Ethics, libel, freedom of the press

Also linked to here--resources on:
Media watchdogs, privacy, plagiarism, freedom of information (FOIA)

What is happening to academic freedom?

Defining Academic Freedom (Cary Nelson, Inside Higher Ed, 12-21-10) Sometimes academic freedom is invoked in situations where it doesn't actually apply. But many within and without higher education are not well-versed in all the protections it does provide. This statement is designed to help clarify both what academic freedom does and doesn't do. For example, academic freedom means that both faculty members and students can engage in intellectual debate without fear of censorship or retaliation. (Excellent explanation follows.)
Academic Freedom Primer (pdf, Ann Franke, Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges)
Academic freedom (Wikipedia's entry is a good overview, plus there are links)
Resources on Academic Freedom (American Association of University Professors, AAUP)
China’s bid to block my journal’s articles is a new attack on academic freedom (Tim Pringle, The Guardian, 8-21-17) Cambridge University Press was asked to suppress articles in China Quarterly. It has now resisted, but it is a worrying development
IPA urges China to 'respect the decision' of Cambridge University Press to restore articles (Alison Flood, The Guardian, 8-22-17) The International Publishers Association has urged the Chinese government not to take punitive action against Cambridge University Press following the publisher’s decision to restore online access to hundreds of academic articles it had been asked to remove by Chinese authorities.
BC should abide by subpoena, provide info in murder case (Editorial, Boston Globe 8-1-11). Academic community fears chilling effect of honoring subpoenas for sealed oral history transcripts. "BOSTON COLLEGE is justifiably proud of its relationship with Ireland and its role in helping to shepherd the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Those close ties are one reason the college has been waging a court battle against a US government subpoena, requested by British authorities, which seeks testimony from a sealed oral history project about the war in Northern Ireland. Boston College’s concerns are valid, but the interests of justice and diplomacy outweigh any claim for special protection. The promise that was made to participants in the oral history project - that their testimony wouldn’t be released until they died - must be rescinded in light of a murder investigation."
College Fights Subpoena of Interviews Tied to I.R.A. (Katie Zezima, NY Times, 6-9-11). "Boston College filed a motion this week to quash a federal subpoena seeking access to confidential interviews of paramilitary fighters for the Provisional Irish Republican Army."
US college requests quashing of oral history subpoenas (Kevin Cullen, Irish Times 6-11-11). "In A case being watched closely by academics around the world, Boston College has asked a judge to quash subpoenas demanding it turn over to British authorities records from an oral history project involving republican and loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. In papers filed in court in Boston, the college said releasing audio tapes and other materials connected to the confidential interviews could jeopardise the safety of former paramilitaries who were interviewed, the two former paramilitaries who conducted the interviews, and college staff involved in an oral history known as the 'Belfast Project'.”
The Unwritten Code of Conduct (The Research Whisperer, 12-15-15) "Each day this week, my supervisor has walked into my office and made verbal demands that I remove content from my beloved blog. Each day, the boundaries of appropriate social media usage shift a little, and my requests for some clear written guidance are rebuffed. I’m a postdoc at a research-intensive organisation....If universities are intent on monitoring, moderating and censoring the social media presence of academic staff, then it’s only fair to actually write these unwritten rules and work together towards some transparent and fair guidelines."
Unacademic Freedom? (Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed, 3-1-16) Academic freedom is supposed to protect unpopular views. A case involving an Oberlin professor who claimed that ISIS is really the CIA and Mossad asks whether that freedom extends to falsehoods.
Kitzmiller v. Dover: Intelligent Design on Trial (National Center for Science Education: Defending the teaching of evolution & climate science). As the first trial over "intelligent design," the case received national media attention and has since been the subject of several books
More criticism of 'Academic Bill of Rights' (Scott Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 1-9-06) "Ellen Schrecker, a professor of history at Yeshiva University, called the Academic Bill of Rights a "cleverly written document" that was designed to pressure faculty members to hire more conservatives and to avoid topics and views that offend conservatives. "We should not seek to protect students from hearing uncomfortable views," she said."
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) (mission: to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities, including rights to freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience)
[Back to Top]

Best practices for government communications directors
This section was assembled before Trump was elected.
My guess is the rules will change.

NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco explicitly tells NOAA scientists that they are free to speak to the public, including the media, without permission from anyone at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (that is, without being "handled" and censored).
Federal Agency Encourages Its Scientists to Speak Out (Mark Fischetti, Scientific American blog, 12-8-11, on NOAA's policy of promoting open science)
NOAA's Scientific Integrity Commons and FAQs (NOAA science information for a climate-smart nation)
NOAA state of the science fact sheet on Air Quality

Public Communications and the Media
May I take phone calls from media and give interviews?
Yes. There are no exceptions here. However, you are not required to give media interviews. You can always refer media to your public affairs officer. Similarly, you should always feel free to consult with your public affairs officer prior to an interview and/​or include them in the interview.

What should I do if I am asked to give an interview?
You are not required to do anything. However, good practice suggests you should notify your public affairs officer and/​or the head of your operating unit prior to or just after you give an interview. Why? Common courtesy. You wouldn't want somebody surprising you with detailed questions about your work, and your managers are no different. Nobody enjoys being made to look foolish or uninformed in public. If you don't tell your managers you said something, it is possible they could be called out and made to look bad. Situational awareness is not a requirement, but it can be a good thing. Use your best judgment.
[Thanks to Andrew Holtz for drawing journalists' attention to this. HHS should be following a similar policy.]

[Back to Top]

Bias in journalism vs. political correctness. Juan Williams Fired For Admitting He Is Afraid of Flying Muslims (Riley Waggaman, Wonkette, 10-21-10) and In wake of NPR controversy, Fox News gives Juan Williams an expanded role (Matea Gold, in Los Angeles Times, 10-21-10)

Blogging, digital journalism, and the law

A Citizen's Guide to Reporting on #OccupyWallStreet (Citizen Media Law Project)
Making Google the Censor (Daphne Keller, NY Times, 6-12-17) Can sites like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia be asked to build tools to identify and remove extremist content? and so on.
Can I use that? A legal primer for journalists (Jonathan Peters, Columbia Journalism Review, 10-1-15)
U.S. court rules Oregon blogger not a journalist (Summer Harlow, Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas 12-7-11).
Judge: Blogger not a reporter, must turn over information (Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune 1-13-02)
No, the Sky is Not Falling: Explaining that Decision in Oregon Eric P. Robinson (Citizen Media Law Project 12-12-11)
Blogger jailed in Anna Nicole Smith defamation suit (Kate Murphy, AFP--noting that in court a blogger is a publisher, not a writer)
Blogging Between the Lines (Dana Hull, American Journalism Review, December 2006). "The mainstream media have fallen in love with blogs, launching them on everything from politics to life in Las Vegas to bowling. But does the inherent tension between the blogosphere’s anything-goes ethos and the standards of traditional journalism mean this relationship is doomed?"

Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). for anyone disseminating news online, from an independent blogger to a reporter for a major media outlet, as well as media lawyers. Topic areas (from from RCFP press release) include:
* Gathering News and Information (e.g., rules for open records and meetings, access to courts, and newsgathering right of access to events/​places)
* Protecting and Defending Your Work (e.g., what to do to protect sources and fight subpoenas, steps to take if there’s a threat or actual lawsuit libel, and how to handle invasion of privacy concerns)
* Knowing Legal Restrictions (e.g., understanding basic Internet regulation and how to protect a domain name, and copyright and trademark law covering both original work and “fair use” of other materials).
[Back to Top]

Free speech and freedom of expression

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."--First Amendment, one of ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution that constitute the Bill of Rights
‘A time comes when silence is betrayal.’ ~Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Freedom of Expression Watchlist (Authors Guild)
So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast (FIRE, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).
Freedom of Information Resources for Journalists (Newslab)
DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression, an excellent daily-curated roundup of the most pressing threats and notable goings-on in free expression today, from the U.S. and abroad--a project of PEN America's #LouderTogether campaign. See also the PEN America Digital Archive , an archive of resources for and about literature and advocacy for free expression.
'The Talk': How to 'do' free speech (video, Aaron Reese and Chris Maltby, FIRE, free speech explained for young people)
The Delete Squad (Jeffrey Rosen, The New Republic, 4-29-13) Google, Twitter, Facebook and the new global battle over the future of free speech.
Older people and Republicans, threatening free speech (Catherine Rampell, WaPo, 11-2-17) Various free speech surveys reveal that "lefty undergrads hold no monopoly on illiberalism." Depending on the survey source and the question, any group can appear to be illiberal. "For example, a [Cato Institute survey's] series of questions asked about whether executives and employees should be fired for holding various beliefs or participating in various kinds of political dissent. Liberals were more likely to support firing for racist beliefs and so on; but conservatives were more likely to support firing for political dissent such as flag-burning...a majority of Republicans says that Americans who burn the American flag — a constitutionally protected act — should have their citizenship revoked....Speaking of flagrant violations of the First Amendment, nearly half of Republicans would favor a law banning the building of mosques in their community...All of which is to reiterate that democratic values are under threat from many more sources than just socialist 19-year-olds."
First Amendment Watch New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute launched this online resource that "goes beyond the headlines to provide much-needed coverage and context to the debate over freedom of expression."
---Under News Gathering: Access, Secrecy, Leaks, Subpoenas, FOIA, Fake News.
---Under Speech: Offensive Speech, Campus Speech, Symbolic Speech, Artistic Speech.
---Other Sections (no subcategories yet): Libel, Threats, Censorship, Assembly, Privacy, Emotional Distress, Hate Speech, Prior Restraint, Reporter's Privilege, Public Forums, Privacy Versus Free Speech.
Spam Filters Threaten Free Speech on the Internet (James McGrath Morris, WaPo, 11-29-08) "The inclusion of "young adult," "getting nasty" and "hot" among the thousands of words in my publication [a newsletter, Biographer's Craft] was like poison. Indiscriminate spam-blocking software would spot those words, ignore the context and group my newsletter with unsolicited e-mails from purveyors of smut. "
Lawmakers in Ten States Have Proposed Legislation Criminalizing Peaceful Protest (Spencer Moodman, The Intercept, 1-23-17)
The Worst Time for the Left to Give Up on Free Speech (Michelle Goldberg, Op-Ed, NY Times, 10-6-17) "It’s certainly true that it’s easier to enjoy free speech when you’re privileged. It doesn’t follow from that, however, that eroding free speech protections helps the vulnerable. When disputes about free speech are adjudicated not according to broad principles but according to who has power, the left will mostly lose.... Luckily, if they ever do come face to face with forces determined to shut them up, the A.C.L.U. will be there."
Junk science': experts cast doubt on widely cited college free speech survey (Lois Beckett, The Guardian, 9-22-17) Survey saying 20% of US college students believe it’s appropriate to use violence against offensive speech was was not administered to a randomly selected group of college students nationwide, what statisticians call a “probability sample.” Instead, it was given to an opt-in online panel of people who identified as current college students.
Cake Is His ‘Art.’ So Can He Deny One to a Gay Couple? (Adam Liptak, NY Times, 9-16-17) "Jack Phillips bakes beautiful cakes, and it is not a stretch to call him an artist. Five years ago, in a decision that has led to a Supreme Court showdown, he refused to use his skills to make a wedding cake to celebrate a same-sex marriage, saying it would violate his Christian faith and hijack his right to express himself....At first blush, the case looked like a conflict between a state law banning discrimination and the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom. But when the Supreme Court hears the case this fall, the arguments will mostly center on a different part of the First Amendment: its protection of free speech."
When free speech devolves into violence (Roy S. Gutterman, editorial,, 8-17-17) "Where do you draw the line between free speech and censorship, suppression or punishment? In Charlottesville, Virginia, that line was smashed. What started as a seemingly lawful, yet emotional and heated, protest exploded into a full-blown riot with chaos, three deaths and neo-Nazis, KKK and other white supremacists clad in helmets, brandishing shields and weapons. First Amendment rights to speak, assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances are fundamental, but not absolute. Showing up to a protest with armor and weapons crosses the line and the rioting loses its constitutional protection."
The Ugly Business of Defending Free Speech in 2017 (Priscilla Frank, HuffPost, 11-21-17) Clay Hansen, of the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression (TJC) is proud to defend pro athletes around the country exercising their First Amendment rights by kneeling during the national anthem to support "49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 began protesting racial injustice in America by taking a knee during the national anthem." It's tougher defending Nazis and funeral protesters, but he has to, because, in his mind, “If we don’t defend these people now, it could be you next.” “The First Amendment applies to everyone,” Hansen said. “It applies to the ignorant and the hateful and everybody else, regardless of how much you disagree with them personally.”
How to Make Fun of Nazis (Moises Velasquez-Manoff, NY Times, 8-17-17) "For decades, Wunsiedel, a German town near the Czech border, has struggled with a parade of unwanted visitors. It was the original burial place of one of Adolf Hitler’s deputies, a man named Rudolf Hess. And every year, to residents’ chagrin, neo-Nazis marched to his grave site. The town had staged counterdemonstrations to dissuade these 2014, the town tried a different tactic: humorous subversion....nonviolent struggles were resolved much sooner than violent ones....nonviolent struggles attracted more allies more quickly. Violent struggles, on the other hand, often repelled people and dragged on for years."
John Lewis: NFL players kneeling 'are following a long tradition' (Brandon Carter, The Hill, 9-25-17) Players across the NFL knelt and locked arms during the playing of the national anthem this weekend in response to President Trump’s criticism of athletes who don’t stand for the anthem. The NFL hoped Colin Kaepernick would go away, but they couldn't keep him off the field (Adam Kilgore, National Post, 9-26-17) Donald Trump's caustic remarks and tweets left players with little choice but to respond. Many took their cues from Kaepernick. The Martyring of Colin Kaepernick (Ben Strauss, Politico, 9-3-17) How the NFL botched the quarterback’s protest and guaranteed the controversy will live on, whether he plays or not. Reporters had begun to openly suggest Kaepernick, good enough to sign a $127 million contract in 2014, was being blackballed—retaliation by a famously autocratic organization against a player who had dared to embarrass it. The point: Dear Conservatives: Do You Really Believe in Free Speech? (Benjamin L. Corey, Patheos, 9-25-17) " situations like this you prove you don’t really believe in free speech at all– because you can’t say you believe in free speech, but also believe in compelled speech." An important summary: This video is the best 5 minutes you will see on the NFL protests. (German Lopez, Vox, 9-28-17) Nick Wright: “When people march, they are not protesting traffic.” What are you actually mad at? Are you angry about the form of protest? Or what is being protested? Kneeling IS a form of peaceful protest. The players have been uniform that they have been using the anthem to protest inequality, police brutality, and racial injustice. Trump and others have hijacked the protest and made it about the anthem.

Transcript: Colin Kaepernick addresses sitting during national anthem (Chris Biderman, Ninerswire, 8-28-16) A transcript from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s media session Sunday Aug. 28, 2016 – his first public appearance after telling NFL Media why he decided to sit during the national anthem during the first three preseason games.
Defining Hate Speech (Andrew Sellars, Boston University School of Law, on Social Science Research Network, SSRN, a website devoted to the rapid dissemination of scholarly research in the social sciences and humanities) Downloadable. Common traits of hate speech: 1) Targeting a group, or individual as member of a group; 2) Content in the message that conveys hate; 3) The speech causes a harm; 4) The speaker intends harm or bad activity; 5) The speech incites bad actions beyond the speech itself; 6) The speech is either public or directed at a member of a group; 7) The context makes violence response possible; 8) The speech has no redeeming purpose.
What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz (Audrey Carlsen and Fahima Haque, NY Times, 10-13-17) The answers to the quiz are interesting, especially if you get one wrong.

Hate Speech court cases (6 cases, The First Amendment Encyclopedia)
Gag Orders and Free Speech cases (4 cases, The First Amendment Encyclopedia) Look at Case Categories for links to case summaries on other, related subjects in the First Amendment Encyclopedia, a very handy addition to our online reference library.
Why We Must Still Defend Free Speech (David Cole, NY Review of Books, 9-28-17) "Free speech, in short, is exposing white supremacists’ ideas to the condemnation they deserve. Moral condemnation, not legal suppression, is the appropriate response to these despicable ideas."
• DOCS V. GLOCKS. Florida Doctors May Discuss Guns With Patients, Court Rules (Lizette Alvarez, NY Times, 2-16-17) A number of doctors and medical organizations sued Florida in a case that came to be known as Docs v. Glocks, after the popular handgun. The Florida law was the first in the country to try to restrict the First Amendment rights of medical providers to discuss the safe storage of guns with patients, and the court ruling will probably make it more difficult for other states to pass a similar measure. The Republican-controlled Florida legislature, with the support of the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, passed the restrictions in 2011, aimed primarily at pediatricians. Under the law, doctors could lose their licenses or risk large fines for asking patients or their families about gun ownership and gun habits. The National Rifle Association viewed the medical community’s gun-related questions as discriminatory and a form of harassment, a position that the state took in court when it argued the queries violated the right to bear arms. Florida to Pay Legal Fees in Case That Kept Doctors From Discussing Guns (Matthew Haag, NY Times, 7-24-17)
[Back to Top]

How To Leak To ProPublica (ProPublica) "We’re investigative journalists devoted to exposing abuse of power. If you’ve got evidence showing powerful people doing the wrong thing, here’s how to let us know while protecting your identity."

