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In Washington, the Biden administration is beginning to chip away at not only the Second Amendment, as expected, but also the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

That’s not a “crazy, right-wing conspiracy” claim. The New York Times says so.

The Biden White House increasingly is demanding to see and approve quotes made by officials before they go into print, according to the Daily Wire, attributing it to a Times reporter.

Although the local media seems too blind to see it, or too timid to object, the same thing is happening in Jacksonville.

Here’s history: Fifty years ago, reporters walked into the City Hall, county courthouse, police headquarters and any other public building without being frisked or impeded in any way.

They could talk to any employee, bureaucrat or politician who had the time to talk and ask any question. Rarely were answers withheld.

Now?

Anyone entering almost any public building goes through a metal detector and is quizzed about his reason for being there.

Most employees don’t talk to anyone without an appointment. There are exceptions.

You can’t get into police headquarters. A reporter is allowed into a small room where offense reports are kept and he may read them. We don’t know if every offense report is made available. Reporters rarely talk to rank and file officers.

Virtually all city agencies, and the School Board, funnel all information through gatekeepers generally titled “public information” personnel.

Reporters, or anyone else, know only what the gatekeepers reveal or what is in public records.

Eye on Jacksonville doesn’t even get that much from the executive branch. By direct order of Mayor Lenny Curry’s two top aides, we are denied any cooperation or information except public records the administration is required by law to disclose.

Apparently, the questions we asked were questions they didn’t want to answer.

That should tip off the local lapdog media that they, too, could be cut off from access. As it is, they are spoon-fed, and basically operate off press releases, emails and Twitter posts.

Anyone who was a reporter in the days of transparency, open government and government in the sunshine would be horrified at the state of things today.

But parroting the politicians apparently suits most of the local media. The tiny remnant of a local daily newspaper has let itself become irrelevant and only outlets like the Daily Record do thorough, objective reporting anymore. The TV stations locally are much like the networks, purely partisan.

When I was a copy boy, there was a reporter in the newsroom who was so lazy that he would take a press release from the Navy, scratch out the top of it and write his byline on it (everything was on paper in those days.) He was fired in due course.

But most of the newspapermen I worked with were tough, honest and had but one objective – getting facts and relaying them to the readers with as little personal opinion injected as possible (a feat not as easy as it may seem). Those in the opinion section relied on facts and reason to formulate their opinions and opinions were clearly labeled as such.

I was with a reporter named Monroe Campbell when we sought some records that could show corruption. The bureaucrat tried to give him the runaround and Campbell barked, “You get those records out or I’ll be back here with a subpoena in an hour!” We got the information, and the story.

It was a golden time. When I went into the newspaper business it was at its peak. When I retired, it was beginning a downward spiral, partly because of technology and partly because it had lost its bearings.

Seeing politicians and bureaucrats seize control of information and parcel it out as they see fit should make a real reporter’s blood boil. Sadly, today’s reporters seem far too cold-blooded.

Even in the modern world, facts are important and facts should matter.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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