June 24, 2015 Last Updated 9:28 am

Charleston’s local paper, The Post and Courier, praised for coverage of shooting, flag debate

Morning Brief: latest NSA documents released by WikiLeaks embarrass French government, leading to a dressing down of the U.S. ambassdor, a political appointee

The independently owned daily newspaper The Post and Courier of Charleston, S.C., is getting high marks for its coverage of the shooting at t Emanuel AME Church, and now its coverage of the debate over the flying of the Confederate flag.

PC-front-400The paper, which can trace its history back to 1803, yesterday called for the state to take down the controversial flag in an editorial.

“It’s time for the Legislature to furl the flag in the spirit of good will and reconciliation,” the paper said, using a term not often seen in print.

“Such an act would be in the spirit of the original compromise, which was approved by lawmakers of good will, black and white, to remove the flag from a position of sovereignty and place it at what was viewed as an appropriate place on the Statehouse grounds.”

Amazingly, the editorial has only drawn a little over 60 comments, possibly due to careful moderation as previous stories on the church killings drew hundreds of comments.

Like most papers, the Post and Courier has seen its circulation decline, though not really as badly as many other papers. In its latest publishers statement, the paper reported a Sunday circulation of 82,047 and a Monday-Saturday circulation of 75,058. A decade ago its Sunday circulation was at 106,061.

The paper, being independent, has no corporate entity that can coordinate its mobile and tablet app strategy. But it has released three apps under its own developer account Evening Post Interactive LLC and has launched a separate app for its poltical coverage called Palmetto Politics.

WikiLeaks has not been in the news much lately, which may explain why it released a series of documents from 2006 until May 2012 involving U.S. spying on France. None of the documents offer much shocking, but the fact that one ally would spy on the other is enough to cause embarrassment.

Today France called in the U.S. ambassador for a dressing down.

Who is the ambassador to France for the U.S.? Jane D. Hartley, a former executive at Group W Cable and Westinghouse Broadcasting who became a campaign bundler for President Obama’s 2012 reelection effort. That effort earned her the nomination to her current post. Such is the importance of position of ambassador to France that it goes to the person who raises money for elections. (Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, was rumored to have been the White House’s first choice for the post.)

France is putting up a stink, but it was already known that the NSA was snooping on its allies, and since the communications divulged here end in 2012 there is really nothing new. So, dressing down the U.S. appears to be all for show.

So, why were these documents leaked now? Possibly to embarrass the French government which last month passed a new surveillance law, one drafted in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo attack. The new bill was widely criticized by civil liberty groups, comparing the new bill to the Patriot Act pass in the U.S. following 9/11. The bill moved through the French Senate earlier this month, though it still must go through a panel of deputies before becoming law, and could come up for review by the Constitutional Court.

Executives at Google, speaking at the Cannes Lions advertising festival, said the company may no longer tolerate Isis and other groups from using its products to spread its message. But for now it has no plans to broadly censor content.

Drummond-Google“The power of community is not lost on Isis and they are using it to great effec,” said David Drummond, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer (at left). “Right now the voice of that community is a lot larger than ours, a lot louder, there’s more out there on the web. When I say ours, I mean all of us, all of us in the room today.”

“Most of us, we want to see less violence in the world,” said Drummond. “We want alternatives. For many, the answer seems to be censorship. Although we take down the worst content from our sites, at Google, given the proliferation of content online we don’t believe that censoring the existence of Isis on Google, YouTube or social media will dampen their impact really. We think there is a better way to combat the hateful rhetoric of Isis, by countering it with reason. Understand it. Standing up to it. Enforced silence is not the answer.”

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