First Five Newsletter: May 16, 2019

First Five

Defending a free press, an op-ed from Facebook’s Nick Clegg, the removal of content on the Afforable Care Act on government websites and more.

First Five Column

Gene Policinski outlines recent instances of the use of force against journalists and efforts to curtail the freedom of the press. Read the column. A plain text version for publishers is available here.

First Five Podcast

During the announcement of the 2019 Pulitzer Prizes, Pulitzer Administrator Dana Canedy acknowledged the staff of The Eagle Eye student newspaper at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Fla. The publication “submitted the obituaries of 17 coaches and classmates” who lost their lives during a tragic shooting at the high school last year. We spoke with collegiate student journalists invited to attend the ceremony and Student Press Law Center executive director, Hadar Harris, in a continuation of our “Year of the Student Journalist” series.


A study conducted by College Pulse and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation shows that millennial college students are divided on whether or not the First Amendment should protect hate speech, but agree that the political and social climate on college campuses prevents some students from voicing their thoughts and opinions


Recent calls for Facebook to break up and be required to spin off WhatsApp and Instagram into separate companies have come from Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes and Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden. This week, Facebook’s Nick Clegg, vice president for global affairs and communications, responded with an op-ed arguing that breaking up the company would only worsen problems around hate speech and data protection.


The greatest threat to press freedom in the United States isn’t President Trump’s anti-media rhetoric — it’s his administration’s prosecution of journalists’ sources under the Espionage Act (following a trend that began during the Obama administration). Last week, the U.S. Justice Department indicted Daniel Hale for allegedly leaking information about a classified drone targeting program to The Intercept. Hale is the fourth source to be indicted under the Espionage Act since President Trump took office.


A new report from the Sunlight Foundation shows that the Trump administration has been systematically wiping content about the Affordable Care Act from government websites over the past two years, which the Sunlight Foundation refers to as web censorship of online public information.


Ethan Zuckerman discusses the difference between French and American media polarization in the Columbia Journalism Review. He observes that unlike American media outlets, established French media outlets “don’t often link to peripheral, online-only media, regional media, or to a rapidly growing ‘conspiratorial’ media space that includes content resembling Infowars and other fringe sites in the US. In France, the core media still act as gatekeepers, determining the shape of the national conversation.” Zuckerman writes that, “the most relevant danger for democracy in French media may be that certain media outlets are so used to setting the agenda that they miss important stories that are emerging far from traditional centers of power.”

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