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BBC CoJo: When a super injunction is not a super injunction

Writing on the BBC College of Journalism blog, Judith Townend says sometimes journalists cry ‘super injunction’ when they mean privacy injunction.

A super injunction is one whose very existence cannot be reported – as in the cases involving Trafigura (2009) and Terry (2010).

As media lawyer Mark Thompson explained in a footnote on the Inforrm media law blog last year: “The ‘super injunction’ part of the order is the restraint on publication of the existence of the proceeding.”

Townend also explains the recent case of ZAM v CFW, despite media reports to the contrary, did not involve a super injunction.

Contrary to what you might expect, it appears that there are very few privacy injunctions against the media directly.

The public judgments suggest that the injunctions are often against blackmailers, and it is rarely contended that there is a public interest in the publication of the information.

Townend also has a compiled a list of the number of privacy injunctions here on the Inforrm’s Blog.

There appear to have been 11 privacy injunction hearings in the first three months of 2011, seven of which resulted in ‘public’ – although not always ‘published’ – judgments and two in which judgment is awaited.

She goes on to say there is a need for more information.

So where does all that leave us? While journalists should continue to raise questions about ‘super injunctions’ and the use of anonymous injunctions restricting the media’s ability to report court proceedings, there is a more pressing need for raw information direct from the courts.

The full BBC CoJo post is at this link.

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Independent online publishers: what’s your experience of UK media law?

August 23rd, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Legal

Former Journalism.co.uk reporter Judith Townend needs your help: she’s conducting a survey of small, online publications in the UK to find out what their experience of media law is.

The survey should take around five minutes to complete and is aimed at journalists, publishers and bloggers writing for websites with up to 10 employees that are not part of a larger media group. Judith is particularly interested in hearing from hyperlocal sites.

The results will go towards her MA dissertation and the survey is open till 31 August.

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Future of News meet-up spreads to West Midlands, Brighton and (maybe) Scotland

February 3rd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events

Having set-up a discussion group online and run two successful offline meet-ups, Adam Westbrook’s Future of News initiative has inspired new events in the West Midlands, Brighton and Scotland. The idea: to discuss new tools, new directions and share ideas for the future of UK journalism.

West Midlands

The first ever meeting of the West Midlands branch of the Future of News group will be held at Birmingham City University on Monday 8 February at 6.45pm. To register you’ll need to sign up here. All is explained in a post on the site Journal Local and there’s a short introductory video from organiser Philip John:

Brighton

On the same date Journalism.co.uk’s own Judith Townend has set-up the first meeting of the Brighton group – with scheduled talks from the Brighton Argus’ web editor Jo Wadsworth and the Guardian’s Simon Willison. It’s at The Skiff from 7.15pm – and you can sign up here.

Scotland

Both of which have got digital editor Iain Hepburn wondering what demand there is for a similar meet-up in Scotland. If enough people register an interest, he says he’s happy to get the ball rolling. If you are, let Iain know on this blog post.

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Is World Journalism in Crisis? Speaker update: Nick Davies confirmed

As previously reported on Journalism.co.uk, we are supporting an event at Coventry University on October 28 that will ask ‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ with participants contributing via video-link from around the globe.

It already had an exciting line-up: chaired by the BBC College of Journalism’s Kevin Marsh, speakers include Fackson Banda, SAB-UNESCO Chair of Media & Democracy at Rhodes University, South Africa; Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine blogger and journalism professor at City University New York (CUNY), and Professor Adrian Monck, World Economic Forum, former head of journalism at City University, London.

Now Nick Davies, author of Flat Earth News and special correspondent for the Guardian, is also confirmed – live from Brighton. And, we’re permitted to hint, it looks very likely that the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman will be joining the conversation from London.

‘Is World Journalism in Crisis?’ Wednesday October 28, 2-5 pm. Entry will be free. For further information please contact John Mair at Coventry University, johnmair100 at hotmail.com or Judith Townend: judith at journalism.co.uk.

NB: The event will follow the annual conference of the Institute of Communication Ethics, ‘I’m an ethicist… get me out of here: Communication, celebrity and conscience in a global media age,’ also in Coventry, from 10am to 12:30. For further details contact Katherine Hill: K.Hill [at] leedstrinity.ac.uk.

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Personal comments detract from original MMR / LBC debate

Jeni Barnett, the LBC radio presenter at the centre of the Goldacre/LBC case, has received ‘hundreds of extremely personal and abusive comments,’ her agent, Robert Common, confirmed to Journalism.co.uk today.

