Off-Leash Public Affairs SCHEDULE

Take Your Leash Off !!
OLPA replays at irregular times on cable TV, Channel 17, The Santa Barbara Channels. Enter search word LEASH at their Schedule of video replays.

Our show is in hiatus!
David and Cathy (especially her) have been a bit busy since 2011 with the ultimate in local public affairs....

16 January 2006

Journalism with a bit of a gonzo edge

Off-Leash Public Affairs will be (or is) non-commercial journalism with a bit of a gonzo edge. The tenets and responsibilities of journalism still apply, although OLPA may be considered New Media with its Internet blog and video downloads, and a show on community-access cable TV. Printed and "published" newspapers definitely are Old Media, although community-access TV might be considered Middle-Aged Media since it started only in the early 1970s (see

Addendum, 25June2007:
Interview in Salon (web magazine) with Josh Wolf, a video blog journalist (and one-time UCSB Daily Nexus writer) once imprisoned by The Government for 7.5 months through April 2007, because he did not give up, on demand, his unpublished video about a riot. This and many other stories about him explore the rapidly evolving definition about what is journalism and who is a journalist. Here is the Colbert Report interview from 13June2007.

Addendum, May 2007:
news article on California legal status to define journalists and a shield law

Original posting...
Some definitions of Journalism:
* a style of writing for presenting bare facts to describe news events
* Journalism is a discipline of collecting, verifying, reporting, and analyzing information gathered regarding current events, including trends, issues and people. Those who practice journalism are known as journalists.
* also see:
and especially the traditional definitions

In a shield law proposed in 2004, legislation attempted in Texas (!) defined a journalist as:
“a person, or an employee, independent contractor, or agent of that person, engaged in the business of gathering, compiling, writing, editing, photographing, recording, or processing information for dissemination by any news medium”;
and a news medium as:
"a person who in the ordinary course of business publishes, broadcasts, or otherwise disseminates news by print, television, radio, or other electronic means accessible to the public”.

Who is a Journalist definitely is evolving in modern culture, but what is Journalism should not be. Journalism is a craft and method, not necessarily just a profession paid by a certain organization

Following a nationwide trend, California Highway Patrol has been challenged successfully many times, so CHP no longer serves as the statewide umbrella agency, or defacto gatekeeper, for defining who is or is not a journalist. But the CHP definition still includes employment status as part of its apparent policy.
See also this summary from November 2004:

The CHP policy from their own Media Guide (
"The CHP no longer issues press cards. Any existing cards are not valid and should be destroyed or returned to the CHP. CHP officers will recognize permanent employees of bona fide news gathering agencies if shown a business card or other item which identifies the individual in association with the news gathering organization."

The Producers of Off-Leash Public Affairs carry identification cards that indicate their status as journalists with this TV show. Whether OLPA is "bona fide" or not will be judged by history.

1 comment:

David Pritchett said...

another missive on the issue:
Why you need journalists and they need you

By Eric Newton
March 10, 2006

Perhaps surprisingly in this day of write-it-yourself Web sites, there dwell in America some 125,000 human beings known as "general news journalists."

Hardly anyone likes them. The bloggers call them "mainstream media." Liberals call them "corporate media." Conservatives call them "liberal media." Everyone else just dismisses them as "the media."

It's easy to bash journalists. Hollywood paints them as a yammering, amoral horde. That's entertaining, but wrong. The boring reality is that most professional journalists actually have ethics. They're good people. They try to dig out facts and stick to them. They hope to keep their corner of the world a little more honest. We watch or read or listen to their work because we need news — especially bad news — to properly run our countries and our lives.

Only the rare producer is good enough to make that into a movie (see "Good Night and Good Luck," about Edward R. Murrow).

Since you won't learn what everyday journalists do from watching talk shows, let's run down a list of what they have actually done this past year, drawn from the entries to the National Journalism Awards:

— Died in war zones so we can know what was really happening.

— Risked their lives to warn their towns when bad hurricanes were coming.

— Explained how Social Security works and how to fix it.

— Revealed how crooked public servants squandered public money.

— Got polluting businesses to clean their toxic dumps.

The same city councils and state legislatures that complained about "the media" in 2005 took thousands of actions because of public support of local news crusades. Among those:

— In Oregon, they voted to replace a crumbling mental hospital.

— In California, they agreed to repair a horrible foster-care system.

— In Florida, they toughened seat-belt and traffic laws.

— In Georgia, they defeated an attempt to increase government secrecy.

Why should you know that journalists do honest work? Because journalists need you. When you read about a guy whose idea of public service is to hold down three tax-supported jobs at once (or about a $1 million helicopter bought with tax money to battle a gypsy moth problem that doesn't exist, or about 10-hour waits in emergency rooms), journalists need you. They need you to think about what you've learned, and, if warranted, to direct your elected representatives to fix it. They need you to turn bad news into good things.

So journalists need you. But you need them, too. If journalists don't tell you about this stuff, who will? The system won't tell you, not even in America. That's why all successful democracies have had a free and independent media. No system will easily admit its wrongs.

Free societies need people who can tell us when prisons are at double capacity, when schools are drop-out factories, when too many teens get pregnant, when immigration laws aren't working and when people are being poisoned by lead in the water. Good journalists last year told us all those truths and thousands more.

Yes, there are also bad journalists, just as there are bad doctors, lawyers, teachers, priests, politicians and businessmen. Too much journalism is still done too quickly. Too much context is left on the cutting-room floor. Because of this, we need to teach our kids to be media literate. As President Reagan said, "Trust, but verify." We need to remind ourselves, no matter how busy we get, to consume news from more than one source.

The digital revolution can help. Computer chips let us pass news to each other as never before. These days, anyone can be a journalist — in print, sound or video. That's a positive trend. More news is good news. Anyone who wants to stick to fact — to the fair, accurate, contextual pursuit of the truth — helps the cause.

Does this mean our democracy no longer needs professional journalists? Hardly. Giving everyone first-aid kits doesn't make us all doctors. Giving us all printing presses doesn't make us poets. As long as our society governs itself, we will need professionals who independently guide us to the facts we need.

The media will change. Journalism will survive.

But please don't celebrate by rushing out to hug a journalist. That would just scare them. It would be enough if the next time someone is bashing "the media" you simply remind the world's self-appointed media critics that good journalism, like good citizenship, still matters.

— Eric Newton, of Boca Raton, Fla., is director of journalism initiatives at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in Miami. He was a volunteer judge for the recent National Journalism Awards, sponsored by the Scripps Howard Foundation.