Media Law Reform 2.0: Advancing Press Freedom and Independent Media Around the World

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The Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy

and the International Senior Lawyers Project

present a panel discussion on

Media Law Reform 2.0: Advancing Press Freedom and Independent Media Around the World

The legal environment for journalists is an essential, but often-overlooked element in efforts to develop independent media. As a new report by CIMA notes, the bulk of international media assistance is spent on training and direct support of independent media, with insufficient attention to some of the most basic needs of journalists: legal protection and sound media law. Restrictive governments harbor numerous legal obstacles to a free and independent media sector, including censorship, corrupt courts, and repressive laws on libel, sedition, and defamation. In environments where journalists are being killed with impunity, prosecuted for what they report, or lack the right to access information, and where media outlets are being closed at the whims of autocratic governments, no efforts to improve professional standards or financial sustainability alone will be enough to guarantee a free press. Efforts to help draft and revise legislation involving freedom of information, provide on-site assistance to local stakeholders, and advise on best practices are crucial to enabling journalists around the world to do their jobs. CIMA and the ISLP hosted a panel discussion attended by more than 60 people on the state of international media law assistance that examined efforts by practitioners in the legal environment. Speakers shared their observations and experiences, discussed the importance of legal reform to the success of independent media development, and identified the greatest challenges for the field.


Jane E. Kirtley

University of Minnesota

Mark Koenig


David E. McCraw

The New York Times Company

Madeleine Schachter

Baker & McKenzie LLP

Richard Winfield

International Senior Lawyers Project**

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

*Note: Mark Koenig’s comments reflected his own opinions and experiences. They did not represent the opinions or policies of USAID.

**International Senior Lawyers Project introduced its new anthology, Exporting the Matrix: The Campaign to Reform Media Laws Abroad (see publisher’s announcement).

About the speakers:

Jane E. Kirtley is the Silha professor of media ethics and law and director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an affiliated faculty member at the University of Minnesota Law School and was a distinguished visiting professor of law at Suffolk University Law School in 2004. Kirtley lectures frequently in the United States and abroad, most recently in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Rwanda, Brazil, Malaysia, and Thailand. She has written about media law, freedom of information, and ethics for scholarly journals and newspapers, including a handbook for the U.S. Department of State that has been translated into at least seven languages. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Minnesota in 1999, Kirtley was executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press for 14 years; practiced law in New York and Washington, DC; and was a reporter for newspapers in Indiana and Tennessee. She earned her juris doctorate from Vanderbilt University School of Law and her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northwestern University.

Mark Koenig is a senior advisor for independent media development at USAID’s Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance, where he focuses on the role of mass communications in democracy, human rights, governance, and development. In 1997-2000, he served as the senior media advisor at USAID’s Moscow mission, and worked for the USAID-supported Associates in Rural Development-Checchi Rule of Law Consortium in 1996 to 1997. Koenig earned his doctorate in political science from Columbia University in 1995. He taught comparative politics at Northwestern University from 1991 to 1994 and at the University of Maryland at College Park from 1994 to 1995.

David E. McCraw is a vice president and assistant general counsel of The New York Times Company, where he is responsible for litigation and for providing legal counsel to the newsrooms of The New York Times and the company’s other newspapers, as well as its websites. Prior to joining the Times in 2002, he served as deputy general counsel of the New York Daily News and as a litigation associate at Clifford Chance and Rogers and Wells. He has conducted workshops on freedom-of-information issues and lectured on U.S. press law in various countries in the Middle East, South America, and Central and Eastern Europe. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Cornell University, and Albany Law School.

Peter Noorlander is the chief executive of the Media Legal Defence Initiative (MLDI), a non-governmental organization that provides legal aid and helps journalists defend their rights. Previously, he was senior legal advisor for the Open Society Foundations’ Media Program and was also senior legal officer at Article 19, a global freedom of expression organization. Noorlander has been involved in freedom of expression litigation in various countries as well as at the international level, and he has extensive experience drafting legislation in different countries. He also has conducted legal training and lectured on issues such as defamation law and practice and Internet regulation. Noorlander is the author of a CIMA report, Media and the Law: An Overview of Legal Issues and Challenges.

Madeleine Schachter is a partner with Baker & McKenzie LLP, based in its New York office, where she is the global director of corporate social responsibility. In addition to her work for the firm on global diversity and sustainability strategies, she has an active pro bono practice with an emphasis on international humanitarian and human rights, disaster response, and global health. She is also co-chair of the International Pro Bono Committee of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. She holds a faculty position at Weill Cornell Medical College and previously was an adjunct professor at the Fordham University School of Law. Prior to joining Baker & McKenzie, Schachter was in-house counsel for more than 20 years, including at Time Warner, where she chaired the company’s pro bono program. She previously chaired the Corporate Counsel Pro Bono Coordinators and the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on Pro Bono and Legal Services. Schachter is the author of several books on Internet speech, informational privacy, and teaching law, and has written several articles for law and medical journals, including on topics relating to pro bono service.

Richard Winfield is the co-founder, treasurer, and a board member of the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP). He is also a trustee of Freedom House, chair of the Fund for Peace, and a member of CIMA’s Advisory Council. He regularly teaches comparative mass media law at Columbia Law School, and U.S. mass media and Internet law at Fordham Law School. Since the mid-1990s, Winfield has led media law reform efforts with the American Bar Association’s Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (now the Rule of Law Initiative), the World Press Freedom Committee, and the ISLP. For over three decades he served as of general counsel at the Associated Press while a partner in the law firm of Rogers and Wells, which became Clifford Chance US LLP. There, he defended journalists and news organizations in the United States and abroad in hundreds of litigations. He now serves as of counsel with Clifford Chance. Winfield served in the U.S. Navy for four years and taught modern European history and American diplomatic history at the U.S. Naval Academy. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Villanova University and juris doctorate from Georgetown University.