Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Whither Philly Dailies?

The Philadelphia Inquirer-Daily News Building ...Image via WikipediaHow solid or shaky the ground on which Philadelphia Media Network ("PMN")-owned dailies, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, stand is open to debate on news that one of PMN's key stakeholders is sitting on his hands as the papers are put on the auction block.

The New York Post yesterday reported that Alden Global Capital principal Randall Smith, owner of roughly 30 percent of the Inquirer & News properties, has remained quiet amid PMN's auction that is expected to reap about $100 million. PMN acquired the dailies out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from Philadelphia Media Holdings (see "TUOL" post 7/11/11).

Romanesko's media blog reported that PMN CEO Greg Osberg discounted the Post story, assuring PMN employees in a memo that shareholders routinely boost or reduce their ownership levels in properties and that a minority owner may only sell his percentage of ownership in the dailies, not the dailies themselves.

Alden Capital and other hedge funds doled out $139 million for their Philly stake (sorry), the Post reported, but it seems that Smith, a major shareholder in a variety of media entities, including Gannett, Freedom Communications and Journal Register Co., may be losing his taste for media empire building.

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Poor 4th Quarter Earns Gannett Co. S&P 500 Index Booby Prize

SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 30:  Copies of USA T...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeUSA Today parent  Gannett Co., which counts 82 newspapers and nearly two dozen tv stations among its holdings, saw its stock plummet 6.9 percent yesterday, making the McLean, Va.-based media conglomerate the worst performer among the S&P 500 Index, Bloomberg News reports.

Gannett, which slashed its work force by 2 percent over the summer (see "TUOL" post 6/21/11) as readers continued to flock to online competitors Google and Facebook for information, suffered its fourth consecutive decline in quarterly revenues, plunging 5.3 percent in its publishing division.  Net income for the Fourth Quarter sank 33 percent, according to Bloomberg, to $116.9 million, or 69 cents a share, compared to $174.1 million, or 72 cents a share, a year ago.

The beleaguered media giant's sales dropped 5.1 percent to $139 billion. Gracia Matore, Gannett's former COO, assumed the helm last October after declining health prompted Craig Dubow to step down.

A far cry from the company's salad days when, on one occasion, USA Today founder Al Neuharth when asked whether the first or second syllable of the conglomerate should be emphasized when identifying the company responded: "It's pronounced 'money.'"
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Monday, January 30, 2012

Govt. Seeks to Keep a Lid on Graphic bin Laden Photos

English: Hideout of Osama bin Laden, the locat...Image via WikipediaThe U.S. Justice Department wants the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to back its efforts to keep graphic photos depicting the death of Osama bin Laden from seeing the light of day.

In a supporting memorandum to its summary judgment motion to the Court in the case of Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Defense & Central Intelligence Agency (Case No. 1:11-cv-00890-JEB), the DOJ claims the grisly images must remain classified to prevent the incitement of violence against the U.S. their release might create. According to a post by the Legal Times Blog, the photos would reveal sensitive intelligence data and military methodology.

The plaintiff contends the CIA violated classification procedures and that the government agencies in queston conducted an inadequate search for material requested under the Freedom of Information Act [5 U.S.C. sec. 552 et seq.]. Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaida, was killed in May during a Navy Seal raid in Pakistan last May.

The photos at issue, according to the DOJ, include images of bin Laden's corpse and its burial at sea.

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Maltweeting Free Expression?

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBaseSan Francisco-based microblogger monolith Twitter will selectively block tweets in specific countries as it continues to grow its social platform worldwide, Reuters reports.

In a business move that will enable the microblogging network to broaden its global user base, Twitter will adapt to governments internationally whose notions of freedom of expression do not mirror those in the U.S. Twitter will post a censorship notice whenever it removes a tweet at the behest of a government and will use the chillingeffects.org Web site to house removal requests it receives from governments, companies and individuals, according to the Huffington Post.

Twitter offered  the legal restriction on "pro-Nazi content" imposed by the countries of Germany and France as an example of a restriction to which it might accede. The announcement marks a policy shift by the six-year-old social media company, which in January 2011, coinciding with the so-called "Arab Spring" uprisings throughout the Middle East, posted The Tweets Must Flow stating that it would not remove Tweets based on their content.

