Thursday, January 22, 2015

Can a city sue a TV channel?

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has said she plans to sue Fox News for a broadcast that described parts of the French capital as "no-go zones" for non-Muslims. But is it possible for a city to take out a libel action against a TV channel, asks Thomas Dahlhaus?

Deputy mayor Patrick Klugman confirmed to the BBC on Wednesday that the mayor was "definitely serious" and that action would be taken "in the coming days".

Fox News had rubbed salt into the wounds of the Charlie Hebdo attack, he said, by spreading "totally fake, false information" about the city - including popular tourist areas such as Montmartre.

"It was like a pain after the pain to be insulted by such a lack of fact-checking in broadcasts all over the world," he said.

Legal experts, he added, were currently deciding whether to bring the action in New York or Paris.

A number of legal experts have chorused that the case would be a non-starter in a US court.

"I believe there is no cause of action in the United States, period," Jane Kirtley, a media law professor at the University of Minnesota, told the Reuters news agency.

"Start Quote

We want Fox News to assume responsibility because they hurt us, they hurt the city of Paris"

Patrick Klugman Deputy mayor of Paris

"This is an example of someone from another country not recognising the force of the First Amendment, which allows criticism of governmental entities," she said, referring to part of the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the media.

But what about a French court?

London-based media barrister Matthew Nicklin QC says there would be serious obstacles.

Unlike a person or company, he says, the "city of Paris" is not a legal entity - it cannot sue for defamation. What it might be able to do, he says, is to help bring a "representative claim" on behalf of individual Parisian businesses.

These businesses would have to prove that they had been negatively affected as a result of the Fox News item - by suffering financial losses, for example.

Fox has already accepted that the report was incorrect, with an anchor apologising on air for the channel's "errors".

The next difficulty would be deciding which end of Fox News to sue.

"Start Quote

We've all moved on - end of story   James McKay Birmingham city councillor

No US-based network would submit to French jurisdiction, Nicklin says. And while it might be technically possible to sue a part of Fox News based in France, it would be necessary to demonstrate that this French part of the company was in charge of Fox's coverage at the time.

If Paris did succeed in overcoming these hurdles, any court would take into consideration that Fox News offered apologies, both to Paris and Birmingham - which was described by pundit Steve Emerson as "totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don't go in".

The prospects of achieving compensation are much diminished when apologies are offered quickly and repeatedly, Nicklin says.

"The comments about Birmingham were a bit bonkers. We said so. Fox News corrected them. We've all moved on. End of story," Birmingham city councillor James McKay said on Wednesday, making clear that the city would not take part in the Parisian legal action.

There are two other difficulties standing in Paris's way.

One is the European Convention on Human Rights, which enshrines the right of freedom of expression. If the case ever came to court, Fox News would point out that France is a signatory.

Then there is a US law passed in 2010 - the Speech Act - which gives media outlets special protection against decisions of foreign courts.

"Even if a judgment were obtained in France, it would be impossible under American law to enforce it here," Robert Drechsel, a professor of media law at the University of Wisconsin at Madison told Reuters.

But Klugman, a lawyer before he became deputy mayor, appeared undaunted. He disagreed with Nicklin's assertion that Paris was not a legal entity, saying the city could "take anyone to justice and… has done it many times".

"Our logic is very simple," he said. "We want Fox News to assume responsibility because they hurt us, they hurt the city of Paris."

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Monday, January 19, 2015

BBC Job opportunity : BBC World News Komla Dumor Award/ Deadline 19 January 2015

Job Introduction

Applications are invited from 19th of January.

Komla Dumor was a journalist of Africa. His passion was to tell African stories to the world with honesty and integrity.

It's a legacy that the BBC wants to continue.

The BBC World News Komla Dumor Award will be made to an outstanding individual living and working in Africa, who combines strong journalism skills, on air flair, and an exceptional talent in telling African stories with the ambition and potential to become a star of the future.


Role Responsibility

The winner of the BBC World News Komla Dumor award will receive a once-in-a-lifetime training and development opportunity with the BBC in London, starting in early September 2015 and running for three months.  Working with teams from across BBC News, the winner will produce an African story for the BBC and have their story and their voice shared across the continent and the world.  They will be supported by a high-level BBC mentor and attend courses run by the BBC's world-class training department, the BBC Academy.

The BBC will pay for the winner's flights to and from the UK and for their visa.  We will also arrange and pay for the winner's accommodation in London during their placement.  The winner will receive £2,000 per month for the three month placement to cover their living expenses and a one-off payment of £5,000 as a contribution towards loss of salary in their home country.  Some of the above may be subject to taxation (and deductions will be made as appropriate).

The Ideal Candidate

To apply for this prestigious award, you must be currently living and working as a journalist in Africa with 3 to 10 years' experience as a professional journalist in Africa. You must also have the following skills and experience:

  • Excellent journalism skills, including in digital and social media.
  • Broadcasting experience is preferable.
  • An excellent broadcasting voice and strong presenting skills with the ability to perform at the microphone with flair.
  • The ability to identify and pitch a strong original African story idea, aligned to the BBC editorial guidelines
  • Wide and up-to-date knowledge and understanding of the African continent, including politics, business, culture, history and sport.
  • Fluency in English as a first or equivalent language.

