Saturday, October 15, 2005

SOLUTIONS: Washington & Lee prof on future of papers

This is FYI only and is the start of the "solutions" portion of our class
this semester.

In May 2005, Tim J. McGuire was the Reynolds Distinguished Visiting
Professor at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He viewed
the demise of newspapers as precipitous, but not necessarily fatal. He
says a key solution is for newspaper companies to figure out to be
satisfied with 15% operating margins so that they can re-invest in the
information business. He titled the speech: "Apocalypse Now! Reinventing
Newspapers in the Public Interest." McGuire is former editor, general
manager and senior vice president, The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, Minn. He
was president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 2001-2002.

I have excerpted the solutions portion of his speech.

Another speech by McGuire, sounding similar themes, and entitled: "McGuire to
editors: Show some courage," is at:

By Tim J. McGuire, May 3, 2005


I do hope experiences, observation and lessons taught me by some great
mentors and industry bright lights allow a fossil like me to muse about
five fundamental principles that might guide a radical reinvention of
newspapers in the public interest.

1) The reinvention must be radical.
2) We must build the broad democratic (small D) community with integrity.
3) We must cultivate citizen journalism, but serve as an authenticator.
4) We must reaffirm our watchdog role with a return to great writing and
5) We must choose thoroughness, completeness and sophistication.

Let's talk about each of these five.

1) The reinvention must be radical

As Goldberg said in her speech, and as said today, we are not talking
about "tweaking" newspapers and newspaper companies. We can no longer afford to
dawdle. The newsroom naysayers have to give it up. We need to radically rethink
things with the creativity that inspires so many of our brethren.

We cannot be committed to killing trees and plastering ink on them.

We must creatively use the Internet, but we must look beyond it, too.

We must energetically pursue the electronic tablet ideas of pioneers like Roger
Fidler and the University of Missouri. The vehicle with which newspapers
deliver information and advertising should not be limiting. That doesn.t mean
we have to toss newsprint. It does mean we have to look for the best ways to
engage readers and accomplish our other four tasks no matter the delivery
method. To save newspapers, we may be talking about saving something that
doesn.t look like it has looked for the last 100 years. And, we may be talking
about a hybrid of delivery vehicles that includes print and electronic media.

We must explore new markets and new ways of serving as a connection between
advertisers and consumers. With all the call for rethinking news, not enough
effort has been invested in rethinking the revenue streams of newspapers. One
of the most promising solutions lies in industry coalitions like Career
Builder, the job site that is going head to head with That is an
important, groundbreaking alliance, and I was thrilled during the Super Bowl
when it became obvious Career Builder is willing to spend big advertising money
to make that idea work . monkeys or not..

We must redesign our newsgathering and selling processes. Newsrooms and
newspapers still look too much like that assembly line Henry Ford invented, and
not enough like the creative, imagination-fueled workplaces of software makers
and video game designers. You cannot create a radical future with a
horse-and-buggy work environment.

2) We must build the broad democratic (small D) community with integrity.

Newspapers have enhanced democracy in America because of the power of shared
information. Americans have mobilized and coalesced around that shared
information to integrate schools, to achieve more, but not perfect, equality of
race and class, and to address problems like child abuse, sexual predators and
mental health.

The power of information to mobilize society and to keep our democracy in
balance is probably newspapers. greatest contribution to the common good, but
that role is being eroded by too-justified assaults on our integrity.

Many attacks on our integrity are little more than ideological spin. But too
many charges are sticking. From Jayson Blair to Jack Kelly to the Detroit Free
Press, journalists are gambling with the trust and integrity that must be our
ticket to reestablishing ourselves as a keeper of the public interest.
Dramatically improved ethics training, higher integrity standards, a renewed
commitment to avoid deception and unfairness, and more respected credibility
auditing procedures are essential to serve the public interest.

Newspapers must be dedicated to removing ideological and class bias from our
news pages. Last year L.A. Times Editor John Carroll publicly decried his
newspaper's tilted language on abortion and life issues. Other editors must
copy Carroll's courage and enforce strict bias standards.

I know this is an unpopular idea, but it is time for us to move ideological
metro columnists to op edit pages. The deft storytelling and incisive prods of
the Roykos and Breslins have, in many cases, been replaced by blunt-edged
political opinions that confuse readers about the independence of our products.

Even more controversial, it is time to reexamine single-ideology editorial
pages. Editorial pages began as a marketing tool in multiple newspaper markets.
Ideology sold newspapers. If newspapers want to present themselves as above the
ideological fray, and I think they must, editorial pages must move toward being
public forums for energetic community debate and abandon the all-knowing,
all-arrogant role of community pontificator and sometimes bully. Newspapers in
places like Shreveport and Anchorage have editorial pages representing
conflicting ideological stances. Those are remnants of two-newspaper towns, but
along with USA Today they represent models worth studying.

One of my favorite books is "Stewardship," by Peter Block. Block says
"Stewardship is to hold something in trust for another." Block says we choose
service over self-interest most powerfully when we build the capacity for the
next generation to govern themselves. That is the challenge facing newspapers
concerned about the public interest. No other medium is as prepared to help the
next generation govern themselves as newspapers are.

It was heartening at the ASNE meeting to see my former newspaper, The Star
Tribune in Minneapolis, working with the Readership Institute at Northwestern
University to use the core newspaper to reach young adult readers. So many
efforts seem focused on creating entirely new products for young readers,
products that have no connection to the newspaper. I am convinced newspapers
have a better chance at survival if we can enlarge and improve the big tent to
allow all our readers to share information.

Newspapers must unify, not divide. Rather than falling into the divisive,
ideological, self-interest morass, newspapers must build the broad democratic
community with integrity.

3) We must cultivate citizen journalism, but serve as an authenticator.
Citizen journalism is good. Voices squelched too long are being heard. Public
debate is enhanced. Newspapers and networks have been too arrogant for too long
in believing that only their voices mattered. Democracy is served when we hear
more voices.

Blogs are good. I like blogs. I read blogs. Blogs have proven to be powerful
watchdogs on the press and other institutions. And yes, there is a sweet
justice to the fact that blogs look a lot like the pamphlets of the
Revolutionary era that the Bill of Rights aimed to protect. Let.s treat the
.bloggers as journalists. debate with the complexity it deserves and avoid the
food fights. It's a legitimate issue with big ramifications, if we can raise
the discussion above the playground level.

