Scheer: Taping reporter dumb, not illegal

Attorney and journalist Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the controversy surrounding an attorney general’s spokesman recording Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci has been overblown. Scheer said the undisclosed taping of a phone conversation with a journalist is viewed as sleazy and a breach of journalistic protocol, but it is not necessarily illegal, contrary to the assumptions of many journalists. [More]

Why are j-schools still enrolling students?

Attorney and journalist Peter Scheer (right), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, writes: As I read about the latest contractions in the newsroom of the New York Times (100 reporters and editors) and the San Francisco Chronicle (investigative reporting staff – gone), the question occurs: Why are universities across the country continuing to churn out journalism graduates? Do they know something that the rest of us don’t? Do they have some reason to believe that demand for academically-trained

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Peter Scheer: Allow cameras in the courts

Peter Scheer, executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the California Supreme Court’s hearing yesterday in the Prop 8 case — broadcast live over the internet via streaming video — erased any doubt about the wisdom of allowing cameras into the nation’s courts. “Legitimacy, the most valuable asset of any court, is diminished by judicial secrecy and enhanced by openness,” writes Scheer.

Vallejo bankruptcy shows need for openness

What’s wrong with secret meetings by government leaders when they negotiate labor contracts? Peter Scheer, a lawyer and journalist who heads the California First Amendment Coalition, writes: If no one is watching, it’s easy for public officials to give generous pay and benefit increases without having a clue how to pay for them. That’s not so easy to do in a public session, where voters demand to know how much taxes will have to be raised, and how much other

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CFAC’s Scheer: Unseal the settlement

Journalist and attorney Peter Scheer (pictured), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, says the public has a right to see the settlement documents in Clint Reilly’s anti-trust case against Hearst and MediaNews. In a commentary posted on CFAC’s Web site, Scheer writes: [Reilly’s] suit involved allegations of serious misconduct — fixing prices and dividing up markets — which, if true, caused harm to the public at large, not just to Reilly. A secret settlement in such a “public” case

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Josh Wolf case ‘a huge misunderstanding’

Josh Wolf’s “jailing looks like a huge misunderstanding, in which prosecutors assumed, incorrectly, that Wolf possessed relevant evidence, while Wolf believed, erroneously, that he had a responsibility to go to jail even if he had no relevant evidence,” says Peter Scheer. Scheer (pictured) — a lawyer, journalist and executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition — asks in a Chronicle op-ed whether Wolf’s imprisonment for 7 1/2 months was necessary. The Chron also gave space to Wolf, who argued

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Ask the lawyer about the Balco source

In an open letter to the judges hearing the Balco appeal, Peter Scheer (pictured) of the California First Amendment Coalition has a suggestion: If they want to know who gave Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams a federal grand jury transcript, they should ask the newspaper’s lawyer. Of course the appeals court won’t do that, Scheer points out, because it honors the concept of lawyer-client privilege. So why shouldn’t that concept apply to the relationship between a reporter and

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A proposal that might save newspapers

Peter Scheer (pictured), executive director of the California First Amendment Coalition, has come up with an idea that might save the newspaper business. In a commentary posted on the CFAC Web site, he suggests that newspapers keep news stories off of their free Web sites for 24 hours in order to make their print (and paid Web) editions more valuable. A few years ago, newspaper executives who were trying to develop their Web sites might have scoffed at such an

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