Recently in Spring 2009 Category

At a March 25 Silha Spring Forum, Stephen Cribari, a criminal and constitutional law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, said an ever-changing digital landscape has raised questions about constitutional interpretation. “Do we have to adjust the way we live to the Constitution, or do we need to adjust the Constitution to the way that we live our lives in an increasingly technological time?” Cribari asked.

As media coverage of an imminent swine flu pandemic raised concerns around the world, about 80 community members, journalists, journalism students, and professors gathered to discuss health news reporting at a spring ethics forum and town hall meeting titled “Fever Pitch: Does Health News Reporting Leave Consumers Out in the Cold?”

The 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a petition for rehearing en banc brought by the office supply company Staples March 18, leaving in place a panel decision that permitted the plaintiff to continue a defamation lawsuit even though the allegedly defamatory statements are true.

Two prominent April 2009 Los Angeles Times advertisements which were designed to look like news stories raised questions about whether the newspaper was blurring the lines between advertising and news content in response to declining revenue.

Texas Enacts Shield Law

Texas Gov. Rick Perry signed a journalist’s shield bill into law on May 13, 2009, making Texas the 36th state, as well as the District of Columbia, to adopt a statutory testimonial privilege for reporters.

A U.S. District Court Judge in Michigan ruled April 21, 2009 that Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter could refuse to answer questions about confidential sources based on the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self incrimination.

St. Paul officials continue to face fallout from the September 2008 Republican National Convention (RNC).

Freelance Journalist Initially Given Eight Years for Espionage

Two American journalists arrested by North Korean border guards on March 17, 2009 will be put on trial June 4 for entering the country illegally and committing “hostile acts.” Limited news and information about the journalists’ situation and the lack of direct diplomatic relations between the United States and North Korea have exacerbated the situation.

Minnesota Legislature Toys with Secrecy Measures

The Minnesota House of Representatives recognized Sunshine Week 2009 with a unanimous resolution affirming constitutional rights to “freedom of the press and freedom of expression,” but media law commentators questioned the depth of that conviction, pointing to actions designed to increase secrecy earlier in the session.

On April 10, 2009, the Veterans Affairs Department (VA) returned a digital memory card to a radio reporter after confiscating it while the reporter interviewed a veteran at the VA Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) filed a declaratory judgment action in state court Dec. 5, 2008 asserting exclusive ownership of all pictures, video, and written accounts of the Wisconsin high school athletic events it organizes.

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