But we also need to slow the bloomin' train. Bloggers didn't invent the wheel.
Blogs are not the next century's information vehicle. Blogs are a refreshing
complement to the information spectrum, but they are not going to replace
newspapers, television or major sites. Blogs are an imaginative, democratic
information tool, but like other forms of citizen journalism they have severe
limitations. Too many blogs become tools of special interests, and too many
value shrill argumentation over trust, integrity and authenticity.

Newspapers need to figure out how to make citizen journalism and blogs a
crucial part of their information menu. Not only do newspapers need to fulfill
their longtime role as sense makers, but newspapers must serve as
authenticators. I had been playing around with terms to describe the
appropriate role when Tom Rosenstiel used that wonderfully descriptive term at
ASNE a few weeks ago.

There has to be an institution or process in the information stream that
guarantees accuracy, truth, fairness and perspective. Without that role
information in this society will collapse into chaos. Newspapers fill that
authenticator role best. Many critics, pundits and bloggers ridicule this kind
of position and say it is arrogance and a desperate final grab at power that
causes old newspaper editors like me to believe such a role is necessary. Peer
authentication will work for some topics, but the public interest will be
served well only if institutions and people committed to fostering and
protecting public debate monitor, mediate and authenticate the flow of

When I use Google or other Internet search engines I am increasingly concerned
that I find information without any brand integrity. I want to know the
information I find has been vetted with the public interest in mind. But if
newspapers are going to occupy that role, bias and unethical behavior have to
be rooted out of newspaper organizations. The role of public conscience is a
crucial one, but it carries great responsibility, and to fulfill that role
newspapers have to make some significant improvements.

Newspapers need to make nice with blogs and figure out ways to comment on,
organize and clarify the important work blogs are doing. Creative partnerships
could make both information vehicles more credible.

4) We must reaffirm our watchdog role with a return to great writing and

I fear the corporatization of newspapers has contributed to an investigative
wimpiness that threatens the core mission of newspapers. The overpowering
desire to appeal to a broad readership has caused many editors to over-think
the investigative nature of their newspapers. There.s still some great
investigative work being done, but there's not as much and not enough.

Few things can be as important to a community as strong, penetrating
investigative work. Journalists who highlight problems, challenges,
opportunities and successes of communities can revitalize newspapers.
Investigative reporting is in the public interest, and it can win readers like
few other things you can do.

The key to improving investigative journalism is to concentrate on relevant
subjects. Too often our investigations are too esoteric, and they do not hit
readers where they live. The Readership Institute says the key to reaching
young readers is to offer information that young people want to talk about, and
the Institute says that young people want newspapers to look out for their
personal and civic interests. Those characteristics define all readers. Tougher
investigative reporting of issues that matter to people is a crucial way
newspapers can reinvent themselves in the public interest.

Arguably the profit squeeze has impinged upon newspapers. abilities to tell
great stories. Increased pressure on productivity, a drive to cover the routine
just to show local volume, and reduced staff sizes threaten to devalue great
writing ands wonderful storytelling.

Newspapers make a tragic mistake if they cede storytelling to nonfiction books
and magazines. A fascinating new book called "The New New Journalism," edited
by Robert S. Boynton, says, "Rigorously reported, psychologically astute,
sociologically sophisticated, and politically aware, the New New Journalism may
well be the most popular and influential development in the history of American
Literary non-fiction."

That's the kind of work we need more of in newspapers. We need readers to think
of newspapers when they think of innovative, bold investigative storytelling.
Arguably, the most compelling thing I've read in newspapers in recent months
was the incredible excerpt from the new Enron book, "Conspiracy of Fools," by
Kurt Eichenwald. Eichenwald is a New York Times reporter, and much of his work
was done for The Times.

Other newspapers can do that kind of work, and they must. Newspaper readers are
willing to invest time in great work. But newspapers make a mistake when they
foist long boring work on readers. The most important issue newspapers have to
address in storytelling and investigation is courage. Industry leadership must
recover the conviction that raising hell is an essential part of the
journalistic birthright. Great investigative journalism can make a difference.
5) We must choose thoroughness, completeness and sophistication.

Newspapers' future lies in being the information general store, not a
series of boutiques. The theme of this speech has been that the
newspaper's greatest strength is bringing all the fragments, segments and
special interests into one big tent. We have done that over the years by
offering news, sports, business, lifestyle and popular culture. It would
be a terrible error to abandon that completeness. You realize that
comprehensive packaging is an essential newspaper strength when you
struggle to find material on the Web. The ease of managing the package has
to guide future efforts to reinvent newspapers.

Carl Bernstein has kicked up a lot of controversy recently by decrying "the
triumph of idiot culture." I would not have used that language, but Bernstein
is not all wrong. His complaint that too much news has .deteriorated into
gossip, sensationalism and manufactured controversy. should be one to which
news executives pay heed.

And his statement that 'good journalism should challenge people, not just
mindlessly amuse them" should serve as a guiding light for newspapers.
I am not suggesting that newspapers ignore popular culture. On the contrary,
that can be one of newspapers' most important contributions to public
discourse. But if we abandon sophistication and insight in our coverage of
popular culture we do not distinguish newspapers as a trusted source of shared

I do not pretend that I have all the answers, but I believe that if we are to
reinvent newspapers in the public interest, that reinvention must be radical,
it must build community with integrity, it must cast newspapers as the
authenticator in a chaotic citizen journalist environment, it must emphasize
the watchdog, storytelling strength of newspapers, and newspapers must opt for
thoroughness, completeness and sophistication.

Three essential things will be required to execute this kind of reinvention --
financial commitment, courage and trust.

Newspaper executives simply must take a hard look at their high margins.
Reinvention requires money. Reinvention requires a firm conviction that the
long-term future holds hope and promise. It requires a conviction that saving
newspapers is a higher calling than milking and harvesting short-term profits.

Reinvention of newspapers in the public interest also requires courage. It
requires courage to reinvent and end incremental "finger in the dike"
thinking. And it requires courage to say we can contribute to the common
good, and take an admired position in history, by saving newspapers.

