LA Times Drops Filters

Stephen Yagielowicz
I normally don’t pay too much attention to the inner-workings of newspapers, but I received an email today that touched upon an area that I am interested in: the politics of Internet filtering in the home, school and workplace.

Ostensibly an internal memo to LA Times employees from Sam Zell, the newspaper’s new owner, the email, titled “Censorship, the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate” discussed Zell’s views on filtering in computers used in the newsroom:

“I learned on the first leg of our tour of Tribune's business units that some of them were filtering Internet content. I do not see how a member of the Fourth Estate, dedicated to protecting the First Amendment, can censor what its own employees and partners can see. I have instructed that all content filters be removed. You are now exposed to the dangers of You Tube and Facebook. Please use your best judgment. Let's focus on what is important, and go for greatness.”

While I personally support the intelligent use of filtering, I found Zell’s statement to be a powerful message in favor of personal responsibility within the workplace and I wanted to share it with you.

It also serves as an illustration of the struggle that many companies face while developing practical policies that meet their specific needs – and how the question of Internet content filtering isn’t yet over for corporate America.

Doubtless the move will make newsgathering much easier; but it will do so at the cost of a little productivity – and perhaps put a few extra dollars in webmaster’s pockets as well.