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Bulletin Archive

Summer 2007

Bulletin Summer 2007

Top Story

Second Circuit Strikes Down FCC’s ‘Fleeting Expletives’ Rule as ‘Arbitrary and Capricious’
A three­judge panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York overturned a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indecency ruling against Fox Television, finding that the Commission’s new policy against one­time, unscripted use of expletives is “arbitrary and capricious” under the Administrative Procedure Act. Continue reading

FCC News

FCC Releases Report on Television Violence; Critics Challenge Conclusions and Recommendations on Various Grounds
A long­awaited Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report, released April 25, 2007, said that research shows a connection between television violence and children’s aggressive behavior, and recommended that Congress act to limit how much violence children are exposed to on television. Continue reading

Food Advertisers Phase out Marketing to Kids after Agencies, Lawmakers Suggest Government Regulations
Pressure from Washington D.C. over their role in contributing to obesity in children has driven food companies to create new, stricter rules on advertising. Continue reading

Silha Events

Attorney, FCC Expert Robert Corn­Revere to Deliver 2007 Silha Lecture on Regulating Television Violence
Attorney Robert Corn­Revere will deliver the 22nd Annual Silha Lecture on Monday, Oct. 1, 2007. Continue reading

Reporter Privilege News

Proposed Federal Shield Law will go to House Floor; Justice Department and Big Business Offer Criticism
The latest iteration of a federal reporter shield law, introduced in both the House and Senate, has gained support from media organizations, media advocates and Democrat and Republican lawmakers, but has critics and opponents both in the Bush administration and big business. Continue reading

Roundup: State Lawmakers Consider Privilege Statutes
Journalists and First Amendment experts testified in support of a proposed reporter shield law at a June 12, 2007 hearing of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary. Continue reading

Update: BALCO Leaker’s Plea Deal Rejected
The lawyer who admitted leaking grand jury testimony about athlete steroid use to the San Francisco Chronicle was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison July 12, 2007. Continue reading

Media Access/FOIA

Newspaper’s FOIA Request Granted After Nearly Three Years; Congress Passes Bill to Prevent Similar Delays
The U.S. Marshals Service released 230 pages of documents to the Hattiesburg (Miss.) American on June 13, 2007, nearly three years after the newspaper made its original Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Continue reading

Appeals Court Sides with Newspapers in FEMA Aid FOIA Case
The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled June 22, 2007 that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) must turn over the addresses of individuals who received disaster relief funds in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Continue reading

Bill to Exempt British Parliament from FOIA Passes House of Commons, but Unlikely to Become Law
In a move toward government secrecy in the United Kingdom, the British House of Commons approved an exemption for Parliament from the nation’s Freedom of Information law in May 2007. Continue reading

Montana High Court Rules School District Must Disclose Student Discipline Records; FERPA Does Not Apply
The Montana Supreme Court ruled in May 2007 that the Cut Bank Pioneer Press had standing to enforce the state’s open meeting laws, and ordered the Cut Bank School District to turn over discipline records related to a 2005 incident. Continue reading

Military Access/Free Speech

New U.S. Military and Iraqi Policies Create Challenges for Journalists Working in War Zone
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the Iraqi government recently increased restrictions on reporters and photographers, leading some journalists to question whether the changes were motivated by political pressure to hide gruesome images from the public. Continue reading

Military Internet Regulations Raise Concerns Over American and British Soldiers’ Free Speech Rights
An update to Army rules on operations security (OPSEC) and a Department of Defense­wide ban on use of Web sites like YouTube and MySpace have fueled an ongoing debate over soldiers’ use of the Internet to express themselves freely. Continue reading

Defamation/Libel

Newspaper, Columnist Sue State Supreme Court Chief Justice in Federal Court
A small Chicago­area newspaper and a former columnist have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, arguing that his position and influence in the state court system has denied them a fair chance to appeal a $4 million libel judgment. Continue reading

Massachusetts Supreme Court Will Not Reconsider $2 Million Libel Verdict Awarded to State Trial Judge
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has refused to reconsider its ruling against the Boston Herald that upheld an award of more than $2 million to a defamed judge. Continue reading

New Hampshire High Court Rules Some Police Communication Not Protected by ‘Fair Report’ Privilege
New Hampshire’s highest court ruled May 1, 2007 that some communication between police officers acting in their official capacity and reporters is not protected from defamation suits by the “fair report” privilege. Continue reading

Endangered Journalists

Kidnapped BBC Reporter Released After Nearly Four Months in Captivity; Palestinian Journalists Protested at Parliament
The captors of BBC reporter Alan Johnston released him to Hamas officials July 4, 2007, 114 days after he was kidnapped in the Gaza Strip. Continue reading

Uzbek Journalists Denounce Actions to Avoid Imprisonment
International concern over the treatment of journalists in Uzbekistan has intensified following the imprisonment and recent sentencing of two Uzbek journalists, Umida Niyazova and Gulbakhor Turayeva. Continue reading

Update: Jailed Chinese Reporter Joins Suit Against Yahoo! Inc.
A Chinese journalist currently serving a 10­year prison term for disseminating state secrets has joined a U.S. lawsuit that accuses Internet company Yahoo! Inc. of assisting Chinese authorities with abuses of human rights. Continue reading

U.S. Supreme Court First Amendment Rulings

In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Court Upholds As­Applied Challenge to McCain- Feingold Act
In a contentious 5 to 4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 25, 2007 that the First Amendment protects a Wisconsin right­to­life group’s ability to broadcast issue advertisements naming political candidates in the days and weeks leading up to an election. Continue reading

In Morse v. Frederick, Court Places Limits on Student Expression
In a June 25, 2007 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court said that public school officials do not offend the First Amendment rights of their students when they seek to “restrict student expression that they reasonably regard as promoting illegal drug use.” Continue reading

Student Press

Roundup: Lawmakers Protect Student Free Speech and Press
California court rules school district violated student columnist’s First Amendment rights. Continue reading

Update: N.J. College Settles with Dropped Student Paper Adviser
A June 2007 settlement between embattled college newspaper adviser Karen Bosley and her college returned her to teaching journalism classes and handed her $90,000. Continue reading

Media Ethics

Personal Relationships Raise Ethics Questions for Broadcast Reporters
Two local television news reporters have been disciplined for personal relationships they developed with sources they were covering, raising questions about the ethics of such relationships, their disclosure, and the appropriate punishment. Continue reading

BBC Report: Network Should be More ‘Impartial’
In a report released on June 18, 2007, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) concluded that it had broken its own guidelines for avoiding bias, and “must become more impartial.” Continue reading

Unusual Washington News Council Report Criticizes Spokane Spokesman­Review Coverage of Local Project
On May 5, 2007, the Washington News Council released a report based on an unusual independent investigation into the Spokane (Wash.) Spokesman­Review’s controversial coverage of a local redevelopment project between 1994 and 2005. Continue reading

Privacy News

Full D.C. Circuit Rules McDermott Had No First Amendment Right to Leak Phone Tape Due to Ethics Committee Rules
In the most recent segment of a 10­year legal battle, the full panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled May 1, 2007 that the First Amendment does not protect Rep. Jim McDermott (D­Wash.) from liability for disclosing an illegally recorded audiotape. Continue reading