The Royals and the Press

The Royals and the Press Published September 2022 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications The death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II after a reign of more than 70 years has prompted a cascade of retrospectives and reminiscences of the major events and changes of the...

Holy Cow!: Troubling Appeals Court Ruling Holds that Tweet Link May Be Libel, Though the Linked Article Is Not

Holy Cow!: Troubling Appeals Court Ruling Holds that Tweet Link May Be Libel, Though the Linked Article Is Not Published Oct. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications You may have noticed that California Congressman Devin Nunes is in the news. If you’re interested in...

SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA

SOS for South Carolina’s FOIA Published Sept. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications In the past several weeks and months we have seen numerous examples of local and state government boards and agencies refusing to comply with South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act. These...

Government Accessing Electronic Communications to Identify Sources: It Can Happen to You

Government Accessing Electronic Communications to Identify Sources: It Can Happen to You Published June 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications  The revelations that the U.S. Justice Department secretly sought information on reporters’ e-mail, phone and other communications has sent shock waves through media and...

New Administration Means Changes on Press Issues

New Administration Means Changes on Press Issues Published Feb. 2021 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Any change in presidential administrations, especially when it involves a change of party affiliation, means changes in a lot of federal government personnel, stances on issues and policy changes....

Lessons Not Learned

Lessons Not Learned Published October 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications Within the past few weeks, there have been a number of examples of government bodies and officials ignoring the open records and open meeting requirements of South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, and...

Protect Sources by Not Showing Them?

Protect Sources by Not Showing Them? Published Sept. 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications The past several months of protests in reaction to police shootings have raised several First Amendment issues, including police and protestors physically attacking journalists, police detaining and arresting reporters, and...

Protests, Free Speech and Press Freedom

Protests, Free Speech and Press Freedom Published June 16, 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications The past few weeks have been tumultuous and tragic, with an ongoing pandemic, large (peaceful) protests against police misconduct and riots in some places that involved destruction of property...

In Test of Revised FOIA, Judge Rules Against Last-Minute Agenda Additions

In test of revised FOIA, judge rules against last-minute agenda additions Published Jan. 2020 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications A recent common pleas court decision appears to be the first application of recent changes to South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Law, and requirements for public...

October Media Law Updates

Media Law Updates: ADA Suit Against S.C. Newspaper; FCC Net Neutrality Repeal Upheld, While Repeal of Cross-Ownership Ban Vacated Published Oct. 16, 2019 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications ADA Lawsuit Over South Carolina Newspaper’s Web Site: In August I wrote about the question of...

Are Newspaper Carriers Employees or Independent Contractors?

Are Newspaper Carriers Employees or Independent Contractors? Published Sept. 18, 2018 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications While many newspapers’ circulations—in the form of physical papers delivered to homes and offices—have declined in recent years, the carriers who deliver the physical newspapers continue to be...

Words and Deeds

Words and Deeds Published July 2019 By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications In 2017, when signing a law to strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Act, Governor McMaster said that “[g]overnment has to be accountable to the people it serves, and its citizens should have...

Can anti-trust law save newspapers?

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Federal and state anti-trust laws date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, way before the emergence of the modern internet-fueled economy. But increasingly these old laws and concepts are being seen as the means of limiting...

Freelancing FOIA

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | South Carolina’s Freedom of Information law provides that “[a]ll materials, regardless of form, gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position, except that materials relating to not fewer than the final three applicants...

First Amendment protects free distribution pubs too; new Horry litter ordinance could bring test

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | As newspapers have faced economic challenges, many have developed slimmed down versions that feature a few stories and both display and insert advertising. These new publications are offered for free, and are often delivered to individual homes without...

Frustrating FOIA

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Through South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act, diligent journalists and others have discovered much revealing information about the actions of state and local government in our state. Things recently revealed through FOIA requests have included Anderson County’s failure...

When perceived libel gets deadly

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | There is obviously no justification for the shootings at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., which killed five of the newspaper’s staff and injured two. But in the aftermath of the incident many have looked for causes, including...

Source secrecy in the modern era

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | The Justice Department’s accessing of reporter Ali Watkins’s email and phone records as part of a leak investigation is just one of several recent incidents in which the federal government has obtained the digital and other information about...

Facebook, privacy and you

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Facebook and its chief executive Mark Zuckerberg are being criticized far and wide for the company’s lax privacy practices after it was revealed that the political data firm Cambridge Analytica had used a seemingly innocuous personality test to...

What Trump can do to thwart the press

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump notoriously promised that he would “open up our libel laws so when they [the media] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money."...

Donald Trump and Libel

By Eric P. Robinson, USC School of Journalism and Mass Communications | Whatever you think of Donald Trump, it is clear that he does have much regard for the media. In addition to threatening to sue news outlets that published stories about his comments and behavior – despite his poor...