Do's and Don'ts of Newsgathering*

 

Avoiding Defamation

and Invasion of Privacy

1. Get both sides of the story and report them fairly and accurately. In addition to protecting your professional reputation and keeping your company out of legal trouble, it may provide additional viewer interest through the clash of ideas. A false light claim can be launched if a party can prove that the story exaggerated, embellished, or omitted significant facts.

2. Try to avoid confidential and unnamed sources ("According to a top company official....") and rely on information that can be cited and confirmed, such as public records, official documents, and on-camera interviews.

3. If the information you are going to broadcast can be considered of a damaging private nature, make sure it is of legitimate public concern and important to the thrust of your story. Be especially careful in disclosing medical information.

4. In getting photos or sound recordings do not trespass on private property without permission. Try not only to stick to public property but avoid using long telephoto lenses and highly directional microphones that could result in an invasion of privacy suit.

5. Do not use information obtained by theft or illegal means. This includes illegally-obtained information or images that comes from a third party.

6. For interviews, even in public places, try to get the person to sign a release granting permission to use the material.  If the interview involves a minor child, you must have parental consent. If the person can later say that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the release was signed, it can be deemed invalid.


*Based on information provided by Media/Professional Insurance.


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