• Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 2,446 other followers

  • Become a Fan


  • Archives

  • Proposed Bill possible threat to Pagan news

    In a proposed amendment to a media shield law being considered by the Senate,  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and  Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il)  appear to define journalists in a way which excludes non-traditional journalists including most Pagan media and journalists. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the amendment, which was written in coordination with traditional news organizations, by a 13-5 vote. It was then sent to the Senate floor where it is expected to pass. It’s fate in the House is less certain.

    The Bill, S. 987: Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, seeks to provide reporters with a limited right to refuse to testify on information gathered or to be forced to reveal sources. The House Bill defines a journalist as someone who “for financial gain or livelihood, is engaged in journalism” while originally the Senate version had a looser definition.  The proposed amendment by Sen. Feinstein and Sen. Durbin requires journalists to meet at least one of these three additional criteria:

    1. working as a “salaried employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information;”
    2. either (a) meeting the prior definition “for any continuous three-month period within the two years prior to the relevant date” or (b) having “substantially contributed, as an author, editor, photographer, or producer, to a significant number of articles, stories, programs, or publications by an entity . . . within two years prior to the relevant date;” or
    3. working as a student journalist “participating in a journalistic publication at an institution of higher education.”

    Requiring that an individual is “salaried”or under a financial contract is problematic for Pagan news organizations as most reporters and contributors are volunteers or are not employed in journalism as their primary source of income. All PNC-News reporters, editors, and contributors are not paid. The Wild Hunt pays its contributors, but it’s a modest amount that could not be considered earning a “livelihood.”

    The second criteria is also a difficult hurdle for Pagan journalists.  The amendment is vague on what comprises an “entity” that reporters need to send their work in to and what a “significant number of articles” within a two year time table means. It’s not clear if Pagan news outlets would be considered an “entity” under this amendment.

    PNC-Minnesota Webmaster and Researcher Heather Biedermann said, “Even if we paid our staff, who in the government decides what is an approved media outlet? To me, this seems like a thinly-veiled attempt to put in place a “government-friendly” group of approved news reporters who are handpicked by some unknown agency to spread their own spin on the news. It also is a backhanded way of discrediting the growing grass-roots news media that we are seeing all around the world. Not only does it discredit, but it also endangers news sites like PNC. Who is to say that this isn’t the beginning of finding ways to limit free speech in general?”

    The effects of the proposed Bill could strip away protections independent news organizations have been slowly gaining on the state level. In November of 2010, PNC-Minnesota published an article relating a rape survivors experience while undergoing an enhanced search by TSA agents.  The article quickly went viral and was republished or linked to by traditional news sources. PNC-Minnesota received a request from the TSA to reveal our source for the article. We refused, citing Minnesota’s shield law and the traditional protections afforded members of the press and backed by the First Amendment of the United States. There was no response from the TSA.

    Supporters of the Bill say it is a good compromise between protecting national security against leaks and protecting the rights of a free press, “I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” said  Sen. Feinstein.

    Bloggers, alternative media, and civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have criticized the Bill as creating two classes of reporters, the traditional media licensed by the government, and everyone else.  In an article on the proposed Bill, Morgan Weiland of EFF wrote, “The requirement of doing journalism for money and on a consistent basis, coupled with the suggestion that such activities happen within a larger journalistic organization, paints a picture of a New York Times correspondent—and arguably excludes bloggers, freelancers, and other non-salaried individuals who practice the craft of journalism and need the most protection.”

    PNC-News Editor in Chief and Founder and Editor of the Wild Hunt Jason Pitzl-Waters had this to say about the legislation, “Author and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis has said that ‘there are no journalists, there is only the service of journalism,’ a sentiment that I would broadly agree with. There are those who make their living reporting and investigating the news, but our history is full of individuals who, in key moments, rose up to document important events, to give voices to voiceless communities, or to expose hidden wrongs. Any protections for journalists that do no protect grass-roots manifestations of the service of journalism are not only flawed, but chilling. Would Dorothy Day’s Catholic Worker be covered under these provisions? Would Gandhi’s newsletters advocating for an independent India? The farther down the road we travel into creating hurdles to legal protections, the more we damage the service, in essence dictating who is a ‘real’ journalist. The heart of journalism is a radical heart, because it creates an informed community, these guidelines can only hinder journalism’s purpose.”

    GOP Presidential candidate impresses with pro-Pagan stance

    If you are a fiscal liberal and wish for more governmental intervention in your daily life, then GOP Presidential hopeful Johnson is not the candidate for you.  If, however, you are like most Americans and are looking for a President who leans more socially liberal/fiscally conservative you may want to give Johnson a further look.  Couple this view with an unabashed pro-Pagan, pro-human rights outlook and clear openness to alternative views on a whole host of issues and you may have as close to an ideal candidate for President as the Pagan community has yet seen.

