Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tweet Cleaning

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Responding to an online petition supporting British activist Caroline Criado-Perez, the target of abusive posts that included rape threats, microblogger colossus Twitter this week said it will add a software-friendly button that will enable users to report offensive posts, the New York Times reported.

In the last month, Twitter already added such a button to its iPhone and iPad versions, and will expand the report abuse function to its Android and desktop Web versions, according to the Times article..  Del Harvey, the company's senior director for trust and safety, cedes that the company can't monitor the more than 400 million tweets posted daily, and notes that Twitter already has in place a complaint-reporting system, albeit one that involves completing a form.

Besides the button, Twitter also recommends that users unfollow offensive accounts, block abusive tweeters and report threatening messages to police.
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

No WAAY: TV Reporter Fired for Personal Blog Disclosures

WAAY-TV
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Shea Allen, until last Friday an investigative reporter for Huntsville, Alabama, ABC affiliate WAAY-TV, this week appeared on The Today Show, Inside Edition and gave interviews to more than a half-dozen radio stations. Not bad exposure for a young reporter who attended Georgia's Kennesaw State University.

The problem is that Allen garnered national attention, not for her journalistic prowess, but because she was fired by her employer concerning a personal blog item she posted a week ago entitled Confessions of a Red-Headed Reporter.  Initially, she took down the blog post at the station's behest, but then re-posted it with the explanation: "The post was taken down because I was momentarily misguided about who I am and what I stand for." Channeling freedom of the press icon John Peter Zenger, she went on to say: "To clarify, I make no apologies for the following re-post. It's funny, satirical and will likely offend some of the more conservative folks. But it isn't fake and it's a genuine look into my slightly twisted psyche."

What exactly were the reporter's "confessions" or insights that prompted WAAY, which has not commented officially on the "personnel matter," to part ways with Allen? The revelations include:


  • I've gone bra-less during a live broadcast and no one was the wiser.
  • My best sources are the ones who secretly have a crush on me.
  • I hate the right side of my face.
  • I'm frightened of old people and I refuse to do stories involving them or the places they reside.
  • I've taken naps in the news car.
  • I've stolen mail and then put it back (maybe).


Some members of the nation's ever-growing perpetual rage industry are in a dither that Allen's First Amendment rights were trampled  by WAAY-TV in its ham-fisted effort to silence her message.  It could be an over-reaction on the station's part, or maybe the station was embarrassed that it was parading this on-the-airhead on its newscast as a broadcast journalist, the same description that has been applied to the late Peter Jennings and Bill Moyers, for example.

Even though there was no social media in his heyday, somehow the anchor-groupie staff of  "TUOL" can't imagine Walter Cronkite posting: "I'm doing the newscast commando-style tonight without my tighty-whities."

Allen follows in the footsteps of the 1-day wonder news anchor who appeared on Today as part of his national rehabilitation tour after he was fired for dropping an F-bomb and other expletives during his cringe-inducing, flop-sweaty inaugural newscast.

It's becoming less of a mystery as to why public disdain for journalists is on the rise.



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Thomson Reuters Twitter Feed Hacked by Pro-Assad Group

English: President Bashar al-Assad, Aleppo, Ab...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hacking is the great equalizer for "armies" that might not fare so well on the battlefield, as financial data and news giant Thomson Reuters learned yesterday.

The Web site Allthingsd.com reported that the Syrian Electronic Army ("SEA"), which backs President Bashar al-Assad in the Middle East nation's bloody, nearly two-and-a-half-year-old civil war, briefly co-opted @ThomsonReuters to spew seven tweet links to images that included pro-Assad cartoons that BuzzFeed captured.

The Thomson Reuters account was temporarily suspended until the company regained control of it. The SEA last April and May took credit for hacking into Twitter accounts of CBS, The Guardian and Financial Times, according to the Allthingsd article.

Turns out you can't believe everything you read in social media world, a shocking revelation to no one.


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Monday, July 29, 2013

Talkin' Turkey: PM Threatens Times of London with Legal Action

English: Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan, Prime Minister ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A month after branding Twitter  a "provocateur" (see "TUOL" post 6/26/13), Turkey's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has the Times of London in his sites, threatening the daily with legal action over a full-page political ad criticizing him for his "dictatorial rule," Al-Jazeera reported today.

Hollywood's Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn are among the signatories in the ad that objects to the PM's handling of anti-government demonstrations and blames Erdogan for the deaths of five protesters. Demonstrators, whom the PM has condemned as "terrorists" and "looters," are demanding his ouster.

