July 13, 2007
Conrad Black Guilty of Mail Fraud
After twelve days of deliberations, a jury has convicted Conrad Black of mail fraud but acquitted him of racketeering. Read more here in an AP story.
July 12, 2007
From David Greene, Executive Director and Staff Counsel, the First Amendment Project, comes this announcement of an available fellowship
ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY FELLOWSHIP
First Amendment Project, the only nonprofit organization in the country dedicated to providing free legal services exclusively on free speech and free press issues, is accepting applications for its Environmental Advocacy Fellowship. The Fellow represents environmental advocacy organizations and individual advocates in litigation presenting freedom of speech and freedom of information issues. Typical matters involve defending defamation and other publications liability lawsuits, and obtaining access to governmental records and meetings. The fellow will also assist in the preparation of educational materials and counsel the target constituency on matters of pre-publication review, public demonstration planning and other matters raising First Amendment issues. First Amendment Project does not engage in any lobbying activity or issue advocacy. As such the fellowship is primarily a litigation position. The fellowship is a one-year position, potentially renewable for a second year should funding be secured. Part-time applicants will be considered. For more information on the specific work the fellow has done since the inception of the fellowship, and on First Amendment Project in general, please see our website, http://www.thefirstamendent.org.
BBC Apologizes to Her Majesty Over Incident
The BBC has apologized to Queen Elizabeth for implying that the Queen lost her temper over a portrait session with Annie Leibovitz last year. The incident took place while Ms. Leibovitz was taking Her Majesty's picture; the photographer was getting ready to suggest that the Queen remove her tiara because it clashed with her robes and the Queen objected. The BBC, which was filming the entire session as part of a documentary called "A Year With the Queen", used a clip showing the Queen commenting about her attire as part of a trailer for the program and concedes that the result makes the Queen look as if she stormed off in a hissy fit. Very bad form. But the clip actually shows an event that occurs before the exchange between the Queen and Ms. Leibovitz. The Queen, like her ancestress Victoria, was not amused. Read more here from the BBC website. Here's another Leibovitz portrait, made in May.
Photographer Guilty of Assaulting Heather Mills McCartney
A Brighton magistrates' court has found photographer Jay Kaycappa guilty of assaulting Heather Mills McCartney, the estranged wife of former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, in order to get a picture of her. He may be sentenced to jail next month. Read more here and here.
July 11, 2007
When the Media Becomes the Story
WMAQ-TV has announced that long-time reporter Amy Jacobson has left the station after a rival station aired video of her at the home of Craig Stebic, the husband of a woman who has been missing since April. The journalist was reported to have been covering the disappearance of Lisa Stebic; Ms. Jacobson's attorney told the media Ms. Stebic's sister-in-law invited her to drop by to discuss the case. However, criticism of what appears to be her personal involvement in the story caused WMAQ-TV to announced that she had left her employment on Tuesday of this week.
Ms. Jacobson is the second television reporter recently to become part of a story she is covering. Last week Telemundo announced an investigation into the behavior of news anchor Mirthala Salinas, who has been involved with Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for about a year. Last month, Ms. Salinas read an on-air report about the break-up of the Villaraigosa marriage, particularly awkward now that the viewing audience knows that she had somewhat more information about that marriage than was in the report.
July 10, 2007
Sprint To Customers: Bu-Bye
Sprint/Nextel is dropping about a thousand customers whom it has determined call Customer Service too often--too often being an average of more than once a day. The company said that after reviewing the accounts manually, it found that these particular customers were calling repeatedly for the same problems, which the company believes have been resolved, and some customers were asking for personal information about other customers, which the company will not divulge. Dropped customers have 30 days to find another service provider if they want to keep their present cell phone numbers; they will not be charged an early termination fee. One wonders what other providers think about the opportunity to obtain these new customers. Read more here.
July 9, 2007
Ofcom Imposes Fine on BBC for Call-In Deception
Ofcom has imposed a 50,000 pound fine on the BBC after its investigation of the "Blue Peter" call-in program disclosed that the show allowed a non-participant, a child, to pose as a caller after "technical difficulties" caused problems during one program last year. Here's more in a story from the BBC website. The fine follows on the heels of controversies over other British call in programs. The fine is already being criticized, since the BBC is ultimately funded by taxpayers. Read more in a Guardian story here.