National Union of Journalists Presentation Part 3 (improved)
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - National Union of Journalists Presentation Part 3 (improved)
NUJ Presentation pt 3
Defamation is very similar to libel. Defamation means to communicate false information about a person or people that
could harm their reputation, such as an accusation of an offence, or a malicious representation of someones words or
actions. A journalist may be inclined to publish damaging false information because of their own bias or prejudice.
Defamation is punishable by law, so journalists guilty of defamation could face jail time.
One key area in the Defamation Act 2013 states that there is “a requirement for claimants to show that they have
suffered serious harm before suing for defamation.” It means that they have to prove that they have actually been
harmed by claims made by a journalist. This requirement protects the freedom of press, and it protects journalists from
intimidation from people or organisations with a lot of money who can pursue legislation. The act defines serious harm as
having “caused or is likely to cause the body serious financial loss.”
As an example of defamation, in 2014, Scarlett Johansson won a case against French writer Grégoire Delacourt. Johansson
claimed that the writer had used her for a character in his book, and in the book her character had multiple affairs.
Johansson claimed that her name had been exploited, and her reputation could be damaged.
Copyright is the law that protects work from being stolen and claimed as someone else's other than the creators. Any
work that has been copyrighted is protected, and the original creator holds all of the rights to their intellectual property.
This means that journalists are bound by law to only publish their own work. Avoiding plagiarism could also lead to
copyright infringement. Plagiarism is defined as the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off
as one’s own. The National Union of Journalists code of conduct states that a journalist “Avoids plagiarism.”
Copyright can be damaging to the creator of the original work. It can result in huge losses of money for them, as
consumers purchase the work from somebody else. As well as being damaging to the original creator, it can be damaging
to the journalist.Copyright infringement can result in huge fines, and so should be taken very seriously by all journalists.
Being found guilty of copyright infringement can be detrimental to a journalist. They may lose the trust of the consumer
and could lose their job.
Back in 2006, Editorial Photographers United Kingdom and Ireland (EPUK), reported that the Mirror did not hold the
appropriate licence to use freelancers photographs for their online copies of the newspaper. This meant that they were
infringing copyright law, and faced a huge bill for compensation.
Their are a number of cases where the use of others copyrighted material could be argued as fair dealing, and would not
be an infringement of the law. Cases of fair dealing may include wider reporting of stories in the public interest, or
obituaries of film stars. The BBC has previously used the fair dealing defence, after they lost a bidding war on some
images of the capture of two 2005 London bombing suspects. The BBC ran the footage, as they stated that it was in the
Journalists can usually access copyrighted material, though their are some exceptions. It is vital that a journalist spots any
potential copyright issues early. In order for a journalist to obtain copyrighted material, they should contact the right
holder first. They may also want to consider consulting a lawyer. They must also tell others when they have cleared
Children and Young Persons:
Their are many laws and regulations put in place in order to protect children from harassment, or exploitation from
The National Union of Journalists have included a guideline in their code of conduct that is specifically used to protect
children. The 11th rule in the code of conduct states “A journalist shall normally seek the consent of an appropriate adult
when interviewing or photographing a child for a story about her/his welfare.”
Journalists also have the Editors Code of Practice to look to for guidelines on dealing with children and young persons.
Clause 6 of the Editors Code of Practice is specific to children. It states “Young people should be free to complete their
time at school without unnecessary intrusion.” “A child under 16 must not be interviewed or photographed on issues
involving their own or another child’s welfare unless a custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.” “Pupils
must not be approached or photographed at school without the
permission of the school authorities.” “Minors must not be paid for material involving children’s welfare, nor
parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is clearly in the child’s interest.” And finally
“Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of
a child’s private life.”
In 2012, Paul Weller filed a claim against the Mail Online for using seven photographs of him and his children, who’s faces
were not pixilated. The court ruled that the photographs were a breach of the law, and awarded the Weller’s £10,000 in
When providing a journalist information, some may want to remain anonymous. They may want to remain
anonymous if the information they provide gives evidence of them taking part in criminal activities, or if the
information could put them in danger. It is the journalists duty to protect the identities of their sources who
would like to remain anonymous.
The National Union of Journalists code of conduct states that a journalist “Protects the identity of sources who su
pply information in confidence and material gathered in the course of his/her work.” The Editors Code of
Practice also states that “Journalists have a moral obligation to protect confidential sources of information.”
Keeping sources anonymous is something that is mostly upheld by journalists, and it tends to be an issue with th
e lowest level of complaints, however mistakes are sometimes made. For example, in 2006 an ex-employee
of the Government’s Rural Payments Agency complained that an e-mail she had sent to the Evening Chronicle n
ewspaper where she has complained about her bosses was forwarded to RPA, though her details were not
deleted despite asking to remain anonymous. The Evening Chronicle apologized, and explained that this was a
mistake made by a trainee.
Official secrets are secrets regarding the government, the military or MI5. They are protected under the Official S
ecrets Act. The Official Secrets Act prevents anyone from speaking about private information about the
government, the military or M15 that are not in the public interest. In cases where a journalist needs to visit
MI5, or any government or military property, they may have to sign a legally binding contract before and after
their employment that prevents them from disclosing any private information.
