Thursday, January 31, 2013

Failed American Idol Warbler's Threats Not Idle: Files $120m Libel Suit

American Idol
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An unsuccessful contestant on the 2002-2003 season of American Idol has filed a 45-page complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, including counts alleging libel, false light invasion of privacy and conspiracy to commit product disparagement, seeking $120 million in damages against two law firms and two television companies, American Lawyer reports.

The case, Corey D. Clark v. E! Entertainment Television, Inc. et al. (Case No. 3:13-cv-00058), was filed by the litigious crooner/contestant who was ousted from the competition during Idol's second season for not disclosing to the show's producers his previous criminal record involving a misdemeanor arrest. In 2005, Clark boasted of an affair with former LA Lakers dancer, singer and Idol judge Paula Abdul while he was an Idol contestant, which prompted an internal investigation by Fox undertaken by two law firms that are defendants in the present suit.

The internal probe concluded Clark's claim was unsubstantiated, and the not-always-easy-to-understand Abdul was succinct in denying a tryst with Clark. The plaintiff contends he was defamed by what the complaint labels a "sham investigation" by the two law firms. The plaintiff  is suing E! Entertainment because of a program aired in January 2012 entitled E! True Hollywood Story: Paula Abdul, that he alleges imputed he was a liar.

In his complaint, Clark alleges the defendants' actions prompted Bungalo Records to stop promoting his debut album and led to backup singers and dancers who were to accompany him on live performances bailing on him.  Clark has a $40 million suit pending against Viacom Intl. and MTV Networks Enterprises regarding their coverage of his Idol departure and Abdul allegations. He also is one of a group of former Idol contestants alleging the show engaged in racially discriminatory practices in a complaint brought before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Rather than audition for American Idol, Clark might have done better on So You Think You're a Comedian, because "TUOL"'s crack legal team believes when the litigation concludes, he can try out for The Biggest Loser.

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Poor Time Inc.: Media Conglomerate Trims Workforce by 6%

People (magazine)
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Vowing to "transform our company into one that is leaner, more nimble and more innately multi-platform," Time, Inc. CEO Laura Lang this week announced the media giant was pink-slipping 6 percent of its global workforce, or roughly 480 of its 8,000 employees.

According to online accounts by Bloomberg News and AdWeek, Time, Inc., the largest U.S. magazine publisher, suffered a 6.2 percent drop in sales over the first three quarters of 2012, compared to a year earlier, to $2.47 billion. Lang took the helm of Time, Inc. last year after a successful stint at the Digitas digital ad agency.

Declining newsstand sales of magazine titles, such as People and Fortune, had the industry and Time, Inc. employees fretting about looming layoffs (see "TUOL" post 1/11/13). The media company endured significant layoffs in 2008 and 2009 as well (see "TUOL" post 10/30/09).
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

All Signs Poyntering Downward

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Reflecting the wobbly state of the profession it helps to train, the journalist-gestating, non-profit Poynter Institute for Media Studies lost a whopping $3.8 million in 2011, the last year for which its financial information is available, according to articles in the blog and the Tampa Tribune.

Compared to Poynter's Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax in 2010, when it operated in the red to the tune of $109,206, the 2011 losses are alarming. The St. Petersburg, Florida-based school reportedly still has more than $45 million in net assets to stay afloat, and last November hired a new director to head its new foundation and boost charitable donations.
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All Atwitter Over Social Platform's Meteoric Growth

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Buoyed in the U.S. by increased use by the over-55 set and a stronger mobile Internet presence, social media platform Twitter is now being used monthly by 21 percent of the world's Internet population, according to GlobalWebIndex ("GWI") cited in an online Forbes article.

Fourth Quarter 2012 figures revealed a staggering 40 percent increase among active Twitter users, which translates to 288 million tweeters. The GWI measures usage in 31 markets that comprise roughly 90 percent of the global Internet population between ages 16 and 65, the Forbes piece noted. Dating back to July 2009, active tweeters have increased by 714 percent.

Active usage of Twitter grew 94 percent in the U.S., second only to Hong Kong. The over-55 demographic is the fastest-growing group among tweeters, the GWI survey noted, and Americans last year increased their mobile Internet usage of Twitter to 43 percent from 37 percent the previous year.

