It’s hard to believe, but a recent court ruling essentially allowed our governor to wave a magic wand over public documents and make them private.
Last week, the libertarian Freedom Foundation appealed that Thurston County court ruling, which allowed Gov. Chris Gregoire to withhold public records simply by asserting an executive privilege to do so. The Freedom Foundation filed the lawsuit against Gregoire in April after she refused to turn over documents related to the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other matters.
Executive privilege is not one of the 300 specific exemptions to the state Public Records Act. The act says agencies must release documents unless they fall under one of these exemptions.
The governor’s office said executive privilege is inherent in the state constitution and necessary so she can communicate candidly with her advisers as she makes decisions.
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy agreed, and applied a three-part test to see if the privilege applied.
First, the judge said, the governor must declare that she or her designee “has reviewed each requested document and determined that it falls within the privilege.” Documents must be communications to or from the governor and part of a decision-making process.
Gregoire did that.
Second, the judge said, the requestor must demonstrate a particular interest that outweighs the governor’s. That runs counter to state law, which says requestors don’t have to tell anyone why they want a document. The judge said the Freedom Foundation didn’t demonstrate a greater interest, so she never went to the third step of reviewing the documents herself.
In this case, the governor said the documents are private, so they are.
The appeal goes to the state Supreme Court, which has never ruled directly on executive privilege.
Essentially, the justices would have to weigh what the governor cites as her “inherent” privilege against the rights of the people spelled out in state law: “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.”
We will follow the appeal through the courts.
PRINT MEDIA REMAIN STRONG
To hear some folks tell it, print media are dead. Replaced by the Internet. Soon to be available only on tablet computers.
But new research suggest that’s not the case at all and is likely not to be for years to come. The research comes from Ipsos Mendelsohn, one of the largest advertising and market research firms in the world, and appeared in a recent issue of Advertising Age.
In online interviews with 1,000 affluent adults (those with household incomes exceeding $100,000 a year, chosen because their news consumption choices aren’t generally constrained by income) 93 percent of them still consume magazines in their printed form, and 86 percent still consume newspapers in their printed form, far exceeding the ways new media enable them to get that information – through computers, tablets, e-readers and smartphones.
Less than a third of those surveyed (27 percent) seek information that originated in magazines by looking for it on a computer, and fewer than 10 percent of them seek that information by other means (including smartphones, e-readers and tablet computers).
Those who look for information from newspapers are slightly more willing to experiment with how they get that news. After the 86 percent who choose the printed form, 39 percent consume newspaper information on a computer, and 14 percent consume newspaper news on smartphones, followed by 7 percent who find such news on tablet computers, and 3 percent who use e-readers.
Even when one looks at younger affluent consumers – those between the ages of 18 and 34 – the general trend still holds true. The rate of print to Internet-on-computer use is 88 percent to 35 percent for magazines and 70 percent to 54 percent for newspapers.
While it’s clear that younger consumers are more willing to consume information on alternative platforms, it’s also true that both they and all adults still primarily consume information the way it’s been done since Gutenberg.
Even with a mature Internet, and even when they have nearly limitless choices, people still choose ink-on-paper over pixels-on-a-screen.