And above all, newspapers must treat readers. trust as the blessed treasure it
is. That trust can give us the license to reinvent newspapers in the public

© 2003 Washington and Lee University
Lexington, Virginia 24450-0303

ETHICS/ASSIGNMENT: For Tuesday, Oct. 18, a 15-minute discussion

To clarify, the assignment about the ABC News nuclear report is for
Tues., Oct. 18 -- we'll cover it for about 15 minutes before moving on.

I now find an fine, short essay by Ed Wasserman, journalism-ethics
professor at Washington & Lee University, on the Sun-Times Mirage Tavern
investigation and how it compares to the modern-day journalism-ethics
climate. PLEASE READ IT. It is at this URL:

Also, FYI only (optional read) here is an American Society of Newspaper Editors case study of when
reporters should identify themselves:

Also, for more on what the students did, and how one school has reacted,
optionally read an account in the MIT student newspaper at:

Other reaction from campuses:

ETHICS/ASSIGNMENT: Should these ABC News interns have identified themselves?

Earlier this year, the Carnegie Corp., a major foundation, granted five of the nation's top graduate schools of journalism funds to begin a major rethinking of how future reporters are educated. In one of the first applications of the joint effort, 10 so-called "Carnegie Fellows" have been working as interns at ABC News. Two have now been hired by ABC.

Here is a link to the original ABC story, broadcast Thurs., Oct. 12. It begins: "A four-month ABC News investigation found gaping security holes at many of the little-known nuclear research reactors operating on 25 college campuses across the country. Among the findings: unmanned guard booths, a guard who appeared to be asleep, unlocked building doors and, in a number of cases, guided tours that provided easy access to control rooms and reactor pools that hold radioactive fuel. ABC News found none of the college reactors had metal detectors, and only two appear to have armed guards. Many of the schools permit vehicles in close proximity to the reactor buildings without inspection for explosives. "

An Associated Press story questions the way the students were used. It can be found HERE, or HERE.


1. When a person works as a reporter, must they always identify themselves as a reporter in all interactions with the public? Does this apply when they are "on duty" at their job, or at any time? What if they are in a place, behaving in a manner, or are otherwise positioned in a way that any member of the public might be? If a reporter must always identify herself, does that mean an undercover police officer is by definition unethical?

2. In 1978, a group of reporters from the Chicago Sun-Times, the major Chicago daily, rented a storefront tavern and set up a bar in downtown Chicago, using the newspaper's money. For a period of months, they ran the bar, called "The Mirage Tavern" without identifying its link to the newspaper. They documented bribe-taking and other unethical behavior by city inspectors -- then closed the bar and wrote a series of stories which resulted in official investigations and reform. Was the effort unethical? Several accounts and case studies of the Mirage Tavern are available from THIS GOOGLE SEARCH.

For a general perspective on reporting and the ethics of msirepresentation, Ed Wasserman, Knight journalism-ethics professor of Washington & Lee University in Virginia has written a good piece in May of 2005 which can be found HERE.

For ABC News' defense of the news-gathering, and a description of the two-month Carnegie summer program go to an account at the website MediaBistro.

ETHICS: ABC News website runs AP story about ethics of nuclear report


The ABC News website carries a story by The Associated Press' David
Bauder, reporting reaction to the ethics of 10 interns touring U.S. campus nuclear facilities without telling officials they had been sent as part of a news-gathering assignment.

ABC News Draws Fire for Use of InternsABC News Draws Fire for Use of

College Interns in an Investigative Report

By DAVID BAUDER AP Television Writer
The Associated Press

NEW YORK Oct 13, 2005.-- ABC News is drawing fire for using college interns in an investigative report that alleges lax security at nuclear reactors on 25 U.S. college campuses.

The students didn't embark on the project with a specific result in mind. "A lot of them were hoping that they didn't find these stories," he said. Two of the students have subsequently gotten jobs at ABC News and Ross said he hoped the network would hire more.

The "Primetime Live" report examines how close those interns were able to get to the reactors, theorizing the facilities could be vulnerable to terrorists who could set off bombs that release radiation into the atmosphere.

ABC said its interns found unlocked doors, saw unmanned security booths and, in some cases, were given guided tours that gave them access to control rooms and reactor pools.

Officials at Kansas State and Ohio State universities expressed anger about the report before its scheduled airing Thursday. "We are concerned that interns, college students, were placed in a position where they were dishonest about their roles and intentions," Terry King, dean of Kansas State's engineering school, said in a letter.

ABC said its interns were instructed not to lie.

Two students each from Columbia, Northwestern, Harvard, Southern California and California-Berkeley universities were working at ABC News as part of an internship program financed by the Carnegie Corp. and the Knight Foundation. They were assigned to the project and supervised by reporter Brian Ross and his investigative team and were picked, in part, because looked the part. "The day has long since passed that I could pass as a college student," said Ross, 56.

They were told to go to the reactor facilities, say they were graduate students interested in nuclear power, and ask if they could look around. They carried regular cameras, not TV cameras, and did not say they were from ABC News. They weren't being untruthful, Ross said.

Ohio State and Kansas State officials say they give tours because, as educational facilities, it's their job to spread the word about how nuclear energy is being used.

Saying the interns were able to get close to the facility is "like coming to my driveway and saying, `Guess what? I just got into McDonald's!'" said Earle Holland, Ohio State senior director for research communications.

At Ohio State, security procedures were correctly followed, and the interns had their bags searched and held during the tour. The tour was ended because one of the interns attempted to take a placard that listed security precautions in case of a bomb scare, he said.

At Kansas State, officials anticipated the visit; word had gotten around the small nuclear research community that reporters saying they were students had approached facilities. The students were given a tour anyway, even though this was later cited by ABC an example of a potential security risk.

The interns flirted with security officers to try to get in, said Ken Shultis, Kansas State's nuclear energy program director. The guards flirted back, since they were trying to get the interns to pose for a picture they wanted to provide to the FBI.

Both university officials said the interns should have identified themselves as being from ABC News. "I think the ethics is somewhat questionable," Shultis said. "It's a fine point when they were trying to misdirect or mislead."

But ABC said it's likely they would have been treated differently as reporters. The point was to show how a terrorist could pose as a student and easily be a threat, Ross said.

