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Committed to the First Amendment 1/05/2003 07:00:00 PM Eastern

Is It Too Late for Our Wish List?

In thinking about what we would like to see in 2003, it wasn't difficult to come with a long list. But we will settle for just five today, knowing that we have 100 more editorials to craft this year, 100 more opportunities to importune for this or that.

1) Resolution of the many media-ownership issues before the FCC. The collective chorus of foot-tapping and finger-drumming from the industry and the courts grows. Some rules need jettisoning—bans on newspaper-broadcast crossownership and small market duopolies spring to mind—others modifying, but either way, the industry needs some guidance on what it can and cannot do going forward.

2) Either the TV audience has to move into the local Best Buy or more HDTV sets need to find their way into the nation's living rooms. Consumer equipment folks say HDTV-set buying is growing steadily, retail displays impress, but we will believe it only when we see more HDTV sets in the homes of people we actually know, even slightly. It's immaterial which side is Mohammed and which the mountain; someone's got to move (see Wish No. 3).

3) Copy protection, copy protection, copy protection. Whether it is the broadcast flag, the Hollywood padlock or something in between, the DTV goods will not flow freely until a certain peace-of-mind threshold is reached. We know a solution is in there somewhere. If we can send a man to the moon, let's send two—Gary Shapiro and Jack Valenti. Keep 'em there until they can come to a meeting of two pretty impressive minds.

4) A better economy, so fewer companies lay people off to boost short-term numbers and make the CEO-of-the-month look better at the expense of the long-term health of the company.

5) Next year at this time, we want no reasons to write an editorial like the one below.

Killing the Messengers

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 13 members of the press were confirmed killed in the line of duty worldwide in 2002. Another 12 were killed under suspicious circumstances, with investigations still underway. While each death is a tragedy, the sum is a sharp drop from the casualty toll in 2001—37 confirmed and 15 suspected journalism-related deaths.

The 2002 honor roll includes investigative reporter Tim Lopes of TV Globo, Brazil; cameraman Hector Sandoval, of RCN Television, Colombia; Roddy Scott, a freelancer for British TV's Frontline; and Wall Street Journal
correspondent Daniel Pearl.

The issue of journalists in harm's way captured center stage with the Pearl case, as the world followed his kidnapping by Pakistani extremists and his eventual horrific execution, made public in a videotape.

The irony, of course, is that Pearl, regarded as a balanced chronicler of the many competing factions in the region, was murdered in the act of trying to give a voice to the issues and concerns of his killers.

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