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Articles by Jonathan Peters | Email the Author

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How to fight restrictions on access to court cases

Judge’s order in Don Blankenship trial highlights a perennial press concern

Don Blankenship, the former CEO and chairman of Massey Energy, is accused of conspiring to violate various federal laws and... More

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What Ferris Bueller can teach us about who counts as ‘the media’

A Texas Supreme Court justice argues that his colleagues should have taken up the debate

Here’s a bit of legal reasoning you don’t see every day:  Of all the empowering, life-altering lessons Ferris Bueller taught... More

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An Ohio court urges lawmakers to defend freedom of the press

In ruling against Murray Energy, appeals panel calls for an anti-SLAPP statute

Robert E. Murray, the Ohio coal baron who is perhaps best known nationally for suing meddlesome journalists, lost his latest... More

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Connecticut paper challenges a prior restraint order

State judge has vacated his own ruling, but Law Tribune presses for “clear guidance”

Last week, a state judge ordered the Connecticut Law Tribune not to publish an article on a child custody dispute—a... More

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How two Florida reporters ‘watchdogged’ misuse of the state’s open-records law

Case highlights the media’s interest in monitoring how FOI laws are used

I teach journalism and media law courses at the University of Kansas, and part of my job is to help... More

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Why you can’t get strippers’ names with public records requests

An odd case highlights the tension between open government and personal privacy

Nightclubs featuring nude dancing and erotic entertainment. Government licensing of the club dancers. Open government. A civil engineer who wants... More

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The biggest threat to press rights may be a failure to understand them

Jeff Hermes of the Media Law Resource Center discusses the legal needs of a new generation of news organizations

It’s a cliché to say so, but we’re at a moment of transition for American journalism. The digital disruption that... More

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Why this news nonprofit is crowdfunding a police shootings database

New Mexico Compass hopes to build a comprehensive resource for a big issue in Albuquerque

The New Mexico Compass is creating a searchable, interactive database of public records related to fatal police shootings in Albuquerque—and it’s asking... More

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Will journalists get fined for photographing trees? (UPDATED)

The new US Forest Service rules explained

You’ve probably heard: The US Forest Service is savaging the First Amendment. It’s trying to codify a provisional rule, in... More

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The Reporters Committee is about to start suing people to help journalists

Katie Townsend joins the organization as its first litigation director

Fair warning, all ye who interfere with newsgathering: The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is getting ready to... More

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Why California’s smartphone ‘kill switch’ law should concern journalists

An antitheft measure creates the risk that the government could interfere with newsgathering

Imagine this. You’re a journalist covering a street protest, and the local police chief doesn’t like the photos you’re tweeting... More

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Journalists in Ferguson: Know your rights

The First Amendment affords reporters broad but not perfect protection

Reporting on protests is no easy job--just ask the 16 journalists arrested so far while covering the events in Ferguson,... More

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Can Ferguson police legally withhold the officer’s name? (UPDATED)

A review of Missouri’s case law and ​open records ​statute suggests ​​courts might see it as a close call

Editor's note: Police in Ferguson on Friday, Aug. 15 released the name of the officer involved in the shooting. Our... More

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After murders raise questions about parole supervision, LA Times sues for records

Paper invokes Jaycee Dugard precedent to argue for access to parole documents

Registered sex offenders Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, are accused of raping and murdering four women in... More

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What’s the matter with South Carolina?

The trend in the state turns against open government, but this debate shouldn’t be over yet

When it comes to secrecy in South Carolina, less more is more. In the last 90 days, the state Supreme... More

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Free Press takes its transparency dispute with the University of Michigan to court

An attempt to clarify state law—and establish a principle of openness for public universities

Investment commitments and funding of more than $120 million, a property purchase for $12.8 million, construction of a new biological... More

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Allowing police to shoot someone without creating a record you can see

… And other bad ideas. Monitoring press freedom in the laboratories of democracy

In the 1932 case New State Ice Co. v. Liebmann, Justice Louis Brandeis dissented from the US Supreme Court’s decision... More

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Survey: One in five journalists has had a credential request denied

Freelancers, photographers, activists face the highest barriers to access

Last year, a former student asked me how her news outlet, an online startup that relies on freelancers to cover... More

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A coal magnate’s latest lawsuit was tossed—but Ohio can do more to defend free expression

Anti-SLAPP statute could offer greater protections to journalists and commentators

Michael Stark, a contributor to The Huffington Post. Ken Ward, a reporter for The Charleston Gazette. Margaret Newkirk, a former... More

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The First Amendment argument against lethal-injection secrecy laws

It’s stronger than you might think

Update, 5/15: A media consortium consisting of The Associated Press, Guardian US, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Kansas City Star,... More

Virginian-Pilot journalists: Corporate management pressure is stifling coverage - “Lovers of journalism in this newsroom are pissed. It’s bad.”

Paper files public records request—and city’s response is a lawsuit - Local officials argue Montana courts should strike balance between privacy and disclosure

BBC Pop-Up reports from small town America - A small team is traveling across the United States for six months in hopes of finding underreported local stories

What game design can do for journalism - Three newly selected fellows at American University talk about the medium’s future

Timeline, an app based on ‘the history of…’ - But chronology doesn’t reveal everything


We should all step back from security journalism (Medium)

“It should be made clear, in law, that the tasks security reseachers do to make the net more secure and journalists do to understand and contextualize the truth for the public are not crimes”

Trust In Business And Media Is Declining, But People Have Faith In Search Engines (Buzzfeed)

People have become less trusting of major institutions, according to the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. And large majorities doubt that businesses want to make the world a better place.

With New Charlie Hebdo Cover, News Value Should Have Prevailed (NYT)

Public editor Margaret Sullivan on why the paper should have published the images.

An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media (Medium)

“I feel the need to offer my perspective as someone who is not a teenager but who has thought about these issues extensively for years.”

Bloggingheads

Greg Marx discusses democracy and news with Tom Rosenstiel of the American Press Institute

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Who Owns What

The Business of Digital Journalism

A report from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism

Study Guides

Questions and exercises for journalism students.