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Legal and ethical issues for radio journalism

Stories involving minors

A minor is anyone who is under the age of 18. What this means for journalism is
that you cannot reveal the identity or any information which lead to someone
discovering the identity of a minor involved in a case. They cannot be formally
interviewed or photographed. In some youth courts identification is granted
however most of the time the identity of anyone involved in court proceedings
who is under 18 is not to be identified. According to the editors code of practice
this means that i) Young people should be free to complete their time at school
without unnecessary intrusion.ii) A child under 16 must not be interviewed or
photographed on issues involving their own or another childs welfare unless a
custodial parent or similarly responsible adult consents.iii) Pupils must not be
approached or photographed at school without the permission of the school
authorities.iv) Minors must not be paid for material involving childrens welfare,
nor parents or guardians for material about their children or wards, unless it is
clearly in the child's interest.v) Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or
position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a
childs private life.
An example of a story involving minors which was handled properly by the press
was the murder of Jamie Bulger. Although the details of his two young murderers
are now publicly known throughout the accusation at trial they were known as
Child A and Child B.

Contempt of court
Contempt of court is when someone is though to have interfered with the path of
justice. As this might affect how justice is carried out it is such a huge offence
and usually leads to fine or even prison sentences.
For this example we again return to the case of Jamie Bulger murder. A
newspaper was found guilty of contempt of court and fined 30000 pounds due
to information publish that could of potentially lead to the discovery of the
whereabouts of one if not both of the accused children. This ruling was decided
after the accused where granted their freedom and the judges ruled that
considerable protection would be put in place to make sure their whereabouts
were not revealed.

Libel and Defamation or Slander

Libel and Defamation is a law that protects peoples reputation. This is especially
used by celebrities whose personal lives are often reported in the news. The law
means that nothing can be published which might affect or spoil the reputation
of someone, the newspaper cannot publish something that might make people
think of them any different.
An example of this was seen when Cameron Diaz sued the Sun newspaper for
publishing a photo of her with someone and claiming she was having an affair on
her long term boyfriend Justin Timberlake.
This is an example of libel and defamation being breached because this story
had an effect on her relationship with Justin Timberlake. I was unable to find the
original article as it has been removed under European data laws.

this story is sensationalist because all it achieves is scaremongering. Also it uses
the term mental patients which is not true. The story is focusing on people with
mental health illness not mental patients which is both offensive and in accurate.
it is also highly misleading as 95 percent of violent crime committed in the UK is
performed by people who do not have a mental health disorder. The sun could
also be criticized for using false data also as the mental health charity Time To
Change commented on this story saying that In 2011, the total population in
England and Wales was 56.1 million. It is estimated that about one in six of the
adult population will have a significant mental health problem at any one time
(more than 7 million people). Given this number and the 5070 cases of homicide
a year involving people known to have a mental health problem at the time of
the murder, clearly the statistics data do not support the sensationalised media
coverage about the danger that people with mental health problems present to
the community.

Coverage of elections
The most important aspect of covering an elections is impartiality. This means
that a station cannot promote one party will putting another one down as the
decision of voting is to be made by the public alone without any interference
from TV stations for example.
A breach of this Ofcom code was made by a TalkSport presenter due to him
urging fans to vote for Boris Johnson in the London mayoral elections claiming
we would not be ripped off as much, if not at all he was fined 20000 pounds.
During the coverage of elections, The BBC for example will have to cover both
sides and not publicly align with one side or the other this means that the actual
decision making and forming of opinions is left completely to the viewer and not
determined by the BBC.

The Official Secrets Act

This is the law that protects government secrets that could be potentially
damaging for example if military strategy was leaked to the public it could mean
that terrorist informants could counter the attack. This can cause some
controversy because it means that information is kept by the government away
from the public. Acoording to the official government documentation about the
act passed in 1989 it states that
Official information is any information, document or article which a Crown
servant or a

Government contractor has, or has had, in his or her possession by virtue of his
Her position as such.
An example of the official secrets act being breached was in the case of the
marine was fully prepared to leak information about navy submarines as he was
up for promotion.