Forget About It? Harmonizing European and American Protections for Privacy, Free Speech, and Due Process (Dawn Carla Nunziato, SSRN, 6-22-17) When the Court of Justice of the European Union issued its "right to be forgotten" decision in May 2014, Google complied by "removing links only within its European domains (such as or"
"The privacy protections recognized in the Google Spain decision are not necessarily incompatible with the substantive protections provided by U.S. free speech law and the balance U.S. courts have struck over time between privacy and free speech. Yet, as implemented, these privacy protections fail to comport with the procedural protections required under the U.S. Constitution."
Leaked policies guiding moderators on what content to allow are likely to fuel debate about social media giant’s ethics (Nick Hopkins, The Guardian, 5-21-17) Leaked policies guiding moderators on what content to allow are likely to fuel debate about social media giant’s ethics
Making Google the Censor (Daphne Keller, NY Times, 6-12-17) Can sites like Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia be asked to build tools to identify and remove extremist content? and so on.
Free Speech Rights of Public Employees (Exploring Constitutional Conflicts, The issue: May the government use the speech of a public employee as the basis for discharge or denying promotion? A few interesting cases. Here's one, from Oyez: Garcetti v. Ceballos.
Human Rights and Encription (PDF of report, UNESCO 2016) "UNESCO “recognizes the role that anonymity and encryption can play as enablers of privacy protection and freedom of expression, and facilitates dialogue on these issues.” The principles of Internet Universality (R.O.A.M.) "advocate for a human-Rights-based, Open and Accessible Internet, governed by Multi-stakeholder participation." Advocates for "encryption literacy."
Oyez Database on major constitutional cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, with multimedia resources including digital audio of oral arguments.
Talent Wants to Be Free: Why We Should Learn to Love Leaks, Raids, and Free Riding by Orly Lobel, who challenges conventional business wisdom about competition, secrecy, motivation, and creativity. Combining original behavioral experiments with sharp observations of contemporary battles over ideas, secrets, and skill, Lobel identifies motivation, relationships, and mobility as the most important ingredients for successful innovation.
Will Fair Use Survive? Free Expression in the Age of Copyright Control (Freedom of Expression Project). Download free PDF. Practices that threaten free expression and fair use: cease and desist letters, DMCA take-down notices, the "clearance culture," negotiated guidelines.
Online Censorship: A Global Map & Ranking of Every Country’s Internet Restrictions (Infographic, VPN Mentor)
Seattle Muralist Crystal Barbre Alters Her Work to Skirt Obscenity Laws (Sarra Scherb, Vanguard Seattle, 9-27-16). Who’s Afraid of the Female Nipple? The State of Washington.
Timeline: a history of free speech (David Smith and Luc Torres, Media, The Guardian, 2-5-06
Mizzou, Yale and Free Speech (Nicholas Kristof, OpEd, NY Times, 11-11-15) "On university campuses across the country, from Mizzou to Yale, we have two noble forces colliding with explosive force. One is a concern for minority or marginalized students and faculty members, who are often left feeling as outsiders in ways that damage everyone’s education." Student photographer Tim Tai, who was trying to document the protests unfolding in a public space, "represented the other noble force in these upheavals — free expression. He tried to make the point, telling the crowd: 'The First Amendment protects your right to be here — and mine.'”
[Back to Top]

Who Is Entitled to Be Heard? (Suzanne Nossel, Op Ed, NY Times, 11-12-15) "Some of the most potent threats to free speech these days come not from our government or corporations, but from our citizenry. Pitched battles being waged at Yale and the University of Missouri pit speech versus speech in a contest of who and what is entitled to be heard."
Freedom of Speech (Wikipedia--some useful points made here)
Tolerance, Free Speech Collide on Campus ( Dan Frosch and Tamara Audi, WSJ, 11-13-15) A philosophical divide is at the heart of recent protests that have roiled campuses around the country. Universities are struggling to balance the free exchange of ideas with students’ growing desire to be shielded from offensive views.
How a high school student’s painting caused congressional Republicans to act like campus snowflakes (Jonathan H. Adler, WaPo, 1-14-17) Taking it down, wrong. Allowing expression of an opposing opinion, right.
Kelly Carlin, Rain Pryor, and Kitty Bruce, daughters of three major stand-up comedians, speak about their fathers' (George Carlin, Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce's) experiences fighting for free speech in comedy, on campus and off. (YouTube video of the three women, supported by FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education). Or listen to the So To Speak podcast.
That's Not Funny! (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic, Sept 2015) Stand-Up Comics have to censor their jokes on campus. "College gigs pay easily a grand a night—often much more—and they can come in a firecracker string, with relatively short drives between schools, each hour-long performance paid for (without a moment’s ugliness or hesitation) by a friendly student-activities kid holding out a check and hoping for a selfie." Chris Rock no longer plays colleges because "they were far too eager 'not to offend anybody.'"
[Back to Top]

Trump, the press, and the truth

The police threw the book at Trump Protesters in DC but sat and watched White Supremacists terrorize Charlottesville (Sandra Fulton, HuffPost, 8-29-17) "Last week, the Department of Justice altered a sweeping warrant, which sought to collect personal information on every visitor to an anti-Trump website that organized protests on Inauguration Day....The demand seems to be in line with a broader trend within the Trump Administration—a harsh crackdown against any group that disagrees with President Trump. For his part, Trump has categorized these protesters as the “Alt-Left,” a term that doesn’t seem to apply to any easily-defined entity beyond the paranoid imaginings of Trump and his allies." "The administration and law enforcement are using a range of tactics — from electronic surveillance to a growing number of anti-protest laws — to criminalize anyone that organizes in the streets to protest the president and his policies. But how are law enforcement and the administration responding to the very real threats coming from white supremacists like those who marched earlier this month on Charlottesville?'
Justice demands 1.3M IP addresses related to Trump resistance site (Morgan Chalfant, The Hill, 8-14-17) "DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day. “That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”
Trump Administration Starts Returning Copies of C.I.A. Torture Report to Congress (Mark Mazzetti and Mathew Rosenberg, NY Times, 6-2-17) "The Trump administration has begun returning copies of a voluminous 2014 Senate report about the Central Intelligence Agency’s detention and interrogation program to Congress, complying with the demand of a top Republican senator who has criticized the report for being shoddy and excessively critical of the C.I.A....The committee, which was then run by Democrats, also sent copies of the entire classified report to at least eight federal agencies, asking that they incorporate the report into their records — a move that would have made it subject to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. That law, which allows citizens, the media and other groups to request access to information held by the federal government, does not apply to congressional records...The full report is not expected to offer evidence of previously undisclosed interrogation techniques, but the interrogation sessions are said to be described in great detail. The report explains the origins of the program and identifies the officials involved, and also offers details on the role of each agency in the secret prison program."
How Can Journalists Protect Themselves During a Trump Administration? (Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic, 11-10-16) The president-elect’s attacks on the press hint at an unfriendly atmosphere for reporters.
Trump Hates the Press? Take a Number. (Jack Shafer, Politico, 2-17-17) "No matter how grievous the sins of the press may be—and as a press critic, let me tell you, they are grievous—a president can’t forever blame everything on “dishonest reporters,” the “mess” the previous president left behind or the dug-in elites. Reckonings tend to take a while to form, as Nixon and Agnew learned. Trump’s will come."

Journalists around the country are joining a Slack channel devoted to FOIA and Trump (Krysten Hare, Poynter, 1-25-17) A few days before President Trump's inauguration, MuckRock opened up a Slack channel to help journalists better cover him and his administration. Sign up here:
How far will President Trump’s media blackout spread? The Sunlight Foundation is trying to find out (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 1-25-17)
The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, and The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine) save pages that disappear from the Web. Kick's site has been good about saving items deleted by the Trump Administration (including Trump's error-filled Tweets).
Poll: Trump More Trusted Than The Media (by Republicans) (Curt Mills, US News, 2-9-17) Views on the press and the administration break down along clear party lines. ""The partisan split on this topic is clear – 89 percent of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77 percent of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69 percent of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91 percent of Republicans consider them untruthful. Independents consider both untruthful," according to a poll conducted by Emerson College.
[Back to Top]

Free speech and protest on campuses

New Voices State Tracker New Voices USA is a network of state-by-state campaigns to pass anti-censorship legislation that will grant extra protections to student journalists.
Robert Post’s Arguments Draw Replies from Erwin Chemerinsky & Will Creeley on Campus Speech Issue (Ronald K.L. Collins, Concurring Opinions, 10-25-17) This entire FAN post is devoted to recent developments concerning free speech on college campuses. This sampling reveals just how controversial and widespread this debate has become.
A brief history of free speech at Yale (Allison Pohle,, 12-6-15) Freedom of speech didn’t become officially protected at the Ivy League school until 1974. 'A debate over free speech has been raging at Yale ever since a professor sent an email defending students’ rights to wear potentially offensive Halloween costumes as an expression of free speech. After backlash from students, she recently announced that she will no longer teach at the college. But, before that announcement, more than 60 faculty members signed an open letter in her defense, emphasizing that of all the university’s values, “none is more central than the value of free expression of ideas.’’ It hasn’t always been that way. Freedom of speech wasn’t protected at Yale until 1974, when the university created a document called the Woodward Report. The report’s central premise is that intellectual growth and discovery “clearly demonstrates the need for unfettered freedom, the right to think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.’’ That idea was a long time coming.' Read the story behind the creation of an official policy on freedom of speech on campus.
Report of the Committee on Freedom of Expression at Yale (The Woodward Report, 12-23-74)
Free Inquiry on Campus: A Statement of Principles by Over One Hundred Middlebury College Professors (3-6-17)
"Campus free expression" bills may benefit protestors, but offer little new hope for college journalists ( Lindsie Trego, SPLC, 6-30-17) "The usefulness of Campus Free Speech legislation is severely limited by language that limits application only to that speech already protected by the First Amendment, found in three bills and three enacted statutes....while these statutes do a good job of setting aside outdoor areas as forums subject only to content-neutral restrictions, the longstanding issues with seeking First Amendment sanctuary for censored student journalists still may persist under these statutes.
University of Wisconsin approves free speech policy that punishes student protesters [who use violence] (Todd Richmond, AP, Chicago Tribune, 10-5-17) University of Wisconsin System leaders approved a policy Friday that calls for suspending and expelling students who disrupt campus speeches and presentations, saying students need to listen to all sides of issues and arguments. The Board of Regents adopted the language on a voice vote during a meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Stout in Menomonie. The policy states that students found to have twice engaged in violence or other disorderly conduct that disrupts others' free speech would be suspended. Students found to have disrupted others' free expression three times would be expelled. [Emphasis added.]
Why It's a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence (Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff, The Atlantic, 7-17) "Making the offline world “safer” by banning the occasional stress-inducing speaker will not help." "In sum, it was a radical enlightenment idea to tolerate the existence of dissenters, and an even more radical idea to actually engage with them. Universities are—or should be—the preeminent centers of Liberal Science. They have a duty to foster an intellectual climate that separates true ideas from popular but fallacious ones. The conflation of words with violence is not a new or progressive idea invented on college campuses in the last two years. It is an ancient and regressive idea. Americans should all be troubled that it is becoming popular again—especially on college campuses, where it least belongs." An excellent response to When Is Speech Violence? (Lisa Feldman, NY Times, 7-14-17)
Sessions says U.S. will intervene in campus free speech cases (Sadie Gurman, Chicago Tribune, 9-26-17) "Decrying what he sees as political correctness run amok, [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions said Tuesday the Justice Department will support students who sue universities claiming their free speech rights were violated. But during the same speech at Georgetown University's law school, Sessions condemned the NFL players who have been exercising their freedom of expression by kneeling silently during the national anthem before games....In declaring free speech 'under attack' on college campuses, [Sessions] dove into an issue that has become a cause celebre for conservatives who argue their voices are being drowned out on college campuses as speeches by right-wing figures have been derailed by protests and threats of violence.'..."The American university was once the center of academic freedom, a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas," Sessions told an invitation-only audience, as nearly 200 students gathered in protest outside. A few others sat in the auditorium with duct tape over their mouths. "But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos."'
A chilling study shows how hostile college students are toward free speech (Catherine Rampell, WaPo, 9-18-17) "Here’s the problem with suggesting that upsetting speech warrants 'safe spaces,' or otherwise conflating mere words with physical assault: If speech is violence, then violence becomes a justifiable response to speech." John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor, conducted a survey of students. "Many of his questions were designed to gauge students’ understanding of the First Amendment. Colleges, after all, pay a lot of lip service to 'freedom of speech,' despite high-profile examples of civil-liberty-squelching on campus. The survey suggests that this might not be due to hypocrisy so much as a misunderstanding of what the First Amendment actually entails....Speech promoting hatred — or at least, speech perceived as promoting hatred — may be abhorrent, but it is nonetheless constitutionally protected....Women are more likely than men to believe hate speech is not constitutionally protected (49 percent vs. 38 percent, respectively)." "In truth, lefties can do more to call out threats to civil liberties perpetrated by their ideological allies. And colleges can do more to promote freer debate. But many of Villasenor’s results — like those from other data sources — show that the right is also astonishingly open to shutting down speech."
How Trump Has Stoked the Campus Debate on Speech and Violence (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker, 6-4-17) From the protests of the Free Speech Movement in the sixties, "in which students fought restrictions on dissenting political speech, to the protests of today, in which students try to shut down political speech they despise, sometimes even by violent means. The easy criticism, both from the right and from liberal academia, has been to mock college students as sensitive 'snowflakes' refusing to hear—let alone engage with—differing viewpoints. But such criticism misses a change, one that has added a combustible element to the long-standing debates over speech on campus: the start of a Presidency that, for many people, stands for bigotry and hate expressed in casual violence. During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump helped to normalize hateful speech by fellow-citizens. In the first months of his Presidency, there has been a rise in hate crimes, numerous threats of violence against synagogues and mosques, and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries." (On the other hand, see also Teacher Suspended After Trump References Were Removed From a Yearbook (Liam Stack, NY Times, 6-12-17)
The New Censorship on Campus ( Jeffrey Herbst and Geoffrey R. Stone, Chronicle of Higher Education, 6-5-17) "Wanting to censor those whose views one finds odious and offensive is understandable. Actually silencing them is dangerous, though, because censorship is a two-way street. It is an illusion for minority groups to believe that they can censor the speech of others today without having their own expression muzzled tomorrow....Even from a short-term perspective, efforts by minority groups to censor the expression of offensive and odious speech often backfires, because it makes those they oppose into ever-more famous martyrs, giving them larger audiences and growing book sales. Little has helped the brand of the likes of Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos more than their exclusion from speaking on college campuses."
‘So to Speak’ Podcast: David Baugh on ‘Defending My Enemy’ (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, FIRE, 6-2-16) Why would a black criminal defense attorney—who fought against segregation in high school and battled racism in the courtroom—volunteer to defend the First Amendment rights of an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan?
A Guide to Disinvitation: My Conversation with Williams College President Adam Falk (Peter Wood, National Association of Scholars, March 2016) A thoughtful essay on "disinvitations on college campuses, as well as other snubs, actions prompting invited speakers to cancel their own appearances, and speakers showing up only to be drowned out by protester." This is a 'long and careful laying out of distinctions between academic, intellectual, and First Amendment freedoms, and how all three relate to the broader purposes of higher education. It was NAS’s attempt to stand back from the current melee over Black Lives Matter, microaggressions, safe spaces, and the like, to see if we could find some answers to today’s discontents. President Falk’s email seemed to provide an opening. He discerned “a line” that had been crossed. The first step would be to see if he would say what that line is.'
• Download free Peter Wood's The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom (National Association of Scholars, 1-26-16) An interesting piece. From the conclusion: "[w]e are concerned over the recent emergence of versions of academic freedom that conflate it with intellectual freedom—and sometimes conflate both academic and intellectual freedom with First Amendment freedoms. This blurring of key distinctions puts all three at risk. Universities are not places where anything can be said anywhere and at any time. They are places where the truth is pursued by disciplined means; where a hierarchy of knowledge prevails; and where intellectual authority is maintained. These matters are sometimes rhetorically downplayed but in practice they are rigorously upheld."
Settlement Reached in Case of Professor Fired for “Uncivil” Tweets (Center for Constitutional Rights, 11-12-15) “Professor Salaita’s case galvanized champions of academic freedom and Palestinian rights activists alike, making clear that punishing speech―even speech that dares to criticize Israeli government atrocities―will not be tolerated." See also a href=""target="_blank">The Settlement in Steven Salaita's Lawsuit - Victory or Defeat for Free Speech? The Free Expression Policy Project, 11-13-15).
[Back to Top]

Organizations fighting for First Amendment Rights and Four Freedoms

(and sites)

American Booksellers for Free Expression (ABFE)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which in 2017 is launching People Power, the ACLU’s new effort to engage grassroots volunteers across the country, partly with Resistance Training.
American Library Association (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom and The Universal Right to Free Expression (An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights)
American Society of Journalists & Authors (ASJA)
Article 19 (UK) ARTICLE 19 envisages a world where people are free to speak their opinions, participate in decision-making, and make informed choices about their lives.
The Authors Guild has commissioned a series of essays by writers on what the First Amendment means to them. T.J. Stiles starts it off with Dissent Shall Set You Free.
Bill of Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) has merged with Defending Dissent Foundation (DDF). Follow on Twitter.
Center for Constitutional Rights
Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT), a champion of global online civil liberties and human rights, driving policy outcomes that keep the Internet open, innovative, and free. Has blog and podcasts.
Open Secrets (Center for Responsive Politics). This nonpartisan watchdog group has a rich campaign finance database, allowing reporters to search donors by industry and find the top recipients from any business or sector. Also has good soft money data.
• The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse is a collaborative archive created by several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to combat legal threats used to silence Internet activity.
Columbia Journalism Review: Watchdog
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF). Resources include Case Files and a History of Comics Censorship (in six parts).
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF, Defending your rights in the digital world)
FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting)
The File Room, hosted by the National Coalition Against Censorship--"a catalogued web-based interactive archive of censorship cases dating back to 500 BC. It is open to submissions by organizations and individuals locally, nationally, and internationally."
First Amendment Center (many articles and other resources on freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly, and petition)
First Amendment Coalition (FAC), originally California First Amendment Coalition (and California-focused), an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose purpose is to "promote and defend the people's right to know"--that is, our freedom of information (to find out) and freedom of expression (to speak out) about matters of public interest.
First Amendment Project (a nonprofit organization providing free legal services on matters relating to free speech and free press)
First Amendment Watch New York University;s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute launched First as an online resource that goes beyond the headlines to provide much-needed coverage and context to the debate over freedom of expression.
Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). Help FIRE protect the speech rights of students and faculty. Among interesting resources on FIRE's site are a database of disinvitation attempts, "from the left" and "from the right" and a database of leader statements (higher education leaders quoted in the media articulating their institutions’ positions on guest speakers, academic freedom, speech policies, free speech, due process, etc. (as explained here).
Freedom House (works globally to defend human rights and promote democratic change, with a focus on political rights and civil liberties)
Freedom of the Press Foundation (protects and defends adversarial journalism in the 21st century; uses crowdfunding, digital security, and internet advocacy to support journalists and whistleblowers worldwide)\
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA official site) enacted by Congress in 1966 to give the public access to information held by the federal government -- the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.
Free Expression Network (National Coalition Against Censorship), an alliance of organizations dedicated to defending the right of free expression and the values it represents and to opposing governmental efforts to suppress constitutionally-protected speech. FEN members provide a wide range of expertise, resources and services to policymakers, the media, scholars, and the public at large. See archives and list of member organizations and links and resources)
The Free Expression Policy Project. See its links and resources for more resources of information about censorship, free expression, media policy, copyright, and the public domain.
Index on Censorship: The voice of free expression (X Index, UK)
The Media Coalition ("Defending the First Amendment since 1973")
Media Law Resource Center (Model briefs and practice guides)
Muckrock, a U.S. -based organization that assists anyone in filing governmental requests for information through the Freedom of Information Act, then publishes the returned information on its website and encourages journalism around it. Sign up for daily news reports.
National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). See NCAC's important resources.
National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), state FOI and open government issues. (Americans for Less Secrecy, More Democracy)
PEN Campaign for Four Freedoms. Particularly valuable: Defending Free Expression: A Toolkit For Writers and Readers . You can also subscribe to DARE: Daily Alert on Rights and Expression
Politiwoops (tracks deleted tweets by public officials, including people currently in office and candidates for office)
Project Censored (The News That Didn't Make the News) -- monitors the media and compiles an annual Top 25 Censored Stories.
ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest
Regional Reporters Association (RRA)
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), see its Digital Journalist's Legal Guide
Reporters Without Borders (for freedom of information)
Resistance Recess (excellent resources for activists)
Student Press Law Center (SPLC) "Thousands of times a year, student journalists in crisis call the SPLC’s hotline. They may have had a camera confiscated by police, or had their public-records requests denied, or be facing censorship or stonewalling...." When student journalists need defending, these lawyers swoop in. For free. (Margaret Sullivan, WaPo, 6-18-17)
Sunlight Foundation (Advocates for open government globally, using technology to make government & politics more accountable & transparent)
Woodhull Freedom Foundation (Affirming Sexual Freedom as a Fundamental Human Right)
Youth Free Expression Film Contest (National Coalition Against Censorship, NCAC)
[Back to Top]

