After 226 days in federal prison, and nearly two weeks after his father began a “non-stop” vigil, Josh Wolf is free.
Wolf was jailed for longer than any journalist in U.S. history for protecting source material requested by the feds. Wolf refused to turn over video he shot of a chaotic 2005 San Francisco street protest during the G-8 summit. The courts issued him a subpoena after parts of the video (originally posted at IndyBay) were picked up by the mainstream media.
After posting the full, unedited video on his Web site (also embedded below), the prosecution announced that Wolf had complied with the terms of the grand jury subpoena, and the judge approved his release.
“Journalists absolutely have to remain independent of law enforcement,’ he said as he left the prison. “Otherwise, people will never trust journalists.’
In his post accompanying the video (which he uploaded to Blip.tv), Wolf wrote:
During the course of this saga I have repeatedly offered to allow a judge to be the arbiter over whether or not my video material has any evidentiary value. Today, you the public have the opportunity to be the judge and I am confident you will see, as I do, that there is nothing of value in this unpublished footage.
I was kind of struck by this article in the NY Times yesterday. Most of the controversy in international sport seems to stem from corruption at the highest levels of the organizations be it FIFA or the IOC. But, according to this article, athletes at the Pan Am Games in Brazil this summer will be banned from blogging. I find this kind of appalling as it entirely counters the history of sport as a form of entertainment. For no reason that I can deduce, this practice of banning blogging, which has spread to Rugby and the Olympics as well, only shortchanges the sports world (it’s few stars and billions of fans) in this digital age of increased interactivity and transparency.
Or, as a sports ethics researcher says in the article, “The danger is that no real discussion about events on and off the sports field can take place, reducing us to millions of passive sports-consuming robots.â€
Some obvious examples point out the idiocy of this policy. Politicians now engage with their constituents online, as do musicians and other celebrities… Washington Post columnists are expected to participate in live online chat’s with readers.
In fact, today’s athletes and global icons should be encouraged to blog. They deserve the opportunity to add dimensions to their personalities why are already so public. Eventually this could influence society into thinking that American Idol isn’t the pinnacle, but in fact is about as irrelevant a form of expression as an assist in soccer or Donald Trump’s egotastical media contribution, The Apprentice.
Researchers like Jane McGonigal believe the future of games, particularly of games in education, government or industry, might well lie in players’ ability to work together to solve problems. This extends to both ubiquitous, online games and virtual worlds and in real-life gaming and sport.
Ah, but I ramble. Some interesting sport-celeb blogs include the NBA’s Gilbert Arenas’ Agent Zero Blog. Nate(dogg) Robinson’s The gr8 Life blog is excellent. The Bulls’ Ben Gordon blogs on his MySpace page, UFC fighter Evan Tanner is also on MySpace. There are NFL player blogs, (also a good read — the archived entries of former NFL player Ricky Williams.
I’m befuddled to learn that a March 28 lunchtime discussion at USC Annenberg with Perez Hilton (aka Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr.) was not canceled by the school, but by Hilton himself.
It’s not mandatory to hold one’s blogging standards up to the those embedded in the rigid ethics taught at a Journalism and Communication school, but inviting someone so painfully lacking in journalistic integrity to speak as a role model to an admiring student body?
I’m pretty sure Annenberg didn’t invite Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass after they were unceremoniously canned for their breaches of journalistic integrity.
The students who would have filled Room 207 at Annenberg for this event may not have been aware that Hilton is the defendant in an ongoing $7.6M copyright infringement lawsuit. While I’m a strong proponent of fair use, and believe copyright rules need to be revised for the digital age, Hilton’s fair use defense doesn’t stand a chance. He stole copyrighted, non-Commons-licensed photos from multiple journalists, bloggers, news agencies and photographers alike and re-used them on his hugely popular (and profitable) Web site. More recently, he was sued for posting topless photos of Jennifer Aniston.
Had he not been too chicken to show up (and I hope he reconsiders) I would give my colleagues the opportunity to ask as many questions as they want: how does it feel to party with Paris and Linds? OMG what are you gonna wear when you host MTV’s Australian Music Video Awards? After all, it was billed not as a discussion on journalistic ethics but as “An Insider’s Take on Celebrity Culture, Blogging, and Gays in Hollywood.”
But I sure hope I wouldn’t be the only one (I’d wait until the end of the hour) to out him as a decent model for snuffing out gossip and aspiring young celeb-bloggers, but an even better example of journalism-gone-wrong and how ethics and laws still apply as equally to the blogosphere as they do to print and radio/TV.
photo by Mai Le via flickr.
Videoblogger Josh Wolf has been imprisoned for longer than any journalist in history. He is also featured in (I believe week two) of the PBS Frontline series News War, which begins tonight.
Video blogger and independent journalist Josh Wolf has been in a federal jail for 171 days for refusing to turn over to a federal grand jury a video of a San Francisco demonstration. On Feb. 6 Wolf’s length of incarceration set a new record for US journalism. “Democracy Now!” has an interview with Josh Wolf from his jail cell. If federal authorities can jail bloggers with impunity, it does not bode well for the future of citizen journalism.
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