The 3rd Year students on Winchester University’s Journalism course have an interesting project coming up. A departure from making news programmes or writing mentally destabilising dissertations, it will soon be time to remove our green eyeshades and slap on berets as we make an artsy film.
The project, entitled Land, will be filmed in sections by teams of students and aims to capture aspects of existence in our region.
My “team” consists of me, and I will be covering Craft.
My goal is to seek out craftspeople who, in this age of digitisation and automated production, have helped to keep their ancient trades alive.
As well as good pictures, I plan to capture the sounds these people make when doing their jobs, and edit them to make a soundtrack to go with the footage. The result will look something like a music video. For this reason, I will be aiming to film trades that have very distinctive sounds. If they are rhythmic, that will be a help, but it’s not necessary as the editing process will take care of that.
I will be aiming to work a few of the following: Blacksmith, farrier, thatcher, leather worker, butcher, basket weaver, and any more I may come across.
I hope to be able to use a Sony Z1 to film, as the lens is better for extreme close-up shooting than the PD170, so it will be better for capturing the small details I imagine will make the film what I hope it to be. Having said that, the PD 170 is better in low light, and so there will be a trade off either way.
I may also use a Canon 7D DSLR with 50mm f1.4 lens when I wish to achieve very shallow depth of field. But this will complicate matters somewhat, as syncing sound, and a change in picture quality, will make the editing process a little more difficult. The 7D also films in progressive scan, which can cause issues of jerkiness, especially when panning. This is something I will need to keep in mind if I decide to use this camera.
Here is a link to a film I will be using as my inspiration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBN-CAhOYQ0
A few people have expressed some confusion about qualified privilege and the Reynolds Defence, so here I’m re-posting my 2009 guide to this subject.
Qualified Privilege, a defence against libel, gives the journalists the right to make defamatory statements under special circumstances. There are two main types of QP:
Statutory Qualified Privilege
There are many places in which a defamatory statement can be said and then reported by a journalist without fear of libel action. The main two are court and in Parliament. But the report must be fast, accurate and fair in order to avoid accusations of malice. You must give the accused an an opportunity to refute the accusation, and this must be included in the same report. If you don’t do this, you can lose you QP defence. Statutory privilege also applies to any public meeting/proceeding in the world, such as UN meetings and other recognised courts. It is worth checking which courts are and are not recognised. French courts, for example, are not recognised.
Common Law Qualified Privilege
To make a defamatory statement is acceptable even if you can’t prove it, provided it is in the public interest. The problem here is that this is a developing law and is looked at on a case by case basis. This means you can’t really be sure whether this applies to your report until a verdict is delivered in court. Again, the allegation must be honestly made and without malice.
The Reynolds Defence
In 1994 The Sunday Times ran an article, without evidence, stating the Albert Reynolds, Taoiseach of Ireland, was aware of systematic child abuse within the Catholic Church, seriously defaming him. He sued and won, but the decisionwas later overturned as it was found that The Sunday Times had QP as it was in the public interest to make the report. Lord Nicholls said: “Any lingering doubts should be resolved in favour of publication.
This is The Reynolds Defence, but you can only use this provided that you pass…
THE TEN POINT TEST
1. It must be a serious matter. The more serious, the more protection you have.
2. The nature of the information, and the extent to which it is a public concern. Is it the kind of thing which would be likely to be said in a public forum?
3. The source of the information. Your source must be reliable, creditable and authoritative. The more authority, the more protection.
4. The steps taken to verify the information. The must show that you tried to prove the information wrong.
5. The status of the information. It must be new information.
6. The urgency of the matter. Papers must compete to break news first. No trawling.
7. Whether comment was sought. The person to whom you are bringing the allegations must be given chance to comment. This is known as the final phone call. The Telegraph lost a case against George Galloway because they did not thoroughly bring the accused person into the story and did not give him a chance to deny the accusations.
8. Did the article contain the right ‘gist’? It is not enough to satisfy the other points if the article was unfairly angled or slanted.
9. The article must have the right tone. It must not be overly sensationalist. Understated is better, and it is safer to say things like “concerns have been raised” rather that issuing statements of fact.
10. The circumstances of the publication. If the article is not published quickly, for example, but saved for commercial gain or timed to make it more sensational, it would be difficult to argue that you had the best interest of the public in mind.
