The Power of Law and Privacy


When conducting an investigative report, one must "protect confidential sources of information" (Jerz).

I found this first quote to be extremely important because no one wants to have their information mis-used. This topic made me think about identity protection vs. fraud. If a news reporter used confidental information without, prior, consent, then that reporter could be in danger of being in trouble with the law. I would assume that this would fall into the realm of identity fraud. I recently read an article, while browsing online, from US News and it talks about someone who mis-used confidental information.

I don't want to leave you with only this one quote, so I found another very important quote that everyone should consider if in an unusual situation. Quote:

"Always consult a lawyer if you have any worries about the legality of what you are doing or writing" (Jerz).

So, if you are not sure what to do or if there will be consequences for publishing certain information, then you should seek help from a lawyer.

I found another very interesting article about news reporting and the law and it is from

I have a question for all:

If you are a news reporter and need to seek assistance from a lawyer, then do you need to pay for the fees or does the news company provide the funds?

Also, when protecting someone's information, should one get written consent or just verbal?

Click here for the course web page devoted to investigative reporting.


To maintain good contacts who are willing to talk to you, it's important to protect them, as your quote explains. My question is this: If we need and should protect them, yet need them as sources and are not allowed to have anonymous sources in journalism, how are we supposed to quote and protect them at the same time?

Great Question, Greta! I think that if we need that same source for two jobs, then we must use them as an unidentified source. This is a very interesting question that would welcome any comments from the class peers!

To address Greta's question, I agree with you, Derek. In the best interests of our source, we should just explain the anonymous source's qualifications. If we expose this source, we may be putting that source in danger and they may never want to help us again.

As far as the lawyer question is concerned, I don't think that one would charge you but who knows? This is where your connections would help you. If you meet a lawyer, it is important to network. But how do you do this without being fake? Becoming friends with a person only in case you may need them in the future is wrong.

Angela- I think you make very good points. I also believe that networking is a very essential part of any job or perspective employee. I think that if you network and meet a lawyer, then they will be respectful of you and want to offer their assistance. On the other hand, if a reporter approaches that lawyer too many times, then they may think that the reporter is only using them for information and to better their career. It seems to be a touchy subject, again. I agree that using friends to succeed is not ethical, but some people are not morally balanced and do this kind of thing.

Written consent would probably be best, if you mean that in terms of consent that the information is true and can be used as long as the name is left out of the article. One of the other readings we've had to do for this class discussed that, if I recall correctly. I think it was in the Haiman chapter about anonymous sources. This would be a good way to go for the person would most likely not be willing to give written consent if the information is false.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on November 9, 2009 6:53 PM.

News Reporting, Bias, and Sensitivity was the previous entry in this blog.

Reflection #13: The Well-Rounded View is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en