Monday, June 11, 2007

'First of all, let's blindfold the Trib staff'

Now that Sam Zell is firmly in control of the Tribune Co., it appears that Tribune editors and reporters are no longer considered competent to determine whether to scan the Znewz1 email circular or not.

A blanket block on Znewz1 seems to have gone into effect at the Tribune.

You may say that the Trib staffers can always read this blog (unless of course the Tribune blocks this url), but the blog and the circular often differ.

Here we have what looks like an ominous turn for professionalism at the Trib. A journalist without the right to make up her or his own mind about what information and-or "propaganda" to scan has lost a sacred piece of journalistic soul. And an owner who enforces that kind of policy shows that he is a news business tyro. Not even Murdoch blocks his journalists from receiving the Znewz1 circular if they wish (hope that's not "famous last words").

Perhaps the Trib defense is that Znewz1 uses an opt-out, rather than an opt-in, system.
But, what else can I do? There is simply too much email interference for an opt-in system to work. Sure, maybe you say that that's just paranoia talking. And I suppose that neither Zell nor anyone on the Trib staff has a clue as to what I mean when I say that Conant is "that guy" caught in a "legal and media limbo." I mean, does Zell believe the version of reality presented in the newspapers? If so, he's not "with it." But if not, he's showing that he favors the system as is, with its tight, if unacknowledged, censorship.

Of course, there is another possibility. A hacker has imposed the block without the Tribune's permission, theorizing that his action would be covered by the ownership change. What hackers have a reason to curtail Conant's interaction with the media? Quite a few special interests would be delighted to jam Znewz1. But, who is the most likely alternate suspect? I would say some federal security agency, hiding of course behind cut-outs, as is the usual practice.

Will these blocked Trib journalists have their read privileges restored? Never happen. What could happen next is some trick or other to make it look like I'm mistaken, paranoid and generally flaky. And yet, these journalists will, without doubt, remain blocked because the control clique just can't tolerate undoing a dirty trick. What I mean is that even if Zell personally orders the blocked read privileges restored, some force that meddles in my internet activity will overrule him.

Welcome to America, 2007 version.

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