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.
- What are the legal issues here – and what tests need to be met for them to be an issue (or not)?
- What defence could you mount?
- How likely is it that legal action would result?
- Would you publish – and why?
‘Answers’ and discussion in the comments