Ellyn Angelotti

Since joining The Poynter Institute in 2007, Ellyn Angelotti has helped Poynter explore the journalistic values and the legal challenges related to new technologies, especially social media. She also has helped create and develop Poynter’s use of interactive teaching tools like online chats and podcasts. Her current work is focused on the intersection of journalism, technology and the law. She recently received her Juris Doctorate from Stetson University College of Law where she was also awarded the Judge Raphael Steindhardt award for character and leadership. Angelotti, who is a member of the Florida Bar, practiced law at Rahdert, Steele, Reynolds & Driscoll, P.L. Angelotti regularly teaches journalists how to effectively use interactive tools as storytelling vehicles, and how using these tools changes the media landscape. In the summer of 2009 she traveled to South Africa to teach and research mobile storytelling. As a judge for national multimedia journalism contests, including the National Press Photographers Association Awards and E.W. Scripps National Journalism Awards, she has studied and taught about best practices in innovative storytelling. Before coming to Poynter, Angelotti directed award-winning, nontraditional multimedia sports content at the Naples Daily News in Florida. There she created and produced two interactive vodcasts, “PrepZone” and “Blades Playbook,” which won the Newspaper Association of America’s Digital Edge Award for Most Innovative Multimedia Storytelling. While attending the University of Kansas, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and journalism, she worked at the Lawrence Journal-World as multimedia journalist. There she helped launch two award-winning websites and weekly print products, “Game” and “The Lansing Current.”


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During protests, police may balance journalists’ rights with public safety

Without being at the scene of the arrests it is difficult to say if anyone did anything illegal last night when two reporters were detained at a McDonald’s in Ferguson, Missouri. The reporters were covering the protests and riots that broke out after an 18-year-old black man named Michael Brown was fatally shot by police there.

The tension here lies with allowing the police to do what they need to do to protect public safety and conduct a complete investigation and balancing that with journalists’ right to report.

The police can regulate the time, place and manner of speech to a certain degree as long as it is not a content-based regulation. Meaning, they can clear an area of everyone if they think they need to do that to keep the peace, but they can’t single out a journalist and tell him he cannot be there.

The First Amendment provides safeguards that allow people to gather and disseminate information about government officials. Read more

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Takeaways from the Al Jazeera Forum

While journalists in the United States have to worry about Tweeting out misinformation, journalists in the Arab world have to worry about their Tweets getting them thrown into jail.

At Al Jazeera’s Eighth Annual Forum in Doha, Qatar last month, 700 media and political leaders gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the media. Meanwhile, the trial of three Al Jazeera journalists, who have since been sentenced to serve jail time in Egypt came up frequently in the conversations.

A display at the entrance of the Al Jazeera Arabic newsroom features staff members showing their support for three Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

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Twitter IPO

Who owns your Twitter followers?

This is the latest in a series of articles by The Poynter Institute and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on legal issues affecting journalists. Poynter’s Ellyn Angelotti is an attorney and teaches social media issues.

Social media regularly blurs lines when it comes to journalists’ personal and professional lives. We often post pictures of our pets and children alongside posts related to our work. One unintended consequence is this can create ambiguity about who ultimately owns your Twitter account.

Organizations and brands seek employees who can effectively build an audience using social media. However, once an employee builds a healthy community of followers and then leaves the organization, who do the followers belong to?

Some instances are clearer than others.

Journalists who create an account associated with a beat and then exit the organization often leave their account and start a new one.

However, when Jim Roberts, who was the assistant managing editor of The New York Times at the time, accepted a buyout last year, he took his 75,000 followers with him. Read more

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Who owns Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie?

When Ellen DeGeneres granted the Associated Press a license to use the now famous selfie from the Oscars, a debate erupted in the Twitter community. Why did AP need a license for an image that had been retweeted a record-setting 3 million times?

The reason is the legal ownership of a tweeted photo isn’t cut and dried.

Who owns the copyright to this image?

Actually, Bradley Cooper has a strong case to claim he’s the copyright holder. Typically, the photographer owns the copyright to the image. However, DeGeneres could argue that since she uploaded the image to Twitter, she is the copyright owner. It would be interesting to see what would happen in a hypothetical Cooper v. DeGeneres case.

