Media Law 4# Qualified Privilege

Here are some of the main notes from last weeks law lecture. The lecture began with the focus of looking at The Sun. Immediately the front headline 'I'm common as muck says Adele' is a defamatory. She may be shunned and avoided and hated by some, therefore she could say that this image of her is defamatory. But when it comes to libel the newspaper would win, the newspaper could argue its only comment. All tabloid newspapers can state comments even if they are a load of rubbish it doesn't matter as long as it's a comment and not fact. Tabloid newspapers are full of comment but they are able to get away with it.
All journalists have qualified privileges, common law privileges is whether or not it is in the public's interest to know.
Statutory qualified privilege- is the information gathered from court, you must indicate the defendant in these privileges.

Judge Lord Nicholls in appeal stage of the Albert Reynolds vs Sunday Times in 1999 established the 10 point test for journalist, as long as the reporter works without malice, has taken responsible steps and considered if the matter is of 'public interest' then the protection of defamation is secure.

These 'responsible steps' in journalism are very important.

1• The seriousness of the allegation

2•The nature of the information, and the extent to which the subject matter is of public concern.

3• The source of the information. Some informants have no direct knowledge of the events. Some have their own axes to grind or are being paid for their stories.

4• The steps taken to verify the information.

5• The status of the information. The allegation may have already been the subject of an
investigation that commands respect.

6• The urgency of the matter. News is often a perishable commodity.

7• Whether comment was sought from the claimant. He may have information others do not possess or have not disclosed. An approach to the claimant will not always be necessary.

8• Whether the article contained the gist of the claimant's side of the story.

9• The tone of the article. A paper can raise queries or call for an investigation. It need not adopt allegations as statements of fact.

10• The circumstances of the publication, including the timing.

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