbian president, Boris Tadic. It was impressive that this nation's president was willing to speak to a group of journalists. That would not happen everywhere.

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June 14, 2008 3:49 AM

Kalemegdan Park

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - I spent Friday exploring Kalemegdan Park, which is between old Belgrade and the merging point of the Sava and Danube rivers. The park's main attraction is the Belgrade Fortress.

According to my tour book the first fort on this site was built by the Celts and expanded by those that followed, which included the Romans, Serbs, Turks, Serbs again, and Austrians. Sitting on the edge of the fortress wall it is easy to see why whomever controlled Belgrade utilized the location. There is a wonderful view of the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers with a great green plain extending to the horizon.

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June 13, 2008 4:24 AM

The not so White City

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - I am told that Belgrade, or Beograd, translates to English as the White City. First impressions can be misleading and I am assuming my first impression of Belgrade will develop the more time I spend out of the hotel.

I arrived Thursday afternoon just ahead of a nasty storm. I watched from my hotel room as a black wall of clouds swallowed the drab apartment buildings that bleed into the gray horizon. While eating dinner in the hotel bar I was told that the old part of the city is gorgeous. I bet. I find that the old sections of most European cities are attractive, or at the very least interesting because of age as opposed to the relative newness we Americans are accustomed to.

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June 12, 2008 9:37 AM

Blogging from Belgrade

Posted by Ryan Blethen

BELGRADE, Serbia - Three things come to mind when I hear about this country. The 1984 winter Olympics, the recent Balkan wars, and the Yugo. All these things are now history or are glancingly related to Serbia because of it was a part of the dissolved Yugoslavia.

The 1984 Olympics were held in the Bosnian city Sarajevo. Fears of violent relapse after Kosovo declared itself a nation were quelled when pro-Western parties won parliamentary elections in February. I assume the Yugo went south like the nation it was named after.

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June 11, 2008 2:38 PM

Panel reflections

Posted by Ryan Blethen

The panel I was part of at the National Conference for Media Reform went well. John Nichols did a great job moderating a solid panel that represented a good cross section of the newspaper business. The turn out was decent. I took this picture of the crowd, which grew as the session wore on.

I particularly enjoyed listening to the two panelists sitting on either side of me, Nick Coleman and Joel Kramer. Coleman is a columnist for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Kramer heads up MinnPost.com and is a former publisher and editor of the Star Tribune.


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June 10, 2008 4:44 PM

The Feed on O'Reilly

Posted by Ryan Blethen

One of my favorite media critics, Eric Deggans of the St. Petersburg Times, has a post on his blog The Feed about Bill O'Reilly's coverage of the National Conference for Media Reform.

Deggans was at the conference and on a panel about media criticism. It was nice to hear him talk about his job. The Feed is regular reading for me and should be for anybody looking for insightful media criticism from a major metro newspaper.

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June 7, 2008 1:56 PM

Newspapers: Not dead yet?

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - That is title of a panel I am speaking on today at the National Conference for Media Reform. Any casual reader of this blog or my column can guess as to how I would answer that question. I addressed it in my last column.

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June 7, 2008 10:43 AM

Media buster

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - In this age of rapidly advancing technology it is easy to forget the history of media and comparable eras of consolidation in other industries. Some historical perspective was brought to the media reform debate by Tim Wu at a panel this morning.

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June 7, 2008 6:06 AM

Bill Moyers speech

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - Bill Moyers is giving the keynote speech at the National Conference for Media Reform. His speech can be seen live at the Free Press Web site.

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June 6, 2008 2:13 PM

Media critics

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - Can a media critic be useful if he approaches his job with a stated political bias? When I say a stated bias I do not mean whether journalists have biases. Everybody has biases, even journalists. Most journalists do not let political persuasions taint news coverage.

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June 6, 2008 12:56 PM

Future of the Internet Part Two

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - A question was asked about how cell phones fit in to the battle over and open Internet during the Q&A period of the Future of the Internet panel. Tim Wu said that because cell phones have grown differently than the Internet the battle will be uphill.

"The culture of the cell phones is different than the culture of the Internet."

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June 6, 2008 12:11 PM

Future of the Internet

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - That is the beginning of the title of the panel I am now sitting in. The full name is, "Future of the Internet: Open, Neutral, Mobile and Ubiquitous." The panel opened with some words by moderator Timothy Karr of Free Press. The first panelist was Tim Wu, who is not chairman the Free Press board and a law professor at Columbia University.

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June 6, 2008 9:15 AM

NCMR opening

Posted by Ryan Blethen

MINNEAPOLIS - Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, got the National Conference for Media Reform off to a fiery start. You can take my word for it or watch him and other speakers on the Free Press Web site where they are being streamed.

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June 4, 2008 7:00 PM

Blogging from the Media Reform Conference

Posted by Ryan Blethen

I will be blogging Thursday through Saturday at the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis. There are a lot of big and interesting names on the speakers list including Bill Moyers, and Federal Communications Commission members Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps.

Stay tuned for more from Minneapolis. For more information about the conference go to the Free Press Web site.

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Recent entries

Jun 26, 08 - 02:24 PM
Broadband's reach, or lack there of

Jun 26, 08 - 12:52 PM
Say no to immunity

Jun 24, 08 - 05:03 PM
Enough already!

Jun 21, 08 - 08:14 AM
Having it both ways

Jun 20, 08 - 11:41 AM
The House passes amnesty for telecoms

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