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Bulletin Archive

Fall 2007

Bulletin Fall 2007

Top Story

Reporters Ordered to Testify and Reveal Government Sources in Hatfill Case
Two federal district judges have ordered six journalists to disclose their confidential government sources in Dr. Steven J. Hatfill’s federal Privacy Act lawsuit against the government. Continue reading

Reporter Privilege News

House Passes Federal Reporter Shield Law
On Oct. 16, 2007, the U.S. House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Free Flow of Information Act, a bill that would establish for the first time a federal privilege for reporters and their confidential sources. Continue reading

Judge Rules Reporters Need not Testify in Murder Case
A State Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn, N.Y. ruled on Sept. 12, 2007, that two newspaper reporters will not be compelled to testify in a murder case against the parents of the victim. Continue reading

Reporters Arrested, Released after Printing ‘Grand Jury Secrets’
The founders of The Phoenix New Times, an alternative weekly newspaper, were arrested Oct. 18, 2007 for publishing a story about an ongoing grand jury investigation. Continue reading

Media Access/FOIA

California High Court Decision a Win for Public Access to Government Employees’ Salaries
California’s highest court ruled Aug. 27, 2007 that public employees have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their annual salaries, limiting two lower court decisions that had raised questions about whether salary information was public. Continue reading

Minnesota Considers Cameras in Trial Courtrooms
The Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on General Rules of Practice considered a proposal to improve electronic media access to courtrooms at two meetings this fall. Continue reading

Court Access: Federal Law would Allow Cameras in U.S. Courts
The House Judiciary Committee passed the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act (H.R. 2128) Oct. 22, 2007, despite a lukewarm reception from federal judges and prosecutors at a September 27 committee hearing. Continue reading

Court Access: Connecticut Newspaper Publishes Details About Jurors; Defends its Decision
The (Bridgeport) Connecticut Post has defended itself against criticism for publishing personal information about 18 jurors and alternates in a story about a high profile murder case in the region. Continue reading

Court Rules President Johnson’s CIA Briefings Can Remain Secret
A federal appeals court ruled on Sept. 4, 2007, that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) may refuse to grant public access to briefings it gave to President Johnson over 40 years ago. Continue reading

Two States Propose Changes to Access to Prisons for Media
Prison officials in California and Rhode Island have proposed new regulations that would significantly alter the news media’s access to prison inmates in their respective states. Continue reading

New CIA Rules for FOIA Fees Give Bloggers a Price Break
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) announced effective July 18, 2007 that when processing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, it would redefine the term “news media” to include bloggers. Continue reading

Off­the­Record NSA Seminars Meant to Help Reporters Keep National Security Secrets
The National Security Agency (NSA) reportedly hosted “off­the­record” seminars for journalists between 2002 and 2004 to limit intelligence leaks and to caution reporters about revealing information about the agency’s electronic surveillance work. Continue reading

News Organizations Fight Limits on Access to Sports Events
News organizations are battling for the ability to report independently and objectively as major sporting events have sought tighter control over coverage and placed limits on news gathering. Continue reading

Illinois Press Association Sues High School Sports Association Over Image Controls
The Illinois Press Association (IPA) filed a lawsuit against the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) on Nov. 1, 2007 over new rules that limit access for photographers at the Illinois High School state football tournament and limit the use of the images from state sports tournament events. Continue reading

FCC News

FCC Fines ‘Fake News’ Produced by Undisclosed Sponsors
For the first time ever, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed fines against a cable television company for failing to disclose to viewers that segments it aired as news were actually produced by corporations. Continue reading

Cable Companies Fined for Airing Paid­for Punditry
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed fines totaling $76,000 against two cable companies for failing to disclose that segments they aired featuring conservative pundit Armstrong Williams had been sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Continue reading

Media and the Iraq War

Truth of ‘Baghdad Diarist’ Stories Challenged
The New Republic has said it stands behind most of the claims made by its “Baghdad Diarist,” an American soldier in Iraq writing under a pseudonym, despite a proven mistake, military denials, and criticism from conservative bloggers. Continue reading

U.S. Confiscates AP Footage at Scene of Baghdad Bombing, Detains Photographer, Citing Iraqi Law
The U.S. military detained Associated Press (AP) photographer Ayad M. Abd Ali Oct. 3, 2007, and held him handcuffed and blindfolded for 40 minutes after he was found filming the aftermath of a car bomb attack in Baghdad. Continue reading

