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
Slides for my talk tomorrow at Webster University about the search for “global norms” in the regulation of media and speech.
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
Here are the slides to my presentation at the AEJMC journalism educators conference in San Francisco today.
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.
I’m honored to be in Doha, Qatar, today presenting at a conference on freedom of expression. Here are the slides from my presentation:
Presenting this paper today at the AEJMC Southeast Colloquium in Knoxville, a gathering of media law educators in the United States.
Here are my slides for my presentation today at the Arab Human Rights conference in Doha, Qatar:
My main points:
- Need to focus on judicial rulings and get good ones translated/disseminated.
- 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.
- Need for transparency when reporting on free press violations. Who is the judge? The prosecutor? Don’t let them hide behind anonymity.
- 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.
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.