Presentation on theme: "Law & Ethics In Scholastic Journalism. Media Law & Ethics What are the five freedoms guaranteed by First Amendment? How does the First Amendment relate."— Presentation transcript:
Law & Ethics In Scholastic Journalism
Media Law & Ethics What are the five freedoms guaranteed by First Amendment? How does the First Amendment relate to high school journalism? What are the ethical standards in professional journalism? What are the landmark legal cases for high school journalism?
… were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. -- Thomas Jefferson, 1787
Think: Does freedom of the press exist today?
Yes. Mostly… But restrictions on the press do exist. Journalists can be brought to court, tried and fined if convicted.
So who sues journalists? People who feel damaged in print or broadcast.
Why? Journalists most often are sued for violating laws applying to Libel Invasion of privacy Obscenity standards
LAWS are what we HAVE TO do. ETHICS are what we SHOULD do.
POLICY is what the publication decides it will ethically do.
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
Defamation Anything spoken, written or pictured that could damage a persons reputation.
Libel Libel: a false statement that injures someones reputation. Libel is published defamation. That includes electronic and print media. Slander: Traditionally slander is spoken libel. Nowadays, with all the new ways to speak or publish, slander and libel have essentially come to mean same thing.
Libel But what if the damaging statement is TRUE?
Libel Then its not libelous.
Libel, BTW You cant go to jail for libel. Libel is a civil offense (not a criminal one). If you are found guilty, you will be required to pay a damages. Well… and you may lose your job. Libel damages have gone as high as $20 million in recent history!
Potentially libelous… Accusing someone of criminal behavior Attacking someones ethics Accusing someone of being a spy or traitor, or something generally disapproved of by society, such as the KKK Accusing someone of immoral conduct Suggesting occupational incompetence
Fault A plaintiff must prove that the publication or broadcast station was at fault in one of two ways: negligence or actual malice.
Negligence A private figure only has to prove the reporter did a sloppy job of checking facts.
Actual Malice or Reckless Disregard A public figure has to prove that the reporter KNEW the information was false but went ahead and published it anyway.
The Bottom Line:
Ducks in a Row: Check your sources. Edit carefully. Save all your notes -- keep them organized. Dont allow off the record interviews. Keep a log of what you have done and who you talked to!
What if its a simple mistake? The newspaper can print a retraction, a statement that corrects the mistake.
Think: What do we do if the newspaper only comes out weekly, or in our case, monthly?
Some more terms… Privilege: media are privileged to print FAIR and ACCURATE reports of court proceedings, meetings, etc. Fair Comment: if clearly labeled as opinion, it is protected from libel. This includes movie reviews, restaurant reviews.
Invasion of Privacy Intrusion -- if you misrepresent yourself, trespass or surreptitiously use a camera to get the information. Bad idea! Public Disclosure -- involving printing something that is accurate, but considered private
Invasion of Privacy False Light -- portraying someone inaccurately to the point that he or she is embarrassed Appropriation -- commercially exploiting someones name or image.
Obscenity Whether a reasonable person applying community standards: would find that the item appeals to prurient (sexual) interest. Obviously offensive (gross, graphic or sleazy) Lacks literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Three Ethical Principles Seek the truth and report it as fully as possible. Act independently. Minimize harm.
Careful… Be careful of the difference between facts and opinion. You can say Suzie gave a poor performance, but you cannot say it was because she was out partying all night before the play. K?
Legal Troubles! RARELY do serious problems go so far as court. But when they do, the media lose 70 to 80 percent of the time!
Landmark Court Cases In Scholastic Journalism
The Tinker Standard Tinker vs. Des Moines (1969) Mary Beth and Christopher Tinker were disciplined for wearing black arm bands protesting the Vietnam War to school. Court ruled students had the right to express themselves as long as it did not cause a substantial disruption in school activities.
The Tinker Case Tinker vs. Des Moines (1969) Established a public forum role: published news, student editorials, letters, and is distributed outside the classroom.
The Tinker Case A students First Amendment rights do not stop at the schoolhouse door.
The Hazelwood Decision Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier (1988) Student editors sued the school administration over the censorship of stories about teen pregnancy and children of divorced parents.
The Hazelwood Decision Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier (1988) The Supreme Court determined the school newspaper was NOT a public forum, and so not protected by the Tinker standard.
The Hazelwood Decision A school-sponsored publication allowed school administration the right of prior review and content control.
The Hazelwood Decision A School Sponsored Newspaper: Under faculty supervision Purpose is to teach skills or knowledge Uses the schools name and resources
Under Hazelwood, censorship: Must reasonably relate to pedagogical concerns
Back to the earlier question: So…does freedom of the press exist today?
Wrap-Up Effective journalism requires that you understand the rights AND responsibilities of the press! Now -- go plan for your next assignment.