James Goodale: Journalists should wake to Obama’s free speech record

The two men in charge. (Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons)

The two men in charge. (Daniel Schwen/Wikimedia Commons)

James Goodale, the chief counsel to The New York Times when the paper published the Pentagon Papers, says that the Obama administration has been more restrictive of the First Amendment than any other president in history, even Richard Nixon. In his new book, Fighting for the Press, Goodale implores journalists to put pressure on Obama, who he believes gets a free pass a Republican president wouldn’t get from the press.

In a conversation with the Columbia Journalism Review, Goodale points to the administration’s use of the 1917 Espionage Act to sedate American journalism. “The biggest challenge to the press today is the threatened prosecution of WikiLeaks, and it’s absolutely frightening,” he said. During Obama’s two terms, the Espionage Act has been used to prosecute more alleged leakers than all former presidential offices combined.

Goodale said journalists don’t seem to consider this much of a problem. “They don’t believe it,” he told CJR. “I actually have talked to two investigative reporters who are household names, and I said, ‘Do you realize what’s happening to you if this goes forward?’ And I talk, I get no response, and the subject shifts to other parts of the book. No one seems to care.”

New York Times online paywall continues to boost paper growth

NY Times app on a phone | Credit: methodshop.com/Flickr

NY Times app on a phone | Credit: methodshop.com/Flickr

For years now journalists have discussed how online paywalls can help “save” the newspaper industry, that if major print publications could just figure a way to charge for web content then the industry could thrive.

The New York Times is hardly your run-of-the-mill paper, but they have managed to lead the way with successful paywall strategies. After two years, the Times’ online page keeps adding tens of thousands of subscribers per quarter, according to CJR. In the fourth quarter, NYT online reached 640,000 digital subscriptions and added 74,000 new subscribers.

Still, as writer Ryan Chittum points out, the paywall was really about slowing the decline of its print operation. The company still has a way to go before it can make up in digital advertising what it’s losing in its quickly vanishing print ad revenues.

China Blocks New York Times

Looking up to The New York Times. (Flickr Creative Commons: ScooteRoo)

The New York Times’ Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote a post that reads between the lines of the Chinese government’s censorship of the Times’ Chinese-language site.  China blocked the site after the paper ran a story looking into the extreme wealth of the Chinese prime minster’s family.

Sullivan’s post looks into how the Times’ decision to run the predictably explosive piece creates a rift between the editorial staff and the paper’s advertisers, whose pricey ads aren’t seeing the light of day in China.  “I’m very proud of this work,” Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said to Sullivan.  “Our business is to publish great journalism.  Does this have a business impact?  Of course.”