Category Archives: online education

Our SMALL podcast guest: Whistleblower expert Professor AJ Brown

By MARK PEARSON

In episode #006 of our occasional SMALL podcast – Social Media and Law Livestream – I speak with academic whistleblowing expert Professor A J Brown.

AJBrown-e1489729940533Professor Brown is leader of the Centre for Governance and Public Policy’s public integrity and anti-corruption research program in Griffith University’s School of Government and International Relations.

He is on the global board of the world anti-corruption organisation Transparency International and a leading expert on public interest whistleblowing. He talks about the legal framework for whistleblowers and the implications for journalists and their confidential sources. Find our interview here [21:49min].


If you are a communication professional wanting to study in this area, please consider enrolling in our online courses Social Media Law and Risk Management (postgraduate, fully online) or Media Law (undergraduate, available online or on campus).

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2022 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

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Filed under blogging, communication, contempt of court, defamation, Internet, journalism, journalism education, libel, media law, media literacy, online education, open justice, podcast, public relations, reflective practice, risk, risk management, social media, social media law, strategic communication, sub judice, suppression, Whistleblowing

Latest SMALL podcast gets Amy Remeikis’ take on social media law

By MARK PEARSON

Episode #005 of our occasional SMALL podcast – Social Media and Law Livestream – features Guardian Australia political reporter Amy Remeikis talking media law with tutor Susan Grantham.

From court and police rounds, to reporting on Australian federal politicians, Amy (pictured below) discusses how she navigates legal risks while reporting in a wired world.

This latest episode [22:11 mins] – published on The Source News – canvasses Amy’s views on recent defamation cases including the High Court judgment against media outlets’ hosted social media comments in the Dylan Voller case. Enjoy!

If you are a communication professional wanting to study in this area, please consider enrolling in our online courses Social Media Law and Risk Management (postgraduate, fully online) or Media Law (undergraduate, available online or on campus).

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2022 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

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Filed under blogging, communication, contempt of court, defamation, Internet, journalism, journalism education, libel, media law, media literacy, online education, open justice, podcast, public relations, reflective practice, risk, risk management, social media, social media law, strategic communication, sub judice, suppression

‘Global Justice, Factual Reporting and Advocacy Journalism’: my chapter in global ethics handbook

By MARK PEARSON

The long awaited Handbook of Global Media Ethics, edited by the internationally lauded Professor Stephen Ward, has now been published and includes my chapter on global justice, factual reporting and advocacy journalism.

It sits among 71 chapters by media ethics experts including Australia’s own Susan Forde, Kristy Hess and Ian Richards, Cait McMahon and Matthew RicketsonJohan Lidberg, Beate Josephi and Jahnnabi Das, Kerry McCallum and Lisa Waller, Andrew Fowler and Catriona Bonfiglioli.

WardEthicsbook coverMy chapter argues global justice can be a legitimate ethical objective of journalism, requiring factuality as a platform, achievable in some situations through advocacy journalism.

It explores definitional boundaries and ethical dimensions of the three terms ‘global justice’, ‘factual reporting’ and ‘advocacy journalism’.

It compares and contrasts legal and jurisprudential notions of global justice from its meanings to international journalism, offering examples of some works of investigation and reportage that might pursue global justice goals but which have been contested in the courts over their factuality or partisanship.

It explains that while judicial cases are only one approach to the analysis of underlying ethical issues, their systematic approach based on laws and precedents offers some useful insights.

The chapter explains that some works of advocacy journalism might fall outside the law, or broadly accepted journalism ethical guidelines, but perhaps still encourage ‘ethical flourishing’.

Indeed, as Ward argues, some stories require journalists to “adopt the perspective of global justice and to consider what is best for the global community”.

The chapter explores the notion of ‘factual reporting’, distinguishing it from false news and from a legal standard of factuality, and introduces a taxonomy of factuality in ethical reporting, which includes a spectrum of fact sourcing, selection, verification, inclusion, exclusion, ordering, ramifications and revisiting. It examines the dimensions of ‘advocacy journalism’ and exemplifies how the notions of factuality and advocacy are not mutually exclusive.