"We will pursue legal channels regarding the Times," Erdogan is quoted as saying in the Al-Jazeera. It's puzzling to "TUOL" what Erdogan believes is being 'broadcast' on such legal channels that would give rise to an actionable claim against the daily for running a paid advertisement.
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Sinclair Boosts Its Local TV Station Stable

Logo of Allbritton Communications
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hunt Valley, Md.-based Sinclair Broadcast Group, already the nation's largest local television station owner, will augment its holdings by purchasing Allbritton tv stations for $985 million, the Poynter.org Web site reported today.

Robert Allbritton is unloading the tv stations, which include WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. and Lynchburg, Va. station WSET-TV, to focus on his other enterprises, including Politico, according to the Poynter article. To comply with FCC station ownership restrictions, Sinclair will divest itself of stations in Alabama, South Carolina and Pennsylvania.


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Friday, July 26, 2013

Zimmerman Rekindles Defamation Suit Against NBC

Image representing NBC Universal as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase
Just under two weeks since a 6-member jury acquitted him of all charges in the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman is ready to head back to a courtroom to restart his dormant defamation suit against NBC, the iMediaEthics.org Web site reported.

The case, Zimmerman v. NBC Universal Media LLC et al. (Case No. 2012CA006178), filed in Seminole County Circuit Court last December (see "TUOL" post 12/7/12), which alleges defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, was stayed last February per a motion by NBC pending the outcome of the criminal case against Zimmerman.

The suit concerns an edited tape of a 911 call placed by Zimmerman that aired on the Today show in March 2012, that the plaintiff alleges depicts him as racist. NBC apologized in April 2012,  for the edits made to the taped call and dismissed staffers involved in airing the story, including a reporter and producer who also are defendants in the suit.

Zimmerman is likely to have to prove actual malice to prevail in his suit, as the high-profile murder trial elevates him to the status of, at least, a limited public figure.

http://www.imediaethics.org/News/4056/George_zimmerman_moves_to_restart_libel_lawsuit_against_nbc_over_edited_911_tape.php 
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McClatchy Second Quarter Profits Plunge

The McClatchy Company
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Sacramento, Calif.-based media conglomerate The McClatchy Company reported a dramatic decline in Second Quarter earnings compared to a year ago, as print advertising and newspaper circulation continues to crumble industry-wide.

Net income for Q2 was $11.8 million, down from $26.9 million over the comparable period a year ago. Profits fell $5 million to $11.1 million, compared to the 2012 second quarter total of $16.1 million. Total Second Quarter revenues reached $308.8 million, a 3.5 percent decrease from results a year ago.

McClatchy owns 30 daily newspapers and numerous weeklies nationwide.
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Forbes' Case of Mistaken Preference Prompts Apology to Ireland Prez

Irish politician Michael D. Higgins of the Lab...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An online article in Forbes magazine that erroneously described the 72-year-old president of Ireland as an "acknowledged homosexual" has prompted the business periodical to apologize to its readers and to the Emerald Isle's leader, the Associated Press reported today.

Michael D. Higgins, a Limerick native who is married and the father of four, has not responded to Forbes' gaffe or apology. Higgins, a poet who was elected President in 2011 defeated, among other candidates, openly gay Sen. David Norris, according to the AP story. Billionaire founder of the magazine, Malcolm Forbes, was outed by a magazine as gay shortly after his death in 1990.

Forbes has since pulled the inaccurate story from its Web site.
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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SouthComm Pulls the Plug on Nashville's The City Paper

English: Downtown Nashville
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A 13-year-old free Nashville news weekly will disappear after its Aug. 9 edition because of sagging advertising revenues, the publication's owner told staffers today.

SouthComm CEO Chris Ferrell said some staffers of The City Paper would be laid off, while others would be absorbed by the  chain's other papers, Nashville Scene and Nashville Post. The City Paper began as a weekday daily in 2000 and was acquired by SouthComm in 2008.
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NY Judge: Google Must ID Anonymous Blogger

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New York Supreme Court Justice Debra A. James has ordered Google, Inc. to disclose the identity of an anonymous blogger whose two Web sites allegedly defame a Manhattan-based consumer lawyer.

As reported by the Wall St. Journal Law Blog (blogs.wsj.com), in a Stipulated Order in Fredrick Schulman v. Google, Inc. et al. (Case No. 155629/2013), Justice James ruled the plaintiff had demonstrated a potential cause of action against the creator of the sites fredrickschulmancrookedattorney.com and stopfredrickschulman.blogspot.com and was entitled to pre-action discovery identifying the blogger under CPLR sec. 3012(c).

Schulman alleges he has suffered harm to his reputation and pecuniary loss because of the "malicious" online campaign against him.  Google was ordered to notify the unnamed blogger and alert him/her that he/she may challenge the efforts to disclose his/her identity.  The court discontinued the plaintiff's action as to Google.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Canada Dry: Sun Media Corp. Shuttering 11 Newspapers; Axing 360 Jobs

Sun Media
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Earlier this month, Quebecor, Inc.-owned Sun Media Corp. announced 360 staffers would be pink-slipped as the media conglomerate decided to close 11 newspapers as the industry continues its hopeful march to digital salvation in the wake of declining print advertising and eroding circulation.