Twitter boasts roughly 100 million users, according to the Huffington Post report.
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Friday, January 27, 2012

UPDATE: Nancy Benoit Heirs Ask 11th Circ. to Reinstate $20m Judgment Against Hustler Magazine

Chris Benoit, one of the World Wrestling Enter...Image via WikipediaA three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit this week heard arguments from the family of the late model/pro wrestler Nancy (Toffolini) Benoit to reinstate a $20 million judgment in their invasion of privacy suit against Hustler Magazine's parent company, Larry Flynt Publishing Group LLC, which published nude photos of Benoit a year after she and her seven-year-old son were strangled by her pro wrestler husband, Chris Benoit, in a murder/suicide in June 2007.

Last June, a jury awarded Nancy Benoit's family $19.6 million in punitive damages, along with $125,000 in compensatory damages, but U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Judge Thomas Thrash, Jr. reduced the $19.6 million to $250,000, citing Georgia's statutory cap on punitive damages. (See "TUOL" post 6/20/11.) As reported by the Daily Mail online edition (www.dailymail.co.uk), Associated Press and the ABA Journal Law News Now blog, counsel for Nancy Benoit's Estate argued the adult magazine "acted...with intent to harm" the plaintiff, an exception to the statutory cap, so the $19.6 million puntive damages award should be reinstated. Counsel for the defendant argued on First Amendment grounds that the matter was wrongly tried in the first instance because the photos of Nancy Benoit were newsworthy, involving a matter of public concern, a recognized defense to invasion of privacy claims.
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Algeria's New Media Takes Effect--Less Repressive, But Journos Still Nervous

List of heads of state of AlgeriaImage via WikipediaAlgeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's long-awaited reformed media law in the Northwest African nation took effect January 12, but a press release issued by the Committee to Protect Journalists ("CPJ") says the new measure amounts to only baby steps toward press freedom.

A majority in both houses of Algeria's legislature passed the measure, which supplants a repressive 1990 law, though the opposition Al-Nahda party walked out of parliament in protest that the new law does not go far enough.  The CPJ press release counts at least 32 provisions among the Act's 133 articles that may still restrict press coverage in the republic.

Whereas the draconian 1990 media law subjected journalists who insulted or defamed the government to 10 years in prison, the newly enacted law can shutdown publications and fine journalists a maximum 500,000 dinars ($6,706) for defamation and a slew of infractions, such as publishing information concerning preliminary criminal probes or insulting foreign leaders and dipolomats.

Media ownership restrictions are a part of the new law, as a minimum 10 years' media experience in periodical publications is required for someone to qualify as a director of  a periodical publication. CPJ also expressed concern about the legislation's vague definition of terms such as media (any broadcast, opinion letter or idea expressed by any written, audiovisual or electronic means). Algerian journalists surveyed by CPJdescribed the new law as merely offering "cosmetic changes."
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What the 1% Will Be Reading

Bloombger terminal keyboard, as seen by me ins...Image via WikipediaBloomberg News may dutifully cover the so-called "class warfare" playing out nowadays in the nation's cultural and political arenas, but when it comes to boosting its own products, Bloomberg LP knows the "1 percent" demographic group is the way to go.

Women's Wear Daily's online edition reports today that the financial news corporation next month is launching a posh periodical, called Bloomberg Pursuits ("BP"), that is an offshoot of the monthly business magazine, Bloomberg Markets. Both journals will be distributed gratis to the roughly 310,000 subscribers to the Bloomberg Professional service. Those subscribers pay $20,000, on average, for access to Bloomberg Terminal, a computer system that enables financial industry types to access Bloomberg Professional service and thereby, track financial market data in real-time and trade on the electronic trading platform, as well as peruse price quotes and news and send messages.

Circulation for the two magazines will be 375,000 copies apiece, with non-Bloomberg Terminal issues being available on newsstands and by subscription. The Women's Wear Daily article quotes Bloomberg Pursuit's advertising director, who claims 60 percent of the periodical's market is outside the U.S. in financial hot spots such as Hong Kong, Japan and Germany. Ninety percent of BP's readers are male whose household income, on average, is $452,000, BP boasts.