It links this with the mindful exploration of intent and livelihood suggested in the foundational principles of ‘mindful journalism’.

I explain there:

Purposive reflection on one’s intent – and one’s livelihood – is examined in the relatively new area of ‘mindful journalism’, where Buddhist ethics and phenomenology are applied to journalism. Such structured meditation on these considerations – sitting to reflect upon the intent of a work of journalism, taking into account the implications for a range of stakeholders, along with a mental review of where the particular assignment and techniques sit with one’s livelihood – together form three of the eight steps involved in the mindful journalism approach.

The chapter offers an approach for reporters and editors to examine carefully the motivational roots (‘intent’) of a work of journalism to identify the source of any advocacy and its purpose, and to reflect upon how this sits with their professional identity and values.

It suggests all journalism is by some definitions ‘advocacy journalism’, but that not all advocacy journalism meets aspirational standards of global justice or factuality.

If the mindful journalism approach is adopted, then the journalist’s perception of their livelihood and its professional ethical framework is crucial to the examination of intent and to the decision over the ethics of a particular course of action. The protagonist must decide whether they are first and foremost a journalist or an advocate. Central questions include: Are you a journalist using a factual base to advocate for a human right? Or, alternatively, are you an advocate using some journalistic techniques to advocate for a human right? This self-identification with a particular occupation or profession invokes a particular ethical framework to the investigation and publishing enterprise. If the self-perception of livelihood is that of a journalist, then the protagonist should abide by a journalistic ethical code such as the MEAA or SPJ code. If, however, the methods are journalistic but the protagonist identifies as an advocate, then other ethical frameworks might be invoked, such as professional ethics of activist organisations (such as Greenpeace), governing bodies (like the UNHRC) or a public relations association like the PRIA.

The mindful examination of intent must begin with the acceptance that all journalism has elements of advocacy journalism, but that it can be alleviated by disclosing agendas and allegiances and being transparent about funding and influences. Such an approach can assist the ethical journalist in carefully navigating the fault lines of global justice, factual reporting and advocacy journalism.

The chapter includes examples of international works of journalism involving advocacy for global justice, premised upon factual reporting, which navigate the ethical fault lines inherent in the hybrid term ‘advocacy journalism’.

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2022 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

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Filed under Eightfold Path, global journalism, journalism, journalism education, media ethics, media law, mindful journalism, online education, reflective practice, social media

Latest SMALL podcast looks at Israel Folau matter

By MARK PEARSON

Episode #004 of our occasional SMALL podcast – Social Media and Law Livestream – is now available for listening.

Social Media Risk and the Law.inddThis latest episode [15:00 mins] – published on The Source News – is hosted by Griffith University Media Law student Brandon McMahon.

Brandon talks with Attwood Marshall lawyer Laura Dolan about the discrimination, religious freedom, unfair dismissal and contract dimensions of the case involving former Test rugby union player Israel Folau and his social media posts. [SMALL #004].

Enjoy!


If you are a communication professional wanting to study in this area, please consider enrolling in our online courses Social Media Law and Risk Management (postgraduate, fully online) or Media Law (undergraduate, available online or on campus).

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2021 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, communication, contempt of court, defamation, Internet, journalism, journalism education, libel, media law, media literacy, online education, open justice, podcast, public relations, reflective practice, risk, risk management, social media, social media law, strategic communication, sub judice, suppression

Two more SMALL podcasts on our Social Media And Law Livestream

By MARK PEARSON

Episodes #002 and #003 of our occasional SMALL podcast – Social Media and Law Livestream – are now available for listening.

Social Media Risk and the Law.inddThese episodes – published on The Source News – are hosted by Media Law students Amy Sauvarin and Camille Chorley.

In Episode #002 [16:37 mins], Amy chats with veteran journalist and author Uli Schmetzer about freedom of expression and his encounters with censorship over his four decade career as a foreign correspondent. For more information on his books and reportage, see http://www.uli-schmetzer.com/index.html.

