Book Summary: Chapter 7

Addressing limitations and safeguards in journalism is what chapter 7 primarily focuses in. Some may even say that chapter 8 goes hand in hand with 7, because it talks more about what extent journalists can go to to protect information (including sources of information) once it is obtained.

“A dominant theme in news-gathering law is that journalists have no greater access to information, or to locations where sought-after information may be, than any other person. Thus, the First Amendment freedom of press clause accomplishes virtually nothing for journalists in this area. Laws that govern news-gathering are generally applicable. They apply to everyone in the same way—First Amendment or no First Amendment, journalist or someone else.” – Chapter Overview

This large misconception can be seen from all walks of journalism. Even if you are not a journalist, you have the right to know public information and you still are held to the same standards as a journalists. The first amendment is for all of us, not just journalists.

Something that is also treated equally, is trespassing. Regardless if you are a journalist or any old Joe Shmoe, you need to follow the law. Students likely will be interested in the laws that specifically target news-gathering techniques, especially photography, on private property via drones and even on public property when they seem to harass or potentially harm. At the same time, however, courts are responding to recent protests over police behavior and seizure of cameras with rulings that protect the right to non-disruptively photograph government officials in public.

This problem has been taken with serious concern on both sides of the aisle. Whether you are a government official/agency collecting information about the general public or someone in the public taking pictures of government officials or property – there is a dead lock on who is in the right and who is in the wrong. This is why we hold our trust in the judicial system to justify who is right, wrong, or something else.

Transitioning into something else is inevitable with a chapter like this. A common newsgathering method is recording conversations—face-to-face and via telephone—and visual images. The laws that govern recording are varied, both state-by-state and according to the kind of recording at issue. Chapter 7 provides an overview of these laws.

There are, however, certain circumstances where information must be withheld from the general public. “Access to military operations is limited by the non-public-forum nature of military facilities, the need to protect the security of military operations, and the safety of all involved and the confidentiality of many types of military planning and procedures. However, such limitations on access have sometimes expanded to virtual bans on press contact by military personnel and newsgathering by reporters beyond reliance on military PR. New rules on the use of social media by military personnel may provide some insight into the lives of those individuals but do not clearly enhance access to official military information” – Chapter Overview

Other occasions where the common public may not have access are government hearings. This is where the media comes in handy. They are sometimes granted permission to listen in to meetings and share that with the public, but obviously some things are too confidential.

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