AJC columnist Jay Bookman pointed out in his column today that judges would like to handle their judicial disciplining behind closed doors. The move to secrecy is important since the Judicial Qualifications Commission has publicly reprimanded 60 judges in Georgia over the last eight years. But now, Bookman writes, judges want to change the process dramatically. In addition to changing how the JQC is appointed, they also want to
… close all future commission proceedings to the public. The public would not be made aware that a complaint had been filed, and it would not have access to the evidence unless the judge in question was found guilty. Proponents claim the secrecy is needed to protect the reputations of judges who are innocent, yet that’s a special privilege not extended to defendants in any courtroom in the state.
The proposed changes will be part of a constitutional amendment on the ballot this November.
Journalists in the state need to make the public aware of these changes toward more secrecy that will make judges less accountable to the public. Ask judges why they should have secret hearings when the public get open trials.
The AJC watchdog Chris Joyner recently wrote about a worrisome practice–council members using their cell phones during open meetings. Opponents in Milton were recently corresponding with a city councilor during public discussions of their the issue, prompting questions of impropriety since Sunshine laws demand most government meetings be totally open.
After the story published, the Georgia Attorney General’s office said that government officials should not text during meetings. But, AG spokesperson Nick Genesi said the Sunshine laws do not expressly forbid the practice:
“The public should demand better behavior from their elected officials,” Nick Genesi said. But, he added, “Right now the current statute doesn’t cover this gross violation of public policy.”
Genesi said his boss wanted to include language reining in the use of technology, such as text messaging, during otherwise public meetings in his rewrite of state sunshine laws four years ago, but he said Olens got resistance from state lawmakers.
We suggest lawmakers amend the law, and journalists in the state keep an out to see if texting while governing is an emerging trend.
I presented this powerpoint in Pakistan back in May. My audiences of students and professors seemed to enjoy it. I was in the country for 25 days as a Fulbright Specialist with the US Department of State. Met a lot of warm welcoming people and made some good relationships. Hope to go back again.
1) Investigative Reporters and Editors keeps a nice blog that spotlights good investigative journalism.
2) Here’s a bevy of college journalism ideas from College Media Matters.
3) Story ideas for high school journalists.
““The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
(Mentioned today in my guest lecture at the National University of Science and Technology in Islamabad, Pakistan. Thanks to the faculty of the Department of Mass Communication for hosting.)
Found an article from the Anniston Star about a charity pancake breakfast on a Saturday morning. If ever a story begged to be mailed in, this one did. Go down there, interview a few people making pancakes, write a label lede, put it in the cue and punch the clock.
But, reporter Kirsten Fiscus did not mail it in.
Read this lede:
David Lewis began his pancake duties at 5:30 a.m. Saturday. Standing on a cushioned pad, wearing a blue Kiwanis apron and splattered with pancake batter, Lewis studied the griddle in front of him.
Probably the best job I’ve ever done with public speaking. BOLDtalks in Dubai in 2012.
Wrote this piece for the Global Freedom of Expression project conference at Columbia University earlier this year. Here’s the beginning:
In 2014, Arab judges issued no exceptional rulings that helped embolden freedom of expression. Courts in the Gulf countries and nearby Arab states (Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq) largely upheld the authoritarian status quo. While many government prosecutors charged media outlets, journalists and social media speakers with violations, no judges ruled in favor of free speech.
Perhaps the Arab region’s biggest shift regarding free speech in 2014 involves legislation rather than any judiciary actions. Several countries embraced the use of anti-terrorism legislation to target journalists and social media speakers.
Two Arab governments revised their counterterrorism laws with broad, vague definitions of speech that can now be considered “terrorism.” In Saudi Arabia, the government updated the law to label as terrorism any act that seeks to “insult the reputation of the state.” Reporting on the flogging of liberal blogger Raif Badawi could be labeled “terrorism” under the new law’s broad definition.
Here’s the video of my talk:
I’ve been working on not saying “um” too much. Still need to work on it.
We hosted CNN cross-platform editor Jennifer Matthews in class today. Here are the journalism apps on her iPhone:
- Evernote — for taking notes
- Dropbox — for sharing info
- iTalk — audio app
- CameraPlus — good camera
- Tape-A-Call Pro — phone recorder
- FilmRic Pro — video editor
- RealTalk — audio recorder