media law

‘Media Law in the United Arab Emirates’ published, available on Amazon

I’m pleased to announce that my book on UAE media laws has been published. Click here to purchase the book on Amazon.

Since I’ll probably only sell about 8 copies, here are the acknowledgements:

I’d like to thank my colleagues at Zayed University’s College of Communication and Media Sciences in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the opportunity to teach journalism and international media law in the country. Razi Rizvi, a lawyer with Simmons & Simmons, provided valuable insight into many sections of this book and also provided some of the primary sources. The Center for International Media Education (CIME) and the Department of Communication at Georgia State University have also provided support for this project. Ella Doueiry, a student at Georgia State University and assistant at CIME, helped with some of the Arabic translations. Also, my media law research supported by the Doha Centre for Media Freedom on the Gulf Cooperation Council countries also proved helpful. Finally, I’d like to thank Dr. Kyu Ho Youm, the president of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and John Marshall First Amendment chair at the School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon, for suggesting that I write this book.

I’m not positive, but I think this book is the first to solely address the media laws of an Arab country.

UPDATE: “Media Law in the United Arab Emirates” is also available at Amazon UK.

By | May 9th, 2014|Uncategorized|3 Comments

Nancy Grace libel case will hinge on whether she knew she was wrong

CNN’s Nancy Grace has been sued for defamation by Michael Skakel, a Kennedy relative who’s spent more than a dozen years in prison for murder. Here’s the New York Times article for full background, but suffice it to say that Grace and one of her guests accused Skakel of being tied to the crime with DNA evidence. No such evidence was ever entered in court proceedings so it’s unclear where they got this information.

In order to win a libel case, the plaintiff must prove that the defamatory information was false, disseminated and caused harm. In addition, public figures must prove “actual malice,” that the information was known to be untrue. Private figures need only prove that the journalists acted with negligence of some kind. It’s unclear whether Skakel will be treated as a public or private figure but previous cases have held that people charged with crimes become limited-purpose public figures.

If a public figure, Skakel would need to prove that Grace and her guest knew the DNA evidence was never present and yet said that it was anyway. CNN hasn’t released any details about where Grace got the information but during the discovery process, she will definitely be asked under oath to explain her sourcing. If a private figure, Skakel would need to only prove the Grace and her guest didn’t follow normal newsroom procedures to verify the DNA evidence information.

Either way, Skakel looks to have a good case since the DNA information appears to be definitely untrue.

Another defense will regard Skakel’s tarnished reputation. Some libel cases have been won when the defense proved the plaintiff’s reputation was so bad that it couldn’t be damaged any further. Given that Skakel is out of prison and receiving a new trial, Grace and her co-defendant’s probably won’t be able to make that defense stick.

It’s an interesting case — one that will be fun to follow, as long CNN’s corporate bosses don’t decide to cut their losses and settle.

By | January 2nd, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Kudos to local Atlanta press for fighting judge’s gag order

The judge in the trial of the Atlanta Public School cheating scandal case just lifted the gag order that had prohibited defendants from talking to the press. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported:

(Superior Court Judge Jerry) Baxter granted a motion jointly filed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News seeking to remove gag orders on the APS defendants that were made a part of their bonds. The orders restricted the administrators and educators from talking to the media and public about the case.

Tom Clyde, a lawyer for the AJC and WSB-TV, said “a core part of being an American citizen” is a defendant’s right to profess his or her innocence.

Quinn countered that the defendants agreed to the condition in exchange for getting their bonds reduced. “This was something they did knowingly and voluntarily,” he said.

Baxter disagreed.

So, the judge asked, they could either post bonds of several million dollars or agree not to talk about the case?

“I’m striking that,” he said.

The gag order limited the press from covering the story fairly by giving prosecutors a monopoly on access to reporters.

Gag orders are considered a form of “prior restraint” — a serious abridgment of freedom of the press. However, they aren’t necessarily viewed as unconstitutional since the U.S. Constitution guarantees both a right to a free press as well as a right to a fair trial.

The Supreme Court generally holds that gag orders must directly lead to a more fair trial for defendants in order to uphold any restrictions on press coverage.

Given that standard, it’s hard to see how the gag order in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating case would lead to a more fair trial for the defendants.

The AJC and WSB deserve praise for paying their lawyers to fight the gag order. They are owned by the same company, Cox Communications — a reminder that bigger isn’t always badder when it comes to media outlets.

By | May 4th, 2013|AJC|0 Comments