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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 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 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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Comments (0) | Category: Free Speech , The press |Permalink | Digg Digg | Newsvine Newsvine

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 and is a former publisher and editor of the Star Tribune.

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More from this blog

Recent entries

Jul 14, 08 - 01:45 PM
FISA edit

Jul 14, 08 - 10:13 AM

Jul 9, 08 - 01:41 PM
Senate passes FISA act

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

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







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