Ofcom fulfils the same role as it does for TV. It regulates the radio airwaves and
acts as a bridge between the public and the corporations, it is Ofcoms job to
protect the people from offensive unethical and misleading broadcasting. To
provide an earlier example OFCOM received three complaints regarding the talk
sport hosts comments putting down the labour candidate ken Livingstone and
raising the status of Boris Johnson, this then lead to action being taken and
TalkSport being fined 20000 pounds.

Story Priority
Story priority is simply the order in which news is organized.
National radio
I listened to a news bulletin on radio 4 and this is what I discovered. I found that
the news most important to the country at the time was aired first, in the case of
this news report it was a political story which placed blame on David Cameron for
Libyan immigration. Following on from this a small aside story was read about
immigrants living in the UK which linked with the original story. The news then
maintained the topic of the election before talking about the UKs biggest bank
HSBC. This then opened the bulletin for world news. Finally the news reported on
a small story involving the royal family. I learned from this that in the case of
radio 4 widespread British news always comes first followed up by the most
important worlds news.
Local radio.
I learned from regional radio in this case BBC Radio Berkshire that his order is
similar to national news but not identical, the national political news still came
first followed again by breaking world news but instead of including news about
the royal family they instead opened up to a section about regional news.
And finally local news such as Heart radio reading stripped back all political and
world news making their segments short and concise and spent considerably
longer discussing local news around Reading.

Immediacy is the speed in which news is reported upon and broadcast. Every
news station wants to break the news and they all scramble to get the latest big
Returning to the example I used in the story priority section they all had news
that was hot off the press referring to events that were happening the same day
as they were being reported such as in radio 4s case the Armenian mourning
Immediacy is highly important to the news industry but what has an even higher
priority now days is receiving accurate news. An example of this failing would be

the reports of 9/11, as no one knew what was actually happening on the scene
people rushed to report which meant that in accurate reports were initially made.

Follow up angles
A follow up angle is a second story which might add more information or build
upon a previous news story. An example of the news constantly exploring follow
up angles would be through the abduction of Madeleine McCann, even though
the abduction happened over 8 years ago the investigation is still ongoing and
disputed, although hit is not discussed on major news networks such as BBC
News television however it is still reported upon by online news provider such as
the telegraph.

Availability of audio
Availability of audio is the use of audio clips in radio news. Audio clips are used in
radio news as it provides another layer of depth and interest to a story, as
opposed to a news reader just reading the quote of the person in question
themselves, using an audio clip helps to break up a news report.
Another important way that audio clips are used is to help the audience
understand that a story is completely truthful. If a radio reporter claims that
someone said something for example David Cameron making a claim about the
elections, it is easier to believe the news if there is an audio clip of him saying
what the news reader claims which therefore proves unquestionably that the
news is solid fact.

Newsroom Policy
Newsroom policy is the line that news reporting organizations draw which
separates what they think is important news and what they believe isnt. For
example BBC news might consider a cat stuck in a tree to be unnecessary news
whereas the sun might consider it front page worthy. This can lead to dispute as
some people might consider some news to be an invasion whereas the company
might consider it important to them. A recent example would be the topless
pictures of Kate Middleton that were snapped by photographers on her holiday
and published in various gossip magazines. The magazines that they were
published in would consider these photos publicly important breaking news
whereas other companies might consider it an invasion of privacy and not
publish them.

Public and human interest agenda

Public and human interest are two types of news. Human interest aims to strike
at peoples emotions, it makes the audience sympathise and perhaps even relate
to them in some cases like for example UK based stories of someone rising from

rags to riches. An example of the flipside of a story like this which causes
sadness and sympathy in the audience would be the story of the drowned
migrants in a capsizing boat, this story was covered and photographed in an
emotional way. This makes the audience sympathise with the migrants and
although the events are morbid they are still highly interesting.
Public interest stories are very different, they cover issues which are important to
the country and the world they are used to inform the public of what is
happening around them. Public interest stories are important to just about
everyone as it keeps them in the know of what is happening in the world, the
covering of 9/11 would be an example of a public interest story.