Additional requirements for all applicants

  • You must provide a CV (maximum two pages) / complete a careers hub profile.
  • You must hold or be able to obtain by 1st March 2015 a passport that is valid until at least 31st January 2016.
  • You must not be a current or former member of BBC staff.
  • If successful, your employer must be willing to release you for three months from September 2015 for you to travel on your own to take up your placement in London.
  • The visa requires that you hold a degree or are studying towards a degree equivalent to a UK Bachelor's degree from a recognised university.
  • References, proof of employment, birth certificate, passport, an appropriate UK visa and proof of level of English will be required from shortlisted candidates.

Terms and conditions

  • You must provide the BBC with your name, email and postal address if you wish to enter for this award.
  • The BBC will only ever use your personal details for the purposes of administering this award, and will not publish them or provide them to anyone without your permission.
  • The deadline for receiving entries for the award is final. This is 23.59 hours on Monday 2 February 2015. No entries received after this date will be considered.
  • The BBC will not be liable for any costs incurred in the application process for this award.
  • The BBC does not accept any responsibility for late or lost entries. Proof of sending is not proof of receipt. No responsibility is accepted for incomplete entries or entries made fraudulently.
  • This award is not open to employees of the BBC, any person directly involved in the BBC or the running of the competition.
  • The judges' decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into thereafter.
  • The BBC reserves the right to use the names and images of shortlisted candidates in publicity material.
  • The award winner will be contacted personally.
  • The award must be taken as stated and cannot be deferred. There will be no cash alternative.
  • The BBC reserves the right to cancel this award scheme at any stage, if deemed necessary in its opinion, and if circumstances arise outside of its control.
  • The awardee must be able to secure an appropriate UK visa, which the BBC will arrange and pay for on the awardee's behalf.  The BBC will withdraw the offer of a placement, if an appropriate UK visa cannot be obtained.
  • The awardee assigns all copyright or other intellectual property rights in the contribution they supply to the BBC as a result of placement.
  • The awardee grants the BBC the unlimited right to edit, copy, alter, add to, take from, adapt or translate the contributions and, with regard to such contributions and any BBC content in which they may have been included, waives irrevocably any 'moral rights' they may have under any laws of any jurisdiction.
  • The BBC reserves the right to withdraw the award at any stage if the awardee brings the BBC into disrepute.
  • The awardee is expected to return to their home country at the end of their BBC placement.
  • This award is administered by the BBC.
  • Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering for this award.


The award entries will be judged and the winner decided by:

Andrew Roy – World Editor, BBC News. Formerly Head of News for BBC World News

Vera Kwakofi – Current Affairs Editor, BBC Africa

Charles Onyango-Obbo – Author and Editor, Mail & Guardian Africa. Formerly Executive Editor for Africa at the Nation Media Group.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Friday, January 09, 2015

FELLOWSHIP OPPORTUNITY :Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Fellowship Programme

The Journalism Fellowship Programme

The Journalism Fellowship Programme enables mid-career journalists* to improve their knowledge and to study issues important to their professional development in greater depth than is possible under deadline pressure.

Around 25 journalists from around the globe study in Oxford each year on Fellowships of either three, six or nine months, covering one, two or all three terms of the academic year. See available fellowships.

Applications are now open for the Journalism Fellowship Programme 2015-16.

* A minimum of 5 years' full time professional journalistic experience and a high level of spoken and written English are essential. See eligibility.

Programme Content

Requirements of the Journalism Felllowship Programme are to conduct academic research and to actively participate in the activities of the Reuters Institute.


Journalist Fellows are expected to submit a substantial research paper of publishable, academic quality (approx. 8,000-10,000 words).

Each Fellow is assigned a supervisor, usually an Oxford academic specialising in the journalists' chosen subject, to advise them on their research.

Fellows are required to present their research findings in a seminar open to the University.

Programme Activities

Journalist Fellows are required to actively engage in and contribute to the events organised specifically for them. These include:

Fellows are also warmly invited to participate in the numerous academic and extracurricular activities of the Reuters Institute.

Additional Support and Activities/Opportunities

Fellows are given access to the world famous Bodleian Library and other Oxford University facilities and resources.

They will be granted Visiting Scholar status of Green Templeton College.

Fellows are strongly encouraged to attend university seminars, lectures and classes on all relevant subjects.

The University boasts numerous specialist facilities such as regional centres for African, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Eastern and Western European, Japanese and Chinese Studies, which Fellows are encouraged to engage with.

No academic credits or qualifications can be obtained through the Fellowship Programme although a certificate is awarded on submission of the Fellows' Research paper.