Refer to the lecture notes for more detailed information. Also, i found a page on the website of Schillings, a respected media law firm, advising people how to challenge journalists with the ten point list. It’s well worth a look to see things from the other side of the desk. This list on this blog is okay for a reminder or prompts, but probably not enough for thorough revision.
The Press is The Fourth Estate:
1st: Executive- Government, Whitehall
2nd: Legislature- Parliament
3rd: Judiciary- The Courts. Mediates between Executive and Legislature.
4th: The Press is the watchdog of the people. The Press will blow the whistle if the other estates are wrong or corrupt, and will strive to identify miscarriages of justice.
Affidavit: This word is not officially in use anymore, the document now being called a Witness Statement, but it is the same thing. It is a statement which is sworn in front of a notary solicitor (which costs money) or a Magstrate (which doesn’t). It is essentially proof that someone said something. This is useful for a journalist as a witness statement from a credible source can help enormously with the first libel defence, justification.
If you’re keen to slapped with a crippling fine, gain unemployment of go to prison, bungling a court report is a great way to achieve one or all of the above. English courts have a multitude of rules which can be broken with ease. Outlined below are some of the best methods used by journalists seeking to end their careers.
This might be summed up as not doing what the judge tells you to do. But this is really an oversimplification; because it also includes doing things the judge tells you not to do. The judge obviously wants the trial to run smoothly and fairly for everyone, and so anything that could disrupt the process is likely to be contemptuous. Anyone involved in the trial is subject to this; a spectator could be held in contempt for shouting, using a recording device or winking at someone. Jurors have been held in contempt for texting or speaking to the press about conversations which took place in the jury room, and a defendant who chooses to be somewhere that’s not in court will also probably be found to be in contempt. But while this is not a special rule for journalists; a journalist is ideally placed to mess things up for everyone and get themselves into an enormous amount of trouble.
There are often reporting restrictions on trials. A common one is Section 39 , which prohibits the identification of children. This isn’t always just a case of saying the child’s name though- if you identify an abuser of a child as one of the victim’s relatives, it would be easy for someone to work out who the victim was. Paedophiles may spared further shame because the press can’t say their victim was their son or niece etc. Families of victims are also not interviewed for this reason.
You will also find yourself in hot water if you publish something that could be seen to prejudice a jury, such as a defendant’s criminal history. If their lawyers spot anything like this they will immediately tell the judge that their client has no chance of a fair trial, the case could collapse, and the hapless journalist will be very quickly become poorer.
Here is a link for a list of common and automatic reporting restrictions:
By the way, all this applies long before anyone walks into a courtroom. Don’t forget the case is active as soon as anyone is arrested, or a warrant for arrest is issued.
If you want to get into trouble, a good thing to do is to not know the difference between crimes. These things are quite specific, and often mixed up in everyday conversation. For example, if a couple of people are found guilty of burglary, you might go all tabloid and say “The robbers made off with £10,000 of DOG FOOD and MITTENS”. You might say that. But someone would come along and tell you that they didn’t threaten anyone, so it wasn’t robbery. Then they would take your money away.
Some other ways to get sacked and ruin lives: You can only film outside the court building, you can’t even film through the doors. Courts often have land outside that you cannot film on either, but you can film this area from outside the boundary.
When filming this area, you can also film people involved in the trial such as lawyers and defendants, but filming some people may break a reporting restriction. Finally, if you’re showing these pictures whilst talking about crimes and criminals anda passer-by just happens to wander into frame when you said “these fraudsters”.-that’s juxtaposition libel.
If you want to get into trouble, a good thing to do is to not know the difference between crimes. These things are quite specific, and often mixed up in everyday conversation. For example, if a couple of people are found guilty of burglary, you might go all tabloid and say “The robbers made off with £10,000 of DOG FOOD and MITTENS”. You might say that. But robbery and burglary are different; robbery involves some sort of threat or violence, so stating that the burglars are robbers is defamatory. Then they would take your money away.
…or “a huge achievement in the fight against terror”. If, as journalists are encouraged, we sidestep the confetti for a moment and do some observing instead of reacting, the remarkably well-timed death of Osama Bin Laden might not be cause for celebration.
But let’s start by looking a list of positives:
1: We’re now safe from terrorist attac- wait, no we’re not. There will almost certainly be retaliation.
1: We will no longer spend billions on operations in the Middle East. Oh, that’s not right either.
1: Everyone killed in terrorist attacks will come back to life. Huh? Oh this is real life. That won’t happen at all.
1: Obama is popular again. There’s a real one.