Bloomberg News reported that eight newspapers in Saskatchewan, Quebec, Manitoba and Ontario will fall by the wayside, along with editions of the free city paper, 24 Hours, in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa. The company hopes to realize a savings of 53 million dollars Canadian ($55 million) by the move, which Sun Media COO Julie Tremblay insists was necessary to remain competitive.

Less than a year ago, Sun Media slashed 500 jobs and turned off the lights at two Ontario production facilities, according to Bloomberg News.
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Keith Olbermann Returning to the Line of Fire

Cropped headshot of Keith Olbermann
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
With Vegas oddsmakers focusing their action on what Kate & William will name the royal newborn ("TUOL" scored 20-1 odds on Murray), it's been impossible to lay down bets on how long baseball aficionado and political firebrand Keith Olbermann will survive his return to his ESPN sports commentary roots.

Earlier this month, it was announced that Olbermann inked a two-year deal to helm a late-night show on ESPN2. It's part of his career resurrection that also saw him signed by Turner Sports to co-host an Atlanta-based TBS program with Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley that will cover the MLB post-season, which on TBS includes the National League championships, both Wild Card playoff games and 18 League Division playoff games, Eckersley pitched before both the unforgiving fans of the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, so he should be able to withstand any controversy generated by the volatile Olbermann.

For Olbermann, the ESPN2 gig marks a less-than-triumphant return to where his career took off as co-anchor of ESPN's SportsCenter with Dan Patrick that came to a rancorous end in 1997. From there, Olbermann, a knowledgeable and devoted fan of the National Pastime (think Bob Costas bitten by a rabid animal), aired out his liberal viewpoint on MSNBC's Countdown for eight years, before unamicably parting ways with the cable news network to join Al Gore's Current TV (see "TUOL" post 2/8/11), before an unfriendly parting of the ways...(you get the idea).

Olbermann has been absent from television for more than a year, but has amassed more than 450,000 followers on Twitter.  His return to sports this fall on ESPN2 is occurring as rival Fox Sports 1 cable tv rolls out Crowd Goes Wild on weeknights that lured another television icon, Regis Philbin, back onto the airwaves.

"TUOL" believes Olbermann getting fired by ESPN2 within the year is more of a sure thing than Prince Murray.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Smackdown Between Amazon & Copyright Troll?

Copyright Into Infinity
 (Photo credit: Post-Software)
A California-based photo agency has sued Amazon-owned social network Goodreads for copyright infringement after a site group member allegedly posted a celebrity image without permission, the paidcontent.org Web site reported this week.

BWP, Inc. filed suit in Los Angeles seeking $150,000 under the damages provision of The Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. sec. 504(c)] after a young bookophile purportedly posted an image of hunky IM5 boy band member Dalton Rappatoni without authorization on a Goodreads group page. The group at issue seems to consist of four teen-aged girls who think Rappatoni is dreamy, so it's unclear how deep the pockets would be for the plaintiff to recover on its claim.

The paidcontent article raises the possibility that the lawsuit may be an example of "copyright trolling," a practice that Internet users and, increasingly, some judges, find offensive, in which copyright holders employ software to search the Internet for violations and sue bloggers and individuals with impunity to force short-money settlements. Troll companies often ally themselves with law firms for a contingency fee.

"TUOL" is not positioned to comment on the facts of this particular case, but would issue a caveat that any entity backed by a colossus such as Amazon is no pushover. Look for Goodreads to seek shelter behind the Digital Millenium Copyright Act ("DMCA") [17 U.S.C. sec. 1201 et seq.] that allows Internet Service Providers to escape liability by swiftly blocking access to infringing material posted by third parties upon receiving notice from the copyright holder.


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'Pranked' TV Station Faces Defamation Suit from Asiana Airlines

Asiana Airlines(OZ/AAR) Airbus A320-200
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Still reeling from the July 6 crash-landing of its Flight 214 at San Francisco International Airport that killed three and injured 180, Asiana Airlines is in no mood for puerile racist humor, and will file a defamation suit against the "pranked" Oakland TV news station that aired an erroneous story about the disaster, according to reports by CNN and the Associated Press.

KTVU-TV anchor Tori Campbell promptly apologized on-air after the station named and displayed a graphic identifying the pilots of the ill-fated Korean flight with the bogus names of Wi Tu Lo, Ho Li Fuk, Sum Ting Wong and Bang Ding Ow. The station, a CNN affiliate, said a National Safety Transportation Board official, who later proved to be an unidentified summer intern, confirmed the accuracy of the offensive names before the station ran the information. The NTSB has also issued an apology.

