Recently in Fall 2008 Category

Despite intense opposition based on “as much passion and emotion as reason,” a lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) argued that the recent decision to relax the 32-year-old ban on joint ownership of media outlets would improve news coverage through the combination of resources at the Silha Fall Forum Oct. 23, 2008.

2008 Silha Lecturer Says Media Organizations Need Ombuds

Silha Lecturer Siobhain Butterworth was introduced as “a member of an endangered species.” As readers’ editor, or internal ombudsman, for The Guardian newspaper in London, Butterworth is among a shrinking group of editors whose primary responsibility is to address reader complaints, clarifications, and corrections in the daily newspaper and online.

A documentary film about radical Islam that was distributed to approximately 28 million homes as a DVD insert in about 70 newspapers and through direct mail sparked controversy over the film’s content as well as the political motives behind its targeted distribution.

Record Fine for BBC over Phone-in Scams

On July 30, 2008, the British Office of Communications (Ofcom) announced that a record 400,000 British pounds in fines had been levied against the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in connection with phone-in competition violations that occurred on various programs on the network from 2005 to 2007.

Texas Weekly Folds after Plagiarism Accusation

A small Texas weekly newspaper shut down in August 2008 after plagiarizing dozens of stories from publications such as online magazine Slate and USA Today.

It began early Sunday morning, Sept. 7, 2008, when somebody searched the archives of the South Florida Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) and clicked on an old article from the Chicago Tribune about a company called UAL’s 2002 bankruptcy filing. Within 36 hours, the archived story about United Airlines’ parent company had been aggregated by Google News, picked up by a private financial news company in Florida, and distributed to stock traders on Wall Street by Bloomberg, sending the embattled airline company’s stock into a free fall.

The Florida Supreme Court declined to recognize the tort of false light invasion of privacy on Oct. 23, 2008 in a unanimous opinion that held the tort’s chilling effect on protected speech outweighed its potential to create a new remedy for a narrow class of wrongs.

International Libel Roundup

Senegalese Court Imprisons Publisher for Libel

A Senegalese court sentenced a newspaper publisher to three years in prison for including “false reports” in an article claiming the president and his son had stolen government funds.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill on September 27 that would change federal law to prohibit U.S. enforcement of certain foreign defamation judgments. The legislation moved on to the Senate on September 29. The bill is designed to protect Americans from “libel tourism,” a type of forum shopping in which plaintiffs choose to file libel suits in foreign jurisdictions that are more likely to produce a favorable result for them.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds $3.5 Million Libel Verdict

A mid-level Pennsylvania appeals court upheld a $3.5 million libel verdict against a Pennsylvania newspaper Sept. 18, 2008, ruling that it negligently defamed a businessman and one of his companies.

In the fallout from a conflict between Quinnipiac University officials and student journalists over posting breaking news stories on the Internet, members of The Quinnipiac Chronicle staff left to form the Quad News, an independent online publication.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit ruled Sept. 2, 2008 that students have a right to protest by wearing black armbands to school, calling a 40-year-old landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision on the same issue “dispositive.”

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