You are on page 1of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 The book that I chose to review in this assignment is Law

and the Media: An Everyday Guide for Professional, by Tom Crone. Focal Press, Jordan Hill Oxford, 1995. 321 pages. Reviewed by Donny Joseph.

Tom Crone is a British barrister, last working for News International as Legal Affairs manager. With his journalistic and legal knowledge and experience, Tom Crone published Law and the Media book and has been thoroughly revised by a remarkable team of legal experts. The book provide very essential source of reference for the legal issues encountered by those who study in journalism, journalists, editors, producers, publishers, as well as lawyers in media industry.

The book mean to provide a clear, concise and effective approach by the author and his team, this book will benefit anyone who requires awareness in legal issues that always become a problem to the industry. What was the authors purpose in writing this book?

Tom Crone has written Law and the Media book because he wants to share his ideas, knowledge, and experience as a guidelines and source of reference to news reporters, news editors, to the students of journalism, and to legal professional. This is because the legal issues always arise in media industry and they needs to know basic foundation on how to deal with type of challenges.

News reporters and news editor can benefit from this book because the book offer uncomplicated way of principle and every topic provide essential knowledge that related to legal issues. Libel cases always a legal problem to the industry as the author discuss in the book, therefore the author suggest that every journalist must be critical with every articles they publish, there are series of checklist dont and do they have to bear in mind, such as is the story true? Can it be prove to be true?

The students of journalism that looking for reference book in the media law will find the materials in this book very helpful to their learning experience. The straightforward content and the writing styles by the author make the learning experience more comprehensive.
Page 1 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 To the media lawyer I believe they will discover this book be part of their source of reference in day to day decision making. For example, the book covered many historical cases such as copyright issues, defamation issues, or racial hatred issues all these issues can be utilized to support lawyers decision making and judgement.

The book not only covered law to libel, but the book also cover defamation, procedures, injunctions, damages, criminal libel, seditious libel, the legal systems, breach of confidence, copyright, court reporting, contempt of court, journalists court, obscenity, election and parliament, official secret act, promotions, professional regulatory bodies, advertising, and the right to privacy. Authors intention is to give more resources in one book to the readers.

Did the author make a logical argument?

What I like about this book is that the author provides and presents the information with reasonable argument, meaning that every chapter in the book explained in details and some part of it followed by historical legal cases just to make the message that author try convey to the reader can be understood. To me this is very essential because it is allow us to understand the argument with no trouble.

For example if we read chapter 3 under Damages on page 51, the author wrote July 1987, the famous author and erstwhile politician, Jeffrey Archer, was awarded 500,000 in libel damages against the Daily Star newspaper for an article suggesting that he had slept with a prostitute. The newspaper did not appeal. Tom Crone explains that when the Newspaper publisher published defamation against someone, the plaintiff has the right to bring this libel issue to the court and take legal action against the publisher. Another example of logical argument in Who Owns Copyright under the Copyright chapter on page 103 of the book. The book quoted However, in some cases, the person who takes the material down can be the copyright owner. In Walter v Lane(1900) shorthand writers from The Times had taken down political
Page 2 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 speeches of Lord Rosebery. Reports were published in the newspaper. The Times, it was held, could prevent other newspapers from copying its reports. It owned copyright in the reports, which had been produced by the skill and labour of the shorthand writers, although Lord Rosebery (who did not make any claim) was the author of the speech. Other newspapers could have taken down the speeches themselves and published identical reports to The Times, but they could not take the short cut of copying from The Times. Copyright in such cases protects the material form in which the information is recorded, not the information itself. In the quote article above, the author explain how some of the copyright issue is owned, explanation supported by argument using historical case such as Walter v Lane (1900).

Did the author keep you interested?

I have very limited exposure and experience in media law because I only read about this subject and did not take it seriously, but honestly I think most part of this book interest me because the way how the author present the messages in straightforward English and reasonable explanation.

For example, I always looking for the answer to my own questions such as what is our right as a public if there is defamation or libel statement published by the press against us, What should I do? How do I protect myself? How do I claim for damages that occur to us? Who should we consult? How the legal systems work?

These are series of questions I search for, and I found them here in the Law and the Media book.

For example on how the legal systems work, we will find the answer under the chapter 6: The Legal Systems. Under this chapter the author explain what is the law?, the source of the law, legal profession such as barrister and solicitor, judge and jury.
Page 3 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 The author also explain this concept in simple language what is the structure of the court and its function to the law systems such as the magistrate, the high court, the court of appeal, the crown court, the county court, and the house of lord.

There are parts of the book uninteresting and sometime I lost my concentration and I need to take time to re-read the contents before I understand the message that the author try to deliver. I suppose this is because I have very little knowledge in the legal part, that is why some context in the book does not make sense to me.

