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Book reviews

15 January 18

Review of Online Law for Journalists (Thom)

by Lorraine Davidson

Online Law for Journalists: A practical guide for journalists, bloggers and communicators

Cleland Thom

PUBLISHER: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1530848454
PRICE: £9.95

Online Law is an invaluable guide for anyone who publishes online.

In his book, Cleland Thom charts the changes which have taken place over the last 30 years from the “publish and be damned” era, when the media was relatively free of constraint and could in effect investigate and publish whatever took its interest, to today's more heavily regulated industry.

This easy to read guide would help any newly established blogger, intending to cover a high profile court case, navigate the law, including how to avoid committing contempt of court.

But it is also provides helpful information for seasoned publishing practitioners, who want to keep abreast of significant developments, including the potential implications of Brexit for the industry.

Today's investigative reporters are operating under some of the tightest laws in the world; this book sets out the considerations they need to apply before they even embark on an investigation – long gone are the days when a reporter's hunch would suffice.

While established news organisations employ media lawyers to help them navigate the legislative and regulatory environment in which they operate, anyone with a blog or a Twitter account should be aware of the potential perils of commenting on a court case, starting a Twitter campaign, and the considerations they might want to apply to a request from a government agency to take down online material which causes embarrassment.

However, as well as explaining the risks associated with publishing, this guide also provides helpful advice on the rights which journalists and photographers have to take footage in public places, and the implications of the Terrorism Act.

The author's in-depth knowledge of law and the risks within the publishing environment is beyond doubt. In this book, Thom demonstrates an ability to communicate the relevance of decades of case law to readers spanning a wide range of experience and knowledge.

It clearly sets out the main issues facing those publishing in the internet age, backed up by the speeches, court cases and regulations which have shaped the modern publishing environment. It is written in plain English, providing a clear explanation of legal terms.

Regardless of how much or how little you think you might know about online law, this book is an invaluable tool whether as a reference guide for experienced editors or as a must read for the budding blogger.

Lorraine Davidson, former correspondent for The Times, the BBC and Daily Mirror


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