Chip Shots: 1st Amendment & Social Media Blocks

Well the last week has been interesting, hasn’t it? Not since the Blue Dress has the media twisted itself in so many knots trying to figure out how to report a political story without sanitizing the coverage in such a way that it hid the real news value.

It was certainly fascinating to watch.

Not everything was about West Wing Intrigue, though. Plenty of useful information for communicators and public affairs pros out there. So let’s get on with it.


  • A federal judge in Virginia ruled that a county government official acted improperly in blocking a constituent from her Facebook page. The decision has implications for government officials nationwide, though the complete ruling does not appear to be a blanket protection for constituents to post any comment that they want, no matter how offensive or abusive.


  • The Trump Era has been a business benefit for The New York Times. Subscribers are up in the wake of the election — and they’re sticking around. The latest trend suggests that their digital audience is becoming more international, more female, and younger. More NYT digital data here.
  • Speaking of the New York Times, they had to decide how to handle the colorful language employed by Anthony Scaramucci. The Atlantic went behind the scenes at the paper to explore how they decided to publish the unvarnished language.
  • High Times is going public. I remember as a young Capitol Hill staffer laughing about High Times and NORML. How times have changed. Now the pot pub is set to trade on the public stock market.
  • Facebook says it wants to help newspapers sell subscriptions — and isn’t looking to take a cut of the sales. It seems to be part of the social network’s ongoing effort to suck publishers into their platform. Despite this seemingly benevolent posture, media outlets still need to be cautious about allowing their audiences to become wed to a platform rather than the publication itself.



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