The debut issue will be 76 pages, 30 of them devoted to advertisers, including Rolls-Royce and Hermes. Articles in the inaugural issue will include profiles of Bloomberg subscribers doing things such as observing a solar eclipse aboard an icebreaker in Antarctica, building a racing yacht and collecting Ferraris, which the subscriber deconstructs and then spruces up.

BP, which is designed to compete with other magazines for the affluent such as the Robb Report and ForbesLife, will garner attention in an hour-long prime time program on Bloomberg Television in February.

The always media-hungry devoted staff of "TUOL" can't conceive of how Bloomberg Pursuits in any way will be seen as a symbol of the expanding schism between the haves and have-nots in America. Still, "TUOL" is not likely to thumb through Bloomberg Pursuits anytime soon, mostly out of fear that the journal may contain a computer chip that automatically dispenses painful paper cuts to perusers who don't have a suitable financial portfolio.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Judge's Illness Stalls Paper's Appeal of Libel Judgment for Ecuador's President

English: View of Cuenca (Ecuador) from the hil...Image via WikipediaThe Ecuadorian daily El Universo's appeal of a $40 million libel judgment in favor of  the country's President, Rafael Correa, was delayed this week by the illness of a member of the three-judge panel hearing the appeal, CNN reports.

President Correa, the 48-year-old economist who assumed leadership of the South American republic in 2008, was awarded $40 million last July in a ruling that also resulted in three-year jail terms for El Universo's former opinions editor and its directors. A column entitled No to lies that appeared in February 2011, which branded Correa a "dictator" responsible for a September 2010, attack in which security forces allegedly fired on civilians in a hospital, triggered the lawsuit by the president, who dismissed the allegations as false and  an "outrage," according to the CNN account.

President Correa has rejected El Universo's offer of a public apology conditioned, in part,  on his dropping his suit against journalists and following the nation's access to public information law. In the U.S., a government entity can't be defamed and a public official suing for libel must overcome the challenging legal hurdle of proving "actual malice," meaning that the media defendant published false statements about the official knowing they were untrue or with reckless disregard for the falsity of the statements that impugned the official's reputation.
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UPDATE: Ill. High Court Slaps Down Anti-SLAPP Defense in Coach's Libel Suit

Defamation of characterImage via WikipediaDefendants in a defamation suit brought by a former high school basketball coach may not rely on their state's anti-SLAPP(Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) statute to defeat the claim, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled this week.

Steve Sandholm was let go by the local school board in 2008 as Dixon High School's basketball coach because his coaching style allegedly included verbally abusing and bullying players (see "TUOL" post 10/28/10). He filed  defamation and false light claims against a group of parents, bloggers and a radio station who had criticized him, but the trial court and the Appellate Court of Illinois Second District both ruled the defendants were protected by the state's anti-SLAPP measure, the Citizen Participation Act [735 Ill. Comp. Stat. 110/1 et seq.] ("CPA") in Sandholm v. Kuecker et al. (Case No. 08-L-19).

As reported by the excellent Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Web site (www.rcfp.org), the Illinois Supreme Court found the CPA could not derail Sandholm's suit, which the Court said did not seek to suppress constitutionally protected speech, but rather, sought recovery for harm to his reputation. "If a plaintiff's complaint genuinely seeks redress for damages from defamation or other intentional torts, and thus, does not constitute a SLAPP," according to the Supreme Court opinion, "it is irrelevant whether the defendants' actions were 'genuinely aimed at procuring favorable government action, result or outcome.'"

The CPA  is intended to promote citizen involvement in government without fear of retaliation in the form of SLAPP suits, which are very costly to defend against.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Illinois Expands Use of Cameras in the Courtroom

Springfield - Illinois Supreme Court BuildingImage by myoldpostcards via FlickrNews media in Illinois, already permitted to use still and video cameras to cover criminal and civil proceedings  in the Illinois Supreme Court and Illinois Appellate Court, will now be allowed to record circuit court proceedings on a limited, experimental basis, the state Supreme Court has decided, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Proceedings in the state's 23 circuit courts may be recorded beginning next Tuesday, the Tribune article noted.

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Iowa High Court Sides With Student Journalists on Principal

State Seal of Iowa.Image via WikipediaThe Waukon High School newspaper's faculty advisor was wrongly disciplined by administrators after the student paper published articles that offended the principal, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled this week.