"We were students," said Dana Hughes, a Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism student who worked on the project. "We were interested in the programs. We did not hide our cameras. We were hiding in plain sight. It wasn't as sneaky as they were making it out to be."

If all it took to get into facilities was talking like a student or flirting, "some people could find that a questionable line of defense," she said.

Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard, which provided two of the interns, said he didn't want to prejudge ABC's report. "I don't think there's anything wrong with finding out whether minimal security was being observed at nuclear facilities, providing you didn't misrepresent yourself," he said. "And from what I understand, none of these students did."

Ross said it wasn't a case of the interns being taught "gotcha" journalism instead of investigative journalism. The students did a great deal of research into the nuclear programs before going to the universities, he said.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material
may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Friday, October 14, 2005

MAKING NEWS: On covering policy, not politics: Krugman on Bush perception

This op-ed piece by Paul Krugman in the New York Times raises an important
issue: In covering government, should reporters focus on politics and
personality, or policy. The dilemma is that many editors believe readers
and viewers aren't interested in policy. But policy coverage CAN be made
interesting, can't it?

-- bill densmore

Published: Friday 14 October 2005

Questions of Character

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

George W. Bush, I once wrote, "values loyalty above expertise" and may have
"a preference for advisers whose personal fortunes are almost entirely bound
up with his own." And he likes to surround himself with "obsequious cour
Lots of people are saying things like that these days. But those quotes are
from a column published on Nov. 19, 2000.
I don't believe that I'm any better than the average person at judging other
people's character. I got it right because I said those things in the
context of a discussion of Mr. Bush's choice of economic advisers, a subject in
which I do have some expertise.
But many people in the news media do claim, at least implicitly, to be
experts at discerning character - and their judgments play a large, sometimes
decisive role in our political life. The 2000 election would have ended in a
chad-proof victory for Al Gore if many reporters hadn't taken a dislike to Mr.
Gore, while portraying Mr. Bush as an honest, likable guy. The 2004 election
was largely decided by the image of Mr. Bush as a strong, effective leader.
So it's important to ask why those judgments are often so wrong.
Right now, with the Bush administration in meltdown on multiple issues,
we're hearing a lot about President Bush's personal failings. But what happened
to the commanding figure of yore, the heroic leader in the war on terror? The
answer, of course, is that the commanding figure never existed: Mr. Bush is
the same man he always was. All the character flaws that are now fodder for
late-night humor were fully visible, for those willing to see them, during the
2000 campaign.
And President Bush the great leader is far from the only fictional
character, bearing no resemblance to the real man, created by media images.
Read the speeches Howard Dean gave before the Iraq war, and compare them
with Colin Powell's pro-war presentation to the U.N. Knowing what we know now,
it's clear that one man was judicious and realistic, while the other was
spinning crazy conspiracy theories. But somehow their labels got switched in the
way they were presented to the public by the news media.
Why does this happen? A large part of the answer is that the news business
places great weight on "up close and personal" interviews with important
people, largely because they're hard to get but also because they play well with
the public. But such interviews are rarely revealing. The fact is that most
people - myself included - are pretty bad at using personal impressions to
judge character. Psychologists find, for example, that most people do little
better than chance in distinguishing liars from truth-tellers.
More broadly, the big problem with political reporting based on character
portraits is that there are no rules, no way for a reporter to be proved wrong.
If a reporter tells you about the steely resolve of a politician who turns
out to be ineffectual and unwilling to make hard choices, you've been misled,
but not in a way that requires a formal correction.
And that makes it all too easy for coverage to be shaped by what reporters
feel they can safely say, rather than what they actually think or know. Now
that Mr. Bush's approval ratings are in the 30's, we're hearing about his
coldness and bad temper, about how aides are afraid to tell him bad news. Does
anyone think that journalists have only just discovered these personal
Let's be frank: the Bush administration has made brilliant use of
journalistic careerism. Those who wrote puff pieces about Mr. Bush and those around him
have been rewarded with career-boosting access. Those who raised questions
about his character found themselves under personal attack from the
administration's proxies. (Yes, I'm speaking in part from experience.) Only now, with
Mr. Bush in desperate trouble, has the structure of rewards shifted.
So what's the answer? Journalists who are better at judging character?
Unfortunately, that's not a practical plan. After all, who judges their judgment?
What we really need is political journalism based less on perceptions of
personalities and more on actual facts. Schadenfreude aside, we should not be
happy that stories about Mr. Bush's boldness have given way to stories
analyzing his facial tics. Think, instead, about how different the world would be
today if, during the 2000 campaign, reporting had focused on the candidates'
fiscal policies instead of their wardrobes.

OPPORTUNITY: Boston Phoenix media columns highlights 10 young journalists

To get a sense of some of the opportunities in the journalism/media world, link to this column by Boston Phoenix media columnist Mark Jurkowitz. Mark painstakingly gathered photos and interviews with 10 people who he spotlights. He writes:

"With the news industry at a confusing crossroads, one thing is certain: no matter how information is delivered, the future belongs to skilled journalists who can report, edit, and deliver it. The people on this list — culled from many sources — may not be household names. Some may be known only in their own households. But they are ambitious, committed, and talented. They have made their mark at a young age, have the potential for bigger and better things, and may well have a role in helping set the course of the media industry in the years and decades to come. We talked to them about their lives and careers, hopes and concerns. And about why they were drawn to journalism."

Do you see yourself as one of these people in 15 years? If not, why not?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Democracy Now! -- Thurs. Oct. 13 -- Al Jazzira English edition

The Arab-based video news service Aljazeera is launching an English-language satellite service and is hiring from CNN, The Associated Press and other Western news organizations. Democracy Now's Amy Goodman interviewed Aljazeera London correspondent Yusri Fouda.

(watch from 41:08 minutes through 47:26 minutes.

Aljazeera already has an English-language childrens channel.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

CLASS NOTES: Tuesday, Oct. 4

-- Finished consideration of Project Censored; listened to Media Giraffe
Project interview with project director Peter Phillips.

MINI-ISSUE: Discussed the problems of judging crowd size
as in the recent anti-war march in Washington. (See blog

ONGOING ISSUE: We discussed judging crowd size asn an
issue of objectivity.


-- Is "objectivity" about the point of view of the writer, or is it about
the method of discovering information?
-- The "objective" account keeps the writer out of the story?
-- Gets "both sides"?