Who owns the copyright to social media content?

It depends on the social networks — specifically the network’s Terms of Service, which all users must agree to when they sign up to use the site. Read more

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U.S. appeals court orders YouTube take down anti-Muslim film

Associated Press | Reuters | EFF

In Wednesday’s decision on Garcia v. Google Inc., a three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered YouTube to remove the video “Innocence of Muslims” from its platform. It also reinstated Cindy Lee Garcia’s copyright lawsuit against Google.

The 2012 video, created by filmmaker Mark Basseley Youssef, led to riots and deaths throughout the Middle East. The 13-minute film depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a “fool and a sexual deviant.”

President Obama and other world leaders had asked YouTube to take down the video, but YouTube resisted due to “unwarranted government censorship” that “would violate the Google-owned company’s free speech protections.” Read more

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Poynter at SXSW: The ins and outs of Twibel

Editor’s Note: Poynter will be at South by Southwest, the annual music, movie and interactive festival, March 7-16, in Austin, Texas. Look for our Poynter faculty members, Roy Peter Clark, Ellyn Angelotti and Kelly McBride, and digital media reporter Sam Kirkland. Here is the second in a series of posts on what we’ll be doing at SXSW.

Tweets can form the basis of a defamation lawsuit the same as if they were published in another form. However, though Twitter has been around since March 2006, the first defamation trial involving the service wasn’t decided until earlier this year — almost eight years after Twitter’s debut. 

Does that mean the Twittersphere has been immune from libelous content? Unfortunately, no.

The informal nature of social-media conversations makes Twitter a ripe environment for spreading potential falsehoods, resulting in plenty of opportunities for defamation claims.

Defamation is divided into libel (print) and slander (non-fixed medium), but both have essentially the same elements:

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What the DOJ’s new guidelines mean for journalists

The U.S. Department of Justice’s new revised guidelines tightening government access to journalists’ records officially take effect this week. Yet the protections are not absolute, leaving some important exceptions in the hands of the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder to circumvent the safeguards, particularly when it comes to classified information deemed potentially harmful.

The guidelines specifically aim to shield journalists from “certain law enforcement tools,” the department noted, including subpoenas, court orders and search warrants that “might unreasonably impair ordinary newsgathering activities.” Read more

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Lebanese journalists and activists use tape to cover their mouths as they hold placards to show their solidarity with detained journalists by Egyptian authorities during a sit-in protest in Beirut, Lebanon, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. In January, Egypt's chief prosecutor referred 20 journalists, including four foreigners from the Al Jazeera TV network, to trial on charges of allegedly joining or assisting a terrorist group and spreading false news that endangers national security. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

Journalists in Egypt plead not guilty to terrorist charges, trial postponed

Bloomberg | Al-Jazeera | BBC

A Cairo court on Thursday postponed the trial of Al-Jazeera journalists who are facing accusations of aiding Egyptians belonging to “a terrorist organization.”

Eight journalists including, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohammed, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges that include aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and endangering national security. Read more

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Some wooden cubes forming the word law, in front of a gavel. Digital illustration. (Depositphotos)

Who’s a journalist and other digital issues: media lawyers weigh in on #wjchat

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Cover of "Secrets to Prize-Winning Journalism" (The Poynter Institute)

Learning from prize-winning journalism: tips for executing an investigative journalism project

In Poynter’s new e-book, “Secrets of Prize-Winning Journalism,” we highlight and examine 10 award-winning works from 2013 through interviews with their creators. Starting with the “secrets” shared by reporters and editors, we’ve extracted some great lessons on producing outstanding journalism.

In the first installment, we explored lessons for covering breaking news stories based on The Denver Post’s coverage of the Aurora theater shootings.

In this our second installment, we share tips for executing an investigative journalism project based on the Chicago Tribune series “Playing with Fire,” which earned a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, Scripps Howard Foundation Award for Public Service Reporting, Hillman Prize for Newspaper Journalism, Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers, National Headliner Award, Gerald Loeb Award, and Pulitzer Prize finalist honor.

Tribune reporters Patricia Callahan, Sam Roe and Michael Hawthorne spent two years researching and writing the expose on the dangers and ineffectiveness of flame retardants used in household furniture, including baby cribs. Read more

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