Late Victory for McLibel Defendants

The British government will review its libel laws after two environmental campaigners who were sued by McDonald's won a legal judgment. The European court of human rights ruled "that their rights to a fair trial and freedom of expression were violated when they were denied legal aid," reports Clare Dyer. "McLibel" defendants Helen Steel and David Morris were sued by the fast-food chain for passing out leaflets that accused McDonalds of selling unhealthy food and damaging the environment.


Leading with Bleeding (Don't Mind the Elections)

A study analyzing 4,000 local newscasts in 11 major markets found that, "in the month leading up to last year's presidential election, local television stations in big cities devoted eight times as much air time to car crashes and other accidents than to campaigns for the House of Representatives, state senate, city hall and other local offices." Eight percent of news shows reported on local races, while more than half


Not What Democracy Looks Like

When Paul Biya, "the strongman who has ruled the West African country of Cameroon for more than 20 years swept to another election victory last fall, a number of observers quickly questioned the process." But not the U.S. Association of Former Members of Congress, who said, "This is what democracy is about." Their delegation was organized by "a lobbyist for Biya's government," who "served as the mission's chief staffer and billed Cameroon for his work.


Could Pundits Not Receiving Government Funds Please Stand Up?

"One day after President Bush ordered his Cabinet secretaries to stop hiring commentators to help promote administration initiatives, and one day after the second high-profile conservative pundit was found to be on the federal payroll, a third embarrassing hire has emerged," reports Salon.


Media and Democracy, OhMy!

At a recent conference, the publisher of South Korea's OhmyNews described "the collaboration between Korean citizens and the online newspaper. ... Eight hours before the start of voting, another candidate who had been supporting [reform candidate Roh Moo Myun], withdrew from the campaign. The conservative newspaper ...


Let the Sun Shine In

The American Society of Newspaper Editors and other media organizations are organizing "Sunshine Week" in mid-March, to encourage print, broadcast and online media outlets "to address the issue of a more open government through news coverage, editorials, commentaries, and editorial cartoons." The organizations are "alarmed by a trend toward secrecy at all levels of government." A similar effort,, has been launched by dozens of organizations "to advance the


Norquist Dreams of Twelve More Years

Conservative activist Grover Norquist, from Americans for Tax Reform, told Australian Financial Review journalist Tony Walker that three of his political priorities – tort reform, curtailing political contributions from unions, and promoting free trade – would have the combined effect of weakening support for



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