Asiana Airlines said it planned to take legal action because it was "demeaned" by the racially discriminatory account of the crash by KTVU-TV. Poor taste, however, is not the standard for prevailing in a defamation case, and it's difficult to envision how Asiana Airline's reputation was damaged by the false report. Except for the station's news executives who were asleep at the wheel, most people who heard the account probably did not believe the ridiculous names. Neither could KTVU-TV be found liable for actual malice, because, although it didn't distinguish itself journalistically by falling for the cruel prank, it did, nonetheless, attempt to corroborate the phony names by contacting the NTSB, a sound journalistic practice.

Asiana Airlines would be better served by reviewing its flight training practices than by bringing dubious face-saving lawsuits, and the doofus responsible for the wacky monikers might consider how he or she would explain to the survivors and family members of the Flight 214 fatalities why his or her attempt at humor was so screamingly funny.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Fuhgeddabowtit: Gov. Christie Grappling with NJ Daily Over Sandy-Related Records Request

North Jersey Media Group-owned daily The Record is engaged in a struggle in Mercer County Superior Court with feisty Gov. Chris Christie concerning a request under the Garden State's Open Public Records Act ("OPRA")[N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1] for Hurricane Sandy-related billing records, the Courthouse News Service reports.

The newspaper chain sued the state, the Governor's office and Custodian of Records Hilary Hewitt for invoices involving Witt Group Holdings dated from October 2012, to the present. Witt was hired to provide strategic support and consultation as the state attempted to regain its footing following the physical and economic devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy.
                                                                                 westfield nj february 8 new...
According to the media company's complaint, records regarding the Witt contract are a matter of public interest because of reports that Witt, along with at least four other companies hired by the state post-Sandy, have made political contributions to GOP causes and the Republican Governors Assn. The newspaper group alleges the state has been dragging its feet in response to the OPRA request, subsequently producing a Witt invoice for the period ending December 2012, in the amount of $553.812 that was unaccompanied by worksheets.

The NJMG claims worksheets ultimately produced by the Governor's Office were overly redacted as authorities relied on an advisory, consultative and deliberative privilege contained in OPRA. Hurricane Sandy was fierce, but "TUOL" suspects it's got nothing on a Gov. Christie agitated by a news media request for transparency.
                                                                                                         



Texas Appeals Court Tosses Defamation Suit Against Local TV Station

A three-judge panel for The Court of Appeals for the First District of Texas last week ruled that a trial court erred in denying a local television news station the use of the state's anti-SLAPP ("Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation") law as a defense in a defamation claim by the founder of a school for special needs students.

Justice Jim Sharp wrote the 21-page opinion in KTRK Television, Inc. v. Theaola Robinson (Case No. 01-12-00372-CV) that decided the station should have been able to invoke the Texas Citizens Participation Act ("TCPA") [Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. secs. 27.001-011] in its defense against the plaintiff's December 2011, lawsuit alleging she was defamed by reports aired by the ABC affiliate that purportedly accused her of embezzling $3 million in state funds. The station was covering a dispute between the Texas Education Association and Benji's Special Education Academy, the charter school Robinson founded in 1980.

"The reports did not say or imply that the entire $3 million in state funds had been misappropriated or embezzled," Justice Sharp wrote. "Rather, the statements speak to the insufficiency of financial records to account for spent state funds."
                                                                           
The appeallate panel said the plaintiff's defamation claim lacked sufficient proof and should have been dismissed under the TCPA.  (Tip of the hat to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Web site, www.rcfp.org, for reporting on the case.)

                                                                              

Monday, July 15, 2013

Media Outlet Less GOOD than Before

Just a year after GOOD Worldwide LLC shut down its magazine and abruptly terminated much of its editorial staff on a grim June day, the media platform last week laid off its creative producer and a coder, Poynter.org reported.

 CEO Ben Goldhirsh last fall oversaw GOOD Worldwide LLC as it remade itself into a "community platform" that reports on and promotes nonprofits, businesses and individuals engaged in "pushing the world forward." Apparently, the company hasn't stopped pushing employees out the door.

Ga. Newspaper Chain Dumps Photography Dept.

Southern Community Newspapers, Inc. ("SCNI"), a five-daily, two-weekly newspaper chain, has eliminated its photography department, Poynter.org reports.

Following the ignoble lead of the Chicago Sun-Times (see "TUOL" post 5/30/13), which recently dumped its entire staff of 28 photographers, SCNI boss Michael Gebhart decreed: "Journalists need to write, shoot video, post on the Internet and edit."  Three photographers were pink-slipped by SCNI and a fourth was shifted to a company videographer position.

With the entire newspaper industry reeling in the face of shrinking circulation and declining advertising, a depressing trend is developing (something darkroom photogs are no longer doing) that does a disservice to news consumers. Short-sighted newspaper executives are paying short shrift to the storytelling skills photojournalists bring to the table, and it won't be long before the ripple effects are felt in other news media and in journalism schools.

