National, News, Top Stories — April 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Journalists discuss worldly issues

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Hear from experienced journalists about worldly issues.

John Bodette is the executive editor of the St. Cloud Times. Jack Marsh is the Jack is president and chief operating officer of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute. Bodette and Marsh take time every year in April to attend the Crazy Horse Journalism Conference in South Dakota.

Chuck Baldwin is a journalist-in-residence at the Al Neuharth Media Center at the University of South Dakota. Marsh and Baldwin play major roles in running the American Indian Journalism Institute (AIJI).

Ray Chavez is the director of Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma. Chavez attends the Native American Journalism Association (NAJA) conferences every summer in different location around the United States. Chavez volunteers his time to mentor American Indian students and encourage them to get into the career of journalism.

The Crazy Horse Journalism Conference, AIJI and NAJA are all organizations dedicated to attracting minorities into journalism. They are all dedicated to bringing diversity into the newsroom so that the diverse audiences are represented.

Bodette, Marsh, Baldwin and Chavez understand the importance of reporting for an entire audience versus the majority. Which could explain their expertise in press freedom.

About four months ago twitter announced that it could censor content in certain countries where the government doesn’t approve certain tweets. According to the New York Times, a majority of Twitter users are outside the U.S.

So this is affecting people from all corners of the world. According to Twitter, a censored tweet will say, “Tweet withheld. This Tweet from @Username has been withheld in: Country.”

Twitter may be doing this because not all countries have press freedom and therefore this social media site doesn’t want to break any laws. Social media sites are global and are adhering to a country-by-country basis.

“In the past when Twitter had to blackout tweets they were blacked out all over the world. Now it can do it country-by-country depending on the laws of the country depending on what the government wants,” Baldwin says. “Well imagine what would have happened with the uprisings in Tunisia or Libya if Twitter and Facebook and such things had been blacked out.”

Twitter is receiving a fight from tweeters. According to Digital Journalism, Twitter users sent tweets saying, “If you censor us, we will stop tweeting.”

“There’s a tremendous debate right now, perhaps not so much in front of the public but certainty among journalists and among government officials, how do we protect ourselves from terrorism?” Baldwin said. “What is the balance between protecting ourselves from terrorism and yet being open to the public. We want to protect ourselves but at the same time we don’t want government to shut out information before the public.”

Another major issue in accordance to press freedom is, “If it is perceived that we (the press, media and journalists) are abusing our freedom I think that the public will turn on us and one of the dangers is that they (U.S. citizens) will say ‘well, they don’t use their freedom responsibly therefore the government should strip that freedom and that would be a very slippery slope’,” Marsh says. “’As journalists I think one of our responsibilities is to make sure that we are fair in the jobs we do as journalists. The first amendment guarantees a free press, it doesn’t guarantee a fair press.”

The U.S. is extremely fortunate to have press freedom protected in the first amendment.

“We watch over government to see not just what government is doing for us but what government is doing to us,” Baldwin said.

May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day and for more details on this United Nations online database. World Press Freedom Day celebrates, defines and defends press freedom.

If you would like to learn more be sure to attend the university’s First Amendment Forum hosted by the Society of Professional Journalists. The First Amendment Forum is starting at 9 a.m. on April 13th in the Atwood Little Theater.

First Amendment Forum schedule for this Friday:

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