Censorship, Banned Books,
and Freedom of Expression

Book Censorship Toolkit (National Coalition Against Censorship)
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Returns to Mississippi School’s Reading List After Outcry (Christine Hauser, NY Times, 10-27-17) "The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee has been taught in countless classrooms and influenced generations of readers. Set during the Depression in a small Alabama town where a black man is accused of raping a white woman, its exploration of racism, injustice and discrimination has placed it among the most banned or challenged works of literature in the United States, according to the American Library Association."
Censorpedia: An Interactive Database of Censorship Incidents (National Coalition Against Censorship). A participatory wiki of censorship incidents from the Iron Age to the 21st Century. The archive builds on The File Room, an internationally renowned 1994 art project by Muntadas, which contains over 1000 censorship incidents from around the world.
Banned Books Week Celebrating the Freedom to Read: September 24 - September 30, 2017. Links to many useful resources.
The First Amendment in Schools: A Resource Guide (National Coalition Against Censorship)
• “Censorship is to art as lynching is to justice.” ~ Henry Louis Gates Jr., 2 Live Crew, Decoded , 1990
16 Quotes from Great Authors for Banned Books Week (Tom Blunt, Signature, 9-18-17)
Books on the Chopping Block (check out the list) is City Lit's annual 60-minute performance of dramatic readings of short excerpts from these 10 banned books, in cooperation with the American Library Association, in special events, libraries and bookstores in and around Chicago.
Banned Together: A Censorship Cabaret (presented by the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund) to be performed in sixteen U.S. cities during Banned Books Week Sept. 24-30, 2017.
Judge: Racism behind Arizona ban on TUSD's Mexican-American studies (Astrid Galvan, AP,, 8-23-17) Racism was behind an Arizona ban on ethnic studies that shuttered a popular Mexican-American Studies program at Tucson Unified School District, said U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima. The state enacted the ban with discriminatory intent, he said. TUSD dismantled its program to avoid losing state funding. The district hasn't responded to questions from The Associated Press about whether it would revive the program if the law is thrown out.
The History (and Present) of Banning Books in America (Amy Brady, LitHub, 9-22-16) In 2016, the list of books challenged each year by American public libraries and schools included "Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, and Emily M. Danworth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Most of the titles are by LGBTQ authors and authors of color who write about life beyond white, straight, middle-class America." “There were over 300 book challenges in 2015,” said Chris Finan, Director of ABFE, in an interview. “And themes of race, ethnicity, and sexual preference have been a large part of why those books got challenged.” Then she takes us back into banned books history.
Reasons for Banned Books (Libraries and Center for Academic Technology, Butler University) Among them: racial issues, encouragement of "damaging" lifestyles, blasphemous dialog, sexual situations or dialog, violence or negativity, presence of witchcraft, religious affiliations (unpopular religions), political bias, age inappropriate.
“Censors never go after books unless kids already like them. I don’t even think they know to go after books until they know that children are interested in reading this book, therefore there must be something in it that’s wrong.” --Judy Blume, in a speech for Virtual Read Out, 2011
The Last Book Seller (Mei Fong, PEN Hong Kong, 1-10-17) Chinese censorship has made Chinese publication of Mei Fong's book One Child: The Story of China's Most Radical Experiment. Publication by a Chinese publisher meant leaving key parts of the book out. "Authorities cracked down on advocacy of issues as innocuous as calls for clean air and calls to reduce sexual harassment. They have not only jailed these movement’s advocates, but in some cases their lawyers as well." And those controls extend now to Hong Kong. Many publishers have folded. The author has decided to make the self-published Chinese translation available for free in China.
The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses by Kevin Birmingham
Still more City Paper content censored (Fern Shen, Baltimore Brew, 3-1-14). An advertiser pressures withdrawal of a fairly withering review, eliciting outrage and probably wider readership of the story than there might have been without censorship. Here's the review.
Project Censored (The News That Didn't Make the News)
The banned 400-year-old Shakespearean speech being used for refugee rights today (Anne Quito, Quartz, 9-21-16)
A familiar Russian playbook (Fred Hiatt, Washington Pot, 6-29-14)." In fall 1958, when Russian author Boris Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the Soviet regime unleashed a campaign of vilification against their native son so brutal that it drove the author, then 68, to contemplate suicide. Pasternak’s crime was to have written a novel, “Dr. Zhivago,” that did not glorify the Bolshevik Revolution — and to allow the book to be published abroad when Communist authorities banned it at home." See what both sides in the Cold War did in The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book . See Alan Furst's review "Finn and Couvée have taken a complex and difficult history with many moving parts and turned it into a kind of intellectual thriller."
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF) . See its case files.
Changing the World, One Word at a Time! (powerful video of three teenagers on the wrong lessons we learn from society, on Queen Latifah show)
Campaign for Core Freedoms (PEN American Center)
Katherine Anne Porter Award for First Amendment Defender (new $10,000 award from PEN American Center)
PEN/​Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (projects to further their work against censorship or to writers who have been in dire financial straits as a result of political persecution, often consisting of imprisonment)
The Freedom to Read Statement (American Library Association)
Citizen Media Law Project blog
Free speech blog, blog archved as Index on Censorship. Check out its blog roll.
Katherine Paterson: The Risks of Great Literature . The celebrated and banned children’s book author speaks with us about the fears of censors, the deaths of children, and what we need to risk for literature. (Guernica)
French Censorship: Copyright Laws, "Private Life," and Biography (Hazel Rowley, The American Scholar, Winter 2009). Fascinating.
Spam Filters Threaten Free Speech on the Internet (James McGrath Morris, WaPo, 11-28-08) In most cases, both the intended e-mail sender and recipients remain unaware of the censorship that spam filters impose. Only rarely is the sender informed when e-mail is quarantined or diverted. Such behind-the-scenes machinations make fighting back almost impossible. Go to Spamhaus for threat intelligence and a lookup tool for IP addresses. See Spamhaus FAQs.
Internet black holes: where storytelling waits (13 countries where Internet access is restricted through censorship), map from Reporters Sans Frontieres, as posted on "Write now is good"
Global Campaign Against Impunity. The countries with the highest rates of murder of journalists (censorship by murder): Russia and the Philippines (Committee to Protect Journalists)
Diario de Juarez editorial, in translation (LA Times, 9-24-10, a front-page editorial published by the main newspaper in Ciudad Juarez, publicly offers to the Juarez drug gangs what news organizations across Mexico practice widely for their survival: self-censorship in exchange for no more assassinations of journalists.
Internet Filtering: Beware the Cybercensors (Barbara Miner, Rethinking Schools, compares blocking software to the banning of books from libraries). Partial article for nonmembers.
Freedom of the press
[Back to Top]

Banned Books (lists of)

Banned & Challenged Classics (American Library Association. or ALA)
Frequently challenged young adult books (ALA)
Top ten frequently challenged books lists of the 21st century (by year -- ALA)
Banned Books That Shaped America (Library of Congress list of books banned/​challenged)
100 most frequently challenged books by decade (ALA)
Most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century (ALA)
Links to ALA's yearly lists of banned or challenged books
Frequently challenged children's books (ALA)
Frequently Challenged Books with Diverse Content
Top 100 Banned/​Challenged Books: 2000-2009
Top ten frequently challenged books lists of the 21st century (for 2000 through 2015)
15 Books Banned For The Most Absurd Reasons Ever (BuzzFeed). Can you guess which book was banned for depicting women in strong leadership roles? Hint: it’s a children’s book.
The top 10 books Americans tried to ban last year (Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz, 9-29-15). No. 3 is And Tango Makes Three, based on the true story of two male penguins who raised a baby penguin together--a picture book aimed at 2- to 5-year-olds.
Top 10 Banned Books and Their Reason for Being Banned (
50 Most Frequently Banned Books (Jason Chervokas and Tom Watson, Cybertimes, 8-22-97)
Top 10 Banned Books of All Time (Shortlist)
Banned Books Week. Sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA), this annual event, held the last week of September, celebrates the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.
I Read My 5-Year-Old Banned Books & You Should, Too (Lisa Catherine Harper, HuffPost 9-29-11)
Timeline: 30 years of liberating literature
• Banned or "warned about" books: Anderson's 'Speak' Under Attack Again. Rocco Staino, in School Library Journal (9-23-10), interviews Laurie Halse Anderson about strong reaction to Wesley Scroggins' op ed piece in Missouri's News Leader, cautioning parents against the "soft porn" of Anderson's "filthy" novel, Speak, about a teenager who chooses not to speak rather than give voice to what really happened: rape. Other books Scroggins warns parents about: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler. Anderson says that thousands of readers have written to say that Speak "made them feel less alone and gave them the strength to speak up about being sexually assaulted and other painful secrets."

[Back to Top]

Timelines of censorship history

The National Coalition Against Censorship hosts several timelines that chart the history of efforts to suppress speech on a variety of topics:
A Selective Timeline of the Internet and Censorship (National Coalition Against Censorship)
A Timeline of Legislation Aiming to Protect Youth Online
A Timeline of Video Game Controversies
Art and Culture Censorship Timeline (unavailable 2-15-17)
Music Censorship In America: An Interactive Timeline (unavailable 2-15-17)
Timeline of Abstinence-Only Education in U.S. Classrooms (how over $1.5 billion in federal funds have been spent on 26 years of censorship in schools)
A Brief History of Film Censorship, includes a selected list of censored and challenged films.

Other organizations have also posted censorship timelines:
Manuscripts Don’t Burn: a Timeline of Literary Censorship, Destruction, and Liberation (PEN America)
History of Censorship Timeline (Preceden, a world timeline going back to Socrates' execution)
Bannings and Burnings in History (Freedom to Read)
Censorship in the United States: An Illustrated History and Timeline
Freedom of the Press in the United States: A Short History
Indecency and the FCC (About News, on Civil Liberties)
[Back to Top]

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA official site) enacted by Congress in 1966 to give the public access to information held by the federal government -- the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.
FOIA exemptions (explained literally and in implications, by FOIAdvocates) "The FOIA maintains nine exemptions to the general presumption of mandatory disclosure. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1)-(9). Generally, Congress intended the exemptions to protect against disclosure of information which would substantially harm national defense or foreign policy, individual privacy interests, business proprietary interests, and the efficient operation of governmental functions." As the 9th Circuit wrote in one court decision: "The Freedom of Information Act embodies a strong policy of disclosure and places a duty to disclose on federal agencies. As the district court recognized, 'disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of the Act.'"
Muckrock, a U.S. -based organization that assists anyone in filing governmental requests for information through the Freedom of Information Act, then publishes the returned information on its website and encourages journalism around it. Fascinating and essential.
iFOIA Resources (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Dig deep for more resources, including iFOIA Letter Generator (produce a customized request letter in just a few easy steps--registration required to make next letter easier, I assume)
FOIA fact sheet (Paul Burke's excellent links, gears slightly to Medicare)
FOIA Mapper.
FOIA Mapper aims to make it easier for journalists to know where to look for public documents (Joseph Lichterman, Nieman Lab, 3-20-16) Independent data journalist Max Galka launched FOIA Mapper, a Knight Foundation-backed site, to streamline the FOIA process by helping users figure out the best ways to request the documents they need.
**** Freedom of Information resources (Investigative Reporters & Editors, IRE) . Check out its tipsheets, story packs, videos, audio, listservs, and so on.
Right to Know: A Historical Guide to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ( (a free online system for creating, sending, and tracking federal and state freedom of information requests) and iFOIA tutorials (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) Generate requests, appeals, complaints and Vaughn motions.
Effective FOIA Requesting for Everyone: A National Security Archive Guide
Free Expression Network (FEN) (an alliance of organizations dedicated to protecting the First Amendment right of free expression and the values it represents, and to opposing governmental efforts to suppress constitutionally-protected speech)
Freedom of Information resources for journalists (NewsLab)
Transparency Watch (an IRE blog tracking the fight for open records)
Center sues in an effort to make Medicare Advantage files public (Fred Schulte, Center for Public Integrity, 5-27-14) Freedom of Information Act suit targets government oversight of health care program and HHS's failure to respond to requests for information.
HHS releases guidelines for handling media requests (AHCJ, updated 6-8-12)
FOIA for pros: A step-by-step guide (Society of Professional Journalists, SPJ)
The Freedom of Information Act (2016 stories about FOIA, Electronic Privacy Information Center,
Sample FOIA Request Letters (National Freedom of Information Coalition)
HHS Takes Steps to Improve Transparency with New FOIA Regulations (, 10-28-16)
---The new HHS rules on FOIAs (10-28-16). 90 days to appeal (not 30) and they stop processing a FOIA appeal when a requester files a lawsuit, among other changes.
---The previous HHS FOIA regulations
---CMS has its own rules on FOIA requests: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). See alsoCMS policies and procedures on processing FOIA requests.
Who Uses FOIA? – An Analysis of 229,000 Requests to 85 Government Agencies (Max Galka, FOIA Mapper, 3-13-17) Excellent graphics. Covered in Who files the most FOIA requests? It’s not who you think. (Cory Schouten, CJR, 3-17-17)
It Took a FOIA Lawsuit to Uncover How the Obama Administration Killed FOIA Reform (Jason Leopold, Vice News, 3-9-16)
The Strange Politics of ‘Classified’ Information (Beverly Gage, NY Times Magazine, 8-22-17) "The new system also weighted the political scales in favor of officials adept at hiding unflattering facts and publicizing useful ones. At the F.B.I., the former director J. Edgar Hoover insisted that investigative files be kept secret, waging repeated battles to keep them away from the courts and Congress. But he also became a master of the leak, parceling out choice tidbits to reporters at strategic moments. The competing factions in today’s White House appear to understand this technique..."
Where the Sun Don't Shine (Paul D. Thacker, Slate, 3-2013) President Obama promised transparency and open government. He failed miserably. So why do Washington watchdog groups look the other way?
Why it's OK for taxpayers to 'snoop' on scientists (Charles Seife and Paul Thacker, L.A. Times, 8-21-15) If the public pays your salary, citizens have the right -- the duty, within limits -- to see and try to understand what you're doing. Scientists should be subject to the same rules as every other civil servant.
AHCJ's Right to Know Committee (Association of Health Care Journalists)
NYT’s Sarah Cohen will make you realize how much better your public records game could be (Ryan White, Center for Health Journalism, 12-15-15) "Statistics are a starting point, not an end....think of statistics as a signpost: They can point you to the “micro data” underlying them. Once you’ve obtained such data through a records request, you can perform your own analysis, without worrying over how the data were massaged into shape....According to Cohen, the real problem for most reporters is that they know more than the public information officers (PIOs). As a result, reporters should do everything they can to help PIOs find what they’re looking for — help them help you."
Tips on prying loose records using FOIA requests, lawsuit (Fred Schulte, Association of Health Care Journalists Tip Sheet)
Muckrock Projects include The Private Prison Project, Subjects Matter: FBI Files, FOIA the Trump Administration, Counting the Uncounted: The Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit Project.
Muckrock News
FOIA legislative history
FOIA (Wikipedia entry, a good overview, but always double-check Wikipedia entries, as anyone can change the content)
Stanford Libraries FOIA archive (Preserved collection of sites that deal with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and documents. This includes government sites that receive and distribute FOIA documents (aka "FOIA reading rooms") as well as non-profit organizations and government watchdogs that request large numbers of FOIA documents on specific topics like national security and civil rights.)
Your Right to Federal Records (Electronic Privacy Information Center) Questions and Answers on the Freedom of Information Act and the Privacy Act, 1992
National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) (a nonpartisan coalition, protecting your right to open government--news and analysis about "Open government is not a natural phenomenon. It's the law."
Freedom of Information Act and Government Transparency (Public Citizen)
FOIA Clinics (Better Government Association, BGA, promotes reform in Illinois through investigative journalism, civic engagement and advocacy. We're a watchdog, shining a light on government and holding public officials accountable.
FOIA offices for various federal agencies
[Back to Top]