The High Court declined to review an Iowa Appeals Court decision ordering the Allamakee Community School District to expunge reprimands placed in the advisor's file, according to an Associated Press report.  Iowa thus joins a handful of states, including Illinois and "TUOL" 's home base of Massachusetts, that accord student journalists greater press freedom, according to the Student Press Law Center.

The case is Lange v. Diercks & the Allamakee Community School District (Case No. 1-587/11-0191).
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Chicago Sun Times Touts Its Irrelevance; Editorials Won't Endorse Candidates

English: Chicago Sun-Times building in Chicago...Image via WikipediaWriting in an editorial this week that it has "come to doubt the value of candidate endorsements by this newspaper or any newspaper, especially in a day when a multitude of information sources allow even a casual voter to be better informed than ever before," The Chicago Sun Times announced it no longer will endorse political candidates at any level.

The Jan. 22 editorial in the tabloid daily, which is about to undergo an ownership change (see "TUOL" post 12/21/11), said readers have complained to the paper that they can make up their own minds and don't need to be told what to do. The paper has also expanded the journalistic code of ethics ban on staffers making financial contributions to political campaigns to  encompass Sun Times senior management.

The editorial cites research suggesting editorial endorsements do not sway voters, particularly in elections that garner considerable attention. Some may consider the new policy of the Sun Times, which emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, pragmatic and even, humble, in its tacit between-the-lines admission that what it says editorially doesn't matter. The tireless staff of "TUOL", which long ago resided in Chicago and maintains strong ties to the city, however, considers the decision a cop-out and an act of cowardice.

Not taking the time to endorse candidates for office is a clumsy attempt to mask that the depleted Sun Times newsroom lacks the bodies to perform the task and is a craven excuse to hide management's fear of alienating advertisers and an ever-shrinking readership by its choice of candidates.

Journalists have the proxy of their readers when they attend political gatherings and interview candidates. Citizens are obligated to inform themselves about the voting record and character of candidates, but should be able to look to the editorial board of their local newspaper for guidance, not fiat.

The Sun Times is shirking its responsibility by leaving it to partisan and nonpartisan bloggers to carry out its duty to vet candidates. Choosing to stay above the fray to avoid being branded "liberal" or "conservative" by online commenters and candidates does not benefit readers, who, especially in local elections, may lack the command of issues and the positions staked out by incumbents and challengers.

As a cost-savings measure, the Sun Times agreed last summer to allow its blood rival Chicago Tribune to print its editions (see "TUOL" post 7/20/11). With its latest decision, the paper has ceded its journalistic stewardship and the higher moral ground to the Tribune.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Md. Appeals Court Says No Libel by Baltimore Weekly in Murder Series

Baltimore City PaperImage via WikipediaThe Maryland  Court of Appeals has upheld a summary judgment ruling for the Baltimore weekly City Paper in Piscatelli v. Smith et al. (Case No. C07009530V01), finding the weekly's reporter Van Smith did not defame Redwood Trust nightclub owner Nicholas Piscatelli in a series of articles concerning the 2003 slaying of club employees Sean Wisniewski and Jason Convertino.

According to a report in the Baltimore Sun, Piscatelli sued Smith and City Paper based on two articles that appeared, respectively, on December 6, 2006 (Late Discovery) and June 20, 2007 (The Lonely Killer), that described the killings as "mysterious" and included allegations by Convertino's mother, Pamela Morgan, suggesting the plaintiff may have been implicated in her son's murder. The Sun article reported that Anthony Miller was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2007 for killing Convertino and Wisniewski.

The Maryland Appeals Court upheld the summary judgment ruling in the defendants' favor by the Baltimore City Circuit Court and the Court of Special Appeals, finding that Piscatelli had not proved City Paper's reporting was inaccurate and unfair.

"We shall conclude," the Court of Appeals opinion stated, "utlimately that the manner in which Respondent published those statements placed them within  the protective embrace of the fair reporting and fair comment privileges, and consequently, Piscatelli's claims were not actionable."