Bet there are some folks in the respective boardrooms of Google and Facebook who wish their companies had acquired the San Francisco-based microblogger before it learned how to spin gold in 140-character segments.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Press Gains Access to DCS Child Fatality Records

English: Office of The Tennessean newspaper in...
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In The Tennessean et al. v. Tennessee Department of Children Services (Case No. 12-1769-II), Tennessee Chancery District Court Judge Carol L. McCoy last week ordered redacted child fatality records of youth under state care released to media organizations.

Following her review of four DCS reports involving child fatalities, Judge McCoy ruled the files at issue be released to the news media within 10 days, omitting the names of the decedents, their families, DCS staffers who handled the cases and the individuals who reported the alleged abuse. Judge McCoy said the public's interest in learning about the deaths exceeded concerns in keeping the information confidential, notwithstanding state and federal measures favoring nondisclosure.  More than a dozen media outlets, including The Tennessean, filed a petition in court against the DCS last December when the agency declined to produce the child fatality reports, arguing that the information was subject to disclosure under Tennessee's Public Records Law [Tenn. Code Ann. 10-7-101 et seq.] and that it was crucial that the public be informed about how the state handled fatalities of children under its care.

Judge McCoy's ruling permits the DCS to consider the cost of redacting and processing the remainder of the 206 child fatality reports dating back to 2009, beyond the four files she reviewed, so that media outlets could elect to pay those costs.

Tip of the hat to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press ( for drawing attention to this decision.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

Barnes & Noble, Not Brick & Mortar

English: TCU's Barnes and Noble Bookstore.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Following a brief surge after competitor Borders Group, Inc. went belly-up (see "TUOL" post 7/20/11), Barnes & Noble saw a near-11 percent drop in sales at its bookstores and on its Web site this past holiday season, according to a Reuters wire service article.

B & N CEO Mitchell Klipper told the Wall St. Journal that his company plans to shutter nearly a third of its brick and mortar bookstores over the next decade, according to the Reuters piece. The company, which presently operates 689 retail stores and  674 college bookstores as a separate chain, will likely reduce in size to roughly 500 stores within the next ten years, Klipper noted.

Online competition such as Amazon and the boom in e-books are contributing factors in the shrinking bookstore market.
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Reporter Seeks to Quash Subpoena in Murder Probe

New York Daily News front page on August 9
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The New York Daily News last week invoked the Empire State's shield law [New York Civil Rights Law Article 7 § 79-h] in a motion to quash a subpoena of reporter Kevin Deutsch, whose testimony is sought regarding the 2011  homicide of a decorated police officer, reported.

Prosecutor Kenneth Taub, whose office is pursuing the case against five suspects accused in the murder of Officer Peter Figoski, wants Deutsch to testify concerning a jailhouse interview he conducted with one of the suspects, alleged getaway driver Michael Velez, according to the post.  New York's shield law prevents authorities from requiring journalists to disclose confidential sources, unless it can be shown the information sought can't be obtained elsewhere. Taub contends he needs Deutsch's testimony to obtain Velez's conviction.

Journalists are fearful that incarcerated individuals would be loathe to grant confidential jailhouse interviews if they believed the information could be used against them by law enforcement officials.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Maine High Court Orders Jury Selection Open to Press

Portland Press Herald
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The Maine Supreme Court this week voted 6-1 to open to the press and public voir dire proceedings in the high-profile Kennebunk Zumba prostitution case, the Portland Press Herald, which asked the High Court to unlock the jury selection proceedings, reported.

In the10-page decision in In re Maine Today Media, Inc., State of Maine v. Mark Strong (Case No. 2013-ME-12) written by Chief Justice Leigh Saufley, the High Court reversed the decision by presiding York County Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills to close the jury selection proceedings to the media and public. Justice Mills had expressed concern about the prospective jurors' privacy rights and possible intimidation if they were grilled in open court about the case.

The Maine Supreme Court decision, in which Justice Donald Alexander was the lone dissenter, not only ordered the lower court to open the remainder of the jury selection process to the public, but also to release transcripts of the closed-door inquiry of prospective jurors that began Tuesday, the Press Herald reported. The United States Supreme Court, in cases such as Press-Enterprise Co. v. Superior Court of California, Riverside County, 464 U.S. 501 (1984), has found a First Amendment right to attend voir dire proceedings at criminal trials.

The juror questionnaire in the highly publicized case elicited opinions from the would-be fact-finders on whether prostitution should be legalized, whether as jurors they would be able to watch videotapes of sexual liaisons and what exposure, if any, to pretrial publicity they had encountered. The 57-year-old Strong, prosecutors allege, was the business partner of Alexis Wright, who owned the Kennebunk Zumba exercise studio out of which authorities charge the defendants ran a prostitution operation. The 30-year-old Wright is scheduled to go on trial in May, facing 106 criminal counts, according to the Press Herald.

