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How a weekly newspaper in Oregon shined a light on government secrecy

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Facebook has launched a new type of news feed for select users. The new feed is accessible through a “rocket ship” icon in the facebook app on mobile devices. The rocket’s sudden arrival is good news for publishers and may indicate a new willingness by the social network giant to work with media companies.

This new feed allows users to see updates from pages they may be interested in, but have not yet interacted with based on their current page likes. While this is good news for all publishers, it will be particularly helpful to small publishers who don’t have the budget to take advantage of Facebook’s “boost post” feature.

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The Malheur Enterprise is a small, family-run weekly newspaper serving Malheur County Oregon. Malheur County is the poorest county in Oregon according to U.S. Census results, with 21 percent of its residents living in poverty. The county isn’t even in the same timezone as the rest of the state.

Earlier this year, the Enterprise filed an open records request to the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board regarding 15 unreleased documents relating to Anthony W. Montwheeler, an accused murderer whom the board said had been faking a mental illness to avoid prison for kidnapping his wife and son in 1996. Montwheeler was released from the board’s jurisdiction. In January, he was arrested for kidnapping and stabbing his ex-wife before causing a car accident that killed his ex-wife, David Bates and injuring Bates’ wife, Jessica.

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Is it time for newspapers to say goodbye to their opinion sections? I’ve always been a defender of the opinion page for its tradition of unsigned editorials that motivate societal change, and for its ability to create a forum to discuss a wide array of differing viewpoints through columns and letters to the editor. But I’m also not blind to the fact that today’s newspaper readers in large numbers don’t seem to “get it.”

Readers don’t have the same relationship with newspapers as they once did. Readers aren’t looking to newspapers to be the forum of cutting-edge thought and discourse anymore.

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Last week, a story broke revealing that Mike Pence used his private AOL email to conduct government business while he was Governor of Indiana.

As would be expected with a story of this nature, it became one of the top stories on cable news for a couple of days. For most Americans, that is where most news stories originate — which is sad considering that the cable news formula consists of seconds of reporting followed by an hour of punditry.

If you are someone who gets the bulk of their news from television, you may be shocked to learn that CNN and Fox news don’t break most of the stories they report.

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I’ve spent the last few days pondering what to write about Friday’s chapter in the continued saga between the White House and the press. To be honest, I am still baffled by the whole thing, so this post will probably be raw and unpolished.

To recap, during his address at CPAC, President Trump reiterated his claim that the media is the enemy of the American people. Hours later, his press secretary Sean Spicer put his stamp on that claim by excluding CNN, The New York Times and Politico from an informal press gaggle.

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In a tweet Friday night, President Donald Trump referred to the media as “the enemy of the American people.” As expected, journalists did not take kindly to this allegation, viewing it as dangerous and unprecedented.

Famed White House correspondent Helen Thomas once said “All presidents rail against the press. It goes with the turf,” and while Trump’s words may be among the harshest and most frequent, he is far from the only president to lash out at the media.

While Richard Nixon is the only other U.S. President to refer to the press as “the enemy,” others have had plenty to say about the role of the press of their day or a free press in society. Some have cast the press in a positive light and others in a negative light. Thomas Jefferson, did both. Here are 45 quotes from presidents about the press:

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In an interview with Kellyanne Conway today, Jake Tapper sparred with one of Donald Trump’s key advisers for 25 minutes over the administration’s strained relationship with the media and the facts. The full interview is a clinic for journalists on how to respond to government officials, bureaucrats and PR professionals who try to spin their way around the issues or the questions being asked. The full video is below, followed by a few take-aways that can help journalists at all levels deal with difficult sources.

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White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer left the White House press corps shell-shocked after his first press briefing. The new Trump administration spokesman roared into the briefing room on a mission to rebut reports that the crowd size for President Trump’s inauguration may have been smaller than the crowd for President Obama’s. During his tirade, Spicer cited grass coverings that he claimed were used for the first time at Trump’s inauguration and D.C. Metro numbers showing higher turnout. Both arguments were easily refuted by the press shortly after the impromptu press briefing concluded. When the briefing concluded, Spicer refused to take questions from the press pool. While the briefing itself was unexpected, it did give us a glimpse into what journalists can now expect when covering the Trump Administration.

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