Freedom of the Press

vs. escalating press office censorship in federal government, among other things
"If the press didn't tell you, who would?" (an old SPJ slogan)
U.S. Press Freedom Tracker (Freedom of the Press Foundation, Committee to Protect Journalists, and a coalition of media partners) An online database cataloguing domestic violations of press freedom, especially by governmental bodies and elected officials.
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). for anyone disseminating news online, from an independent blogger to a reporter for a major media outlet, as well as media lawyers.
First Amendment Handbook (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
A Libel Suit Threatens Catastrophe for the Climate of Public Debate (Michael A. Carvin and Anthony Dick, WSJ, 2-5-17) Michael Mann sues to silence critics, and errant courts ignore the First Amendment to help him. He reports on climate change (which he believes in) but critics question his numbers. So he sues them for defamation.
BookExpo 2017: At PEN America First Amendment Panel, Different Takes On Protecting Speech (John Maher, Publishers Weekly, 6-2-17) "BookExpo and PEN America's joint panel on Thursday afternoon, "The First Amendment Resistance," found activists and speech advocates from various industries debating the ethical and civil responsibilities writers and publishers have in an era of partisan enmity and so-called alternative facts."
Access denied: Reporters say federal officials, data increasingly off limits (Paul Farhi, Wash Post, 3-30-15) Reporters often encounter closed doors when seeking data and interviews from the administration.
The Memory Hole 2, run by Russ Kick, saves important documents from oblivion, so when an important government web page disappears (e.g., EPA and FAA regulations that were withdrawn/​deleted when the Trump Administration took office), you may find it here. Likewise, the deleted Trump tweets. You may also find many things on The Internet Archive (The Wayback Machine).
Open the . Its focus issues: Improving access, opening government, preserving records, reducing secrecy, surveillance transparency.
The Press Should Skip the White House Briefings (John A. Farrell, Op-ed, NY (1-24-17) "Get out of the press room, and look for access elsewhere."
Holding Government Accountable (Open the's links to partners in Holding Government Accountable; Ensuring and Improving Access to Information; Reforming National Security Secrecy; Protecting Civil Liberties; Opening State and Local Government)
That R. Kelly ‘cult’ story almost never ran. Thank Hulk Hogan for that. (Margaret Sullivan, WaPo, 7-30-17) After Jim DeRogatis, the veteran Chicago rock critic, reported for months on a stunning story about R&B singer R. Kelly and the young women said to be under his psychological and sexual control, it came time to get it published. Many venues turned it down, for fear of lawsuits like Hulk Hogan's invasion-of-privacy suit "bankrolled by billionaire Peter Thiel, a confidant of President Trump."
2017 World Press Freedom Index -- tipping point (Reporters Without Borders). The U.S. again ranks 47th in press freedom. "The 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies. " "Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States and the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom were marked by high-profile media bashing, a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news."
Talk to the Hand (Jenni Bergal, Nieman Reports, Spring 2014). Public health reporters say federal agencies are restricting access and information, limiting their ability to cover crucial health issues. Transparency crucial for reporting on health stories.
When Censorship Becomes a Cultural Norm (Kathryn Foxhall, Editor & Publisher, 5-16-14)
Judge Says Reporter for New York Times Must Testify at ‘Baby Hope’ Trial (James C. McKinley, NY Times, 8-4-16) When journalists witness or report on criminal activities, can they be forced to testify in court?
2013 World Press Freedom Index: Dashed hopes after spring (Reporters Without Borders)
Freedom of the press worldwide 2013 (map- -how is your government doing?)
Freedom of the press worldwide, 2013, full report from Reporters Without Borders
Freedom House, among other things, publishes results of annual surveys ranking countries in terms of freedom and freedom of the press. Many excellent resources, including country rankings and maps.
Running into a brick wall with your FOIA request? Take it public (Kelly Hinchcliffe, Poynter, 5-4-16). A story about this story: Foiled by FOIL: How One City Agency Has Dragged Out a Request for Public Records for Nearly a Year ( Joaquin Sapien, Pro Publica, 4-21-16)
Requesting data from public agencies: A primer (Kristen Hare, Poynter, 3-18-15)
• Freedom of information in UK: Open Secrets (Martin Rosenbaum's blog for BBC News)
National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC), protecting your right to open government

Resources on obstruction of reporting by public affairs offices (Kathryn Foxhall, 7-7-14)
Mediated Access: Public Information Officers’ Perceptions of Media Control (PDF, Carolyn S. Carson and Roberta Jackson, NAGC 3-11-13)
VA Honesty Project (House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, highlighting the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lack of transparency with the press and the public about its operations and activities)
Sunshine Week website (Open government is good government) Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
Government Public Affairs Offices: More Hindrance Than Help? (C-Span records panel of journalists and former govt affairs officers talking about transparency and the role of government public affairs officers, 8-12-13)
Stonewalling by government PIOs is one problem reporters face; some are responding to it by writing about it.
Examples of interference with reporting (Kathryn Foxhall, 7-7-14)
Sunshine Week (SPJ)
Mediated Access: Local Reporters’ Perceptions of Public
Information Officers’ Media Control Efforts
(PDF, Carolyn S. Carlson & Megan Roy, SPJ report, 2014)
Mediated Access: Education Writers’ Perceptions of Public Information Officers’ Media Control Efforts (Carolyn S. Carlson & Megan Roy, SPJ report, 2014)

Tape recording laws at a glance (U.S., state by state)
First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Wikipedia's useful entry)
Censorship, banned books, and freedom of expression


Sunshine laws, government transparency,
and Sunshine Week

Sunshine Laws (U.S. open meeting laws, often referred to as “sunshine laws,” requiring agency officials to hold certain meetings in public) "These laws do not necessarily ensure that members of the public will be allowed to address the agency, but they do guarantee that the public and the media can attend the meetings."
Sunshine Week. NPC, SPJ and the Education Writers Association presented two surveys on press office interference, which show that the problem is pervasive. Most reporters said they felt the public is not getting the information it needs because of the barriers.
State Sunshine Laws Promise More Transparency (Carol Cruzan Morton, The Lund Report, 9-6-17) Less than a month after Anthony Montwheeler was released from state psychiatric custody, he was charged with kidnapping and stabbing to death his ex-wife and killing a Vale, Oregon, man in a car crash while eluding police. At the December 2016 public hearing that led to his discharge, Montwheeler testified he had faked mental illness 20 years earlier to avoid prison for kidnapping and other crimes. "The case points to a gap in the legal system," writesMalheur Enterprise. "There is no provision – no consequences — for what to do with someone who fakes a mental illness after criminal conduct." Morton: "The next question was: How could a person feign mental illness for 20 years and then be released back into the community, despite being considered a threat? To help answer that, Zaitz had asked for the exhibits, including the mental health assessments, considered at the discharge hearing held by the Oregon Psychiatric Security Review Board (PSRB). He also directed a request to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), the agency with oversight for the State Hospital. Both agencies disagreed with the AG’s assessment that public interest outweighed health privacy....This disclosure tussle may have been the most extreme case in recent years of clashes and complaints about public records and meetings in Oregon related to healthcare. Interestingly, it occurred against a backdrop of broad new reforms in the public records laws that promise greater government transparency."
Sunshine Week (SPJ)
Sunshine Week website (Open government is good government) Sunshine Week is a national initiative to promote a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information. Participants include news media, civic groups, libraries, nonprofits, schools and others interested in the public’s right to know.
U.S. government secrecy making historical research difficult (James McGrath Morris, Aljazeera America, 10-23-13). By redacting all documents, no matter how benign, the government is throwing its past down the memory hole....It will not be long before the government will include all of its historical past among its secrecy prerogatives."
Mediated Access: Local Reporters’ Perceptions of Public
Information Officers’ Media Control Efforts
(PDF, Carolyn S. Carlson & Megan Roy, SPJ report, 2014)
Transparency Watch (an IRE blog tracking the fight for open records)
[Back to Top]

Prior restraint

(government censorship)

Prior restraint (useful section on Wikipedia) Prior restraint (also referred to as prior censorship or pre-publication censorship) is censorship imposed, usually by a government, on expression that prohibits particular instances of expression.
Government Censorship (Prior restraints) (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, from The First Amendment Handbook)
Near v. Minnesota (1931) (Bill of Rights Institute) This Landmark Supreme Court Cases and the Constitution eLesson focuses on the 1931 Supreme Court case Near v. Minnesota. In this landmark freedom of the press case, the Court struck down a state law allowing prior restraint (government censorship in advance) as unconstitutional. In so ruling, the Court applied the First Amendment’s protection of press freedom to the actions of state governments through the doctrine of incorporation.
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
The Doctrine of Prior Restraint (FindLaw, Annotation 9--First Amendment)
Prior restraint vocabulary quizlets (oddly helpful)
Sedition, Incitement and Prior Restraint Chp.3 (vocabulary flashcards)
[Back to Top]

What's up with shield laws

Shield Law 101: Frequently Asked Questions (Society of Professional Journalists)
Shield laws and protection of sources by state (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
On shame and shield law (Sonny Albarado, SPJ, on fight for a federal shield law to protect journalists and their sources from unwarranted snooping by government prosecutors and other lawyers, 5-20-13)
Shield Laws in the United States (Wikipedia)
State Shield Laws (Digital Media Law)
Federal shield law supporters examine whether law would protect James Risen (Jeff Zalesin | Reporter's Privilege, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 7-22-13)
Number of states with shield law climbs to 40 (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 2011, sidebar)
The limits of promising confidentiality (very practical overview and advice from Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Journalist Shield Law. (C-Span) Kurt Wimmer, counsel for the Newspaper Association of America, talked about the the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, being sponsored by bipartisan members of Congress, and answered questions.
Reporter Shield Laws, Jun 14, 2007 Witnesses testified about the Free Flow of Information Act of 2007. The act included procedures through which disclosure of confidential information from a journalist or a communication service provider may be compelled. They talked about proposals for federal shield laws, source confidentiality, recent investigations into reports activities and actions by government personnel, free speech concerns, and possible exceptions for national security cases.
Clymer on Media Shield Law Steven Clymer, a former D.A. and U.S. attorney, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the proposed media shield law. Clip from 2005.
Proposed Media Shield Law Leads To Debate Over Who Is A “Journalist” (Doug Mataconis, Outside the Beltway, 9-13-13) He asks, Is the First Amendment irrelevant to a discussion of media shield laws? " The "Senate is debating a bill that would extend a testimonial privilege to a certain class of people and, in order to do so, they have to come up with some definition that can guide the Courts. Given the fact that testimonial privileges are generally frowned upon in the law, and that there is a price to be paid if someone with relevant information in a criminal case is able to withhold that information, it makes sense that the definition should not be overly broad."
Support grows for journalist shield law after Justice Dept. snoops on The Associated Press (Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, 5-16-13)
Federal media shield law makes prosecuting journalists even easier (Al Stefanelli, Syndicated News Services, 5-18-13). Obama wants exception on national security issues.
[Back to Top]

Coalition of the Shilling (Nathan Hodge, The Nation, 3-11-10). Nonpartisan think tanks are supporting journalism--but who's supporting the think tanks?

[Back to Top]

AAA Principles of Professional Responsibility (American Anthropological Association, AAA Ethics Blog
American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Code of Ethics
American Society of News Editors (ASNE) Statement of Principles and ASNE's excellent links to ethics codes of various U.S. newspapers and news organizations
Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America Code of Ethics and Standards
AP News Values & Principles (Associated Press)
Association of Health Care Journalists Statement of Principles (AHCJ also endorses the SPJ code of ethics
Association of Personal Historians Code of Ethics
Association of Professional Communication Consultants Code of Ethics
B2B Journalist Ethics: An ASBPE Guide to Best Practices (American Society of Business Publication Editors)
Blogger Code of Ethics (From the Left)
BuzzFeed News Standards And Ethics Guide
Canadian Association of Journalists Ethics Guidelines. Particularly well-outlined and -detailed. Revised in 2002, in wake of the News of the World phone-hacking scandals.
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries (Center for Media & Social Impact, formerly Center for Social Media)
Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Poetry (Center for Social Media)
A Code of Ethics for IT (Tam Harbert, for Computerworld). See also Ethical issues for IT security professionals (Deb Shinder, Computerworld, 8-2-05)
Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (COPE, Committee on Publication Ethics)
Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA Guiding Principles
Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) Guidelines. There are several of these, as PDFs, including
~Code of Conduct and Best Practices Guidelines for Journal Editors
~Guidelines for Retracting Articles
~A Short Guide to Ethical Editing for New Editors
~Code of Conduct for Journal Publishers
~How to handle authorship disputes: a guide for new researchers (Tim Albert and Elizabeth Wager)
Dramatists Guild of America Bill of Rights (in process and production, in compensation, and in ownership)
Editorial Integrity for Public Public Media: Principles, Policies, & Practices
Editorial Freelancers Association (EFA) Code of Fair Practice
Ensuring editorial excellence:The SfEP code of practice (Society for Editors and Proofreaders, UK)
Ethical guidelines for editing audio (The Canadian Journalism Project). See also: Truth in audio: Have you crossed an ethical line? (Mindy McAdams, Teaching Online Journalism, 6-8-07)
Food Blog Code of Ethics. See also The Food Ethics Blog
HON Code of Conduct for medical and health Web sites (HONcode) (Health on the Net Foundation, or HON)
MPR News Ethics Guidelines (Minnesota Public Radio). See also Minnesota Public Radio: Ten Tenets from MPR News (8-14-01)
NPR ethics handbook This is NPR. And these are the standards of our journalism.
Code of Ethics and Business Conduct for Employees of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (PDF). See also
Independence and Integrity II:The Updated Ethics Guide for Public Radio Journalism (PDF, 2004, 55KB); and the earlier version: Independence and Integrity: A Guidebook for Public Radio Journalism (1995)
Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines
Guidance for BBC Global News on Marketing Events (This guidance applies to commercial services operated by BBC Global News including BBC World News and​news.) Interesting A to Z Guidance
A Historian's Code by Richard Stewart (Writers and Editors)
International Society for Medical Publication Professionals, Inc. (ISMPP) Code of Ethics (PDF file)
Journalism ethics and standards (Wikipedia -- a good summary)
Public Media Code of Integrity A joint initiative of the Affinity Group Coalition and the Station Resource Group, with support from the National Educational Telecommunications Association. These guidelines (summarized here in bullet points ), for the public broadcasting system, were a product of the Editorial Integrity for Public Media project.
Los Angeles Times Ethics Guidelines (1-1-11) and Social Media Guidelines
National Association of Science Writers (NASW) Code of Ethics
National Press Photographers Association, Inc. Code of Ethics
National Public Radio ethics code (scroll down to read about NPR's new ethics documents)
The New York Times Company Standards and Ethics
Online News Association Mission, Vision, Values
Oral History Association's Principles and Best Practices (replacing Oral History Evaluation Guidelines. In a Reflection on the OHA’s New Code of Ethics, John A. Neuenschwander urges that OHA add another principle: "Interviewers may also hold a copyright interest in the interviews that they conduct and should always be so informed by the program or archive for which they work or volunteer of their potential rights."
PBS Editorial Standards and Policies (Public Broadcasting Service)
Pew Research Center code of ethics. See also Do pollsters have a code of ethics? If so, what is in the code.. Links to CASRO Code of Standards and Ethics (Council of American Survey Research Organizations)
ProPublica Code of Ethics
RTDNA Guiding Principles (Radio Television Digital News Association) Visibility, Advocacy, Training, Resources, Networking and Awards for Electronic Journalists
Reporting and Portrayal of Tribal Peoples (BBC, Guidance in Full, Obtaining Consent, Accuracy, Safety, Further advice)
SAA Core Values Statement and Code of Ethics (Society of American Archivists). See also Society of American Archivists Code of Conduct for Archivists
Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) code of ethics and code of conduct (the latter available only to members)
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics. See Code Words (blog about third revision, in process August 2013)
Standards and Guidelines: Professional Practices for Artists (College Art Association, 1977)
A Statement of Principles for Health Care Journalists by Gary Schwitzer 2004. A story about principles of Association of Health Care Journalists, for The American Journal of Bioethics 4(4):W9. (I am currently unable to find a working link for this statement.)
25 Commandments for Journalists (former Guardian editor Tim Radford's manifesto for the simple scribe, Guardian, 1-19-11--some are about ethics, and some about style and substance)
Journalism ethics and standards (Wikipedia's synthesis)
ASEAN Journalists Code of Ethics (Accountable Journalism)
An Update on Journalism Ethics in Asia: Values and Practices as Context for Meaning in Japan, China and Korea (Tom Brislin, University of Hawaii)
Washington Post Standards and Ethics (ASNE)
Washington Post Guidelines for Using Social Media
Poynter, Newsrooms Develop Social Networking Policies for Journalists on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (Kelly McBride, Poynter, 1-13-09)

New NPR Ethics Handbook
An Introduction To NPR's New Ethics Handbook (Edward Schumacher-Matos, NPR Ombudsman, 3-16-12). One document presents NPR's Guiding Principles. It is a table of contents to the other document, a handbook to help guide journalists through various ethical decisions with specific case studies. "More than a series of rules, the guideline is based on principles, which realistically reflects how journalism works and how so many day-to-day decisions come down to judgment calls by editors and reporters. The principles will help guide them in making decisions, without telling them what to do in each case. Sprinkled throughout the handbook are case studies that discuss the right decisions in other real-life circumstances....Among the central principles is that the new guidelines focus on standards of fairness and impartiality, as opposed to balance and objectivity. "
New NPR Ethics Handbook
NPR Tries to Get its Pressthink Right (Jay Rosen, PressThink 2-26-12). Rosen writes: NPR "now commits itself to avoiding the worst excesses of 'he said, she said' journalism. It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being 'fair to the truth.' My verdict: Bravo, NPR.
NPR introduces new Ethics Handbook, appoints standards and practices editor (Mallary Jean Tenore, Poynter, 2-24-12)

More resources about ethics

Why nonfiction writers should take a vow of chastity (Roy Peter Clark, Poynter, 7-25-12). Clark translates a public manifesto Danish screenwriters Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg propose for film writers into a parallel vow of artistic integrity for nonfiction writers.

