Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Freedom of the Press Foundation Debuts

Caption: The first printing press of the Tombstone Epitaph, Tombstone, Arizona.

Image credit: Cujo359

As Joyce Arnold reminded me today, yesterday's Glenn Greenwald column at The Guardian had this interesting announcement:

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the steps taken by the US government to pressure large corporations to choke off the finances and other means of support for WikiLeaks in retaliation for the group's exposure of substantial government deceit, wrongdoing and illegality. Because WikiLeaks has never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime, I wrote: "that the US government largely succeeded in using extra-legal and extra-judicial means to cripple an adverse journalistic outlet is a truly consequential episode." At the end of that column, I disclosed that I had been involved in discussions "regarding the formation of a new organization designed to support independent journalists and groups such as WikiLeaks under attack by the US and other governments."

That group has now been formed and, this morning, was formally launched. Its name is Freedom of the Press Foundation. Its website is here and its Twitter account, which will be quite active, is @FreedomOfPress.

I'm very excited to have participated in its formation and will serve as an unpaid member of the Board of Directors, along with the heroic whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, 2012 McArthur-fellowship-receipient and Oscar-nominated documentarian Laura Poitras, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation John Perry Barlow, the actor and civil liberties advocate John Cusack, BoingBoing co-founder Xeni Jardin, and several other passionate free press and transparency activists. Numerous articles have been written today about its launch, including from the New York Times' media reporter David Carr, the Guardian's Dan Gillmor, Forbes' Andy Greenberg, Huffington Post's media reporter Michael Calderone, FDL's Kevin Gosztola, and board member Josh Stearns.

New press freedom group is launched to block US government attacks

The links and other formatting are from the original article.

As Greenwald mentioned, the U.S. government and other governments have cooperated in trying to shut down Wikileaks and other groups that are dedicated to transparency. Whether they will try to do that to the Freedom of the Press Foundation, I don't know, but it will probably be more difficult. They have some pretty successful lawyers on their side.

How it works is described in their mission statement page:

The process is simple. On our website, you can donate to as many as four journalism and transparency organizations at once. We’ll feature a “bundle” of four organizations and provide a bit of background on each. Every two months we will release a new bundle of deserving organizations or individuals. Once you enter the total amount you wish to donate, you can use the sliders to determine the percentage you want each entity to get.

You can also donate directly to the Freedom of the Press Foundation to help further our mission. Twice a year, we will distribute a grant to projects our Board of Directors has vetted and selected.

Freedom of the Press Foundation takes 8% from each donation for operational costs. Criteria for choosing organizations:

  1. Record of engaging in transparency journalism or supporting it in a material way, including support for whistleblowers.
  2. Public interest agenda.
  3. Organizations or individuals under attack for engaging in transparency journalism.
  4. Need for support. The foundation’s goal is to prioritize support for organizations and individuals who are in need of funding or who face obstacles to gaining support on their own.
You can go here to see a description of the organizations we are currently crowd-funding donations for.

About Freedom of the Press Foundation
[Once again, the link is from original article.]

One thing is for certain, though, as this article at Corrente demonstrates today, you're more likely to get a free press out of contributing money to them than you are contributing to NPR.

Afterword: By the way, I love the message that appears on the Freedom of the Press Foundation's website if you don't have Javascript enabled:

Sorry, Javascript is required to donate. Otherwise we couldn't have fanciness like jQuery sliders that let you choose how much you want to give to each amazing organizations. Click here to learn how to enable Javascript.

Now, who could live in a world without jQuery sliders?

As usual, though, the software guys need some editing help: "each amazing organizations"? Plural, singular, why not have both?

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