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Winter 2008

Bulletin Winter 2008

Top Story

Web Site Fights Off Federal Injunction
Following two weeks of intense scrutiny and widespread condemnation from media and free speech advocates, a federal judge on Feb. 29, 2008 reversed an order aimed at blocking all access to a Web site devoted to the unauthorized publishing of government and corporate documents. Continue reading

Subpoenas and Reporter Privilege News

Reporters Fight Federal Subpoenas
Former USA Today reporter Toni Locy faces fi nes escalating to $5,000 per day for refusing to divulge the identity of confidential sources. Continue reading


President Signs, then Rewrites, OPEN Government Act
President George W. Bush signed the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National (OPEN) Government Act of 2007, Pub. L. No. 110­175, 121 Stat. 2524, on Dec. 31, 2007. Continue reading

Minnesota Advisory Committee Resists Cameras in Courts
What had seemed to be cautious support for rule changes that would allow increased electronic media access to Minnesota courtrooms faded quickly in the face of critical testimony from local prosecutors, defense attorneys, and victims’ advocates at a January hearing before the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on General Rules of Practice. Continue reading

Media Reports Raise Questions over Court Records Access
News reports on sealed case files and court records have shed light on how many documents are kept from public view, and led offi cials in some jurisdictions to reconsider when and how such information is sealed. Continue reading

Election 2008 Issues

Washington Law on Lies by Politicians Found Unconstitutional
The Washington Supreme Court ruled Oct. 4, 2007 that the state cannot punish political candidates for making false statements about their opponents unless the false statements are also defamatory. Continue reading

Kucinich Loses Battles to be Included in Debates
One hour before a Jan. 15, 2008 Las Vegas debate featuring presidential candidates from the Democratic Party, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that MSNBC is free to bar Ohio Congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D­Ohio) from participating. Continue reading

Media and the Iraq War
U.S. Brings Terrorism Case against AP Photographer in Iraq Associated Press (AP) photographer Bilal Hussein, held without charges by the U.S. military for over 20 months, received his fi rst criminal hearing before an Iraqi investigative magistrate on Dec. 9, 2007 in Baghdad. Continue reading

Endangered Journalists

In Midst of Crisis, Musharraf Cracks Down on the Press
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s crackdown on domestic and foreign journalists following the imposition of a state of emergency in Pakistan in fall 2007 has showed no signs of abating even during the Feb. 18, 2008 parliamentary elections that resulted in a resounding defeat for Musharraf’s party at the polls. Continue reading

Journalists in Afghanistan, Niger Iran face Death Sentences
A 23­year­old Afghan journalism student was sentenced to death Jan. 22, 2008 for downloading a document from an Iranian Web site that questions the role of women in Islam. Continue reading

Student Media

Internal, External Challenges at Colorado State, Loyola
The Colorado State University (CSU) student newspaper, The Rocky Mountain Collegian, faced challenges in September 2007 for a controversial editorial and in January 2008 for a proposed buyout by Gannett. Continue reading

Appeals Court Upholds Dismissal of Former Dean’s Libel Suit Against St. Cloud State Student Paper
On Jan. 25, 2008, a Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment in a libel suit filed by a professor and former dean at St. Cloud State University, finding in favor of the university’s student newspaper, the University Chronicle. Continue reading


New State Legislation Protects Dead Celebrities’ Rights
On Oct. 10, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law 2007 Cal. Stat. ch 439, otherwise known as the “Dead Celebrities Bill.” Continue reading

Free Speech

St. Paul Police Create New Guidelines for Investigating Protest Groups
The St. Paul, Minn. Police Department has adopted new guidelines for investigating and gathering information on protest groups. Continue reading

Media Ethics

Cartoonist, Romance Novelist, Sex Columnist Caught Plagiarizing
Plagiarism problems plagued a variety of media in the fall and winter of 2007 and 2008, raising similar ethical dilemmas for cartoonists, romance novelists, and sex columnists and their editors. Continue reading

Forum Addresses Ethics Questions for Online Journalism
Standards of ethics in the emerging realm of online journalism was the topic of a forum held at Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) UBS Forum in downtown St. Paul on Feb. 25, 2008. Continue reading