Monday, 11 March 2013

Media and The Law:

     Although I have been writing journalistic pieces for a number of years, I have never seriously considered how involved the law is. But thanks to ‘Law for Journalists’ by Frances Quinn and a lecture from David Mascord, that’s all changed.

The Damage of Defamation:

Defamation: "... the publication of an untrue statement which tends to lower the person it refers to in the eyes of reasonable people." (Quinn, 2011)

According to Quinn, Defamation can occur in:
- Direct criticism
- Hints and innuendoes
- The effect of words and pictures together
- The effect of context and juxtaposition
- Reporting of rumours
- Untrue implications drawn from true facts (Quinn, 2011)

    Defamation was the first aspect I came across with regards to media law. Basically, it means publishing something that may lead to ruining someone’s reputation, make them the object of ridicule or causing people to think they are incapable of their job. And surprisingly, it’s not just about celebrities fighting for more publicity, although you are far less likely to be sued for potentially offensive material if you aren't wealthy.

   Interestingly, the person claiming for defamation doesn't even have to have any substantial evidence of the defamation; only the potential. So even if the journalist did not even intend to cause it, the law is on the ‘victim’s’ side. All the claimant needs to prove is that the statement and/or image was published somewhere and some form of identification and that it deforms them.

    Unsurprisingly, changes in the world of journalism have led to variations in the law, such as social networking. You can even be sued for repeating someone else’s reformatory statement! If that’s not going to make me more vigilant when re-tweeting, I don’t know what will! Even  books can be defamatory.

The Only Way is Ethics:

       As a journalist, I have a ‘Privilege’ to report aspects of public interest objectively but luckily, the term ‘honest comment’ could legally save me against my opinion. But let’s face it; it’s pretty tricky to review something like an album or film without stating your personal view.

    Notably, there are only two organisations in the UK that deal with media regulation; the PCC (Press Complaints Commission) and Ofcom who oversee the broadcast side of things and have much more power than the PCC.

    Although I have never interviewed a child, it was fascinating to discover the ethical boundaries of it. For one, the press cannot identify children under 16 who have been involved with sexual offences  You must also legally inform someone you’re interviewing, that they are being recorded and that their statements may be published.

Copyright Rights:

     The laws of copyright are designed to protect someone’s intellectual property; their work and reputation. That’s something I already knew. But I wasn't aware that, the rights to a novel for example, extend to the author’s life and 70 years after their death. In fact, it was extended to help benefit the friends and relatives of those who are successful writers of web and print material.

    Something that came as a relief for me, as a freelance journalist, was to learn that you automatically have the right to copyright your own work when you produce it. The only way you can transfer copyright to someone else is if you officially assign it to them.

    I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the basics of media law and just how cautious journalists have to be. There’s a lot to take into account next time I click publish!

Friday, 8 March 2013

We Buy Ltd Break In: The Story Behind The Story

    My partner and I were searching for a news story in the Winton area of Bournemouth and came across an interesting piece in the Bournemouth Echo.

    The story was about a recent break-in and robbery at a pawn shop on Wimborne Road. Although the story had already been reported, we both felt that there was more depth of information to be found that had not already been found- the emotional reactions and responses from those working in the shop.

   My partner and I ventured into Winton, and after searching for the shop, walked in and waited for the shop's director to return from a break. I noticed that the Bournemouth Echo version of the story was placed in We Buy Ltd's window, reflecting how much the robbery had effected the store.

    We Buy Ltd's director, Joe Li was a very obliging and helpful person to interview. My partner and I were very lucky in the sense that he was emotionally honest and answered every question we put to him in a wealth of detail.

   For instance, we asked Li how exactly the incident occurred, why he thinks it occurred and how such crimes could be prevented in the future. Not only did this give a new angle to the story, but also put a forward spin on it. Li's wealth of detail was astonishing and he seemed so willing to provide us with extensive answers to deter criminals from carrying out such crimes.

   Although I am aware that not all interviewees will be as helpful and responsive as this, it was a very positive and motivating experience to have.

     Interviewing places me outside of my comfort zone, but I came to find that I thrived on the challenge of find a story, working out a new spin on it, carrying out an interview and eventually arranging my quotations and research into a news story.

Friday, 1 March 2013

We Buy Ltd Break In!

      We Buy Ltd in Winton was broken into this weekend.

      The incident occurred between Friday 25th January in the evening and 10am the following day. The store now faces £15,000 worth of bills following the burglary. 

      Local police were informed soon after and a CSI team were also called to the scene. The pawn shop's director Joe Li described the CSI team as “Very helpful” but stated that the uniformed police were somewhat less so, “They don’t seem to know what they’re doing.”

     Li explained that he came into work on Saturday morning to discover glass on the floor and a smashed cabinet and items including iPods, laptops, cameras and phones missing.  He also said that the back door was open but there seemed to be no sign of forced entry.  When asked by We Buy Ltd have may been targeted, Li speculated that, “It must be the stock being displayed that attracted them.”

   “I’ve still heard nothing”, said Li when asked if the Police had been in touch. He also felt the Police could have done more to rectify the situation,  “Of course they could!” he said.

     Employees of We Buy Ltd discovered a footprint outside and Joe Li appeared frustrated that it has not been studied further. He also speculated that the crime may have been an inside job due to the lack of damage to the exterior of the store.

   Li has been delighted with feedback from the local community, “Lots of people found out about what happened and have come in and said sorry. That’s been nice.” he said.

     However he is concerned about maintaining customer relationships. “I feel obliged to treat them well.” Li also expressed his irritation with replacing customers traded-in items,  “They need to be replaced.”

     Since the break in, an ADT alarm system has been installed in the shop, “Which should alert the Police directly in about 2 or 3 seconds.” said Li.

     Anyone with information should contact the police immediately.