For example on Chapter 2 under Defamation Act 1952, the explanation under this section rather technical and I do not comprehend the Act, until I read them again and make a reference from other sources.

Share a favourite part of the book.

Most chapters in the book provide the readers with details explanation and that interest me in some way, but my favourite part of the book in under the topic of The Legal Systems and also under Copyright.

Under The Legal Systems, the book explains to the readers the basic foundation of the legal systems, this is including how the court operate. For example how the courts run? Who run them? And how every components of the legal systems play their roles. This is essential for a person who wishes to work in the media industry and also to anyone who like to understand the concept of law and legal systems involved in this field.

Second part of the book that I interest in is under the Copyright, the book cover many sub-topics including Copyright works, who owns copyright, what is infringement, defences, duration of copyright, and other right. What interest me here is how the author explain to the reader how to protect our right, our works, our ideas, and how do we defences ourselves if there is somebody want to take legal action unto us because of copyright infringement.

Page 4 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 Copyright also very important to the journalist as the author explains, let me quote his explanation The law of copyright is important to journalists because it determines to what extent they can quote or use the work of third parties in their reports and articles. It has a further importance in establishing what rights a journalist, newspaper or television company, have to exploit their own work, and prevent others from taking the benefit of it. It is true that there is no copyright in ideas, nor is there copyright in news. But the law does protect information which is expressed in a particular way.

What did you like most about the book?

The author provide good presentation by explaining and showing the contents of the topic to the readers through comprehensive and supported by preceding cases, good argument by the author was increased my sense to study the book deeply. This is very important element in the book because it can create attention to the reader to like the ideas.

So information is very important for the book to be success in the market because without enough information the book means nothing. Information in the book must be accurate, up to date during the writing process, and clearly explained. Tom Crone is a very senior barrister, so he has a lot of experiences and knowledge that he share in this book, support by extensive study by his team, to me this book offer very valuable information to the readers.

This book also provides a good content arrangement and structure writing although I noticed that some part of it not in systematic approach. This is essential to the reader because the book with poor structure writing will lead to the reader to misunderstand, and this will cause their learning process to fail.

This book not only cover law in libel, but also other areas of the law covered such as copyright, slander, court reporting, journalists sources, contempt of court, obscenity and racial hatred, and promotions. To me I found this is very good because the book provide different kind of legal topic in one book. For the students this book is handy as their source of reference.
Page 5 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995

Past preceding case such as Jeffrey Archer v Express Newspaper and many other historic cases covered in the book give the reader some idea how the legal cases proceed between the plaintiff and defendant, how the damages will be compensate, who is going to pay the legal cost, or what is exemplary damages decided by the juries, and many more.

Other than using historic cases, the author also using technical explanation to explain some argument, to certain reader this approach is effective, but to some are not because normally the technical word very hard to understand. For example some technical quote from the book All complaints are judged against the Code of Practice. If there is no prima facie breach of the Code, the PCC tells the complainant that it can take the matter no further.

At the back of the book, the author provide in Appendix 1 Glossary of legal term, in this glossary almost all the legal terms used in the book was printed here including its meaning and application. Without this section, we might not catch up with the meaning of the legal terms that being used and that can cause our learning not effective.

In Appendix 2, the author provide The Law in Scotland, this is because Scotland has a legal system which is different and separate from that which operates in England and Wales. Its continued independence was guaranteed by the Treaty of Union, 1707, by which statute the Parliaments of each country were merged quoted from the book on page 219, under Appendix 2.

What did you like least?

I read the entire book once, and some part of it I have to read few times because I do not understand the messages. Some chapters such as Chapter 2 Libel: Defences and Chapter 14: Official Secrets Act and D-Notices were the least I like, not because of the presentation are not there but because of the content under that chapters did not interest me.

Page 6 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 Tables of content are poorly arrange, first time reader will found them confuse, and as of myself I find it difficult to recognise the chapter and the sub-title. I do not understand how the author trying to present and why he chose that type of format. I suggest that the author should take into consideration about this matter because it can influence the reading and learning process.

There are explanations in the book using too much legal terms and very hard to understand because to me its too technical sometime. But I believe since this book is about the law and regulation in the media, therefore not much the author can do about it. However at the back of the book, the author provides the legal terms meaning which under an Appendix 1. Please refer page 217 in Law and the Media book.

Did you learn something new from the book?

