As someone who has a possible interest working in media, and uses media everyday, knowing its laws are important.
The first amendment is clear to me already, and I had a godsend high school journalism teacher who made us understand our rights as student journalists. Of course that was three years ago, but the importance of the first amendment is clear.
The Freedom of Information Act (1966) and the later Electronic Freedom of Information Act (1996) both contribute to improved access to information. In 2008 the process was amended again so request processes could be done more easily.
Open meeting lays, or sunshine lays, requite “the public’s business to be conducted in public.” (445) Understandably, not everything is the business of the public, so can be kept private.
Since I understand invasion of privacy laws, copyright laws and other parts of this chapter, I’m going to focus in on something else specifically in this chapter.
People are obsessed with reputation, and reasonably so. Libel’s strict punishment and rejection in the world of journalism reflects this concern. The example used in the textbook News: Reporting and Writing helps to further define attacks of hatred, contempt or ridicule versus just nasty comments. If anything was considered false, the trial would have ended there on basis of libel.
“Truth is the best defense against libel.” (446)
There are a few politicians, and people in general, who probably need to read this line more than others. It’s the reporter’s job to know what the truth is in order to properly line it up with how a person is presenting themselves to the public. To make sure this happens reporters have something called qualified privilege, which allows them to report anything anyone has said regardless of their privilege status or position without fear of being sued for libel.
The actual malice test protects journalists who print libel unknowingly, since leads can be misleading and there is always room for error. If the intent was not purposefully harmful, then it was not meant.