Module 3: Publishing

Module 3: Publishing

Journalists and public-interest watchdogs face many legal, technological and physical risks when publishing public-interest stories and information about public officials, government corruption, organized crime, tax evasion/fraud, surveillance and state security issues. The ease of publication has had plenty of benefits for journalism. Among them: real-time reporting from anywhere, and by anyone, with a wireless connection or a satellite phone. It has brought, timely, life-changing information to millions during disasters, war and revolution. However, publishing always comes with a risk - defamation lawsuits, criminal prosecution for leaking classified information and endangering security are the most common forms, even more so in the digital environment.

Module 3 will especially focus on the protections provided by national and legal protections journalists and watchdogs have at their disposal regarding publishing. In some European countries, criminal defamation legislation is still in force, which presents another challenge in addition to civil litigation. Leaking public-interest information contained in confidential documents and whistleblowers play a critical role in a democratic society, and their relationship with journalists and civil society will also be examined, as well as measures for preserving physical and technical integrity of watchdogs.

Unit 7: Defamation and privacy

Can you write anything you want online? Is it ok to publish something as longs as it’s true? And what if someone makes a mistake in their reporting? Unit 7 looks at what the limits are to critical speech online and offline. You will learn what the main legal issues related to defamation are, including defences such as responsible reporting, and how to balance publication in the public interest against an individual's right to privacy.  We’ll discuss how courts in Europe have handled publication in the digital age so far and how that impacts current day reporting.

Unit 8:  Publishing Leaks

Recent mass leaks such as those by Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, the hacking of the Ashley Madison website and the Sony emails and most recently, the Panama Papers, illustrate how the disclosure of private, business and government information can now take place in a variety and scale no one could have imagined only a few years ago. Unit 8 will cover the practical and legal issues (and possible defences) related to publication of corporate documents (Panama Papers/Lux leaks) and information on state secrets (Wikileaks/Edward Snowden). It will consider when a journalist can and should engage with leaked information and how journalists and their editors decide whether to publish, and if so, what to publish.

Unit 9: Security and safety

Unit 9 deals with key changes to safety of journalists in digital age and new tactics against media which have evolved with wide acceptance of digital technologies. What makes digital security risks so hard to tackle in practice and what are the most frequent problems in investigating and resolving cybercrimes against online media? Online media and journalists are becoming more frequent targets of new forms of attacks like DDoS attacks which hindered traffic, but also by attacks that harmed the integrity of content and databases. In the age of mass collection of data (in the name of security) concerning communication that could reveal far more information than its actual content, so-called metadata, offline security and safety are becoming even harder to protect. In addition, every other digital risk further endangers offline safety and diminishes importance of regular security practices.