Freedom of the Press and Power of the Media

How far should freedom of the press extend?

Robert D. Kaplan has a superb article at the Policy Review Online entitled “The Media and Medievalism“.

Kaplan’s article is an erudite analysis of the power of modern media.

Via Classical Values,InstaPundit and Silent Running

the blog Silent Running in its posting “Wretchard Is Right” writes:

“This is truly a magnificent essay. In fact, if there is one thing you should read this month, if not this year (that is at it’s end, anyway), this should be it.”

Kaplan’s article easily serves as a basis for argument to limit the freedom of the press: for example, in cases where lives have been endangered or are in danger of being endangered. This is a current legal issue in the Plame case. See e.g. Steven Chapman at the Chicago Tribune in “Why the press is wrong about the Valerie Plame case” (registration required), where Chapman writes:

“Unmasking covert operatives is serious business, with potential life-and-death consequences. It’s also a felony under federal law.”

The 1st Amendment free speech protection was never intended to cover reporters who essentially are doing the publication dirty work for felons and hiding behind journalistic privilege to enable what otherwise is illegal.

Via TigerHawk (who we definitely recommend for blogrolling) we see that Eugene Volokh has a December 2, 2004 op-ed at the New York Times entitled “You Can Blog, but You Can’t Hide“.

Volokh addresses the questions:

“Should there be a journalist’s privilege? What should its scope be? And who exactly qualifies as a journalist?”. Read the article for his analysis, especially as it applies to blogging and bloggers. Are we also entitled to some kind of journalistic privilege? Logically, yes. Practically, questionable. If bloggers are “journalists”, then everyone is (potentially) a journalist. This is a logic which speaks against giving ANYONE special privileges.

We agree with Volokh’s statement concerning journalistic privilege that:

“Communications that facilitate crime or fraud, for example, are not protected.”

And that seems to us to be the case in the Plame case where the “leak” of a covert operative’s identity is a material element of the crime itself.

Keyword Research for Blogs

Amanda G. Washington in Even Blogs Need Keyword Research tells us that keyword research is essential for the presentation of blog content.

She writes:

“[I]f you are going to go to the effort of creating and maintaining a blog (and they are a lot of work), then why not make sure that the blog is found on the search engines via the keywords most searched by your intended audience….I’m simply advocating a disciplined versus random approach to blog content development.” See here for more.

Via Andy Beal and Kimberly Krause.

Online Book Prices – Caveat Emptor ! (Look out !) – Using the Example of Stars Stones and Scholars

Read this eye-opening posting about online book prices.

The LawPundit recently posted about his book Stars Stones and Scholars as a potential ultimate religious Christmas gift.

Today, we found through the German amazon.de website that someone is selling the book for € 99.95 (= US$ 133 by today’s exchange rate as calculated at XE.com’s Universal Currency Converter (UCC)).

At the UK amazon.co.uk website we found Stars Stones and Scholars being offered for £ 69.95 (= US$ 135 by today’s exchange rate as calculated at XE.com’s Universal Currency Converter (UCC)).

Although we are great believers in entrepreneurship and although we have no power over the prices charged by others for selling our book, we should make it clear that some online booksellers are clearly offering books – and not just ours – at vastly inflated prices. Our legitimate author’s concern is, who is going to buy Stars Stones and Scholars at those outrageous prices, which are surely not the optimal blend of the supply and demand curve. We are not a rare classic yet. Perhaps Amazon should review bookselling practices at its various international bookselling divisions, which, as we understand it, are all largely independent one from the other and have their own product mixes.

For potential book buyers, this is the AUTHOR’s notice

that the book

Stars Stones and Scholars

is available NEW at the time of this posting

at the following – in part originally recommended – prices

at the bookselling websites listed below:

At Amazon.comUS$ 35.99

At AbebooksUS$ 35.99

At Barnes & NobleUS$ 35.99

At Trafford PublishingUS$35.99, C$45.99, EUR29.99, £20.99

Mild and legitimate discrepancies in prices will arise due to the fact that the US dollar has recently lost in value against the other currencies, but no one should be paying prices that are more than three times the price of other booksellers. And this is a problem not only for our book, but for many others. So be on the alert.

The problem appears to arise

when one international bookseller (e.g. amazon.com) carries a book as a normal part of its product mix at a normal price,

but another international bookseller (e.g. amazon.de) does not include the book in its normal product mix at all, as is the case with Stars Stones and Scholars.

Seeing a selling niche, independent booksellers at other Amazon sites then offer the book through such Amazon sites at vastly inflated higher prices since the book is otherwise not being offered there at all and since there is no Amazon indicator of what the normal price is supposed to be.

Of course, an author is pleased about sales at other international booksellers, and a certain “international” markup could even be justified, but we think that the prices being charged should be reasonable. Accordingly, potential book buyers should always cross-check prices at various online bookshops, especially if such prices appear to be too high. After all, you can order anywhere, so get the best deal you can.

