How You Can Get Legal Help for Investigative Journalism

How You Can Get Legal Help for Investigative Journalism

November 17, 2020 Off By Glespynorson

Investigative journalism is a subfield of media that can be useful in drawing attention towards wrongdoing and corruption. The best investigative journalists have gotten people kicked from their jobs, jailed in some cases, and caused an abrupt change in government policies.  With so much being at stake, it is a risky thing dwelling in the world of investigative journalism. It is not a job for the faint-hearted as it comes with dangers, including harassment, suppression, and retaliation. Furthermore, freelance journalists are at more risk as they don’t have the means to protect themselves legally when dealing with such problems.

Stories of confiscated mobile devices and cameras, harassment, and police retaliation plagues the world of investigative journalism since it came into existence. However, it is not easy to prepare yourself for every issue in front of you. It will help if you always had a backup plan for everything as an investigative journalist. If you want to know such ways to protect yourself legally, we are here to help you. Today, in this article, we will share some ways that will help you protect yourself legally as an investigative journalist. Some of these ways are listed as follows:

Adopt Good Journalistic Practices

While it may be difficult to remove your legal risks in its entirety, you use journalistic best-practices. Such as being fair, accurate, thorough, authenticate your sources, and not quote other people in such a way that you might end up implicating someone unintentionally. It will also minimize any legal action that you might face throughout your career as an investigative journalist.

To know more about such practices, you can always search online for the best journalistic practices or how to become an investigative journalist. Or better yet, you can enroll yourself in an online course and get versed with all the latest and greatest journalistic dos and don’ts.

Be as Accurate as Possible

Being truthful will help you battle against anything that might come in your way as a journalist. People might try to defame you or take false legal action against you for something you published, which they said is not accurate. However, if your facts and figures are one hundred percent true, there is no chance you will have to fight a legal battle against anyone.

Furthermore, the story’s moral is that being accurate is not only a journalistic best-practice when it comes to publishing online or in a paper. It is your greatest weapon against any legal implications.

Use Reliable Sources

The better sources you use, the better chance you have of protecting yourself in court. There are fair report privileges for journalists when searching for records and official proceedings. It is of utmost importance that you report information as accurately as possible. On top of everything, you need to use reliable sources when you want to quote the court’s statement. Also, confidential sources may put you in a compromised position in court if not handled correctly.

So, don’t be shy and go ahead and identify your sources in court if you want their information to hold up. However, that does not mean that you reveal the identity of every single source you use.

Be Cautious When Publishing Negative Information or Comments

Businesses and personnel might file a lawsuit against you if you post any negative information or comments about them. These corporations have tons of lawyers that can turn your day into a nightmare. You have the right to comment on a service or product that you don’t like. So do this as accurately as possible without any biases towards any other business.

If you do such a thing, you might implicate yourself unintentionally under the defamation law and then have to go through an unwanted lawsuit.

Always Get Consent from The People You Want to Cover

Consent is your weapon against false light claims and defamation. You can get someone to give you their permission through word of mouth, or you can get a document signed by the person you want to cover. If you do so, there is no chance that the person will file a lawsuit after you some time that you posted something about them without their consent.

Ensure You Cover All Applicable Journalistic Privileges in Your Work

There are various defenses available to you that protect your rights as an investigative journalist depending on your post and what source you use. The journalistic world refers to these defenses as privileges. They will allow you to get out of court early and with minimum damage to your reputation as a journalist.

For example, suppose you publish a statement that is not one hundred percent accurate but has some truth. In that case, a defamation claim against you cannot succeed. However, the truth is not only your only defense. Another example can be when you publish defamatory remarks against someone. As your entitlement to stating your opinions, and even if the allegation is false, you will not face any charge. The court always hears out the allegation, whether they are true or not.

The Final Words

Ensure that you are an advocate of high-integrity and independent journalistic practices that serves the betterment of society. Keep in mind that your implications may end someone’s career or put someone in jail. So, be as accurate as possible in your reporting and findings and be true to yourself. Investigative journalists face tons of legal action every day. If you end up facing legal action against something you posted, don’t panic and get the best lawyer you can afford, and you will be fine.