News: A Comparative Lesson

We get a lot of so-called news releases in our inbox. Some, of course, are more newsworthy than others.

For example, we’ve received two divergent bulletins this morning. One comes from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network warning gay military types that the army will be allocating more resources into watching internet postings etc. It reads:

“The military’s stepped up surveillance of online activity also means an increasing risk to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members who use online communities,” said Kathi S. Westcott, deputy director of law for SLDN. “Service members must be especially cautious about posting any information online which reveals their sexual orientation. While online communities can be an important communication tool for military personnel, they can also lead to investigations and dismissals under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

That, in our opinion, deserves to fall under the category of “news”.

Minutes later we received an email with the subject “News Release” concerning a new porno from 3mdmedia. They attempt to make it seem relevant by opening:

South Florida has become the epicenter of gay tourism. At the heart of the all the action is world-famous Fort Lauderdale. Nearly a million gays vacation in the sub-tropical city every year and renowned lodgings abound.

Okay, that’s sort of news. Then, it takes a turn for the decidedly unnewsworthy:

It’s only natural that Anaconda Studios sent cameras, cast & crew to one of the top local resorts for their latest hardcore motion picture, Summer Vacation.

Nice try, 3mdmedia, but your forays into the wilds of South Florida don’t qualify as a timely dispatch. That’s just a press release.

We’ve pasted the entire SLDN release after the jump. As for the other one: well, we haven’t…

(Also, as an aside, shouldn’t the army be worrying more about our multiple wars than who’s logging on the Manhunt? Maybe then we’d actually get something accomplished…)

LGBT Military Personnel Cautioned About Online Use As Armed Forces Increase Monitoring of Blogs, Websites

SLDN Warns Online Use Can ‘Lead to Investigations and Dismissals’

10/30/2006 11:41:00 AM

To: National Desk

Contact: Steve Ralls of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, 202)-328-3244, ext. 116, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ — Amidst new reports that the armed forces are increasing their surveillance of online usage by military personnel, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today cautioned service members to be especially careful when using the internet or posting information online.

According to the Associated Press, military officials are now monitoring “official and unofficial blogs and other Web sites” and looking at websites military personnel may visit. “Now soldiers wishing to blog while deployed are required to register their sites with their commanding officers, who monitor the sites quarterly, according to a four-page document of guidelines published in April 2005 by Multi-National Corps-Iraq,” the AP said.

“The military’s stepped up surveillance of online activity also means an increasing risk to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service members who use online communities,” said Kathi S. Westcott, deputy director of law for SLDN. “Service members must be especially cautious about posting any information online which reveals their sexual orientation. While online communities can be an important communication tool for military personnel, they can also lead to investigations and dismissals under ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.'”

SLDN has posted guidelines for LGBT military personnel using online communities at http://www.sldn.org. In addition, AP reports that service members who maintain blogs must now “register their sites with their commanding officers, who monitor the sites quarterly.” Any information related to sexual orientation on a service member’s private blog, SLDN cautioned, would be grounds for dismissal from the armed forces.

For more information, and SLDN’s guidelines on using the internet, visit http://www.sldn.org. Service members may also contact SLDN for free, confidential legal counseling at [email protected], or by calling 202-328-FAIR.