To report or to rescue (Jillian Bell, Ryerson Review of Journalism, Summer 2012). When is it okay to cross the line from journalist to humanitarian?
Documenting Tragedy: The Ethics Of Photojournalism (NPR, Talk of the Nation, 12-6-12). Audio and transcript. When the New York Post published a freelancer's photograph of a man trapped in the path of an oncoming subway train, many photojournalists, editors and consumers decried the decision as unethical. Others argue that the photo was essential to the story.
Ethics stories, Poynter.. For example, ABC’s Payment to Casey Anthony Raises Questions about Ethics, Checkbook Journalism (Al Tompkins, 3-18-10) and Are Kevin Deutsch’s stories too good to be true? A reminder to check sources and keep notes (Indira A.R. Lakshmanan, 3-15-17).
‘Disconnected': Crucial book for closing the ‘ethics gap’ online A review of Disconnected: Youth, New Media, and the Ethics Gap by Carrie James. James urges a full ethical framework, distinguishing between "consequence thinking" ("where “the sense of responsibility is narrowly focused on the self” --e.g., 'will I get into trouble if I share my party photos on Instagram, and are the rewards worth the risks?')," Moral thinking ("considering the impact on 'known others,”'such as a close friend or family member -- how would she feel if I posted a photo of her on Twitter?"), and Ethical thinking ("considering the impact on 'distant, unknown individuals' and one’s community").
"target="_blank">Ethics resources (World Association of Medical Editors, WAME) Excellent guidelines for editors of medical journals. Includes Publication Ethics
[Back to Top]

[Back to Top]

Conflicts of Interest -- and Full Disclosure
Conflicts of Interest May Ensnare Journalists, Too (Roni Caryn Rabin, Health, NY Ties, 9-21-08). Focuses on health care journalists. Conflicts of interest are especially obvious with medical industry-sponsored awards, trips, and professorships.
Six Ways Journalists Can Avoid Conflicts of Interest (Tony Rogers, See also his short article A Code of Conduct for Reporters (rules to live by on the job)
Judge orders Oracle, Google to disclose paid journalists and bloggers (Jeff John Roberts, PaidContent 8-7-12)
FTC Tells Amateur Bloggers to Disclose Freebies or Be Fined (Ryan Singel, Wired, 10-5-09, pointing out some gaps and weaknesses in the rules) and here are the FTC Guidelines on the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Here's an earlier story: FTC to go after blogger freebies (Caroline McCarthy, CNet News, 6-22-09)
Debating the ethics of medical ghostwriting (links on Writers & Editors blog; see also Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing
Can We Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C. (with a state-by-state guide). (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fall 2008)
[Back to Top]

Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIAs), Health & Human Services list, from which PharmaGossip provided this Hat tip, links to the Big Pharma Corporate Integrity Agreements

Defamation, libel, and slander
What Are Defamation, Libel and Slander? (Aaron Larson, ExpertLaw, August 2003) "Generally speaking, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm. Slander involves the making of defamatory statements by a transitory (non-fixed) representation, usually an oral (spoken) representation. Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as a magazine or newspaper." And all you need to know about how to avoid trouble in those areas.
Libel Law for Copyeditors (Arati Bechtel, presentation slides) Bechtel explains six elements of libel (for analysis): defamatory content, identification, publication, false statement of fact, injury, and fault (actual malice, knowledge of falsity, reckless disregard, etc.), and explores cases, issues (including why newspapers use middle initials along with first and last names). "The bearer of tales is as guilty as the teller of tales," which is why newspapers can be held liable for defamatory letters to the editor, etc.
Digital Journalist's Legal Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
Libel and Slander Cases (46 cases, summarized, The First Amendment Encyclopedia, online)
Lawyers call libel suit against journal and critic “lawless” but “well written” (Retraction Watch, 11-13-17). "In addition to asking for monetary damages and attorney’s fees, Jacobson has asked the court to order NAS to retract the article....He told us the legal concept of 'prior restraint' should prevent that from happening: A court can award a money judgment against you for defamation but, in general, can’t order you not to say things or to take statements down."
Canadian defamation law (Wikipedia's good overview)
A Writer’s Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (attorney Amy Cook, on The Writer's Dig, Brian Klems's website, 1-22-16) An excellent overview of issues a writer must be familiar with.
Defamation of Character: Libel and Slander in a Writers World (Emily K. Bivens, The Dabbling Mum)
Russian parliament votes to recriminalize defamation (Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 7-11-12)
In Ecuador, defamation case could set dangerous precedent (Sara Rafsky, Committee to Protect Journalists, 1-17-12). A defamation decision against a newspaper in Ecuador contradicts a mounting body of international legal opinion that affirms that public officials should not enjoy protection from scrutiny. (Several more such reports on the CPJ site.)
Jury finds reporter, Rolling Stone responsible for defaming U-Va. dean with gang rape story ( T. Rees Shapiro, Washington Post, 11-4-16)
Mother Jones stood up to a billionaire political donor who sued us—and we won (Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery, Mother Jones, 10-8-15). Quoting from the story: This was not a dispute over a few words. It was a push, by a superrich businessman and donor, to wipe out news coverage that he disapproved of. Throughout this lawsuit, VanderSloot appeared to be engaged in rewriting his own history of opposing the expansion of civil rights to LGBT people....This kind of legal onslaught is enormously taxing. Last year, Lowell Bergman, the legendary 60 Minutes producer (whose story of exposing Big Tobacco was chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film The Insider), talked about a "chill in the air" as investigative reporters confront billionaires who can hurt a news organization profoundly whether or not they win in court: "There are individuals and institutions with very deep pockets and unaccountable private power who don't like the way we report. One example is a case involving Mother Jones…A superrich plaintiff is spending millions of dollars while he bleeds the magazine and ties up its staff." Litigation like this, Bergman said, is "being used to tame the press, to cause publishers and broadcasters to decide whether to stand up or stand down, to self-censor."
She called the man who sexually assaulted her a rapist. Then he sued her for defamation. (Lindsey Bever, WaPo, 10-4-16) "Laura Dunn, executive director of SurvJustice, a nonprofit organization that advocates for victims of sexual violence, told the AP that victims should avoid naming their attackers outside the courtroom. But Emily Austin, from the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, added that the issue is when the threat of defamation lawsuits keeps victims quiet."
When a doctor threatened to sue this California reporter, he did what journalists do best (Ron Shinkman, AHCJ, 2-22-16) If someone cheerfully calls to say you’re about to be sued, check it out. You might be pleased with the results. Here's his piece (PDF): The Many Stories Of One Highly Litigious Physician (Payers & Providers White Paper, 5-31-12).

Frequently asked questions (and answers) about defamation (Chilling Effects). The Chilling Effects clearinghouse is a collaborative archive created by several law school clinics and the Electronic Frontier Foundation to combat legal threats used to silence Internet activity.
What are the elements of a defamation claim? (Chilling Effects)
How to Address Defamatory Online Content (Meridith Levinson, ComputerWorld, 4-6-09)
Blogger jailed in Anna Nicole Smith defamation suit (Kate Murphy, AFP--noting that in court a blogger is a publisher, not a writer)
A Selective Review of Defamation Cases in 2009 Involving Professional Reputation (need not be libelous). Oxford University Press blog, 2010
A Writer's Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (Amy Cook, Writer's Digest, 9-15-10)
Faith and Free Speech: Defamation of Religions and Freedom of Expression. International PEN, warning against regulations prohibiting criticism of any religion or any set of ideas, organized a side-session panel discussion at a U.N. meeting in Geneva, with statements made by Wole Soyinka, Ariel Dorfman, Azar Nafisi, and Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Libel and libel suits
Is truth an absolute defense against libel? Read these stories.
Twitter and libel law: A little bird told me (The Economist, 11-24-12). "When everyone is a publisher, everyone can be sued."
Twitter users face libel claims for spreading false accusation (Jeff Sonderman, Poynter, 11-26-12)
Could I Be Liable for Libel in Fiction? (Mark Fowler, Rights of Writers blog, 12-18-10)
Oops, Maybe I Shouldn't Have Written That: A Modest Guide to Libel and Biography (James McGrath Morris, Biographer's Craft)
Libel Insurance Providers (Student Press Law Center, a list of companies that have offered libel insurance to student media in recent years)
Are Insurance Companies Redlining Journalists? (Carol Napolitano, American Journalism Review, Jan/​Feb 1995)
'Libel Tourism': When Freedom of Speech Takes a Holiday (Adam Cohen, Editorial Observer, NY Times Opinion page, 9-14-08)
Britain to Seek Curbs to 'Libel Tourism' (Eric Pfanner, NY Times, 5-9-12)
Libel and Slander U.S. Legal's webpage
Libel and Privacy Invasion (Tips from Student Press Law Center)
Libel in fiction (David L. Hudson, First Amendment Center 1-19-05)
The Case Against Lillian Hellman: A Literary/​
Legal Defense
(Daniel J. Kornstein, Fordham Law Review Vol. 57, issue5, article 1, 1-1-89, PDF)
Think you know libel law? Think Again (Robert J. Abrogi, Media Law, on Noonan vs. Staples); and 1st Circuit Denies Review of Libel Ruling (Media Law 3-18-09).
Libel Ruling Protects Anonymous Comments (Media Law, Maryland case, 3-1-09)
Since when were memoirs non-fiction?. Subtitled "Lawsuits contesting the factual accuracy of autobiographies threaten a compelling pleasure for readers." The British (Guardian) take on the Turcottes' lawsuit about Augusten Burroughs' memoir Running with Scissors.
Defamation and Libel (Wikipedia)
Rules, Britannia! The Growing, Chilling Reach of Commonwealth Libel Laws (transcript of important Authors Guild panel discussion on the long arm of British libel law 9-25-06).
Keep libel courts out of science: British Chiropractic Association v Simon Singh
The British Chiropractic Association brought a libel case against science writer Simon Singh at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for his criticism of chiropractic procedures in the book Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine and in a Guardian article, "Beware the Spinal Trap" (now removed from the Guardian site, but available through a link in this article on Lay Scientist: Simon Singh vs. British Chiropractic Association . Legal blogger Jack of Kent is following the case, providing expert analysis, and posting updates through his Twitter feed @​JackOfKent. Click here to read and/​or sign the Sense About Science petition stating: "The law has no place in scientific disputes: We the undersigned believe that it is inappropriate to use the English libel laws to silence critical discussion of medical practice and scientific evidence."
Libel Law Has No Place in Scientific Disputes (Jack of Kent 6-4-09 on the libel case brought against Simon Singh by the British Chiropractic Association). Sense About Science filed a petition to keep Britain's ultrastrict libel law from limiting free speech in scientific disputes about evidence)

[Back to Top]

Anti-SLAPP law

Anti-SLAPP laws (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press) Short for strategic lawsuits against public participation, SLAPPs have become an all-too-common tool for intimidating and silencing critics of businesses, often for environmental and local land development issues.
• "A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.[1] Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech."~Wikipedia entry on Strategic lawsuit against public participation. Wikipedia provides an excellent overview on the subject, plus many links to external sources and stories about various court cases. Start here!
SLAPP happy in America (Stephen Miller, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Fall 2010, from The News Media & The Law). Defending against meritless lawsuits and the need for a federal bill
SLAPP Back (Nazanin Rafsanjani, On the Media, WNYC, 4-2-10) A SLAPP, or “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” is a little known but widespread threat to the First Amendment. SLAPPs are meritless suits brought by companies, individuals and sometimes the government, not to win, but to silence critics. Congress is now considering federal anti-SLAPP legislation. OTM producer Nazanin Rafsanjani investigates.
In Melania Trump Suit, Journalist Invokes Maryland’s Anti-SLAPP Law (Zoe Tillman,, 10-18-15) Melania Trump’s defamation suit against a Maryland journalist is getting SLAPPed.
Survival Guide to SLAPP Victims (California Anti-SLAPP Project) "Defamation, libel, slander … and other common SLAPP disguises."
$1.3 Million in Anti-SLAPP Sanctions (David Lee, Courthouse News Service, 1-15-16) "FORT WORTH (CN) - Plaintiffs in a "revenge porn" defamation lawsuit must pay $1.3 million in anti-SLAPP sanctions and attorneys' fees and apologize for filing "baseless" claims in similar lawsuits to punish their critics, a Texas judge ruled. Tarrant County Judge Donald Cosby slapped plaintiffs James McGibney and ViaView Inc. with an order granting defendant Neal Rauhauser's motion for attorney's fees and sanctions. McGibney and ViaView sued 10 people in February 2014, alleging defamation and negligence, and accusing defendant Thomas Retzlaff of creating online aliases to stalk and harass ViaView."
FAQs About SLAPPs (Public Participation Project, Fighting for Free Speech)
Court: Radio Talk Show Host’s Statements Not Actionable (Sherri M. Okamoto, Metropolitan News-Enterprise, 4-27-09) Subheading: Panel Concludes Reasonable Listeners Would Consider Comments Opinion. "The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday upheld the dismissal of a defamation action against radio host Tom Martino and his nationally syndicated consumer advocacy talk show program, “The Tom Martino Show.” Affirming the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Anna J. Brown of the District of Oregon granting Martino and Westwood One Inc.’s special motion to strike, the panel held Martino’s on-air statements to a frustrated consumer during the call-in portion of the show were non-actionable opinion. The case arose after consumer Melissa Feroglia called Martino’s radio show—which seeks to aid frustrated consumers with their problems—to complain about a personal watercraft she had purchased from John and Susan Gardner, the proprietors of Mt. Hood Polaris in Boring, Ore."
MagicJack Legal Documents (Rob Beschizza, Boing Boing, 2-23-10) "Collected here are legal documents relating to MagicJack's defamation lawsuit against Boing Boing. The presiding judge ruled its case a SLAPP -- a strategic lawsuit against public participation -- and ultimately entered a judgment against it and made MagicJack pay most of our legal costs."
[Back to Top]

The First Peril:Fabrication (Chip Scanlan, Poynter Online)
How to handle plagiarism and fabrication allegations (by Craig Silverman and Kelly McBride, Poynter, 8-15-12)

Faith and Free Speech: Defamation of Religions and Freedom of Expression. International PEN, warning against regulations prohibiting criticism of any religion or any set of ideas, organized a side-session panel discussion at a U.N. meeting in Geneva, with statements made by Wole Soyinka, Ariel Dorfman, Azar Nafisi, and Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Liability insurance, or media liability insurance. WriteInsure media perils insurance, available through Axis Pro. The Authors Guild has entered into an agreement with Axis Pro, the world's leading underwriter of media liability insurance, to offer Guild members professional liability insurance. Coverage is available under WriteInsure for book authorship, freelance writing and blogging. I don't think you have to be a member of AG to get it; I don't know if the cost or terms are different if you buy it individually. If anyone else does, or if other writers organizations are also making it available, please let me know!

For Instant Ratings, Interviews with a Checkbook (Brian Stelter and Bill Carter, Media & Advertising, NY Times, 6-12-11). News shows that want exclusive interviews often pay one way or another to get them, often as licensing fees for photos or videos, covering hotel costs, even financing special events.

Freedom House, among other things, publishes results of annual surveys ranking countries in terms of freedom and freedom of the press. Many excellent resources, including country rankings and maps.

Freedom of information in UK: Open Secrets (Martin Rosenbaum's blog for BC)

Ghostwriting. See Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing, below.

Giller jurist’s relationship to agent drawing criticism in literary world (Mark Medley, National Post, 11-13-10). Is it okay for a jurist to recommend a good novel to an agent just before the novel is longlisted for a major literary award?

Prior restraint

(government censorship)

Prior restraint (useful section on Wikipedia)
Prior restraint vocabulary quizlets (very helpful)
Sedition, Incitement and Prior Restraint Chp.3 (vocabulary flashcards)
The Doctrine of Prior Restraint (FindLaw, Annotation 9--First Amendment)
[Back to Top]

Historian Orlando Figes agrees to pay damages for fake reviews on Amazon (Alexandra Topping, Guardian, 7-16-10). Historian to pay damages and costs to two rivals who launched a libel case after he posted reviews "praising his own work and rubbishing that of his rivals."

Historians and Human-Subjects Research by Christopher Shea (Wall Street Journal, Ideas Market 8-5-11). Shea asks: "How can oral (or, more generally, contemporary) historians escape inappropriate IRB scrutiny without denigrating their own work? Or, to back up a step, should they, in fact, have to go through the same procedures as social psychologists doing lab studies?" Zachary Schrag responds, in comments, that the National Research Act (42 USC 289) applies only to “biomedical and behavioral research,” which is not the kind of research historians do. On his Institutional Review Blog (about IRB overview of the humanities and social sciences), Schrag addresses the issue more fully in ANPRM: It's Time to Redefine Research.

Huffington Post makes millions; bloggers offered "exposure," not pay
'Huffington Post' Employee Sucked Into Aggregation Turbine. Horrified Workers Watch As Colleague Torn Apart By Powerful Content-Gathering Engine (The Onion's delightful take on Huffington Post as a Content Mill 2-2-12)
The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post (Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight, NY Times blog, 2-12-11). "I’ve also done a fair amount of uncompensated or undercompensated writing — there is certainly a time and a place for it, particularly if you’re trying to establish or re-establish your brand. But look beyond a site’s traffic numbers and consider how it presents your material and how prominently it is featured, as well as the sort of audience it is likely to attract. Being a small fish in a very, very big pond isn’t always the way to build up a name for yourself, much less to make money from it."
The Huffington Post Rubs People the Wrong Way at the Republican National Convention (Andrew Van Alstyne, Pay the Writer!, National Writers Union, 8-29-12)
How The Huffington Post Works (In Case You Were Wondering) (Jason Linkins, HuffPost, 2-10-11, 5-25-11, who reports that Huff does have a staff of paid writers, editors, and reporters.)

