The law is an important part of mass communication it heavily affect mass media writers” – Stovall
Students who are learning to write for the mass media should understand the importance of laws that might govern or affect what they do. This chapter reviews the major categories of the law and governmental action that touch on media writing.
- Libel or defamation
- First Amendment
These are legal terms for harm to reputation done by written or spoken communication. This chapter outlines what the plaintiff must prove and what the writer may use for defense.
Defamation is the legal term for harming someone’s reputation
Libel – Written defamation
Slander- Spoken defamation
Libel is normally handled in civil suits, not criminal
Civil suits simply seek monetary damages rather than determinations of guilt and prison sentences
Libel is often more serious than slander because people have more chance of coming across the material
Libel and slander makes a person realize that if you have something to say about a person speak it before you write because once you write it there isn’t any taking it back or saying sorry. It falls under the statement “say what you mean and mean what you say”
The five freedoms protected by the First Amendment: speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. The First Amendment does not eliminate the need for laws governing writing. Copyright law, for instance, would be necessary whether or not there was a First Amendment.
Provides significant protection for spoken and written communication
Protects against “prior restraint”
Obscenities and criminal threats are not protected
Despite clear understanding of free speech, media outlets are often caught up in lawsuits
Publication of Private Facts
- A plaintiff can sue if facts about his or her private life are published
- Suits often fail because defendants are protected if the material is newsworthy
Intrusion into seclusion
- Trespass into personal space whether physical or using technology warrants a suit
- Not the same as libel
- Occurs when a writer misrepresents a person, claiming he or she is something that they are not
- Unauthorized use of a person’s name, likeness or integral part of their persona
Privacy is a great achievement that some celebrities and people in high power wish to consume but based on the reality of who they are it may never be possible.
Celebrities use the media to contribute to there success and make it possible to become who they are but once they gain the fame they needed and the success the privacy of themselves can no longer be sealed.