Copyright, libel, privacy… these are complicated legal and ethical issues that many yearbook staffs ponder every year and often don’t ever fully grasp the way they should. Thanks to Walsworth’s newest eBook, Media Law and Ethics for Yearbook Journalists, that no longer has to be the case. Media Law and Ethics provides a condensed overview…
For yearbook students and advisers, awareness of legal issues is essential in balancing rights with responsibilities. They need to know media law and how to find out more about media law.
What’s the big deal about libel and school yearbooks anyway? In the history of the United States, there is no reported court decision anywhere that a high school has been held libel for content printed in its student media, according to the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Va.
When it comes to libel, the law does not have a sense of humor.
A doctored photograph showing a classmate exiting a pornographic bookstore may be meant as a joke, but when the boy’s mother sees it in the yearbook, she will not be laughing. Neither will the court.
In journalism class and on the yearbook staff, cover ethics first.
While understanding law – copyright, libel, invasion of privacy, obscenity, business issues, students’ rights – is important, good ethics help curb abuse of rules and the law and guide staff behavior toward noble goals. Ethics are the key in balancing student rights with responsibilities and respect.