Recently in Spring 2001 Category

Silha Lecture 2001 To Focus on Bartnicki v. Vopper

Lee Levine, the prominent First Amendment attorney who represented the media defendants in Bartnicki v. Vopper, currently pending before the Supreme Court of the United States, will present the 2001 Annual Silha Lecture on Tuesday, October 2, 2001,beginning at 7 p.m. The Lecture will take place in Cowles Auditorium on the West Bank of the Minneapolis campus of the University of Minnesota, and will be followed by a reception in the atrium outside the auditorium.

By Batiaan Vanacker

When, if ever, is it justified for the media to provide a forum to criminals and terrorists, and when, if ever, is it justified for journalists to cross the line between bystander and participant ? In Colorado Springs, a local TV station provided two dangerous fugitives free airtime in return for a peaceful surrender to authorities, while in Phoenix, a weekly newspaper published an interview with an alleged member of an environmentalist group responsible for setting eleven houses in Phoenix Preserve areas ablaze. Both events sparked debates in local and national media about the moral obligations of media towards their community and society as a whole. In the early morning of January 24, 2001 Patrick Murphy Jr. and Donald Newbury surrendered to law enforcement officers after being cornered in a motel room in Colorado Springs. The two were the last of a gang of seven that escaped from a Texas prison 42 days earlier. The heavily armed fugitives submitted to authorities in exchange for a ten minute televised interview. KKTV Channel 11 agreed to do the interview. Twelve year veteran anchor Said Singer interviewed the escapees by phone while sitting in an office at the motel. During the interview, the two refugees expressed their discontent with the Texas penal system. At the conclusion, they walked out unarmed and surrendered.

FAIR Compiles Report of Pressures on Journalists

By Batiaan Vanacker

Although the United States Constitution guarantees the country's media freedom from government interference, some have argued that this freedom and independence are being endangered from a different threat: corporate interests and financial pressures are said to shape and determine news and media content. Polls among journalists by media watch groups such as the Pew Center for the People & the Press and Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), indicate that journalists often are compelled to put the economic interests of advertisers ahead of the public's right to know when writing or selecting news stories.

Yahoo! Bans Sales of Nazi Memorabilia After French Ruling

By Bastiaan Vanacker

On January 3, 2001, Yahoo! decided to ban the sale of Nazi memorabilia on its auction site, six weeks after a court in Paris ordered the US-based company to bar French surfers from its auctions. Free speech activists and Internet scholars have argued that this case sets a dangerous precedent, because it allows a country to reach across its boundaries and impose its norms on another nation.

Silha Center Offers Comments on Access To Court Records

By Eric Ugland

In an effort to encourage greater public access to court records in electronic formats, the Silha Center submitted formal comments on Jan. 26, 2001, to a subcommittee of the United States Judicial Conference, arguing that privacy concerns should not deter the courts from continuing their efforts to provide access to judicial records through computer networks, including the Internet.

Silha Forum Focuses on Film Restoration

By Elaine Hargrove-Simon

On February 8, 2001, the Silha Forum marked a creative departure from typical fora of the past which have dealt with issues relating to press law and ethics. Entitled "Lost and Found," the forum dealt with the rights and responsibilities of the film industry, in film restoration and preservation, as well as the rights all of us have to enjoy film as a significant part of our culture and history.

In January 2001, the Silha Center joined the Advisory Council of The Cornerstone Project. Located in Washington, D.C., The Cornerstone Project is a three-year public education campaign sponsored by the Media Institute. The focus of the Project is celebration of the First Amendment, and to bring awareness of the First Amendment to all Americans. The Project consists of three elements: media relations and promotion, education and public service announcements. According to Richard Kaplar of the Media Institute, "Every American has a stake in the First Amendment, and the independence of America is critical for free speech and media choice."

British Court Issues Historic Privacy Decision

By Bastiaan Vanacker

In a landmark ruling on December 21, 2000, the Court of Appeals in London recognized for the first time a right to privacy in British law. The court ruling might have far-reaching consequences for media in the United Kingdom.

By Eric Ugland

For the first time since its founding in 1984, the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law has co-authored an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in a First Amendment case.

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