In Episode #003  [20 mins], Camille talks with ABC Landline producer and ABC News cadet trainer John Taylor about free expression issues in foreign correspondence, court reporting, social media and training journalists in media law. See his bio at https://www.abc.net.au/news/john-taylor/167072.

Enjoy!


If you are a communication professional wanting to study in this area, please consider enrolling in our online courses Social Media Law and Risk Management (postgraduate, fully online) or Media Law (undergraduate, available online or on campus).

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2021 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, communication, contempt of court, defamation, Internet, journalism, journalism education, libel, media law, media literacy, online education, open justice, podcast, public relations, reflective practice, risk, risk management, social media, social media law, strategic communication, sub judice, suppression

Welcome to our SMALL podcast – Social Media And Law Livestream

By MARK PEARSON

The first episode of our occasional SMALL podcast – Social Media and Law Livestream – is now available for listening.

Social Media Risk and the Law.inddIn this first 11 minute episode – hosted on The Source News – I interview co-author Dr Susan Grantham about issues in social media risk and the law covered in our new book, Social Media Risk and the Law – A Guide for Global Communicators, published in September 2021 by Routledge.

We discuss the intersection of social media risk theory and the law, the tools available to assess social media risk, the point at which brand and reputation damage become defamatory, the role of stakeholder theory in assessing social media risk, and the legal risks for employees who use their private social media channels to criticise their organisations.

We plan to feature a wide variety of short interviews with social media law experts on a range of topics over coming weeks and months, with many of the interviews conducted by students undertaking our media law and social media law classes.

SMALL podcast #001 – Dr Susan Grantham – ‘Social media risk and the law’ – interviewed by Mark Pearson [11 min]


If you are a communication professional wanting to study in this area, please consider enrolling in our online courses Social Media Law and Risk Management (postgraduate, fully online) or Media Law (undergraduate, available online or on campus).

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2021 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, communication, contempt of court, defamation, Internet, journalism, journalism education, libel, media law, media literacy, online education, open justice, podcast, public relations, reflective practice, risk, risk management, social media, social media law, strategic communication, sub judice, suppression

See The Conversation for my piece: ‘5 ways to spot misinformation and stop sharing it online’ #MLGriff

By MARK PEARSON

Mark Pearson, Griffith UniversityThe blame for the recent assault on the US Capitol and President Donald Trump’s broader dismantling of democratic institutions and norms can be laid at least partly on misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Shutterstock

Those who spread misinformation, like Trump himself, are exploiting people’s lack of media literacy — it’s easy to spread lies to people who are prone to believe what they read online without questioning it.

We are living in a dangerous age where the internet makes it possible to spread misinformation far and wide and most people lack the basic fact-checking abilities to discern fact from fiction — or, worse, the desire to develop a healthy skepticism at all.




Read more:
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 misinformation is the best 2021 New Year’s resolution


Journalists are trained in this sort of thing — that is, the responsible ones who are trying to counter misinformation with truth.

Here are five fundamental lessons from Journalism 101 that all citizens can learn to improve their media literacy and fact-checking skills:

1. Distinguishing verified facts from myths, rumours and opinions

Cold, hard facts are the building blocks for considered and reasonable opinions in politics, media and law.

And there are no such things as “alternative facts” — facts are facts. Just because a falsity has been repeated many times by important people and their affiliates does not make it true.

We cannot expect the average citizen to have the skills of an academic researcher, journalist or judge in determining the veracity of an asserted statement. However, we can teach people some basic strategies before they mistake mere assertions for actual facts.

Does a basic internet search show these assertions have been confirmed by usually reliable sources – such as non-partisan mainstream news organisations, government websites and expert academics?

Students are taught to look to the URL of more authoritative sites — such as .gov or .edu — as a good hint at the factual basis of an assertion.

Searches and hashtags in social media are much less reliable as verification tools because you could be fishing within the “bubble” (or “echo chamber”) of those who share common interests, fears and prejudices – and are more likely to be perpetuating myths and rumours.

2. Mixing up your media and social media diet

We need to be break out of our own “echo chambers” and our tendencies to access only the news and views of those who agree with us, on the topics that interest us and where we feel most comfortable.

