Friday, November 30, 2007

Censorship on farm, under power lines

Two dispatches from the Society of Environmental Journalists' Watchdog Tipsheet show how censorship can take different forms -- and that Americans must remain vigilant to protect their rights, First Amendment or beyond.

"Publishing the origin of 4th-of-July hamburgers could land anyone — including newspaper publishers and consumer activists — in jail for up to 10 years if the animal feeding industry succeeds in getting a little-noticed amendment enacted into law," SEJ writes. "Citing the location of a large feedlot would likewise be a crime, even when the smell of the lot offended people a mile away and federal law requires disclosure of its address under the Clean Water Act."

That issue stems from lobbyists such as the Farm Bureau trying to influence the Farm Bill to prevent disclosure of facts related to agribusiness.

"The Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) and six other journalism groups urged Senators in a Nov. 7, 2007, letter to strike the secrecy language. Joining SEJ were the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the National Press Foundation, and UNITY: Journalists of Color," SEJ reported. "Other journalism groups lobbied behind the scenes for removal of the language.

Elsewhere, a university art professor from Washington was detained by police after she took photographs of power lines, and is suing local officials with help from the American Civil Liberties Union.

"We don't think an art professor should get frisked, handcuffed and put in the back of a squad car for taking photographs on public property in plain sight," ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said. "As an artist and as a teacher, she doesn't want other people who are taking photos of landscapes and other things to be hassled and detained by law enforcement."

For the Associated Press news story on the latter, check out

For the former story on secrecy on the farm, check out

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

IHSA bans photogs from state tourney

Press photographers from daily newspapers in Bloomington, Peoria, Springfield and two Chicago suburbs were banned from covering Illinois' two-day, eight-game high school football championship games in Urbana last weekend by the Illinois High School Association.

IHSA officials said that the papers had violated the IHSA's policy on secondary sales of images from state tournament events, and therefore were not given access to the field.

IHSA executive director Marty Hickman said, "While the Illinois Press Association has indicated its willingness to compromise on this matter, its actions have spoken much louder than its words. We asked the IPA [Illinois Press Association] to have its members refrain from selling photos of our events while we continued to work to resolve this issue. We presented the IPA with a proposal nearly two weeks ago and they have yet to respond."

Some professional photojournalists say a boycott of IHSA sporting events might influence state associations who seek to control the conditions that newspapers agree to in order to receive credentials, including secondary use of newspapers' own images and print sales.

For a complete story from the National Press Photographers Association, go to

Monday, November 26, 2007

'Environmental Journalism' 5 weekends in Quads

Register now for a new course just added to the Spring schedule for WIU/Quad Cities: Environmental Journalism.

Offered as Journalism 400/Topics, the 3-credit-hour class is scheduled to meet on five weekends -- 5:30-8 p.m. Fridays and 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays – Feb. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, plus March 7-8 and April 4-5.

Whether you want a 400-level elective, a course about a vital topic, or something to count toward a Journalism major or minor, Environmental Journalism could fit.

Team-taught by WIU professor Bill Knight, who writes for GateHouse Media newspapers, and Mark Ridolfi, editorial-page editor at the Quad City Times, Environmental Journalism will be a lecture/seminar format, with special guests, relevant videos, and field trips to a Superfund waste disposal site, a Mississippi River eagle count, and a wind farm.

It will require one inexpensive textbook, one journalistic or academic project, an objective midterm, an essay final exam, and will permit students to post online informal stories they write.

Star# 33968.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

‘Running Dry’ Documentarian to Speak (Nov. 28)

Veteran writer, producer and director James Thebaut will present his documentary, “Running Dry,” followed by a discussion, at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28 in the University Union Grand Ballroom on the WIU-Macomb campus as part of the University Theme “Global Challenges and Personal Responsibility–Environmental Sustainability” 2007-2008 Speaker Series.

Thebaut’s presentation is open free to the public.

Thebaut recently wrote, produced and directed “Running Dry,” a documentary feature inspired by the late Sen. Paul Simon’s book, “Tapped Out.” The film is a global call to action regarding the evolving world water humanitarian crisis. Thebaut directed crews in China, Israel, Palestine and Jordan, South Africa, India and the American Southwest in order to visualize the depth of the crisis. He also conducted on-camera interviews with Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres and many other prominent individuals worldwide. The documentary is narrated by Jane Seymour.

He is also the writer, producer, director and co-executive producer of the documentary feature “The Cold War and Beyond,” the story of the arms race during the 50 years of The Cold War and its legacy on today’s world.

Currently, Thebaut is developing “The Dirty Little Secret,” a documentary on the sexual abuse of female children.

Throughout his career, Thebaut has written, produced and directed an array of prominent socially significant productions including his highly rated and acclaimed Cable Ace Award-nominated 1992 America Undercover documentary for HBO, “The Iceman Tapes - Conversations with a Killer.” He conducted an on-camera interview with Richard Kuklinski (The Iceman) for 17 hours in Trenton State Prison.

He has also produced for A&E “Bad Cops” and “Execution at Midnight” and was the executive producer for the CBS television dramatic special “A Deadly Business,” starring Alan Arkin and Armand Assante, which exposed organized crime’s involvement in the toxic waste business.

Thebaut also produced a one-hour documentary for ABC News Turning Point on New York City police corruption. Because of his work on police corruption documentaries, Thebaut has been called on to lecture at the FBI academy in Quantico, VA.

Thebaut earned degrees from the University of Washington, UCLA and San Francisco State University. A member of the International Documentary Association, he has been affiliated with Lorimar Productions, Carson Productions, Taft Entertainment, Lightyear Entertainment, Home Box Office, ABC News, The Arts and Entertainment Network and CBS.

(From WIU's Campus Connection newsletter, Nov. 16, 2007)