Shield law counterpoint: ‘I opposed the federal shield then, and I oppose it now’

Like any complicated issue, the proposed shield law has its pros and cons, and not every journalist agrees it’s the best approach to protecting press rights. The Society of Professional Journalists supports transparency and encourages a robust discussion to bring the best ideas to light. Mac McKerral, former SPJ president and an associate professor of journalism at Western Kentucky University, has opposed a federal shield for a decade and explains why in this column. Members are encouraged to continue the discussion, and from this discussion we can all be better informed and heard.

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  • Scott B.

    For multimedia reporting, it’s no contest, IMO. Twitter is fine for posting links and (often) pithy, barely literate remarks in real time, but Facebook is infinitely more useful for adding context and depth without the need to click on links to understand what’s going on. On Facebook, you can write full paragraphs, if necessary. You can write a PROPER caption for photos and explain the relevance of a video. You can view and/or listen to media without any extra clicks, yet STILL offer a link for further engagement. The pesky algorithms on Facebook is the downside, but frankly, I’ve never had a problem following breaking news on Facebook. Also, I think we need to discuss the real dangers of following real-time tweets. Minute-by-minute Tweets can be misleading and inaccurate, and they often confuse and agitate rather than enlighten. Question: can’t you create and search for hashtags on Facebook, too? Personally, I think Twitter is just too limited as the social media platform of choice for ethical journalism.

  • MK3401

    When I think of Twitter, I think of a loud cocktail party in which interesting people are having fascinating conversations all competing at the same time. So much distraction. When I think of FB, I see more orderly but still fragmented conversations, like when people whisper opinions to each other while watching a movie.

    Time and entrepreneurialship will figure out how to combine the power of both into one or more likely a handful of products that engage the greatest number of readers and allows them to debate what they read. That battle was waged on paper among the NYT, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal before the most recent technology disruption. The scrum continues on digital. It is the nature of publishing, no?

    Google News seems to have the goods, but doesn’t seem to get it, although that sounds naive even to me as a I write it. Interesting features I see emerging disparately and worth a look are AJE’s The Stream and TPM’s The Hive. Arts and Letters Daily has been a treat for a long time. The comments sections, my favorite, seem to be an untapped goldmine because editors are afraid of getting in between the jaws of a dogfight.

  • MK3401


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