G R A P P L I N G W I T H ‘ B E S T P R A C T I C E S ’
I N T H E R E G U L A T I O N O F M E D I A & S P E E C H
D R . M A T T J . D U F F Y
A S S I S T A N T P R O F E S S O R
D E P A R T M E N T O F C O M M U N I C A T I O N
K E N N E S A W S T A T E U N I V E R S I T Y
K E N N E S A W , G E O R G I A , U S A
M E D I A T R E N D S C O N F E R E N C E
W E B S T E R U N I V E R S I T Y / / V I E N N A , A U S T R I A
S E P T . 1 1 , 2 0 1 5
Global norms for media law
Do global norms exist?
I would argue yes. See, for instance, health codes.
But, how to draft them for communication?
Inter-American Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights
African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights
OSCE, European Parliament, African Commission
NGOs such as Amnesty International, HRW, FH, RWB
Treaties: ICCPR, UN declaration of human rights
5 broad categories of media regulations
1) Defamation: Injury to reputation
2) Insult laws: Regulating offense
3) Public order & national security: Providing safety
4) Licensing of journalists: Professionalization?
5) False news laws: Try to prevent untrue journalism
Some, not all, fit within Article 19 of ICCPR:
(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
(b) For the protection of national security or of public
order, or of public health or morals.
Defamation – 3 ‘best practices’
1) Civil lawsuits rather than criminal charges
1) African Court of Human and Peoples’ Rights just overturned
a criminal defamation case in Burkina-Faso
2) Truth must be a defense for defamation
1) Otherwise, we allow people to protect good reputations that
they do not deserve.
3) Public figures must withstand more scrutiny than
‘Actual Malice’ – forgives journalists for errors
that were not intentional
Not specifically embraced worldwide.
Most courts expect public figures to withstand more scrutiny
Public order & national security
Tricky: Without public safety all other
guarantees are meaningless
Laws, legal rulings attempt to give fullest
protections for expressions of political speech
Anti-terrorism laws increasingly target speech
Few rulings but certainly a concern
No consensus on hate speech (public order issue)
Some focus on calls for “imminent lawless actions”
while others target speech that denigrates a group
Public morals also have no “global norm.”
Most courts, observers see them as vague, abused
by powerful, incompatible with free expression
ECHR ruled against ‘insulting the ruler’ case
IACHR also ruled against charge
African Commission called for complete ban on insult laws
‘Fighting words’ doctrine in US does state that
some speech is unprotected if designed to provoke
violent response need to research more
Agreement that public officials should not have
power to use insult laws against speakers
Licensing of journalists
Governments that can license journalists can have
unfair pressure on robust journalism
Journalists may self-censor if worrying about losing
ability to work.
Both African Court and Inter-American Court have
ruled against licensing of journalists.
Lies outside of ICCPR guidelines
False news laws
Noble goal – who wouldn’t want truthful reporting?
Problem arises when government officials determine
what news is untruthful.
Many courts & bodies have argued that “false news”
laws simply incompatible with free expression
Also lies outside ICCPR guidelines
Dr. Matt J. Duffy
Teacher of media law &
journalism at Kennesaw State
Find slides and published
papers on: www.mattjduffy.com