In computer networks, a proxy server is a server (a computer system or an application program) which services the requests of its clients by forwarding requests to other servers. A client connects to the proxy server, requesting some service, such as a file, connection, web page, or other resource, available from a different server. The proxy server provides the resource by connecting to the specified server and requesting the service on behalf of the client. A proxy server may optionally alter the client's request or the server's response, and sometimes it may serve the request without contacting the specified server. In this case, it would 'cache' the first request to the remote server, so it could save the information for later, and make everything as fast as possible. A proxy server that passes all requests and replies unmodified is usually called a gateway or sometimes tunneling proxy. A proxy server can be placed in the user's local computer or at specific key points between the user and the destination servers or the Internet.

25 January 2009

The press: proxy for the public

It’s fitting that the latest effort to strengthen Missouri’s Sunshine Law hit the papers this week, just as our region’s editors and publishers began to gather for their annual convention.

The Northwest Missouri Press Association is meeting in St. Joseph, keeping intact a 119-year tradition. Programs at the Holiday Inn will focus on legislative issues of importance to the press and our region, and how community newspapers can stay afloat during a recession.

It’s notable that the largest crowd in years is expected — registrations were received from more than 80 newspaper owners, staff members, educators and friends of the press. It seems that a lot of people want to see local journalism survive this downturn.

That prospect is a lot more likely when the public understands why newspapers are important. They provide information, we all understand. But in many instances, public and private, they also stand as our indispensable proxy:

n We think of the many nights area editors and reporters have attended school board or council meetings, then waited outside during secret “executive sessions” hoping to corral someone who would answer their questions and provide credible information about what went on.

n We think of the occasions when an area reporter, at the end of an already long week, has traveled halfway across the state to cover a town’s sports team as it competed for state or regional honors.

n We think of the nights — too many of these — when these same reporters have been rousted out of bed to report on fires, traffic accidents and worse. Someone must tell these stories, and it falls to newspaper folks.

This newspaper, like others, has a vested interest in attracting and keeping readers and advertisers. Information is our lifeblood. But we also do what we do because we believe in it. That’s why, to a person, you will find newspaper people advocating for more openness in government.

This session, legislators will debate giving the public more notice when governmental bodies will be discussing tax increases, zoning changes and use of eminent domain powers. They will be asked to narrow the definition for when a public meeting can be closed to discuss potential litigation. They will be challenged to make the workings of the Missouri Ethics Commission more open.

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