                                                                                      

Friday, July 12, 2013

CPJ Takes Gambia to Task for Oppressive Media Law Reform

The Parliament of the West African Republic of Gambia has enacted measures in recent months that endange its citizens' freedom of speech and restrict press freedom, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

On the same day earlier this month that the U.S. celebrated its birthday, the Gambian Parliament revised the 2009 Information and Communication Act, increasing penalties for individuals who use the Internet to spread false information or instigate violence against or criticism of public officials to a 15-year jail term and a fine of  three million Dalasis ($82,207), according to the CPJ.  Gambian Information Minister Nana Grey Johnson said the measure was enacted to thwart "unpatriotic behavior" against government officials.

Back in April, the Parliament revised the Criminal Code to characterize President Yahya Jammeh and National Assembly members, among other government officials, as "public servants," although the nation's Constitution does not recognize those positions as "public servants." The amendment was accompanied by a boost in the fines and jail time assessed against individuals who provide false information to public servants.

That same month, Gambia banned the use at Internet cafes of Skype and other VoIP platforms, citing the "national interest." CPJ accused Gambian leaders of trying to shield themselves at the expense of providing citizens access to modern communications.

                                                                   

UPDATE: 1st Circ. Lowers the Boom on Tune-Infringin' Tenenbaum

Perhaps it was illegal download overload after years of blogging about BU grad and former online music lover Joel Tenenbaum (see "TUOL" posts 5/21/12, 9/19/11, 7/9/10, 8/3/09 & 7/28/09), but we were remiss in not reporting a decision late last month by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Sony BMG Music Entertainment et al. v. Joel Tenenbaum (Case No. 12-2146) upholding the recording companies plaintiffs' $675k judgment against the defendant for illegally downloading copyrighted songs on defunct KaZaA and other peer-to-peer music networks.

In a decision written by Judge Jeffrey Howard, the appellate court noted that the defendant over the years 1999 to 2007 downloaded and distributed copyrighted music across various peer-to-peer platforms without permission. The amount of the judgment, pursuant to the damages provision of the Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. sec. 504(c)] allows for an assessment of between $750 and $150,000 for each instance of infringement. Damages were assessed against Tenenbaum for 30 purported illegal downloads at $22,500 apiece, or 15 percent of the maximum penalty, to reach the $675k award.

Tenenbaum argued the damages award violated his due process rights and were out of whack, contending that a more reasonable sum would be $450, reached by estimating each of the 30 albums illegally downloaded costs $15. The First Circuit, however, said such a calculation ignores the actual damages suffered by the plaintiffs, the challenge of proving copyright infringement, and most important, the deterrent effect of Section 504. The opinion acknowledged that Congress specifically amended The Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. sec. 101 et seq.]  to prevent music piracy through statutory damages.

Judge Howard made no effort to conceal the appellate court's disdain for the defendant's conduct, noting how Tenenbaum allegedly continued to download songs despite warnings from family, BU and others, and pointing out how Tenenbaum did not own up to his actions during Discovery in the case, initially blaming burglars, and then a foster child living in his family's home, for the downloading activities. The court emphasized that Tenenbaum testified at trial to downloading as many as 5000 songs, not the mere 30 for which he was held liable.

The devoted staff of "TUOL" (which is listening to music as it prepares this post) believes there is a genuine legal question over whether the copyright infringement damages authorized by the statute are disproportinate in non-commercial downloading cases such as this one. Unfortunately, an unsympathetic defendant and a questionable trial strategy by his defense team resulted in an outcome that doesn't satisfactorily reach that question. A corollary of the old legal bromide, "bad cases make bad law," is that misconduct leads to missed opportunities for legal reform.

Picture of Joel Tenenbaum





Thursday, July 11, 2013

'Makes Sense Dept.': PCWorld Magazine Goes Digital-Only

Following the lead of many of its competitors, San Francisco-based PCWorld magazine, owned by IDG, ends a 30-year run with its August 2013, edition, and will continue as a digital-only monthly computer magazine, according to an article by Techland.time.com.

The sensible decision to focus on digital and Web site issues was made by IDG in hopes of retrieving a readership that has shrunk by two-thirds. Rivals, such as PC Magazine and Laptop, already publish online only, since 2008 and 2012, respectively. Computer geeks who still like to get ink on their fingers can thumb through paper editions of Macworld and MacLife.

PCWorld debuted on newsstands in 1983.

As the World Interns

In a gift seemingly more for comedy writers than  journalists, media blog JimRomanesko.com reported today about a Manchester, U.K.-based periodical in the works entitled Intern.

