Web news services refuse to rate their material

Lile Elam ((no email))
Fri, 29 Aug 1997 14:21:39 -0700 (PDT)

Hi folks,

Just saw this in the news and found it interesting, and felt
it related to the discussions we are having on talk@art.net.




Web news services refuse to rate their material

Copyright 1997 Nando.net
Copyright 1997 The Associated Press

NEW YORK (August 28, 1997 10:58 p.m. EDT) -- Producers of online news on
Thursday decided against rating their Internet material, resisting a White
House effort to pressure the online industry to devise a labeling system to
flag objectionable content.

The Clinton Administration has pushed for a voluntary industrywide plan to
combat indecency on the Internet. But news organizations worry that ratings
may keep people from viewing their sites because stories routinely contain
such news as violence and sexual crimes.

About 25 news organizations attending the Manhattan meeting of the Internet
Content Coalition supported the move.

"Our refusal to rate news sites underscores the critical nature of news and
the importance of its free flow in what promises to be the most powerful
publishing medium in history," said Neil Budde, editor of the "Wall Street
Journal" Interactive Edition, one of the organizations supporting the move.

Leaders from other industries are expected to meet this fall to decide their
position on ratings.

The news group's opposition to ratings echoes the stance of its colleagues
in television. TV news organizations are exempt from rating their shows.
Movies shown on TV, on the other hand, warn viewers of violent or sexually
explicit content.

First Amendment advocates have raised concerns about the White House plans
for an online rating system, saying the pressure for industry action seemed
forced and could undermine free speech on the Internet.

The news organizations also included The Associated Press, MSNBC, CNN
Interactive, "The New York Times," Time Inc., ABC News, Reuters New Media,
"Business Week," the "Houston Chronicle," the Magazine Publishers of America
and the Newspaper Association of America.