Chief Justice Saufley wrote: "We vacate the court’s order barring the public from the entirety of the

voir dire process. The matter is remanded for the trial court to conduct the
remaining voir dire in a presumptively public manner, exercising its considerable
discretion to prevent the dissemination of sensitive juror information. The public’s
access to the jury selection that has already occurred can be addressed, again at the
court’s discretion, by the release of appropriately redacted transcripts."

The trial court today dismissed 46 of the 59 charges Strong faces.
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Will Rare Be Well Done?

Cox Enterprises
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Atlanta-based media conglomerate Cox Enterprises, Inc., whose holdings include 14 tv stations, numerous radio outlets and the flagship Atlanta Journal Constitution among its two dozen newspapers, is preparing to launch within the next few months a conservative counterpart to Internet news aggregator, the Huffington Post.

According to an online article by Creative Loafing Atlanta (, Cox is searching for an editor to helm Rare, whose purported tagline is "Red is the center," as in the middle ground. Creative Loafing claims that Cox already has registered the domain name

If Rare plans to mirror the successful HuffPo except for its place on the political spectrum, besides providing another non-paying outlet for freelance journalists to be published,  its editors are going to have to overcome any reservations about limiting the use of the words blasts, slams, shocking and smacks down in headlines.

The red-blooded "TUOL" staff can't wait for Rare to publish side-boob and wardrobe malfunction photos of Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham and Elizabeth Hasselbeck.
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Iowa High Court Accords Internet Publishers Traditional Media Libel Protection

English: Iowa Supreme Court in Des Moines
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In its 68-page decision last week in Gail Bierman & Beth Weier v. Scott Weier & Author Solutions, Inc. (Case No. 10-1503), the Iowa Supreme Court recognized online publishers as media defendants worthy of the protection of an elevated burden of proof on plaintiffs in defamation claims.

Iowa's High Court conferred the status of bona fide book publisher on Defendant Author Solutions, Inc.("ASI"), an Internet self-publishing company involved in the limited circulation of books, in allowing ASI's summary judgment motion to dismiss plaintiffs' false light invasion of privacy and defamation claims against ASI for publishing co-defendant Scott Weier's post-divorce memoir, Mind, Body and Soul (2008). The plaintiffs, Weier's ex-wife and father-in-law, brought those claims, along with a count alleging intentional infliction of emotional distress, regarding alleged defamatory material in the memoir, including that Beth Weier purportedly was abused by her father, allegedly battled mental illness and was an unfit parent, according to an Associated Press story.

ASI designed the cover and did a limited print run for distribution to bookstores and Scott Weier's acquaintances, reportedly selling three copies on its Web site and another copy on Amazon, the AP article reported. A lower court imposed an injunction barring the sale of the memoir while the lawsuit was pending and granted plaintiffs partial summary judgment, ruling that both defendants committed libel per se by their limited publication of the memoir. Under the doctrine of libel per se, certain statements are considered "actionable in and of themselves without proof of malice, falsity or damage," according to the 5-2 decision by the Iowa Supreme Court.

Writing for the majority, Justice Edward Mansfield said ASI was a media defendant, and the First Amendment dictates that the plaintiffs had to go beyond libel per se and prove that ASI published the memoir containing the offending statements knowing they were false or with reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the allegations, which the court found plaintiffs failed to do.

The High Court said it refused to extend the same protections to defendant Scott Weier because the offending statements at issue did not involve a matter of public concern and because individuals and other non-media defendants have less incentive to protect their reputation for accuracy than do media defendants. The decision said subjecting individual defendants to a finding of libel per se protects victims of cyberbullying and Internet smear campaigns.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

N.C. Judge's Libel Claim Against Facebook Poster Begins This Week

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North Carolina 26th Judicial District Superior Court Judge F. Lane Williamson this week will preside over the trial of a defamation claim brought by Ola M. Lewis, senior resident superior court judge for Judicial District 13, against a media strategist concerning Facebook posts he wrote during the 2010 Republican state senate primary, the Halifax Media Group-owned Wilmington Star-News reported.

