Posts Tagged ‘McNae’

It’s true. Britain has no official constitution. Not one in the same way as the USA. My personal belief is that the whole constitution thing in the US is a bit bizarre anyway. Just because some old bearded men wrote down a few opinions on what people should be allowed to do over 400 years ago, doesn’t mean that it should still be allowed to happen now.

This is the potential problem with the Human Rights Act (1998) put in by the previous government, although a decent idea, it’ll be dated in 20 years. But before this was introduced the British countries were ruled by something called the unwritten constitution, which is upheld by the House or Lords. The unwritten constitution is loosely based on a medieval English Charter called Magna Carter. This combined with Habeas Corpus – the idea that a misdeed can be tried before a court, is ultimately how this country has been ruled since the dawn of civilised civilisation.

This is what we spoke about in Monday’s lecture with Marcos.

The House of Lords have powers to delay laws, as any law the Prime Minister is willing to pass has to be agreed by both Houses of Parliament. In the 80’s Thatcher tried to pass several laws through that may have been put through House of Commons but the House of Lords believed it wasn’t best for the country and this began the downfall of Thatcher from a political standpoint.

There are four different types of Lords that make up the House;

Hereditary Lords – Not around so much anymore. There was over a 1000 several year back who didn’t do anything but simply had privileges to enter and claim expenses on the country’s dime. There are under 100 now but most of them like to contribute to the House in some way.

Life Peers – Officially appointed by the Queen but a lot of recommendations will come from the Prime Minister, these can occasionally include knighted celebrities but of course the famous ones won’t contribute to the House, a lot of the time the Lord will be politically minded and is there to assist the government.

Anglican Clergy – They say Anglican because saying protestant upsets them. They are usually Bishops of the Church of England who say they represent all religious sects.

Law Lords – The place would be pretty pointless without people who know something about law. They will be high ranking lawyers, judges or counsel.

We discussed a few other points like the age of voting and the age to stand for election, when the polls open and close. We also discussed briefly the work we have to hand in – which is closing in now, and a reminder to look in McNae to prepare for the up and coming presentation.


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This week’s work made last week’s extra curricular visit to the courts with Simon obselete.

We were told to become court reporters. When you attend a court with ten other people the courts get suspicious so unfortunately we were unable to take notes.

To overcome this I managed to remember little bits of one story and run out of the court at the end of that bail hearing to note down what I remembered.

Upon my return we were told to write a voicer for a radio news bulletin.

I have changed some details to avoid getting in trouble with libel or contempt of court but here is the story.


… a woman from Coventry who crashed a car while being chased by the police has admitted stealing the vehicle.

Huw Hopkins reports…


Judy Crebb, twenty, of thirty seven Ballsgrove Avenue has admitted aggravated car theft.

She was denied bail at Coventry Crown Court. Her step father was present to give support but did not speak.

Judy Crebb also denied a charge of burglary and will have to be tried at a later date.



Once we came back and reviewed our work we needed to look at contempt of court. More can be found in McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists but some important notes I made were;

Once someone is arrested the case is active and you can be in substantial risk of harming proceedings once the case is active.

Strict Liability is important. If you didn’t know the case is active, that doesn’t matter it is your responsibility as a journalist to have found this out.

When you’re in court you’re allowed to report anything spoken. If the jury is sent out you are not. You are also not allowed to talk to the jury about the case at all.

In court reporting there are 10 points (or commandments) you must follow.

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One of the positives about putting journalistic theories or examples in to context is that there is almost always news that it can be related to. Today we discussed Libel and Defamation, two subject areas that are very complex. It seems almost impossible to pin down any one subject that may or may not be libel as almost everyone can be (or not) proven otherwise.

A few definitions did arise and a draconian description of its meaning is that if one person were to make permanent words that may cause third parties to shun and avoid another especially in their line of business then this may be seen as libel.

What this means is if I were to put in print that a goalkeeper was particularly poor at saving goals because someone never taught him to catch that is particular libel as it’s causing defamation of his character and his professional skill. This goalkeeper doesn’t even have to prove that he can or cannot catch a ball, the point would be that I have damaged his reputation.