International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) (There can be no press freedom if journalists exist in conditions of corruption, poverty, or fear)

Medical ghostwriting and ethical issues in medical publishing

The practice of having an anonymous medical writer draft or substantially revise a medical manuscript without acknowledging their participation is unethical, according to the American Medical Writers Association, and the practice should not be tolerated. Not only should the role of the professional writer be transparent, but the articles should adhere to applicable guidelines (such as those of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) and should fully disclose potential areas of conflict of interest. The medical writers paid by pharmaceutical companies (Big Pharm) are most likely to encounter ethical issues. Following are some of the more interesting discussions of the ethics and practical realities of medical writing:
Answers to FAQs about Medical Ghostwriting (Project on Government Oversight, or POGO, 8-10-11).
Ghostwriting Revisited: New Perspectives but Few Solutions in Sight by PLoS Medicine editors Virginia Barbour, Jocalyn Clark, Susan Jones, Melissa Norton, Paul Simpson, and Emma Veitch (PLoS Med 8(8): e1001084. doi:10.1371/​journal.pmed.1001084) 8-30-11 (Bottom line: Companies and writers who work on industry publications should be listed as byline authors.)
How Industry Uses the ICMJE Guidelines to Manipulate Authorship—And How They Should Be Revised by Alastair Matheson (PLoS Med 8(8): e1001072. doi:10.1371/​journal.pmed.1001072) 8-9-11. Helpful references.
Being the Ghost in the Machine: A Medical Ghostwriter's Personal View (Linda Logdberg, PLoS Medicine, 8-9-11). What she did, why she did it, and why she stopped doing it.
Ghostwriting, RICO and Fraud on the Court? (Ed Silverman, Pharmalot blot 8-3-11). Two Toronto academics suggest pursuing class action lawsuits based on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, and filing claims of ‘fraud on the court’ against a drugmaker that uses ghostwritten articles in litigation. they base their argument on article published in PLoS Medicine: Legal Remedies for Medical Ghostwriting: Imposing Fraud Liability on Guest Authors of Ghostwritten Articles (by Simon Stern and Trudo Lemmens).
Professor files complaint of scientific misconduct over allegation of ghostwriting by Bob Roehr (BMJ 2011; 343:d4458), filed 7-13-11.
The murky world of academic ghostwriting (Julia Beluz, McLeans 5-6-11). Lawsuits are shedding light on the dubious relationship between medical researchers and pharmaceutical companies
Only full access to trial data will show signs of ghostwriting, meeting hears BMJ 2011;342:doi:10.1136/​bmj.d2925 (5-10-11--subscription required). These articles are about an important meeting on medical ghostwriting held in Toronto, Spring 2011: The Ethics of Ghost Authorship in Biomedical Research: Concerns and Remedies
Norman Bauman on the role of medical writers in the illegal marketing of Neurontin (gabapentin, Pfizer) (May 2002, but the same tactics may be used for other drugs)
How Scientific Literature Has Become Part of Big Pharma's Marketing Machine and How Being Nice Hurts Canada: 5 Questions with Ghostwriting Expert Trudo Lemmens (Paul Thacker, Project on Government Oversight (POGO), 6-22-11)
Ghost Writing and Scientific Misconduct: What does this reflect? (Solomon R. Benatar, JCB Voice, also about the Toronto conference).
How drug companies' PR tactics skew the presentation of medical research. Elliot Ross reveals the secret 'army of hidden scribes' paid by the drug companies to influence doctors (5-20-11)
Give up the ghosts. "Funding agencies should make researchers reveal industry links." Nature 468. 732. (09 December 2010) doi:10.1038/​468732a
Medical Papers by Ghostwriters Pushed Therapy (Natasha Singer, NY Times, 8-4-2009)
What Should Be Done To Tackle Ghostwriting in the Medical Literature?. A debate about medical ghostwriting on PLoS Medicine, with Peter C. Gřtzsche, Jerome P. Kassirer, Karen L. Woolley, Elizabeth Wager, Adam Jacobs, Art Gertel, Cindy Hamiltonl (2009) PLoS Med 6(2): e1000023. doi:10.1371/​journal.pmed.1000023)
Ghostwriting(Derek Lowe, In the Pipeline, a short entry followed by an intelligent discussion with readers)
Ghostwriting and the Medical Writer (Cynthia Haggard, American Medical Writers Association)
New strategies to tackle medical ghostwriting are debated (Science News)
Ghost Writing Initiated by Commercial Companies (6-20-05, policy statement, World Association of Medical Writers, WAME)
AMWA code of ethics
The Haunting of Medical Journals: How Ghostwriting Sold “HRT” (Adriane J. Fugh-Berman, PLoS Med 7(9): e1000335, 9-7-10). (Fugh-Berman examines documents unsealed in recent litigation to see how pharmaceutical companies promoted hormone therapy drugs, which included using medical writing companies to produce ghostwritten manuscripts and place them in medical journals). Read the response by Adam Jacobs of the European Medical Writers Association.
Ghost Management: How Much of the Medical Literature Is Shaped Behind the Scenes by the Pharmaceutical Industry? (Sergio Sismondo, PLoS Med 4(9): e286, 9-25-07)
Revealed: how drug firms 'hoodwink' medical journals (Antony Barnett, The Observer, 12-7-03). Pharmaceutical giants hire ghostwriters to produce articles - then put doctors' names on them
Evidence in Vioxx Suits Shows Intervention by Merck Officials (Alex Berenson, NY Times, 4-24-05)
Good Publication Practice for Pharmaceutical Companies Guidelines (Envision Pharma, 2006)
Madison Avenue Has Growing Role in the Business of Drug Research (Melody Peterson, NY Times, 2-22-02)
You'll find more articles on the subject on the Collaboration and ghostwriting page of the Writers and Editors site and in this blog post: Debating the ethics of medical ghostwriting.

[Back to Top]

Privacy Law for Copy Editors (slideplayer of presentation notes, Arati Bechtel). Bechtel explains privacy ("the right to be left alone") and gives examples (citing cases) of four types (or torts) of invasion of privacy: publishing private facts; intrusion; appropriation; and false light. With class exercises.
Consent the best defense against invasion of privacy lawsuits (Pat McNees, Writers and Editors blog). The right of privacy (essentially “the right to be left alone”) is your right to control and protect the public use of your identity. There are four types of invasion of privacy: false light, intrusion, disclosure, and misappropriation (explained here). Misappropriating the right of publicity, on the other hand, is an invasion (without their consent) of a person’s right to benefit from commercial exploitation of their name or likeness.
Reporters Recording Guide (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press). Who owns the copyright--the reporter or the interviewee? What if a third party records the interview? Read this whole entry! This site contains many helpful articles on privacy and journalism.
Online privacy for journalists by Michael Dagan (PDF) How to safeguard your communications, browsing, and data, from any unwanted "big brother" or intruder--indirectly how to protect a source.
What Is VPN For? VPN Benefits Explained (Claudio R., Anonymster, 1-18-17) A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is basically a series of computers networked together over the Internet, so you bypass the server of your ISP (internet service provider), so that nobody can snoop into your personal affairs. Explains how VPN encryption and protocols work and how they can protect your internet connection. Reviews best VPN systems.
Edward Snowden Explains How To Reclaim Your Privacy (Michah Lee, The Intercept, 11-12-15)
Encrypting Your Laptop Like You Mean It (Micah Lee, The Intercept, 4-27-15)
KeePassX (a free, open source, cross-platform password manager)
HTTPS Everywhere (Electronic Frontier Foundation) HTTPS Everywhere is a Firefox, Chrome, and Opera extension that encrypts your communications with many major websites, making your browsing more secure.
AxisPro's Loss Prevention Guide (this PDF booklet provides basic info on defamation, defamation, invasion of privacy (more complex than you might expect), trademark infringement, and copyright infringement).
Legalized sale of browser histories should worry journalists (Susan McGregor, Columbia Journalism Review, 4-12-17) "The blowback has been intense to President Trump’s decision last week to back a congressional rollback of recently adopted FCC privacy rules—rules designed to protect web users from the reuse or sale of their online traffic histories without their explicit consent....The first step is for journalists and media organizations to privilege the use of HTTPS websites and services as much as possible: While your ISP can still see which domains you’re connecting to (such as, they cannot generally see which individual pages you’ve visited. Similarly, news organizations should protect their readers by implementing HTTPS on their own sites.
A simple step to make news sites more secure (Susan McGregor, CJR, 12-5-16) "The vast majority of mainstream news organizations still publish to HTTP domains, making it impossible to guarantee either their readers’ privacy or the authenticity and accuracy of what those readers are seeing. News sites that publish on HTTPS domains, however, can guarantee all of this–without additional effort from users." A good explanation of information I didn't realize I needed!
Myths and fallacies of “Personally identifiable information” (Arvind Narayanan and Vitaly Shmatikov, Viewpoints, Communications of the ACM, June 2010).Developing effective privacy protection technologies is a critical challenge for security and privacy research as the amount and variety of data collected about individuals increase exponentially. Any information that distinguishes one person from another can be used for re-identifying data.
The Motherboard Guide to VPNs (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Motherboard, 3-24-17) The easiest way to hide your internet browsing from your to use a commercial Virtual Private Network or VPN. VPNs add a layer between your computer and the internet, forcing your connection to go through another server before going out onto the internet, and hide your browsing habits to your ISP.
5 best VPNs in 2017 (The Best VPN) 30 service providers rated by speed, logging policies, and encryption.
The Motherboard Guide to Not Getting Hacked (Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai and Joseph Cox, Motherboard, 8-2-16) The basic steps to take to keep yourself, and your data, safe online.
Do Internet-Connected Toys Pose a Privacy Risk? Tanya Rivero interviews Georgia Wells, WSJ video, 12-7-16) Advocacy groups allege that Internet-connected toys, including several children's dolls, pose a privacy risk to consumers. Is Genesis Toys recording children's voices and what they say, without parental knowledge or consent?
Coalition Letter to Homeland Security Secretary Kelly Opposing Collection of Passwords at the Border (Center for Democracy & Technology, CDT, 3-10-17)
Gawker’s Demise and the Trump-Era Threat to the First Amendment (Jeffrey Toobin, New Yorker, 12-19/​26-16) 'Ever since New York Times v. Sullivan, in 1964, established the rule that, in order to prevail, public figures must prove that stories about them are both false and were published with “actual malice,” libel cases have proved extremely difficult for plaintiffs to win. “We always felt that privacy was more of a fruitful ground for plaintiffs to sow, because in those cases they did not have to prove falsity or actual malice, the way they did in libel cases,” George Freeman, the executive director of the Media Law Resource Center, told me. “The whole celebrity culture just gives rise to more of these issues.” The Internet, with its absence of gatekeepers and its unlimited number of voices, has scrambled the traditional understanding of invasion-of-privacy cases. “We are in a different world now, sparked in part by the Hulk Hogan case and by a push-the-envelope media that doesn’t abide by traditional journalistic rules,” Gajda said.'
The Man Who Made Off With John Updike’s Trash (Adrienne LaFrance, The Atlantic, 8-28-14) Who really owns a great writer’s legacy? The ethics of collecting celebrity trash.
Facebook: Where Your Friends Are Your Worst Enemies (Packet Storm, 6-21-13)
Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance by Julia Angwin
Give Me Back My Online Privacy (Elizabeth Doskin, WSJ, 3-23-14), Internet users tap tech tools that protect them from prying eyes.
Disconnect Search: Google In Private (Thomas Claburn, Information Week, 3-24-14) Disconnect app delivers search engine privacy, with "pay what you want" pricing.
Tor Project (a browser that allows you to search the Internet anonymously, or pseudonymously)
Anonymizer International( "keeps your online activities safe, private, and secure"
•HIPAA, electronic health records, medical privacy laws, and patient rights
I Know What You Think of Me (Tim Kreider, NY Times Opinion section, 6-15-13). Reason No. 697 Why the Internet Is Bad — the dreadful consequence of hitting “reply all” instead of “reply” or “forward.”
How to Invent a Person Online (Curtis Wallen, Atlantic, 7-23-14). Is it possible to be truly anonymous in the digital world?
Here's what the Feds have on you: Everything (Erik Sherman, MoneyWatch, CBS 6-7-13)
What makes government spies scarier than corporate snooping? (Timothy Noah, NSNBC, 6-11-13)
Herbert Mitgang's obituary (Douglas Martin, NY Times, 11-21-13) focuses on his expose of government spying. His "1988 book, Dangerous Dossiers: Exposing the Secret War Against America’s Greatest Authors, reported that the agencies were suspicious not just of radical views but also of liberal ones. Mr. Mitgang said the Nobel Prize winners Sinclair Lewis and William Faulkner were monitored in part because they favored racial equality." Ernest Hemingway's file "criticized his muscular writing style and, probably most damning, said that he had once likened the F.B.I. to the Gestapo." So much for freedom of the press.
A.C.L.U. Files Lawsuit Seeking to Stop the Collection of Domestic Phone Logs (Charlie Savage, NY Times, 6-11-13) Congress never openly voted to authorize the collection of logs of hundreds of millions of domestic calls, but some lawmakers were secretly briefed. Some members of Congress have backed the program as a useful counterterrorism tool; others have denounced it.
Should Google serve the state – or serve its customers? (John Naughton, The Guardian, 6-8-13) The web giant is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to privacy for users. Eric Schmidt, Google's executive chairman, lectured about ideas at Cambridge. "The rock is that the national security state...The hard place is corporate terror that their users will become alienated by the realisation that personal communications cannot be safely entrusted to internet companies based in the US." "In the US, he argued, people worried more about the power of the state rather than that of corporations, whereas in Europe people seemed to trust the state but mistrust companies."
Can’t Hide in the Cloud (Vikas Bajaj, NY Times, 6-15-13). Most users could do more to safeguard themselves, but no software or service can protect them fully from determined government agencies, criminals or hackers.
A Reporter's Guide to Medical Privacy Law (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, on medical privacy vs. the public interest)
Tape-recording laws at a glance (state by state, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
A Writer's Guide to Defamation and Invasion of Privacy (Amy Cook, Writer's Digest, 9-15-10)
Electronic Frontier Foundation articles on privacy issues, including anonymity, biometrics, The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA, the U.S. wiretapping law passed in 1994), cell tracking, cyber security legislation, digital books, Do Not Track, international privacy standards, locational privacy, mandatory data retention, mass surveillance technologies, national security letters, NSA spying, online behavioral tracking, PATRIOT Act, pen trap, printers, radio-frequency identification (RFID), search engines, search incident to arrest, social networks, travel screening.
Should Personal Data Be Personal? Europe Moves to Protect Online Privacy (Somini Sengupta, NY Times Sunday Review 2-4-12)
Google Says It Collected Private Data by Mistake (Brad Stone, NY Times, 5-14-10, about Google's answers to questions from regulators in Europe about Street View).
How a Single Student Is Transforming Facebook’s Privacy Policy In Europe (Jamie Condliffe, Gizmodo, 2-8-12)
The Problem With Europe’s Strict Privacy Laws (Christopher Wolf, Slate 3-14-12). An elderly German named Heinrich Boere recently invoked an EU privacy law to file a complaint against two Dutch reporters for secretly videotaping an interview with him at his nursing home. "The criminal invasion-of-privacy case against the reporters put into sharp focus the automatic and inflexible application of privacy law in circumstances where flexibility and discretion appear to be called for." Read this important article!
Forget Privacy: What the Internet Knows About You by Jessica Bennett (Newsweek 10-22-10) and The Web's New Gold Mine: Your Secrets by Julia Angwin (first in Wall Street Journal series on the fast-growing business of spying on consumers). Watch your back!
10 Ways to Protect Your Privacy Online (Michael Fertik 10-22-10)
How to Muddy Your Tracks on the Internet (Kate Murphy, Personal Tech, NY Times 5-2-12). "You know that dream where you suddenly realize you’re stark naked? You’re living it whenever you open your browser." Lots of practical tips for keeping your private messages private.
The Candidates Are Monitoring Your Mouse -- privacy advocates are worried (Heather Green, BusinessWeek, 8-27-08)
SPLC Legal Brief: Invasion of Privacy Law (Student Press Law Center, SPLC, a helpful outline of key issues)
Naming Names: Identifying Minors (SPLC, aimed at student newspapers)
Facebook Is Using You (Lori Andrews, NY Tijmes, 2-5-12). "We need a do-not-track law, similar to the do-not-call one. Now it’s not just about whether my dinner will be interrupted by a telemarketer. It’s about whether my dreams will be dashed by the collection of bits and bytes over which I have no control and for which companies are currently unaccountable." Andrews is author of I Know Who You Are and I Saw What You Did: Social Networks and the Death of Privacy
Privacy Subtleties of GMail (Brad Templeton)
The Death of the Cyberflâneur (Evgeny Morozov, NY Times Opinion, 2-5-12) Mr. Schrems was intrigued and somewhat rattled. He wasn’t worried about anything in particular. Rather, he felt a vague disquiet about what Facebook could do with all that information about him in the future.
Internet Privacy *Wikipedia, a helpful overview of issues -- check its Notes.
How Privacy Vanishes Online (Steve Lohr, NY Times Technology section, 3-16-10). Using bits of data from social network sites, researchers gleaned names, ages and even Social Security numbers.
EFF's Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy (Stanton McCandlish, Electronic Frontier Foundation, 4-9-02).
• Who owns your Twitter post? Judge Rules That Protester Can’t Oppose Twitter Subpoena (Colin Moynihan, City Room, NY Times 4-24-12). Tweeter Harris "lacked the standing to oppose the subpoena because Twitter’s policies required that he agree to grant the company a 'worldwide, non-exclusive royalty-free' right to distribute messages, which are publicly viewable. He labeled “understandable, but without merit” the defendant’s contention that he had a privacy interest in his tweets."
EPIC Online Guide to Practical Privacy Tools (there's a whole new world here!)
Privacy Journal (Robert Ellis Smith's newsletter on personal privacy, online and elsewhere)Privacy.
Scroogle, an ad-free Google search proxy that prevents the searcher's data being stored by Google (as explained on Technically Speaking Radio).
Power And The Internet (Bruce Schneier's essay appeared as a response to Edge's annual question: "What *Should* We Be Worried About?""Debates over the future of the Internet are morally and politically complex. How do we balance personal privacy against what law enforcement needs to prevent copyright violations? Or child pornography? Is it acceptable to be judged by invisible computer algorithms when being served search results? When being served news articles? When being selected for additional scrutiny by airport security? Do we have a right to correct data about us? To delete it? Do we want computer systems that forget things after some number of years? "'


Your Digital Trail, And How It Can Be Used Against You (Daniel Zwerdling, All Tech Considered, NPR, 9-30-13) NPR and the Center for Investigative Reporting are documenting just how vivid the typical person's digital picture has become — and how easy it can be to access it. Co-reported by G.W. Schulz from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
Your Digital Trail: Private Company Access (Zwerdling, NPR, 10-1-13) Data we voluntarily provide online — such as on dating websites — may not stay with that site. While not always obvious, websites commonly allow other companies to track user behavior.
Your Digital Trail: Does The Fourth Amendment Protect Us? (Daniel Zwerdling, All Tech Considered, NPR, 10-2-13) Could government agents really get access to all your private data in less than a minute? Experts say no but warn we are moving in that direction.
Your Digital Trail: Data Fuels Political And Legal Agendas (Zwerdling, NPR, 10-3-13) Private attorneys are easily getting access to defendants' emails and texts. All it takes is a subpoena, which any attorney can do. Former Nixon administration attorney John Dean and a North Carolina divorce lawyer warn that if you think you have nothing to hide, think again.
Data Marketers Know What You Bought Last Summer (Elise Hu, New York Public Radio, 9-4-13) Marketing technology company Acxiom is letting you see the data marketers have and use to advertise to you. Check out what they know about you, your household, your education or income or purchase preferences.

