Week 13: Journalism 2001 December 1, 2008
Final In-Class Assignments • December 1: • GLBTA Panel Story: • Story due Wednesday, December 3 • No more than 400 words • Email to email@example.com • December 8: • Amy Rutledge Interview • No more than 400 words • Story due Wednesday, December 10 • Email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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
New look for the Duluth News-Tribune • Rob Karwath Column: • Changes to meet our challenges and your needs: • http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/event/article/id/79433/
Chapter 26: 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
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
Libel • Libel: Communication of false information that damages an individual in his or her profession, business or calling. • Six requirements for libel action: • Publication • Identification • Defamatory nature of the story • Proof of falsity • Proof of fault • Actual damage to reputation
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
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.
Libel in cyberspace • Distributor vs. publisher • 1996: Communications Decency Act • Protects online service providers from liability for publication of defamatory material
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
Chapter 13: Obituaries • Writing obits: A fate worse than death? • One of the most highly read section of the newspaper • Each paper has different policies on obituaries • Often front-page news • Capturing the flavor of a life • Ronald Reagan • Shirley Chisholm • Pope John Paul II • Bob Hope • Rodney Dangerfield • Often published free of charge
When an obituary is news • Rob Karwath Column, Duluth News-Tribune Column: • In tragic or good times, Web brings us closer to readers
Typical content of obits • Full name • Address • Date of death • Cause of death • How to handle suicides? • Age • Occupation • Accomplishments • Time and date of services, visitation information • Place of burial, memorial information • Names of survivors
In the news • U.S. Supreme Court Ruling about Wiccan symbols: • http://www.startribune.com/484/story/1138325.html
Sources of information • Funeral homes • Families • Confirming information • Avoiding hoaxes • eHow: How to write an obituary • http://www.ehow.com/how_3456_write-obituary.html
Let’s look at some obituaries • Minneapolis Star Tribune • New York Times • Los Angeles Times • Cloquet Pine Journal
Ethics Case • Killing news: Responsible coverage of suicides • http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/ethics/sensitive-news-topics/killing-news-responsible-coverage-of-suicides/ • Sharing the community’s grief: Little Rock news coverage of 3 teenage suicides • http://journalism.indiana.edu/resources/ethics/sensitive-news-topics/sharing-the-communitys-grief/
Upcoming stories • Feature Story Assignment • Final article due: Next Monday, December 8 • Final eportfolio project: Due December 15 • Final Exam: December 15, 6 p.m.
Out-of-Class Assignment Due Today • Red Lake cartoon controversy • Jim Heffernan column/reaction
Final Out-of-Class Assignment • Is Josh Wolf a journalist? • Share your opinion with me in 300 words or less • Information about Josh Wolf on: • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josh_Wolf_(journalist) • http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1607327,00.html • Let’s watch news coverage of his release • http://email@example.com
Egradebook • Doublecheck assignments correct in egradebook: • http://www.d.umn.edu/egradebook
Portfolio • Store academic information on your Electronic Portfolio. Each student has 100 mb of storage. • Access Electronic Portfolio at: https://portfolio.umn.edu/portfolio/index.jsp