Tag Archives: case study

Test your online journalism law: 2 – the celebrity visit without pictures

Every day this week I am publishing an example of a legal dilemma that a journalism student might face (why? Read my previous post on students being publishers, and the responsibilities that come with that). I can’t promise a ‘right answer’ at the end of the week – but I hope you can comment on what a student publisher might do – and why.

Case 2: Celebrity visit – and you don’t have pictures

This is a true story. A fire drill has just ended, and as you’re walking back to the classroom you think you see a famous rugby player in the crowd. Your friend says “Nah, it’s not him”.

Like a good journalist, you don’t accept that, so you go to the university reception to ask if Famous Rugby Player is indeed around today. Yes, they say, he is.

Apparently he’s promoting a healthy eating scheme – and also looking at a new piece of kit designed by the health faculty.

You get the details of what he’s doing there, and where he will be when, make a quick call to your editor, and then chase off to find him.

Once there, you interview him, a marketing rep from the company paying him, and a representative from the health faculty.

But your phone runs out of battery – so you have no photos.

As you get back to the newsroom, Famous Rugby Star’s visit is already all over Twitter.

You want to get this story up on your blog before the local newspaper – but a celebrity story is nothing without images.

Thankfully, a few of those tweeting about the visit have taken snaps. Also, one has uploaded some brief video footage to YouTube, and embedding is enabled.

Meanwhile, you have emailed the marketing rep and the health faculty rep for images – both have been promised, but you have no idea how long it will take.

The questions

  1. What are the legal issues here – and what tests need to be met for them to be an issue (or not)?
  2. What defence could you mount?
  3. How likely is it that legal action would result?
  4. Would you publish – and why?

‘Answers’ and discussion in the comments

Test your online journalism law: 1 – the food that should have been binned

All this week I am going to be publishing examples of legal dilemmas that a journalism student might face (Read my previous post on students being publishers, and the responsibilities that come with that for the background). I’ll be using the hashtag #ojblaw throughout and live tweeting a discussion on Friday 10-12 UK time.

I hope you can comment on what a student publisher might do – and why.

Here’s the first:

Case 1: major fast food outlet selling food it should have binned

It is 4am and you are sat with a friend in a fast food chain outlet. This is a well known, global brand – you can choose either McDonalds or Burger King, because these things matter.

Your friend works for the same company, in another city. She turns to you and says:

“That food should have been thrown away two hours ago.”

She knows because she can see the timestamps on the food packaging behind the counter.

The next day you prepare to write up a news article about this.

You find some useful background: the company has published its own policy on how long food should be kept out, for example. You also have the Food Standards Agency report for the outlet (it was satisfactory).

Your headline reports just what your friend said: that the particular outlet was serving food that was hours old, and breaking its own guidelines in the process.

You have a quote from your friend, who is named, and her position as an employee of the fast food chain is mentioned. She is fine with this.

You seek a reaction from both the outlet and the fast food chain’s central office. Both refuse to comment, and you have included that in your article.

The questions

  1. What are the legal issues here – and what tests need to be met for them to be an issue?
  2. What defence could you mount?
  3. How likely is it that legal action would result?
  4. Would you publish – and why?

‘Answers’ and discussion in the comments