WAN-IFRA

A publication of the World Editors Forum

Date

Sat - 30.08.2014


legal

The Independent reported yesterday that the UK Press Complaints Commission, which has come under heavy criticism for its failure to curb phone hacking at the News of the World, is due to close down in the near future, and replace itself with a new regulator.

The paper writes that the PCC will close “in a fast-tracked programme that will kill off the name of the PCC, abandon its current structures and governance, and establish a new regulatory body”. It states that the new regulator will be established before the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics delivers its report at the end of the year.

The Independent writes that the PCC’s closure was discussed at a full meeting of the commission, headed by its chairman Lord Hunt.

For more on this story please see our sister publication www.sfnblog.com

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2012-03-08 19:07

How have government-media relations changed after the arrival of WikiLeaks and the scandal at the News of the World, wondered panellists at a WPFC and UNESCO-organised conference in Paris last week, The Media World after WikiLeaks and News of the World.

Henrikas Yushkiavitshus, the former UNESCO Assistant Director General for Communication and Information and former Vice-Chairman of Gostel Radio in Moscow, opened the session on government-media relations by reminding the audience that the relationship between media and goverments has always been fraught, since well before the birth of Wikileaks as a phenomenon. Governments, he said in his opening remarks, will not always cooperate with the media. The situation is complicated by the public perception of the media, which cannot be counted on to be favourable. Indeed in the United States, public trust in the media stood at 46% in 2008, 2 points below public trust in the government, and that figure continued to drop over the following two years.

Author

William Granger's picture

William Granger

Date

2012-02-20 11:29

Journalists and legal commentators can live tweet court proceedings without getting special permission from a judge, declared the UK's Lord Chief Justice yesterday.

"Twitter as much as you wish," said the judge as he handed down the guidance, which comes into effect immediately and determines the use of laptops and handheld devices in court.

In the past, journalists had to get special permission from the judge in order to be allowed to tweet, text or email live from the courtroom. These rules were based on guidelines issued December 2010.

But although the new guidance lifts restrictions, there are still caveats. Journalists' rights to use Twitter, text and email inside the courtroom can be withdrawn by the judge at any time if they seem to be compromising the administration of justice. Journalists are still bound by rules on legal reporting that were established in the 1981 Contempt of Court Act. The ruling only applies to legal proceedings that are open to the public. Photography and tape recording is still not allowed in court.

Within these boundaries, the Justice was positive about tweeting in court: 'a fundamental aspect of the proper administration of justice is the principle of open justice. Fair and accurate reporting of court proceedings forms part of that principle.'

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-12-15 17:01

What's the difference between a journalist and a blogger?

Once upon a time, this might have just been a subject to get people riled up on Twitter. Yet now it has also become a more serious legal question in the wake of the conviction of blogger Crystal Cox for defamation.

Cox, who blogs about law, industry, finance and corruption was convicted for defaming the investment firm Obsidian Finance Group in this post. Cox accuses the firm's co-founder Kevin Padrick or being a "a Thug, Thief and a Liar" and writes that he is guilty of bankruptcy fraud.

The case took place in Portland, Oregon, where the U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez ruled against Cox and awarded $2.5 million to Obsidian Finance Group.

The controversial element was not so much that Cox lost her case as the judge's reasoning behind his decision. Cox argued that the basis for her post was an anonymous whistleblower, and maintained that she was unable to prove the factual basis of her writing without revealing her source.

Oregon state has a media shield law, protecting journalists from being forced by the judiciary to divulge their sources. Yet, controversially, the judge ruled:

Author

Hannah Vinter's picture

Hannah Vinter

Date

2011-12-09 11:27

The TUC and NUJ are both taking major steps to improve protection of journalists in the U.K. The unions are working to safeguard both the physical safety of reporters and to defend their right to an individual conscience by protecting journalists' jobs should they speak out against unethical practice.

The NUJ has proposed an emergency motion at the TUC conference, which intends to publicly decry the actions of the English Defence League (EDL), a far right group that has attacked and harassed journalists, and which will propose that the unions join together in solidarity if their members are threatened by such actions. The union will also call for the police to identify and prosecute trade union members who are attacked by EDL members.

The NUJ has received many reports, corroborated by eye witness accounts, that journalists have suffered racial abuse and been physically attacked by the group, members of which have sexually assaulted a female journalist and set light to a photographer by throwing lighter fluid over him, simply because he was reporting on their demonstrations.

