Essay on Media Law Problem


Added on  2019-09-30

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In this final exam scenario, an entertainment gossip site in Queensland has posted an article on their Facebook page about an Australian actor based on a hand written diary of a 14 year old boy implying that the actor have romantic feelings with the boy. The article also makes remarks implying that the actor could be in legal problems because of what is written in the diary. This essay will analyze the main media law problem in thisscenario, provide legal defenses for the gossip site, analyze a few similar cases and giving recommendation on what the editor of the site should do. Firstly, the main media law problem in this scenario is that the gossip site is publishing information that would damage the actor reputation. Which according to Pearson would mean that the gossip site have defamed the actor Sam Sleezy. Therefore, the actor can sue the gossip site on grounds of defamation. To be more precise, according to Pearson, a material can be considered as defamation if there is "imputation", which means that the material must be written in a way that it could hurt someone's reputation for it to be considered as defamation. Additionally, the person who claims to be defamedor the plaintiff must prove to the court that the material have personally defamed them and according to Pearson there are many ways for this to happen, the person can just simply be named in the material or the material can just contain information that directly relates to the plaintiff personal characteristics (for example: home address, occupation, physical appearance or social habits). In this case, the article directly mentioned Sam Sleeezy's name, therefore, the actor have grounds to proceed with defamation actions. Thirdly, Pearson also stated that for a defamation case to proceed the material must be published, this means that the article must have been informed to a third party that is other than the defamed plaintiff. For this situation, even though the article have not been

posted on the website yet, but it has been posted on the Facebook page of the gossip site, which means that there have been a third party who this piece of information was made available to and there are many comments on the Facebook page that have stated things that are also harmful to the image of the actor, therefore, this case fits all the classifications stated by Pearson to be a defamation case and Mr.Sleezy would have every right to sue the gossip site for defamation. Another minor media law issue that could arise in this situation could be sub judice contempt, sub judice contempt according to Pearson is when a case in court for trial, news article about the case is published that may harm the chance of a fair trial. In this case, the article mentioned about David Venture's case while his case is still at court so the site or the person who wrote the article would be vulnerable for charges of sub judice contempt. On the other hand, this may not be the case because there was little mention towards David Venture in the article and David Venture is not the main focus of the article. Secondly, this essay will focus on the defense that can be made by the site in case the actor sues the site for defamation. According to Pearson, there are eight available defenses for a defamation case which are:" Justification, Contextual truth, Absolute privilege, Fair reporting, Qualified privilege, Honest opinion/Fair comment, Innocent dissemination, Triviality." In this case, as a publisher for a gossip site should focus on Pearson's suggestion of three defenses for professional communicators:" Justification (truth), fair reporting, and honest opinion/fair comment." The first defense in this situation should be justification (truth), according to Pearson; this is the defense that theperson who is sued for defamation tries to prove that the imputations that are made in the defamatory material are true or factual. In this case, the gossip site could use the

diary of the boy as an evidence to show that the article have grounds to back up its claims. On the other hand, the diary can be a problem because according to Pearson, inorder to establish something as the truth in court, the judge would demand legallyadmissible evidence, documentation and witnesses. In this situation, the diary is claimed to:" mysteriously found its way" at their desks, so if the site is sued for defamation, the site would need to provide the diary to the court and also need to provide to the court the witness that handed them the diary and the boy would also be awitness to confirm to the court that the diary actually belongs to him. This can be a breach of confidence if the site agreed the keep the name of the person who provides the diary to them anonymous and if the site decided to do that the evidence will becameuseless and the site would have no justification for their claims. Another defense that the site can use is honest opinion or fair comment, according to Pearson, this defense can be used to state that the material is an opinion on an issue that is a matter of public interest, Pearson also stated that this defense is particularly useful:" in the discussion ofcurrent affairs, editorials, opinion columns, and the coverage of sport and entertainment,including reviews of theatre, art and literature." For this situation, the article is about an actor who could have an affair with a minor so it can be considered as a matter of publicinterest so this could be use as a defense. But the ways that the article was written was way to satire and offensive towards the actor so the court may overlook this defense butthis could be the site best defense if they decide not to reveal the source of the diary.There were many cases in the past that are similar to the case in this situation. For example, one case is the Rebel Wilson versus magazine publisher Bauer media case. In this case, Bauer media release a series of eight newspaper articles claiming that

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