Opinion: The Chilling Effects of the Project Veritas Civil Case Ruling

The recent ruling against Project Veritas in a civil court case has halted an investigation Radio Free Hub City was conducting regarding a local non-profit with a multi-million dollar bank account believed to be violating Federal regulations, as well as potential ethical concerns regarding how the non-profit conducts business.

To be clear, Radio Free Hub City was not conducting any “undercover” work, and most of our investigation focused on interviewing people who formerly worked with the non-profit in question. However, as part of the judgement is that media outlets “owe a fiduciary duty to the subjects they are investigating”, this essentially kills investigative journalism. Specifically, Project Veritas was found liable for publishing fact-based journalism, which negatively impacted the financial status of the Democratic consulting agencies. While Project Veritas may have the resources to continue fighting against multi-million dollar businesses, Radio Free Hub City does not.

Investigative journalism is something which has been slowly disappearing over the years, as fact-based journalism is replaced with emotionally charged stories with high bias influence in order to obtain more ratings/views to bring in bigger sponsors. After all, in just the past few decades we’ve seen the velocity of news change due to the Internet and Social Media. The average person now has an attention span of about 5 seconds, so most news media organizations need to keep their news emotionally charged to keep the reader/viewer watching.

Make no mistake, lawsuits such as the one against Project Veritas are not about the actual financial impact to the organization, but rather discouraging media outlets from conducting investigating journalism. Unfortunately, because these are private organizations, anti-SLAPP legislation does not protect journalists from these civil suits. We wish we had the financial resources to fight such lawsuits, but since we do not, and the courts continue to make investigating journalism riskier, we will have to pause such reporting until reviewed by the Supreme Court.

We here at Radio Free Hub City dislike conducting investigative journalism in the first place, and would much rather talk about all the good things happening in the community. However, the hard truth is there are local stories which are not being told, not being investigated, and clearly no other news media organization is going to do it.

We are very disappointed in the current climate when it comes to the first amendment. When someone can be arrested for creating a parody Facebook page, or get an entire law enforcement dossier created for criticizing local politicians, it’s time to step back and seriously question why our First Amendment is under so much attack lately. And this has been increasingly escalating, including politically motivated FBI raids.

All of these attacks against our First Amendment have a very chilling effect on free speech. And as November is quickly approaching, it’s getting quite cold in here.

Remember that this November, and vote like your life, and your freedom, depends on it. Because they do.

This is an opinion article by the staff at Radio Free Hub City. This article may not reflect the views of Radio Free Hub City as a whole, or its sponsors.

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