According to the fledgling journal's Web site (www.Intern-Mag.com), the magazine's dual purpose is to "provide a tactile showcase for the precocious talent currently working in these fields as interns or otherwise unpaid," and to launch a "frank debate about the current state of the intern culture and its potential implications in both the short and long term for the creative industries."

The Web site lists editorial contributors from the U.K, U.S. and throughout Western Europe and notes that the independent bi-monthly magazine is looking for financial support from donors and the Kickstarter Web site. 

The woefully underpaid staff of "TUOL" has the following questions for Intern: Will the magazine's circulation be paid, even if its staff isn't?, and When the magazine is published, will staffers send each other to pick up a newsstand copy and a coffee?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

UPDATE: Tribune Co. Breaks Off Newspaper Holdings into Separate Entity

Just a week after it added 19 tv stations from Local TV, LLC to its stable of broadcast outlets (see "TUOL" post 7/1/13), the Tribune Co. today announced the creation of Tribune Publishing Co. ["TPC"] (catchy name), a company created to hold its revenue-bleeding newspapers, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Times, along with The Hartford Courant, flagship Chicago Tribune and three other dailies will be the sole holdings of TPC in a move that will have no tax ramifications for Trib Co. shareholders. The transfer may take a year to finalize, according to the Times article, and the Trib Co. will retain all broadcasting & Internet outlets, along with real estate holdings and all other assets.

The publishing arm of Trib. Co. last year generated 64 percent of the media conglomerate's operating revenue, but has suffered drastic cuts in ad revenues and circulation. The six newspapers may still be sold off (see "TUOL" post 6/11/13), though the Trib Co. has been dragging its feet, having not yet allowed prospective suitors to peek at the newspapers' financials.

Tribune Publishing Co. has yet to announce who will oversee its operations or how its finances will be structured, according to the Times article.

Hasselbeck New 'Friend' on Fox & Friends; Carlson Goes Solo on Fox

Elizabeth Hasselbeck presumably will draw on the self-preservation skills that led her to a fourth-place finish on Survivor: The Australian Outback (2001) when she shares the curved couch with co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade on the top-rated gabfest Fox & Friends this September.

Mediabistro.com's TV Newser blog reports today that the 36-year-old Cranston, R.I., native will join Fair & Balanced Fox News after a 10-year stint as a co-host of ABC's Emmy-winning The View where she often triggered controversy in her role as the blonde Conservative panelist.

"Elizabeth's warm and engaging personality made her a star on The View," said Fox News Chair & CEO Roger Ailes--an expert in warm & fuzzy--in a statement released by Fox. "She has proven to be an excellent conversationalist and I am certain she will make a great addition to our already successful morning franchise," Ailes added.                                                                                          


Hasselbeck, who is married to her Boston College college boyfriend, NFL quarterback Tim Hasselbeck, and is the author of two best-selling celiac diet books, was a keynote speaker at the GOP Conventions in 2004 and 2008 and in October 2008, introduced then-vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin at GOP rallies and Mensa meetings (we may have made that part up).

Hasselbeck supplants Gretchen Carlson on the Fox & Friends couch. Carlson, according to Fox, will host her own one-hour show on Fox at a yet-to-be determined time, after a seven-year stint on Fox & Friends. The show, which has been the top-rated morning cable news program since 2001, is a frequent satiric target of SNL and The Daily Show.

"TUOL" is eager to see how Hasselback adapts to her new co-panelists on Fox & Friends where she, no doubt, like Kate Jackson on the original Charlie's Angels, will come to be known as "the smart one."


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

School District Learns a Lesson Teaching About Internet Permanancy

A 19-year-old Univ. of Georgia freshman has sued the school district where she attended high school and a school administrator for $2 million in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia for using a bikini-clad Facebook image of her in a county-wide educational seminar without her permission.

In Chelsea Chaney v. Fayette County Public School District & Curtis R. Cearley (Case No. 3:2013-cv-00089), the former Starr's Mill High School student alleges in a 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 action that her privacy was infringed on, she was defamed and suffered emotional distress when a photo of her in a bikini standing next to a cut-out of rapper Snoop Dogg was employed by the defendants in a presentation to students and parents, ironically, about the long-term dangers of  displaying images on Facebook and the Internet.
                                                                                                                 


Chaney told Atlanta television news station WSBTV that she thought the Facebook image of her taken when she was 17 was only visible to her friends and their friends. She was upset that the image, captioned "Once it's there, it's there to stay," allegedly was posted without her knowledge in the program by defendant Cearley, the school district's director of technology.

Chaney's counsel alleges the Facebook profile photo falsely portrays Chaney as a promiscuous alcohol abuser. The defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the suit. The lawsuit, a cautionary tale, if nothing else, answers the question posed in a song sung by the non-cardboard version of Snoop Dogg: What's My Name?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Alchemy Gone Amok?: Turning Old TV Shows into New Comic Books

"Imitation," once mused classic radio comic Fred Allen, "is the sincerest form of television."

