Newsy Bits Next To The Giblets: Posts I read during Thanksgiving

The Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday is always busy. Some people are taking part in the Cyber Monday insanity, but me personally, I’m trying to get caught up on my blogging while still trying to do my job as a paraeducator.

I missed a few days of blogging during the break, especially Friday and Saturday. Two days in a row kills me.

Fear not, though, I’m catching up by posting a few briefs about the news items I found most interesting during the break but didn’t have a chance to opine about.

Here they are:

Legal aid scheme for online journalists launched in US

On Nov. 24, posted a story about a new service debuting in the United States.

It is a free, legal-aid service for online journalists, and I think it is really cool.

With more online, news entrepreneurs popping up every day, this service is much needed. No journalist is immune from error or the need to pursue an important, albeit sensitive, story, and if that error or necessary risk results in legal repercussions, these digital journalists need help since they don’t have the backing of a big news corporation to help fight the court battles, which require incredible amounts of resources.

The project is called the Online Media Legal Network, and it is a project of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. It is being funded via a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant.

Very cool stuff.

Facebook friend turns into Big Brother

Now this is ridiculous.

The La Crosse Tribune in La Crosse, Wis., reported on Nov. 19 that 19-year-old University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student Adam Bauer got ticketed for underage drinking due to a photo of him on Facebook that depicted him holding a beer.


A Facebook photo got the kid caught? That’s not right. Since when can social media images used retroactively to enforce a law such as drinking age laws?

The cops weren’t there. For all they know, the kid didn’t drink and was just holding it. When it went to court, the kid denied any wrongdoing, but he did plead no contest and paid a $227 fine.

So how did Bauer get caught? Well, that’s the really shady part about this whole ordeal. He reportedly got a random Facebook friend request, and since it was an attractive female, he accepted. Then he got called down to the police station.

The cops posed online to catch the underage drinker as if he were a child predator being lured to meet with an underage boy or girl.

That’s not right, and it destroys any trust the college students might have had of the police. Now the jobs of the police officers are going to become even more difficult because the students aren’t going to feel comfortable turning to them for help.

Bauer wasn’t the only one to get into trouble either. The story said at least seven others also got busted. A couple of the people who got into trouble and had to go to court to plead no contest didn’t even post the incriminating photos on Facebook. Someone else did and simply tagged them.

Wow. Big Brother is watching, and it is infringing upon our rights.

Magazine publishers to build an online newsstand

On Nov. 24, the Media Decoder blog on The New York Times Web site said several magazine publishers and banning together to attempt to come up with a solution to their woes of how the online world is nibbling away at their businesses.

They are developing an online magazine stand from which to sell their products in digital formats.

Conde Nast, publisher of my favorite magazine Wired, is involved in the project. Conde Nast has already proved this is doable by offering a Gentleman’s Quarterly application for the iPhone. It was approved by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, according to the Media Decoder post, because it allows the magazine to keep track of who downloads it, which must be factored into the month’s circulation.

I really like holding Wired in my hand while I’m at home, but it might be nice to just pull it up on my BlackBerry and give it a read while traveling instead of dragging the hard copy all over the place with me.

Controversial Stevenson High student newspaper released

High school journalists are being bullied again, and this time it is near Chicago.

The Daily Herald, which is billed as “suburban Chicago’s information source,” reported Nov. 25 that Stevenson High School journalism students were first censored and then forced to print a paper they didn’t feel was a product of their toils.

First the administration prevented the students from publishing a story that contained anonymous sources discussing illegal activities. Other stories were also targeted, according to the story.

Then, when the student journalists tried caught wind of all this, they proposed simply not printing the November issue, but the administration once again got involved and forced them to produce the paper because of “an educational obligation” since the paper is part of a course and not an extracurricular activity.

So the student journalists tried to withhold their bylines, which is what professional journalists do as a sign of protest, but the administration again forced the students to sign their names on work that they didn’t feel was theirs.

The Illinois Journalism Education Association and the Student Press Law Center have both spoken out against this event.

This is appalling, and a clear violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Free press is being crushed by the uninformed administrators in our country’s high schools. This needs to be curbed before the damage can’t be recovered from.

Students launch online magazine

Now this is just neat.

Goldsmiths, University of London has a cool class. It consists of 18 postgraduates who have started an online magazine, called EastLondonLines.

The magazine is, according to Guardian reports, covering courts and local council meetings of south and east London, and by all indications, they are doing better than some full-blown news organizations could.

I’m jealous of this. I wish I was involved. I miss not working with other journalists who are fired up and eager to do cool work.

I’ve bookmarked EastLondonLines on my computer. I’m going to keep an eye on this project, even if it is in London.

Louisiana joins ‘technophobia’ craze with restraints on teacher-student communications

People from the south are nuts.

On Nov. 16, the Student Press Law Center reported on its blog that a law has been passed in Louisiana that bans teachers from communicating with students via personal avenues, such as personal cell phones or personal e-mail accounts.

Now, communication can only occur via school-sanctioned e-mail addresses and phone numbers.

This might make sense on the surface because it can conceivably prevent inappropriate relations between students and teachers.

However, it greatly harms students journalists, who might need to communicate with teachers under the radar about sensitive stories.

Again, the First Amendment rights of high school journalists are being trampled. This isn’t a direct attack, but it will have a chilling affect on both journalists and whistleblowers recognizing the need to expose a wrongdoing.

College football is a roller coaster of emotion

I had two college football games to watch.

One was the University of Nebraska versus the University of Colorado. Nebraska won, and it made me quite happy.

The other was the University of Kansas versus the University of Missouri. If KU won, they would be bowl eligible, despite the controversy swirling in Lawrence right now.

KU didn’t win. I wasn’t happy, and I know this could spell the end for the Jayhawks’ head coach. Stay tuned for more on that here at The Voice. I will be posting later today or tomorrow about the KU situation.

Closing time . . . .

Well, like I said, this was just a sampling of what I read. The above posts were the ones that fired me up the most.

I would have blogged them throughout the holiday, but between Thanksgiving with family and being a pallbearer at a relative’s funeral, I just didn’t have the time.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and as always, thanks for reading!

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About toddvogts 839 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at