Is Josh Wolf, one-time martyr for journalistic integrity, setting himself up for corporate censorship?
Just weeks after Josh Wolf finished spending 226 days in prison protecting his journalistic work product, he's signed a contract allowing a single corporate sponsor to censor a new blog he’ll write, in event the sponsor finds his contributions objectionable.
Wolf, you’ll recall, filmed a Mission District G-8 protest two years ago, and was subpoenaed by a grand jury to hand over his tapes in connection with an inquiry into the injury of a police officer. He refused, and was jailed for contempt. He was released from a Dublin detention facility April 3, after agreeing to post all his video recordings of the protest onto the Internet.
Wolf was a fortunate ex-con. Not long after tasting freedom, he got a paying gig. Wolf has inked a for-pay blogging contract with a single as yet unnamed corporate sponsor, with the blog Media Sphere scheduled to go live June 12.
Wolf will be the sole contributor, writing about issues relating to the flap that brought him fame. Items he's pondering include opinions about citizen journalism and corporate control, and thoughts on Michael Moore getting in trouble for going to Cuba, Wolf says.
The sponsor is "a big tech company. If you guess which one, you'll probably get it right," Wolf said, explaining that his new contract’s terms don’t make him an employee of the corporation, but do allow the sponsor to censor any material it deems objectionable.
Wolf’s new arrangement is different than a journalist being edited by an magazine or newspaper editor. His arrangement is more along the lines of early television, where shows had a single sponsor, and had a free hand dictating content, such as requiring characters to smoke Chesterfield cigarettes.
Josh doesn’t expect the censorious contract language he signed to create a censorship problem.
“At this point I’m not concerned about it. I don’t anticipate it happening. I think they know that if I’m willing to go to jail over protecting my work product, that I’m also probably willing to lose a contract to protect my integrity as well,” Wolf said. --Matt Smith