From the opening statement of Micheal Bugeja:
We have a telling array of evidence in the selection of our speakers. We had invited Nigel Duara of the Associated Press to be here tonight; but I advised him not to after his wire service expressed concern that he may exercise free speech and voice opinion. For instance, he might have mentioned that some newspapers here in Iowa are contemplating eliminating the AP because they can no longer afford it.
Nigel’s absence testifies to the title of this panel discussion: “Can there be freedom of the press without a press?”
Perhaps the AP should host its own panel discussion. I would title it: “Can there be an Associated Press as long as there is Google?” In 2004, I urged the AP to sue Google because it was distributing its content for free-an aspect of Internet that has destroyed journalism as we knew it.
Keep the word “free” in mind and see how, if at all, the Internet has changed the meaning of that word.
Internet is not the devil in this discussion. Google is. Internet is the hell where Google resides. Rather than sue the devil, as I have been advocating for years, the Associated Press has other plans for the dominant search engine, according to Business Week, which reports:
The AP plans to build an online destination where it hopes Web users can easily find and read its news stories and those of other content creators. When it comes to compiling online news, the AP wants to out-Google Google. The Web search giant “has a wacky algorithm” for collecting news stories, AP Chief Executive Tom Curley says in an interview. “It does not lead people to authoritative sources.”
Google does not lead people to authoritative sources? Here’s a flash for the AP: Your brainstorm happened five years too late.
From Steve Buttry’s answer:
I’ll start with a couple requests. If you have a cell phone, please get it out and hold it up. Now, if you have used that phone today to send or receive written communication or images, whether by text message, email or web, please open or activate your phone so that the screen lights up. Now wave that phone and look around you. (Nearly everyone in the crowd, mostly students, waved a glowing phone.)
This is the future of freedom of the press. It is healthy, it is thriving and it will not be stopped, even if the companies that own printing presses can’t find their way to a prosperous future. The light of freedom shines as bright as those lights we see throughout this auditorium.
My parents taught me to be a polite guest, so part of me wants to thank Dr. Bugeja for his hospitality and to nod politely at his remarks. But a panel discussion without disagreement would be dull indeed, so I will be a polite guest and help my host present a lively discussion by disagreeing with nearly everything he just said.
Google is not the devil, the Internet is not hell and neither one is a threat to freedom of the press.
Print is far from dead, but if newspapers die because we failed to develop a new business model, I am confident that our First Amendment freedoms will carry on in digital communication.