Adam Gaffin of Universal Hub has been making digital connections in Boston since the early 1990s

Adam Gaffin

On this week’s podcast, Dan and Ellen talk with Adam Gaffin, founder of Universal Hub and inventor of the French Toast Alert System. Universal Hub tracks news in the Boston area from the serious to the just plain weird by linking to hundreds of news outlets and local websites and by offering original reporting. His Twitter feed is a must-follow and, thankfully, he’s set up shop on Mastodon as well.

Dan wrote a profile of Adam for CommonWealth Magazine in 2008. Adam has been a local connector since the earliest days of digital self-publishing — well before blogging, putting together a directory of websites called New England Online in the early ’90s and then transforming that into Boston Online.

Ellen has a Quick Take on a young journalist who lost her job at West Virginia Public Broadcasting after she reported on alleged government abuses in the state’s foster care and psychiatric system. The journalist, Amelia Ferrell Knisely, alleges that there was political interference with the station, WVPB, which receives state funding.

Dan examines an important First Amendment case involving a citizen journalist in Texas. Roxanna Asgarian of The Texas Tribune broke the story. It’s a complicated tale, but the root of it is whether a citizen journalist should enjoy the same right to sue the government over a violation of her constitutional rights as a recognized news organization.

Many of the local news projects that we’re interested in here at What Works are just a few steps beyond citizen journalism, and we are firmly of the belief that the First Amendment protections enjoyed by large news outlets should be applied to small outlets and citizen journalists as well. It remains to be seen whether a federal appeals court in Texas will agree.

You can listen to our latest podcast here and subscribe through your favorite podcast app.

Update: Current, a publication that covers public broadcasting, has more details on the situation involving Amelia Ferrell Knisely — including some toxic emails.

Author: Dan Kennedy

I am a professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a contributor to GBH News in Boston. My blog, Media Nation, is online at dankennedy.net.

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