MEDIA AND THE LAW

Brief summary of activity

Participants will learn about media law by exploring some of the sanctions or dismissed cases decided by either regulators or the courts.

Aim of the activity

There are moral and ethical rules that govern the way journalists report on certain issues, but the law and media regulations, as well as ethical codes and the ethos of community radio also establish its limits. It is important for journalists to know it. Some examples that might be relevant:Defamation Law is concerned with protecting a person’s good name or reputation. Journalists and broadcasters need to be aware of these in order to try to avoid defaming anyone. A legal entity or living individual can sue for defamation if named or reasonably identifiable because details of location, description, use of photographs, images or other information, make him/her reasonably identifiable. Balance and fair reporting. Is there a requirement to present both arguments in current affair discussions in your country?Do courts implement restrictions on reporting of ongoing court cases?Etc.

Expected Outcomes

Participants will be able to demonstrate knowledge of and skills on: Legislation and Regulation in a community radio station Importance of solid research and limiting risk Importance of Balance and Fairness in Reporting

experience and skills required

The trainer needs to be familiar with, and well informed of, the legal requirements and limits to media reporting, prepare well the examples and have all possible answers. It is important to simplify the language and the legal arguments by using a variety of examples.

infrastructure, setting, resources

Depending of the examples to be used, the room might need to be prepared for video projection. Definitely, audio should be used as part of the training.

Length

60

Materials

Recordings of case studies (optional), audio/video player

How the activity should take place

The Trainer should prepare two or three examples of court media cases and/or complaints against radio stations upheld or rejected by the Media authority. The trainer should play one by one, explain the background to the case (or even playing the original recording if still available) by explaining the content of the report at the centre of the case, ask participants on their opinion about the information the report contained, and finally discuss the court/regulator decision.Do the same for each examples.Close the session by offering some basic guidelines on how to avoid legal/regulatory breaches, do’s and don’ts (ie. don’t say anything against someone if you don’t have proof) and highlight the importance of proper research to sustain information being provided by the programme.

Recommended max. number of participants and trainees to trainers ratio

10 (visually impaired/learning disabilities 4 per trainer)

Risk and possible adaptation

For participants with learning difficulties it might be easier to place them on a defamation situation by playing a role game. The trainer being the subject of the defamation, Questions need to be asked: is there proof that what is being said is true? Does the journalist have this evidence? If the statement is not true or cannot be demonstrated, how would it impact on the future of this person?

Variations

This activity needs to be developed accordingly to the legislation in each state, as this might be different on the approach.

Tips for Trainers

Distribute (on Paper or by e-mail) a Summary of what are the legal restrictions to reporting on radio and guidelines on how to avoid legal/regulatory breachesPrepare plenty of examples, and carry out the activity as a discussion, as otherwise it might be too tedious.

Try to get them engaged, by asking them their opinion and debate about freedom of expression and opinion.

Analysis and evaluation

Can participants name legal requirements and limitations imposed on media reporting?Can participants describe actions to avoid legal/regulatory breaches?

Scheduling

Any time, better after the research module
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