Author

Katherine Travers

Date

2011-09-13 13:38

The phrase "I don't have direct knowledge" has been thrown around often in today's Parliament hearings with Rupert and James Murdoch.

In the conference, British lawmakers grilled the Murdochs on financial details of settlements, facts about earlier phone hacking cases, political influence, and who exactly was responsible for the illegal phone hacking. Rupert Murdoch prefaced the questions with the statement, "This is the humblest day of my life."

He then distanced himself from responsibility, saying that News of the World represented just one percent of his company and that he was not told by editors about large payments to settle phone hacking cases out of court. His answers were slow and he appeared to have trouble remembering details. His son, James, kept trying to jump in and answer questions, but one Parliament member kept redirecting corporate responsibility questions back to Murdoch senior.

When asked, Rupert Murdoch said that he was "not really in touch". He claimed to talk to his senior editors about once a week, but later revised the answer to once a month. According to him, the conversations remained informal, opening with his question, "What's doing?" and stayed on topics of news stories. He insisted that he did not influence the stories. He later revised his account again, saying that he would not normally pay that much attention to British newspapers that make up just 1 percent of his business.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-07-19 19:16

After a court decision that ordered it to remove a group of Belgian newspapers from Google News search results, Google not only blocked the newspapers from its news site but also removed them from its main search index, the Associated Press reported. Google said that this was necessary to comply with the Belgian court's decision, All Things D reported. A consortium representing the newspapers claimed, however, that Google was retaliating against the newspapers over the copyright infringement suit.

The case started in 2006, when Copiepresse, a newspaper copyright management company, filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that Google News had no right to post links to its members' content. The resulting ruling forced Google to remove links and snippets of French- and German-language Belgian newspapers from its news search. Google tried to overturn that ruling but was unsuccessful, Bloomberg reported in May.

Author

Teemu Henriksson's picture

Teemu Henriksson

Date

2011-07-18 16:08

Since its advent, the Internet has blurred the lines between copyrighted and free content. Publishers are frustrated with the seeming inability to keep material under control, and commentators are increasingly careful about sourcing material in order to stay on the right side of copyright and plagiarism cases.

One such case earlier this week ruled that reposting an article in its entirety, even without the owner's authority, was fair use of the work. In this particular instance, Righthaven, a company specializing in copyright litigation, sued Wayne Hoehn, a user of the site medjacksports.com, for posting an article to prompt discussion. Righthaven argued that posting the article reduced the number of hits the Review-Journal site would have received.

After citing the fair use clause as he ruled in favor of Hoehn, the judge explained that he found the posting to be for non-commercial purposes. He added that Righthaven did not have enough of a stake in the dispute to entitle it to bring the case to court.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-06-22 14:10

The Dutch and the British governments are currently addressing issues of freedom of information in social and traditional media.

Today the Dutch home affairs minister Piet Hein Donner has announced he will restrict freedom of information laws because they are being "misused" by journalists looking for a story.

He attributed the development to costs, explaining that "dozens" of civil servants dedicate their workdays to answering questions and providing documentation.

The service was intended to allow citizens the right to see government documents, but Hein Donner said earlier this month that journalists are using it to "fire off random shots in the hope of hitting something".

His definition of citizen is a bit puzzling, as it excludes journalists. From this perspective, it is not the press' job to be a check on the government. Only individuals not seeking to publish should have access to information. This is a surprising move from the Dutch government, as only six years ago it was ranked in first place in a press freedom index conducted by Reporters without Borders.

Author

Florence Pichon

Date

2011-06-01 17:27

AGCOM, the Italian communications watchdog authority, has imposed fines on five national newscasts for violating elections rules by allowing prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to rally voter on air ahead of a second round of local polls without including opposition views, adnkronos reported.

The regulator body imposed the maximum permitted fine of €258,230 on the TG1, the newscast of the principal public broadcasting channel RAI, and on TG4, one of the Berlusconi's private Mediaset news bulletins, since they are repeat offenders, and fines of €100,000 each on TG2, the second public channel, TG5 and Studio Aperto, again owned by Berlusconi's Mediaset, Corriere della Sera reported.

As the adnkronos article explained, in a series of interviews aired 20 May, Berlusconi sought to mobilise his centre-right political base for the mayoral run-offs being held this weekend in many Italian cities, branding the centre-left opposition as "extremist".

There are seven national news channels in Italy, so only two newscasts, the last public one TG3 and La7 were not fined.

Author

Federica Cherubini's picture

Federica Cherubini

Date

2011-05-24 18:42

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