Legal and Ethical Issues Regarding Online Journalism

In the world of print journalism, there are a lot of legal and ethical issues and laws that journalists have to be aware of. It gets even more complex when it comes to online journalism because the Internet is everyone around the world so it reaches more people, therefore, the chances of being sued are increased. When reading chapter 11 on Legal and Ethical Issues, I was surprised to learn about the deep linking law and what it means. According to the text, deep linking “refers to the practice of bypassing a Website’s home page by linking to a page deep within the site’s structure” (Foust, 2009). It can be a legal issue because Web site operators rely on the advertising revenue they receive when someone visits their home page. If someone links to a different page other than the home page they are not making any money. I would of never thought that someone could be sued by usage of a simple link. Internetnews.com talks about a few cases regarding deep linking. Although deep linking makes navigating the Internet a lot easier, it is definitely something to be conscious and careful of.

An ethical issue that I learned while reading chapter 11 is called reporter’s privilege. According to the text, reporter privilege is, “the right of journalists not to be forced to reveal names of sources or other information to law enforcement” (Foust, 2009). Journalists feel that if they agreed to keep something confidential they should no matter what. I was surprised to learn that some journalists will keep quiet even if they face jail time. Luckily, some states have enfored shield laws which protect journalists confidentiality. Fortunately, Minnesota has a shield law.

Learning about legal and ethical issues helped me realize how important it is to know the different laws whether or not you are doing print work or stuff online. Know the laws!

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