ABC News: Palin Fears Media Threaten Her First Amendment Rights. “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

One might hope that she has more of a clue about the rest of the Constitution than this nuttiness. One might be disappointed, too.

Traditional journalists, and traditional journalism educators, remain pretty suspicious of blogging in lots of places. But if what I heard in two days of conferencing in Athens and Thessaloniki (the latter is Greece’s second-largest city) is an indication of the overall situation, there’s a larger-than-usual gulf between older and newer media in the land where inquiry and reason helped shape Western culture.

The problems people see with blogging and other conversational/social media were high on other speakers’ topic lists. In particular, worries about anonymous (or pseudonymous) online attacks came up again and again.

It’s a real issue. But it’s part of the larger issue of how we help consumers of news and information be better at separating what’s reliable and what isn’t. Here’s a slide I showed in my talk:

Slide about anonymous speechThe point is that while anonymity is a vital tool to preserve, we should strongly encourage people to stand behind their own words. And, crucially, we should have a default position when we see anonymous speech: Don’t trust it.

In fact, when it comes to anonymous or pseudonymous personal attacks, the default position should be to actively disbelieve what we’ve read or heard. We should not give the cowards who post such things any slack at all. There are exceptions, but rare ones.

Like students everywhere, the ones I met at Aristotle University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication were bright and eager to figure out their future. They are heading into a journalism market dominated by what sounds to me like something of a cartel at the pro-journalism level. But Greece isn’t immune from economic realities, and it’s a reasonable bet that what’s happening to Greek media companies will look, in the end, like what’s happening in the U.S.

So, as I told them, I hope they’ll consider inventing their own jobs.

Craig Wherlock, a Brit teaching English in Greece, blogged about the day in Thessaloniki here. He points to other coverage, mostly in Greek:

Τα ΓΙΑΤΙ και τα ΔΙΟΤΙ των ΗΜΕΡΙΔΩΝ και των ΣΥΝΕΔΡΙΩΝ
Ανέκδοτο περί συνεδρίου συμμετοχικής δημοσιογραφίας
Όταν τα παραδοσιακά μέσα κάνουν έφοδο στα νέα…
Συνέδριο; Δημοσιογραφία;
Συμμετοχική Δημοσιογραφία: Blog και Νέα Μέσα
Δημοσιογραφία και πολίτες ΙI ή ένα συνέδριο γι’ αυτά
Livestreaming από τη διημερίδα
What is journalism?
Λα-λα Λόλα να ένα blog
New Media Conference συμπεράσματα
Social Media Tales: ένα συνέδριο κι η σφαγή των αμάχων
Οι δικές μου εντυπώσεις από τη “διημερίδα”

Off topic: I was lucky enough to visit the royal tombs in Vergina, not far from Thessaloniki. The director of the museum there gave several of us a private tour (including a look — no photos allowed — at Philip II’s bones) of a site that makes the word “history” come truly into focus.

I can’t wait to go back for a longer visit.

The NY Times’ Joe Nocera, asks, “Shouldn’t We Rescue Housing?

Yes, there were lots of Americans who were not greedy or foolish during the housing bubble, and many resent the idea that their neighbors might get a bailout they don’t deserve. They need to get over themselves. If housing prices keep falling, many millions of additional homeowners will find themselves, through no fault of their own, with underwater mortgages. Besides, foreclosures damage property values for everyone, not just those losing their homes.

Through no fault of their own? Let’s unpack this.

If you borrowed to buy a house in one of the rapidly inflating markets during the past few years, you were playing the bubble game, too.

If you borrowed against the value of the house for a second mortgage for any reason at all, you were playing the bubble game.

If you are a long-term owner and were counting on the appreciation to finance your retirement or your bail-out to a place where homes were more affordable, you were playing the bubble.

His plan, which many others have floated in recent days, is designed to put our kids on the hook for the prolificacy of people who were encouraged to be spendthrifts. But it’s a direct slap in the face to a huge group of other people.

If you are a renter who didn’t jump into the market because you understood that to do so would be reckless, you are, in Nocera’s world, a dupe. You’ve been overpaying for your rent due to inflated home values, and while you waited for sanity to return so you might be able to afford to borrow to buy a home, you now learn that you’re still out of luck.

This plan would freeze in place a system that encouraged greed, and penalize those of us who waited for markets to become more sane. It turns out that being responsible in this insane nation is to be naive. That message will penetrate throughout the culture as the scope of all these bailouts — which exempt people who did the right thing — becomes clear.

Patrick Leahy, Democratic senator from Vermont, complains that he and his colleagues have been “Kept in the Dark” by the Bush administration on torture. Well, no kidding. Congress has served mostly as a doormat in the past 8 years.

What will Leahy do about this latest administration insult? A safe prediction is nothing — these lawmakers still haven’t recovered their spines.

Picture 35The RealDVD home page features the unsurprising news that the entertainment cartel has persuades a judge to block sales of RealNetworks’ incredibly lame software that lets you — after jumping through absurd hoops — make copies of DVDs on your hard disk so you can watch them later. Apparently, Hollywood figures that this is another victory in the War on Doing Things that the Cartel Doesn’t Want You to Do with the music and movies you buy.

Had the movie studio bosses given this any nuanced thought, they would have celebrated Real’s achievement, which is mainly to make it so annoying to make these copies that consumers who try will figure it’s just not worth the trouble. Instead, Hollywood has simply taken away even that avenue, and encouraged people to look for software that does a better job.

Software like Handbrake, for example, which gives computer users an easy way to compress DVDs to play back on laptops, iPhones and other such devices.

NY Times: Apple Denies ‘Citizen Journalist Report’. Apple’s stock took a brief roller coaster ride this morning after a CNN “citizen journalist” wrote that an “insider” reported that Steve Jobs had been rushed to the hospital with chest pains.

Aha! Those infernal citizen journalists are ruining the world!

Calm down. CNN got used. Maybe it was an innocent mistake. Quite possibly, however, this was the work of someone whose intention was to briefly torpedo the Apple share price. If so, there’s a high probability that this person will be caught and, one hopes, punished.

But it isn’t the first time something like this has happened. False reports have been posted to public-relations wires, including the famous Emulex case many years ago when a fraudster — who was caught and punished — pulled just this kind of stunt.

I don’t know too many details about CNN’s iReport internal systems, but I do know that CNN has been running this kind of risk for some time. The labeling of the site has never been, in my view, sufficiently careful to shout at readers that they should not take for granted that anything they see is necessarily true — or that readers who might make any kind of personal or financial decision based on what they see on the site are idiots.

This is precisely the same warning that should (but doesn’t) come with comment boards on major newspaper websites. But you have to believe that no one with a shred of common sense takes the random ranting below, say, a Washington Post article as anything terribly serious.

The “story” quickly moved to financial and tech blogs and traditional media, which probably compounded the damage by giving the report more play. I was on a plane while all this was happening, so all I’m seeing is updated coverage.

The shareholders who panicked are fools. Not the first time. Maybe when enough people get burned after believing things they should ignore, we’ll all recognize that we have to be skeptical of everything — but not equally skeptical of everything.

Media literacy is scarily far behind the curve in a digital-media-saturated world.