Judge Lewis, whose baliwick includes Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus counties, sued Edward Lee Rapp, who worked for GOP state Senate candidate Bettie Fennell in her 2010 campaign against Bill Rabon. According to accounts by the StarNewsOnline and ABA Law News Today blog, Rapp posted online criticism of Judge Lewis for purportedly wearing a Rabon campaign button and allegedly claimed Judge Lewis violated the North Carolina Code of Judicial Conduct by openly supporting Rabon.

The Code permits judges who are seeking re-election to endorse other candidates running for office. Rapp apologized for errors in his initial post, maintaining he was unaware Lewis was running for re-election, but contended his online statements in any case were First Amendment protected political speech.

Lewis sued Rapp for defamation in 2010, but a state judge threw out the case a year later, finding the allegedly offensive remarks were protected political speech. The North Carolina Court of Appeals in May 2012, reversed in part, holding that only one of the defendant's two blog posts at issue was protected political speech, remanding the case to the superior court for trial.
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(Hard) Financial Times: Biz News Buyouts Help to Enlarge Digital Footprint

Financial Times
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In an email this week to staffers, Lionel Barber, Editor of the Pearson PLC-owned Financial Times ("FT"), outlined plans to bolster FT's digital presence while expressing hope that offered buyouts might negate the need for layoffs.

According to a report on the site, FT hopes 35 staffers will accept buyouts to enable the business news giant to save 1.6 million pounds ($2,534,732) so that layoffs could be avoided.  Barber said the organization plans to increase its digital side workforce by 10. FT's mobile now accounts purportedly constitute a quarter of FT's digital traffic.

Part of  FT's plan to emphasize its digital platform over its print version, the post said, involves streamlining its international presence.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Federal Judge Yanks Dentist's Libel Suit

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United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York Senior Judge Carol Amon last week dismissed a defamation claim against authorities, including former state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, brought by a dentist acquitted of Medicaid fraud.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press Web site ( reported on the case, Morse v. Spitzer et al. (Case No. 07-cv-4793) in which plaintiff Dr. Leonard Morse filed a 105-page civil rights complaint under 42 U.S.C. sec. 1983 that included counts alleging defamation and malicious prosecution. Trial is slated to begin Jan. 28 regarding Morse's claim that he was denied the right to a fair trial.

Dr. Morse, who was acquitted of larceny charges in 2007, grounded his defamation claim against prosecutors in a press release authorities provided the news media concerning the dentist's indictment alleging a "million dollar Medicaid theft." The plaintiff contended that the contents of the press release exceeded the scope of charges contained in the indictment, including, for example, an allegation that the dentist billed Medicaid for making dentures for patients who did not wear dentures.

The court in its 14-page ruling, however, was unimpressed by the defamatory dentures allegation, noting that the inaccurate assertion did not make the press release's allegations that Dr. Morse billed the government for services he did not perform false, an essential element in proving a defamation claim. "The plain import of the press release," Judge Amon wrote, "was exactly that: that Morse was being accused of submitting claims to the state for services not rendered."

In other words, in dental defamation suits, tooth is a defense.
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Monday, January 21, 2013

UPDATE: Pink Slime Headed Toward South Dakota Court?

Map of South Dakota highlighting Union County
Map of South Dakota highlighting Union County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
United States District Court for the District of South Dakota Judge Karen Schreier will hear
 arguments from Beef Products, Inc (BPI) seeking to remand its $1.2 billion defamation suit against ABC News to state court, Reuters wire service reported.

The case, Beef Products Inc. et al. v. American Broadcasting Cos. et al (Case No. 12-292), brought last year by the nation's largest producer of lean finely textured beef filler unaffectionately dubbed pink slime,  (See "TUOL" post 9/14/12) alleges the defendants, including anchor Diane Sawyer, harmed the plaintiffs' reputation by alleging the filler, made from ammonia-sprayed fatty trimmings, was not "meat" and harmful to the public.

Plaintiffs' counsel contended in papers filed in federal court last week that the South Dakota state court is the proper forum to hear the case because  BPI Technology, Inc. and Freezing Machines, two entities the plaintiffs allege are related to the suit, do business in South Dakota. The two companies, as well as BPI, are owned by Eldon and Regina Roth, according to the Reuters story.

The case was originally filed last September in Union County (S.D.) Circuit Court before ABC removed the action to federal court. The defendants have moved to have BPI Technology and Freezing Machines dropped as parties to the case and sought dismissal of the entire suit.  Plaintiffs, who also are seeking punitive damages, could possibly, if successful in their suit, receive treble damages under South Dakota's Agricultural Food Products Disparagement Act.