We also looked at an article about the Bush administration's plans for
Cuba post-Castro and talked about how The AP reporter chose which sources
to emphasize. Cuba vs. U.S. interests is only one frame -- the one chosen.
But the key to the frame is which sources are chosen.

We then briefly discussed the assigned reading in the AP
Stylebook on media law.

We previewed a discussion of Copyright vs. Larry Lessig.


For Thursday of this week -- read the Lessig piece and the review of the
Wisdom of crowds handed out last week

Read the Haswell case for Tuesday.

For next THURSDAY read 1-137 of the McChesney book

CLASS NOTES: Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2005 -- the "climate of readership"

Class opened today with a brief discussion of the Level 3-Covent dispute and the implications for "balkanization" of the web if such business disputes proliferate. Rep. Markey is said to be working on legislation.


Densmore posed the question: What happens if a content provider's only means of delivery (once physical presses fade from use) is not owned by he content provider, but is, instead, a digital pipe such as the Internet.
Now what if the "pipe" provider gets into a business dispute with the content provider? There's an old saying: "Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one." If we ultimately are all sending our bits and bytes
across "pipes" owned by a handful of major telecommunications companies -- are they now the only people with "freedom of the press"? And how much easier would it be, then, for government to pressure a handful of "press owners" rather than thousands?

We next discussed the Cole Campbell piece: "Journalism and the Public: Three steps, three leaps of faith." Campbell, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch editor and now dean of the University of Nevada-Reno
j-school, argues that journalists should "sustain inquiry that can lead to action" rather than just serve as a source of information. And he says journalists should include the general public as a reporting source. We
asked: "Is it OK to just be a passive listener?" We commented that some citizens don't have time to engage in civic affairs and may want to be passive. Is this a flaw in Campbell's argument, or is it just the case
that only some citizens will want to be engaged.

Two of us commented that Campbell might be naive to thing that all readers want to be called to action -- they may have neither the time nor the inclination to be active citizens. How does participatory democracy accomodate the passive participant? We introduced a new concept: "Climate of readership" to describe a process by which the journalist must stay in touch with a reader, viewer or user's interests and needs. This was viewed as a step toward the kind of connectedness to readers which Campbell says is the central failing of modern journalists.

We then turned to a WGBH-TV, Channel 2, Boston telecast of an interview with international media and blog expert Rebecca MacKinnon, a former CNN correspondent in China who is now at the Berkman Center for Law and Technology at Harvard University. A key issue discussed: Blogging is so easy, what does that mean for credibility and journalism? We need professional journalism, she says, but now ordinary citizens can
participate. Specialist blogs are proliferating . . . global voices . . . and niche voices . . . the professionals have lost control . . . anybody can create media. Her website is

The streaming video of the interview is linked from:

And a transcript is at:

Finally, we listened to a five-minute segment of a Media Giraffe Project
interview with Robin Sloan, co-creator of the EPIC multimedia presentation
on the future of news:


A reading of pages 1-137 of the McChesney text was
assigned for a class discussion on Tues., Oct. 18.

We also distributed a handout of Tyler Resch's paper on the Anthony Haswell Sedition Act prosecution of 1799 in Bennington, Vt. It's online at:

Tyler Resch will speak to us on Thurs., Oct. 13, at 8:30 a.m.

And to preview the history of the First Amendment in preparation for the Haswell discuss, we distributed a copy of Chapter 3 of the book: "The Troubles of Journalism: A critical look at what's right and wrong with the press," by William A. Hatchen, c2005, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. the chapter: "Freedom of the Press: Theory and Values."

Absent: KT
Bill Densmore, Visiting Lecturer
Berkshire Towers Room A71-L / Tue/Thu 9:20-9:50 a.m. / and by appt.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
North Adams MA 01247
413-663-5483 / CELL: 413-458-8001

FREE SPEECH: When student newspapers are gagged, can mainstream be far behind?

When student publications are censored by school or college administrators, how is that conceptually similar to, or different, from the government censoring Anthony Haswell by jailing him under the Sedition Act?

Society of Professional Journalists: "Ruling threatens students' First Amendment protections

Rarely do students concern themselves with 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decisions. The pressures of school, distractions of social lives and whirlwind of activity in Madison leave little time to consider the implications of recent court opinions. However, if the 7th Circuit continues to hear cases like Hosty v. Carter, that blissful ignorance will become entirely inappropriate, even impossible. Students at many Wisconsin schools may soon have to join the ranks of their peers at Illinois universities who have suddenly become conscious of the court's power to disrupt their daily lives. ... Student editors at Governors State were outraged in 2001 with Dean Carter's demand they remove articles attacking her credibility. If the paper didn't agree, it would be denied funding. The students, including Innovator reporter Margaret Hosty, and other journalism organizations quickly filed suit, charging Carter's actions violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Previously, Dean Carter would have lost her suit based on precedent set by the 1988 case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier. In Hazelwood, the court held schools could censor the content of high school newspapers because they had a compelling interest to protect young students from inappropriate content. In a footnote to the decision, college newspapers were spared as the court refused to extend its decision to all student publications, perhaps in hopes of avoiding the controversy that is now stewing across its jurisdiction. With the Hosty v. Carter decision, that loophole has been closed, and college newspapers can no longer expect to slip through speech restrictions.

Source: Sarah Howard, The University of Wisconsin-Madison Badger Herald

ALSO SEE: Student Law Press Center analysis of impact of Hosty v. Carter and the earlier Hazlewood decision:

"The effects of Hazelwood on our public secondary schools have been predictable. The government officials running our high schools did exactly what the Founding Fathers knew government officials would always do absent a clear limit on their ability to control speech: they exercised such control. Administrative censorship of high school student media since 1988 has skyrocketed. Calls for legal help to the Student Press Law Center are up more than four-fold. Newspapers at many high schools have taken on the look and feel of the school district's public relations office. Others have simply folded up shop. "

Also see the discussion of what constitutes, under Supreme Court precedent, a "designated public forum."
LOOK: HERE and also HERE.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

EXCERPT: Media Giraffe Project interview with Robin Sloan

Robin Sloan works at Al Gore's Current.TV. Previously he was a fellow and
writer at The Poynter Institute, where he and a collaborator, Matt
Thompson, developed the 10-minute multimedia presentation called "EPIC."