Now, according to Business Wire, NBCUniversal is joining forces with St. Louis-based Lion Forge Comics, to crank out graphic novels (comic books for the less pretentious) based on 30-year-old tv hits. Talk about your fresh ideas.

From Punky Brewster and Miami Vice's Crockett & Tubbs to Knight Rider's Kit and the cast of Saved by the Bell, the digital comics are expected to be available later this year through Apple iBooks and the Amazon Kindle Bookstore, among other outlets. The Business Wire article reports that Lion Forge executives are likely to try to drum up excitement at the Comic-Con International gathering in San Diego later this month, a tall order given that much of the fan base for comics may only have encountered Punky Brewster et al. while channel surfing.

Golden State Seeks to Strengthen Shield Law

California's Assembly Appropriations Committee this month  is expected to take up S.B. 558, a measure that would bolster the Golden State's already strong protection for journalists, after the bill unanimously sailed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee on its first policy reading, Courthouse News Service reports.

Article 1, Sec. 2(b) of the California Constitution already shields journalists from having to disclose confidential sources and information to authorities. Presently, news agencies are entitled to five days' notice from law enforcement agencies before a subpoena issues against journalists, thereby affording an opportunity to quash the subpoena or negotiate a narrower production of information. S.B. 558, sponsored by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), would further broaden reporter shield law protection so that persons or agencies that issue subpoenas to third parties, such as cellphone carriers, rental car companies and data storage providers, would be required to give five days' notice as well.

The bill, which has the blessings of the state's press association, is a response to the recent U.S. Justice Department disclosures concerning the tracking of Associated Press phone records over a two-month period.

Cook County Judge Tosses Ex-NBC Reporter's Libel Suit Against CBS

In a nine-page ruling last week in Jacobson v. CBS Broadcasting, Inc. (Case No. 2008-L-007331), Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Lawrence threw out a five-year-old defamation suit brought by a former Chicago NBC tv reporter against  her rival CBS affiliate.

Radio talk show host Amy Jacobson sued CBS for $1 million in 2008, roughly a year after the station aired footage of a bathing suit-clad Jacobson at a pool party hosted by Craig Stebic, whom police purportedly have identified as a "person of interest" in the April 2007, disappearance of his wife Lisa, though no charges have been brought against him, according to an article in The Chicago Tribune. The Tribune article reported that Judge Lawrence ruled against Jacobson for not proving the CBS story contained false statements about her. Judge Lawrence further held some of the alleged offensive content constituted First Amendment-protected statements of opinion. NBC fired Jacobson soon after the CBS story aired.

Jacobson plans to appeal the adverse decision, according to the Tribune article, contending she was not a public figure when the CBS footage was broadcast.

                                                                           

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Perez Dispenser of Others' Work?: Photog Sues Hilton for Copyright Infringement

Perez Hilton is being sued in the United States District Court for the Central District of California by a freelance photographer who alleges the gossip blogger posted photos of Glee star Darren Criss on his Web site without the photographer's permission.

In the 22-page complaint including counts alleging copyright infringement [17 U.S.C. sec. 501 et seq.] and violation of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [17 U.S.C. sec. 1201 et seq.], Robert Caplin v. Mario Aramando Lavandeira Jr. d/b/a Perez Hilton (Docket No. 13-cv-04638), the plaintiff accuses the defendant of using 14 copyrighted photos of Criss on PerezHilton.com shot by Caplin in December 2011, for a New York Times article that ran in January 2012, concerning Criss' Broadway debut.
                                                                                                    
As reported by the New York Observer, Caplin claims Hilton refused his request to remove the photos from Hilton's Web site, though the images purportedly have been removed since the lawsuit was filed. The complaint alleges that Caplin posted 32 photos he took of Criss on his Web site and that Hilton allegedly superimposed his own watermark on the allegedly appropriated images over Caplin's watermark.

The plaintiff is seeking $150,000 for each alleged infringed image for total damages of more than $2.1 million, pursuant to 17 U.S.C. sec. 504.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

UPDATE: Fed Appeals Court Knocks Down Class Action Status in Epic Google/Authors Guild Struggle

In a unanimous five-page decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Monday reversed a ruling affording class action status to the plaintiff in the eight-year-old litigation, The Authors Guild, Inc. et al. v. Google, Inc. (Docket No. 12-3200-cv), PaidContent.org. reported.

"We conclude that class certification was premature in the absence of a determination by the District Court of the merits of Google's 'fair use' defense," according to the appellate court ruling.  Could make for some awkward moments in Second Circuit Court cafeteria, as the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York judge being overruled here is Denny Chin, who now serves as a judge on the Second Circuit, though he continues to preside over the Authors Guild/Google case.

