More laws could mean more exams for journalists

Law exams for trainee journalists may have to be split into two
stages because of the weight of new legislation affecting the press.
 
Walter Greenwood , chairman of the NCTJ’s law
board, made the prediction at the launch of the new edition of McNae’s
Essential Law for Journalists, which he has co-edited with Tom Welsh
and David Banks.
 
Greenwood said The Queen’s Speech in May proposed
50 new Bills to be dealt with in this Parliament – and many of them
would include offences which could unwittingly be committed by
journalists.
He claimed: “There can be few countries in the western world that have
so many legal regulations on reporting the courts. In matters of
newspaper law it is more of a constant drip of legislation continuing
year after year and gradually eroding the freedom to report.”
 
Greenwood asked: “As almost every year the range
of reporting law widens yet further, can young journalists be required
to absorb it all? “I believe – and this is purely a personal opinion –
that the time will come when some newspaper law will have to be studied
at an early stage and some much later, when young journalists in
general, and not just the bright stars, have acquired the capacity to
understand the effect of the law in particular stories.
 
“At our law
board meeting in October we will be taking a look at the possibility of
a two-stage qualification, to include some updating on new law.”
 
The new edition of Essential Law for
Journalists comes with a new companion website.
The book, the 18th edition, has been updated to include coverage of the
implications for the media of the Serious Organised Crime and Police
Act 2005, as well as new measures under the Freedom of Information Act,
and other Acts.
It also contains a new, separate chapter for photographers, as well as
tables of cases and legislative material.
The companion website will be regularly updated to cover the latest
media law developments.
Essential Law is published by Oxford University Press, price £16.99.
The website address is: http://www.oup.com/uk/booksites/law/media/
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