[Back to Top]

HIPAA, electronic health records,
medical privacy laws, and patient rights

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), Public Law 104-191, was enacted on August 21, 1996. Sections 261 through 264 of HIPAA require the Secretary of HHS to publicize standards for the electronic exchange, privacy and security of health information.
Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule (PDF, Health & Human Services)
HIPAA & newsgathering (First Amendment Center)
A Reporter's Guide to Medical Privacy Law (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press)
HIPAA Helper: Who is Revealing Your Private Medical Information? (Charles Ornstein, Annie Waldman, and Mike Tigas, ProPublica, 12-29-15). ProPublica has a whole section on Policing Patient Privacy, exploring how patient privacy violations are affecting patients and the medical care they receive.
Myths and Facts About the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Part 1 (PDF). And here's Part 2 (January 2009)
HIPAA: Good intentions and unintended consequences (Association of Health Care Journalists)
HIPAA: Not So Bad After All? (Irene M. Wielawski, American Journal of Nursing, July 2009)
(Irene M. Wielawski, Health Affairs, Narrative Matters) After a mom goes head-to-head with a college health center that is intimidated by HIPAA, she researches the law and suggests what could make it more effective. This story about a collision between public health law and HIPAA cites relevant sections of HIPAA law, allowing disclosure for public health reasons.
HIPAA, electronic health records, and patient privacy (, with a focus on patients' viewpoint)
Tarasoff v. Regents of University of California Tatiana Tarasoff’s parents (Plaintiffs) asserted that the four psychiatrists at Cowell Memorial Hospital of the University of California had a duty to warn them or their daughter of threats made by their patient, Prosenjit Poddar. See also Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California (Chapter 10, Public Health Law)
Spread of Records Stirs Patient Fears Of Privacy Erosion (Theo Francis, WSJ , 12-26-06). Ms. Galvin's Insurer Studies
Do Family, Friends' Photos Trigger HIPAA Violations? (John Commins, HealthLeaders Media, 3-8-2010). You should be able to take photos of your own child or other family member in the hospital, but you mustn't inadvertently catch another patient, or a medical health record, etc. If you are doing photographs for a story, you need a HIPAA release signed for every patient photographed. Hospital personnel may overreact about cell phone photos even of your own family members because HIPAA rules are not easy to master and personnel are duty-bound to observe them.
3 Approaches to the EHR Patient Control Debate (Power Your Practice), about the Patricia Galvin case.
Can medical records be released without consent? Supreme Court refuses case. (Warren Richey, Christian Science Monitor, 10-3-11) The US Supreme Court turned aside an appeal involving the scope of privacy protections for a patient’s medical records when a state agency seeks to force a doctor to disclose those records without first obtaining a patient’s consent. (Eist v. Maryland State Bd. of Physicians) Issues of case, on SCOTUSblog: (1) Whether a state may restrict a patient's federal constitutional right to privacy by compelling a physician to disclose confidential patient records without notice to and authorization by the patient and in conflict with the physician's ethical obligations; (2) whether a state agency may simultaneously serve as investigator, prosecutor and adjudicator with respect to a licensee under its jurisdiction without amending the state's constitution which explicitly separates legislative, executive and judicial powers; and (3) whether a physician may be disciplined by a state's medical licensing board if: (a) the relevant statutory language - “fails to cooperate with a lawful investigation” - is unconstitutionally vague; (b) the board never notified the patients it was seeking their confidential medical records; or (c) the board's simultaneous roles as investigator, prosecutor and adjudicator deprive petitioner of his right to due process.
Here's Looking at You: How Personal Health Information Is Being Tracked and Used (Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, California Healthcare Foundation, July 2014)
Medical privacy (summary of info and links to more on breaches of privacy, damages and alternatives, electronic systems, many releases that are allowed by law, comparison of lists of data breaches)
Secret video: Mercy guard threatened photo-taking mom (Sarah Okeson, News-Leader 7-19-14) Woman who took photo of her son to post on Facebook was taken to an office where she was questioned by a security guard "The idea is not to prohibit patients from capturing personal memories," said Mercy spokeswoman Sonya Kullmann. "However, we want to ensure that we protect everyone's right to privacy. That includes other patients, visitors, co-workers and providers who may not want to appear in someone else's photograph, video or recording."
New York Hospital to Pay $2.2 Million Fine for Allowing Filming of Patients Without Consent (Charles Ornstein, Pro Publica, 4-21-16) Federal action could spell the end of emergency room reality television. This was follow-up to earlier story: When a Patient's Death is Broadcast Without Permission (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, 1-2-15) The ABC television show "NY Med" filmed Mark Chanko's final moments without the approval of his family. Even though his face was blurred, his wife recognized him. "I saw my husband die before my eyes." The son sued.
The Secret Documents That Detail How Patients’ Privacy Is Breached (Charles Ornstein, Policing Patient Privacy, ProPublica, 7-21-16) A federal agency sends thousands of letters a year to health providers closing out complaints about HIPAA violations. Though the government could make those letters public, it doesn’t. ProPublica has started to do so.
Media Guidelines while on Campus (St. Jude Children's Research Hospital)
Spread of Records Stirs Patient Fears Of Privacy Erosion (Theo Francis, WSJ, 12-26-06--behind a paywall, for subscribers only, but you may be able to read it at the library).
HIPAA G02: HIPAA Guidance -- Safeguarding Patients’ Photographs and Recordings
Could photographing an ED patient get you sued? (PDF, ED Legal Letter April 2009) Without consent, you are asking for a lawsuit.
[Back to Top]

Right of Publicity (Personality Rights)

The Right of Publicity (Helen Sedwick, Part 1 of Tricks and Traps of Using Real People in Your Writing, on The Book Designer, 7-31-15)
Midler v. Ford Motor Co.. Ford Motor Co.'s advertising agency tried to hire Bette Midler to sing for commercials, and when she said no, they hired her backup singer Ula Hedwig. Midler sued alleging invasion of right of publicity. She won on appeal.
Personality rights (Wikipedia: "The right of publicity, often called personality rights, is the right of an individual to control the commercial use of his or her name, image, likeness, or other unequivocal aspects of one's identity. It is generally considered a property right as opposed to a personal right, and as such, the validity of the Right of Publicity can survive the death of the individual (to varying degrees depending on the jurisdiction). In the United States, the Right of Publicity is a state law-based right, as opposed to federal, and recognition of the right can vary from state to state."
U.S. states that recognize rights of publicity (Wikipedia)
Right of Publicity: An Overview (Legal Information Institute, Cornell University Law School)
Brief History of RoP (Jonathan Faber's Right of Publicity site). See also his entries on Notable Cases .
The rights of publicity and privacy (Public Domain Sherpa) Using a work with a recognizable person in it? Don't use it commercially without knowing about the rights of publicity and privacy.
[Back to Top]

Taping phone calls

Can We Tape? A Practical Guide to Taping Phone Calls and In-Person Conversations in the 50 States and D.C. (with a state-by-state guide). (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 8-1-12)
Tape-recording laws at a glance (by state, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 8-1-12)
Interstate phone calls (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 8-1-12)
Copyright and taped interviews (Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 8-1-12)
Recording Phone Calls and Conversations (Digital Media Law Center)
Recording Phone Interviews (how to links, Mastering multimedia, Writers & Editors)
[Back to Top]

Photographers' rights

Photographers - What To Do If You Are Stopped Or Detained For Taking Photographs (Know Your Rights, American Civil Liberties Union) Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right—and that includes transportation facilities, the outside of federal buildings, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.
Suppression of Photographers During Civil Rights Movement an Important Reminder for Today (Jay Stanley, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, ACLU, 5-31-17) The contours of today’s battles over the First Amendment rights of photographers can also be seen in the civil rights movement’s history.
The Photographer’s Right (Bert P. Krages II, attorney) The Photographer’s Right is a PDF document that is loosely based on the ACLU Bust Card. You may make copies and carry them in your wallet, pocket, or camera bag to give you quick access to information about your rights and obligations concerning confrontations over photography. You may distribute the guide to others, provided that such distribution is not done for commercial gain and credit is given to the author.
Know Your Rights as a Photographer! ( Bob Vishneski, Photography Life, 3-12-17)
Filming and Photography the Police (ACLU)
Federal Appeals Court Hears Crucial Case on First Amendment and Photography (Jay Stanley, ACLU, 5-12-17) A number of states have passed these “Ag Gag laws.” Idaho’s version makes it a crime to use a misrepresentation to gain access to, or employment at, an “agricultural production facility”—places like factory farms and slaugterhouses, but also encompassing a bunch of other places by the way they define this. It’s aimed primarily at journalists and undercover investigators. Idaho’s Ag Gag statute also makes it a crime to take video or audio recordings in these places without the owner’s permission....This is specifically targeted at organizations like Mercy for Animals and the Animal Legal Defense Fund, which have exposed animal cruelty and put it on the Internet." [An explanation of the issues and where things stand as of May 2017.]
[Back to Top]

Open Secrets (Martin Rosenbaum's blog for BBC about freedom of information in UK)

‘Operation Dark Heart’ Author Sues for Uncensored Edition (Scott Shane, NYTimes, 10-14-10). A former Defense Intelligence Agency officer whose Afghan memoir (Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and the Path to Victory) was belatedly censored by the Pentagon filed a lawsuit seeking to have the book’s full text restored in future printings.

PEN Freedom to Write program (defending writers and campaigning for freedom of expression both at home and abroad)

PepsiGate’ Rocks the Science Blogging World (David Disalvo, TrueSlant 7-8-10). Roughly: SEED magazine, owner of the well-regarded ScienceBlogs network, "decided to allow Pepsi to have its own blog on the network, called 'Food Frontiers'–which, of course, they would pay for, not unlike a block of continuous advertising space. Many bloggers at ScienceBlogs are not happy about this. The standard for any credible science journalism network is that writers earn their space on merit, not because they have products to pitch." The bottom line, writes Disalvo: "if you’re going to mix marketing with science journalism (or, really, any journalism worth its salt), then you’d better be damn sure to clarify that the commercial content is just that: PAID FOR CONTENT." See PepsiGate linkfest (Bora Zivkovic, on A Blog Around the Clock, posts links to all key posts about the event).

[Back to Top]

Plagiarism, recycling,
patchwriting, and sloppy research

Mind you, this topic could and maybe should also be on the copyright page, but it's as much about ethics as about copyright.
Avoiding Plagiarism, Self-plagiarism, and Other Questionable Writing Practices: A Guide to Ethical Writing (The Office of Research Integrity, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services)
Arianna Huffington's Scuzzy Copying Pisses Off Chicagoans (Ryan Tate, Gawker, 12-19-08) Her publication takes some, if not all, of its content from another site, with a link back to the original. "HuffPo already has good Google PageRank, so its own version of the content floats to the top of the results, even though it was not the original source."
Plagiarize, Plagiarize, Plagiarize... only be sure to call it research (Trudy Lieberman, Columbia Journalism Review, July/​August 1995). An oft-cited piece.
To Catch a Plagiarist (Craig Silverman, Regret the Error, CJR, 2-19-10). There are tools to catch plagiarists in action. Why don't news outlets use them?
What happened after a journal decided to get tough on plagiarism? (Retraction Watch, 5-18-16) In July 2015, DNA and Cell Biology began routinely scanning manuscript submissions for plagiarism using iThenticate; since then, it’s rejected between four and six manuscripts each month for that reason alone. See iThenticate.
Top 10 free plagiarism detection tools for teachers (, which also mentions paid versions)
The Difference between Plagiarism, Piracy, and Copyright Infringement (Jackie Barbosa 11-4-10)
Mark Twain Would Likely Be Ticked at the Library of Congress Right Now (Daniel Hernandez, The Atlantic, 11-24-14) A new biography co-authored (with Harry Katz) by the home of the Copyright Office is alleged to lift text from at least five different sources with no attribution.
Zakaria's pursuers: We're not done yet (Dylan Byers, Politico, 11-13-14) "It’s taken months, but the plagiarism watchdogs at Our Bad Media say they believe Fareed Zakaria may finally have to face the heat..,,Since mid-August, the plagiarism detectives known only as @​BlippoBlappo and @​CrushingBort have been waging a campaign to brand Zakaria, one of the nation’s leading international affairs columnists, as a copycat artist who doesn’t credit his sources. Despite presenting more than 50 examples of what they said was insufficient attribution, their reports had little impact. " The same bloggers also heavily criticized Malcolm Gladwell for failing to attribute sources.
The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism by Jonathan Lethem (Harper's, Feb. 2007, cached). A long, fascinating essay on copyright and culture--how there is no creativity without borrowing from previous works of art (starting with the work from which Nabokov borrowed the story of Lolita). Lethem: "As a writer I inherit one set of assumptions about copying or borrowing, or what’s called plagiarism, but as a music fan, someone who adores sampling and quotation and allusion in the music I listen to, and as a fan of collage and appropriation in the visual arts, many of the artists I grew up liking in these different realms were instinctive plagiarists, by the standards that I often see applied within the literary arts." Quoting John Donne: All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated. . . ." See also Christopher Lydon, Radio Open Source, on Lethem's piece and The Mother of All Reading Lists (Lydon quoting lines quoted and providing sources cited in Lethem's piece, with some links)
Handling plagiarism at the manuscript editor’s desk (PDF, Mary Ellen Karens and Marije de Jager, European Science Editing, Aug. 2010, journal of European Association of Science Editors, or EASE). Two respected medical editors and translators explain how to identify and handle instances of plagiarism and patchwriting in journal manuscripts written by researchers who are non-native English writers. See explanation of terms for varying forms of plagiarism: Copy-paste writing, or cut-paste writing; microplagiarism; patch writing, or mosaic writing, plagiarism, self-plagiarism, duplicate or redundant publication, translated plagiarism. H/​T to Katharine O’Moore-Klopf for link.)
Plagiarism vs. Copyright Infringement: Do You Know the Difference? (Kristen King, (ink)thinker blog, 5-8-07)
Patchwriting (Rebecca Moore Howard, Writing Matters). Bibliography with links to information on patchwriting (also from Katharine O'Moore-Klopf)
Jury Finds Pharrell, Thicke Copied for 'Blurred Lines' Song (Anthony McCartney, ABC News, 3-11-15) A jury awarded Marvin Gaye's children nearly $7.4 million Tuesday after determining singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams copied their father's music to create "Blurred Lines," the biggest hit song of 2013.
Jonah Lehrer’s Journalistic Misdeeds at (Charles Seife,, 8-31-12). Seife's investigation of the New Yorker and writer reveals evidence of plagiarism, dodgy quotes, and factual inaccuracies, which are charted in this story. See also
~Violations of Editorial Standards Found in WIRED Writer’s Blog (Evan Hansen, Frontal Cortex, a Wired Science blog, 8-31-12)
~Jonah Lehrer’s Teller Deception (Kevin Breen, The Skeptical Libertarian, 8-10-12)
~How Jonah Lehrer Recycled His Own Material for Imagine (Edward Champion, Reluctant Habits, 6-20-12)
~The ethics of recycling content: Jonah Lehrer accused of self-plagiarism (Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 6-2-12)
~Jonah Lehrer Resigns From The New Yorker After Making Up Dylan Quotes for His Book (Julie Bosman, Media Decoder, NY Times, 7-30-12)
~Jonah Lehrer’s Deceptions (Michael C. Moynihan, Tablet--a new read on Jewish life, 7-30-12). The celebrated journalist fabricated Bob Dylan quotes in his new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works. (This exposé led to Lehrer's resignation from the New Yorker.)
~Interpreting Dylan, Always Treacherous, Was Lehrer’s Undoing (Ben Sisard, Media Decoder, NY Times, 7-31-12).

