As regular readers know, the DMLP spends its days analyzing the legal state of online journalism across the country and out into the rest of the world. Posts on this site address social media service of process in Texas, lèse majesté laws in France, FTC regulation of social media across the United States, defamation analysis for bloggers in Iowa, Florida laws on mugshot websites... and that's just the past couple of months! Every once in a while we here like to take an opportunity to bring our research back to our hometown, and look at all of these big picture media law issues as they apply to coverage of issues where we work and live.
It is in that spirit that we are delighted to announce that we here at the DMLP – along with our close friends at the Harvard Law School Cyberlaw Clinic and the MIT Center for Civic Media – are working with Cambridge Community Teleivsion at an event entitled "Filling the News Gap in Cambridge and Beyond: Citizen Journalism and Grassroots Media." The event is on May 4th from 9:30am-1:30pm at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway in Cambridge, MA.
The half-day forum will explore the quickly expanding world of citizen journalism: how technology is fueling its growth; how that growth is changing the way we see our world, enact change, and disseminate the news; and how people in communities around the world are taking the initiative to share stories that are left untold by the mainstream media. The forum is a must for both consumers and creators of local news content; journalists and media professionals; independent and collaborative website owners; legal professionals; and everyone who values local information, civic participation, and social justice. Admission is free.
The DMLP and the Clinic will present and participate in a workshop addressing legal issues facing those who gather news. State and federal laws provide tools and protections on which reporters can rely in collecting the facts on which their reporting is based -- enhancing access to government records, shielding from disclosure certain communications between journalists and their sources, and ensuring that journalists can record the acts of public officials in public places. But, these tools and protections are subject to limitations that can frustrate newsgatherers and impede their ability to practice their craft. The session will explore some of the important protections available to citizen journalists and others in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the hurdles that reporters face as they engage in newsgathering activities.
Other workshops will address the ways in which Cambridge residents are filling the void in local news in Cambridge and highlight tools being used by citizen journalists. Exhibitors will be on hand to present the latest technologies available for community reporters, and attendees will learn how to tap into local news outlets as well as how to get started reporting on local news.
"Filling the News Gap" commemorates the 25th anniversary of Cambridge Community Television and the 5th anniversary of their NeighborMedia program. The event is presented in memory of Karen Klinger, a correspondent with CCTV's NeighborMedia program and community activist who died in December after a six-month battle with cancer. Karen was in the original group of NeighborMedia journalists chosen in 2007. She focused on her neighborhood, Porter Square, particularly on issues related to development, safety and cleanliness. The community looked to her to cover vital issues in Cambridge. Karen was one of very few professional journalists in NeighborMedia, and brought a fierce commitment to the journalistic principles that guided her career. Her efforts to ensure journalistic integrity have had a profound impact on the structure of the NeighborMedia program.