Week 13: Journalism 2001 December 7, 2009
Review of last week’s news • Hard News: (murders, city council, government, etc.) • Major local stories • Major national/international stories • Major sports stories • Soft News: (retirements, school programs, human interest) • Local stories • National/international stories • Sports stories
Extra Credit • WDIO-TV Tour: 10 extra credit points • Wednesday, December 9 • Meet at station at 4:30 for tour, watch 5 p.m. news broadcast • Here are directions to the station: • WDIO-TV is located at 10 Observation Road between Arlington and Skyline Drive. • From UMD, take College Street north to Kenwood. • Turn right on Kenwood to Arrowhead. • Take a left on Arrowhead to Arlington (second stoplight). • Take a left on Arlington and go a few miles to Observation Road, which is about a mile past Central Entrance. • Take a left on Observation Road and go about a mile to WDIO, which is on the left in the shadow of the towers. • Anyone interested?
Extra Credit • Letter to the Editor: 10 points
Upcoming stories • Feature Story Assignment • Final article due: Next Monday, December 14 • Final eportfolio project: Due December 17 • Final Exam: December 17, 6 p.m.
Let’s review:Organizing a feature story • Choose the theme • Do research, organize story around theme • Each section – beginning, body, end – revolve around theme • Narrow your theme • Has the story been done before? • The audience • Holding power • Worthiness
Write the lead • Usually avoid summary leads • Tough to summarize feature in opening paragraph • Lead possibilities endless: • Narrative, contrast, staccato, direct address, etc. • Lead block: two or more paragraphs • Write the body • Vital information while educating, entertaining and emotionally tying reader to the subject • Provide background information
Use a thread • Can be single person, event or thing that highlights theme of the story • Use transitions • Transitions hold paragraphs together and helps writers move from one person or area to the next • Common transition words: meanwhile, therefore, sometimes, also, and, but, meantime, nevertheless, however
Use dialogue • Keeps readers attached to a story’s key players • Helps to introduce sources • Use voice • Subjective expression of writer • Writer’s signature or personal style • More license to reveal opinions, personality • Write the ending • Can trail off, or end with a climax • Often ends where the lead started • End with a quote
Let’s go to NewsU • http://www.newsu.org/ • Get Me Rewrite: The Craft of Revision
Chapter 7: Law • First Amendment 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
Media rights • Privileges and protections for journalistic activities. • Access to government operations and records. Rights fall into two main categories:
Media rights • Fair report privilege • Allows journalists to report anything said in official government proceedings. • Must be accurate and fair. Privilege and protection for sources and stories • Opinion privilege • Protects written opinions from libel suits. • Distinction between facts and opinion.
Media rights • Allows journalists to criticize performers, politicians and other matters of public interest. Privilege and protection… • Fair comment and criticism • Freedom from newsroom searches • Shield laws
Media rights • Are bloggers entitled to the same rights and protections as mainstream media reporters? Your Josh Wolf assignment due tonight:
Reporters and their sources • Shield Laws • Statutory laws to protect reporters from revealing sources • Each state has different interpretation • What does Minnesota have?
Fair trial vs. free press • Conflict between First Amendment and Sixth Amendment • Sixth amendment: Rights of the accused to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury • Why would there be a conflict? • Jury Duty
Where to learn more • Minnesota statutes • U.S. Supreme Court • Federal circuit courts • Online legal research
Open courtrooms The issues • Does media coverage harm trial defendants? • Do cameras turn courtrooms into circuses? • Should press be banned from some trials? The law • U.S. Supreme Court ruled that criminal trials must remain open to the media except for “overriding interest.”
Open meetings The issues • Should public officials be allowed to make decisions behind closed doors? • At what point does government secrecy become a threat? The law • Varies by state. • Generally, if the government board or commission receives revenue from taxes, subject to open meeting laws.
Open records The issues • Should all government records be accessible to the public? • Who decides what is off-limits? The law • 1966 Freedom of Information Act requires federal agencies to make most of their records available. • Every state has own version of FOIA.