The claimant has to prove certain things:

1) That my particular statement might refer to him or her

2) That the statement in question has a defamatory meaning

3) That the statement has been communicated to a third-party (in print, publication or broadcast)

How might I defend such an action I hear you ask…

1) I should be able to justify that what I’ve said is true or that I can prove it. This is where keeping notes on everything can be advantageous.

2) I am expressing my free comment. I am entitled to an honestly held opinion as long as I don’t show malice. If I was accusing the goalkeeper of not catching the ball because his parents didn’t bring him up correctly and teach him simple catching skills and that he clearly should have been wearing glasses, the four eyed freak! That particular quote may seem as if I don’t like the man.

3) Journalists are entitled to certain privileges. This has to be looked at in great detail. If ever you are unsure McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists will undoubtedly have the answer (from this point forward it shall be known as the Bible).

Next week’s lecture I will be providing a presentation to the class on transport and environmental issues in local government. I’ll be following on from Lois who performed well in her presentation this week about how local government is financed.

How local governments are financed is partly to do with Formula Grants that are renewed every three years and slightly less provided by public charges (car parking, speeding, council tax).

I will email Marcos to put the powerpoint slides on moodle for later review as it does get quite complicated. Better get started on that!

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The task of reading a chapter from The Universal Journalist by David Randall (2000) proved a harder job as originally anticipated. The stated publication has been re-produced and re-printed several times over. Of course I picked up the wrong one. I had located the 1996 publication in which the chapter I needed is titled ‘News Values’.

The 1996 version

I read through this chapter and found it very interesting, I have also found that my lecturer must find it very interesting as well as he quotes it verbatim – not that there is  anything wrong with this, as previously stated I personally found it very interesting.

There were one or two references that Randall makes that I didn’t understand or connect with immediately but I am beginning to find that I am of general understanding when it comes to certain things on this course. I think McNae’s Essential Law for Journalist’s/2007 is also helping this but more on that later.

The 2000 version as recommended by my course tutor

Of course I later found out that I shouldn’t be reading the 1996 edition of The Universal Journalist, instead I should have picked up the 200 print. Luckily I located the publication on Amazon.co.uk and an amazing feature that my fellow journalists in training should make proper use of, is if you have an amazon account, you can in fact look inside many books even if you’re not buying them.

Fortunately I did this and despite very few differences between the ’96 and the ’00 edition I did find more updated references that helped my previous understanding.

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The second half of M42MC was more focused on what the expectations are of us this year when it comes to assignments and presentations so it was less of learning discussion.

We did discover a few things thought that in local governments there will be recommendations given which will appear in a leaflet or newsletter. This can end up on the local paper’s editor’s desk, and from here it is not a bad idea to report this news as ‘recommendations’ are likely followed through. This then brought up a discussion about whether this was true or not and ultimately it is probably worth checking and investigating further.

We also got told of a few books that are essential reading.We found McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists but couldn’t find Morrison’s Essential Public Affairs. Although after looking in the library I think it might be under a different name.


Even later in the afternoon we attended our first M42MC lecture with Andrew Noakes. We too discussed what was expected of us this year but also discussed the structure of magazines and newspapers. I’ll try and break it down here.

Chief Exec


Publisher __________

/                                            \

_____           Editor     ______                           Ad Manager

/                            |                              \

Art Editor                         Deputy Editor                 Production Manager

/                                                     |

Designers                                         Section Editor

/          :        |                   \

Sports writer         :       News                    Features writer etc.


Freelance Contributors


A word of helpful advice from Andrew is that if I am a regular writer and I want to be a Section Editor, I have to do their job meaning either take on some of their responsibilities when they’re on holiday or ill or anything else, and take on responsibilities outside of my job description.

In the second half of the lecture we discussed people like Galtung and Ruge and about News Values. I looked at a breaking story from the conservative party conference about George Osbourne’s announcement about the council tax price freeze. A bit more about this will be put up on moodle which I will hopefully link to here once found.

We have been given a bit of homework by next week which is to read a chapter from two different books; Universal Journalist by Randall (2000) and Information Age Journalism by Campbell (2004).

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