    Last night’s video conference between Gov. Johnson and Pagan and Hindu media was unusual and groundbreaking.  Unlike most every other candidate for political office at any level, Johnson not only agreed to speak publicly with Pagans, he promoted the event openly on his official Google+ page.   In talking with other Pagan media after the conference, many of us related personal experiences with politicians, even those sympathetic to us in private, who refuse to be seen speaking with us in public.   They don’t want an association with ‘people like us’ to damage their credibility and truth to tell, they don’t care enough about our concerns to address them.  This was not the case with Johnson.  During the interview he showed no discomfort addressing issues specific to our community and never flinched from saying the word Pagan.  An example of how supportive Gov. Johnson is to Pagan rights, and basic human rights, can be summed up in a message he had for Pagans and Wiccans serving in the US military,“It should be about equality, it’s not, and I appreciate their service  even though you are not being treated equally.”

    It could be easy to dismiss Johnson’s decision in speaking with Pagans while seeking election as the actions of an unknown candidate low in the polls, but that would miss the mark.  Johnson is a successful two-term Governor of New Mexico and is the only GOP candidate who scores positive approval ratings in his home state.  He is not a ‘nothing’ candidate, but a qualified candidate with executive level experience.  What has hampered his candidacy is the mainstream medias’ inexplicable exclusion of Johnson from televised debates.  They have set up criteria that bars Johnson’s inclusion in the debates, a candidate must reach 2% in their polls, but ensures he can never meet that bar by excluding him as an option in their polls.  This sets up a scenario where Johnson is a longshot for the GOP nomination, unless people vote for him in the GOP primaries.  So while we finally have a Presidential candidate who is willing to listen to Pagans and supports us on many issues important to our community, we may never have the opportunity to vote for him.  What makes it even more bittersweet for some Pagans is that such an outspoken candidate for Pagan rights is running on the Republican ticket, not Democratic.

    Click HERE to watch the video conference with Gov. Johnson courtesy of KeithBarrett.tv.

    A full transcript is available at the Staff of Asclepius blog.

    The hour and a half interview covered a wide range of questions about GLBT rights, Pagan military chaplains, raw milk, teaching yoga in schools, TSA and the Patriot Act, economic, and environmental concerns.  Many of the questions were submitted by Pagan community leaders like Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and by your average Pagan on the street.    Below are just a few of the highlights from the hour and half Q&A with Gov. Johnson, but I strongly encourage everyone to view the entire interview.

    Cara Schulz, PMC-MN:  It is commonly thought in the Pagan community that Republican candidates are hostile to minority religions such as ours.  What message would you like to get across to Pagan voters about how you would represent them if elected president?

    Johnson:  There should be a separation of church and state.  I happen to think the world looks down on Republicans for their social conservative views which include religion in government.

    Continue reading

    Local Celebration of International Pagan Coming Out Day

    From a formal High Tea to a rally on the White House lawn, Pagans across the globe are celebrating Pagan Coming Out Day on May 2nd with local events and rituals.  The Twin Cities celebration includes cocktails, desserts, and the screening of American Mystic – a movie that the Wild Hunt called “the best documentary involving modern Pagans that this generation has seen.”

    The event takes place May 2nd at the Sacred Paths Center and is open to all Pagans and Pagan allies, no matter if you have been ‘out’ for ages or are not yet able to be open about your Pagan spirituality.  It directly follows the usual Monday night Pagan Potluck and the event is offered as a free gift to the community.  An opening Hellenic-style libation to Hestia, a Goddess that strengthens the bonds of family and community,  kicks off the evening, with champagne cocktails, non-alcoholic drinks and desserts to follow.  Once everyone has their treats, the movie American Mystic will be screened for the first time in the Twin Cities area.  The documentary opened at Pantheacon to rave reviews. More about the movie below.

    Pagan Coming Out Day Twin Cities
    May 2nd – Sacred Paths Center
    7pm to 9pm

    Pagan Coming Out Day is an international movement created to be complimentary to Pagan Pride events. It’s a day when individuals, deciding on their own terms, stop actively hiding their religious identity to someone in their life. It’s also a day when our religious community comes together to support those coming out to a person or group and celebrates the more public emergence of their Pagan identity.   The not-for-profit organization behind Pagan Coming Out Day says they are “working to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community.” To learn more about Pagan Coming Out Day you can go to their website or friend them on facebook.

