Monday, 30 November 2009

Talk Talk

Mcnae's book on the many rules and regulations of being a journalist, after weeks of lectures and lessons on such things as Freedom of Information; (an act which makes it mandatory on public interest for an authority to disclose available information). Copyright; a common saying among those in media, which means having the rights to your own work and how one should go about gaining the royalties to said work. Plus such things as Investigative Journalism in which journalists can go off the agenda; a highly risky business which can result in death. Articles in this area often cover such topics as oil and arms and for journalists like Veronica Guerin; are often the last articles you will write.

Upon reviewing each section of Media Law and all that it entails; it all seems to come down to one thing. Public interest. Although this point may seem obvious to anyone aspiring to be a journalist (or the public "watchdog" of society), this topic of public interest defies even the oldest of court ordered laws. If something is deemed to be within the public interest, journalists can legally disclose sources which should by law, be confidential. They can expose businesses and hospitals if a point of topic should by any chance lead to the "public originally being misled". Journalists can also, under this rule, publicly expose criminals that police fail to do so. Although Mcnae's states many case studies to do with breach of confidentiality-this article in particular reiterates the differences between courts decisions. Contrasting two very similar cases with conflicting outcomes.

Public interest appears to vary according to opinion. Mcnae's states that the word `necessary` when dealing with the disclosure of sources should mean the undeniable "key to a puzzle". Yet in reality, the word `necessary` lies somewhere between
"`indispensable` on the one hand and `useful` or `expedient` on the other".

English common law states that information passed between lawyers, clients, police, informers and spouses is exempt from the power of the court to demand it be heard.
However within Canadian law, any information passed between doctors, patients, priests, confessors, journalists and their sources is not privileged; and is instead worked out on a case by case basis.

As opposed to such unwavering laws as Libel, Defamation and Contempt; public interest as a whole appears to vary according to the judges own personal stance.
This could either swing in the journalists favor, or against them. Either way-breaching the confidentiality of sources is not an issue of pride or nobility on the part of a journalist; it's a career choice. The more we give away, the less we have left to talk.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, I've made a few notes from this, so it was really useful. Especially as the law exam is coming up soon.