Privacy

Ohio Supreme Court Recognizes False Light Claim
A dispute between neighbors led the Ohio Supreme Court to recognize the tort of false light invasion of privacy June 6, 2007. Continue reading

Defamation/Libel

Illinois Paper Apologizes, Settles Civil Rights Suit against State Chief Justice who Sued It for Libel
An Illinois community newspaper and the state high court’s chief justice struck a settlement agreement Oct. 10, 2007 over a libel suit, under which the newspaper apologized, agreed to drop a federal civil rights suit it had filed, and will pay a reduced award of $3 million to the judge. Continue reading

‘Libel Tourism’ Suit Leads Publisher to Destroy Book on Terrorism Funding, Pay Damages and Apologize
British libel laws that favor plaintiffs led one publisher to destroy unsold copies of a book about terrorism financing and to ask librarians to pull it from shelves despite the authors’ complaints that “libel tourism” will chill important scholarship. Continue reading

British Court Extends ‘Reynolds Privilege’ to Publishers
The British Court of Appeal for England and Wales extended qualified protection from libel suits for the authors and publishers of books on Oct. 11, 2007, ruling that they enjoy a qualified privilege so long as they act responsibly. Continue reading

Time Magazine Contests Defamation Ruling for Former Indonesian Dictator
Lawyers for Time magazine said they will contest a $106 million libel judgment handed down by Indonesia’s highest court to former dictator Suharto Aug. 31, 2007. Continue reading

Endangered Journalists

Newspaper Settles Dispute over Seizure of Newsroom Computer and Equipment
Police in New Castle, Pa. seized a computer and several recording devices from the New Castle News on July 25, 2007, saying they were used to record telephone conversations illegally with two local public officials. Continue reading

China Failing to Deliver on Pre­Olympics Press Freedom Promises According to NGOs’ Reports
China promised foreign journalists more freedom to report this year in the prelude to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, but recent reports issued by human rights organizations Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International conclude that these promises remain largely unfulfilled. Continue reading

Russia: Politkovskaya Investigation Continues; Reporter Detained for Alleged Extortion
The media’s relationship with the government in Russia remains uneasy. In August 2007, Russian authorities made new strides in the investigation into Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s death, but critics say such developments are illusory and that the mastermind behind the contract killing will never be identified by the government. Continue reading

International Roundup: China, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran
Chinese Research Assistant Zhao Yan Released from Chinese Prison. Continue reading

Copyright

Artists Challenge Copyright Extension Law
A recent decision in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals may have provided a reprieve for artists, musical conductors, and educators affected by two federal statutes passed in the 1990s which extended copyright protection to works formerly in the public domain and resulted in hefty rental fees. Continue reading

Music Industry Wins First Internet Piracy Case
A jury levied a $222,000 fi ne against a Brainerd, Minn. woman on Oct. 5, 2007 in the first­ever trial over the downloading and sharing of copyrighted music. Continue reading

Media Ethics

Star Tribune Publisher Barred for One Year, Unlikely to Return
Ramsey County (Minn.) Judge David C. Higgs ruled Sept. 18, 2007 that publisher Par Ridder must leave the Minneapolis Star Tribune for one year. Continue reading

Senator Craig Airport Scandal Prompts Questions of Journalism Ethics in Covering Politicians’ Personal Lives
The scandal surrounding Sen. Larry Craig’s arrest and guilty plea on disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis­St. Paul International Airport restroom led some to raise ethics questions about media coverage of politicians’ personal lives. Continue reading

News Consultant Linked to Bogus Interviews
A frequently­cited expert source on terrorism and national security and former consultant to ABC News was discredited after interviews with a host of high profile figures he had contributed to a French political magazine were proven to be fakes. Continue reading

FEMA Holds Press Conference ... for Itself
A press conference the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) held on Oct. 23, 2007 praising its own response to the wildfires in Southern California lacked a key attendee: the press. Continue reading

Mohammed Cartoons Draw International Ire
The publication of cartoons featuring the Muslim prophet Mohammed led to death threats against a cartoonist and editor in Sweden and landed several journalists in Algerian court. Continue reading

Cartoons Cause Community Controversy Across the Country
In September and October 2007, cartoons in one city newspaper and three student newspapers were called offensive for their content and messages. Continue reading

Silha Events

2007 Silha Lecture Focuses on Media Violence Regulation
Attempts to legislate violence on television and video games are likely to continue, even though “the kids are all right,” according to the 2007 Silha Lecturer. Continue reading