Patchwriting (a/​k/​a/​ close paraphrasing). (Mark Liberman, Language Log, 7-13-14). Liberman on whether "there's a spectrum of behavior, from out-and-out plagiarism through more and more distant forms of paraphrase, and that the more innocent end of the spectrum is sometimes nearly unavoidable, for example when summarizing someone's theory or re-telling someone's story."
HNN's Ongoing Coverage of the Conservative Attack on Rick Perlstein
Patchwriting by Rick Perlstein (and Craig Shirley) (Mark Liberman, Language Log, 8-8-14) Patchwriting is "restating a phrase, clause, or one or more sentences while staying close to the language or syntax of the source." And Mr. Shirley does it too, Liberman shows.
‘Wait, Your Footnotes Are in Cyberspace?’ Stacey Patton, Vitae). Rick Perlstein's book The Invisible Bridge—about "how the fall of Richard Nixon paved the way for the rise of Ronald Reagan and modern conservatism in 1970s America"—omitted footnote credits, posting them online. "historian, Craig Shirley, accused him of swiping dozens of passages verbatim from Shirley’s 2005 book, Reagan’s Revolution, without proper attribution. "Perlstein’s online citations mentioned Shirley’s book 125 times, and the author wrote in his print-edition acknowledgements that 'Craig Shirley saved me 3.76 months in research.' But Shirley has demanded $25-million in damages from Simon & Schuster." See Chutzpah: Reagan-Bashing Author Sued for Plagiarism Praises Plaintiff's Book In NY Times (Tim Graham, Newsbusters, 8-31-14)
It's Not Rick Perlstein's Scholarship that Seems to Be in Question. It's His Politics. (Peter Charles Hoffer, History News Network, 8-6-14). An interesting discussion of the nature of plagiarism and levels of plagiarism--and how accusations of plagiarism may be motivated (or suppressed) by political loyalties.
Plagiarism (History News Network 1-25-06). A page full of links to interesting "problem" texts and authors. See, for example, Historians on the Hotseat(4-23-10), which goes way beyond naming only the famous writers who did a little "sloppy research."
How to handle plagiarism and fabrication allegations (by Craig Silverman and Kelly McBride, Poynter, 8-15-12)
Fareed Zakaria suspended from Time and CNN for plagiarising content (Paul Harris, The Guardia, 8-10-12) Well-known foreign affairs specialist apologises for error in apparently lifting a paragraph from a New Yorker story (among other things, provides free, live webinars on Plagiarism in the Digital Age, and many helpful articles
What Is Plagiarism?
The Unoriginal Sin: Differences Between Plagiarism and Copyright Infringement (Mark Fowler, Rights of Writers blog 7-4-11)
Combating Plagiarism: Is the Internet causing more students to copy? (PDF of thoughtful long article, with bibliography, from CQ Researcher
Amazon's Plagiarism Problem (Adam Penenberg, Fast Company 1-12-12). Amazon's erotica section is a magnet for copyright infringement, and "Amazon doesn't appear too eager to stop the forbidden author-on-author action."
Chris Anderson's "Free" Contains Apparent Plagiarism (Waldo Jaquith, Virginia Quarterly Review, 6-23-09)
Copyright Infringement And A Medieval Apple Pie (Jane Smith, How Publishing Really Works)
• Cribbing edges into plagiarism. Raj Persaud's sloppy work and the importance of attribution.Persaud's blatant cribs were flabbergasting, professor tells tribunal. Psychiatrist 'a baffling mix of skill and stupidity'. (Martin Wainwright, The Guardian 6-18-08)
Detecting Plagiarism Dead Giveaways (Montgomery College Libraries)
Cooks Source Firestorm Over Plagiarism (Karen Berger, 11-5-11, on CreateWorkLive, on a blogger's [Judith Griggs'] months in the limelight as shockingly unenlighted about rights issues--using writer Monica Gaudio's piece about apple pie without asking permission, crediting her but refusing to pay for its use, and stating that everything on the Internet is public domain--which, dear reader, you know is not true.
Something Borrowed (Malcolm Gladwell, in the New Yorker, 11-22-04, asks: Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?
The Counter-Plagiarism Handbook (Craig Silverman's Tips for writers and editors on how to avoid or detect journalistic plagiarism, CJR Regret the Error, 2-26-10)
Former Rutgers student says software detecting plagiarism was wrong when it flagged her work, caused her to fail (Kelly Heyboer, NJ Star-Ledger, 12-4-11). At what point does failure to attribute sources in the text become plagiarism?
George Bush Book 'Decision Points' Lifted From Advisers' Books (Ryan Grim, Huffington Post 11-13-10)
Getting to the Source: Preventing Plagiarism (Chip Scanlan, Poynter, 9-19-03)
Historians Rewrite History. Timothy Noah (Slate, 11-13-03) on the campaign to exonerate Doris Kearns Goodwin
Is It Plagiarism? iParadigms Walks Both Sides of the Question (Kent Anderson, Scholarly Kitchen, 9-12-11). "The two most popular plagiarism-detection programs are Turnitin — widely used in higher education — and CrossCheck — widely used by scholarly publishers. Both programs rely on software developed by iParadigms." An iParadigms product called WriteCheck is marketed to authors and researchers to detect how much of their paper matches content in the company's database, "allowing the company to work both sides of the plagiarism game."
SafeAssign (software for detecting plagiarism, useful for detecting if students are copying text online)
iThenticate Plagiarism Checker (Web-based content verification technology)
Plagiarism and Precedence: Media Ethics (Edward Wasserman, 10-9-06)
Plagiarism Is a Community Issue
Plagiarism, the Latest -Gate (Megan Garber, CJR, 2-19-08)
Plagiarism Resources for Faculty (Bluegrass Community Technical College)
The Plagiarism Resource Site (many helpful links, especially for teachers dealing with plagiarism in the classroom)
Plagiarism Pays (Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid, Accuracy in Media, on offenders who make a comeback)
The Posner Plagiarism Perplex. Jack Shafer (Slate 2-11-10) on what to make of Gerald Posner's blog statement.
Someone Used My Research without Acknowledgement (Richard Labunski, History News Network, 5-21-12). Labunski details how another author, published by Regnery, claimed to have written the only work about the election of 1989, Madison, Monroe, and the Bill of Rights--but that he based most of of it on Labunski's earlier book and failed totally to credit Labunski, who was particularly upset that he failed to acknowledge Labunski's painstaking work compiling data about that election. The author didn't copy words, but he did steal the fruits of Labunski's labor and pass it off as his own. Maybe that's not plagiarism but it is intellectual theft.
The Plagiarist's Tale (Lizzi Widdicombe, The New Yorker, 2-13-12) Q. R. Markham, the author of “Assassin of Secrets,” had a secret of his own.
A Tale of Self-Plagiarism — A Critic of Publishers Proves a Prostitute Is As a Prostitute Does (Kent Anderson, Scholarly Kitchen 9-14-11)
Elizabeth Hasselbeck Sued for Plagiarism--Accused of No Original Thoughts (TMZ, where you can view the letter from the lawyer)
Miami paper fires arts critic for reusing work (AP story, USA Today, 7-5-04)
What Did Ian McEwan Do? (Jack Shafer, Slate, criticizes big-time novelists for saying 'Nothing wrong.')

Anti-Plagiarism Day (Jane Smith)
• Finally, not quite on the topic of plagiarism, but a kissing cousin:
The Shadow Scholar ("Ed Dante," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11-12-10). The man who writes your students' papers tells his story. Ghostwriter of academic papers and homework tells how he makes a living writing papers for a custom-essay company and describes the extent of student cheating he has observed. Long, fascinating, and disheartening article.
[Back to Top]

ProPublica Editor Paul Steiger Discusses Emerging Ethical Questions for Journalists (Mike Webb presents, on ProPublica 10-21-10). ProPublica’s editor-in-chief points out four issues facing journalists today: "the blurred line between presentation of fact and opinion; the quest for building a larger audience versus the need for journalism of substance and civic importance; the new business challenges facing the industry; and the need for greater transparency from news organizations." Says Steiger,"If we create business models that depend largely on page views, we should not be surprised if they drive publishers to favor content with a high prospect of 'going viral' over content that is primarily thought-provoking, or challenging, or discomfiting, or even educational."

Radio Host Has Drug Company Ties ran the headline on Gardiner Harris's story about Frederick K. Goodwin, "the latest in a series of doctors and researchers whose ties to drugmakers have been uncovered by Senator Charles E. Grassley. Goodwin, a former director of the NIMH and host of the popular public radio program “The Infinite Mind,” earned at least $1.3 million from 2000 to 2007 giving marketing lectures for drugmakers. The program's producer was unaware of the fees, report PR and PR Web.

Right to Know Committee, the Association of Health Care Journalists' page of links. AHCJ is particularly concerned about health care organizations that restrict access to information about research simply because they want to control the news (often doing so in the name of HIPAA).

Scholarly Work, Without All the Footnotes (Arthur S. Brisbane, The Public Editor, NY Times, 10-2-10), on how a dispute about a Times Magazine article, Does Your Language Shape How You Think? by linguist Guy Deutscher, illustrates the differences between academic publishing and the popular press. Mainly: less credit to sources--and why not post those online?

The Shadow Scholar ("Ed Dante," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11-12-10). The man who writes your students' papers tells his story. Ghostwriter of academic papers and homework tells how he makes a living writing papers for a custom-essay company and describes the extent of student cheating he has observed. Long, fascinating, and disheartening article.
For example: "I, who have no name, no opinions, and no style, have written so many papers at this point, including legal briefs, military-strategy assessments, poems, lab reports, and, yes, even papers on academic integrity, that it's hard to determine which course of study is most infested with cheating. But I'd say education is the worst. I've written papers for students in elementary-education programs, special-education majors, and ESL-training courses. I've written lesson plans for aspiring high-school teachers, and I've synthesized reports from notes that customers have taken during classroom observations. I've written essays for those studying to become school administrators, and I've completed theses for those on course to become principals." His earnings the year he is writing: $66,000 a year.
This topic was covered earlier and once over lightly in The Term Paper Artist by Nick Mamatas (The Smart Set, Drexel University, 10-10=08). Nick was also interviewed by NPR (The Paper Market, On the Media, 11-28-10).

Sunlight Foundation blog (making government and politics more transparent and accountable)

Truth, accuracy, accountability, and public trust
(oh, and fair and balanced)

Bill O’Reilly exaggerated war-zone experiences, Mother Jones says (Paul Farhi, Wash Post, 2-19-15)
Coalition of the Shilling (Nathan Hodge, The Nation, 3-11-10). Nonpartisan think tanks are supporting journalism--but who's supporting the think tanks?
Crossing boundaries: A journalist chronicles her friendship with a serial killer (Jack Murtha, Columbia Journalism Review, 10-7-15) "Elliott’s book is the kind of longform, long-term journalism that feels refreshing amid the digital whirlwind of brief rundowns, aggregation, and personal essays. But as she chased the story, she encountered an old problem: she became a character herself, setting off ethical landmines through her friendship with Ross and her disdain for the death penalty—the book’s two principal subjects....Rather than a selling point, this friendship would be a clear conflict of interest in beat reporting, whether it be with a politician, business leader, or athlete. There’s too much room for ethical lapses, misplaced trust, and perceived bias." As Janet Malcolm wrote, of the relationship between the writer Joe McGinniss and Jeffrey MacDonald, "The writer ultimately tires of the subject’s self-serving story, and substitutes a story of his own.”
Fact-checking sites (Writers and Editors)
How to spot and identify fake news (Writers and Editors)
Interview with a COPE Co-Chair on Publication Ethics
In journalism's crossfire culture, everyone gets wounded (Howard Kurtz, Media Notes, Washington Post 8-1-10)
Journalism and the truth: More complicated than it has ever been (Mathew Ingram, Gigaom, 10-23-12). In the past, the truth about a social or political event was whatever the newspaper or the TV news said it was. But now that anyone can publish their views, the process of arriving at the truth is a lot more complicated — and even more important.
On CNN's Reliable Sources, Congressional Experts Ornstein and Mann Describe How Media Obscure GOP Extremism
Pro Publica (journalism in the public interest--investigations, data, MuckReads, Dollars for Docs, Documenting Hate, etc.)
Restoring trustworthiness to news (Craig Newmark, CraigConnects, cosponsor of the Poynter symposium on journalism ethics).
Retraction Watch blog run by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus that covers the stories behind retractions as a window into the scientific process(subscription free).
Seattle attorney finds that the Internet won't let go of his past (Isaac Arnsdorf, Seattle Times, 8-15-08). What happens when inaccuracy stays alive and anti-censorship principles conflict with fairness?
Should The Times Be a Truth Vigilante? (Arthur Brisbane, Public Editor's Journal, NY Times, 1-12-12)
Storytelling ability connected Brian Williams with viewers but also led to his downfall (Manuel Roig-Franzia, Scott Higham and Amy Brittain, Wash Post, 2-14-15)
The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study (Petroc Sumner, et al., BMJ, December 2014) Exaggeration in news is strongly associated with exaggeration in press releases. Making academic press releases more accurate might help reduce misleading health-related news.
The Tedium Twins Tonight: Are there two sides to every question? Back to you, Jim. (Alexander Cockburn, The Fourth Estate, Harper's Magazine, Aug. 1982, and "a classic of humor writing and media criticism."
‘We are indeed less willing to agree on what constitutes truth’ (Clay Shirky, 10-17-12, part of a Poynter symposium on journalism ethics in the digital age , with other essays that will become part of a book on digital ethics to be published by Poynter and CQ Press.
Who Controls the Story? (Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor, NY Times, 9-29-12) The New York Times draws a line on “quote approval,” but not everyone is convinced.
[Back to Top]

Anonymous sources

Poynter stories on anonymous sources. For example, Anonymous sourcing is more important — and riskier — than ever (Benjamin Mullin, P:oynter, 2-3-17) "If an anonymously sourced story is proven false, the White House can use that to cast doubt on every article reported on background. With trust in the press at rock bottom and reporters being harangued on a weekly basis, this could be especially hazardous to journalism writ large. Leaks are more important than ever. But if we're not careful, they could sink us."
The Intercept is developing editorial standards for using anonymous sources (Benjamin Mullin, Poynter, 8-7-15)
Anonymous Sources (SPJ Ethics Committee Position Paper) Bottom line: 1. Identify sources whenever feasible. The public is entitled to as much information as possible on sources' reliability. 2. Always question sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Clarify conditions attached to any promise made in exchange for information. Keep promises.
Anonymous sourcing (NPR Ethics Handbook) Excellent, detailed guidelines.
Welcome to the Sausage Factory (Kurt Anderson, New York Magazine) A lot of motley, sometimes suspect ingredients go into journalism, including anonymous sources. But that doesn’t mean they’re not good for you.
Source (journalism) (Wikipedia) A good general explanation.
Press pays a price for anonymous sources (Paul K. McMasters et al, First Amendment Center, 5-22-05)
Anonymous Sources (Alicia C. Shepard, AJR archives, Dec. 1994) A flurry of inaccurate stories about O.J. Simpson based on unnamed sources has rekindled the debate over their use. Detractors say they hurt the media's credibility. Defenders say without them important stories would never be told.
Anonymous Source Tracker Daily examples of the media's use of anonymous sources.
A lesson for the White House in anonymous sources (Ruth Marcus, Washington Post 7-22-14) "The White House equates anonymous sources (except their own, of course) with cowardice. The media equate them with truth-telling, or at least a closer approximation of the truth than they are able to get from on-the-record aides spouting the official line."
[Back to Top]

Watching the Media Watchdogs (Greg Mitchell, The Nation, 3-15-10). Highlighting the best and worst of current media (print, digital, and broadcast) several times a day. Twitterfeed: @​MediaFixBlog

Protection for whistleblowers

Whistleblowing (Global Investigative Journalism Network) An invaluable guide to important resources. It’s important for journalists to identify the motives of whistleblowers and to verify their information. Equally essential is knowing how to best protect them as sources. Fortunately, there’s a wealth of information on whistleblowing, including a growing number of NGOs with expertise around the world.
The Whistleblower Protection Act (Wikipedia) The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Pub.L. 101-12 as amended, is a United States federal law that protects federal whistleblowers who work for the government and report agency misconduct.
Know Your Rights FAQ (National Whistleblower Center, NWC)
Your Rights (Workplace Fairness). See also General Information About Whistleblowing and Retaliation
Secret Sources: Whistleblowers, National Security, & Free Expression (PEN America, YouTube, 11-16-15) Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who joined the event via Skype following the panel in a conversation with PEN Executive Director Suzanne Nossel on whistleblowing and questions of conscience.
Secret Sources: Whistleblowers, National Security, and Free Expression (PEN America, 2016) reveals massive holes in the laws and regulations covering whistleblowing by intelligence workers, particularly when raising valid constitutional or ethical issues about a government action that has been previously authorized by an agency head or Congress as legal. PEN’s report demonstrates how these gaps in the existing scheme of protections pose high risks for national security workers wishing to expose alleged wrongdoing, undercut the ability of journalists to report on information in the public interest and to protect sources, and largely exclude the national security sphere from the crucial check on abuses that whistleblowers provide in other areas of the U.S. government. Scroll down to click on the full (free) report, a PDF.
How FBI blocks whistleblower fighting dismissal; new bill could help others (Joe Davidson, Federal Diary, Washington Post, 2-2-16) This story isn’t about whether his allegations are right or wrong, but how the FBI and the Justice Department treats employees who, in good faith, make allegations about waste, fraud and abuse. In too many cases, FBI whistleblowers are treated like the wrongdoers the FBI hunts, instead of the concerned citizens the FBI needs.
The FBI's list of appropriate places for staffers to take allegations of wrongdoing
Grassley-Leahy Bill Improves Disclosure & Review Process for FBI Whistleblowers
National Whistleblowers Center ('honesty without fear")
Office of the Whistleblower (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)
Whistleblower Protections (U.S. Department of Labor)'
Your rights as a whistleblower (OSHA)
Protection of Whistleblowers (OECD G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan)
Whistleblower (Wikipedia's entry on the subject links to many interesting sites and explanations, including whistleblower protections)
West Texas whistleblower nurse acquitted, filing suit of her own (Christian Dem, Daily Kos, 2-11-10)
The Long, Lonely Road of Chelsea Manning (Matthew Shaer, NY Times Magazine, 6-12-17) Her disclosure of classified documents in 2010 ushered in the age of leaks. Now, freed from prison, she talks about why she did it — and the isolation that followed. "She told me that she believed then, and believes now, that 'there are plenty of things that should be kept secret.' 'Let’s protect sensitive sources. Let’s protect troop movements. Let’s protect nuclear information. Let’s not hide missteps. Let’s not hide misguided policies. Let’s not hide history. Let’s not hide who we are and what we are doing.'”
[Back to Top]

WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer 'used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout' (Sarah Boseley, Guardian UK, 12-9-10). Cables say drug giant hired investigators to find evidence of corruption on Nigerian attorney general to persuade him to drop legal action

Will the Times Fire a Harvard Prof. Who Broke Their Freelancer Rules? (Gawker, 12-27-09) and Will The New York Times Wrist-Slap Another Freelancer, A Harvard Professor? (Caitlin Kelly, True/​Slant, 12-28-09)

Women's WORLD Organization for Rights, Literature, and Development, an international free speech network of feminist writers. Archive (no longer active)

Wronging a person through speech (Judaism 101 on Speech & Lashon Ha-Ra). "Gossip and slander are serious sins in Judaism. Judaism forbids causing any deception or embarrassment through speech. It is forbidden even if the statement is true. There are some exceptions that allow tale-bearing." And so on!