A Comparison on the Legal Balancing of Public Interest Claims in Institutional Responsiveness towards Breaches of the Law as Journalistic Method (in Belgium, Netherlands and UK)

The dissertation provides research on a comparison of governmental and judicial replies to journalists breaching the law. The aim is to include the constitutional developments of legal reforms within the context of European human rights.

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Dirk Voorhoof

Researcher: Chris Wiersma 

Court ECHRThis  PhD research on newsgathering rights and the ECHR (Euroepean Convention of Human Rights) takes on the premise that the media law discipline and study of newsgathering rights provide a rich understanding of the field on the topic when journalists and related media actors trespass the bounds set by law. The field of information law research has looked thoroughly upon the development of the proper interaction of modern notions of public law vis-à-vis the legislative frameworks and regulatory mechanisms that interfere with the process by which certain actors in society produce, obtain and transfer information. The main areas of media law in this field take into account the purpose of lawfulness of legal limits to freedom of speech. The developing theoretical argument is that this issue of governmental interference concerns foremost speech as acts of public communication, i.e. those expressions which have been already (intended to be) put forward to the public to take account of.  Indeed, it are these activities as well as those acts prior to and informing these which are included in certain constitutions of nation-states where freedom of the press is concerned.

When deciding upon the legal justifiability of newsgathering practices, law enforcers and judges amongst the established, lawmaking authorities could create certain accountability and legitimacy for involving criminal law and liability measures towards conduct carried out by media and journalists. Another central argument I will conclude upon, is that legal interpretation of the public interest as a socio-comparative critical concept should then further this notion of reality of government, as well as count in the constitutional settlements of newsgathering rights and account for these rights’ regulative aspects towards our networked information practices.

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