First Amendment / Free Speech / Press

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Joplin paper editor finds tornado affirms mission of journalism and offers challenge of balancing stories of life and death

BRANSON, Mo. -- Sandwiched between standing ovations before and after her 27-minute address, the daily editor from  tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, offered a stirring endorsement of why newspapers matter.

JTM-MN: Libel, law and insurance

Jonathan Hart is counsel to the Online News Association and an expert on emerging aspects of Internet law, including libel. In a Skype teleconference, he meets with participants in New Pamphleteers/New Reporters on June 5, 2008, in Minneapolis. Among those joining the session are Jane Kirtley, attorney, professor and First Amendment scholar at the Univ. of Minnesota, and Robert Cox, of the Media Bloggers Association. Cox discusses his group's intention to sponsor the first libel policy for bloggers. To listen to a stream of the session, click on the carat on the left of the bar below. Or download an MP3 podcast for offline listening.

Conyers, Hall ask Bush administration to withdraw Balco subpoenas of Chronicle reporters

The chairman and ranking minority member of the House judiciary committee today asked the government to withdraw subpoenas issued to two San Francisco Chronicle reporters whose testimony is sought in the Balco steriod scandal. Committee Chairman U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., told a gathering of the American Society of Newspaper Editors that he and U.S. Rep. Tom Davis had made the request in a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales.

"Fake news" battle heats up via letter to the FCC; both sides allege distortions and the Center for Media & Democracy are escalating their dispute with the broadcast industry over whether the government should force U.S. TV stations to tell viewers the source of news-program footage supplied by companies or PR firms pitching ideas or products. The trade assocation of news directors and a coalition of "VNR" producers claim CMD distorted the practices of TV stations; now CMD and FreePress say their 2005 report on "fake news" is being distorted. Both comment in Federal Communications Commission filings. READ CMD NEWS RELEASE. / READ RTNDA CRITIQUE / READ CMD REBUTTAL.

First Amendment discussion increases in America's classrooms, Knight study finds

Knight Foundation survey of 15,000 U.S. high-school students and 800 of their teachers has recorded increased teaching of First Amendment issues over the last two years. The high-school students know more about the free speech/free press issues than found in an initial, larger, $1-million study in 2004 entitled: "The Future of the First Anendment."

Blogger Josh Wolf awaits full appeals court hearing on issue of responding to subpoena for videotape

A San Francisco-based free-lance videographer and blogger, Josh Wolf, is in federal prison for refusing to turn over videotape he shot of a street protest in which two police officers were injured. The case is being followed carefully as a test of whether bloggers have the same rights as other journalists. VIEW AMANDA CONGDON'S VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH JOSH WOLF /

Did Comcast "censor" a segment critical of its customer service?

Major telecommunications companies assert that laws guaranteeing "network neutrality" are an unnecessary restraint on their right to to control what is transmitted along their Internet services. But an ostensibly well-documented blog post by Timothy Karr, a writer and activist at, suggests Comcast censored a segment of ABC Nightline which reported on customer problems with cable operators. MORE ON NETWORK NEUTRALITY.

When politicians exchange email and post to blogs do they violate open-meeting laws?

city councilor in the community of 14,000 residents, essentially say they do not violate the Massachusetts Open Meeting Act when they exchange posts on weblogs.

City official in Massachusetts asks if blog posts violate a state open-meeting law; seeks statewide opinion

A city councilor in North Adams, Mass. (pop. 14,167), is concerned that the Massachusetts Open Meeting Law, which forbids unofficial meetings of public-board quorums or serial phone conversations about official topics, may be applicable to blog postings and appearances on public-access TV channels. He is seeking an opinion from the Massachusetts attorney general.

Reporters without Borders offers six proposals for regulating Internet free-speech abuses

When Microsoft closed down a Chinese journalist's blog to comply, it said, with Chinese law, under pressure from the Chinese authorities once again shows that some Internet sector companies do not respect freedom of expression when operating in repressive countries. The French-based international non-profit Reporters Without Borders says a recent action by Microsoft Corp. shows the company does not respect freeom of expression when operating in allegedly repressive countries. In a posting to its website, RWB says it has proposed six ways to make Internet hosting companies behave ethically on free-speech issues.
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