For example, over much of the past five years, I have deliberately switched between various conservative and liberal media outlets when something important has happened in the US.

By looking at the coverage of the left- and right-wing media, I can hope to find a common set of facts both sides agree on — beyond the partisan rhetoric and spin. And if only one side is reporting something, I know to question this assertion and not just take it at face value.

3. Being skeptical and assessing the factual premise of an opinion

Journalism students learn to approach the claims of their sources with a “healthy skepticism”. For instance, if you are interviewing someone and they make what seems to be a bold or questionable claim, it’s good practice to pause and ask what facts the claim is based on.

Students are taught in media law this is the key to the fair comment defence to a defamation action. This permits us to publish defamatory opinions on matters of public interest as long as they are reasonably based on provable facts put forth by the publication.

The ABC’s Media Watch used this defence successfully (at trial and on appeal) when it criticised a Sydney Sun-Herald journalist’s reporting that claimed toxic materials had been found near a children’s playground.

This assessment of the factual basis of an opinion is not reserved for defamation lawyers – it is an exercise we can all undertake as we decide whether someone’s opinion deserves our serious attention and republication.




Read more:
Teaching children digital literacy skills helps them navigate and respond to misinformation


4. Exploring the background and motives of media and sources

A key skill in media literacy is the ability to look behind the veil of those who want our attention — media outlets, social media influencers and bloggers — to investigate their allegiances, sponsorships and business models.

For instance, these are some key questions to ask:

  • who is behind that think tank whose views you are retweeting?
  • who owns the online newspaper you read and what other commercial interests do they hold?
  • is your media diet dominated by news produced from the same corporate entity?
  • why does someone need to be so loud or insulting in their commentary; is this indicative of their neglect of important facts that might counter their view?
  • what might an individual or company have to gain or lose by taking a position on an issue, and how might that influence their opinion?

Just because someone has an agenda does not mean their facts are wrong — but it is a good reason to be even more skeptical in your verification processes.




Read more:
Why is it so hard to stop COVID-19 misinformation spreading on social media?


5. Reflecting and verifying before sharing

We live in an era of instant republication. We immediately retweet and share content we see on social media, often without even having read it thoroughly, let alone having fact-checked it.

Mindful reflection before pressing that sharing button would allow you to ask yourself, “Why am I even choosing to share this material?”

You could also help shore up democracy by engaging in the fact-checking processes mentioned above to avoid being part of the problem by spreading misinformation.The Conversation

Mark Pearson, Professor of Journalism and Social Media, Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Griffith University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2021 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

 

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See The Conversation for my piece: ‘Coronavirus: 5 ways to manage your news consumption in times of crisis’ #MLGriff

By MARK PEARSON

Thousands of employees internationally are already working from home in COVID-19 self-isolation because of their recent travel, related symptoms or immune system vulnerability.

But to do so while habitually checking the news on devices – and allowing 24/7 news channels to play non-stop in the background – might erode your productivity and increase stress and anxiety.

A foundational element of media literacy in the digital era is striking an appropriate balance between news consumption and other activities. Even before the current crises, Australian research demonstrated news avoidance had risen among news consumers from 57% in 2017 to 62% in 2019, driven by a sense of news fatigue.

Self-help expert Rolf Dobelli implores us to stop reading the news. While he advocates going cold turkey and abandoning all packaged news consumption, Dobelli makes exceptions for long-form journalism and documentaries.

So too does philosopher Alain de Botton in The News – A User’s Manual, while proposing more positive news and journalism’s examination of life’s deeper issues, emotions and aesthetics.

In journalism education there has been a move towards “peace journalism”, “mindful journalism”, “constructive journalism” and “solutions journalism”, where the news should not merely report what is wrong but suggest ways to fix it.

Please read the full article – including my five tips on how you can stay in the loop at home while you get your work done (and help maintain your mental health)  here.

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2020 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

 

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A mindful approach to introducing defamation to students #MLGriff

By MARK PEARSON

Colleagues from Griffith University gathered for a celebration of teaching and learning this week and I had the honour of presenting an open class session.

