Moguls and the media

Moguls and the media

David  A. Logan, professor of law and former dean of the RWU School of Law, who has studied and written extensively about First Amendment issues: Among President-elect Donald Trump’s many ill-informed campaign statements was that he was “going to open up libel laws.” Where to begin? First, libel law was, and remains, state law. Second, while federal legislation does impact pockets of libel law (most notably, the Communications Decency Act protects websites from liability for merely hosting defamatory statements posted by…

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RI can help build a free press in The Gambia

RI can help build a free press in The Gambia

Omar Bah, founder and executive director of the Refugee Dream Center, in Providence, who earned a master’s degree in public administration from RWU in 2014: I only have to look at the bayonet scar on my left hand to remember how Gambian President Yahya Jammeh treats a free press: The dictator’s soldiers beat, kicked and tortured me when I attempted to cover a secret trial in The Gambia, my native country. And I barely escaped with my life, fleeing the…

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Roger Williams has much yet to teach us

Roger Williams has much yet to teach us

Taylor Stoermer, professor who teaches the history and modern practice of democracy at RWU and public history at Harvard University: Roger Williams’ 413th birthday gives us the perfect opportunity to step back and ask “so what?” about his past and his present. It’s an especially appropriate occasion given the fractious nature of modern American politics, and something of a drift in our collective memory. But the perfect opportunity presented itself this semester when 75 undergraduate students at Roger Williams University…

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Blocking Women’s March from key D.C. sites risks infringing on First Amendment rights

Blocking Women’s March from key D.C. sites risks infringing on First Amendment rights

Jenna Wims Hashway, professor of legal practice at the RWU School of Law: The president-elect’s respect for (and indeed, grasp of) First Amendment rights has been a source of concern for many.  Now, with the announcement that the National Park Service (on behalf of the Presidential Inauguration Committee) has issued a massive omnibus block permit — barring access to the National Mall and Lincoln Memorial for days or weeks before, during and after the inauguration — the right of peaceful assembly…

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45 Words, 5 Freedoms, 1st Amendment: Add your voice

45 Words, 5 Freedoms, 1st Amendment: Add your voice

Edward Fitzpatrick, RWU director of media and public relations, New England First Amendment Coalition board member and former Providence Journal columnist: Absolutely! The 45 words in the First Amendment guarantee five freedoms: freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and freedom to petition the government. But those constitutional guarantees are paper thin if not defended and championed by each generation. In his book “Freedom for the Thought We Hate,” Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Lewis noted…

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Students could teach president-elect lesson in media law

Students could teach president-elect lesson in media law

Paola Prado, RWU associate professor of journalism and adviser to university’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists: At the time of this writing, it’s been 130 days since the president-elect held a press conference. This break from a 103-year tradition that dates back to Woodrow Wilson leaves members of the Washington press corps to read the tea leaves of realDonaldTrump tweets in search of clues as to the mindset of the next U.S. president. In this brave new world…

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When facts and news diverge

When facts and news diverge

David A. Logan, professor of law and former dean of the RWU School of Law who has studied and written extensively about First Amendment issues: Historically, what information was considered “news” and thus worth publishing was determined by a reporter or editor. The idea was that this provided a screen that would judge not just accuracy but also relevance and context. And indeed, many journalists worked hard to be unbiased in making these determinations, striving toward some version of the…

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What Trump missed on First Amendment and flag burning

What Trump missed on First Amendment and flag burning

Michael J. Yelnosky, professor of law and dean of the RWU School of Law, spoke with Gene Valicenti on the WPRO radio station on Nov. 30 about the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in the case of Texas v. Johnson, which held that flag burning was a form of “symbolic speech” protected by the First Amendment. The issue flared to life on Nov. 29 with an early-morning tweet from President-elect Donald J. Trump, who wrote that, “Nobody should be allowed to…

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