On Aug. 9, Sloan was interviewed by Media Giraffe Project intern Alison
Davies. Here's an excerpt:

On how EPIC was conceived:

"It was kind of the etension of a conversation that got started. We both
read this speech by the CEO of New York Times Digital, where he was
talking about the future of news online and we actually sort of disagreed
about what he meant, and through that disagreement . . . this
conversation kind of continued when we got back. And we shared it with
some people at Poynter, and some people at Poynter said more journalists
shoudl be tuned into this stuff, the don't really realize the

"We just kept thinking about it and ultimately decided to make a
presentation which we could actually share with some of the journalists
coming through the Poynter Institute. It went through a couple of
iterations . . . the way it looks now it is starting with these ideas
about the future of news. We decided to make it interesting, we decided to
have more fun with it and that's where we came up with the name Googlezon,
out of the pure desire to make it actually entertaining and make it a

Q: The tone is sort of ambiguous, whether it's a good thing or a bad thing
-- how do you lean on that?

SLOAN: Good question. It was not entirely intentional that it be so
ambiguous. Initially we were quite enthusaistic about it. And I remain
generally enthusiastic about that scheme. And our intention was to offer
it up as a possibility and to say, this is going to happen, this is
already happening it is going to happen, this is not like a what if. We
wanted to pose it as a question to say: Here is the future, how do you as
a journalist today with all these really, really strong principals and
values. How could you do to be a part of that? What could you do to make
sure you don't get completely left behind? But, the bottom line is that
we are pretty jazzed about the idea of Googlezon, it would just be really
sweet. Part of the way it turned out in production -- the creepy music
and it was very dark -- it just turned out to be more fun to make it like
that, to have that sort of ominus feeling -- sort of like Big Brother, yea
-- that vibe just turned out to be sort of fund to do. It was just us
being theatrical, balanced with our enthusiasm for it, lends it that
actual light. Let me actually just think about this. And the truth is
it's actually complicated. Many people have read it as sort of an
anti-Google thing -- this is terrible, it's going to ruin everything.
Which is fine but it is not accurate to the way we actually feel. We are
actually enthusiastic about the potential of some of this new technology,
but we are really interested in seeing that it gets used to do stuff which
is actually cool and valuable, and not just junk.

Q: What sorts of responses did you get from journalists who might
become obsolete?

SLOAN: It totally depends. In the very beginning before we posted it
online and we presented to a few different groups of journalists, and the
online editors of newspaper websites -- they just loved it -- they were
like, sweet. Just by being emeshed in what is going on online, they see
the potential, including the potential for good journalism actually. So
they were jazzed about it. College professors -- jazzed about it.

[But] sort of traditional newspaper editors -- business sectoin editors,
the people that put the paper out everyday -- horrified. Hostile in fact.
They were just: "No, no it can't be like that. Democracy," they were just
very very sort of anti. I would have to say that journalists in general,
and it would have to be a vague generalization, because there is a lot of
variation within this. But in general, journalists feel pretty sort of
threatened by that vision and they see it as an extension of a trend that
has already hurt their industry of people not taking news seriously, or
not realizing that they are, or should be a trusted source, and a lot of
the stuff on the Internet can be flakey -- who knows who is writing. So
generally sort of hostile, even young journalists. I would expect young
journalists to be more on board with this stuff. Not really. It is
actually a more personal thing. There's veteran journalists who for
whatever reason have really gotten into the Internet, think it's cool and
there are young journalists certainly who are way into the Internet and
think it is cool. And there are journalists of all ages who are sort of

Q: There's something romatic about reporting overseas and you write
and putting out the print?

SLOAN: There totally is. And not just that, but [there are] those other
sort of old ideas, such a serendipity, [some editors] always tell us.
"What about the serendipity of picking up a particular newspaper and
seeing a story you totally didn't expect?" they ask. Honestly, a lot of
the critiques I can sort of understand, I see where they are coming from.
This is one that totally infuriates me. I hate it. Because anybody who
gives that argument, and a lot do, we hear that a lot from these editors,
"Serendipity man, that's what it's all about." They must never have used
the Internet, because the Internet is like a serendipity machine -- that's
what it's for -- it is for discovering new, crazy things that you didn't
think about. They read the whole Googlezon thing as the ultimate echo
chamber, which it certainly would not necessariy have to be. But I think
that is how they see it and why they think it is so potentially dangerous
to society.

Q: What do you think in terms of democracy? Do you think that Googlezon
sort of framework has the chance to enhance it or is it neutral?

SLOAN: actually if things came to pass exactly as we laid them out --
which they certainly won't of course, but let's just say that they did --
things would be pretty bad because I think anytime there is a monopoly on
that kind of stuff, it's just bad, a bad situation to be in. So if it
really was the case that all the people are contributing their own things
all through the kind of network and the prism that was owned and
controlled by this one company -- that would be fairly terrible. Assuming
though that it follows the kind of trend that has actually demonstrated
itself on the internet where there are some big playres, but things are a
lot more distributed and people can kind of poke holes through the system
and do their own thing -- I think that would be good. I think that would
be good for democracy -- or at least could be.

Q: Do you have a sense of personal mission and entrepreneurship in
what you are doing here?

SLOAN: I do. I was finishing up at the Poynter Instiute and I knew I
wanted to do something participatory. I was just wasn't interested in
writing of the traditional newspaper articles and the prospect of that
sort of one-way thing -- not just that I became philosophically opposed to
it, it felt like it woudl be just depressing after awhile, you just do all
this stuff and you never really get anything back. It just sort of goes
into a well. And so I wanted to do something in line with more
participatory media and all that sort of stuff. And fortunately I was
kind of looking around and most newspaper certainly, and cable TV
networks, everbody are just mired in the old ways of doing things.

But then I sort of heard about Current, sort of reumors, blips and news
scraps and it sounded like they were going to do that. Which I thought
was pretty cool.

Q: Do you have an opinon about what might be wrong with journalism, and
media in general and how that relates to what might be going on with
democracy also?

SLOAN: I try not to be a total media basher as some people on the Internet
tend to do. I don't think it's broken beyond repair. But again I do think
it has become more than anything else, it is, two things.

