Tuesday, September 1
Thursday, September 3
PROJECTS DUE Tuesday, September 8
Used with permission from Jeff Fleischman, RVHS
Learning Targets
• Students will be able to understand the five
paramount freedoms provided by the First
Amendment of the US Constitution
• Students will determine the significance of
various individuals, institutions, and
inventions that have shaped the history of
Daily Agenda
• Vocabulary: libel, liable, laws, ethics
• TUESDAY: First Amendment
- What is it? Why does it matter?
• THURSDAY: Journalism History Through Your Eyes
- Pair up, Select Topics, Get to Work
- ST111
First Amendment
• A Brief History of the First Amendment
Law & Ethics
A look at the rights and
responsibilities of the mass media
The Constitution
• Article I: Congress shall make no law
1) respecting an establishment of
religion or prohibiting the free
expression thereof…
Article I (Cont.)
• 4) Or the right of the people to
peaceably assemble, and 5) to
petition the government for a
redress of grievances
What does this mean?
• Does this law establish principles
that allow for any writer to write
anything about anybody?
No, not really.
There are NINE restrictions
to this freedom…
Restricted Speech
• 1) Libel/Defamation – a false or
misinformed statement that damages
an individuals reputation. (False
statements as fact)
• 2) Obscenity – material that appeals
only to the prurient interests and has
not redeeming literary, artistic,
political or scientific value
Restricted Speech
• 3) Child Pornography
• 4) Clear and present danger to the
national security of the U.S. (Threats)
• 5) Expression likely to incite
imminent lawless action (a riot, for
example) (Incitement)
Restircted Speech
• 6) “Fighting Words” – a bit of an
open-ended statement that has been
left to a lot of interpretation
• 7) Copyright Violations – for works
copyrighted today, copyright
protection lasts 50 years
Restricted Speech
• 8) Deceptive or misleading
advertisements or those for illegal
products or services
• 9) Expression on school grounds that
will cause a material and substantial
disruption of school activities
Libel Law
• What is Libel?
• Libel is a false statement, written or
broadcast, which damages
someone’s reputation.
Types of Libel
• What are the TWO types of Libel?
• 1) “per se” – material that is libelous
on its face
• 2) “per quod” – libel depends on the
circumstances. The libel is not
obvious on its face
Per se libel
• Written words that outright defame someone’s reputation.
• The statement has to be untrue in order for the plaintiff to
win a libel per se case.
• If a newspaper prints that a local businessman murdered his
wife and the elements required to prove a libel case are met,
then the plaintiff would be awarded damages.
• No matter how awful the statement is, the plaintiff often has
to prove that the statement resulted in actual harm to his
Per quod libel
• Means that a written and public statement
lead to injury to reputation based on the
context of the statement and how readers
might interpret it.
• The plaintiff has to claim special damages and
show facts additional to what is often required
in a libel lawsuit. The reason is that libel per
quod in libel law is often more subjective than
libel per se, which is straightforward.
Per quod example
• An example of libel per quod is when a newspaper publishes a
birth announcement claiming that Sandra Williams on Main
Street is the proud mother, but Sandra is a 16-year-old and a
devout Christian.
• The paper really meant to write about another Sandra who
lives on Second Street.
• The error is libel per quod because Sandra is a minor, and the
announcement may suggest that she is promiscuous and not a
devout Christian after all.
Is Libel A Crime?
• NO – Most libel cases are tried in
civil court, not criminal court
• In a civil action, a plaintiff sues a
defendant. He sues for damages.
• There are THREE kinds of DAMAGES:
Types of Damages
• 1) Compensatory – pay for the loss of
• 2) Actual – pay for any actual
financial loss
• 3) Punitive – punishment. Juries can
assess punitive damages of millions
of dollars
Damaging a Reputation
• How can a newspaper or other media
outlet damage a reputation?
• 1) subject someone to ridicule
• 2) cause someone to be shunned or
• 3) damage someone in his business or
Liability in Libel
• Libel refers to liability, legal
• In other words, we are asking who is
legally responsible for libel.
• Those legally responsible would have
to pay the damages.
So, who is liable?
1) The Reporter
2) The Editor
3) The Publisher (Owner)
4) Everyone Involved
Has Libel Occurred?
• There is a THREE-PART test. All conditions
must be present.
• 1) Identification – the person claiming
libel must show that he was identified
by the statement
• 2) Publication – the statement must be
communicated to someone other than
the person it is about
The Final Condition
• 3) Defamation – The statement must
actually harm the person’s
reputation in the eyes of the
Libel Defenses
• 1) Truth – Must be provable and with
good motives
• 2) Qualified Privilege – allows news
media to publish fair and accurate
accounts of proceedings without fear
of being sued. Sources must be ID’d.
More Libel Defenses
• 3) Fair comment and criticism –
allows for critical opinion (editorial
• 4) Absence of Malice – Applies of
public figures and public officials
More Absence of Malice
• Public figures must prove that the
publication demonstrated a “reckless
disregard for the truth”
• Public officials must prove that the
material was published even thought
the publication knew the material
was false
Libel Defenses
• 5) Consent
• 6) Proof of previous bad reputation
What is Malice?
Malice is the intent to harm.
There are TWO degrees of Malice:
Reckless disregard for the truth.
Knowledge that the material was
false. This degree is also called
Actual Malice
School Censorship
• There are TWO landmark U.S.
Supreme Court decisions that have
dictated the amount of censorship
allowed by school administrators and
district personnel.
Case No. 1
• Tinker v. Des Moines Independent
School District, circa 1969
• RULING: neither students nor
teachers “shed their constitutional
rights to freedom of the speech or
expression at the school house gate”
What does that mean?
• With the decision in Tinker v. Des
Moines, students were granted the
same freedom of speech permitted to
any other reporter, professional or
• Basically, the school had no power to
censor student publications
Case No. 2
• Hazelwood School District v.
Kuhlmeier, circa 1988
• RULING: Censorship of school
publications is permissible when the
censorship is related to legitimate
educational concerns.
What does this mean?
• With the decision in Hazelwood v.
Kuhlmeier, 1988, school districts and
administrators were given back some
censorship powers.
• Basically, if material in the school
publication is deemed inappropriate, for
whatever reason, adminstration has the
right to censor.
How does this look at DRHS?
• 1) Student staffers of The Ridge Review
must have their stories cleared by the
• 2) Upon clearance, if any of these
stories seem to “push the envelope”,
adviser clears with principal.