Online resources • The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (www.rcfp.org) • “How to Use the Federal FOI Act” • “Tapping Officials’ Secrets” • “Can We Tape?” • Legal Defense Hotline (1-800-336-4235) • Student Press Law Center (www.splc.org) • “Open records Law Request Letter Generator” • SPLC Virtual Lawyer
Media wrongs Reporter’s Guide to Trouble • Stories that can get you jailed • Contempt of court • Trespassing • Sedition • Stories that can get you sued • Libel • Invasion of privacy • Breach of contract
Media wrongs Reporter’s Guide to Trouble • Stories that can get you fired • Plagiarism • Fabrication • Lapses in ethics • Stories that can get you angry phone calls • Bias • Bad taste • Blunders & bloopers
Understanding libel Beginning reporter’s guide to libel • Who can sue for libel? • Living people. • Small groups. • Who is it that gets sued? • Usually, the publication. What is libel? • False statements and • Defamatory and • Published and • Identifiable plaintiffs and • Defendant must beat fault through negligence or malice.
Classes of libelous words • Words imputing the commission of a criminal offense Avoid: John Doe was taken into custody Wednesday for murdering Sally Smith Tuesday night. Better: John Doe was taken into custody Wednesday in connection with (or in the investigation of) the Tuesday night slaying of Sally Smith.
Words that impute infection with a loathsome communicable disease of any kind that would tend to exclude one from society. Is this news?: John Doe, who was elected Wednesday to be president of the local chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, was treated last summer for a venereal disease, the Daily Bugle has learned.
Words that impute inability to perform, or want of integrity in the discharge of, duties of office or employment. Don’t write: Public school groundskeeper John Doe is unfit by temperament and intelligence to adequately perform his duties, sources who wish to remain anonymous said Wednesday. • Words that prejudice a particular person in his or her profession or trade. Don’t write: Attorney John Doe, who will represent the widow in the embezzlement case, is the most incompetent lawyer in town, according to courthouse observers.
Defamation by implication • Implication created by the reporter’s organization of facts. John Jones was seen entering the Shady Oaks motel yesterday with a woman. The motel is located in a known prostitution area.
Quotations • Reporter/news medium must assume responsibility for the statement if it is used • The fact that information was provided by a source does not necessarily mean that it is correct. • Beware of off-the-record tips passed along by sources, even high-ranking officials or law enforcement officers. • Don’t write: Police said that the alleged crook is in custody. • Instead: Police said that the man charged with the crime is in custody.
Defenses against libel • Conditional defenses • Privilege of reporting: Fair, accurate reporting of official proceedings • Fair comment and criticism: Applies to opinions about matters of public concern • Neutral reportage: Report charges made by one responsible person or organization about another when both parties are involved in a public controversy
Understanding libel • How do I defend myself? • Truth • Consent • Privilege • How can I avoid libel? • Verify material. • Allow people to defend themselves. • Remember, public officials often make “unofficial” claims. • If you make mistake, correct it.
Understanding libel The Cherry Sisters vs. “Fair Comment and Criticism” • Iowa supreme court – “Any performance to which the public is invited may be freely criticized.” • “Also, any editor may publish reasonable comments on that performance.”
Understanding libel • Actual malice–knowing you are lying or disregarding the truth • Opinion–ideas that don’t claim to be factual • Slander – defamation that is spoken A lexicon of libel • Public official –someone who exercises power or influence in governmental affairs • Public figure – person who has acquired fame or notoriety
Absolute libel defenses • Statute of limitations • Two years in Minnesota • Truth • Privilege of participant • Participants in official proceedings • Consent or authorization • Self-defense or right of reply
Partial defenses • Publication of a retraction: Clear admission of erroneous reporting • Facts showing no gross negligence or ill will • Facts showing that the reporter relied on a usually reliable source
The actual malice standard • The New York Times rule • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan: 1964 • Supreme Court: To collect damages, a public official would have to prove the defendant acted with “actual malice;” knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. • 1967: Supreme Court said that public figures, in addition to public officials, also have to show actual malice to recover libel damages. Bottom line: More protection from libel action if plaintiff is a public person.
Checklist for dealing with libel • Be aggressive – but don’t take foolish risks • Be fair – keep an open mind • Seek advice if you are unsure of your turf
Sports broadcasting errors • When an apology is not enough • http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/11/sports/golf/11sandomir.html
Invasion of privacy • Intrusion • Trespass • Secret surveillance • Misrepresentation • False light • Anything that portrays someone in an inaccurate way • Public disclosure of private facts • Private • Intimate • Offensive • Appropriation • Unauthorized use of someone’s name, photo or words to endorse or sell a product or service.
Taste, decency, censorship 5 • Vulgar language • Offensive topics • Conflict of interest Reasons your story might get spiked • Legal/ethical issues • Reporting flaws