One of them is the sort the very deep one-way nature of it all still. And
it is not that there is a magic bullet to solve that. It's not just start
a blog, problem solved. It is more complicated than that. Even at
Current, we have signed on to the idea of being two way from the very
beginning. It is like the core DNA. We still are having a hard time trying
to figure out how to do it. How do we make that happen?

So even with the best of intentions it can be a challenge. But you've got
to actually step up to the challenge and not just say OK, with the old
one-way thing. Because it is just so lame and static and ultimately out
of touch. Anybody who has ever had a newspaper article written about them
or seen themselves quoted in a newspaper article or seen a newspaper
article about something they know something about, realizes how totally
screwed up it is and, "Oh, my God is it all like that?" And if we can
build ways to let people participate in that.

There's this guy Dan Gillmor who more than anything else is a pretty cool
guy and more than anything else kind of a rockbed of this kind of stuff
and he most famously is the one who articulated this notion that the
journalist is not the expert, rather they should be the facilitator for
this huge group of people out there who, of course, in the aggregate,
these people know so much more than even the smartest and most veteran
journalist. And so figuring out how to harness that is a big challenge and
by not tackling it, it is just a big wasted opportunity and just fewer and
fewer people are going to continue to participate in this one-way stuff.

And there is another piece to it to that is less philosophical and that is
that the culture at news organizations. It kind of sucks. A lot of
newsrooms are just bad scenes these days. I don't even know what all the
reasons are. But it is kind of a wierd industry. I think any industry in
a decline, even a slow decline, that just doesn't help with anything. It
is a lot of old people, and young people with old ideas, and that is just
actually really really hurting it.

And even if somebody just could find a way to invigorate a newsroom and
just throw out all the old conventions and say, "Forget what you think you
know abot how you have to make a newspaper and just do what feels like it
would be a lot of fun. Make the sort of newspaper that you would like to
read in the morning when you get up." The thing that I always here is that
in newsrooms people don't even read the newspaper that they produce.
Half the people in the Washington Post don't even read the newspaper --
it's just boring. It's just like this mess, this huge pile of crap.

So I think that is kind of a more subtle thing. I think if I had to rank
them, I might even put that as the most important. I don't know what the
solution is but it is too bad that these really important institutions on
the inside are kind of just, they're not rotten on the inside, that's
pretty harsh, but they are kind of moribund and there is not a lot of fun
or vitality there anymore. And that's too bad.

CLASS NOTES: Thursday, Oct. 6, 2005

Today we discussed Arthur Morin's review of Lawrence Lessig's book, "The Future
of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World," and a review by David
Pollard of the book, "The Wisdom of Crowds," by James Surowiecki.

We then listened to a 35-minute speech by former vice president Al Gore
delivered on Wed., Oct. 5, 2005 at The Associated Press headquarters in
New York to the "We Media" one-day conference.

A reading of pages 1-137 of the McChesney text was assigned for a class
discussion on Tues., Oct. 18.

A reading of an essay by Cole Campbell, "Journalism and the Public: Three
steps, three leaps of faith," was distributed for a discussion on Monday, Oct.

We also distributed a handout of Tyler Resch's paper on the Anthony
Haswell Sedition Act prosecution of 1799 in Bennington, Vt. It's online

Tyler Resch will speak to us on Thurs., Oct. 13, at 8:30 a.m.

Absent: NC / SB
Bill Densmore, Visiting Lecturer
Berkshire Towers Room A71-L / Tue/Thu 9:20-9:50 a.m. / and by appt.
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
North Adams MA 01247
413-663-5483 / CELL: 413-458-8001

PATRIOT ACT: A good link for info about the act and secrecy

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has an excellent resource page, with links, which focuses on privacy and free-speech implications of the USA Patriot Act.

View it at:

PATRIOT ACT: ACLU claim of misuse of act for secrecy purposes

MORE FYI for Thursday's class. If sections of the Patriot Act "gag" the
ACLU or others from speaking, with criminal saction, show is that the
same, or different from what was done to Anthony Haswell?

-- bill

Through Gag Orders and Secret Evidence, Government Is Suppressing
Information About Controversial Patriot Act Powers, ACLU Charges


August 19, 2004

ACLU Files Motion Today to Exclude Secret Evidence


NEW YORK - The government is using gag orders and secret evidence to keep
the public in the dark about its use of the Patriot Act to investigate
Americans, the American Civil Liberties Union said today.

In two legal challenges to controversial provisions of the Patriot Act
brought by the ACLU and other groups, the government has filed secret
evidence that it is refusing to disclose to the public and even to the
attorneys in the case.

"Our system of justice does not and should not tolerate the use of secret
evidence in deciding important constitutional questions, which is why this
tactic has been repeatedly rejected by the courts," said ACLU Associate
Legal Director Ann Beeson.

"The government is refusing to tell the public how it is using these
extraordinary new powers, even in the most general terms," Beeson said.
"At the same time, the government is gagging the ACLU and others from
speaking freely about our legal challenges," Beeson said.

Today, in its challenge to Section 215 of the Patriot Act, the ACLU filed
a motion to exclude classified portions of a government affidavit that
were provided only to the court. The government has asked the court to
consider this secret evidence in deciding whether to dismiss the ACLU.s
constitutional challenge to the law.

The lawsuit, filed in Detroit in July 2003, challenges the FBI.s
unprecedented power under Section 215 to access medical, library and other
private records without a subpoena or a warrant based on probable cause.
The judge has not yet ruled on the government.s pending motion to dismiss
the case.

In the second case, filed in New York in April of this year, the ACLU is
challenging the FBI.s authority to use National Security Letters to demand
sensitive customer records from Internet Service Providers and other
businesses without judicial oversight. Here, the government has submitted
a secret affidavit without providing any justification for the secrecy or
any indication of the nature or scope of the evidence.

The ACLU filed the National Security Letter case under seal to avoid the
risk of violating a Patriot Act gag provision. Since filing the case, the
ACLU has repeatedly clashed with the government over its insistence on
suppressing even innocuous, non-sensitive information about the case.

"The government is refusing to tell the public how it is using these
extraordinary new powers, even in the most general terms," Beeson said.
"At the same time, the government is gagging the ACLU and others from
speaking freely about our legal challenges," Beeson said.