Journalists are not exempt from these rules. The Official Secrets Act states that the penalties for disclosing an of
ficial secret could range from between 3 months to 2 years in prison, or a fine.
In 2013, Edward Snowden, a computer professional, leaked classified information from the National Security
Agency to the media. The documents he revealed showed the programs, and capabilities of the NSA that have b
een used to collect and store personal communications around the world. He revealed that NSA were
responsible for a massive amount of surveillance on the public through games such as Second Life and World of
Warcraft. They had access to millions of phone records and internet records. They also had access to many peo
ples Google and Yahoo accounts. Snowden sought temporary asylum in Russia in order to escape his
conviction. Last year, he was granted an extra 3 years asylum in Russia, and so he is still there.
Codes of Practice:
The National Union of Journalists code of practice gives
journalists guidelines that are in place to enable them to work as
ethically as possible, with minimal risk of legal prosecution. There
are some rules that if broken could result in legal prosecution,
such as “12. Avoids plagiarism.” which could lead to copyright
infringement. However, most of the rules are just hold the moral
There are 12 rules included in the code of conduct. They are all
aimed at protecting minority groups and certain social groups,
children, creators of intellectual property, sources of information
To the left are all 12 rules included in the code of conduct.
There is also the editors code of practice that a journalist can use t
o help them to work ethically, without breaking any laws. The
editors code of practice has many more rules than the NUJ code o
f conduct. It goes into much more detail on issues such as
privacy, harassment, children, hospitals, reporting of crime,
clandestine and subterfuge and payment to criminals.
Anyone who feels as if a journalist or newspaper has broken any
of the rules put in place by these codes of practice, then they are a
ble to report it to the Independent Press Standards Organization.
Everybody has a right to privacy, and journalists need to make sure to abide by that right. The 6th rule in the
National Union of Journalists code of conduct states that a journalist “Does nothing to intrude into anybody’s
private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest.” The editors code of
practice also has some specific rules in regards to privacy. They state that “Everyone is entitled to respect
for his or her private and family life, home, health and correspondence, including digital communications.”
“Editors will be expected to justify intrusions into any individual's private life without consent. Account will be
taken of the complainant's own public disclosures of information.” and “It is unacceptable to photograph
individuals in private places without their consent.”
In 2012, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was photographed topless on a private beach while in
France. The photographs were published in a French magazine. However, Kate won a court battle which
banned the magazine from selling or republishing the photographs. They risked a 100,000 euro fine if they were
to do so. This is an example of a brutal invasion of privacy, and goes against the rule “It is unacceptable to
photograph individuals in private places without their consent.” in the editors code of practice.
Though is is seen as unethical to intrude into someone's private life, if the private information is seen to be in
the public interest. Journalists may use this argument in court in order to escape legal action.
Intrusion is referring to a person being present when they are not wanted, or to pry into someone’s private life wh
en they are not welcome. It is intrusive to request interviews or photographs in the case of someone grieving or i
n shock without sympathy or discretion.
The National Union of Journalists code of conduct states that a journalist “Does nothing to intrude into
anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest.” The
editors code of practice also states “In cases involving personal grief or shock, enquiries and approaches must b
e made with sympathy and discretion and publication handled sensitively. This should not restrict the right to rep
ort legal proceedings, such as inquests.” and “When reporting suicide, care should be taken to avoid
excessive detail about the method used.”
In 2004, the Daily Mail released pictures of Alice Claypoole following her disappearance after a tsunami. The
family of Alice filed a complaint against the Daily Mail, stating that they had not requested permission to use
those photographs. However the case was not upheld, as the court ruled that this was a simple
It can be extremely distressing to be a victim of harassment. The NUJ and the editors code of practice both
provide guidelines on harassment, and so clearly believe it is not morally right nor fair for an individual to be a
victim of it. The editors code of practice states “Journalists must not engage in intimidation, harassment or
persistent pursuit.” “They must not persist in questioning, telephoning, pursuing or photographing individuals
once asked to desist; nor remain on their property when asked to leave and must not follow them. If requested, t
hey must identify themselves and whom they represent.” and “Editors must ensure these principles are
observed by those working for them and take care not to use non-compliant material from other sources.”
Celebrities tend to be people who suffer the greatest day to day harassment from journalists or from paparazzi.
Someone who has recently suffered a lot of harassment has been Tulisa Contostavlos. In 2014, Tulisa was
made a victim of entrapment, by journalist Mazher Mahmood, who aimed to publish a story claiming that she
was dealing cocaine, and get her prosecuted. Mazher convinced Tulisa that he was a movie executive, and
wanted her for a role in his next film, starring alongside Leonardo Di Caprio. He then used this to convince her
to set up an £800 cocaine deal for him. After Mazher has published the story and the case had entered court,
Tulisa had journalists and paparazzi waiting outside her house day and night. In the end, the harassment drove
her to leave her home.