VIRGINIA — The Newspaper Association of America Foundationand the Student Press Law Center have produced "The StartingPoint: Young Journalists and the Law," a comprehensive guideto the special legal and ethical issues involved when journalistsare minors and when journalists interview sources who are minors.
"Many beginning reporters and editors mistakenly believethat minors are somehow exempt from the law. They think that ifa legal problem arises over something a young person has writtenor published, their youth will protect them from any legal liability,"said Mark Goodman, SPLC director and an author of the guide. "Inreality, young journalists bear the same legal responsibilityfor their work as any adult reporter or editor."
Another important reason to understand the boundaries of whatthe law allows is that in certain circumstances, young journalists’press freedoms have limits that do not apply to their adult counterparts.Goodman also cautioned that journalists, whether adults or minors,who write about people under age 18 may face legal concerns thatdo not arise when their subjects are older.
"This guide is a valuable tool for student journalistsat all levels, as well as for their advisers," noted ToniF. Laws, NAA senior vice president/diversity and NAA Foundation."Producing journalistically sound reporting that avoids libeland other legal concerns goes a long way toward helping the studentpress remain free from restrictions. Using this guide will helpset these young journalists on the right path — and develop thefoundation to help them as they become professional journalistsdown the road."
The guide includes a review of legal and ethical issues ineasy-to-understand language, along with related exercises, suggestionsand recommendations. Targeted to adults who work with young people,each of the four chapters — Libel, Invasion of Privacy, Conflictwith Authority and Using the Internet — includes a case studywith follow-up question-and-answer exercises to be used in classroomsand training sessions.
"The Starting Point" can be ordered online from theNAA’sWeb site.