As reported here previously (see "TUOL" post 9/19/12), Google, Inc.'s master plan to create the planet's largest digital library--20 million plus books already have been scanned--was challenged in 2005 by The Authors Guild, a nonprofit industry group numbering some 8,500 members, as a purported copyright infringement under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act [Pub. Law 105-304]. Google has countered that neglected and difficult to find works will be more easily accessed and authors won't be harmed if its plan for world domination...er...a world library were realized.  Moreover, Google has relied on the defense against copyright infringement of fair use [17 U.S.C. sec. 107], a four-pronged test that looks at the purpose and character of the proposed use, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount and substantiality of the portion of the work used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work to determine whether a copyright holder's consent is required before his or her material is used. 
                                                                          

                                                                                           
The appellate court panel sending back the case to their colleague Judge Chin and decertifying the class action status of the case is a positive development for Google that, among other things, means several fewer zeroes at the end of any verdict were The Authors Guild ultimately to prevail in the suit.  Google has questioned the class action status of the plaintiff throughout the case, arguing that it, in effect, caused authors who were not troubled by Google's digital scanning of books to sit in the same section as authors opposed to it.

From CNN to AJA: Soledad O'Brien Joins Al Jazeera America

 Al Jazeera America ("AJA") has added some star power to its August Prime-Time launch (see "TUOL" post 6/12/13) with the hiring of CNN and NBC veteran Soledad O'Brien, The Wrap reported yesterday.

O'Brien will be special correspondent for the America Tonight current affairs magazine program and also will produce documentaries through her Starfish Media Group production company for the Qatari government-funded news network.  O'Brien formerly anchored Weekend Today for NBC News before moving over to CNN where she co-anchored American Morning and later, Starting Point (see "TUOL" post 2/20/13).

                                                                                 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trib Co. Boosts TV Stable as Newspaper Holdings Take 1Q Income Slam

The Chicago Tribune, the Tribune Co.'s flagship daily, reported today that the media conglomerate has acquired Cincinnati-based Local TV LLC's 19 television stations for $2.725 billion in cash, making Tribune Co. the country's biggest commercial television station owner.

With the transaction, the Tribune Co. boosted its tv stable to 42 stations, including WPIX-TV in New York City, KTLA-TV in Los Angeles and WGN-Channel 9 in Chicago, as well as  its WGN America cable station. The purchase adds seven Fox Television affiliates to the seven Fox affiliates already held by the Tribune Co., making it the country's largest owner of Fox TV affiliates, according to the Tribune article.

A New York Times article about the acquisition noted that the Tribune Co.had expanded into tv markets such as St. Louis, Denver and Cleveland. In all, the media conglomerate owns 14 stations in the nation's top 20 markets.

The six-year-old Local TV LLC, owned by the Oak Hill Capital Partners investment firm, had built up its holdings by purchasing stations from the New York Times and News Corp. Tribune Co. CEO Peter Ligouri praised his company's "transitional acquisition" that he boasted makes the Tribune Co. "the No. 1 local TV affiliate group in America." The transaction is expected to be completed sometime in 2013.

Not a moment too soon, as the Los Angeles Times reported today that, owing largely to sagging circulation and shrinking advertising by the Trib Co.'s eight newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and Los Angeles Times, the conglomerate reported Q1 net income of $58.4 million, a stunning 41 percent decline over First Quarter 2012 figures. Ad revenues in the newspaper group plunged 9 percent compared to 2012 Q1 numbers. Retail ads, classified ads and digital advertising all were lower during the first three months of 2013 compared to the same period a year ago..

Beyonce's Dad Sues The Sun for Defamation

In Mathew Knowles & Music World Entertainment v. The Sun (Case No. 4:2013-cv-01845), filed last week in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the father and former business manager of 31-year-old superstar Beyonce sued a U.K. tabloid for defamation and breach of contract.

According to an article in The Guardian, Knowles, 62, alleges The Sun, which is published by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.-owned NI Group Ltd., doctored a March 2013, interview he gave to Sun reporter Georgina Dickinson so as to appear as if his singer/actress daughter had "cut him out of her life." Additionally, the lawsuit contends that The Sun reneged on a contractual commitment to pay Knowles, who oversaw his daughter's career until 2011, for the exclusive sit-down interview.

The Complaint alleges that Dickinson's original text submitted to editors was radically rewritten to portray a father/daughter rift that doesn't exist. Knowles acknowledges the professional break-up with Beyonce, who is married to rapper Jay-Z, but claims a strong personal bond remains between them that was allegedly misrepresented in The Sun article that claimed he had yet to meet his granddaughter, Blue Ivy, who was 14 months old when the interview occurred.

The suit, to which The Sun  has yet to respond, seeks actual and punitive damages.