Now that we have balance in this article, we can look at some of the fishier stuff. Let’s start by looking at the only positive; increased popularity for Obama. He’s been under a lot of attack lately, both personally and for his handling of the US economy. This boost couldn’t have come at a better time for him. Funny how the sun suddenly comes out at the darkest part of the storm and Americans are proud to be American again. To be fair, they’re not able to do Royal Weddings over there so some other morale boosting device was needed.
But perhaps this was just a happy coincidence. After all, they couldn’t have known where he was, waiting for a convenient moment to strike all along. It’s not like Bin Laden was living in a huge mansion in plain view.
I’m sure it’s all as we’ve been told though. Shot clean in the head, stone dead. We’ve seen a body to prove it. Well, not yet, but we will. What’s that? Buried at sea within 24 hours “out of respect for Muslim tradition”? Oh. Bodies in the sea tend to wash up on shore after a while. I wonder if this one ever will. It probably vaporised.
He also never got to stand trial. That’s unfortunate, because it would have been good to see the 9/11 evidence, the files and footage that the CIA has always refused to release, finally laid out for all to see. I believe the US Government would have liked to bring him to trial.
Or rather, I would believe it if the Navy SEALs weren’t given a specific ‘kill not capture’ order.
The University of Winchester plans to charge £8500 per year from 2012. Click here to go to the university page.
Remember when the press assumed Chris Jeffries killed Jo Yeats a while ago? He was never charged, and yet he was horrifically demonised in the papers and life will never be the same again for him. People are arrested and released without charge all the time. It could easily happen to any of us. I think we can all agree we shouldn’t be attacking people before they even get to court.
But we do. The internet is a funny thing; it grew outside of authoritarian radar, somehow giving users the impression that cyberspace is different to the real world, with different rules. But we need to remember that our online actions still have real-life consequences, especially when we behave badly en masse, as we seem to when there is a high-profile criminal investigation like the current Sian O’Callaghan murder case.
According to reports, a 47-year-old minicab driver named Christopher Halliwell has confessed and even shown police to a body.
Even if someone has killed someone, and even if they confess, they are not legally a murderer until they are convicted in court. If you call someone a murderer on the internet when they’ve not been convicted, that is libel (defamation, identification, publication) and that person could sue you. So why do people feel so comfortable calling for the hanging of “murderers” who have not yet appeared in court? The accused could end up suing everyone on Facebook, Twitter and any other site who branded him a murderer. (Elton John won a libel case against a newspaper for calling him gay before he came out, even though it later turned out to be true). Read the rest of this entry »
Gizmodo is demonstrating the newsgathering capabilities of a technologically equipped nation by collecting all the videos it can of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Most of these were taken by locals on their digital cameras and phones. Click the quote below to view:
The 8.9 magnitude Earthquake hit Japan today and a zillion-strong army of Japanese digital cameras and cellphones were ready to record its effects. This is it, as seen by the digital eyes of those who have suffered the shock.
My efforts in WINOL last week looked successful, but weren’t. I got a lot done, but could have done so much more.
On Monday, Charlotte was away and so I stood in for her. One of the first things to do was make a decision on a live outside broadcast which was planned for Sport. The problem was, it was really a technical exercise, but would have added nothing to the program as there was nothing going on “live” at the time; the OB would simply have been from outside an empty football ground. I made the decision that a live OB will be great to do at some stage, but not until we have some live action to report. Angus Scott and Will Cooper supported this and so it stuck and I think the bulletin was better for it.
Another thing we tried for sport was to have the presenter standing in the corner rather than sitting at the desk. I think this looked much better, although there is still work to be done with regards to camera positioning and background graphics, but it holds a lot of potential and with a bit of polish it could give the whole bulletin a slicker, more professional look.
The big news was that Colin Firth won an Oscar. He is from Winchester and his parents still live here, so I went and interviewed a teacher from his old school. Unfortunately, no one at the school was there when Colin Firth was, and didn’t know much about him. I was persistent with uni staff in trying to get hold of his parents, who used to lecture at the university, but no information would come my way.
In the end, I put together some pictures and a script for an OOV. My big mistake here was giving up, which isn’t like me and I don’t know why I chose to do something so out of character on such a massive story. I could have done more and I’m still angry with myself as, even if I continued to try and fail, I wouldn’t be living with the knowledge that I didn’t try hard enough.
Still, I presented the bulletin and did an okay job. Every time I talk to a camera I’m more relaxed about it and feel like I’m close to getting it right.