The forum was called ‘Teaching Using Engaging and Empowering Pedagogies’ and my class was titled ‘Practising mindfulness in the tertiary classroom’.

It was an attempt at putting into practice some of the research we have been undertaking in this space in recent years.

For the research underpinning it, please see:

Pearson, M., McMahon, C., O’Donovan, A. and O’Shannessy, D. (2019), ‘Building journalists’ resilience through mindfulness strategies’. Journalism. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1464884919833253

Pearson, M., McMahon, C., and O’Donovan, A. (2018) ‘Potential benefits of teaching mindfulness to journalism students’. Asia Pacific Media Educator (December). 28:2: https://doi.org/10.1177/1326365X18800080

You should get the gist of the mindfulness-based activities involved from the slide show captured below.

Enjoy.

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2019 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

 

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Filed under defamation, Eightfold Path, journalism, journalism education, media ethics, media law, mindful journalism, online education, reflective practice, social media

Mindfulness strategies explained at Asian Media conference

By MARK PEARSON

Our work on mindfulness-based meditation in the journalism education pedagogy was presented to the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC) conference in Bangkok last month to an enthusiastic audience.

Here is the abstract of our presentation for interested blog readers.

“Mindful journalism in action: applications for resilience, learning and ethics”, presented at AMIC Bangkok, June 17, 2019

Mark Pearson, Griffith University

Cait McMahon, Dart Centre Asia Pacific

Analise O’Donovan, Griffith University

The term ‘mindful journalism’ – coined in 2013 (Pearson, 2013) and theorised in 2014 and 2015 (Pearson, 2014; Gunaratne et. al, 2015) – shares some features with other modern ‘journalisms’ (‘solutions’ (Solutions Journalism Network, 2016), ‘peace’ (Lynch, 2010) and ‘inclusive’ (Rupar & Pesic, 2012)). However, it is distinguished by the fact that it includes elements of secular Buddhist approaches to mindfulness-based meditation and ethics (Pearson, 2014; Gunaratne et. al, 2015).

This paper uses a recently released conceptual map (Pearson et. al., 2019) to explain the potentialities of mindful journalism to strengthen journalism students’ resilience, deepen their learning, and shore up their moral compasses as they enter occupations where their work can expose them to trauma (Drevo, 2016) and industry disruption can subject them to stress, burnout and other mental health challenges (O’Donnell, 2017). It details some key ways mindful journalism (and mindfulness-based meditation) have been introduced to the curriculum and pedagogy in a media law course, with a strong emphasis upon emotional and situational analysis of media law dilemmas, as an alternative to a black-letter style of teaching media law cases, legislation and topics (Pearson et. al, 2018). The approach offers a useful extension to problem-based learning and provides the tools by which educators can encourage their students to engage in ‘reflective practice’ or ‘reflection in action’ by which they can purposively reflect upon their learning when confronted with new ethical or technological dilemmas  (Schön, 1987).

Students and journalists are equipped with a toolkit of techniques for inward reflection which they can use to assess their thought processes, emotional state, situation, ethics and learning. The approach is in accord with the research on metacognition in psychology and education (Flavell, 1976; Tarricone, 2011) which has found that reflection upon one’s thinking, knowledge and experiences can deepen learning and – we argue – in a mindful journalism context can help engage in professional conduct with both wisdom and compassion. It also builds on the research in a range of occupations showing the potential for mindfulness-based meditation in improving resilience which can help minimise the risks of post-traumatic stress disorder, stress and burnout (Chaukos et al., 2017; Hölzel et al., 2011; Keng et al., 2011; Trammel (2015)).

Disclaimer: While I write about media law and ethics, nothing here should be construed as legal advice. I am an academic, not a lawyer. My only advice is that you consult a lawyer before taking any legal risks.

© Mark Pearson 2019 – the moral right of the author has been asserted.

 

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Filed under Eightfold Path, journalism, journalism education, media ethics, media law, mindful journalism, online education, reflective practice, social media