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JOURNALISM AND DEFARMATION - Essay Example

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Name Institution Course Instructor Date Defences Used by Journalists in Working out Defamation According to the laws of many lands, journalists should withhold their opinion and hold back from giving commentaries about their stories. Although some it may be difficult for an individual to withhold making personal opinions about a story known, it is critical for journalists to understand the law governing the land in which they work…
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JOURNALISM AND DEFARMATION
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Download file to see previous pages Journalists handle critical stories each day and have to remain on guard each time. Staying on guard will prevent them from getting overwhelmed by the stories and going overboard to publicize public opinion concerning the stories. Therefore, a journalist will need adequate research from reliable sources before publishing any story. However, it is proving much more difficult for journalists to reserve their opinion especially in the current world whereby there are so many media forums1. In the recent past, many journalists have found themselves in much trouble. For example, the yahoo organization fired one of its chief journalists after making a joke about the Romney campaigns. According to many people, Yahoo took the joke with too much weight yet the journalists uttered the statement without malice. In other numerous cases, journalists find themselves sued for causing damages on the reputation of others2. The law classifies such cases as defamation3. However, the law provides defences that journalists can use in such cases4. The first defense that a journalist can use is justification. Being able to present proof that what the journalist published concerning a plaintiff is true. This requires journalists to publish information after careful research from reliable sources. Justification may require the journalist to present a witness in court in order to expose the truth in what he published. Presenting a reliable justification will serve to clear the plaintiff’s claims of defamation. If the court establishes that the journalist only said something that is true, then he clears the defendant of the charges5. However, the court does not need the defendant to prove beyond doubt that the statement under investigation is true. The courts consider a lower level that involves presenting acceptable proof that the statements made about the plaintiff are true. The challenge for many journalists lies in convincing a witness to testify before a court. Sometimes, these witnesses present information in privacy and decline to appear in the limelight. It is worthy noting that regardless of the fact that the standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ does not apply, a court may expect a high level of contextual truth because it expects journalists to be cautious of the statements they make. The second form of defense occurs in the presence of a conviction indicating that the plaintiff had previously faced a conviction regarding the act mentioned in the statement claimed to be defamatory. However, the court will require substantial evidence of conviction in order to prove that the convictions made translate to the statement under investigation. This will require evidence of several instances. For example, making a claim that someone lacks integrity to hold office will require at least two convictions concerning abuse of office6. However, depending on the conviction and the time elapsed; the court may consider the conviction spent. Therefore, a journalist must understand the spending duration of different convictions before drawing conclusions. In other cases, the journalist may use the defence of ‘fair comment’ and give proof to the court that any individual in such a situation would draw similar situations7. This ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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