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 an assistant professor Kennesaw State University in Georgia, USA.

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


Recommended Reading

UAE Observations

Other stuff

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Judges Rarely Limit Security Forces, Prosecutors in Arab Countries

posted on October 29, 2015 at 9:22 pm

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.

Today’s journalism iPhone apps

posted on September 29, 2015 at 6:28 pm

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

Presentation at Media Trends conference in Vienna

posted on September 11, 2015 at 9:56 am

Slides for my talk tomorrow at Webster University about the search for “global norms” in the regulation of media and speech.

Vienna media trends 2015 from Matt J. Duffy

The reason white people don’t want to talk about integration

posted on August 27, 2015 at 9:33 am

I’m having fun using Medium as a publishing tool. Here’s a quick one using This American Life as a foundation.
Why we really focus on improving black schools rather than integrating black students

A short story from my youth

posted on August 14, 2015 at 8:19 am

Steakhouse managers sometimes make the best decisions

Developments in Arab media laws

posted on August 8, 2015 at 10:24 am

Here are the slides to my presentation at the AEJMC journalism educators conference in San Francisco today.

Arab Media Laws — searching from Matt J. Duffy

I discuss the latest developments in media regulation including cybercrime, anti-terrorism and hate speech laws. I also address the search for “global norms” in communication regulation.

Presentation at 9th Annual Al Jazeera Forum

posted on May 4, 2015 at 1:42 am

I’m honored to be in Doha, Qatar, today presenting at a conference on freedom of expression. Here are the slides from my presentation:

Balancing freedom of expression with national laws and domestic policies from Matt J. Duffy

Comparative analysis of Arab defamation laws

posted on March 27, 2015 at 6:41 am

Presenting this paper today at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium in Knoxville, a gathering of media law educators in the United States.

How can organizations spread press freedom better?

posted on March 23, 2015 at 7:09 am

Here are my slides for my presentation today at the Arab Human Rights conference in Doha, Qatar:

My main points:

  1. Need to focus on judicial rulings and get good ones translated/disseminated.
  2. Need to focus on international approaches — don’t just report that a journalist was arrested, explain how that violates her ability to her job and how other countries protect journalists.
  3. Need for transparency when reporting on free press violations. Who is the judge? The prosecutor? Don’t let them hide behind anonymity.
  4. Focus on penal codes, not just media laws. The two rulings in Africa overturned bad penal code law (criminal defamation and “false news”), not bad media law.


I really stressed the recent ruling from the African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights that outlawed criminal defamation. The high court ruled that putting a journalist in jail is incompatible with human rights.

Here’s a link about the court ruling. And here’s a link to theKonate vs. Burkina Faso ruling itself. And here’s a link to the Media Legal Defense Initiative, the NGO that provided defense for the journalist in Burkina Faso who had the temerity to report on the corruption of a public official.

This African court ruling is a landmark decision for this part of the world. I’m working on creating an organization that translates legal rulings like this one for dissemination to Arabic-speaking judges, lawyers, prosecutors and journalists in the Middle East. Contact me if you’d like to help.

Finally, since you’re here, please take a look at my research: Arab Media Laws: Identifying restraints on freedom of the press in the Gulf countries. Here’s an earlier version that was translated into Arabic: قوانين الإعلام العربية: تحديد القيود على حرية الصحافة في دول الخليج.

First Amendment and its global importance

posted on March 13, 2015 at 5:19 pm

Here’s a great quote from free speech scholar Rodney Smolla:

The American experience with freedom of speech is important to the rest of the world not because our current First Amendment policies are necessarily wise — it is not that Americans have all the perplexing issues of free speech “right.” American thinking on freedom of speech is relevant to the rest of the world because our experience in wrestling with free speech conflicts and communications policy is unusually rich. American society may not have the best answers, but it has thought about the problems more. Under the American First Amendment, the United States has experimented more often than any other culture in the world with the radical presumption that it is better to err on the side of openness than repression, even when the public arguments for repression are alluring.

Found that gem from 1992 in a great journal article by my good friend Kyu Ho Youm.

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