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Mon Dieu! Le Huffington Post Launches Today

Arc de TriompheImage via WikipediaA partnership involving Le Monde, Les Nouvelles Editions Independantes and The Huffington Post Media Group today launched Le Huffington Post, which the news aggregator promises "will be rooted in French culture and will reflect France's own unique personality, rich culture and diversity of voices."

Anne Sinclair, who has written a blog, annesinclair.fr., will serve as editorial director of Le Huffington Post. Among bloggers debuting on the site today are Guy Carrcassonne, a Univ. of Paris professor, and Julien Dray, a member of the country's Parliament.

France sends us brie and Chateauneuf de Pape; we send them the parsimonius Huffington Post and Jerry Lewis. Hardly seems fair, and may explain why they don't like us.
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Illinois Judge Rules Tech Blogger Not Entitled to Shield Law Protection

English: TechnoBuffalo Blog - www.TechnoBuffal...Image via WikipediaTechnoBuffalo.com, a three-year-old, California-based consumer electronics blog that is a melange of gadget reviews and tech news, plans to appeal a ruling last week by Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Judge Michael Panter that the blog is not covered  under Illinois's shield law [75 Ill. Comp. Stat. secs. 5/8-901 to 8-909] from revealing its confidential sources.

Acknowledging that he was addressing "a fast-evolving issue (that) faces courts everywhere" and that the "scope and variety of electronic communication is a challenge in many areas of the law," Judge Panter concluded TechnoBuffalo did not satisfy the state shield law's definitions of reporter and news medium, and thus, must reveal the identity of the anonymous source who provided it with images and instructional information about Motorola's Droid Bionic smartphone before the company released the product.

Niles, Ill.-based Johns-Byrne Co., with whom Motorola contracted to print the smartphone's manual, sought a pre-litigation court order requiring TechnoBuffalo to divulge the name of the anonymous tipster who shared the Droid Bionic material as a precursor to a likely trade secret and breach of contract lawsuit against the unidentified source. The information at issue was leaked via Email to TechnoBuffalo, which published it last August 17.

"The content on TechnoBuffalo's website may inform viewers how to use certain devices or offer sneak peaks of upcoming technology," Judge Panter wrote, "...[but] [i]t does not 'encourage a well-informed citizenry' to protect the source and type of confidential information disseminated by TechnoBuffalo." TechnoBuffalo reportedly attracts more than a million viewers monthly, according to various news accounts of the ruling.

Under Section 5/8-902(a) of Illinois' shield law, a reporter is "any person regularly engaged in the business of collecting, writing or editing news for publication through a news medium on a full-time or part-time basis." Section 5/8-902(b) defines news medium as "any newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals, whether in print or electronic format, and having a general circulation."

Courts nationwide are all over the board on the issue of whether bloggers should be accorded a qualified reporter's privilege, depending on the language of the jurisdiction's shield law and other circumstances. An Oregon judge, for example, recently ruled self-described investigative blogger Crystal Cox could not benefit from Oregon's shield law [see "TUOL" post 12/6/11], while the New Hampshire Supreme Court in The Mortgage Specialists case preserved the confidentiality of anonymous bloggers [see "TUOL" post 5/10/10].

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Paul Likes Courts, if not Government; Sues Anonymous Webbies for Libel

ATLANTIC, IA - DECEMBER 29:  Presidential hope...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeLibertarian  GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul may frown on government generally, though using federal court to litigate against 10 anonymous online supporters who uploaded attack videos on his behalf, but without his permission, apparently doesn't bother him.

Paul's campaign this week in San Francisco filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California seeking damages and injunctive relief against the zealous unidentified boosters. The complaint in Ron Paul 2012 Presidential Committee, Inc. v. John Does 1-10 (Case No. 12-cv-0240) includes counts alleging libel, defamation, false advertising and false designation of origin in violation of the Lanham Act [15 U.S.C. sec. 1125(a)].

As reported by paidContent.org., Paul's organization faces the high hurdle of proving actual malice in its defamation claim and daunting odds pursuing its trademark infringement count, but the candidate and his organization have been nothing if not surprising thus far in overcoming expectations.