After I read the entire book, I found that my knowledge and learning experience in law and the media broaden, my perception has changed since for example before this I know that libel is wrong but I dont see them seriously so sometime we do not really care about the consequences that we will face in the future if someone want to sue us for defamation. However after I read the book, I learned that libel is the biggest legal issues that always encountered by the media because of their wrong doing to the public or to someone. Because of simple defamation issue, the media company can be sued and if found convicted the company will be penalized to pay the damages, this will damage the company image, the company will lost money, staffs will lost their job, and the chain effect will continuously.

As a part time blogger, I always published my own article about current event, politic, and many other stories in my blog, and the blog is circulating on the internet. Everytime I write a new article, I do not have proper guidelines on legal side on what should I take note before an article to be published, but the Law and the Media book help me to identify the three questions should be asked to our self before the article uploaded to the internet, there are; Is the story true?
Page 7 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 Can it be proved to be true? Is the subject of the story likely to sue?

These three simple questions are very important because if we ignore them, the article that we publish can be defamation whereby the other party can sue us because of our wrong doing.

How the legal systems work presented in the book is concisely by the author make my process of learning effective, to me the author was achieve his goal in delivering the messages to the reader because his explanation to the topic are comprehension. For example under the sub title What is the law? I quote one of authors explanations - The law is one of the major influences on the life of every person in the country. It is a controller, a protector and a regulator. In one sense it is simply a body of dos and don'ts representing the minimum standards of conduct which every member of society is obliged to follow. In another, it is an immensely sophisticated set of rules and regulations for administering the complex relationships between fellow individuals and between the individual and the state.

I learned that what if one day I become a plaintiff over the defamation case that we brought to court against the media, what prove should I gather before legal action can be taken? What element should I take into account? According to Tom Crone, under the sub topic What plaintiff must prove? on Chapter 1, there are three elements the plaintiff must prove, there are There are thus three relatively simple elements to the plaintiffs case: 1 Defamation: That the words or other matter are defamatory. 2 Identification: That they are reasonably understood to refer to the plaintiff. 3 Publication: That they were published to some third party by the defendant.

As a plaintiff, it is important these elements to exist, or else we cannot provide evidence that the defendant is guilty. The case can be much difficult if the libel case involved with or between big entities, some plaintiff won the case to restore his name, but some case the cost they have to bear far greater than the damages compensation. For instance in libel case Dr. Sydney Gee v BBC (1984),
Page 8 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 whereby the BBC composite the Dr. Sydney Gee with 75,000, but the legal cost that Dr. Sydney have to bear was worth of 1,000,000.00. Extracted from the book In a more recent case Dr Sidney Gee sued the BBC and its presenter, Esther Rantzen, over allegations of professional misconduct made in the course of a That's Life programme. This time the case was fought for eighty-seven days before the BBC capitulated. It paid Dr Gee 75,000 in damages and was left holding a bill for an estimated 1,000,000 worth of legal costs.

What is my suggestion?

Since the book was published in 1995 and of course the information inside a bit out dated although some cases and principle still applicable in today world. Therefore my suggestion is that the content should be updated by the author in the next edition. As the author stated in the preface of the book, As we head towards the dawn of a new millennium the rate of technological advance is, if anything, accelerating. While citizens of western cultures grapple to understand the practical implications of `multimedia' and 'information superhighways', those across broad tracts of Asia and the developing world find themselves suddenly swamped with images of a twentieth century world they hardly knew thanks to satellite airwaves.1995 The author is aware that new laws must be established as soon as the broadcasting technology changing, because the old regulations might not appropriate with the issues that will arise in the future. This is very important for the media industry to protect themselves for the legal issue. Arrangement of the books content should be improved to be more systematic, although I noticed that the current arrangement already good enough. My suggestion is that every main title, sub-title, and sub sub-title should be using numbering, so that the reader will easily identify each sub title belong to which title.

Technical explanation in the book seems to be reasonable and the author should maintain that idea in the next edition, because some part of explanation need to be in technical terms, and no way the author can change that otherwise the

Page 9 of 10

Law and the Media by Tom Crone, 1995 context of explanation will produce different meaning from the original term. As a learner we need to do extra work to understand and learn the technical term.

Would you recommend this book?

Law and the Media is a good book for those who want to learn especially to the student of journalism, I would recommend this book to although the price a bit pricey but the knowledge inside is valuable.

To friends that want to learn about the law that related to the media industry, this book is mostly recommended the book will give you priceless information.

Conclusion This book was interesting to me because its expanded my perceptions, my knowledge, ideas, and experience especially in legal issues in the media industry. Tom Crones detailed and thorough writing takes the reader to a deeper understanding of why the law must have in the media industry. Before I decide to read Tom Crones book I was thinking that will this book really help me in my work? But the author prove me wrong, I found that this book gave me something valuable, although I know that there is a lot of the books of the same kind out there, but this Law and the Media book is my first step to next journey.

End.

Page 10 of 10