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Publicist in a Fishbowl Sues for Defamation

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In a 27-page complaint including counts alleging defamation and false light invasion of privacy, prominent Washington D.C. publicist Wendy Gordon has sued the Mediabistro-owned FishbowlDC Web site, LegalTimes reports.

The District of Columbia Superior Court case, Gordon v., Inc. et al. (Case No. 0000386-13) concerns alleged uncomplimentary images of Gordon that appeared on the Web site along with posts allegedly intimating attention-seeking, promiscuous behavior. Gordon's complaint characterizes her as a private figure who has suffered humiliation because of the postings on FishbowlDC. Fishbowl DC purportedly defamed the plaintiff in a series of posts under the heading of "Wendy Wednesday."

WebMediaBrands, the owner of, is also a named defendant. The plaintiff is seeking $1 million compensatory damages and $1 million punitive damages.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Social Media Gains as Political Content Source

Politico (newspaper)
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Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, are just as trusted--and mistrusted-- by voters as traditional media outlets when it comes to providing political information, according to a study reported by the Politico Web site.

The George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management/ORI online survey of 806 Internet users, which has a plus or minus 3.45 percent margin of error, concluded that voters found political information on social media of higher quality, or at least as good as, political data provided via traditional media, such as television and newspapers. Age was a factor among respondents, as 36 percent of older voters polled were skeptical of social media political content, while among voters age 26 and under, 71 percent believed social media platforms outshone traditional media regarding trustworthiness.

Seventy-seven percent of survey participants said they made political contributions via Email or through campaign Web sites, while 19 percent did so via Facebook. The 2012 election was first in which the Federal Election Commission permitted texted contributions, and 18 percent of respondents availed themselves of the text message option to contribute to their chosen candidates, according to the Politico post.
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Fading Star-Ledger

Newark, New Jersey skyline
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Star-Ledger
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Thirty-four newsroom jobs evaporated at The (Newark) Star-Ledger yesterday, as the Advance Publications-owned daily shed 10 percent of its workforce, according to accounts by the Star-Ledger and Associated Press.

The ravages of Superstorm Sandy joined declining circulation and plunging ad revenues on the usual laundry list of reasons for the massive job reduction. Although the pink slips were distributed among the IT,  circulation and advertising departments, the shockwaves were strongest in the newsroom, where 18 employees were ousted, including copy editors, photographers, news and photo editors.

The Star-Ledger, the nation's 16th largest daily with a combined digital and print readership of 311,904, according to the Alliance for Audited Media, has seen its newsroom shrink to 175 from 195. "TUOL" has chronicled the ongoing financial hardship of the Star-Ledger (see "TUOL" post 7/13/12), which included a massive buyout in 2008 in which 304 workers, including 151 newsroom staffers, took the money and ran.

Star-Ledger publisher Richard Vezza, in an understatement, called yesterday a "difficult day," while Editor Kevin Whitmer acknowledged the daily was unable to continue to support certain positions on the paper.
Terminated staffers were given a week-and-a-half severance pay for each year of service to a maximum 26 weeks and provided health care and job counseling during that period.

The Newhouse family-owned Advance Publications wielded the job axe at other chain publications yesterday, including The Express-Times in Easton, Pennsylvania, which trimmed 12 jobs from its 234-member staff, and the South Jersey Times, which employed 150 before 11 workers were sent packing.

According to the AP account, the Star-Ledger is the largest content provider to the free Web site, which draws from Advance-owned dailies and weeklies. The Star-Ledger is a non-union shop.

The layoffs resonated among the devoted New Jersey-born staff of "TUOL," which turned to the Star-Ledger after the afternoon daily Newark Evening News folded, and read the paper throughout middle school and high school.
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Seattle TV Station Defeats Defamation Claim

English: KIRO 7 logo
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In an 18-page ruling in U.S. Mission Corp. v. KIRO-TV, Inc. (Case No. 66868-4-1), Washington Court of Appeals Judge C. Kenneth Grosse this week upheld a trial court's dismissal of a defamation claim against a Seattle television station filed by a transitional housing service, the Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press Web site ( reported.

The local tv news station reported in 2010 that U.S. Mission Corporation allegedly solicited door-to-door contributions using transitional shelter residents, some of whom allegedly had criminal records. Judge Grosse sided with KIRO-TV, finding that investigative reporter Chris Halsne's story was substantially true, even though some of his statements, such as contending the plaintiff "'recruited' felons and sent 'bevies' of felons into neighborhoods," were not literally true.

