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October 23, 2023

Knight Center offers free online course on how journalists in Brazil can avoid lawsuits

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas is pleased to announce a new free online course in Portuguese that will give Brazilian journalists the knowledge and tools they need to navigate the complex landscape of civil liability, privacy rights, right of reply, source confidentiality and more.

The massive open online course (MOOC) “How to Shield Your Reports from Lawsuits” will run from Nov 20 to Dec 17, 2023 and registration is now open. The course and the certificate of completion are free.

Como blindar suas reportagens contra processos judiciais

“Every journalist needs to know their rights, but also the limits of the law, the parameters, the precautions that must be taken to avoid failures that lead to lawsuits,” said Professor Rosental Calmon Alves, founder and director of the Knight Center. “This course will teach journalists the basic legal principles so that their reports don’t leave room for lawsuits.”

This course is organized by the Knight Center and Tornavoz, a Brazilian association dedicated to providing specialized legal defense for freedom of speech and expression. It is possible thanks to support from Google.

Led by Taís Gasparian and Mônica Galvão, co-founders of Tornavoz and prominent Brazilian lawyers specializing in freedom of expression and freedom of the press, this course is a unique opportunity for journalists, journalism students, communicators in general and legal professionals to gain insight into the legal intricacies surrounding journalistic activities.

“The treatment given to freedom of expression in the country is ambiguous and clumsy. In Brazil, no one claims to be against freedom of expression – as long as that expression doesn’t affect them or contradict them,” Gasparian said. “It is perplexing to see the coexistence here of legal provisions and court rulings that are so favorable to freedom of expression, while at the same time seeing an equally firm and active censorious predisposition on the part of various figures and sectors of society. This tension can be observed from various angles and seems to go back a long way.”

“We are currently seeing lawsuits filed with the aim of curtailing the free expression of thought. In this course ‘How to Shield Your Reports from Lawsuits,’ we want to respond to this type of attack. Learning a few tools and understanding the mechanisms of the law can be the necessary support for a communicator not to be so vulnerable. In the course, I will share the experience I have accumulated over more than 30 years working in this area,” she continued.

The main objective of this free course is to provide practical guidance on how to conduct journalistic activities responsibly while observing legal regulations and court precedents.

The course material is organized into four modules. Each module will cover a different topic through videos, interviews, presentations, readings and discussion forums.

  • Module 1 is about civil liability, the right to privacy, time limits for lawsuits, and compensation amounts. It will also explore the right to privacy under the Federal Constitution.
  • Module 2 examines the right of reply, source confidentiality, and features an interview with Allan de Abreu, a reporter for Piauí and winner of the Esso Journalism Prize, who, because he refused to divulge his sources, had to face a court decision that ordered the breach of his personal telephone confidentiality and that of the newsroom for which he worked.
  • Module 3 covers the constitutionally guaranteed right to image, addresses the specific rights of children and adolescents, and includes an interview with Isabella Henriques, Specialist in children’s and adolescents’ rights and executive director of the Alana Institute.
  • Module 4 discusses the access to information law, offers guidance on reducing legal risks, and features an interview with Flávia Lima, assistant managing editor for diversity at Folha de S.Paulo

With an asynchronous program, the course is designed to accommodate participants’ different schedules and preferences. They can access the content on any electronic device with internet access, such as a computer, tablet or cell phone, and complete the activities at their own pace.

Thanks to Google’s generous support, participants who meet the course requirements will receive a certificate of completion from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, without having to pay the usual fee of US $30. While not tied to academic credit, this certificate serves as a testament to the participant’s dedication to enhancing their legal knowledge in the field of journalism.

“In these times of so many lawsuits, of cases of clear judicial harassment against journalists, it is important that reporters and editors have fundamental knowledge of the law for the exercise of their work,” Alves said. “We are very grateful to two of Brazil’s leading experts in this area of law, Dr. Tais Gasparian and Dr. Mônica Galvão, for accepting our invitation to hold this course in partnership with Tornavoz. We would also like to thank Google for its support.”

Register today and join Gasparian and Galvão for this important free online course!