Media and the City
The right to free speech, as much as to religious freedom, or the right to assembly, is something that we all can hope, as Lincoln did, that it “shall not perish from the Earth,” No?
This is not our idea. I believe this is just everybody’s idea.
Well, I reckon It was in everybody’s mind, but I guess nobody was confident enough —or had the free time, the same thing— to take this simple first step we took in AL DÍA News Media last December the 6th.
With not much fanfare, we kicked it off in our famous conference-room Round Table, newly equipped with high tech mikes and soundproof panels, the conversation that urgently needed to get started in Philadelphia, on precisely the question mark that is in everybody’s mind:
What’s up with “Media and the City”?— taboos aside.
On the grave of our friend Gerry Lenfest, who planted the seed only a few years ago by the creating the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, and the good-faith and very thoughtful friends still alive, like Alberto Ibargüen, President of the Knight Foundation; or those other men, gone long time ago, who wrote before they all left us the political scripture of our nation, beginning with the First Amendment.
On the respect that all of them dictate to our hearts and minds, let’s honor a simple commitment:
To Watch together for the Future of our News Media, which is essentially “public”.
In the sense that it is always anchored by the public’s support, be the tax dollar WHYY receives, or that other half that comes from the credit cards of its loyal subscribers; or, even more simply, the advertising dollars the Inquirer, Phila Mag or AL DIA receives, as for-profit corporations, which come straight from the consumers this advertising is aimed at, be the suburban soccer mother, or the free-spending millennials, or the poor in North Philly, who also spend millions of dollars every single day.
If you follow the money, you will see that almost every single ad dollar placed with news media can be traced back to the consumer’s resilient pocket. I learned that at the Harvard School of Business on a training on Corporate Board Governance.
So, public, private or non-profit (ProPublica comes to mind) we are all, ALL the same, from Billy Penn to Metro Newspaper or the super thicked in advertising weekly Phila Business Journal or Phila Magazine, all depending on the trust of the public, or anchored in each edition on the Public Trust, literally, penny by penny.
On this city of lawyers, let’s honor for once the one from whom the highest honor came to the legal profession, a profession always close to the profession St. Augustin called 500 years ago the “Vendors of Words” craft, indeed the profession of journalism (mass media came after), made such in the U.S. roughly only 100 years ago, in 1908, with the founding of the Missouri School of Journalism, one of the first in American soil.
I am talking about a very little known lawyer among today’s new generation, and probably forgotten among the old:
Andrew Hamilton, a local lawyer best known for his legal victory on behalf of printer and newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger, in the year 1735.
This almost 300 years ago, folks, and we must not hesitate to apply this ‘ancient technology’ to our quandaries of today in our media, in our city, indeed in our State and in our this great Nation of ours.
But even more clearly, as was stated by the President of University of Pennsylvania, Amy Gutmann, last Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “When you lead the University of Pennsylvania...open expression is not some abstraction. It is the bedrock of all that we do.”
It was Andrew Hamilton who gave us the foundation for that simple principle, later enacted in our Bill of Rights, and reinforced by multiple decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, that established in America, for the first time in the History of the Western Civilization, the simple idea that truth is a defense to an accusation of libel.
AL DIA, accused of libel and defamation a few years ago by a known Philadelphia lawyer, and summarily defeated in a totally unfair court decision we decided not to contest (we had enough of it, I guess), was given the highest privilege of any media company:
To test whether that simple principle —that the people (both Jews and Gentiles) have a right to free speech, as much as to religious freedom, or right to assembly on political grievances—, as Lincoln put it, speaking of the nation’s whole moral and legal foundation in his memorable Gettysburg Address:
That a nation, so conceived, “shall not, must not, perish from the Earth...”
Merry Christmas to all, ALL really, including those who may agree to disagree with this passing thought on the eve of the 3 religions Holidays.
Have a Wonderful and Safe Holidays with your Family and Friends.
You ALL deserve it!
Happy New Year 2019!!
¡¡¡ Feliz Año 2019 !!!