Thursday, February 25, 2010

Will 'Amendment 1' Trump 911?

9-1-1Image by KayVee.INC via Flickr

The Associated Press reports that a handful of states, including Alabama, Wisconsin and Ohio, are considering whether to join the ranks of states that have outlawed the public release of  emergency 911 recordings.

Wyoming, Rhode Island, Missouri and Pennsylvania already have laws in place that prevent  the often frantic emergency call recordings from being aired by the news media. Proponents of the ban claim releasing transcripts or audiotapes of the 911 calls infringe on individuals' privacy and deter people from calling authorities for help. Advocates for airing the emergency messages cite the watchdog function of the news media that might expose incompetence by officials responding to the pleas for assistance.

The First Amendment argument is a legitimate one, but news media outlets probably would elicit more support for their position if they could overcome their obsession with repeatedly airing the 911 calls of Tiger Woods, Charlie Sheen and other notorious dialers.

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