    Chuck, a Lakota sundancer in the badlands of South Dakota

    Morpheus, a Pagan priestess in southern California

    Kublai, a Spiritualist in upstate New York

    AMERICAN MYSTIC is a documentary about three twenty-somethings, each a member of a fringe religious community, who have separated themselves from mainstream America in order to live immersed in their faiths. Kublai, a Spiritualist in the former revivalist district of upstate New York; Chuck, a Lakota sundancer in the badlands of South Dakota; and Morpheus, a Pagan priestess living off the grid in old mining country in southern California. Rather than an analytical, journalistic approach, AMERICAN MYSTIC takes a personal, visually lush approach, immersing the viewer in the subjects’ experience of their controversial faiths through their own words and worship.

    Editor’s note:  Cara Schulz, editor at PNC-Minnesota, Chairs the Executive Committee of International Pagan Coming Out Day.  Jason Pitzl-Waters, Project Coordinator of PNC and author of the The Wild Hunt, also serves on the Executive Committee.

    PNC Goes International

    The Pagan Newswire Collective, which PNC-Minnesota is a local bureau of, has expanded internationally. The main site for the news organization has also been redesigned to better serve its readers.


    The newest bureau of the PNC opened a bureau for South America, featuring writers from several South American countries and a Canadian bureau is preparing to launch. Jason Pitzl-Waters, Project Coordinator for PNC, said he has also had inquires from Spain and other European nations. “We were approached by Yoko Galkan, a writer and journalist from Uruguay about starting a bureau, and decided to expand it to news and views from Pagans all across South America,” Mr. Pitzl-Waters said of the new bureau, “Modern Pagan religions have been growing at a quick pace in South American countries like Brazil, and I’m excited to establish local sources for stories emerging from that region.”  This brings the total number of PNC bureaus up to ten worldwide.

    This expansion also necessitated a site redesign for the main PNC website.  PNC Technical Coordinator, David Dashifen Kees, was tasked with the redesign, “The real goal is to specifically highlight the blogs’ and bureaus’ content.   To that end, we figured out a way to pull in the bureau and blog content on the homepage and link back to them to try and act as an information broker helping people find their way to stories that they want to read regardless of where those stories are.”  Mr Dashifen Kees says that although he is pleased with how the redesign looks and functions, there is still work to be done on it, “There’s a lot of work to be done on the pages that aren’t the homepage.   A list of all the bureaus and blogs on their appropriate areas, a better page for special coverage.  While we’re well on our way to a solid web site, there’s quite a bit of work left to do.”

    Between the growth of the bureaus, going from zero to ten in about as many months, the addition of International bureaus, and the organizations website redesign, the PNC has made significant progress in its mission to “promote primary-source reporting from within our interconnected communities.”  Pitzl-Waters  says, “My main vision is to grow our network of bureaus as quickly as is sustainable. The faster our bureau network grows, the faster we’ll be able to knit them together into the first international Pagan-focused newswire. I think we’ve been making tremendous progress.”

    If you would like to be a part of PNC-Minnesota as a writer or contributor, or if you have stories ideas or announcements, please contact Cara Schulz or Nels Linde here.

    Well Known Pagans Join in Japan Relief Effort

    Several well known Pagans have joined with Peter Dybing in his effort to raise $30,000 to assist victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.  Selena Fox, Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger have all made statements in support of this charity initiative.

    Dybing has set up a fundraising page to gather donations from Pagans to send to Doctors Without Borders. This organization has teams on the ground in Japan and is setting up medical treatment centers.  Dybing chose Doctors Without Borders after seeing the great work they did in Haiti to assist earthquake survivors there.  ” I am recommending them due to their level of accomplishment in Haiti saving lives. Additionally, when this organization raised enough funds for its Haiti response it stopped accepting donations. It is important to recognize that organizations have a logistical limit as to how much they can accomplish. By suspending fundraising this organization demonstrated a commitment to spend funds wisely and not just take the opportunity to raise unlimited cash as other large NGO’s did.”

    Not only is giving to a charity such as Doctors Without Borders in line with Pagan ethics, it’s a way for Pagans to donate as Pagans and be recognized as such.  If you would like to make a donation, please click this link.

    As of press time, just over $14,000 has been raised in the 72 hours since the effort started.  There have been 212 donations with an average donation of just over $55.00. Donations have come primarily from individuals with about 5% coming from organizations.  Peter Dybing says he would like to “encourage people who may not have a lot of money to participate by giving smaller donations of $1.00 – $10.00″ (Disclosure:  I have donated to the Japan Relief Effort and as Chair of International Pagan Coming Out Day I have publicized the effort on our facebook feed)

    Below is a Press Release by Peter Dybing along with statements of support from Starhawk, Patrick McCullum, T. Thorn Coyle, Anna Rowe, M Macha Nightmare, Star Foster, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Morgana, Ivo Dominguez Jr, Holli S Emore, and Katrina Messenger

    Continue reading

    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 2,446 other followers