The videos at issue in the lawsuit, entitled NHLiberty4Paul, disparaged now-former GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman, taking aim at the former Utah Governor and U.S. Ambassador to China's  Mormon faith and connections to China. The Libertarian Paul's dogmatic devotion to personal freedom and government restraint is likely to be tested by the litigation once subpoenas targeting Internet Service Providers to identify the John Doe defendants begin flying out of the plaintiff's camp.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

UPDATE: High Court Holds Foreign Works in Public Domain Still 'Copyrightable'

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 29:  Members of the US ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeBy a 6-2 margin, with Justice Elena Kagan recusing herself, the U.S. Supreme Court this week ruled Congress has the authority to restore copyright protection to foreign works previously in the public domain without running afoul of the Constitution's Progress Clause (Art. 1, Sec. 8, Clause 8) [see "TUOL" post 3/8/11].

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in Golan v. Holder (Case No. 10-545), finding that the  power conferred to Congress by the Constitution "to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" was not undermined when the U.S. signed onto the Uruguay Round Agreements Act of 1994 ("URAA") international treaty that accorded copyright protection to previously accessible foreign works by individuals ranging from author Virginia Woolf and film auteur Federico Fellini to composer Dmitri Shostakovich.

The case was originally brought by Lawrence Golan, a conductor who sought to produce a derivative composition based on works by Shostakovich in the public domain, who argued URAA stifled creativity. The government, in turn, contended that U.S. participation in an international copyright treaty served the nation's interests.

Justice Ginsburg wrote: "Nothing in the text of the Copyright Clause confines the 'Progress of Science' exclusively to 'incentives for creation.'" In a strong dissent, Justice Stephen Breyer lamented URAA "does not encourage anyone to produce a single new work [and] bestows monetary rewards only on owners of old works--works that already have been created and already are in the American public domain."

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Federal Appeals Court Shields Anonymous Source in Defamation Suit

English: DC Court of Appeals court sealImage via WikipediaThe United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week in Software & Information Industry Association v. Solers, Inc. (Case No.10-cv-1523) held that the mere filing of a defamation suit doesn't overcome an individual's First Amendment anonymous speech right where the plaintiff could not demonstrate it was damaged by the allegedly false statements.

The three-judge appellate panel said software company Solers, Inc. failed to prove it suffered financial or economic damage from the allegedly defamatory statement by an anonymous source who in 2005 reported to software industry trade association Software & Information Industry Association ("SIIA") that Solers was using unlicensed software. The anonymous allegation sparked a probe of Solers, Inc., by SIIA, but did not result in legal action.

Solers alleged its legal fees and the time and money expended by its employees to respond to the allegations constituted damages, but the appellate court said the purported harm did not trump established case law that recognizes anonymity as an important aspect of free speech. Tip of the hat to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (www.rcfp.org) for its detailed coverage of the case.

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Payouts Bad News for 'News of the World' in Hacking Scandal

The final edition of News of the World, publis...Image via WikipediaThe defunct Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World has settled 19 civil suits arising from its phone-hacking scandal, the Press Gazette reports.

England's High Court said among those plaintiffs receiving payouts in resolution of their lawsuits were actor Jude Law, who received 130,000 pounds ($200,949), singer Sadie Frost, who received 50,000 pounds ($77,288) and Welsh rugby star Gavin Henson, who settled for 40,000 pounds ($61,819).
The Press Gazette reports that 36 claims to date have been settled by News Group Newspapers subsidiary News International.
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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Rusty GateHouse Media Swinging Shut on Copy Editors as Production Centralized

The State Journal-RegisterImage via WikipediaContinuing a trend in the financially beleaguered newspaper industry, GateHouse Media Inc. plans to consolidate the copy editing function among its member papers according to size, the Illinois Times and WUIS News blog report.

The headline writing, copy proofreading and page design functions for GateHouse papers whose circulation exceeds 5,000 will be handled from its Downers Grove (Ill.) facility, while smaller member papers will have their copy editing done centrally from a location in New England.

GateHouse management would not confirm the reports, but the consolidation is expected to result in 10 copy editor positions being axed at the Springfield (Ill.) State Journal Register. The imminent change sent GateHouse stock skyrocketing a penny to seven cents a share at the market's close Tuesday.

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Somaliland Sweep Nets 25 Journalists' Arrests

Location of SomalilandImage via WikipediaTwenty-one journalists protesting the Jan. 14 government shutdown of  HornCable TV in Somaliland have been arrested, The Guardian reported today, fueling concerns by Reporters Without Borders that began last week with the separate arrests of four journalists.

