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Media Law

A Practical Guide (Revised Edition)

Ashley Messenger

Media Law: A Practical Guide (Revised Edition) provides a clear and concise explanation of media law principles. It focuses on the practical aspects of how to protect oneself from claims and how to evaluate the likelihood of a successful claim. This new edition has been revised to reflect important changes and updates to the law, including recent developments relating to scandalous trademarks, embedding, fair use, drones, revenge porn laws, interpretation of emoji, GDPR, false statements laws, lies, and the libel implications of the #MeToo movement.

Media Law is divided into five sections that help non-lawyers understand how the principles apply to their actual behavior: background information about the legal system; things you can be sued for; how you actually gather information; ways the government can regulate speech; and practical issues that are related to media law. This book is perfect for courses in media and communications law or a combination course in journalism law and ethics, as it covers both the legal and ethical aspects of communication.

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12 Can One Be Sued or Prosecuted for Gathering News?

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CHAPTER 12

Can One Be Sued or Prosecuted for Gathering News?

It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the newsgathering process. A reporter’s diligence in gathering information will often be reflected in the quality of the story that is eventually published. A reporter needs access to as much information as possible to ensure a story is complete and fair. However, reporters must comply with generally applicable laws in the course of newsgathering. Courts have not granted the media special rights that allow them to break laws or do things that ordinary citizens cannot do.

As noted in Chapter 11, there are many instances where there is no right of access to places or materials, but it may be permissible to obtain access nevertheless. However, there are also instances when trying to obtain access can result in civil or criminal liability. This chapter will discuss the kinds of things people might do to gather information that could result in civil or criminal liability:

1. Going on property (trespass)

2. Misrepresenting oneself

3. Making audio recordings or eavesdropping

4. Taking photos/video

5. Using hidden cameras or microphones

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