MPJO-793 Media Law for Journalists
Spring for 2013-2014
Can I secretly tape this call? Am I going to be sued for libel if I publish that? Should I destroy my notes if I am worried about a subpoena from a prosecutor? Can I be sued by a source for lying about the subject of my story? Will my website’s news aggregation feature make me a copyright delinquent? Can reporters go to jail for publishing classified information?
As journalists become entrepreneurs who publish their own websites and freelance without a newsroom lawyer behind them, knowledge of the fundamentals of media law is more important than ever. This course is designed to provide a practical background in this essential area with a focus on the legal skills needed in investigative reporting to help reporters go on the offensive (through the use of freedom of information and other kinds of access litigation) while at the same time teaching them to play defense when a subject threatens court action.
While the course offers a stand-alone curriculum with no prerequisites, the first part of the semester is designed to complement the investigative journalism class taught by Susanne Reber and Robert Benincasa so that students enrolled in both courses will learn about the techniques of investigative reporting at the same time that they are exposed to the legal protections and strategies that make investigative journalism possible. The second part of the media law course will turn to libel, privacy, and copyright and “new media” issues such as the safe harbors in the Communications Decency Act and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the legal challenges to news aggregation.
The objective of the course is to give students the expertise to not only spot legal issues in their reporting or the operation of their website but also to help them understand how to resolve these issues and reduce their risk of legal exposure.
Other academic years
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