Thursday, February 28, 2008

Times v Sullivan

1. What is the significance of Times v. Sullivan:
· In American history? Opening up civil rights reporting, due process, actual malice.
· To lawyers? Get to argue more; but some more restrictions
· To working journalists? Get to say some negative things (as facts) without fearing as many lawsuits
· To you? Not much.
2. What were the rules of libel law for working journalists before Times v. Sullivan?
Restricted reporting of civil rights cases in southern U.S. And it was easier to claim defamation or libel for whatever reason.

3. What is "actual malice," and how did it change the rules?
During time of trial, didn’t have to prove actual malice to collect damages… so made it feel like publishers had to check all the facts in everything they published.
4. How could you cover Illinois statehouse politics if Times v. Sullivan hadn't been decided the way it was?
Wouldn’t be any reporting about politics in IL… since you pretty much couldn’t say anything bad.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tradition, tradition. (Did I just plagiarize "Fiddler on the Roof"?)

I definitely don't spend a lot of time listening to political speeches, but since when do people expect speakers to cite sources? Informative academic lectures are clunky because it's all "according to", "Dr. Famous So-and-so says", blah, blah, blah. Academic writing and lecturing is drastically different than political speaking (or motivational speaking).
Political speeches are supposed to be persuasive. Regardless of your views on Obama, you have to acknowledge what an engaging speaker he is. He has an oratory style similar to black southern preachers. One common trait in that tradition is to weave quotes and phrases of popular culture into the speech.
I guess I don't get what the issue is here. This has decades of historical precedent. This is tradition.