JOUR 201: Chapter 4 Notes
JOUR 201: Chapter 4 Notes JOUR 201
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by runnergal on Sunday September 18, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to JOUR 201 at University of South Carolina taught by Dr. Brooke McKeever in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Principles of Public Relations in Journalism at University of South Carolina.
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Date Created: 09/18/16
Chapter 4: Law and Ethics The Legal Environment o Many PR professionals are vulnerable to litigation because they don’t know all of the laws and government regulations surrounding copyright issues, First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, libel, privacy, free speech, etc. o First Amendment Rights and Limitations First Amendment: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of press, right to peaceably assemble, and right to petition the government. New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti (1978), and Consolidated Edison Company of New York vs. Public Service Commission of New York (1980) established that organizations have the same freedom of speech rights as people do. Virginia State Board of Pharmacy vs. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc (1976) addressed commercial speech (businesses’ freedom of speech). Defamation Defamation: public speech designed to injure a person’s reputation due to spite, hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Libel: written defamation. Slander: spoken defamation. Since everything is open to interpretation, almost all PR materials could be interpreted as libelous. Criminal libel: libel designed to start riots or interrupt peace. Civil libel: any other type of libel. These are the type of suits that PR professionals typically deal with. Material regarding civil suits must 1) be published; 2) be damaging; 3) involve malice; 4) involve negligence; and 5) identify the injured person/party. Publication: when the writer, the intended reader, and at least one other person has seen the writing. Defamation: when the publication damages a person’s reputation. Damage: if the publication infringes on the individual’s ability to get a job, interact socially, or reflects poorly on the individual’s current reputation. Identification: when other people are able to identify the person who is being defamed, regardless of whether or not the person is named. Fault: if the defamation occurred by accident, the defendant may be found negligent. Malice: when the person who created the publication knew that the information in the publication was false and decided to print it anyway. Defenses Against Libel Charges Truth: honestly explain what happened. Privilege: some government materials are protected. Fair comment: the publication was printed in order to express an important opinion. Rights of Privacy: Privacy rights: right to expect a certain degree of privacy at home and at work. Invasion of privacy: when one’s expectation of privacy is broken. Appropriation: use of a person’s name, likeness, or picture without the person’s permission. Ex. catfishing. Publication of private information: true, private information that is published without the individual(s)’s consent. Ex. recent breach of Democratic Congressional Committee’s information. Intrusion: videoing or bugging someone’s home, work, etc. Ex. Watergate. False light: true information that is published but is exaggerated or put out of context. Ex. pretty much any media coverage in this election cycle! Written consent: when a person writes down their consent for another person to use their private information, bug their home, etc. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA, 1966): requires all governmental records to be open to the public, although not necessarily “published” in the normal sense of the word. Government agencies must merely tell people how to access those records. Sunshine Act (1976): opened some federal board, commission, and agency meetings to the public. USA Patriot Act (2001): allows governmental organizations to access private information in order to combat terrorism. o Government Regulatory Agencies These agencies watch over business and organizational communications: The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): watches over all advertising and product press releases. It makes sure that the information communicated is true and not misleading. Food and Drug Administration (FDA): watches over labeling and sale of food and medications. Also performs all of the nutritional labeling on freaking everything! Federal Communications Commission (FCC): watches over television and radio broadcasting to ensure that those stations are operating in the public interest. It also makes sure that all political parties are heard equally, either through advertising or media time. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): regulates unions according to the National Labor Relations Act (1935), ensuring people’s rights to join unions, to participate in collective bargaining, and to engage in union activities. Essentially protects workers from malicious business practices. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): regulates businesses that are in one of the U.S. stock exchanges or have over $1 million in assets according to the Securities and Exchange Act (1934), which requires businesses to disclose their sales and make sure their sales are not fraudulent. Also requires these businesses to submit Form 10-K (annual reports), Form 10-Q (quarterly reports), and Form 8-K (current reports). Sarbanes-Oxley Act (2002): requires businesses to be more “transparent” with shareholders and consumers concerning the company’s business dealings. o General Business Regulations PR is a First Amendment right, but it is also a business function. PR practitioners therefore need to know laws and regulations regarding businesses as well as the First Amendment. Copyright Law Copyright law: PR professionals must have written consent from the producer to use their original content, except when fair use is established. Fair use: when 1) the material is intended for a commercial or nonprofit use; 2) the intent of the copyrighted work is debatable; 3) the portion of the material used is verified by the copyright holder; and 4) the effect of the use of the copyrighted work is considered. Can use a copyrighted work if: 1) it is not taken out of its original context; 2) credit is given to the copyrighter; 3) use of the material does not affect the market of the material; 4) use is for scholarly, news, or research purposes; and 5) it does not exceed a specified percentage of the entire material, depending on the material. Trademark Law Trademark law: protects businesses’ and organizations’ names and logos. Contracts Contract: a legal document that, in this case, allows one party to use another party’s trademarked or copyrighted material(s). Must include 1) a genuine legal offer; 2) a legal acceptance; and 3) consideration: an agreement concerning various acts or promises. Contracts can be written or oral as long as those three requirements are met. o Legal Considerations Surrounding the Internet Copyright and the Net Although the internet makes many materials easily accessible and sharable, PR practitioners must still consider copyright laws when sending and sharing others’ content. As of 1995, all copyrighted code has a cipher (a code) in it to ensure that credit is given to the copyrighter. Libel and the Net PR professionals are still held accountable for libel on the internet because they chose to write or share certain content. If a carrier has no control over the content, it cannot be held responsible for libel. Privacy and the Net Since so much private information is sent and stored on the internet now, many organizations have specific rules for their employees concerning what they can and cannot send. o Litigation in Public Relations PR practitioners must consider how their relationships with their shareholders would be affected if the company is sued. Media coverage may permanently damage a business’s reputation, regardless of the outcome. Product liability: companies are legally responsible to compensate consumers for defective products. The Ethical Environment o Legal does not always equal ethical and vice versa. o PR practitioners must consider which actions will best benefit the relationships between their company and their shareholders. o Ethics are problematic for PR professionals because 1) PR is still seen somewhat as an unethical profession; 2) PR professionals are the ones that release statements concerning their business’s ethics; 3) PR professionals have struggled to create ethical codes for their profession; and 4) PR professionals should act ethically on behalf of their companies. o Ethics as Standards of Social Conduct Ethics regulate what is right and wrong concerning social conduct. Allen Center and Patrick Jackson argue that these factors regulate ethical social conduct: 1. Tradition: how similar situations have been handled before. 2. Public Opinion: how the public thinks the company should react to the situation. 3. Law: regulates what actions are acceptable. 4. Morality: a ban, often religious in nature, on certain behaviors. 5. Ethics: Standards set by a person or a group of people concerning which actions are right and which actions are wrong. o Individual Ethics Ivy Lee wrote a code of ethics in 1906 James E. Grunig says that all PR professionals must 1) have the will to be ethical and 2) attempt to avoid actions that would hurt others at all costs. Ethics are hard to deal with because what is right for a business may not be right for its consumers and vice versa. o Business Ethics Business ethics are hard to combine with personal ethics, since PR practitioners can get fired for not carrying out a business’s unethical orders. Professional codes, ethical business practices, and legislation can make PR ethical decisions easier. o Establishing Standards for a Developing Profession Professions must have expertise, commitment, autonomy, and responsibility. Responsibility is formed through ethics codes, licensure, and professional organizations. Unfortunately, PR as a profession has no formal licensing procedure. o The PRSA Code The PRSA code of ethics (1948) is the longest and most comprehensive PR code of ethics, although it is not legally binding. It was the first attempt at behavioral guidelines for PR professionals. Revisions in 2000 included less focus on members lodging specific complaints, more focus on universal ethical values, and pictures of the ethical values. o The IABC Code In contrast to the PRSA code of ethics, the IABC code of ethics focuses more on the value of human life and is more sensitive to world cultures. It also focuses less on formally listed standards and specific ethical values. o The Question of Licensure Licensure: controls access to the profession. PR professionals are certified as “certified public relations counsel.” Licensure would help enforce ethical standards, but many PR professionals in the private sectors would not need licensure. PRSA and IABC both offer accreditation programs, but even many members of those organizations are not accredited. JetBlue Case Study o In 2010, a flight attendant, Steven Slater, exited the plane by grabbing a beer and sliding down the plane’s emergency chute after an altercation with a passenger. o JetBlue did not respond to the incident for over 48 hours. o Two days after the incident, JetBlue issued $100 vouchers to the passengers on that flight and released a press statement on its blog.