Category Archives: front page

Coach v. Coaches insults lead to lawsuit

An assistant coach’s online insults aimed at fellow coaches have lead to a $200,000 libel lawsuit.

The showdown is at Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Illinois, where a football coach and his assistant claim the former defensive coordinator has libeled them with labels like “pedophile” and “thief” on Facebook, according to the State-Journal Register.

The coaches say they have been dealing with three years of online insults.

Long live online media, because the newspaper has attached a downloadable PDF of the court document for your perusal should you choose.

Let’s just hope that the only lesson students learn from this case is a positive one.


Prosecution of the Innocence Project

If you are reading this blog, chances are you have heard of the Innocence Project, in which a group of Medill Journalism students at Northwestern University have freed 11 wrongly convicted men and women.

Today a Chicago-area prosecutor is trying to get access to students grades and class notes. Why, you might ask? You really need to listen to this NPR story.

In short, the prosecutor is arguing that these students may be being pressured by their professor to prove innocence, even if that means bribing sources to tell the “right” stories. Ridiculous.

Are we expected to believe this prosecution has nothing to do with the embarrassment these cases might cause to the legal system? Or that the prosecutor is not trying to intimidate these students — and future students — into silence?

The professor in question, journalist David Protess, says he won’t give up the records. Good for him.

Keep fighting the good fight, Professor. With people like you, the true spirit of journalism will survive.

Somber reminder not all journalists free

“I am still alive. I am one of the lucky journalists.”

That’s what Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Global Editor Maidstone Mulenga told the roughly 100 international journalists, students and teachers gathered at the United Nation of Rochester’s Freedom of the Press: A Global Crisis earlier this week held at The College at Brockport’s Metro Center.

Maidstone was a journalist in Zambia, and he and his family were threatened because of a story he had written. The government wanted to know his source. He said his story is not unique, and said that according to World Press Freedom Day, 673 journalists were arrested in 2008. Even worse, 70 journalists were killed. So far this year, 31 journalists have been killed and 30 journalists are missing worldwide, he said.

“Each time freedom of press is threatened, all other human rights are threatened,” he said.

He urged the audience to take action. He mentioned that when he visits journalists in Africa and sees them waiting in line to use the one computer available for them to follow reports, he wishes people would realize that they could help with freedom of the press by donating computers and technology or by giving a little money to support the families of imprisoned journalists, families often left destitute because the family bread-winner cannot work.

Some of the organizations that try to help international journalists and work to ensure a free press include:

Media Law Case of the Week

When is a libel threat really an attempt to muffle criticism, in particular press criticism?

Journalists at an Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, argue that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is trying to use his libel suit against the paper to do just that — shut up opposing voices, according to UK newspaper The Guardian.

And what did this paper do that the Prime Minister did not like?

La Repubblica has asked that Berlusconi answer “10 New Questions” about his relationships with several women — some of whom are reported to be prostitutes and at least one a minor.

The Guardian reports that the Italian newspaper is trying to get 500,000 people to sign an online petition calling for press freedom by Oct. 3 and that newspaper editors in Britain, Germany, Spain and France have signed it.

If you’d like to sign it, click here. To easily translate the petition from Italian to English, you can use Babel Fish.

Is it who or whom? It’s laughs.

Is it who or whom?

This clip from The Office will make you laugh if you’ve ever had one of these debates (and what writer hasn’t?). Thanks to Editor Extraordinaire Deborah Gump, Ph.D., for passing this one along.

Media Law Case of the Week

It was bound to happen.

The lawyer for the suspect in the Yale student’s murder is filing a complaint about law enforcement leaks about the case to the media.

Who can blame him?

At this point, even the casual news consumer knows that law enforcement claims Raymond Clark III’s DNA is all over the crime scene. Public Defender Joseph Lopez is laying the groundwork for a claim that it will difficult, if not impossible, for his client to get a fair trial.

Speaking of high profile cases that lead to difficulties in getting a fair trial, the Sam Sheppard case — which inspired “The Fugitive” — was back in the spotlight again on NPR after Sheppard’s son objected to host Scott Simon referring to his father as “the most famous convicted murderer in America.”

You can hear Simon’s interview with the son, Sam Reese Sheppard, here.

Media Law Case of the Week

Sorry Journajunkie has been a way for so long. It’s nice to return and be back in action.

So let’s get right to it with an update to a Media Law Case of the Week from May. Some of you may remember the libel lawsuit of a politician angry that a radio host sent e-mails claiming that said politician was gay. Well, that politician — Tom Fetzer, North Carolina Republican Party chairman — is reportedly getting married next month.

The News & Observer reports that he and his fiance met while she working on a Republican campaign.

But don’t think the glow of love has led to a case of forgive-and-forget. The lawsuit is still on.

Media Law Case of the Week

Accusations, feuds, removal of two board members (who happen to be married) from the board.

Is this a soap opera?

No, it’s a chess group, and there is still no check mate in the battle among board members of the United States Chess Federation.

The NY Times has a great article today about the feud that has lead to libel and slander lawsuit filings in the millions.

If only chess were so exciting. (Sorry, chess fans. 🙂 )

Journajunkie vacation

Jouranjunkie is on vacation. It’ll be back soon.

Coming Attractions

I am in the midst of grading the many works of my students, so today I will simply offer you a “teaser” of what is to come next week:

  • Monday: The Media Law Case of the Week
  • Wednesday: What a trip to the Museum of Play taught me about journalism
  • Friday: A look back at a classic video game tied to journalism that seems even older than it is

I hope to see you back here next week. Until then, enjoy the weekend. And I will enjoy diving into my students’ works.