By Kevin Roderick
Peacefire.org, which keeps track of the political websites and other non-sexual sites that are blocked by content filters, sent a note to subscribers saying that its own website can't be read on computers in the Los Angeles Times newsroom.
Reporters working in the L.A . Times have informed me that Internet access in their newsrooms is filtered, although we haven't determined what program they're using. In the L.A. bureau, reporters can't access sites like Playboy.com and are also blocked from accessing Peacefire.org, and I had to give a reporter the address of a Circumventor site so that he could get to our home page. In the San Francisco bureau, the filtering is apparently less restrictive, since Peacefire.org and Playboy.com are accessible, but the more hard-core Penthouse.com is not.
It's the first time I've heard of blocking software being used in the newsroom of a major newspaper, so I wanted to tell the reporters on this list -- except that, you know what would be, like, really funny, is that we should keep it secret from the idealistic young high school newspaper reporter who is dreaming of the day she'll escape from the censorious clutches of her school, and get a job as a real reporter for the L.A. Times.
Makes me wonder if LA Observed is still blocked at Channel 5. Haven't heard anything from there lately.
Update: I'm told the Times uses Websense to block newsroom access to offending websites, and that there is a not-much-spoken-of policy of letting managers approve reporter access to blocked sites as needed. Kind of like in China! Staffers trying to visit Peacefire.org get a message saying: "Proxy Avoidance" is Blocked by Los Angeles Times Internet Usage Policy.
Webmaster message: Kevin, when we had access to the Internet from the Olympic Facility, your site was blocked as well. Would grab a quick view of your web page before it would change to server not found. Someone took it one step further and blocked all Internet access from the men and women at Olympic. Talk about censorship!