Update, December 11, 2004

According to a list the Law Pundit can view at the publisher, the last 50 orders for Stars Stones and Scholars came from the following widely spread locations:

Lincoln, NE, US

Acworth, GA, US

LA SPEZIA, Italy

Skerries, Ireland

castle rock, CO, US

Denver, CO, US

Seattle, WA, US

Paris, France

Peterborough, NH, US

North York, ON, Canada

Momence, IL, US

Seattle, WA, US

Jamestown, MO, US

Ternat, Belgium

DERBY, United Kingdom

Westbury, NY, US

Seattle , WA, US

Westbury, NY, US

Westbury, NY, US

Santa Fe, NM, US

Seattle, WA, US

New Bern, NC, US

MORLEY, United Kingdom

Seattle, WA, US

Seattle, WA, US

Baycormo nr Pittenweem, United Kingdom

Seattle, WA, US

Lexington, VA, US

Hedingham, United Kingdom

Seattle, WA, US

Momence, IL, US

Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

BRIGHTON, United Kingdom

Izegem, Belgium

Wickford, Essex, United Kingdom

Sway, Lymington. Hants, United Kingdom

Sun Valley, CA, US

Glen Iris, Australia

Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

Westbury, NY, US

Momence, IL, US

Traverse City, MI, US

Westbury, NY, US

Westbury, NY, US

New Bern, NC, US

Phoenix, AZ, US

Brampton, ON, Canada

Brampton, ON, Canada

Athens, Greece

Swindon, United Kingdom

One can see why the issue of a correct international price is important, not just for our book, but for any book one buys online. CHECK and CROSS-CHECK online prices.

The Ultimate in Electronic Christmas Cards

Want to send an E-Card?

Take a look at the ultimate electronic Christmas cards from

Jacquie Lawson. These cards are absolute WORKS OF ART. We know of nothing better out there on the Web anywhere. This is not an ad – just our honest opinion.

Is Reformation of the Internet Necessary?

An anonymous commentator – comparing himself with Martin Luther and addressing the “netizens” of the world – has posted “Time for Reformation of the Internet” to the Susan Crawford blog. The first five paragraphs are nicely written, whereas the core of the posting is – to the eye of this viewer – quite weak.

34 Theses “In the Name of Jon Postel” are presented, primarily calling for reform of the present centralized role of ICAAN.

It is always easy to clamor for reform, but it would seem that two things are necessary:

1) the NEED for Internet reform must be convincingly argued, and

2) the Internet REFORM to be instituted must be transparently presented.

The 34 Theses do none of this.

Quite the contrary, the main concern of the posting appears to be ICAAN’s monopoly on the granting or non-granting of TLDs.

Without meaning to imply a connection, it all reminds the Law Pundit a little bit of what we find posted about ICAAN at Ambler on the Net.

Volokh’s Legalese and Gender Linguistics

As someone who has taught legal writing and legal research in law school, the Law Pundit is (very) sympathetic to Eugene Volokh’s attempts to drive “legalese” out of written legal materials.

However, we think that Volokh’s suggestions sometimes go too far and that some of his “simplifications” may actually affect questions of individual – and important – “elements of style“.

So we separated Volokh’s list of Legalese into two lists – one list of verbose words (legalese) and one list of nonverbose words (non-legalese) – and plugged these into The Gender Genie.

Many persons may think that the Gender Genie has no value, but our experience is that it does in fact measure “something”, even if people do not like its main assertion that “gender” is or can be reflected in the writer’s choice of words.

Here are The Gender Genie results:

VOLOKH’S VERBOSE LIST (LEGALESE)

a large number of a number of accord accord respect to acquire additional additionally adjacent to advert to afforded aforementioned

ambit any and all approximately ascertain assist at present at the place at the present time at this point in time at this time

attempt because of the fact that cease cease and desist circumstances in which cognizant of commence conceal concerning the

matter of consensus of opinion consequence contiguous to demonstrate desire despite the fact that does not operate donate due to

the fact that during the course of during the time that echelon elucidate endeavor evince excessive number exclusively exit facilitate

firstly secondly for the duration of for the purpose of doing for the reason that forthwith frequently fundamental has a negative impact

I would argue that it is arguable that it could be argued that in a case in which in accordance with in an X manner in close proximity

in light of the fact that in order to in point of fact in reference to in regard to in the course of in the event that indicate

individual (noun) person inquire is able to is binding on is desirous of is dispositive of is unable to it has been determined that it is

apparent that it is clear that it should be noted that locate manner methodology modify negatively affect notify notwithstanding null

and void numerous objective observe obtain on a number of occasions on the part of owing to the fact that period of time permit

personnel point in time portion possess prior to procure provide provided that provision of law purchase rate of speed referred toas

remainder render assistance request require retain said subsequent subsequent to subsequently substantiate sufficient sufficient

number of termination the case at bar the fact that the instant case the manner in which this case is distinguishable to the effect

that until such time as upon utilize very was aware

__________

The Gender Genie gave the above 321 Words the following “gender” score:

Female Score: 133

Male Score: 402

__________

VOLOKH’S NONVERBOSE LIST (NON-LEGALESE)

many some several many give respect get more also next to near mention given reach scope all about find out help now where now

now currently now currently try because stop stop when where aware knows start hide about consensus result next to show want

despite though does not give because during while level explain clarify try show too many only leave help first second during while to

do because immediately often basic hurts harms when where by under Xly near because given that to in fact about about during if

show say mean ask can binds wants disposes of cannot clearly clearly find way method change hurt harm decrease tell despite void

many goal see watch get often sometimes by because since time period let allow people time point part have before get give if but

law buy speed called rest help ask need keep the later after after later prove enough enough end this case that this case how this

case is different that until on use knew

__________

The Gender Genie gave the above 170 Words the following “gender” score:

Female Score: 209

Male Score: 81

__________

The reduction of “verbosity” from 321 to 170 words for the same “word message” proves Eugene’s point that much of “legalese” is just “extra” for the conveyance of meaning.

However, as a matter of style, the verbose words are “possibly” more MALE and the non-verbose words are “possibly” more FEMALE in style.

We thought that this may not have to do with “gender” per se, but verbosity may reflect a certain kind of aggressive assertiveness whereas nonverbosity may reflect a certain kind of careful reserve, so we googled “verbosity” and “gender”, giving us the following result:

“- Studies of verbosity – holding the floor means holding power

– ‘Women don’t talk as much as men in mixed company…These facts, which have been provided by numerous research findings, appear to conflict with a stereotyped image of the female as an excessive talker…’ (Spender, 1988: 148) “

We have found in the interim that there is a whole field of “gender linguistics” and that “talk time” (verbosity) is one aspect of that study. So it might be that we should be careful in artificially limiting verbosity if it is – as it appears to be – an essential element of style, and even perhaps gender. Perhaps males or assertive persons (also females) are simply more verbose.

Too much verbal “trimming” then might be a form of emasculation.

The Law Pundit would imagine that this matter could be investigated by examining the legal writings of male and female students. Indeed, the LawPundit found in the course of teaching ca. 200 students per semester that papers and examinations by females repeated succinctly and accurately what had been lectured much more so than those written by males, who tended to frame topics from within their own particular, subjective viewpoint. Indeed, the difference between male and female written work in this regard was substantial.

Hat tip to Minor Wisdom for the link to Volokh’s Legalese.

Online Learning is Coming – Also to Law

Online Learning (E-Learning) is Coming – Also to Law

Ray Schroeder at the blog Online Learning Update writes:

“Online learning has entered the mainstream of American higher education. “

Yet, U.S. News writes in “Learning in Legal Limbo” that the American Bar Association has yet to embrace the concept of e-learning in spite of the appearance of online law schools, such as Concord. Is the ABA bucking a coming online learning trend? Of course they are.

As written at CNN, “Online schools clicking with students“. Indeed, we already have an online law school as well.

Concord – An Online Law School

For actual school experience, see Confessions of an Early Internet Educator by Jack R. Goetz, President and Dean, Concord Law School, which summarizes six years of experience with an online law school.

Based on Goetz’s experiences, there can be no other conclusion except that it is only a matter of time until learning through video lectures and by other online methods will become more widely used in law school education.

Past Problems with E-Learning

There are of course also pitfalls ahead, however, and not all university e-learning systems have been successfully organized or implemented, as reported in the Economist, which writes, inter alia:

“University professors head the list of the skeptical and contemptuous. In some cases this is a defensive posture. Adding an online component to a regular course could mean more work without an accompanying pay rise. A deeper fear is that their positions will be eliminated altogether.”

It is always remarkable to find that academics are often progressive as far as the rest of society is concerned but are defensive arch-conservatives when their own academic fields or professional skins are involved.

In fact, due in part to resistance by academia, e-learning has not advanced nearly as fast as originally thought. See e.g. What Keeps Universities from Embracing e-Learning?

See also the study by Robert Zemsky & William F. Massy, “Thwarted Innovation: What Happened to E-learning and Why“.

Ken Switzer has a rebuttal to Zemsky and Massy. See also What’s New.

E-Learning is Coming, Slowly but Surely

Despite these negative voices, E-Learning is progressing in e.g. the European Union and in the UK (HEFCE – Higher Education Funding Council for England). Ca. 20% annual growth is expected in the USA.

Online learning is also at the inception of “transforming” the US military.

E-Learning for professionals in law-related business matters is also increasing, e.g.

see the INTA Trademark Basics 2004 E-Learning Program. INTA is the International Trademark Association.

See also on the topic of e-learning at universities (as well as the related distance education):

E-Learning at U.S. News including their A-Z List of E-Learning Institutions

e.g. Stanford University, which offers 218 such courses, whereas the comparable Eastern schools, such as Harvard and Yale lag far behind on this score.

More at:

Master of Distance Education degree – UMUC

eLearn Magazine

PGCert Employment Law by e-learning