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.
Just wanted to immortalize those awesome six words of reporting from Bob Simon. He was a true journalist — interested in telling the stories of those without voices. Here’s a great retrospective on his career from 60 Minutes.
Good list. Just covers 2014.
Earlier today, 12 journalists at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hepbo, were murdered by terrorists angry that the publication had mocked their religion.
Salman Rushdie released the following statement, which seems perfectly apt:
Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.
His words may offend and affront some of my Muslim friends. Nonetheless, he’s right. Freedom of expression demands no less.
Here are the first six graphs of Roger Ebert’s review of “Death Sentence”:
When he was asked by Johnny Carson how a magazine could quote him saying he really would murder to avenge his family, Charles Bronson looked Carson in the eye and said, “Because the quote is accurate. I really could, and I would.” There was a little silence then, because Bronson was totally convincing.
He was publicizing “Death Wish” (1974), his film about a man whose wife is killed and daughter raped. He gets a gun and starts posing as bait for muggers, a middle-aged guy with a bag of groceries. Then he shoots them dead. I think he kills about 11 victims (17 in the book) and is nicknamed “The New York Vigilante,” but the homicide rate drops 50 percent in New York, and so a cop cuts him a deal: Get out of town. As the film ends, he’s drawing a bead on a guy in Chicago.
Funny thing. When Bronson made “Death Wish II” (1982), it was set in Los Angeles, even though Brian Garfield, the author of the novel Death Wish, had written a 1975 sequel, Death Sentence, set in Chicago. Ah, yes, here’s my copy right here, dedicated to “Jay Robert Nash, John McHugh, Roger Ebert and Bill Granger, Chicago front-pagers all, with thanks.”
He was thanking us because he’d come to Chicago to research the city (in two days, as I recall), and we agreed to meet him at the Billy Goat to feed him the real dope. The Goat (“no fries, cheeps”) is a hamburger-and-booze emporium tucked away on the lower level of Michigan Avenue, responsible for the enticing aroma of frying onions that pedestrians enjoy in front of the Wrigley Building. You will recognize the tavern on the book’s Page 27, “a block from Tribune Tower and equidistant from the Sun-Times and Daily News press rooms.” His hero figures police reporters who hang out there “might be the best source of information about the unfamiliar city.” He carries his beer to the back of the bar, where “there were nine or 10 men and women roughed up by alcohol and cigarettes and the cynicism of insider’s experience.” He got the Billy Goat right.
Bronson went on to make “Death Wish 3″ (1985), “Death Wish 4″ (1987) and “Death Wish V” (1994), by which date he was 73 and didn’t need the bag of groceries as bait. They were set variously in Los Angeles and New York, largely filmed in Toronto, and never did get back to Chicago, reportedly because Garfield hated the first movie and its sequels so much he would never sell the rights to Death Sentence. But now here at last, in 2007, is “Death Sentence,” and it is filmed in, that’s right, South Carolina. It doesn’t follow the book, either.
Kevin Bacon steps into the Bronson role, although curiously, even with the real sequel to work with, his name is changed from Paul Benjamin to Nick Hume. In the movie’s first press releases, he was John Hume. In the Bronson movies, he was Paul Kersey. There is always a legal reason for these things. I favor John Paul. Probably another bad idea. You may have no interest in the information I’ve shared so far, but I’ll bet you don’t read it anywhere else. Probably a reason for that, too.
Nope, I was interested. Ebert’s a fantastic writer — won a Pulitzer Prize for film reviews. I miss being able to pick up his reviews.
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.
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
Tracking twitter hits
… 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.
Here are my slides from today’s presentation at the AUSACE conference on defamation laws of the Middle East.