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Winter 2007

Bulletin Winter 2007

Top Story

Wolf Sets Jail Time Record for Refusing to Comply with Grand Jury Subpoena
Freelance journalist and self­proclaimed anarchist Josh Wolf remains in jail after a judge denied his latest attempt at freedom, and has become the longest­jailed journalist for refusing to comply with a subpoena. Continue reading

Reporter’s Privilege News

Attorney Admits Leaking Information to BALCO Reporters
The government has withdrawn subpoenas issued to San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru­Wada and Lance Williams. Continue reading

Libby Trial over Leaked Information Ends in Conviction
The criminal trial against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the Former Chief of Staff for Vice President Cheney accused of perjury and obstruction of justice in an FBI investigation into the disclosure of former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity in 2003 began in January 2007 and ended in March with a guilty verdict on four of the five charges. Continue reading

Wisconsin Circuit Court Rules Journalist’s Privilege Protects Documentary Filmmaker’s Non Confidential Sources
A Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge ruled in January 2007 that a student documentary filmmaker did not have to turn over hundreds of hours of tape to the state, determining that even information given to a journalist without the promise of confidentiality is protected under the limited state journalist privilege. Continue reading

Pennsylvania Court Rules Reporter Need Not Reveal Source
A Pennsylvania appellate court has ruled that a reporter does not have to reveal the identity of her source used in an article that prompted a defamation lawsuit. Continue reading

Supreme Court Rejects New York Times’ Motion to Block Access to Reporters’ Phone Records in Leak Investigation
In November 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court denied The New York Times’ motion to temporarily prevent the government’s review of its phone records. Continue reading

FBI Ends Investigation into Anderson Files
The FBI has decided to abandon its investigation into the files of deceased investigative reporter Jack Anderson. Continue reading

Reporters Excused from Testifying at Military Tribunal
On Jan. 29, 2007, two reporters were spared from testifying at the court­martial of the first Army officer to publicly oppose the war in Iraq and refuse deployment. Continue reading

Judith Miller Testifies in Hamas Funding Trial
Former New York Times reporter Judith Miller, once jailed for 85 days for refusing to reveal a source to government prosecutors, testified on the government’s behalf in November 2006 in an obstruction of justice trial in Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Continue reading

Media Ethics

Marketing Stunt Causes Terror Scare in Boston
A marketing stunt gone awry in February 2007 led to the resignation of Cartoon Network’s general manager, Jim Sample, and an agreement that the advertising agency responsible for the stunt and the network’s corporate parent would pay $2 million in restitution to the City of Boston and the Department of Homeland Security in February 2007. Continue reading

CNBC Anchor’s Ties to Former Citigroup CFO Scrutinized
The most recognizable anchor for CNBC has found herself the subject of controversy, and some have questioned her relationship with the people and entities she covers. Continue reading

“To Catch a Predator” Criticized after Suspect’s Suicide
Dateline NBC’s popular “To Catch a Predator” series returned to air in January 2007, fueling an ongoing debate over journalism ethics and public service crime coverage. Continue reading

Nancy Grace Sued over Interviewee’s Suicide
CNN Headline News host Nancy Grace was sued in November 2006 by the family of Melinda Duckett, a woman who committed suicide one day after being interviewed by Grace about the disappearance of Duckett’s son. Continue reading

O.J. Simpson Book, TV Special Cancelled Amid Controversy
O.J. Simpson, who was acquitted in 1995 of criminal charges of murdering his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman, returned to the public eye in the fall of 2006 when News Corporation, parent company of HarperCollins and the FOX Network, agreed to publish a book he wrote about the murders and later cancelled it. Continue reading

Minneapolis Star Tribune Reviews Writer’s Work for Plagiarism
Accusations of plagiarism in December led the Minneapolis Star Tribune to review a year’s worth of work by an editorial writer before allowing him to remain on staff. Continue reading

Student Press News

High School Paper Told to Remove Photograph or Lose Funding
A public high school principal in St. Francis, Minn., suspended the school newspaper’s funds and threatened legal action because he found an image that student editors planned to publish was offensive. Continue reading


Illinois Supreme Court Justice Awarded $7 Million Libel Judgment Against Newspaper
After deliberating for nine hours over two days, a jury awarded Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Thomas $7 million in damages after finding a Kane County, Ill., newspaper liable for four separate counts of libel against the state’s highest­ranking judicial officer. Continue reading

Judges Sue Newspapers for Libel
The $7 million judgment awarded to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas on Nov. 14, 2006 by a Kane County, Ill. jury for defamatory statements made by a local columnist is one of a number of recent cases across the nation entangling judges and the media, including two notable verdicts that awarded a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and a local Massachusetts judge millions of dollars in damages for libel. Continue reading

Illinois Supreme Court Upholds Innocent Construction Rule
In December 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court upheld the “innocent construction rule,” solidifying the state’s status as one of the few remaining jurisdictions where such a rule exists. Continue reading

Suit Against The New York Times over Kristof’s Columns about Anthrax Investigation Dismissed
A federal judge has dismissed a defamation action filed against The New York Times. Continue reading

Information Access

New York Sun Reporter Joshua Gerstein Wins FOIA Victory
On Nov. 29, 2006, Judge Maxine M. Chesney of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Justice (DOJ), and the FBI to process New York Sun reporter Joshua A. Gerstein’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and produce, within 30 days, non­exempt responsive records to his request for information regarding unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Continue reading

Budget Cuts Lead to Closures, Reduced Access at EPA Libraries
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Library system suffered drastic funding cuts in 2006 and was forced to shut down several of its regional libraries and even its headquarters library. Continue reading

Washington State Courts Reopen Sealed Records
After nearly a year of investigative reporting and legal challenges to sealed court records, The Seattle Times says Washington judges and court commissioners are now playing by the rules. Continue reading

Endangered Journalists

Russian Spy May Have Been Poisoned for Investigating Journalist’s Death
Responding to reports that “rogue elements” of Russia’s security forces may be responsible for poisoning former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, close acquaintances of Litvinenko publicly accused Russian authorities of targeting the ex­spy because of his investigation into the death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya. Continue reading

International Updates

CPJ Urges Defense Department to Release or Charge AP Photographer Detained in Prison Camp
The New York­based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to personally investigate the detention of Bilal Hussein, a freelance photographer and Iraqi citizen who worked for the Associated Press (AP) at the time he was taken into custody by U.S. military forces. Continue reading

Global Internet Censorship on the Rise
Early results from a forthcoming report conducted by Internet watchdog group OpenNet Initiative (ONI) show that censorship on the Web is spreading and becoming more sophisticated. Continue reading


Al­Jazeera Launches English­Language Channel
After years of speculation and delay, the Arabic broadcasting network Al­Jazeera launched an English­language news channel, Al­Jazeera English (AJE), on Nov. 15, 2006. Continue reading

FCC Update

Broadcasters Challenge Indecency Standards
Television networks and the creative guilds continue to fight the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over indecency standards and the fines assessed to violators. Continue reading

Broadcasting News

Public Broadcasting Facing Drastic Budget Cuts
President George W. Bush proposed steep budget cuts for public broadcasting in his fiscal year 2008 budget released in February 2007. Continue reading