21  Law and ethics

The laws affecting journalists are complex. A script of a staff writer on a national newspaper is checked for libel by a media lawyer for libel and other dangers, and if a case is lost in court the newspaper will cough up. Freelances, in contrast, should remember to warn editors whenever they feel there are any legal dangers in what they’ve written.

Not only are the laws complex but they are liable to frequent change. You should have the latest editions of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists and Tom Crone’s Law and the Media on your shelves or know where they are accessible. Make sure you are conversant with the NUJ Code of Practice and the Press Complaints Commission’s (PCC’s) Editors’ Code (see pages 375–380) and keep ...

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