Click here to apply for a Fellowship

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, January 08, 2015

GEN Calls for Worldwide Solidarity after Charlie Hebdo Attack

Board members of the Global Editors Network (GEN) stand in solidarity with the victims of the shooting that took place at Charlie Hebdo in Paris on 7 January. They condemn this terrorist attack on the freedom of the press and call the worldwide news community to share their solidarity. 

On 7 January, masked and armed men burst through the newsroom of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine based in the French capital and killed at least 12 people. Among them were famous cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski, Charb and Tignous.  

'It is our duty to stay strong and united against all acts of violence and terrorism committed against journalists and the freedom of the press. All my thoughts are with the families of the victims', said Ricardo Kirschbaum, President of the Global Editors Network. 'As journalists, it is our duty to resist against all threats to democracy, and continue fighting for freedom of speech. Cartoonists, as well as other journalists should be able to work without threats.' 

Founded in 1969, Charlie Hebdo is well-known for its standing with freedom of expression despite the previous threats made against the publication in the past. Charlie Hebdo supported the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten after the publication of cartoons depicting  the Prophet Mohammad in 2005.

GEN encourages you to share your sympathy with Cartooning for Peace, founded by Plantu, one of the most famous French cartoonists. On social networks, support has been exponentially growing with the use of hashtag #JeSuisCharlie, and using the picture from Charlie Hebdo's homepage

Ricardo Kirschbaum

President, Global Editors Network, on behalf of the 24 GEN board members


International Institute for ICT Journalism

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

We need e-governance to improve information access

The introduction of telecommunications and the Internet has, without doubt, enhanced communication and brought people who, hitherto, were far apart closer.

Businesses have also improved, as employing the telephone or going online has reduced time spent on transactions and thereby cut cost in many instances.

Nevertheless, while mobile phone penetration has soared over the years, the same cannot be said of the Internet.

Ghana can boast a host of telecommunication providers, such as MTN, tiGO, Airtel, Glo, Vodafone and Expresso, which are also providing Internet services, with each trying to outdo one another with one package or another.

In view of the very ripe market for Internet services, Surfline, a new Internet service provider, has entered the fray.

While we admit that Internet connectivity is still slow in our part of the world, in spite of the introduction of fibre optic, we realise that Ghana is still underutilising the Internet.

A lot of government business is still being conducted using the archaic way of disseminating information through typed letters and dispatch riders, instead of emails and other real-time modes such as Whatsapp and other social media.

The problem with the old system is that it does not only cause delay in information dissemination but also breaks it when the intended recipients don’t get it.

It is noteworthy that the government is trying to incorporate biometric registration in the national identification and health insurance registration.

However, the Daily Graphic believes that this effort must be extended to all national and government businesses to ensure better service delivery to the public.

E-governance is of utmost importance in this day and age to improve access to information on government business.

Elsewhere in the world, e-governance has been developed to such an extent that one hardly needs to move from a particular location in order to access vital information on government business or services.

Basic information on deaths, births, insurance, the population, transport services available, the weather and other services is available just at the touch of a button.

In Ghana, people still have to queue for basic documents such as passports, NHIS cards and birth certificates and personally travel to book flights, report a fault to a utility service provider or apply for a service.

This, we believe, is one of the conduits for corruption and fraud, since people will always want to pay for a service to be delivered speedily when there is a long queue of people eager to access the same service.

E-governance is also a sure way of bringing citizens who break the law to book, without money exchanging hands, as is the case with drivers arrested for various traffic offences.

Their licence plates could be entered, so that their names are fed into a national database which will compel them to pay any fines slapped on them.

If there is any time to improve e-governance in the country, it is now.

We need proactive thinkers to make access to basic services for the citizenry their priority, no matter one’s location.

It is our hope that the 66th New Year School, which opened last Monday on the theme: “Improving the performance of the Local Government System in the era of E-governance”, will provide just the right tonic needed by the government to take e-governance a notch higher. 



Saturday, January 03, 2015

USAID Digital Development West Africa Forum Jan 26 2015, Accra, Ghana

USAID and FHI 360 are proud to invite you to RSVP for the first Digital Development Forum on Monday, January 26, 2015 in Accra, Ghana. This one-day event will set the ICT4D agenda for 2015 – celebrating the progress made in three critical areas of technology innovation, and guiding the future of ICT-enabled development.

Please RSVP now to join your peers in the ICT community for learning, networking, and collaboration to answer these key questions:

  • Transitioning to Digital Financial Services – What is the value of E-Payments?
  • The Vital Role of Local Content – How Can We Bring More Voices Online?
  • Regional Ebola Response – What Is the Role of ICT Now and Long-Term?

We are particularly excited to offer participants the opportunity to give short 5-minute lightning talks highlighting new digital development innovations on these three topics or to lead a learning lunch table topic. Be sure to note your interest on the Google RSVP form.

Please RSVP now as space at this event is limited to 100 technology practitioners, development professionals, donor and other stakeholders that are working in ICT4D. They will be setting the digital development agenda for West Africa. And so could you – if you apply now.