The court ruled that the plaintiff failed to prove it was harmed by the station's story. In affirming the trial court's grant of summary judgment to the defendant, Judge Grosse did not rule on the parties' arguments regarding the constitutionality of Washington's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute [RCW 4.24.525].

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Unhealthy Environment: WaPo Apologizes for Plagiarism

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Correspondent William Booth is in hot water after the Washington Post apologized to readers for Booth's alleged plagiarism of a professor's article for a  monthly scientific journal, the Web site reported yesterday.

Booth allegedly lifted four sentences without attribution from an article by Prof. Andrea Hricko entitled "Progress and Pollution: Port Cities Prepare for the Panama Canal Expansion," from the December 3 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives. An editor's note apologized to the author and readers for the "serious lapse," and promised Booth faced "severe and appropriate" action for his transgression.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Atlantic Sinks to New Low

First cover of The Atlantic Monthly magazine. ...
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Washington, D.C.-based Atlantic Media Co. ["AMC"], publisher of the venerable The Atlantic magazine, has issued an apology and pulled an advertorial from its Web site that embraced the controversial Church of Scientoloty, the  reported.

David Miscavige Leads Scientology to Milestone Year, read the headline on the Church-sponsored content that appeared on The Atlantic site. The 52-year-old Miscavige is the religious and ecclesiastical leader of the  Church of Scientology, the religion founded by the late pulp fiction writer L.Ron Hubbard.

The Atlantic has since taken down the advertorial and posted the following statement: "We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way."

All well and good, but AMC should conduct a seance so that company executives can apologize to the stellar founders of The Atlantic Monthly, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
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At least nine editorial slots have been axed by Thomson Reuters ("TR") news service in a cost-cutting measure, the Web site for Talking Biz News ( reported today.

An indeterminate number of TR employees across the board are getting their walking papers in departments ranging from training to sales and editorial, the Talking Biz News post reported. Reportedly, a quarter of Reuters' Wealth Mgt. Division was eliminated by the staff reduction.
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Federal Judge Backs Photog in Social Media Copyright Claim

English: Shown here Jan. 17, 2010, are buildin...
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United States District Court for the Southern District of New York Judge Alison Nathan this week in Agence France Presse v. Morel (Case No. 10-cv-02730) granted, in part, a summary judgment motion brought by a photographer who claims news organizations infringed on copyrighted images he posted on Twitter.

According to a report by the wire service Reuters, photographer Daniel Morel tweeted photos he took of the destruction caused by an earthquake in Haiti in January 2010. Defendant Agence France Presse (AFP) transmitted Morel's photos to defendant Getty Images, four of which were published on the Web site of defendant Washington Post , which subscribes to Getty, according to the court ruling.

AFP contended the photos in question were available for re-use once they were posted on Twitter, but Judge Nathan found AFP and the Washington Post infringed on Morel's copyright because the social media platform's terms of service did not grant a license to the defendants to reproduce the images without Morel's permission. The court imposed a ceiling on the amount of damages Morel could recover, did not rule on the infringement claim as to Getty Images, and left unresolved other issues for trial, a date for which has not yet been set.

The Reuters article reported that Morel countersued the defendants after AFP initially filed suit against Morel in March 2010, seeking a determination that it had not infringed on Morel's copyright. Twitter, which is not a party to the suit, takes the view that users of the service own their photographs that are posted on Twitter.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Op Ed Plagiarism Costs Education Director His Job

English: TDSB Education Centre - The head offi...
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An apparently plagiarized opinion piece in the January 5 issue of the Toronto Star touched off a feeding frenzy by the Canadian Press that cost Chris Spence, the Toronto District School Board's director of education, his job, according to the blog.

After a reader tipped off public editor Kathy English, the Star posted a Note atop Spence's op-ed that read:

"This Opinion article includes substantial unattributed material from several other sources. Those sources include the 'Coaching Excellence' blog of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching, the blog, Pro Sport Chick, an online encyclopedia and a 1989 Op-Ed article in the New York Times written by Anita L. Defrantz, then president of the Amateur Athletic Foundation of Los Angeles and a current member of the International Olympic Committee. Spence has acknowledged  that he plagiarized parts of his article and apologized to the Star and its readers."

Spence's contrite mea culpa failed to calm the waters, however, as the National Post uncovered what it claimed were other instances of plagiarism, and The Globe and Mail raised doubts concerning Spence's dissertation, alleging it contained unattributed material. Spence has resigned from the School Board post, iMediaEthics reported.

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