Even Congress has not been given complete information about the
government.s use of the Patriot Act, according to ACLU staff attorney
Jameel Jaffer. A 30-page report submitted to Congress last month by
Attorney General Ashcroft on the government.s use of the Patriot Act
omitted key information and avoided any mention of numerous controversial
provisions of the law, including Section 215 and Section 505, the National
Security Letter provision.

"Unfortunately, the government has released virtually no information about
the way that that the Patriot Act is being used, and the meager
information that has been released is incomplete and misleading," Jaffer
said. "'Trust us, we're the government,. is not a sufficient response when
it comes to such a radical expansion of law enforcement powers."

The ACLU is highlighting the unjustified suppression of information about
the Patriot Act in a new web feature. The feature provides examples of
speech that the government suppressed in the National Security Letter case
but that the court later allowed the ACLU to disclose. For example, the
government demanded that the ACLU redact a sentence that described its
anonymous client.s business as "provid[ing] clients with the ability to
access the Internet." The government also insisted that the ACLU black out
a direct quote from a Supreme Court case. The feature is online at

In the National Security Letter challenge, the government will file its
final round of legal papers this Monday, August 23. The court has not yet
scheduled a hearing in the case and it is unclear whether any hearing will
be open to the public.

More information about the NSL case is online at

More information about the Section 215 case is online at

In addition to Beeson and Jaffer, Arthur Eisenberg of the New York Civil
Liberties Union is an attorney in the NSL case. Attorneys in the Section
215 case also include Michael Steinberg, Noel Saleh and Kary Moss of the
ACLU of Michigan.

PATRIOT ACT: No way of knowing what's going on?

This is optional reading for our Thursday session with Ty Resch about the
Haswell case.

-- bill


"The truth is, Americans have no way of determining just how many
investigations are underway, how many people have been arrested, and how
many have been convicted. Even so, most of the press corps simply repeated
the president's claims verbatim."


Think Again
Tough Questions: The Patriot Act and the Press

by Eric Alterman
June 23, 2005

Eric Alterman is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and
the author of six books, including most recently, When Presidents Lie: A
History of Official Deception and Its Consequences.

In a report released on Monday to widespread mainstream media silence, the
American Library Association reported that domestic law enforcement
authorities have instigated more than 200 requests for information from
libraries since October 2001, the month the Patriot Act was hurriedly
passed and signed into law.

While this should be a cause for concern for any citizen, it comes with a
sad addendum: It would appear that the ALA doesn't trust the government
enough to house its findings on a computer server anywhere in the United
States. The ALA, in surveying U.S. libraries for a report on the impact of
the USA Patriot Act, housed its data on a computer server in Canada,
beyond the reach of U.S. authorities. This comes on the heels of a vote in
the House of Representatives last week . by a 238 to 187 margin . to roll
back the FBI's power to seize library and bookstore records.

The New York Times, which picked up on the story on Tuesday, reported that
the study fails to clarify just how authorities have used the Patriot Act
in libraries, as its secrecy provisions "could make it a crime for a
librarian to respond. Federal intelligence law bans those who receive
certain types of demands for records from challenging the order or telling
anyone they have received it."

But it's not only libraries that are feeling the heat of increased
government snooping into the private habits of citizens. The government
said Wednesday that after the Sept. 11 attacks it shared Social Security
information with law enforcement officials looking for terrorism suspects
and trying to identify victims. The Department of Homeland Security's
Transportation Security Administration plans to disclose in the Federal
Register that the agency has collected personal data about airline
travelers. This took place in spite of a congressional ban and the
agency's promise not to do so. The administration, apparently, considers
itself to be outside of laws passed by Congress and unbound by its own

All this activity comes as 16 provisions of the Patriot Act are coming up
for new votes in Congress. Members would do well to act in a more
thoughtful, considered manner than last time, in the panicked aftermath of
9/11. A new report from The Century Foundation, Rethinking the Patriot
Act: Keeping America Safe and Free, can provide just the context and
evenhanded information required. The report's author maintains that the
Act "remains gravely flawed. It gives almost no weight to the hidden costs
of a powerfully expanded intelligence-gathering capability. It fails to
draw reasonable boundaries; as a result, it permits unnecessary intrusions
on privacy and dangerous incursions on First Amendment freedoms of speech,
press, and religion."

Nowhere have I been able to locate any serious discussion of the issues
raised by The Century Foundation report, despite the fact that it offers
one of the most wide-ranging independent examinations of a law that offers
the government unprecedented domestic police and intelligence powers. This
is unfortunate because while no one would argue that reporters have
ignored the effects of the act in the three-plus years since it was
passed, neither could one honestly argue that the information passed along
to the public has done justice to the complexity of the issues it raises
and the trade-offs it demands.

One case in point can be found in a recent speech the president gave in
support of the 16 provisions set to expire at the end of the year.
Speaking at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Academy on June 9, and focusing
exclusively on security issues, the president made the claim that the Act
has allowed authorities to "charge more than 400 people in terrorism
investigations since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and convict more than
half." Alas, in a first-rate piece of reporting published back on May 16,
the Des Moines Register reported that the Justice Department has, since
2001, vastly expanded its definition of what constitutes a
"terrorism-related" crime, and what's more, refuses to release figures as
to how many people it has arrested, and how many it has convicted. As The
Century Foundation points out, "One section [of the Act] expands the scope
of the offense of providing 'material support' to a terrorist
organization, in language that at least one federal court has held
unconstitutionally vague."

The Register's investigation also discovered that the Act's definition has
grown so elastic that when the authorities are hunting for a terrorist
suspect and make an arrest for other reasons, the case is still logged as
"anti-terrorism." In an almost comical aside, we learn this expansion of
the definition has swept into its net "College entrance-exam cheaters,
check forgers, sham husbands and those who overstay visas." What's more,
records show that officials at the Justice Department have instructed
federal prosecutors to catalog their work in ways that inflate the number
of terrorism investigations.

The truth is, Americans have no way of determining just how many
investigations are underway, how many people have been arrested, and how
many have been convicted. Even so, most of the press corps simply repeated
the president's claims verbatim.

One has to wonder just how often these reporters need to be given false
information by this president before they realize that nothing.absolutely
nothing.that comes out of this White House can be taken on faith, least of
all the compromising of our constitutional liberties.

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