Matt J. Duffy :: Thoughts on Journalism, Culture, and Global Communication

Thoughts On Journalism, Culture, and Global Communication
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About the author

Dr. Matt J. Duffy teaches journalism, media ethics and international communication law. His research focuses on journalism and media laws in the Middle East. Duffy's book "Media Laws of the United Arab Emirates" was published in 2014 by Wolters Kluwer. His academic work has been published in the Berkley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, the Journal of Middle East Media, American Journalism, the Journal of Mass Media Ethics, and the Newspaper Research Journal. He received a Ph.D. in Public Communication from Georgia State University in the United States where he studied the use of unnamed sources in journalism. Since 2012, Duffy has served on the board of the Arab-United States Association for Communication Educators, an organization that aims to improve journalism in the Middle East. He currently serves as a visiting assistant professor at Berry College in Rome, Georgia.

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Duffy’s book “Media Laws of the United Arab Emirates”


Recommended Reading

UAE Observations

Other stuff

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Videos for Introduction to Mass Communication classes

posted on November 13, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Here’s an editable, shareable Google doc with several online videos that are useful in teaching principles of mass communication. Please feel free to add your own favorite.

Digital journalism tools you should be teaching your students

posted on October 28, 2014 at 2:18 am

I recently sat on a panel that addressed journalism pedagogy. Here’s the list of digital journalism tool I told the crowd they should embrace:

New Content Management System (CMS)

Social media Content Management System


Data Journalism
Tableau Public

Audio clips

Audio editor

Video editor
Many choices

Tracking twitter hits

Starbucks Exercise
… and here’s a link to an exercise I had planned to mention that brings together the power of social media, the power of the press, and the power of good Public Relations. And it involves Starbucks.

Arab defamation laws: Comparing libel and slander in the Middle East to international norms

posted on October 26, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Here are my slides from today’s presentation at the AUSACE conference on defamation laws of the Middle East.

Journalism in Jordan: Developments in press freedom since the Arab Spring

posted on October 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Here are the slides for one of my presentations in Irbid, Jordan, during the AUSACE conference.

‘Arab Media Regulations: Identifying Restraints on Freedom of the Press in the Laws of Six Arabian Peninsula Countries’

posted on September 30, 2014 at 3:00 pm

My article recently published in the Berkley Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic law can found here. Such scholarship is rare in the Middle East. On page 2, I list three reasons for the lack of media law research:

Three factors underlie a collective avoidance of research dedicated to the Arab world’s media laws in the academic community. First, a lack of academic freedom in the region hinders rigorous research of media policy. A culture of self-censorship pervades Arab universities because academics that tread too close to “sensitive” subjects (such as the mechanisms used to censor the press) can lose their position or be expelled from host countries. Second, language is a barrier. With many Arabic-speaking researchers avoiding rigorous study of media regulation, English-language academics are left to fill the void. In many Arab countries, media laws are written in Arabic without English translations. Therefore, English-speaking academics—who may also have more knowledge about international approaches to such laws—are unable to examine source material. Finally, a general lack of transparency (in all areas including media laws) makes it difficult to obtain source materials and other specific information, whether in Arabic or English. These factors collectively result in the region seeing little media law scholarship beyond cursory overviews in international media law texts and yearly “not free” rankings from press watchdog organizations.

Hope that other academics follow my lead and contribute more to this field but expect few will be stationed in the region. I purposefully chose an open-access journal, so that the paper can be easily discovered.

This research adds an important component for Arab scholars — how do other countries that have better press freedom rankings handle these issues? Instead of just decrying a government for arresting a journalist, I examine how other countries have balanced the need to keep public order while protecting freedom of expression. The analysis also explores defamation, insult to rulers, licensing of journalists and false news laws.

Introduction to journalism

posted on August 25, 2014 at 7:15 am

Some examples of audio, video and print journalism to start the semester’s discussion while serving as visiting assistant professor at Berry College in Rome, Ga.

Students: For more information, go to my students page.

‘Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds’

posted on August 21, 2014 at 7:48 am

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Clay Shirky’s advice for newspaper journalists: Learn data skills, social media to gather news, and how to work in groups

posted on August 20, 2014 at 7:44 am

Great read from Clay Shirky, a new media thinker, about the implosion on newspaper journalism. Here’s the three main tips, but you should read the whole post:

The first piece of advice is the most widely discussed in journalism circles — get good with numbers. The old ‘story accompanied by a chart’ was merely data next to journalism; increasingly, the data is the journalism. Nate Silver has changed our sense of political prediction. ProPublica has tied databases to storytelling better than anyone in the country. Homicide Watch can report more murders (all of them, in fact), using fewer people, than the Washington Post. Learning to code is the gold standard, but even taking an online class in statistics and getting good at Google spreadsheets will help. Anything you can do to make yourself more familiar with finding, understanding, and presenting data will set you apart from people you’ll be competing with, whether to keep your current job or get a new one.

Second, learn to use social media tools to find stories and sources. Social media was first absorbed as a marketing tool, but a medium that allows direct access to the public is also a journalistic one. Examples small and large, from photos of a plane landing in the Hudson River to the Guardian’s crowd-sourced analysis of hundreds of thousands of Parliamentary expense reports, rely on a more permeable relationship between the newsroom and the outside world. Practice reading conversations on Facebook and looking at photos on Instagram to look for story ideas; understand how a respectful request for assistance on Twitter or WeChat can bring out key sources or armies of volunteers.

Third, journalism is becoming more of a team sport. Integrated text and visuals, databases the readers can query and annotate themselves, group liveblogging of breaking news — all this requires collaboration far more engaged than the old ‘one story, one byline’ model. Volunteer for (or propose) anything that involves deeper teamwork than you’re used to, and anything that involves experimenting with new tools or techniques. (The irony, of course, is that more news organizations prize teamwork, but still hire individuals. For your next job, you may need to convince your future bosses that you are valuable all by your lonesome, but that part of that value is working well on a team.)

Good advice for today’s journalists and the ones learning the trade in college.

Integrating Twitter into the classroom

posted on August 6, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Integrating Twitter into the classroom from Matt Duffy

Slides above from my presentation tomorrow at AEJMC conference in Montreal.

“Anonymous Sources: A historical review” just published

posted on June 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Pleased to announce that my academic article “Anonymous Sources: A Historical Review of the Norms Surrounding Their Use” has just been published. It went through three rounds of “revise and resubmit” and finally received the official approval earlier this year. I started the process of publishing this paper in 2011 while in the United Arab Emirates. Here’s the abstract:

This article offers a historical examination of the journalistic norms surrounding the practice of citing anonymous sources. The author examines a variety of textbooks, guidebooks, trade press coverage, and codes of ethics over the past century. The analysis reveals that unnamed attribution, once scorned as a journalistic practice, has gained acceptance over time. After scandals revolving around unnamed sourcing from the 1980s to the 2000s, journalistic norms surrounding their use crystalized in the late 2000s. This analysis also finds that journalism textbooks more often describe common practices of journalists rather than provide normative statements as to how journalists should act. The analysis also reveals that, in guidelines and texts, the journalistic tradition of independently verifying information from unnamed sources diminished over time.

The article represents the last of three works derived from my dissertation. The other two are “Use of unnamed sources drops from peaks in 60s and 70s” in Newspaper Research Journal and “Unnamed Sources: A Utilitarian Exploration of their Justification and Guidelines for Limited Use” in the Journal of Mass Media Ethics.

Have one more article that will be published soon — it’s on limits to press freedoms in the Middle East.

In other news, I’ll be joining the faculty at Berry College as a visiting assistant professor this August. Looking forward to teaching full-time again. 

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