There’s no single way to bulletproof stories from legal risks because standards vary from country to country. Legal frameworks and traditions such as freedom of speech may be vastly different, even in the same region of the world. There are, however, points that all journalists should keep in mind, according to Uncovering Asia 2016 panelists Kyo Ho Youm from University of Oregon and Doreen Weisenhaus from Media Law Project at Hong Kong University.
- Ensure the quality of your work
- Consider ethical issues as well as legal issues, especially when dealing with global news
- Know Freedom of Information laws; use them
- Identify the process of how you obtained your information and any problems that can arise as a result
- Analyze possible unintended consequences of your story
- Learn the laws that can affect your work, especially when reporting in a foreign environment
- Establish a strategy of dealing with whistleblowers and sources
- Get to know press freedom organizations, lawyers and law professors who can help locally and globally
- If facing legal threats, consider raising public awareness and, when possible, push for policy change
For more on media law, follow Doreen Weisenhaus, Kyo Ho Youm and Media Legal Defence Initiative.
Mago Torres is GIJN Research Director.