President Ahmed Mohamed Siilaanyon moved against HornCable TV, branding it a "nation destructor" that aired anti-government propaganda. The 21 journalists, who demonstrated outside the president's palace, triggering the arrests, were released within 24 hours, The Guardian article stated.
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State Solon Seeks to Subject Okla. Legislature to Transparency Laws

English: The Santa Fe Depot in Shawnee, Oklahoma.Image via WikipediaSen. David Holt (R.-Okla. City) has introduced S.B. 1243 and S.B. 1244 to make the Sooner State Legislature subject to the state's Open Meetings Law [Title 25 Okla. Stat. secs. 301-314] and Open Records Act [Title 51 Okla. Stat. secs. 24A.1-24A.24] respectively, The Shawnee (Okla.) News-Star reports.

Presently, only internal rules govern the Legislature's transparency, according to the News-Star story.

"TUOL" offers a shout-out to Sen. Holt, and should his measures become law, will be the first to say: "You're doin' fine, Oklahoma! Oklahoma, O.K."
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Singer Sues U.K. Daily Over 'Drunken Karaoke' Story

Charlotte ChurchCharlotte Church (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)MGN, Ltd.-owned The People (People.co.uk) on its Website boasts it is "the best source for national and international news, celebrity gossip, lifestyle ideas and pet care." The English daily, however, will have a hard time convincing singer Charlotte Church, who has sued The People for defamation, according to an article in The Guardian.

Church is upset about an article that appeared last November 6 entitled Marryoke--Charlotte proposes after club karaoke session claiming that she proposed to boyfriend Jonathan Powell and sang karaoke in a Cardiff pub, all while well into her cups. Church and Powell, in fact, were performing a concert in Pentrych at the Acapella Studio during the time the alleged Cardiff pub shenanigans were occurring, according to a report in The Daily Mail.

The People published an apology to Church three weeks after the article initially appeared, but this Church does not dispense forgiveness. Instead, in her defamation suit, she alleges the defendant fabricated quotes attributed to her, Powell and unnamed friends of the duo that caused her hurt, embarrassment and distress.

Church wants damages from The People and an injunction barring the allegations in the Nov. 6 story from appearing again. She currently is waging war on two fronts, as she and her parents in a lawsuit have alleged News International hacked her phone.

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Labor Dispute Has Union Leader Newsers Operating Incognito

Old Man of the Mountain on 26 April 2003, 7 da...Image via WikipediaPicketers at public events involving the N.H. presidential primary were not limited to those showing their disdain for the field of GOP candidates; some were photogs and reporters for the Granite State's only statewide daily, the N.H. Union Leader, protesting a protracted contract dispute with management, according to a report by a rival, The Nashua Telegraph.

Where the names of journalists and photographers usually appear in the daily accompanying their work, the word Staff instead appears, as the paper endures a two-week byline strike. Negotiations between management and the Newspaper Guild have dragged on for months.

Although offering a better pay scale and benefits package than most of its in-state competitors (Full Disclosure: the devoted staff of "TUOL" long ago wrote for the Union Leader  when New Hampshire's "Man of the Mountain" was still a boy), the increased use of correspondents, who are not covered by the contract, doesn't sit well with staffers. Correspondents' bylines continue to appear in the Union Leader as the strife continues.
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Don't Trib Over Yourself on the Way Out

Tribune Building Chicago.Image via WikipediaExpect in mid-February to see more empty chairs in the Chicago Tribune newsroom as the embattled daily this week offered an unspecified number of voluntary buyouts, with all but senior editorial management eligible to apply, the paper reported Monday.

Whether applicants will receive a buyout depends on numerous factors, such as seniority, business goals and staff depth at various positions. Those accepted will receive two weeks base pay for their initial year of service and an additional week's pay for each year of service over and above that, according to the Tribune article. Career counseling and outplacement services also will be available to those who accept buyouts.

Currently mired in a three-year-old bankruptcy from which it is unlikely to emerge before the Third Quarter of 2012, Tribune management has not ruled out the possibility of layoffs even after the voluntary buyout program.

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