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Legal and Ethical Issues in Media and Communication Case Analysis
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- Course Code: CAT 2008
- Subject: Legal and Ethical Issues in Media and Communication
The Colourful Community Enforcer
a) Newsique Mack is a young reporter at one of the major daily newspapers in the country. He recently started covering the crime and court beat.
One afternoon he gets a call from a close friend from College about ‘pandemonium’ and ‘bere excitement’ at an apartment building in an upscale community in the capital city. His friend was convinced this would be the story that would allow Newsique to make his name as a hard-hitting investigative journalist.
The friend told Newsique that he was hearing strange noises and loud music coming from his neighbour’s house. The neighbour was a very wealthy and popular community activist who appeared many times on radio and television promoting social outreach programmes for children and young people in inner city communities. He would frequently make large contributions each month to various social and sporting organizations.
Newsique’s friend told him that from his window he could see the popular community activist dressed in a red miniskirt, a bright yellow tank top blouse, high top boots and sporting a wig. He appeared to be hosting a group of young men from a local football club on his patio. The men were featured during a recent television news report as they had received gears donated by the community activist.
The friend said he was not able to properly see what was happening inside his neighbour’s house but the occupants were laughing and talking at the top of their voices. Some appeared to be doing provocative dance moves.
Newsique’s friend tells him to ensure his phone is fully charged as he could get some good photographs. He told him the fence separating the neighbour’s property from his was low and so Newsique could easily climb over and gain access to the house to take photographs and record what is happening without anyone on the inside noticing.
Newsique decides to take up the offer to check out the story as the apartment was not far from his office. He had previously been hearing whispers in social circles that the community activist was a bit strange. Newsique is convinced that there is a bigger story to uncover as the community activist could have been engaging in inappropriate relations with some of the young men who had benefited from his charity programmes.
Newsique gets to the apartment and realizes the gate was left opened and so he walked onto the property. He sees a group of men a few chains away talking loudly. He realizes they could not see him and so he proceeds to record their conversation and take photos. From their conversations he gathers that they are all over 18 years old but he also hears enough to convince him that the relationship between the community philanthropist and the members of the football club was inappropriate and this had been happening for months. Newsique did not interview any of the men but plans to use the details from the conversations he overheard and recorded as the basis of his story. He recognized a few of the players and will include their names in the story.
Newsique got several good photographs of the young men as well as the popular activist dressed in female apparel and dancing on a pole.
He heads back to the office and immediately starts writing a story with the headline, “The Real Price of Goodwill”. It was an expose on how a popular community activist had the members of a football club ‘repay’ him for his sponsorship of their upcoming season.
Newsique submits his story to his editor who has several questions. Among other things, the editor has raised questions about the extensive quotes from named individuals in the story and the appropriateness of some of the photographs.
Outline and discuss the legal and ethical issues that may arise from Newsique’s news gathering methods and his justification for wanting the story published.
(Total 15 marks)
A Family Affair
b) On November 2, 2020, the Commissioner of Police and the Children’s Advocate held a joint press briefing where they outlined a marked increase in reported incidents of incest across several communities in the parish of Saint Dangerous.
The authorities disclosed at the press conference that they had arrested 20 men (fathers and grandfathers of minor girls) in the last four weeks who were accused of having sexual relations with their daughters and granddaughters. All the men had appeared in court in the last week and had pleaded not guilty. Trial dates were set.
On exiting the room, you realize that a sheet of paper fell from the folder of the Children’s Advocate which contained the names and addresses of all the alleged victims and the dates for their next court appearance.
You rush off to find the Children’s Advocate but she had already driven off.
You return to the newsroom and the Editor tells you that she wants an investigative follow up report as all the other media houses and news outlets would have had the same information from the press conference. You remember that you had the sheet of paper with the names of the victims and their addresses and so you ask for one week to pursue the story.
You visit a few of the homes to talk to the girls and their mothers about the alleged ordeal and a gutsy 12 year old insists that she wants to tell her story on camera of three months of abuse by her grandfather as she wants him to rot in jail. Her younger sister also has a similar story, and she is trying to convince her to speak out as well.
The mother of the girls also invites you to cover the trial which is to start in another 2 days. You note the date and the courthouse.
You proceed to interview other members of the community who identify at least five other men- one Minister of Religion, two primary school teachers, a basketball coach and a politician who have been behind a human trafficking ring luring teenage girls and boys under 18 years to work in massage parlours and exotic clubs. They also tell you that these men are behind an unsolved case where a 15-year old girl disappeared from the community six months ago without a trace. The residents are convinced that the men are behind the young girl’s disappearance and that the Minister of Religion knows about the cases of incest in his church, but he has been protecting the alleged perpetrators. You have all these interviews on the record and the residents were not coy about revealing the names of the five men.
The community members say if you do not air their views in full by the end of the week, they will call a competing media house and tell them everything.
The producer of the current affairs programme at an affiliate radio station also asks you for the telephone numbers for the alleged incest victims as she wants them to be interviewed live on air for the afternoon show.
Outline all the ethical and legal issues that arise as you pursue all angles to the story including the request from the producer.
NOTE: You may answer this question as if you are a resident of any of the jurisdictions covered throughout the course. Any jurisdiction other than Jamaica must be clearly noted in your answer.
(Total 15 marks)