New guide to the legal pitfalls for journalists working online


I saw an article about a dodgy curry house in south London on a news magazine’s website recently.

The restaurant was prosecuted after a rat appeared during an environmental health inspection.

The magazine’s court report was safe as it was protected by qualified privilege. But the website automatically generated a libel against another restaurant.

When you called up the court report, a pop-up headed ‘Similar stories’ flagged up a meal review about another restaurant in the same area.

The stories weren’t similar at all. The review was very complimentary, and no doubt the owner would have had something to say about his establishment being ‘similar’ to the one with the rat.

Most media have automatic-related stories link generators, and they can also prove problematic if they draw attention to things like a person’s previous convictions, or other information which could prejudice a current trial.

I came across another example where a 'similar stories'  tool picked up a link to a story that named a woman who had since been given anonymity as a rape victim.

Such are the dangers of online publishing. And with these in mind, I have just published a new eBook, called Internet Law, which covers numerous issues facing journalists, bloggers, webmasters and web editors.

It’s a simple, how-to guide, and I blushed when digital journalism guru Paul Bradshaw said after reading it: "If I was to recommend one book on law for people publishing online, this would be it. Essential."

It’s available on my website, priced £5.95 incl VAT.

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