February 21, 2012

Online friends are the new news authorities

View more PowerPoint from Debra Askanase

News becoming more social as publications turn to apps & hubs

Target audience: Journalists, online news staffs, Web publishers, news consumers, nonprofits, foundations, businesses, educators.

Debra AskanaseEarlier this month I gave a presentation for the New England Press and Newspaper Association‘s winter conference on how social media is impacting journalism and the newspaper industry. I appeared on a panel with Boston Globe reporter Milton Valencia and “Crowdsourcing”d author Jeff Howe. Milton spoke enthusiastically about why Twitter matters to journalists, and Jeff explained the virtuous cycle of reporting and online community that makes reporting better. During the presentation, I identified four areas impacted by social media: the changing definition of an authoritative news source, the concept of news participators, how news is shared, and the changing news cycle.

Authority = trust

In the age of social, a newspaper and its journalists must earn authority; who is an authority is now decided by news consumers. For decades, even centuries, there’s been a “paper of record” that has been considered the authority on what is news. No longer. According to the Pew report Understanding the Participatory News Consumer, 30 percent of Internet users get news from a combination of friends, journalists, or news organizations that they follow on social networking sites. Moreover, half of social network users who also consume news online get their news daily from people they follow within social networks. Continue reading

August 8, 2009

How to prevent against online libel and defamation

The Bill of Rights

A brief guide for citizen journalists and bloggers

Target audience: Journalists, bloggers, nonprofits, cause organizations, NGOs, general public.

Guest post by Mitch Ratcliffe

There is much that bloggers can learn from journalists, who have learned how to cause the most trouble possible without landing in jail over the course of centuries. I highly recommend you pick up a copy of The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law ($13 at Amazon.com, which is the essential text for many journalists.

In addition, here’s a good source for students and other beginners.

If you want to go deep and learn a lot, read this piece from the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Journalists’ Handbook.

It’s worth understanding this stuff even if you don’t want to be a journalist, because anyone can be sued for libel, slander or defamation.

The first thing to understand about all subjects relating to journalists’ privileges is that they are different everywhere. There is no international standard set of laws, though journalistic professional societies have pressed for these kinds of uniform expectations. Most of what I’ll lay out here relates to the United States, where the press enjoy the most liberal protections available. In Canada, for example, there is no presumption that a journalist can protect their source. In much of Europe, the subjects of photographs retain far greater control of pictures through their moral rights (PDF), or “droit moral,” which provides both the photographer and the subject protection from the unauthorized reuse of the image in whole or in part — juxtaposing the image of a person into an advertisement, for instance, which is common in digital media is prohibited without their permission.

Elements of defamation

Defamation, slander and libel are the same thing, essentially, but each is defined based on the way a false statement about a person is conveyed. According to ExpertLaw.com’s entry on Defamation, Libel and Slander Law, the general principle behind all three must include the following elements:

1. A false and defamatory statement concerning another;
2. The unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party (that is, somebody other than the person defamed by the statement);
3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher; and
4. Damage to the plaintiff.

In the context of defamation law, a statement is “published” when it is made to the third party. That term does not mean that the statement has to be in print.

Continue reading