“[The comments] do not address the debate about the use of MMR and that is the reason for taking the comments off Jeni’s website,” Common said.

As Journalism.co.uk reported yesterday, support for Goldacre’s complaint against LBC had gathered fast, with high-profile figures such as Stephen Fry lending support to Goldacre. However, as Ben Goldacre has now made clear in a new blog post he does not want people to direct abuse at Jeni Barnett in such a personal manner.

“Do not send Jeni abusive emails, it’s not nice or helpful,” Goldacre wrote on his site, after being contacted by the programme director at LBC.

“I am sorry if people have sent unpleasant emails. I would want no part in that (…),” Goldacre said in a reply to the programme director.

The incident comes after a timely piece published by MediaGuardian on Monday, which looks at what happens when journalists face personal online attack.

Barnett’s agent, Robert Common, told Journalism.co.uk that he has “personally been very shocked at the hurtful level of criticism and and its very personal and threatening nature. LBC have aired the MMR debate several times in the last four weeks on other presenters’ shows where the debate has been continued.

“Jeni would never wish to restrict discussion on this topic or indeed any other, however, when that debate encourages threats and abuse it is impossible to do so and I have advised [her] not to continue to make any further comments,” Common said.

Update to post #1, 12/02/2009: In response to questions and issues raised in comments below this post Journalism.co.uk asked Robert Common what he meant by ‘comments’, since it has been suggested that the original comments on Barnett’s blog were not personal or abusive (e.g Andy / John ED’s comments below). Robert Common, Jeni Barnett’s agent, told Journalism.co.uk: “The comments/emails [to which he previously referred] are the ones that have been unpublished.”

Update #2, 12/02/2009: Journalism.co.uk took the additional questions raised in the comments below this post to Robert Common:

  • Why was it decided to delete inoffensive comments (as re-published by various blogs)? Will there be a way in which people can raise (inoffensive/non-personal) complaints and comments with Barnett, or will she maintain this silence, which could be said to fuelling the outrage further? It has been alleged that you have deleted blog posts as well as comments: is this true? People feel that ‘primary sources’ (such as the originally published comments and blog posts) shouldn’t just be deleted. If they are (legal reasons etc.), it should be explained why. Do you have a comment policy [for Barnett's blog]?

Robert Common told Journalism.co.uk that he would not be making any further comment. However, he said that if commenters have specific, non-personal and non-abusive, questions or points to raise with Jeni Barnett they could email him via talent at rcmgmt.co.uk.

Update in response to comments, 12/02/2009:

[Judith Townend, comment] Thanks for all your input. I’m extremely disappointed that many commenters think Journalism.co.uk has been unbalanced in its reporting. Perhaps I should have made it clearer in the original post (though content was linked) that since Friday I have run three articles based mainly on two lengthy interviews with Ben Goldacre, which I will provide links for at the bottom of this update, including a 30 minute audio interview, in which Goldacre explains the background of the case, as well as broader issues in science journalism.

Given that Barnett had removed the comment facility on her blog I thought it was important to put the many questions being raised around the web to LBC and Barnett’s agent – for example in the posts and comments at Holford Watch and Quackometer. LBC did not want to make an on-the-record comment. Robert Common eventually agreed to make this statement on the record although said that Jeni Barnett will not make further comment herself. All I have done is report what Common said to me – and that by no means endorses or tries to prove his claim. When I do occasionally provide my own opinion on issues via this blog, or our main site, I try to make that clear. This piece was simply reporting a quote given to me.

I can do my best as a reporter to put questions to the relevant parties but it will be very difficult to find out and clarify how many or what kind of comments were submitted as we don’t have access to any unapproved comments or the emails sent to Barnett. I have contacted Common with your questions about the comments: the challenge that the original comments (now deleted) were not personal and abusive, and to clarify the distinction between emails and blog comments. I will report back here with further information, if received. Any further suggestions please don’t hesitate to leave them below. Also, if you don’t see your comments immediately appear it’s because we have a pre-moderation system, but the majority of comments will be approved as long as they don’t present any legal issues. Also, you can subscribe to new comments on this post by checking the tick box.

LINKS:
10/02/09 – Goldacre’s law: the Bad Science ‘nerd’ talks to Journalism.co.uk (with audio) http://www.journalism.co.uk/5/articles/533461.php

10/02/09 -Online support for Goldacre gathers pace http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/02/10/online-support-for-goldacre-gathers-pace/

06/02/09 – Goldacre on the ‘intellectual property absolutists’ – LBC’s legal warning http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/editors/2009/02/06/goldacre-on-the-intellectual-property/

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