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Exercise 7.1
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Press Rights


A. After reading the spread on press rights in your textbook, indicate which of the following would be considered privileged information (in other words, information that might be libelous but which can be printed because you have a great defense as long as it is recorded fairly and accurately)?
A)An attorney calls Helmut Knudle "the No. 1 suspect" in court during the opening statement of Knudle's trial on charges of stealing money from his boss.
B)An off-duty police officer refers to Knudle as "the No. 1 suspect" after knocking off a few pints at a local pub.
C)A police officer describes Knudle as "the No. 1 suspect" in an arrest report.
D)A senator refers to Knudle as "the No. 1 suspect" during a speech on the Senate floor.

B. Which of the following is true of shield laws?


Federal courts provide a blanket shield that can be used in all states.

If you refuse to cooperate with a court's order to see your notes, you can be jailed.

Courts have clearly indicated that bloggers who are not employed by media companies cannot use shield laws.

One reporter's decision to break a confidentiality pledge to a source has little effect on other journalists or their work.

C. After checking out the Web links on Page 137 in your textbook, visit the Student Press Law Center ( to conduct research on open-meeting laws and on laws governing the recording of telephone conversations. Summarize your state's laws on each:
  1. Open meetings

  2. Recording or listening in on phone conversations

D. Flex your Freedom of Information Act power. Using the SPLC's online FOIA letter generator for your state, prepare an FOIA request to access your school's records of violent crimes occurring on campus or in the immediate vicinity. (You may choose to focus on a particular type of violent crime, for example, sexual assaults.) Print a copy of the letter and turn it in to your instructor. (What you do with your letter after this is up to you and your instructor. If you're thinking about actually sending it, remember that it's usually a better practice to try politely asking for the information you want before you resort to slapping an FOIA letter down on someone's desk.)

Harrower, 1eOnline Learning Center

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